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Face Time with Pamela Farris

Although she’s written numerous books, retired NIU professor Pamela Farris recently penned her first personal finance book.

Farris, who taught in the Department of Literacy Education, said numerous friends asked for her advice, so she decided to write it all down. Farris talked recently with reporter Debbie Behrends about her book, and some of the advice it contains.

Behrends: When did you retire from NIU, and what have you been doing since then?

Farris: I retired in 2006 and did all the usual traveling, but I also did some work for Illinois State University. I helped them with the paperwork for accreditation. It required a lot of paperwork and gathering of data. I’ll be finished with that in May and then they’re good for another seven or 10 years.

I also wrote a children’s book, “Presidents from the Prairie State: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama.” It’s for grades four through eight, but adults can get a lot out of it they didn’t know, too.

Behrends: So what prompted you to write a book about personal finance?

Farris: When I was at NIU and then at ISU, people, women in particular, always seemed to have questions about personal finances. One lady I know didn’t even know what bank her husband used. I have another friend who is 66 and hasn’t even thought about applying for Social Security.

Women just seem to be less interested about finances, or they just put off doing anything. It’s important they know what’s going on. Women only earn 77 percent of what men make, so it’s important they know how to make the most of what they have.

Behrends: Tell me a little about some of the major purchases you discuss in your book.

Farris: Research shows that women get the poorest deals when buying new cars. And African American women get the worst. White males get the best deals.

Maybe they do more research, maybe women don’t like to get involved with the negotiation process. It’s best to buy a car the last week of the month or even the last week of the quarter, when dealers are trying to meet their sales quotas.

I would say very few people actually need a new car. And it’s better to buy a middle of the road model than the top of the line. All you really need is something reliable to get you from point A to point B.

I also write about buying appliances and whether it’s better to rent or buy a home. I’ve provided a lot of tips that, once you think about them, are common sense.

Farris' e-book, "How Women Can Get Ahead Financially: Managing Money for Venus in a Mars World," is available for $2.99 on

• Who would you like to see featured in Face Time? Let us know at The feature runs each Monday.

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