What is your relationship with money?

Many of us, especially women, have been socialised to think about money in terms of it being good or bad, wanting it and spending it ,(usually) being bad! Are you familiar with the adage that “money is the root of all evil?

Maybe, just maybe, how we think about wealth might be holding us back from having wealth - Richard Templar in The Rules of Wealth.

Many of us, especially women, have been socialised to think about money in terms of it being good or bad, wanting it and spending it ,(usually) being bad!  Are you familiar with the adage that “money is the root of all evil?

At a recent Women Professionals Network event dubbed “Women and Money”, I heard some very interesting statement about money. Some participants affirmed that money is a tool to get what they want or need. Others would not allow money to control them or cloud their judgment. The more daring admitted that it is rather nice to have money, lots of it!  Pleasure, comfort and peace of mind (however fleeting) can be bought with money.

A controlling boyfriend

My favourite of all time was this answer to the question, what is your relationship with money: “To me, money is like a controlling boyfriend!” Too hard to manage! However much I love it, my instinct seems to be to get rid of it ASAP.” This may fall in the ‘money is bad’ category, but there is a lot of depth in this sentiment. This may sound a little outrageous, but if we are honest, this dilemma resonates with quite a number of us. The need to have money is so great but when we get some we throw it around as if it is literally burning our fingers.

Care and nurturing instincts

In response to a question on “what would you do with the money if you won a $1 million lottery”, there were equally interesting responses at the table where I was seated. One would tithe 10 per cent, hire a financial adviser and set up a charity. Another would open high interest trust funds for her two sons and live off the interest. Only one, a younger one, would spend 20 per cent to travel to all the dream destinations she has wanted to visit and invest the rest in diverse products. Sensible plans all round! Although tithing and setting up charities might be limited to Christians and those who are committed socially, there is a certain thread running through the answers. The answers reaffirm women’s care and nurturing instincts and the need for security tends to override the rush to make money and accumulate wealth.  The World Economic Forum global gender gap contends that there is evidence that women tend to seek security and do not like to take risks. Being risk averse, women are also good payers.

Unfortunately, statistics show that women are still far behind men in financial inclusion. The Rwanda FINSCOPE 2017 report reveals that there is a significant gender gap in financial inclusion, especially in terms of formal inclusion (14 per cent); that is in uptake of financial services from banks and other regulated institutions. Women are ahead in small-scale products like Mobile Money and Tigo Cash, SACCOS and informal savings and credit mechanisms such as ibibina. But when it comes to taking loans from SACCOS, men are still well ahead.

A wake up call

This is not meant to reinforce the many stereotypes about women and money. It is rather meant as a wake-up call for women that we do not have to conform to the stereotypes; that women are as able as the next man to make and manage money and wealth. It has been found that women’s greater uptake of financial products and services yields a number of development benefits, including accumulation of economic assets at household and enterprise levels, increased household well-being and reduced vulnerability of households to shocks and emergencies. So what is the advice from the professionals?

Know your worth and claim it

Another common wisdom is that women tend to shy away from asserting their worth and demand what is due to them, especially money. A good example is during job interviews.  Many women will be too shy or afraid to ask for the top salary, irrespective of their excellent qualifications and experience, afraid that if they ask for too much they will not get the job. It is likely that many shied away from applying for the top job in the first place.  The same seems to apply when negotiating a grade or promotion they deserve, or even the right deal in business. The advice from the top women professionals on the panel was “know your worth and claim it!” Before you go for a job interview or business meeting, do your research. Get information on the institution, its organisational and salary structure. Be fully aware of what you are bringing to the table and claim what you deserve, confidently.”

Enjoy your SMARTIE Goals

Another pearl of wisdom was to “separate dreams from you goals”. It is quite fine to dream big and aim high. But when it comes to planning and setting goals, they must be SMARTIE! We all recall, I hope, about SMART goals from our strategic planning lessons. One expert panelist added two principles to this time-honoured formula: inspired and emotionally connected.

Sustainable

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-bound

Inspired

Emotionally connected

Do what you love, what inspires you and what you are emotionally committed to. It’s a sure formula for success.

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