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Women’s History Month; Learning From our Past

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By Jill Ciccarelli Rapps CFP®

What do Women’s History Month and financial planning have to do with each other?  It turns out, a lot!

Looking back in history, women did not take the primary role in their financial future and today many women still do not feel knowledgeable and powerful with their finances.  What we learn from our past role models can help women pave their way to taking charge of our financial future.  Let’s first take a look at some of these amazing women who broke barriers and created a “can-do” attitude when it comes to finances.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the second First Lady of the United States, but she had another title that isn’t widely known: Investor. As her husband John Adams was busy with his career as a lawyer and statesman, he left the management of their family farm and business dealings to Abigail. She invested in government and war bonds, considered risky at the time, and quadrupled the family’s fortune.

Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934), the daughter of slaves, went to work to help her mother after her father died. She started the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1902, becoming the first woman to charter a bank in the U.S.; her goal was to encourage saving and economic independence in the Black community.

Muriel Siebert (1928-2013), was the first woman to have a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1967.  She was the only woman among 1,365 men. Often referred to as “The First Woman of Finance,” Siebert founded and served as the president of Siebert Financial Corp., which made her the first woman to run one of the NYSE’s firms. Siebert was also the first woman to hold the role of Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York, a position she held for five years.

We all have the power and ability to be financially independent. Women have amazing, natural capabilities, such as being caretakers, multi-taskers, masters of balancing risk and reward and being planners. This helps to be naturally good financial stewards of money, but often many of us do not trust these abilities for one reason or another. 

There are four elements you need to master to be as powerful as our leading ladies above:

#1 Documenting your vision (a great way to do this is through a vision board) of what you want your money “used” for – what gives you the greatest pleasure.  When you write it or visualize it, it becomes ten times more powerful and gives you clarity about what you want to achieve.

#2 Have a spending plan and know how much it takes to cover your lifestyle. Create a budget and make sure you can save money consistently and that you have enough to allocate to your future goals.

#3 Prepare and update a balance sheet at least once a year. This is a listing of all your assets and liabilities.  A balance sheet is a great tool to measure your success, documenting where you are today, and have clarity about the financial decisions you need to make for the future.   

#4 Have a financial tracking system to easily see how you are achieving your goals.  Today it is common to have a secure website where all your financials download to a full view of your net worth, investment values, and spending. With a click of a button, you can get a “bird’s eye” view of your finances that can help you see if any adjustments need to be made.

We believe in empowering women to be financially smart, independent (meaning taking care of yourself first), and confident about the financial decisions you make.  Having a plan in place empowers you to live your life to the fullest.  If you need guidance on any of the steps above, do not hesitate to reach out to your financial advisor team to help guide you; you will be glad you did!

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