A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance

Dr. Relly Nadler:
Today, we have, Manisha Thakor, author of, On My Own Two Feet. It is a modern girl’s guide to personal finance.

So, in this economically challenging time, we are going to hear some more specifics from Manisha. She will share her expertise on managing your finances as well as ideas from her book, Get Financially Naked – How to Talk About Money with Your Honey. Great title there.

Manisha is a featured speaker at the Governor’s Conference for Women in Pennsylvania, helping thousands of women in business across the nation.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: We are very, very happy today to have Manisha with us. She’s going to talk about how to make finances easy for everyone. I know anybody who is listening today will want to share these tips and all of the good information she is going to share with us, to help make their life financially easier.

I love that title; don’t you love that title? Get Financially Naked, I think that’s a good one.

In today’s show, we are going to be talking about self-management tools on finance.

So, our guest today, Manisha Thakor, who is the author of, On My Own Two Feet, and Get Financially Naked, is going to talk to us about all those good tools and tips.

Let me just tell you a little bit about Manisha.

She is on a mission to help American women learn how to live their lives from a position of financial strength – Doesn’t that sound great?

Manisha’s work has been featured in national publications such as the New York Times, Business Week, US News and World Report, Glamour, and Women’s Day.

Manisha has appeared on national TV networks including CNN, CNBC, Fox Business Network and NBC.

Manisha is also a regular personal finance blogger on the Huffington Post and a bi-monthly contributor to the National Syndicated NPR show, 51% to Women’s Perspective.

Prior to this, Manisha spent fifteen years working in the financial services industry. At various points in her career, she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager, and client relations executive for Institutional Money Management Firms with billions in assets under management.

Manisha received her BA from Wellesley College, in 1992, and her MBA from Harvard Business School, in 1997.

She is a chartered financial analyst.

She and her husband split their time between Houston, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

You can learn a lot more about her at www.manishathakor.com.

We are very excited to have her with us today, to share some of the insights that provided at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women.

Manish, welcome to the show.

Manisha Thakor: Cathy, Relly, great to be here.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Thanks, Manisha.

We always start this off, to find a little bit more about your background, but also who have been some of the more influential people in your life, especially in your role as a leader?

Manisha Thakor: Interesting. I have some living and some not living, influences.

On the living side, my parents, have taught me through their own personal example. The benefits from hard work and collaboration and honesty and integrity. I’ve been blessed to have wonderful role models, in that way.

Books were always my friends as I was growing up, and so, the lives of women who had gone before me. Whether it was Virginia Woolf or Edith Wharton on the writing side, or Coco Chanel who is another woman I have always been very taken with.

She had 3000 women working for her back in 1918, which is a pretty gutsy thing to have done back then. You think of her as a fashion maven, but she was a solid business woman as well.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It’s amazing, the passion in your voice when you talk about this.

So, tell us, how did you come up with the idea to write this first book, On My Own Two Feet – A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance.

Manisha Thakor: The idea actually came from my co-author, who is my best girlfriend, Sharon Kedar. She and I both went to business school together.

Sharon pointed out to me, I had been a personal finance junkie since about age 11 when my parents taught me about compounding. So, working in the financial services industry, a lot of people will ask me for personal finance advice and I would recommend the books that I loved.

Sharon said to me, “Have you ever gone back and asked the people you recommended these books to if they helped?”

“Well, no.”

She said, “Well, humor me, try it.”

And I did. Uniformly, I got the same response back, which is people hadn’t made it past chapter 2. It’s not because they weren’t incredibly smart, capable individuals, it was that they weren’t that inherently interested in personal finance.

That’s when the light bulb went off. That there is a whole subsegment of the society, which is actually the majority, of people who want to do the right thing with their money, but they don’t want to know every last mind-numbing detail.

The idea behind, On My Own Two Feet, was to tell people 90% of what you need to know in a book you could read in 5-6 hours sitting on the beach.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Is that book out right now?

Manisha Thakor: It is. It’s my first book, On My Own Two Feet, is most easily accessible on Amazon. It’s also in Borders and Barns and Noble, they tend to stock 1-2 copies, sometimes you have to actually ask them to order it for you if you want to pick it up at a physical bookstore.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s great.

So, tell me, why was it that you wanted to focus your literary efforts on women? Say a little bit more about that.

Manisha Thakor: Relly, I’m so glad you asked that question because people often say, “Are you doing that because women aren’t as good with their money?”

The answer is that first of all – absolutely not, personal finance is something that both genders struggle with mightily because it’s something like parenting, that we are all just expected to pick up from the biosphere.

It is a subject that is extra important for us ladies because statistically speaking, we are the ones left holding the bag at the end of the day. I mean that quite literally, 80% of men die married and 80% of women die single. It’s not because we are killing the guys off, it’s because we live longer.

And, statistically speaking, men who divorce in mid-life have a higher propensity to remarry than women. So, as a result, we are alone and the bag we are left with, and this is the key point I want to make, is ugly.

For 2/3rds of women over the age of 65, meager social security payments are our primary source of income. We are literally choosing between food and essential medicine.

So, that is why I focus on women because you want to learn this before you get to that point.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Well, I think it is also interesting because, if women are trying to make these choices for themselves, you have to put the terms, the financial terms, in a form that makes it also very easily digestible for them. Because, if they’re not interested in personal finance because they have been in a partnership, where someone has done that for them, it’s very hard to get them connected.

I think that the book is probably going to lend itself to both men and women, I mean men can give it as gifts, but they can also learn from it as well, wouldn’t you agree?

Manisha Thakor: Absolutely, the practical advice is gender neutral and, in fact, Lynn Sherr, ABC News correspondent, who is so kind to blurb our book, wrote, “If I were a modern boy, I’d put a wig on and read the book as well!”

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Let me ask you, as a woman who is interested in personal finance, myself, if you could give just one piece of personal finance advice, what would it be? And then I’m going to tell you to hold onto the answer until we get back from the commercial break.

Manisha Thakor: I think the three most powerful words, in all of personal finance, are start saving now. It sounds so simple but if you are saving money, by definition, it means you are not doing so many of the other things that end up causing people financial turmoil.

If you are saving money, by definition, you are spending less than you make. If you’re saving money, by definition, you are probably not overspent on your home, your house isn’t holding you hostage – your car isn’t driving you to the poor house.

It all starts with the most basic step at all, which is making sure that you are balancing your desire to enjoy today with the need to prepare for tomorrow.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: How much, give us your best guess/estimate, should someone target saving and for what?

Manisha Thakor: The number, and I want to put it out there gently so that no one dry heaves when they hear it, is 15%.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: 1. 5. 15.

Manisha Thakor: 1. 5. 15%. For listeners who are gasping as they hear that, I want to say, it is your goal. It’s the peak, it’s Mount Everest, it’s where you want to get to, it’s okay if you are starting from ground zero and you are just saving a percent or two, or three.

Any amount is a good amount to start but the magic behind 15% is this, 10% goes toward your retirement, 5% tucks away for an emergency fund and nearer term needs.

If you dial back the clock 20-30 years as a nation, we routinely save 10% of our income and, ironically or not, people ended up in a much better place when they retired because they had that nest egg set aside plus they had traditional pension plans from their employers, social security.

Today, we don’t have that. So, you need to save a little bit more and that’s why the number is 15% but unfortunately for the past 15 years as a nation, we have been saving, pretty much, close to nothing.

Listen to the entire interview, above.


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