Book Review: Protect Your Purse by Doris Belland

I had heard about Doris Belland, and then I had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Women in Business Conference, where I promptly purchased her book, knowing that I wanted to both interview her and do a review of her book. This week’s FinanciElle “Statements” interview is with Doris, and what better time to do a book review.

Some background:

At the age of thirty-two, Doris ended up nearly $400,000 in debt after her first husband’s death. She paid it off through incredible determination in two years, going on to pursue real estate investment; since then Doris has been on a mission to education women on financial literacy.

This book is about:

This book is a compilation of the lessons Doris has learned since her first husband’s death. It’s all the lessons she wishes someone had told her as she started to define her life and make choices that would have unexpected consequences down the road. This book is for all women and uses not only Doris’ story but many women’s stories to impart key financial lessons.

I believe that the best lessons are learned from when people share their stories, it’s not just words, they become lessons learned in a living breathing context that you can see and feel and relate to. This book does an excellent job of that.

My highlights:

I really enjoyed the stories shared by women who have gone through a range of difficult situations and the lessons they learned – at the end of each story the women give the key points of advice that they learned from their experience.

When women had finished telling Doris their stories, she had two questions for them:

  1. If you had known what was coming, what would you have done differently?
  2. Given what you’ve been through, what advice do you have for women?

Their responses are shared in the chapters of the book.

In Chapter 8 of the book, “Getting Stuck in the Trees”, Doris’ call to action is, if nothing else, to build thinking time into our lives at regular intervals, and then during those moments of reflection to ask ourselves, the following questions:

  • What do I really want?
  • Am I on track?
  • What if my spouse gets sick or dies or disappears from my life, what then?
  • What if I get sick?
  • What if one of my kids gets sick?
  • Am I in control of my income? If not, what controls it, and what is my plan in the event that that source of my income is withdrawn (E.g. loss of job, business failure, divorce)
  • Am I doing what I love and making the best use of my gifts and talents? If not, what is my plan to do so as quickly as possible?

When you’re tackling these big questions and coming up with answers, she provides the three questions she’s learned to ask:

  1. What’s the upside of doing this?
  2. What’s the downside of doing this?
  3. What’s the downside if you do nothing?

A big part of the financial lessons that are shared throughout the book are about covering your assets.

Things like having a valid will, power of attorney, sufficient insurance, strong credit bureau score, individual credit cards, limited co-signing of loans, and a list of all assets and passwords.

The book also talks about getting into a healthy mental place to deal with money issues  through chapters 11, “Is it Really all About Money”,  Chapter 16, “On Men and Tools”, Chapter 17, “The Thing About Luck”, Chapter 19, “Not-So-Great Expectations”, Chapter 24, “Asking for More”, Chapter 25 “The Bully in Your Brain”, Chapter 26, “Girl Time”, Chapter 27, “Learning to Release”, Chapter 28 “The Challenge of Reinventing Yourself”, and Chapter 29 “Taking the Leap”.

In Chapter 29, “Taking the Leap” Doris shares how every time she’s been successful at something, she’s done these three key things:

  1. First, get the head right and the rest will follow
  2. Second, play to your strengths
  3. Third, focus on the basics and keep it simple

The last chapter, Chapter 30 “No Excuses (Plus an Action Steps Checklist)”, is designed to remove the final possible excuse for getting your financial life in order, “I don’t know where to start.”

You will finish reading this book with actionable steps on what to do to cover your assets and the feeling of knowing, you are not alone.

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