Smart Cookies

I think I’ve written about money a few times before. Just a few. In fact, I believe I started a ‘new me’ several times in the last year with primary concern revolving around money.

The truth is, I earn more than I need to in order to survive. I know this. When I add up my obligatory expenses, and give myself a ridiculously wide margin for reasonable grocery and incidental costs, I ‘should’ have several hundred at the very least left over each month. I earn more now than I did at my previous job, and survived okay (ish) on that salary.

Do I have money left over? Heck, no.

Okay, for the record I try to not beat myself up over this. I know very well that just as nature abhors a vacuum, just as the mess in a messy person’s office will expand to fill a new and bigger office, expenses will expand to eat up a bigger paycheque.

Recently this came to a head again, over the concept of renting vs buying, and my despair that I’ll ever be able to afford to buy. Which reminds me, thank you Shanshan for your comment a while back. I keep forgetting to say anything when I see you! Oh, and there’s a bid going in on the sweet little nearly-a-million-dollar yellow house next door. We met the possible future neighbours tonight.

Anyways.

Money.

It’s time yet again for me to try to look at where I’ve been spending mine, and where I can cut back.

Quite some time ago Chris tuned me in to the Smart Cookies. This is a group of five women from right here in Vancouver, I believe. Together, a few years back, they had over 40K in debt. Inspired by an Oprah Winfrey show, they formed a money group, and turned their lives around. Now, they have published a book, The Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough, a TV show, and a website.

I had played around a little on their web site, but haven’t yet seen their TV show. I don’t have time to watch TV (and yet pay for cable … hmmm). Then this past week I received an email, inviting me to take part in a meet & greet at a local coffee shop. I figured hey, can’t hurt!

It turned out to be inspiring and, while focused on developing their web site, useful to me. With a great group of women (Cameron played happily at first with an employee at the coffee shop, then on his own), we discussed what women want out of a financial-oriented web site. Do we want tips? Plans? Videos? Articles? Forums? Even more, what would we pay for? What would we expect out of a site we paid to use?

The answer, of course, is that we want it all. Not overly helpful, but an answer in itself. Their target audience is broad, people with two X chromosomes who are interested in their money – making more, spending less, saving, buying, investing. We’re women, so of course we want to discuss, sorry if that’s an offensive comment to anyone. We want personalization. Balance. The comparison was made between the financial web site and fitness magazines like Shape or web sites like Sparkpeople.com. Tips on how to do specific exercises working abs are great, but that in itself doesn’t make a good site. You need an exercise plan, plus tips on techniques, plus related diet plans and tips. Multimedia is the name of the game these days – forums to discuss, webinars that allow you to feel included, interactive tools on web sites.

Speaking of interactive tools, they’ve got one I’m going to sit down to start to use now. Their “money tracker” is a calendar format tracking tool to let you enter your spending and earning habits. Can’t sit and enter it at the end of the day or week? Simple, text or email in your information. Some of my friends have been bugging me to get a cell phone … might just cancel cable and do that, simply so I can … ohwait. No. See why I spend my money?

By the end of the evening I was pretty excited about the Smartcookies web site. I’m going to play on it for the next week, and next Wednesday let you know what I’m thinking.

Oh – and of course, after the focus group where my son behaved so amazingly, it was time for some play. Chris, Cameron and I headed for the nearest playground for some climbing, sliding, digging, bubbly fun. Amazingly, though we’d never been in that area (at least not since he was tiny), Cameron has the city pretty much figured out. He knew where we were! He knew were just a short distance away from the false creek ferry / aquabus dock, and which one! So naturally we took a boat across False Creek.

So my question for tonight is, would you use a financial oriented web site? What would you want to get out of it? What more would YOU expect, if you were paying money for it? I’ll forward your answers on to the lovely ladies at Smart Cookies.

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One response to “Smart Cookies

  1. I am a saver and always was. My husband is the same way – that’s why we can afford to live in the Silicon Valley on one salary. When I was investing more aggressively, I had a subscription on morningstar.com, because I could get detailed information on various funds and stocks that I was considering buying.
    I wouldn’t pay for a financial site that is targeted specifically for women, because I find the concept stating that women are different in money management than men utterly ridiculous. I am very hands-on in money management while many men I know have no clue where their money go.
    I highly recommend you http://www.mint.com/. It’s free and it does everything you might possibly want. It’s the best alternative to Quicken that I know (I personally use Quicken, because I used it for years now).

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