i want all you ungrateful people out there to know that "being a hip, fashionable sex kitten isn't cheap these days." So true, I think to myself.Those are the opening words of Cash In The City: Affording Manolos, Martinis, And Manicures On A Working Girl's Salary,by Juliette Fairley, a book on young urban ladies and financial planning that the publisher kindly sent me. How did he know?
While I've never so much as fondled a pair of Manolos, I'm pretty sure I've been in the same room with some. I do love getting out of my wet clothes and into a dry martini. I once got a manicure for a wedding, and I wouldn't know a mutual fund if it landed in my panty drawer and winked at me.
But with tax season bearing down upon us, I wonder if Fairley has been sent to save me and the apparent hordes of Sex And The City (hence the title of the book) women who are "frivolously squandering all their money"!
Sex And The City, if you don't -- gasp! -- have cable (not a life, that) follows the New York adventures of Carrie, a sex columnist, and her posse. They all shop, traipse around in designer clothes (watched avidly by fashion freaks -- Sex And The City is to outfits what Oprah's book club is to books), eat at trendy restaurants, debate anal sex and the flavouristic nuances of ejaculate, and snag rich men.
"Carrie is a writer!" I huffed recently at a dinner party. "She only writes one column a week! How can she afford all those designer clothes and shoes?!"
Later that night I was vindicated by seeing her admit to a low bank balance, be turned down for a mortgage and find herself unable to afford an apartment yet discover she has approximately $40,000 worth of shoes in her closet.
According to Wiley, women need to "avoid becoming a statistic" and learn how not to "wind up like the old lady next door who never got out of her studio apartment."
She says metropolitan maidens don't make as much money as their male counterparts, are under more pressure to spend tons of cash on being babelicious (because "even when you're walking to the corner deli you'll want to look your best in case you run into a handsome city slicker looking oh-so GQ!"), typically don't save, sell their souls to their credit cards and don't know enough about investing.
So when my chiropractor tried to do something indecent to my neck and told me to "relax and go to your happy place" and I went shopping, I knew I was in serious trouble.
I promptly turned over my credit card (well, one of them, but it was the worst offender -- a very bad credit card), called my very first accountant, added up all my pay stubs for my first full year as a freelance writer, laughed -- and sat down with Fairley's book to get serious.
To begin, she advises me on Money Missteps To Avoid, which are, 1) not making enough money. (Well, duh.) But apparently girls don't make as much money as boys simply because we aren't outspoken enough. And I thought it was because "men's work" is historically more valued because of sexism. Silly me. Just speak up. Hey, evil editrixes of Toronto, I want a raise!
Glad that's done.
She also warns us not to wait for Prince Charming to come and marry us before we start saving for retirement. "There's nothing wrong with a good pair of Manolos and a glass bottle of Chanel #5," she says sagely, "but whatever you have left over needs to be stashed away for the day when you can't wear spike heels."
OK, like, I am going to wear spike heels until I die, got it? Well, I will start wearing them any day now, as soon as they make bike pedals that they fit into. And then just try to get me out of them!
Then Fairley tells me exciting ways I can stretch my dollars, like keep a daily log of what I spend, drink water from the faucet instead of bottled, eat out for lunch instead of dinner, wax my own lip and change the air filter in my (imaginary) car myself.
"Get a cute mechanic to show you how!" she advises.
She also has a whole chapter on how to gussy up your home for cheap, because "Mr. Right" will want to come over one day, and he might just drop my taut little ass if my place isn't chic enough.
"Some teary-eyed woman may be reading this chapter after a man has dumped her because her apartment is below standard.... But if a man dumps you because of your apartment, you'll be glad he left."
Yes, yes, you will. Because he is gay.
And while Fairley continues to entertain with her tips on saving money by hitching rides on FedEx planes (for real), volunteering at charities in order to meet millionaires and warning me that I may need a reserve fund to cover "surprise expenses like a new designer dress for a once-in-a-lifetime date with a hot celebrity," she also overloads my math-phobic brain with chapters on buying a home, condos that appreciate (who do they appreciate? me? even in the morning?), borrowing from stock portfolios, margining, liquidating securities, leverable accounts and forming an investment club.
But never fear -- she always has metropolitan-maiden-friendly examples to help me understand.
"The scars on her body from cosmetic surgery," she writes about one hapless Kathy Sills, "are not nearly as unsightly as a drained portfolio."
See? That's just what my Bubbi always told me.
I think I need my martini now.