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Out of the Supermarket and Into the Stock Market

By Kathy Buys

Over the course of the last several years, it has become obvious to me while teaching seminars and classes that many women believe that people who invest in the markets were "born knowing." I am living testimony that it's simply not the case! As you read more about my starting point, you'll have a hard time believing that I am now a successful speaker, author, and owner of my own financial services firm. In fact, sometimes I find it hard to believe myself!

While it pains me, I must confess to being an aging Baby Boomer. Like many in my generation, I was reared to believe that men do the providing, and women are provided for. Remember, mine was hardly the Golden Age of strong female role models on television. While "I Love Lucy" was outrageously funny, Lucille Ball was hardly a model for women taking charge of their financial future. This was also the era of "Father Knows Best"--doesn't the title say it all?

Continuing on the path into womanhood, my college experience fed right into my previous beliefs. I can still remember my college counselor asking if I would rather be a nurse, teacher, or social worker. There was one woman in the business program, and we all thought she must really be odd. Given my choices, I opted for social work.

After college, I met the man of my dreams. He was in the process of getting an MBA, and I was getting an MSW. He seemed to know everything about the mysterious world of finance, and I generally had no clue what he was talking about. It went without saying that he handled all the investing and money management in our household. I don't mean to sound like a pathetic victim--I thought this was an ideal situation. He would do the work of investing and understanding our finances, and we would grow rich.

Sadly, I probably would have continued on this course were it not for one little fact I hadn't programmed into my life plan. My dream guy became a nightmare, and the marriage ended in divorce. At that point, I didn't know a stock from a sock. I was so ignorant that I had never balanced a checkbook and had no idea how much money I needed for daily living. To my way of thinking, it seemed strange that the bank sent us our used checks; after all, we couldn't use them again!

As you've probably guessed, I was clueless as to the effect the divorce would have on my financial well-being though I suspected it wasn't going to be good. I actually asked my soon to be ex-husband if he thought I could afford to live in our house. I knew what the house payment was but had no idea of what other expenses one pays as a homeowner or anything else for that matter. It would be safe to say that very few of you are as totally uneducated about money as I was then.

Following my divorce, through a series of jobs, my professional career evolved towards a business orientation. I found myself drawn to the finance and investment arena, and lo and behold I discovered I had a natural talent. After several career changes, I decided that the graduate degrees I held weren't the right degrees for where my interests lay, and I went back to school for an MBA. With much encouragement from my friends, I sought employment with a major Wall Street brokerage firm as a broker trainee. Talk about a major career change in mid-life!

Several years later, it became abundantly clear that while successful, I was not the correct personality type for a large brokerage firm. Not afraid to take a risk, I became an independent financial advisor with a firm of my own, Buys and Company, Inc. This move required me to leave the comfort of a firm with a recognized name and financial backing to establish a firm with an unknown name and only my own financial backing.

It delights me to be able to say that my business has exceeded my wildest expectation for success and allowed me to conduct business in a manner I believe is correct. Since my earliest days in this business, it has been crystal clear that women need a great deal of assistance when it comes to their financial future--a need that I have made my professional focus and that has provided me with enormous personal satisfaction.

I hope you can appreciate the quantum leap I made from being a suddenly single woman who, while intelligent, knew all about supermarkets and nothing about stock markets to the person I am today. I feel so fortunate that my avocation has become my vocation in a world I never would have dreamed possible those many years ago. And I hope that my growth from ignorance to expertise will convince you that through courage and commitment, you can dramatically change your life!

Kathy Buys is a nationally recognized expert on investing, the author of two books on women and investing, a sought after speaker and president of her own firm, Buys and Company, Inc., A Registered Investment Advisor. She can be reached at (303) 751-BUYS or via e-mail at



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