I recently listened to a speech by Melody Hobson. She is the President of Arial Investments, a black owned wealth management firm based in Chicago. The speech was a TED talk about financial literacy and in it, she referenced a quote she’d read once in a magazine that really resonated with me. The quote, by Judy Collins, stated, “As women, we are raised to have rescue fantasies, and I’m here to tell you no one is coming.”
I immediately started thinking about the stories that were read to me as a child. Stories about the princess who stays sleeping until the prince wakes her with a kiss, or slips on the right size shoe to save her from her circumstance of indentured servitude. These are the stories that can potentially stunt our growth when we subconsciously carry them into our adult life, and fail to remember that they are only fairytales.
“As women, we are raised to have rescue fantasies, and I’m here to tell you no one is coming.”
I began to think about how these fairytales impact us, especially when it comes to our finances and what we as women can do to create our own rescue stories. While there are many steps that take you toward financial wellness, here are three critical steps that you can start with.
1. Choose to Take Control
No one can have a greater impact on changing your circumstance than you. It starts by making the conscious decision to make changes to your money habits that will place you on the path to meeting your personal financial goals. Establish individual goals that are specific to your desires and needs. As life events present themselves such as career, family and children, you can revise your goals and modify your strategy.
Once you make this important decision for yourself, seek supportive resources and professionals to equip and educate you further.
2. Stay the Course
It takes time to establish a new habit and there’s no promise that this will be easy. Keeping a journal is a good way to reinforce the strategies that you’re establishing to meet your goals. In fact, introducing a new strategy for yourself may very well be one of the most difficult things that you do. It’s important however, to stay the course.
It may feel tempting to give up or slip back into old habits, but your chances for success increase with each day that you stick with it. You may also need to make adjustments to your spending so that you stay within your daily, weekly and monthly living costs. Automate payments; even payments that you make to yourself. Ensure that you are paying yourself and establishing separate accounts for paying bills, building a savings and an emergency fund.
3. Live Within Your Means
I feel that a critical part of re-writing your fantasy story and bringing your dreams to life, is taking stock of what is truly real for you right now. Do an assessment of your basic living needs and financial responsibilities. Develop a working budget to gain better authority over what’s coming in each month, and what’s going out to pay bills and other obligations.
Pay attention to your credit score and debt levels with an intention to constantly improve them.
It will be far more beneficial for you in the long run to be honest about your expenses and begin living within the parameters of what you can afford. As your income and savings grow, you will be in a better position to adjust your budget and pursue those very things you wanted to acquire, when you were living outside of your means.
Finally, ensure that you are always educating yourself. Whether you choose to take a course, read a book or purchase a program, education is the key to success in any field, and finance is no exception.
The stories we were told as kids where great because they entertained us. In our adulthood, we have the ability to write our own stories and choose to be the heroines of our own financial success!