Falkiner-Rose interviewed over a hundred Australian women about their ideas about how they manage money and what their thoughts and feelings about financial management were. The women range in age from 24 to 85 and covered a spectrum of living arrangements (single, married, divorced) and levels of education.
I read books like this for two reasons - to pick up ideas about improving my own relationship with and management of money, and to reflect on how I am now and how I've changed. One of Falkiner-Rose's participants divides women into categories - spenders, credit card junkies, strapped for cash, savers and day-to-day survivors. I've been all of those and am moving toward a category 'Angela' didn't mention - savvy. That said, while reading the introduction I was distressed to realise that my failing to file a tax return for the last ahem-years (even though the ATO owes me money) is precisely the kind of behaviour Falkiner-Rose discusses when describing friends of hers who act stupidly with finances.
There were some insights that were interesting and applicable for me, including the section on how we develop our attitudes to and about money, and a distressing assessment of how women are treated by the financial planning industry (twice as hard to make an appointment, three times less likely to receive a follow up phone call, more likely to be told things rather than listened to). One hopes things may have changed in the five years since Women Talking Money was published but it's not been long. More encouragingly, Falkiner-Rose quotes financial planner Susan Jackson, who says learning about money management is a process that should be tackled like learning to ski - starting on the beginners slope
And I got to feel smug about a couple of things, including how I've improved my credit card management (pay off everything twice a month), debt in general (currently don't owe anything to anyone), and having specific financial goals.
There were some valuable tips about resources, including women-only courses run by financial institutions and the Council of Adult Education (CAE), the Rule of 72 (to calculate how long it will take to double your money when you reinvest your returns divide 72 by the interest rate you're receiving - at 8.1% my ING term deposit will take 9 years to double) and a website that helps compare accounts and rates (www.cannex.com.au), and other financial websites like the FIDO section of the ASIC website (www.fido.asic.gov.au) which has do-it-yourself tools for calculating your financial position; the site also has a booklet called "Don't Kiss Your Money Goodbye" that sounds interesting. Although she recommends several books I'm going to start with two, a 1936 classic apparently still relevant today (The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason) and The Courage to be Rich by Suze Orman. I'm also going to check out www.kathleengurney.com (where I can apparently download a personality profiling test that will help me understand how I deal with money). Watch this spot! - Alex