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The Color of Money: Michelle Singletary on women with a wealthy attitude

By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 28, 2010; G01

A PURSE OF YOUR OWN

An Easy Guide to Financial Security

By Deborah Owens with Brenda Lane Richardson. Fireside. $15

Except for the occasional special coin or the Martha Washington $1 silver certificate, I always wondered why the face of a woman isn't part of U.S. currency.

Then I saw this quote from Ivy Baker Priest, a former U.S. treasurer: "Why should we mind if men have their faces on the money, as long as we get our hands on it?"

How true.

So for March, in honor of Women's History Month, I've selected four financial books written by four dynamic women for the Color of Money Book Club.

Here are the books and why I've selected them.

'A Purse of Your Own'

I simply love using a purse as a metaphor for wealth. "More than anything, the purse represents our private financial identity," Deborah Owens writes in "A Purse of Your Own." "At the end of the day, creating wealth is about adding to the purse."

Owens covers much of what you should find in this type of book. She talks about investing, saving and spending less. But she does it with a conversational tone. She's the smart sister you might wish you had and could go to for financial advice. Owens is a 20-year veteran of the financial services industry, the chief executive of Owens Media Group and the host of "Wealthy Lifestyle Radio," a personal finance talk show that airs on National Public Radio's affiliate WEAA 88.9 FM in Baltimore.

'Live It, Love It, Earn It'

Marianna Olszewski is the founder and chief executive of Madison Financial Management, a broker-dealer and hedge fund marketing company.

Her book, "Live It, Love It, Earn It: A Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom," is part motivational, part personal finance, and Olszewski seeks to first inspire before she walks you down the path to prosperity.

"A healthy mind, body and bank account are all connected," she writes.

This isn't psychobabble. Often those who are poor money managers are unhappy and unhealthy people.

Olszewski suggests you get a few of your girlfriends together and read the book as a group to follow her exercises. "The power of the tools is enhanced, and abundance comes to all of us much more quickly than if we are working on them by ourselves."

'Save Big'

I'm a lifelong penny-pincher who follows the cautionary advice from Benjamin Franklin that "a small leak will sink a great ship." I use this quote to drive home to people that it's the small expenditures in life that can add up to big losses.

But in "Save Big," Elisabeth Leamy, who is a consumer correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America," says to buy your latte in the morning and work on spending less on the big stuff.

Her personal finance philosophy: "I've always preferred to save a lot of money on a few things rather than a little bit of money on a bunch of things. I like to save big. Not small."

Every tip in her book has the potential to save you at least $1,000, she says. She shows you how to save on the five things we spend the most on -- a home, car, credit card, groceries and health care.

'Expect to Win'

Wall Street veteran Carla A. Harris is a managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and her book "Expect to Win" has a lot of sage and specific advice if you need a push to the top of the career ladder.

I know we're in a recession, so I'm not suggesting you buy all four books -- unless you can truly afford to. But at least put them all on your list to read eventually because each has something to offer and will help you, as Priest, the former treasurer, says, get your hands on some money.

It's easy to be a member of the Color of Money Book Club. We don't meet, at least not in person. We come together for a live online discussion. Join me at noon March 25 at http://washingtonpost.com/discussions. All four authors of this month's selected books will be available to take your questions. And, yes, gentlemen are welcome.

Every month, I randomly select readers to receive a copy of the featured book, donated by the publisher. This month, I'll be giving away copies of all four books.

For a chance to win one of them, e-mail colorofmoney@washpost.comwith your name and address. Please identify which book you would like in the subject line of your e-mail.

Readers can write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Comments and questions are welcome, but because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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