Personal Finance Column – Celebrating the Founder’s 100th Birthday

In 1934, when The New York Post hired a young newsletter publisher S. F. Porter to write a finance column three times a week, it was a new phenomenon. The author eschewed the complex jargon that investors and government usually hid behind, instead explaining concepts in plain English. By the time that The Post revealed that the respected S. F. Porter was, in fact, attractive 29-year-old Sylvia Porter, she had a following in the millions.

Porter, born in 1913, started college right before The Depression. She grew interested in finance after her mother lost $30,000 in the stock market crash. Porter’s mother urged her to pursue career interests, and Sylvia switched her major from English to Economics. She gained an expertise in savings bonds and found a job at an investment firm, where she learned about gold prices, the bond market and currency fluctuations. She pursued an MBA and began publishing her bond newsletter before finally landing the job at The Post.

She published her money manual Sylvia Porter’s Money Book: How to Earn It, Spend It, Save It, Invest It, Borrow It and Use It to Better Your Life in 1975. The book has been periodically updated and remains a fantastic resource for demystifying money and getting a handle on your financial life. A few of Sylvia Porter’s best lessons:

It’s Your Responsibility to Use — And Enjoy — Money

Most financial advisors assumed that women did not understand finances because dealing with them was a man’s job. Sylvia Porter, on the other hand, felt that everyone should understand personal finance. She wrote in simple terms to avoid what she called “bafflegab” and educated millions. Never be scared off by jargon; the concepts behind money management can be grasped as long as you seek out the right teacher for you.

Money is a Tool — Don’t Let It Control You

Porter taught people to manage their money well because she felt it allowed them to enjoy their lives better. She advocated budgets and money management so that you were never at the mercy of your finances. Her sage advice is still of great value to those who are rebuilding after bankruptcy or other credit problems.


It’s not enough to manage credit well. To take advantage of all of the opportunities available, you need to know how to budget, save and invest. Goals like home ownership and retirement become infinitely more attainable when you learn all of the ways to make your money work for you.

Sylvia Porter wrote on a wide range of financial topics throughout her life. She published a number of books and even ran a successful magazine, Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance, during the mid-80s. A new biography of the financial pioneer is being published this year. It’s worth checking out if you feel you’d be inspired by the life of one of the last century’s great financial minds.