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Money advice: 10 essential lessons from successful women

Financial role models are important – especially for women, according to finance industry veteran, Barbara Stewart, who has spent the past few years researching the relationship between money and women. According to her research, most women acquire their financial knowledge from other people, not from textbooks, newspapers or financial institutions.Whether it’s your mother, your father, a grandparent or a neighbour, role models – good and bad – play a huge part in shaping our financial selves.

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When I was growing up, my mother ran a talent agency – she nurtured actors through the ups and downs of what can be a really tough business. It was her job to negotiate and make sure her clients were paid what they were worth – she worked long hours, but she loved her job and she always made it look like fun. She was a financial role model for me. Not only did she teach me that I need to get paid what I’m worth she also taught me to try and make work fun, even when the job you do isn’t always enjoyable.

Financial role models are important – especially for women, according to finance industry veteran, Barbara Stewart, who has spent the past few years looking at the relationship between money and women. According to her research, most women acquire their financial knowledge from other people, not from textbooks, newspapers or financial institutions.

Whether it’s your mother, your father, a grandparent or a neighbour, role models – good and bad – play a huge part in shaping our financial selves.

That’s why Stewart travelled around the world, talking to successful women and asking who their financial role models were when they were growing up. She’s bundled those stories into a research report called “Rich Thinking: A Guide to Building Financial Confidence in Girls and Women” (she even interviewed me about my mother and my story appears in the book).  

Stewart’s report presents a rich spectrum of experiences, as women discuss their role models and, in turn, how their financial mistakes and successes helped them develop fulfilling lives. Those experiences are fodder for 10 great pieces of advice for women when it comes to building fulfilling relationships with money and their careers. Those 10 lessons are: 

1. Decide what lifestyle you want. Whether it’s a big house or lots of time off to travel, you need to get clear on how you want to live.

2. Plan and be persistent. If you look back at how a person became successful, there was almost always a well-thought out plan that was followed with tenacity.

3. Get smart! Cultivating our intelligence is one of the most important things we can do to ensure our happiness and financial success in life. Education builds our confidence to take decisions, to face life and to accept successes and failures.

4. Start work young. What do you want to be when you grow up? This question can be overwhelming for young people….One thing there does some to be evidence for is that starting work young can boost confidence.

5. Get paid for what you do. Sometimes we are so grateful to be pursuing our passion or even just to have a good job, we aren’t inclined to concern ourselves with how much we actually earn. The onus is on the individual to do the research and find out the value of their contribution to the marketplace. From there, ask for this amount and don’t settle for less. It never feels good to be underpaid – we know in our hearts this isn’t fair.

6. Have faith in yourself and your dreams. We vary greatly in the length of time it takes us to act on our inner wisdom but in the end, we all agree that our dreams are a gift. It is up to us to honour and follow them.

7. Be independent. Freedom is taking responsibility for one’s own very existence. Being free to come and go as you please is made much easier by having your own money.

8. Seize opportunities. We must deliberately stay alert and be ready when opportunities present themselves. Even disappointments and injuries can contain the opportunity to view circumstances in a new, richer light. Being in the right place at the right time is a matter of willingness to act rather than luck.

9. Respect money but don’t let it define you. Whether we grew up with messages about money being the root of all evil or money being our greatest ally, ultimately we need to have respect for money. Although our true personal wealth isn’t measured in terms of the size of our bank account, money does offer us the freedom to do the things we want to do and go the places we want to go.

10. Know when to ask for help. Many of us feel the need to prove ourselves – we try to do it all. Over time this becomes unproductive as our energy is being spread too thin rather than being focused on our core strengths. Have the courage to acknowledge what you are good at and seek out the advice of experts when needed.