Are you always living paycheque to paycheque with no idea where your money goes? Is your pension plan actually a half-baked notion of marrying a man with millions? Do you get a cold sweat when the credit-card bill comes through the door?
Well, first of all, you're not alone. A new 'Women, Money and Power Study' by Allianz Life found that more than half of all women across the earning spectrum worry about finances and, even if they have a good income, they're terrified they'll lose it all.
Yet this fear doesn't translate into taking control, with Visa's International Barometer of Women's Financial Literacy revealing that on average women are less likely to follow a budget than men and will have less saved in emergency funds.
But a new book is looking to change all that. The Wealthy Woman – A Man Is Not A Financial Plan by money guru Mary Waring reckons women need to pull their heads out of the sand and start empowering themselves when it comes to cash.
Waring, a former London City worker turned personal financial adviser, was horrified by how many women avoid dealing with their finances because they "don't do maths". She says: "If you're bright enough to be a scientist, doctor, lawyer, bring up a family of three kids and manage to get them all to the right school/ right football practice/right ballet lessons at the right time, then you're actually bright enough to get to grips with your finances."
So if you want to take that first step towards financial independence, she suggests 10 top tips, but, beware, not one of them involves marrying a millionaire ...
1 Forget 'Fake it till you make it'
The whole 'we're worth it' philosophy is a ploy designed to leave us in debt. You might think you 'deserve' the Marc Jacobs handbag and that if you dress the part, then the pay rise will follow. But Waring says no,
"Here's a radical thought. Why not wait until you've earned that bonus, salary rise, or extra income before you spend it?" says Waring. Moreover, your short-term indulgences could be standing in the way of long-term goals. If you want to save for a house, you can't go out several times a week and buy everything you want.
2 Saving is interesting – start young
Throughout her book, Waring uses the examples of Savvy Sarah and Not-so-savvy Nicola, the first representing a wise attitude to saving, the latter tends to spend all her cash on flashy dinners and nice shoes (hmmm, to which one do most of us relate?). But infuriating as Savvy Sarah is, she does prove the point that putting a little bit away from an early age reaps rewards in interest.
For example: Sarah starts putting away €25 a month in her 20s, in an account with 5pc return a year, meaning she has €38,000 by the time she's 60.
Nicola starts 10 years later, in the same account, but only has €21,000 by the time she's 60. Even though she's saved three quarters the amount that Sarah has, the effect of compound interest (interest paid on interest) means that Sarah ends up with almost twice as much money as Nicola when they reach 60.
Waring says: "The longer you delay before you start saving, the more you need to put in each month to get the same end figure."
4 Plan SMART
Once you know your worth you can set a goal for what you'd like that net worth to be in a year's time. When goal setting, you should follow the SMART rule; S: Be Specific. 'I want to increase my wealth by €2,000' rather than just 'I want to be more wealthy'
M: Measurable. Keep writing down where the money is coming from and going out A: Attainable. Don't be unrealistic about what you can achieve R: Relevant. Chose a motivator for your saving, for example, saving for a house