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12 financial tips for women
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6. Start investing. Both women and men procrastinate when it comes to investing, says Wall, co-founder of the Women's Institute for Financial Education. But while men procrastinate because they have something they'd rather be doing, women tend to put off investing because they are afraid of making a mistake, says Wall. "They want to know the exact right thing to do," she says. Instead, "the solution is to at least start in small steps to move forward."

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Do some research, work with small amounts at a time and get started, she says.

7. Don't fear risk. When it comes to money, sometimes playing it safe isn't safe or smart, says Wall. "If you're investing in guaranteed income funds, you're not even going to keep up with inflation and taxes," she says.

"Women look at money as a lake," perceiving it as a finite resource, says Liz Perle, author of "Money, A Memoir." "Men look at it as a river, constantly renewing." Consequently, "women are afraid to risk."

Instead, start learning about what you fear. Resolve to learn one new financial fact every day. "Get more informed," says Wall. "And start taking some risks, even if it's just a little bit. If you've got all your money in CDs, start investing a little bit every month -- maybe even in a (stock) index fund."

At the same time, "one rule of investing is you never put money into something you don't understand," says Stanny. If you do, "you won't know how to evaluate the information that people are giving you."

8. Don't go it alone. Women who will join a group or hire a trainer to get in shape think they have to tackle their money problems solo. They don't.

"The women I've interviewed with the highest net worth, the most financially secure, are the ones who work with financial professionals," says Stanny.

Start with a CPA or fee-based financial planner "to find out what your whole situation really is," says Stanny. "Get out of vagueness and denial."

9. Get emotional support, if you need it. When dealing with difficult financial issues, "that's when we most need support," Stanny says. And just as there are groups to help with weight loss or other high-stress challenges, there are groups to help with money issues, whether it's an investment club or Debtor's Anonymous. Just find "somewhere where there are other people and you can feel that support," says Stanny.

"We don't talk about money with each other," says Wall. "God knows there are clubs for everything else."

10. Be more confident in salary negotiations. "What I've found is that women, especially, devalue ourselves," says Stanny. "We give away our time, our knowledge, our skills, for free or bargain prices because we don't believe we're worth more."

In addition, many women believe that if they just do an outstanding job, the paycheck will reflect that. Sorry, but it doesn't work like that.

The lesson: bargain at the beginning. Unless you get a giant promotion or an offer from a competing firm, you may not have that kind of power again.

"Men will compare salary negotiation to a good ball game," Perle says. "Women will say it's like going to the dentist."

11. Venture out of your financial comfort zone. Whether that means saving for your retirement instead of your kid's college education or asking the boss for a raise, be willing to put yourself first for a change. "The reason more women are not a financial success is they don't want to be uncomfortable," says Stanny. "Every time you deviate from the norm, any time you do something you're not used to doing -- ask for a raise, buy some stock -- it will feel uncomfortable."

12. Know that it's never too late. "The mistake is we often learn too late," says Stanny. "But it's never too late." She's talked with women who didn't start investing until they were in their 70s and 80s, she says. "But they started."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: May 12, 2006
 
 
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