Archives for April 2016

Women and the Risks of Retirement

When it comes to retirement, many have told us that it is important to start saving early and often. Establishing a 401(k) or other type of retirement fund can make retirement easier, but this sounds easier than it usually is. Several studies have shown that women do not think they will need as much money as men for retirement. But this is not true. Women may actually need more for retirement than men because they tend to live longer and can face higher expenses during retirement years.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who has been conducting research on retirement since 1978, only about 36% of unmarried women and 29% of married women think they will need to have more than $250,000 for retirement. Whereas the men, believe they should have $500,000 or more to sustain them during retirement.

This discrepancy has many causes including not understanding the long-term cost of inflation, housing, health care, or transportation. Women are not preparing for unexpected illness or injury. They face unequal treatment in employment such as only working part time or taking time off to care for family members, and lower earnings that do not allow them to maximize on the employer sponsored retirement savings account.

In all age groups, women have less set aside for retirement than men. For women 65 and older, typically they have 25% less than men in retirement, and as women age, the gap widens to 44% by age 80. This gap puts them at risk of falling below the poverty line, which has its own sets of problems.

There is a bright spot in this study. Women are more likely to contribute to an employer offered retirement, but even after years of accumulation, women still have less than men. Private and government sectors need to do more to help eliminate the gap in retirement savings between the genders. It is important for everyone to save for retirement, and it is time for women to take control of their finances and invest in their future.


Disagreeing with Power

Many times, you find yourself in a situation where you may not agree with someone who ranks higher than you do in the company. You disagree with a projects timeline, or your boss proposes a new program you don’t think will work. How do you decide if it is good to speak up? What do you say to them and still be respectful? This is a dilemma. There is a fine line you have to walk to make sure your voice is heard, but not cause riff in the company.

I am here to tell you it is natural to have reservation about disagreeing with someone, especially a superior. Our survival genes activate and we want to make sure we are still liked and valued by the person who has more power. Humans have a natural tendency to avoid unpleasant situations, and this definitely ranks in the unpleasant category. So what do you do if you are found in these situations?

The first step is to be realistic about the risks. As humans, we tend to jump to the most unpleasant and overplay the risk involved in speaking our minds. In our minds, all kinds of horrible catastrophes that will happen, but let’s look at this from a different perspective. What would happen if I don’t speak up? Weight the consequences of not speaking up to what would happen if you do speak up. One group will probably out weight their other in importance.

The next is all about timing. When do you speak up? Do you hold off and think through the problem more? Do you gather troops? There is a good chance other will disagree with your thinking. Having some other people on board may make it easier. It may be better to speak up in private than in a large group.

Before you decide to speak up, make sure you identify a shared goal. Take the time to determine what the person you want to confront cares about. Find a way to connect your disagreement to their goal. Make sure you state the connection clearly, otherwise they may not make the connection to the shared goal. This becomes a chess game, each move is critical to the outcome of the discussion.

When you confront them, ask to disagree. It alerts them to know what is coming, but does not put the person of power in a position where they feel attacked. You can be confident when voicing your opinion, but prepare them for the disagreement.

It is important to stay calm. Speak deliberately and slowly, taking deep breaths as needed. This allows you to stay calm and the other person also. Remember this is just as uncomfortable for them as it is for you. After you have permission, speak about the other person’s viewpoint, and state what it is you disagree with. Don’t make judgments about their choices, but state facts and histories that validate your point and stay respectful. By staying well informed, well researched, but humble. Offer your opinion. Give suggestions, and after asserting your position acknowledge their authority. This let them know that you will defer to their choice, but you would like them to entertain your suggestions.


Deciding Where to Retire

When you climb in age to the point of retirement, it is important to consider everything. You have saved and planned, but do you know where you are going to live? You could stay where you are. You could move somewhere else. Where is the best place to retire? Florida? California? Arizona? This following list breaks down the best places to live for the best years of your life.

  1. Health Care:

Health care cost during retirement is staggering, even with Medicare. A couple could spend as much as $245,000 out-of-pocket throughout retirement. It is important to plan for medical costs, and to educate yourself. According to CNBC, the five states that rank the highest in health care quality and research are: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

  1. Taxes:


We all have to pay taxes, but no one likes to pay any more than they have too. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming currently have no income taxes, but that does not several of these states do not pay their fair share taxes. Nevada has very high sales taxes, and Texas pays higher than average property taxes. The states with the lowest tax burden based on the percentage of income paid in state and local taxes are: Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Tennessee, and Texas.


  1. Cost of Living:


Taxes and health care are not the only monetary realities to look at; you also need to know about the cost of living in each state. Making your money stretch farther and have more purchase power, contributes to your long-term happiness. Money should not be a worry during retirement, but we all know that stretching the money will make retirement easier. The states that the Council for Community and Economic Research found that the following states were the best at making your dollar stretch farther: Mississippi, Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.


  1. Crime:


This is not typically something people think about when choosing a place to live unless it involves the neighborhood they are picking, but it is important to consider crime in your decision. The following states were ranked in the top five by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program for having the lowest number of violent and nonviolent crimes per 100,000 residents: Vermont, Idaho, Maine, Virginia, and Wyoming.


  1. Weather:


When you think about retiring and weather, many people think Florida with the balmy weather and pleasant temperatures. Is it really the ideal place, weather wise, to retire? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found the following states rank the highest in the country for the best weather based on days of sunshine, average humidity, and the number of days you will need to heat or cool your home: New Mexico, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.


This list does not take everything into consideration, but it can help point you in the right direction.


Creating Your Employee Handbook

Every employer has different ideas about what their employees should expect while employed for them. It is important to put this information in writing. By placing all the rules and policies into a well-drafted, updated employee handbook, an employer can give new employees important information and provide them with legal notices that could save them large legal fees down the road. Having everything laid out and in writing is important for everyone involved with the business. The following are a few areas that should be covered when creating an employee handbook.

  1. At-Will Notice: If you do not have your employees sign a contract, and very few employers do, establish an employee-at-will notice in the handbook. It will notify the employee that their job is not contract and they are able to be terminated at any time. An at-will notice also established that nothing in the book is intended to create a contract between the employee and the company.
  2. “Equal Opportunity” statement: This is the statement that shows employees that you do not discriminate against race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. As long as the employer shows good faith in their efforts to comply with the anti-discrimination statement, then they cannot be held liable for discrimination, and the equal employment opportunity statement is the beginning of that good faith.
  3. Sexual Harassment Policy: This falls in line with the other harassment policies. An employer can be held liable if any employee commits sexual harassment. Having a statement about the consequences of harassment shows that the employer is willing to protect the employees from unwanted advances. A solid anti-harassment policy allows the employer to enforce the policy with procedures effectively managing harassment cases.
  4. Reservation of Rights or Benefits Disclaimer Clause: This is the part where the employer reserves the right to revoke, suspend, or amend any policy, benefit, plan, or procedure at their own discretion. This is further evidence that the employment handbook is not a contract. It also allows the employer to make changes in response to incidents that happen in the company.
  5. Safe Harbor Policy: This policy establishes rules for employers to deduct money from an employee’s paycheck. It protects the employer if the make a good faith efforts to uphold the policy and return any improper deductions. It also protects the employer if the employee has an exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

All the policies are in place to protect the employer and employee. It is important to go over the handbook and clear up ambiguous language. How the employer approaches these issues is very different from each other. The policies need to fit your company and be relevant to the employees.