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Adviser cites needs of women


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Sep. 13--Women don't always recognize how important it is to focus on themselves when it comes to achieving financial freedom, according to the co-author of several money management books.

Pressures that come from everyday needs, such as child rearing, often take precedence over trying to improve one's financial situation.

"The key to financial freedom is to save some money for yourself," said Barbara Raasch, a managing director with Wealth and Tax Advisory Services Inc. in New York City.

Raasch will be a guest speaker Friday at a women's financial seminar called "Do It Herself: A Journey to Financial Freedom," scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Tulsa Southern Hills Hotel, 7902 S. Lewis Ave.

Developed by the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants, the seminar aims to inform women about financial literacy issues.

Raasch, an investment counselor for more than 25 years, has been recognized by Worth Magazine consistently since 1996 as one of the nation's top financial advisers.

She also is the co-author of several books, including "Ernst and Young's Financial Planning for Women: A Woman's Guide to Money for All of Life's Major Events."

Through her profession, Raasch has watched as women have become more interested and involved in financial matters.

More than 20 years ago that wasn't necessarily the case, as some women grew up assuming their fathers and then their husbands would take care of them. Although many women wrote all of the household checks and knew about the family's expenses, they didn't know about assets, Raasch said.

Attitudes have changed, however, and today Raasch said she finds "men much more amenable to having their spouses know what's going on. . . . And I also find women taking the opportunity to do that."

In the journey to achieve financial freedom, women need to focus on "risk protection" such as making sure they have adequate health, life and disability insurance, and a will, Raasch said. Once they have that foundation in place, they can focus on more interesting topics, such as developing a portfolio.

"But all along the way you want to make sure you have a savings plan," she said. "Put away some of the money you earn for yourself."

Raasch recommends that women commit as much money as they can on a monthly basis and have that money automatically withdrawn into a simple savings account.

Stay-at-home moms may want to sit down with their husbands and figure out a fair way of dividing up the assets so they, too, have something to save.

"You always want some cash for the financial ups and downs of life," Raasch said.

Many financial advisers recommend having anywhere from three to six months of living expenses saved.

After the emergency fund is full enough, women might consider taking some of that money and investing it in something that will earn more interest, such as bonds or stocks, Raasch said. Asset allocation and diversification are key, because investors don't want all of their eggs in one basket.

At the seminar, several financial advisers will speak on topics ranging from basic budgeting and protecting oneself from identity theft to starting a business and making the most of income tax deductions.

Additional topics include planning for college and retirement, managing credit card debt, estate planning, hiring and retaining talented employees and securing business loans.

Others co-hosting the seminar are the Tulsa Chapter of the OSCPA, the American Institute of CPAs and IBC Bank.

Tickets are $10, which includes lunch. Registration can be done online at www.oscpa.com [http://www.oscpa.com] or by calling the OSCPA at (800) 522-8261, ext. 3801.

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Copyright (c) 2005, Tulsa World, Okla.

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