“Our beliefs are the invisible ingredients in all our activities.”
I have a few women business friends who gather monthly to discuss goals, struggles and achievements. We serve as each other’s cheerleaders, coaches, and/or accountability partners.
Two of the women set goals a few weeks ago, so I texted them both to remind them and provide some moral support. They did the same for me, which meant I had to tackle a pile of random papers (you know what I’m talking about, business cards from networking events, notes from seminars, articles I meant to read 5 years ago, promotional notepads from expos, thank you cards received).
This pile resides in my office closet and haunts me every time I hang up my coat, which is regularly now that it’s January in Buffalo.
One of the file folders contains my enneagram; my personality profile created by Joan Graci of APA Solutions. I am “The Helper,” my primary motivation is social (I am a people pleaser, there, I said it), but my secondary motivation is economic.
They also included my DISC profile and I’m considered a person of “Steadiness” but have adapted to being an “Influencer.” My style of financial planning (a combination of economics, holistic wellness, spirituality and sociology) is a reflection of how I’m wired to love people and understand that they need money.
Another file folder contains a multitude of articles and references regarding pay inequality and related issues (such as maternity leave & divorce settlements) faced by women around the world. It is the one file I simply do not want to go through. There it sits, underneath the bag of Dove dark “office chocolates.”
- I’ve blogged about my feelings regarding equal pay, both as a women and as a financial planner.
- I wrote an article several years ago proposing that enforcing the Equal Pay Act would help Social Security, since Social Security is funded by payroll taxes (6.20% of earnings up to $128,400 in 2018). If someone earns more income, they pay more Social Security taxes. That would help Social Security stay afloat longer, right? I sent it to then-Senator Hilary Clinton.
- I started writing a book about women and money years ago, but put it on the back burner because I am too busy helping my clients navigate their financial lives.
Many of you reading this know that I perform this little survey when I’m presenting somewhere. I invite people to “vote” with a penny for the cup that represents what they think money means.
- When I’m at a business event (both genders), most of the pennies go into the “money means freedom” cup.
- Curiously, at a senior apartment complex, the cup with the most pennies was “money means greed.”
- Often, when I’m at a spiritual event, I hear, “None of the above. Money means nothing.”
- When I’m at a women-related event, most of the pennies end up in the “money means security” cup.
I just started reading A Course in Miracles. The first lesson instructs you to look around and name everything you see and say that it doesn’t mean anything.
This was an easy task with,
- “My bed does not mean anything,”
- “The window does not mean anything,”
- and “This pen does not mean anything.”
But the task became more challenging with “This nail polish doesn’t mean anything,” because my nails are currently painted red in memory of my Mom who always had lovely red nails. This nail polish does mean something, it’s a symbol; it communicates something meaningful about me and about someone I loved. Money can be a symbol, too, and that’s where we can get into trouble if we’re not careful.
My husband was driving us to lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant yesterday when it dawned on me:
Most women need a sense of security
and, for women, money typically means security.
Because of this, some women may accept lower salaries because they may believe they’re safer doing so.
Stick with me.
In the event their employer had to cut staff,
if they earn less,
they’re less likely to lose their job and more likely to have some financial security.
Plus many women fear negative judgment; asking for more money (they believe) makes them look greedy. They will err on the side of caution because (they believe) that’s where security lives.
Income inequality is a complex issue because most people are really weird about money; having it and not having it. Money means different things to different people. We assign meaning in an attempt to understand patterns in life and to justify a system of rewards or consequences. We develop opinions of what should be done with money based on what money means to us; not always realizing that it means something different to others. I once overheard a conversation that went something like this: “I don’t know why she even works, her husband has a good job.” Well, maybe that women wants to be in control of her own income for any number of reasons and you know what, she doesn’t need our permission or approval.
Because everyone views money differently, no solution to pay inequality, welfare, or taxes will work for or make sense to everyone. I ask that we all please stop making pay inequality about women’s inability to negotiate higher salaries and understand that they may be making financial decisions based on their need for some level of financial security. Most women are overwhelmed as it is and don’t need one more thing to feel inadequate about.
Need more than a blog post to navigate your finances? Let’s talk!