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reading group guide

Questions for Discussion:

1. Money is often considered "the last taboo" in American culture. (Many women, it seems, would rather discuss their sex lives than their income -- let alone their husband's income). Why do you think money is such a charged topic? What about it is threatening for women? Why is this particular door often locked tight?

2. Despite enlightened attitudes of the past few decades about financial independence and gender equality in the workplace, the notion of finding a wealthy Prince Charming seems to linger: in a recent poll conducted by a Connecticut-based wealth research firm, two-thirds of its respondents were "very" or "extremely" willing to marry for money. Does this ring true in your experience -- for you or for the women you know?

3. Did you identify with any of the experiences related by the women in this anthology? Did any of the essays in THE SECRET CURRENCY OF LOVE make you laugh, cry, or enable you to see yourself more clearly? Did any make you angry? Disgusted? Which ones?

4. In "Ignorance Is Bliss," Laurie Abraham puts forth the assertion that choosing to know little or nothing about her family's financial life is not only less stressful, but more empowering. Do you agree with this sentiment? Why or why not?

5. Elizabeth Williams (not her real name) relates the complications and contradictions of supporting her brother financially in "My Brother's Keeper." Have you ever felt this kind of responsibility? Do you believe that wealthier family members are obligated to help out poorer ones?

6. In "The Price of Admission," Leslie Bennetts reveals the financial burden she and her husband took on to put her children in an elite private school. Is this a sacrifice that you would make for your children? Or is it an unnecessary luxury?

7. Julia Glass, the major breadwinner in her family, reveals herself in "Money Matters" to be a financial naif, hapless as both an earner and spender. Have you ever experienced insecurities about instilling your children with the right financial values? Do you know anyone who you think has *not* been a strong financial role model for her children? Why?

8. In "Rich Little Poor Girl," Bliss Broyard relates the uncomfortable, charged experience of maintaining long-term friendships with women who have more money than she does. Have you ever experienced this kind of awkward social relationship? Can money destroy friendships as easily as it can destroy marriages?

9. "Some women wake up at forty-five and realize they forgot to have children. I realize I forgot to make money," Laura Fraser writes in "The Perils of the Privleged Poor." How important is money to overall happiness? Is a fulfilling, low-paying career more valuable than an empty, high-paying one?

10. Was the substance of THE SECRET CURRENCY OF LOVE what you were expecting? Was there any subject addressed that you were surprised to see in the book? Was there any topic not explored that you would have liked to see included?


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