- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

The Savvy Women meet monthly at a cafe in Oceanside, Calif., and the Money Masters gather at a suburban Chicago library.

Both are part of a growing chain of Money Clubs begun in the fall by financial advisers Ginita Wall and Candace Bahr to help women educate themselves about personal finance.

“It’s not unlike the Weight Watchers approach,” Miss Bahr said, adding that she and Miss Wall created the nonprofit club for women who generally don’t have enough money for financial advisers.

“We wanted them to have a safe place to go, so we created the clubs.”

Women can sign up at www.moneyclubs.com. After joining an online group or locating a club in their area, they can begin working on the 33 “money zones” that Miss Wall and Miss Bahr created.

It’s all free, and no sales pitches are allowed, they said.

The zone lesson plans prompt club members to discuss topics ranging from money fears to getting organized, cutting expenses, dealing with credit-card debt and planning for retirement. Then the women apply what they have learned to their lives.

“It’s action oriented,” Miss Wall said. “Our mantra is, ‘Small steps lead to big success.’”

Participants say they are learning and doing a lot.

Kelly Super, 26, a stay-at-home mother of twin toddlers, first joined an online club, which she visits when the boys are napping.

“This month we’re looking at net worth, next at self-worth,” said Mrs. Super, who lives in Minooka, Ill. “It works like a big support system.”

Mrs. Super said she has learned to deal with the credit-card debt that “snuck up on us” after the twins were born. She also has started a savings account at an online bank, and she is reading books about money and investing.

She finds the online club comfortable because “you don’t have to be in front of somebody saying, “I’m having a problem here.’”

But Mrs. Super also started the Money Masters group, which meets monthly at a suburban Chicago public library.

Maru Corrada said she became interested in the clubs because “I wanted to change how I was living my life relative to money; I wanted to understand it, to be in control of it.”

Miss Corrada, 37, who operates a design business in Oceanside, started the Savvy Women club. Originally a volunteer with the Money Club program, she since has become part-time national club coordinator, paid by Miss Wall and Miss Bahr.

Miss Corrada has begun consolidating the retirement benefits she accumulated at several corporate jobs, “so everything is in one place and I have control.” She also is learning more about how much money to set aside, and how to invest it.

Miss Wall and Miss Bahr emphasize that women don’t have to divulge anything personal about themselves.

“You don’t have to disclose your personal situation at all,” Miss Bahr said. “Money has been such a taboo subject, and the whole idea here is to get women together to talk about it.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS


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