Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

11/23/2022 | By Janet Bodnar

Kiplinger talked to Stacy Francis, CEO of Francis Financial and founder of Savvy Ladies (, which educates women on how to take control of their finances, about money issues affecting women. Savvy Ladies also offers a financial help for women that matches women who have money-related questions with an adviser for a one-hour consultation free of charge.

Kiplinger: How did you get the inspiration to start Savvy Ladies?

Stacy Francis: My grandmother felt financially trapped in an abusive marriage and ended up passing away because of it. That rocked my world. I took my frustration, anger and guilt and channeled it into becoming financially savvy. I changed my major in college, became a financial planner and started Savvy Ladies about 21 years ago to help women financially so no woman finds herself boxed into a corner. We added the helpline a few years ago.

Kiplinger: What has been the response?

Francis: The helpline has really grown since the pandemic, and thus far this year we have served more than 1,500 women. More than half of them make $49,000 a year or less, and the majority are single moms. They tend not to reach out to us till they are in a financial crisis, and nearly 60% say they are anxious about money.

Kiplinger: What are their major concerns?

woman talking to an advisor for financial help

Francis: Their top concern is dealing with debt and cash-flow issues. The second-most-important concern is how to start saving and preparing for retirement, and this applies to women of all ages. The third biggest group are women thinking about or going through a divorce, so they need advice about financial settlements and how to set themselves up for financial security.

Kiplinger: How do you respond?

Francis: In all three cases, the most important thing is to know how much you have, both in assets and in debt. Then you need to understand what your income is and what your expenses are, which is always the most painful. It helps to use a service like that categorizes your expenses. Finally, take your income minus taxes and expenses and make sure you have something left over. That’s what you use to pay off credit card debt or fund a retirement plan or rebuild your emergency fund after a divorce.

Kiplinger: Where do investing and retirement fit in?

Francis: Investing is a must for women, not a “nice to have.” That’s the engine that will make our money last for the rest of our lives and bridge the gap when our income goes down. Unfortunately, it can sometimes take years for women to get interested in investing because they’re more concerned about how to pay the rent.

Kiplinger: What do you recommend?

Francis: Start slowly and keep on going. Read one financial help article a week and keep it up over time, like taking a class. Your knowledge grows, and so does your faith in yourself.

Kiplinger: Any advice about retirement?

Francis: The biggest thing you have in your control is how much you save. Use your retirement plan at work and take advantage of the full match or set up an IRA.

Related: Paying for Senior Housing When Finances Are Tight

© 2022 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor at large at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit