Introduction by Carolyn Leighton, Founder/Chairwoman, WITI
For decades, women have been socialized to believe that it is ok for men to pursue wealth, but if women expressed a serious interest in building wealth on their own, we were seen (and saw ourselves) as selfish, hedonistic, not nice girls.
Then, thankfully, Oprah came along and demonstrated to the world the positive impact and contributions women can make when wealth is acquired.
I believe that those of us who have the capability of building wealth have a social responsibility to do so �" not only to relieve men from bearing the burden of supporting women and their families �" but also to positively influence and contribute to policy and individuals in society who do not have the capability to acquire wealth.
WITI women are uniquely positioned to build wealth �" we are educated, talented, and technology literate. But many of us continue to be burdened by the negative images and messages we acquired about our role as women and money. As a result, many women who can solve the most complex problems, suddenly become “stupid” and uneducated about money matters.
And, that is precisely why, I looked for the right person to educate us about money �" not just the mechanics of money, but all of the issues that stand in the way of our ability to acquire wealth.
How fortunate we are to have found Judi Martindale, a very unique woman, committed to helping us understand that wealth matters.
I was thrilled when WITI’s founder, Carolyn Leighton, invited me to write a regular personal finance column for WITI. Educating and empowering women in the world of finance has long been my commitment. It’s easy to understand why when you know my story.
I grew up in Ohio to parents who did not attend high school. They each grew up on family farms and needed to help out early on. When my father’s farm was lost during the depression, he and my mother moved to Dayton to work in the factories. My father continued that job until retirement over 35 years later. My mother left the factory to raise my older sister and me and then returned to work in a department store when I was in third grade.
It was important to my parents that both my sister and I go to college, for which I’ll always be grateful. My mother wanted us to be financially secure, although to her, that meant “meeting a good man” while in college.
Life went according to the traditional plan of my era, until my husband and I divorced after 13 years of marriage. I had worked as a first grade school teacher and didn’t know anything about money so I went to a financial planner when the industry was young. The planner, a woman, said she couldn’t help me because she I didn’t have any money to invest (she was paid on commission for selling investment products). I began searching for courses and consumer-friendly books couldn’t find any. I finally decided there was no better way to learn about money than to be in the field. I began studying for my Certified Financial Planner designation, working for another planner and then opened my own financial planning firm a few years later. All that took place over 25 years ago.
During my early years in the field, I met a great many women who wanted to become savvy about money and were frustrated and angry as a result of the often condescending comments from brokers. Consequently, one of the first things I did was to create, develop and teach financial planning courses for adults at our community college. I met another teacher and writer there, a long-time supporter of women, who was nearing retirement. She was troubled that the only books on retirement planning were written by men and assumed that only the man worked. I remember her phone call. “Judi”, she said, “we must write a book about retirement planning for women!” And so, we did. No More Baglady Fears
, written ten years ago, was the first book on retirement planning for women written by women.
Throughout my career, I have developed a number of recommendations regarding important financial decisions. One strong recommendation is the importance of working with a fee-only financial planner. Financial planners are compensated in a wide variety of ways, but the vast majority are still paid on various commission structures which puts you and the advisor on opposite sides of the table. How can you to trust the advice you receive knowing that investing in a particular mutual fund or annuity benefits the advisor but may not be in your best interest.
I also believe that it’s essential to know and understand the total costs involved in investing. For example, index mutual funds have lower internal costs than the more common and more highly advertised and promoted actively managed funds. Low fees are an essential component of any investment plan, especially in our current economic environment, but many people aren’t aware of the differences. In fact, it’s not in your broker’s best interest for you to have this information. If you did, you may not need or want his advice.
We can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various types of investments, and expose all the hidden fees in great detail so you know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re spending.
My intention is to make this column as relevant, supportive and helpful as possible. Some of my thoughts for future columns include:
- Creating a spending plan, not a budget
- The Cost of Advice
- Asset Allocation Today
- Annuities: Pros and Cons
- How much is enough?
- Money Messages
- Your Money IQ
- $$ and Mindfulness
- Smart Money Moves
I’d love for this to be a place that combines practical money tips with personal exploration about our attitudes and habits around money. We can extend this column to teleclasses and webinars, if there is interest. Send me your questions and concerns and we’ll brainstorm together.
Consciousness raising isn’t a thing of the past. The more money we have, the more options we have to take care of ourselves and give to others. Just like the song says, Money makes the world go around
. Join me, won’t you? I can be reached at [email protected]
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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