The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


April 2014

A Room of One’s Own

Women must take control of their finances for improved confidence and quality of life

By Elizabeth Handover

Almost a century ago Virginia Woolf wrote her essay, A Room of One’s Own, in which she addressed the limitations that women suffered. However, the need for women to have financial security and—even better—a property of their own is just as relevant today.

A study by Prudential Financial, Inc. found that 78 percent of women would like to be very well prepared to handle financial matters, yet just 24 percent were confident that they are actually capable of doing so.

Another study reports that when women properly manage their own finances, it makes a big difference to their confidence and their quality of life. Thus, many of us need to start taking control of our finances, educate ourselves better, and get savvy about our money.

Below are some tips to get you on the right track.

  • Find out how much you actually spend each month.

This includes all those little things you buy regularly, as well as those you purchase only occasionally. You may be in for a shock when you see it all written down.

  • Compare your expenses against your monthly income.

Then calculate your net worth (assets minus any debts).
Is your worth high enough to give you security for the future? Do you have emergency funds on hand to keep you going for some months should that disaster happen?

  • Increase your savings.

Challenge yourself to spend at least 10 percent less than you do now. Cut down on the nice-to-have items. Be honest: are there must-have purchases that are really just nice-to-have items?

  • Find any hidden treasures.

Check if there are bills on which you can save. Look into regular monthly payments. You could be paying cheaper phone bills, insurance, credit cards, and banking fees.

  • Consider the best ways to build and invest your savings.

Take time to get a range of good advice and then take action.

  • Property

These days, arguments abound on the true long-term value of this huge investment. Many of us, including me, have got burned in the past. But, owning a room of your own will give you greater independence and more options.

Imagine that you have spent the first few years of your life working, and now you’d like to make a change. With savings in the bank and a home you can rent out if necessary, you could have the freedom to go back to studying for a couple of years or take other options to upscale your career.

Save as much as you can, keep a regular check on your finances, and use your money well and wisely.

Financial advisor Suze Orman once said: “Money is such an amazing teacher: what you choose to do with your money shows whether you are truly powerful or powerless.”



Elizabeth Handover is co-chair of the ACCJ Women in Business Committee and president of Intrapersona K.K., Lumina Learning Asia Partner.