Men and women approach financial planning differently, but there’s success in their balance.
When I get a massage, as I do periodically, I like to park my brain in neutral and bask in the serenity. So imagine the jolt when, a few months ago, my massage therapist wanted to spend our hour talking—about Social Security. A divorced woman in her fifties, she had heard that she could apply for Social Security on her former husband’s record. Was that true, she wanted to know, and if so, would it have any effect on her ex-spouse’s own Social Security benefit?
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So instead of parking my brain in neutral, I had to shift into overdrive to explain the nuances of Social Security (yes, if her marriage had lasted 10 years, she could apply for benefits on her husband’s record once she’s 62, and no, it wouldn’t affect his Social Security). So much for my peaceful massage.
A few weeks later, I sat down for my regular haircut, assuming I could zone out while my stylist snipped away. But she wanted to talk—about her retirement plan. She thought that as a self-employed person she could sock away much more than she could in a traditional IRA, but she was hesitant to raise the subject with her accountant. I confirmed that she was probably eligible for a Simplified Employee Pension or individual 401(k), and that triggered a discussion about retirement investments that lasted as long as my haircut.
It occurred to me later that both women were in tune with the Kiplinger’s subscribers we surveyed earlier this year to learn more about how they invest. When we asked where they learn about personal finance, women were more likely than men to say that they talk to friends and family or ask questions of a financial adviser—or, in some cases, a client who happens to be the editor of a personal finance magazine.
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