Book Review: “Secrets of Six-Figure Women”

“Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies To Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life” is a gem of a book. Author Barbara Stanny is the same person who wrote, “Prince Charming Isn’t Coming,” the classic book that inspired readers to stop waiting for a spouse, the lottery, or any other external source of salvation to fix their finances. Ms. Stanny’s background is interesting. Her father started H&R Block. But he didn’t view women as capable of managing money so he put Ms. Stanny’s husband (now her ex-husband) in charge of her trust. This turned out to be a very poor decision as he lost a great deal of her money. Ms. Stanny learned the hard way to take back her financial power.

In “Secrets of Six-Figure Women,” Ms. Stanny described her interviews with 150 high earning women whose annual incomes range from $100,000 to $7 million. She discovered that while these women were different in many ways, they also had several similarities in common. The money secrets of these high earning women’s success are outlined in the book. Some of these money secrets are very predictable; others less so. Ms. Stanny found high earning women who had very little formal education but who didn’t let that stand in their way. She discovered that fears and doubts were extremely common, but the women didn’t give up when facing difficult emotions. They were skilled at keeping their sense of humor and knowing when to avoid taking things personally.

And as you could probably guess, the high earners chose careers that they loved and they focused on fulfilling their values rather than financial gain. At the same time, they were unapologetic about their desire to earn a high income. Many of them made this decision after a life changing event such as bankruptcy or severe burnout. Recovering from these difficult life circumstances motivated the high earners to pursue and attain financial security.

Ms. Stanny also interviewed women who are underearners. It is notable that the underearning women were just as smart, talented, and hard working as the high earners but were paid a whole lot less for their effort. While underearners were not savvy about money, they were not less intelligent or less dedicated to their careers than were the high earners. The underearners that Ms. Stanny interviewed were tolerant of low pay in a way that high earners were not. They failed to negotiate well on their own behalf and many of them displayed a great deal of ambivalence about money. Underearners often viewed poverty as more noble than wealth, so they sabotaged themselves and their earnings power. Underearners also tolerated financial chaos: racking up debt, failing to save, and avoiding responsibility when doing so felt burdensome. The book includes a quiz to measure the degree to which you are an underearner and suggests specific steps to overcome underearning. It can be inspiring to read that many of the high earners that Ms. Stanny interviewed were once underearners but they made a conscious decision to become smarter about money, take action, and change their financial futures.

Stanny found four traits that all the high earners exhibited:

1. A profit motive

2. Audacity / willingness to step outside a comfort zone

3. Resilience after setbacks

4. Encouragement from at least one person

Other traits were helpful but the above four were the essential ones. Ms. Stanny’s message is extremely hopeful because these are traits that can be learned.

Ms. Stanny says that she wants to revolutionize women’s relationships with money. “Secrets of Six-Figure Women” is a good start. To read more about Barbara Stanny and her work, visit her website at

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