Have you ever perused the titles of the financial planning books geared toward women and money? Women need to learn the rules. Women need to be more independent. Women need to take charge. Women need to toughen up. Women need to fight. The focus is always on what women are doing wrong and why women are not as successful as men who, apparently, we are supposed to emulate to achieve financial greatness.
This pervasive (not to mention stereotypical) theme is why Suze Ormanís Women & Money is such a welcome (not to mention long overdue) addition to the financial books that crowd bookstore shelves. Finally, someone has penned a book geared toward women that acknowledges gender differences and categorizes them as gifts to be celebrated and embraced, as opposed to obstacles to be overcome. Specifically, in this radical departure from other books on the market, Orman recognizes, appreciates, and values the traits that women possess and shows us how to use them to propel ourselves to financial peace.
Make no mistake about this: Women & Money is not a touchy feely book, nor does it let women off easy for making poor financial choices. However, rather than blaming women for what has happened in the past, the book appropriately focuses on what to do to prevent the problem from continuing into the indefinite future.
The book examines some personality traits inherent to women, such as our propensity to give away services for free. From there, it suggests that we take a different approach and be proud to charge customers the true value of our services. Along these same lines, the book acknowledges that women are drawn to volunteering and performing charity work but suggests there is a way to do this type of work without sacrificing or detrimentally impacting our stream of income and future savings. The book also recognizes the reality that women may choose to take a break from or even leave their careers to raise their families, and illustrates how women can succeed while still making these important life choices.
The book offers an abundance of substantive material, breaking down the information into manageable monthly goals.
The book provides concrete, practical, user-friendly advice to put women on a path to financial security, dividing the process into tasks to completed each month for a period of five months. Specifically, in the first month of this journey, women learn about the basics of checking and savings accounts and the importance of maintaining both. In month two, the focus is on the world of credit cards - how they can have a detrimental impact on our financial health, how to manager current debt, and how some simple behavioral changes can bolster the all important fico score. The focus shifts to retirement planning and how to prioritize contributions into a variety of savings vehicles in month three, followed by the goal of month four, which is to maintain a laundry list of important documents current and readily available for family members in case of an emergency. This journey concludes in the fifth and final month with the discussion of how to best protect our families and homes in the event of a sudden loss of personal property or a loved one.
What I found appealing about his book is that Orman starts by laying out the building blocks for financial security and slowly adds to this knowledge base. In many cases, this introductory information was familiar to me, but reading it from the perspective of a highly successful female businessperson gave me a boost of confidence and motivated me to continue to read this book cover to cover. In addition, at each step of the process, Orman tell readers specifically where to go to review what was covered in a particular chapter or to obtain further details about a particular component of it.
Keep in mind that this book does not provide a magic cure-all for financial ailments, nor does it present a highly technical (nor even a 100 percent original) plan for financial success. What it does provide, however, is a workable plan for financial freedom written in a tone of empowerment that aims to provide women the tools they need to be the best women they can be. This dose of reality makes Women & Money an educational and inspirational treat worthy of the attention of the thousands of women who are likely to read it, embrace it, and use it to achieve financial success.