There is a mythical state of being that everyone strives for but seems impossible to achieve…financial security. The point where you know that you will have your food, housing, and other bills paid for the rest of your life and medical emergencies don’t have to be disastrous to the bank book. Just for rich people, huh? I always wonder who actually considers themselves rich…no matter who you are, unless you’re raking in seven figures a year there’s just no way you’re ever going to have the money for everything you want or need (and maybe not even then, but for someone like me where even six figures is only existent in my wildest dreams it’s only a guess) so where do things like investing and planning for retirement come in? There are so many financial pitfalls that so many people don’t even know about before they’ve experienced them that by the time you figure out you’re in serious trouble it looks almost impossible to get out of it.
Author Suze Orman addresses some of these most common of pitfalls directly to that class of people that tend to have the most trouble with finances…women. If you’re not a woman Orman does have some more general finance books available, but in this one she relies on many years of experience as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch to address financial problems specific to what women often have problems with.
Have you ever felt like there was no way you’d ever get past all the credit card bills, demands for new clothes from your kids or pleas for aid from relatives? Ever find yourself using off the savings account until there’s nothing left and making excuses for not making your monthly IRA contributions? Then you’re ready for Women and Money. No matter where you’re sitting financially Orman has easy-to-read suggestions that are very useful for anyone from the high-powered career woman to the stay-at-home mom.
First the author begins by requesting a five-month commitment from her readers with a different task each month beginning with taking control of your bank balance and making sure you account for every penny then moving along to an easy strategy for paying off all your credit cards (though it’s expected that it’ll take quite a bit longer than a month for substantial debt, it’s just forming a good habit for repayment), then moving along to IRAs and 401K accounts with information on the different types available.
I found the second half of the book to be the most useful, your mileage may vary depending on where you currently sit on your financial situation, but the second half of the book is devoted mainly to information on setting up trusts, writing wills, what sort of life insurance is available and which is likely the best for you as well as how much coverage is recommended for your situation.
The strategies Orman suggests for budgeting and figuring out how to keep money in a savings account once you manage to put it in as well as making regular contributions to your IRA (and good reasons why you should open an IRA account if you don’t already have one). I, for one, am a stay-at-home with a part-time job that pulls in around $400 a month and a husband who makes just enough to cover the bills and groceries yet I’ve been able to redo our budget so I’m well on my way to my $9,000 goal in my emergency savings account and have managed to put at least an extra $50 each into my higher-risk investments (via Prosper) and my IRA. Seems impossible, huh? All it’s taken is sacrificing one “eating out” time a month and watching the “it’s just…” spending a little closer (such as “well it’s just $10, might as well”) and even the other half has been able to have a little bit of frivolous spending money for all his hard work.
What makes this book specifically for women is that Orman focuses on the mindset that gets many women in trouble with their money as well as the tendency of many to back down from financial responsibility and are happy enough to allow the men to handle it. I suppose I’m lucky in this respect because I know I’ve been better educated on money management than he has so I’ve made sure to keep a hand in the financial managing and decisions, but there were still quite a few holes in my basic knowledge of finances…some I was aware of and some not.
My Granny sent me this book after seeing it featured on Oprah and, as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, if there’s one thing Granny knows it’s good books. I have yet to be disappointed by anything she sends me and this book was no exception. The advice given is all pretty basic but the reader is alerted to this fact in the very beginning of the book, it’s meant to give basic outlines of the subjects deemed important for those first steps toward financial security in a way that’s easy to understand. The author has a very fun and personal way of writing that makes it so easy to keep going from one chapter to the next and encourages the everyday reader to take the steps the author speaks of.
Finally, the book finishes up with a statement to all women who tend to undervalue themselves and their work as well as those who prefer to lurk in the shadows laboring for their family’s good without any personal recognition. Confidence is the first step to taking control of all aspects of one’s life and in today’s world finances are often the most important of these. Overall this is definitely a very worthwhile book to read and recommended to any woman who does not feel confident in their financial knowledge.