MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics
Financially Empowering Women, The Journey Continues
Mark Zaifman   |    Sat, Nov 03, 2012 @ 10:27 AM

If you’re a baby boomer, you most likely grew up with the notion that men are born with a natural ability to be good at managing money and investing.

Retirement Planning, Who's Steering Your Ship?
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Oct 11, 2012 @ 01:27 PM

When was the last time you talked, and I mean really opened up and spent some quality time, with your significant other about your dreams and aspirations for the eventual next phase of your life - retirement or early semi-retirement?

Financial Life Planning Doesn't Have to Be a Tedious Task
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Aug 15, 2012 @ 12:29 PM

If you find yourself just about ready to say yes and commit to the development of a comprehensive financial plan but for some reason you keep getting stuck on making the final move, my guess is the thought of compiling the documents needed is your roadblock.

So imagine my joyful surprise when a new client just emailed me her very positive feedback after gathering all the info needed to design her financial plan...

Women Gaining Financial Education as Primary Breadwinners
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Aug 02, 2012 @ 03:44 PM

Yet another study - this one telling me something I've noticed in my own financial planning practice for several years. According to Prudential Financial's latest study, The Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women, 53% of the 1,400+ women surveyed are primary breadwinners in their households. The study polled 1,410 American women and 604 American men between the ages of 25 and 68.

Women are taking on the primary breadwinner role for several reasons; because of their partners loss of employment as a result of the financial crisis, as a result of divorce and because women are marrying later in life.

Successful Financial Planning Begins with Thinking from the End
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Jul 10, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

Of the many aspects involved when designing a comprehensive financial plan, probably my favorite element of all is helping clients decide on their number.  The number I’m referring to is your total net-worth, but more specifically, the amount of liquid assets you’ll need to accumulate by the time you’re ready to retire or stop working for money.

One Way to Sabotage Your Relationship With Money
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 08:51 AM
Financial Independence at Fifty, a Your Money or Your Life Success Story
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Feb 16, 2012 @ 08:52 AM

The following is a guest post by my friend and colleague, Diane Williams who along with her husband became FI (financially independent) after reading the book Your Money or Your Life. Their story is both inspiring and exciting and I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about how they achieved FI at age 50 to contact Diane.

Financial Planning for Couples -The Power of 2
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:32 PM

Yesterday, a slew of articles appeared in the news proclaiming Married Couples at a Record Low. I’m aware of the trend that younger people are delaying or reevaluating whether they want to make the plunge, and with over 50% of marriages still ending in divorce, I can understand the hesitancy.

So as we prepare to bid farewell to 2011 and ring in 2012, I find myself wondering, will money continue to be one of the major causes of couple’s calling it quits?

Men Who Under-Earn and the Women Who Love Them
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Oct 27, 2011 @ 02:32 PM

I used to think it was mostly a west coast thing. What I’m referring to is the rapidly growing number of couples that are putting quality of life ahead of their standard of living - those who are downsizing and simplifying. In many cases, the men are encouraging and supporting their wife/life partner to be the breadwinner in the family, while they often stay at home to care for the kids and run the household, or work from home part-time.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the culture very much encourages self-empowerment, this trend is exploding. There are classes and workshops that focus and teach women how they can best cope and support the men in their lives that are (and this was the wonderfully delicious euphemistic term used to market an upcoming workshop), under-earners.

It’s a Leap of Faith

From my vantage point as a holistic financial planner, I often meet the men that have voluntarily simplified their lives. Many describe making the change as a leap of faith. And for full disclosure, when I meet with couples where this idea or concept is on the table, I do everything in my power to see how this can work and make it happen for them.

When I meet people that truly desire to reinvent themselves, but the only major obstacle standing in the way is money - I can’t wait to get started on a financial plan with them. Because my first priority is having my clients be successful, having a personal financial plan in place is the only way to proceed.

Transition to Success

Of course, talking about this type of personal transformation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the book Your Money or Your Life which very often provides the catalyst and self-confidence necessary to make major life changes. It’s when you begin to challenge all the core assumptions in your life, especially the ones about how much you ‘should’ make or the type of work you ‘should’ be doing that life really gets interesting.

The vast majority of men I meet that are contemplating this downsizing and simplifying life choice are currently in high stress, high income careers or jobs that feel more like they’re making a ‘dying’ instead of making a ‘living’. Many guys are literally just burned out from striving and never arriving as every time they were close to reaching the finish line, someone moved the goalpost yet again. Men making this downshift in terms of career change risk the wrath of not only society, since this is still very much out of the norm, but often friends and extended family make their opinions of your choice that much more of a challenge.

Women Leading From the Heart

Swimming upstream is much more challenging than going with the flow. Men that begin reflecting on their life choices often notice the creative juices really start bubbling to the surface.  They may feel empowered and inspired to “quit their day job”, they might take personal mini sabbaticals in order to regroup or rest, they often reinvent themselves by taking a gig that’s low stress and easy on the mind and soul.

But we still live with sexism so with these unorthodox choices comes the dubious distinction of possibly being dubbed lazy, under-earner, girlie men, slacker or a poor provider for the family. But down the road, when the investment made in yourself and your family by taking some time off to just slow down enough so you could think clearly manifests into a happier, healthier and more prosperous you, it’s then that all the naysayers will tell you how smart a move that was back then to take some time off.

For all the men I have helped and encouraged to make this move, the X factor that has made the difference between a successful or unsuccessful reinvention is the unconditional love they have received from their wife/life partner during this transition.

It’s what teamwork is all about. A wife helps her partner to become a happier man, him becoming happier helps her love him even more. The more love, the more abundance they attract into their lives, and on and on it goes…

Mark Twain said it best: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. “Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Click me
Photo by Mr.T in DC
Your Money or Your Life - What’s Your Choice?
Mark Zaifman   |    Mon, Sep 26, 2011 @ 03:18 PM

Next time you’re stuck at the airport on a business trip or sitting in traffic on the way to or from work, ask yourself this question. If given a choice between a higher quality of life vs. a higher standard of living, which option would I choose?

As we move into a global economy that moves faster and faster and becomes ever more competitive, the question of your money or your life will become ever more relevant. That’s because the financial pressures will continue to increase as will the demands on your time.

A Balancing Act

Striking a balance between work and play used to be a lot easier.  Although this has traditionally been a struggle for most people, now it seems harder than ever. And with a sagging global economy and a roller coaster stock market thrown in the mix, finding time to just clear your head and think about your future is a daunting challenge.

For all the amazing benefits financial planning brings to people lives, perhaps one of the least understood yet most powerful outcomes is giving yourself the freedom and space needed to step back from your day to day routines and check in with yourself.

Although this seems like such an easy exercise to perform, with busy lives and demanding careers, it’s easier said than done. Usually a task like this gets put on that elusive to-do list, never to be seen from again. And before you know it, 10 or 20 years goes by like the blink of an eye. Yet taking the time this year or even next year to stop, slow down and assess where you are and where you’re headed can reap enormous dividends if done well and with unabashed self-honesty.

Read More