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Author Kelley Keehn, in Toronto, on Nov. 13, 2019.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

Note: This is the last Carrick on Money newsletter for 2021. Have a happy holiday and stay safe. The newsletter returns on Jan. 4 to begin what I think will be another epic year in personal finance.

I remember interviewing Kelley Keehn about her first personal finance book and being struck by her mention of the cost burden of diapers if you’re a new parent. Female personal finance writers were rare back in the early 2000s, and so were mentions of practical, real-life matters like diaper spending. I’ve run into Ms. Keehn a dozen or more times over the years at financial literacy events and just to catch up over coffee. Since that first book, she’s built a brand as a personal finance educator who gets people as much as money. To coincide with the launch of her latest book, Rich Girl, Broke Girl: Save Better, Invest Smarter and Earn Financial Freedom, I invited Ms. Keehn to do an e-mail Q&A for the newsletter. Here’s an edited transcript:

Q: Kelley, can you tell us a bit about your background, your work and your books?

A: I worked in the financial industry for over 12 years, and then 16 years ago I left and became an educator. I found that whether my clients had millions in the bank or they were a million in the hole, they had money problems. The industry isn’t designed to allow for time to educate clients about matters of money, so I went to work writing books – 11 of them – on women and money, investment scams and fraud protection and overall personal finance. As a speaker, media personality, writer and consultant to the financial industry, my mission for 16 years was for Canadians to feel good about money. My new mission is for women to claim their wealth.

Q: I’d roughly estimate that two of every three personal finance and investing questions I get from readers are sent by men. Where are the women?

A: Perhaps they’re all e-mailing me – LOL. Women have always juggled so much – working, taking care of the family and majority of the household, caregiving for their parents and loved ones. COVID-19 has exacerbated all of these pressures. It leaves little time often to put money matters at the top of their list. The Number One piece of advice I have for connecting more deeply with women is to anticipate what they need to know and do now. I’m constantly e-mailing my female friends on financial issues that they need to be aware of and I can’t tell you how grateful they are that someone is thinking about their needs as opposed to trying to sell them something.

Q: A tonne of money has been made in stocks, crypto and almost everything in the past 18 months. Do you think women have had their fair and equal share of this wealth gain?

A: Speaking in broad terms, likely not. Women are brilliant investors and a recent investment industry report revealed that they outperform men in matters of investing. While they might not benefit as much during bull markets, I think women on average perform better in bear markets. I do worry about some women sitting on the sidelines in cash or too much fixed income, regardless of what the markets are doing.

Q: When you look at the marketing and communications from financial services companies, do you find it speaks to women as much as men?

A: Not at all. Often, there’s a gratuitous picture of a female with her kids or a splash of pink. I’ve heard from men who report the financial industry fails them, too. Women are just more likely to say something about it. The industry could stand to use more infographics and simple illustrations which would make more complex concepts more interesting and digestible for all genders.

Q: Is there a macho aspect to personal finance and investing that turns women off? I’m thinking of a focus on performance, returns, hitting home runs? If so, what would be more appealing to women?

A: You bet. Women want to know the results of investing: I’ll be able to retire without being a bag lady, I can help my kids graduate without student loan debt. There was a great deal of talk about goal-based financial planning years ago, but few advisers lead with that. Advisers need to understand what’s truly going on in a woman’s heart and mind, and how that relates to her finances. The advisers that do this are killing it in the financial industry.

Q: Let’s close with some thoughts for 2022 – what’s the #1 piece of financial advice you’d like to offer women in particular?

A: Money is oxygen. Don’t let anyone control your supply. If you count on a spouse to control your finances, you leave yourself vulnerable to divorce, their death or possible mismanagement. Remember, what you appreciate, appreciates. Matters of money and health are too important to ignore or abdicate to others.


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In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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