Podcast | Closing The Savings Gap

How many of you have access to 401(k)s through your jobs?

Many private sector workers do not.

Entrepreneurs and people who work at smaller companies are even less likely to have a plan, and of course retirement is never the only responsibility on our plates.

In this episode, Cary Carbonaro will help Kem, a 44-year-old married mother of a 16-year-old son who lives in Birmingham, Ala. Cary Carbonaro has more than 25 years of experience and is author of the book The Money Queen’s Guide for Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear.

Kem, an attorney, is in the process of launching her own firm and is worried about having enough for retirement after she invests in her business. She also wants to be prepared for the cost of college for her son — and she’s still paying off some of her own student loan debt.

Listen in as Cary helps Kem navigate all of life’s competing financial priorities, including budgeting, and learns to put herself first.

 

How to know whether you should buy a car or lease it instead

 

This article was originally published in Mic.

 

Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a car, it’s never been easier to look into car ownership. According to new research CDK Global the automotive retail industry is continuously innovating on ways to facilitate online car shopping, which will ultimately cut-down on in-store time.

And that’s when you need to ask the age-old questions: purchase a car in full, or pay recurring monthly fees for a set number of years?

Here’s what to consider before making that choice.

 

Leasing

Leasing or financing a car means you are effectively renting in the same way you would an apartment. According to Cary Carbonaro, managing director at United Capital and author of The Money Queen’s Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear:

 

“Leasing means you always have a new car and maintenance is almost always included and under warranty.” — Cary Carbonaro

 

Again, adhering to a lease is like renting an apartment, except instead of a superintendent or landlord, you have a dealership interesting in keeping your car up to date on repairs.

The cost of your monthly payment will of course depend on the make and model of the car (A Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV will cost a lot more than a Mazda 3 sedan, for example). How the payments are calculated is by projecting the residual cost of the car after your term, and having you cover the cost of that depreciation in value in installments over the course of your term. For example, if the car worth $50,000 at the beginning and is expected to be worth $30,000 after three years, your monthly car payment will come out to around $555 (that’s the $20,000 difference divided into 36 months), minus the cost of any down payment you choose to pay upfront.

Your contract will dictate what type of wear and tear is acceptable at the end of your term, according to Jason Hargraves, managing editor at insuranceQuotes but in general, you’ll have to keep the car in good condition without any noticeable body damage.

If you’re the type to take several road trips per year, leasing might not be the best option for you. What can affect the cost of your monthly payment is the miles you expect to drive per year, with more miles increasing its cost. While the average mileage cap on most leases comes out to 12,000 miles, according to Edmunds, if you know you’ll be going over, it is far cheaper to pay for extra miles upfront than to cover excess mileage costs after the damage has been done.

 

Buy

You have several options when it comes to buying. You can buy a brand-new car with zero mileage on it, a used car (the price will often depend on mileage), or your own leased car for a considerably lower fee after the term of your lease has ended.

Given that the value of a car declines rapidly the second it leaves the car dealership parking lot, it might be worth it to consider a demo car, which can cost several hundreds of dollars less than its brand-new counterpart. These cars are effectively “brand new” as well, but have a few hundred miles on them from test-drives. Think of them as the display models at a shoe store — they look and feel brand new under the supervision and maintenance of staff, but with relatively undetectable wear and tear.

Buying a car might be right for you if you plan to own it indefinitely as opposed to a set term. However, note that you might need to take out a loan to purchase a car in full, and paying interest on those payments can add up.

 

Insurance needs

Auto insurance is a crucial factor to consider when calculating the total cost of the car. According to Hargraves, if you lease your car, you will need collision, comprehensive and liability insurance. If you buy your car outright then you will only need to have liability insurance. “If you do file [a] claim when leasing or financing, you can expect any payouts to include the name of the lien holders or leasing company,” he said. Compare plan prices from reputable car insurance companies like Progressive, Geico, and Allstate.

One difference to note is that car leasers might be required to pay for gap insurance, which assists with car payments in the event you total your car, said Hargraves. Gap insurance might be built-in to your monthly car payments, so make sure it’s not an extraneous cost, or negotiate to include it in your monthly rate for a lower cost.

 

This article was originally published in Mic.

Can you afford to get a pet?

 

This article was originally published in Mic.

 

Many pet owners will tell you that bringing a furry friend into their life feels as significant as gaining another member of the family. And like humans, it costs money to raise a pet. A lot of it.

According to the ASPCA, a medium-sized dog costs an average of $565 up front for one-time purchases like collars and training classes, with another $894 a year after that for ongoing medical costs and food. A cat costs approximately $365 upfront, plus $809 a year after that. But if you can swing the costs, there’s lots to gain by adopting a pet.

 

“You are responsible for a living being,” said Cary Carbonaro, managing director at United Capital and author of The Money Queen’s Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Manage Fear. “Feeding and caring comes with a price tag and pays you back in love.”

 

Here’s how to make room in your budget — and your home — for a new pet.

 

Adopt vs. buy

Adopting a pet isn’t only a more ethical option, but more cost-effective. If you’re adopting through a certified rescue organization like the Animal Humane Society, you’ll pay a one-time adoption fee, which includes vaccinations, de-worming, tests for infectious diseases and spay and neuter procedures. According to BankRate, adoption fees range from $50 to $150, while purchasing fees from a breeder or pet store range from $700 to $2,000. Though certain medical procedures are included in these fees, many breeders tack on extra charges to turn a profit.

 

Schedule regular check-ups

For standard check-ups, avoid emergency vet hospitals or specialists, since their equipment — and thus services — can be significantly more expensive, according to Lauren Abrams, veterinary assistant and animal rescue advocate at SPCA. Make room in your budget for at least one check-up per year to catch any conditions before they become too advanced or costly to treat.

 

Add necessities into your budget

Factor your new pet’s food and medication into your monthly budget. According to the ASCPA, the average monthly cost of premium food is $27 a month for dogs and $19 for cats. To help ensure you don’t go over your monthly limit, deduct your pet’s necessities from your grocery budget — and consider switching from brand name to generic brand foods, and purchasing produce on sale.

 

Choose a low-maintenance breed

It’s no secret that a goldfish will cost a lot less in the upkeep department than a poodle. But opting for certain breeds within a given species can also help you save, according to Abrams. “Mixed breeds often avoid the medical anomalies that come with pure breed animals. A medium-sized mutt may be the best choice in order to avoid the orthopedic problems that come with larger sized dogs and the back and teeth problems that come with small dogs, however all dogs can have health issues and it is often not breed-specific,” she said.

 

Allocate funds wisely

Fewer things are more adorable than a dog in a raincoat. While Carbonaro said that it’s typically those with plenty of discretionary income who purchase designer clothes for their pets, if you’re going to invest in your pet, do so in a way that more directly contributes to its well-being. Carbonaro said to save for boarding or pet sitting if you travel often. And you can cut down on room and board costs by enlisting a few trusted friends to watch your pet while you’re away, Abrams suggested.

While necessary for their development and emotional well-being, the cost of toys can quickly add up. “I often refer people to the sale sections at many stores and even on Amazon,” said Abrams. “Each year, rescue groups often do conferences or garage sales where they sell lightly used pet gear and this can save a lot of money.”

For their personal hygiene, have a groomer show you how to cut their nails so you can do it yourself going forward.

 

Get insured

Pet insurance is one of those things you never want to have to use, but always want to have on hand in case of emergencies. “Vet bills are very expensive and it’s difficult to predict if the pet gets sick,” said Carbonaro.

 

Prices range depending on your location, pet breed and coverage plan, and while it might cost you a few hundred bucks up front, it might end up saving you money — as well as your pet’s life — down the line. Popular pet insurance companies include Figo, Trupanion and Healthy Paws, and Abrams said you can get them directly through your vet.

 

Keep them healthy

You obviously want to keep your pet as healthy as possible, both for their well-being and your wallet. One simple way to decrease your number of vet visits each year is to purchase premium, high-quality pet food from the start, according to Abrams. You’ll be paying more up front, but you’ll see your return on investment when your cats aren’t developing urinary tract infections or your dogs aren’t developing digestive problems from poor-quality food.

 

Receive assistance

It’s not advisable to adopt a pet if you cannot afford it. But if you do run into financial issues while a pet is already in your care, you might qualify for financial assistance. The Humane Society offers a comprehensive list of organizations nationwide that providing funding for the likes of veterinary care, cancer treatment, and heart disease treatment. “Many cities have incredible low-cost vet care programs as well as food banks for pets,” said Abrams. “This is a great opportunity for pet owners who are financially limited to give their pets the best care and it takes a community to do so.”

 

Foster

Abrams said a great cost-effective way to care for animals is to foster for a shelter or rescue group, which will allow you to keep the animal in your home anywhere from two weeks to six months until they are ready for adoption. “Most rescue groups will provide foster families with food and medical care for the pet and the foster family’s only job is to give as much love as possible to this pet and to help make them more adoptable,” said Abrams. “Fostering saves lives, opens up spaces in shelters to accept more animals and best of all, it often costs the foster family a very small amount.”

Similarly, shelters are always looking for volunteers because they’re often at capacity and under-staffed. “It’s extremely rewarding and it allows you to get a lot of furry cuddles as well as enrich the environment of animals in shelters,” said Abrams. “It doesn’t cost a thing, except time.”

 

This article was originally published in Mic.

Married with Separate Finances: What Are the Benefits?

 

This article was originally published in CFP® Let’s make a plan.

 

Married couples often ask, “How should we combine our finances?” As much as they want a simple rule of thumb, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for couples – some prefer to be married with separate finances while others prefer to be married with joint finances. Each partner’s attitudes and emotional ties to money vary, and that will influence how you, as a couple, handle your finances.

If one person sees money as a fuel for happiness and one hangs onto savings as a hedge against misfortune, their clashing “money minds” can potentially cause issues within the marriage. For example, you could have one couple who maintains two separate checking accounts and spends their own money respectively. Or, you could have another couple who combines their finances so that both parties are privy to their joint financial situation.

If you’re unsure whether separating or joining your finances is the right choice for your partnership, I’ve laid out a few options to consider.

The first option you can choose is to have two separate checking accounts. With this approach, it forces both you and your partner to be responsible for your own accounts while providing a measure of financial independence for each partner. In the event of an emergency, it provides checking account diversification in case of an emergency.

However, this approach can come at the cost of financial life transparency and works better in a two-income household.

Another approach to consider is the “yours, mine and ours” approach. With this approach, each partner maintains his or her own checking account, but the two of you create a joint account for paying shared expenses, like bills.

With this choice, knowing how much to contribute to the joint account can be challenging. To make it fair for both parties, I believe it is best for both parties to chip in a percentage based on your incomes.

Let’s say you have $4,000 in joint bills, and one spouse earns $60,000 a year and the other spouse earns $40,000 a year. With my suggested breakdown, this couple would contribute a 60/40 split to the joint account, with the spouse making $60,000 contributing $2,400 and the spouse making $40,000 contributing $1,600 a month. The remaining funds would then live in each person’s separate checking account to save or spend as they wish.

In order for this approach to work, the two partners would need to agree on their big goals, like saving for retirement, saving for a house or paying down credit card debt, and how the two will contribute. I would advise that you each have your own retirement accounts since those can’t be combined, but you can be each other’s beneficiary.

While there is no single, tidy solution that works for all married partners, it is important to understand that communication, honesty and transparency are vital no matter how a couple approaches their finances. Whether you choose to be married with separate finances or joint finances, you can save yourself from headaches and arguments if your financial lives are an open book, and you respect each other’s priorities and emotional ties to money.

 

This article was originally published in CFP® Let’s make a plan.

How a $50 Flight Turned Into an $800 Nightmare

 

This article was originally published in GOBankingRates.

 

Don’t Let Baggage Fees Ruin Your Flight

 

Flying in Europe can look cheap, thanks to an abundance of low-cost air carriers, but hidden costs can undo those savings if you don’t read the fine print.

While European readers might take their cheap airfare for granted, American travelers will probably be shocked at how little it costs to fly. I studied in London in college and remember flying everywhere because it was cheaper than a bus. Ryanair out of Dublin is one of the most widely known, but carriers like EasyJet and Transavia also offer low-cost travel.

The European Open Skies Treaty of 1992 blew the lid off the old system of air travel, where national government would restrict access to their airspace to expensive “flag-carriers,” such as British Airways or Lufthansa. The treaty enabled airlines to fly anywhere they wished in the European Union without government approval, and Ryanair was the first airline to adopt the model.

Flash forward to a multi-city European trip my future husband and I were planning. He wanted to go to as many cities as possible. We are Delta Diamond Medallion members, but they are expensive and don’t really fly city-to-city in Europe. I remembered my discount days and went to the Ryanair website. They don’t even advertise in the U.S., so I thought I was super clever.

We planned a trip from Tuscany, Italy, to Haugesund and Oslo, Norway. I got a flight for 39 euros — around $50, based on the exchange rate at the time. We had to pack for a two-week trip in both hot and cold climates, and our clothes had to account for both. We over-packed, but who doesn’t? We get 75 pounds of luggage each for free from Delta from the U.S. to Europe.

 

 

In Tuscany, my husband proposed to me with a cake that said, “Will you marry me?” He gave me a one-of-kind sunflower (my favorite flower) cocktail ring. I was on cloud nine.

 

 

 

The next day, we were on our way to the PISA airport, each with our 75 pounds of luggage. We bought another suitcase because we wanted to buy souvenirs from this engagement trip.

 

 

This turned out to be a costly mistake. With Ryanair, you must pay for luggage in advance or it costs more. You have to print your boarding pass in advance or it costs more. Pretty much everything costs more; you just have to be aware of it. It costs for water, snacks and assigned seats. People who fly with Ryanair regularly know their restrictions. As a Delta Diamond member, I am used to no restrictions.

After waiting in the massive check-in line at Ryanair, I said, “I think my bag might be overweight, but I will pay what it costs.” The women checking me in literally started laughing.

I said, “What is the issue?”

She told me I had to pay the equivalent of $750 — with a debit card no less, as they would not accept credit cards. I starting crying. How could it be that much?

She and her friend, both laughing, said, “We are Ryanair.”

What if I didn’t have that money in my bank account?

“Forget it. I am not flying,” I said and went in search of other options.

I checked for Delta or Delta partner flights, but it was too late. We had no other choices in this little airport. We were stuck. Just like that, a $50 flight became an $800 one.

Just because a travel carrier advertises low costs does not mean you won’t be on the hook for a mountain of extra fees. Don’t forget to research all the applicable fees on top of the super cheap initial fare. I vowed to never make that mistake again. I didn’t let it ruin my engagement trip, but it stings when I remember the Ryanair staff laughing at me.

This article was originally published in GOBankingRates.

TONE LIVE with The Money Queen Cary Carbonaro

Watch the TONE LIVE Broadcast: Money Matters.

Let’s get financially savvy in time for the holidays (and for 2019) with tips from TONE Expert and Money Queen Cary Carbonaro. We could all use a little help managing our financial futures. Hosted by Erika Katz.

 

TONE LIVE at 1:00PM EST with The Money Queen Cary Carbonaro

WATCH our TONE LIVE Broadcast: Money Matters – encore presentationLet’s get financially savvy in time for the holidays (and for 2019) with tips from TONE Expert and Money Queen Cary Carbonaro. We could all use a little help managing our financial futures. Hosted by Erika Katz – to ask questions, head on over to ToneNetworks.com

Posted by TONE Networks on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 

Get Financially Savvy in Time For The Holidays

 

Should I care if there’s a stock market correction? How does the market affect me, anyway?

This article was originally published in HerMoney.com.

 

While big fluctuations in the stock market can feel scary, they’re totally normal and there’s no reason to panic, especially if your investments are set aside for a long-term goal, such as retirement or your young children’s college education.

 

Even if you don’t spend your time reading The Wall Street Journal or watching CNBC, you’ve probably heard that the last few weeks have seen some big drops in the stock market. Or maybe you’ve opened your 401(k) account statement to find that the balance was a lot lower than the last time you checked.

 

“Over time, there are always going to be ups and downs in the market, and we haven’t had a lot of volatility in the past year and a half,” says Cary Carbonaro, Certified Financial Planner 

 

Cary is managing director of United Capital of New York and author of  “The Money Queen’s Guide for Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear.” “But there has never been a 10-year period where you’ve lost money in a balanced portfolio.”

Here’s what you need to know about a stock market downturn:

 

IF YOU’RE INVESTING FOR THE LONG-TERM …

 

Hang in there. If you don’t need to touch your investments for five or 10 years or more, you’ve got plenty of time to ride out this market downturn. Still, this might be a good opportunity to take a look at your investments and rebalance your portfolio if the recent volatility has thrown your asset allocation out of whack. Adjust your holdings to get back to your target if it’s been more than a year since you’ve done so, and then resist the temptation to keep check in on your balances.

 

“As long as you’re not planning to spend that money soon, you don’t have to worry about what the stock market is doing today,” says Jamie Hopkins, director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services.

 

F YOU’RE CLOSE TO RETIREMENT …

 

Build up your cash reserves. Falling stock prices can throw a wrench in your plans, but you can give yourself some more breathing room by setting aside a cash account. This cash account gives you a place to draw from to avoid making withdrawals from your investments until they have some time to recover. Aim to have at least a year’s worth of expenses saved before you call it quits.

You might also want to sit down with a financial planner to have her run the numbers to make sure that you’re on target for your retirement plan and that your asset allocation makes sense.

 

“Once you’re five to 10 years away from retirement, you need to start thinking about where you can take risk off,” says Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights at Allianz Life.

 

IF YOU HAVEN’T STARTED INVESTING YET …

 

Get started! While there’s no guarantee that stock prices won’t fall further, they’re selling at a discount compared to what you might have paid a few weeks ago. A good place to start is in your workplace retirement plan—especially if your company offers a match on your savings. If you have access to a target-date fund, which will automatically create a diversified portfolio for you and adjust it over time, start there. If you don’t have a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k), you can create your own retirement account via a discount brokerage.

The best way to make sure that you’re able to purchase stocks when they’re at their lowest point is to consistently invest: Set up automatic deposits, and you won’t have to worry about what the stock markets doing, or take the chance that you’ll forget to contribute.

 

This article was originally published in HerMoney.com.

The Importance of Continued Financial Education and Development for Women

This article was originally published in United Capital.

 

United Capital brought equality for women out into the light

 

Emily Sanders and I, Cary Carbonaro, co-chaired the innovative and motivating summit for 100 participants, 25% of which were male. We wanted to connect the women of United Capital with mentors and showcase the incredible female industry trailblazers currently working in the industry.

The main goal of the summit was to bring women together within the profession, keeping them engaged and excited in a field that is 85% male.

Additionally, the event aimed to build the United Capital mentoring program and retain, attract, and develop female talent, thus making United Capital the company where females want to work in the wealth management industry.

 

By 2030, two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of women

 

This is projected to be around 41 trillion dollars.2 Women have unique needs, and we are catering to them. We already have a female-friendly client experience, and now we want women to know and experience it!

We were so excited to have cultivated an atmosphere of sharing and motivating women to help each other. All the speakers shared personal and professional stories which created empathy throughout the event.

 

 

We were so fortunate to have Andrea Lisher, Managing Director at JP Morgan; Pam Norley, President of Fidelity Charitable; Danielle Papandrea, Managing Director at BlackRock; Kahne Krause, VP and Head of Advisor Communities at Dimensional Fund Advisors; and Nikolee Turner, Managing Director at Charles Schwab. Kara Murphy, the first woman to hold the position of CIO at United Capital, also moderated a conversation on gender demographics and mentoring. These women are the reason why the event was successful.

 

The event created a space to have necessary conversations

 

Jeff Burrow, a Managing Director at United Capital, recounted:

 

“Spending two days with some of UC’s most talented advisors and executives (who just happen to be women) to focus on increasing diversity in our industry was one of the most meaningful experiences in my career. Even though I’ve never been one to perpetuate gender stereotypes, I learned there is still plenty of work I can do to help make our industry better by ensuring women always have a seat at the table.”

 

Co-chair Emily Sanders said:

 

“The return on investment really comes down the line with better prepared female leaders and advisors and more men reaching out to female prospects and clients.”

 

We want to continue the high energy and momentum of the conference. We are excited about the future, and we know this event will bear fruit for years to come.

Share your experience through social media with #thefutureisfemale.

 

This article was originally published in United Capital.

Leaving My Abusive Partner Changed My Entire Financial Future

 

This article was originally published in GOBankingRates.

 

Leaving My Abusive Partner Changed My Entire Financial Future

 

Domestic abusers often use money as leverage over their partners — and financial empowerment can be a crucial factor in breaking free from the cycle of abuse.

My book, “The Money Queen‘s Guide for Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear,” was released in October as an homage to Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In fact, the purple purse on the cover represents the color of domestic violence awareness.

I also donate and help fundraise for several shelters.

I’ve done all of these things because I once fell prey to an abusive man, myself.

 

Knowing What Abuse Looks Like

 

It is hard for anyone who knows me to believe that I was in the situation I was in. I am a take-charge woman, well-educated and fortunate enough to come from a great, supportive family. But, that goes to show that it can happen to anyone. I share my story to let women know this.

Abuse takes many forms: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Abuse stems from the need to control. It has been said that an abuser puts someone down to build themselves up, to feel power and control because they are actually very weak internally. Often, money is one of the forms of control a spouse or partner uses over another.

Many women stay in abusive relationships due to fear, threats, lack of money or all of the above. For me, it was the fear and threats that kept me in the relationship. Financial abuse is insidious. It restricts a partner’s freedom to use their own money and creates dependency upon the abuser. Abusers might limit access to money or credit cards, or tightly monitor a partner’s spending. They create an atmosphere where a partner worries excessively over how the abuser will react to simple, everyday purchases.

 

A Brighter (Financial) Future

 

While I can’t assist with the psychological component (and suggest seeking help from a trained professional), I have dedicated my life to making sure women learn to be financially literate and responsible for their own financial future.

 

Reclaim Your Finances

 

If you don’t already, it’s important to work and make your own money and keep a financial account solely in your own name — one that only you can access. You should understand how to build credit and have your own credit card. Good credit will be crucial if you need to find new lodgings, a new phone or generally re-establish an independent financial life.

 

Build a Support Network

 

Surround yourself with friends, family and community members who will be there for you as you build and act on a plan to free yourself from abuse. Having access to as many advocates as you can, such as therapists or financial advisors, will fortify your support network and remind you that you are not alone.

 

Envision a New Life

 

Claiming your emotional and financial independence can be the hardest and most rewarding part of leaving an abusive relationship. Understand that you are not at fault or the root “cause” of abuse. Learn what a healthy relationship looks and feels like; your support network can help you understand how you should be treated. Finally, know that you don’t need validation from an abuser: You are perfect the way you are.

My wish for the world is that no women would ever experience domestic abuse. But, if you realize you are in an abusive relationship, don’t despair: It is possible to get out and find a beautiful life on the other side.

If you or someone you know is being abused, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

 

This article was originally published in GOBankingRates.