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For Women Only: Retirement Solutions Suze Orman Won't Tell You
by Sandy Franks, Publisher of The Women's Financial Edge and Crusader for Women's Rights to Wealth
Not long ago, I had a casual conversation with coworkers about finances – particularly about how to go about building and securing a comfortable retirement. I was shocked at how many of my female companions were in the dark about planning for their lives after they leave the workforce. Most were leaving the matter to their partners or financial advisors. My position as a publisher of financial e-letters provides me with insights about money to which many women are not exposed.
I've known for quite some time that there is a distinct void – or rather a financial knowledge gap – that exists between men and women. What the conversation with my female colleagues made me realize was that women are indeed very much interested in financial matters, especially when it comes to their financial future. They're simply uninformed.
I want to change that.
Let's Look at the Hard Data
It used to be that you could tuck money away in a 401(k) account and you'd be all set for retirement. That was mostly true until the market crash of 2007 – 2008.
Consider the returns of the S&P 500, the index that gauges the performance of the stocks of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. The S&P 500 is the most accurate measure of the stock market as a whole. From 2004 – 2013, the S&P 500 endured a major recession and an unprecedented downgrade in the U.S.'s credit rating. Of course since that time, the index has rebounded. However, the year to date annualized return from 2004 through 2103 is 4.8%.
Many see this as a sign the recession is over and recovery has taken hold.
But the question is, if we are indeed in a period of recovery, will it last? And for how long? Of course, that's the $64 million question. Some analysts are already predicting a market crash of 50% or more in the near future.
You don't need to be a financial analyst to realize that things are going to get a lot harder. After all, Congress and the President still haven't figured out how to deal with our $17 trillion deficit.
The Fed has already been tapering down its bond-buying from $85 billion per month to $45 billion. And it's that bond buying that has artificially propped up the stock market. Jim Dunigan, an executive at PNC Wealth Management, says the market's biggest setbacks come when investors worry that the Fed will begin tapering on its quantitative easing policies.
And speaking of quantitative easing, the dollar has been losing value against other major currencies for the past several years as a direct result of all the money the Fed has put into the system. The more the dollar falls, the more likely we'll see inflation... the very thing the Fed fears the most.
What Does All This Have to do With Women?
If these types of economic calamities weren't hard enough to deal with, as women, we face issues that are typically even more challenging to us than they are to men. Here are a few examples:
- Retirement Challenge No. 1: Women tend to invest more conservatively than men. A recent article published in the Journal of Financial Planning showed that women are more intimidated about financial issues than men. A study undertaken by Fidelity Research indicated that, although the number of women claiming primary responsibility for day-to-day financial decisions jumped to 24%, women are still less confident when it comes to making financial decisions. And they are twice as likely as men to describe themselves as financial beginners.
- Retirement Challenge No. 2: Women earn less money. According to research from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, women earned only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earned. The median earnings for American women working full-time year-round were $37,791. American men earned a median income of $49,398.
- Retirement Challenge No. 3: Women are also lagging behind men in terms of re-employment after the recession. The number of men working full-time year-round increased by 1 million between 2011 and 2012 while the number of full-time working women remained close to the same.
- Retirement Challenge No. 4: Women are not comfortable with financial advisors. A Prudential research study showed that most women don't work with or ask for help from financial advisors. Most women feel that financial advisors don't understand their concerns. A survey undertaken by E*TRADE showed that women rated the financial industry dead last in a list of 60 industries, below used car salesmen. Why is that?
Simple: Women want to understand what's going on... but it's how you say it that matters.
First of all, let me mention that there simply aren't enough female financial advisors available. According to a 2012 survey conducted by Fidelity Investments, only 13% of the nation's financial advisors are women.
What about Suze Orman?
I have nothing against Ms. Orman, but I don't agree with all her cookie-cutter financial advice. Everyone's situation is different and the truth is this: there is no personal-finance strategy that can protect us from downward spirals, nasty financial trends or plain ole bad luck.
Yet all too many of these Suze Orman-style gurus present themselves as would-be saviors, telling us that if we follow their lead, we'll not only survive but we'll thrive. It takes more than that, especially when you consider the challenges we face.
And speaking of challenges, here's our biggest retirement challenge: longevity. Women simply live longer than men do. Because women have longer life expectancies, they're more likely to end up alone in old age. Studies show that women live an average of five years longer than men. Other stats show that, by age 85, there are roughly six women to every four men. By age 100, the ratio is more than two to one.
What if your spouse, who is handling all of your financial choices, dies first? Then what? You'll be left to make critical decisions without being properly prepared.
Well, we can change that starting today. You see, I've decided to make women's retirement and financial well-being my personal crusade. If you'd like to know about alternative ways to build a comfortable retirement... if you want real proven financial advice and recommendations... if you want to know why 401(k)s could be dangerous to your financial future... if you want to know how to achieve true financial independence, then I'm going to ask you to do one thing today. Put your name on my special women's VIP list by going right here. As a VIP reader, you'll receive our brand new e-letter, The Women's Financial Edge. Our number one goal is to help women readers, of all income, education levels and backgrounds grow their wealth.
Nothing Else Like it Exists
I'll break down complex financial topics so that you can understand what is happening, what it means to your finances and how you can profit. I'll even show you ways to protect your money. I'll tap into my 25-plus-year network of financial experts who can offer you everything from:
- Simple ways to generate as much as $1,200 in extra income on a monthly basis...
- How to start your own "kitchen table" empire...
- Which stocks you should buy and which you should avoid...
- How to successfully ask for an above-average raise and get it...
- Clever ways to stretch every dollar you earn...
- How to get freebies from Uncle Sam and other institutions...
- The one word that helps you build the right relationship with people...
- How to get the best deals on everything from cars, groceries, airfare, clothing and so much more.
So, Let's Get Started
Not only will you hear from me on a regular basis, you'll hear from our panel of experts. They include successful women from all fields and backgrounds including:
- Elena Keller, marketing manager for Asset Strategies International, dealing with precious metals, foreign currencies and rare tangible assets and an avid investor
- Vikki Ziegler, divorce attorney and star of Bravo TV's hit show, Untying the Knot
- Jeanne Kelly, credit coach, and regular guest on the Today Show
- Victoria Shtainer, real estate expert; ready to show you the best strategies for buying and selling real estate
- Adriane Berg, nationally recognized speaker on aging, well-known TV and radio personality, with multiple appearances on Oprah and Good Morning America
- Katie Yeakle, President of AWAI and expert on alternative careers for women
And so many more including my partner, a true advocate for women's wealth, and the country's leading financial investigator, Pamela Yellen, New York Times best-selling author.
Oh, and one last thing. The Women's Financial Edge is intended and tailored for women readers; however, that doesn't mean men can't benefit from the information we'll be providing on a regular basis. Just be warned: Golfing, football and fishing won't be part of our agenda.
To begin receiving The Women's Financial Edge, just sign up right here.
Publisher of The Women's Financial Edge and Crusader for Women's Rights to Wealth