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Four Easy Tips to Take Control of Your Finances Now

By: Melissa Leong | May 12, 2013


Women control a third of the wealth in North America. While that number is growing, we still face a lot of challenges when it comes to our own personal finances. So here are four financial tips to help you feel more in control of your own wealth:


1. Don’t let someone else drive the money car: When I get overwhelmed and pressed for time, I want to dump my financial issues in someone else’s lap. I compare it to handing over the steering wheel in the middle of a stormy ride — to my financial planner, to my accountant — while I sit in the passenger side covering my eyes. But not understanding the journey or planning my own route only gets me lost. In most relationships, women do the day-to-day finances while men handle investments and long-term planning. We need to get educated and take control of our own financial destinies.


2. Ditch the debt card: I always say that women need to save more then men. My male friends get confused and ask why. “We live longer,” I told them. “Stop flaunting your longer life expectancy,” one said, jokingly. “We also make less money,” I added. Nothing funny about that.

We need to save more for retirement and one thing that makes it hard to do that is the allure of credit. So leave the credit card at home. Freeze it in a block of ice. Stick it in a jar of peanut butter. It hurts more to use cash. Who wants spending to hurt? In this case, the sting of using cash means less pain in the future. Pay down your debt as soon as you can and pay off the card with the highest interest rate.


3. Speak up: If you need help, ask for it. Walk into your bank and talk with a representative or seek out a planner. If you’d like support, meet with your girlfriends and establish common financial goals. Then keep each other on track. If you want more money, ask your employer for it. Do some research and assess your own performance, but definitely ask. Men are many times more likely than women to ask for salary raises. Let’s change that.


4. Spend on others: I know this is not what people tell you. They say, “You do so much for others, for your kids, for your significant other and for your friends. You should treat yourself more.” But I would say that we give — and should give — because it makes us happy. In a study of more than 600 Americans, the ratio of personal spending versus what Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton calls pro-social spending (gifts and donations) was 10 to 1. But the more people spent on others, the happier they were. His research has also shown that those who donate to charity, even if not rich, feel wealthier. So invest in someone else.


About Melissa: Melissa Leong is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and best-selling young adult novelist under the pen name Wynne Channing. She writes about personal finance for the Financial Post.

Over the last 10 years, she has covered a variety of subjects including crime, politics, terrorism and arts for the Post, the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. She has profiled survivors of the Rwandan genocide, travelled to Hong Kong to investigate nanny abuse and has interviewed everyone from the president of the Maldives to Hugh Jackman to Duchess Sarah Ferguson.

She’s fully prepared for a zombie invasion. (In the event that this does not occur, Melissa is currently saving for a happy retirement.)


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