The following post is in collaboration with Wescom Credit Union.
When the company I worked for downsized, I was left wondering what to do next. The obvious choice was to immediately get a job. After all, my son was a senior in high school and had plans to attend college, my medical bills were through the roof because of my TMJ disorder and my fiance just started a new job.
However, it wasn’t that simple. I worked from my home office for six years, and struggled with the idea of sitting in my car for hours during rush hour traffic every day. I live in Pasadena, Calif. and most of the available jobs were on the west side. Long commutes – with a temperamental and unpredictable pain disorder – was just not an option. I’m also on a treatment that requires frequent doctor visits, weekly chiropractic care and many dentist appointments, which can take up to three hours sometimes (I wear a 24/7 orthotic for my TMJ).
Even if I had been the perfect picture of health, I had other reservations about sending that resume out. I knew deep down that this was the opening I needed to start that business I always dreamed about. Because if not now, when?
I took the risk and dove in. However, as someone who has been divorced, spent nearly two decades child rearing and focusing on getting better healthwise, I had a lot of homework, research and catching up to do. Like most women, I was in caretaker, survival mode for many years and didn’t think a lot about a nest egg, retirement, investments, and so forth. The goal was to create a business that I can build upon, and that required investing into it, being resourceful and having a good amount of foresight about my industry. I’m one year in and so far, so good.
In the midst of managing clients and figuring things out, I was invited to a special “Don’t Fall Short of Your Financial Goals” brunch hosted by Wescom Credit Union, to learn more about financial tips and advice. Wescom is a Southern Cali credit union and financial services institution that has been serving Southern California for nearly 85 years! In addition to financial education, Wescom also offers essential banking services to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in SoCal like checking and savings accounts, and auto and home loans, plus retirement and investment accounts.
The universe has a funny way of bringing you what you need, doesn’t it?
Following the brunch, I was invited to become a Wescom brand ambassador and attend one of their financial education seminars designed to educate women about their financial future. In just one hour, I was given the tools I needed to move forward. I’m feeling super-charged and informed enough to finally take control of my life and my own future…
Before I go into the details of what I learned so far, I want to share that if you’re a woman and your finances are not in order, you are not alone. Like I said above, our circumstances as women are completely unique to our situations. Gaining control may seem daunting at first, but once you have a clear understanding of your financial picture, it’s all doable.
First thing you need to do is:
Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation. This is likely the hardest thing to do. Apps like Mint can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together. Or if you’re an Excel pro, you can simply create a spreadsheet. Recognize that this is hard to do (debt, lack of savings, what have you) and give yourself some grace. Start by identifying your monthly income and expenses, evaluate your spending habits (we realized that much of our money was spent on food) and develop a budget. Once you develop that budget, stick to it by evaluating and checking in daily with your bank account (or budgeting apps). If you can check into Facebook everyday, you can certainly check in with your hard earned coins.
A clear picture also includes taking a close look at your debt (fees, interests, etc) and credit score.
Set and prioritize financial goals and time-frames. Don’t try to do this all in one sitting. Create a short-term and long-term goal list in order of priority. In need of a vacation? Want to buy a house? Write it down and start from there. Right now, my son’s college is a priority, a much needed vacation is next, a retirement plan and what to do with family investments I will need to take over one day.
Start your retirement plan. Women face different challenges than men when it comes to planning for retirement. Often times our careers are interrupted (raising children, caring for older parents), which means we spend less time in the workforce and earn less in the long run. To make matters even more challenging, we live longer than men. We actually need to stretch out our earnings for a longer period of time. At age 65, you can expect to still live another 20-30 years.
No matter where you are in life, start saving now. If your employer offers a 401k plan, enroll as soon as possible and contribute as much as you can. If you’re at home with the kids, put money aside for those years ahead. Every little bit counts.
I was one of those parents who poured everything into their child as though I were going to live forever and didn’t need to worry about my own future. Wescom has greatly helped me see where I pivoted and how I can do something about that now.
It’s very easy to let time go by. Before you know it, you may find yourself unprepared for what’s to come.
Women, if you haven’t started taking a close look at your finances…start now. You’re the key to your financial future. If you’re not sure where to start and want to sit with a financial advisor, Wescom offers those services as well. In fact, that’s our next step.
Give them a call at 1-888-8WESCOM (1-888-893-7266), visit wescom.org, or click here to open an account.