Money Moves

Financial writer Liz Weston shares 8 smart money management tips for women.

Women have unique reasons to understand and take control of their finances—so says financial writer Liz Weston. “We earn less than men, we live longer, and we take breaks from employment to raise kids—all of which make us economically vulnerable,” explains Liz, a columnist for NerdWallet (a personal finance site), syndicated financial writer and longtime Studio City resident.
Here Liz offers some must-know money tips for women.

Start Saving Early 

“And continue to contribute, no matter what,” says Weston. “Retirement needs to be the cornerstone of your savings—then leave the money the hell alone! Women are living longer and are paid less so you have to save more than is sometimes comfortable. We don’t want to be old, but we really don’t want to be old and broke.”

Think Twice About Quitting

Want to quit your job to stay home with the your baby? Think again. Look at the long-term cost in terms of being eligible for raises, loss of 401K savings  and career position. “If you stay in the job,” says Weston, “you’ll be in a better place when your kids are in school than if you dropped out and tried to come back in.” At the very least, keep one foot in the door and work part-time.

Know What You’re Worth

“When I had to quote a day rate for the first time I had no idea what to ask for,” shares Liz. “A neighbor who was an entertainment attorney said ask for X—and it was 10 times what I would have asked for. So I did, and I got it!” she says, adding that women must learn what others are paid in their fields. “We need to be more aggressive advocates for ourselves.”

Entrepreneur With Caution

Being an entrepreneur has many benefits. “But before you take that leap, get a really good understanding of the market, how much you can expect to earn and how long it will take for you to be profitable,” says Liz. “And make sure you have a big fat emergency fund, because things will go wrong.” She also suggests getting a good line of credit, “for slow-pay clients and unexpected expenses that pop up.”

Educate Yourself

“A lot of women have never paid attention to finances, or felt it was beyond them,” Liz says. “But you can learn this; it’s within your grasp.” A few books she recommends—Prince Charming Isn’t Coming by Barbara Stanny and Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson.

Consult With a Financial Planner

When you need outside advice, see a fee-only financial planner. “These people are paid only by the fees you pay them—not from commission or kickbacks,” advises Liz. If you already have a financial planner, ask if he or she is willing to be a fiduciary for you. “This means that your interests will come first and he or she will act only in your best interest.” 

Be Smart about Taxes

Want to do your own taxes? Take advantage of reasonably priced software like Turbo Tax. “But if you have anything complex or unusual, it makes so much sense to meet with a tax pro, someone you can talk to and ask questions of.” 

Build a Support Team

“You want to build a team of people who help you with your finances and who you can trust,” counsels Liz. This will include a Certified Financial Planner and a tax professional. “If cost is an issue, consider an enrolled agent as your tax pro. They’re not as expensive as a CPA and many enrolled agents are former IRS agents so they’re knowledgeable. What you want is someone who lives and breathes taxes, who does it 24/7 rather than part-time and who can represent you in front of the IRS if there is an audit.”

Liz Weston has written several books, including 10 Commandments of Money. For more of Liz’s advice,  go to asklizweston.com.

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