Most best-selling personal finance authors choose to write books specifically for their female audience. David Bach's Smart Women Finish Rich is one of the first personal finance books I picked up. I figured it would best speak to me and to my current financial situation, and it did. While the basic principles of personal finance apply to both sexes, there are some things, like the examples set out below, that women need to focus on.
Stop making excuses
Women, more than men, make excuses, according to financial expert Jean Chatzky. According to Ms. Chatzky the excuses we give ourselves allow us to believe that it's okay to stay on the sidelines when it comes to our money. But it's not. Making and believing our own excuses comes with financial chaos and consequences. I have a few former excuses of my own: I'm just not that great with numbers; I don't have time to think about it; and my partner is better at managing the money. The third excuse is common for many women, and can also be the most detrimental. You don't want to be pulling your head out of the sand after a death or a divorce to find that you don't actually have financial independence or security. My girlfriend had no credit in her own name when she was married, believing her spouse would take care of everything, and though she and her husband had a joint line of credit of $80,000 when they were together, she was unable to get more than $500 in her name alone after they split up (even though she had almost $120,000 invested into her home). The excuses we tell ourselves stunt our financial growth.
Start making money
Women find it tough to negotiate on their behalf. This has a serious financial impact in the short and long term. Men are four times more likely to negotiate on their own behalf throughout their careers, according to Sara Laschever, co-author of Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. Starting out at a lower salary leads to significant amounts of money left on the table as raises tend to build on current salaries. Sites such as Payscale.com, workopolis.ca and monster.ca offer data on salary estimations based on experience and location. It's a start to see how you stack up against others in similar roles. Approaching colleagues in your office or in your field, or connecting with alumnae in similar roles through your school, can also provide a better understanding of whether you are getting paid what you are worth.
Protect what you've built
Women still live up to 10 years longer than men and among people over 100 years old, 85 per cent are women, according to Tom Perls, founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. Ensuring that you are living comfortably is important, but so is being protected in case of the death of your spouse, a divorce, or job loss. Any of these situations can derail your plans and tear a hole in your safety net if you're not prepared. If one of your excuses is you don't have the time, then consider the advice of Kelly Keehn, author of The Money Book for Everyone Else, and rise 10 minutes earlier to focus on your finances. Devoting roughly an hour a week will slowly start to put your financial house in order. Or, consider taking a fiscal health day. Ron Lieber, a columnist for The New York Times, takes his once a year. He says he tries to tick off as many items from his financial to-do list, like reducing bank rates and negotiating better insurance deals during this day devoted to personal finances. Mr. Lieber lays out ideas in an interactive checklist to get started. While specific examples refer to U.S. banks and retirement accounts, the outline is a fantastic place to get started.
In order to stop making excuses, start making more money, and build a safety net for yourself and your family, consider finding support from other like-minded women. Weight Watchers is one of the most successful weight-loss programs of all time because it provides a support system, accountability, and an opportunity for women to share resources to get ahead. A Weight Watchers for your money could be what you need to finally take control and get ahead.