I read Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life, by Barbara Stanny, a couple of months ago and it electrified me. Finally, a book about women and finances by a woman who seemed to “get it.” But in the time since then, I’ve become discouraged. How do you get ahead, even with the strategies the author outlines in her book, when you don’t have any extra money? The women in her book had access to money, either through inheritance, divorce settlements, or lucrative livelihoods. Many of them started with nothing, it’s true. But the book wasn’t really about how to start from nothing–and I’m not sure that can be taught anyway.
Even so, there was a lot of good advice in this book and I would recommend it to any woman who wants to take control of her life, but doesn’t quite know how. There is no excuse really for being financially ignorant. Not knowing anything about your finances is irresponsible and possibly disastrous. Just think of the woman who goes through a divorce knowing nothing about her husband’s finances. Or the woman who is married but has no assets of her own. Or the single woman who just lives from paycheck to paycheck until a major upset in her finances–a job loss, a medical emergency, a totaled car with negative equity–causes her to lose everything. It happens. A lot more than we would like to think.
Being a feminist means being in control of every aspect of your life. It’s not being mercenary to want to make and save and even invest money. It’s a necessity. The author of Secrets reiterates that women must stop being financial idiots. We can all learn what we need to know. There are plenty of books and websites out there which are wonderful resources. (I would also recommend Stanny’s previous book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money and Liz Pulliam Weston’s Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life.)
Even if you’re like me and have no extra money, you can still start somewhere. I do have a thousand dollars in my savings account. And not enough, but better than nothing, in my retirement account. I also own my own home. I am not without resources and I intend to make the most of them. Books like those mentioned above are a great way to start.