Nice Girls Don't Get Rich

Lois Frankel's Nice Girls Don't Get Rich was recommended to me but I don’t remember how or by whom. It may have just been on someone’s to read list and I stole it. I’m really not sure.

It’s a pretty good book. I don’t think I’d recommend it as a book for someone who knows nothing about financial planning. It’s not a great introductory book but it’s a pretty good supplement. Personally I’d recommend The Wealthy Barber or Smart Women Finish Rich for introduction (in case anyone was wondering, yes I really hate the use of the word "rich" in these titles - I don't want to be rich necessarily - I just don't want to live the rest of my life as poor as the first 25 years). Preferably both since Chilton makes really good points and Bach has some really useful exercises. They disagree on the matter of real estate and I have to say that Chilton’s point makes a lot more sense to me. You’ll just have to read to find out what it is. (But for love of whatever it is that you believe in – do *not* give those books to your son/daughter/whoever when they are just entering or are in university/college – at least not if they are anything like me. A bag of chips broke my budget back then – the thought of setting aside money to invest was enough to make myself laugh hard enough to pee my pants and then cry because I was so poor. Hell the thought that anyone assumed that I had income could cause hysterics. I will concede that college graduation or at the beginning of their first post-grad post might be appropriate even though none of these stupid books talk nearly enough about student loans if you ask me – not that you did.)

This book does have some things going for it though. It’s really easy to scan through. I’ve been through the whole book, cover to cover in a few hours. I didn’t stop to read every mistake that she mentioned and I didn’t read most of them in-depth but I did look at them all. Some were really easy for me to dismiss because they didn’t apply to me – they were about married women, single moms and small businesses. Also there were a couple that were directed to Americans which again didn’t apply to me.

Every mistake has its own set of coaching tips. These were useful suggestions for what to do if that problem occurs to you. I liked this set up.

Did I see mistakes that I have made/still make? Hell yeah.
Did I see more of these than I’d care to admit? See above.

Wanna know what part of the book nailed me the most? Come on, you know you do. Nosy people! Lol It was the spending your money wisely part. Particularly Mistake #29: Spending Money to Save Money. Basically I know how to save money when I’m shopping for groceries, clothes, appliances, etc. I grew up poor and I spent 5 years as a poor university students and 2.5 year more as a poor working slug (ok, ok I made nice bonuses that increased my annual income by about 30% but my regular monthly income sucked ass so I couldn’t actually do anything with those bonuses other than do things like go to the eye doctor and pay down some on debt). But what I don’t know is how to simply SAVE money. How do I NOT spend it?

I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, or student loan check to student loan check for so long I don’t know how the hell to do anything else. And it’s so strange to actually *have* money and be able to do things without worrying about it. I want to live below my means, ideally, but I also want to maintain a certain standard of living. I never want to live on only pasta again (although amazingly I still really like pasta – the same cannot be said for rice…). I want to be able to buy that book that costs $20 or that sweater that costs $40. True I can always justify these purchases – books by nature are always justifiable because they are books and sweaters are always needed cause well, I live in Canada and it’s cold here (except when we are having 11 straight days of extreme heat warnings in a row…). It’s been so long since I was actually able to do things. But I’m working out ways to not overextend myself. I want to have a nest egg.

Something I really, really liked about this book is that it says to take 3 to 6 months to simply do nothing. Use that time to read and educate yourself, to track your spending habits, to get a handle on what you spend money on and how much you spend on it. Figure out your networth. Calculate how much you will need to retire, or go on that trip, or whatever goal you set for yourself.

Figure out what you need to cut. I already know what one of my problems is – I tend to spend a lot more on weekends without thinking about it. I need to start setting budgets on weekends. But they are such a treat for me because it gets me out of this stupid apartment (but that will change in 16 days! Yay!). I get to socialize with people which is a big deal for me since I do work from home and spend most days only talking to my cat, the walls, yelling at the tv and IM’ing people in MSN. And of course blogging. But I know that this is a problem area for me and I’m working on it. I’m soooooooo bad at depriving myself of what I want. Lol

Something else I liked, and something I’ve started doing lately when the urge to buy something impulsively slams into me like a bus, is this: stop and calculate how many hours you had to work for that item.

Actually individual items aren’t my downfall. It’s more bunches of small items that don’t cost much that add up to a larger amount than you thought. I’ve been paying much closer attention to that lately, and again I’m getting better. For example, I went to Ikea the other day and I managed to only spend $53 (Canadian dollars even!). That’s a record for me. I think the least I had ever spend there before was probably about $150-200. How did I do it? First of all, I went with a list. Now my list is never written in stone – I’m always prepared to add things to it provided they are not large ticket items or just pure junk. At the same time, I also know that I may deviate from the list by removing items (case in point – I couldn't find a couple of things that I wanted – I don’t think they make the cheese grater I like any more, boo them). Secondly, I went with a purpose. I needed some necessities for my new apartment. Thirdly, I went alone. I was able to just look at what I wanted to look at and didn’t have to worry about what other people thought and didn’t have to listen to them go on about how wonderful something that wasn’t on my list was and how I needed it. And for those of you who can’t do anything on your own – get over it and start doing it - cause really I have a whole rant in me about that and you probably don't want to hear it (cause I'm right). And finally – I don’t have a car so I have to take public transit to the store. I’m limited by how much I can carry. You suddenly start wondering if you really need that shoe rack/10 baskets/plant after all. The trip served the added bonus of allowing me to investigate some things I’ve had my eye on for awhile. They have a bed that I like and that is fairly inexpensive but I was worried about quality. I sat on it and poked and pulled on it and it was as sturdy as I was hoping it would be which was a pleasant surprise. I also found out that the cheap loveseat I was considering was as hard as rock and not worth the money. I found one that I like but it's a wee bit pricey. I'll see how I managed with my hippie pillows first.

Anyway, this has turned into a ramble. Basically – it a good supplement and there is useful information in there. You don’t have to read every single one of the mistake. The 75 mistakes each have short explanations and coaching tips. It’s easy to pick and choose what applies to you.

Now what would a discussion about finances be without an exercise? Those of you who like me cannot afford to pay off all your credit card debt at once – go look at how much interest you were charged on your last bill. Multiply that by 12. If you have more than one credit card do it for all of them and add up all the totals. Look at the amount and figure out what you could have for that same amount.

Me? I could fly home for a visit. I could fly to Florida or Las Vegas. I could go for one massage a month for 11 months. I could check into a local spa for a 2 day retreat (or invited a friend and treat us both to a day of pampering). I could make 4 round trips to Montreal by train (plus money left over towards a fifth or dinner at L'Entrecote St-Jean for two). I could buy more than 30 CDs. I could pay my cell phone bill for a year. I could almost buy the love seat I want. I could almost pay a full months rent. I could almost pay off one of those damned credit cards!