Photo: Marc Royce
Repeat after me: It's not selfish to give to yourself as much as you give of yourself.
- Don't part with what you haven't got. If you don't have at least six months' worth of living expenses in savings, you're not contributing to your company's matching 401(k) plan, or you have yet to open a Roth IRA, you need to stop every time someone wants to borrow money and ask yourself: Do I need it more? An emergency loan is one thing, but someone else's new wardrobe doesn't come close to the importance of your nest egg.
- Information is priceless. Relying on others to make financial decisions for you, or simply saying yes whenever you're asked for a loan, is an emotional response often triggered by the fact that you don't feel secure in making choices for yourself. That's why I insist every woman needs to learn the basics of personal finance. It is not only easier than you think but also incredibly empowering. There are great free tutorials for beginners on the websites of personal finance magazines, and you can always tune in to my show Saturday nights on CNBC.
- Communicate what you know. Leave your heart out of fiscal decisions as much as possible, and lead with your newly informed head. Let everyone in on your financial priorities and how focused you are on building security for yourself. You're always available in a crisis, but otherwise, the Bank of You is not open for lending anymore. And don't allow your feelings to keep you from having hard conversations. Make sure you sit down with your parents to talk about estate planning issues, and offer to help them set up a trust. That way, you'll be able to spend precious time with them later instead of with accountants and lawyers.