Check out our fail-safe tips for a sheconomical 2010 on handbag.com or read the extract below......
Want to be better with your money? Answer the questions that Karen and Simonne have devised below. If you answer ‘yes' to any of them, take note of the tips and put them on your 2010 to-do list.
1. Are you financially immature?
We think we're grown-up, running a home, holding down a job. And then a money problem comes along and our inner child is unleashed. It's a common problem with women and it can stem from being over-protected when young, or from naively believing things will just work out somehow. The first step to being financially savvy is to be in charge of your money. Make financial independence your goal this year.
Tip: Find out about what you earn and what you owe. Sign up for online banking and monitor your finances regularly. Open bills and statements as soon as they arrive and deal with them.
2. Are you secretly scared of money?
Money is an emotionally loaded topic. Lots of women have fears about money. They can remind us of the doom-laden warnings from our parents. Or can be triggered by the technical language and jargon used by the finance world. Fear stops us taking action, so resolve to be ahead of the game this year.
Tip: Break big goals down into small, manageable steps and take one action now. Own up to the gaps in your knowledge and buddy up with someone who knows. Visit a plain speaking, friendly money website regularly, such as moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk. Or talk to a financial coach. If you want to empower yourself - find out how compound interest works (see www.fool.co.uk).
3. Do you have a shopping habit?
Shopping has become the way many women regulate their emotions. Research for sheconomics.com found that women use shopping to cheer themselves up, relieve stress or anesthetise themselves against painful emotions. That heady buzz from spending quickly wears off though, leaving only feelings of shame and guilt. Resolve to get high on life, not high on shopping, this year.
Tip: Know why you shop when you do. Spend only when you need the goods, not the buzz. Find alternatives to shopping that boost mood, like exercise, cooking for friends, dancing or gardening. Deal with your emotions, don't take them shopping.
4. Are you afraid to ask for money?
Women are still paid less than men and are far too reluctant to ask for money. If you undervalue yourself then you will be under-paid. Watch your self-limiting beliefs. Just because you hated maths at school doesn't mean you shouldn't have money. And working your socks off doesn't necessarily mean you'll get rewarded. Payback is more likely if you're upfront and ask for it. Be bolder this year. That includes negotiating for better deals and refusing to pay for bad service.
Tip: Ask for what you're worth and don't be fobbed off. Prepare your case and be proactive. If you've hit an earnings barrier, consider moving. If you're self-employed make sure your rates reflect what you're giving and the time you put in.
5. Are you a ‘live now, pay later' person?
Most women today will out-live the men in their lives. Many will also out-live their own savings. What will you do when you can no longer earn money? The earlier you start putting money away for your dotage, the less it costs you. If you haven't begun, resolve to make a gift to your future self this year.
Tip: If your company has a pension scheme, join it now. Or find out about pension options. Pay yourself first: automatically divert a set amount from your account into a savings or pension scheme every month. Confused by all the options? Just remember, doing nothing is the worst possible option.
6. Are you spending more than you earn?
Being financially savvy isn't about what you earn, it's about what you keep. Salary creep is when our spending rises with our salary, and even overtakes it. Aim to save 10% of your salary consistently. Be ready for those unexpected expenses (the boiler blowing up, car repair, job loss or even pregnancy) otherwise they'll plunge you into debt.
Tip: Track your spending for a month and plug the leaks. Shop around for the best deals on your mortgage, utilities, mobile phone etc. Deal with debt now. Seek help if you're in too deep (see cccs.co.uk for free counselling and assistance). Cut up your credit card until you can afford to pay it off in full every month. Have an emergency cushion equivalent to three months' expenses.
Win a copy of Sheconomics - we've got 10 copies to give away! Stay tuned for our Sheconomics money webchat with Karen and Simonne later in January.
Article appeared on handbag.com 31.12.10