Women and Money

by Jane Chidester


I'd like to take my space this month to focus a little more specifically on women and money, a point of view with which I have some familiarity. It is the heat of the summer and my musings tend to get a bit carefree and philosophical. In a way, summertime allows us to "let our hair down" for a while. It affords a small amount of time to relax and reflect, in between the typically higher productivity seasons.

What can we learn from summer? Many of us try (or at least think about trying) to re-kindle those simpler times of our youth, when burdens were few and we had long endless days of play. Clearly we are reacting to how complicated and full our lives seem now. But hot summer days somehow give us permission to daydream, shed physically and mentally the outer layers of our existence, and in some respects focus in on our core beings. Just wish we could live "here" all year!

But back to the question, what can we learn from this? I think we can learn that great happiness can be found in simplification. And that simplification can benefit every aspect of our lives. Many of you may already be familiar with the book Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. If not, it is a great "summer" book and great inspiration (to me) regarding simplifying my life. I seem to read it once a year, just to help renew my resolve.

Extending the notion of simplification to our financial lives, what can we learn? I think we can learn that taking the time to become truly organized in this facet of our lives, in fact, simplifies it. When you are "on top of things" the effort is so much less, and pleasure is so much more. To be financially simplified also means to have a strong foundation in the basics. You've got a strong base built, and therefore cannot shaken by any "storms" that pass by. One of the dictionary definitions of "simplify" is "to reduce to fundamental parts." If things have gotten out of control, or too complicated, take a step back, and straighten things out from the beginning-just as we seem to in this season "reduce" our thoughts to our "fundamental" priorities in life.

When I was working in the corporate world I came upon an article written by (the late) Malcolm Forbes, "How to write a business letter". His key mantra was to "edit ruthlessly." I think about this frequently and try to "edit ruthlessly" my life-so I'm always focused on what is truly important and is a REAL priority, and try to steer clear of the superfluous, time (and money!) wasting aspects. We can think of "simplification" as "editing ruthlessly" our bad behaviors and choosing to take back control of our hopes and dreams.

Another woman author from whom I take inspiration is Sarah Ban Breathnach. In her book Simple Abundance she states "Like success, money is an emotionally volatile issue for most women. It's probably the most complicated relationship we have-and the one that most controls our lives because we let it." Money is a major issue in our lives. It is interwoven into every aspect of it. Understanding this, and understanding our relationship to it, goes a long way to being able to "control it!"

How much do you understand? Here is a short quiz-see how well you do!

What are the most expensive mistakes women make? Of the Top 5, #4 is "waiting for the right time to save" and #5 is "fearing the wrong risk." Can you name the Top 3 BIGGEST mistakes?
What percentage of women take responsibility for planning and investment of their money?
How does that percentage compare to the percentage of women that are solely responsible for their own financial well-being?
What was the #1 Financial Tip for the New Year as reported from a respected investment firm magazine?
What percentage of money-based decisions do women make?

Jane Chidester is the author of "BudgetYes! 21st Century Solutions for Taking Control of Your Money Now!"

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