This post is part of the #WomenRockMoney Movement, a group of female personal finance bloggers who have come together to inspire more women to own their finances. Thanks to Chelsea for putting together this collaboration and the amazing homepage for the movement!
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! If for some reason you’ve missed the fact that I’m a huge feminist and am therefore all about this day (and month) of celebration of women, well…surprise! When Chelsea at Mama Fish Saves asked who wanted to be part of this collaboration, I couldn’t sign up fast enough. She asked us to write a post about our most important piece of money advice for women, and I didn’t want to add to the multitudes of how-to posts about fundamentals like the basics of budgeting (especially since I don’t budget… ?♀️).
While I was thinking, I realized there was an incredibly essential thing that I wish I’d known earlier: no one else cares about your money. You are the only one who does.
That sounds disingenuous, especially from someone who blogs about her money and certainly appreciates when people read what she writes. But let me explain.
Taking the first step
I didn’t start out knowing much about money. In fact, I was headed for a life of living paycheck-to-paycheck and constantly feeling anxious about never seeming able to get ahead since there was nothing left over at the end of the month. It’s a huge fault of our society that no one taught me how to be good with money, and that’s something that needs to change. But because it wasn’t something I learned anywhere in school and it wasn’t something anyone was going to randomly decide to teach me about someday, I decided to start figuring it out for myself.
And therein lay the crucial first step.
No one was going to tell me the information I needed to know about responsibly spending and saving money without my asking them; I hadn’t asked because I hadn’t known that I knew nothing about money or that there were things I desperately needed to learn. All of the information was available to me via Google, but in order to know that, I first had to decide I was at a place where I wanted to learn about it. And then I had to ask for it.
Google not only introduced me to the world of personal finance in general, but it also taught me about financial independence. For someone with anxiety about money (among many other things), the idea of getting to a place where I was no longer reliant on a paycheck from someone else was life-changing.
I made some changes right then, but it took me a very long time to make any that were substantial enough to get myself on the path to FI. Why? I was too busy reading ALL OF THE BLOG POSTS and absorbing all of the information. There was so much to learn that it was overwhelming, and that continues to be the case: too many excellent blog posts, not enough time to read all of them!
But eventually I realized that cramming all of the financial knowledge in the world into my head wouldn’t in itself make a difference. Nothing changed until I decided to stop just reading and start also doing. After probably about six months of reading personal finance blogs, I finally started tracking my spending in December of 2016. I started this blog a few months later to hold myself publicly accountable and that act has forced me to make changes. I saved 43% of my income last month, which would’ve seemed impossible last year.
You are the one in charge of your money
Reading all of that advice certainly helped me make these changes, and I continue to read and learn more every day. But even if it were possible to somehow be in possession of all of the financial knowledge in the world, no one can implement it for you. It’s up to you to take charge.
I’m on my second job out of college and I am just now in the process of negotiating a raise, which is the first time in my life I’ve ever asked my employer for more money. Not negotiating my salaries when I accepted both offers is completely my own fault, and it happened for many reasons, a lack of knowledge about how to do so and a feeling of “who am I to dare ask for more money?” among them. I knew in theory that I should’ve negotiated but I didn’t feel like it was my place to ask. And because my employers sure didn’t care about my salary as much as I do, I’ll never know how much more I could’ve been making off the bat.
It’s vitally important that women negotiate their first salary (oh hey there, wage gap), and I’m not the only one saying that! But in addition to the monetary value of that negotiation, that process gives you the invaluable skill of knowing the importance of advocating for yourself and how to do so. I could beat myself up about not having learned this lesson earlier, but at least I’m finally doing so now. I’m fighting for myself because HR isn’t going to see me doing a great job and automatically give me more money in recognition. If I don’t advocate for myself, no one will.
No one else cares, and that’s a good thing
You know how we spend way too much time wondering what other people are thinking about us, but others are too busy worrying about themselves to pay too much attention to us? The same thing goes with spending money.
I’ve never worn makeup on a daily basis, partly because my mother didn’t and therefore never taught me how to use it, but also because I’ve always been too damn lazy to learn (who wants to wake up any earlier than they have to?). For years I worried about whether I should start wearing it for the sake of appearances: were all of my girlfriends going to think I was weird? (Were guys going to think I was weird or ugly for not wearing it??) If my friends all wore makeup every day, why shouldn’t I do it, too? Was not wearing it going to affect my chances of getting a job?
It turns out no one cares that I don’t wear it, and that I don’t therefore spend a significant amount of my income on buying makeup products (the pink tax is real).
This is not by any means me implying that women shouldn’t spend money on or wear makeup (or other traditionally feminine things) if it makes them happy; I enjoy plenty of traditionally feminine things myself, and I’ll fight for any woman’s right to do the same! But I spent years of my life worrying about not fitting in with my friends because of what I wasn’t putting on my face, and while I do still expend way too much energy on caring what other people think of me in real life, I’m better at it now. I wish I’d known earlier that no one cares about any aspect of my life as much as I do.
Likewise, I don’t particularly care what anyone does with their money on a personal level (obviously there are broader implications for how the ultra-wealthy and how heads of companies spend money, but I’m not getting into that). There are some nice houses in my neighborhood and sometimes, out of morbid curiosity, if I see a “for sale” or “for rent” sign I’ll go look up how much it costs and then laugh helplessly; I’ll walk past an expensive car and wonder if someone can actually afford it or if they’re actually drowning in debt. But ultimately I don’t care, and half a second later the thought’s vanished as I continue about my day.
No one cares how I spend my money, and no one cares how you spend yours. Obviously that’s not exactly the case for those of you ladies who have partners, since clear money communication and both partners having a role in their financial life are a huge factor in a successful relationship. But since I’m single, at the end of the day, the only person I have to answer to is myself. That’s incredibly freeing! So I spend on what makes me happy (well, I’m working on it, anyway) and don’t worry about how society thinks I should spend my money.
Personal finance is personal
I try to focus here on telling my own story more than offering sweeping, prescriptive advice. When I talk about what I’m going to do with my tax return or the money I earn from my part-time job, I am talking very specifically about my own situation and not insinuating that you should do exactly the same thing with your tax return. One of the most fascinating things about being in the financial independence sphere is reading about other bloggers’ spending and seeing how it differs from mine. We all have different backgrounds, income levels, and priorities, and therefore our money stories don’t all look the same.
Whenever I say personal finance is personal, I mean that in the “your money isn’t going to look like my money” sense. But it’s also true that since you’re the one who cares the most, it’s personally up to you to learn how to manage your money.
For years I coasted along, spending money on things I thought I was supposed to as a young professional in her first Big Girl job, and I didn’t know that there was so much out there I needed to learn. Which is why it depresses me when I see statistics like “only 22% of US women can answer three key finance-related questions correctly.” I very easily could’ve been among that 78% of women who knows nothing about personal finance if my money anxiety hadn’t pushed me towards figuring it out for myself.
So much good happens when women are in control of their money, and this International Women’s Day, I’d love to see some of these depressing statistics about women and money start to change for the better.
So, ladies, let’s get out there and rock our money, because no one’s going to do it for us.
Want to get in on the conversation? Share a way you’ll improve your financial position this year with the hashtag #WomenRockMoney, and head over to the landing page to read the 40+ (!!!) other 42 posts from my co-collaborators.
16 Replies to “No one else cares about your money: a #WomenRockMoney post”
I agree, we all need to know how to look after our money – the head in the sand approach doesn’t work.
Analysis paralysis gets me every time. I tend to overanalyze my choices or thoughts before taking action. Thanks for the reminder to just focus in and act! Happy International Women’s Day, Erin!!!
I love this so much, Erin! I feel like a lot of your experience with money so far mimics my own in a lot of ways. I didn’t negotiate my first two jobs out of school and I know I lost out on at least $3000 because of it. I couldn’t negotiate my salary in my current job (Union environment), but you better believe I was so prepared to, in part because of awesome personal finance blogger’s like you who helped convince me that I’m allowed to ask for more.
Whenever I talk about money challenges from a woman’s perspective, Mr.TA doesn’t really get why it’s so difficult (but he’s always incredibly supportive). And I think that speaks to the fact that a lot of people don’t understand that woman are often raised in an environment where money wasn’t something women talked about. Here’s to changing that dialogue!
Oh man, the spending way too much time reading blog posts and not doing was exactly me. I’m just 8 months behind you on the blogging accountability, but amazing how much that turned things around.
You are your own best advocate, and best friend! In addition to being better with money, I’m also trying to be more compassionate with myself!
I know this post is directed at women but I think there’s a lot in your post that applies to everyone.
So many people come out of high school and college not knowing what to do, so the easiest thing is just to fit in with what everyone else is doing.
Taking control of your financial life is probably one of the best steps someone can take early on, which can also lead to so many more avenues of personal growth.
Great post! ?
Analysis paralysis. is so common and has gotten me many a time. Along with perfectionism. I’m doing a lot better these days, moving forward quicker and it’s paying off.
Woah, you’re negotiating a raise? Awesome!
I negotiated a raise last year for the first time and it was one of the most difficult conversations in my professional career… all to get an extra 6K (and because I had a job offer elsewhere as leverage). Even thinking back to the conversation makes me cringe, but I had to do it because you’re right – I was the only one that cared. The crazy thing is that all it took was a one-hour phone call to get approved, and it’s already set me up better for my next raise/promotion.
There’s absolutely an issue of lack of financial education and definitely some resource overload, but when it comes down to it, all we can really do is share our own stories in hopes that others can learn from them.
Also, loving your travel pics ?
Love the message in this, Erin! I, too, had to look out for myself. As a young single person with no financial role models, I wasn’t going to magically improve with money unless I did something about it. Money is totally a feminist issue, and I wish lots of us didn’t shy away from it.
And yes! Analysis paralysis is totally a real thing. That’s why I hope with blogs like ours that we can help people understand it’s not quite as complicated as it all seems. Let’s stop excluding people by writing a bunch of jargon or complex terms that push people away.
Girl YES! This is so important! I would love to be able to go back a decade and beat this into past-me’s brain with a stack of 20s.
Like Young Knight said – booyah and this is a great post! I find it ironic that when I started investing I kinda lacked information. I went to Money magazine in the mid 90’s, the internet was pretty thin then. It did teach me valuable things, but they also tried to sell me high-priced funds and get into chasing stocks.
Then you made the point that when you started learning – especially with blogs, there was almost too much information! We went from information scarcity to overload in a relative short time frame. I’ll take the latter though, any day.
Great points! It is so true that nobody really gives a damn about what you do with your money or how much you earn (until it affects them in some way).
I am happy to see other lazy bums who eschew makeup as well! I am far too lazy for that kind of thing!
Fantastic post Erin. This reads so closely to my own financial experiences. The analysis paralysis is real. I read Ramit Sethi back in 2015 – and then didn’t do anything with it for like a year and a half. Then stumbled on PF blogs, read for months – and again, didn’t do much of anything. Finally started making small changes and it has snowballed ever since!
I also stuck my head in the sand for a lot of my adulthood, i.e. when I was a grad student and I knew I was spending more than I was making so I just ignored it all and figured I would deal with it when I graduated. Ughh. Getting control of my finances in the last year has been one of the most empowering things I have ever done. Now, I talk about money with my mom, my sisters, my best friends, my colleagues – basically, any woman who will listen because I want them to have access to this same level of empowerment over their futures.
A little late to the party, but this post is fantastic.
I like to term this thought as Financial Responsibility. I believe, as women if we fight for our rights, then we also need to stand up to the responsibilities that being financially aware and independent brings about.
This holds true for every woman, single or married. With great power comes great responsibility. Money is synonymous with power and being responsible with it follows from that too. When we are responsible with our money, is when we will be able to truly unleash the power of money.
Excellent post, Erin.
I totally agree with you that there’s a huge missing piece in our educational system that results in kids learning all sort of things that they never end up using in “real life” and what’s critically important – sound money management – isn’t being taught. And because it’s such a sensitive issue, parents aren’t passing on the information to their kids either (because, so many of them are also just winging it).
I guess we’re just supposed to pick it up from osmosis. Or the street. Ha!
Well done for jumping in at a relatively young age and taking charge of your money and not caring about what others think of you and your lifestyle.
It looks like you’re living the life!
I had to laugh about the “too busy reading all the blog posts” comment – it’s little like an ant hill that you’ve poked a hole in huh! So good! But ya gotta DO TOO. 🙂