MAXING OUT by Colette Dowling


Why Women Sabotage Their Financial Security
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The Cinderella Complex revisited, this time with dollar signs added. In The Cinderella Complex (1981) Dowling hypothesized that even the most liberated woman had a secret hope that The Prince, glass slipper in hand, was en route to rescue her from independence and responsibility. The book was an international bestseller, earning Dowling millions. Ten years later she was broke, owing the IRS more than $70,000. She sold the two houses she owned, moved into a small rental, and paid the federal government $760 a month to retire her debt. At one point, Dowling moans, she had grossed $400,000 a year and ran American Express bills up to $3,000 a month; now she was reduced to shopping at discount stores and coloring her own hair. Sympathy from economically hard-pressed readers is likely to take a deep dive at this point. To her credit, Dowling takes responsibility for her irresponsibility about money and seizes the opportunity to explore why she and other women like her don—t, or can—t, plan ahead. The same yearning to have someone else take care of them, a reluctance to take risks, and an inclination to provide for others lead women toward financial insolvency, as does a pervasive “bag lady” fantasy—that they will end up on the streets, penniless, in their old age. While noting recent research on preadolescent girls’ socially conditioned retreat from competence, Dowling nevertheless rather unconvincingly sets up men as models of financial prudence. Her efforts to present female role models are undermined by her examples, among them the Beardstown Ladies, recently exposed as less than they seemed to be. There is no question that managing money is a cause of great anxiety—but as many men as women have ridden the roller coaster of high times, only to crash and burn. Copying male habits may not be the answer. Engagingly written, but essentially a reworking of the territory of the author’s earlier books, without many surprises. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-316-19120-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998


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