Friday, August 7, 2015

Financial Friday

Following up on my New Year’s Resolution to read one financial book per month throughout the year we have yet another Financial Friday! You can find all of the previous entries HERE.

This month I chose Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? By Susan L. Hirshman. The book’s subtitle announces that it is “A Woman’s Guide to Finding Financial Empowerment and Success”. How could I turn down a shot to become financially empowered and successful? Especially when the book was free from the library?! 

The author states that she has found people understand new information easier if it is connected to something they already know and understand. She strove to find that common ground for women, a big surprise that dieting was the final choice. The author goes through the book discussing some pretty specific financial information while always relating it back to the world of dieting. 

I do admit I was a bit miffed when reading the book jacket. I had an instant push back somewhere along the lines of “Hey, don’t talk down to me! I am not stupid you know!”. I however decided to read the book since….well…..when it comes to financial matters I do FEEL stupid quite a bit of the time. I am glad I gave the book a chance because I really did find the information inside to be helpful and easy to understand.

This is NOT a book for a beginner budgeter or someone one who needs some handholding or energizing to get started on the financial fitness route. This is a much more advanced book that assumes you already have your financial house in order and now have oodles of money sitting around waiting to be invested. The author goes through and discusses the differences between Exchange Traded Funds and Mutual Funds, the benefits and complexity of Hedge Funds, how to do a risk assessment of a new investment, how to properly review your portfolio once a year, and much more.
I find that I am very week in the investment knowledge arena so I found this book to be very interesting and helpful. This is definitely not a beach side easy reading book. I found I had to really think and take notes as I was reading along. I learned some interesting facts such as portfolios are like apple pies. They can be made with a variety of ingredients (stocks, bonds, etc) all of which change the taste (reward) and calories (risk). The author really did have a way with words and never failed to connect the financial facts back to dieting to make it easier to understand.

I can now say I know the difference between an Exchange Traded Fund and an Index Fund. I know what a mutual fund is and why it is called such. Blue chips, Large Caps, Mid Caps, Small Caps, you name it I now understand what it means. All without being bored to death or throwing the book across the room in a fit of boredom induced rage. The author does cover some pretty dry material but does so in an easy to understand way that makes the reader feel like an equal.

 I think it is important to remember that the majority of adults were never taught this type of information in school. I am sorry but high school Home Economics didn’t cover how to choose a mutual find based on my risk preference. We were lucky we learned how to balance a checkbook! I have a Bachelor’s Degree and never took a single Economics class in college. We all too often feel stupid for not knowing something that we were never taught. Would we make our children feel stupid for not knowing their multiplication tables when we had never even mentioned what they were much less taught them to them? Of course not. So why do we, especially women, let ourselves feel stupid for not understanding investments? Time to stop that kind of thinking right this second. It is time to educate ourselves in the areas we are weak in and in turn educate our children. My children will be learning Economics in High School. Not just how to balance a checkbook, that is important too, but also what the major three investment opportunities are, how they work, and when to purchase them.
I would recommend this book to any woman who wants to learn about investments and feel more in control of their finances. I however would recommend reading a more basic financial book (you can find several in my Financial Friday Series) before hand and getting a real handle on your budget, spending, and savings. Years ago as a newlywed I read a book along the lines of this one……it didn’t go well. I was stressed out, in debt, on a low income, and new babies arriving every 2 years. Reading a book about where to put my 15% towards retirement just sent me over the edge. I was having trouble buying diapers where was I supposed to come up with 15% to go in a retirement account?!  I felt like even more of a failure then I had when I picked up the book. So trust me, if you are struggling and looking for encouragement and ideas to pull yourself out of debt and start saving start with a more basic financial book. If you are currently saving and ready to learn more about investment accounts this is the book for you!

*****I was not asked to review this book and received no compensation for my review. *****

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