Protect your PUrses: 5 ways a Trump presidency will impact women's finances
Kristen Euretig is a CFP (Certified Financial Planner, Women’s Wealth Warrior and founder of the financial planning firm Brooklyn Plans, which helps professional women take control of their finances through financial plans, workshops & investment management.
As we recover from our collective shock, and go through the various stages of grief, we examine how to best prepare ourselves and move forward. There has been a ton of deep, perceptive, soul searching reflection and analysis from both professional (media) and amateur (friends on FB) sources.
What I can add to a rich, complex conversation that is taking place all over the country - in checkout lines, on the subway, with neighbors and virtually on social media, comment threads, etc. - is the perspective of a financial planner for today's women and I've gotten a few questions about what this means from women concerned about their money. Here are 5 ways a Trump presidency will impact your finances.
1. Reproductive & post natal healthcare: do what you can now
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known commonly as "Obamacare" is under a serious threat from a Republican-led administration and Congress. Changes will most likely be made and it's unclear how far they will go. Right now under the Affordable Care Act birth control and breast pumps are covered as well as lactation support. He has also said that he is interested in appointing a supreme court justice that will overturn Roe v. Wade. Even though that may be a stretch, there is a lot of momentum going towards limiting women's access to abortion.
Takeaway: If you're pregnant and on ACA get your breast pump now. If you're trying not to get pregnant, consider getting an IUD while you can. Covered birth control may not be available going forward and access to abortions may be more complicated.
2. Gender pay gap: a little progress
Trump hasn't taken a stance on increased transparency of salaries or on eliminating the practice of asking for a salary history, which adversely affects women for their entire careers because they tend to enter the workforce at a lower salary. Trump has proposed giving women paid leave for 6 weeks after birth. It's better than zero, but didn't go as far as Hilary's proposed 12 weeks, which would have been available to either parent, allowing for women to return to the workforce if they choose to. The parent must also be a biological parent in Trump's plan, which discriminates against gay couples and adoptive parents.
Takeaway: This will boost the finances of biological mothers who would have taken maternity leave anyway but not been compensated at least 6 weeks, but won't help those who would prefer their partner share or take over infant childcare. Women in same sex couples who are not the biological parent and adoptive parents will not benefit from this proposal.
3. Investments: Buckle up for a bumpy ride
What will happen to your investments? Your 401(k), your investment account, your IRA? In short, any honest financial planner should tell you they don't know because we're in uncharted territory and no one has a crystal ball, even when things are humming along as normal. One thing financial markets do not like is the unexpected. When markets can't predict what is going to happen, expect to see a lot of volatility, which means some big up days and big down days for stocks. Trump is not an even keeled guy, so he says one thing, turns around and says the opposite and denies he ever said the first thing. That will likely make markets very jittery and unable to price in possible shifts in direction. There's a lot of ambiguity right now around what he said he'll do vs. what he will actually do vs. what he'll be able to do. There's going to be a lot of waiting and seeing before the markets will find their legs.
Takeaway: Get ready for a bumpy ride in your investments. Some of my clients don't know what their 401(k) is invested in. Now's a great time to find out. Don't stop investing if things take a downturn just because stocks drop - that could be the best time to buy. Don't look at your account every day. Check it every few months and do not sell in a panic. Talk to your financial planner first!
4. Student loans: You might actually like this one
Trump has proposed capping student loan payments at 12.5% and probably wants to streamline the complex income-driven repayment system which is a total mess. Remember when you were trying to select your repayment plan? Pay as You Earn. Revised Pay as You Earn. Income Contingent Repayment. Income Based Repayment - yeah that debacle. While 12.5% isn't as sexy as the lowest 10% available right now under certain plans, he wants to reduce the loan forgiveness timeframe from the best available max of 20 years currently to 15 years. This will work out in some people's favor.
Takeaway: This one is a wait and see. We have to see if he is able to get this legislation through. There is some bipartisan support on simplifying student loan repayment and the financial burden of it, but his own party is not likely to support the added expense of this one.
Oh woman, this one's a real doozie. The most major change is that Trump wants to change the current number of tax brackets from 7 to 3 and lower taxes on the highest income earners. He also wants to change corporate tax rates from a top rate of 35% to 15%. Women business owners who don't have a corporation could benefit from this as well. Women owning LLCs or sole proprietorships would be taxed at the same rate as corporations, which would be beneficial for many woman-owned businesses. On the other hand, he wants to eliminate the Head of Household filing status, which gives single mothers with children a tax advantage over other single filers.
Takeaway: Taxes are complex, and it's hard to give a one-size-fits-all next step here. You could reach out to your accountant to see if there's anything that will be beneficial for you to take action on before the end of the year. That's a good financial practice anyway.
The best defense is a good offense, so I hope you've found this helpful in preparing yourself financially for a new administration.
More from the BKP blog:
Things are gonna get easier: a playlist to soothe your post-election blues
Brooklyn Duo Opens 'New Women Space' in Williamsburg