Having been raised primarily by my mother, I’ve witnessed the many challenges that women can face when planning their finances. Whether it’s raising a child and working full time (or multiple jobs), coping with financial distress after a divorce, earning less than their male counterparts, or planning for a longer retirement, women often find themselves playing catch-up.

Although equal pay has been the law since 1963, women are still paid less than men – even with similar education, skills, and experience. The National Women’s Law Center estimates that women are paid only 80 cents for every dollar a man was paid. (Nwlc.org/issue/equal-pay-and-the-wage-gap) Economist Evelyn Murphy, president and founder of The WAGE Project, believes the wage gap costs the average full-time US woman worker between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her work life. Worse yet, this doesn’t factor in reduced pension and Social Security benefits during retirement. (Statistics provided by the Older Women’s League at www.owl-national.org and the National Committee on Pay Equity, 2008.)

Retirement is one area where you really need to be first in line. Because many women will spend upwards of 25 years in retirement, it’s important to attain the retirement lifestyle you envision and that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It’s also crucial to ensure your income will last throughout your years in retirement. (US Department of Health and Human Services: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Health, United States 2008; Table 26: Life expectancy at birth, at 65 and 75 years of age by race and sex.)

In my practice, I’ve found that women tend to be more engaged in their finances. Women tend to ask more frequent and better questions than men. They’re also more likely to take notes. The flip side of this is that many of the women with whom I work seemed to start with less financial knowledge than their male counterparts. Getting over the fear of meeting with someone seems to be one of the largest hurdles that women face when looking to start working with an advisor. This fear often causes a delay in seeking financial advice.

As you can see, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible to prepare yourself for the future. You’re likely to have lived a life full of challenges and risen to the occasion to overcome those obstacles. When it comes time to prepare yourself for your years after work, make sure you once again rise to the occasion.

This column is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as specific advice to any individual. Partnership Wealth Management offers financial planning and wealth management services, with a long history of working with the LGBT community. Reach them at Partnershipwm.com or call 410-732-2633.

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