Happy New Year, ladies! January is the month where I will be featuring what I call “The Best of the Best.”  The first thing we’re tackling is the best money advice for women. And why? Because the beginning of the year is a chance to start afresh, leaving our past mistakes behind, and choosing new ways to live for a better future. Yes, I know it sounds corny, but there is something special about the beginning of the year. Everything feels new. Everyone seems to have a fresh surge of energy to live better, and make better choices.

Might as well join that bandwagon.

So let me start the year and the month with the best money advice for women that I have ever heard.

I have put together here 5 pieces of advice (and one challenge) from industry experts as well as everyday people who have found success in taking charge of their finances. Read on, enjoy, and take to heart what you feel best applies to you!

Manage your own money.

This is the number one most important point for women.

Easy (not to mention non-negotiable) for the singles women, but there are women out there who went straight from their parent’s house into married life, and have never had to take charge of their own finances. It may seem easy to give control to the male figure in your life when you’re young, but this can cause real problems later on.

What do I mean by this? Well, women generally outlive men, so that at some point in their lives, many women inadvertently end up single, and unfortunately know nothing of how financial matters.

And no, please don’t think that your adult son or daughter will take care of your finances at that point.

Kathleen McQuiggan, a wealth adviser with Artemis Financial Advisors says her best money advice is this: “Understand your own personal balance sheet, making sure you understand what you spend, what you earn and what you set aside to invest in your future.” 

And Kathleen Grace, a financial planner who wrote the bestselling “Prince Not So Charming,” recommends that women should manage their own finances at each stage of her life.

If you’re raising a little girl, make sure you teach her about finances early, which brings us to point number 2…

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Talk about money with your nearest and dearest.

The founder of KBK Wealth Connection, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, offers this as her best piece of financial advice for women. “To truly be financially successful, you need to engage in money conversations at work and at home — and not be afraid of finance.”

Let’s face it, money is not the most pleasant topic to talk about. Many women are afraid to talk about money, feeling like they don’t know enough about it to contribute to the discussion. A lot of women, especially from earlier generations, or those who were raised in more traditional Asian households, have left money matters to men.

Let’s change this. Start with your spouse or your partner. Then bring in your closest friends. After all, don’t we want to be able to tell the people in our lives about everything that’s important to us?

And I don’t just mean bad news either—how high inflation is, how expensive was last semester’s tuition. Talk about bargains, savings, good investment tips. Break the taboo with talking about money, things are so much better out in the open. For more tips on breaking the money taboo, we’ve got you covered right here.

Start putting aside your 5-dollar bills

Pocket your fivers, and you’ll be amazed at how much money you end up saving. One woman in the United States was able to save US $40,000 just because she put aside every five dollar bill she found in her possession. It took some time, yes, but it was also a painless process that soon became a habit that she did automatically. The results were well worth it.

The woman, Marie Campagna Franklin, a former journalist with the Boston Globe says, “All you have to do is make two commitments: one is use more cash in your daily consumption, and two, tuck away every $5 [bill] that comes back as change, and there’s nothing else you have to worry about,” she says. “It just adds up.”

Always keep the money in your wallet organized.

Okay, this one sounds so simple, but it works because of the discipline involved the process. If you take the time to arrange your money (in ascending order with the same bills together, face up), make sure your coin purse is not overstuffed (you could ruin it that way), your credit cards, IDs, receipts and everything else you put there is orderly, chances are you’ll  also be diligent about your bank accounts, bills and finances in general.

How you arrange your wallet really does reflect your relationship with money. Financial adviser Stacy Francis, the founder of Savvy Ladies, a non-profit financial education organization geared toward empowering women, says, “You should think about your wallet like you think about making a first impression with potential employer, client, or date. The way you treat the wallet and the money in your wallet is a direct message about what you’re saying about yourself. If you pay more attention to your money and the way it’s organized, you’ll be more organized, more responsible and more on top of your finances.”

It’s a simple thing, but everything counts.

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Think differently about your credit card.

If you can’t buy something with the cash you have in your bank account at present, don’t use your credit card for purchases. Now, this is a piece of advice, a rule of thumb for living, not a hard and fast rule. There may come a time when you’ll use your credit card to pay for a big ticket item that you pay for in installments. But when you do this, it will hopefully with zero or minimal interest. Go ahead and do so on very rare occasions, being very clear that the transaction was a debt. It is not something you did just because it was more convenient to pay with plastic instead of carrying cash around.

Whenever you can, use your debit card or cash instead. The beauty of today’s technology is that you can always check on your available balances and keep track of your expenses.

Have this as your rule of thumb: If you can’t afford to pay for it today, don’t charge that purchase.

Are you a fresh graduate? If so, here are some money tips from us that you will definitely find helpful.

My final point is more of a challenge than a piece of advice.
How about making 2019 the year when you don’t buy a single article of clothing or pair of shoes?

This is going to be very tough for us ladies, and I don’t know who’ll actually try it out. But studies show that people only wear twenty percent of what’s in their cabinets anyway. This means we are amassing stuff we literally never use. Plus fast fashion is burying the planet anyway, but that’s another topic altogether.

If you do a wardrobe fast for 2019, you can put the money that you usually spend on clothes into investments. I think you’d be surprised not only with the amount of money you save, but also the amount you’ll earn.

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Anna Maria Romero is the Deputy Director of Lifeline Foundation by day and a freelance writer by night. Lifeline Foundation’s advocacy includes empowerment through financial literacy, which is why she has written and taught on this subject on numerous occasions. An educator by profession and training, Anna Maria graduated from the University of the Philippines, cum laude, and taught for more than two decades, having opened a school in 1995. She stepped down as as principal of South City Central School in 2015 in order to pursue a career in the non-profit sector. She is a contributing writer to an online news site, and has been on the creative team of “This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life” since 2008, which is published by FreeSpeech Publications in Manila, Philippines. Anna Maria is a passionate advocate, volunteer, organizer, counselor, communicator, editor, and traveler, who’s always ready to pack up and go where she’s needed.

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