Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

The feminization of money

Traditionally, men have been considered "better" with money, which has caused many married women to turn over the household financial decisions to their husbands and single women to seek partners who make more, wait to make major financial decisions until they're married, or generally not trust themselves when it comes to money. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

No one gender has a lock on any area of expertise, and in fact women by nature bring a great deal to the table. Ladies, here are a few ways you may be underestimating your financial worth:

1. Salary negotiations  Many men enter a work environment knowing (or acting like they know) their worth, and expect to be paid more than that. Women, on the other hand, sometimes negotiate like we're just happy to be considered for the job. As if the employer is doing us a favor by even considering us. Let's take a lesson from our brothers. Do your research to determine how much the company/industry typically pays, then ask for 20% more. Best case, you get it. Worse case, you end up around the average. Either way, you've lost nothing.

2. Investing  Studies shows that women are more disciplined about budgeting and saving, but less confident about investing. We inherently have a security gland which makes us prone to avoiding heavy risk (especially true for me.) But the only way to build true wealth is by investing, whether that be in real estate, mutual funds, or something else. Just as you would take the time to research the best schools for your kids, study different investment vehicles. Then start by choosing one small thing to invest in, and let the money sit and grow over time. You can literally make a dollar out of $.15 this way.

3. Understand your spending habits  While society has labeled women as spenders, the difference is typically not in the amount of dollars spent, but what we're buying. We typically buy items at lower price points, while men will spend on gadgets, technology and other higher-priced items. Since women are more likely to spend on small items here and there, pay attention to money leaks (for me, it's food) and save for the big items you'll eventually need.

4. Home repairs  The heads of HomeFree-USA's Property Development in Maryland and Florida are both women, and simply amazing. Dominique and Barbara pay attention to details, and are incredibly sensitive about renovating a home to perfection, on time and under budget. Obviously, many men do the same, but these skills are inherent in women. Yet we sometimes allow ourselves to be intimidated by contractors, and agree to whatever they say. Get a second opinion on every major repair job, be clear about your expectations, put everything in writing, and hold them accountable with your wallet. Treat others as you wish to be treated, of course.  Just don't be played.

Above all, be clear about your strengths and don't let anyone, especially society, convince you otherwise.

And so it is.