How women can help to break their ‘money silence’
Money can be a difficult topic for people to talk about. For something that can have such a significant impact on our lives, we should feel more comfortable discussing it openly. This idea of “money silence” is what fuels the work of Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert.
Kathleen believes that our reluctance to talk about money can result in a variety of problems within our personal and professional lives. By being more open about our finances we could instead create greater intimacy in our relationships and make more informed financial decisions.
Kathleen campaigns to break down the barriers we have formed to discussing our finances. She is particularly vocal about how women can enjoy this and how following her advice could lead you to a happier, more financially secure life.
We spoke to Kathleen recently to find out more about her work, so read on for her expert advice on how to foster a healthy relationship with your finances.
Break barriers by breaking your money silence
Kathleen told us about how “there is a mixed message our society gives women when it comes to managing money and accumulated wealth.”
Women are should be financially independent adults, but at the same time, the myth of men as providers and women as passive caregivers perpetuates the idea that “it isn’t sexy or seen as desirable” for a woman to be profit-motivated.
The assumption that women aren’t good with money, or that they can’t have an interest in financial management or investment opportunities, is further evidence of this outdated paradigm. By breaking their money silence women can help dismantle these kinds of stereotypes.
The benefits of taking control of your financial narrative aren’t purely social. Improving your relationship with money can also lead to improvements in your financial situation.
According to Kathleen, harmful stereotypes of women result in financial discrimination, from the gender pay gap to lack of access to credit and business capital. These issues can be addressed if acknowledged and actively disputed. Breaking your money silence means being able to raise your voice to create awareness and combat the financial inequalities women face.
Improve your relationship with money through self-reflection
Finding your voice in financial matters starts with acknowledging that money can be a very personal and emotional topic.
Concerns about money can have a real impact on mental health. A study conducted by mobile bank N26 found that financial anxiety impacts the mental health of almost 9.5 million UK adults. The sleep of 32% of these is negatively affected by their anxieties, while a quarter of those aged 45 to 54 worry about their finances “constantly”.
You can begin to acknowledge and process uncomfortable thoughts about money through self-reflection. Kathleen advises that this kind of introspection can lead to “understanding your money history and the context in which you learned about finances.”
Considering what, when, and how your experiences have shaped your relationship to money gives you power over them and their influence on you. As Kathleen says, untangling this complex web of thoughts allows you to “understand your own story, and decide the parts of that story you want to keep and the parts that story that you want to change as an adult.”
Engage in open and honest conversation
Once you’ve identified the roadblocks that can make talking about money difficult for you, it can be far less challenging to learn how to take part in productive money talks. This is the next step to breaking your money silence.
You may find engaging in discussions with your family and friends about casual expenses easier than launching straight into potentially awkward conversations with co-workers and employers about your salary or pension scheme. At first, it can also be easier to broach the topic with another woman, who is more likely to relate to your experiences.
Approach each conversation from a place of no judgement, empathy, and honesty. This way, everyone involved will be more likely to feel relaxed and listened to.
This is an area many women can excel in. According to Kathleen, “women are more socialised to show their vulnerability and to connect with others,” and sharing their feelings with others can be “very useful for their emotional and financial health.”
Even if you are not a naturally open person you may be able to draw from previous experiences of having to talk about difficult situations to help you navigate conversations about money.
There is no one right way to talk about money. If you start by discussing light-hearted topics with people you’re comfortable around, it can be easier to figure out what approach works best for you. After all, breaking your money silence is not about a single conversation. Advocating for your financial wellbeing is a choice you get to make each day.
Breaking your money silence can result in better financial advice
Once you are more comfortable expressing your thoughts on money it is time to engage in conversations that can create real change in your life. When you are next dealing with your financial matters, you may feel far more at ease discussing money and making sure your financial needs are met.
But, knowing that you deserve a voice does not mean you cannot also ask for advice. According to a survey by Unbiased, less than 50% of people feel confident in making financial decisions by themselves. Part of engaging in productive conversations about money is knowing when to consult someone for an expert opinion.
Breaking your money silence can help you think about your needs more productively. You may even find it easier to express how and why money can help you meet them.
At this stage, it may be a good time to consider seeking out financial advice to support your decisions. Building a relationship with a financial planner who will actively support you and your choices can also help you feel more comfortable dealing with your money matters.
As you begin to reflect on your relationship with money and talk more openly about finances, it’s important to remember that this is a skill like any other. Breaking your money silence is an active choice that requires time to perfect, so don’t be put off by mental roadblocks or initial awkwardness. Although your thoughts on your finances can only change from within, this is a process you do not have to work on alone.
If you want to improve your relationship with money or get advice on how your finances can improve your life, please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0116 262 1414.