In the first installment of our financial series, our resident cash-o-holic gets us all comfy with our love of money.
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Few things make me as anxious as discussing money…
With women, I have no compunction talking about how to spend and save (*LOUD COUGH*) money, but talking about it with men, on their terms, makes the hair on my spine spike up like lines in a dollar sign.
This isn’t because I worry I’m inadequate in the jargon of high finance, or because market capitalization and futures trading are no more interesting than hot dog buns or Jim Belushi’s comedy. I get defensive when I talk to men about finance because they don’t trust women to make smart financial decisions. I don’t trust them with my feelings about cash.
So what is a smart financial decision? What is money all about? Well, a lifetime of wanting more of it has taught me the only thing I need to know: the best things in life are still free, and money is still the most expensive thing on Earth. Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest we Occupy anything. Me on a pulpit is like me “dancing” at Zumba—affected and depressing.
What I am suggesting is that when it comes to money and high finance, we feel comfortable in our skin, and phenomenal in our skirt suits should you find yourself in a bank-off. (I take that back. You actually don’t ever want to be seen in a skirt suit.)
This is the finance/money column for the rest of us.
First thing’s first. Money should be called out for what it is: MONEY. Not equity, not escrow, not capital, not principal or valuation. Everyone knows what money is. Let’s leave it there. This is important, because financiers will take you to school if you misuse your terminology, which means the only logical means of absolving any confusion is to avoid the terminology altogether. [This is actually an important general lesson, dames: If you don’t understand a language, don’t speak it. That includes whoever is still saying “hola” to their burritorista at Chipotle. We can hear you and it’s embarrassing.]
Second, money, like war, is an unnecessary evil, but a pervasive topic everyone should be apprised of. I’m going to talk about it because it’s interesting, but ultimately, you will know when it stops being ethical, on your own terms. You are allowed to have an opinion about money without believing it needs to be spent or saved (*LOUDER COUGH*) the way I do.
Lastly, let me say that in terms of personal finance, I believe women should be allowed to live beyond their means, because everybody should have access to that privilege. But like the plastic it so often comes in, credit is non-degradable and will eventually cause learning disabilities in your children and cancer in mice. Credit card debt isn’t a sin, it’s a reality. And if men are allowed to take out second mortgages to buy all five major videogame consuls that came out this year, then by all means, women should be allowed to overspend too. So what if it’s for the full suite of Alexander Wang’s Fall athletic collection? Do I want you to become a pariah to your families after borrowing gas money, forced into bankruptcy because you opened that Discover Card account in desperation? No. Will I judge you when that happens? Never.
What women have had to go through historically to get their hands on money is ludicrous. In Japan there’s an entire world of underground “banking” called mizu shobai or “liquid industries”–work that deal in literal liquid currency such as blood, tears, sweat, and most profitably, semen. Populated mostly by women who got themselves in debt to buy Birkin bags, mizu shobai is that windowless bar at end of the rainbow, where tens of thousands of women repay their principal with an interest rate that accelerates from that first promotional 0% APR to 65% of your uterine soul. It’s not just in the Asian vending-machine of Babylon that this happens either. I read somewhere (emphasis on “somewhere”) that French women weren’t allowed to open personal bank account till like 1989 (please don’t hold me to this information, though. I glossed it from an in-flight magazine on my way to Cancun).
And yet, today a French woman, Christine Lagarde, helms the world’s biggest creditor: The IMF. And not only that, she is smokin’… in a sort of metrosexual wizard kind of way. Just goes to show that nothing can stop us from liquidating our assets with “m-o-n-e-y” (cue Queen Latifah).
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