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.

Become a ‘Money Queen’ and Reign Over Your Financial Future

Life doesn’t always go the way we plan.

You truly never know when an accident, a breakup, the death of a loved one or some other unforeseen event will turn your world upside down.

This is one of the reasons why financial literacy is a must. If you don’t know how to manage your money — or you’re relying on someone else to do it — you could be in a real bind when one of life’s many curveballs is thrown your way.

Whether you’re single and carefree or married with children, you can be a money queen:

The 4 Habits Of Janitors, Secretaries And Teachers Who Became Millionaires

 

This article was originally published in Benzinga

 

The 4 Habits Of Janitors, Secretaries And Teachers Who Became Millionaires

 

With the right habits, anyone can become a millionaire, not just hotshot bankers, corporate CEOs and tech geniuses. There are plenty of unassuming people who, despite working regular jobs—think: janitors, secretaries and teachers—have amassed serious wealth over their lifetimes. And you’d never know it by the way they lived.

Take Genevieve Via Cava. When the New Jersey special needs teacher first told her school superintendent that she intended to donate enough money to the district to fund the post-high-school education for special needs students, he laughed. “I thought it was a joke,” he told NorthJersey.com.

He and other friends and former colleagues were shocked when they learned this spring that Via Cava, who died at age 89, had quietly built a small fortune over her 45-year career as a teacher and left $1 million of it to fund those scholarships.

How did Via Cava and other unassuming millionaires climb to the top? We discovered four simple habits they have in common. Follow their lead and start building your own fortune, too.

 

1. Live (well) below your means.

 

Low-key millionaires couldn’t care less about keeping up with the Joneses. “They are not attached to having the newest, the biggest or the most expensive anything,” says Certified Financial Planner Kimberly Foss, founder of Empyrion Wealth Management.

Case in point: Ronald Read, a janitor and gas station attendant in Vermont who bequeathed $8 million to his local library and hospital, had a second-hand Toyota and used safety pins to hold his tattered coat together. Grace Groner lived in a one-bedroom in Chicago and shopped at thrift stores and rummage sales, even though she’d accumulated more than $7 million. Russ Gremel, another Chicagoan, prefered oats and stew to fancy meals, drove a 25-year-old Dodge—and recently donated $2 million to the Audubon Society. Via Cava lived in a modest home once owned by her parents, kept expenses to a minimum and consistently socked away some of her income.

While the general rule of thumb is to save 10 to 20 percent of your income, secret millionaires put away much more—a friend of Read’s mentioned that if he earned $50, he’d save $40. Certified Financial Planner Cary Carbonaro, managing director at United Capital, suggests aiming for around 30 percent if your goal is seven digits: “The additional compounding interest will make your money grow and grow,” she says.

 

2. Invest early and often.

 

Secret millionaires know to hang onto stocks for the long haul instead of selling when the market dips. Gremel purchased $1,000 worth of Walgreens stock and held onto it for 70 years. Groner’s fortune grew out of a $180 investment she made in 1935. And Brooklyn locals Donald Othmer, a professor, and his wife Mildred, a teacher, amassed hundreds of millions, stemming from Berkshire Hathaway stocks they invested in for just $42 back in the ’60s. (Today, one share is worth more than $280,000.)

These millionaires don’t just avoid timing the market; they also reinvest their dividends. When you purchase individual stocks or funds, like exchange-traded funds, through an investment account, you have the option to take your dividend payment in cash or reinvest the proceeds into the purchase of additional shares. Reinvesting allows your money to compound more over time, giving you a greater overall return.

 

3. Earn more on the side.

 

In addition to his day job, Donald Othmer netted extra income with his side gig as an inventor and consultant. Leonard Gigowski, a butcher in Milwaukee, earned enough from investing in his grocery store’s stock to eventually purchase a corner store, nightclub, dance studio and residential properties.

 

“With passive income, like real estate, you don’t have to do any work,” Carbonaro says. “Aside from maintenance and expenses, you just sit back and collect the check.” Airbnb, for example, makes it easy to add a passive income stream by renting out extra space or your entire place when you’re away.

 

 

4. Improve your financial IQ.

 

Read stayed in the know by reading investing news, talking with like-minded friends and seeking counsel from an advisor. Robert Morin, a librarian in New Hampshire with a $4 million estate, befriended a financial advisor who encouraged him to invest, instead of putting all of his earnings into checking and savings accounts. Brooklyn legal secretary Sylvia Bloom, who recently passed away with $8.2 million, noted the stocks her bosses invested in, then purchased the same ones (in more modest amounts) for herself.

Copy these habits by making learning about money a daily ritual: You can follow your favorite financial guru and publications on social media, or commit to reading money blogs and sites (ahem) during lunch or your commute. Then seek out a money mentor or even an accountability partner who’s working toward their own first $1 million.

Before the death of a spouse, here’s how to prepare a financial plan for living alone

 

This article was originally published in USA Today.

 

Before the death of a spouse, here’s how to prepare a financial plan for living alone

 

Of all the risks couples face in retirement, the death of a spouse is a certainty.

But they don’t seem to be planning it, according to a Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study on widowhood. Consider:

  • More than half (53 percent) of widows say they and their spouse did not have a plan for what would happen if one of them died.
  • Seventy-six percent of married retirees say they would not be financially prepared for retirement if their spouse died.
  • Following the death of a spouse, half of widows experience a household income decline of 50 percent or more.

So what should couples do to better prepare for the loss of a spouse?

 

Plan for the obvious

There are 20 million widows currently in the U.S., and 1.4 million new widows annually, according to the Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study. Despite that, most married couples don’t like discussing or planning for death, says James Watkins, III, a managing member of InvestSense.

But it’s best to tackle this tough subject head-on given the potentially dire consequences.

 

Get help

If you need help, consider talking to a qualified, trusted and competent adviser such as a certified financial planner.

“A new widow needs a comprehensive financial evaluation and plan,” says Steven Podnos, a certified financial planner with Wealth Care.

Watkins says professionals can help address what many couples overlook – the potential cash flow issues that emerge after the death of a spouse. “These are issues that need to be addressed as part of a comprehensive financial planning program early in a marriage,” he says.

 

For her part, Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner with United Capital Financial Advisers, recommends working with a certified financial planner long before becoming a widow or widower. After the loss of a spouse, the remaining partner “might make mistakes that will be difficult to recover from,” she says.

 

 

Hire other professionals, too

Consider working with an estate planning attorney and an elder law attorney.

According to Watkins, an experienced and knowledgeable elder law attorney can perform a detailed inventory of the available financial resources and “help integrate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to maximize the benefit received,” he says.

“A good estate planning attorney can then determine if any asset protection/wealth preservation strategies are needed, in order to qualify for and preserve government benefits,” Watkins says. “For instance, due to the stringent requirements to qualify for Medicaid, estate attorneys will often draft an income-only trust to make sure an individual qualifies for Medicaid.”

 

Do you have enough life insurance?

Forget for the moment whether you should buy term or cash value life insurance, the question you should be asking is do you have enough life insurance, Watkins says.

It’s “important to get the needed amount of insurance in case of an unexpected/premature death,” he says. A financial professional can quantify how much to purchase using any number of methods – human life, financial needs and capital retention.

 

Don’t worry so much about federal estate taxes

With the current federal estate tax exemption at $11.18 million per person, most people do not have to worry about the tax implications of death, Watkins says.

But do worry about your retirement accounts and the beneficiaries of those accounts. “Inherited retirement plans are often the largest asset in someone’s estate,” Watkins says.

The beneficiaries need to do a “forensic analysis” of the inherited plan’s portfolio to first determine if the funds are legally prudent and then if the funds are appropriate given the changed circumstances.

“At this point, the widow needs planning, not product,” he says. “This is another area where estate attorneys and elder law attorneys can maintain the focus on planning and help protect widows financially.”

 

Bottom line

The key to planning properly for the death of a spouse, Watkins says, is to determine exactly what the available financial resources are and calculate financial needs. Then plan on the best way to maximize those resources while getting additional ones through government benefit programs.

 

This article was originally published in USA Today.

Why women invest 40 percent less than men (and how we can change it)

 

This article was originally published in NBC News.

 

Women are taking control of their financial lives like never before, but there’s still a long way to go when it comes to investing.

 

Well, well, well. After being locked out of the financial world for centuries, women are now besting men when it comes to investing returns. Not only do women consistently earn higher returns than men (by 40 basis points on average), they were also able to add more to their account balances over time (12.4 percent compared to 11.6 percent ), according to a study by Fidelity.

There’s just one problem: Despite being aces at investing, women just aren’t doing enough of it. Women overall invest 40 percent less money than men do according to a survey by digital investment platform Wealthsimple. And if given the opportunity to do more, many women wouldn’t step up. In a recent survey by Lexington Law — which asked men and women what they’d do with an extra $1,000 — men were 35 percent more likely than women to say they would invest the money.

 

This is a problem why, exactly?

 

You may have heard it said that “women have to do more with less,” but what does that really mean? Well, given that the gender pay gap leaves the average woman earning just 80 percent of what a man earns, this means that women will have to save a higher percentage of their salary just to achieve parity with men when it comes to retirement savings.

Look at it this way:

If a man making a $50,000 salary puts 9 percent of his annual income away for retirement, he’d have $4,500 saved at the end of the year. But a woman in that same role would only be making $40,000. So even if she put away the same percentage, she’d only have $3,600 saved at the end of the year, a whopping $900 less. To top it off, women live an average of five years longer than men, which means their money has to stretch further — a lot further. Because of their longer lifespans, women are expected to have 39 percent higher out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement than men, which means they’re on track to spend an additional $194,000. It’s no wonder the Wealthsimple research found 47 percent of millennial women consider money the most stressful thing in their lives, compared to 34 percent of millennial men.

“This is something that doesn’t get enough attention, because when women aren’t investing, it compounds the pay gap dramatically over time — women are on track to end up with less money when they need it,” says Mike Katchen, co-founder and CEO of Wealthsimple.

And there’s more to this than just the numbers. Money is choice. Money is freedom, Katchen says. Women who aren’t investing are losing out on a sense of pride and confidence that comes from reaching financial goals. Investing and watching your balances grow over time is empowering. It takes the fear out of the future.

 

So why don’t more women do it?

Historically, the investment world was an old boy’s club. “Your advisor would have been a white man, and probably a friend of your father’s,” Katchen says. “When you went in to meet with someone, you would have seen that they rarely used language that resonated with women. It was not an inclusive experience.”

Thankfully, things have changed — but not everyone has gotten the message. Today you can invest online, from the comfort of your home, and if you do meet with an advisor, you’re going to see that everyone is trying to make things more accessible, Katchen says. “People know that women control more money than men, and are often the financial decision makers in their household.”

 

The pay gap leaves the average woman earning just 80 percent of what a man earns. This means that women will have to save a higher percentage of their salary just to achieve parity with men when it comes to retirement savings. Katie Edwards / Getty Images

 

Another reason why women may not be as aggressive as men when it comes to investing is because they are more conservative — they like to hang on to their cash, explains 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“.

 

“When I tell my clients they should have an emergency fund, the men will tell me, ‘But I want my emergency fund in the market,’ and meanwhile the women will have five times the emergency fund they need, sitting in the bank, not doing anything. For some reason, women are afraid of losing money, while men seem to be afraid of losing out by not playing the market.” —Cary Carbonaro

 

How can we change the narrative?

Thankfully, there’s already been a shift in the market. Over the past three years, Fidelity has seen the number of women investing their money with the firm grow by 19 percent, to more than 12 million. And it seems women know they need to save more — when Fidelity looked at workplace retirement accounts, it saw that women consistently saving a higher percentage of their paychecks than men at every salary level. Women saved an annual average of 9 percent of their paychecks, compared to 8.6 percent for men. But there’s still a ways to go to bridge the divide.

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Start where you are. You can get started with $1 per day, or just enough to dip your toes into the water, Katchen says. “You don’t have to hand over every dollar you’ve ever earned to an advisor. Build your portfolio over time and learn that it’s not scary.”
  • Don’t attempt to boil the ocean. “The industry has been set up to make investing feel scary,” Katchen says. “The old boys club wants you to believe that you need them to tell you what to do with your money, but the basics are simple: Don’t spend more than you make, save regularly, and get into the markets, that’s the essence of what it’s all about.”
  • Consider getting help. “In my opinion, every woman should be meeting with a financial planner. That’s the best way for them to get a handle on their personal situation,” Carbonaro says. “Sure you can read books and understand the basic concepts, but until you have a handle on your exact challenges, you can’t work out a complete plan.”

 

This article was originally published in NBC News.