Women & Money: Your Finances at Your Life Stage

The right steps whether you're single or over 40

hefreeman01263Savvy money management skills are a necessity to weather these tough economic times. BlackEnterprise.com has got you covered with our supplement to the magazine’s three-part “Women & Money” series.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll have money management tips and strategies from Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, a credit counseling service.

BlackEnterprise.com: This one is a multi-part question: If you’re a young single woman, just starting out, with no kids, what are some of the first steps you should take to get your financial house in order? A divorcee with kids? A woman age 45 or older who is married?

Single with no kids

Setup an emergency fund to cover 6-8 months worth of bills.

Buy health and disability insurance (www.ehealthinsurance.com).

Contribute at least 10% of your monthly salary towards a retirement account.

Live below your means, keep debt balances at 30% or below the limit, and keep debt at 15% or below your monthly income.

Buy in terms of needs vs. wants.

Divorcee with kids

Setup an emergency fund to cover 8-12 months worth of bills.

Buy health, life, and disability insurance and remove your ex-spouse’s name as a beneficiary for any insurance paperwork or bank accounts.

Contribute at least 10% of your monthly salary toward a retirement account.

Live below your means, keep debt balances at 30% or below the limit, and keep debt at 15% or below your monthly income.

Create a budget and stick to it.

Close all joint accounts and cancel cards to prevent your ex-spouse from using them in the future.

If you don’t already have accounts in your name only, open one credit card, preferably a bank credit card, in your name to establish a credit history.

Setup payment plans for any outstanding debt or joint accounts with your ex-spouse.

Married woman, age 45 or older

Priorities change as your get older and you should reevaluate your financial status every five to 10 years. If you are not already contributing to a retirement account, contact a financial adviser on how to contribute money.

Don’t depend on your husband’s retirement, pension, or social security funds during your retirement years. You need to develop a plan for your own financial well-being because no one knows what the future holds.

Don’t take on your spouse’s, child’s, relatives’ or someone’s else financial problems.

Know the balances and location of all joint and individual accounts.

Keep copies of all financial papers in a safe that can be readily accessed when needed.

Attend financial counseling or free seminars as a couple.

Set short-term and long-term financial goals such as paying off your mortgage or paying off debt.

Set a retirement date for both of you, and hire a financial adviser to map out a plan to help you meet your financial goals.

Check out our latest features from our Women & Money series:

Conflict Resolution for Your Financial Woes

When ‘Mine’ Becomes ‘His & Hers’

Handling Your Spouse’s Financial Missteps