Have you ever felt lost, overwhelmed, judged or inadequate when it comes to how you earn, spend or manage your money? I certainly have.
I have spoken to many people who also feel this way, yet we do not openly talk about it. I think it is time we change that and shine some light on the issue.
Why am I so passionate about financially empowering people, particularly women? It comes from my own experience. I had what I was regularly told a successful career, especially for a woman (more on that another time).
But I felt judged as it was insinuated that being professionally successful must mean that I was a neglectful mother. On the flip side, if I did not accept an amazing career opportunity or promotion because of the sacrifice it would mean for my family, I was judged for not being ambitious enough and making it work.
What I learnt, however, is that it was not other people’s judgments that made me feel this way. It was my own. I was staying in my career for all the wrong reasons. I was miserable and had no direction I felt passionate about. I coasted along because my job brought financial security for my family.
I finally admitted that my career was not fulfilling. But giving up the high-paying finance role that I spent 19 years building was a daunting prospect.
It felt ungrateful, indulgent and selfish to even consider giving it up. I also told myself I did not want to waste my qualifications and years of experience. That was certainly part of it, but really the issue was risking the income I earned. The prospect of earning less or not being financially independent terrified me.
I always knew I had a scarcity mindset when it came to money but I never put in the effort or time to deal with it. It was one of the biggest issues holding me back from living a more fulfilling life.
When it came to risking my financial security, I felt paralysed. It scared me into doing nothing and persevering with a career I knew was not ticking all the boxes for me for far too many years.
But once I worked on my money mindset, I felt so much freer to make the changes and choices I knew would lead to a happier life.
And then I got thinking. If I – an experienced chartered accountant who loved numbers and maths, with the knowledge and skills to manage my own money and investments – felt this lost and fearful, how would it be for those who fear working with numbers and have no experience with spreadsheets and investments or were never taught money management skills?
I set about researching the subject and quickly found my passion. I spoke to friends, family and colleagues and found that many people admitted to feeling ashamed, overwhelmed, undereducated and unskilled when it came to managing their money.
But one demographic stood out: women from all nationalities, professions and education levels also felt this way. Studies told me that only 27 per cent of women learnt to manage money or invest in school while 47 per cent feel fear, inadequacy, anxiety and dread when the word “money” is mentioned.
Sadly, 81 per cent of women experienced negative stereotyping when dealing with financial advisers, banks or other money institutions. This equally angered and saddened me.
But it led me to finally find a career I would not only love but one in which I also feel like I am contributing something positive to the world in an area I feel passionate about: financial empowerment.
And this is why I do what I do. I want to empower people to use their money to boost their lives in a way that is personal and right for them as individuals. But it is not only about the individual.
Women live longer than men and studies in the US show women control between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of consumer spending. This means that women are in control of trillions of dollars in the US alone.
Women tend to use their money to support those around them. Wouldn’t it benefit everyone if the people in charge of that wealth felt more confident and empowered with this money?
And that is my mission: to help as many people as I can to not only lead happier and more financially fulfilling lives but also boost the positive rippling effect that it has on our communities and economies.
Carol Glynn is the founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.