| Nice Girls Don't Get Rich |
By Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
Genre: Business & Money
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Women and Wealth
Women have been so brainwashed by the destructive female culture that taught them to associate money with sin, evil and everything crude, that it would take an entire book to disentangle the subconscious fears and incredible fantasies that the simple noun money evokes in most women.
BETTY LEHAN HARRAGAN,
Games Mother Never Taught You
Women and money. What a complex relationship. We bemoan the fact that we dont have enough of it. We dont save as much as we know we should. And we too often rely on others to manage it for us. Despite the fact that in childhood most of us get all the right messages about the importance of being financially independent, we do all the wrong things when it comes to accumulating the amount of wealth we need to be truly financially independent. Why? Because throughout our lives were given multiple, often conflicting, messages. On the one hand, were taught about the value of money and the need to spend and save it wisely. On the other, were implicitly or explicitly taught that its equally important to be kind, nurturing, and collaborative; that our real roles revolve less around money and more around relationships.
This double bind causes little girls to limit their interest in acquiring wealth and ultimately their capacity to acquire it. They dont aspire to get rich, they cant see themselves as rich, or they reduce their opportunities to get rich. As a result, they frequently lack the skills needed to create wealth. Getting rich requires you to do two things: financial planning and financial thinking. If youre like most women, you dont think richand if you dont think rich, you certainly dont consciously engage in behaviors that will contribute to getting rich. The point at which you call yourself rich is determined by your values, your lifestyle, and your risk tolerance. Its not determined by someone elses definition, needs, or expectations of you. Being rich is about having the ability to live your life abundantlyhowever you define abundance.
Although I realize that life can be rich in many different ways, for the purposes of this book when I use the term rich, I refer to the acquisition of financial wealth. Most of us already know that one can be rich in love, work, family, and so on. You dont need another book to tell you that. Defining rich in financial terms is another thing. The actual number, the point at which you consider yourself rich, is something only you can decide. Most of us will never be as wealthy as the people on Forbes magazines annual list of the richest people in the world. Yet you may aspire to more than you currently have. Therefore, throughout this book when I use the term rich, I am referring to the ability to live your life as you want to free from financial constraints.
Speaking with women around the world about getting rich, I got the distinct feeling they were uncomfortable talking about money. It was as if rich was a dirty four-letter word. Whereas a woman may be called a rich bitch, there are no similarly pejorative terms to describe a man. And Lord knows we avoid the b-word even more than we avoid talking about money! It doesnt seem to matter if youre twenty-five or fifty-five. As a woman you are less likely to focus on methods for becoming rich and more likely to focus on doing good.
Having been raised as a typical girl, I spent the first half of my adult life believing that doing good and doing well were mutually exclusive. Whereas my two brothers were encouraged to pursue college degrees that would lead to high-paying professions, I was encouraged to go into a helping fieldpreferably teaching so that I could be home with my hypothetical children during summer vacations. While I was working as a clerk in the radiology department of the local hospital during high school, my mother (the director of nursing at this same hospital) was introducing my younger brother to doctors at the hospital and encouraging him to become a physician. Although I worked my way through masters and doctoral degree programs, I only recently discovered that my mother offered to pay for my younger brothers graduate education if he would consider becoming a lawyer. Is it any wonder that both my brothers became independently wealthy at a far earlier age than I did? While they were thinking about making money, I was thinking about doing good.
Nice girls dont get rich in large part because of the social messages they receive when they are growing up:
* Money is power, and most little girls are not taught to be powerfultheyre taught to be nice.
* Girls are socialized to be caretakers, nurturers, and accommodators in societynot necessarily breadwinners.
* As child bearers and caretakers women often work jobs discontinuously and are penalized for it. Alternatively, theyre put on something demeaningly referred to as the mommy track.
* Women are more likely to spend their income on their children and the household, whereas men are more likely to be prudent about investing.
* Women are reluctant to ask for wages, perks, or raises reflective of the value they add to their organizations because theyre not sure they deserve it.
Need I go on? It is abundantly clear that women dont get rich because (1) we dont envision ourselves getting rich, (2) we are more concerned with playing our social roles in a way that others consider appropriate, and (3) we dont develop the skills needed to make wise financial decisions. Does this mean we cant acquire wealth on our own? No! It means that what you focus on is what you get, and its time to focus on getting rich. Just as in my previous book getting the corner office was simply a metaphor for achieving your professional goals, being rich is a metaphor for living the life you want to live free from concerns about money. Its not the amount of money you have that matters, its the ability to act with independence that defines a rich life. And you will never have it if you dont start thinking and acting like a rich person.
Given these parameters, a woman who owns her own home free and clear, does work that she loves, and knows she has enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life could be considered rich. She would be no less (or more) rich than a woman who lives in a home with a $500,000 mortgage, has $3 million in the bank, works so she can afford to travel, and wouldnt be worried if she were to be laid off tomorrow. What point would that be for you? Envision yourself living that lifestyle. If its not where you are now, then this book was written for you.
WHY ARENT YOU RICH?
Ive been asking women around the world about why they dont have the amount of money they require to feel comfortable making the decisions needed to live their lives free from concerns about money. More specifically, I asked them to finish this sentence: I would be rich today if I had . . . I phrased it that way so they would share the behaviors they ignored early in their lives. Here are just a few of the responses I heard:
* If I had taken risks and not procrastinated. A sixty-three-year-old executive from Paramount Pictures.
* If I had a better understanding and appreciation for the value of creating a savings account from the start of my career thirty-six years ago. A fifty-year-old administrative assistant.
* If I had not stepped aside, walked away, or ignored being taken financial advantage of. Not worried so much about being seen as too aggressive or unprofessional. A fifty-three-year-old professional services manager.
* If I had been more assertive. A forty-eight-year-old artist.
* If I had dared to take high-risk chances, which I didnt take because I had to juggle between raising a family and my career. A forty-three-year-old accountant.
* If I had kept my life simplenot moved to a big house with a big overhead and a lot of maintenance. A forty-nine-year-old executive with Prudential Securities.
* If I had not been afraid of the stock market and invested ten years ago. A fifty-five-year-old independent graphics consultant.
* If I had utilized my potential to the fullest and been more proactive in planning my future and not depended on someone else to actualize my hopes and dreams. A sixty-year-old real estate agent.
* If I had not listened so closely to the advice that my father told me when I was young that I would inherit all that I would ever eventually need. A sixty-year-old diversity consultant.
* If I had someone who told me that I could aspire to being rich. A forty-three-year-old dental assistant.
* If I had done things that I really love to do. A forty-three-year-old business consultant.
If you can relate to any one of these messages, youre not alone. The reasons why women arent as rich as theyd like to be are as varied as the women themselves. Sometimes its the messages they received in childhood about money. Other times its because of social pressure related to nice girls not worrying their pretty little heads about money. And nearly always its because they dont engage in the behaviors that will ultimately lead to wealth. Before you can become richand you can become richyou have to know what holds you back. Lets begin with a self-assessment inventory.
NICE GIRLS DONT GET RICH SELF-ASSESSMENT
Consider each of the following statements and answer True if it describes you or your behavior all or most of the time and False if it rarely or never describes you or your behavior.
____ 1. I have a concrete financial goal (an actual number) toward which I am working.
____ 2. In the past year I have attended at least one seminar or workshop related to financial planning or investing.
____ 3. I carry no credit card debt from month to month.
____ 4. I balance my checkbook each month.
____ 5. I have investments in my own name (whether you are married or partnered).
____ 6. I take advantage of my companys perks. (If you dont know what they are, answer False.)
____ 7. I turn down personal loan requests to people I think arent likely to repay them.
____ 8. I know my (or my familys) net worth.
____ 9. I have a plan in place for how to survive financially if something catastrophic were to happen (sudden loss of a job, loss of a spouse or partner, etc.).
____ 10. I shop on the Internet only when I have a specific purchase in mind.
____ 11. Even if I dont prepare them, I review tax returns before signing them.
____ 12. In addition to any retirement accounts held by my employer, I have a retirement savings account. (Answer True if you and your partner hold one in joint names.)
____ 13. Im comfortable asking for the salary or fee I deserve.
____ 14. I advocate loud and clear for myself when I feel Im not getting my fair share.
____ 15. Im executing a plan to live a rich life.
____ 16. I regularly read newspapers, magazines, or articles that help me stay abreast of financial planning developments.
____ 17. I dont feel as if I have to match the monetary value of a gift to me by giving one of similar value.
____ 18. I know what my monthly discretionary spending budget is, and I stick to it.
____ 19. I have taken calculated or advised risks to maximize my financial portfolio. (If you are not involved with helping to manage your familys portfolio, answer False.)
____ 20. I make a profit on the products or services I provide to friends.
____ 21. At the beginning of each year I plan my charitable giving.
____ 22. I play the financial game to win.
____ 23. I would have no problem requesting a prenuptial agreement that would protect my assets (or I have already done so).
____ 24. I avoid shopping when Im feeling down or blue.
____ 25. I regularly analyze my spending habits.
____ 26. When it comes to my money and investments, if something doesnt make sense to me, I ask probing questions.
____ 27. I work in a traditionally high-paying field.
____ 28. When I loan money to family or friends, I clearly state when it is due back and follow up if its not back by that time.
____ 29. I consciously explore ways to get rich other than from my current income.
____ 30. Before getting married or living with someone, I had (or would have) open discussions about how we would manage money and finances.
____ 31. I dont buy things priced higher than what theyre worth just because its convenient or saves me time.
____ 32. I read the investment statements I receive each month. (If you dont get any, answer False.)
____ 33. I make the maximum allowable contributions to my retirement plan each year.
____ 34. I typically use all the vacation days to which I am entitled each year.
____ 35. Im a good negotiator.
____ 36. I dont let people dissuade me from pursuing moneymaking plans.
____ 37. My financial well-being is among my top three priorities.
____ 38. Im good at controlling the urge to buy something I want but dont need.
____ 39. I meet regularly with an investment adviser (alone or with a partner) to keep a check on my financial health.
____ 40. I own my own home (either alone or in joint names).
____ 41. I ask my company to pay for training programs that will enhance my earning capacity.
____ 42. I take full advantage of all lawful deductions on my income tax return.
SELF-ASSESSMENT SCORE SHEET
Step 1. Record your True or False responses from the questionnaire in the numbered spaces below.
Step 2. Add down the number of True responses you have in each category.
Step 3. Add your scores on the bottom line across for a total score.
Circle your two highest scores on the bottom line. These are the two areas in which you are most comfortable acting in ways that contribute to your financial well-being.
Circle your two lowest scores on the bottom line. These are the two areas in which you have the most difficulty breaking free from stereotypically feminine behaviors. Each column represents a corresponding chapter in this book. You might want to go directly to the chapters where you scored lowest, to read more about how you can address these financial development areas.
If your total score is
0-21 Youd better get moving if you ever want to lead a financially independent life. At this rate youre going to be poor or be dependent on others for the rest of your life.
22-34 Youve made a good start, but youre nowhere near the finish line. Focus on those areas where you still have difficulty with becoming financially independent. Youll find that small changes pay big dividends.
35-42 If youre not already financially independent, youre doing a great job of getting there. Continue what youre doing and use this book to find some strategies for getting there even sooner.
Now, complete each of the following sentences. Dont take too much time thinking about or stewing over the statement. Whatever comes to mind initially will be as valid as something you may think of later on.
1. Im not rich because ______________________________.
2. And thats because ______________________________.
3. Being rich would make me feel ____________________.
4. When it comes to rich people, my parents always told me ________________.
5. If I focused on getting rich, it would make my partner/ spouse feel ____________.
6. A rich woman is one who ________________.
7. What keeps me from taking more risks to get rich is ___________.
8. When it comes to handling money, I ________________.
9. I feel money is _______________________.
10. A rich woman strikes me as ________________________.
ANALYZING YOUR RESPONSES
Now go back and analyze each of your responses from both inventories. You may find overlapping themes or even contradictory ones. In the case of the latter, it could mean that you have gotten conflicting messages or that you disagree with the messages you received. In either case, its not a bad thing. Its all grist for the mill. What is important is that you take time to think about your feelings and thoughts about getting rich and replace them with more realistic ones or ones that better reflect where you are now in your life. Here are some questions for you to consider:
* What are the themes that appear across my responses?
* Why do some of my responses seem contradictory?
* What are the messages playing in my head that I have to tape over if I want to be rich?
* What is the single most important thing I can do to be as rich as I would like to be?
* What current spending, saving, or investing habits do I need to stop?
* What current spending, saving, or investing habits do I need to start?
* What current spending, saving, or investing habits should I continue with some modifications?
The following table illuminates some of the biggest differences between how women and men deal with money. Perhaps youll see some of your own foibles in here.
MEN, WOMEN, and MONEY
|Are socialized to learn about how to invest and make money grow||Are socialized to save moneyjust in case they have to take care of themselves|
|Use money to keep score||Use money to take care of others|
|Buy what they need||Buy what they want|
|Use money to prepare for the future||Use money to create a lifestyle in the present|
|Take investment risks||Are cautious about investing|
|Spend money on themselves||Spend money on those they care about|
|Ask for what they want||Ask for what they think they deserve|
|View money objectively||View money in terms of relationships|
|Learn how to be effective investors||Expect others to know more than they do|
|Gravitate toward high-paying jobs||Gravitate toward the helping professions|
|Advocate for themselves during trying financial times||Want to be fair during trying financial times|
VISIONING YOUR FUTURE
Im a big believer in vision. I dont see it as something magical, but rather as providing me with a focus to help me achieve my goals. When I first started my own consulting practice, after having been employed for many years by a Fortune 10 corporation, I was filled with fear and anxiety about my prospects for success. I could hear the voices of friends and family who were telling me it was a foolish move and one I would later regret. Then I realized it was their anxiety I was experiencing, not my own. Im an intelligent woman, and I wouldnt make a decision that would in any way jeopardize my well-being. But Im also a risk takersomething that many of the people giving me advice were not. So I adopted NASA Mission Controls famous line, Failure is not an option, as the mantra to help support my vision. And that mantra guides my actions to this day. There may have been missteps along the way, but failure was really never an option for me. And it doesnt have to be for you either.
About ten years ago a friend of mine told me she was going to focus on being financially independent. Her mantra became, Poor no more in 94. I can still hear her saying it. And that mantra guided all her actions. She saved enough to buy a house. She went back to school so she could get a better job. She didnt become rich in one year, but she did put herself on the path to living a more abundant life. So whats your financial vision going to be? Take a moment to think about it. Write it down. Put it in the affirmative and present tense. Some examples:
I am acquiring all the wealth I need to live a happy and secure life.
I am creating abundance so that I may live free of the constraints of others.
I am rich, not only in health, friends, and family but in my financial portfolio as well.
If you can envision it, describe it, and write it down, you are more likely to make related decisions that will lead you to its becoming a truth. One of my very favorite passages is from the German philosopher Johann Goethe:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
The chance to draw back,
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
There is one elementary truth
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas
And endless plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in ones favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
Which no one could have dreamed would come their way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can,
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now.
Take a moment to commit to your financial vision by writing it here:
Write this vision on small slips of paper and put one on your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, with your checkbook, and tape one to your credit card (youll notice that credit card is singular, not plural, which I will get to later). You need to see this vision before you spend money or make other financial decisions.
And while were on the subject of envisioning your wealth, let me tell you one more story about the importance of actually visioning your future. For many years when I visited New York City for business or pleasure, I would walk by the Today show studio in the evening, pause, and look inside at the empty set. As I stood there, I would picture myself on the set being interviewed. I envisioned myself as comfortable and confident. So when the call came to actually appear on the show to talk about Nice Girls Dont Get the Corner Office, I was delighted but not exactly surprised. I had envisioned the moment just as I had envisioned having a successful business.
There are many more stories I could share with you of how positive visualization changed my life and the lives of others, but what I really want you to know is that you and you alone create your future. Dreaming it and envisioning it are part of that creation. If you arent as rich as you want to be, my guess is that (for whatever reasons) you havent focused on it or envisioned it as a part of your life. All I ask is that you give it a try. Turn your internal worries about money into a focus on wealth. Then follow the coaching tips in this book.
MYTHS AND MESSAGES ABOUT WOMEN AND WEALTH
The media have the power to shape our reality. From television to movies to glossy fashion magazines, a womans self-image too often depends on what the media tell her shes supposed to be. Girlfriend, you have got to get over this hurdle if you want to be rich. If you were to be the medias ideal representation of the perfect woman, you would be thin, blond, and twenty-five. Kind of like the women on Sex and the City. The only stock you would own would be a stockpile of Manolo Blahnik shoes! Now, how many of us can say were all that? Get real. Your ability to be rich is partially dependent on your ability to see the fallacy in the myths and messages we get about money. Here are ten myths and messages you need to exorcise:
1. Its just as easy to marry a rich man as it is a poor man. That may sound good in theory, but the fact remains that with about half of all marriages ending in divorce its unlikely that it will help you. Marrying rich may appear to be a blessing, but its not something you can count on. And keep in mind, there are a lot more poor men than wealthy ones.
2. You dont need to focus on getting a good education in preparation for a high-paying job, because your salary will only be a second income. A woman in one of my Nice Girl workshops said her father told her, College is just an expensive way to find a husband. Countless women we spoke with said this was a message they received when they were growing up, and they were sorry they listened to it. In some cases it was because they married and later divorced, because they never married at all, or because they became single moms.
3. Women just arent good with numbersand that includes money. How many of us grew up with it being acceptable (and expected) that we wouldnt do well in math because we were girls? That myth becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Recent research shows that girls and boys are equally equipped to be successful in math but that girls experience more anxiety around it. One teenage girl reported, I thought I would be considered less than feminine if I excelled in math.
4. Youll make a man feel impotent if you earn more money than he does. Its true that this phenomenon can create tension in households and on the dating scene, but it doesnt have to. Having frank discussions about money, budgets, and other financial matters can go a long way in reducing hidden feelings and resentment when it comes to a woman earning more than a man . . . or having more earning power.
5. Money cant buy you happiness. Of course, money doesnt buy happiness. And neither does poverty. Its not wealth or poverty that makes you happy or unhappy, its how you live your life. Money simply gives you choices that you might not otherwise have. You may recall an old line from Sophie Tucker: Ive been rich and Ive been poor; believe me, honey, rich is better. Of course, its better. If youre not happy being rich, it isnt because youre rich . . . its because youve got unresolved problems to work out. At least money can buy you a good therapist.
6. If you have too much money, youll be thought of as a rich bitch. Ive certainly known rich bitches, but Ive known many more poor ones. If youre a bitch with money, youre a bitch without money. There are many women who are generous in their commitment to philanthropic causes, but we dont talk about them as often as we do the more astringent ones. The term is often applied more out of jealousy than reality.
7. Its better to do good than to do well. This was the one that prevented me from accumulating wealth earlier in life. I thought it was more important to be of value to society than to get rich. Im here to tell you, they are not mutually exclusive. You can do good and do well simultaneously. Its called living your values. There are many ways to make a contribution to society and get richand none of them include taking low-paying, female ghetto jobs. If women showed more interest in accumulating wealth, and were advocates for acquiring it, there wouldnt be female ghettos in the workplace.
8. Its unladylike for a woman to talk about money. Explain to me how talking about money is even remotely related to ones femininity. If you stop to think about it, its not talking about money that bothers people, its being smart that troubles them. Because knowledge and money are power and women arent supposed to be powerful, it makes logical sense that women cant talk about money. Right? Wrong.
9. Work hard and the money will follow. This myth is true for both women and men, but women take it to the extreme. Theyre so busy working hard that they totally forget about getting rich. If they really thought about it, they would take some of the time they spend working hard and put that energy into managing their careers betterso they could earn more money!
10. Men are smarter than women when it comes to money. Guess what? There is no known money gene that men possess and women are born without. Countless stories that we heard from women involved them trusting men with their finances, only to discover the men lost, wasted, or stole their money. Remember, Columbus would never have made it to America if Queen Isabella hadnt financed the trip.
And you wonder why we have such a conflicted relationship with money? These are not messages that most men hear when growing up or as adults. These are messages we reserve for the exclusive domain of women and girls. And if you think its any better in 2005 than it was in 1965, think again. Even though women receive strong positive messages about the importance of saving, not spending beyond their means, avoiding credit card debt, and being financially independent, they are also still faced with the myths and messages listed above. If you doubt its true, then how would you explain the continued wage differential, differences in earned wealth, and the fact that the great majority of people who live in poverty worldwide are women and children?
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK (OR, GETTING OFF THE DIME)
Just as there isnt only one thing that prevents you from getting the corner office, there isnt just one thing that youre currently doing or not doing that is keeping you from getting rich. Some of what you read here is going to seem like common sense. Youre going to say to yourself, I already know that. Well, if you already know it, why arent you rich? Because getting rich is about combining a mind-set with the actions you need to take to get there. Thats why the following seven chapters focus not only on how you think but also on what you have to do. How you think determines how you act. So before you dismiss a particular mistake or coaching tip as obvious, take a moment to think about why you make the mistake or why youre not engaging in the behavior suggested.
Personalize the words in this book. Its what makes this book unlike others on financial planning. Its not just a list of things to do; its also about what you think and how you feel. You dont have to engage in every coaching tip suggested in this book to get rich. If you commit to doing just one-tenth of them, you will be well on the path to taking control of your financial future.
Chapters 2 to 8 describe key elements essential for financial success. Each corresponds directly with one of the columns on the Nice Girls Dont Get Rich Self-Assessment. I suggest that you go first to the sections that most closely correlate with your lowest responses on the assessment. This is where you will find the most help related to understanding your unique reasons for avoiding financial independence and tips for how to change those behaviors. Once youre done reading these sections, dont tell yourself youre going to do everything suggested in the coaching tips. That would set you up to fail. Instead, as you go along, check the coaching suggestions to which you can commit and take the time to write these behaviors on the Action Plan contained at the very end of the book.
As Goethe said, the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. The universe rewards action. You will find that when you commit to being financially independenthowever you define ityou will look differently at the world, your relationship with money, and the behaviors that contribute to (or hinder you from) getting rich. Nice girls dont get rich because they focus more on the needs of others than on their own needs and avoid taking the steps required to become truly independent. You wont get rich by being a nice girl, but you can by becoming an adult womanand dont let anyone tell you otherwise.ACTION PLAN Whatever you can do or dream you can, Begin. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. JOHANN GOETHE
Excerpted from Nice Girls Don't Get Rich , by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. . Copyright (c) 2005 by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. . Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.Back to top