coffee & cash: 6 key learnings from our personal finance workshop

Image of woman and man having a discussion at a personal finance workshop

Did you know that women make better investors?

Why? Because we’re not afraid to ask for directions.

In this spirit of asking for help, we set out to find out how we can gain our financial independence.

With the help of a dear friend and a superb financial expert, we organized a personal finance workshop for an amazing group of women. It turned out to be insightful, informative, and quite fun!

Let’s face it, finance and investment discussions can be a bit dry and somewhat stressful so why not make it fun! With a coffee and cash theme, a fitting event name “Caff n’ Cash,” and a lovely coffee shop setting for our meet up, we set out to answer the following personal finance questions that matter most to women in an enjoyable way:

  • How to build wealth (earnings, investments, retirement savings, assets)
  • How to select investment options
  • How to budget
  • How to save for retirement, plus
  • How to measure financial wealth, set investment goals, and save for your kid’s college

We even asked our attendees with girls in middle or high school to bring them along because we believe the earlier they can become financially savvy, the better off they would be.

Personal finance notes by one of the high school attendees

Start them early!

We kicked off our meeting with an icebreaker that asked the group to share a fun fact about themselves. It set the tone for a pleasant and open discussion.

Here are the 6 most profound learnings from our workshop:

1. Ignore the Myths

Women make better investors, period. Ignore what you may have heard or read. Numerous studies confirm that women are better investors than men because as aforementioned, we’re not afraid to ask for directions. Also, we do not let our emotional responses (imagine that!) and overconfidence influence our investment decisions.

2. Have a Financial Plan

Your plan should cover 3 areas:

  • Retirement Planning: To develop a financial plan:
      • Ask yourself these questions – what is your income? What are your expenses?  When do you want to retire?  What assets do you have?  What are your liabilities?
      • Look at rates of returns and tax rates
      • Ask your financial advisor these questions – when can I retire? What age?  How much can I spend if I retire at a certain age?
      • You must have a financial plan that you update annually – based on the changes happening in your life so you can follow a roadmap and make adjustments along the way
  • Insurance: Work with your financial planner to figure out:
      • How much and what type of insurance you need. Options include:
      • Life insurance
      • Disability insurance
      • Umbrella insurance – insurance above and beyond your regular insurance to protect you against something happening to you that your insurance does will not cover
  • Estate planning: Plan for what happens to your assets when you die:
    • Most people do it through a trust
      • If you don’t have a plan for your estate, the court probates your assets. It is costly.  If your assets are above 100k, the court will adjudicate them; it costs 2% of your assets. Trusts protect you from being probated.
      • Consolidate your assets
      • Put all your assets in a Trust – you have to retitle and put them in the trust. You, not the attorney does it. You have to do the retitling yourself – no point of having a trust if you don’t put your assets into it.
      • A will is typically included in Estate planning
      • You can set up a trust through a service like Legal Zoom or through an attorney, which typically costs $3,000 to do it. It is better to do it via an attorney but Legal Zoom is fine too.
      • You can write it any way you want

3. Build a Diversified Portfolio 

    • Across different asset classes:
      • Large companies, foreign companies, small companies, bonds
      • They perform differently at different times
      • Smoothes out the volatility of your investments
      • Helps you stay invested – helps you stick with your plan
      • Highest quality bond is the US government because it cannot default on debt obligations – Why? US government can print money.
      • Different assets of bonds are liquid so you can get fully diversified with a little bit of money
    • As you get wealthier you can go outside of these asset classes
      • Remember you already have high value in your home
      • Remember you have to be a landlord if you decide to buy property, which means:
        • Dealing with tenants
        • Tax implications
        • Capital gains are different
      • Other assets include alternative assets:
        • Art and other non-traditional assets
Don’t chase returns!
Market Participation Strategy – Remember it’s the time in the market, not timing the market. As you get older and have built your portfolio you can move to risk management.

Image of woman and man having a discussion at a personal finance workshop

4. Minimize Fees and Taxes

  • Know how much of your portfolio is allocated to mutual funds because there are additional charges
  • Be sure there are no additional fees when you invest

5. Be Smart with College Loans

    • Take good loans – lower rates, those that don’t accumulate interest until your student graduates
    • 529 Plan is the best option
      • How much to put in – how much is it going to cost? – use college saver tools to help you determine the answers
      • You don’t want to overfund it
      • You retain ownership and you can change the beneficiary to your grandchild or your other child
      • The best thing is that it is not taxed on the growth that you get
      • Includes housing, tuition, etc. costs

6. Use Budgeting Tools

Your ultimate goal is to achieve financial independence (meaning you don’t have to work!) Ask yourself, how much do I need to be able to be financially independent? If you have a portfolio of $1 million – 4% plus inflation is 40k per year indefinitely. If you want 80k per year then you need a $2 million portfolio

While we may not have exhausted all the possibilities, we came away armed with the tools to help us make better financial and investment decisions.

Here are additional resources to help you with your financial planning:

We hope these key learnings and resources will be as helpful to you as they are to us.

What financial tips and resources do you use for your financial planning? Please share with us and our blog family.

Want to attend future gapmuse workshops and other fun and rejuvenating events like breathtaking hikes with some amazing women? Join our Facebook Closed Group: gapmuseWomen today, a safe space for women to connect, collaborate, engage and thrive together in our daily lives.

Be inspired.

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