Authors of Financial Books for Women
Virginia and Ken Morris
Authors of A Woman’s Guide to Investing
Virginia Morris is the Editorial Director of Light bulb Press, the author of A Woman’s Guide to Investing, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Money & Investing, and a number of other books on personal finance and investing.
Virginia serves as a consultant to financial websites, especially in the area of financial literacy and women’s issues, and appears regularly on radio and television as well as in online discussions of financial subjects.
Virginia Morris holds an M.A. and PhD from Columbia University and a BA from Beaver College.
- What led you to write this book?
As we developed the Wall Street Journal Guides, we became increasingly aware that not all investing issues faced by men and women are the same. That, in conjunction with personal experiences we’d had with friends and family members who were widowed or divorced and baffled by the decisions they had to make, convinced us there was a real need for a straightforward book on personal finance that was women-friendly but also honest. Many of the other books that address women directly seemed to us to stress the emotional rather than the practical need for investing. Knowing what investing is all about, and having the confidence to take the first step, is more relevant than feeling you deserve to be rich.
- What do you feel to be the biggest challenge facing women today when handling their finances?
Primarily the confidence to make and believe in their own financial decisions. Many women are often afraid of making mistakes or losing money. And they sometimes find that the people they turn to for advice don’t provide the information they need. Also, as women continue to balance home-keeping with professional careers, they often feel there is simply not enough time to learn about investing, and so keep putting off financial decisions. Inertia regarding longer term investing is hard to overcome, especially when women’s current financial situations seem brighter, and there is more disposable income. But that’s precisely the point at which smart investing becomes so important.
- How has the atmosphere changed for women investors in the last 10 years?
The biggest change is that more women are investing now, especially younger women. The increasing availability of 401(k) plans has compelled women to make investment decisions and more and more investment advisers and firms are beginning to seek out women clients. More women are also coming into the investment fold due to the extended bull market, which has enabled even moderate investors to make money.
- How will the atmosphere change for women investors in the next 10 years?
The trend points towards more women who will invest increasing amounts, especially if the economy continues to do well. And the more confident women are about their ability, the more they’ll invest. New industries like the Internet have also spawned greater numbers of woman entrepreneurs, and opened up professional job opportunities at a torrid pace. With more women having more money, and more independence, the differences between men and women in investing may start to disappear. But in an economic downturn, it will be interesting to see if old patterns hold true and women lose their jobs at a faster pace than men. If you aren’t earning more income, it’s hard to invest.
- What are your backgrounds?
VM: I started off teaching English, especially business writing, and branched into creating content for financial and educational websites. This book grew out of my own personal experience as a female investor faced with a different set of issues than those faced by men. In many ways, I see what we’re doing at Light bulb as a natural extension of my previous experience, that is, we’re making complex but important subjects easy to understand and use. But on a much larger scale.
KM. For many years I headed a major communications firm that specialized in simplifying complex information for consumers. While people relied on this information to make financial decisions, in many cases they didn’t truly understand their choices, or the consequences of the ones they made. The Light bulb guides are a direct outgrowth of this work.
- How much money do you need to start investing?
Not much. If you have money deducted from your salary for a retirement savings plan, you contribute a small percentage (and never know it’s gone.) $38 a week adds up to $1,976, just $24 short of the maximum in an IRA. One of the most prevalent myths is that investing is only for the truly wealthy. The irony, of course, is that many of the wealthy got that way by investing.
- How should a woman get started investing with no investment experience?
If you want to make smart decisions, the most important thing is to educate yourself. Start reading about investing. Try investment seminars at the local library. Talk with a friend or family member who invests. Begin with a single investment-a stock index fund, for example-just to get the hang of it. The more you do, the more you’ll learn.
- If a woman has debt, at what point should she become an investor?
If it’s credit card debt, she should pay it off. Then the amount she was paying in interest each month can be channeled to investing. If she has college loans or other long-term debt, she shouldn’t worry about paying them off before starting to invest, though she should make sure she has enough on hand to make the loan payments when due.
- Have you published any other books before this one? If so, what are they?
A perennial bestseller is the recently updated Wall Street Journal Guide to Money & Investing. Our other financial guides focus on Personal Finance, Planning Your Financial Future (retirement), and Understanding Taxes. And we recently launched a new technology information line, beginning with The User’s Guide to the Information Age.
- What are your future book writing plans?
Our goal is to continue providing top quality financial guides, while branching out into new areas of consumer information, such as technology, the Internet, dining, and possibly health. Our next book, to be released in December, is an illustrated Dictionary of Financial Terms that defines key investment terms in language that consumers can readily understand. That will be followed by the Guide to Your 401(k) Plan, and a Guide to Personal Finance Online. We’re also completing a guide to Choosing, Serving and Enjoying Wine that debunks the myths about wine drinking and offers insights from well known vintners and restaurant owners around the country.