Most women have a complicated relationship with money. This is not a surprise when you consider that “forces” have worked to drive a wedge between women and money since, well… forever.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a little walk down memory lane. In ancient Egypt, women had the same financial rights as men. But there was a multi-centuries old tug-of-war to take away those rights, give control of a woman’s property to her husband upon marriage and limit a woman’s right to inherit family assets. In the United States, it took over 300 years for women to have the same property rights as men.
As late as 1960, in some states, a married woman needed her husband’s consent to accept a job or to open a bank account. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 finally made unlawful the practice of counting only 50% of a woman’s pay on her application for credit. A 2018 study revealed that businesses led by women are 63 percent less likely to obtain venture capital funding than those led by men. Fast forward to today. Current figures show that women will not reach the same pay for the same work as men until 2059. If you’re an African-American woman, you will have to wait until 2119. If you’re Latina, 2224 will not come soon enough.
History reveals the consistent efforts to keep distance between women and money. This set the stage for our complicated relationship. How can you have an authentic relationship with something that has been kept from you?
How we were socialized as girls also factors into our relationship with money, but in sneaky ways. The harm is self-inflicted and we don’t see it coming. We do not see how our own behavior diminishes our confidence around money.
I can remember a college friend’s father being concerned that I would be unable to find a good husband because I seemed too comfortable expressing my opinion. I remember feeling frustrated and diminished. Both by the effort to keep me quiet and by the notion that I needed to appear malleable, a safe bet, to be desirable to a good husband.
The “gold” standard for female baby boomers (and before) was to be perfect and to be correct. At all times. And to make it look easy. There was no room for boldness or spunk in this scenario. Being too assertive was considered unbecoming. However, studies tell us that it is hard to gain the confidence acquired through tackling challenges and overcoming failure when you play it safe and never take risks. Women of this generation were socialized to play it safe and to color within the lines to be accepted.
Most of our parents did not talk to us about managing money under the assumption that the husbands we would one day marry would handle the finances. Even when conversations were held, they centered solely around saving. I can remember being instructed by my mother and aunts to take care to tuck money away in a little bank account, kept secret from my soon-to-be husband, to make sure that I had money of my own “just in case.”
Just in case did not mean just in case a wonderful investment opportunity came my way. Or just in case I wanted to start a business. The little bank account was to ensure that I had resources in case life took a dark turn in some way. It was for safety and protection, not wealth or empowerment. I was not alone in receiving this advice, I learned. Sadly, this often was the extent of financial management guidance given to young women back then.
When you combine the net impact of being socialized to play it safe for acceptance and a basic lack of financial knowledge, you can see why many of us have mindset traps that are self-limiting when it comes to money matters.
Do you find yourself responding along these lines when presented with a wonderful, exciting, potentially rewarding business or financial opportunity?
Most of us have said these things at some point in our lives. Our responses seem practical and well-reasoned but, honestly, they are often based in fear, in the desire to play it safe or plain lack of knowledge.
Those self-limiting mindset traps that were imposed upon us in youth? Guess what? We stunt and stifle our confidence by now imposing them upon ourselves by:
This is the sneaky way that we are complicit in driving a wedge between ourselves and potential wealth. Women have been led to believe that spending is the ultimate power play for women — handbags, shoes, jewelry. But, these items, as beautiful as they may be, are all depreciating assets that may keep us from our bigger dreams. The ultimate act of financial empowerment money is to be excited about, not afraid of, taking charge of your money, growing it and using it to better your life in meaningful ways. Let’s start changing our relationship with money from complicated to confident.
Give it a go! You will turn your relationship status with money from “It’s complicated” to one that is brimming with confidence.