Authors of Financial Books for Women

Ellen Hoffman
Author of Bankroll Your Future: How to Get the Most for the Government For Your Retirement Years

  1. What led you to write this book?

    I have been the Washington correspondent for “Retire With Money,” a newsletter published by Money magazine, and have been covering retirement and personal finance issues for Money, Business Week and other national publications. I realized that even some people who are quite sophisticated about the market and investing know very little about the BASICS of retirement, such as how your retirement age affects the size of your Social Security benefit, what Medicare does and does not pay for, tax issues in retirement, etc. My book is the first one to look at the multitude of ways that federal policies and programs relate to retirement decisions-whether you’re planning and saving for retirement now, or are already retired.

  2. What do you feel to be the biggest challenge facing women today when handling their finances?

    I think there are really two equally important challenges: setting up a systematic investment program you can afford, and overcoming fear of volatility in the market so that you do not panic when the market goes through a bad phase.

  3. How has the atmosphere changed for women investors in the last 10 years?

    There is much more information, easily accessible, available than there used to be. And although progress is slow, women’s incomes are inching up, making it more feasible for women to set aside some money for investing.

  4. How will the atmosphere change for women investors in the next 10 years?

    Since the financial industry has “discovered” women, there will be more and more emphasis on educating women about investing and encouraging them to invest.

  5. Where did you start your career and how did it lead you to where you are today?

    I started as a reporter at The Washington Post, worked for the U.S. Senate and as a lobbyist, and became a free-lance writer in 1984. The combination of journalism experience and “inside” experience in how politics and government work have combined to enable me to write about what are often complex-but important-issues, such as retirement, in a way that is clear and of practical use to the general public.

  6. How important is a woman’s formal education in today’s financial job market?

    I do not have personal knowledge of this.

  7. What are your future book writing plans?

    I’m working on a book that will be out next spring: “The Retirement Catch-Up Guide: Fifty Things You Can Do Now to Boost Your Retirement Resources.” It will offer practical suggestions, based on real-life examples, for people who have not spent 30 years saving systematically for retirement-and need suggestions on how to “catch up.”

  8. How much money do you need to start investing?

    You can open an IRA with very little money, depending on where you invest. Committing to as little as $20 per week would add up to over $1,000 in a year. Young women who are just starting out in the job market should start doing this immediately-get into the habit, and stick to it.

  9. How should a woman get started investing with no investment experience?

    I recommend joining an investment club. You usually contribute only a small amount of money per month-in my club we put in $35 -and it’s a great opportunity to learn how the market works, share knowledge and learn from others, in a comfortable, non-threatening, low-risk environment.

  10. If a woman has debt, at what point should she become an investor?

    It’s tough to generalize about this. To some extent, the answer depends on the numbers-how much debt there is, and how fast it might be paid off. The first step is to figure out how to reduce the debt and, if there are finance charges, get those as low as possible. If your employer puts money into a 401(k), it may make sense for you to try to at least contribute enough to get the match while you are paying off the debt. A planner or CPA can crunch the numbers to figure out what makes the most sense for your personal situation.