For me, financial security is not just about money. It’s not about having more money so that you can have more stuff. It’s about having more money so that you have more freedom, more security, more independence. To me, pursuing financial security is a deeply feminist act. It’s why I decided to become a financial coach for women. I want to help women get control over their money so that they can have the lives they really desire. I want them to use money as a tool of empowerment, rather than it being a source of stress and anxiety. Here are just a few ways that financial security can help you to live a feminist life.
Abortion and birth control are legal in the United States, regardless of what some legislators seem to think. However, legality does not equal accessibility. If a woman is uninsured and/or low-income, odds are that she can’t afford her own birth control. This increases the likelihood that she will have an unintended pregnancy. From there, if she decides that she doesn’t want to keep the pregnancy, she has to go through many hoops. Lots of these hoops are financial in nature. Abortion is often not covered by insurance, and it’s almost always not covered by Medicaid. To add insult to injury, many states have waiting periods, or have implemented laws that have caused clinics to close. This forces women to travel to abortion clinics, which means they have to take time off from work, get a babysitter, pay for a hotel, etc. The money involved in this scenario is often prohibitive, and women are not able to get the care they desire.
Having access to money in this kind of scenario leads to much different outcomes. Even when abortion was illegal in the United States, women of means were able to access safe abortion. All of this to say, financial stability would make it much more likely for a woman to make her own reproductive choices.
The Ability to Leave
A big reason that I was attracted to financial coaching was so that I could help women who might otherwise feel trapped. Money is a huge factor in abusive relationships. Ninety-eight percent of abusive relationships involve financial abuse. This is when the abuser uses money as a weapon against the victim. This can look like putting the victim on a restrictive allowance, sabotaging their career, etc. Many women cannot afford to leave the abusive relationship because they don’t have money of their own. It often seems like the better choice, staying with an abuser, rather than risking homelessness.
The ability to leave a bad situation can also apply to the workplace. Women who are financially insecure are more likely to get harassed at work, because the harasser knows that they cannot risk losing their jobs. Having access to something like an emergency fund can give women more options if they are mistreated in the workplace.
See this story about why you should have a “fuck off fund” and how it can apply to your career.
The Power to Speak Up
If the #MeToo movement taught me anything, it’s that money and success are so often used as a weapon against women. Many women who were harassed or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein (and so many others) felt unable to speak up because he held their career in his hands. Even women who were fairly successful and well-known felt paralyzed in the face of abuse.
This is more striking when you think about lower-income women who are harassed and abused. They often can’t speak up because they and their families need the income from their jobs. Abusers know this and target people accordingly.
Want to get involved in this issue? Check out Times Up.
The Means to Donate to a Cause
Many of my clients talk about wanting to be able to give money to their favorite causes. They hope to someday have enough discretionary income to give freely to organizations they support. Giving money is a great way to support the things you care about most. It’s a real, tangible way to make an impact. Having extra money to build philanthropy into your budget allows you to speak up in ways you might not otherwise be able to.
What inspires you to work towards financial security? Share in the comments!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.