If you’ve read my other articles, you may know I’m not single. I’ve been married for almost nine years, but I still consider myself strong and independent – and in charge of my and my husband’s finances (with his insight and vote of course).
My thoughts about what it means to be strong and independent have evolved over time. When in my 20s, these weren’t ways of being that came naturally to me. This is not the case anymore, thanks in great part to educating myself about what it takes to be truly independent and applying steady effort and discipline along the way.
My “six things” detailed below are some key takeaways from channeling my inner 20-something, single woman of years past. I hope you’ll find something here that will be useful for your own journey.
1. Understand your short- and long-term goals
My top goal for many years was to buy a condo/house, so in 2010 when I had enough money for a down payment I went for it. My now husband wasn’t a huge fan. At the time, he owned his own condo, and we knew we were on the road to marriage. But I told him that until we’d said our vows and were a married couple – this is a step in the right direction for me financially. It ended up being a great financial decision for both of us now that we share our finances.
So, whatever you want – whether a big trip, a new car, a name-brand item – know what you want to accomplish and work a savings plan for it into your budget.
2. Save aggressively
Do not wait until you make more money. Carve out some money in your budget now – if you don’t have a budget, make one fast! – to save for retirement and whatever other goals you have. I started super small, and so can you.
Build on your saving discipline every chance you get. Don’t neglect to take advantage of those raises to set aside more. Or maybe when you get a bonus, treat it like nothing has changed in terms of spending and you will be saving more than you thought you could in no time. It’s all about discipline – reward yourself some, but build your savings before you spend more.
3. Protect your assets – including yourself
Make sure you have enough insurance – personal, disability, umbrella – to protect your current assets in case something extreme happens in your life. If you’re single, you may not have anyone else to cover you in emergencies, so it’s critical to be prepared and protected when the unexpected happens.
4. Continue to review your progress
Over the course of every year, I make it a point to review some part of our plan. One month I have an adviser review our 401(k) investments to see if we need to adjust; another month I have someone review our insurance to make sure it’s enough; weekly I check my budget and make adjustments; every six months I look at ongoing expenses like subscriptions and utilities to see where we can save or cut. You are in control of your own success, and it’s important to constantly evolve and make the choices that make sense to you at that moment.
5. Keep challenging yourself
Make a conscious choice to keep growing, learning and evolving, both in your personal or professional life. For way too long, I felt apprehensive about trying new things. To some extent, my “comfort zone” was holding me back. In no way am I perfect now, but the more I’ve challenged myself – the more I’ve learned to be confident and enjoy life.
So, take that solo trip, go to that networking cocktail hour, speak up at a meeting. Do whatever it takes to take the first step in the right direction.
6. If you’re looking to be in a long-term relationship, ask the tough questions
If you’re in a serious relationship or looking to be in one, the tough financial questions should be part of the conversation. Habits don’t typically change easily. You should know where your potential long-term partner stands financially and what his or her goals are. The same goes for their outlook on money in general. If the two of you aren’t on the same page, this can present huge challenges.
Having this kind of understanding and awareness – and sharing similar life goals and financial perspectives – was a deal breaker for me in my relationships when dating. Looking back, that was definitely the right move for me.
These are some of the positive habits I’ve picked up along the way to becoming a strong and independent woman – and really enjoying it. My last observation: Start small. Pick one thing to focus on, accomplish it, and then build on it. The first step is always the hardest.
On Thursday, May 20, Halbert Hargrove will be hosting a free webinar geared towards empowering women within the wealth management space. To learn more about this webinar and register to attend visit: https://shift.halberthargrove.com/ (opens in new tab).
Kelli Kiemle is the Managing Director of Growth and Client Experience at Halbert Hargrove (opens in new tab) and has been with the firm since 2007. Kelli earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration-Business Communication/Marketing from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California in 2006.
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