Here’s a little challenge: think of all the rich leading women you have seen on tv and in movies. Now come up with one who is not arrogant, mean, entitled or cunning.
From “Dallas” to “The devil wears Prada”, women receive the subconscious message “rich, ambitious and kind don’t go together”. And you don’t want to be like Phoebe in “Friends” who turns nasty once she has money, right?
So we wear our lack of wealth as a badge of honour. See, I am a moral person. Gucci and Prada are not my values.
The problem is: This attitude regularly brings us in hot water.
According to statistics, women in pension age have £7000 a year less than their male counterparts, are more likely to experience poverty and seven out of 10 millennial women have never been taught to manage money. Why do we believe this is a good thing?
For many of us, money is a mystery. The stock market, bitcoin, pensions – it’s a never-ending list of terms and technicalities, none of which were taught at school. Few of us have parents who can advise us- 39% of adults don’t feel confident managing their money- and so we just make it up as we go along.
Our fear to invest our hard-earned dosh into the wrong thing prevents us from increasing our wealth. Since we are trained from a young age to see that as a bad thing, we feel more comfortable with less money than abundance. We play it safe. We lose out. And so the circle continues.
If we want to have true equality one day, we need to tackle the money issue.
Money is not a mystery, it’s a tool. And a mighty one at that. Women underestimate how capable they are in this area.
For a start, we’re better at investing. Neil Stewart, Professor of Behavioural Science, compared male and female investors through Barclays and their trading behaviour over 36 months. After analysing 2,800 investors, he found that not only did the women outperform the FTSE 100 over the last three years, they also outshone their male counterparts. The biggest reason for the difference?
They were less likely to adopt the “lottery style” of investment that appeals to men. While they are often attracted to the thrill of investing, women tend to take a more long-term perspective and focus on shares that already have a good track record.
Women are also more likely to know precisely how much money they have in their current and savings accounts, spend less money on impulse purchases and are more likely to set a budget than men.
So why are we not doing what we’re clearly good at?
It’s a mindset problem. Many of us have grown up with conflicting messages about wealth- sometimes our parents made it through the month despite working 12-hour shifts, so the message was “money is hard to come by”. Or we only saw our father dealing with the finances and learned: Money is something men deal with. Most of us have no idea how much our parents earn or if our colleague is making more than us- because “it’s vulgar to talk about money”.
The result? We’re making it up as we go along, walking in the dark when it comes to both our money beliefs and the actions we should take to live the best life we can.
Here are five steps to help you change that:
Understand your financial footing
Set yourself small, achievable goals. Give yourself a month to look for subscriptions you don’t need. Take an online course about investing before you dive in. Don’t blame yourself for past mistakes- tap yourself on the back for doing something most people in this country don’t.
Negotiation is a skill – practice it.
Freelancers have an advantage here- they negotiate daily and get better with time. Learn from them and start a daily haggle workout. Can you get a better price for your broadband? What about the price for that bag of oranges at the market? Get into the habit of negotiating- you will see it pays off.
Make it easy for yourself.
If you struggle to get a grip on your finances because of a technicality, sort that out immediately. Forget complicated logins- online banks like Starling are safe and easy to manage via your phone. Create a direct debit for a monthly saving. Join a business book club or found one. Make it easy- you can totally do this.
Don’t “charge your worth.”
A dangerous term because you are most likely to downplay your own skills. Most women ask for too little, not too much. Check your money mindset and inner beliefs first before you subscribe to this outlook.
Do your research.
This might be the most important tip: never ever trust anyone else with your money. Even if this person has your best interests at heart- if you give up control, you are at the mercy of someone else’s decisions when it comes to your future. Take it slow, focus on one area at a time and never underestimate the power of perseverance. You won’t believe where you can be financially in 3 years from now.
As women, we hold 40% of the global private wealth and control 80% of purchasing decisions – it’s high time we start to acknowledge that. Change the narrative and show others how a wealthy woman looks – kind, ambitious and supportive. Exactly like you.