March is Women’s History Month, a month observing the achievements of women.  It was born out of a few small events in the Sonoma, California school district in 1978. Several presentations on women’s culture and history were made in schools, an essay contest was held, and even a parade made its way through downtown. The celebrations and recognitions caught on nation-wide, and by 1986, Congress passed legislation declaring March “Women’s History Month.”

Since then, women have remained a great influence our nation. Beginning in 1982, women out-earned their male counterparts in college bachelor degrees and have continued to earn more degrees than men. It is predicted that by 2026, women will earn 60 percent of all higher education degrees, including associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Additionally, 40 percent of women out-earn their husbands. With this in mind, it is no surprise that women control more than 60 percent of all personal wealth in the U.S. With these statistics, you see the importance of women and finances. Whether it be running or investing in a women-owned business, knowing the purchasing power of family goods and services, or growing their retirement savings, women can be on top of their financial prowess.

Starting or Investing in a Women-owned businesses

U.S. women are more career driven and financially independent than ever, and are more likely to start a business than men. 40 percent of businesses in the U.S. are women owned and women of color account for 47 percent of these women-owned businesses were owned by women of color.

Whether a woman is deciding to start their own business, or to invest in one, the stats on women-owned businesses are encouraging.  The number of women owned businesses are growing faster than men owned businesses, increasing 2.8 percent in 2016, and as the amount of women-owned businesses grows, so does employment, with jobs at women owned businesses growing by 11 percent since 2012. 

Making Budgeting a Top Priority

Since the purchasing power of women in the U.S. ranges from $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually, budgeting accurately is a critical step to financial independence. Budgeting provides a spending plan so that you can make sure you have enough money to do things you need to do. Whether it is paying the mortgage or saving for retirement, proper budgeting gives you the guidance to make the right spending choices.

The three necessary steps to maintaining your budget are 1) set your financial priorities, 2) track your spending, and 3) adjust your spending to match your original preferences. Failing to stick to a budget can lead to out of control spending and thwart the money that would otherwise be applied to your savings and retirement plans.

Saving for Later Years

Women live on average five years longer than men. Therefore, it is crucial that women prepare for their later years. Whether a 401(k), Traditional IRA, or Roth IRA, ensure you have set up a retirement savings account and are actively contributing to it. The earlier you start saving, the better.

A recent survey found that 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings and 14 percent have zero retirement savings. Do not become this statistic. As part of the budgeting process, you should be putting away the appropriate amount for later in life.  A general rule is to save 10 to 15 percent of your income each month for retirement.

Re-evaluating your budget, including savings for retirement, is a good plan to help ensure you stay on track to meet your financial goals. This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, make sure your financial goals are on the right track to ensure your financial independence for years to come.

Claudia Mollerup-Madsen, Vice-President and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley in Houston, was born in Peru, and spent her life as an expat child living around the world.  Claudia graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio with a BA in International Business.  She is fluent in both Spanish and English and has been in the financial advisory sector for 30 years, serving both U.S. and Non-U.S. citizens.

She worked for Merrill Lynch from 1989-1990; Citigroup Private Bank 1990-2001; UBS International 2001- 2009; and moved to Morgan Stanley in 2009.

Claudia has received several awards and honors including being named as one of Houston Business Journal’s 2018 Women Who Mean Business and being honored as a member of the 2019 MAKERS class, which celebrates the trailblazing women of today and tomorrow.   She is also a member of the Morgan Stanley Women’s Advisory Council, an honor chosen by her management team to develop the empowerment and professional advancement of female advisors.

She has been interviewed multiple times as a financial expert on ABC13, Univision, KUHF, NPR, Houston Business Journal and KPRC 950 am.

She is a past board member for The Women’s Resource of Greater Houston and continues to teach financial literacy to women and young women at risk.  Additionally, she is a member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s International committee and a USTA Texas region board member, an elite group of tennis advocates promoting tennis.

Claudia Mollerup-Madsen

Vice President and Financial Advisor, Wealth Management Division , Morgan Stanley

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