Balancing Your Life: Financial Expert, Wife and Mother Consuelo Mack Has Advice About Money for Women

05/25/2011 12:10 pm ET

Self doubt, procrastination, fear and loathing are all issues that come up when women talk about managing money. Consuelo Mack has seen it all in her career, first as a broker for Merrill Lynch and then, as the Managing Editor and Anchor of the Wall Street Journal Report, which she hosted for 17 years. Her PBS program, Consuelo Mack, Wealth Track focuses on how you build long term diversified investments.

Consuelo Mack: All the financial news programs talk about stocks, or what's happening in the market this quarter. But that's not how people make money. The average person, like you or I, make money by essentially thinking about our long term investment objectives and we also buy other things aside from stocks. We buy bonds; we invest in cash. We buy real estate; we buy collectibles like jewelry, art and antiques. And we buy insurance products. So I wanted to address all of those issues and have the best people in the field talk about how you can build wealth and protect it in all of the investments you care about.

Ellen Susman: What's one of the best pieces of advice you learned from the show that you could pass along?

CM: We interviewed an expert on risk and he said there are a lot of possibilities out there. It's not just that you could get hit by a bus, or have an accident. It's events that can occur that are just devastating financially. And one of those things is disability. Now, I didn't have disability insurance. A lot of people don't. They think they don't need it. But it turns out that someone becoming disabled, even for a short period of time causes 30-40% of home foreclosures. Since most people depend on their paycheck to support them and their family and pay the bills, this can be ruinous. So, you see how something like disability insurance can be so important--it can basically save you from financial ruin!

ES: Consuelo, you married early, built a career, and had a child relatively late. In fact, you're what's now called a late onset mother.

CM: Now of course, it's the norm. But I intentionally delayed getting pregnant and having children because I was wrapped up in my career. And as we talk about balancing your life, I knew that in the early days of my career there was not going to be any such thing as balance and that I was going to be a total workaholic. Looking back at getting pregnant in my late 30's, I realize how lucky I was because it was not a problem for us, but if I were to give advice to young women now, I'd say it probably isn't worth the risk waiting that long. We were pioneers, you know. There really were no other role models out there who had both a career and a family. You either had one or the other.

ES: Do you really think things have changed?

CM:I really do. First of all, men are much more involved in child rearing than they used to be. Secondly, many women realize that a career can last a long time, and companies are more willing to accommodate the talented young women they hire.

When we were starting out, businesses and professionals didn't know how to handle it.

ES: Why have women traditionally stayed away from handling money?

CM: They're afraid of it.

ES: Isn't that changing? There are lots of women today choosing finance as a career.

CM:It's changing a lot. When I started on television, there were no financial shows. Now they're a staple. And women are really making their mark in the financial world. It's interesting when you look at statistics. Merrill Lynch has done some research on women's investments patterns, and it turns out that women are much more conservative than men. Therefore, believe it or not, they actually make better investment decisions than men do, and are more willing to talk to experts. Not only that, but more women are inheriting assets as well as making money since they are working. There is more wealth in women's hands than ever before in history.

ES: So we're going to have to learn how to handle it.

CM: Absolutely!

Consuelo is also a regular contributor on investing to Pink, the magazine for executive women. Her latest column focused on the five biggest financial mistakes women make. One tip: redefine risk. And don't be afraid to ask for what you want.

You're worth it!