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Authors of Financial Books for Women

Janet Bigham Bernstel
Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in the New Millennium

Janet Bigham Bernstel is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in the New Millennium. Her latest book, Teach Yourself Personal Finance in One Day is due for release by Macmillan Reference in January, 2000. She is a financial journalist who contributes regular articles on tax and small business issues for the financial web site www.bankrate.com. Bernstel also develops and instructs personal finance courses for the Ziff-Davis online learning community, ZDU.com and SmartPlanet.com.

Her writings are often featured in the Personal Finance area of America Online, where she was the managing editor for the finance site MoneyWhiz. She later developed that site into theWhiz.com, a young adult oriented financial web site that launched in the summer of 1998.

Bernstel has been reporting and writing for print and broadcast for nearly two decades. Her experience in television broadcasting includes reports for CNN, ABC and CBS. She was a member of the top-ranked ABC affiliate news team in Philadelphia, and an award winning reporter and news anchor for an ABC affiliate in Florida.

A trained chef, Bernstel's restaurant review columns were published in a Washington, D.C. area newspaper for over two years. She has also received a United States Coast Guard captains license, and admits to a love of off-shore, open ocean sailing.

  1. What led you to write this book?

    Simply put, my connections with professional women. The publishing industry is full of bright, energetic, and I'm sure underpaid, women who have helped me a great deal with my writing career. I was the managing editor and special reports writer for a financial web site when I was approached by another female author on The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in the New Millennium project. My background in personal finance reporting, my familiarity with insane deadlines (these books are very current, so the deadlines are tight!) as well as a desire to simplify the world of finance for the casual reader led to me to accept. The latter is probably most important, and what I love about the Complete Idiot's Guide series. These Guides really challenge the writer to break down complex issues into manageable concepts, and the readers win every time.

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

    Self-confidence. Women actually know so much about making wise investment choices, just from everyday life. I had a mutual fund manager say to me once that if we spent half as much time researching the companies selling stock as we do reading grocery store labels and coupons, women would be considered financial geniuses.

    Have faith in your ability to make good choices. You will make investment mistakes, everyone does, but you'll never enjoy the financial rewards if you don't start investing.

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

    Just look at this web site! There is so much information targeted specifically to women, there is no excuse to at least start taking baby steps toward a successful investment portfolio. Women are earning more, demanding more and the investment firms know it. They want our business, and we're taking advantage of the opportunities.

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

    Within just five years, the number of workers over the age of 55 is expected to rocket to 22 million as opposed to 15 million a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. As the Boomers age, women are earning more and reaching top positions. Many even say that they don't plan on retiring in the traditional sense, but prefer to keep busy with work at least part-time. That means that their buying and investing power will be enormous. Also consider that their babies will have grown up, so women will be concentrating on building up nest eggs through investing, rather than feathering the nest.

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

    My first real job in high school was as a production assistant for the evening news at WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I watched the reporters gather stories and knew I wanted a job like that, where you were not chained to a desk, you had carte blanche to ask anybody almost anything, and the job changed all the time. One day you'd be covering the local circus and the next day a leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

    That job lead to my decision to study broadcasting and journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. After two decades of writing and reporting for print and electronic media, I still love my work. The only desk I'm chained to is the one in my home office, where I continue my exciting freelance career working with interesting clients like Ziff-Davis, Macmillan Publishing and MsMoney.com!

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

    If you have a company retirement plan, you can start with a tiny fraction of your monthly paycheck. That is the best way to get started as the money you contribute is invested pre-tax. Always invest in all the tax deductible investment vehicles that you can first, like 401(k)s and IRAs.

    Otherwise you can set up an arrangement with a bank or mutual fund company to automatically withdraw $50 or more a month from your bank account to invest. Or check into DRIP investments, a program where publicly-traded companies allow you to buy fractional shares of stock direct from them, bypassing brokerage commissions and fees. You must already own one share of the company's stock, which can be accomplished a number of ways, such as through a family member who owns stock and buys one share in your name.

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

    Read, read, and read some more. Both my books, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in the New Millennium and the upcoming Teach Yourself Personal Finance in One Day contain loads of basic information on investing. Of course the Internet is also a great resource, and I mention many of those valuable web sites in my books as well.

    Then you can try one of the fantasy investment games online. They give you the opportunity to buy and track a stock's progress using "play" money. ZDNet has a few of those games running monthly. Once you're comfortable with the process, start investing.

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

    What good is investing in a stock or fund with a 12% return when you owe a few thousand dollars on a credit card that's charging you 18% interest? You should clear your bad debt and set some money aside for emergencies first. This may take a while, so the most important thing you can do for yourself is to set some goals, such as creating a budget with a savings plan. When you've paid off the debt, accumulated a little emergency cushion, and reached those savings goals - start investing! Use the accumulation time to research the type of investments that would suit you best.

  9. Have you published any other books before this one? If so, what are they?

    No, but I have one in the works! Teach Yourself Personal Finance in One Day is due for release in January 2000, by Macmillan Reference. I have a very talented co-author on this project, Lea Saslav, who've I've greatly enjoyed working with. She has tremendous insight into debt and recovery. I've learned a lot from her and think this will be a very valuable book for anyone hoping to improve their financial lives.

 

 

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