Adulting is hard af. You don’t have someone to make your lunch for you every day or clean up the house. You need to take out the trash yourself, and don’t get me started on paying the bills. In 2019, the state of our personal finances has drastically changed from when our parents were young. Sometimes for the worst, but sometimes for the better. Alexa von Tobel, the founder of Inspired Capital and New York Times bestselling author, sums up the six biggest financial trends in her new book, Financially Forward: How To Use Today’s Digital Tools To Earn More, Save Better, and Spend Smarter, out now. She lays out where we’re losing money (oy vey) and how we can save more (thank the lord). Her book is a much-needed reality check, and can teach you how to not be broke by the time you reach 50. (And it isn’t just about cutting back on the drinking. I hope.) Here are the top six finance trends and advice outlined in von Tobel’s book, and how you can use those trends to your advantage.
Trend #1: We’re Living Longer
It’s no shocker that we are living longer than 50 years ago. Science (and my killer wrinkle-reducing night cream) tends to do that. While only 12% of the population was over 65 in 2000, it is estimated that 20% of Americans will be 65 or older by 2050. She says, “the majority of us underestimate the average life expectancy. This may sound like no big deal, but underestimating how long you might live can also mean underestimating how much money you’ll need to live comfortably after you retire.” So while you may think investing in those designer shoes is fine now, think about when you’re 75 and homeless. At least you’ll have cute shoes, right?
Living longer also means that we’re retiring later. The average life expectancy for an American woman is 81.1. So while some people retire at 65, a study by Northwestern Mutual found that 38% of people wait until they are in their 70s. Additionally, von Tobel says that “the idea of a completely work-free retirement is a bit of a myth for today’s retirees.” Just think of those cute old people working as greeters at Walmart.
Advice: Build your financial plan with the assumption that you will live well past 65. Alexa recommends assuming you’ll live to 95. But if your family members have lived to be over 100, assume you will too and plan accordingly. Also, consider the idea of working part-time once you retire.
Trend #2: Family Structures Are V Different
Our families are no longer the 1950s sitcom version of the average American family: husband and wife. picket fence, 2.5 kids (WTF is 2.5 kids?). But how are our families changing? For starters, we are getting married later. In the 90s, women and men would get married, on average, at 24 and 26, respectively. Although my great aunt never fails to remind me that she had already had four kids at my age, Americans are now waiting until their late 20s to get married. Similarly, “DINK” Status is very much a thing (dual-income, no kids) since people are shacking up before getting hitched. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “combining your finances with a second earner leads to more money in the bank.” Well, no duh. The thing is, not only do you have more money in the bank, but you tend to save money as well (just under $7,000 a year). Anyone down to move in with me and we can split the savings?
But on the costlier side of our changing family structures, there is the cost of raising children. In 2015, the cost of raising a child from birth to 17 (not including college), was about $233,000. That doesn’t even factor in if you need costly treatments to help you get pregnant. For IVF, costs have sky-rocketed from 10 years ago, increasing by $3,600 for one round of treatment, according to Jake Anderson-Bialis, co-founder of FertilityIQ. That means a single round of treatment usually costs more than $10,000. However, most people do two or three treatments, which drastically increases the price. Finally, there is the concept of the “Sandwich Generation,” aka you might end up living with or financing your kids and your parents at the same time. Joy.
Advice: Speak openly with your family about costs. Before your parents are too far down the rabbit hole (sorry), discuss what savings they have for long-term care. Make sure to keep all these different family-related costs in mind when you’re figuring out savings. The best rule of thumb is always to plan ahead.
Trend #3: Our Earning Potential Is Flexible
Have you ever gotten an urgent message from your boss late at night to do something before the next morning? Or gotten a call to come into work early? Hate to break it to you, but this is the new normal. The majority of jobs are no longer a basic 9-5. And for many people, holding one job just doesn’t cut it anymore. 40% of independent workers have a side hustle to make some extra cash for savings or for a big purchase, like a house. Others (16%) do it out of necessity. Then there are the “free agents” like freelancers or Uber drivers. 30% are in this field because they like the flexibility, while others want a full-time job but are using this as their primary income at the moment.
Advice: Use side hustles to your advantage. Figure out what you want and use the flexibility of part-time work to reach your goals easier and quicker.
Trend #4: Our Career Paths Are Fluid, And Sabbaticals Are In
What’s great about our generation is that we are indecisive have the flexibility to change career paths if we are unhappy or want different opportunities. On average, those who graduated college from 2006 to 2010 have held twice as many jobs as people who graduated between 1986 and 1990 did in the same amount of time. But people aren’t just changing companies, they are also changing entire career paths. According to von Tobel, there is “no such thing as it being ‘too late’ to pursue an entirely new path.”
Like those adorable matching sets every girl on Instagram wears during the summer, sabbaticals are in. Think of it as an “adult gap year”. It’s all about increasing your learning, and whatever other BS your university guidance counselor told you about your year abroad. But while taking an extended vacation may seem like the best thing ever a load of crap, employers are getting on board. Hear me out. Over a three-year period, those who took more than 10 vacation days were 31% more likely to get a bonus or raise compared to those who took fewer than 10 days off.
Advice: If you’re deciding on whether to take a job, check out the company’s policy with regards to taking time off work. You should also plan ahead with your finances if you’re able to. If you can, allow yourself the funds to take that time off work.
Trend #5: Everything Is On-Demand
Our lives today are all about instant gratification. I’m not going to lie that I don’t get annoyed when my Uber takes longer than 5 minutes to arrive or my Amazon Prime package doesn’t come the next day. Patience is non-existence. While 22% of people shopped online in 2000, 80% shop online today. Crazy. Since nothing is off-limits, there is tons of competition, which keeps the prices (fairly) low. The best part of having everything accessible to us? Saving money. As someone who loves a good deal, being able to compare prices of the same product at different stores is the best feeling. Like, sex is cool, but saving $50 is better.
Advice: von Tobel says that while this is great, impulse shopping is dangerous. So beware.
Trend #6: Forget Ownership. Sharing is Caring
If I told my mom that I was staying in a stranger’s house when I traveled Europe last year, or regularly get into randos’ cars, she would have a heart attack. But today, Airbnb and Uber are the new normal. These services allow us to save money by sharing stuff and make money by letting others borrow it. And who needs a car in a busy city when you basically have your own chauffeur? These services allow us to cut down on what we have (Marie Kondo is so in and von Tobel approved) and save $$$. You also can stream movies and show online, instead of buying DVDs (or VHSs … yikes) and even borrow clothes instead of buying a dress you’ll wear once.
Advice: Keep on sharing!
For more of Alexa’s financial advice, pick up a copy of Financially Forward: How To Use Today’s Digital Tools To Earn More, Save Better, and Spend Smarter, out now.
Images; Giphy (5)
Farnoosh Torabi is a financial expert, host of the podcast So Money and co-founder of Stacks House, a massive experiential museum for female financial empowerment. Currently stationed in downtown L.A., Stacks House, together with its presenting partner Zelle, as well as Charles Schwab and Day Owl, plans to travel the country and make financial literacy fun. Use this link for 40% off your ticket.
Women, I’m told, are obsessed with retirement. Over the past four years as the host of a financial podcast, my largely female audience has been sending me their biggest money concerns over email, Instagram DMs, and during chance run-ins on the A train. One of the most pressing issues I hear from listeners is how to prepare for retirement. Specifically, women want to know: Where do I begin investing so that I can have enough when I retire? Our obsession makes sense. We’re living longer than men (on average) and have the wage gap to battle, which makes shoring up money for the golden years all the more stressful. In a recent survey by Charles Schwab, three out of four young women said putting together a financial plan is very important to reaching their financial goals—versus 64% of young men. Should I invest in a 401(k)? How about a Roth IRA? And, wait. There’s a Roth 401(k)?
The questions I field often relate to all the different accounts and how they work. If all the financial lingo is getting in the way of you and your older, richer self, I have some help. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common retirement accounts and whether they’re right for you.
Workplace Retirement Accounts
what (and I cannot stress this enough) the fuck is a 401k
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) February 15, 2019
Best for: Those with access to a plan that carries a company match. If you’re not sure where to begin investing and have access to a 401(k) through your job, this may be a great place to start. Named after a section of the IRS code, the almighty 401(k) is the most popular retirement savings vehicle. Recent numbers show about 80 million people are actively participating in a 401(k) or a “defined contribution plan.” Many employers offer 401(k)s as a workplace benefit. (If you work for a non-profit, school or government office, your plan is probably called a 403(b). It basically works the same way.)
You get to contribute automatically out of every paycheck. And with the help of the plan provider, you can select your investments within the plan to reflect your risk tolerance and retirement age. Annual contributions are capped
at $19,000 in 2019 or $20,000 if you are age 50 and over and can be deducted from your taxable income, which helps you save on your taxes today. Your tax burden is then pushed off until you start making qualified withdrawals at age 59 ½.
Bonus: Some employers will throw in a match. For example, they may provide a dollar for every dollar you invest, up to, say, 5% of your salary. And if that is the case, you should absolutely invest in a 401(k) to at least earn the company match. It’s sort of like free money!
Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (or Traditional IRAs)
Best for: Those who may not have access to a workplace retirement account and want to save on taxes today. The traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is a popular retirement savings vehicle that you can open up at a financial institution or bank. Like a 401(k), contributions made to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible up to $6,000 in 2019 ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older). Funds aren’t taxed until they’re withdrawn, but there is a penalty for taking money out before age 59 ½.
At this point my retirement plan is just banking on the fact that climate change will kill us all by 2030
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) February 15, 2019
Best for: Those who think they’ll be in a higher tax bracket in retirement (i.e. most young people). Or, those who want to save for retirement, but are concerned they may need the money sooner. A Roth IRA is another type of individual retirement account. It is similar to a traditional IRA as far as the contribution limits go. This year’s cap is $6,000. The major difference is that you can’t deduct your contribution from your taxable income today. Instead, the tax benefit arrives later down the road, when you pay zero taxes on all future withdrawals in retirement (and when adhering to Roth IRA rules).
Another thing to note about Roth IRAs: You can’t contribute if you earn too much money. This year, if you’re filing taxes single, you’re no longer eligible for a Roth IRA once you earn $137,000 or more. For married couples filing jointly, you become ineligible at $203,000. The Roth IRA is also unique in that you can take out your contributions (note: not your earnings on the contributions, just contributions) at any time without facing a tax or penalty. Some really like this benefit because it provides better flexibility of accessing your money if you really need it.
Pro tip: If you already have a 401(k) or another type of employer-sponsored retirement account where contributions are tax-deductible—and you’re looking to diversify your tax exposure in retirement—a Roth IRA can be a solid vehicle for that purpose.
Best for: Those who want the best of both worlds. Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of 401(k)s and Roth IRAs, you can probably imagine how a Roth 401(k) works. Like a 401(k) this is an employer-sponsored investment savings account. The money you set aside, like a Roth IRA, is done so with after-tax dollars. You don’t get to deduct your contribution from your taxable income today, but you can make qualified withdrawals in retirement tax-free. Roth 401(k)s offer the higher contribution limits of a 401(k). And while a Roth IRA limits who can contribute based on income, a Roth 401(k) doesn’t have that rule.
Shop Betches What’s A 401k Tee
Images: Alexander Mils / Unsplash; betchesluvthis / Twitter (2)
I met this guy about six months ago. He lives in another state, came up to my state for a week for work and we hung out for that entire week and really clicked. Since then he has come and visited me twice, but that’s it. He is terrible at texting (we never have conversation over text) and he has only called me just to “chat” once. Still, I REALLY really like him, and I have a feeling he likes me too, or he wouldn’t still keep me in his radar, or fly across the states to visit me, etc., My question is: Am I an idiot for holding on so long? Do I need to let him go?
And if there is ANY hope at ALL for us, how do I deal with his non communication while he lives in another state? We have talked about it, but I don’t really think he will change.
Well, that answers your first question. I don’t really have the time for this, because this guy is just not into you. As you get older and less stupid, you come to realize that guys will do ANYTHING to keep a woman on their radar, including continuing to text them “You single yet?” every few months even though you told him in no uncertain terms that you would not date him if you were single, taken, or the last woman on earth. That was a hypothetical example that definitely did not happen to me… Anyway, yeah, he’s not flying across the state to visit you, he’s doing it for work. You and your vagina are just a perk, which is why he doesn’t put in any effort the other like, 90% of the time.
Cut It Off,
I recently got a new job and with it came about a 50% raise. While my negotiating skills are obviously up to par, my long term money management skills maybe aren’t. I was talking to my live-in boyfriend of 3 years about a few purchases that I had planned to spoil myself with, to which he replied “You should probably consider a retirement plan…” While I do have stocks, Daddy-dearest manages it for me and it does not include a retirement plan. Daddy-dearest is of course my go-to for all things adult, but my boyfriend is a CPA. I said I was open to the idea, but he said he would want to look at my financials. I don’t know how comfortable I am with showing him my bank accounts/etc. because that is a very private matter.
How long do people wait before sharing intimate financial details with their significant other? We aren’t getting married anytime soon so like isn’t this a little premature?
What is Adulting?
First off, congrats on the raise! Please DM me your negotiating tactics. I’ll just get right to the advice: I agree with your boyfriend that you need a 401K or IRA or other retirement plan, BUT I do not think you should give him access to your finances. That’s just a recipe for disaster IMO—save that shit for marriage. As long as you’re not in crippling debt, keep your financial info private. Fortunately, setting up a retirement plan is super easy! First check with your HR/benefits person at your job to make sure that your company doesn’t already provide some type of retirement saving. If they do, you are living the fucking life. Contribute as much as you can out of each paycheck, especially if they match—that is free money!!
If not, call up your local Fidelity or wherever and talk to someone and they’ll walk you through it. Ask your dad for advice on a plan if you’re not sure what to do or like, don’t *really* know what the difference between a 401K and an IRA is (and then LMK what he says, asking for a friend). I think I read somewhere that you should try to contribute 6-10% of each paycheck to your retirement savings, but I can’t find that info now in the 30 seconds I took to Google it so maybe I made that up.
For the record, it’s okay to treat yo’self yourself a little bit, but you ALSO definitely need to start saving for retirement.
As my dad says: Age is temporary, immaturity lasts forever.
Financially Responsible Kisses,
I have been in a serious relationship with a guy on and off since 2008. We have been steadily dating for the last 4 years and we recently got engaged. Everything was great and I talked about the wedding a lot (what girl wouldnt!?) and he started getting upset. We talked and we argued and thought everything was settled.
A few weeks ago he told me he was going to work on a case with a friend of his (who I know and never liked because she’s super fake) and he left and didn’t call or respond to any of my messages. he called me at 11am and said he’s gonna see some friends and hell see me tonight…. after 8 hours of calling and texting i finally called his friend to be like “where are you” and they said they’re in a hotel and he doesn’t want to talk to me. He never responded until 4am the next day.
He came home the next day saying he had a mental breakdown and that I was the cause of him being upset and having a mental breakdown in a hotel. He blamed me for everything. I left town to heal and then he told me I abandoned him. Everything progressively got worse every single day and I was blamed for absolutely everything. He called me horrible names and said mean things to me all while I was still trying to hear him out.
Anyway, a lot of things escalated and at the end of it he told me he doesnt want a “break” and wants to just break up because I “don’t get it” and I “abandoned him”. Please help me.
I love him. I have loved him for almost 10 years. I imagined my entire life with him and now he is someone I don’t recognize anymore. I know I should walk away, but I just can’t. Please give me your betchiest advice.
Thank you so much.
Dear Molly Jensen,
I called you that because:
As a completely objective third party with absolutely no interest in the matter, I think this guy did you a favor. I think it’s in your best interest to pull a Chris and GET OUT. Sorry for the bad joke, but seriously. Let me break down all the ways in which something is seriously wrong here.
1. He’s disappearing on you for hours/maybe days?—I don’t care what the circumstances are, that is just not ok.
2. He blames you for everything—you cannot cause someone’s mental breakdown (unless you are like, abusing them I guess). But it seems like he just went off, probs did something shady, and then so you don’t get suspicious is turning the blame back around on you so YOU will grovel for HIS forgiveness and forget that he was the one who fucked up in the first place.
3. He’s invalidating your feelings (i.e. “you abandoned me”) and is calling you horrible names and saying mean things to you. Nope, nope, nope.
Look, I can understand on a theoretical level (because I don’t have feelings) that loving someone for 10 years and leaving is incredibly hard. But you guys aren’t even married yet, and he’s already giving you a glimpse of what married life will be like. Do you really want this for the rest of your life? Do you really want him disappearing for days and leaving you alone with the kids or whatever and then having the gall to call you a shitty partner when he finally returns? I hope you don’t.
Here’s what you do: Take him at his word and block him on everything. Treat it as if you’re actually broken up. I would bet my entire (meager) retirement plan that he’s not serious about breaking up with you, and this is a manipulation tactic to get you to forget that you were (rightfully) upset about him ghosting on you for days. He’ll be back in a few days or weeks, “graciously” willing to “forgive you” if you just apologize and agree to let him do whatever the fuck he wants with no consequences—don’t fall for it. I would also be willing to bet the same aforementioned sum that this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this, and this is just another in a long line of manipulation.
You know you should walk away, and he’s given you the chance to do it. Take the out.
You Can Venmo Me If I’m Right,