When I turned 35 last week, I made a pretty simple goal for this next year of my life. I want to get on top of my finances. They aren’t a mess per se. I have a 401K and pay the bills, but I want control of my future by making smart choices now.
Currently, the rest of my paychecks go to clothes and shoes. And while I think every woman should be comfortable buying some fun things for herself, there needs to be a balance. Otherwise, I’m going to find myself straight-up Carrie Bradshaw style – literally ‘the old woman who lived in her shoes’ – without any assets to call my own besides my clothes. No thanks. Not the kind of woman I want to be anymore.
Plus, my over-attachment to material things feels a bit immature. I’m ready to outgrow that. I’m still going to wear clothes that make me feel fabulous, but I want to feel empowered, knowledgeable and choosy about my purchases.
And, I want to be prepared for rainy days and curve balls that life will inevitably throw at me. Right now I’m not.
So, can a woman who loves style find her financial footing? And is it possible to find a balance? And is it really that important? I think the answer is YES. But I actually don’t know.
I sought guidance from a powerful and professional woman I admire – a Financial Advisor (and fellow style maven) here in Atlanta, Charlotte Geletka. She is passionate about women gaining an understanding of their finances – and feeling more empowered about them. Sign. Me. Up.
ADVICE FROM A FINANCIAL ADVISOR
So, Charlotte, can finance and fashion be friends? Here’s what she says:
“We all chuckled as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City explained that her net worth is measured in Manolo Blahniks. However, maybe that was a message of warning to young women everywhere. Fashion comes and goes, but financial decisions stick with you a lot longer.
Consider These Five Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Your Finances:
- Freedom: The savings that you accumulate now gives you more freedom down the road. You never know when an occasion or emergency will arise, and having a healthy savings will allow you the freedom to go on that trip, move into that fabulous place, or replace the old car.
- Math: Money compounds so the earlier you start the better. Consider this: if you start setting aside $200 a month at age 25 and your investment yield 6%, your retirement account will be $383,393 at age 65 . If you start at age 35 with the same investment and the same results you will have $195,851 at age 65, so it pays to start early
- Retirement: Let’s face it, you don’t want to work forever. Your 401k or employer-sponsored plan is automatic. You are paying yourself before you pay Uncle Sam, and the money never goes into your paycheck so you cannot spend it if you do not have it!
- Habit: The earlier you start saving the more of a habit it becomes and it will positively reinforce you to see that savings account grow.
- Opportunity: One day you may want to go out on your own or launch a business, and your savings could parlay into the very vehicle that allows you to take the jump.
THE BUCKET APPROACH
Consider the bucket approach for every paycheck. After your necessary expenses, divide up a spend bucket and a save bucket. So if you have an extra $1000 a month then $500 goes to savings and $500 goes into spend. When you are saving for a special wardrobe piece, take it out of your spending bucket – not your saving bucket. I also suggest a third bucket that can be a giving bucket for charities that you support. When you finally buy that investment piece you will buy in confidence because your savings is still intact. So YES! With a little planning, finance and fashion can be great friends.”
Charlotte is the Managing Partner for Cowan & Kohne Financial Planning. She can be reached at [email protected]. Stay tuned for more financial posts with Charlotte! Next month, I’ll be asking her all about financial advice for newlyweds. Y’know, I’m about to be one!
Charlotte Geletka is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors, a broker-dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. CRN-1786084-050217
All photos copyright Melissa Serra Photography