Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail: diane.paul2@ntlworld.com

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Thursday 26 March 2015

A man is not a financial plan!

The Wealthy Woman: a woman's guide to achieving financial security

Mary Waring's advice for a secure financial future, aimed at women, makes sound sense. For those women who don't mind being kept by someone else, this book may still prove helpful. I'm sure that lifestyle has its advantages and drawbacks but I've always preferred to earn my own crust, rather than having to ask someone else for money. But like many other women, I haven't a clue when it comes to saving for the future. That's where independence can fall down.

There's nothing wrong with aspiring to be a wealthy woman and Mary knows how to do this. She's the founder of Wealth for Women, and an IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) and she specialises in divorce settlement for her female clients.  She's one of a handful of UK advisers to qualify as a Chartered Financial Planner and a Chartered Accountant; she's been voted the only top-rated IFA specialising in financial advice for women going through divorce on VouchedFor.co.uk and was shortlisted as Chartered Financial Planner of 2014 from 4,299 other planners in the country.

Mary maintains that too many women stick their heads in the sand and ignore financial planning. 'Or rely on a man to sort it for them,' she says. Her catchphrase, not surprisingly, is 'A man is not a financial plan'.

Mary's book gives an insight into the knowledge she's gained from over 25 years of study and work in the finance industry. And it's aimed at divorcees in particular. Britain has the highest divorce rate in the European Union with 42 per cent of marriages ending bottom up. 'Many women going through divorce don't know how to cope with their finances. This book will help them,' she says.

So what's in it? It's full of good advice that's useful to any woman from their 20s to 40s. Too late for me then! But I did pick up some good tips nevertheless. She begins by looking at our competing priorities at different decades of our lives. And she understands well that at the end of the month we don't have enough money left to save anything. First, we have to do something to improve our financial situation.

How will your spending from your 20s to 40s impact on your future lifestyle? What will you have to live on when you're older and retire? Early planning is key. And if you don't take this action, don't carry on spending wilfully and think things will all work out fine in the end.

On the practical level, Mary explains how to calculate our net worth - what we own minus what we owe. Then we can see clearly what improvements we make as time goes on. So this is about goal-setting.

How much do you pay back to get rid of any debts you have from credit cards, mortgages, loans and overdrafts? Paying back means in total over the life of the debt, not how much you pay each month. The more you pay, the sooner your debts will be done with and the less interest you will be charged. You might get a shock about this.

Saving, however little you can afford, can mount up. 'Keep on keeping on and you'll see a difference,' says Mary. Ever tried working out how much you spend each month? Mary advises on money in and money out - your cash flow. Small changes in spending or income can make a difference eventually. 'Don't worry - I'm not going to suggest you increase your working hours. This is all about working smarter, not harder.' Information about pensions and ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) is also included and how they can help improve your finances.

But remember, all this is a long-term plan. It isn't going to make you rich overnight. And it isn't all caviar and champagne! Things can go wrong, so Mary takes this into account and shows how you can deal with it.

'The subject of money raises a huge number of different emotions,' says Mary. 'Many women love and enjoy it, while others fear it. It's not money itself that's important, it's what you do with it that counts. It's easy to be wealthy just as it's easy to be poor. There's very little difference in the way you can become either. You're in a position where you can improve your wealth. Whatever your dreams and aspirations around money, there is nothing to stop you moving towards those dreams.'

Mary's book costs £12.99. It's published by Wealth for Women Publishing and available from http://amzn.to/1jh21Bn

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