While there are enough pink-jacketed financial books for women to fill up a small bookstore, shelves suffer from a noticeable lack of financial tomes aimed at men. Whether that dearth results from an oversight or lack of demand, Men’s Health magazine, which usually features perfect abs and sex tips on its cover, is stepping up to fill the void.
Under the headline “How to Stuff a Wallet,” the magazine urges its readers to apply the same strategies that “Wall Street whizzes” use to close billion-dollar deals. Here are the top testosterone-inspired tips:
[In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]
1. Get paid more, and save at least 10 percent of what you earn. Always negotiate for better rates from the cable company and your mechanic, and ask for a raise. I’m pretty sure Suze Orman says something similar in her money book for women, with a little more language about self-worth thrown in.
2. Give yourself clear savings goal, and make putting money away a priority. Still, don’t waste your valuable energy: Pay people to do tasks for you, such as cleaning your home, if your time is worth more.
3. Spend less than you make. Nothing earth shattering, but regardless of our gender, we probably can’t hear that one enough. And bring a shopping list with you to prevent impulse purchases. Gwyneth Paltrow urges her GOOP newsletter readers to follow a similar strategy—more on that below.
4. Invest according to traditional principles of diversification and dollar-cost averaging. (Instead of trying to time the market, make automatic contributions on a regular basis.)
5. Insure yourself and write a will. Taking care of your family is key to financial security.
Now, consider these tips for women, culled from a handful of recent books as well as older classics: Shoo, Jimmy Choo!; A Purse of Your Own; Love It, Live It, Earn It; Bitches on a Budget; On My Own Two Feet; Nice Girls Don't Get Rich; Smart Women Finish Rich; and Suze Orman's Women & Money.
1. Make goals. "Everyone should make a list of financial goals, which are any goals that cost money—retirement, vacation, buying a home, etc. Once you've done that, figure out how much each goal will cost (Bankrate.com is a great place to start) and then make a step-by-step action plan so you can save enough to make those goals a reality," urges Catey Hill, author of Shoo, Jimmy Choo!
2. Insure yourself. "Everyone needs health, auto (if you have a car), homeowners' or renters' and disability insurance. If you have kids, you should probably also get life insurance. If you don't have the insurance you need, it can literally bankrupt you," advises Hill.
3. Save for retirement as soon as possible. Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, authors of On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance, recommend that women dedicate 10 percent of their income to retirement savings, starting in their 20s. Saving 10 percent of a $50,000 salary beginning at age 25, for example, would yield $2.2 million at retirement. (That calculation assumes that investments grow at 10 percent a year, gains are reinvested, and annual salary increases offset inflation.)
4. Prepare for emergencies by saving even more. Hill says many women simply don't save enough money, and recommends that they save even more than Thakor and Kedar suggest. "Women need to put away about 13 percent of their income each month for retirement, and they also need to build up an emergency fund that contains about six months' worth of income," she says.
5. Bring a friend shopping with you. If you know you have a tendency to overshop, make sure you're not alone. (Paltrow's budgeting expert for her GOOP newsletter, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, also suggests bringing a stopwatch with you on shopping trips so you don't spend too much time browsing the aisles.)
Pretty similar, right? The books for women might include more footwear examples where men prefer sports analogies, but the best strategies for financial success don’t change much, regardless of how many X chromosomes you have.
Readers, what do you think? Do men need their own money guides? Do women?
Kimberly Palmer (@alphaconsumer) is the author of the new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.