Women can do it for themselves

REVIEW: On Your Own Two Feet: Steady steps to women's financial independence

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Handy guide for women of all ages shows how to stand tall and confident when it counts.


Preparation is the best defence and seldom more so than when it comes to women becoming or remaining financially independent.

This is why Helen Baker's On Your Own Two Feet is such an important and useful book.

Written for women at all stages of life, it shows the opportunities and pitfalls lining the road to financial security whether they are single or have a partner.

Updated for a second edition, the book is packed with friendly, sisterly advice.

But it is cautionary too.

For example, the author stresses the need to plan ahead, including having an emergency fund, a point on which she is especially strong.

Without preaching, she warns how life can go pear-shaped in many unexpected ways, such as redundancy, widowhood, divorce, illness, financial abuse and more.

The chapters on older women and the financial calamities some face are especially wise.

As Baker writes: "Too often I hear women say 'I had no idea what was going on'... Times have changed: all women need the knowledge and understanding of financial matters to attain certainty and control."

For example, she reiterates that the average men's superannuation balance nearly twice the size of the average woman's.

Such gender pay discrepancies can have very real flow-on impacts, including reduced capacity to save, a lower super balance on retirement and less cushioning to a break a fall from a financial setback.

Again stressing the need to be forearmed, she notes that trusting upon a future age pension is unwise given government tweaking of eligibility criteria. The time may come, she suggests, when there may be no pension at all.

Nevertheless, there are opportunities to be had. In the final chapter Baker looks at the various types of investments available, discussing the pros and cons of each and drawing upon case studies from her work as an advisor.

This is a tremendously worthwhile book to be shared with daughters, grand-daughters or any woman you care about.