39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
People have a hard particularly time being honest about their attitudes towards two things:Sex and...money. For whatever reason, women may find the path to financial literacy stewn with obstacles...perhaps even more so then men.
Whether you believe this or not, I'd urge you to read this book, especially if you are one of those women who happens to hate books about "money" and/or "finances". This one may change your mind and, at the least, get you to think more deeply about how your finances impact every area of your life. Is it enlightening? It certainly was for me and I've read quite a few financial books, from the classics to the downright silly. This is one I'd recommend.
If you are looking for a deeply researched and detailed sociological study of money and women, this is not THAT book. It isn't chock full of charts, graphs, statistics and all that. Instead, it is a brave, honest expose' by one women concerning her fears, impulses and patterns when it comes to money -and spending and saving it. In the process, she delves into the subject of women and money, going beyond her own individual feelings and into the larger community, talking to her friends, to other women, etc. She also doesn't take herself too seriously, which makes for a book that had me chuckling in places, even laughing out loud.
The author does have a point to make, focusing on how and why women need to understand how their emotions and values affect their spending patterns, for better or worse. She makes this point repeatedly. It is a point well worth repeating...to drive the point home.
While I'm sure there will be those who'll see this as just another attempt to stereotype women simply by noting that they may actually be different from men, this is NOT an attack on women nor is it or an attempt to prove that women are weaker or less powerful than men. Noting that our culture STILL views men and women differently and that we grow up with different attitudes as a result is NOT the same as supporting stereotypes. It is, instead, an attempt to make us more aware of them...and to change our actions.
After closing this book, I sat down and explored my own beliefs and attitudes towards money. In the process, I was able to "tweak" my own finances and I felt much more confident about WHY I was making those choices. I also felt empowered (much as I hate that word, I can't think of a better one to describe the feeling I had after finishing this book) and more in touch with my beliefs and values, being able to prioritize my choices.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2006
I learned of "Money: A Memoir" while listening to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. I was riveted to the radio as the author, Liz Perle, recited the statistics about the numbers of women who will end up living in poverty in middle and old age. At 63, divorced, the alimony having ended, the home equity loan no longer a blessing with interest rates going up and up, and having been a performance artist since I was eight-years-old (It takes constant hustling to earn one's living as a professional storyteller, historic portrayal artist, and folksinger), I heard myself as part of those statistics. However,I also heard that if I change my attitude towards money and separate emotions, fears, and what the "Joneses" think and instead focus on my particular needs and realities, I stand a chance of not seeing my (and millions of other women's) worst nightmare come true: that of becoming a bag lady. I promptly ordered the book and read it as soon as it arrived. I could not put it down. I felt like I had found a friend who knew what I was going through and what my fears and feelings of inadequacy were. Though I would have liked a greater variety of examples of women's stories and experiences to be included in the book, Ms. Perle's own story affected me deeply. When her divorce occurred and the savings were almost gone, she sat down and looked at her own necessities minus frills. She prioritized, added, and knew what she must earn to fulfill these needs. I am now in the process of doing the same. I gained strength and courage from her words and examples. Most-importantly, reading the book somehow took away my feelings that I was no one, nothing, the scum of the earth because I am not rich and don't have a retirement plan and may even consider renting a room or two in the four-bedroom townhouse I live in alone. In other words, the book worked. It has certainly helped me to separate money from emotion in defining my value as a person, and I have embarked on a thought-out plan to earn, through my talent, the money I need for the priorities I have. Additionally, I found Liz Perle's insightful writing about how we women, even in this modern era, have been and continue to be duped by those princess stories of Prince Charming coming our way and taking care of us. She clearly points out that even if we are lucky enough to meet our Prince Charming, and, of course, he lucky enough to meet us, his Princess Charming, that money should not enter the charm, and that we women must look to provide for ourselves. I recommend this book for women of all ages and walks of life.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
This is one of those rare gems of a book that you cannot put down once you begin reading it. And it imparts so much wisdom its hard to know where to start.
Now I admit I came of age during the height of the feminist movement of the seventies and admit I am always taken aback when I read any book by someone who is well educated, has had enough money to live middle class, yet makes choices that go against the self preservation that the feminist leaders of the seventies talked about almost ad nauseum.
The one element of the book the author doesn't deal with and she notes up front on page 2 'Since this is a book about money, I won't go too deeply into the losing-the-marriage part'. I note this simply because every book on finances and divorce note that money is the number one issue or cause, so looking deeper into this aspect would have been helpful if not interesting and educational for a lot of women.
Again she notes on page 8-9 'So it was five weeks later, at the age of forty-two, I bumped down on the stormy tarmac of San Francisco International Airport with no job, no home, and no clue what was going to happen. I had those hundred-dollar bills and, as it turned out, a small savings account, but almost everything else -- even the joint credit card I carried--was in my husband's name and under his control half a world away'.
Again I was shocked that in the years since the feminists had driven home the message that no woman should ever be dependent on a man and all women should have their own credit that I was reading of a woman who in her own words had fallen thru the cracks of what she knew was required.
This is what makes this book so important. As she writes on pages 10-11 that she then began to encounter other women who she would interview, who lived in trailers to gated communities, who had such interesting views about money. "some of the women I talked to were really rich. Others were hovering at the bottom of the middle-class tax bracket. Yet they all admitted that money was the great unexplored territory in their emotional terrain. And in no case did ignorance turn out to equal bliss'.
Now she write on page 25 'Women relate to money much differently than men do. There are many reason large and small why this is true. When I asked Stephen Goldbart, a prominent psychotherapist and codirector of the Money, Meaning,and Choices Institute, about these differences, he tells me that they are ancient and deeply embedded psychologically and biologically in both sexes. These differences are so old, so deep, and such a part of our basic wiring that they cannot be ignored.'
Excuse me but I suggest that saying 'Women' rather than 'many' or 'most' women is a big mistake. Especially for those of us who savour and use the wisdom in books like Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and/or Fortune in Your Cookies by Meena Cheng.
As someone who was raised in a family where my brother as well as myself were expected to work save and not depend on someone else to take care of them, some of the advise this author was given growing up or as an adult is odd.
While the authors grandmother was advising her to marry well and not think about money, my two grandmothers who had been left widows in their twenties with three small children each, knew that being self sufficient and being wise with money was what would make life better for themselves and their children. They each completed their teaching degrees and went into teaching careers.
Nonetheless I feel this is a book that every middle class woman single or married needs to read, if only to see some red flags in their own lives, so that they can nip some issues in the bud before they get any bigger.
Now, I tend to be one of those people who loves learning from other peoples mistakes. Back in the 80's I remember reading how women like Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds had both been taken to the cleaners by their ex-husbands. Two highly paid women entertainers who became bankrupt. Two reminders that told me I needed to do all I could to make sure that should something happen that I would be able to survive on my own.
Thankfully I had a good marriage which I think was due in part to a smart partner who insisted I be an equal partner, no secrets. Thus we did pretty good and now that I am a widow, I am not destitute but have enough to live a good life and have some things I want and not just things I need.
This book can provide some of that widsom.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
My biggest beef with this book is that 80 percent of it was a non-fiction discussion of finance for women, while only about 20 percent of it was truly a memoir. All the same, Perle included a ton of great info on women and their relationships with money.
Another niggling item: while she loudly calls for the need for women to be more open about their relationship with money, Perle herself kept much hidden behind the veil. She alludes to "six-figure salaries" and "what I realistically needed to live" but never names numbers.
I also found the idea that she would let her ex -- who dumped HER -- take his stock options and run to be ridiculous. She said she traded those options for a good relationship with him -- Hmmm, sounds like the "inner stewardess" she so decried in earlier chapters was not quite as dead as she had claimed.
I felt that the book ended on too much of a Pollyanna note. "I made peace with money and so can you!" she says, without sharing enough of the dirty details with us. I just didn't buy (pun intended) the notion that all was as rosy as she purports. This book would have been more valuable to me if she had focused more on telling her own story and tracing her relationship in more detail, rather than glossing over her own history in favor of one more quote from the "experts."
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2006
Liz Perle takes a look at how us women see money and handle our finances. She spoke to about 200 women to get her research. The results are inside. A lot of women don't like to handle it or talk about it and let our emotions get in the way and let our husbands deal with it. Liz herself, had let her husband deal with the financial side of their marriage and later found herself divorced with a four year old child and out in the cold. She talks about money myths; things we tell ourselves about it. Some of those myths are; I bought it on sale, I don't buy for myself, If I ask for too much money, I will lose the job. She stress's that we have an emotional relationship with our money but if we get our emotions out of our finances we will be better off. Start taking responsibility, take control over our money and we will be happier, and hopefully not one of the many women down the track either widowed or divorced without knowledge of our finances. We then can have some power. I have learned quite a bit from this book. She gives good insight into what we should all be doing to help ourselves avoid getting into financial messes. I liked this and think many people could gain good information from reading this interesting look into why we do what we do with our money.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2006
When Liz Perle was a little girl, her grandmother brought her into her room and produced a reticule from deep within a drawer. Stuffing a folded $20 bill into the misshapen little purse, she explained that it was the beginning of Liz's private stash. "Every woman needs money of her own that her husband never knows about."
The same grandmother also stressed that polite society never discussed money. Lucky for us that Liz Perle ignored that taboo to write this book, whose subtitle is "Women, Emotions, and Cash." The book is a memoir to the extent that we learn the life experiences that brought Perle to the point where she was forced to explore her own fears and emotional connections to money. But it is also the result of interviews with over 200 women of all ages and incomes around the country, and their stories lend an added weight of authority.
MONEY, A MEMOIR is not a self-help or fix-it book. It's more of a "face-it" book, as we accompany the author on a plane back from Shanghai with her four-year-old son, reluctant to count the wad of bills her soon-to-be ex-husband gave her as she left him at the airport. As she puts it, "There's nothing like losing just about everything to lay bare what's important." Thus began the process of examining her emotional relationship to and assumptions about money.
She points out some sobering facts about our country: that more than half of all retired women live in poverty. That more women will file for bankruptcy this year than will graduate from college, suffer a heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer. She talks of the emotional middle class, those who rely on money to recreate safety and surety of the mythic middle class. "We marched past the simple desire for comfort to a need for luxury." We want nice things but we don't want to think of ourselves as materialistic. As long as we experience purchases as necessities, we can escape that nasty label. And there are plenty of advertisements and catalogs to convince us that we deserve only the highest thread count in our sheets. No wonder the average credit card debt in the United States is $8,000.
Several chapters explore money as a symbol of power in relationships and the not-so-pretty dances we do to avoid money conflicts. Even if we do have our own jobs and our own money, what happens when we get laid off? The author admits that between jobs she resorted to filching $20 bills from her husband's wallet --- so she could buy him a worthy present! We may not have gone that far, but how many of us have knocked a few dollars off the cost of that leather jacket when (if!) we tell our husbands?
Throughout the book, Perle maintains a warm, honest, direct tone that keeps us reading about this sometimes uncomfortable topic. No finger wagging here --- just material, both expert and anecdotal, that helps us understand our own emotional attachments to cash. "Perhaps that way we can move closer to liberating ourselves from the fears and fantasies that keep us from asking to be paid what a job is worth, or from saving for our retirement, or that leave us mired in intractable debt." So go ahead, buy this book. It's money well spent.
--- Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2006
While I wasn't sure about reading the book at first, I'm so glad I did! Perle's prose is so effortless to read, and I was quickly absorbed into her personal story. I was also fascinated by the tales of women whose emotional relationship with money had nothing to do with me... until I realied that they did. This book gave me a depth of understanding of all the issues that surround money, and how to realize them for what they are - a longing for security, love - things we all wish for. All women should buy this book. They'll be suprised at how their personal relationships with parents, siblings, children and friends can be influenced by money, and how they can change that with the wisdom found in this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
I was skeptical of buying the audio version of this book, as I tend to do better with something in hand, and I wonder what is left out in an abridged audio recording. Still, I thought it would be a good "read" during my daily commute. In the end, I listened to each CD twice in an attempt to take it all in.
The book begins with the author's personal story of a time in her life where she was left with no resources and the rug had been pulled out from under her. This proved to be something of a revelation for her, and she refers back to it several times throughout the rest of the book. At the same time, she never really finishes the story so we're left wondering how she felt, why she didn't express more anger (I mean, I felt angry reading it, and it didn't even happen to me!) and whether it turned out to be premeditated, as it appeared to me to be. We never find out. (Also, the audio version - which actually is read by the author - is plagued with an overall lack of emotion. For a work she produced, she speaks without passion, as though she's just reading anything at all onto tape.)
The remainder of the story is a series of topical snapshots from other women's financial lives, interwoven with philosophical and psychological analysis from various financial experts, sociologists, and other professionals. Some of it was helpful, some of it not. It certainly made me stop and think about the messages I was implictly given about money as a child and how they may today affect my spending patterns. One of the basic messages is that women are taught to rely on men financially, not just in terms of familial mesaages but also cultural messages, the Disney-esque "someday my prince will come." When I think about it, that's right on in terms of almost everything I saw or read in childhood. Also, Perle points out our culture has evolved toward luxury and a feeling of wealth even if one isn't really wealthy...1000 thread count sheets and, as she repeated dredges up, the spectre of a stove with two ovens.
I must admit, it felt a little funny putting this on my credit card, when I was trying to think about saving money! But, as a result of the book, I've started tucking away a little cash on the side, and I've begun questioning whether I really need that new [whatever] or whether I'm just drawn to the luxury it offers. I have two friends on the waiting list to borrow the CD set now that I've finished it, so will pass it on with hope it will benefit others.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2006
I devoured this book in one night. I stayed up and didn't sleep and finished it in one go. It was well-written but not brilliantly so. As one reviewer stated, Perle has a tendency to repeat herself at times, sometimes on information that bears repeating but often on little details that I had to assume she'd told the readers a first time already.
More than anything, I was delighted that this book addresses, calmly and compassionately, the issue of women and how they feel towards and act with money. She doesn't come at the subject as an expert, but rather as an articulate and experienced woman who has gone through her own fair share of financial ups and downs, and is really working towards a healthier and more balanced relationship with her own money, and with money in general.
Perle noted a point that I have often noticed in my own life; women are often (although not always) more comfortable discussing their sex lives, families, shopping, holidays, Whatever than they are talking about money. This is a real shame, since it can lend an air of secrecy, shame and confusion to the whole subject.
After reading Money, a Memoir, I came away even more convinced that we need to raise both our daughers AND our sons to feel that it is appropriate to bring personal finances out of the shadows.
Bravo, Liz Perle!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Liz Perle sounds like a very lovely woman, but I didn't learn anything about finances reading her book.
She has an easy-going, approachable style, and I was interested in her own journey.
I think the problem with the book, for me, was that it tried to be a memoir and a non-fiction financial advice guide. Unfortunately, it didn't succeed as either.
Ms. Perle's story is interesting, and I would have been far happier if the whole book was about her. The studies, stats, and quotes from famous people only detracted from the book.
I bought it because our local paper gave it a glowing review, but I might have bought it at a bookstore based on the first page. Liz can really write a great hook!
I was very curious to hear her story, and kept reading to find out what happens to her and her son. As I said, if the whole book was about her I would have been happier.