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Gender Lens Investing, Part II

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Let’s continue together on our journey to learn about this option of gender lens investing.

Investing through a lens is not a new concept. I first experienced it as a financial advisor when socially responsible investing became more popular. Some people are more driven by their social conscience than by the overall rate of return on an investment.  For them, using a “lens” or screening process of the companies in which they invest became the solution.

I see gender lens investing as an extension of socially responsible investing. So it helps to first understand the more established investment option called socially responsible investing.

A socially responsible investment is the result of screening publicly traded businesses based on certain criteria which seek both financial gain and social good or benefit.

Companies are evaluated and selected based on certain criteria. Some of the common criteria evaluated through the lens are:

  •  Support of sustainability of the environment through corporate policies and actions.
  •  Corporate commitment to workforce diversity in training and promotion   opportunities as well as to fair workplace practices.
  • Companies which avoid certain industries, such as those involved in weapons, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, and gambling.

I am writing a post for a blog. The intent is to keep it short and stick with the basics. If socially responsible investing interests you, please learn more through your financial advisor or by simply googling it on the web. There are now many companies offering socially responsible investing. Among them is a company called Pax World Funds. They are part of the story of gender lens investing and a partnership with an organization called Ellevate.  More next time!

Debra Hadsall

http://www.ffptalk.com

(This information is designed to educate you about basic financial management concepts. Questions relevant to personal finances specific to the individual should be address to an appropriate professional to ensure that the situation has been evaluated carefully and appropriately. The Authors and Publisher specifically disclaim any liability loss, or risk which is incurred as a consequence directly or indirectly from the use and application of any contents of this work.)

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Gender Lens Investing

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Have you heard about gender lens investing?  I must admit that it is something I am just learning about.  So, let’s learn together.

To me, the two words gender lens create a vision of looking through the lens and seeing  the world through  adjustments. The lens is a filter which symbolically contains all our personal prejudices and experiences along with those we have acquired as the result of the norms and rules of society.

I googled the term “gender lens “to see what the experts say.  Interestingly enough, there were not pages and pages of quick definitions, most were quite clinical.  So I am going with the one from Wikipedia which is simple and concisely states what the long detailed articles and papers take paragraphs to explain.  It says:

What is a Gender Lens?

Think of a gender lens as putting on spectacles. Out of one lens of the spectacles, you see the participation, needs and realities of women. Out of the other lens, you see the participation, needs and realities of men. Your sight or vision is the combination of what each eye sees.

Gender is about relationships between men and women. Gender equality is about equal valuing of women and men – of their similarities and their differences. We need equal, respectful partnerships between men and women to have happy, healthy families and communities in the same way that we need both eyes to see best.

You can read more by clicking here.

This gives us a foundation to beginning to understand the concept of a gender lens, now to see how that term applies in the investment world and what it means to women.  More next time.

Until then.

Debra Hadsall

http://www.ffptalk.com

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My Monkey Mind- Women in Commerce, Marijuana and Shades of Nancy Botwin

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My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

Yesterday my Monkey Mind connected Nancy Botwin (a fictional character), ways to improve financial lives by making more money, and women in commerce in the legal pot industry in Colorado.  I am not posting about whether or not legalized marijuana is appropriate, only about where my Monkey Mind took me recently.

Colorado has legalized the growing and sale of recreational marijuana, with limitations.  I lived in Colorado for most of my adult life and have family and friends there.  Recently I was staying with my  adult son and he opened the freezer, took out a small bag of marijuana, and asked if I wanted some.  Then we laughed.  Pot has never been my deal or his. The bag has been there for six months.  The humorous part was he was having this conversation with his mother and all of a sudden that which was forbidden and usually hidden, was now OK (limited amounts of course) and out for all to see.

He and I have our mother and son bonding over cable TV shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Nip Tuck, and my all-time favorite, Weeds.  If you don’t know, Weeds is the  fictional story of Nancy Botwin, a widow with two children and a big need for big income.  She is not a perfect person and her decision to deal weed is one of love, violence,  greed, corruption, survival, decisions, sex, and commerce.  It is also the story of a woman in an industry run by men and a mother’s concern for providing for her children.  Quite an interesting combination.

The last episodes show how over time she made the jump from being a criminal dealing drugs to a woman of commerce with a chain of very successful stores selling pot edibles.  How did this happen?  The story line put her in a world where weed had been legalized.  I loved the ending since it showed Nancy as the owner of a very large, very legal, and  very legitimate business.  My son didn’t share my enthusiasm.  I suspect he was looking for the crazy violence prone Nancy to rise again.  Instead it was a story of  closure and commerce .

This week I did a posting titled Three Ways to Improve Your Financial Life.  One of these ways to make more.  I am always fascinated by how we as women find ways to make more for ourselves and our families.  So, when CBS This Morning did a segment on women in Colorado who are in the  legalized marijuana industry, are making money, reaching out to each other, and getting a piece of the action, I thought of Nancy Botwin and the idea of making more money.

In the  CBS video, a woman is shown in a commercial  kitchen  preparing pot goodies.  She is not a Food Network star or a well-known chef, the way most women in kitchens come to us via our television.  I doubt that she is highly paid or wealthy…yet.  She is a woman doing commerce in the legalized pot industry in Colorado. I thought, finally a way for women who can cook and/or grow things and also run a business to make a real living. This is big business and one where women are already finding a way to connect with other women to define the industry and benefit financially from their efforts. The segment can be viewed at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/making-the-marijuana-business-women-friendly

I remember that after I viewed the final season of Weeds, I mentioned to my husband that maybe I should get into the pot business some day when it is legalized more widely.  He laughed and reminded me that most plants I care for die and that although I make amazing cookies, my long-term ability to whip up delicious pot treats doesn’t exist.  So I will just watch from the sideline as those pioneering Colorado women lead the way.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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Great Way to Teach Children about Income and Expenses

Moms are the best and I love it when they teach life skills in a fun way.  Check out how one mom is teaching children about money while making it a fun project.

Just click here to learn more.

 

Debra Hadsall

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http://www.financialfreedomparty.com

 

Investing, a Fun Perspective

Legend

Nice thought and great way to teach us about money management in an engaging manner.  Thanks Legend Group!

Debra Hadsall

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To order my book, please click here.

Women Should Plan to Live to 100-Really??

100BirthdayCake_250I read any and all writings about women and money that come my way.  This one makes us think!  Just click here to learn more about the possibility of living to age 100 and how to plan for it.

Enjoy!

Debra Hadsall

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To order my book Financial Freedom Party for Women, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, please click here.

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A Refresher about Taking Money from Your Roth IRA

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The Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) became available in 1998.  It was named after its legislative sponsor,  William V. Roth Jr., a Republican senator from Delaware.  The Roth IRA was part of the Tax Relief Act of 1997.  Sometimes we let the words for investment terms roll off our tongues without really knowing what they mean.  This one is easy, it was named after someone who saw a need for an investment which had the potential of remaining tax-free during both the accumulation (adding to it) or distribution (taking money from it) phases.  Of course there are rules to make that happen.  As the saying goes, there is no free ride.

First, the money contributed to a Roth IRA is called after tax money, meaning the investor already paid taxes on it.  Second the money needs to conform to a few rules to avoid paying taxes.    I like the simple way an investment firm, Invesco, has explained it.  Please just click here to learn more.

Whether we like it or not, investors often start with the long-range plan of investing money and leaving it there until age 59 1/2 and later and then life catches up with them.  A recession hits, a job is lost, a major medical expense is incurred, a business fails, or some other major financial need comes along.   Sometimes the investor is looking over all of her or his investment accounts to figure out how to best manage a short-term situation by accessing retirement accounts.  Yes it could and has happened to investors, maybe even to you.

The information in the link is very useful as you work with your financial professional to sort things out.  It is best to make an informed decision and be aware of the consequences so you can plan on them.

Until Next Time

Debra Hadsall

Please remember, this is a short overview and questions relevant to personal finances and specific to the individual should be addressed to an appropriate professional to ensure that the situation has been evaluated carefully and appropriately.

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myRA Accounts-Much Needed Baby Steps

baby-steps

Not certain what baby steps have to do with the newly announced myRA plans?  In my opinion, lots!  We all have to start somewhere and grow from there!  So many people get so intimidated with the top, they don’t take the first small step.

As someone who was a financial advisor and registered representative working with both experienced and  first-time investors, I am excited about this interim step.   Very encouraging!  More next time about how I came to this conclusion.

Until then, I encourage you to click here to learn more!

Debra Hadsall

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http://www.ffptalk.com

To purchase my workbook, Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, please click here.

My Monkey Mind-Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

Something which happened about 10 years ago has been in my monkey mind.  I guess listening to my friends talk about elderly parents must have triggered it.  So here goes….

As part of my financial services business I had a listing in the Yellow Pages under resources for women.  It was the best I could do since there wasn’t a separate listing for women and finances.  The result was unexpected.  I received random calls from women in difficult life situations ranging from physical abuse, unwanted divorce, requests for money to start  businesses, and sometimes just a reality check on some financial decisions a spouse or significant other had made without checking with the woman.  After these calls continued , I became a connection between these women I never met to non-profits, social services providers, free legal advice, and government agencies who could help.  I learned a bunch of things which reached beyond financial advising.

One day I received one of those calls from an elderly woman who asked me what the difference was between term insurance (no cash value) and universal life insurance (which has a cash value).  The real reason for the call had to do with the fact that her late husband had established an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) with a cash value policy and she thought he had made a bad decision.  I was curious to hear all the details so I went to visit with her.

In my Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, I cover the differences between term and cash value policies.  To put it in a couple of sentences, term insurance is a very cost-effective way of getting life insurance and is appropriate for most people.  The premium goes towards the insurance cost and the policy runs for a certain period of time, such as 10, 15, or 20 years.  A policy with a cash value, such as universal life or variable universal life is more complicated and more expensive.  Some of the premium goes to the cost of insurance and some goes into investments offered through the insurance product.  The policy is considered to be “permanent” life since it is not restricted to a certain length of time.  My experience is that these policies (UL and VUL) are often considered upon guidance from an estate planning attorney when creating ways to provide for beneficiaries and reduce estate taxes.  This is a very generalized overview and to learn more please ask your insurance agent or do your own research on-line.

The control of the ILIT rests with a trustee, not the beneficiary (in this case the lady who called me).  This is done because of the estate tax benefits.  You can learn more by clicking here.  As with most people, she did not like knowing she had “all this money”, yet couldn’t access it when she wished.  I came to learn that was part of the plan.

I shared this insight with the lady. Apparently I was the first person she met who sat down and explained to her how this ILIT all worked. I was also the only woman advisor/insurance agent she had ever met.  She found me through my Yellow Page listing.

I learned that she was unhappy because the ILIT controlled her spending.  She had to ask a young man( who was the trustee) for any money which was needed  in addition to the monthly payment which had been established.  The goal of the plan was to keep her from running out of money.   I learned that her ILIT  did contain a universal life policy, the trust was created by an attorney with involvement by the now-deceased husband, and seemed to be in good order and in her best interest.  The things the trustee had told her were true, if she did not control her spending, she ran the risk of outliving her money.  In this situation, the planning was really in her best interest and when we finished our discussion, she, for the first time, realized it.  We talked about other ways for her to finance the expenses she wanted to incur including having a roommate in her spacious home, moving to a smaller one, or cutting expenses elsewhere.

I never heard from her again, but I learned a lot.  I saw how the appropriate cash value life insurance policy can be an integral and useful part of estate planning and a way to take care of beneficiaries upon the death of the insured.  My passion for working with women to understand their finances was re-kindled.  I knew that if someone had taken time to speak to this lady in language she could understand, her life would have been much better.  Sometimes financial professionals forget that it is not all about the numbers,  it is about how the numbers improve the lives of clients and getting the  clients to understand that.  It also reinforced my belief that the best time to learn about finances is not when your spouse or family member has died and not there to explain things.  Learning the fundamentals as a young person will make things a lot easier throughout her or his lifetime.

This event has stayed with me.  My insurance career involved term life insurance and that worked well for my family and clients. The ILIT was a good example how a cash value policy can be beneficial in estate planning and for beneficiaries who may need some additional structure and measured control over assets.  Each situation is different and this posting is not intended to provide you with personal advice on your estate planning, financial planning, or insurance needs.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com

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Empty Mansions– Living the Good Life?

mansions

I just finished reading the book “Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Junior.  The title says it is about “The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.

Any book with the words fortune and spending just calls to my financial education mind.  It would seem that a book about wealth would be all about what we call “living the good life”.  I learned that the title refers to the empty properties Huguette continued to maintain even though she didn’t live in them.  Interesting.

This book is about a woman and her story which revolves around extreme wealth, business, family owned businesses, decision-making, relationships, trust and distrust, and how money can be both a blessing and a curse.

Personally, it took me a long time to learn to deal with money in an unemotional manner.  The main character, struggled with that for a really long time as she was born in 1906 and died in 2011. She dealt with a lot of emotions and they often guided her decisions.  For Huguette, these decisions usually involved  large sums of money. The world changed radically during her lifetime and she also outlived her close relatives.  Some of the change was more than Huguette wished to deal with, so she created a lifestyle which was strange and unconventional to most ordinary (and even wealthy) people.  Her needs for security and safety as a wealthy person played a big part in how she spent money.  As an elderly woman  it appeared that those who were caring for her may have taken advantage of  her financially, even though the medical professionals found her competent.

It is hard to imagine the majestic homes her father created with his wealth  and the mind-set of  Huguette who was born into such a lifestyle and never knew anything different.  Still, I was struck by the similarity between the decisions she had to make about  businesses, advisors, and income management, and those made by the rest of as we manage our personal finances or make lifestyle and financial decisions about the senior citizens our lives.

Was Huguette happy living what most would see as “the good life”?  It is hard to tell.  That is the mystery which remains in her interesting life story.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

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