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Women’s History: Saving, Strategizing, and Spending

This month we have highlighted women in business who have excelled for facing tough challenges and beating the odds. However, we do not want to forget that there are untold numbers of women who do not make headlines that are also doing the same thing within their own households.

In “Women’s History Month: From Pin Money to Modern Budgets,” Forbes.com states, “In a perfect world, budgeting would be an entirely gender-neutral topic.” and delves into the unfair stereotypes of women that portray women as people who spend too much while portraying men as people with better financial management skills.

When women’s spending habits are examined, there is sometimes evidence that women spend more in on things like healthcare and clothes but this needs further analysis. 

It is possible that some women go to the doctor more often than men do.  That idea may also be a stereotype but more doctor’s visit would likely mean more x-rays, lab work, and prescriptions. And in some instances, there are medical and healthcare products designed for women that cost more. As we have observed: “The Pink Tax Affects Women’s Financial Planning.

The article points out that the idea that women spend more on apparel has its roots in “…gendered expectations for appearance” since “A man might get away with wearing the same suit every day for a year, but a professional woman must have a more varied wardrobe.”

Looking and comparing spending categories also does not account for how women save and strategize their spending on a regular basis. If a woman needs to spend more in one area, she may cut back in another. And when she does spend, she may research carefully to ensure she is spending wisely.

No matter your gender, it is worth it to take time to consider if you are letting societal expectations sway you from making sound financial decisions. Seek help if you need it. Clarity Financial Planning is trusted by savvy women, men, and families in the Washington DC Metro Area and will guide you along the path to financial independence and help ensure that you can provide for yourself and the people you love.

Olive Ann Beech Took Her Aviation Company to Great Heights

Olive Ann Beech (SDASM Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Olive Ann Beech (1903-1993), highlighted in the Mental Floss article “8 Daring Female Entrepreneurs from History” demonstrated her interest in financial matters from an early age. This woman entrepreneur had her own back account by the time she was 7 years old. At the age of 11, she was managing her family’s finances too. All this was before she enrolled in college to study bookkeeping and stenography. She worked as a bookkeeper for Travel Air Manufacturing, an aviation company after college.

Beech helped the company grow; she not only handled the company’s finances; she also oversaw its records and communication. She was promoted to office manager and later became personal secretary to company co-founder Walter Beech. The two married in 1930 and together founded Beech Aircraft Company.  As a trailblazing woman herself, Beech recognized the need for women to be seen out in front. According to NationalAviation.org:

“She convinced her husband Walter that winning a 1936 Bendix coast-to-coast speed dash would be even more impressive if the aircraft, a Staggerwing C17R, had a woman as its pilot. Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes flashed across the Los Angeles finish line to win the Bendix trophy in a record 14 hours and 44 minutes after departing from New York.”

Olive Ann became the company president when Walter died in 1950. She was the first woman to lead an aircraft company of that size. She was able to help the company transition from manufacturing aircraft to working with NASA. She was also able help her organization triple its sales. When her company merged with Raytheon, Beech remained chair of Beech Aircraft and was also elected to Raytheon’s board of directors. So, while you may have heard of Raytheon, you may not have known how Olive Ann Beech’s efforts to build and sustain her company eventually added to Raytheon’s continued success.

Finding Success in Entertainment and Entrepreneurship

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com for Unsplash

The Latin Way saluted women entrepreneurs who are either from Latin America or of Latin descent in “The most successful Latina entrepreneurs.”  Many of the women mentioned are known as entertainers but they have also had success in business.

Columbia’s Sofia Vergara is known for her work on the televisions show Modern Family. She also is the co-founder of Latin World Entertainment (LWE), a company that focuses on production and marketing. It is a top-tier talent management agency for Latin performers. Vergara not only appears before the camera herself; she also helps to give others that same opportunity.

Mexican actor Salma Hayek has appeared in film and on television shows. She also co-founded two companies that focus on wellness.  Food Brands Cooler Cleanse offers organic juices while Blend It Yourself offers smoothies that can customers can either drink or put on their faces as a mask.

Latin American actor Jessica Alba has had great success with The Honest Company. She started with environmentally friendly baby products and then the company expanded to offer beauty products and an array of household goods.

Mexican-born Kat von D left school at 16 to become a tattoo artist. She has appeared on reality shows. The attention she gained from reality TV, was useful when she decided to launch her own brand of makeup with Sephora.

One important lesson to learn from most of these women in business is the idea of having different streams of income.  When times are tough, it helps to have income from more than once source. When times are good, you can enjoy or save the surplus. Rather than solely rely on the entertainment industry to earn a living, these women took their money and invested it in businesses. You may or may not want to start a business because being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. However, you can invest your money and a Fee-only financial planner can help.

Investing Advice from Mellody Hobson

Photo: Starbucks.com

The Motley Fool highlighted investment advice from Mellody Hobson. Hobson is known as the the co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, where she had worked for almost thirty years. Late last year, Starbucks names Hobson as its board chair making her the first African American woman to hold that position.

The financial difficulties Hobson experienced growing up had an effect on how she views investing. She was the youngest of six and grew up in a loving home but there were some challenging financial issues. What she saw motivated her to learn more and understand how financial systems work. Instead of shying away from money matters as people who face financial hardship can, Hobson went into finance.

The article notes that Hobson is a fierce proponent of having a long-term perspective…” and that her “disciplined, long-term approach to investing is seen in Ariel Investment’s motto “slow and steady wins the race”, which uses a turtle to symbolize the firm’s investment philosophy.”  In 2020 graduation speech, the 1991 Princeton graduate says that if someone from her graduating class had invested $1 a day or $30 a month, that money could have grown to being almost $40,000 by  2020.

While Hobson’s advice to graduates spoke specifically to the advantages of patience in investing over many years, her overall philosophy can be applied in other ways. As The Motley Fool points out, investors pay less in taxes when they hold on to investments longer. In this instance long term can be a period of over one year and not decades: 

“If you invested for the long term (over a year), you’ll unlock lower tax rates  of 0%, 15%, or 20% depending on your income and filing status. By holding your investments over the long-term, you have the potential to make more money and pay less in taxes.” 

Women Entrepreneurs Overcome Pandemic Challenges

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com for Unsplash

Women entrepreneurs reveal lessons from the pandemic and how they dealt with unprecedented times” focuses on women entrepreneurs in India. It highlights their businesses and the lessons they’ve learned as they navigate the pandemic as entrepreneurs.

Several entrepreneurs used a word we hear a lot in these times: pivot. Depending on your business and area of expertise, a pivot can be somewhat challenging or seem almost impossible. While some people found it easy to deliver their services online others may have had to revamp their entire business model to meet pandemic conditions.

Saying No: Some might say being inundated with opportunities and requests is a good problem to have…but it is not so good if you find you cannot say no. In the uncertainty of a pandemic, it could feel like you have to say yes even more than before since you cannot be certain of repeat business. However, if you quality of life or the quality of your work suffers, you will need to turn down some opportunities.

Relating to employees: Entrepreneurs who were used to talking to employees in person have had to find ways to work with employees remotely. A pharmaceutical executive spoke about how her industry has previously been slow to digitize and this provided challenges but she concluded, “Our people truly came through in all aspects and proved yet again the importance of hiring the right people and empowering them!”

Continuing despite challenges: One of the main lessons these women entrepreneurs have taken away from the pandemic so far is the need to keep going. They have had to remain flexible and e creative as they rose to the challenge of staying in business.

No matter what you have been doing, whether it is growing a business or maintaining your family finances as best you can, do not look down on all that you have accomplished. As the HerStory.com article suggests, “The skills developed during this period will help us navigate the next few years after the pandemic scare has passed.”

George Washington’s Senior Citizen Startup

In “Redefine Retirement with New Lingo” we discussed boomerang entrepreneurs, a term for people who start businesses one the retire from their previous career. While the term may be new, this idea is not new at all.  Many people, including George Washington, the first president of the United States, decide to get into new entrepreneurial ventures at a mature age.

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

Washington was born on February 22 and is one of the presidents celebrated on the President’s Day holiday. He is mainly known for his political achievements so some people do not know about his life as a business man.  SmallBusiness.com chronicles this other side of our first president in “10 Amazing Facts About George Washington’s 2nd Most Successful Startup.” He started a commercial distillery on his Mount Vernon estate at the age of 65, even though he did not prior experience of running a distillery. Washington knew about farming and his farm manager, “…convinced Washington that Mount Vernon’s crops, combined with its large commercial gristmill and the abundant water supply, would make the distillery a profitable venture.”

One key to the success of Washington’s distillery was that he had some of the raw materials needed, including land, the gristmill, and a water source, already available. SmallBusiness.com also points out that it was successful because of timing. When the distillery started, whiskey was overtaking rum in popularity, so Washington began this venture at a good time. He also sold his product in a barrels and did not pay for bottles, labels, or branding.

Unfortunately, as the article points out “Washington’s distillery lacked the succession planning to keep in operational.” (Note that a Fee-only financial planner is one of the professionals you can consult about succession planning for your business.) After Washington died, the distillery was sold and later what was left of the building caught fire. Another working distillery has been constructed in the spot where the original stood and it is part of the Mount Vernon historic site.

Do Your Research to Avoid Tax Season Tumult

Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post offered advice for what may be a tumultuous tax season for some people and a “supersize list of some of the issues people will face this year” in “Tax season 2021: A tornado is coming.” 

Really, you do not have to fear if you have already been working with a Fee-only financial planner. And there is still time to get help from a financial planning expert for this year and for the years to come. Here are some things to consider:

File electronically if you can: The general advice this year is to file your taxes electronically. Because of staffing issues and slowdowns with the IRS and the postal service, your return will be processed much more quickly if you file electronically.

Research claiming stimulus payments: If you were owed a stimulus payment and either did not receive one or did not receive the full payment you were owed, you can claim your stimulus payment on your taxes.  Singletary gives clear directions on an article entitles, “To claim your stimulus payment, look for Line 30 on your 1040 tax form.” 

Those who got the entire stimulus owed to them in the first and second rounds do NOT have to do anything.

Also, college students can claim stimulus payments in certain circumstances if they are supporting themselves financially. Those who have parents paying more than half of their expenses cannot claim a stimulus payment.

Be prepared to pay taxes on unemployment benefits: Some people may not have realized that unemployment benefits are subject to taxes. In the event that you calculate your taxes and realize you owe more than you can pay, you should still file your taxes on time.

Verify whether you can claim a home office deduction: Some people assumed that since once they started working from home due to the pandemic, they would be able to get a home-office deduction but this is not the case. Singletary writes, “You can take a home-office deduction only if you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker.” 

The Connection Between Love and Your Money Mindset

As a champion of holistic financial decision making and financial planning since 2004 that believes in putting the client’s needs first, Clarity Financial Planning wants you to consider both love and money this Valentine’s Day. And we don’t just mean romantic love because there are other types of love that can affect your financial habits.

In a November 2020 article, “Love and Money—and How They’re Connected,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) helps readers make connections between these two things observing, “Our relationships with people are often reflected to money. For good and ill.” The WSJ suggests “honest self-reflection about your relationship history (starting with mom and dad) and the role money inevitably played.” According to the article, financial gains and losses are activated in the same part of the brain as our romantic ups and downs. Even if you don’t consciously connect love and money, your subconscious mind is linking the two.

The article includes a link to an assessment tool developed by a certified financial planner who is also a psychologist. This tool “can provide you with a broad brush stroke of your money mind-set.” If you just live and spend without reflection, you may never realize that they way you think about money could be preventing you from reaching your financial goals.

One expert interviewed for the article suggests automating much of your financial life. As you explore the reasons behind your spending style and the decisions you make, you can make sure your financial obligations are met by paying bills and setting aside savings automatically.

This Valentine’s Day consider the concept of self-love as you examine your financial habits and look at what you can do to create more financial stability for yourself. Make a plan to do what you need to in order to move yourself closer to your financial goals.

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