Financial Advice for Women:
A Woman’s World of Money

by Al Jacobs
 
 
Over the years that I’ve dispensed financial advice, I’ve never distinguished much between the genders.  It’s always been my attitude that an investment approach which suits a man should equally suit a woman.  I’ve reasoned that a dollar in the hands of Jack is no different than in the hands of Jill, inasmuch as they both tumble down the hill together.
 
It appears, however, that I’ve been overlooking something.  A provocative book by Lois P. Frankel, PhD, a business consultant and psychotherapist, titled Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money, points out numerous factors that my male chauvinist focus fails to consider.  She explains that “Our [women’s] real roles revolve less around money and more around relationships,” adding that “throughout our lives we’re given multiple, often conflicting, messages.  This double bind causes little girls to limit their interest in acquiring wealth.”  She further stresses that “if you don’t think rich, you certainly don’t consciously engage in behaviors that will contribute to getting rich.”
 
Dr. Frankel’s book—of which I’ve now completed its entire 283 pages—demonstrates her sound understanding of both economics and the feminine approach to wealth.  Perhaps it’s time I altered a few of my previous financial recommendations.  There are four specific areas of advice I want to direct in ways to better address my women readers.
 
1. Generosity.  If, as suggested, you are more sensitive than men by nature, then channel your caring attitude in ways less financially detrimental.  Don’t loan or give money or possessions to friends or relatives.  Instead, express your generosity in ways that don’t cost anything.  Personal letters expressing condolence, congratulations, or regrets in lieu of loans of money or gifts will give you satisfaction without the sting.  You may be equally generous with smiles, compliments, and expressions of understanding without an inclination to dip into your handbag.
 
2. Knowledge.  Once you’ve made an effort to objectively investigate a matter, don’t presume that others—particularly men—know more about the subject than you.  This is especially true of stock brokers, insurance representatives, real estate agents, and financial advisers of all varieties.  It’s probably equally so in dealings with assorted clerks, vendors, and shopkeepers.  Most importantly, there is no one with a greater interest in your own well-being than you. Your actions should reflect that reality.  Rely upon your judgment and remember always that if something does not make sense to you, presume it to be senseless. 
 
3. Expenditures.  Evidently social pressures that bear heavily on the female community can lead to unwise spending.  Dr. Frankel describes the lack of sales resistance many women exhibit and recommends that impulse buying can be better controlled by making a list before you shop and always sleep on purchases that exceed $250.  I have an additional suggestion that may prove even more failsafe.  We cannot deny that much unwarranted spending is the result of a universal proliferation of credit cards—one of the more insidious devices that ever tempted the unwary.  For this reason, if you cannot control your purchases, you’ll do well to destroy your credit cards and conduct your life on a cash basis.  The inconvenience it will cause will be preferable to a lifetime in the plastic jungle.
 
4. Assets.  No one should arrive at the later years of life without an assured stash of assets.  This is in keeping with the shrewd advice of that skeptical heroine Lorelei Lee, portrayed by Carol Channing in Styne and Robin’s Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, where she offers these delightful lyrics:
 
Time goes on and youth is gone,
and you can’t straighten up when you bend. 
But stiff back or stiff knees, you stand straight at Tiffany’s.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

 
Lorelei’s opinion as to reliance on we males of the species is also well presented.
 
He’s your guy when stocks are high,
but beware when they start to descend.
It’s then that those louses go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
 
This requires that you get to work early so to amass what you’ll need.  An individual IRA account (Roth, if you can swing it) into which you systematically accumulate suitable securities over your productive lifetime is a reasonable way to go about it.  Although I prefer interest-bearing investments such as CDs, treasuries, or corporate bonds, the acquisition of no-load index funds through low-fee institutions such as Fidelity, Vanguard, or T. Rowe Price, is an acceptable substitute.
 
I’ll say no more, except to apologize for my past omissions.  In the future I will endeavor to give greater consideration to the proclivities of the fairer sex.
 
 
Al Jacobs bookAbout the Author:
Al Jacobs has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. He is a nationally syndicated columnist and appears regularly on ProducersWeb.com, DrLaura.com and SheKnows.com. He draws on his extensive expertise in real estate, mortgage, and securities investments to counsel millions on how to invest wisely and spend prudently. He is the author of Nobody’s Fool: A Skeptic’s Guide to Prosperity. Subscribe to his financial column, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com.