From nursing to computer science to finance and insurance, this savvy CEO has reinvented herself several times. When asked what she would tell her younger self based on what she knows now, she said, “Don’t discount common sense and trust your gut.” Now at the helm of a Fortune 1000 life insurance company, Eileen offers tips to help you make the most of your money, no matter what your age.
Start early. Look for ways to save for a rainy day and also for possible investment opportunities.
Millennials are great at using Groupon and watching for sales—they are good consumers. Those same skills can be applied to investing. When you invest, you really have to understand what you’re paying for. Not all investments are created equal. Get smart about hidden fees.
Age is an advantage
This group is very insurable and is likely to be healthy. Permanent insurance products should be considered—like Whole Life Insurance (a product that spans over a lifetime). I bought my first permanent life insurance product when I was 27 years old and single. It’s good that I did, because some years later, when I applied for my daughter’s adoption, I was diagnosed with melanoma. I would have been considered uninsurable. But instead, with the cash value that had built up on the policy, I loaned myself the money and was able to take off from work and adopt my child.
Be smart about education
Consider deferring your masters until you really know what you want to be when you grow up. Kids are pushed to know what they want to do, when their parents don’t even know what they want to do. Why get in debt?
Chances are, most women will be out of the workforce at some point in their life, whether it’s because they have a child, a disability, a health crisis or aging parents. Having a network of business contacts is going to be important when you reenter.
If you are looking to come back to work, you may not be viewed as current. We hear about women who take time off and then have to step backwards when they reenter. If you can show that you’ve stayed relevant, then it’s not difficult to jump right back in.
Technology makes it easier to stay relevant. Keep your profiles updated and keep on top of business trends. Email contacts with information of interest. Say, “Oh I saw this article and thought of you.” Let them know you’re engaged.
All things are not equal
Your metabolism is slowing down, just as your money is going faster. You may be saving to help your adult children, grandchildren, or aging parents, but you can’t support everyone equally. Decide who to give to financially and who to support physically or emotionally. If you’re philanthropic, you may not be able to write the check today, but you can volunteer—your time is just as valuable.
Mind your checkbook
Many people understand their income, but not how they’re spending it. I would advise taking a year before retirement to really analyze where your money is going.
Have a withdrawal game plan
It’s likely that when you retire, you will have money in multiple places with different tax implications. The order in which you pull it out will affect how much you get back in your hands. Reach out to a financial advisor if you need help.
For more information about Penn Mutual and their services, check out their blog here.
Who saw something in you that you hadn’t seen in yourself?
When I was 27 years old, Mike Martin at the Equitable had a work issue he needed to resolve. I was someone who knew 25% of what the job needed, but that was the 25% he needed badly. He offered me a job. Mike told me I was smart enough, and that I would learn the rest. He ultimately made me a vice president.
What do you want for your daughter?
I want my daughter Claire to keep believing she can be anything she wants to be. In her lifetime, I want the conversation to turn to the successes of girls instead of the differences between genders and the struggles.