For women, mastering money is a challenge for a number of reasons. First, some of us have trouble actually doing it. Second, we have trouble acknowledging the fact that we're doing it. Why? In part because it feels as though we're wresting control from the men in our lives. But also because, when we were growing up, many of us were taught how to put together an outfit in the morning, set the table for dinner, write a book report, or parallel park, but nobody taught us how to save or spend or invest. Nobody sat us down and said: "Honey, if you save some of that money you made babysitting, it will grow to be a lot more ten years from now." And even in cases where somebody (usually a parent) tried to teach us those lessons, the teacher didn't do a particularly good job. Instead of telling us "Tough luck" when we ran out of babysitting money right before we wanted to go to the movies with friends, our parents bailed us out. They gave us $5 or $10 and told us to be more careful the next time. But we'd already learned that oh-so-powerful financial lesson: There's plenty of money where that came from. If you need more, ask Mom and Dad.
Here are eight quick-and-easy fixes you can make in your own financial lives today. None of them will take more than a few minutes. But I don't want you only to do these things. I want you to understand why you're doing them.
Which excuses are holding you back? Take this quiz to find out!
Lesson 1: Sign Up for Automatic Savings
Sign up for an automatic savings plan at your bank or brokerage firm. Have $100 a month diverted into a separate money market account that you promise yourself you won't touch. (Don't get an ATM card for this account to be sure.) As soon as you find you don't miss $100 a month, up your contribution to $200. Eventually, you'll invest that money so it can grow even faster.
Map to a Million
Saving $100 every month for 30 years: $150,129
Saving $200 every month for 30 years: $300,259
Saving $300 every month for 30 years: $450,388
* Assumes savings are tax-deferred and invested at an 8 percent return
Do it, say this, and sound smart: "I put away a little money every month so that if I have an emergency, I won't have to float my life on my credit card."