Girls Just Want to Have Funds: How to Spruce Up Your Money Life and Invest Like a Pro


The daughter of finance wizard Jerry Goodman, host of Adam Smith's Money World, shares her hip, practical tips on investing for women in their 20s and 30s

If you know how to deal with a bad hair day, then you have what it takes to be a smart investor. That's the message behind this funny yet truly useful investment guide filled with basic facts, helpful hints, and "chick wisdom." Author Susannah Goodman's smart and sassy investment guide reviews the basics, from stocks and bonds...

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The daughter of finance wizard Jerry Goodman, host of Adam Smith's Money World, shares her hip, practical tips on investing for women in their 20s and 30s

If you know how to deal with a bad hair day, then you have what it takes to be a smart investor. That's the message behind this funny yet truly useful investment guide filled with basic facts, helpful hints, and "chick wisdom." Author Susannah Goodman's smart and sassy investment guide reviews the basics, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds and money markets, in chapters entitled "One Size Doesn't Fit All," "Bonding with Bonds," and "Fabulous Money Makeovers." Interviews with such financial giants as Warren Buffett, Amy Domini, and Sharon Rich offer invaluable, expert advice. Best of all, Goodman's common sense approach assures women that they already know more than they think about smart investing. It's as easy--and important--as shopping for the perfect little black dress.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786884261
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/24/2000
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Section I

The Three Most Important Things You MUST Do

Chapter One

Start Early--And Become a Millionaire

Why Investing Early Pays Off, and Hard Work Sometimes Doesn't

What's the best way to retire as a millionaire? Take this pop quiz and find out.

A. Win the lottery.

B. Steal Brad Pitt from his current flame and then sell the secret photos to Star magazine

C. Start putting money away NOW--as early as possible--before you have a clue about anything else.

D. Pick the hottest stocks in the market and sell them when the time is right.

You guessed it: Answer C. "Start putting money away NOW--as early as possible--before you have a clue about anything else." In fact, the earlier you start putting money away, the more flexibility you'll have in the future to do what you want, when you want. Check this out.

Sam and Jane are seniors in high school. Sam is dull-witted and slow. Jane is smart and bright.

After high school, Sam goes directly to work in his father's car wash. His father helps him set up an individual retirement account (IRA).

With his father's help, Sam puts away $2,000 a year in the IRA...until the age of 28.

At that age, he quits the car wash. He stops contributing to his IRA. He hooks up with one of his shady buddies, Skanky Steve, and heads to Los Angeles. He becomes a total slacker and all he does for the next forty years is smoke pot, drink Wild Turkey, and play bad heavy metal music in dark L.A. clubs.

Jane, on the other hand, goes to college and then to law school. At age 28, she finally feels enough room to breathe between paying back her student loans and managing her other finances. She sets up an IRA and starts to contribute $2,000 per year, and does so continually for the next forty years. She becomes a pillar of her community.

Both Sam's and Jane's IRAs grow at a rate of 10% per year.

Sam has contributed only $20,000 to his.

Jane has contributed $80,000 to hers.

When they both retire at age 68, guess who has more? Sam! Sam's account has grown to $1,442,631. Jane's account has grown to $885,185. Scandalous, you say? Yes.

Sam has almost a million and a half dollars even though he put in only $20,000. Jane has less than Sam, even though she put in $80,000.

Why? Sam started earlier. Ten years earlier, to be exact. Starting early made all the difference.

Don't believe me? Check out the chart in the Appendix. The numbers tell the story. In fact, if you follow the numbers closely, you'll see that starting at age 27, the interest on Sam's account is bigger than Jane's whole first-year contribution of $2,000. That's why Sam stays ahead, even though he completely stops contributing after age 28.

Basically, Sam gets a head start on Jane--and at $2,000 per year, she never, never, never catches up.

You see, there are four factors that make an investment grow: the interest rate or "rate of return" of the investment, the amount you start with, the amount you contribute every year, and the time that your investment has to grow. Of all of these, time is the most compelling. Time is the magic fairy dust of money. Time is the thing that makes money grow like that crazy beanstalk of "Jack and the Beanstalk" fame. But before focusing on the time factor, let's review the other factors that make an investment grow.

The Rate of Return or Interest Rate

The rate of return makes a difference--a big difference--in how fast money grows. "What's a rate of return?" you ask. Say you put $100 of your money in a bank savings account earning 1.5% interest. Your rate of return is 1.5%. So your money would grow by only $1.50 a year--a paltry sum. But if your rate of return were 11% and you had $100, your money would grow by $11 a year. That's a big difference. I mean you can buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee with $11. Woweee!

So rate of return makes a difference in how quickly your money grows. And for the record, you should put your money in a stock mutual fund, which I refer to later, if you want it to grow the fastest. (According to careful study by Ibbotson Associates, from 1926 to 1998, large company stocks have had an annualized return of 11.2%. And that includes all the major stock market crashes.) But rate of return is not the most important thing.

Amount You Start With

The more you start with, the bigger it will grow. At 10%, your money will double every 7.2 years. If you start with $10,000, it will be $20,000 in 7.2 years. If you start with $20,000, it will be $40,000 in 7.2 years. If you start with $1 million, and it grows by 10%, you will have $2 million in 7.2 years. Even so, the amount that you start with still is not the most important factor.

Amount You Contribute

If you add to your investment every year, your basic pot of cash will be bigger. It's true. If you keep adding to your stash of cash every year, it will grow. But that's still not the most important component.

In fact, the above three factors are fairly earthly. They are predictable and not magical.


Yes, time is the most important variable in determining how big your pot of money will get. Time makes money grow exponentially. Think back to the sixth or seventh grade when you learned about exponents. They blew your mind then and they should blow your mind now.

Remember this? Say every day you multiplied the number five by itself. You start the first day with 5. The second day, you'd have 25. The third day, you'd have 125. The fourth, 625. The fifth, 3,125. On the sixth day, you'd have 15,625. On the seventh day, you'd have to rest.

That's how money grows. Exponentially. In a blob-like manner. Oozing out on all sides.

Got it? Okay: read the following story so that you can see exactly how and why starting early makes such a HUGE difference. But the characters this time are not so extreme. In fact, you may see yourself in them.

Once upon a time there were two feisty, independent women named Heather and Christine. They were best friends and roomed together in college for three of the four years that they went to school together. They both played on the varsity soccer team, both were champions at the drinking game called quarters. At one time, they both had boyfriends named Brian--although Christine broke up with her Brian at the end of junior year, and Heather and her Brian lasted only about two months.

They graduated from college, and their families came to see them, bringing graduation gifts. Christine's older stepbrother, Edward, was a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. He helped Christine open up an IRA as a graduation gift. He told Christine that no matter what she did, she should always contribute $100 a month to the IRA. That year, Edward died in a mysterious gardening accident.

Meanwhile, Heather, whose mother owned Ye Olde Yummy Bakery in Concord, MA, didn't know from IRAs. She gave Heather a cake for graduation, which Heather ate, and her blessing, which made Heather happy.

Over the years, Christine was less directed than Heather. She flitted from odd job to odd job and eventually found her calling in professional flower arranging. But the death of her stepbrother Edward had made a lasting impact. To honor his name, she kept the IRA as he had instructed. Every month for ten years, she made a contribution to the IRA.

When she stopped contributing to her IRA, she had put in a total of $12,000.

Heather went off into the world and got a degree in urban and environmental planning and became executive director of a group called Recycle or Die. She was 32 when she realized she needed a retirement plan. So she started one. She contributed $100 per month until she retired. In total, she contributed $36,000. They both retired at the age of 62.

Heather put $36,000 into her IRA over thirty years. It grew at a rate of 10%. $100 per month.

Christine put $12,000 into her IRA over ten years. It grew at a rate of 10%. $100 per month.

Overall, Heather put $24,000 more into her IRA.

They both cashed out their IRAs at age 62.

Trick Question: At the end of that time, whose IRA account was worth more?

Answer: Yes. Christine's. (You're catching on.) Christine had $406,359.20 at age 62. Heather had only $226,048.79.

Why? Christine had time on her side.

That's the one thing that Christine had more of than Heather. How much more? Ten years more. And in the world of investing, ten years, at only $100 per month, equals approximately $180,000.

Here's the long version. Just follow along.

1986: Heather and Christine are 22.

Christine and Heather graduate from college.

starting score:

heather: 0

christine: 0

Christine, waiting tables in Miami, starts to contribute $100 per month to a tax-sheltered account.

Heather, working in Colorado on a campaign to save the environment, is putting nothing away.

1988: Heather and Christine are 24.


christine: $2,644.69

heather: 0

Christine is still waiting tables, but she is going to school part-time to study acupuncture. She puts $100 away per month to honor the wishes of her stepbrother, Edward.

Heather is in Berkeley, canvassing for the California Public Interest Research Group. She falls in love with Todd, starts learning how to surf, and still puts nothing away. Her mother sends her cookies.

1990: Heather and Christine are 26.


christine: $5,872.25

heather: 0

Heather breaks up with Todd because he has no ambition, and goes back to graduate school to study urban and environmental planning. She wins the local women's surfing competition. She contributes nothing to an IRA.

Christine is still waitressing. She gives up on acupuncture and starts to coach junior high school girls soccer. She still contributes $100 per month to her IRA. She borrows $3,000 from her older brother, Mark, to buy a used Honda Civic.

1992: Heather and Christine are 28.


christine: $9,811.13

heather: 0

Heather graduates from her urban and environmental planning school with a master's degree. She goes to work for Recycle or Die, a radical nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to passing mandatory plastic recycling laws in all fifty states. She puts nothing away and starts to pay off her student loans.

Christine decides she wants to go back to school to study plants and flowers. She applies for and receives student loans. She contributes $100 per month to her IRA. Her brother Mark is very nice about the car loan and lets her pay it back slowly, at $50 per month.

1994: Heather and Christine are 30.


christine: $14,618.11

heather: 0

Heather becomes executive director of Recycle or Die. She is working sixty-five hours a week and trying to stay on the surfing circuit. She is exhausted. She begins to wonder whether she should start to think about putting money away for retirement, but does not.

Christine gets her first job as a professional flower arranger in a local flower shop. She meets Jimmy and marries him within four months. Then they start fighting all the time, so Christine moves out, even though she is pregnant. Her other best friend, Bernice, comes to live with her. She eats crackers all the time to stop the morning sickness. She racks up $8,000 in credit card debt to get through the hard times.

Throughout all this, she still contributes $100 per month to her IRA. For Christine, putting $100 per month into the IRA has become a ritual way to pay tribute to the memory of her loving older stepbrother, Edward. Her friends urge her to liquidate her IRA to pay off her mountain of debt, but she tearfully refuses.

19962006: Heather and Christine grow from age 32 to 42.

score at age 32:

christine: $20,484.50

heather: 0

Christine begins the decade $20,484.50 ahead of Heather. She gives birth to a baby boy and names him Edward. She and Jimmy reconcile, and move back in together. Christine goes to consumer credit counseling and gradually pays off her $8,000 in credit card debt. She has another child, whom she names Sheila.

At the beginning of the decade, Christine stops contributing to her IRA every month. Instead, she honors dead stepbrother Edward's memory by opening up a college fund in his name for her two children. But the $20,484.50 inside her IRA still grows by 10% each year. Christine hasn't touched it. She refuses to liquidate it.

Beginning in 1996, Heather begins to contribute $100 to an IRA. She does so every month for ten years. She gets married to Jackie in the year 2000. They have two children named Madison ("Maddy" for short) and Liam.

Even though Heather has started an IRA and Christine has stopped contributing, Christine is still ahead.

20062016: Heather and Christine grow from age 42 to 52.

score at age 42:

christine: $55,452.39

heather: $20,484.50

The two women grow older and prosper in their careers. Their kids grow up, and they remain friends. Christine still refuses to liquidate her IRA, and it continues to grow by 10% per year.

Heather continues to contribute $100 per month to her IRA. And that money also grows by 10% per year.

20162026: Heather and Christine grow from age 52 to 62.

score at age 52:

christine: $150,111.92

heather: $75,936.88

In the past ten years, Heather has continued to contribute $100 per month to her IRA. Christine has contributed nothing to her IRA. Her son Edward and her daughter Sheila go to college. Heather's children are still in high school.

Heather gets the Colorado "Environmentalist of the Year" award. Christine owns her own flower shop. At the end of the decade, they both retire.

2026: Heather and Christine are both 62.

final score at age 62:

christine: $406,359.17

heather: $226,048.79

Basically, Christine had a HUGE head start and she never gave up that lead.

Technically speaking, Heather contributed $36,000 over time. Christine contributed only $12,000.

Both of their accounts grew by 10% per year.

That's the thing. The original money--the original $1,200--doesn't grow by 10% only once and then it's done. No. Every year, the original $1,200 gets to grow by another 10%.

That's why, if you start early, you've got it made. You can just sit back and watch your money grow.


If reading this first chapter depressed you because you haven't started to put money away, don't despair. Few people learn this lesson in their twenties. Most people are just scrambling to try to develop a life and career. So, just heed the lesson and read on. Then get your best girlfriend for support and TAKE ACTION. As soon as you take some action, you will feel better. I promise. You will be empowered. And it won't be too long before you are feeling as savvy about money matters as the glossy-haired gal on the CNN Financial Network.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii
Section I The Three Most Important Things You Must Do
1. Start Early--And Become a Millionaire (Why investing early pays off, and hard work sometimes doesn't) 3
2. Get Paid for Your Work (Max out your retirement plan) 13
3. Start Building Your Empire Now--And Still Save for Your Ski Trip (Open up a Roth IRA) 34
Section II One Size Doesn't Fit All--You Have to Mix and Match
4. Identify Your Money Goals (and find the financial product to match) 45
5. Immediate Needs Money: The Bland and Boring Checking Account (A great idea for the short term; A lousy place for the long term) 47
6. Rainy Day Reserves: Where to Stash Your Cash for Emergencies (Check out a checking account, savings account, or, better yet, a money market mutual fund) 51
7. Money for Your Short-Term Goals (For your trip to Italy or going back to school, check out a money market mutual fund, a certificate of deposit, or an investment-grade bond) 58
8. Bonding with Bonds (Bonds may be boring, like your tan corduroy, but sometimes they are just the thing) 65
9. Meet the Best Little Investment in America: Stocks and Stock Mutual Funds: An Overview (Invest in stock mutual funds and stocks. You'll get the financial freedom to quit working when you want, send your kids to college, or buy that dream house) 85
Section III Start Investing and Don't Get Spooked by the Market
10. Make Investing a Snap with a Mutual Fund (Learn the basics of a stock mutual fund, when to buy one, and the benefits and down sides of mutual fund investing) 103
11. How to Choose a Mutual Fund (Three options for your purchasing pleasure) 109
12. What to Do When the Market Crashes (A bubble bath might be a good idea) 132
13. Why You Should Ignore Market Mood Swings and Stock Price Panics (And you thought your best friend was emotional!) 139
Section IV Buying Stocks the Smart Shopper Way
14. Warren Buffett, the Billionaire: The Smartest of "Smart" Shoppers (Down-home wisdom from a stand-up billionaire) 155
15. How to Shop for Stocks the "Smart Shopper" Way (It's just like shopping for that little black dress) 162
16. How to Research Individual Stocks (Learn how to walk through the financials of a company like The Gap) 181
Section V How to Make a Profit While Making a Difference
17. How to Invest Without Checking Your Values at the Door (You can invest in corporate America without compromising your views on environment, labor, and human rights issues. And no, you don't have to give up return) 197
Section VI Creating and Implementing Your Grand Master Plan
18. Creating Your Grand Financial Plan and Finding a Financial Advisor (How to design your own financial plan and what to ask before starting a relationship--with a financial advisor) 213
19. Introducing One Cool Financial Planner (If you want to know what a financial planner should be like, meet Sharon Rich, the Boston area's finest) 227
20. Choosing a Broker to Implement the Grand Financial Plan (You can do it yourself on the Internet, do it at a discount broker and save, or pay full price for the red-carpet treatment of a full-service broker) 233
Section VII Money Makeovers to Learn From
21. How Katherine Changed from a Spender to a Saver and How You Can Too 243
22. How Lucy Turned Financial Panic Into Financial Power (And maxed out her retirement plan!) 251
23. How Liza Stopped Underearning and You Can Too (Liza's trouble wasn't that she was spending too much--she was earning too little! Find out how she psyched herself up to get a huge promotion and raise.) 258
Section VIII Protect What You've Got
24. Taxes: The Way to Pay the Least (Find out how Jane could have had to pay $14,152 in taxes--but instead got a refund AND how you can too!) 265
I. Chart of Sam and Jane 287
II. How to Figure Out Whether It's Worth It for You to Buy a Municipal Bond 292
III. A Description of Some of the Major Stock Exchanges of the World 294
IV. In-Depth Description of Certain Social Screens for Socially Responsible Mutual Funds 296
V. Investing in Individual Stocks Without Checking Your Values at the Door 302
VI. A Partial List of Full-Service, Discount, and Online Brokers 305
VII. Deductions for a Schedule A 311
VIII. How to Offset Capital Gains with Capital Losses 316
Index 319
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2003

    Just What I was Looking For

    Fun to read & educational. What more can girls ask for? Reffered by All you need to Survive,Three Black Skirts. All part of being a young adult.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2003

    Great introduction to money

    I thought this book was well written and outlined many important parts to personal finances. I recently was urged to put money in a 403B and IRA, and have been persuaded to max out my retirement, but this book helped me to understand WHY these are so important, and how exactly the different processes work. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who sees finances as overwhelming. It is a motivating read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2002

    Great book!

    This book is geared towards females in their 20's who find investing and all of the financial jargon intimidating. It teaches you the basics, and is incredibly easy to understand. I am 24, and I haven't found a book that has even come close to this one. A must-read for any female just starting out in the working-world!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2001


    The other reviews don't like this book because it is simplistic, but to me it was perfect! The book is geared towards young women (i was 23 when i read it) and the basic 'child like' way it is written helped me to understand some complicated topics. I did not understand stocks and bonds, and this book was written for women like me. I understand now, and am active in the market. The women who reviewed it before were obviously well versed in the financial world, but if you aren't, this book is the way to go!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2000


    I didn't really know anything about investing, and although this book doesn't tell you exactly which stocks to invest in, it tells you about different types of investment. If you're like me, before I read the book, and you don't know the difference between a stock and a bond, or wonder why you should be putting money into your 401(k), you should definitely read this book. I didn't want to put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2000

    Less than meets the eye

    Dozens and dozens of exclamation points cannot make up for a poorly written book!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    Very little here

    The title is cute. The idea sounds charming but the writing is childish and the book is so basic that if you even know what a stock or bond is you're beyond this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    Invest like a pro? Not with this book!!

    I expected a well-written book but it's not. It reads like the ramblings of a young child. Why else would it have so many exclamation points?!!! The problem is that a very middle-aged author is trying to write like a 20-year old. It rings untrue and insincere.

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