Taking the Reins: Financial Empowerment

By Zahn McMillan

Most would agree financial illiteracy has contributed to our current national savings crisis. Did you know:

  • Four in 10 adults would either borrow, sell something, or not be able pay if faced with a $400 emergency expense. 
  • The average middle-class family has only three weeks of reserves. 
  • One in five adults cannot cover their current month’s bills, and one in four skipped a medical treatment in the past year due to an inability to pay. 

Then, in retirement – when the paychecks stop coming but inflation, taxes, and market ups-and-downs continue, the stats further erode…  

  • About 30% of seniors 55 and older do not have a retirement account or a pension.      
  • Even seniors ages 55 to 64 with retirement savings, only have average savings of $104,000. 
  • Seniors ages 62 to 69 only have average assets of around $39,000.

So, where is our fearless knight charging in to save the day? We can wait on the government or employers to offer education and implement policies. But what if we take the reins ourselves? We can be a catalyst for financial empowerment in our communities, workplaces, and homes on a grass roots level. This is exactly what Paula McMillan, CFP®, CPA, PFS, CGMA, Chair of Plenteous Financial Forum aims to do.

According to Paula we must, “Be intentional and strategic in making finances a more integral part of everyday life. Make saving, budgeting, and tracking net worth priorities. Encourage engaging financial dialogue at the dinner table, family meetings/outings, and other gatherings. Set a positive example for those observing you.”

She goes on to say, “While there is a lot you could learn and know about finances, focusing on the right key principles can produce tremendous results. It begins with embracing our imperfections and past mistakes. Then, understanding and appreciating important concepts like diversification and compounding. Finally, and maybe most important, take action – embracing the power of consistent, solid habits. This is what Plenteous Financial Forum is all about.”

Plenteous Financial Forum is where people come together to help their communities, friends, and selves in pursuit of a plenteous, or abundant, life. They believe that financial wellness is foundational to plenteous living. Because, while not most important, money always matters. At www.PlenteousFinancialForum.com, you can:

  • Register for an engaging, upcoming presentation or schedule a custom one for your next company, civic, or other meetings.
  • Grade your current situation with a Financial Wellness Report Card and/or Retirement Readiness Assessment.
  • Learn valuable wisdom as experts share their favorite high impact tips that yield great outcomes with limited effort – potentially sharing one of your own.
  • Learn about other financial literacy initiatives seeking volunteers.
  • Understand the unique challenges women face often putting their financial security “at risk” and join our Women’s Social Club or Women’s Business Support Group.

When asked about the emphasis on financial empowerment for women, Paula shared, “A woman’s ability to maintain her desired lifestyle in retirement is often threatened by compensation, debt and investing gaps, caregiving demands, and increased longevity. Each of these challenges were exacerbated during the pandemic, creating greater headwinds for women.”

There is more to be done to increase financial empowerment for women while addressing their unique preferences. Today about 70% of female clients leave their family financial advisor within a year after the death of a spouse. With women making up only 16% of advisors, 10% of mutual fund managers and 23% of CFPs, it would be helpful for women to have a stronger voice in the advisory industry.

Paula says, “In any case, once you peel back unnecessary complexity and jargon, the greater control and overall benefits of being fiscally sound make it all worthwhile. The path to building and sustaining financial independence can be empowering, rewarding, and even fun!

To learn more and get involved, reach out to Paula McMillan at www.calendly.com/paulamcmillanwa.

Paula McMillan, CFP®, CPA/PFS, CGMA is a financial advisor and recognized national thought-leader in navigating financial wellnessretirement readiness and the unique financial challenges of women. Paula helps people balance living a desired lifestyle today with accumulating the savings needed for tomorrow. Paula has been published and quoted in national and local publications, including CNBC, US News & World Report, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Accountancy, Kiplinger’s, The Business Journal, How Stuff Works and more. Additionally, she created two national AICPA podcast series on retirement planning and women and wealth and is a TEDx presenter on the topic of Retirement: Longevity and Security. Furthermore, Paula regularly delivers financial life planning presentations to national, regional, and local audiences. Paula is the Investment Subcommittee Lead on the AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference Committee and a member on the AICPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Credential Committee. She is on the Board of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and Chairs their Foundation Board. Paula founded and chairs Plenteous Financial Forum and the NCACPA Triad Women’s Initiatives Group. Paula is also an active member of the Greensboro Estate Planning Council and NAPFA.

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