News & Updates

When She Makes More Than He…

Heart in the cold snowA recent NY Times article has created a lot of buzz. Young women, working in major cities, are surging way ahead of men in terms of earnings. This is a great news for a gender that’s long been on the short end of the income stick.

Still, this trend is bound to play havoc in some relationships. For centuries, men’s self esteem has been heavily linked to their financial success…just as women’s sense of femininity has been connected to being taken care of. Sure times have changed radically…but some egos are having trouble making the transition.

And it’s not just men who are having a hard time…women are too. I’ve talked with a lot of women, ambitious as they are, who secretly resent their husband’s inability to bring in the big bucks.

Jean Chatsky wrote a terrific article on keeping your relationship intact when your man earns less. She offers 5 tips:

  1. Talk and listen
  2. Be his biggest cheerleader
  3. Open yours, mine, and ours accounts
  4. Focus on the endgame (i.e. your dreams and goals)
  5. Recognize that marriage changes things

Excellent advice. Of the 5, I believe #1 is the critical piece. Especially the listening part. We all know it’s important to communicate. But fearful people can be vicious. Not because they’re mean-spirited, but because they’re scared. Make no mistake—role reversal can be scary because it threatens the status quo.

Successful communication means allowing anger, even rage, to be expressed…without taking it personally. It requires the willingness to tell your truth, blow off steam, express your fear and anger without the other person getting defensive, but listening with compassion and nonjudgement. Not easy, by any means.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have had these kind of discussions…what’s worked and what hasn’t??

Powerful Giving

GivePhilanthropy is usually the least thought out, most disorganized part of our financial activities. We know charitable contributions save us taxes.

But the question we rarely ask is: How can I maximize not only my tax benefits but the power that philanthropy gives me?

The more thought and planning you give to your charitable donations, the more—so to speak—bang you get from your buck—financially, socially, emotionally.

To this end, I put together Six Principles of Powerful Philanthropy:

1. Educate yourself financially. The number one reason women don’t give more is lack of knowledge. No matter how much money a woman has, if she’s afraid, insecure, and/or ignorant around money, she’ll be restrained in her giving . In a recent study, 73% of women felt that passing money to children and causes is important, but only 14% have conducted detailed financial planning to ensure an effective wealth transfer.

2. Get your financial house in order, with your spouse. Review your finances regularly. Smart money management follows 4 rules:

  • Spend less
  • Save more
  • Invest wisely
  • Give generously

These rules must be followed in this order. Giving without following the first three rules is an act of self sabotage. Not only do you jeopardize your future security, but you diminish the impact you can make with your money.

3. See yourself as a philanthropist in your own right. Too many women think it’s their husband’s money, so charitable donations are his responsibility. But women outlive their spouse and will ultimately be in charge of the family estate. Another reason women don’t engage in planned giving is because, if they’re not a Carnegie or Rockefeller, they don’t think they have enough. Not so. Small amounts can add up to big changes.

4. Give serious thought to the legacy you want to leave. I once saw a poster with the word: “will it matter that I was?” Ask yourself: How do I want people to remember me? What changes would I like to see in the world. What do I value most? Does my giving reflect my values?

5. Work with professionals. Figuring out how much is possible and advantageous to give is a complex issue. It should be a team effort. Find reputable estate planners, attorneys, financial advisors, accountants. Studies show, however, 9 out of 10 people don’t mention charities in their will. So if a professional doesn’t bring it up, you be sure to.

6. Make it a family affair. Use philanthropy as a way to teach kinds about values, money management, and life goals.

The most powerful philanthropists are not the ones with the highest net worth. They are the ones who are financially educated, financially secure, and passionate about a cause.

Getting Past the Stuck Point

I once kept a quote on my wall: “We pray to God when our foundation is being shaken, only to find out it’s God who is doing the shaking.”

I often recall those words when I coach women.

CalculatorJust yesterday, I talked to a client who was almost in tears. Her husband’s business unexpectedly went belly up. Suddenly, they had no income. She was forced to get a higher paying job.

“Do you think this crisis has anything to do with my decision to make more money and my lack of action?” she asked.

Obviously it was a rhetorical question.

I see this pattern all the time. Women do not get serious about money—making it or managing it—until a crisis hits. Either their world falls apart, or feels like it’s about to. That’s when they finally take action.

I did it myself. I waited until a million dollar tax bill almost wiped me out. Not smart!!

How about you? Are you avoiding financial stuff until the pain gets worse than the fear? Are you looking for a way to get going without having your very foundation violently (or even mildly) shaken.

If so, try this experiment. Focus on what inspires you and stop dwelling on what scares you. Forget all the things that can go wrong. Instead consider all you can do when you have more money. Not just buying more shoes, but making a difference. Think about the joys of philanthropy, leaving a legacy, contributing to causes you feel passionate about, helping your kids, your parents, people you love.

That’s what I finally did. I started thinking about what kind of a role model I wanted to be for my daughters instead of obsessing about screwing up. When I made that shift, I had no choice…I could no longer let fear stop me!

I’d love to hear other ideas for getting unstuck. What worked for you?

Financial Abuse is a Form of Domestic Violence

WeddingI’m really excited about a groundbreaking project—The Allstate Foundations Domestic Violence Program. They’ve hired me as their spokesperson.

For the first time, a large corporation is addressing an issue on a national level that no one’s talking about—Financial Abuse.

We tend to think of domestic violence as physical, emotional, and verbal. Yet financial abuse is just as insidious and dangerous….perhaps even more so because we don’t recognize it.

For years, I was the victim of financial abuse. And I had no idea. The signs were there. I just didn’t see them.

For example: My husband controlled the amount of money I had access to. He refused to discuss our finances with me, and withheld important information and documents. He got us into illegal deals, “forgot” to pay taxes that were in my name, racked up a huge debt, then left the country, so I was left holding the bag! I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my ignorance, I told no one what was going on.

According to a recent poll by The Allstate Foundation, the number one reason victims stay with their abusers is financial instability. So The Allstate Foundation is doing something about this horrific problem. Aside from raising public awareness and thought leadership, they’ve created 2 amazing programs:

  • A financial education curriculum designed especially for advocates and survivors of domestic abuse.
  • An Education and Job Training Fund that provides women with immediate grants for finding work or improving their skills.

You can find out more on If you are in immediate danger, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) .

Please spread the word. According to a 2006 Allstate Foundation national poll, over 74% of us know someone who is the victim of domestic violence. Now you can help.

Compatibility is the Key

Here’s some good advice for all single women. When you start dating someone, find out first thing if you are financially compatible. True, conversations about money can be awkward, especially in the beginning of a relationship. But, according to an article from the Detroit Free Press titled: In Romance or Finance, Compatibility is the Key…money matters should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Talk“If you wait until after you’ve fallen madly in love, it may be too late to extricate yourself,” said Ginita Wall, co-founder of the Women’s Institute for Financial Education.

I couldn’t agree more. Here’s the good news. According to the article, if you’re not ready to talk turkey, at least look for signs that you’re well-suited. For example:

  • Ask about their past experiences, their early memories with money, or how their parents handled finances.
  • Pay attention to their spending habits, and if you’re comfortable with them.
  • Notice how they pay for purchases: cash, debit, or credit.
  • Consider if their lifestyle makes sense. “A person’s choice of car, clothes, and home are obvious conversation starters,” notes one expert.

Love may be blind. But when it comes to money, you’re really smart to keep your eyes wide open.

Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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