Earn Careers

HerMoney Podcast Episode 196: How To Successfully Take A Career Break 

Kathryn Tuggle  |  January 15, 2020

This week, we’re talking about how to exit and enter the workforce while keeping your career on the trajectory you envisioned. 

While care-taking for those we love most can be a beautiful, wouldn’t-have-it-any-other-way experience, we often pay a substantial price. Our time out of the workforce reduces our earning power by an average of 18%, and that number goes up to 37% when our breaks last three years or longer. While those numbers are sobering, they don’t change the realities of life. According to the Harvard Business Review, 43% of women with children leave their careers or take a career break, and 24% of women duck out of the workforce at some point to care for an aging parent. 

In other words, sometimes we have to take a step back, or step out, but there are ways to do it that can lessen the blow to our careers, according to Stacey Delo and Jennifer Gefsky, co-authors of “Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks — A Working Mother’s Guide. Together, they run Apres, a digital career platform for women who are returning to the workforce, or who may be pivoting within the workforce. 

Jean, Stacey and Jennifer dive into a discussion around what it means to step out of the workforce completely, transition to part-time, or simply ask for more flexibility in your schedule. The trio break down the cost of stepping out, how to weigh the expense of daycare against your salary, and how to determine what you might be losing out on in terms of salary and retirement savings if you do take a break.

Stacey and Jennifer break down some of their favorite strategies for returning to the workforce, and how to move past the guilt that may go along with decisions to either stay in a job or leave it. They also discuss the disturbing trend of women rejecting promotions for fear of what it may mean for their home life, and what we can all do to change that conversation. 

We also discuss what you can say to prospective employers when you’re ready to get back to work, and how to tell your “gap story.” Hint: Explain it quickly and concisely, because employers just want to know that you’re ready, and that you’ll be a committed employee. Then we explore how to maintain your network while you’re out of the workforce so that when you’re ready to ignite your job search, you won’t feel out of touch. 

Lastly, in mailbag, Jean answers a question from a listener wondering if she should be paying her financial advisor $3,000 a year to manage her IRA. She also tackles a question about HSA contributions and income level, and reviews some of the best investment options for Gen-Y. In Thrive, we look at the trend of companies enabling employees to save for retirement at the same time they’re paying down student loans. 

Transcript

Jennifer Gefsky: (00:02)
Arm yourself with the information and go to your employer with a solid case of why it’s going to work for the employer. And we see a lot of women not quite doing that. It’s sort of, what I need, what I want, and frankly that kind of falls flat with employers.

Read More...

Jean Chatzky: (00:22)
HerMoney is brought to you by Fidelity Investments. We want you to feel confident about investing so that you can make your money work just as hard as you do. Learn the ropes without the jargon at fidelity.com/demandmore. Her money comes to you through PRX. Hey everybody, thank you so much for joining me on today’s podcast. We are talking taking breaks, breaks of the career variety. According to the Harvard Business Review, 43% of women with kids leave their careers or take a career break at some point. And about a quarter of all women duck out of the workforce at one time or another to care for an aging parent. And while those experiences can be amazing, and many of us wouldn’t have it any other way, we do often pay a substantial price. Our time out of the workforce reduces our earning power substantially by an average of 18%. That number goes up to 37% when our breaks last three years or more and those numbers are from the Harvard Business Review. So how do we manage both? How do we manage, if not having it all, then at least having the things that we want most, potentially when we want them and doing it in a way so that we don’t feel off the rails as far as our careers are concerned. I am thrilled to be joined today in the studio by two women who have many of the answers. Stacey Delo and Jennifer Gefsky, they are the co-authors of a new book called Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks — A Working Mother’s Guide. Together they run Apres, like apres ski, the digital career platform for women who are returning to work or who may be pivoting within the workforce. Stacey and Jennifer, welcome.

Stacey Delo & Jennifer Gefsky: (02:32)
Thank you so much. Great to be here. Glad to be here.

Jean Chatzky: (02:34)
Oh, it’s great to have you both here. So Jennifer, start by telling me a little bit about your relationship and how that brought both the company and the book around.

Jennifer Gefsky: (02:48)
My relationship?

Jean Chatzky: (02:49)
With Stacey.

Jennifer Gefsky: (02:50)
Oh, it’s a really great story. So I actually cofounded Apres back, we launched in 2016 with a woman named Nikki Kroll, who here in New York City. And shortly after we launched, a mutual friend connected me with Stacey who happens to live in San Francisco. And Stacey started a fabulous company called Maybrooks named after her grandmother, or great grandmother?

Stacey Delo: (03:10)
Great grandmother.

Jennifer Gefsky: (03:11)
Great grandmother who was a trailblazer in her own right. And doing very similar things as Apres. We connected and we really realized that we could do more things together. So we combined our companies and now Stacey is the CEO of Apres. So it’s a really great connecting story.

Stacey Delo: (03:29)
It was the fastest deal ever. We had one lunch.

Jean Chatzky: (03:32)
Really?

Stacey Delo: (03:33)
And knew that yes, I mean this is, look, this is a passion mission for both of us. And when you meet somebody else who’s aligned on making the workplace better for women and making work work for women, we just knew immediately that we needed to come together.

Jean Chatzky: (03:50)
Jennifer, you came in with a background in law, correct? An attorney for many years. Stacey, how about you?

Stacey Delo: (03:55)
I was a journalist for close to 10 years. I worked for the Wall Street Journal digital network and was an online video reporter and producer and had both of my kids while I was there and was able to go part time even so owned a portion of my career dial my turn as a reporter.

Jean Chatzky: (04:14)
Amazing. How has it been running this company from two sides of the country?

Jennifer Gefsky: (04:19)
It’s, that’s a really good question. It’s been a journey. I mean, you know, we’re dealing with time differences, which is interesting. And Stacey’s really heading it up. I work full time as a partner in a law firm and so a lot of my time is dedicated to that. So we check in from time to time. But Stacey’s really sort of captaining the ship and doing an amazing job.

Stacey Delo: (04:40)
But our entire team is distributed and I think that that’s a really great model for us to emulate to others, that it does work to be in separate parts of the country. We use all of the various technology available to us to talk in real time via video or phone and, I meanm technology has been our friend in that regard of keeping people together and making it work.

Jean Chatzky: (05:06)
Let’s talk about the big questions and I went through this many, many years ago myself. My kids, as our listeners know, are 22 and 25. They’re both now in the workforce themselves, knock wood. And when I was pregnant with my first, my father-in-law said, when are you stopping? Not are you stopping? You know, just when are you stopping in? And for me that was not even a consideration. I knew myself well enough to know that I was not going to be happy if I was not working, but I embraced journalism much in the way you did. I had a very, very flexible schedule and was able to work from home a couple of days a week before that was even a thing. But this decision, should you step out? Should you go part time? Should you aim for flexibility? Is it as much of a question today as it used to be?

Jennifer Gefsky: (06:00)
Well, I think the question is still very real for all women who are mothers. Because as a mother, we’re all mothers in this room, we know it’s hard. And one of the main messages of the book, we have a couple of main messages. One is everyone’s struggling with it. No one has it all figured out. No one’s, you know, living the high life as a mom. It’s hard whether you’re working full time, whether you’re taking career break and, you know, we’re all struggling. And another main theme of the book is really to not judge one another and the decisions that we make. And I think from where you are, with your kids’ ages and when you came out and graduated school, we are in a different place today. And that’s one of the inspirational messages of the book. For the first time in history, women can really, with their eyes wide open and sort of their head up, dictate how they want their career to be, whether taking some time off, going part time, continuing to work full time. You know, all of those options are available to women and we can make it all work and corporate America is catching up to us, but they are catching up to us, we have a lot of work to do, but the options are out there for women.

Jean Chatzky: (07:07)
And one of the things that has become so apparent, and I cited some statistics at the top of the show is the cost of stepping out even if you just step out for a little while. I do a lot of work with AARP and it’s one of the considerations that comes up when we’re talking about taking care of a parent because even if you weigh the cost of daycare or the cost of elder care against your salary and they come out equal, you’re still taking a step back in terms of your earnings when you come back.

Stacey Delo: (07:44)
Yes. And we go through, you know, there’s several models that you can look at and we address one of them in the book, essentially a calculator of not only when you step out do you lose your salary, but any 401(k) benefits that you were contributing to, a bonus, maybe some stock options, those kinds of things. And you combine all of that and, you know, it can be hundreds of thousands of dollars really quickly. But one of the things that we talk a lot about is almost the big picture piece of the lack of respect for caregiving in the workplace. And one of the things that I think we need to do better at from a corporate America perspective is then not dock people’s pay for coming and going from the workforce, but really normalizing that ebb and flow so that people can come. You know, I grew up in a house where my mother took 10 years off to raise children and did a complete career pivot and went back in a huge way to her career and was far more successful in the career encore that she had then she was prior to having us, not that you wouldn’t have been, but she took 10 years to be with us. So I come from it in a different way. There are different strategies for returning to the workforce. And so, yes, we talk a lot about the financial hit that you can take, but you can also get ahead of some of your career breaks by saving for them, if that’s important to you. And one of the things we don’t really talk about is, it’s important for some people to take the time to caregive in the way that they want to. And I was talking with a woman last week who is on her second career break now to caregive for her mother. And it’s something like 12% of people who caregive for children are also caregiving for adults.

Jean Chatzky: (09:29)
Simultaneously.

Stacey Delo: (09:30)
Simultaneously. We have a large need for people to be cared for as well. And so I think it’s just important when we talk about the big picture of the financial hit that you know that there are opportunities out there. You may have to make them for yourself.

Jean Chatzky: (09:43)
Well, and I want to say that we know here, and this is a financial show, we know this is not even mostly about the money in many cases, you know, there are so many other considerations involved. We’re not judging. And often our harshest judgements come from within. Right. There’s an awful lot of guilt that goes along with making these decisions, whichever way you make them. So can we parse it a little bit? I’m sure in talking with all of the different people that you talk to for this book, you’ve got some advice for how do you deal with making the decision about when to step out, how to step out and when and how to step back in?

Jennifer Gefsky: (10:30)
Yes. I think one of the big takeaways certainly for us in the work that we do, but also in the research for the book is that everyone’s journey is different. And it’s so hard to answer that question because it totally depends. I mean, you could be swimming along in your career and your child could get sick. You could think, I was never going to take a career break, but now I’m going to take a career break. So it’s so hard to offer that advice because it’s so case-specific. It’s so woman-specific. But you love, you use the term no judgment and that’s our book as well. It’s a no judgment book about, everyone’s different and everyone is living with different, significant others or no significant other or different situations. So we don’t judge in the book about which road to take or when is a good time to take it. The best time to take it is the best time for you. And what the book really does is arm women with the information and knowledge to make the career decision that’s right for her. Because it’s one thing to take a career break. I took a seven-year break and I did it literally without any information. I just took it. I was so stressed out and I was at my wit’s end and I took that break. And you talked about one thing that I didn’t even think about, which is when I came back to work, I was coming back at a significantly lower salary that for the rest of my career, my salary was going to be based off of this lower salary. I never thought about that. So we don’t want women to make same mistakes, for example, that I made, and I want women to be, make any decision they choose to make, but with eyes wide open. And by the way, we’ve seen women who want to take a career break when their children are babies because they want to be home when they’re babies. But I’ve seen a lot of women, and this is where I am, my kids are in high school and you realize, Oh my gosh, I only have them for a few more years and then they’re gone. So I’ve seen women who wanted to career breaks at the latter part of that sort of high school, you know, middle school, high school experience. So it’s so dependent on each woman’s situation.

Stacey Delo: (12:25)
But one of the pieces of advice that we do offer is that you can get clear in the moment, and obviously the book addresses a lot of strategies about how to do this, but really sitting down and thinking about what your priorities at that moment are. And I think that that’s something that we don’t always do for ourselves is really take the time to reflect about, we might reflect on what our goals are, but maybe we don’t reflect on what are my priorities right now in this phase of my life? And they might change, right? Those might look very different to you as a single person in your 20s then as a 45 year old woman with children. So you should take the time to get really clear on what those priorities are, understand that they can change, and that they likely will change, and then make the decisions based, you know, funnel from that, essentially.

Jean Chatzky: (13:18)
It’s a really, really interesting calculus and I do want to dig a little bit deeper into how you can isolate what those priorities are, how you can figure out, you know, what they are for you, and if there is a way to see five years in the future, 10 years in the future, but before we do that, let me just remind everyone her money is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. We are here having these conversations because we want to remind you that you work too hard just to let your money sit in savings. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’re approaching retirement, Fidelity will advise you throughout your career and beyond so that your money is working just as hard as you do. It all starts with a yearly financial checkup and an understanding of what you own and what you owe. From there, the folks at Fidelity will work with you to evaluate your investment options, determine ways to grow your savings and keep you on track to reach your life’s goals, your life’s priorities, which is exactly what we’re talking about today. Start demanding more from your money today. At fidelity.com/demandmore. I am talking in the studio with Stacey Delo and Jennifer Gefsky authors of the new book, Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks — A Working Mother’s Guide. So before we took that little breather, you were talking about knowing your priorities. That’s sometimes a hard thing to get your hands around. And often there’s another person in the equation. Often there’s a spouse. And do these tactics apply to your spouse as well as they do to you?

Stacey Delo: (15:01)
They can. Right? And I think that, I mean one of the things we talk about is just over-communicating with all of the stakeholders in your life at the moment. And so a great example, I think one of the things we talk about getting clear, women that are, let’s say working full throttle, kind of killing it at both ends of the, burning it for what does that expression burning…

Jean Chatzky: (15:24)
Burning the candle?

Stacey Delo: (15:25)
Thank you. and they get, they’re very guilt-laden on how much they’re missing, say at the school. And so one of the pieces of advice that we give is, and this would be a priority strategy, is getting clear with your kids on what’s important to them. So, you know, sometimes I will be running to pick the kids up at three o’clock because I can that day and I get there and they’re like, why are you here? We wanted to stay and go to X Care today, you know? And so it’s a conversation with them. Well, okay then what is it important for you all that I be at? And that could look very different for other people, but that allows you to prioritize your time, prioritize some of your decisions. Okay, well I’m going to be at the Halloween event, but I’m going to go ahead and outsource the pickup or outsource the X Care so that I can stay at work until five or six o’clock, whatever it looks like for you.

Jean Chatzky: (16:27)
One of the troubling things that you raise in the book is that you’ve noticed women’s strategically passing over promotions because they’re worried about what it will mean for them as a working parent. They’re almost projecting into the future and thinking, Oh my, if I take this on, what’s going to happen to my home life? Can you talk a little bit about that and what we need to do to change it?

Jennifer Gefsky: (16:56)
Yeah. Well I think it’s even deeper than that and it’s women. First of all, corporate America is doing something wrong if women feel they can’t take or promotion and continue to be successful at work and at home. Obviously we have the issue of splitting the home responsibilities. This is a major issue between women and their significant others. Women shoulder of the majority of the household obligations, the child rearing obligations. And that’s just sort of the way that it’s always been. Well that, now we have two income households and women are continuing to shoulder that burden and we have to have it more equal distribution in order to have women be more successful in the workplace.

Stacey Delo: (17:34)
And by the way, they do more childcare and house care hours-wise than they did in the 1960s when there were fewer women in the workforce and we weren’t in this sort of 24/7 brutal work environment.

Jean Chatzky: (17:49)
Is there a correlation between success and doing more housework and chores? I mean, are you seeing that the more successful a woman becomes the more she feels that she needs to take on at home as well?

Stacey Delo: (18:02)
I don’t see that. I see the guilt. I’m a feeling like they can’t get to all of it, but I feel like we’re moving into a phase where if women are full throttle in their career, that they are accepting to outsource the things that, it’s like back to this thing on getting clear. What are the things that you want to own? Maybe it’s really important for you to cook dinner because you love cooking. Okay. Own that. But then pick the things that you can outsource. And obviously that comes with a financial price tag.

Jean Chatzky: (18:35)
But if you’re becoming more successful and you’ve got the two salaries, I mean something’s got to go. We had Tiffany Dufu on the show a while back and she, you know, I love that she says, just let that ball drop.

Jennifer Gefsky: (18:45)
Drop the ball.

Jean Chatzky: (18:46)
Drop the ball.

Jennifer Gefsky: (18:48)
Which is great, but as women we have such a hard time doing that where you said it, we are our own worst enemies. So we tend to be, and by the way, society places that on us, too. The world of Instagram where everyone’s perfect and the mothers are perfect and they’re baking cookies and their children are perfectly dressed. How can you not look at that as a mother and think, what am I doing wrong? ‘Cause I don’t have it that together. So we’re living in a time where not only is there more obligation at home in the sort of cleaning the house, etc., It’s more difficult to be a parent today just because there’s so much information that’s overloaded on us. Our kids are so over programmed so it’s all more difficult. But women make up a majority of college graduates in this country today. And in order for us to, as a country to be successful and continue to be successful, we have to figure out from corporate America how we make it work. Because women are going to continue to have kids. I mean we’re not going to stop having, although we have slowed down having kids, we are having kids later in life, but we’ve got to figure it out.

Jean Chatzky: (19:42)
Let’s say that you do take a break, whether you’re caring for parents, whether you’re caring for kids, when you’re ready to get back to work, what do you say to perspective employers? How do you frame that?

Jennifer Gefsky: (19:55)
How do you explain the gap?

Jean Chatzky: (19:56)
How do you tell the gap story?

Jennifer Gefsky: (19:56)
That is the number one question we get asked by women. And it’s also I think the top inhibitor, right? So someone who’s coming back to the workforce, they’re thinking, Oh my gosh, I have this huge gap. How am I going to talk to a hiring person for that? And I took a career break, a seven-year career break, and I know that feeling. And I remember sitting in my kitchen in my pajamas thinking, what am I going to do? And saying to my husband, I’m not going to be able to get a job. He’s like, what are you talking about? Of course you’re gonna be able to get a job. So how do you explain the gap? We offer lots of advice in the book, but in summary, one is gaps are becoming more common. More and more companies are hiring women who have taken career breaks. Millennials are beginning to take career breaks. So this is not an uncommon thing as much as it used to be even 10 years ago. Explain the gap very concisely, quickly, don’t linger on the gap and don’t give too much information. We tend to see women come in and they talk about how their kids are potty trained and or my kid’s in kindergarten, you know, too much information. At the end of the day, employers want to know you’re committed, that you’re ready to return to work, that you’re going to be a loyal, great employee. That’s it. They don’t really care so much about your personal life and how old your kids are and your toddlers and diaper training, whatever. They want to just know you’re going to be a good employee. So we tend to say, you know, hit it and move on and talk about how you are going to be a plus for the company.

Stacey Delo: (21:16)
One of the biggest hits that we see during that time is confidence. Women who are looking to return to the workforce often forget all of the many things that they did maybe in their previous life as an employed person and then discount the time that they’ve been out. And so we spend a lot of time on, in the book and then also on Apres, working with women to remember what you’re bringing to the table and really take the time to revisit the wins that you’ve had, really own the caregiving years in your own mind so that you don’t have to feel apologetic about it when you’re returning to the workforce and that will help you in your communication. One of the tips that we like to offer, though, is if you are out of the workforce, to keep up with your network. And that doesn’t have to mean networking and schmoozing and going to events and that kind of thing. It can be as simple and as light as having a LinkedIn profile where you can follow and keep up with some of the things that you’re interested in or colleagues. And so that when you’re ready to ignite your network again, which you shouldn’t do until you’re ready and that you have an ask. But when you’re ready, then you haven’t been completely out of touch for 10 years or 5 years or whatever it is. And most people are really interested in helping and so they’re excited to hear from you.

Jean Chatzky: (22:41)
So as we wrap this up, what are your best strategies for talking with your employer and getting better policies within your workplace?

Jennifer Gefsky: (22:51)
Well, I’ll start with that and then Stacey can finish. The most important thing, and I’m sure this will resonate with you, you know, women tend to think about what works for me, you know, so, Oh, I really need flexibility, so I’m going to go to my employer and say, I really want flexibility. Well, at the end of the day, it’s a business and it’s got to work for the employer. So what do you do? You’ve got to arm yourself with the information of why is this good for the employer? Why is this good for the company? You know, is being a flexible employee gonna make you more productive? Are you going to have more time working? Is it gonna make you more loyal? Are other trailblazing companies doing this and are the retention rates better? What’s out there? Arm yourself with the information and go to your employer with a solid case of why it’s going to work for the employer. And we see a lot of women not quite doing that. It’s sort of what I need, what I want. And frankly that kind of falls flat with employers.

Stacey Delo: (23:39)
The only thing I would add is that at the end of each chapter in our book, we have a prescription for how companies do better to recruit, retain, and return women talent to the workforce. And as a woman reading this book, I really hope that individuals will read that section because there’s a lot that as women, it shouldn’t all be on our shoulders to make this change. But there are small things that even if you’re not running HR or even if you’re not the CEO of the company that you can do within your business or company, and that can be things like going ahead and modeling that you leave at four o’clock without anyone’s permission, you’re going to be back online most likely later working again, but not seeking the permission to go ahead and take the flexibility that you need. Start a women’s initiative group or a mother’s group so that you can have conversations with other women and parents at your company. There are small steps that individuals can take that I think make a big difference for everybody.

Jean Chatzky: (24:42)
Stacey Delo, Jennifer Gefsky, the new book is called Your Turn. Thanks for coming in today. This was great.

Stacey Delo & Jennifer Gefsky: (24:49)
Thanks so much. Thank you very much.

Jean Chatzky: (25:00)
And Kathryn Tuggle from HerMoney.com is with me in the studio. I got to say, I’m relating to this conversation today on a whole different level. I just, I’m a little bit shaken because we had to take Teddy to the emergency vet last night and yes, it’s caregiving for a dog, but I canceled my morning. I canceled everything but doing these podcasts today and I thought about doing that and I didn’t because we were all lined up and Eliot was able to step in and handle a lot. But you know, caregiving just a lot and it’s really, really unpredictable.

Kathryn Tuggle: (25:35)
Completely unpredictable. And thatm I think, is what’s so frustrating for people like me and you and our audience is because we are planners, we like to know what’s ahead and these types of things you can’t plan for. And I’ve had friends who left the workforce for maternity leave and they said, I’m sure I’m going to go right back to work because stay at home mom life is not for me. And the next thing I know at the end of three months they say I can’t leave the baby.

Jean Chatzky: (26:01)
Yeah, I know people like that too. And I didn’t struggle with the going back to work decision, I knew that I wanted to go back, but I did. As I said earlier, I was so fortunate to have this boss Steve Swartz who now runs the Hearst Corporation who said, I made a decision that I am going to be a great place to work for working moms, and so I knew that flexibility would be an option and not everybody has that.

Kathryn Tuggle: (26:28)
That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s the problem, right, is that the workplace still has to catch up.

Jean Chatzky: (26:33)
I do think what Jennifer said though really resonated with me about approaching it from the employer’s perspective. Like, we give that advice all time when we’re asking for a raise, but when we’re asking for flexibility when we’re asking for time off unexpectedly, putting yourself in the employer’s shoes I think is really important. You and I have never talked about this, but when I hired you, it was knowing that you were going to be taking some time from time to time to go live in LA for you know, a month here and a month there because of your husband’s work. And I, in the back of my mind thought, she’s going to work here forever because you know, because that was fine with me. Wherever you are, you’re always killing it and getting it done. But I did have that little calculation in the back of my mind.

Kathryn Tuggle: (27:33)
Well that’s funny ’cause I had the same kind of thing. I said that this woman is amazing. She’s immediately agreed to this flexibility. I’m never going anywhere.

Jean Chatzky: (27:42)
We’ll see. There you go. It’s going to work out for both of us. I know we’ve got letters from the mailbag. Let’s start.

Kathryn Tuggle: (27:48)
We do. Our first one comes to us from Lucy in Annapolis, Maryland. She says, Hi Jean, thanks so much for all your valuable advice. I’m approaching 83 years old and I’m feeling a little insecure. I still have $100,000 mortgage and I largely depend on Social Security for income. My question is this, do I need to be paying a financial advisor $3,000 a year on my small IRA? I’m counting on it to last until I die, but I never make changes to it of any kind, just take withdrawals in 2018 I lost $20,000 in the IRA due to stock losses, but my fund manager at RBC still charged me the same amount, wondering if I should just manage things on my own or if another fund manager would charge less. Thank you.

(28:31)
First of all, can I just say, Lucy, I’m just so glad that you’re listening. We know we have listeners, and please don’t be insulted by this, but we know we have listeners who are millennials and who are X-ers and who are boomers. You are, I think the first person in their eighties who has written us a letter and I just love that. No, I don’t think you need to be paying your financial advisor $3,000 a year particularly because you said you’re not making any changes of any kind. I do hear the complaint that I still have to pay my financial advisor even in years where I lose money and that does happen. It happens to me. It’s frustrating when it happens, but they’re still doing the work and so they still get paid. But you didn’t say how much money is in this IRA except that it’s small. Paying somebody to manage your money really shouldn’t cost more than about 1% on the assets under management. So for that $3,000 a year to make sense, you should really have at least a $300,000 balance or more in that account. And that 1% assumes much more active management of the money than it sounds like you’re taking advantage of. I think you could get away either by doing it yourself if that’s something that you’re comfortable doing or by looking at a robo advisor or a service from a firm like a Fidelity or a Vanguard or a Schwab where they charge you substantially less, but still give you the ability to talk to a person, a financial advisor, if and when you want to talk to that person. And you can do that for a few hundred dollars a year. So I would say you can absolutely cut your costs and keep listening. We love having you. Thanks so much.

Kathryn Tuggle: (30:33)
Our next letter comes to us from Jamie. She says, hello, I’m new to your podcast, but I’m looking forward to learning a lot from you. My mother is planning to retire early in the upcoming year. She would like to contribute the maximum to her HSA in 2020. Must she earn that amount in 2022 contributed? For example, if she earns less than the max in January 2020 but retired January 31st can she make the maximum contribution?

Jean Chatzky: (31:00)
Yeah, so the deal with HSAs is that they are not like IRAs. To contribute to an IRA or a Roth IRA, you need earned income. That’s not true of HSAs. She could still make the maximum contribution to that account. We’re talking by the way about health savings accounts. That’s what an HSA is. For 2020 the limits for an individual person are $3,550 and for families, $7,100 plus an extra thousand if you are eligible to make a catchup contribution because of your age. And while we’re talking about health savings accounts, I did just complete a webcast all about health savings accounts. You can find it hsaday.com which happened on October 15th, but if it’s something that you’re interested in and you’ve got questions about your HSAs and the best way to use them, I’d say go spend a half an hour and watch this webcast because there was a lot of good, useful information there.

Kathryn Tuggle: (32:14)
Our last letter is from Robin F from Southern Pines, North Carolina. She writes, I love your podcast. I’ve been a huge fan of yours almost since you started.

Jean Chatzky: (32:22)
Thank you.

Kathryn Tuggle: (32:23)
My daughter is a junior in college and has really started to focus on her savings. She just maxed out her first Roth and put $8,000 in a high interest savings account in preparation for life after graduation. She has a great part time waitressing gig. For Christmas, I want to give her some easy to read books on investing as she wants to start with taxable investments as well. Are there any you recommend for gen-Y? Thanks to you and your team for all you do for women.

Jean Chatzky: (32:48)
Oh my goodness. Well, your daughter is just kicking it. I mean she’s really doing incredibly well on this part time income and I love that you are encouraging her to do even more. We’re going to send her a copy of Women With Money because clearly she is a woman with money or well on her way to being a woman with money. There’s some investing information in that book and I’d also say take a look at Broke Millennial Takes on Investing. Erin Lowry was on the podcast. This is her book specifically focused on taxable investments, not investments in a 401(k) or an IRA. There’s a lot of great information in there and she is both entertaining and easy to read. We’ll get your address and we’ll get that book in the mail to you as well.

Kathryn Tuggle: (33:41)
Great.

Jean Chatzky: (33:42)
Thank you so much Kathryn. And in today’s Thrive segment, we’re talking student debt. As of 2018 two thirds of college students were taking on student debt. That’s according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success and the amount of debt that each student is taking on in loans is rising. On average, it was almost $30,000 that’s up 2% from 2017 while this number is concerning, thankfully, we do have some good news on the horizon. Some companies are now actively helping their student debt burdened employees save for retirement at the same time they’re paying down their student loans companies, including Abbott Labs, Travelers, Raytheon, they’re matching the dollar value that students put toward their loan debt and putting it into 401(k)s so that they don’t fall behind in retirement savings. Let’s hope more companies join their ranks and soon. Thank you so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thank you to Stacey Delo and Jennifer Gefsky for the great conversation and for the encouragement for all of us to get out there and find our calling. Whatever it may be. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through PRX. Join us next week. We’ll sit down with Maxine Trumpm writer and director of the film To Kid, or Not to Kid about the growing chorus of women who are choosing to live child-free and what it means for our futures and our finances. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll talk soon.


Next Article: