Many women have mixed feelings about managing their money because of stock market volatility and the potential risks associated with investing. I’ve also heard that women find it difficult to keep up with the markets and investment strategy when they have demanding jobs and hectic domestic lives.
When we explored this issue with our clients, we realized that, ideally, most women’s lives would include breathing room—space and time that allows them freedom to explore opportunities and possibilities without worrying about holding together their finances and their family lives.
I’ve always struggled to juggle all the pieces of my life and still feel like I have things under control! There is always more work to do at my company, more steps I can take to further my career, and more things I can do to nurture my relationship with my husband. If I have kids someday, that will add even more to my plate: caretaking, emotional support, figuring out schooling.
This longing is one of the main reasons I decided to start Heels & Yield. For myself, I wanted to create a holistically wealthy life with ample breathing room—extra time, extra energy, and extra money! And I wanted to introduce this concept to other women, to help them find breathing room in their own lives so they can achieve their dreams, whether that’s going on vacation or devoting time to a cherished hobby.
Clients often ask, “What does holistic wealth mean for you?” For me it means feeling that my life is in order and that I have breathing room. So how do I make that happen?
I start by being crystal clear about what I value at this stage of my life. Then I make sure these three key things are in place.
I feel at peace when my long-term plans are in order. I know my journey will have ups and downs, but with plans in place, I can move forward without anxiety. I’ve planned out my next two life stages and I know I have breathing room in terms of time, money, and energy.
For me, being in nature—taking hikes, visiting parks—helps me switch off my work brain and relax. So does hanging out with friends. And it’s important for me to be present for family. When I’m with people I care about, I can stop thinking about work and responsibilities. I make sure to devote a few hours a day to focus on something besides work, even when I’m busy.
Breathing room makes it possible for me to do this. I’ve built in time, space, and energy to be in nature, meet with friends, and be spontaneous about fun activities that might come up. I can do that because my plan is in place and I don’t have to worry about my money.
When I’m away from my team on vacation, I communicate firm boundaries. I only accept email about urgent matters. (Every now and then I even try to take a vacation without any work contact.) Worrying about work while I’m away only creates more stress and completely counteracts the reason I’m taking a vacation in the first place, to recharge my batteries!
I’ve always been risk averse. Holding cash could make me feel more secure. But if you do the math, you’ll see that relying only on a paycheck and cash savings to achieve your goals means you’ll have to work very hard for a long time. Even then, you might not achieve your financial goals. You might not be able to retire until you’re 70 or older.
From my 17 years or investing, I’ve learned that I don’t enjoy investing when markets are at all-time highs. I always worry that stocks will collapse and businesses that did well during good times will fail when the economy turns. I can’t sleep well at night if I know all my money is invested when the markets are at an all-time high and I could lose everything.
My plan includes staying invested during bear markets so I know I’ll make money when the market recovers. I won’t have to worry about when to jump back in or about sitting on the sidelines and losing money. And I have a strategy for when to take profits during bull markets. My dynamic investment plan helps me achieve my long-term dreams and goals no matter what life stage I’m at—or what the market is doing.
The way I feel financially secure and make sure my wealth grows is by investing when things are bad. During a bear market, I know there’s only one way for things to go, and that’s up. It might not happen immediately—most bear markets last anywhere from six to 24 months—but I know the market will eventually turn around.
I can relax and let go when I know my money is well invested during a bear market so it will reap substantial returns when the bull market returns. This investment strategy means I can take profits and use the proceeds on a vacation, another home, and achieving financial freedom. This is breathing room—when my financial well-being is not 100-percent connected to my job and I don’t live a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. Even if something happens in my career, I know I’ll be okay.
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