While financial planning and managing a household budget may come naturally, many women hesitate to get into investing. This is a shame because women might have fewer worries about their budgets if they were doing something to grow their money.
One reason many women don’t consider investing is a lack of female financial role models and since March is Women’s History Month, we’d like to highlight one financial role model. Once known as both the “Queen of Wall Street” and the “Witch of Wall Street,” Hetty Green is known but nowhere near as famous as her male contemporaries, although her savvy investments earned her millions. Last year, The Washington Post published an article about The Richest Woman in America by Janet Wallach, a book about this very rich and eccentric woman.
Green did more that put money into a savings account: “When she died in 1916, she was worth at least $100 million, the equivalent of about $2.5 billion today, making her the world’s richest woman in her day.”
In learning more of Green’s story, it is evident that she was not concerned with following the norms of her day. Wallach writes of her growing up with Quaker parents who were not very affectionate and how Green substituted money for love. She was known to be very cheap, spent little on clothes, and according to some accounts refused to spend money on a doctor for her son, who ended up having a leg amputated because of this lack of medical care. Green also used lawsuits to silence those who opposed her and said good-bye to her husband when she was forced to pay his debts with her money.
Green is not a financial role model because she lived a perfect life. Instead, she learned what she could about business and investing from her family and was not afraid to strike out on her own. She was very aware that women who made a lot of money were not well regarded but this did not stop her.