As my daughter approaches the end of her first quarter-century, I want to pass on what I’ve learned in my first half-century about women’s money, finance and prosperity. As the saying goes, “Too soon we get old and too late we get smart.” Ruefully we admit that learning mostly happened when we failed or made mistakes. Is it too late to change? Never! The School of Hard Knocks never closes its doors.
1. Hard work is good–for its own sake. Hard work may not result in money to you, but it can be fun. When you reach the point in life where you look back on what you accomplished, the highlights are often those hard-work times.
2. Get an education. Borrowing for education is legitimate. Borrowing to buy essentials like food or rent, however, is the last step to ruin. Borrowing to buy luxuries is plain insane. Borrowing to invest is for experts–don’t try this at home unless you’ve put in your 10,000 hours to become an expert, in which case you already have an education.
3. Credit cards are the instrument of the devil. ‘Nuff said.
4. The credit industry is really a debt industry and a population-control device. Don’t play the game.
5. Most jobs are slavery. They eat your days and your health but seldom further your goals except with the gifts of experience and insight. A job may be worth that–but only for a while. Never pay for a job with your self-esteem.
6. Assume you will be unemployable at some point, even many points. Prepare to be self-employed. This is why you want to be a professional of some kind.
7. Your goal is to move from selling your time to selling product. There will be times when you need your hours for other things, like getting well or raising children. That’s when you need to be selling product.
8. Marriage is potentially the worst deal you’ll ever make. No matter how well you think you know him, your husband could turn out to be your slave-master or your sycophant. Before you marry or even live together, put your assets into some kind of trust and NEVER use them for a family purpose–or are you not serious about surviving a divorce? Marry broke and keep your assets clear of the marriage unless you like the idea of your elderly head on a stone pillow.
9. Having children is a ruinous idea but also the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do. Try to build up assets beforehand so that you can be an independent parent if need be–at least have a home in your name you can pay for. If you become a financially vulnerable parent, that is a time to use tools like insurance for protection.
10. At all times, have a will written by a lawyer expert in the field.
11. Assume the currency with which you live will not hold its value forever. Assume you could be reduced to living off the land somewhere and invest in land accordingly.
12. Learn the law, especially property law. Knowledge is power in this field as nowhere else.
13. Be as beautiful as possible (and that means healthy, too!). Youth and beauty are capital that seldom lasts long. One day it will dawn on you that the reason your offers and invitations to do business have declined is that you are no longer an object of desire to the people who still run the planet, or think they do–men.
14. Expect rape and pillage. Remember you are a life-long target for people who can’t make it on their own. Packs of marauders roam the planet looking for trusting chumps. If you appear well off or are obviously insured (lawyers, doctors, etc), this is especially true. Be wary. That way you can be pleasantly surprised on finding a few trustworthy people.
15. Diversify your holdings, but keep to basic values–land, gold, essentials for life.
16. The Western economic system is a house of cards full of poisonous gases–don’t get caught inside when the thing blows up. Always have an escape route in the form of a second citizenship, second viable home, and enough money to get there. Be at least two people.
17. Remember that every time you buy something not strictly needed, you contribute to pollution by prosperity. Why burden your life with the useless, the ugly, the expendable, the redundant, the extravagant? Do yourself and the planet a favor–forego the mountains of crap for sale on the poor old Earth’s crust.
18. Neither a miser nor a spendthrift be. Society despises both. Don’t hang onto your money to become rich–that doesn’t work–but don’t throw it away on buying friendship, either.
19. Hold to your grandmother’s rule for prosperity: First do the things that make money; then do the things that save money; then do everything else.
20. Pay it forward. Practise generosity while you can.
Congratulations on your first degree from the School of Hard Knocks. Onward now to the PHD (Piled Higher and Deeper)! Go forth and BE A SOVEREIGN WOMAN!