In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes She famously sang:
“A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
A kiss may be grand, but it won’t pay the rental… diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
So, is a modern girl to take Marilyn Monroe’s advice and believe Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend?
Well, no, but the hard-headed approach to money underlying the song – once you remove the gold-digging element – is not to be sniffed at.
Marilyn came to mind when I was thinking about how to write about women using money sensibly.
I spoke to budgeting expert Pam McKenzie at Auckland Central Budgeting Consultants.
She told me about a client who loved lipsticks. Lipstick queen Marilyn would have so understood. But the gleaming tube habit was undermining her finances badly. Pam’s sage advice: ditch the plastic.
A regular $30 to $50 a lipstick habit adds up. It’s the ‘nickel and dime’ way to financial ruin. All those small purchases can pile up. The trouble is you don’t feel you’re spending actual money when you use even a plain old eftpos card. It’s not quite the same as handing over hard cash.
The result? Switching to cash broke the lipstick addict’s habit. She is now on her way to financial happiness.
Women and the consumer trap
The story above highlights the problem women have with consuming. In this way I think we’re worse than men. We can’t help buying lots of little things – especially if they’re on ‘special’. One theory is this is the modern equivalent of woman as hunter-gatherer going out into the Bush and searching for the best berries. Perhaps the reason we love bright lipsticks?
Pam says she deals with all kinds of women, some surprisingly wealthy. She tells of couples earning $300,000 a year who come to her with serious money problems because their spending has got out of control.
For women who’ve got into this pickle, her message is that money (if not diamonds) can be your best friend – if you let it.
“You can use your money for better things than just squandering it. It’s a lifestyle choice. You have to separate your wants from your needs.”
For example: “You don’t have to have $100 a week ‘social money’.”
An alternative way to spend it might be to do as a mortgage broker speaking on the radio recently suggested and put the $600,000 you have to buy a property into six rather than one property and rent them out, suggests Pam.
“I thought that was a different way of looking at things. Make your money work for you,” says Pam.
“Money can be positive. Ask yourself: do I actually need all these things? Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you need to spend it.”
Her practical suggestion: try living on half your salary.
It could free up a lot of money to use for your long-term benefit and help make you financially secure.
For budgeting advice – whatever your problem – contact the friendly people at Auckland Central Budgeting Consultants.
And for more tips, see our Christmas post – they’re good all year round.
Johanna is a financial and technology journalist who thinks women need to know more about the Big Picture when it comes to money. Her Kate & Whio blog is intended to help and to educate, but the information contained in it should not be taken as specific financial advice. You are responsible for your own money decisions.