Stacy’s Savvy Financial Advice

Stay Savvy with our founder Stacy Francis’ latest articles on financial planning, budgeting, debt management, investing, divorce, retirement planning, and more.

Stacy Francis founded Savvy Ladies® in 2003 with the mission to educate women about their finances and empower them to make proactive choices. Inspired by her grandmother who stayed in an abusive relationship due to financial reasons, Stacy has been determined to never let another woman become powerless by financial instability.

Get the resources, knowledge, and tools you need to make smart and informed decisions about your money and your life.

In addition to being the Founder and Board Chair of Savvy Ladies®, Stacy is the President, CEO of Francis Financial, Inc., a boutique wealth management and financial planning firm. A nationally recognized financial expert, she holds a CFP® from the New York University Center for Finance, Law, and Taxation, and is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®), a Divorce Financial Strategist™ as well as a Certified Estate & Trust Specialist (CES™).

Stacy has appeared on CNBC, NBC, PBS, CNN, Good Morning America, and many other TV & Financial News outlets. Stacy too is ofter sought out for her advice and can be found quoted in over 100 publications such as Investment News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today.  She shares her wisdom and expert financial advice here for you to learn and get savvy about your finances.

Financial Knowledge is Power. Be Empowered and Find the Advice You Deserve.

Know that Savvy Ladies® is here for you! Should you like to seek advice on a personal financial question, please visit our Free Financial Helpline and get matched with a pro bono financial professional, click here.


Money Management for Couples: What to Do When Your Opinions Differ

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Something interesting happened in my latest Savvy Ladies telephone conference. When one woman told the group that her husband’s sloppy attitude toward money was so frustrating to her, she wanted to divorce him for this reason alone, every woman in the group expressed their support. Several of the married ones even told her they could relate because they were having similar issues in their marriages.

It is no secret that “financial differences” is one of the most common reasons couples split. While sad indeed, there are things you can do to get past these issues. Below are just a few.

  1. Draft a budget. Sit down together and put your expenses and financial goals on paper. Be realistic, and make sure that sticking to the budget won’t require too much effort. Remember that budgets are like diets – they never work if they’re unrealistic.
  2. Communicate. It is common knowledge that lack of communication rarely solves any problems, yet so many couples fail to talk openly about their financial differences. Approach them in a calm, non-threatening way, and focus on finding constructive solutions that you work for both of you.
  3. Be considerate. Whether you intend it or not, the way you manage your money will affect your spouse as well. Make sure he or she is comfortable with your spending and investment habits.

If this doesn’t work, consider seeing a marriage counselor, a financial planner, or both. They can apply an outsider’s perspective to your specific situation, and hopefully find solutions that will get you past your problems. Remember, you are far from alone.


Lending Money to Family and Friends

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I received an interesting email this morning. It was from a mother-of-two in her early thirties, who was broke because over the past five years, her parents had continuously borrowed money from her, supposedly to get into some miraculous investments bound to triple within six months. Of course, none of these had worked out, so they didn’t have any money to pay her back. Her children needed new clothes, she needed a new car, her husband needed a vacation . . . and her parents were giving her guilt trips for refusing to lend them more money. When she told me this story I had to keep myself from asking her parents phone number and calling them to give them a piece of my mind!

This situation may sound terrible, but I have heard similar stories before. Which is why I generally advise against lending money to family members and friends. Many friendships have ended this way, and within families things can – and do — get really ugly. Your own children can be exceptions, but even there, make sure you

  1. Put everything, including amount and conditions for the loan, on paper,
  2. Have a clear payback plan, and
  3. Don’t lend them another dime before they have paid back the original loan.
  4. Use a lender like Virgin Money to legitimize the loan so that you protect your assets.

Like I said, in 99% if the cases, don’t do it. But if you are going to anyway, at least make sure you cover the steps above.


Securing Your Job in Shaky Times

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

At the bar in my favorite Asian fusion restaurant the other day, waiting for a table, my hubby and I overheard an interesting conversation between two twenty-something women. Apparently, one of them had lost her job earlier that day, and her friend was helping her drown her sorrows in martinis.

You didn’t see it coming at all?” the friend asked.

Of course I did,” sobbed the newly unemployed woman. “But what was I supposed to do?”

This conversation actually took me back several years to when a dear friend of mine was laid off. We had this exact same conversation.

Actually, there’s plenty you can do to keep the same think from happening to you. One thing I continuously remind people worried about their jobs to do, is to keep learning new things. The world is constantly changing, and you need to adapt and keep up. Take an evening class or finally master that program your boss wants to implement. Ask if you can take on a new type of project. Offer to cover a colleague when she goes out of town. This does not only show your boss that you care about the company and are interested in your job – you also come across as useful and versatile; the kind of person she would separate out and hang on to in case of a mass-layoff.

Of course, there are no guarantees. But don’t forget that the happier you make your boss, the nicer the letter of recommendation she will write for you if she does have to let you go.


Writing Your Will

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I facilitated a workshop at a conference last week, on the topic of wills 200 men and women attended my session. Considering how many attendees the conference had, which was over 5,000, I was shocked to see how few took an interest in estate planning. Shocked and concerned, actually. Why? Because everyone needs a will – if not for their own peace of mind, then to make things easier for their heirs during a time that is tough enough as it is.

Put simply, just like a prenup details what should be done with a couple’s assets in case of a divorce, a will outlines how your assets should be distributed after you die. And just like state laws take over when divorced couples do not have a prenup, you get stuck with a universal will if you do not bother to write your own. This means the state will decide who in your family gets what, often putting your spouse in a less-than-pretty situation.

So what should your will cover? Basically, it needs to state what should be done with your property when you die. It also needs a statement at the end containing your explanation that it is indeed your will, your signature, date and place of the signing, along with witnesses’ signatures and statements from them that they really did sign your will, in your presence, and watched each other sign.

We highly recommend that you work with a estate lawyer to write a will. But you do need to be at least eighteen years old, and in a sane state of mind.

Shopping for a Home

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

My husband and I just purchased our home and are so excited and smiley these days, when you see us you think we have slept with a hanger in our mouth. A home is something almost everyone wants, but acquiring one can take a lot of work – and money. While it would be impossible to cover everything you need to know in one little entry in my blog, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are – or are considering – buying a home.

  1. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you are going to score, meaning the more house you will get for your money. While many people with less-than-excellent credit scores can get mortgages even today, it is probably going to cost you.
  2. Down payments can come from unusual places. It is generally a good idea to make some sort of down payment when you buy a home, but if you don’t have the cash saved up, there are other ways to get your hands on one. Try asking your employer for a loan against your 401(k), or consulting a private bank.
  3. Houses are illiquid investments, and especially these days. Before you purchase your first home, it is a good idea to think about the future – whether you’ll need more room for children or may need to relocate to a new area. You never want to be in a hurry selling a house because that tends to get expensive.

Five Things to Ask Yourself about Your Retirement

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

My mom flew in from Michigan last week to spend some time with us here in New York. We just went out for dinner celebrating the anniversary of her retirement and how smooth and easy this transition from employed to retired has been. She was beyond thankful for the crucial-yet-easy-breezy questions I had her answer many years ago, to make sure she wouldn’t hit any bumps on her way from the workplace. For those in a retirement state of mind, I thought I should share.

1. Have you taken a thorough look at your retirement needs and wishes, and translated this into dollars? Make sure you consider things like living expenses, airfares for visiting family, vacations, transportation, food including restaurant visits, and of course a realistic number for medical expenses.

2. Are you contributing enough to retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and IRAs for your retirement goals to be realistic? Meaning, at the rate you are setting money aside and that your money is growing, will you have enough when you retire?

3. Are your investments suitable for your risk tolerance and time frame?

4. Do you use the ideal type/s of retirement account/s to make the most out of your invested money? Are there other types you should consider?

5. Do you review your investment portfolio regularly to make sure your investments bring you the best possible returns? If they don’t, do you rebalance your portfolio?

Don’t sweat if you have answered “no” to some of the questions above. It’s better to implement some changes now than later. Working with the right financial planner – or simply a financially savvy friend or family member – you, too, can transition successfully from career woman to the retirement of your dreams.


Great Ways to Shop More and Spend Less

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Shopping tips from the recession in 2008 still hold true today, if not more so.

Online shopping is the norm today in 2022 and looking to compare pricing online makes it easier to find the best price for what you are looking for.

Savvy Ladies founder Stacy Frances shares her top shopping tips which still top the list to help you save money today.

My husband and I went shopping this weekend, to stock up on fall clothes for our son and us. We expected to find oodles of blowout sales and bargains.

We didn’t. Even though it was a Saturday, the mall was as deserted as classrooms in July. But the prices . . . let’s just say I haven’t paid retail for clothing for a long time. These days, obviously I’m not the only one keeping tabs on my spending. For those of you dying to shop even with a thinner budget, below are some ideas.

Top 5 Shopping Tips to Save Money

1. Outlets. Spread across the country, these are to bargain hunters what Paris is for gourmets. The outlet stores are worth checking out these days.

2. Online. All brands can be found online via online shopping links either via their own online stores or on Amazon. With free shipping part of the offer, shopping online is a great bargain.

3. Sales. Though obviously not as frequent as I thought, sales do happen. When they do, it is not unusual to come across discounts of more than 70%.

4. Vintage. Far from the last resort that they used to be, vintage stores are turning into fun and hip options for the label lover on a budget.

5. Coupons. No longer only in the Penny Saver, coupons for luxury items can be found on sites such as Many times, you can find the coupons you need by visiting the website of the store for which you are headed.

Being financially savvy does not mean losing your style or having a boring time. By using ideas like the ones above, you can stretch your budget and shop more for less.

What Are Living Trusts and How Do They Work?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

During a charity dinner last night, one of the women mentioned that she and her husband are drafting a trust. The discussion then went from wills to trusts and back to wills again as the other people at the table tried to grasp the differences.

With this in mind, here’s the 411 on living trusts.

  1. The main difference between a will and a living trust is that trusts are confidential.
  2. There are two main types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Revocable trusts can be changed; irrevocable ones cannot – so you’d best be beyond sure of what you want to do before you commit to one.
  3. One may ask, then, why anyone would draft an irrevocable trust, when they could just write a revocable one? The answer is money. When you die, the assets in your irrevocable trust are not considered part of your estate, so they are not taxed.
  4. If your estate is under the estate tax exemption amount (currently $2 million, but it will be $3.5 million starting next year), you may not need a trust, but may be fine with just a will.
  5. Finally, a trust may be a good idea if you want to provide for children, disabled relatives, or others who may not be able to manage their own assets, as this duty will be transferred, seamlessly, to your elected trustee.

Everyone should have either a will or a trust. Which one is more beneficial for you will depend on your circumstances.

Creating a Safety Blanket in Case of a Lay-Off

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I was recently on the Today Show talking about how to recession proof your finances when facing a layoff. Not the most upbeat interview. Not only is NBC covering this story but watching the evening news last night was depressing to say the least. It was all about lay-offs, a dwindling economy, and people losing their homes. As I am not the only one watching the news, many of my clients have been asking lately if there’s anything they can do to create a safety blanket, just in case the lay-off nightmare becomes a reality for them. Here’s my advice:

  1. If you haven’t already, create an emergency account with enough cash to keep you afloat for six months. This is advisable even in the best of economies — but now more than ever. Give yourself plenty of room to get back on your feet, should disaster strike.
  2. Network. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new job, it never hurts to have the right contacts. Hand out business cards, stay in touch, and half your job hunt will be done already, should your company let you go.
  3. Don’t get stuck in a rut. The fact that you’ve had the same job for years and years so you’re excellent at it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to boost your value on the job market. Sign up for a class, ask your boss if you can manage a new type of project, or learn that new software. Not only will your boss be impressed and work harder to keep you around, but the skills could score you both a higher salary and a shorter job search time if you do end up on the market. 

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