Take Control

Your business's finances are in good shape—but what about your own?

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Kim Kiyosaki travels around the country giving financial seminars and offering  products based on her book, Rich Woman. Michael Zmistowski runs a financial planning firm, First Gulf Advisors, and speaks nationally to groups of advisors and brokers. The two take different approaches but agree on one thing: It's crucial for women to take control over their financial lives. "We've made so many strides in business, women's rights and  politics," says Kiyosaki, co-founder of The Rich Dad Company. Financial independence, she continues, "is the one thing that's still out there."

Zmistowski, for his part, readily ticks off numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eighty percent of women die single, while 80 percent of men die married. The poverty rate for elderly women living alone is five times higher than for married elderly women. "Get your mind around that and tell me women shouldn't create their own financial plan" when they're young, he says.

When getting started, Kiyosaki and Zmistowski have the same suggestion: Pay yourself first. Whether that means taking a salary or a fixed percentage from your revenue each month, take money out of the business and put it to work on your personal finances. Kiyosaki says she and her husband, Robert Kiyosaki, take 30 percent out of every dollar they receive. Ten percent goes into savings, 10 percent into an investment account and 10 percent into a pool for charitable giving. The percentages aren't as important as the concept, she says.

Zmistowski advises entrepreneurs to take that income and begin using a tax-deferred retirement plan such as an IRA, Simple IRA or 401(k). From there, Kiyosaki suggests you find your investment muse. In her case, it's real estate investing. For someone else, it might be a portfolio of individual stocks. Lastly, hire a trusted financial planner, get a written financial plan and try to live by it.

Kiyosaki says most women get religious about their personal finances after a wake-up call of some sort—a health problem, maybe, or the loss of a business's most important client. But by then it's often late in the game to be getting started. "Instead of a wake-up call, I'd like to have some illumination for women," she says. "Have them prepare now for whatever might happen."

—By Scott Bernard Nelson

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