When we talk about being “good with money,” we’re not talking about being good at stock market analysis or being savvy about the finer points of the U.S. Treasury yield curve. We are not talking about knowing the latest happenings at the Fed or reading The Economist cover to cover every week. Being “good with money” has more to do with making confident financial decisions on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. It means understanding the kinds of decisions we need to make about money to live securely within our means, and it means doing so in a way that aligns our finances with our values, now and with an eye on a secure financial future.
At The Humphreys Group, we know that women are excellent stewards of their financial resources — plenty of data exist to support this — but even in the 21st century, we find part of our work is convincing clients to silence their “inner critics” so each woman can make the best use of her skills and intellect when it comes to their finances and their lives.
Why do our “inner critics” often speak so loudly to us? And how can each of us silence her own “inner critic” when it comes to money matters and financial planning?
Let’s face it: We live in a world designed by and for men, a “coded patriarchy” that includes most of our financial institutions and affects how those institutions decide to serve their female clients. And because most societies are largely designed to respond to the strengths, preferences and perspectives of men, women on a daily basis encounter the deeply entrenched societal and gender-based narrative that they are not “good with money.”
Since we’re living in a world in which the default definition of success is a male one, when women tell us they aren’t “good with money,” we believe they think this because there is a mismatch between how the dominant male-culture views financial success and how women view financial success.
To counter the dominant male mindset about women and money, our work in silencing “inner critics” begins with redefining what success looks like for women. We spend time with clients examining where they feel strong, knowledgeable and satisfied in their financial lives, and we also ask them to consider areas that may need improvement.
The result? We land on definitions of success that include more than financial wealth, and that also demonstrate how most of us are living our lives with a keen understanding of what it takes to be “good with money.” For many women, components that contribute to being “good with money” include:
- Doing work that contributes to our self-confidence and our financial security and plans
- Providing resources and finances for ourselves and families
- Contributing to our own and others’ well-being in myriad ways outside of money
- Serving as role models for others at home and as mentors in the workplace
- Securing our mental, physical and emotional health
- Building personal and professional networks and support systems
- Attaining safety and security by managing the physical spaces (bills, repairs, etc.) where we live
All of these factors are part of the equation of what it takes to be “good with money.” If women could design a world based on this view of what it takes to achieve financial success, we imagine the voices of our “inner critics” would fall silent.
To better understand what it might look like if women’s unique strengths, concerns and preferences were the financial norm, and to help silence your own inner critic, we invite you to download a free copy of our recent book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling the Truth about Women and Money”. We also encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group for further discussion about securing your financial well-being.