Category Archives: Money Management

Affordable Small Business Accounting Software

Did you know that as of 2016 there were 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States?

True story. Since 2007, the economy at large has only seen an increase of 9% for the establishment of new businesses. But women-owned businesses? Forty-five percent growth.

Not all of this growth is for positive reasons. One reason people leave the W-2 grind and head out on their own is unequal pay and marginalization in the workplace. It stands to reason that women would start working for themselves or taking charge and employing others.

This is especially true for black women, who are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in our country. When you consider the added barriers that racism imposes, it’s not surprising that so many women are taking control of their own destiny.

While the reasons behind these trends may be messed up, there’s no reason to feel any kind of pity. Businesses run by women have seen a 37% increase in revenue since 2007–ten percentage points higher than the economy at large.

Women aren’t just quietly leaving, establishing new businesses in lieu of being someone else’s employee.

They’re rocking it once they head off on their own.

Today’s post goes out to all the ladies out there. Full of ambition. Capable. And driven.

Who also want a little bit of help keeping their finances straight along the journey.

Taking Care of Your Money as a Small Business Owner

When you’re a small business owner, you have to take care of everything yourself–or hire someone to take care of it for you. When it comes to business finances, the person you’ll be hiring or contracting with is an accountant.

Here’s the thing, though: you can’t just hand your accountant a shoe box of receipts at the end of the year along with your bank account number.

You have to stay organized so they can do their job effectively. Not only will it help you stay on good terms with your CPA, but staying organized will help you measure the health of your business on days that don’t rhyme with “April 18th.”

A great way to do this is through accounting software. Typically, the best programs are going to be pseudo pricey. But recently, I got turned on to one that’s pretty darn comprehensive at an affordable price. Because you shouldn’t go broke trying to take care of your money.

Affordable Small Business Accounting Software from Xero

Let’s start with the basics: Xero is an online accounting software program that services companies with up to one hundred employees. If you don’t employ that many people, or only employ yourself, you don’t have to pay the same price as the larger small businesses. Prices are tiered:

Starter Plan

Best for solopreneurs with minimal invoicing needs.

Comes with:

  • Ability to send five invoices/quotes per month.
  • Capability to enter five bills to remind yourself when to pay and to make sure you have an accurate perception of your cash flow.
  • Ability to reconcile 20 bank transactions.

Cost per month: $9

Standard Plan

Best for companies with >6 employees, or solopreneurs with higher monthly invoice volumes.

Comes with:

  • Unlimited invoicing and quotes.
  • Unlimited bill tracking.
  • Unlimited bank transaction reconciliation.
  • Payroll for up to 5 people.

Cost per month: $30

Premium Plan

Best for companies with 6-100 employees on payroll.

Comes with:

  • Unlimited invoicing and quotes.
  • Unlimited bill tracking.
  • Unlimited bank transaction reconciliation.
  • Payroll for up to 10, 20 or 100 people.
  • Multi-currency capabilities.

Cost per month:  $70 for 10 employees, $90 for 20, and $180 for 100.

Free Trial

No matter which plan best suits your needs, you can get a 30-day free trial here–no credit card required.

Evergreen Nonprofit Pricing

Run a nonprofit? Then you can get 25% off the prices you see above at the end of your free trial.

Xero’s Functionality

Affordable payroll software for small business owners.

Xero is super simple to use. The larger your business is, the longer it will take to set up, but that’s only because you have more information. No hair pulling. Everything is streamlined. Even the most complex accounting maneuvers are navigable with Xero’s guidance. Your CPA will be impressed when she looks things over.

The biggest bump in the road is the payroll availability. This is no problem if the only person you employ is yourself, but if you do have employees, you should know that currently Xero only offers full payroll capabilities, including electronic services, for the following states:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

It does offer payroll for these states, as well–you just won’t be able to execute every last thing for your employees electronically:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

They keep adding states all the time, so if you don’t see yours, be sure to scroll down on this page to check Xero’s most recent list.

Simplicity and Affordability

While Xero is simple and affordable, it’s also comprehensive. After that initial setup, upkeep is a breeze. That gives you more time to get back to running the world.

Shoot...this is pretty much half the price of the small business accounting software I'm paying for now...



*I have been compensated for the writing of this post. Regardless, all opinions are honest and my own.*

Personal Finance Insights from Self-Employed Women

Some insights I wouldn't have thought of, and some great questions posed. Personal finance from self-employed women.

Yesterday I had the privilege of organizing an event in honor of Women’s Money Week at Whetstone Workgroup. Since the patrons at Whetstone are self-employed, we set up a discussion with financial counselor Katharine Perry on saving for retirement when you’re self-employed (and female.)

I learned a ton, including the fact that the state of Pennsylvania just rolled out a 529 for special needs individuals. More on that another day, but essentially, the money can be used for needs beyond education at any time.

I also learned a lot about what self-employed women are worried about when it comes to personal finance, and also got some insights from those who have done this freelancing gig for a lot longer than I have. I wanted to share some of that with you here today.

Why Women’s Rate of Savings is So Low

Three out of every five women over the age of 65 cannot pay for her basic needs. We live longer than men, but when we set our retirement goals we aim 50% lower. (See these and other alarming stats here.)

It was interesting to hear some of the reasons why this happens. In our group here in Pittsburgh, there were a couple of points that were brought up:

  1. Women, in general, tend to take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves. This thought process goes beyond day-to-day care taking and extends to finances. When you make your own well-being the last priority, your retirement savings is going to suffer—or be nonexistent.
  2. We undervalue ourselves. When we don’t charge enough for our services, it becomes more difficult to set larger dollar amounts aside for tomorrow.

Retirement Savings When You are Self-Employed

Automation is an awesome way to make sure you’re saving enough for retirement. But that becomes a little bit difficult when you have a variable income.

There are several ways to tackle this issue. One is to treat your retirement savings like a bill—just as important as your rent or cell phone bill. If you automate those bills, you should be able to automate your retirement contributions for the month if you’ve made paying yourself first a priority.

Another way you could approach it is by contributing a certain percentage of each paycheck. This method can’t be used in conjunction with automation when your pay is variable, but if you get disciplined about it the habit could become just as routine.

The Worst Can Happen

When you’re self-employed, you have to worry about what happens when you can’t work because that’s the moment money stops coming in. There are no such things as sick days when you work for yourself.

There are also major concerns around disability and finding a good policy that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. These policies are arguably just as if not more important than life insurance during your working years.

Another big concern was long-term care and its accompanying insurance. This wasn’t just a concern for ourselves. People are living longer. If your parents don’t have this type of coverage, you, their child, will in all likelihood end up footing part if not all of the bill.

These situations can cause temporary financial strife or even eat into the money you’ve been saving for your own golden years. It can really mess with your head, too, because the financial hell doesn’t end until your loved one does, and that’s not something you want to see happen–money be damned.

What if I’m starting late?

This was a major concern. It’s all well and good to tell twenty-five year olds that compound interest is their friend. Time is on their side, and moderate savings today could lead to major returns in the future.

But what if you’re just getting started at 60? Or even 50?

We landed here:

It’s best to sit down with a trusted financial advisor in these situations. Every individual’s situation is so unique, and when you don’t have time on your side, blanket advice is rarely going to apply.

Diversify your income.

Remember when that money mentor told me you don’t want to keep all of your eggs in one basket?

There was a lot of agreement with that sentiment yesterday. Whether you’re diversifying your income streams within your freelancing business or diversifying your skills in multiple fields, having something to fall back on when one stream of revenue falls through can be a lifesaver.

The Unemployment Rule

This is totally unrelated to self-employment, but I did learn a new financial rule of thumb during the event. Apparently, for every $10,000 you make in salary, you will be out of work for one month should you become unemployed.

Maybe that’s why CEO’s get such generous severance packages while entry-level workers often get—unemployment?


How do we spread this message to others?

At the end of our event, I was thrilled to hear that everyone was energized to take this message to the women in their lives.

There was just one question.

“How do we get them to engage?”

My answer?

Actively combat Cyber Balkanism.

Cyber Balkanism is the phenomenon of all of us staying in our own little corner of the internet. We don’t actually spread ideas, because we’re talking to the people who are already listening.

Go where other people are. If you enjoy reading mommy blogs, go there and engage. Into fashion? Same deal. NES games? Seriously, there’s a corner of the internet for everything.

When you engage with people, they have a way of engaging back.

That’s true online, but it’s true in real life, too. There is still such a taboo around money discussions, and I personally feel this silence is especially detrimental to women. We, who want to close the gender wage gap, are uncomfortable discussing ways to increase income. We, who want to combat sexism in finance, but may be uncomfortable bringing up the subject of higher-level finances with friends.

Go where other people are. Get outside your bubble. Meaningfully engage, and then don’t be afraid to bring up money.

Also, share this post. Post haste.

New Year’s Resolutions: Clean Up Your Credit Report

New Year's Resolutions: Clean Up Your Credit Report

It’s a new year, and once again we haven’t hit our goal for a down payment for a house. Medical bills and health insurance premiums have totally messed us up in the past twelve months, but that’s a story for another day.

It is, however, a new year, and with the turning of the calendar many people set resolutions and goals–a good many of those goals are financial.

With all of these New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to point out another huge thing people should be doing as they save and prepare to buy a home. Of course, you need the capital for a down payment. You need it for closing costs, and to prove to the bank that you have enough of an emergency fund to not go broke if something needs to be repaired in your new abode.

But before you can even think about getting that mortgage, you need to know what’s on your credit report. Lenders will be looking not just at your credit score, but also at the line items on your report in order to determine how worthy you are of receiving their loan.

Anecdotes: Credit Report Errors Happen in Real Life

A few years ago I wrote about getting your annual free credit report. (You should not contact the credit bureaus; you should follow the directions in this post.) One of my readers followed through, and found out that her bank had her mortgage on there twice. It made it look like she had twice as much debt as she actually did. She took steps to remove it.

Michelle found out when she was an adult that someone had bought a house in her name when she was only thirteen years old. She had a heck of a time proving that she did not, in fact, make such a huge purchase before she was even legally an adult.

A few years ago, I myself found out that I had negative information on my credit report. It was a shock, as it was an issue I had already worked out with the billing institution. (It wasn’t even a loan.) I wrote a Goodwill Letter, explaining the circumstances, and requesting that it be removed as we had already resolved the balance. They obliged, but I am the only person I know of that has ever had success with this method.

How to Clean Up Your Credit Report

While we all were in different situations, each of us started by getting our free credit report. This is an important step that everyone should take, especially if you’re thinking about making a major purchase in the near future that will require taking out a line of credit.

After you get that report, finding errors can be a devastating blow. You now have to dispute the error with both the credit reporting bureau (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion,) or, if it appears on all of their reports, you will have to dispute it with all three. You must write them a hard-copy letter, send it to them, along with copies of documents that support your position, and then wait 30 days for a response.

It may not come back in your favor. If it does not, you must request that your original letter remain attached to your account.

Next, you go to the information provider, who is the person or company that filed the inaccurate report. You must again write a formal letter of dispute, send it with copies of documents that support your position, and wait for the response. They may or may not agree with you, but at the very least they have to let the credit reporting company know about your dispute.

It’s a time-consuming process. It’s doable, but can be frustrating. Even if you don’t want to do it, cleaning up your credit report is something that needs to happen if you want to get a halfway decent rate on your next loan or mortgage, or sometimes even have a lender extend credit to you at all.

If the whole process seems overwhelming, there are companies out there that can help. You give them your information, and they take care of the entire process for you. They have professionals who deal with credit bureaus and information providers regularly, so they know how to effectively communicate and use the rules to advocate for you efficiently.

Finding the right company to trust with your information is critical. One company that I trust is When I sat down with them to talk about their work, I already knew they had an A+ accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, but that meeting showed me the passion they have for helping people fix their credit, and through that, their lives.

They charge $99.95/month, with many of their clients having their issues resolved within a two-month time frame. More complicated problems or tougher disputes can take longer, however.

Ultimately, it depends on how much of your own time you want to invest. You can go the DIY route if you feel confident you can do a lot of research on your own, and have to patience to deal with both the credit bureaus and the information provider, even if they fight you. If passing that time and frustration to someone else is worth $99.95/month to you, looking into a reputable credit repair company may be a better option.

One thing is for sure: you need to clean up your credit report. Monitor it. When you find errors, take steps to fix them. That way when you go to apply for a mortgage you can focus more on things like down payments, closing costs, and emergency funds.

How to Negotiate With Credit Card Companies

I needed this so bad! Now I can lower my interest rates down to zero when I negotiate with my credit card company.

Credit card debt is evil. While the cards themselves can offer great rewards if used responsibly, it is so easy to quickly get tied up in more debt than you ever thought reasonable or possible.

Making matters worse is the hard-to-understand interest rates that you are paying on top of your original debt.  The good news is that these same companies that do their best to confuse you also want your business.

And they have competition.

You can use this competition to lower how much you end up paying in interest and how long it takes you to do so. Here’s how to negotiate with credit card companies.

Find out what you’re paying in interest.

You can try finding this on your statement, but I would just call my credit card issuer to get this information. Legally, the credit card company is obligated to give you accurate information, including fully answering your questions about your interest rates and how they are applied.

There are two rate numbers you need to know: the prime rate and your rate over prime.  Add these two numbers together to get the total interest you’re paying on your debt.

Shop around.

The best place to start shopping is your mailbox. If you haven’t already thrown it away, go through that junk mail and see what kind of preapproved offers you have.  Many times you’ll come across offers that give you 0% interest for a promotional period if you have good credit.

This is a great bargaining chip, but make sure you know what the interest will jump to after your promotional period is over and what consequences there will be if you miss/make a late payment.  This isn’t something you’ll need to get into during negotiations, just something you should know for yourself ahead of time in case you do make the switch.

You can also do research online.  You needn’t apply for new credit cards.  Just check out sites that specialize in consumer finance and see what average rates are right now.  Then see if you can find any introductory offers.

Negotiate with the credit card company.

Review all of your research. Make sure you feel comfortable with it so you’re confident while talking to your credit card issuer. Call up customer service and insist on talking to a supervisor. Write down the supervisor’s name/ID number as making them accountable and more likely to be accommodating.

Then let them know what’s going on. You have received offers from other banks/companies, and, unless they can match the offers you’ve been given, you plan on taking your balance to a new lender.

These people want you to keep your debt with them. That’s how they make their money. But if for some reason this person says they can’t help you, ask to talk to their supervisor, again writing down names and ID numbers.

Remember to be polite through the entire process. Anger won’t get you anywhere.

Keep going through the ranks or keep calling back until you get what you need. Lowering your interest rate is important:  the interest is what’s keeping you in debt. So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

If you really just can’t get anyone to help you, switch to that new lender. Take that 0% interest rate. Make all your payments on time. And if things start to get out of hand again, call them and try to negotiate.

Negotiate your interest rate–not your debt.

Some people will attempt to reduce how much they owe in total by offering a lump sum payment. For example, if you owed $10,000, the issuer might agree to take $8,000 all at once and “forgive” the other $2,000.

This is called settling your debt, and it is not a good idea for your long-term credit. It will show up on your credit report as a settlement, which will be a huge red flag for future lenders.

When you call in to negotiate, only negotiate on interest rates and then hustle to pay off that debt. Negotiating on your total debt, or settling, could have negative implications on your financial future.


This post is a part of Women’s Money Week. If you want to join us, you can do so here. Please tag this post with #WMWeek17 when sharing on social media.

Getting Finances in Order is Imperative for Women

Why Getting Your Financial House in Order is Even More Important for Women

“Women with money and women in power are two uncomfortable ideas in our society.”
–Candace Bushnell

As a financial planner, I was pretty adamant when I had couples as clients that they both participated in at least the initial kickoff session. After that, if one of the two said that they were fine with not being involved going forward, then that was acceptable to me, although I always gave the non-participating spouse a one-page “to do” list if the participating spouse ever got hit by the beer truck, and got a premature opportunity to find out what was on the other side. (Besides the stories that John Edward used to tell people about their loved ones talking to them through him.)

Maybe it was because I am a male or because there was a selection bias that occurred in the types of couples that I drew as clients, but there were certainly a few instances where the wife was the one who said that her husband made the financial decisions, and she was fine with it.

Note: I’m not including same sex couples in this analysis because if you’re a same sex couple, you both face the same gender-specific issues, whereas an opposite sex couple means that the female has different financial needs than the male.

Horses. Water. No drinking.

It was frustrating to me to see this situation because, like it or not, the women are much more likely to have to deal with and pick up the pieces when the husband passes away. I’ll explain more about this later.

The husband-as-lead scenario didn’t happen terribly often in my practice, maybe 20-25% of the time, but it certainly happened enough that I had a standard response to it.

The statistics about women participating in household financial decisions are mixed. A 2008 Pew Trust survey showed that families believe women make more decisions 43% of the time, whereas they divide decisions equally 31% of the time, and the man makes more 26% of the time.

But, in the same survey, the perceptions about who managed the money in the household differed between men and women. 45% of women said that they managed money in the household and 23% of women said that their spouse managed the money; however, 37% of men said that they managed the money and 30% of men said that their spouse managed the money.

On the flip side, a 2013 Fidelity survey reported that only 24% of women said that they took responsibility for day-to-day financial decisions.

Regardless of whose numbers you believe, there are a significant number of women who are punting the decisions on household finances to their spouses.

I’ll throw one more statistic to show some numerical and financial disparity.

In 2010, the RAND Corporation conducted a study relating the numeracy (math skills) of household members to overall household wealth.

The scores were scaled from 0 (the worst score) to 3 (the best score). When both spouses got a 0 on the test, the average household wealth was $200,000. When both spouses got the highest possible score, the average household wealth was $1,700,000 – 8.5 times higher than the 0/0 pairing.

According to the survey, men were more responsible for the finances than the women, with men in charge 62% of the time.

In cases where there was a 10 year or more age difference where the man was older, and the man was age 70 or older, the man made the decisions 82% of the time. This was the case, even though studies show that cognitive decline can start as early as age 60, and that math is the first skill to go.

What’s even worse, according to the RAND study, is that households where the man scored 0 on the test had him making the financial decisions 50% of the time!

How does this impact family wealth and financial well-being? Let’s look at couples who had one member score 0 and another member score 2. There were less than 20 0/3 couples out of 1,200, so there wasn’t enough data to draw conclusions.

In cases where the 0 scoring spouse led the family finances, the average wealth was $548,500. In the cases where the 2 scoring spouse led the family finances, the average wealth was $684,500, meaning that if the 2 scoring spouse took the reins, the average wealth was $136,000 higher.

More broadly speaking, when the less numerate spouse made decisions, the financial wealth of those couples was 14.7% less than households where the spouses were equally numerate.

But Wait! There’s More!

Adhering to traditionalist values, particularly when the financial decision-maker isn’t the mathlete (that’s a word…trust me!) is really harmful to your long-term nest egg’s health.

However, that’s not the only issue that causes women to come out on the short end of the stick when they don’t take part in the financial decisions.

On Average, Women Earn Less Than Men Over Their Careers

This quotation from Catalyst sums it up:

“No matter what their race/ethnicity, age, occupation, or education, all women are impacted by the gender wage gap.”

The Catalyst study finds that, on average, in 2013, women earned 78% of what men earned in income.

Let’s assume that you have a man and a woman starting out in their careers at age 25. The man earns $100,000, and the woman earns $78,000. Each saves 15% of their income, gets 7% return on their investments, and gets a 3% payraise every year.

How much will each have at the end of the year at age 60?

The man will have $3,154,916.

The woman will have $2,460,834.

Those differences add up over time. It’s a 28.2% difference over 30 years for the man.

Not only is this a problem when a woman is in her working career trying to save up, it’s a problem when she’s retired, too, because…

Women Live Longer Than Men

A woman who is 25 years old today can expect to live about 4.3 years more than a man who is 25 years old today.

So, just from a pure actuarial standpoint, women have a longer retirement to plan for. They can either work longer (which stinks if your husband is already retired) or plan so that they have enough assets to carry on when they, statistically speaking, outlive their spouse.

However, that would only be true if you married someone your age.

The average age difference for a heterosexual couple is 2.3 years, meaning that men are usually 2.3 years older than the women they marry.

So, women should plan on living between 6.5 and 7 years longer than their male spouses.

Most retirement projections from financial planners basically assume a 30 year joint retirement.

That’d be great if the female spouse was about 6.6 years older than her husband, but as we saw above, that rarely happens.

On average, a woman has to make the financial decisions for 6 ½ to 7 years without her spouse, whether she wants to participate or not. Plus, she has to make those decisions when she’s likely cognitively impaired and, therefore, susceptible to making the wrong moves.

Ladies, that’s not a position you want to be in, I can assure you! How many of you have heard the anecdotes of the widow who doesn’t even know how to balance the checkbook?

I’m sure you’re not in that position because you’re Frugal Femmes, but even then, you need to be actively participating in the financial decisions, from budgeting to investing to insurance to estate planning.


I’m not really going to go into the nuts and bolts of budgeting here; you can swing a dead cat at the Internet and find budgeting articles.

However, you do need to make sure that you’re setting aside enough money each month to save for your retirement.

We calculate the number such that the youngest spouse lives to be 100. There is a less than 1% chance that both spouses will be alive at that point, but you do not want to run out of money on your 99th birthday. That’s about the worst possible scenario you could face if you’re alive at that point.

I like the anti-budget. Figure out how much you need to save and then work backwards from there.


Again, I am not going to tell you what to invest in. In general, invest in low-cost indexed funds for most of your investments. Don’t try to swing for the fences lest you fall prey to the myriad behavioral biases that make the average investor a chump compared to market averages.

The rule of thumb that we use is for asset allocation – 100 – the age of the younger spouse for equities and the rest for fixed income. Easy peasy. Rebalance. Use proper asset allocation. Don’t follow the herd and try to figure out what the market is doing from what Jim Cramer prognosticates.

You do need to know what you’re invested in and why you’re invested in it so that if you have to be the one to start making the investment decisions, you’re fully aware of the game plan so that you can continue to execute it.


The reason you buy insurance is to protect yourself against an unexpected event. You do it with your house in the hopes it doesn’t burn down. You do it with your car in the hopes that you’re never in an accident that is your fault. The same holds true for both life and disability insurance.

By the way, repeat after me (loudly, preferably if you’re reading this from a Starbucks):


Yes, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between.

So, in this case, you want insurance in the event that you need to replace your spouse’s income, either from getting hit by the beer truck and finding out what’s on the other side (life insurance) or from getting hit by the beer truck and not being able to go back to work for long periods of time (which happens more often than you’d expect it to).

Estate Planning

This can be a touchy subject, particularly if you have a blended family. Remember, if your spouse passes away, you still have to look out for Number One (the person you see in the mirror).

You want to make sure that you have your documents together and affairs in order, to include not only a will, but other documents like advanced medical directives and do not resuscitate orders (if either of you doesn’t wish to be resuscitated in the event of an unlikely recovery).

It’s painful to go through. You’re forced to face your own and your spouse’s mortality in a way that no other event, aside from the death or disability of someone close to you forces you to do.

But do it anyway. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your spouse to go through the planning process and make sure that you both understand each other’s wishes.

I’m Convinced! What Do I Do?

This list is not a comprehensive list, but a starting point for discussions with your spouse.

  • Know what the target number is for you to ensure you run out of heartbeats before you run out of money. That’s the amount that your nest egg has to be so that you can continue your desired standard of living in retirement without running out of money. Sure, the ideal is to spend your last cent (minus what you’d like to leave to kids/other benefactors, although I argue you should give that away while you’re alive so that you get to enjoy the act of giving) right as the old ticker gives way, but trying to achieve that, except through the use of low commission annuities, is impractical.
  • Know what you need to save each month/year in order to hit that target number. This is the starting point for your anti-budget. How you spend beyond that is a decision between you and your spouse.
  • Negotiate your salary. Only 16% of women negotiate their salaries, and only 15% believe that they are effective negotiators. What are most pay raises based on? Your current salary. That compounds over time. So, do everything you can to get your baseline as high as possible!
  • At least do a “fly-by” review of the monthly budget. You don’t have to get into the line item details, but you should have a general idea of where the money is going and how it’s being spent just in case you have to pick up the responsibility in the future.
  • Know where the accounts are. All you have to do is maintain a list of accounts by institution so if you need to access that list, it’s readily available.
  • Make sure that you’re both properly insured. Do a review. Find out your numbers of how much insurance you need. Get it. Don’t avoid the situation, put your head in the sand, or think “this could never happen to me.” Invariably, the unexpected happens more often to those who don’t expect the unexpected (though I have NO statistics to back that up!).
  • Update the beneficiaries for your insurance (you should be the first for your spouse’s insurance and vice versa) and the Payable On Death recipient on accounts. This will help you avoid a ton of inconvenience and wait if the worst case scenario hits.
  • Plan what you will do in the event your spouse can no longer manage the money, if you decide to delegate. It’s OK to not be a super active participant in the day-to-day finances (unless you’re the math smart one, in which case, you should manage), but you also need to have a contingency plan for the statistically inevitable.

Personal finance, in general, should not be a lot of work on a month-to-month or even a year-to-year basis. Set a plan and execute it.

Even if you don’t want to be involved in the nuts and bolts, if you’re a woman, you’re, in all probability, going to have to be the one to handle the day-to-day finances at some point. Make sure that you’re prepared for that day so that, if it comes, you know what to do and do not get taken advantage of.

Jason Hull, CFP®, is the CTO of the online, comprehensive financial planning service myFinancialAnswers. He is an Army veteran, earned a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and earned a MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.

This post is a part of Women’s Money Week. If you want to join us, you can do so here. Please tag this post with #WMWeek17 when sharing on social media.

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