The Feminine Money Mystique

The secret's out: women can create and manage lasting wealth

“personal relationship” with their finances that took Howard so long to cultivate?

“Unfortunately, even though we’ve come a long way, many women are still having trouble managing their money,” says Cheryl Broussard, a principal with Cheryl Broussard & Co., Oakland, California, and author of The Black Woman’s Guide to Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, $15.95). “As much as I don’t want to admit this, many are still waiting for Prince Charming-even the professional women who are pulling in five and six figures. We still want to be rescued financially.”

Financial planner Brooke Stephens, a former Wall Street veteran and author of Wealth Happens One Day at a Time (Harper Business, $21), agrees. “Generally speaking, we get a head trip laid on us about ourselves, that we don’t have to get serious [financially] until we get married. Well, you know what? He might not show up. Or he comes, but then leaves you with three kids and not enough money.”

However, Stephens says there’s a generational split to this thinking. “Women 32, even 30 and under, they’re saying, ‘I’m going to go out and do my thing’-and they’re making enough that they don’t have to wait.”

Broussard and Stephens also point to the consumer habits particular to African American women that act as barriers to their building long-term wealth. “We spend 61% more than white women on things like clothes, hair and manicures,” says Stephens. “We say, ‘I deserve it.’ What you deserve is a secure financial future.”

“The last time I checked, black women made 69 cents for every $1 a white male made,” notes Broussard. “With this disparity, women have less money from the get-go, so we cannot afford the luxury of overspending.”

To address this hurdle, look closely at what you spend your money on, and how you can reallocate it to begin wiping out credit card and other short-term debt. “If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it,” says Broussard. “Cash is queen today. As long as money is going every month to pay off credit card debt, there will be nothing left over to save or put into investments-areas where your money will grow.” Ready to take the first step to financial freedom? You can start by signing B.E.’s Declaration of Financial Empowerment and consulting the Wealth-Building Guide (available from 877-WEALTHY or Your next charge: learning how to be your own money manager.

Being proactive in your financial education means not waiting for a crisis such as divorce or death to force you to take the financial reins. Regardless of whether you’re single or married, the goal is to save enough money for retirement and still enjoy life along the way.

Camille Hackney, 30, knows that honing her money-management skills is an ongoing process. Hackney, who is vice president of multimedia and business development at Elektra records, is also a self-taught online trader. “I went to Har-vard Business School and worked at Merrill Lynch before I came to Elektra,” she says, “so the market was never anything that scared

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