Thursday 30 October 2014

A man is not a plan: five strategies for women to get rich

Published 23/02/2014 | 02:30

WEALTH BEYOND IMAGINATION: Laurene Powell Jobs is Disney’s largest shareholder. Photo: Gus Ruelas/Reuters

Fashion legend Donatella Versace and beer heiress Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken are amongst the richest women in the world. So to are Elena Baturina (the Russian businesswoman and owner of Dublin's Morrison Hotel), and Laurene Powell Jobs – widow of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Disney's largest shareholder.

Most women can only dream of earning the fortunes that these wealthy ladies have under their belt. However, you don't have to be rolling in it to be wealthy – wealth could simply mean having enough money to do the things that you plan to do in the future, according to Mary Waring, a British author and financial adviser.

Waring, who has worked with hundreds of women to help them take control of their finances, has just published a new book, The Wealthy Woman (with the killer subtitle "a man is not a financial plan") and adds that the book, was inspired by her mother, who taught her not to depend on men for money.

If you're a woman who is itching to become wealthy – or you simply want to be financially independent, here are five steps Waring believes will help you get there.

* Save before you spend

Set up a standing order or direct debit to put money into a savings account as soon as you get paid. "If you do this, you're more likely to save money," said Waring.

Women often see their earning power slashed the minute children come along. Although modern men usually play a much larger role in childcare than has been the case in the past, childcare responsibilities can eat into the hours that women were once available to work, which can in turn damage their prospects for promotions and pay rises.

"Women with children will often earn less than those without kids," said Waring. "A lot of these women don't save because they can only afford to put a small amount of money away, so they don't think it's worth their while. Small change adds up over the long term, however, so save on a regular basis – even if it's a small amount."

* Don't wait for a windfall

If you're relying on a future inheritance to dig you out of a financial black hole – or you expect a massive pay rise to land in your lap – wise up.

"A lot of women say they're going to rely on inheritance for their retirement," said Waring. "But remember you've no idea when your parents will pass away and whether or not the family home will be used to fund nursing home bills, which can be very expensive. You could also be hit with an inheritance tax bill."

Don't put off making hard financial decisions in the hope that you'll be better off financially one day. "Don't think that things are going to get easier – there are always going to be calls on your income," said Waring. "If you spend too much money now, it will have implications down the line. The later you leave it to start saving, the more pressure you will be under to save money in the future."

* Know where the money is

Waring, who specialises in divorce, meets a lot of married women whose husbands manage all of the family's finances.

"Frequently, the wife looks after the house and the children, while the husband looks after the money," said Waring. "If you're one of these women, you need to sit down with your husband and understand how much cash the family has – and where it is.

"Otherwise, if your husband dies, or you get divorced, you will be at a total loss. You need to know how much money is in investments and pensions. There may be lots of money in investments – but if you don't know where it is, it's no use to you."

* Learn how to earn

If you're a career woman, find out what you can do to earn more money. How you approach this will depend on whether you are an employee, or self-employed.

"If you're an employee, ask your boss what you need to do to get to the next pay grade," said Waring. "Are there some skills you can learn which will make you more valuable to your boss? If your existing boss does not have sufficient scope for advancement and promotion, why not consider what other opportunities are available elsewhere?"

Your boss could fund training for you – but even if they refuse do to so, it could be worth the investment to pay for it yourself. This will improve your selling power to your employer and other perspective ones.

If you're self-employed, see if you can offer a premium service for which you can charge more. "Increasing your income as a self-employed woman doesn't necessarily have to mean working longer hours," said Waring. "That's not, in fact, acceptable to the majority of women who are desperately trying to find ways to reduce their working hours.

"What I'm suggesting is to work smarter, not harder. Think about what additional service you can offer your clients that will add significantly to your profit margin, without adding significantly to your hours."

* Clear the expensive debt

If you've got expensive debt, such as a hefty credit card bill, find out how much the interest will cost you over time and what the total cost of the debt adds up to. Clear expensive debt as soon as you can.

"Don't allow yourself to be the person that the credit card companies can't wait to get their hands on because you're such a great profit earner for them," said Waring.

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