Getting money advice into the hands of women
The New York Times
Several personal-finance books aimed at women landed in my mailbox recently. The books had catchy, if cringeworthy, titles, "Shoo, Jimmy Choo!" and "Hot (Broke) Messes." And then there was the one I found on Amazon, "A Purse of Your Own."
Women live longer, earn less and take more breaks from the workplace to care for children and elderly parents. And though studies show that women tend to save a slightly higher percentage of their paychecks then men, they ultimately end up with smaller balances because of their lower earnings.
Does that mean women need specially tailored financial advice?
Women who are suddenly single, like divorcees and widows, obviously need it. And singles, in general, may have special needs, like disability insurance, because they don't have a spouse's paycheck to fall back on (though you can make the same case for single men).
According to a 2007 study on gender differences, women are still less likely to be socialized in financial matters, and they are more likely than men to find investment decisions stressful, difficult and time consuming. The study also found that it often takes a life event, like getting married, to prompt women to save and invest, whereas men were more likely to start investing gradually.
Here are resources geared to women:
On the web
LearnVest.com is a new personal-finance site for women in their 20s and 30s, but it plays down its femininity. "This isn't dumbed down," said Alexa von Tobel, the 26-year-old founder who dropped out of Harvard Business School and started the site. "It's personal finance in plain English in a way that women are more focused on."
After users answer questions about their phase in life, education, job situation and what they want to accomplish, the site generates an action plan, including a checklist for various categories, like "understanding my salary." Items on the list, which are marked off as you complete them, may include reading materials or exercises tied to a topic, like whether to rent or buy a home.
The books that landed on my desk offer solid advice, if you can get past some of the silliness. Catey Hill, author of "Shoo, Jimmy Choo!" (Sterling) frosts her advice in pink, and she piles on the girlisms. "How did a cute, employed girl like yourself end up having to hock her skinny jeans on eBay just to pay the rent?"
In contrast, "Hot (Broke) Messes," which comes out this month, has a more serious edge. The book, written by Nancy Trejos, is a memoir that details the author's descent into and slow emergence from debt — all the while doling out advice as The Washington Post's personal-finance writer. Trejos weaves advice about budgeting, getting professional help and credit cards into her tale, which is an engaging read and likely to resonate with younger women.
Several female financial planners recommended some of Barbara Stanny's books, including "Secrets of a Six-Figure Women."
If you'd rather learn more about money with other women, you might consider a discussion group, or even starting a group of your own. Now in its 10th year, Women & Co., part of Citigroup, is a national group mainly of professional women.
The nonprofit group WISE — that's Women Investing in Security and Education — runs annual conferences and mixers after work.
"The educational aspect of WISE is really crucial," said the founder, Helen Olsen, a retired molecular biologist whose interest in finance began to bud when she joined an investment club many years ago. "And we do it by having fun," she added, "and enjoying each other as well."
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.