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“‘Money isn’t pink or blue, it’s green.’ She’s right of course. But my years of research and experience also tell me that we, as women, view money through a different sort of lens. And that is why we need a different sort of book.” —Jean Chatzky, author of Women with Money: The Judgment-free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, yes, Rich) Life You Deserve
Knowledge is power when it comes to making decisions in any arena of our lives, and the knowledge that surrounds money, when we receive it after seeking it out or having it presented to us through historical graphs of wealth, pay distribution, etc. is certainly an eye opener.
“First and foremost, for us, the life we want to create is the target, while money is the tool that helps us achieve it.”
Certainly women have made significant gains, but as The New York Times reported in a recent story, even when we do, the game seems to change, and it seems to effect working mothers with equivalent college degrees to their husbands, the most.
So what is the approach that will enable the stress of money, the emotions of guilt, shame, anxiousness and embarrassment, as Chatzky enumerates, dissipate so that we can celebrate and enjoy the financial security we have worked long and hard for?
In her new book she shares conversations she has had with women across country from differing ages, careers, relationships, etc. to understand what the motivators, fears and hopes women are around money.
Below are my takeaways from the reading of the book – Women with Wealth earlier this month.
1.Money = Safety, Security, Shelter, Stability
Of the women Chatzky interviewed, the primary want women required of their money first was the four “S”s, or the second level on Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs.
Speaking only for myself. I concur. But as Chatzky points out, even when we actually are at that level, we can remain stuck there, and become doubtful of ourselves, our abilities, what we can offer, and thus inflict ourselves with guilt, anxiety and shame for using money to improve the quality and experience of life.
While we shouldn’t neglect Stage Two once we have arrived as it is a dynamic destination with the economy always ebbing and flowing, our careers growing and changing, and our mandatory and discretionary expenses changing as well, we also need to trust ourselves and our ability to navigate and respond effectively with all of these moving parts, and all the while not deprive or berate ourselves for choosing to enjoy life along the way.
2. Realizing you are your own “safety net”
Arriving at the realization that you are your own safety net occurs when you have confidence in yourself – the skills and expertise you embody and offer the world, and the self-esteem to present them.
Including oodles of anecdotes from women in their own words, Chatzky shares what women are often afraid to speak about on their own even with their closest friends. Admittedly, I was appreciative of their candor, to learn, to observe, to be inspired and to relate as well.
When we acknowledge our strengths, when we acknowledge our full, awesome worth, we become more grounded in reality rather than fear, and we can thus, make better decisions as we move forward.
3. Become clear about what you want from your life
In other words, “what do you want from your money?”. Chatzky places “you” in italics because to be clear about living a life you enjoy living is to be clear about whether or not you are following expectations of what you “should” pursue or how you “should” live.
When we align our values with how we invest our money, the guilt, the shame and the embarrassment cannot stick to us. So a large part of becoming comfortable with money and livng well with it is to get to know yourself, gather up your courage and utilize the power money give you to cultivate a life of freedom, not only from a bad relationship, a bad job, or a life of partial angst or worry, but a life in which you can leave a legacy you are proud of based on where you invest your time, your donations, your energy. Upon reaching this point, you may not have to be thinking about money at all, at least not in the negative.
4. Don’t ignore your emotional needs
Each one of us will have different emotional needs. As Chatzky points out, for one person they may need comforts (that would be me!), others it will be luxury and still others excitement.
“The key is accepting that a) they are needs, b0they are not irrational, and c) you’re going to be unhappy if you don’t find ways to meet them.”
It is important to note, that fulfilling our emotional needs does not always require a great deal of expense. The key is to understand why we feel we need them, what it provides for our well-being, and to discover ways to satiate this feeling on a regular basis, perhaps through a variety of different activities or ways.
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~Comfort Begets Confidence, episode #130
5. But don’t let your emotions dictate your spending
Point #5 appears to completely contradict point #4, but first, let me explain.
In Chapter three Chatzky outlines four steps to follow to make sure you aren’t making emotional decisions when it comes to money. This is entirely separate from investing in your emotional needs. Emotional decisions are prompted by a trigger, which prompts a reaction, which prompts a lapse in clarity about whether or not the decision we are about to make is wise for the life we are living and building for ourselves.
In other words, take 24 hours before you try to assuage a bad day with an online shopping binge.
6. Let go of the ‘should‘s that surround you
Briefly mentioned in #3, Chatzky reminds that we are often surrounded by the needs that are not our own – immediate relations or the media that surrounds us. Once we can recognize these ‘should’s we can then have the conversation with ourselves as to why we feel we should buy or spend money on this certain something. Is it to keep up with others? It is to appease someone because we lack the inner strength to say no? Take a step back, answer as honestly as you can, and then make the best decision that aligns with the life you are building.
7. Understand your money story
The entirity of Chapter two focuses on “Your Money Story (and How It Affects You to This Day)”
Just as we have relationship triggers when it comes to engaging with people, we can (and Chatzky argues we all do – negative or positive) have money triggers as well that affect our relationship with money.
The good news is our past relationships with money can be changed if they are not serving us well. It doesn’t mean we forget or ignore our past, but it does mean we can shift how we handle the triggers or shift our negative behaviors to positive ones that will address our fears with money.
8. Invest in the Freedom of Choice
Chapter nine “The Joy of Spending” contradicts the old maxim that money cannot buy happiness. In fact, I wrote this post a few years ago contradicting it – 9 Ways Money Can Buy Happiness. The truth is less absolute and varies based on each individual person. Attaining basic comforts is a tremendously powerful way that money can buy happiness, but overspending can also brings unhappiness if it takes away your financial freedom.
Whether that overspending materializes itself in a spending spree that was not necessary or buying too large of a home that leaves you saddled with a mortgage disabling your ability to travel frequently (if that is what you love to do), finding the balance for you, based on your values and the life you want to live is how we all invest in the attaining the Freedom of Choice.
Living with and thoughtfully using our money well to help us live the life we enjoy on a daily basis is a practice in living consciously. The decisions become increasingly easier when we know ourselves, when we understand the financial world and economy, and we don’t fall prey to fear mongering or societal norms and expectations that wish for us to remain less than what we know we are capable of being and contributing.
Did you know that half of the millionaires in the United States are women as of last year? Yep.
Women with monetary wealth is more than possible, and what we do with it can not only elevate our own lives, but those around us as well depending upon what we value and how we view our spending. Set yourself free from the idea feeling guilty for invest in your contentment, even if nobody else understands. If working extended hours for a specific period of time enables you to pay off your mortage in full, which gives you with the peace of mind you want moving into retirement, then do it. If renting enables you to not feel locked into one place/town/country to call home and gives you the freedom that calms your being, then do it (just make sure you have other investments, which I know you do).
Each of us has a unique journey we are on when it comes to building a life we love, and our decisions will not mimmick someone else’s which is why I think it’s important to remember to not pass judgment on how other people, especially as women about other women live. Instead, celebrate each other’s successes, learn and be inspired by other women and remember the example and opportunity you are carving for others should they choose to seek. And I cannot forget to share, seek advice from a professional financial advisor, but do know, feeling solidly financially secure all on your own is something to fully embrace and celebrate when you attain.
~Check out Jean Chatzky’s book Women with Money: The Judgment-free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, yes, Rich) Life You Deserve (March 2019)
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