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A woman shops at The Grove mall in Los Angeles November 26, 2013. Calgary-based financial consultant Lesley-Anne Scorgie advises young women in their twenties to spend within their means and avoid consumer debt.

© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters/REUTERS

Money advice for women: However much a man saves, you need to save more.

Also, it's okay to use a coupon on the first date. And, speaking of dating, you'll want to ditch that financial dough head who can't save a dime. All of this and more is covered in Lesley-Anne Scorgie's new book Well-Heeled: The Smart Girl's Guide to Getting Rich. Ms. Scorgie is a Calgary-based financial consultant and author who's convinced that when it comes to money, it's different for women. We covered this theme and more in a recent conversation presented here in as an edited Q&A transcript.

Why write a financial guide just for women?
Being a young woman myself, I've observed some trends that need to be addressed. In particular, there's quite a high level of overspending compared to males in the 20- to 40-year-old age bracket. Also, young ladies are often more financially illiterate than their male counterparts, and it's showing in a lack of retirement planning.

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Are women really more free-spending than men?
The major issue is the income gap between men and women. The Conference Board of Canada confirmed in 2013 that the gap is about 20 per cent. That's the real issue – women are making less, but they're spending at an equal to higher rate than their male counterparts.

Would you say that one of the best personal finance moves a woman can make is to ensure she's getting paid properly?
I absolutely think so. I have a whole chapter in the book on this. Go in and ask for a raise, essentially. Stand up for yourself in the workplace. And if you're not getting traction, go the entrepreneurial path.

How is it that women are less financially literate than men?
A report by the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] goes into great detail how there are massive discrepancies between young men and women on what they know about money. But, on the flip side, when young women are actually equipped with financial skills, they outperform their male counterparts in investing and the pace at which they pay off debt.

You talk about the benefits of a frugal lifestyle in the book and dare readers to use a coupon on a first date. Seriously?
I did some research on dating and, apparently, about 40 per cent of North Americans have used a coupon in some form on their first date. It's become more socially acceptable to Groupon your way into a first date, a first lunch or a coffee. In fact, it may mean an opportunity to have a money conversation early on with your potential partner. And if you're not aligned financially, my gosh, run for the freaking hills.

Is financial compatibility really that important in a relationship?
I think it's critical – as important as personal compatibility. If I could recommend one thing, especially to young women, it would be that within your first three dates, you need to have a money talk.

You urge readers of the book not to date a "financial dough head" – how can women identify this sorry creature?
Whether or not they overspend. The first question on that third date is, are you in the red, or are you in the black? How do feel about debt? Also, do you have savings?

You come down pretty hard on the shopaholic – do you find there's almost a perverse respect for people who spend large, even if they can't really afford it?
In our society, we celebrate shopaholism. We think it's funny. I find this really appalling. Overspending is what causes marriages to fall apart, it's what causes bankruptcies, it's what prevents young ladies from being able to go back to school, start families.

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Women live longer than men – how should this affect their financial planning?
Women live longer, they make less, they save less and they absolutely need to change that. It means starting younger to save, and preparing harder, faster and stronger than men. The average rule of saving 10 per cent [of gross pay]? Women need to be in the 15- to 20-per-cent range.

Really? Many people aren't anywhere close to 10 per cent.
I set that as a target. Proportionally speaking, if a man saves 5 per cent, she needs to save 10.

You're talking to a twentysomething woman just starting her career – what's your best piece of financial advice for her?
Spend within your means, and avoid consumer debt.

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More


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