By BARBARA TAORMINA
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
The Southern NH Money Club is part of a growing group of clubs throughout the country inspired by the Women’s Institute for Financial Education, WIFE.org, the oldest existing non-profit organization dedicated to financial education for women.
Mary Murphy has been making financial management decisions since she was a kid and decided to borrow money from her father to take a course to become a lifeguard.
Murphy knew the way to have more money wasn’t to stash it in a mattress or piggy bank, but rather to gain a skill that brought in a bigger pay check than her brothers, who were working at other traditional teenage jobs.
Murphy acknowledges she was lucky to have a dad who charged interest on that loan so she would understand the importance of managing money, and she also knows a lot of women never learn the basics of budgeting and financial planning.
So on Tuesday, Murphy, who is now an independent branch leader at Charles Schwab in Nashua, will launch the Southern NH Money Club, a free and open group for women who want to learn more about finance. “It’s sort of a hybrid between a discussion group, like a book club, and a networking group,” said Murphy, who added members can also count on a lot of laughs.
The Southern NH Money Club is part of a growing group of clubs throughout the country inspired by the Women’s Institute for Financial Education, WIFE.org, the oldest existing non-profit organization dedicated to financial education for women. The clubs offer women information and strategies on topics such as savings, credit card debt, mortgages, investing, banking and other essential money matters. Murphy, who ran a money club for several years in Bedford, said the women come from all walks of life and all different income levels.
“The goal is to create a safe environment for women to talk with one another and learn about personal finance in a non-threatening way,” Murphy said. And according to Murphy, the timing for the money clubs isn’t just right, it’s critical.
“Women’s financial literacy isn’t something that is talked about much,” she said. “For generations, women saw a man as their basic financial plan.” But changing demographics are forcing more and more women to come up with plan B.
According to Murphy, 25 percent of the population is elderly, and 80 percent of seniors are women who haven’t had much experience or training in finance. In addition to older women, there are a lot of divorced, single mothers and women who are opting not to get married. Murphy sees huge consequences in having a significant part of the population unprepared to handle financial planning and problems.
“What I’m doing now, I’m doing in the hopes of helping women avoid an ugly retirement,” she said. And Murphy also has plenty of ideas to offer women who want or need more money to pay bills, send a child to college or just to enjoy life. The club will meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Charles Schwab Office at 2 Cellu Drive on the last Tuesday of every month, and Murphy said each meeting will focus on a different topic.
“I want members to feel that each time they come, they learn something they didn’t know,” said Murphy, who also plans to tap the expertise of outside speakers. For example, a lot of women, and men, aren’t sure how to approach buying a car, a major financial decision that can end up being a financial burden.
“I hope to bring in someone who used to sell cars so members can hear what’s negotiable in a sale, when’s the best time to buy a car and what types of concessions car manufactures will make for a sale,” she said.
Murphy also hopes to help members with the basics of savings and investments.
“You don’t have to roll the dice to make a lot of money in the stock market,” she said. But you do have to have some facts. “I don’t talk about individual stocks, but I show women where to find reliable information on stocks, bonds and mutual funds,” she said.
Murphy, who began her career in the high-tech industry, shifted gears during the 1990s and decided to pursue a job in education. She taught math for special education students at Manchester High West for several years before deciding to return to financial advising.
Murphy’s own financial decisions have made work an option rather than a necessity, but helping people, particularly women, understand how to manage money has become a passion. She encourages women to look for ways to make money doing something they know, and something they enjoy.
“And something that makes a difference to people,” she said.
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