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12 financial tips for women

While neither gender has an exclusive lock on money management skills, the financial deck is stacked against women. They earn about three-quarters of what men make. In a divorce, they get less of the assets and more of the children.

Financial tips for women
Women have come a long way, but the odds are stacked against them when it comes to financial matters. Worse, many women view money and money-related tasks as necessary evils, not opportunities to even the odds. Following these strategies can help ensure prosperity.
12 smart moves to make
1.Set a financial goal.
2.Train yourself to be financially independent.
3.Buy your own home.
4.Fund your retirement account.
5. Plan for long-term not crisis management.
6.Start investing.
7.Don't fear risk.
8.Don't go it alone.
9.Get emotional support, if you need it.
10.Be more confident in salary negotiations.
11.Venture out of your financial comfort zone.
12. Know that it's never too late.

They live longer, and one in eight elderly women lives in poverty, compared to one in 12 men, according to 2003 figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Unfortunately, many women view money and money-related tasks as necessary evils, not opportunities to even the odds.

"A lot of women believe that wealth is a four-letter word," says Ginita Wall, CPA and co-author of "It's More Than Your Money -- It's Your Life!" "They are particularly afraid of the negative reputation that wealth has -- power, greed, corrupt connotations."

Fortunately, there are steps that a woman can take to improve her financial future:

1. Set a financial goal. Women "have a very complex relationship with money," says Lois P. Frankel, author of "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich." "As such, we don't think accumulated wealth is important. And what you focus on is what you get."

After all, women set other goals. "There's not a woman on the face of this earth who can't tell you what she wants the scale to read when she gets on it."

But a woman doesn't have a magic number in mind "in terms of what she's putting away every year," says Frankel.

2. Train yourself to be financially independent. If you bank on Prince Charming, you're in trouble. "All marriages end eventually, either through death or divorce," says Wall. "And it's usually the woman left behind."

While women are the ones who handle most of the day-to-day finances, the majority of women leave long-term financial planning to their husbands. Mistake.

"Always be aware of the finances, even if your husband is handling the money," says Wall. "Be aware of what's happening. Stay involved."

Frankel agrees. "Go to the meetings with the financial planner, read through the statements that come in." Get an idea of exactly how much is coming in, where it's going and what the two of you are saving or investing for specific future goals.

3. Buy your own home. Women need to buy that first house as soon as they can, says Frankel. "Too many women have this vision of Prince Charming carrying them over the threshold," she says.

But a first house "will likely be the best investment you make in your future," Frankel says.

4. Fund your retirement account. For younger women, retirement seems eons away. For those nearing retirement age, it seems impossible to catch up. Investigate your employer's retirement plan, and put in as much as you can -- especially if your company matches funds. "When you don't participate in a matching program, you are giving away free money," says Frankel.

5. Opt for long-term planning over crisis management. "Women, especially, do not get serious about money until they lose a job, lose a spouse or are near retirement," says Barbara Stanny, author of "Secrets of Six-Figure Women."

For her book, Stanny interviewed women earning between $100,000 and $7 million annually. "The biggest surprise I had, bar none, was how few of these women were wealthy," she says. Many of them were living paycheck to paycheck, but at a higher level than their middle-income counterparts.

Next: "For women, money is a lake; for men it's a river..."
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