Personal Finance Author Manisha Thakor Talks About Women and Money

Money can be a touchy subject for some women. Words like “saving” and “investing” can be very scary if you aren’t financially savvy. Authors Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar help women understand why it’s important to become financially literate and quell negative notions concerning women and money management. On My Own Two Feet is the ultimate guidebook women need to map out their financial independence and security. Black Enterprise sat down with Manisha Thakor to talk about the second edition of the book.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: Why did you write this book?

MANISHA THAKOR: My co-author and friend Sharon Kedar and I found that a lot of our smart, accomplished girlfriends were asking us the same basic questions and we realized there was a need to really explain this topic. We wanted to do it in a manner that’s kind of fun, hip and quick. Our goal was to provide a way for smart women to self-educate.

BE: What does it mean to be “on your own two feet?”
THAKOR: It means being financially in control. It means understanding the difference between what you should pay attention to regarding your finances and what you can ignore. I like to think about it the same way we think of food in that you know what financial information is equivalent to super foods and what financial stuff is equivalent to junk foods. Knowing the distinction between the two gives you a feeling of empowerment. If people understand this connection, this approach can be less intimidating.

BE: Why do you focus on women?

THAKOR: I’ve always believed that the default language of money is “male speak” and a lot of the terminology used when discussing finance comes from a very testosterone-based place. Our goal was to write about this topic in a way that makes women feel like money is their language too. When it comes to investing, many studies show that women’s propensity to buy and hold investments makes them generate better long-term returns. Women also live longer and statistically still earn less than men and spend more years out of the paid workforce, so we felt it was important to focus on ensuring that the language was more welcoming to women.

BE: How is the second edition different from the first edition?

THAKOR: We had no idea when the first edition came out that we were about to head into the worst market period since The Great Depression. As a result, the advice in the book has been stress-tested and we wanted to update the book to reflect that. We inserted a huge chapter on student loan debt which is the biggest change we’ve seen since we started writing the book in 2005. Mostly, we wanted to bring the statistics, data, and advice up-to-date so people can see that it’s a timeless strategy.

BE: What do you want readers to take away from this book?
THAKOR: Start saving now! These are the three most powerful words in personal finance.  By saving now, you are forcing yourself to live within your means. We want people to keep in mind that there are constant tradeoffs—balancing joy for now and saving for later.

BE: What is your advice to women who are intimidated by personal finance topics? How can they get financially literate?
THAKOR: Take small steps daily; change any habit that requires repetitive effort. Think about increasing your financial knowledge the same way you would think about increasing your physical or spiritual well-being. Some people feel their knowledge of money should happen instantly when it’s actually a gradual change. We recommend websites like dailyworth.com and gogirlfinance.com. Also, my website, moneyzen.com keeps a list of helpful finance books on the Resources page. My advice to women is to be gentle with yourself and absorb information incrementally.

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