Book Review – I’m On My Own, And So Are You: Financial Security for Women by Judy Resnick

There are many personal finance books out there that cater to both men and women, but there are few and far between that focus solely on women.  Financial planner and stock broker Judy Resnick’s new book does just this.

Renick’s Background

Resnick, like many young girls coming of age in the 1950s, was taught that her main job was to be attractive and demure so that she may find a good mate.  When she graduated from high school, she was not expected to work; in fact, her parents were scandalized when she both wanted to work and move out on her own.  Her parents didn’t want her to be self-sufficient but rather to find a good man to marry and have children.

She did marry and have children, but the man she found wasn’t a good one.  Instead, he cheated on her and had trouble staying employed.  When she left her husband, it was a scandal.  Still, even then she wasn’t expected to support herself but to rely on her parents for help.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Resnick finally began to make it on her own, finding great success as one of the few female brokers at the time.

While this book is about helping women understand finances and investing, it’s also largely a biography, charting Resnick’s life, which has as many twist and turns as a soap opera.  Indeed, her story kept me up at night reading later than I planned to.

Main Points of the Book

Throughout the book, Resnick has one pressing goal–teach women to understand that knowing about and being involved in their own finances is essential.  Whether the woman is happily married, widowed, divorced or single, she must know what’s happening with her own finances.

Resnick doesn’t say that the man in her life can’t handle the finances, but rather that the woman must be knowledgable about the finances.  Resnick’s own mother never got involved in the family finances, and when her husband died unexpectedly, the entire family was in for a financial shock when they discovered what he had been hiding from everyone.  Resnick doesn’t want other women to end up in this situation.

She also spends a good deal of time demystifying investing.  Investing intimidates many women, so they just don’t do it or they let others do it for them without understanding the investments they are making.  Resnick breaks down investment terms and products in plain English so that any woman can understand.  Resnick understands if you don’t want to make your own investments, but she does want you to understand the investments others like your financial adviser may make for you.

Criticism of the Book

Some may dislike Resnick’s tell-it-like-it-is style.  Indeed, sometimes it does seem that she has a grudge against men.  However, I think that is just because she has seen so many women put in difficult financial situations because they trusted the men in their lives who weren’t really worthy of their trust.  For instance, one man lied on his tax returns every year, and the woman signed them.  When they got divorced, she got very little spousal support because the judge based the support on the fraudulent tax returns.  The wife couldn’t say anything or she would be facing persecution for tax fraud.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is an excellent read for any woman, married, divorced, widowed or single.  Even if you feel you have a good handle on the finances, you’ll likely learn something from this book.