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What All Women Should Know About Personal Finance

By Joe Gross, CDFA®

With all the negative news the past year has brought us, would you like to hear a bit of good news? Following drastic changes in the past few decades, women now make up 50% of the workforce, (1) and they are also starting to play an increasingly important role in managing their household’s finances. (2) Husbands are no longer the only ones in control of the family’s finances—those days are long gone! 

That’s why women need to be even more informed about their financial opportunities and how to make the right decisions for their situation. Here are a few key principles women should know about personal finance in order to reach their financial and lifestyle goals.

Know Your Risk Tolerance

When it comes to how you invest your money, risk is a key factor. If you’re not comfortable taking big risks to potentially achieve higher gains, you won’t invest in high-risk stocks. The opposite is true as well. If you have the margin to take some risks, you won’t want your portfolio made up of “safe” investments. Your risk level is also tied to your goals. What short-term and long-term objectives do you have and what will it take to get you there? Since that’s a lot of information to balance, we use a Monte Carlo analysis to assess your future, figure out whether or not you’re on track, and play around with different scenarios to see how changes could impact the outcome. 

Be Involved In The Process

While it’s estimated that 85% of women make the primary decisions about their family’s day-to-day finances, that number drops down to 58% when it comes to making decisions about longer-term retirement and investment planning. (3) Since having a long-term plan impacts short-term decisions and behaviors, women need to be involved in all aspects of a household’s finances. 

If you’ve left budgeting or planning up to your spouse or partner until now, set aside one night a week to go over the details and get on the same page. It could save you a lot of heartache and frustration down the road should something happen to your spouse or your relationship.

Adjust When Transitions Happen

If you’ve recently gone through a divorce or the death of a spouse, your entire life has likely changed. That means your financial picture has changed as well. You’ll need to pivot with your financial plan to ensure that it now meets your risk tolerance, not the our risk tolerance from when you were married. Be sure to nail down what goals you want to pursue and adjust your plan to suit your new life situation. 

Learn How To Read Your Monthly Statement

Don’t just put your monthly financial statements in the shred pile. They probably look overwhelming and confusing, but they contain valuable information you need to stay on top of. While you don’t necessarily need to read them cover to cover and pore over every detail, you should pay attention to your asset allocation, including geographic mix, and the balance between equities, fixed income, and cash to make sure that market changes haven’t thrown your ideal allocation out of alignment. Also, while you shouldn’t focus too much on short-term performance, looking at those numbers can tell you a story. Based on what the market is doing, are you still making progress toward your goals? Have returns been declining for multiple months in a row? Your advisor can help you decipher this information to determine if changes to your plan are in order. 

Who Should I Partner With? 

It’s incredibly important that you have a financial advisor that you have a strong relationship with and feel comfortable with, but who else should you have in your financial support system? While this will depend on your situation, consider finding a trusted CPA who can answer your tax questions. You may also need to seek out an attorney to help you secure your estate plan documents. Your financial advisor likely has many contacts in their network and should be a resource for you to turn to as you build your team of financial professionals. Also, make sure the professionals you work with are willing to communicate with each other. That way, you will know that nothing is falling through the cracks or getting overlooked as you secure your financial life. 

We Can Help

It should come as no surprise to hear that given the right tools and education, women can succeed in reaching every financial goal they set for themselves. Even if it’s initially overwhelming, the more you know about investing and financial planning and the more you do it, the more confident you can become. And remember that you don’t have to walk this journey alone. In fact, a great way to gain momentum toward achieving your financial goals is to seek help from a trusted professional who will walk with you and ensure you stay on track. 

We at JGP Wealth Management would love to partner with you and show you how we can help build a financial plan and investment portfolio that works for you. If you want to work with a financial planner who understands your unique needs and inspires you to be more certain in your financial decisions, contact Joe today at 503-446-6450 or jgross@jgpwealth.com

About Joe

Joe Gross is first vice president and senior financial advisor at JGP Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based financial advisory firm in Portland, Oregon. With over 25 years of experience under his belt, Joe is passionate about putting his clients first and helping them stay focused on their financial goals, inspiring confidence in their future. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), he specializes in addressing the unique financial issues of divorce. Joe is known for his tenacity to keep clients on track toward their dreams and for his attention to detail, which is second to none! His clients know that nothing will slip through the cracks when working with Joe! 

Joe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Outside of work, he enjoys being involved in the community and is actively involved with organizations close to his heart. Joe is a former president and current board member of the ALS Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington and a long-time member of The Multnomah Athletic Club. In his free time, he enjoys fly fishing, spending time with his family, and cheering on his alma mater, the University of Arizona. To learn more about Joe, connect with him on LinkedIn.


(1) https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/10/january-2020-jobs-report/

(2) https://www.thestreet.com/personal-finance/women-are-the-new-cfo-of-the-household-14089470

(3) https://www.ubs.com/global/en/media/display-page-ndp/en-20190306-study-reveals-multi-generational-problem.html