Image: Wedding ring © Jamie Grill, Photolibrary, Photolibrary

Related topics: family, love and money, marriage, financial planning, Liz Weston

Young women, here is some advice:

Don't throw your hot, youthful selves away on young, financially unproven men. They may never become successes, and if they do, they'll probably just chuck you for younger models when you're too old to successfully compete again in the marriage marketplace.

Instead, marry rich guys while you're still taut enough to snag them. They may dump you, too, but at least you'll have nice, fat divorce settlements with which to pursue true love, or the pool guy, whoever comes first.

Notice I didn't say it was good advice.

But that is the gist of a 2009 book, "Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream -- and How They're Paying for It," by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake.

"Rather than pursuing love, we suggest pursuing a lifestyle with a man you like, or admire and enjoy," they write. "But in any case, he should be a man with resources."

Image: Liz Weston

Liz Weston

Rescue me

The book is relatively new, but the advice is probably as old as marriage itself. Maybe you've heard this old saying: "It's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one."

That reminds me of another chestnut: "If you marry for money, you will surely earn it."

The authors seem to have no qualms, though. They enthusiastically endorse gold digging and even take great pains to dismiss the notion that women can manage well financially on their own. You'll never earn as much as a man, they advise, and if you do succeed, you'll regret it. "Empowering ourselves economically can undermine our sexual power," they counsel.

Betty Friedan is spinning so fast in her grave that she's augered herself down another 6 feet.

The book is laughable, of course. However, it does diagnose a legitimate problem: people rushing into marriage blinded by lust and romance, without enough talking about money. It's an issue I've also discussed.

But the authors prescribe exactly the wrong solution by advising women to seek out a gold-plated Prince Charming. Ford and Drake explicitly endorse the secret fantasy entertained by too many women: that someone or something will rescue them from having to deal with their own finances.

"That's such a hurtful message," said financial writer Jennifer Barrett, a co-author of "The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough." "It plays into these fears that (women) can't manage their own money and have their own life without supplementing it with a man."

Money can disappear

Then there's the other problem: Gold-digging often doesn't work. Daddy Warbucks can die, lose his money or show you the door right before a sunset clause in your prenuptial agreement qualifies you to share in his wealth.

In Barbara Stanny's case, handing over the financial reins to her husband meant losing a fortune after he gambled away the heiress's wealth and fled the country, leaving her with a $1 million tax bill.