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6 Ways to Help Supercharge Your Financial Plan

Laura Combs

CFP®, Sr. Managing Director

Summary

Six essential ways that women (and everyone else) can plan for retirement and a better financial future.

Senior woman consulting with a younger woman
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Women and money: changes are underway

The financial landscape for American women has shifted for decades, and it continues to change the face, literally, of investing. Women add $5 trillion in global wealth each year, or about a third of U.S. household financial assets, and total assets controlled by women now represent between $81 trillion and $93 trillion.1  The gender pay gap in the U.S. still persists ( with little change in two decades), with women earning 82 cents to every man’s dollar. But now, nearly 30% of wives earn the same amount as their husbands,2  and in 16% of marriages, wives outearn their husbands. ,Despite this progress, 22% of women still report having little to no involvement in retirement or financial planning, according to a 2021 Fidelity Investments study. What’s more, 56% of women indicated that their husband  is a better investor, while just 34% of men believed the same about their wife.4

One of the best ways for women (and anyone else, for that matter) to feel empowered financially—and to make wise financial decisions—is to create a written financial plan. The Fidelity Investments study found that those who are working with a financial professional are more confident about finances. Thirty-five percent are concerned about saving enough for retirement, compared with 54% for those who aren’t working with an advisor.

A financial plan brings together your life story, ambitions, dreams, and assets in one cohesive document. Think of this plan as a pathway to help achieve financial independence. It serves as the foundation for your financial journey, encompassing all wealth management components—investments, tax planning, trusts, and estate planning—that can help you attain your dreams. Having a written financial plan can also limit detrimental behavior and can help you avoid emotional spending.

 

How to supercharge your financial plan

It’s never too late to begin pondering your financial goals. Here are six ways to help power up your financial plan.

  1. Write it down. Compiling a list of your goals, dreams, and vision for the future—with specifics—can help you achieve them. What does success look like for you? When do you want to retire? What is the best possible outcome for your finances? Try to be as detailed as possible when writing down your goals. For example, instead of just listing “retirement,” try to visualize what it looks like. How old will you be? Do you see yourself living in the same location? Will you be visiting the places on your bucket list? Will you be focusing on a hobby? Will you have any passive income from a property or vacation rental? Answers to these and other questions will serve as a good foundation for your financial plan.A written plan can be critical to achieving your financial goals. According to a study, people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals by simply writing them down on a regular basis.5 A written financial plan can serve as the central force in keeping you focused and accountable.
  1. Talk about your financial goals with family and friends.Why is this important? Because talking about dreams and plans can hold you accountable and make the goals feel more attainable. For a goal that you and another person are working toward together, conversation can help ensure that you’re on the same page about timing and how much to save. Sharing goals with your children can help them learn the importance of financial education and provide a good model of values and behavior around money.
  2. Break down the timeline.Let’s face it—many of us procrastinate about saving money. A Northwestern Mutual study showed that older generations tend to be pessimistic about retirement preparedness: 55% of Gen Xers said they won’t be ready for retirement by age 65, and nearly half of millennials and baby boomers felt the same way.6 Long-term financial goals in increments of one year and five years can help you formulate specific steps. For example, if you have children, you already know that you have 18 years before money is needed for each of their college educations. Setting up annual reviews can help ensure you stay on track.
  3. Create milestones along the way for measuring success.In the example of education savings, the big transitions (e.g., from elementary to middle school) can be used to measure progress and track success. Milestone birthdays and job changes can also be catalysts for checking progress in retirement planning.
  4. Add some fun to celebrate your wins.The road to achieving your financial goals shouldn’t feel like drudgery. Celebrate when you reach a specific benchmark. Depending on what your budget will allow, do some traveling, treat yourself to a luxe expenditure, or go to a trendy restaurant.
  5. Revisit your plan when there’s a big life change.Part of the power of a financial plan is the capability of revisiting it when life happens. Whether a marriage, the birth of a child, a career move, or some unexpected occurrence, review and adjust your plan as needed to help ensure you stay on track to your goals.While the financial playing field may not be level for everyone—especially women—the numbers show a continued shift. In the meantime, it’s good to remember that a financial plan is a living, breathing document. As your goals change, and as you face both expected and unexpected life events, the plan can also change. We encourage you to speak with your advisor about how we can help bring your financial plan to life.

1 Boston Consulting Group, “Managing the Next Decade of Women’s Wealth,” April 9, 2020.
2 Pew Research Center, “Gender Pay Gap in U.S. Hasn’t Changed Much in Two Decades,” March 1, 2023.
3 Pew Research Center, “In a Growing Share of U.S. Marriages, Husbands and Wives Earn About the Same,” April 13, 2023.
4 Fidelity Investments, “2021 Couples & Money Study.”
5 Mary Morrissey, “The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams,” December 6, 2017.
6 Northwestern Mutual, “Planning & Progress Study 2023.”

Mercer Advisors Inc. is the parent company of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. and is not involved with investment services. Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”) is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. The firm only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Some of the research and ratings shown in this presentation come from third parties that are not affiliated with Mercer Advisors. The information is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed or warranted by Mercer Advisors. Content, research, tools and stock or option symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or to engage in any particular investment strategy. For financial planning advice specific to your circumstances, talk to a qualified professional at Mercer Advisors.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.