Financial Planning for Women: Wealth Planning for Your Unique Future

Financial Planning for Women: Wealth Planning for Your Unique Future

It is never too soon to begin laying the groundwork for the life you want to live.

Women have been making significant economic gains over the past several generations, and data suggests young women today will accelerate that trend. The percentage of U.S. women ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree stands at 46%, compared to 36% of men who have achieved the same milestone. And while their median earnings in 2022 were still less than men’s, many women are choosing to marry later—and have children later.

“Whenever I work with younger women, I really try to impress on them how much opportunity exists,” says Anna Priestley, Philanthropic Solutions Advisor at Regions in Shreveport, Louisiana. “And it’s not just financial opportunity. The sooner they start planning and imagining the life they want to lead, the easier it is to achieve that vision.”

You don’t need to map out every objective of your life in advance. But laying the groundwork today is the best way to set up your short- and long-term life goals for success. “The greatest asset a young person has is time,” says Priestley. “Every year represents potential earning power and potential freedom to live the life you want.”

Here are four steps that can help you put a plan in place:

Step 1: Build a Strong Team and Begin Investing—Today

No matter how much you’re earning, or how early in a career you might be, it’s vital to make a habit out of paying yourself first.

“Investing in yourself is so important,” Priestley says. “You need a routine in which every paycheck covers the necessities, a few things you enjoy and then, without fail, an investment in your future. It takes practice, but it’s the best habit you can establish. And the earlier you do that, the more financial power you’ll have going forward.”

An advisor may be the most important professional you can engage when you’re mapping out your financial strategy. They can help you review your retirement savings options—such as a 401(k), a Roth or traditional IRA or other account type—or provide guidance for managing an inheritance. An advisor can also recommend whether you can benefit from bringing other professionals onto your team, such as a CPA or estate planning attorney.

Pairing professional advice with personal discipline can put you on track to building assets and earning compound interest—one of the keys to building wealth. Since women on average live more than five years longer than men do and take more time away from the workforce to care for family members, starting early is critical.

Step 2: Orient Your Financial Goals to Your Life Plan

While learning to invest early and consistently is critical, it is a method, not a goal in and of itself.

“We all need money to live, but we don’t all need the same amount of money,” says Priestley. “As an advisor, I can do a lot more for clients who have a vision of how they want to live their lives.”

For many women, Priestley notes, starting a family or supporting aging parents are foundational goals. But she works with women who are thinking just as much about their working lives when they make a financial plan.

“You might decide that your goal is to retire at 55, or that you want to make sure you can keep achieving career success until you’re 70. You might want to help raise kids other than your own,” Priestley says. “What people want to accomplish with their lives tends to be intangible. The money is just a means to an end.”

Whether your vision of success is oriented around family, wealth or lifestyle, what matters most is establishing that vision and communicating it to others, especially financial professionals.

Step 3: Keep Your Financial and Life Goals Flexible

Any financial plan will require adjustments as your circumstances change. Losing a job, changing careers, inheriting money, marrying and starting a family, divorcing, recovering from an illness or simply changing your mind are all events that could upend your life plan and call for new financial strategies. Because of this, Priestley recommends meeting with your advisor at least annually to review your financial plan.

Step 4: Protect Your Future Legacy

Even early on, you may want to work with an estate planning attorney to help protect your current and future assets. “An estate plan can include trusts that can be as specific as you want them to be, include children you haven’t yet had, or children of relatives or friends,” says Priestley. An attorney can also help you draft a prenuptial agreement if you are considering marriage.

It may also be wise to obtain a life insurance policy when you are relatively young and healthy. The proceeds can provide a safety net that could cover any outstanding debts or funeral expenses if you pass away unexpectedly.

“Life insurance for people in their 20s and 30s is quite affordable, and if you decide to start a family, or provide for other family members, a policy can protect them,” says Priestley.

Finally, don’t be afraid of adjustments to your plan. “Wealth planning is a journey,” says Priestley. “You have to anticipate change and welcome it.”

Talk to Your Regions Wealth Advisor About:

  1. How you can define your life goals—and what those goals may mean for your financial plan.
  2. How you invest in yourself and develop a savings routine.

Interested in talking with an advisor but don’t have one?

Find a contact in your area.