business · career · life curation

Women and Money: Problems and Solutions

Some of you may not realize this, but April is National Financial Literacy Month. As a woman, I’m fascinated by how finances factor into the lives of women. I feel that most women “know” about money, but there’s a disconnect between knowledge and application. As a financial professional (enrolled agent), I understand many of the pitfalls that women experience as regards wealth-building and debt reduction. What I intend to do with this post is offer solutions and workarounds for the most common issues that exist when it comes to women and money.

  • In most fields, women tend to earn less that their male counterparts doing the same work.

Yes, the gender pay gap is real. It doesn’t apply 100% of the time (for example, women that work in food preparation services and fast food tend to earn more than males in the same job). For most women, changing their gender just to earn more money isn’t a reasonable solution. Most women aren’t clear about how they can minimize or eliminate the pay gap that they are experiencing.

Women would do well to try to eliminate the pay gap that they experience personally. This can be done by learning what the current wage expectations are in a particular field, then comparing this to the woman’s experience, education, and location. After that, it’s a good idea to research the ways to negotiate for a pay raise, and practice the negotiation conversation with a trusted friend, mentor or advisor. If the gap is too large to be successfully negotiated, then it’s worthwhile to research and apply to different employers. Additionally, gaining additional skills can give women an advantage, making it easier to command higher wages (this can be done easily through free online education providers like ALISON, Coursera, Saylor and CPA Academy)

  • Women save money more but invest less than men.

Saving money is great, but the interest rates for savings accounts (of all sorts) is too low to keep up with the rate of inflation. As long as the money sits in savings, it’s missing an opportunity to work harder and generate a higher return. To that point, women are also less inclined to invest than men. Many women have been conditioned to see investing as “too risky”, and thus they prefer safer ways to store money (such as savings accounts).

The solution for this is to focus on investments that feel safer, and building your confidence until you are comfortable enough to take bigger risks. A good way to start investing is to purchase just one inexpensive stock, and start regularly reading about that stock’s performance. Then, invest in more stocks, adding a little more money to invest at each time. Websites like Acorns, Earnin and even Cash App are making it easier than ever to invest small amounts and to observe how the investments are performing.

  • Women have more student loan debt overall.

Education is necessary to earn a solid living, but it’s hard to move forward in life post-college when you have significant student loan debt. Due to the pandemic, many loan companies have opted to provide forbearance to loan recipients, so these recipients don’t have to pay on the student loans while trying to adjust to possible income and lifestyle changes.

There are two approaches that I recommend for studnet debt. If possible, avoid student debt by taking equivalency tests so that certain credits can be awarded without having to pay costly tuition (I wrote a book all about this, titled Degree Hacking: How to Save Money and Get College Credits in Record Time). However, if the loan debt has already been incurred, then I recommend that women research whether their employers offer student loan repayment. If not, seek an employer that does offer this benefit. Also, if the student loan rates are higher than, say, the cost of a line of credit or a home equity loan, then opt for one of these, and use that money to pay off the student loan. Yes, that does mean trading in one debt for another, but at least utilize these other funding sources can save money in the long run.

  • Women are more likely to live in poverty during their old age.

This is heartbreaking but true. Living to advanced age should automatically mean comfortable golden years, but this is not always how it works out. The best defense against lives of poverty is cultivating authentic friendships and support groups before reaching advanced age. It’s invariably more difficult to create relations when these are “needed”, so it’s best to start creating these connections before health declined occur.

Once a person is retirement age, it can be very challenging to make new friends. But websites that encourage meeting up (like Meetup), neighborhood town hall meetings, special interest groups and charities are a great way to connect with like minds and meet new friends. After creating these connections, it offers a little bit of a buffer against hard time. People are more likely to support their friends during hard time, but the key is to create mutual benefit. No one wants to feel “used”, so it’s crucial to create a relationship where both parties feel appreciated and enjoy one another’s company.

  • On the whole, women are less financially literate than men.

I recommend that all women take time to read books on finance, as well as take advantage of free webinars and workshops offered by financial institutions (such as banks, credit unions, and government and other oversight agencies, such as FINRA). Below, I provide a few links to books and articles that I find to be wonderful for learning about money.

Important Facts About Women and Money

Women & Money: 10 Facts We Should All Know

Money and Women: Myths and Facts

60+ Stats About Women and Money

Commercial Bank Regulation

MyCreditUnion Financial Literacy Resources

National Credit Union Association Financial Literacy Resources

My finance and tax-related blog (new posts starting in May 2021)

Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach

I hope you all find these tips helpful, and if you need clarity on anything else, let me know in the comments!

life curation

2019 Planning – Career and Finance

Happy Monday, beloveds! I hope you all are enjoying your day and getting your errands done in a comfortable, easy fashion. Christmas Eve is a notoriously hectic day for stores so I’m hoping that you have already done whatever you need to do and that you can just enjoy relaxing before the holiday. However, if you have to go out in the crowds, my thoughts are with you!

I’m taking this time before the New Year to reflect and get some clarity on what I want in the upcoming year. I wrote about my health and fitness goals in a previous post, and now I’m reflecting on my intentions and goals for my career and money.

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This woman looks so full of focus and purpose: may I be her in the upcoming year

As with my previously listed goals, I want to keep things fairly simple. The problem I see that most people make is having too many “irons in the fire”, or too many goals happening simultaneously. The goals tend to be too vague as well: it’s hard to know when you’ve reached your goal if you haven’t gotten crystal clear on what your goal actually is. That’s why it’s important to take some time to sit with your thoughts and feelings, and give yourself the space to suss out the details of what you desire in your future life.

Here are my career and finance goals for 2019:

  • Develop two additional income streams
  • “Try out” at least two different art-related careers
  • Work with a financial planner to begin wealth and legacy planning activities

The intention behind my goals for my career and finance is that I can further create financial independence as well as transition into a satisfying and lucrative career in the art world. There are still a lot of little steps that have to be taken along the way, but the most important thing is to START, and allow the path to unfold in front of me.

Watching the path unfold involves trust unlike anything else I’ve experienced. But I’m ready for it, so it’s all good.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll catch up with you all tomorrow. Take care!

life curation

The Podcasts That I’m Loving Right Now

Happy Hump Day, friends! We’ve made it to the middle of the work week- let’s continue to push forward. We can do this!

I’ve been concentrating on my writing for the past few days, so I haven’t been consuming a bunch of media. However, I have been listening to podcasts, since that gives my creative mind a bit of a break. So, I am going to share a few of my podcasting favorites that I’m currently listening to.

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Afford Anything with host Paula Pant is such a treat. Pant’s investigative journalist style lends itself well to her interviews with different financial experts and people who have achieved the financial independence/retire early (FIRE) lifestyle. One of my personal favorites is her interview with Natalie Sisson, who has a successful business that she runs – while living abroad.

The Side Hustle Show with Nick Loper is a treasure trove of business ideas. Start with any of them: you won’t be disappointed. Since I’m interested in becoming a published author. I’ve found the self-publishing episodes particularly helpful.

Abiola Abrams has been in the public eye for many years, but over the past several years, she’s grown a loyal following. She teaches women how to create businesses that are lucrative, serve a higher good, and are aligned with the entrepreneur’s purpose and passion. Her Spiritpreneur (TM) series covers a wide variety of topics and are very insightful. These are worth checking out!

life curation

Living Your Best Life: 5 Tax Tips for Divorced and Separated People

As a (sort of) recent divorcee, I have been navigating my finances and getting a sense of how to responsibly handle my money in this new phase of my life.

Once upon a time, I worked for IRS as an international tax auditor. I reviewed the tax returns of people living abroad as well as foreign-born individuals that lived and worked in the US. So, suffice it to say, I’m pretty comfortable with tax law.

That being said, I still wasn’t quite prepared for what life would look like as a person preparing her taxes for the first time post-divorce. It’s been about 6 years since I left IRS, so I wanted to make sure that I had the most current knowledge of the tax code, and I wanted to ensure that I was making good decisions now and in the future as I go forward.

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So here’s my little guide for getting a good handle on your tax situation as a separated or divorced person. Some of the tips are also good for anyone (I’ll put my “applies to anyone” advise in parentheses after each applicable tip). Keep this guide of 5 tips (I even threw in a bonus for everyone, so it’s technically 6 tips!) to help you approach your taxes in a clear, orderly, empowered fashion.

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  1. Relax about the process. Seriously, nothing good comes from worrying. So take a deep breath and know that YOU CAN DO THIS! Pace yourself and give yourself time to really absorb what you’re learning. Don’t worry about committing it all to memory: no one does that! Just get familiar enough with how to search the IRS.gov website and you will be fine – really, you will! (This applies to everyone. Taxes have a “logic” that begins to make sense to you when you take your time. Don’t worry about learning it all).
  2. Order return, account, and wage/income transcripts for the entire period of the marriage. These documents are free and can arrive to you within two weeks, or you may also request to view the transcripts online. The main transcripts you’ll need are 1) return transcripts, showing what was reported on the tax return for a given year; 2) account transcripts, showing the summary of account activity during a given year (especially helpful if you paid tax as opposed to getting a refund, or if the refund was “offset” [reduced to pay for a federal or state obligation, like delinquent child support, student loans, unpaid income taxes, etc.,); and 3) wage/income transcripts, that show all of the income received during a tax year, as well as mortgage interest paid, student loan interest paid, debt cancellations, etc.,. You want to review these documents to make sure that all of the information is correct before you file your taxes. These are good documents to include in your financial binder, too (This is a good practice for everyone. Order the documents, review them, and make sure that everything is accurate).
  3. Get Publication 504 and READ it! This publication is voluminous but it covers everything that divorced and separated people need to know when preparing their taxes. This is especially helpful for parents, as custody agreements and divorce decrees may have special rules for handling how the parents will file and claim credits and deductions related to children.
  4. Take advantage of free tax preparation software that is available through Credit Karma. I’ve used it for the past two years and I’m very pleased with how well it works. If you’re nervous about preparing and submitting your taxes, then play around with the Credit Karma software (but don’t submit the document: just print it out) then get a trusted tax professional to review it. Have that professional tell you if you missed anything, or have them explain how certain rules, credits and deductions work. (Credit Karma is free to everyone, so check out the software and see if it’s something that will work for you).
  5. Know that you can always amend a return. If you mess up, you can always correct it! The form for amending taxes is Form 1040X. Correcting the taxes can be time consuming, but if the change is significant enough, it’s worth it to initiate the correction on your end as opposed to having IRS open an audit. Audits, by the way, aren’t the super-scary event that most people paint it to be. However, it can take a long time to resolve (depending on the auditor) so it’s always best if you are proactive and amend an incorrect return. (Again, this applies to everyone).
  • Bonus tip: make sure your address is current! Sometimes IRS will send you correspondence to the last address of record, which may have changed since your last filing. Depending on how much your ex controlled the flow of information, you’d do well to update your address with IRS by filing Form 8822.

I’ve hyperlinked all of the referenced forms, websites and publications for your convenience.

 

life curation

Living Your Best Life: Take Control of Your Financial Condition

Happy Monday! Nothing like talking about money to get the week started LOL!

I previously mentioned how my divorce was the catalyst for my personal growth. Part of that growth journey included getting to know all aspects of myself all over again. I had to do some HARD work, mainly in the realm of facing my reality without letting that reality depress me.

I eased into this work by starting with the things that felt truly neutral: in my case, the most neutral things I could work on were my money and my career. I know that money is usually a charged topic when it comes to married couples,, but I handled our household finances, and I felt pretty competent when it came to budgeting. So, starting here seemed like a good idea.

April 25, 2025

I realized that, while I paid our bills on time and had automatic withdrawals for our retirement accounts, I really didn’t know much about our finances. And, now that I was handling my finances solo, I needed to get a grip on what I had already in place, and what I still needed to address.

Enter a financial binder.

A financial binder organizes your financial information, so that you have all of that data at your fingertips. You can make copies of it and provide it to trusted family members, put it in your safe (and your safe deposit box), or drop it off with your estate attorney (assuming that you have one, which you probably will, after completing the binder and realizing that an estate attorney is a wise investment). The binder is particularly useful when you’re trying to figure out the “gaps” in your financial life, be it a lack of certain advisors, under-tended accounts, or backup plans that need to be established.

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Take time to get organized (but don’t put your croissant directly on your desk!)

Financial binders are a great way to get your money organized and to give you some peace of mind. This is especially useful if you’re navigating a breakup and you need to know what areas of your financial life need to be addressed now that you’ve “uncoupled” (oh how I love that term). The best part about a binder is that you don’t have to address all of the gaps in one day: you can pace yourself, knowing that you’ve got time to get it done and, with determination and focus, you can get it all done well.

I’ve had a few versions of these, but the one available online for free through Utah State University is by and far my favorite¬†(click on the link to download it). It’s clearly written, captures a lot of information, and has a great set of instructions on the first page, so you have some solid guidance for what you’ll need before you undertake this project.

As tax day creeps closer, make it a point to start getting clear on your financial condition, whether you’re navigating a divorce/breakup, happily coupled, or satisfyingly single. Having knowledge of where you stand financially is extremely empowering and can really help you to feel inspired to improve your condition, or relaxed about where you are currently.