Title: Ladies With Loot:
Subtitle: How They Spend, How They Save, And How to Be One Yourself!
By Erica L. McCain, LUTCF (47 pages, available at Amazon.com)
“Fifty percent off so buy now! You must act now to take advantage of these great offers. This is the greatest bargain sale we have ever offered! Call Now!”
How many times have you fallen for these ridiculous high-pressure sales pitches and later regretted it?
If you’re a typical American woman, or man, my guess is there are lots of times you’ve yielded to impulse buying and went “bargain hunting.”
Addressing these dangerous buying practices is one of the themes of this slender book by a sage financial adviser. In one memorable phrase, she explains the problem of overspending: “If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain.”
Such is the commonsense sentiment of Erica McCain, a Middle-America financial advisor. McCain, a life underwriter training council fellow (LUTCF), wrote this sensible little book aimed at women. However, the spend wisely and don’t forget regular savings approach applies to anyone who wants to take control of his or her financial affairs.
Who are the women with loot?
McCain, a Wheelersburg, Ohio adviser, defines them.
“They are secure, confident women who budget appropriately and reap the benefits.” Ladies with loot, she continues, “are not drowning in unsecured debt (i.e., credit cards) or living paycheck to paycheck. They can support themselves as well as contributing financially to the family unit, and they sleep well at night knowing that they have a safety net in place, even if the worst happens.”
In Ms. McCain’s practice she encounters problems that I have found many times in talking to numerous other financial professionals: Often it is the people who make big money whose lives are a mess. The high rollers, I would guess, think they don’t have to budget the way others do. They think they’re indestructible. And the holiday season is a time of the year when many people think they don’t need spending limits.
In 15 years of providing financial services, McCain says she’s seen many women who went overboard during the holidays, “spending money on items that won’t even be remembered down the road.” In some extreme cases, overspending Americans are gambling with the rest of their lives. Indeed, some people even want to borrow or have borrowed from their qualified retirement plans to pay for their holiday purchases, McCain notes.
That is a terrible option. Breaking into a qualified retirement plan can sometimes trigger tax penalties and investment taxes, which normally don’t have to be paid until one has retired and presumably pays less in investment taxes because one is in a lower tax bracket.
But McCain says having a low or high income is no guarantee that someone is following sensible saving and spending practices.
“In my career as a financial professional,” McCain writes, “I work predominantly with women who have salaries ranging from $45,000 to $145,000. Despite the differences in their economic situation, many of my clients have the same financial problems.”
“One might expect,” she continues, “the women who are making $145,000 to have a more robust savings account. In reality, they just have a bigger pile of frivolous purchases.”
I have found the same in various places. For instance, I’ll never forget what Lewis Altfest, a New York City certified financial planner (CFP), once told me. His clients are almost all professionals who are big earners, often $500,000 or more a year.
But, after years of client spending problems, Altfest decided that he had to devote time to providing credit counseling to some clients. That’s because many of whom were deep in credit card debt. They and others who can’t stop their overspending would do well to read Ms. McCain’s book. It explains how anyone can achieve financial independence.
“Ladies with loot are not beholden to anyone, and they do not need to pass up opportunities for lack of breathing space in their budgets,” she writes.
They have saved and invested on a regular basis. And the latter can only take place—no matter how much you make—if you have a reasonable spending plan as well as the discipline to stick to it. McCain doesn’t say one should not have a nice holiday and buy gifts for friends and loved ones. But do it within a budget. And realize that a few gifts are much better than a holiday shopping list that can drop you deep into credit card hell. Then you might start wondering if maybe you should start dipping into retirement savings.
Ladies with Loot understand how dangerous this is.
So should the rest of us.