Smart Cookies a good example for women who want to improve financial life skills


If you listened to last month’s Shorty & Evans podcasts, you’ll know we had men in mind, especially the ones who love hockey and the Vancouver Canucks. So, women, this post is for us.

Whatever your interests, age, income, debt-to-savings ratio, relationship status, size (or lack) of investment portfolio, ladies, the research makes it clear that we have work to do if we want a comfortable lifestyle now, and down the road in retirement.

Canada-wide research carried out in the past few years by the Canadian Securities Administrators, and the BCSC InvestRight’s own 2008 national survey into The 21st Century Investor have turned up telling differences in the investment knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of Canadian women and men.

In general, women are more risk averse. This is good. The research shows that we are less likely than men to hold beliefs that make us vulnerable to investment fraud. As a result, we are less likely to be defrauded.

But being risk averse and generally conservative seems to stem from the fact that we have limited investment knowledge. That might be okay if limited knowledge didn’t correlate so strongly with lower income, higher debt, less confidence and, ultimately, less opportunity to make the most of our money and financial opportunities.

Happily, there’s a younger generation of women who want it all (sound familiar?) and are figuring out practical ways to afford it.

Case in point: BC’s own Smart Cookies. These five, 30-something women all got into financial trouble ($40,000 of consumer debt) in their 20s. Inspired by an Oprah episode on personal finance, they formed a money group to help each other move past being clueless, careless, and passive about money management. Since then, they have paid off all their debts, been on Oprah themselves, written a book to share their success tips, and launched themselves on a collective new career as finance and investment educators.

We think the Smart Cookies are a great example of how women can become financially savvy. In fact, they impressed the BCSC so much with their “get out of debt, make more dough, spend smarter, and live a richer life” philosophy that we now partner with them to teach financial life skills to BC teenagers and university students.

In addition to their website, you can find the Smart Cookies on CBC Radio One, Tuesdays at 4:30, on the W Network, Monday evenings at 10:30.

Help us start a conversation about women and investing. What steps are you taking to improve your financial life skills and become financially savvy? Do you have a favourite tool or resource to share with other women? We look forward to your comments.