The stakes are higher for women when claiming Social Security

This article was originally published in CNBC.
When it comes to claiming Social Security retirement benefits, no one should take the decision of when or how to claim lightly.

And that goes especially for women, who are more likely to suffer financially if they make the wrong choice.

Social Security’s rules for retirement benefits were first set in the 1930s. And they have haven’t necessarily caught up with today’s families.

That puts one party in particular at a disadvantage: the modern woman, according research from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. A 2018 survey by Nationwide found that 62 percent of women expect Social Security benefits to be their primary source of income in retirement.

How much Social Security retirement benefits you receive is largely based on your work record. The Social Security Administration averages your highest 35 years of earnings.

There are two other important ways of claiming benefits based on your marital status: spousal benefits and survivor benefits. And those strategies are still more commonly used by women, according to Andrew Eschtruth, communications director at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and co-author of the research.

But marital patterns have changed. Shorter marriages — those that lasted less than 10 years — mean that spousal or survivor benefits are often off the table.

Meanwhile, many women are still taking time out of the workforce to care for children, parents and sometimes even spouses. Consequently, their own earnings records and resulting Social Security benefits take a hit.

“The concern comes in when you have a woman who has two responsibilities, one as a worker, one as a mother,” Eschtruth said. “Those two responsibilities can come into conflict … It’s harder for her to have the same level of benefits and protection of Social Security as it would have provided to that more traditional household.”


Persistent challenges

Women still largely face an uphill battle when it comes to claiming Social Security and planning for retirement, Nationwide’s 2018 survey found.

“Women have some unusual challenges relative to men, in that they live longer, so they’re spending more years in retirement,” said Tina Ambrozy, president of sales and distribution at Nationwide. “They also have issues with the wage gap of not earning as much.”

Once they are in retirement, women are facing high health care costs and live longer. And their expectations from Social Security are not always realistic.

Most women — 58 percent — expect Social Security to cover all of their expenses in retirement. In reality, those benefits will only cover about 40 percent of their retirement costs, according to Ambrozy.

One reason for that: Women are spending 10 years out of the workforce, on average, to serve as caregivers, Ambrozy said.

Possible changes

One potential change to Social Security rules that could reduce that pressure on women: Caregiver credits, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

The idea is not new. Caregiver credits are available to citizens of other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany.

The credits could work one of two ways, according to Eschtruth. They could take away the years when a caregiver earned zero out of the equation, thus bringing the average for their highest earning years higher.

Or the individual could receive a straight wage credit, where money that the individual did not technically make would be factored into those calculations to compensate them for caregiving.

So far, proposals for caregiving credits have mostly stayed on the periphery of policy debates, according to Eschtruth.

“The real issue is the extent to which the country’s major social insurance program, Social Security, takes into account the changing labor force and marital patterns … and whether motherhood or fatherhood is expressly valued,” Eschtruth said.


How to plan

Because there are thousands of rules for claiming Social Security, it is easy for anyone to miss a strategy that could give them a bigger paycheck. For women, the stakes are higher.


“Women have so many strikes against them,” said financial advisor Cary Carbonaro, managing director at United Capital. “We need more money, not less money.”


By actively planning for Social Security, women can avoid coming up short.


  • Start strategizing early. Claiming Social Security should not be a last-minute decision. Carbonaro said she advises clients to start planning for how their benefits will factor into their retirement as early as age 50.
  • Avoid claiming at 62. Many women assume that because they can take retirement benefits at 62 that they should. “At 62, you’re taking so much of a haircut,” Carbonaro said. Whether you can afford that loss is a big planning question, she said.
  • Keep timing in mind. Think about the consequences that a divorce or death of a spouse could have on your claiming strategy. You may want to push a divorce until a bit later if you’re close to the 10-year mark, said Natalie Colley, an analyst at Francis Financial. Also keep in mind that you can’t claim a spousal benefit within two years of getting a divorce, she said. Survivor benefits can be claimed starting at age 60 following the death of a spouse.
  • Get a professional opinion. Coordinating the best strategy for an individual — and their spouse, if relevant — requires expertise. “It’s a big decision, and I think people take it lightly,” Carbonaro said. “They don’t realize it’s going to impact them for the rest of their lives.”


This article was originally published in CNBC

Top Tips for Protecting Your Assets in 2019

This article was originally published in

Fantasizing about all the great things that could happen in the future is the fun part of financial planning. You get to imagine yourself relaxing on a beach in retirement or finally buying the house of your dreams—and then start taking steps to make those dreams happen.


In order to maintain that path toward financial security, however, you also need to have a plan for those things that could go wrong. There’s no need to dwell on the details of personal finance nightmares—or even the small events that could push you off course—but you do need to be aware that things won’t always go exactly as planned. So, let’s do this.


Take some time while you have some time off to focus on protecting yourself in the new year—and for the years that follow.





Having adequate insurance can not only protect your finances but also make it slightly easier to deal with highly stressful situations. We all need health insurance, auto insurance(if you have a car) and homeowners’ or renters’ insurance for your stuff.

When shopping for policies, look not only at the monthly or quarterly premiums, but also at deductibles to get a sense of the true cost of a plan. Shop around being sure to ask what types of discounts are available. Many companies will reduce your rates, for example, if you purchase more than one insurance policy from them, or if you sign up for new programs like pay-as-you-go auto insurance.




Anyone with dependents who rely on their income also needs life insurance. While needs vary, Carla Dearing, CEO of online financial planning service SUM180, suggests that most people consider a 20-year term life insurance plan that will cover children through their college years as well as service any extraordinary debts (like a mortgage)  that would transfer to family members. “It’s very inexpensive to put this in place when you’re young,” Dearing says. “You can [generally] put it in place for $300 or $400 per year [depending on how much coverage you need], and that’s just the very best way to protect your family over that period.”




Having three- to six-months’ worth of expenses set aside in a liquid account can act as your own insurance policy against unexpected bills like a leaky roof or a broken washing machine. “If you don’t have money set aside in an emergency fund, you’re going to have to borrow for those kinds of expenses,” says Cary Carbonaro, CFP and managing director of United Capital of NY and author of “The Money Queen’s Guide for Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear.” “It’s literally there to make your life go more smoothly.”

An emergency fund can also tide you over if you lose your job or experience an income cut. Keep in mind that small, regular deposits into a designated account can add up over time, so it’s worth it to start a rainy day fund, even if that three to six months’ goal seems overly ambitious. Begin by setting up automatic deposits from your checking account to a savings account. Once you get used to not seeing that money in your account, you’ll get used to not spending it.




If you’re among the 60% of Americans who don’t have a will—particularly if you’re a parent—make it your resolution to create one this year. And while you’re at it, make sure you’ve got other essential estate planning documents, such as a living will (which lays out your wishes for things like life support) and health care proxy (which appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf if a medical issue leaves you unable to do so yourself).  “It’s about having control over how you die, and making sure that someone has the power to carry out your wishes,” says Steve Parrish, director of the Retirement Income Center at the American College of Financial Services. While a lawyer can help you with the process, if you have an uncomplicated estate, you also draw up your own estate documents online.


This article was originally published in

What’s Your Money M.O.? Here’s A Guide To The Most Common Spending Habits

This article was originally published in


What do your shopping bags say about you? We’re not talking about your sense of style, but rather how you’re choosing to spend your cash. The holiday season is one of the most expensive times of the year. With travel, party prepping, and gifting, it all adds up fast — so much so that the average American racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt last year, up 5 percent from the previous year. So, how do you put the kibosh on creeping debt and avoid getting swept up in spending fever? For starters, figure out your financial personality.

“As women, our relationship with money tends to be complicated and emotional,” explains Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner, author of The Money Queen’s Guide: For Women Who want to Build Wealth and Banish Fearand expert on Tone Network. But an emotional response to money isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, she adds. If managed right, it can actually help determine your money M.O. and put you on a path to reap future financial rewards.


Start by reviewing your recent purchase history and pinpointing any emotions your purchases bring up. Joy? Anxiety? Frustration? “We all have conscious or subconscious reactions to money — it’s how we make our decisions,” explains Carbonaro. “In fact, women approach money with three emotionally rooted responses, which is part of what I call the ‘Money Mind.’”


The first response is happiness. If you have a happiness money mind, she explains, you get excitement and gratification from spending money. The second is fear: “If you have a fear money mind, you can never have enough money because you’re so afraid you’re going to lose it, run out or need more,” she says. “Sometimes this fear paralyzes you from making important decisions in your life, especially surrounding finances.” The final response is commitment, in which you are more focused on taking care of others than taking care of yourself.


Why does this matter? Identifying what camp you fall into, which you can do by taking Carbonaro’s test, can help you understand what’s driving the spending decisions you’re making on a daily basis. Sometimes these choices become so automatic and habitual, we don’t even think twice about them, distancing ourselves from the decision-making process altogether. But when you start becoming more mindful and managing your emotions around money, you’ll get more bang for your buck.


Below, Carbonaro shares her tips on how to tackle some of the most common spending habits.



Impulse Spending


Impulse shoppers want instant gratification, falling under the happiness money mind, says Carbonaro. You want that purse? Sleep on it and see if you still want it the next day, she suggests. Then, figure out if you can afford it. “If not, set yourself on a positive path and budget for it.”


Stress Spending

Using shopping as a coping mechanism is another characteristic of the happiness money mind; however, this habit can lead to even more anxiety post-purchase. Browsing shelves and websites is ultimately a distraction from what’s stressing you out. “Try to figure out your triggers and find an alternative outlet to stress than retail therapy,” says Carbonaro.


Frugal Spending


“Frugal shoppers fall into the fear money mind — you don’t want to spend a lot and always stick to strict budgets,” explains Carbonaro. “Get over your fear of spending by researching and planning your purchases carefully. Make sure your budgets are realistic for what you’re buying, and never go shopping without a list!”


Frenzied Spending


For the holiday season, in particular, the commitment money mind can run rampant. You want others to have the best gifts possible, often at the expense of your budget and credit line. Organize your finances ahead of time, says Carbonara. When gifting, look for sales and shop around for deals to make sure you get the best value for every item on your list. Most importantly? Don’t guilt yourself into overspending on others.


Clueless Spending

As for those of us who buy into the whole “I’m just crap with money” mantra? Carbonaro asks, “How do you know? Where is your money going? What are your bad money behaviors?” Remember, you have complete control. “It’s just a matter of becoming more financially literate and really thinking about your financial choices and their consequences. Women love to spend money, but don’t necessarily want to grow it or maximize it or invest it. Anyone can learn this and put it into practice.”


This article was originally published in

Clean Up Your Finances in 2019


Clean Up Your Finances in 2019

This article was originally published in


It’s kind of ironic that a season of decadence is often followed by one of self-discipline and improvement – from glittery holiday parties and overspending to budgets, diets and New Year’s resolutions. The holiday and debt hangover in January is often more painful than we like to admit.

Here are my financial to-dos for maximum money success. If you follow this, I promise next January you will have much less anxiety and more to celebrate!


1. Write down your New Year’s resolutions


And post them somewhere you’ll see them regularly, such as on your fridge. Consider turning your most important resolution into an “oath” to codify the commitment to yourself. For example, “I promise to bring lunch to work three days a week.” Another great way to stick to your resolution? Share it on social media to hold yourself accountable.


2. Calculate your net worth


In January so you can start the year fresh. And remember – your net worth does not equal your self-worth. This is everything you own minus everything you owe.


3. Do a fresh budget


I always say a budget is not a four-letter word like a diet. It is what is coming in and what is going out. Make sure it is not in the red, which means more is going out than coming in.


4. Consider opening a Christmas club-type savings account


At the beginning of the year so you don’t get a debt hangover after the holidays. Originally pioneered during the Great Depression, Christmas clubs were financial accounts people added cash to throughout the entire year, which they then used for holiday gifts down the road.

While these accounts are less popular today, you can create your own Christmas club by automating savings each month, ideally in an interest-bearing account. If you save $75 a month, you’ll have $900 at the end of the year (or even more, if you manage to earn some interest). Match this to what your holiday spending budget is, and next holiday will be a breeze.


5. Start gathering tax documents


Like W-2 and 1099 forms and receipts for your charitable contributions, so you’re prepared when it’s time to start doing your taxes. Taxes are right around the corner. Do them early if you can.


6. Check your credit report


With Credit Karma, you can check your credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax each week for free. Additionally, you can check your report from each of the three main credit bureaus once a year for free with your credit scores and reports for.


7. Aim to have your credit cards paid off in full


By the end of the month. Whether you’re still dealing with a holiday debt hangover or simply have additional debt in your life, try giving yourself a deadline to work toward.


8. Rebalance your 401(k)


Once a year is a good time to see if you are out of balance from your original goals. For example, if you are 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds and stocks had a good year, you might be 65 percent stocks and 35 percent bonds, so they will have to be rebalanced.


9. Increase your savings plans


This could be your employer plan at work or your own emergency fund savings, or both. I recommend raising it 1 percent a year.


10. Meet with a CFP® professional


If you haven’t started retirement planning or tying your financial goals to your life goals, there is no better time than now to start. You can find someone here.


This article was originally published in

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

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


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:




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.




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.




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

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.