I became a financial coach for women because I’m passionate about women being in control of their lives and futures. Just about a year ago, I had an epiphany during a salary negotiation workshop. The trainer asked us why we think it’s important to close the gender wage gap. I raised my hand and said, “So that women who are in an unhappy or abusive living situation are able to leave and start over.” The trainer (a man) seemed genuinely surprised at my answer, as though he had never really thought of it that way. I realized in that moment that I wanted to work one-on-one with women to help them pay down debt, build up savings, earn more, and generally be in control of their lives so that they could achieve their dreams.
I truly think it’s vital that women are financially independent. Historically, we have had to rely on our fathers or husbands for financial stability. That often left women in unhappy marriages, unable to pursue their dreams or feel truly free in their lives. Even now, many women who end up widowed or divorced have no idea how to manage their money, or even where their husband’s money is. I don’t want you to end up in that situation.
I truly think it’s vital that women are financially independent.
1. Money is power
I’m sure you already know this, but those who have the most money also tend to have the most power. That’s not always a good thing, but it is the way it is. Women have historically not had money OR power. That has led to underrepresentation in government, business, healthcare, law enforcement, etc. That lack of representation subsequently leads to laws that target organizations like Planned Parenthood, health insurance that is more expensive for women, comparable products that cost more when marketed towards women, the perpetuation of rape culture, and more.
As Barbara Stanny said in her book Sacred Success, “I believe when enough women build sizable fortunes and understand how to ply their power, the whole world will profit.”
So what are we waiting for?
One of the best decisions I ever made was moving to Washington, DC after graduation. I had enough money saved to support myself for a couple months, which tided me over while I looked for a full-time job. If I didn’t have savings, I would not have been able to do that, at least not right away. Over time, staying out of debt and building savings has allowed me to travel, live by myself, and start my own business.
Think of the things you could finally do if you didn’t have to pay towards your debt every month. How often do you use money as an excuse NOT to follow your dreams? If you worked to pay down your debt and build up your savings, you could leave that crappy relationship, take that job on the opposite coast, go on your dream vacation to Macchu Pichu…
What could you do if you had the financial independence to do so?
Have you ever met (or been) a woman who puts her partner’s goals ahead of her own because he (or she) earns more money? Or perhaps you’ve worked all day and then come home and worked the second shift doing household chores. Even though many women are now in the workforce, they are still also the ones doing the bulk of domestic work. Not cool!
I mention this because income inequality in relationships can threaten overall equality within the relationships. Women are paid less than men for equal work and careers occupied by women tend to be less valued. This can lead to our careers being taken less seriously by our partner. (Even if it’s unconscious.)
You deserve to have equal say and respect within your romantic relationships. Speak up and insist on equal effort around the home and with parenting. Your career and other goals are just as valid as your partner’s, regardless of income.
4. Peace of mind
How much emotional energy do you spend worrying about money? And I know you’re just as stressed out about money even when you’re trying to ignore it. If you knew that your money was your own (and not a credit card company’s), you’d feel a lot better about it. If you knew that your emergency savings fund would protect you if you got hurt or lost your job, you would sleep much easier at night. Getting your money right not only opens up a world of opportunities to you, but it also will take a lot of weight off of your mind.
We have enough to worry about these days. Don’t you want your money to be something that supports your dreams, rather than squashes them?
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.