My good friend, B, in the Seattle area, has been sending me all sorts of interesting information lately. The latest find is a book called "Women & Money" by Suze Orman. I figured it couldn't hurt to be a little more informed about finances and how to make the most of mine, since I'll be starting a business of my own soon. I have read about a third of it so far, right up to the "action plan" part. I must preface what I'm about to say by mentioning that the concepts in this book, while mostly focused on finances, is also about other aspects of our lives. That is why I almost burst out crying while reading the Acknowledgements while waiting to pick up K in the middle of the San Jose airport. In this part, Suze describes a situation where a friend of hers has made the leap from being someone else's employee to working for herself. Leaps like this are never easy and it's one of the most difficult things to go from being safe and comfortable to the unknown. It reminded me of all the things women are expected to be
and take care of
in this world, but that we are usually last on our "to do list".
The first part of the book talks about women and how they view money, especially focusing on the fact that women make more money now than ever before, but we don't know what to do with it. We do things like let our spouses make financial decision for us, volunteer ourselves without realizing the true value of what we do (no, Suze is not advocating giving up volunteering), barter services where the trade is either not fair or not what we truly want, and refusing to negotiate higher salaries for what we do. Orman also points out one thing I hate - the importance of money in our lives. The reason why I hate this is because I don't ever want to be seen as "money grubbing" or a "money lover". But, she is right to an extent. If you don't have money to be comfortable, you can't afford things like decent health care, house payments, groceries, and the like. Certainly, my experiences in life give support to Orman's claim. I remember when I first graduated from college and had my first "real job". I was so excited - K and I moved into a little duplex (which was a crappy little place in BFE), we got all settled in, and started work. By the time I got my first paycheck, though, I was in tears because I realized I could not possibly pay for all our living expenses and daycare, plus my student loan payment, with what I was making. I started charging gas and groceries, but could not pay off the credit card each month. How crazy is it that I'd have to charge
our necessities?? At the time, I put on my blinders, learned to ignore the pit of dread that was constantly in my stomach, and plow ahead. Fast forward to present-day, where I feel financially secure for the first time in eight years. I do not have to charge our necessities or put off going to the dentist because of a lack of funds. If K needs shoes because his big toe is (again!!) poking out of the end of his sneaker, I can go get him a new pair without worrying. I no longer have the "pit of dread" in my tummy. The fear is gone, even though I've not totally taken charge and made good decisions with the money I have. Even though I see how different things are now, it still feels icky to admit money's importance. Besides the importance of money, Orman discusses the importance of halting our tendency to feel shame for our current state of finances and to blame others for where we are in life (two things I KNOW I have done). She also talks about the concept of "you are not on sale" - the idea that women undervalue themselves and their role in society, in the workplace, and in the home. The last part before the action plan, Orman discusses the traits of a wealthy woman: harmony, balance, courage, generosity, happiness, wisdom, cleanliness (which is really organization), and beauty. She lists these things in this order because the very last trait is dependent on having your shit together - that beauty is not in the strictest sense, but comes when a woman is confident because she has the other traits, and that harmony and balance are stepping stones to the other traits.
The rest of this book will be reviewed when I finish. So far, I would recommend this book to most women I know. If you're like me, I never take a book as gospel, but I take the parts I need and use what I can, and the rest I discard. However, so far, I can't find much to argue with what Orman is saying. It's sad that I can't argue with it - it means that I have a lot of work to do in the area of my finances.