Book Review: Women With Money by Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky is the financial editor of NBC’s Today Show and hosts the podcast Her Money — but you might also remember her from an unexpectedly viral November 2017 tweet in which she stated that 30-year-olds should have 1x their income saved for retirement.

When we discussed that tweet on The Billfold, I noted that, at age 35, I had managed to save up one year of post-tax income, or roughly $40K. A little less than two years later, my net worth has grown to $103,608.10, which I achieved through the magic of increasing my income, reducing my expenses (primarily by moving from Seattle to Cedar Rapids and cutting my monthly rent by half), and increasing my savings. Will I hit 3x post-tax income by age 40? We’ll see.

But the tweet sparked ire because, for many people, those kind of financial benchmarks are more laughable than relevant. College debt, credit card debt, healthcare debt, low salaries, stagnant salaries, high housing costs, etc. etc. etc. make it very difficult for people to save.

I even did the math, on The Billfold, to prove just how hard it was to set aside a year’s worth of salary in savings by the time you turned 30.

Everyone shared Chatzky’s tweet specifically because it wasn’t applicable to everyone. Her new book, Women with Money: The Judgment-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, Yes, Rich) Life You Deserve, is also not for everyone — but if it’s the type of financial advice you need right now, it is well worth reading.

Who’s the target audience for Women With Money? Remember my post on what book covers communicate to their readers. This book (which I received for free as an advance reader copy) doesn’t communicate much with its imagery. Instead, it packs it all into the subtitle:

  • Judgment-Free
  • Joyful
  • Less Stressed
  • Purposeful
  • Rich
  • Life You Deserve

Notice how these words are nearly all subjective (my definition of joyful might be different from yours) and emotion-based. This book is not a guide to increasing your net worth or getting out of debt or asking for a raise, even though all that information is present in the text. Instead, this book is about how to feel better about your money.

If that’s the book you need right now, go get yourself a copy. Chatzky liberally peppers the text with case studies and conversations with real women, so you’ll get to learn how other people feel about their money — and what they did when they realized they weren’t happy with where their money was going. You’ll also read about plenty of journeys towards joyful, less-stressed, purposeful (and yes, rich — or at least richer) lives.

And if that’s not the book you need right now, remember that the personal finance section should take up at least three shelves in your average public library or bookstore, so you’ll have plenty of other options. ❤️

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