Financial advice for women that goes beyond the basics

Book Review: 'The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom: A Woman's Guide to Enjoying Wealth and Power'

Book Review
Title: "The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Enjoying Wealth and Power"
Author: Carol Pepper and Camilla Webster
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, 2012; 352 pages; $25.99

A number of notable personal finance experts have made attempts to share their knowledge, insights and experiences on money matters with women-friendly money books and courses. However, many of these are relatively narrowly focused on subjects like budgeting, investing, getting out of debt, real estate, or building a career or business.

Now there’s a new entree into this genre by former Rockefeller money manager Carol Pepper and Forbes journalist Camilla Webster: "The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom: A Woman’s guide to Enjoying Wealth and Power."

I read a lot of finance, self-help and other books from similar genres, and spend much of my time exploring and creating multimedia resources in the same areas. Against that backdrop, "Seven Pearls" at first glance came off as overly simple, and lacking, mmm, pizzazz. What you won’t find in this book is a bunch of charts and graphs and links and bullets and short-attention-span gimmicks or cutesy phrases and acronyms. The paragraphs can run long, and the voice is less girlfriend-ey and more straight shooter.

What you will find in "Seven Pearls," however, is 300 pages of straightforward, substantive, visionary, step-by-step guidelines for creating a truly prosperous life, including clear advice for managing your money, business, career, family and romantic relationships, and professional advisers toward that end.

Pepper and Webster don’t coddle or infantilize readers, nor do they assume that the average reader is mired in financial desperation or struggle just to believe they deserve to flourish. In fact, many women may not be emotionally ready to receive and execute on the advice it contains. Some will need to take a course like Conscious Bookkeeping or work through a book like Karen McCall’s "Financial Recovery" or Julia Cameron’s "The Prosperous Heart" before they can truly appreciate and act on the simple but serious wisdom contained in "Pearls."

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Pearls provides Pepper and Webster’s opinionated, yet ego-free, guidance on a wide-ranging, but interconnected, set of topics including:

  • developing a set of investment guidelines for your portfolio.
  • starting and managing a business.
  • finding, vetting and selecting the right spouse.
  • raising wise children.
  • managing your wellness with DNA testing.

What I know from working with many women who want to use real estate to build their net worth and family futures is that what causes some to hesitate to take responsibility for growing their finances is the fear of the unknown territory of prosperity — the fear that they will fail on the nuts and bolts of managing the more complex taxes, legal structures, adviser teams, business plans, financial statements and such that they might face if they do find financial success.

"Seven Pearls" neatly obliterates such fears and concerns, providing a nuts-and-bolts outline and action plan for women who do earn a good income — and those who plan to in the future.

Pepper and Webster provide hundreds of pearls of financial wisdom in seven areas of their lives, carving out a vision for a prosperous life by doing some touching, some deep dives and lots of clear, actionable recommendations in the areas of:

1. Wealth building: business, career, investments and retirement planning, including how to manage your own emotions to avoid common (and costly) business, tax and investment mistakes, and select and manage your team of advisers.

2. Romance and marriage: managing the costs incurred while dating; financial red flags that prospective mates might raise; and how to handle the financial negotiations and disclosures that are necessary to minimize the too-common financial causes of marital strife.

3. Power: In this section, the authors coach women around many of the powerless beliefs and behaviors that happen so often even among educated career women — like refusing to speak up for oneself or failing to — and direct them to the image, social media and organizational tools for building and deploying their own powerful, personal brands, including everything from Twitter to seats on corporate boards.

Motherhood, crisis and loss, retirement and legacy building are also given intensive treatment in "Seven Pearls." For reader-friendliness, each chapter starts off with a set of questions that surface the problems that will be addressed within.

Many women now make more money than their husbands or prospective mates, yet many of these same women lack more than a basic understanding of financial tools. "Seven Pearls" is the first women’s finance book I’ve seen that is tailored to take readers far beyond money crises and beyond the basics (though it does offer some crisis guidance and much advice for avoiding crises in the first place).

Rather, the authors effectively usher readers into a life season of wisely, assertively and knowledgeably using an advanced set of tools for managing their prosperity, their relationships and their futures, without fear, intimidation or unnecessary complexities.

In "Seven Pearls," Pepper and Webster offer successful women the logistics and structure on which they can construct a fully prosperous life, minus the fluff.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

                                                   

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