Saturday, August 18, 2007

Grab Your Green

Recent market events, ie, gigantic unilateral, international panic, has put me in mind of the people running the markets today. Does anyone remember the eighties? The coke, the arrogance, the junk bonds? How about the nineties? The dot coms, the crystal meth, the property? The current crisis is a product of unbelievable hubris that masqueraded as confidence when the banks were strongly pressured to issue credit above usual risk tolerance. It sounds dry and comprehensible, but in fact the ripple effects of such irresponsible financing has led to a point where literally the banks don't know the value of what they have. As a result, daily lending cannot take place and the rates of future loans like mortgages can't be calculated because there is simply not enough information out there to make a sound judgment.

There are some very informative articles out there on what the crisis actually is, how it affects regular people and businesses and why the crisis has reached such epic proportions. As usual, I see not only a financial situation, but a societal/emotional one. The people who have been in charge of international finance for as long as I can remember have been men, particularly men like a good friend of mine who admires the "confidence" of George Sourus. I get where he's coming from in the sense of seeing a pro at work, but when I ask him about the larger economic implications of speculating on a falling currency where real citizens of the country in question will be affected by it, he looks at me blankly as though I am comparing pastry to cold fusion theory.

Money is a fiction. It is information represented numerically based on agreed upon variables like the value of a commodity or the potential value of an enterprise not yet begun. As such, it is important to ask yourself how money affects you, what you want, how you intend to get it and even what the consequences of accumulating your money might be. Are you going to invest in a company that mistreats it's employees but has a strong record of solid growth? Do you even know what companies are included in the mutual fund or rrsp (IRA & 401k for anyone south of the parallel)?

There is huge history between men and women about money. We've gone from being impoverished parters to commodities ourselves to social markers to independent earners and all along we've discussed and written about such issues as queendom, manipulation, widowhood, divorce and the corporate glass ceiling.

When WWII was in full swing, the Gilette company realized that most of the men who usually bought their razors where otherwise engaged and their sales dropped off. To offset some of the economic difficulties of a depression and then a world war, they started marketing razors to women at almost twice the price of a man's and convinced women at the time to shave the hair off of their legs regularly. When it was discovered that women had a huge amount of collective buying power even poor and lower middle-class women, the market began to open up in strange and fantastic ways. It was important however, to maintain total control over what we bought and so commercials depicting devalued women who need a product to overcome some fictional flaw was born.

These two scenarios together along with our current pricing plight tells me that chicks need to get in the game, get a firm handle on where we're spending our money and not let another landslide like this happen. As such, I'm including links to sites and magazines specifically for women and money. What your investments are worth, how to gauge good value with hubris, what reasonable risk needs to entail to you and your family. Your credit score is important, but there are ways to correct it if you've had a bad year that takes several years to recover from like I have, if you do or don't own property and even if you've had a messy divorce.

Take control of your money and own what you have. Get to know your comfort level with risk and investment, I recommend starting small if you've never examined investment financing before. Your bank will probably have a specialist you can talk to and their websites will generally give you good information.

I remember asking my dad once about the stock market, and he launched into a story about if you have a small company and you want investors, you do something called "going public" etc and so on. This was not the information I wanted, so I asked my uncle who sat back in his chair and said, "well, let's say you have a company that makes widgets and you want to" blah blah blah. I stopped him and asked what the ticker was all about. What does the Dow Jones measure? Do you need a broker or can you do it yourself? How accountable is your broker towards you if they have little control over market fluctuations? I was told some of the most useless advice possible, along the lines of "it's worthless to buy stocks in anything unless you can get a hundred". The only reason my dad imparted that to me is because it is easy to divide by a hundred to find the value of my investment, hopefully to prevent smoke coming out of my ears while I do long division.

People like this who smirk and nod at each other are now facing a crisis beyond the prediction of economists at both the US Treasury and the Bank of Canada. I strongly suggest we take their example and shove it in a Guaranteed Investment Certificate and make with some fiscal responsibility.

Here are some great links to financial information by us, for us:

The Women's Financial Learning Centre This is a great organization that offers information sessions and workshops.

Financial Women's Association This is an association of professional women with the goal of furthering the prominence of women in major financial roles.

The Women's Institute for Financial Education (WIFE) An organization I am in love with. Every financial topic covered from taxes to investments to savings to credit. "A man is not a plan" Fabulous!

Single Ma's Fabulous Financials A fun, accessible blog on the topic of gaining financial independence as a single mother. Amazing stats on the sidebar about car payments, mortgage payments, very encouraging to read.

Ms. Money's Blog A self-help money blog from Ms. Money that brings together not just financial topics, but how career and life skills affect money and vice-versa. Thoughtful and warm from a powerful woman financier.

No Limits Ladies
A no-nonsense blog resource for women to increase financial education and skills. Awesome!

Women in Red
A forum where women can ask questions, offer advice and present scenarios to get and give financial advice.

OWN An excellent resource for black women about ownership. Owning a business, a home, building wealth, this is the magazine made by and for north american women of colour.

Par Excellence Magazine An excellent women's magazine with specific sections on women consumers and financial news and services. This brings it all into one.

Scarlett Magazine A business magazine designed to celebrate women achievers and what they've achieved.

The green section will be included in my sidebar and will remain updated.


E said...

Thanks for the link girl!

Freshwater Mermaid said...

anytime! keep passing them along to all the girls in your pond!