Skip to main content

Check out our 1Q2024 Market Review and Investment Outlook for 2024

I Stock 1209818907 PLM Blog

You CAN Know What You Don’t Know

Photo of author, Patricia Morris.
Patricia Morris

It was January 2014. There were already four inches of snow blanketing my driveway and at least three more on the way. Not that I was going anywhere in that weather, but eventually the snow had to be cleared from the driveway and sidewalks and, while there was a break from the oncoming additional snow fall, I thought I may as well get started.

"Started" was the operative word. How to get the snowblower started? According to the manual: Use the right gasoline mix, add it to the tank, set the choke to full, turn on the fuel shut-off valve, push the primer bulb, and pull the starter rope. You’ve heard the expression, “It’s not rocket science” — well, yes, it was!

As I pulled, turned, and primed for what seemed like an eternity, I uttered a few unpleasant words about my ex-husband who I blamed for the whole situation. After I resorted to my old-fashioned shovel, those unpleasant words became even more "colorful" with each passing minute of my first major snow removal project. Looking back, however, I can honestly say, the person I really should have been mad at was ME. Why was I not better prepared for those household tasks that were now my responsibility to tackle?

Fast-forward to the present — I am happy to report I can now start that snowblower with one pull, check my car's oil level with ease, efficiently handle my general household maintenance tasks, and lean on a reliable network of "experts" I have curated for the bigger projects that I prefer to out-source, like grass-cutting and house painting. In fact, there are many days when I feel like a true Superwoman because I've successfully checked off my entire to-do list myself!

Of course, there are many other valuable "life skills" that I believe all women (married, single, divorced, widowed, or care-giver) should know or at least become familiar with (aka, know the right questions to ask). Here are just a few:

  • Social security: While it may seem far off for some or around the corner for others, do you know your benefits and how to acquire them? Do you know you may be entitled to a portion of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits? If you hire a childcare provider, do you know how to ensure that individual has Social Security benefits? Visit the U.S. Social Security website for more information on "What Every Woman Should Know" or reach out to a professional financial advisor.
  • Insurance: Life insurance — have you updated your beneficiaries? Home and Auto insurance — have you compared companies and coverage lately? Don't rely on TTOWAU (that’s the one we always used). Do your own research. Compare insurance carriers to make sure you have the best policy for your situation. Doug Heller, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America, advises consumers to start with an online comparison site, such as or, to gauge prices1. Consider Disability insurance – how would your life change if you lost your household’s income?
  • Car Maintenance — The “tire low pressure light” blinks as you start your car. Don’t put black tape over it and hope it goes out. The correct amount of pressure for each tire can be found on a decal on the driver’s side door jamb or on the glove box door. Not sure how to put air in your tire? Watch a quick YouTube video before you find yourself in this situation.
  • Home Maintenance — Does your home have circuit breakers or a fuse box? Do you know where the water shut-off valve is?
  • Just for fun — Can you make a hotel or airline reservation? Don’t assume calling the hotel or airline will get you the best rate. There are numerous online sites that can find you rates and alert you if prices go down. Example: I wanted reservations at a local lodge for a popular fall festival; I checked the rates at the facility, then put my dates and destination into an online search and saved $200! Online sites such as TripAdvisor,, and many others are worth your time to check.
  • Financial Security — How often have you heard (or said) “My husband, partner handles all that”? But if you find yourself suddenly or unexpectedly alone, who would handle “all that”? Do you know how to get bills paid...and all bills that need paid? Do you access your checking account and know how to balance your checkbook? With the advent of online banking, it's not such a daunting task. What is the interest rate on your savings account or CDs, if you have them? Do you have questions about your investments or retirement plan? A financial advisor can guide you through any life change and provide peace of mind.
  • Planning for the Future — It is imperative that you have an updated will, medical power of attorney, legal power of attorney, and a living will. Many of these forms can be found on your state’s website (for example, click HERE if you reside in WV). An attorney can also provide this service. Remember: Without a will, a court will determine the disposition of your assets. So, for example, if you’ve always wanted your granddaughter to have a special piece of your jewelry, she may not receive it if you don't have that clearly specified in your will.

These "life skill" suggestions are not meant to alarm you. Rather they are listed to EMPOWER you, so when you face that snow blower, it starts on the very first try!

Feel free to reach out to McKinley Carter for guidance if you have a financial question. We also encourage you to check out our women's financial education initiative called, The SAVVY.


1Fisher, Margie Zable, “Drive Down Inflation…Literally,” ARP Bulletin (January/February 2024)

Related Insights
I Stock 823660872 JAB Blog FINAL

New U.S. Law Mandates Reporting of Beneficial Owners

Since 1990, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. They are tasked with promoting national security and safeguarding our financial system by combatting financial crimes like money laundering and terrorist financing.

As of January 1, 2024, FinCEN has been given a new responsibility. Under the Corporate Transparency Act of 2021, FinCEN is now collecting required reports from U.S. companies that identify their beneficial owners and detail information. Is your business or entity one that is now required to report beneficial owners? Learn more.

Read More
I Stock 1475288298 copy 800px

Women Investors: Take Advantage of Financial Opportunities in Every Decade of Your Life

Women face unique financial challenges throughout their lives: the gender pay gap, taking time off work for caregiving, and having a longer life expectancy, to name a few. Each stage of life presents a different set of financial considerations and decisions — and getting them correct is important to living your "good life". Learn more.

Read More
Steedle Blog Image FINAL

Any Life Transition Can Be Handled If You Have This

Transitions — life is FULL of them. They can be planned or unexpected, but they are always "side-steps" in your journey of life. Which means, the way you handle them dictates if a transition becomes a mere speed bump to navigate or, conversely, an abyss that will swallow you if you allow it. What's the best asset to have to ensure your success with transition? Find out!

Read More