We asked Eleanor Blayney to tell us what prompted her to write her new book, Women’s Worth. She is the President of Direction$LLC –offering financial advice for women because women ask for directions. Read an excerpt from the new book, followed by her comments.
Here’s a short section from the new book.
“What does money mean to you? Two extreme answers come to mind: Money means nothing to me. Money means everything to me. You may find yourself simultaneously attracted to and repelled by each of these two answers, not quite certain what you think, or what you should think. In addition to the previous answers, nothing and everything, I propose another:
It’s just grease.
The new option—the idea that money is just grease—is the one I encourage you to consider as we go forward on this journey of financial discovery. Thinking of money as just grease is a great way to put it in its proper perspective. It does not do anything on its own, but properly used with foresight and reason, it makes things happen, makes things go. By itself, it is a toxic substance and can be very messy. Applied sensibly on a routine basis, it can make life run more smoothly.” (Pages 22-23)
Women’s Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence
Comments by the author, Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, President of Direction$ LLC
In 2008, I was standing in the front of an auditorium addressing alumna from my own alma mater, Mount Holyoke college – a small liberal arts, women-only college nestled in the low hills of central Massachusetts. I had been a Certified Financial PlannerTM for over twenty years, and because women clients seemed naturally to flock to me as a woman, I thought I understood most of the money issues that today’s women face.
My presentation to the college alum had been on some fairly sophisticated charitable gifting techniques, and when I finished, I expected some probing questions from this well-educated audience of executives, elected officials, professors, and managers.
When the questions came, however, I was stunned. The women did not want to discuss gifting strategies, but demanded far more basic information. “Where can I get a financial planner?” “How do I find an advisor I can trust or who doesn’t talk down to me?” “How can I get my husband to talk to me about our money?”
Until that day, I had not fully appreciated the extent to which women feel out of touch with financial issues. With the growing economic power of women, and the advances made by women in professions typically dominated by men, I had assumed that women – out of necessity as well as self-regard, had started getting more involved in personal finance. Certainly the women who came to me for advice had taken this step. But here was a room full of smart, capable women who had not yet crossed the starting line. How many more women like them were out there, uninformed and unadvised?
It was at that moment in the MHC auditorium that I realized I needed to write a book on personal finance for women. I did a fair amount of research and talking to other advisors and financial service companies to see what was known about women’s attitudes about money, and what efforts were being made to more fully engage them in their own financial planning.
I discovered that women are deeply anxious about finances, but also very dissatisfied with the way the financial world has been talking to them. It’s not enough to put a pink bow on marketing materials, or to dumb-down presentations on investing – in fact, these efforts are alienating women rather than encouraging them to take financial control.
I wrote “Women’s Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence” to speak to women in and on their own terms. The book is not a lecture, but a kitchen-table conversation about the fundamentals of personal finance.
I tell stories about my own financial journey, as well as stories of women clients, friends, and family, that are intended to show women readers that they are not alone when it comes to money; that it is okay not to know everything about investing, that for most women, it is pointless to talk about monetary values when we haven’t addressed the true values that women are concerned about: their families, their communities, their autonomy and self-development.
Once upon a time – in fact, when I was a little girl – it was culturally acceptable for women to let others do the financial management. This model no longer works in a world where women have careers, divorces, 401(k)s, even mortgages in their name. With or without a partner, women need to own and assert their worth as financial decision makers. “Women’s Worth” can help women do this.
Eleanor Blayney is President of Direction$ LLC, with the mission of empowering, educating, and engaging women in personal finance. She also serves as the Consumer Advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, educating consumers and the media about the value of financial planning and the importance of working with a qualified professional.