About that intricate relationship with money!
And when you have to remind yourself that it is not about the money
Money can be such a difficult topic. Just thinking about it makes me cringe sometimes. Growing up in a household where money was always a discussion didn’t help me develop a healthy relationship to it.
For women especially, money can be a tricky and emotional subject. Getting trapped between wanting to be independent, but not greedy. Fighting against existing patriarchal structures that have inhibited us from earning an equal salary. Being socialized to be polite and not pushy. This all makes it difficult for us to negotiate better salaries. But it also makes it difficult for us to negotiate our own prices as entrepreneurs.
For many men spending, investing, lending and borrowing of money are pure transactions. Money comes and goes. It is a necessary vehicle for moving forward and making a business grow. Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that men are better financial managers as research indicates. Women outperform male investors. They just have to take the leap and start taking control of their own finances.
In order to do so, it is important to understand that money is just a form of exchanging goods. Not more than that. I really want you to write that down. Now, I know that it might feel very different to you. And that’s why we are here today. I want you to change this uncomfortable feeling around money into understanding money for what it actually is.
Stop listening to the people around you.
Media, advertisement agencies, cultural beliefs, and socialization around us make us believe that we need to be rich in order to feel happy and successful. We need to be able to buy whatever our heart desires, even though in many cases it is not our heart that desires it, rather our brain that has been consistently exposed to the things that companies want us to buy.
I found it really interesting to see how the shopping habits of some of my clients have changed during the Covid lockdown; Many of us have re-discovered that there is actually very little we need in order to be content and happy. With the world starting to speed up again, it is important to find the right balance for yourself. I know that many of us want to support small business and the economy. But before you do that you need to support yourself.
That is an important step in taking power over money back. For some, money -or lack thereof – might be an urgent issue. I want to re-assure you that it will not stay that way forever if you continue moving forward. Don’t make the same mistakes that I made when I didn’t know how to pay for my electricity or food. Remember that no situation is permanent and the world continues to move. You just need to continue moving forward with it.
Throughout the years I have learned a couple of tricks that stop me from having anxiety attacks over my financial situation. I’ve found financial freedom through discipline and the principles of the Ziva Way, and love teaching it to my clients. I know that my tricks can help you too.
1. Establish your financial bar minimum
I know that I can survive on $1200 per month. When I lived in South Africa my minimum was $380. Everything extra was a bonus. What is your minimum?
In order to establish how much you need, you need to understand your spending. For one month track every expense. Write down everything in an excel sheet and make all essentials blue and leisure activities such as shopping, going out to restaurants, or having subscriptions in red. Don’t try to find reasons why your Hulu subscription is essential. It is not. New shoes are just essential if your old ones are broken and you need new ones for work. Otherwise, it is a desired expense. Be honest with yourself. This is an important step towards taking your own power back and understanding how much control you have over your own life. You are not doing this for me, you are doing it for yourself.
2. Make sure to save up
Knowing what your minimum is in order to stay afloat it is important because the rest should be going towards your savings. Make no excuses!! And here is my secret -and where the fun begins- Seeing your savings account grow can be a joyful experience.
Make sure that you establish a safety net. Once this savings account has at least 6 months of bar minimum savings you can sit down and relax for a moment. Because you made it. You have created your own safety net and it is yours.
This is your “Emergency Fund”, and it is really just for true emergencies such as losing your job, a broken car, health issues, necessary house repairs. Besides that: Do not touch this account by any means! This is your power account. It is what allows you to feel safe, secure and established. Once you have this account you have no reason for feeling anxious about your financial situation.
And don’t forget to continue feeding this account with smaller amounts once you have established your 6 months savings.
Create a second savings account that allows to you fulfill a dream: such as a new car, yoga teachers training, a MBA, or a camera to start your own photography business. Whatever brings you closer to what you want to achieve in life.
This is an essential rewards account. Whatever you do with this money it needs to help you get closer to your biggest goal or a crazy wild dream. A car might allow you to expand your business or apply for a job that has been out of your reach. A yoga teachers training will allow you to start a side business, or an additional university degree might open new career opportunities for you.
I call this an “Essential Rewards” account because once you reach that goal you will feel incredible. You are rewarding yourself by getting closer to the life that you want.
Create a third account and call it your “Pleasure Rewards” account. This is the most fun account, especially if you really don’t look at it for at least a year. Start funding this account with a small sum or move additional funds such as cash that you have received for your birthday, unexpected bonus, tax rebate, or even create your own reward-money system. For example, I am paying myself $10 every time I go out for a run. Running keeps me healthy and fit, but it really isn’t one of my favorite exercises. In order to stay motivated I pay into my pleasure rewards account.
The pleasure rewards account is for expenses such as the shoes that you don’t need, the cocktail when you go out. Or the 5 star hotel when you travel. (By the way, I do consider travel as an essential reward because there is no better education than travel).
3. Understand money
What is most frustrating to me is the fact that many of us women are not being taught how to manage money and see money for what it is.
Money is an incredible system that allowed us to interconnect across the world. It allows us to trade with one another no matter where we are. At the same time it’s not always a fair system. Salaries, product prizes, or service costs are set subjectively and at times feel like randomly set numbers.
The good news is that you can play the money game to win and set your own price (of course within a specific margin). Negotiating your own salary increase or setting your price list as an entrepreneur isn’t the easiest thing. But it can be learned. Merel Van der Wouden is one of my favorite negotiation coaches for starting this process.
Make sure to do your research and speak openly with others about their salary and price list. Ladies, it is time to stop being ashamed when speaking about money and start supporting one another. There is no shame in earning a great salary: Don’t be shy about it, rather help others to achieve the same. But also don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and the opinion of other professionals. I am not saying ask your direct colleague but find someone that is doing a similar job and have a coffee with her.
Another way of finding out if you are underpaid is to check online for the average salary for your position.
4. Equality and fairness
One of the things that disturbs me the most is when women whine about being paid equally but then turn around and start negotiating down the price of services offered by other women. STOP!!!!
We need to stop blaming others if we are not ready to treat each other fairly. I see this so often. Women preaching one thing but then doing exactly the opposite. If you want to be treated equally, you need to treat others equally (and start raising kids the way you want to be treated by your partner).
If we want equal pay, we need to start paying each other fairly and equally. Stop bargaining with your sisters, walk the talk, and pay the women around you what they are worth. I can assure you that many are worth a lot more than their male counterparts.
5. There is enough for everyone
Does that surprise you?! Well, I might be moving a bit into a utopian view. Technically there is enough money for all of us to thrive equally, but we don’t live in a world in which this is possible. However, we can certainly create our own small pockets of equality for each other. #Communityovercompetition is more than just a hashtag, it is a belief that it is important for you to focus on your direct environment and the people around you. You can create a life and a financial situation that can give you the freedom you are seeking. I am not saying that you will have your five-million dollar house and a yacht. Honesty, I doubt that this is actually what would make you happy. But you can find financial security and flexibility when you work hard and build other women up too.
Stop competing with others and comparing yourself to other women’s lives. First, this takes way to much of your time. Second, it stops you from focusing on what really matters. And finally, everyone is unique, and there is enough space for all of us.
PS: If you would like to learn more about negotiating, check out the following talk …