The five things we think financially responsible women have in common

I have had the good fortune of helping hundreds of women make sound financial decisions over a period of decades. Many are happily married, others are divorced or widowed, while others choose to be single. From all of these experiences helping women navigate life’s joys and challenges, I believe that every Financially Responsible Woman (FRW) follows these five key strategies:

She minimizes her tax bill

An FRW structures her portfolio in the most tax-friendly way possible, understanding that it is important to carefully choose which types of investments to own in an IRA and retirement plans versus yearly taxable investments and whether they are owned individually, by her trust or jointly. She has considered whether a Roth IRA makes sense for her and looks for opportunities to make the most of down markets by “harvesting” tax losses without changing her investment strategy. She is strategic in making charitable contributions to ensure that she maximizes the tax benefits while supporting her most passionate causes.

She invests with wisdom

An FRW understands basic financial terms, especially the power of compounding—both how earned interest grows and how inflation eats away at purchasing power. She diversifies her portfolio with an allocation that is appropriate for her goals and risk tolerance and is disciplined about rebalancing when stocks get too high or too low.  She does not let fear take over in bad markets or allow greed to sway decisions in bull markets. She knows that this is crucial to a successful long-term investment strategy.

She has the courage to talk about money

An FRW does not back away from important—although sometimes daunting—conversations about money. By initiating thoughtful and balanced discussions, she negotiates what she is worth at work and creates a financially responsible family at home. She and her significant other share financial priorities and go a step further by imparting financial independence to their children.

She funds her bucket list

An FRW assesses where she is today, then quantifies and prioritizes specific financial goals in line with her unique values and follows through by funding them. She knows what she wants—and what she does not. She asks herself: What do I want to achieve? What am I missing? What matters most to me? What if things go well? What if things go badly?

She has a plan B 

An FRW has worked with an attorney to draft estate planning documents such as a will, a trust and powers of attorney in case of death or disability. She manages risk through insurance for herself and her family, understanding the tragic odds that she is more likely to become disabled than die before retirement age and that the average age of a widow is 56.1 She thinks about potential long-term care expenses for elderly parents and herself. She keeps inherited assets or those earned before marriage separate, fully aware that 41% of first marriages fail—not to mention 60% of second ones and 73% of third ones.2 

A Financially Responsible Woman ensures that all of these strategies are executed with a careful balance of ownership and outsourcing—taking care of the tasks she enjoys and is comfortable with on her own and turning to experts for the rest. She often chooses to hire an experienced financial advisor whom she trusts and respects so she can ask questions, hand off her biggest worries and build a partnership for executing and updating her strategies as life evolves.




Heather Locus

Heather Locus

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Heather founded our Women's Service Team and leads our Divorce Practice Group. She loves solving complex problems by balancing financial and emotional components with tax and legal issues. Heather educates on transitioning through new phases of life with confidence and clarity. She authored The Next Chapter: A Practical Roadmap for Navigating Through, and Beyond, Divorce and you can read her latest divorce tips at Heather joined BDF in 1998, and soon became one of the first non-founding Partners of the firm.


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