If you work in any financial field, you most likely believe you know how to handle money and finances. But even if you aren’t in those fields, I want to ask you a few questions: How do you FEEL about money? What is your relationship with YOUR money? Do you know HOW TO money (yes as a verb)?
When it comes to women and money, I’ve got some good news, some sort of good news and some bad news:
- The good news is that women are earning more money than ever…yay us!
- The sort of good news is that since women live longer than men, you will end up controlling more of the wealth over time…sad but true.
- The bad news is that women have been raised in a culture of secrecy around money and are 80% more likely to live in poverty after the age of 65 than their male counterparts.
Here are some more facts about the pay gap disparity for working women:
- It will take until 2056 for white women to finally close the pay gap with white men
- It will take approximately 100 more years for women of color to close the gap
- It will take another 200 years for Latina women to close the gap
Between women living longer than men, the pay gap disparity and the divorce rate at over 50%, you need to be aware of your beliefs about money. Women experience a lot of shame when it comes to the topic of money and that has to be addressed.
For women, money is one of the last taboos. Women are often more comfortable talking about personal details of their sex life than they are talking about money.
In order to eliminate shame and build confidence around money you have to be willing to take a look at your beliefs. The results you currently have in your relationship with money are due to some unconscious programming that needs to be acknowledged if you want to create different results.
This week I’m going to discuss why women experience so much shame around money and how to start improving your relationship with money.
Why women experience so much shame
From an early age you were taught many beliefs about money. Those beliefs were passed down from generation to generation with tweaks and adjustments along the way.
A typical money belief lineage may look like this:
- Your great-grandmother most likely stayed at home to raise children and had certain beliefs about money
- Your grandmother also probably stayed home to raise her family; she was taught her mother’s money beliefs and passed them onto her daughters
- Your mother may have been the first to enter the work force with some of those inherited beliefs but may have started to adjust and challenge some of them
- Now you may be the first woman in your family to get a college degree and have the same if not better credentials than your male counterparts, but still have some of the money programming passed down by the generations of women in your life
Of course this isn’t true for everyone, but understanding what your beliefs are and where they came from is an important first step. Once you are conscious of your thoughts about money, you can begin to end the culture of secrecy that hurts so many working women.
I once heard an analogy about how family beliefs can be passed down without really understanding their validity today: There was a woman preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her family and she proceeded to chop off the legs of the turkey before putting it in the roasting pan. Her daughter asked her why she did that. She said her mother always did it this way. So the daughter went over and asked the grandmother why she chopped off the legs of the turkey. The grandmother said “Because the roasting pan I had to cook the turkey in wasn’t big enough to fit the whole turkey”.
The mother was just doing what she saw her mother do without questioning it. Her roasting pan was big enough to hold the whole turkey but she didn’t think to question what she had been taught.
Maybe you were taught it’s not polite to discuss money or you were taught how to scrimp and save rather than actually how to know your value and ask to be paid commensurate with that value.
Perhaps you have some “should” thoughts around money like “Someone in my position should live in this kind of house and drive this kind of car” or “I should just be grateful for what I have without wanting more”. You may also have some “shouldn’t” thoughts like “I shouldn’t ask what other people in my position make because I’ll be making waves” or “I shouldn’t plan that weekend away with my girlfriends because it will look like I don’t care about saving for my kid’s college education”.
Consider for a minute the beliefs you are passing down to your children, especially if you have daughters. Will they be chopping off the legs of the turkey without understanding why?
If you have been passed down beliefs about money, just know there’s a very good chance that you are also passing those beliefs to your children. If you’d like to stop the flow of shame around money, then let me show you how.
Improving your relationship with money
First let’s address the elephant in the room – do you think money is the root of all evil? Really think about that question. Many people, over many centuries were taught to believe that money was bad and could corrupt you.
You may have looked at people who have lots of money and judged their extravagant lifestyle or their choices. You also may have secretly been pleased when someone with a lot of money got in trouble for the choices they made by misusing that money.
Your thoughts about other people’s relationship with money, good or bad, are going to play in the background of your mind when you think about your capacity for earning, having and spending money. The truth is that what you think about other people’s relationship with money it is often an assumption. Someone may be outwardly wealthy but internally struggle with self-esteem or they may be outwardly poor and be internally happier than anyone you know.
One of the biggest struggles I see women face is leaving “money on the table” because they aren’t willing to feel uncomfortable discussing money. When you struggle with your self-worth and limiting beliefs about money, you will want to avoid feeling uncomfortable by avoiding discussions around money.
This then perpetuates your struggle with self-worth, creating results that inevitably fall short. Remember that your thoughts will always show up in your results so when you have negative thoughts, you will inevitably create negative experiences.
For example, you want to ask for a raise or promotion but your thought is “My boss will think I’m being greedy and ungrateful” which stops you from having the talk with your boss. The truth is that you are not asking for a raise because you don’t want to feel anxious or uncomfortable. You are avoiding having a conversation because you are afraid that you’ll have a thought during the conversation that will make you feel uncomfortable.
If that raise or promotion would mean an extra $10,000, then compounding that over the life of your career, you are in effect saying “I’d rather pay someone $500,000 over the course of my career than be uncomfortable for a few days”. Is the fear of being uncomfortable worth it?
The solution to this struggle is first in the awareness that you do not have the power to create anyone else’s thoughts or feelings, only your own. Your assumption about what someone will think or feel is just your brain’s way of avoiding possible rejection. Your brain equates rejection with death, therefore, it sees avoidance as safety.
It’s important to know that when you ask for a raise or promotion, this is just a neutral circumstance for your boss when applying the Manage Your Mind Model. Your boss has a choice about what to think about your request. The thoughts they choose to think will create a feeling for them, not for you (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
When you embrace the fact that you can powerfully control your own thoughts and feelings, but not other peoples, you can shift your money mindset. You will be able to no longer fear being uncomfortable about money conversations because you will know you have the ability to choose any thought, feeling or action that will serve you.
When you learn how to manage your own mind, you will not only take responsibility for the feelings that drive your actions, but you will also understand that everyone else is responsible for their own thoughts, feelings and actions as well. You have the power to create the feeling of fear or the feeling of determined all because of the thoughts you choose.
Another struggle that women face when it comes to their relationship with money is around the difference between spending and investing. You may think investing money involves a stock portfolio but it’s important to understand that when you spend money, you are actually investing money.
What you choose to spend your money on is an investment financially, relationally and emotionally. When you have limiting beliefs about investing in yourself in the form of self-care, self-growth, emotional well-being or enjoyment, you create a negative relationship with money.
For example, you may have been having some health issues and your doctor has advised you to start a fitness routine. You look at hiring a personal trainer but it costs $100 per session. Your thought is “That’s too expensive; I can just do it on my own”. The issue is that you could do it on your own, but you never have which is why you have your current health issues. The question you should be asking yourself is “What are the physical, emotional and mental costs to me if I don’t invest in my fitness now?”
The solution for this issue is taking a look at what you spend money on and your thoughts about what you are investing it in. Look at what kind of return will you get and whether it is worth it to you financially and emotionally.
As a mother you probably see the investment of your time, your love and your money as a necessary part of being a good mother. Now it’s time to start challenging any limiting beliefs that may have been passed down over many generations of women in your life about investing in yourself.
If you’ve been seeing the outflow of money as just spending or maybe even wasting, I suggest you start thinking of it in terms of investing. Whether it’s investing in your family or in yourself, start taking a look at how you feel about the money you invest in your life and the long term results you will get.
Your negative beliefs about money may have been passed down by your family of origin, but the cycle can stop with you. By bringing those beliefs to light and questioning whether they are serving you or not, you can create a new legacy for you and for generations to come.
- Between women living longer than men, the pay gap disparity and the divorce rate at over 50%, you need to be aware of your beliefs about money.
- The results you currently have in your relationship with money are due to some unconscious programming that needs to be acknowledged if you want to create different results.
- Once you are conscious of your thoughts about money, you can begin to end the culture of secrecy that hurts so many working women.
- If you have been passed down beliefs about money, just know there’s a very good chance that you are also passing those beliefs to your children.
- When you embrace the fact that you can powerfully control your own thoughts and feelings, but not other peoples, you can shift your money mindset.
If you’d like some help learning how to improve your relationship with money, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.