Sonya SellmeyerBy Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we recognize women’s roles in society are ever-changing. Today women are more likely to be financially responsible for their families, have longer life spans, and fill in as full-time caregivers for children and aging parents. With all of these complex and changing roles, women need to remember to put their financial security first.

Statistics show that 40% of women live alone after age 65, compared to just 19% of men.  Educating oneself about the basics of budgeting, saving, investing and estate planning can be done in a variety of ways - talking with a licensed professional, reading a book, listening to a podcast or even watching YouTube videos. 

After obtaining some basic financial knowledge, assess what you have financially by reviewing assets, income, debt, and savings.  Develop a budget that includes an emergency fund, paying down debt, and saving for retirement. Once you have an idea of where you spend your money, you can work out a plan for saving.

The easiest way to start is likely with a regular automated savings plan into a savings or money market account.  Eventually, you need to make your money work harder for you through investments.

The first step with investing is to get an idea of your risk tolerance when it comes to investing.  A licensed investment professional can help you determine your risk tolerance and build an investment plan that fits your specific needs.  It’s important to double-check to make sure the person is properly licensed with the Iowa Insurance Division by visiting iid.iowa.gov or calling 877-955-1212.  Once you have a plan in place, regularly monitor and understand your statements, and stick with your goals and long term financial plan.

As you save, beware!  Scammers work hard to separate you from your hard-earned financial wealth.  IowaFraudFighters.gov is a resource to learn about recent scams being seen in Iowa that currently include, technology scams, lottery scams, IRS scams, and romance scams, to name a few.  Remember if someone is playing to your emotions, or trying to get you to navigate off your financial course, talk to someone you trust before acting on those emotions.  Always remember if it sounds too good to be true, it is!

Due to longer life spans and ever-changing roles, it's important for women to take time to make sure their financial plan is up to date during Women’s History Month.  With a little education, planning and protection, all women can achieve financial security.

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