A Look at Your Financial Health

I was honored to write an article for Women AdvaNCe, “A Look at Your Financial Health.”

Women AdvaNCe is a not for profit organization that delivers thoughtful content and builds a supportive community that empowers women and enables women leaders to further the cause of full equality in North Carolina.


Just like an annual physical exam, it is helpful to take a look at your financial health at least once a year.  Having the knowledge to not only handle money responsibly, but to use it to create the life you want, and that reflects who you are, improves all aspects of your day-to-day living.

More women are now making the financial decisions for their family, including investment decisions. According to the Family Wealth Advisors Council, nearly 95% of women will be their family’s primary decision maker at some point in their lives.


Understanding Money and Control

Who is winning the struggle for control—YOU or your money?

Throughout history, money evolved from a simple way to barter for goods and services into a powerful force to be reckoned with, that defines our life choices and emotional well-being. In our culture, wealth is often measured from the outside. Advertisements, influencers, and close circles of family and friends raise us in an environment where we often hear that money buys things, and those things bring happiness.

Somewhere along the way, money moved from the role of facilitating, sharing and exchanging to complete power in and of itself.

We need to take back control of our money and keep it in its proper place.

One of my favorite books is The Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist.

Twist writes, “True wealth, or well-being, can’t be found in a static balance sheet, no matter how large the accumulation of financial assets. Wealth shows up in the action of sharing and giving, allocating and distributing, nourishing and watering the projects, people, and purpose that we believe in and care about, with the resources that flow to us and through us. But when “holdings” hold us back from using money in meaningful, life-affirming ways, then money becomes an end in itself and an obstacle to well-being.”

What is the true purpose of money?

How do we shift to regain control of moving closer to that purpose?

If you begin an intentional project to match your use of money to express who you are in the world, it can make you feel vibrant and in control. You can let your money flow toward the things you actually care about.

How to start regaining control of your money and finances:

Find the courage to look at your financial situation honestly. Track where your money goes each month—are you paying attention each time you use your debit or credit card and thinking before buying? Try the pause button before purchasing and think to yourself: Do I really need this? Do I have something like it already?

Remember the saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Be conscious about the stores you shop in and the products you buy. How are your goods made? How are your services fulfilled? Consider if they are poorly made, throwaway items or clothes that were produced using cheap overseas labor, and whether the item will add to the landfill. Do you spend money on what you care about, or because some outsider (neighbors, media, friends to name a few) said it was important? Simply raising your awareness is a great place to start this journey of taking back control of your money.

Would someone you care about (for example, a grandparent that passed away) be pleased with how you obtain and spend your money? If your young child grows up and models the same spending practices that you have, will you be pleased with their behavior? Be a role model, avoid impulse purchases, and limit purchases that deplete the Earth’s resources.

According to Twist, “Whether you are aware of it or not, you make an impact each day with your choices about how you live and how you allocate your resources. If “money talks” it is with our voice. Each financial choice you make is a powerful statement of who you are and what you care about. When you take a stand and have your money reflect that, it strengthens your sense of self.”

Most of us work hard for our money, and how it feels as we spend it can shift our feelings from anxiety to a sense of abundance.

Learn how much is enough for you, and bask in the contentment of keeping money in its proper place in your life.

Contact me for a free consultation and regain control over your finances by creating an investment portfolio that reflects your deepest values.

Women Are Leading More Investment Strategies…Here’s Why

“Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for. Our life energy is our allotment of time here on earth, the hours of precious life available to us….it is limited and irretrievable…our choices about how we use it express the meaning and purpose of our time here on earth.”

—Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

Contrary to the popular belief, money isn’t a man’s game. More and more women are now making the financial decisions for their family, including investment strategy.

According to the Family Wealth Advisors Council:

  • In four of 10 American families, the woman is the breadwinner.
  • Nearly 95% of women will be their family’s primary decision maker at some point in their lives.
  • Women account for more than 40% of all Americans with gross investable assets of more than $600,000 and 48% of the country’s millionaires.
  • An estimated $25 trillion will accrue to women through 2030 via generational and spousal transfers. (By then, at least two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be in women’s hands.)

Generally speaking, women put energy into the areas they care deeply about.

How they behave with money is a gauge that reflects these values.

Just as women are carefully reading food labels and altering household purchases to keep their families healthy, they are also thinking about the entire path and impact of each and every dollar they spend…especially when it comes to moving larger amounts of their money around.

What kind of company or service do they want to support (or avoid) to reflect their value systems?

The moment they go with either-or is the moment that choice reflects them as an individual, a partner, wife, mother, employee or employer. Many women are curious about the overall behavior of the corporate entity that make specific products, and will actively complete research or seek out companies that exhibit the values and attributes that match their view of the world. These attributes may include treating employees and suppliers honorably, giving back to the local community, and using only their fair share of environmental resources.

Women are currently leading a sweeping divestment-reinvestment shift in finance.

They are choosing to invest in and support companies that hold a triple bottom line philosophy. This means a company not only pays attention to making a profit, it is also socially and environmentally responsible.

The sheer volume of dollars women are making decisions about will shape the future of the investment markets.

This act of consciously investing will affect both sides of the gender coin–it already has in certain governments, institutions, endowments, and financial groups.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, do a check-in with your financial and investment decisions, and see if you’re making choices that reflect your values.

To schedule an appointment with Leesa Sluder, contact us.


How Climate Change Will Greatly Impact the Global Economy

Recently, Schroders Economics Group released its Climate Change Survey 2016, which supplemented its report on The Impact of Climate Change on the Global Economy. Schroders sent the survey to 18 investment banks and brokerage firms, and received five responses, all of which stated that global warming presents an “Extremely Significant” or “Significant” threat to the global economy in the current century. Several negative effects are expected, most notably inflationary pressures.

Implications for Everyone:

As a result of global warming, prices of several goods and services are expected to increase. Food and water prices will increase due to reduced output per worker, agricultural production, and healthy water supply.

As oceans continue to rise and low lying areas are submerged, reduced land availability and mass migration will increase the cost of land.

Energy costs will increase as more extreme temperatures increase heating and cooling costs.

Insurance costs are already increasing and will continue to rise. Payouts from extreme weather events such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have hurt companies’ profits and they are reacting accordingly. For example, in Gulf Coast states, flood insurance costs for customers have risen significantly.

Implications for Investors:

Several academic studies provide various estimates of annual losses in GDP in the current century due to global warming. However, most investment analysts do not account for these losses in their forecasting models. One assumption investment analysts make when estimating a company’s performance is that the company will continue operating and growing into perpetuity. Without accounting for the estimated losses in companies’ growth prospects due to climate change, analysts’ current company valuations may be overestimated.

Companies’ equity stock will decrease due to the added costs to repair damage to property and infrastructure. Consequently, equity investors will suffer losses.

Debt investors will suffer due to increased inflation because the purchasing power of fixed coupon payments is reduced as inflation increases.

Moving Forward…What Can We Do?

Shareholders can use their voting power to encourage the Board of Directors to align managers’ compensation with long-term, climate change mitigating goals.

In order to provide more accurate fundamental data for investors, investment analysts must start incorporating the economic effects of climate change into their forecasting models.

Many economists agree that a government policy incorporating a carbon pricing or carbon credit trading model will reduce carbon emissions. These policies properly reallocate external spillover costs back to the companies (i.e. companies pay for the negative environmental and health effects we as individuals incur).

The Bigger Picture

Because analysts view individual companies as “going concerns” that will exist into perpetuity, they are not alarmed when companies make large capital expenditures now, with the expectation that cash returns will exceed the initial up-front cost. Likewise, the earth is a “going concern” and will exist into perpetuity. Therefore, governments can also make large capital expenditures now and expect to receive cash returns in excess of the initial cost.

Alternatively, the future cost of not investing in climate change mitigation may be much higher than the savings today.

Know Your Worth

Reading The Millionaire Mind by Dr. Thomas Stanley reminded me of an interesting concept I first learned about several years ago while working in the homeless service field.

One of the main qualities Dr. Stanley found many millionaires possessed was knowing when something was worth their time. Throughout his book, he makes numerous mentions to the anti- “do-it-yourself (DIY)” mentality among the millionaires he interviewed because “they reason that it’s more productive to earn income from their vocation and use it to hire a professional” (Stanley, The Millionaire Mind, p. 284).

I flashed back to a conference I took as a housing counselor. During this conference, I listened to the speaker’s story about class differences. She said, “I was showing a friend from generational wealth my new flooring. Impressed, she asked whom I hired to do it. When I told her I did it myself although I didn’t enjoy it, she said ‘Why would you do that? What are you worth an hour? Now, think about how many hours you spent researching how to do it and purchasing materials in addition to the time spent actually working on the new flooring – likely more than a licensed professional. You also probably spent more on materials than someone who could have ordered supplies in bulk and already had the equipment. On top of that, you didn’t even enjoy it. You could have used those hours to spend time with your family or take a short trip, so that you could recharge and come back even more focused on your vocation.”

Thanks to sites like Pinterest and YouTube where you can figure out how to do just about anything, the DIY movement is on the rise. So, if it brings you joy, go ahead and do it yourself – you should be able to find a video or pin to show you how. And then you can return to your vocation feeling more energized.

But if it doesn’t, stop for a second and think about whether this project is really worth your time. If not, it may be time to call a professional plumber to do some repairs so you can focus on what you love.


Stanley, Dr. Thomas J. “The Economically Productive Household.” The Millionaire Mind. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2000. 283-284. Print.