Best Way to Take Charge of Your Financial Life

Have you fallen for the whole Cinderella theme? You know, some day your prince will come, whisk you away to his castle, take care of you so you have no worries, and you two will live happily ever after? A lot of girls and women buy into this dream. But a dream is all this fantasy should be, because this is one dream that can turn into a nightmare. You might be starting off not thinking much about money, except what it can buy you. You spend the money, and you don’t worry about it.

Serious, serious mistake. You need to know how to take care of your money because that’s a major way you get to take care of you.

Financial Life Best Way to Take Charge of Your Financial Life

Barbara Stanny is author of Prince Charming Isn’t Coming and Secrets of Six-Figure Women. She’s also the daughter of the “R” in H&R Block. If you’re not a money person, that won’t mean much to you, but picture 19 million people, and that’s how many people H&R Block helps with their taxes and money management. It’s a huge, HUGE company. Her father is one of the biggest names in the financial field, but he told Barbara not to think about money. He’d take care of her, then later she’d get married and her husband would take over.

So Barbara not only had a huge trust fund, but she married a guy who was a lawyer in the financial field. She thought he was her Prince Charming. Sounds like she was set for life, right? She thought so. But nope, the guy gambled all her money away. She lost a fortune, even owing a million dollars that she had to pay back.

This made her realize that she had to learn to be smart about money—even though she felt dumb about financial things. So she thinks every girl—and moms, too—needs to know some basics about finance so every female can be financially secure. Barbara has some great info on how you can “un-dumb” yourself about money:

Recognize the power of money. Money talks. We may not like it, but money runs the world. Money elects our politicians; it determines what we own and where we five.

Being smart about money is not only about being rich (although that is a fine goal); it’s about having security. Money gives you the freedom to make choices—such as leaving a job you hate because you have money saved for a backup plan. You can choose to travel, try new things.

Know the five things you have to do to be financially independent. Here they are:

  •  Earn more.
  •  Spend less.
  •  Save sufficiently.
  •  Invest wisely.
  •  Give generously.

Talk about money. Girls are taught that money is this taboo topic. Boys aren’t born knowing about finances, but they’re expected to know it so they learn it. Girls often don’t. Get over your fear of money. Start a group for girls and your moms and invest or talk about money.

Don’t feel stupid starting at the beginning. The teacher who says, “There are no dumb questions” is right. Even the most basic question is okay: “Urn, what does the word ‘finances’ mean?” (Webster’s says finances are “money or other liquid resources of a government, business, group, or individual.”) Understanding finance can take a lot of time.

Read about finance. Read the newspaper. There are great books for people of all ages. Look for books by authors such as Jayne Pearl, Joline Godfrey, and Neale S. Godfrey.

Find someone to teach you. It might be a family member or your economics teacher. Or, you might sign up for a free class on finance. Or, ask your mom to take you to a financial advisor. Ask away . . . and find out what you need to know.

Buy stock. Choose a stock for a company where you shop or whose products you like. My daughter owns Gap stock, and when she shops there, she knows she owns a part of it. My other daughter drives a Ford, and owns Ford stock as well as stock in AT&T. You can buy stock online. For example, you can visit the McDonald’s Web site, go to the investor relations section, and buy a share of stock.

Ask for money gifts. Ask for stock in a favorite store. One share of stock in a favorite company, such as Nike or Sony, doesn’t cost much and is a fun gift.

Save. You don’t get rich from what you make. You get rich from what you save. Have a percentage taken right out of your paycheck or allowance so you don’t even miss it. I told my daughters, “I want you to save a little of what you make automatically in a savings account.” One saved up enough money to travel for six months.

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Limit credit card use. Credit cards give a false sense of security. You can get into huge debt and not be able to dig yourself out. But the interest rates make it so you wind up paying way more than you would if you paid right away.

Think of money as a way to help others. Have big dreams of what you want to do with your life. And then see what role money can play in helping you achieve your goals. A checkbook can accomplish many things. You can help charities and people in need. If you’re passionate about a cause, think of the satisfaction you’ll feel writing a check to help.

It’s so powerful when you see the numbers growing in your savings and investments, and you can say, “This is mine!” There’s no greater feeling of independence than having a stash of money.

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