Corrections or additions?
This article by Melinda Sherwood was published in U.S. Newspaper
on September 22, 1999. All rights reserved.
For Women’s Lib Try Wall Street
Wall Street may be the last stop for women en route
to financial independence, says Diane Harris
editor at both Money and Working Women magazines. "We no longer
think that Prince Charming is coming to take care of us financially,
or we know that intellectually, but we’re still not doing everything
we can to manage our money wisely," says Harris. "Women need
to invest, think long-term, and take more risks."
"It Takes Money, Honey," is the title of Harris’ book, a
approach to personal finance in terms that women can relate to.
title was meant to be sassy, slightly irreverent, and show that it’s
accessible to everyone," says Harris, who addresses the New Jersey
Association of Women Business Owners on Tuesday, September 28, at
6 p.m. at the Valley Regency Caterers in Montclair. Call 973-783-1833.
What stands between women and financial success is not intelligence,
stamina, or drive, says Harris, but in some cases, an aversion to
money. "This is a woman’s thing — this notion that it is not
OK to be thinking about money, that it’s not a noble goal," she
says. "Money is about much more than money, it’s about how to
achieve power and independence and life goals. If you want to achieve
a better balance between professional and personal life, that takes
money. If your goal is to have a business, that takes money. It’s
in our better interest to stop saying money doesn’t buy happiness,
money doesn’t matter. It doesn’t buy happiness but it’s hard to be
happy without it."
Harris holds a BA in American culture from Vassar, Class of 1978,
and received a masters in journalism from Columbia University in 1979.
Harris doubts she would have ended up being a personal finance expert
had she not fell into it after graduation. "I only took one
course, I never thought I would be doing this instead of saving the
world," she says.
She did find a way to save more than a few people from imminent
ruin, however, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. The first:
not following her own advice. "I was writing about personal
issues for a decade before I ever turned that attention to my
she says. "I was amazed to find out that yes indeed, it is
when you start to invest, and you see your money grow quickly."
Harris now contributes a personal finance column to Parenting and
Parenttime, part of Time-Warner’s website, and is a contributing
at Oxygen Media, a new cable and Internet company launched by
Laborn and created through a partnership between Nickelodeon and Oprah
Winfrey. The topic of her second book: men, women, and money.
One of the problems common among both women and men, says Harris,
is living from paycheck to paycheck. "We’ve done surveys that
show that’s true, whether a person is making $15,000 or year $150,000
a year," says Harris. So it’s not about what you don’t have in
the way of cash flow, it’s what may be lacking in habits and mindset.
Some new strategies for financial success:
not speak to women here, perhaps the "dinner table" metaphor
will: women have historically concerned themselves with putting bread
on the table at the end of the day, says Harris, rather than putting
it away for a rainy day. "Women focus on the here and now, men
focus on the long term," she says. "Men focus on retirement,
women focus on fixing-up the house or taking care of the kids."
We need to put more money into our future, says Harris, and nurture
its growth. "Compounding is truly like an application of Miracle
Grow — your money earns money, your earnings earn earnings, and
not about doing anything stringent or dramatic that will make us feel
deprived," says Harris. "If you have a passion for Haagen
Dazs and you never allow yourself that, your diet is doomed to
amount taken out of your check each pay period. Once you have taken
that money out of your hands, you adjust, says Harris.
CDs, not stocks, but the only one that is going to beat inflation
is the stock market," says Harris. One of the hurdles is getting
women to realize that inflation is in fact worse than taking a loss
once in a while. "Men are interested in making money, women are
interested in not losing any," she says. It’s even possible to
get started on a shoestring — a minimum of $25 a month.
tend to really do their homework, which can be an asset," says
Harris, "but we tend to over-research. We don’t feel like we have
the time to sit down and learn everything we need to know to invest
wisely, but it’s so much easier than we’ve been lead to believe —
at least the basics are."
then stick to your guns," says Harris. "It doesn’t need to
be a fight, just a quiet statement of what you’re worth." For
the consummate researchers: read salary surveys, and talk to
"Two clients — a man and a woman — and the stock drops
50 percent," Harris hypothesizes. "The man will blame the
broker, the market, or the idiot on the golf course who gave him the
tip in the first place. The women will blame herself," she says.
"We’ve just got to get over that."
— Melinda Sherwood
Women who want to return to college for a first or second
degree can learn the "balancing act" the right way. Rider
University, which has an extensive continuing studies program for
adult students, is offering courses specifically for women who need
to gain the courage and the organizational skills to get back on an
"Horizons: A Program for Women Returning to College" is a
free evening series that addresses common complaints of adult students:
having to weed through pedantic text books or cope with stress. The
first Horizons meeting is Thursday, September 23, at 6 p.m. at Rider’s
College of Continuing Studies in the Student Center. Any woman considering
going back to school is invited to attend. The next class, "Renewing
Your Study Skills: Efficient Strategies for Reading Textbooks,"
begins on September 30 at the Rider University Learning Center. Classes
on October 7, 14, 21, and 28 cover library research, career options,
and stress. Call Karen Crowell, assistant dean, for more information
Some companies offer extended job search services from
an outplacement agency to their downsized employees. Some do not.
If you are conducting your job search without the armor of expert
advice, you can sign up for free week-long workshops sponsored by
the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County.
Ten people in managerial, technical, or professional fields can attend
these workshops taught by specialists from the New Jersey Department
of Labor at the JFCS conference wing, 707 Alexander Road, Suite 102.
The program is open to the public and is free (thanks to a grant from
the United Way of Greater Mercer County) but preregistration is required.
To register call Fran Parker at 609-987-8100.
The all-day seminar will begin Monday, September 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
with additional classes on Wednesday, September 29, and Friday, October
1. On the agenda: How to plan and conduct a job search, how to use
job-finding resources, how to cope with the multiple stresses of job
loss, unemployment, and job seeking.
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