From your Roaring 20’s, to your Thrifty 30’s, and all the way to your (hopefully) Smooth 60’s, The Money Queen Guide will work to guide you through each of these financial decades and provide insight and detailed guidance into the steps you can take, and the decision you should make to build a financially responsible future. Financial security is an exciting journey we can take together. So pack your purse and get ready for the ride . . .
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|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Are You a Material Girl?
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Money. The Bible tells us, "It's the root of all evil." Benjamin Franklin said, "Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants." Margaret Thatcher reminded us, "It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake." Voltaire said, "Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money." Sound pretty disconcerting?
But then we remember when Rita Davenport said, "Money isn't everything ... but it ranks right up there with oxygen." Or when Groucho Marx said, "While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." And then there was Jim Young, played by Ben Affleck, in the movie Boiler Room, who said, "Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn't have any. They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby." We can all agree there are some pretty conflicting views on money.
Needless to say, money is one hot topic that has built quite the reputation as time goes on. It is something for which we strive and for which we yearn. It is something we acquire and then divest and invest into other things. Sometimes we hold onto it for an extended period while other times it leaves us as quickly as we earned it. We all know someone who cannot save a dollar no matter how much she makes. And then there is that friend in our circle who saves every dollar she earns. Most people feel the wealthiest folks are those that make the most money. And maybe they are. But the reality is that the wealthiest people in this world not only make the most money, but also save and invest the most money. It is pretty darn easy to be rich today and poor tomorrow. No matter how much you make, if you spend it all, there will be little, if any, left.
But that practice is generally the exception, not the rule, especially for women. Many times, young women are raised to be dependent upon men, rarely armed with the extensive knowledge they need to not only earn money, but also be self-sufficient and save it. We are told that we will always be supported and prince charming will always provide for all of our financial needs. I don't believe in this fairy tale. Women are just as capable as men of taking care of themselves and their finances. The truth is that as women, we are independent and able to support ourselves. In fact, it is our duty to be responsible for ourselves both personally and professionally.
But remember when I told you we would learn from my mistakes? Well my first mistake was undertaking the difficult task of supporting myself and my husband as the financial breadwinner. When it all fell apart, every decision I made during our marriage positioned me for economic destruction. The truth is that I was so fearful of becoming dependent on others that I picked an emotionally unavailable man who I only connected with on a surface level. In fact, my father jokingly said we exchanged resumes and he looked good on paper. It was never a fairy tale love story. It was the easy way out. He was good looking, smart and successful. But, ultimately, he was the wrong man for the wrong reasons. But funny enough, my journey was one that paralleled so many other women of the world.
Like many modern day women, I came from a very traditional household. Growing up watching the dynamic of my mom and dad, I decided I wanted to be more like my dad ... I wanted to be the one who made the money.
My story is similar to that of many women; I've had some great successes, great failures, and I've had to re-chart my financial life in the face of change more than once. I'm human, just like everyone else. I built a successful business, got married, experienced a painful and financially damaging divorce, and then had to rebuild. But I've also followed my passions throughout life. One of those passions is financial planning. As a child, my banker father exposed me early on to the financial world. He taught me strong money values, the importance of working hard, and gave me my love for doing the right things with money. His bank often hosted "Take your Daughter to Work" days, and I was front and center at every one. My mother was a big part of that passion, too. She is a Certified Public Accountant, and she also went back to school later in life, when I was 13.
After graduating from college, my career moved quickly up the corporate ladder, including eight years on Wall Street at JP Morgan Chase, three years as a Vice President at Citibank, and two years as a Director at Lord Abbett Investments. By the time I turned 30, I was earning $500,000 a year. I'm not going to lie: I thought I had it made! I had met and exceeded so many goals in life. What could possibly go wrong? I was clearly financial independent with that much money coming in every year. Or so I thought. I was confident in my ability to support myself. I refused to learn normal domestic duties because I had determined that would not be for me. I thought: If I make the money, then I will be safe, be able to make my own decisions, and have freedom.
That line of thinking is nearly always a preamble for disaster. And it demonstrates much of what occurs to us. As women, we often set ourselves up for failure. Whether we knew it at the time or not, the writing was always on the wall. Life takes us to unexpected places all the time. In my case, it led me into a romantic relationship that, in the end, caused major negative effects on my happiness, my confidence, and my financial bottom line. I made the wrong choice in my life because of my unhealthy emotional state. It wasn't for lack of intellect or knowledge. In fact, most bad decisions are driven out of either conscious or unconscious emotional responses.
In 2000, I married someone who I thought I could be coupled with. He was a CPA and an attorney with an impressive resume. I felt as if we were both at the same point on the fast track. He was what I wanted and, on paper, it was a perfect merger of equals ... or at least that's what I thought. But boy was I wrong and the cost was unbelievable and immeasurable. In the end, money was the least of my worries.
Money Can't Buy Me Love
When I entered into marriage, I had no idea what I was in for. I was open, vulnerable and trusting, which made me the perfect victim. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? All the while, I carried the bulk of our shared financial burden. I had come into the marriage as the primary breadwinner, and that showed no signs of changing any time soon. I always paid my own bills, so at first, I didn't realize I was paying for nearly everything. Bills came in and my income went out. I just paid ALL the bills. We never had joint banking accounts. He had his money and I had mine. I thought that would protect me. My name appeared on the bills as they came in and I paid them because it was my responsibility. Or at least that was how I viewed it.
My husband had his own reasons for not chipping in. He referred to himself as a "serial entrepreneur," who would never work for anyone other than himself. He was stubborn, unwilling to undertake traditional work, and completely attached to my ability to pay for it all. He said he was an ex-hedge fund manager who had retired twice by the time he was 30. His money was his, and was "unavailable" for paying bills. I also soon realized that his finances were a mess. On the surface, he was successful and well-to-do, but scratch the surface and he had terrible credit. He'd never paid back his undergraduate or law school student loans. He had accounts under his control in his father's name, his mother's, and even an old girlfriend's name, in which he would sock money away. He had more than a dozen companies set up in his name, creating such a quagmire around tax time that his files would arrive in a box nearly as tall as me. It was impossible for me to figure out what was going on with his money, but he always seemed to know what was going on with mine. I simply accepted his lies and wrote the checks because I was taught to always be responsible and pay the bills on time. My stellar credit rating was very important to me and he knew it.
Not long after our move to Florida from New York, my father passed away. The ground slipped out from under my feet and I was spinning out of control. Looking back, I can say with some certainty that this time in my life was my rock bottom.
I'd started a new financial practice, but my marriage was still in decline. When the divorce began, money was literally flying out the window as quick as it came in the door. Ultimately, I found myself on a long, lonely road to divorce. It was a process that lasted for years and included countless contract negotiations and financial red tape that threatened not just my earnings to date, but my future earnings as well. Once the relationship ended, the financial conundrum began. My ex-husband felt he was entitled to much of what I earned and almost all that I built. Never mind you that I made most of the money and paid the bills. That was not enough. He wanted it all. And worst of all, he felt that it was his right.
It was an arduous, six-figure divorce with emotionally driven decisions affecting me at every turn. I owned two houses, but while the titles of those homes were in both our names, the mortgages were in my name alone. This meant that, for a long time, my ex was living in one of those homes while I paid the mortgage, bills, and car payments. He was living the dream while I was trapped in an emotional and financial nightmare. Relief was nowhere to be found.
Anyone who knew me asked: "Why would you do that?" The short answer is that emotions were fueling my decisions. Of course, it's never as simple as that — emotions never are. For one, I had fabulous credit and, as taught by my parents, felt driven to pay every bill for which I was responsible, fair or not. I knew that in the long run, I would be punished if I didn't pay the bills.
One of my biggest reasons for staying as long as I did was fear. It wasn't just the threats my husband levied against me, but I was afraid of losing everything I'd built. The only thing I did still have control over was my business. I'd created it and watched it start to thrive in spite of everything that was happening in my own life. It became my lifeboat, so I started to think that if I could get to a certain benchmark in my career, I could make things start to happen in my personal life. When I make X, I'd reason with myself, I'll walk away.
One day, I was presented out of the blue with a Marital Separation Agreement that my husband had drafted completely on his own. When I arrived at home, I was ambushed with six witnesses waiting for me to sign a 100-page document that I'd never seen before. After reading only six pages, I realized the agreement stipulated I hand over 50% of my business ... the only thing I knew I had control over that was 100% my own. The rest of the day turned into a blur as I was bullied into signing the document through verbal abuse and threats. My professional side knew something was very wrong, but the emotional toll of the situation was just too much for me to take. I signed the agreement under duress. I literally gave away half of what I earned and half of what I had worked tirelessly to build. Through my signature, it was his.
For weeks, he and his staff refused to provide me a copy. When I finally received a copy of the agreement, I went to see a dear trusted friend, who is also a Board Certified family-law attorney. We reviewed the entire agreement and found that not only did it ask me to sacrifice half of my business, but it also appointed my ex-husband as executor of my estate — he was to receive 50% of my future inheritances, and many more stipulations that, in hindsight, were crazy. If I violated any stipulation, including moving my business, the "agreement" stated I would owe him five million dollars in a "liquidated damages clause." On top of everything else, as soon as divorce proceedings started I was sued for alimony and temporary support. It was literally a one-sided financial catastrophe.
After endless tears, my friend offered a glimmer of hope. She said the document was so egregious that she didn't believe it would hold up in court. It was clear to any unbiased bystander that I was manipulated and coerced into signing the agreement. I hired an attorney and prepared for battle — the ultimate battle. During the divorce, I was bleeding cash. I could not make money fast enough and I was in the red every month for the first time in my entire life. I was fortunate to have an emergency fund, something I advise all of my clients to have, and it allowed me to get though the almost four years of negative cash flow. This was the first glimpse of a silver lining I had after years of bad tidings. It even gave me a little chuckle, reminding me of a quote from one of my favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life. Annie, the Bailey's housekeeper, gives George some of her hard-earned cash at the close of the film and says, "I've been savin' this money for a divorce, if ever I got a husband!" But I was determined to put my head down, suck it up, and stand strong to ensure I stood for what I believed. I didn't deserve this treatment and I was the victim. It was time I fought hard to protect what I built over the first half of my life. I was a powerful woman, but this man would try to take everything away from me. I had to literally fight for my life.
I Will Survive
Throughout my personal struggles, financial planning remained a professional endeavor that brought me joy. It was a safe haven for me, and always put a smile on my face. It was as if I was living vicariously through the intelligent financial decisions of others. I was paying for my mistakes, but at least I was helping others. It all felt worth it. So I refocused on my job and found new aspects of the industry that made me happy. After years of struggle, as well as personal development, I was ready to take my life to its highest and best use. My personal trials and tribulations could only be fantastic examples and learning experiences for others.
Many of my bad decisions came in the form of my taste in men. My Achilles heel was intimate relationships. I was simply attracted to the wrong type of guy. I had a wonderful role model in my dad, why should I keep making poor decisions in this area of my life? I explored this for years in my counseling sessions. When I first started, my counselor asked me, "What do you feel?" I didn't even understand the question. I was so out of touch with my emotional being, which I deemed to be too female, that I didn't know what I didn't know.
How could I choose the right partner when I didn't even know how to emotionally relate? This took years of peeling back the onion, layer after layer. It was hard work and I always wanted to quit. My therapist would say, "Cary, I am committed to you, you have to be committed to me. This is your life we are saving." I had already been burned badly. I was still trying to put the pieces of my life back together. My life was damaged and my business was damaged.
And then came a glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel. I was at the Orlando airport one Monday morning in late 2009 when I struck up a conversation with a man in the security line. This wasn't unusual. I often start conversations with people around me, and didn't think much of it. But by the end of the line, I knew he was from Long Island just like me and also lived in Central Florida, just like me. He worked in both states and was a professional in the pharmaceutical industry. He also had experienced a very difficult and contentious divorce.
We exchanged emails and phone numbers and contact info after talking for a long time. He emailed me the next day and asked if I wanted to go out for coffee, lunch, or dinner in Florida or New York. He said it was my choice. He wanted to give me options! I really wasn't sure if I should accept ... I didn't think I was ready to let another man into my life. To be completely cautious and not rush into another relationship, I kept my distance and allowed our friendship to grow.
We communicated via email over the next few months. He had such a positive outlook on life, with an amazing spirit, and a genuine smile that reached his eyes. He was very confident in himself and he knew who he was. It was extremely refreshing. When I told my therapist I wasn't sure I was ready to date, he told me to give him his number so he could reach out and speak with my new interest. I was terrified, but I did it. They spoke for an hour and a half. My therapist called me afterwards and told me, "This is the man I have always wanted for you — a true partner. You can give and receive love to each other." I felt relieved and was excited that I was able to filter through the crap and find a man that could potentially be a healthy fit in my life. I was seeing spots after my last relationship, so I was unsure if I could ever focus again. So it was with great enthusiasm that I began the process of opening my life to this man.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Money Queen's Guide"
Copyright © 2016 Cary Carbonaro, CFP, MBA.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsChapter 1: Are You a Material Girl?
Chapter 2: The Five Keys to Financial Planning
Chapter 3: Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail
Chapter 4: Your Best Financial Life
Chapter 5: Your Roaring 20’s: The Journey Begins
Chapter 6: Your Thrifty 30’s: Becoming Established
Chapter 7: Your Fantastic 40’s: What’s Next?
Chapter 8: Your Fabulous 50’s: Avoiding the Landmines
Chapter 9: Your Smooth 60’s: A Time to Celebrate