5 awesome books about money – for women, by women

5 must read books about money for women

I’ve been on a bit of a roll lately devouring books about money and career as I get closer to exiting the 20-something age bracket and ponder what my 30s could be like.

In particular, I’ve been focusing on personal finance/career books by women. Here are some of the best I’ve read:

Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny

Things Barbara Stanny and I have in common: We were female writers who didn’t earn huge amounts. Things we don’t have in common: Rich families, trust funds.

That aside, this is not a book about Stanny, it’s about the many high-earning women she interviewed and the insights she has distilled into 11 chapters in Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Even though she began writing it before the GFC, her foreword notes that these women either survived the recession well, or were able to rebuild despite knockbacks. And as we find out, resilience is a key trait among high earners, among others. They aren’t groundbreaking secrets, but they are important reminders, and I suspect this is the kind of book you could come back to over the years for a fresh dose of motivation.

Read it if you: Struggle with underearning (want to earn more, and are capable of earning more) and having belief in yourself.

Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin by Valerie Rinds

I had a bit of a wakeup call in 2015 when I realised I was putting other people’s happiness ahead of my own, and making myself miserable. It was also severely damaging my own financial situation. I really needed to read this book back then – if only I had known about it!

Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads mixes Rinds’ own story of financial hardship with other true tales of people who faced financial ruin thanks to the wrongdoing of other people. It’s entertaining, engaging and educational. And it’s a cautionary tale – choose your partners wisely, because they can make or break you financially. Rinds plays it straight – there’s no judgement here, just real stories told by real people.

I think there’s often a fine line between victim blaming and accepting responsibility for your own choices; it’s definitely one I have struggled with myself. If you have caretaking and enabling tendencies, you may very well find loved ones taking advantage of you financially. It may not seem like it at first, it may not feel like it, and it’s an ugly, painful thing to wake up to.

Read it if you: Struggle with financially supporting other people in your life and have trouble saying no.

The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler

Caveat: The Art of Money is a little hippy dippy, particularly to start off with. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if it doesn’t put you off, then you might just find this a refreshing read.

What spoke to me was the heavy emphasis on the emotional aspects of money. The first half is devoted to untangling your relationship with money, and the second tackles more practical aspects of money management, interwoven with the values and emotions that are all tied up in what we bring to the table when it comes to personal finance.

I came to this book with a certain amount of regret and baggage that’s been weighing me down, and somehow I felt lighter for having made my way through it. Tessler’s incredibly compassionate approach and frameworks are the polar opposite of tough love – more like a warm bath or sustained hug. Sometimes, that’s just what you need.

Read this if you: Struggle with bad money juju that you need to get past and let go of

When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women by Farnoosh Torabi

It sucks that books like this exist, but IMO they are a necessary addition to the landscape. I will say right now that I didn’t find any new practical strategies in here, but it was at times thought provoking and most importantly, it brought voices to the forefront that are otherwise stifled.

In an ideal world, it WOULDN’T matter who earned how much. But we live in the real world, with flawed workplaces and human relationships. How we feel about these things matters, just as much as how we deal with them.

And that’s where I got the most value out of this book: reading stories of other women struggling with inequality, resentment, and navigating complicated dynamics. The emotional turmoil, I would argue, is the hardest to reckon with, and this book is a reminder that you are not alone.

Read it if you: Struggle with being the breadwinner (there’s no shame in that)


What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know by Joan C Williams & Rachel Dempsey

I am not in law (or finance, or consulting, or any of those types of industries) and this book is definitely more targeted toward women in similar fields. I also count myself fortunate to not really have personally encountered sexism in the workplace so far. However, I know it exists and I have seen others run into it. And as I progress in my career and start thinking about how having a family might mesh with that, I found it interesting to read about the extra tightropes that working mothers walk. After all, career progression underpins finances, for most of us.

What Works For Women At Work identifies the four main issues women encounter in the workplace – Prove It Again, the Tightrope, the Maternal Wall and the Tug of War – backed by research. It’s non judgemental and tries to take a big picture view as much as possible: it’s not just you, the system is actually broken. The advice on actually dealing with those biases is a little light, but as we all know, there are no quick and easy fixes in this area. We can do as much as we can as individuals, but real change and real solutions go beyond that.

Read this if you: Struggle with progressing in the workforce and wonder why you aren’t getting ahead

Tips for Building an Enduring Business Debt Consolidation Companies

PSA: Check your credit!

Credit check
Credit check
It’s that time again: time to check up on my credit report!

As a commenter wisely pointed out, my recent drama with collections (over $50, of all things) means I should definitely check and make sure that it has been fully withdrawn and isn’t on my credit record. If it is, I’m seriously going to go ballistic.

If you’re not sure how to check your credit report in NZ, here’s how. There are 3 reporting agencies. Below are the current links to request your free credit record:

You can do it all online – just enter your details and request a copy to be emailed or posted to you. They ask for your name/s, address history, and employment info. You will need the details of your ID (eg driver’s licence info) and may need to upload a scanned copy as well.

NZ credit reports include your personal details, a list of credit enquiries, any default, judgement or insolvency details, and repayment history. The repayment history isn’t exhaustive – not all credit is reported. For example, my 2015 report included my credit card history but did not include my car loan history at all.

Although I was able to obtain my credit score for free back in 2010 when they were first introduced, it seems you can no longer see your credit score unless you pay for it. Not like in the US – where you can easily get your free credit scores in a jiffy.  I have no idea what mine is now!

Link love (the feeling-the-pinch edition)

NZMuse - Link love roundup with awesome reads from the week

Although we had a nice surprise last week coming in under budget for groceries, money has been flowing out seemingly non stop overall. We were meant to have 2 more months of flea treatment stuff for the dogs which has vanished; we’ve started our veggie garden; had to spend a fair chunk on dog-and-bird proofing it; replace a window the dogs shattered (glass panes down to floor level are NOT COOL); plus we’ve got our wall map project and my ongoing quest to get photos printed for the walls as well. Life!

This week’s links

Financial stability makes Mel thankful (I’ll drink to that!)

Amanda has a hungry mortgage

It’s about more than living within your means

Dealing with financial shame

I like big bucks and I cannot lie

Money stress? No thanks

“Money is the biggest stressor in Kiwis’ lives, and it is the young that are feeling it most.” – Stuff

Man, do I know that feeling. Money was the number one source of stress in my life for the majority of 2014 and 2015, and it was THE WORST.

We spend most of our lives working for money, and you can’t get by in the world without it. My life has only improved as my income has risen. It is not the #1 factor in my career decisions, but it is a significant factor.

I’m no longer ashamed to proclaim that I like, nay, LOVE, money. Like Bianca Bass, I’m taking a stand and putting it out there. She sums it up wonderfully in these three sentences.

“Money is wonderful. It’s the difference between having choices and having none. It’s the difference between worrying about bills and having the mental space to think about more creative things.” – Bianca Bass

Being broke is a time suck, and an energy suck. Things like navigating public transport in many cities, bargain shopping and researching every single purchase to save every possible cent takes up a huge amount of your time.

They say wealth is the ability to fully experience life. Hell, even a modest existence requires money – and in New Zealand, quite a bit of money, actually.

It’s not very PC to say that you like money and want more of it. People like to argue that money doesn’t solve all problems, that having too much money is just as big of a problem, etc… Which I just find so hilariously out of touch with most people’s realities. More of us than not are worrying about how to make ends meet, how to support a family, how to afford a comfortable retirement. Your average person is never going to have #richpeopleproblems – myself included.

“I think about how much money I’m making and how I could find more of it, not out of greed but out of a pressing need to know that regardless of what happens, I will always be able to take care of myself. I love money for the security it represents. Worrying about money has been a defining characteristic of mine for as long as I can remember.” – Megan Reynolds

Preach it… To me, money means options. It means peace of mind. I spent a solid chunk of time feeling panicked about money on a day-to-day basis. Downgrading that to mild worry has been awesome. I want to accumulate money, not for the sake of it, but for the security and freedom (ha yes, two slightly contradictory words) it brings.

brokeGIRLrich

Link love (the shaky edition)

NZMuse - Link love roundup with awesome reads from the week

You’ve probably heard about the earthquakes in New Zealand. I’m very thankful to be untouched and unscathed up here in Auckland – zero impact for me personally – but it sure has got me thinking about how we really should get an emergency kit together.

Sometimes a small town stirs something in you that mutters ‘man, maybe we could retire to a place like this’. While Kaikoura’s township itself did not hit that particular nerve for us, we did so admire the weathered old bloke who ran our chartered fishing trip and the lifestyle he clearly enjoyed – and the vibe he emanated was definitely of the ‘wow, one day I hope that’ll be us’ variety. And most memorably, the scenery around Kaikoura was just breathtaking. Here are a few photos from our 2013 trip (via this blog post)

Kaikoura alps - mounains and cloud

Albatross landing on water off Kaikoura coast

I’ve donated to the Red Cross campaign – here’s the link if you would like to, as well.

This week’s links

5 lessons from 5 years of marriage

The subsidies that make success possible

Greed – the PF topic nobody talks about

Good things in the wake of a life collapsing

3 ways building a new home can save you money

Golden Homes

Ever thought about building a new house? That’s how my parents built their ideal home back in the 1990s and they’re still there 20 years on.

With an average of 47 different tradespeople working on one house from start to finish, managing a new build yourself – not to mention keeping a close eye on your build budget – can seem rather daunting! When you’re time-poor but striving for the kiwi dream, working with a building company is the way to go: full control, minimal effort and no budget blow outs.

I talked to the team at NZ building company Golden Homes to research the ins and outs of building a new home and discovered a lot of good reasons to do it. Here are my top three:

1. Minimal maintenance

Repairs and replacements are a big expense for most homeowners. But with a newly built house, you can relax knowing you won’t have to worry about fixing the roof or the deck any time soon.

You can also feel safe in the knowledge that a new home has been built user newer technology and more durable materials – such as steel framing vs. traditional timber framing. Steel frames reduce the risk of warping, shrinking or rotting, and thus of cracks in claddings or linings (also a plus in earthquake-prone areas!).

2. New homes are more efficient

Good news for your finances – living in a new home means you’ll most likely get to save on running costs. With everything built to the latest standards and codes, expect those benefits to filter through in energy efficiency.

Building new is also good news for your health – we just put in R 2.9 ceiling insulation and can already tell the difference. Seriously, imagine coming home to double glazed windows and R 5.0 in the roof off the bat – no more putting up with cold or damp housing! Hand on heart, having lived in so much substandard housing and felt the physical effects, I can tell you that living in a healthy house is priceless.

3. It’s done right the first time

It’s rare to find your perfect house, and ripping up flooring, repainting and remodelling may be required to get what you want out of an existing house. Renovating can be a headache – not to mention expensive!

With a building company like Golden Homes, 99% of houses are built with customisation – whether you want to start with a blank canvas or make a few tweaks to one of their existing designs, it’s easy to create your own masterpiece.

Have you built, or thought about building? What influenced your decision?

Link love (the emotional edition)

NZMuse - Link love roundup with awesome reads from the weekWell, well, what a week it’s been.

Rather than dwelling on the hideous, let me share with you a short film that made me bawl in a good way this week. If you can’t watch it right now, bookmark and save for later. It’s a beautiful thing.

This week’s links

Every word rings clear and true – read this if you are a woman, or in fact a human being with a soul: We were woefully unprepared

Juggling priorities: money, community and a full life

The financial impact of kindness

The terror and beauty of not knowing

Dealing with dissatisfaction in ourselves

If nothing else, remember this. Happy weekends.

Husbands, housework and harmony: Why do men who earn less also do less housekeeping?

This just in from the Atlantic:

“Things change when the wife earns more than the husband. In that case, he does less than he otherwise would. In female-breadwinner households, the greater the income disparity, the less housework the husband does.

The Cassinos speculate that being out-earned by their wives threatens mens’ masculinity, so they react by doing less cleaning, a stereotypically feminine task.

The only exception to this double-injustice? Cooking. In Cassino’s study, between 2002 and 2010, men upped the amount of time they spent cooking each day. And cooking didn’t follow the same gender-threatened trend cooking did: The more their wives earned, the more time the men spent in the kitchen.

Cooking, they speculate, has become manly—more of a leisure activity than a chore, and one that can involve flaming-hot meats, no less.”

Sobering reading. Full disclosure: division of housework has never been totally smooth sailing for us. And oddly enough, it was at its roughest while he was unemployed. Funny, too, that cooking was the task most seized upon, or at least, the least avoided, though in our case that’s how it has always been.

Rather than “the best househusband ever” as a friend suggested (and as you might EXPECT) I found myself not only bringing home the bacon but having to pick up far, far too much slack around the home. A symptom, I suspect, of general all-round unmotivation during that time. I won’t try to speculate on the issue of lost masculinity, though I will say that the fact our normal/prior division of labour – which does inevitably have some degree of gender influence – was not perfect to start with and this wouldn’t have helped.

Cooking is great, but it doesn’t cancel out cleaning

Yes, I know we should all settle for nothing less than a complete equal who pulls their weight and more around the house without being asked. (And no, it’s not always the dudes who are slacking, but a) it truly often is and b) I like alliteration.)

But I’m gonna be honest. That was not my reality.

In our case, he’s the much better cook. I probably produce one ‘wow’ meal in a decade, where he knocks them out on a regular basis with little effort. I’ve always been glad about this because we both get to eat better – and cooking is a significant part of keeping the house running.

But when it comes to cleaning? I’m accepting of the fact that I am better at certain cleaning tasks and that my bar for ‘clean’ is actually higher. (When we came back from overseas and were temporarily homeless, we stayed with my parents. Thankfully. I don’t think I could have handled living at the in-laws’ – let’s just say we don’t seem to share the same standards.) It really isn’t just a gender thing in this case, it’s moreso that we come from families with very different habits. However, I’m not okay with doing all the cleaning, for obvious reasons.

It was quite some time ago that I first read this Modern Love piece in which the author basically uses animal training techniques on her husband. (It worked – and apparently he eventually even began to use them back on her.)

How patronising, I thought. And how frustrating. The basics are so obvious.

And yet. I hate to say it, but maybe there’s some truth to it. I’ve found myself trying some of these tactics in the past, and I gotta say, the results were pleasing. Carrot over the stick, any day. (Gadgets also help, in this case. And I now know that steam mops can also be used to clean the shower. #lifeprotip.)

That said, making the effort to thank each other for the little things on a day to day basis goes both ways. It’s something we both do regularly now and appreciate each other more for it. Particularly now there are two dogs in the picture (must update you guys on that!) who can be a handful, as well as the chickens and a yard to look after.

For a relationship with less history, I doubt I would have bothered. If I was single today, I would be looking for a fully fledged adult, no exceptions.

Mothering the manchild

I can’t believe I’m about to type this and I’m sure I’ll get some grief in the comments. But more than one woman I’ve chatted to recently has voiced the idea that sometimes we almost have to treat them like children, which I’ve found myself nodding along to… Again, ridiculous, and I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but it isn’t an isolated one. I came at it from the Modern Love animal training perspective, but I suppose the same holds true for training kids.

FWIW, in these cases the women were either the same age or a little older than the men. Maybe there’s real truth to the differing rates of maturity. How often we wind up in mothering roles just as much as partnership roles. Much as I hate the term ‘manchild’, it exists for a reason; I am honestly noticing too many real-life examples around me of late.

I really do think everyone should live on their own before living with a partner. Going straight from the family home to cohabiting seems to be a common factor in this issue. We got together young and while I’d lived on my own for a bit, he never had. I have a natural tendency to step in and handle things that need doing when they don’t seem to get done.

The trouble is, once you’ve set a default and fallen into a pattern, breaking it is difficult. When you’re good at something it’s easy to get stuck doing it all the time. I had a real moment recently when he mused out loud about how stressful it is managing money and how naive he was – how much I actually used to shoulder when I did everything financial for both of us.

Communicating my needs clearly is something I’ve been working on. I live very much in my own head. Introverts often have a rich inner world and countless thoughts that don’t actually see the light of day. I’ve been trying to be more conscious lately about explicitly communicating the important stuff and making sure it gets through and isn’t just locked away inside my brain, or lost in translation.

 

Finding a balance

I would love to have perfect income equality and household division of labour equality. Realistically getting to 50/50 in the former is unlikely, but the latter? I’m firm in the belief that a workable and equitable system is possible and necessary so that neither party (generally, me) gets the short end of the stick.

The general weekly routine feels reasonably painless these days, more so than it used to. The house will never stay clean for as long as I’d like (things fall apart by the middle of the week, and that’s only with adults and dogs, no kids!). And if, months on, he insists on leaving things of his out lying around that invariably get chewed by the dogs, well, that’s not my problem. But it’s a meeting in the middle.

Sports season does mean time crunches, and next season I anticipate outsourcing grocery shopping/food delivery from time to time if needed. Also, at some point in the future I think it would pay for us to get a semi-regular cleaner in to outsource a bit of the load – that was always part of my homeowning vision.

With things having settled onto more of an even keel, I’m keenly aware of the need for balance and fairness. Winding up in a situation where I am doing all/most of the earning AND most of the chores is not an option. That is one statistical category I ain’t falling back into.

TLDR: I think back to certain periods in the past and how much tension the division of labour caused, and wince. It’s taken time to reach a better balance, but it’s so worth it. Seriously, it shouldn’t be this hard, and yet it’s still an issue in many households.

Link love (the viral edition)

Link love NZ Muse

I’ve been struggling with whatever heinous virus seems to be doing the rounds lately. All I can say is, good thing we have a pretty well stocked kitchen this week, with lots of soup! Otherwise I’d have been dropping money left right and centre on easy comfort food.

This week’s links

You’re allowed to be wealthy. You’re allowed to like money. You’re allowed to want more money.

I should be able to do money but I can’t

Scary things people say about money

Some things in life you can’t get for free

A sensible hot take on poverty

How to face your financial fears

Can’t find a mentor? Look to your peers

Striving for compassion in a world of judgement

Why millennials need to save for retirement

Why millennials need to save for retirementIt’s safe to say I never really gave retirement very much thought at all until this year.

But now that I’m not deathly worried about bouncing from cold damp rental to cold damp rental for the rest of my life, I can focus on other things.

Also, some of the things work has sucked me into lately are all about retirement savings and planning for the future. Heavy shit, in other words.

All around the world countries are struggling with the affordability of supporting retirees.

In the future we probably won’t be able to rely on superannuation, and will probably have to pay more of our own living costs and health costs.

Currently NZ has low levels of elder poverty – our  high levels of home ownership, and NZ Super being universal, non-means-tested, and pegged to 66% of the average wage play a role in that. But soaring house prices mean home ownership levels are falling, and I can’t imagine NZ Super will be immune to the kinds of pension reforms that are underway around the world.

Seeing and hearing some of the things people say on this subject makes me shake my head.

I can understand indifference and inertia. I know it feels hopeless. You need to save so much for retirement and it seems like your money isn’t going very far. Hell, I know *I* should really be saving more. But something is better than nothing.

What I don’t understand is all the ignorance and paranoia out there around KiwiSaver. Seriously. 1) Take the free money, the rest of us are! 2) Your KiwiSaver funds belong to you, not the government. Let go of those tinfoil hats, people.

Save for the futures, dudes. It’s one thing to pay for the less fortunate – the non-able, whose who don’t earn a living wage – those who aren’t able to take care of themselves. It’s another (and kinda immoral IMO) thing to be a drain on the system because you simply didn’t plan ahead.

As soon as you can, get started. Even if you start small, you can always ramp it up. Every little bit helps. Time, at least, is on our side. Just do it.