Cathy Curtis

“Finglish” Lesson #2: Common Terms Used by the Media, Economists and Financial Pundits

The running of the bulls, photo.

The running of the bulls, photo.It feels like 2008 all over again as stock markets worldwide gyrate to the whims of panicked investors. Headlines are dominated by market activity and news articles proliferate struggling to explain what the heck is going on! Because not all industry jargon is comprehensible to the average reader, the following list endeavors to explain the more commonly used “Finglish” in current media:

Market correction: refers to a “mini-bear”  market which isn’t expected to turn into a long-term bear market (down market), but it can be a predictor of worse to come. The phrase “it’s just a correction” is commonly heard when markets are dropping (by 10-20%) – but this is the best guess at the time and only future stock market activity can determine the true outcome.

Double-dip
: no, it isn’t your stomach doing a flip-flop when the Dow plunges over 500 points in a day. The term refers to a double-dip or W-shaped recession where the economy emerges from a recession, then goes on to a brief spurt of growth but then falls back into a recession.  We don’t know if we have double-dip yet – it’s too soon to tell. The Great Recession which lasted from December 2007 through June 2009 was the worst since WW II. A recession is identified by a long period of falling activity visible in real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, falling employment, income and production.

Bear marke
t: a declining stock market over a period of time and some say defined as a  price decline of 20% or more over at least a two month period.
New to me:  this market trend is also referred to as a “Heifer Market!”  Bear markets usually accompany recessions and periods of high unemployment or inflation. The bear market that coincided with the Great Recession started with the Dow at 14,164.43 on October 9, 2007 and ending on March 5, 2009 at 6,595.44.

Bull run: refers to a  “bull market” which is a rising stock market over a period of time. The last bull run started in March of 2009 when market pessimism reached its lowest point. To be determined is whether the market drop of last week is “just a correction” during a bull run or the start of a new bear market.

Non-farm payroll report
: an employment report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of every month. It heavily affects the U.S. dollar and bond and stock markets when it is released. Last Friday’s report was the one bright spot in a bad week when it was announced that the U.S. economy had added 117,000 jobs in July – higher than expected. From 1939 to 2010, non-farm payroll averaged 116,870 jobs reaching a high of 1,114,000 in September of 1983 and a low of -1966 jobs in September of 1945.

S&P’s AAA rating vs. AA+ rating
:  Friday, August 5,  Standard & Poor’s took the unprecedented step of lowering the top credit rating for U.S. long-term debt (notes and bonds that come due in more than a year). A downgrade is basically a warning to buyers that there is an increased chance (however slight) that they won’t get their money back and in theory should lead to higher borrowing costs for the government as investors will want to earn a higher interest rate for the increased risk. The 10-year Treasury note is considered the basis for all other interest rates so higher rates on it could mean higher rates on everything from mortgages to car loans, to borrowing costs for state and local governments and companies.

But it’s not clear that S&P’s downgrade will have an effect on rates. Treasury securities are still considered one of the safest investments in the world. As stocks plunged the last two weeks, the price of Treasurys soared because demand was high, even though investors knew there might be a downgrade. Since yields on debt securities fall as prices rise, the yield on the 10-year note dropped from 2.96 on July 22 to 2.39 on Friday.  The reality is that no other market is as large or as liquid as the U.S., even though it has its own set of problems.

The next weeks and months will determine whether the bull or the bear prevails and whether fiscal or monetary policies are instituted that redirect the U.S. economy (and yes, I will explain fiscal and monetary policies in a future Finglish tutorial). Stay tuned for “Finglish” tutorial #3.

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A “Finglish” Tutorial

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Brett Arends, “A Tip for Financial Advisers: When Possible, Use English,” began with the statement, “If you’re in the finance industry, there’s a simple way to make your clients a lot happier: speak English.” But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The reality is that financial and economic terms are confusing—and not just to non-finance types. Plus, new financial terms crop up all the time to label or explain a new product or strategy (QE2 anyone?). It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Since the news is particularly ripe with financial terms right now (due to the dismal state of the U.S. economy), I’ll take a stab at explaining some commonly used examples of “Finglish.” Hopefully, this will increase your financial knowledge, or, at the very least, prevent your eyes from glazing over the next time you read “yield curve.”

Federal budget deficit: This term is in the news constantly and for good reason—the federal deficit is huge at $1.4 trillion. This means that the federal government is spending $1.4 trillion more than it is earning in revenues over a year. Why? Because entitlement spending, interest paid on the national debt and defense spending are much greater than revenue from taxes. And when the economy is weak, as it is now, tax collections are down.

Entitlement spending: Another ubiquitous concept, entitlement spending refers to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid outlays by the government. Even though we pay into this system during our working years, with rising costs of healthcare and longer lives, much more goes out than comes in. Our country’s leaders know that entitlement spending has got to be cut to fix the debt problem, but it’s a political minefield, and things will probably not change much until after the elections of 2012.

National debt: The amount of gross federal debt outstanding is an unable-to-imagine $14 trillion. The national debt increases or decreases based on the annual federal budget deficit or surplus. But a surplus has not been seen since 2003 and the deficit is now growing at a rate of $1 trillion a year. Together with the budget deficit, this debt was one of the reasons Standard & Poor’s gave when downgrading the United States’ credit outlook to “negative” on April 18, 2011.

Debt ceiling: The federal government is limited by law as to the total amount of debt it can issue. This limit is known as the debt ceiling. Currently the debt ceiling is $14.3 trillion, an amount that was technically exceeded on May 17. Fortunately, the government can continue to operate and pay its obligations through various accounting mechanisms and Congress will mostly likely vote to increase it.

And finally, quantitative easing (QE). This is a tool in the Fed’s arsenal to help the country out of a recession when all else fails. This is also referred to as “printing money.” The Fed tends to use QE when interest rates have already been lowered to near 0% levels (as they are now) and the economy doesn’t improve. Quantitative easing increases the money supply by flooding banks and other financial institutions with capital in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity. The downside is that this could lead to inflation as there is still a fixed amount of goods for sale (too much money chasing too few goods leads to higher prices and inflation). The Fed will complete QE2 in June. There is much controversy over what effect this will have on interest rates, Many economists expect them to rise, causing another set of issues for the economic recovery.

This would be a good time to explain “yield curve” because when the Fed expands the money supply it also has the effect of lowering interest rates further out on the yield curve.  But I think this is enough of a Finglish tutorial for one blog post—I just know your eyes are glazing over. Stay tuned for the next Finglish lesson. I plan to write at least one blog post a month on the topic!

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Book Review: The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble: The Coming Deficit Debacle and How To Invest Now

The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble by Russ Koesterich

The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble by Russ KoesterichU.S. federal deficits and the national debt are hot topics these days and for good reason. The federal deficit in 2010 was $1.3 trillion and the amount of gross federal debt outstanding (the national debt) is now $14 trillion. No one expects these to stop growing anytime soon.

Economists call the U.S. type of deficit a “structural deficit” because it isn’t temporary; the U.S.government habitually spends more than it takes in. Imagine if you ran your own personal finances this way. It would mean you spend more than you make each year and never pay your debt off—it just grows. Your creditors wouldn’t allow it and bankruptcy would surely be the outcome.

In The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble: The Coming Deficit Debacle and How to Invest Now, Russ Koestrerich takes on this issue in straightforward prose that even a person unfamiliar with deficit economics can understand. In the first few chapters he explains the what, why and how of the U.S. deficit problem. He attributes the large and growing deficit to entitlement spending: revenue spent on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, compounded by our politician’s unwillingness to take action to reduce and control this spending. Koestrerich’s premise is that the largest pieces of the deficit pie, entitlement spending, along with the interest expense on existing bonds and defense spending, are politically untouchable. No politician wants to be voted out of a job.

Koestrerich concludes that the deficit isn’t going away and the result will be higher interest rates, slower economic growth and inflation.

In Chapter 2, Koestrerich explains why this matters to you—why slower growth, higher interest rates and inflation will dramatically affect the U.S. standard of living. As more government spending goes to paying interest on the debt, there will be less spending on more productive areas, such as job creation, education and infrastructure. Taxes will inevitably rise as a way to fund the deficit, hurting business and households alike. Higher deficits lead to higher interest rates on government debt which then extends to higher rates on consumer loans such as mortgages, auto and student loans. And in the worst outcome, inflation will start to rise, and each dollar will buy less goods and services, stretching already tight household budgets to a breaking point.

If you believe in Koestrerich’s worst case scenario, then Chapters 5 to 9 are for you.In them, he outlines investing strategies that can potentially protect your capital and make money in a deficit-run economy:

Bonds:

  • Reduce bond holdings, particularly U.S. Treasuries.
  • Focus your bond portfolio on shorter maturities.
  • Build bond ladders.
  • Raise allocation to municipal bonds.
  • Favor corporate bonds over government bonds.
  • Add international (including emerging market) bonds to your portfolio mix.
  • Add TIPS (if held to maturity).
  • If you need income, look to preferred and dividend paying stocks as bond substitutes.

Stocks:

  • Increase your exposure to stocks outside of the U.S.
  • Favor regions with better growth prospects and less debt, i.e. Canada, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Own stocks in countries that produce commodities, particularly energy, i.e. Canada and Australia.
  • Focus on U.S. companies that are large exporters of goods or services.
  • Give more weight in your portfolio to emerging markets, i.e. Brazil.
  • Overweight stocks that are more resilient to rising rates such as technology, energy and healthcare and own less in utilities, financial and consumer discretionary stocks.

Commodities

  • Allocate a percentage of your portfolio to a broad commodity basket and gold.

Real Estate

  • Buying a larger home, a second home or some commercial property is a good strategy in the event of higher inflation, but buying REITS is not.

Koesterich does an excellent job of describing the ways to invest in these different asset classes and the book is a useful investment primer. He explains his recommendations in just enough detail and again, in prose that most investors can understand. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a deeper understanding of our current economy and ways to invest, whether you believe we are on the road to a deficit debacle or not.

Note:  This book was provided to me free of cost by McGraw-Hill. Any investment strategies discussed above are not recommendations. Consult your financial advisor or conduct your own due diligence to ensure investments are appropriate for your risk tolerance and investment timeframes.

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Walking Away from a Mortgage – Is It a Viable Option?

What Happens if You Walk Away from a Mortgage?During the peak of the real estate buying frenzy (2005–2007) many Americans decided to invest in real estate other than their homes in the hopes of capital gains. Unfortunately, when the bubble burst, the ensuing credit crisis left these investors with a moral dilemma.

Many of these investors are just ordinary folks who pay their bills on time, have good credit scores and would no more consider defaulting on a debt than they would stop brushing their teeth every day! But “walking away” is now on their short list of options to consider.

“Walking away” – also known as voluntary foreclosure or strategic default – occurs when a borrower decides to stop paying a mortgage even though they can still afford the payment. Why would someone consider such a controversial course of action? Because of the following unfortunate circumstances:

  • Market values are way less than the mortgage balance (often referred to as being “underwater”).
  • Refinancing to current lower rates is not an option due to lack of equity.
  • Experiencing negative cash flow (rents are not covering expenses) each month.
  • Selling isn’t an option with prices as depressed as they are, without bringing in cash to close.
  • Difficulty raising rents in current economic environment.
  • No clarity on when real estate market values will recover.

You’ve heard the expression “throwing good money after bad”?

What Happens if You Walk Away?

When you walk away from a mortgage, your credit score will drop. If you have a secure job, own a home with a decent mortgage loan or are happy renting, you may not need a mortgage loan for many years. But if you do plan on buying a home, it will be up to seven years before banks will lend to you, and you may be required to make a bigger down payment or pay higher interest rates.

You will also need to deal with your tenants. Fortunately, their rights are protected by the “Protecting Tenants of Foreclosure Act of 2009.” This legislation requires the new owner to let the tenant stay at least until the end of the lease; month-to-month tenants are entitled to 90 days notice before having to move out.

If you live in California (laws vary by state), as long as you first mortgage is a purchase money loan used to buy a one- to four-unit residential property, you won’t have to worry about  the lender coming after assets other than the property itself. Anti-deficiency statutes exist that protect borrowers in non-recourse states. The same protection doesn’t exist for refinanced loans. In either case, banks in California rarely go down this path due to the time and legal expense involved (at least for now).

If you took out an equity line or HELOC and it was used to buy the property, then it is also considered a non-recourse loan. Otherwise, most equity loans and HELOCs are recourse loans and you will be personally responsible for paying them back after the foreclosure. The lender can pursue you for a deficiency balance.

Under federal law, a lender must report to the IRS any forgiveness of debt in an amount larger than $600. So, as a real estate investor, you will owe tax on the amount of debt forgiven.

There is some “good” news: If you aren’t a professional real estate investor and you have owned the property for several years, it is likely you have accumulated capital loss carryovers. You will be able to deduct those losses from your taxes in the year of the foreclosure.

Two Sides to the Moral Dilemma Debate

Since 2007, the rate of foreclosures has sky-rocketed, and there is no end in sight. A national debate has ensued regarding the decision to walk-away. One side believes that underwater property owners are acting in their financial best interest to walk while the other believes it is shameful and unacceptable.

No matter which side you are on, the decision to stop paying your mortgage is not one to be made lightly. But it’s one that any financially intelligent person would consider with the right circumstances. The most prudent course of action is to get educated, understand all of the repercussions as thoroughly as possible, consult financial professionals as needed, and make a well-thought out decision for yourself and your family.

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

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Book Review: Small Business Taxes Made Easy, 2nd edition, by Eva Rosenberg.

Small Business Taxes Made Easy book cover As a financial advisor, I’ve read my share of tax books. So, I poured myself a strong cup of coffee, made sure I wasn’t too comfortable and opened Small Business Taxes Made Easy by Eva Rosenberg. After reading the first few pages, I realized that this tax book was different. First of all, I enjoyed Eva Rosenberg’s voice. She is friendly, knowledgeable, and savvy. She has obviously worked with many small business owners and understands us. You feel like she really cares about your business – No wonder she is referred to as the “TaxMama.”

But it’s not only her unique voice. The book is organized in a very logical and helpful way. Each chapter, beginning with Chapter 1: The Small Business Checklist, has a To-Do List and Questionnaire to review before you read the chapter. At the end of each chapter is a complete list of resources to make it easy to get even more information and do research on the topic at hand. If you are short on time, you could get a lot of information by just reading these two sections. However, it would benefit you to read through the chapters. Rosenberg is a tax expert and there are many gems of tax wisdom contained in the chapters where you will find yourself thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” or, “Great idea, I think I will incorporate that tax strategy into my business.” It’s a workbook, so get out a pen and take notes where needed!

The book is really a small business bible, not just a tax book. The chapter titles tell the story: Business Plans You Know and Trust; Entities; Record Keeping; Income; Common Deductions; Office in Home; Vehicles: Everyone’s Favorite Deduction; Employees and Independent Contractors; Owner’s Fringe Benefits, Retirement, and Tax Deferment; (the dreaded) Estimated Payments; Online Businesses; and Audits. Ms. Rosenberg really wants you to set up your business right, from the start, for growth and profit! And we all know that taxes play a big part in the outcome.

You can download worksheets from www.YourBusinessBible.com that will help you stay on track as you complete the tasks in the book. She provides a different password to the site each month that you can only retrieve by owning the book. Clever!

I plan to keep this book nearby as a reference for those questions I often get from my business-owner clients. And if you are a business-owner yourself – whether you’re just starting out or not –  This book is a must-read.

Please note: This book was provided to me free of cost by McGraw-Hill. Even so, this is an honest, objective review of the book!

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Deductions For Charity Donations

Donating to charity does not only have positive spiritual effects on an individual but it can also provide them with some useful tax deductions. If you are interested in learning more about charity tax deductions, read on.

 

Charity Tax Deduction Mechanisms  

First of all, keep in mind it is crucial to start itemizing your deductions on your tax return. This way, you will manage to more easily take income tax deductions for gifts to money raising charity organizations. These charity organizations need to be fully qualified, so make sure you get some information regarding the legitimacy of the charity before pulling out your checkbook. Taxpayers are allowed to enjoy certain deductions of their taxes, which has a standard value. The pay off of the respective itemization will occur only after you will exceed the respective deductions.

The standard value of this deduction does not have a fixed value and it tends to vary from one year to another. Be one step ahead of things and inquire about the value of the standard for the year you are filing your taxes for. You will need Form 1040 and Schedule A to itemize your deductions and also to deduct your donations to charity.  

 

Only Pick Qualified Charities

Moreover, know that the majority of charities do qualify for donations that are tax-deducible. However, there are some who will not be able to help you out in this regard. You need to keep an eye on the 501 (c)(3) designation so there are no questions about it. There are also plenty of charities that are tax-exempt – small nonprofit organizations or churches are some fine examples here. They can still receive donations that are tax-deductible. Get in touch with the organization you are considering donating money to and ask about the tax-deductible character of the donation you are about to make. The official IRS web site should also provide you with all the required data. Donating money to an individual or a foreign charity organization or foreign government is not considered to be a donation you can deduct taxes out of. The same goes for donating to support political campaigns or parties or social welfare organizations.

 

When Dies A Donation Become Deductible?

Briefly put, the same year in which it has been made. You will have paid your contribution when you will have laced your check in the mail, or when the donation has been charged to your credit card. You will also need to make sure that your donation will be made by the 31st of December the same year when you are planning on claiming your tax deduction. International donations to charities registered in the United States are tax deductible. The lack such registration will attract the lack of deductibility. If you would like to earn more money so you can donate more, go to LotteryMaster.com and purchase your tickets for the biggest lotteries in the world. Look at the online lottery results for the previous draws and pick your lucky numbers online either manually or by letting your destiny decide using the autobuy option.   

 

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Women and Money: Women Have Unique Financial Planning Needs

Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane
Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane
Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane

In my living room sat an architect, a CPA, a healthcare executive, a innovation consultant, a marketing and branding expert, a retired attorney, a writer for the Huffington Post, a clutter coach, an interior designer, a home staging specialist, a jewelry designer, a technical writer, and a newspaper columnist. We were joined by an IT manager, a freelance interactive producer, an owner of a cooking-party company, an owner of a company specializing in culinary health education for kids, a development director, a yoga instructor, a marketing consultant, a personal fashion stylist, a trade marketing manager and a business student. All women. All interesting and accomplished.

Women are as diverse as any other group of people in their career choices and in their lifestyles. But women also share distinct attributes: They are great communicators, relationship builders and nurturers. They also share unique financial planning needs. For example, many women are concerned that they will be old and poor and alone. Look at these facts:

  • Eighty percent of American women will find themselves the sole keepers of their personal finances at some point during their lives, However, most of those women feel financially insecure, despite controlling more wealth, having more education and being more involved in financial decisions.
  • Women still make less than men make in similar occupations.
  • Women’s careers are often interrupted by family needs, such as childcare and eldercare, which limits their opportunity for income and retirement savings growth.
  • Many women fear losing everything and becoming bag ladies (and it doesn’t seem to matter how much money they have or make).
  • Two-thirds of women over age 65 rely on Social Security as their primary source of income. Consequently, women are twice as likely as men to live out their golden years at or below poverty levels.

In my living room, we nibbled bites of grilled salmon covered in sesame seeds, ginger chicken, and artichoke frittata while sipping champagne cocktails. Everyone listened attentively to presentations on serious topics such as the 2010 tax relief act and the new healthcare law, but also to fun topics such as the top ten wardrobe essentials and how to save money on your wardrobe. In between speakers, we women did what we are great at: connected, made new friends and perhaps got a business lead or two.

About Cathy Curtis
Cathy Curtis, the writer of this blog and owner of Curtis Financial Planning, specializes in the finances of women, their families and their businesses. You can find out more about her on her website
www.curtisfinancialplanning.com and follow her on Twitter @cathycurtis, on Facebook Women and Money and on LinkedIn Women and Money.

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Simple Truth #6: Saving, Investing, Diversifying and Rebalancing Lead to Financial Success.

Saving, Investing, Diversifying and RebalancingThis is an investment strategy that works, all it takes is a good plan and discipline.

Simply Put

Saving is the process of reserving a portion of current income for future use.

Investing is putting those savings to work to increase wealth.

Diversifying and rebalancing are investment strategies meant to increase the likelihood of success.

Not So Simply Done

Most people understand saving. Investing is a much more complicated process which tends to produce feelings of fear and inadequacy in many people.

With good reason – over the last 10 years we experienced two market meltdowns and in result, a negative return on U.S. stock market indices. In volatile markets, investors tend to experience see-sawing emotions of fear and greed causing counter-productive behaviors like selling at market bottoms and buying at market tops – a recipe for financial failure.

Some Simple Steps That Lead to Financial Success

Believe it or not, some investors were able to achieve positive returns over the last 10 years. How did they do it?

By being diversified.

These successful investors didn’t have all their money invested in U.S. stocks. Sure they had some, but they also owned different types of bond and alternative investments, international and emerging markets investments.  These investors also rebalanced periodically – selling assets that gained enough to cause their original asset allocation to get out- of- whack and buying assets that didn’t do so well.

The end goal: staying properly diversified so the portfolio doesn’t became too conservative (by having too large a position in fixed income) or too risky (by owning too many stock investments).

Over time, this type of portfolio should be less volatile (decreasing the chance of emotional buying and selling), therefore boosting returns.

How to Do it:

1. The first step to building an investment portfolio is deciding which asset classes will be included and determining the target percentage for each asset class.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of assets classes to start with:  larger-cap U.S. stocks, smaller-cap U.S. stocks, international stocks, emerging markets stocks, investment-grade bonds, inflation-protected bonds, international and emerging markets bonds, real estate, and alternative assets (precious metals, commodities).

Basically the more risk you can take, the more stocks you want to own as they have higher return expectations. In addition, large-cap stocks are less risky than small cap and U.S. stocks tend to be less risky than international.  Before deciding on an asset allocation, do some research or hire an investment advisor to help you.

2. The next step is choosing the securities within each of the asset classes.

Choosing individual stocks isn’t the safest or easiest way to build a portfolio. Most people are better off choosing mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that invest in the particular asset class.

For example, there are large cap stock mutual funds and international stock (or bond) mutual funds.  Another distinction: there are actively-managed mutual funds and passively-managed mutual funds (better known as index funds). With actively managed funds a manager(s) picks the stocks that go into the fund, with index funds the stocks in the fund are determined by a pre-established index such as the S&P 500.

As in everything, there are pros and cons to both – do your research.

3. The third step is to rebalance your portfolio.

Once your target asset allocation is set (you’ve decided what percentage of your money will go into each chosen asset class), you’ve invested the money in chosen securities (mutual funds or exchange-traded funds) – you’re set until you decide to rebalance the portfolio. Once a year is realistic and doable.

This is how it’s done: Let’s say your U.S. large cap stock allocation was 40% when you started. At the end of the first year it is 50%. At that same time you note that your investment in international stocks went from 20% to 10%.

What you want to do is sell 10% of your U.S. large cap security and buy 10% more of your international security thereby rebalancing back to your target allocation. Note you are also selling something that has gone up and buying something that has gone down increasing your chances of making money over your investment horizon.

As you get older and reach retirement, you will want to review your target allocation and add more fixed income.  This is only prudent as you transition from earning a paycheck to withdrawing from your investments.

However, as we live longer the need to maintain a balance between growth and income is important, so stocks should be a part of most portfolios at any age.

Here are some resources for further education on this topic:

And some great blogs to follow:

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

The Happiness SpreadsheetIf you want to think differently about the relationship between your spending, your values and your happiness, then sign up to get your FREE copy of The Happiness Spreadsheet.

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Hello again my lovely blog!

Cathy Curtis

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Cathy Curtis
Cathy Curtis

Dear Of Independent Means Blog:

I know you don’t understand why I abandoned you right after you got such a gorgeous face-lift (thanks to Stephanie Sammons), but it’s not your fault. You’ve never looked better. It’s just that I’ve been awfully busy helping clients with their finances, speaking about investments at the Commonwealth Club, attending conferences with the FPA, NAPFA and Morningstar and yes, I admit it, writing for other blogs. I think about you all the time and feel terribly guilty that I haven’t visited. I know that when I don’t write for you, you lose fans that may never come back! I hope you will accept my apology and trust me when I tell you I will be back very soon.

In the meantime, I thought I would share those other blog posts I mentioned…just because there is some good stuff that readers Of Independent Means might enjoy!  But don’t worry, you’re the only blog for me!

Blog post for the Morningstar Advisor Markets & The Economy Blog: A Quick Trip Around the World with Ian Bremmer. Ian Bremmer is a brilliant political economist who has written several books. He gave a talk based on his latest book: The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War  Between States and Corporations at the FPA conference in Denver. Some of his insights and predictions are shared in this post.

Sharp Talk for the Sharp Skirts Blog. Sharp Skirts is a knowledge network focused on helping women entrepreneurs. This blog post is about how women can become better managers of their finances.

Blog post for the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Journal: Personal Wealth: How To Handle A Financial Windfall. The San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Journal is an online lifestyle magazine for savvy women founded and edited by Debbie Josendale.

See you soon,

Sincerely,

Cathy Curtis
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Girls Gotta Do Business

photo: Alison Covarrubias,Julie Abrams,Cathy Curtis,Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa
Alison Covarrubias,Julie Abrams,Cathy Curtis,Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa

It was my pleasure to moderate a panel of women who have made it part of their life’s work to help and support women entrepreneurs. Julie Abrams as CEO of Women’s Initiative; Alison Covarrubias as Co-Founder of The Hatch Network; Baat Enosh of  NCWIT and Women 2.0 and Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa as a Director of Savor the Success.

We started our discussion by exploring the popular notion that women will “rule the world” and that the economic recovery will be largely led by females. We went on to discuss the challenges women face securing funding for their companies, the conflicts inherent to being a parent and running a company, and the unique circumstances that women of color face on their road to successful entrepreneurship.

The panelists agreed that a gender war wouldn’t do anyone any good, but that bias still exists. Until influential men become more balanced and realistic in their opinions about women’s abilities, change will be slow – particularly in the area of venture capital funding. The fact that so few women are partners at venture capital firms is a roadblock,  as people tend to invest in people they are most comfortable with and more women V.C.’s invest in women owned businesses.

On the positive side, studies indicate that women-owned businesses are run more efficiently, achieve a higher return and are focused on more than just the bottom line  – usually with an additional mission benefiting the greater good in some way. The current recession may be the catalyst that women need to be recognized as leaders with unique qualities that are necessary to gain an edge in our increasingly competitive and global world.

You can view the entire discussion on a series of youtube videos, here are the links.

Opening Comments and Introductions of Julie Abrams and Alison Covarrubias

Introductions of Baat Enosh and Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa

Women Will Rule the World?

Funding Your Business

Can Women Do It All?

Final Words of Wisdom

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