The best way to start off on our journey to financial autonomy and freedom is with this piece of insight: We’re not going it alone. Money is universal and ubiquitous, a cornerstone of the economy we all live in. However – or downright because of that – we don’t talk about it nearly enough. Which is absolutely crazy, when you think about its fundamental role and everyday importance.
“You just don’t talk about money.”
This is why it’s oftentimes difficult to tackle the topic of money and finances. At the very least, because money is still a taboo topic for many of us. That’s neither helpful nor healthy. And there’s only one way to break through that taboo wall: We have to start talking openly about money. To have conversations and to support each other. And here’s really the great thing about it: We can learn from each other!
Here are a couple recommendations to getting you started:
Start with yourself! Take the time and space you need to explore your own personal relationship with money. Ask questions and be curious! Get informed, gather information, explore, be open, and above all, be critical. That’s the only way you’ll be able to mold yourself, change, and…grow!
Where does your outlook on money come from?
Who was it that instilled something in you about it and shaped your attitude?
What do you associate with money? Something positive? Or something negative?
Has it been your experience that you have to work hard for money? Or have you been able to have a carefree attitude? How did you feel when you thought about others in this context when you were a kid? For instance, in thinking about people who had a lot of money when you and your family weren’t so well off?
You can extract your outlook on money from your answers to these questions. It probably lies somewhere between skin-and-bones scarcity and blossoming abundance. The various perspectives are very important, because the first impression…sticks. It carves itself and your relationship with money in for a lifetime.
Women and money
It’s notable that many women deal with financial issues too late or even not at all. Here’s what’s really important about that: Women earn on average considerably less money than men. In Germany, the difference is around 19%. Even with technically equal qualifications, women earn 6% less than men – in the *same* position! As a result, the amount of their income can fluctuate greatly and should be well budgeted, not least because the fluctuations have a direct effect on retirement.
The average lifespan for women is longer than for men. That means they have to spread their savings over a longer period of time in retirement, thus either spending less each month during retirement or going into retirement with more saved. Any way you look at it, financial planning and precautions are extremely important!
Life expectancy is the key phrase. It’s not improbable that a woman will become a widow and suddenly have to handle her own finances very late in life. Many women spend decades taking for granted that they’re safe, leaving all the money issues and decisions to their partner. Even if he handles everything fantastically and such that they both benefit, the woman is left there alone after his passing, suddenly having to take care of herself and her finances. So better get going in time!
Common behavior patterns of women in the context of finances are:
- We think we’re not numbers people…
- We don’t trust ourselves!
- We hope that the money issues will sort themselves out somehow.
- We deal with money much too late or not at all.
- We don’t talk about money and investing, as that’s taboo.
- We don’t ask any questions about money even though that’s the only way to learn something new.
- We don’t seek out financial advice, as it seems to arduous, too cumbersome, too tedious – and because we think everyone else would know more than we do anyway.
- We do save money, but we don’t invest it – and we just accept that inflation markedly reduces our wealth over the course of time.
One thing leads to the next, and before we know it, we’re in a cycle of avoidance, silence, and indecision. The best way to get back out: Let’s talk about it! Let’s share with each other and open ourselves to change! Your relationship with money and finances is a long and very exciting journey. If you chop it up into little steps rather than shying away from the entire thing, you will learn, live, and experience many wonderful things along the way. Promise!
Here we go! Set yourself 3-5 tangible financial goals. Find yourself a nice empty notebook and jot them down. By hand! Use the following guidelines to help you:
Clear and precise
Formulate your financial goals as clearly and precisely as possible. “Improve my financial situation and get insanely rich” sounds really great, but it’s pretty…ambiguous. Write it like this instead: “Pay off my loan by the end of next year.”
Formulate it such that you can measure your goal! Example: “I’m going to start saving 300 euros a month right away for my next vacation” or “negotiate a 25% pay raise by the end of October.”
Make sure there’s something you can actually do immediately to reach your goal. Write out what you can do every week and every month to get one step closer to your goal. It doesn’t matter how small the step is or seems. The main thing is that you take it!
Dream big! And set yourself challenging yet realistic goals along the way.
Set yourself deadlines and define time frames. Write down when you want to have achieved the goal along with the intermediate steps you’ll need along the way…and by when! What are you going to do weekly, monthly, and quarterly on the way to your financial goal?