It was a conversation I’ll never forget.
Soon after I sold my first book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart about Money, I flew to New York and had lunch with my editor. As we munched on our salads, I casually asked if she ever invested.
“Oh no,” she said, emphatically. “I have no money.” I could see she was embarrassed, so I dropped the subject.
A year after my book hit the stores, she called to confess.
“Remember that lunch when I told you I had no money,” she said. “Well I did, but it was all sitting in cash in my 401 (k). After working on your book, I realized how foolish that was. So I started educating myself, found an advisor, and it’s now fully invested. I even collected my spare change in a jar every night, and I’ve invested that too.”
She paused a moment, then added: “I watch the market go up and down, but I’m in it for the long haul, so I’m not worried at all.”
I practically jumped out of my chair in excitement. But then she said what I hear all the time from women when they finally take financial responsibility.
“I have to tell you, Barbara, I feel so powerful.”
Those four words captured the essence of my life’s work; why I’m so passionate about helping women financially. Sure, I want them to prosper. But more importantly, I want every woman to realize that by taking charge of her money, she’s taking charge of her life. The incredible sense of power this brings is the ultimate high.
And some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But if you’re like most women, the thought of investing feels more like climbing Mt. Everest–totally daunting, if not downright impossible. Actually I suspect some of you would rather take on the mountain than tackle the markets.
I know the feeling. I spent most of my adult life in a financial fog, letting my husband–a stockbroker turned compulsive gambler (really!)–handle our finances. I was too scared, felt too stupid, to take charge. Of course, he lost almost everything. We got a divorce. He left the country. My father wouldn’t lend me money. I got the message. I wasn’t going to raise my 3 young daughters on the street. I had to do something…fast.
I tried to learn. I went to classes, read books, but my eyes would glaze over, my brain would fog up. I figured I was terminally stupid.
Then I made a very wise decision. I gave myself a year to learn about finances. And I’d do it my own way. I’d not only study the facts, I’d also explore my fears. So while diligently doing the outer work, I dove deep into the inner work, combining the practical with the psychological.
And it worked. I became a savvy investor and successful wealth builder. If I had to sum up what I learned, it would be this: Wealth doesn’t come from what you earn, but from what you do with what you earn.
- You build wealth by following the 3 Rules of Money: Spend Less, Save More, Invest Wisely.
- At least some money must be invested in assets (stocks, bonds, real estate) that grow faster than inflation and taxes can take it away. – Investing is a lot simpler than you think (though there’s a whole industry trying to convince us otherwise!).
- It doesn’t take a lot of money to create wealth or a lot of time to get smart.
- And though it’s best to start when you’re young, it’s never, ever too late to begin.