Fribble Thanks to a Troublemaker

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By Tamarian Graffham (
November 17, 2000

Having just read the Fool article on women and their retirement woes, I would like to take a moment to thank my grandmother. I would like to thank her for being a troublemaker who never accepted her "proper" place.

My grandmother wore pants to the office when women... well, didn't. She managed the money and made sure there would be something in the bank when she and her husband retired. She never minced words about it: she was the financial head of the household. However much bacon Grandpa brought home, it was Grandma who pounded it, stretched it, put part of it away, and decided where the rest would get spent.

Oh sure, Grandpa bought himself his toys (especially cars), and Grandma didn't stop him (much), but all in all, we grandkids knew and accepted Grandma was a woman. She never accepted the argument that as a woman, she needed less than her male counterparts. Without waving flags or marching in parades, she quietly refused to accept less than a full fair share of the pie. Without preaching, she taught me by example how to stand up and be counted.

Now as I go forth into life, her lifetime of example has created a more solid foundation for me than I think either of us realized. I handle the family finances, because I'm better at it. When I negotiate a contract, I'm firm on my price, and I am not afraid to stand up and say, "I'm worth it!" I get paid as much -- or more -- than my male counterparts because I can do the job as well (or better) than the next "guy," and I won't let any recruiter tell me otherwise.

I am not afraid to fence with mortgage brokers over three-quarters of a percent on a loan, and I will terminate the deal right in the middle if she or he won't budge. I'm confident in my ability to run the calculations myself and decide if an investment is a good deal, and I won't let the professional broker (who half the time is reading a script out of a database and has no idea who I am anyway) tell me I'm wrong.

I'm fearless (well, mostly fearless) in the face of market corrections; I trust my own research, my networking, and even my gut feelings about the stocks I own. I have no self-perception as a helpless female guppy in a sea of male money-sharks. My kids will have their pick of colleges. My husband and I will retire, comfortably, sooner rather than later.

I'm a Fool.

I wear pants to the office.�

Heck, I even take it a step further and wear running shoes half the time.�

Usually, I'm the only comfortable woman on my floor.

Thanks, Gran.