A Womanís World of Money Mr. Jacobs alters some of his approaches on women and financial advice: "Greater consideration to the proclivities of the fairer sex." BY AL JACOBS
Like many other things, money differences can be attributed to gender differences.
Over the years that Iíve dispensed financial advice, Iíve never distinguished much between the genders. Itís always been my attitude that an investment approach, which suits a man should equally suit a woman. Iíve reasoned that a dollar in the hands of Jack is no different than in the hands of Jill, inasmuch as they both tumble down the hill together.
It appears, however, that Iíve been overlooking something. A provocative book by Lois P. Frankel, PhD, a business consultant and psychotherapist, titled Nice Girls Donít Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money, points out numerous factors that my male chauvinist focus fails to consider. She explains that, "Our [womenís] real roles revolve less around money and more around relationships," adding that, "throughout our lives weíre given multiple, often conflicting, messages. This double bind causes little girls to limit their interest in acquiring wealth." She further stresses that, "if you donít think rich, you certainly donít consciously engage in behaviors that will contribute to getting rich."
Dr. Frankelís bookóof which Iíve now completed its entire 283 pagesódemonstrates her sound understanding of both economics and the feminine approach to wealth. Perhaps itís time I altered a few of my previous financial recommendations. There are four specific areas of advice I want to direct in ways to better address my women readers.
1. Generosity. If, as suggested, you are more sensitive than men by nature, then channel your caring attitude in ways less financially detrimental. Donít loan or give money or possessions to friends or relatives. Instead, express your generosity in ways that donít cost anything. Personal letters expressing condolence, congratulations or regrets in lieu of loans of money or gifts will give you satisfaction without the sting. You may be equally generous with smiles, compliments and expressions of understanding without an inclination to dip into your handbag.
2. Knowledge. Once youíve made an effort to objectively investigate a matter, donít presume that othersóparticularly menóknow more about the subject than you. This is especially true of stockbrokers, insurance representatives, real estate agents and financial advisers of all varieties. Itís probably equally so in dealings with assorted clerks, vendors and shopkeepers. Most importantly, there is no one with a greater interest in your own well being than you. Your actions should reflect that reality. Rely upon your judgment and remember always that if something does not make sense to you, presume it to be senseless.
3. Expenditures. Evidently social pressures that bear heavily on the female community can lead to unwise spending. Dr. Frankel describes the lack of sales resistance many women exhibit and recommends that impulse buying can be better controlled by making a list before you shop and always sleep on purchases that exceed $250. I have an additional suggestion that may prove even more failsafe. We cannot deny that much unwarranted spending is the result of a universal proliferation of credit cardsóone of the more insidious devices that ever tempted the unwary. For this reason, if you cannot control your purchases, youíll do well to destroy your credit cards and conduct your life on a cash basis. The inconvenience it will cause will be preferable to a lifetime in the plastic jungle.
4. Assets. No one should arrive at the later years of life without an assured stash of assets. This is in keeping with the shrewd advice of that skeptical heroine Lorelei Lee, portrayed by Carol Channing in Styne and Robinís Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, where she offers these delightful lyrics:
Time goes on and youth is gone,
and you canít straighten up when you bend.
But stiff back or stiff knees, you stand straight at Tiffanyís.
Diamonds are a girlís best friend.
Loreleiís opinion on the reliance of the male gender is also well presented:
Heís your guy when stocks are high,
but beware when they start to descend.
Itís then that those louses go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girlís best friend.
This requires that you get to work early so to amass what youíll need. An individual IRA account (Roth, if you can swing it) into which you systematically accumulate suitable securities over your productive lifetime is a reasonable way to go about it. Although I prefer interest-bearing investments such as CDs, treasuries or corporate bonds, the acquisition of no-load index funds through low-fee institutions such as Fidelity, Vanguard or T. Rowe Price, is an acceptable substitute.
Iíll say no more, except to apologize for my past omissions. In the future I will endeavor to give greater consideration to the proclivities of the fairer sex.
Al Jacobs has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. He is a nationally syndicated columnist and appears regularly on ProducersWeb.com, DrLaura.com and SheKnows.com. He draws on his extensive expertise in real estate, mortgage, and securities investments to counsel millions on how to invest wisely and spend prudently. He is the author of "Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity". His financial column, "On the Money Trail," can be viewed at www.onthemoneytrail.com.