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The Dollar Diva's 10 timeless tips for women

Here are the top 10 things every woman should know about money:

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1. Setting financial goals is the key to financial success.
Write your goals down on paper. State the goal, when you want to get there and what you've got to do to make it happen. If you've always had trouble staying on a budget, try developing a spending plan.

2. Spending less than you earn is the secret to accumulating wealth. You can't have it all: choose a fancy lifestyle, and you choose paltry savings by default. If you'd like to become the millionaire next door live well below your means, and invest what's left over.

3.If you don't allocate time for managing your money, you won't have any money to manage. Money gets frittered away when it's not managed; take the time to track your cash. You can do it with a pencil and notebook, but it's a lot faster to do it with a software program such as Microsoft's Money or Intuit's Quicken. Many banks and credit card companies let you download transactions from their Web sites to your software program, making data entry a breeze. The four gauges you need to review each month are (1) what came in, (2) what went out, (3) what you own and (4) what you owe.

4. Education expands your mind and your earning potential. As a rule, education means a more interesting life and more money. Save some of that money, and you can buy yourself financial freedom. Education is your ticket to somewhere; don't leave life without it.

5. If you don't save when the chips are up, expect to drown in debt when the chips are down. Sooner or later you can count on being laid up, laid off or laid out. It happens to the best of us, and a stash of cash will cushion the blow. Without it, your lifeline will probably be high-interest debt that will linger long after the storm has passed.

6. You can't accumulate wealth if you charge more than you can afford to pay each month. High- interest credit card debt is highway robbery without the mask and gun. Motivate yourself to mop up your debt by using the Payment-push plan.

7. Choosing a fiscally irresponsible mate is hazardous to your financial health. Opposites tend to attract, and fiscally conservative gals tend to be drawn to fiscally liberal guys, and vice versa. If you're about to pair up with a big spender, don't sign for any debt you wouldn't be able to manage on your own. You and your partner should have a talk about any debt you have and how you will deal with it so you don't end up deeply in love and deeply in debt.

8. Shopping without a list costs more than shopping with one. Shopping smart will help you to live below your means. Everyone's familiar with the grocery list, and how it helps curtail impulse spending at the market. Try making a clothing list to keep you from the temptation of impulse shopping at the mall. Makes a list of what you must have in your wardrobe: number of shoes, blouses, suits, jeans, jackets and coats. Take an inventory of what you already have, and make a list of what you need to complete your wardrobe. That's your clothing-shopping list. Goodbye recreational shopping, hello increased savings.

9. Buying a car and keeping it until it dies is cheaper than leasing one. A car is wheels; don't give it more status than that. When she can't pay for it outright, the smart person saves up for the down payment, finances the car over 36 months, and enjoys many payment-free years in between cars. Educate yourself on the female car buyer's bill of rights.

10. Money buys financial freedom: go for it. Financial freedom is not gender limited: women can achieve it as well as men. For the latest and greatest ways to save and spend, sign up for Bankrate's free newsletters.

-- Posted: April 23, 2004




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