For the last two weeks I've been immersed in the lives of Rita, Marla, Jade and Lori – characters in a novel.
After Rita's husband died unexpectedly, she discovers their financial situation is not what it appeared. When Marla voices an interest in the family finances, her husband gets defensive, even hostile. Is he hiding a secret? Jade, a single architect, spends what she makes and her money habits leave her feeling trapped in her current position. Lori, a financial planner, is maried to a shopaholic husband who's driving them into the poorhouse.
Is this the work of one of my favorite mystery writers or a novel from Oprah's book club? Actually – it's a book about women and finances – The Bread & Butter Chronicles by Starr Cochran. The book cover describes it as "a novel approach to personal finance."
This is one of those moments you hit yourself upside the head and go, "Doh! Why didn't I think of that?" Starr Cochran is using engaging fiction to help women learn about finances. The characters in her book are facing real financial situations faced by women everywhere.
I found myself sucked into the lives of these characters. So much so, that I can't wait for the next installment of the series to come out.
But what I really love about this book and this idea is that it's a great way for women (and men) to learn about finances. With the four characters, you're bound to find at least one who is in a situation similar to your own.
As this reviewer put it:
B&B Chronicles uses characters who could be my neighbor (or me), your neighbor (or you). These are people that you can really relate to and that find themselves in uncomfortable financial situations that any of us might find ourselves in. The book provides two things: 1) brass tack facts regarding things such as estate planning, how to start a business, etc. and 2) more importantly, creative and yet realistic ideas that show the reader how to think outside the box
When I interviewed Starr Cochran, I asked her about the book and her reasons for writing it. Starr said the idea actually came from a client who said, "I really should learn about money, but unless it comes in a novel, I'll never get it." Thus, The Bread & Butter Chronicles was born.
Starr Cochran has been a CFP and accountant for over 25 years. She has so many stories from her career involving women who didn't get involved or educated about finances until it was too late, often after the death of their husband.
It amazes me that so many couples still don't communicate openly about money, especially considering money is the cause of so many fights. I hope Starr's book will be a conversation starter for women and men to talk more openly about their finances.
I'd encourage all financial advisers to give copies of The Bread & Butter Chronicles to their female clients. If she's not involved in the long-term financial desicion making, she needs to be. Ninety percent of women will be solely responsible for their financial welfare sometime in their lives.
And as Starr points out, "Women love a good story."