How many of you received wise financial counsel and an overview of how money and economics work before you left home? Sure, lots of us had allowances and were told that we should save our money, but what about when you went off to college or left home for good? Did you have any real sense about how to budget, to set up a retirement account or even to create financial goals for yourself? Chances are, the answer is a resounding “no.” I was encouraged to create a savings account and not to live beyond my means, but the only advice I ever had about a retirement account was when my father told me that the most important thing about college was to find a good husband.
Times have changed, but many of us, especially those of us who are women, rarely receive serious guidance on how to manage money effectively and create a safety net for difficult times or for our retirement unless we major in economics or business planning. While a book on finances is somewhat outside the box for the type of books I review for this site, I have just finished reading a great basic guidebook on financial planning, and decided to share it as financial survival is crucial for us all, especially during a recession.
When I prepared to launch The Vanilla Company I realized that I needed a personal coach or business advisor, but I didn’t know which would be the best fit for me. I did some asking around and attended Women in Business events, and somewhere along the way I found out about Elaine Kiernan. After meeting with her I realized that she was the person I most needed, not only for the business but for personal financial guidance as well.
Elaine is the president of Financial Resource Associates, a full service firm offering financial planning, health, life and business insurance, investment guidance, business and divorce mediation and more. She has a list of credentials that would impress any CEO, but what’s especially nice about Elaine is that in addition to being extremely competent, she is warm and gracious and her clients are treated as good friends.
In the 27 years that Elaine has been run her business along with speaking on financial matters around the country, she repeatedly saw how little most women know about setting goals and creating a solid financial plan for their future. In 2009 she self-published, Financial Self-Defense for Women,a comprehensive but easy-to-read guide for taking charge of our financial lives and creating an action plan. She begins her book with goal setting: How many of you have actually written goals regarding making, saving and using money? As she says very wisely, “If you don’t know where you want to be, how will you know when you get there?”
She quotes a very telling study about goal setting: “Yale University reported a study on graduates of the class of 1968 in which ‘Only 3% of the graduating seniors had written down goals. Forty years later, these same 3% held 95% of the wealth of the entire graduating class.’ That’s a very impressive endorsement for writing goals. It’s the first and most important step to financial survival.”
Financial Self Defense provides information on everything from budgeting, saving and investing, to retirement, legal and estate planning and finding the right advisor to assist in implementing a plan. She includes step-by-step information on how to assess the value of personal assets, explains what should be considered in choosing a health plan (especially useful for entrepreneurs and the self-employed) and life insurance (a very important investment if you have children), the basics of investing in real estate, how to choose a competent attorney, and much more. She has also included a glossary of terms, a net worth statement to help in evaluating your assets and a budget spread sheet along with information on how to use it.
Although the title includes “For Women,” I suspect there are a lot of young men going out on their own who could benefit from Elaine’s experience and financial wisdom. You also don’t have to be newly on your own to gain value from Financial Self Defense. I found it very useful and realized that I haven’t written my personal and professional goals for quite a while. Guess what I’m going to do after I finish this review?
To learn more or to purchase a copy of Financial Self Defense for Women, go to www.FRAssociates.com or call 800-660-3720. You can also contact FRA via e-mail at EmailUs@frassociates.com. Your life is important. Investing in yourself can make a big difference down the road. Reading Financial Self Defense for Women is a good start.