Demystifying Money!

It's a Money ThingBy Sande Smith, Director of Communications for the Women’s Foundation of California.

I remember going to college and getting credit card offers. How exciting! Anything I wanted could be mine. This was especially significant because I grew up in a working class family. After 20 years working as a nurse, my mother received disability checks, and so she watched every penny.

So, credit cards seemed like an easy way to get all the things that I couldn’t get before. Well, of course it didn’t take long for me to realize that the catch was the interest and the late fees, which added things up extraordinarily. My foray into the world of debt and creditors began then and lasted for years. It was only with the help of a kind-hearted and smart financial planner that I began to learn about my finances, stopped feeling intimidated by creditors and took the slow, steady steps to put my financial house back in order.

If only I’d had guides like It’s a Money Thing! A Girl’s Guide to Managing Money, published by the Women’s Foundation of California. I talked to Maya Thornell-Sandifor, senior program officer at WFC and one of the people who helped to bring the book into the world.

Like me, Maya learned to manage her money the hard way through credit card debt.

“I grew up in a family with two brothers, and they were told about money. They were taught about checking accounts and balancing their finances. I wasn’t taught about money at all,” said Maya.

She realized that when families prioritize teaching boys about money over girls, they set the stage for inequities throughout young women’s lives.

“So I wanted to produce a book that debunks the myths about money, and helps young girls to connect the dots,” Maya said.

It’s a Money Thing is written in a fun, accessible way, yet it talks about serious issues that can be intimidating: the stock market, how to be an entrepreneur, how to create a business plan, the meaning of interest rates on your credit card, FICA and how health care costs affect you. Buy the book.

The sooner young women learn how to save, invest, read balance sheets, start businesses and make the connection between personal and organizational finance, the better prepared they will be to participate in leadership positions that carry fiscal responsibility – whether that be in their communities, in companies or non-profit organizations.

What about you? How did you learn about money? Please share your story in the comments section below.

~Sande Smith, Director of Communications, Women’s Foundation of California

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