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Married at 19 years old, Sarah rarely stressed about money during the next 50 years. “My husband Rob was in charge of the finances from day one,” she said. A mid-level administrator at a printing company in New York, he was sensible and competent at everything he did. Sarah always turned her modest salary as a nutritionist over to him.
But when Rob died at 74 after a short illness, Sarah’s money worries began.
She had no earthly idea whether their mortgage was paid off, or if Rob kept his life insurance when their sons moved out on their own. She didn’t know a thing about their investments. And, she didn’t have a clue about their monthly expenses. Rob prepared their income taxes. He paid all the bills.
Sarah was beside herself with anxiety as she waded through mountains of files trying to get a handle on money matters.
Halfway across the country in Chicago, Barbara had another type of distress when her ex died suddenly. Assuming their 17-year-old twins were still beneficiaries of his life insurance policy, Barbara was shocked to learn he left the money to his new – and much younger – wife. “I was counting on the inheritance to help pay the steep tuition bills when the kids went off to college in a year,” Barbara fretted.
Barbara is still kicking herself that she didn’t confirm the beneficiaries of her former husband’s insurance policy since their divorce. “I would have paid the premiums just as long as the money went to our children, but I had no one to advise me,” she groaned.
DON’T WAIT FOR DEATH OR DIVORCE
Stop right here. Are you like Sarah or Barbara? If your husband died or you and he split up, would you know if your and your family’s financial future were secure?
Or maybe you’re single and make a decent living, but haven’t done a thing to ensure you’d be in decent shape if you lost your job or could no longer work. And what are your retirement plans?
You see a doctor about medical issues. Rely on a plumber when a pipe leaks. And make a mad dash to a mechanic when a warning light pops up on the car dashboard.
Isn’t it high time you met another expert – a financial expert – who can advise you about one of the most crucial components in your life: Your Money?
You may feel more comfortable letting your partner deal with the family finances. Or perhaps you’re embarrassed that you know next to nothing about investing and would feel like a jerk talking to an expert. Or maybe you think your “future” is too far away, so why start planning for it now! But you should stop making excuses. If you start learning about your finances today you’ll help give yourself a secure tomorrow.
“SHOW ME THE MONEY, HONEY”
“Even if you don’t control the money, a lot of ‘what ifs’ can happen, so at least learn where the money is and where it’s going,” said Joyce Streithorst, director of financial planning with Frisch Financial Group. “It’s a lot easier to gather this information over time than to be forced into it by a divorce or a death.
“You’re not looking to take over control, but to educate yourself and be involved,” Joyce added. Get copies of your tax returns, investment statements, credit card statements, bank statements. Discuss where your money is invested. Go through the estate plan and the beneficiaries. Find out if your husband bought disability and long-term care policies. And make sure your home isn’t in his name only.
“Tell your husband that you want to be on the call when he next talks to the accountant or financial advisor so you can try to understand what’s happening. If the advisor talks over your head, ask him to go slower. If you think commissions, not your interests, are his priorities, suggest to your husband that it might be a good idea to get a second opinion from another advisor,” Joyce recommended. After all, you want to make sure you have the right person working for you.
Frisch Financial is part of Wealthramp, a free online referral service that connects consumers with top independent, fee-only financial advisors who best fit their needs. After all, each woman’s financial requirements are as unique as her health or beauty essentials, stressed Pam Krueger, Wealthramp founder.
Also co-host of Friends Talk Money podcast and creator and co-host of MoneyTrack on PBS, Pam spent three years personally vetting every advisor for her smart Wealthramp service. She had heard one too many tales of woe from women who suffered financially because they were horribly mismatched with advisors. Or they accepted the advisors their husbands chose, not meeting them even once.
THE WEALTHRAMP DIFFERENCE
Sixty-something Carol discovered Wealthramp after she sold a building she owned for almost 30 years, and was searching for an investment advisor. Single and a construction management professional, Carol had always been frugal and lived modestly, putting most of the money she earned from her job and tenants’ rents back into her house. When she decided it was time “to start enjoying life instead of fixing toilets,” she put the building up for sale. Her modest down payment had turned into a handsome profit, and she knew it was time “to grow up and have an investment portfolio.”
Discouraged by meetings with women from a Forbes list of top advisors, “who’d blab on and on about themselves without asking me a single question,” Carol was encouraged to hear about Wealthramp on Pam Krueger’s podcast. “Pam was personable and seemed to care about her clients,” Carol remembered.
After submitting a two-minute Wealthramp survey, Carol had a 45-minute call with Pam, who recommended two advisors. Carol interviewed both of them at length and chose Joyce. “She created a detailed document explaining how she’d invest my money, what the businesses did and why she chose them,” Carol said.
Carol speaks to Joyce whenever she has questions or gets nervous if she sees the value of her investments dropping and needs reassurance. “Joyce gets back to me right away,” Carol said. “I’ve never felt that she put me on the back burner or pushed me off. She doesn’t talk mumbo jumbo and say things I don’t understand.”
Working with Joyce for the last five months, Carol has seen a good return on her investments. “I never had my life so stress-free, EVER! I know my money is in good hands. And so am I.”
The advisors in the Wealthramp network don’t require that you invest millions like Carol. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to invest at all; you can simply get a sound analysis from an expert about the state of your financial affairs.