It’s a fact that professional women earn less than their male counterparts and have lower levels of financial literacy despite earning more college and graduate degrees. There’s much debate over the cause of the gender wage gap. Experts believe there are a myriad of reasons that contribute to this: women take breaks from their careers to have children, women may choose part-time work or lower stress (and lower paying) jobs to be home more, and unfortunately, discrimination still plays a role.
As women, we have more power over our personal finances than we think we do. We just need to own that power. We may not be able to change the gender wage gap overnight but if each of us take constructive steps to increase our own power and knowledge around the subject of money, and teach our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to do the same, the wage gap will be a relic of the past.
3 Keys to Owning Your Financial Power
1.) Improve your Relationship with Money.
You’ve probably not thought of it this way before, but you have a relationship with your money. If you’re in financial distress or aren’t making the income you desire, think about how you’ve been treating money. Honesty, respect, and positive attention are necessary in any healthy relationship. Are you honest with yourself about the state of your finances? Do you respect your money by keeping your cash, receipts, and bills neat and orderly? Are you spending regular time weekly or monthly managing your money? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to take steps to improve your relationship with money.
2.) Stop Undervaluing Yourself.
As women, we’re taught from a young age to put others above ourselves and to not be selfish. Then, we enter the workplace where competition is frequently valued more than collaboration. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want you to turn into a chest-beating egomaniac. However, by deflecting compliments, praise, and downplaying our achievements, we hurt ourselves professionally and economically.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, whether it’s more money or other perks. Many times we act as if we are going to be punished for asking for more money. If you don’t ask, the answer is already “no.” If you do ask, there is a 50% chance that you will get a “yes!” If undervaluing yourself is something you struggle with, I highly recommend reading Barbara Stanny’s book, Overcoming Underearning®: A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life.
3.) Increase Your Level of Financial Literacy.
“Knowledge is power,” isn’t just a cutesy saying; it’s the truth! What you don’t know about debt, investing, cash flow, taxes, and insurance will hurt you. For some reason, it’s not polite to talk about money and yet we’re supposed to know what the heck we’re doing with it. Because of this dynamic, many women feel shame and embarrassment around their lack of knowledge about money. Fortunately, there are many wonderful resources available today to learn about personal finance, including books, videos, podcasts, and online courses. I teach people about money for a living, and yet I still read or listen to ten money books a year. Why? Because all of us have room to come up higher!
Owning your financial power isn’t something that happens overnight; it’s a lifelong process. But it does start with a decision to become a money victor rather than a money victim. Which of the 3 steps to owning your financial power will you start working on this week?
Christine Luken is a Financial Lifeguard, speaker, and the author of “Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet.”
For resources on financial wellness or to contact Christine, please visit her website: