Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Smart Girls Marry Money"

About a month or so ago I saw some reviews on a new book called "Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream--And How They're Paying For It"

The basic premise seemed to be that women need to think more about their financial security before they get married, not by accumulating wealth themselves but by marrying into money. (Cause if a man has money he'll n-e-e-ever lose it, what with the stock markets and real estate being so stable nowadays)

I remember trying to come up with a coherent response to this premise other than "that's stupid" but ended up forgetting about it. I think what really pissed me off was that I read in several reviews that the authors said something to the effect of "You'll never earn as much as a man, and if you do succeed, you'll regret it. Empowering ourselves economically can undermine our sexual power"

Uh...ok. So basically, women should resign themselves to the fact that women don't make as much as men in the workforce, and feel empowered by being "sexy" and finding a man with a fat wallet, or something.

Thankfully, I read a great article today on MSN money by Liz Pulliam Weston who articulately explains why this idea is utter nonsense.

I really like her (Liz). She writes for MSN money all the time, so if you've ever clicked on an article from the Money section on the MSN homepage, you've probably read something by her before. She's not an uber feminist or anything, though she does throw in a Betty Friedan reference. This article really just breaks the argument down without being condescending (like I normally am)

Ford and Drake explicitly endorse the secret fantasy entertained by too many women: that someone or something will rescue them from having to deal with their own finances.

Then there's the other problem: Gold digging often doesn't work. Daddy Warbucks can die, lose his money or show you the door right before a sunset clause in your prenuptial agreement qualifies you to share in his wealth.

Liz is saying gold digging=bad (and stupid) BUT she also says you also shouldn't necessarily marry a gambling drunk who doesn't care about paying off debt or saving for the future.

Gamblers, addicts and drunks will put you on the fast track to financial misery, but so will someone who won't control his spending, who drags around credit card debt and who refuses to save for the future.

To summarize, it's important for women to not take advantage of men financially (i.e. marrying for money) but also to not be taken advantage of either.

I don't think I will be reading "Smart Girls Marry Money." Sure, it may be "just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man" but what happens when the riches go away?

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to accumulate wealth, give money to charity, send their kids to college, travel, and retire with dignity. But let's face it, no matter how much you plan or dump into your 401K, wealth can be a temporary thing as we have all been made aware in this recent recession. Everyone knows someone who's been affected, if they haven't been affected themselves.

In an economic climate like this, especially when men are losing their jobs at a faster rate than women (because of job losses in traditionally male dominated jobs like construction and manufacturing) it's seems like marrying men for money is not so smart economic advice. So while the authors of this book are worried about undermining their "sexual power" real people are worried about undermining their future due to potential job losses, loss of health insurance, and loss of their home - if they haven't lost these things already.

So, ladies, if you want some smart economic advice, I'd skip Smart Girls Marry Money, and stick to reading Liz's column on MSN Money. :)

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