Balancing Act

Job Seeking Help

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, former senior

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

non-jargony

approach to personal finance in terms that women can relate to.

"The

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.

Cost: $40.

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

economic

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

financial

ruin, however, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. The first:

not following her own advice. "I was writing about personal

finance

issues for a decade before I ever turned that attention to my

life,"

she says. "I was amazed to find out that yes indeed, it is

empowering

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

editor

at Oxygen Media, a new cable and Internet company launched by

Geraldine

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:

Step up to the plate. Although the sports metaphor may

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

so on."

Don’t crash diet. Allow yourself some indulgences.

"It’s

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

fail."

Put your savings on automatic pilot. Elect to have a

certain

amount taken out of your check each pay period. Once you have taken

that money out of your hands, you adjust, says Harris.

Take more risks, i.e. invest. "Women typically use

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.

Don’t over-think it when it comes to investing. "Women

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."

Be vigilant. "If a raise is not what you’re expecting,

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

colleagues

and headhunters.

Most importantly, says Harris, be willing to make mistakes.

"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

Top Of Page
Balancing Act

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

academic track.

"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

at 609-896-5033.

Top Of Page
Job Seeking Help

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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