A little over a year ago, my business coach asked me about my financial goals. I told her I wanted to make enough to live a comfortable life. My coach nodded and asked me to describe a future in which all of my wildest dreams have come true. I smiled and told her about my house at the beach, traveling anytime I want, and being a well-known author.
“But these are just dreams,” I said when I finished. “I don’t really need all of those things. They’d just be nice to have. My life isn’t likely to turn out that way.”
“No,” she said. “You’re right. Not until you change your money mindset.”
Until that point in my life, I didn’t know that I had an issue with my money mindset, but there I was, feeling guilty for even thinking about wanting more than I needed.
What Was Holding Me Back
When I was a teenager, my grandmother told me that if I went to the same college as her, I was likely to marry a senator. When I told her that I’d rather BE a senator, she said, “Then who is going to take care of your children?” When my mom started her business, her salary was seen as ‘expendable cash.’ When I first started dating my husband (an engineer), I was told that I ‘caught a good one’ because he could ‘take care of me.’
Any one of these moments might seem small and almost inconsequential, but research shows that it’s the accumulation of many small biases as opposed to large, overt biases that leads to inequality issues, especially in the workplace. As these small moments in time layered over one another throughout my life, I received one overarching message: As a woman, it’s my job to be taken care of, have babies, and stay small. And this directly impacted my mindset around money.
What the Research Says
New data suggests that women now earn approximately 82 cents to every dollar a man earns. This figure is up a measly 1 percent from 2020 and still far from equal. Why does this wage gap still exist in 2021?
1. History. We are still living in a society that genders certain occupations, which then dictates their value. Service and care industries, for example, are predominantly made up of women and historically make much less than the male-dominated finance and engineering industries.
2. Experience. Women are still the predominant caregivers, pulling them out of work and giving them fewer opportunities to grow and take on new responsibilities. This lack of experience leads to fewer raises and promotions, often pulling women entirely out of contention for advancement.
3. Money Mindset. Since meeting with my coach, I’ve met countless women who have similar feelings about money. And the ones who have more powerful feelings described an internal battle to build that mindset, rather than arriving there naturally. We tend to accept the narrative that we somehow deserve less.
Where To Go From Here
It’s time to change our mindset around money and close the wage pay gap. Here are a few strategies you can leverage to bolster your feelings around money:
1. Learn Your Money History. Dig into your past and identify any patterns or messaging that may be lingering about money. Consider your parents’ relationship with money or the messages you received from friends or loved ones. All of these things will dictate your current money mindset.
2. Set Achievable Goals. To reshape your past money mindset, it’s important to know where you want to go next. What are your financial goals for the next month? Year? Write them down and start working toward them.
3. Change your inner dialogue. As you begin to pursue these goals, pay close attention to the way you think and speak about money. When you hear yourself say something like, “I can’t afford that,” instead ask, “What do I need to afford that?”
4. Address Knowledge Gaps. If you’re looking to start a business or go for a promotion that requires a specific skill set, get the training you need to feel confident charging your asking price. If you’re looking for extra help, Liveyourdream.org provides access to the education and training you need to achieve your dreams.
5. Know Your Worth. Only you know the amount of training, expertise, and skill that goes into you and your work. Learn how to quantify that value and leverage it in hiring and promotion negotiations.
Britt Leigh is a freelance writer and writing coach based just outside of Philadelphia. She helps new,aspiring authors find their voice and write the stories of their dreams. Most of her free time is dedicated to writing for her website, Britt Leigh Writes and working on her second novel. She also volunteers with the Victim Services Center of Montgomery County as a Sexual Assault Counselor. The rest of her time belongs to two spoiled cats, a sweet bearded dragon, and a wonderful husband. Writing for LiveYourDream.org is an honor for her as she fulfills her passion for bringing female voices to the forefront of society. Follow her on Instagram @brittleighwrites