DIAMONDS, it would seem, have been replaced by diversified investment and long-term financial planning as a girl's best friend. At least that is what author Neale Godfrey suggests in her latest book, Making Change: A Woman's Guide to Designing her Financial Future (Simon & Schuster, US$22). Forget about relying on fathers, lovers and husbands for money management. Calculate what you need and want, and then decide how to get it. That is the central theme of Making Change. It is worth wading through the hand-wringing jargon that United States self-help books deem necessary, for tucked inside this one are some practical nuggets of information on money management for the beginner anywhere. The book is based on the premise that the financial world puts women at a disadvantage and money is the last taboo subject for women. 'Handling money is the last frontier for women in taking charge of their own lives,' Ms Godfrey says. Women want to take care of themselves but run into stereotypes, fear and lack of knowledge. The book walks the novice through stocks, bonds, mutual funds and the wisdom of dollar-cost averaging - that is, investing small amounts at regular intervals over a long period. It alerts women to money situations that could arise when they get married ('Marriage is the great banana peel of life. There are more ways to slip on it than you can possibly imagine.') and how they must confront issues of trust and control - who makes the financial decisions in the partnership? Marriage, it turns out, is an extraordinarily good business decision in terms of tax breaks and legal protection for women, but watch out for that divorce settlement and be financially prepared for widowhood, Ms Godfrey says. She even tackles the underlying money issues in the dating arena - the person who pays makes most of the decisions. So if you suspect that bloke who keeps picking up the dinner bill wants something from you, you are probably right. The book's tone is friendly, the style readable (if at times irritatingly cloying) and sprinkled with self-assessment quizzes to determine your investment profile - and Ms Godfrey might just nudge the reader into putting some money into a mutual fund if she has not already. The advice is sound for women anywhere. Start young, plan far ahead and include big purchases like a house, stick to a budget, find a bank that suits your needs, find a reliable financial adviser, pay off debts on credit cards and stay informed constantly. This might all sound obvious, but it helps to reiterate the facts and be reminded that the disadvantages are real. Just a few examples: the all-too-concrete glass ceiling that women face in the workplace, the fact that women earn 71 cents for every dollar a man earns (at least in the United States, but we are not provided with a footnote for this statistic), the discrimination women face in purchasing houses, renting flats, paying insurance premiums, getting a raise or that international package their male colleagues are likely to be given. 'If you put aside just $40 a week between the ages of 25 and 35, invest it at 10 per cent per year and then leave in that same investment plan, you will have $750,000 by the time you are 65,' she says. Now there is a thought. Naturally, the first investment should be $22 in this book, and presumably the money will go straight into Ms Godfrey's own retirement fund.