First the newest bad news: If you were worried about the impact of this month's financial meltdown on you retirement, a new Congressional report gives hard numbers to those fears. "Americans' retirement plans have lost as much as $2 trillion in the past 15 months — about 20 percent of their value," reports the Associated Press:

As Congress investigates the causes and effects of the meltdown, the panel pressed economists and other analysts on how the housing, credit and other financial troubles have battered pensions and other retirement funds, which are among the most common forms of savings in the United States.

  Yesterday, Finance guru Suze Orman spoke frankly  about the roots of the crisis:

"We have built an entire economy on lies and deceit," Orman says. "It's like building a home or an entire building on a sinkhole. You have a foundation, supposedly. But a little crack, if something goes wrong — a little earthquake, a tremor — and it starts to open, everything starts to fall down and … that is exactly what has happened in the United States of America."

Now, Orman continues, with the end of the era of easy credit and finance's magical-thinking investments, women (and men) of all ages need to plan our next moves carefully.

If you're 10 to 20 years away from retirement, Suze says there's no reason to panic. "As long as you are invested in good quality mutual funds, diversified across the board, as this all goes down, you're buying more shares," she says. …The situation is more serious for men and women planning to leave the workforce in the next year. Suze says if you recently lost money in the stock market, there isn't time to recover your losses…

If you need to start dipping into your savings in the next 10 years, Suze says it's best to take your money out of the stock market and invest in CDs and treasury bills or bonds. "For those people who need the money to be safe and sound, you need it to generate income now. You have to come out [of the stock market] at this point," she says. "It doesn't mean you can't go back in."

The good news comes from us: reports on a new Carnegie-Mellon study, showing that overall, women who make it to the executive ranks have more consistent and lucrative careers:

In a study tracking career paths of some 16,000 male and female executives, researchers George-Levi Gayle, Limor Golan, and Robert Miller [found] that at all levels in the corporate executive hierarchy — from vice president to chief executive — women get paid more than men while getting promoted at the same rates.

Meanwhile,a new report from Women&Co, "Women and Affluence 2008: A Generational Study," showed that reveals that affluent women are already training their daughters to become as money-savvy as they are, according to Citigroup exec Lisa Caputo:

"Despite a lack of female financial role models, affluent women empowered themselves and are committed to being a positive financial role model for their daughters," [Caputo said]. In fact, women surveyed stated that they talk to their daughters more about money than any other topic, including sex, drugs and even politics. Why? The research shows that women are embracing their role as CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of the household and encouraging their daughters to do the same.

We'd love to be in those mother-daughter sessions this week. WVFC wishes a few of them would filter over to Washington, to lend some of that "household" CFO wisdom to all those gray bankers.

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