Women born between 1946 and 1964 have become more financially empowered than any previous generation in history, thanks to successful careers, higher education, financial investments and inheritance from parents or husbands. Today, 95% of women make the purchase decisions for the household and 26% earn more than their husbands.

Yet, in spite of having all the advantages their predecessors lacked, many women are fearful of making financial decisions and are often overwhelmed with the many options for retirement and wealth planning even though the majority of them handle the family finances.

“It’s important for women to be knowledgeable when making their financial decisions, especially since statistics show they will either remain single throughout their lifetime or survive a spouse, which places the responsibility for their financial future in their hands alone,” comments, Walter Pardo, Managing Partner and Founder of Wealth Financial Partners in Basking Ridge, NJ. (www.wealthfinancialpartners.com).

Women today face some specific challenges when it comes to financial planning:

•  Women typically outlive their spouse by six years.

•  Fifty-six percent of all unmarried Boomer women rate themselves as having no knowledge on securities investing.

•  Forty-five percent of all unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.  Often, this income is not enough to maintain their lifestyle.

• Married women will be forced to live with the financial decisions made by their husbands unless they are involved.

•  Married females are the most unlikely to take risk, followed only by unmarried females.

“There are key areas that every woman needs to have an understanding of in order to ensure her financial future,” Pardo continues.  “Developing a knowledge base and taking action will not only help to achieve financial goals, but will reduce the “fear factor” and allow for a more productive and stress-free lifestyle.”

Here’s a checklist of six simple steps every woman needs to understand:

✓ Recognize the need for budgeting and tracking your expenses. Living within your means allows you to save for emergencies and invest for the future.

✓ Savings versus investments. Having sufficient savings is important for short-term goals or emergency planning, but investments are for the longer term for retirement or college. An emergency fund should be liquid and is not for growing wealth, but is necessary to have in order to protect your wealth.  Investments, such as those designated for a 401(k), should be diversified to provide maximum growth and safety.

✓Understand how insurance works.  Insurance is the cornerstone of any financial plan and is necessary in order to cover death and disability and protect the family as well as the estate.

✓ Taxes.  No one enjoys thinking about taxes but you may be paying more than you should or may get hit with an unpleasant surprise if you are not aware of how the tax code works and how it affects you.

✓Understanding Social Security.  Forty-five percent of all unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. Monitor your annual statements to determine how much you will receive and how much you will need to supplement in order to maintain your lifestyle.

✓ Know what your outstanding debt is, including mortgage, auto and student loans, and credit cards.  Monitor your credit portfolio just as you would your investment portfolio.

✓ Have a will. Wills do not ensure that your assets pass to your loved ones. Make sure you have a will drawn up and know where the important estate planning documents are kept.

“Every woman, regardless of age or marital status has the opportunity to be confident in making financial decisions, Pardo continues. “ Being educated about these important financial steps doesn’t have to be painful.  But the outcome of not having them in place can be devastating.”

Walter Pardo is a registered representative offering securities through First Allied Securities, Inc., a registered broker dealer member FINRA/SIPC.