I’ve decided that “Be brave with money” is one of my major goals for 2018.
This goal was inspired by the realization that while I’ve consistently spent less money than I’ve made, I’ve never felt like I had a handle on long-term saving, investing, or budgeting. Frankly, I’ve felt scared of money.
As I reflected about my frustrations and challenges with managing my finances, I was reminded of Denise Duffield-Thomas’ work. She’s a money mindset mentor whose goal is to normalize wealth for women. I had the pleasure of seeing Duffield-Thomas speak in Dallas last fall, and much of what she said resonated deeply with me.
According to Duffield-Thomas, one of the challenges women face when it comes to attaining wealth is that we haven’t seen it modeled.
My mother has been a school teacher for over 40 years. While she has done very well for herself, it’s safe to say that she didn’t become a teacher for the money. She’s motivated by her love of teaching and her commitment to educate the next generation rather than raking it in on her teacher’s salary. Her mother, in turn, wanted to work, but my grandfather discouraged it, so my grandmother volunteered as a docent for the local art museum.
Becoming more aware of this context helped me understand my relationship with money and the guilt I feel about wanting more of it. If two of the women I respect most haven’t focused on making money, what does it say about me and my commitment to the causes I care about if making money is a priority?
My mother is vehemently supportive of my business and a constant source of encouragement in pursuing professional and financial success. Still, I find myself feeling guilty or embarrassed for my desire to make money, which, as you might imagine, isn’t exactly conducive to entrepreneurship.
Duffield-Thomas encourages us to be role models for the next generation. She says, “Our job is to normalize wealth for women – to make it ok for other women, too.” That framework allows me to push beyond the message that it’s selfish to care about money and that I should be doing my work for purely altruistic reasons.
Instead, I want to be brave about money. I want to model a healthy money mindset for my niece and all the little girls who look up to me – to let them know that it’s not just ok to make money, but to show that wealth allows us to have a greater impact on the world around us. Thinking about money in that context, I’m starting to become excited about it.
As Duffield-Thomas says, “Women with big hearts who want to help people and make money will save the world.” Personally, more money would allow me to stress less about month-to-month finances and focus on passionately pursuing both the volunteer and paid work that meaningfully affect change.
It would allow me to invest more resources as a philanthropist on the issues that matter most to me. Just look at what’s happened with the creation of TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. It’s a 15.5 million dollar fund (and counting) started by women in entertainment to subsidize legal support for lower-income people who have experienced sexual misconduct in the workplace. That fund couldn’t have happened if the women who started it hadn’t amassed wealth in their own careers.
While it’s less comfortable, my desire to make money doesn’t have to be altruistic. Getting comfortable with increasing my income would also allow me to travel, buy myself silly treasures, and spend time with people I love. Part of a healthy money mindset means I don’t need to feel guilty for that.
I do still feel guilty on occasion, but I’m working on it. In 2018, I’ll begin my newfound lifelong goal to be brave with money. I will:
- Set and work toward a specific financial goal for the year.
- Track money more closely.
- Open a new investment account and increase savings.
- Have difficult conversations about money.
- Maintain an abundance mindset without being frivolous.
One week into the new year, I’m genuinely excited about my goal. We’ll see how I feel this time next year, but I’m cautiously optimistic the bravery will continue.