A while back I was really into reading personal finance books. Suze Orman’s Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny was the last of the finance books I read. While the book was very obviously written before the economic collapse in 2008 (published in 2007), many of the her basic tenants of finance are still very practical in the new economic climate.

Women & Money

Because the book is written for women, it starts out by describing the eight qualities of a wealthy women: Harmony, balance, courage, generosity, happiness, wisdom, cleanliness, and beauty. Orman believes that by taking control of all areas of a woman’s life and mental state, she becomes a better person. Her eight qualities are a guideline and a goal for all women to live their lives by. One interesting part of this book are the countless personal examples from Orman and the women she has helped over the years, and they all exhibit one or more of these qualities in their path to financial freedom.

Like every personal finance book, Women & Money has a plan to help readers get their finances under control. Orman’s plan is called the “Save Yourself Plan” and is based on the believe that before you can take care of the other people in your life, you must take care of yourself. Similar to how parents must put their own masks on in case of an emergency on a plane, making yourself financially stable allows you to help the people around you also become stable.

Step one is focused on checking and saving accounts. She strongly encourages women to open their own accounts, even if they are married and share household responsibilities with their spouse. One sign of this book being several years old are the recommended bank accounts and interest rates on savings accounts–a woman reading this book today can almost certainly count on the listed accounts not existing anymore. Step two focused on credit cards and credit scores. Again, Organ strongly encourages women to get their own card and actively monitor their credit report separate from a spouse. In step three, retirement investing is addressed. This chapter especially stressed the need for women to control their own finances, as a women general live longer than men and need investments that reflect those extra years. This is also where Orman is strongest about protecting yourself before others, using questions from women torn between saving for retirement or saving for their children’s college education. She advises women to save for their own retirement, so that when they get older their children won’t be burdened with their care. Not because children won’t be willing to help parents, but because it was your responsibility and not theirs to save for your life after retirement.

Steps four and five focus heavily on important documents to protect your investments. In step four, Orman goes over all the necessary legal documents every woman should have: a will, a living tryst, and durable power of attorney. She goes over what each document does, how to set them up with your lawyer, and how often they need to be updated. I found this chapter interesting, as I had never thought before about a will being a financial document. But as part of the “take control of your finances” message, Orman strongly pushes all women to be prepared for every situation, even death. Step five covers how to protect your family and home with the proper insurance.  Again, she goes over the different types (especially with life insurance) and how to evaluate plans to find the best one.

Although parts of Women & Money are dates, the advice is invaluable to any reader–the act of taking care of your finances isn’t selfish, it ensures that you can take care of yourself and the other people in your life to the best of your abilities. The book is heavily geared toward older women with families, so while I wasn’t the target audience it was extremely helpful to see what steps I need to take to control my finances all the way into retirement. While I might recommend some of her newer books to my mother, friends, and cousins, Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny is still a great financial book.