We receive a lot of reader mail with questions about money: How can I make more? How can I find a better-paying job? How can I start saving for retirement? And many of you share deeply personal stories of how hard you work.

Recently I was discussing these topics with a friend, and she told me the wealth-building secret all Black women need to understand is how to make our money work for us. She had what she called her Plan B philosophy, an approach that led her to reinvest the income she made from her full-time job as a marketing executive back into her real estate holdings. She had bought her first home after graduating from college, then rented it out when her firm relocated her to another city. This, she explained, was her way of securing her future while also putting in place a viable Plan B—you know, just in case Plan A ever decided to lay her off!

Perhaps you haven’t yet adopted your own Plan B approach, but if you like the idea of being able to live your dreams on your own terms, read “Get Rich in Real Estate” (page 216). We found several women who, despite the current housing slump and fluctuating interest rates, are finding success as real estate investors. You’ll meet Plan B visionaries like Delecia Sampson, a single sister who implements her savvy investment strategy while working full-time. Like our other investors, her ultimate goal is to own property that will create an additional steady income stream.

If real estate isn’t your thing, take stock of your unique talents and experiences. Our former personal finance and careers editor, Kimberly Allers, left Essence to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Building on the success of her wonderful book, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy (Amistad), she launched the Mocha Manual Maternity & Baby Collection, which includes cool T-shirts for moms-to-be and adorable onesies for babies (mochamanual.com).

My friend Denise Gordon is one of those women with impeccable style. A few years ago I invited Denise to help me do a wardrobe overhaul. Within hours she had cleaned out my cramped closet, organized my clothing into seasons, and developed a fall shopping list. As we took stock of my closet, marveling at the fact that we could now see the floor, I told her she should consider starting her own business. She soon realized that her innate ability to organize was a marketable skill that she could profit from. A few months later, after meeting with Essence staffer Jen Doman, who also owns Get It Together!, a home, office and estate organization company, she launched her own firm, The Organized Home by Denise Gordon (organizewithdenise.com).

For me, Plan B has been about investing in real estate and writing books. Whether you’re interested in buying property or you have a special gift you can turn into a moneymaking venture, we hope you will begin to develop your own financial alternatives. Visit essence.com to read about other women who have started successful businesses on the side, and then e-mail me at angela@essence.com to let me know about your Plan B.