Credit Unions Offering Unique Financial Strategies for Women
By Cyndi Cohen Credit Unions Online
Women of all ages and walks of life are in a unique place financially in today’s day and age, fulfilling more roles than in years past including that of professional, mother, homemaker, business woman, student, etc. More is expected of modern women and yet they still tend to earn less than their male counterparts. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income of a woman with a bachelor’s degree is about 67 percent as much as that of a man with a bachelor’s degree.
Women who want to have children often have to or choose to take time off from the workplace to raise their kids; when they return to work it is often not in a full-time capacity or traditional setting, in order to juggle the demands of motherhood while still earning a paycheck. Women are also living longer. According to the Social Security Administration, the life expectancy of a 65-year old woman is about 20 years and the National Center for Health Statistics states that more than 70 percent of nursing home residents are women. And, many women seem to be outliving their spouses with one-third of women under age 65 becoming widows, according to The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement.
Therefore, young or old, married or single, it is important for all women to have a firm grasp on their finances and to make the most of their assets. Recently, a popular way that women have begun learning to do so is through financial seminars. And credit unions, in their financially proactive, member-friendly style, have caught on to this trend, providing such seminars especially for their female members.
Smart Women Getting Smarter about Money
Credit union seminars dedicated to female members are helping women face the challenges that separate them from men in today's financial marketplace. Women who take advantage of these valuable seminars will benefit from the tools and knowledge along with the right environment to help them become financially literate, confident consumers. Touching on all aspects that effect women from basic financial concepts and techniques to more complex investment strategies, credit unions strive to give women the opportunity to achieve financial independence and freedom.
Langley Federal Credit Union (Newport News, VA) offers “Taking Control: A Financial Management Workshop for Women.” According to Kitty Simon, Director of Member Education, this is a comprehensive educational program consisting of 2 hours one night a week for three weeks. Week 1 begins with cash management and building an emergency fund, progresses to risk management and various insurances, and ends with investment planning, setting goals and using investment diversification. Week 2 starts with tax and retirement planning, employer sponsored plans, IRAs, and annuities, and then finishes with estate planning concerning wills, trusts, tax-reduction tools and charitable giving. Week 3 finishes the course covering divorce, Social Security, and widowhood.
The seminar has been so successful that the credit union is running it for the third time this September. “Turnout is excellent…we already have 69 members registered for our September 2012 workshop,” says Simon. In addition to refreshments and door prizes, attendees are given the opportunity to set up no-cost, no-obligation consultations where specific questions they may have concerning information they received will be answered if time at the workshop ran short. The seminar also includes a 147 page resource book for the members to keep. Simon recommends the seminar because she feels it provides women of all ages, races, and different occupations the tools they need regarding important financial management issues. Outside of the seminar, the Langley also offers one-on-one financial counseling, housing counseling, and home foreclosure prevention counseling.
Likewise, Oregon Community Credit Union’s (Springfield, OR) investment services division offers a seminar for women according to Cherie Kistner, Marketing Manager. The complimentary seminar focuses on:
The unique challenges women face when planning for retirement
Identifying traditional and non-traditional sources of retirement income
Exploring income-generating strategies that can last a lifetime
Numerica Credit Union (Spokane Valley, WA) also has a seminar that was designed just for women. “Chicks Building Nest Eggs” addresses why many women have to be better prepared than men to face their financial futures. “This workshop acknowledges that women have distinct obstacles that must be considered when developing a financial plan,” explains Kelli Hawkins, Communications Manager.
The financial advisors and certified financial planner professional of the Numerica Financial Services team teach attendees about how to overcome their distinct obstacles utilizing retirement planning tools, allocating investments to fit individual needs, and choosing the appropriate life insurance coverage. “The main objective of the seminar is to get the women thinking about their future finances and leave with a plan to ensure financial stability through retirement,” says Hawkins. As with all of their seminars, the credit union provides refreshments and small giveaways.
Numerica has been holding seminars for women over the past three years with an average attendance between 12 and 18. “Chicks Building Nest Eggs” has garnered very positive feedback. Attendees leave realizing that they need to know what is going on with their finances since they may be the ones left dealing with it. In fact, many of the women schedule appointments with Numerica Financial Services following the presentation.
Numerica also offers an online Financial Resource for Women, with content provided by Ms. Money. And, they sponsor the “Smart Women, Smart Money” financial seminar in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, held at North Idaho College on Oct. 13, 2012. According to Hawkins, the seminar helps women learn more about financial topics including budgeting, investing, debt management and retirement. It is presented by the Idaho State Treasurer’s Office, and this will be the credit union’s second year supporting the conference as a top sponsor.
Hawkins feels these seminars are beneficial for women because they need to be aware that their life circumstances are different from that of men. “Women, on average, make a smaller income than men, yet live longer lives; they need to start preparing earlier, estimate their retirement needs over a longer period of time, and understand their finances so that they can manage them on their own,” adds Hawkins.
Finally, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union (Poughkeepsie, NY), offers their seminar, “Women, Money and Power: Take Control of your Financial Future.” “The seminar provides a chance for self-discovery about what’s important regarding their financial future,” says Kelly Outwater, Product Marketing Manager. “A survey is also used to determine what type of financial personality they have.”
The credit union’s first seminar devoted to women and investing, it consists of 10 sessions and averaged about 18 attendees per seminar last time around. Attendees find the seminar beneficial calling it “informative and fun” and giving the credit union kudos for a “great job conveying the need for a financial strategy, and making the process user-friendly” while another says she “can’t wait to get started!” Outwater feels it is a good foundation for women to begin the process of understanding their finances.
Are you a smart, empowered modern-day woman looking to gain control of your financial life and secure your future by learning to manage your money? Turn to your credit union for the help and resources to start now! Not a member? Find a credit union and join today.