A black woman has to work seven hours more in order to earn what her male co-worker earns. In addition, black women are more likely than others to have the responsibility of caring for relatives and friends—physically and financially.
Despite those challenges, black women are starting businesses at a pace that exceeds that of any other group; and those earning more than $75,000 are among the fastest growing income groups in the country.
The Womanomics: Wealth Building for the Ages panel (hosted by Merrill Lynch at the 2016 Women of Power Summit) addressed how black women of all ages can create financial security; now and in the future, by examining saving, spending, debt, and retirement strategies.
Here are a few highlights.
- 51% of women are now the breadwinners in their family; 65% will inherit wealth because men tend to die first. Because women live longer, healthcare and long-term care insurance are critical pieces of their financial security puzzle.
- Don’t take over the family finances—it’s important to keep your husband involved. Racquel Oden, managing director of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (head of advisor strategy and development) recommends using a behavioral finance questionnaire. “Make it about your mutual goals, about planning for your future together,” she says. “Don’t say, ‘you’re doing this wrong.’”
- Saving for retirement is critical. To save more, to be wealthy, we must spend less.
- Worried about taxes? Carmen Rita Wong, CEO of Malecon Productions, reminded the group that it’s the law to pay taxes. “You need to pay what you owe,” she said, “not a penny more, but not a penny less either.” Wong advised obtaining the services of a CPA if your situation is complicated.
- Donna Sims Wilson, president of Smith, Graham & Co. Investment Advisors LP, stressed that the years we have to build wealth are limited. “If I can’t be compensated what I’m worth, then I need to leave.” Being under-compensated is being cheated, she said.
- What about family members who ask for money? All three panelists emphasized the need to set boundaries.