Work Life Balance pt 1

Why Work/Life Balance is Important—A Guide for Women, part 1

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA 

There’s a reason that flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else in an emergency. Because if you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot help anyone else. 

This is something that many women are guilty of, myself included, and it’s no wonder. In between being a rainmaker at work, you are also likely a chef, chauffeur, caretaker, supply manager and more for your family. But finding the time to achieve balance can not only help you with your mental and physical health now, but may also help ease your transition to retirement later. In this first installment, we’ll discuss a few ideas for helping you achieve a better work/life balance. 

Learn to say yes and no

You say these words every day, but has it ever occurred to you that you may be saying them to all the wrong things?

 Women tend to say yes to that extra project you don’t have time for, yes to the extra errand when you can’t even get your own things done, and yes to whatever extra responsibility people ask of you. Often, we’re afraid to say no because we don’t want to disappoint someone or because we want to be seen as perfect. But the truth is that saying no can provide a lot of power (and believe me, the world won’t end). Saying no to some things can help save your sanity—and the more you say it now, the easier it will be to say it in the future.

 Of course, on the flip side, women too often say no to themselves or to things that will actually bring joy to their lives. No, you don’t have time to play with your kids or have lunch with your friend. No, you don’t have time (or money) to take a vacation. No, you can’t open your own business—you need the security of a paycheck. 

These answers may also be driven by fear or anxiety, but sometimes they’re driven by the “idea” that you’re too busy or that you cannot afford it, rather than by that reality. Consider that there will certainly be more dishes to clean tomorrow, but will your kids still want to play with you? Without a vacation, will you be too stressed to function at your best? Will your friends still be there tomorrow if you don’t nurture the relationships today? Will that business opportunity still be there? 

 Learning to say yes (or no) today and being willing to invest time and money in yourself may offer you the biggest dividends in the long term, helping you to lead a happier, richer, bolder life.

 Put yourself first

When you are doing it all without truly taking care of yourself, you have the potential to burn out. And the problem is that when this happens, it can have a waterfall effect on your family and your workplace.

 Consider that John Bowen of CEG Worldwide interviewed about 300 CEOs to find out the qualities that leaders have in common. And what he discovered is that successful business leaders make sure they get their own time before they share themselves with clients, colleagues or anyone else.

  • First, they get up early and get their workout in (they know it won’t happen if they don’t do it first).
  • Next, they often meditate, pray, or recite affirmations in order to start their day on a positive, calm note.
  • Then they go to work.

 The bottom line is that, like these leaders, you need to find balance in order to be at your best in all aspects of your life

 At Gasber Financial we believe strongly in the importance of finding work/life balance now and we’re happy to help you determine the best ways you can achieve this. In part 2, we’ll dive deeper into tips for achieving balance now and carrying that into your retirement.

Dimensional Reduces US Mutual Fund Management Fees

One of the many reasons we use Dimensional, also known as DFA, mutual funds extensively in the construction of our clients portfolios is their commitment to price their funds fairly as well as very competitively. This results in management fee reductions from time to time as explained in the following year end release.

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Social Security pt 2

Social Security—a Guide for Women, part 2

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA


As we discussed in part 1, Social Security is an important benefit. And understanding when and how to elect can impact your benefits permanently. In addition to your full retirement age (FRA) and potential life expectancy, there are a few other things you should consider before making your election choices.

Do you plan to work?

Some women not only need to work in retirement, many want to—often trying new careers or new business ventures to keep them active and engaged. While this is an individual choice, it can impact your benefits. If you plan to continue working, your benefits could be significantly reduced if you elect them early due to the “earnings test.” Here is how that can work:



Age 62 to year of FRA

Year of FRA

After FRA

If you earn more than



Any amount

Amount withheld

$1 for every $2 you earn above the income limit

$1 for every $3 you earn above the income limit

$0 no matter how much you earn


Are you or have you been married?

Another consideration is your marital status. Because married couples are entitled to have two Social Security benefit streams, it may be wise to review the benefits together to determine who should potentially claim early, on time, or late. It’s worth noting that even if you have not worked, you are still entitled to claim “spousal” benefits.


And, if you were married for more than 10 years, divorced and have not remarried, you are still able to claim spousal benefits (even if the ex has remarried). Spousal benefits:

  • Are typically 50% of the other spouse’s full benefit at FRA
  • May be more than an individual benefit
  • Cannot be collected until the first spouse elects their benefits (unless you are divorced)
  • Will be permanently reduced if the individual OR spouse elects benefits early
  • Cannot be increased by waiting beyond FRA to elect

Gasber Financial is here to help you navigate your Social Security choices so you can create a truly comprehensive retirement income plan.

Social Security Part 1

Social Security—A Guide for Women, part 1

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA


Social Security is an important, but often misunderstood retirement benefit—and one that may require planning on your part. You do have some choices to make, but you don’t have to make them alone. Gasber Financial is here to help you.


First things first

There are a few basics you should understand about how Social Security works. In general:

  • You can claim your benefits as early as age 62. However, since this is before your Full Retirement Age (FRA) (see the chart below), your benefits would be permanently reduced by about 25%.
  • Your full benefit is available to you at your FRA (see below).
  • If you wait until age 70, you can grow your individual benefit by as much as 24-32%.

You can get an estimate of your individual benefits at


Year of birth

Full retirement age (FRA)




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 and later




Deciding when to elect, however, may not simply be about the size of your monthly benefit. Three of the most critical things to consider include:

  • Life expectancy
  • Working income
  • Marital status


Life expectancy

No one can tell you your exact life expectancy, but it can be important to think about when it comes to Social Security. Did you know that a woman reaching age 65 today, has an average life expectancy of 86.6 years?* That’s the average, which means many will live longer. But why does it matter?


In theory, you should receive the same lifetime amount of Social Security regardless of whether you claim early, on time, or late (because you claim less for more years or more for fewer years). In reality, however, it doesn’t always work this way. In this example, Julie has a full benefit of $2000 and an FRA of 66. Look at the difference claiming early, on time or late can make in her benefits over time.


Claims at

Monthly benefit

Lifetime benefits at 75

Lifetime benefits at 79

Lifetime benefits at 83

















If we continued this example through the average life expectancy of 86.6, the differences would be even greater. Of course, there is no crystal ball to tell you your life expectancy, but family and individual health histories can be used to try to make an educated guess at what yours may be.


We’ll discuss how working income and marital status can impact your benefits in our next installment. For now, you should know that Gasber Financial is here to help you navigate your Social Security choices so you can create a truly comprehensive retirement income plan.



Retirement Income Planning - Pt. 2

Retirement Income Planning

A Guide for Women—part 2


By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA


As we discussed in part 1 of this series, there are actually many pieces of the retirement income pie, including savings, social security and any pension or retirement plan assets. And, there are many other considerations as well. In this installment, we’ll review some of the costs you need to consider and mistakes to avoid as you make your retirement income plans.


Common mistakes

One of the most common mistakes for divorced women is overestimating the value—and duration—of alimony. If you remarry, alimony ends. And, while some women have their entire support categorized as child or family support in order to avoid that potentiality, this type of support likely ends when your youngest reaches the age of majority.


Another common mistake is to underestimate the impact of taxes. The truth is that even in retirement, you will most likely still have to pay taxes. And if you are divorced or widowed, you may be in a higher tax bracket than you anticipated.



Costs to consider

When it comes to costs, one of the most significant expenditures you will need to consider is healthcare. According to estimates, a 65-year old couple with life expectancies of 87 and 89, respectively, is expected to spend more than $400,000 on healthcare in retirement. This estimate is, of course, just an estimate—and an average one at that—it includes Medicare, supplemental insurance and dental insurance.1 Medicare is a complicated topic that we will go into in another installment (for now, just know that you have to elect it at age 65 if you ever want the ability to use it).


It’s worth noting that your costs could be well above or below this number. For now, however, this estimate is presented to provide an idea of how significant this expense can be in order to drive home the point that healthcare should be a line item in your income planning.


Helpful tips—make a plan

  • Your tax situation should be part of your investment and income planning.
  • Healthcare should be a line item in your planning now and in your retirement budget later. This AARP calculator can help you estimate realistic potential costs for you.


Tax, divorce and estate planning experts can provide more holistic legal guidance and Gasber Financial can help you develop a comprehensive retirement income plan.