Myths about how folks interact with money often get in the way of them having a healthy relationship with it. For a few examples, the notion that women are “bad at it,” or can’t save it, or don’t deserve to have it have contributed to discrimination and obstacles to independence. But despite significant strides that have been made to dismantle those aforementioned untruths over the years, for many folks who identify as women, personal finance remains scary, confusing, and something not to be broached without the baseline knowledge many don't have. That's why among the top pieces of advice from financial expert Tori Dunlap of Her First $100K is abandoning these misconceptions—along with the guilt and shame they perpetuate.
In this week’s episode of The Well+Good Podcast, host Taylor Camille speaks with Dunlap, author of Financial Feminist: Overcome the Patriarchy's Bullsh*t to Master Your Money and Build a Life You Love, about how to overcome harmful beliefs about your ability to manage money.
Listen to the full podcast episode here:
According to Dunlap, believing the trope that women are bad with money can function like a self-fulfilling prophecy. “We’ve been told for so long that money is not for us and that we’re bad at it,” she says.
"The vast majority of these narratives have been perpetuated to keep us playing small and to keep us controllable." —Tori Dunlap, CEO of Her First $100K
Buying into this trope reinforces the idea that women don’t deserve to have money or be in control of their own wealth because they’re likely to mess it up. But in reality, societal conditions and structures are working against them, telling them that the pursuit of wealth itself is bad. For instance, women have made less money than men since the beginning of time, and the reality of that alone upholds and perpetuates the false gendered "bad with money" myth. “This is even more nuanced and layered if you're a woman of color, if you are disabled, if you are a queer person…all of these systemic issues will and can and do affect how you manage your money,” Dunlap says.
Another effect of painting the pursuit of earning more money as gross, or crass, or immoral is that it obscures the freedoms that amassing it affords. “The vast majority of these narratives have been perpetuated to keep us playing small and to keep us controllable, because when you have money you are no longer controllable in a really beautiful way,” Dunlap says.
When you're conditioned to believe money is bad, and accumulating it connects to a moral miss, you might well be afraid to intentionally learn more. Enter: the self-fulfilling prophecy component of being bad with money. Without feeling confident about having constructive conversations about money, it's tough to figure out how to spend it strategically and, in general, make it work for you.
Two common effects of this ingrained myth include being afraid to engage with money (or even just comfortable with not doing it) to the point of avoidance or choosing to never spend at all. And Dunlap says neither scenario is connected to a healthy relationship with finances. “The answer is to spend money thoughtfully, focused on your values and without a side of guilt.”
So, where can you start in the pursuit of unlearning any "bad with money" ideals you might've accepted, even if subconsciously? Dunlap's advice includes acknowledging the fears and associated habits you’ve built around money and then unpacking them. From there, you can work to intentionally interact with your money, and make concrete, specific goals.
For more advice from Tori Dunlap about how to reframe your relationship with money and make it work for you, listen to the full episode.
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