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Pearls Before Guys

I like practical books. It’s fine to read about the exploits of successful business gurus. But I’m always left wondering if their success might be more a matter of luck than the sure-fire strategies they wave about with so much bravado – starting with the fact that most of them are men. Face it, ladies! We need practical advice. It really is harder for women to succeed – even now when more of us go to college and even though we are apparently much better hedge fund managers than men. That’s right! According to a 2009 report published by the National Council for Research on Women, the index for women hedge fund managers in 2008 was down only 5.41 percent, compared to men managers, who were down 19.03 percent in the same period. By 2009, women managers were up 9.06, versus men at 5.81. Encouraging tidbits like this are offered in the pleasing and practical The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom by Carol Pepper and Camilla Webster.

I do like pearls.

The bulk of this book is really sound advice organized into seven key areas, or pearls, of life. Boiling all seven categories into a few really dense pearls, the authors are saying we should be prepared, active, and informed when it comes to building our wealth. They intend to show us how.

Reading it reminded me of one wise man, my father, who raised three daughters (and two sons) and understood that the world is an awfully nasty place if you aren’t armed with financial savvy. A die-hard capitalist, he also had the idea that married men should be required to buy divorce insurance for their wives. Since the financial well-being of most women goes down by 50 percent following divorce (men’s typically goes up), he believed it was important – for the health of the economy – to preserve women’s financial well-being.

Pepper and Webster would agree that women need financial security (they aren’t advocating my dad’s idea, though). More than that, they tell you to build your own wealth. How? Start your own business, because “starting a business is by far the best way to build your own wealth today.” Sadly, the glass ceiling is very much intact. Just take a look around your own workplace. There may be more women toiling in the cubicles around you, but who’s sitting on the other side of that glass?

Pepper and Webster don’t limit their advice to the workplace. Their pearls of wisdom also touch on such things as romance, marriage, and motherhood. If you’re really going to make it to the top, you need to understand the “ways in which your relationship with money has a great effect on your partnerships,” they state. In fact, 60 percent of marriages split over money matters, according to the authors. So forget about the cute guy you just met at WineStyles’ Summer Solstice wine tasting event (unless he’s at least got a job). Consider too, that dating is a kind of investment. How much money do you currently spend on dating? When you add up the clothes, hair coloring, manicures, facials, not to mention your monthly tab at Sweet Nothings… well, it all adds up. If you’re single, chances are you’re spending a considerable amount of your income just on dating. Take some practical advice: build your dating budget, start a date clothing exchange with your single friends and be smarter about who you date.

For all of you men reading this, rest assured. Pepper and Webster aren’t telling us to be gold-diggers (unless you’re on vacation at Lynx Creek). Instead, they remind us that whether you are a man or a woman, who you marry will affect your financial well-being either negatively or positively. By the way, both pre- and post-nuptial agreements aren’t overkill, as far as they’re concerned.

Other pearls of wisdom include how to get and exercise power, preparing for crisis and loss, and how to go about investing for your retirement. The advice they give doesn’t have to be just for girls (uh, women). We all wish for more wealth and power in our lives. It’s the most practical thing we can hope for. FBN

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