This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Prudential and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
I felt privileged to be a part of a group of diverse women who agreed to sit for a conversation. A conversation about money. A long overdue conversation that went far deeper than I expected it to. After everyone shared so openly and honestly I walked away with these 3 important lessons.
1. We do not have live with shame because of errors in our past. There’s so much to adulting that we learn the hard way. While many of our parents were out working 3 jobs to earn money they weren’t around to teach us how to use or manage it properly. Making financial errors is painful and it can be done in so so so many ways. We may have overdrawn an account, fallen behind on payments, taken on too much debt, failed to save for retirement or college for our kids. All of which brings a lot of shame but living in shame doesn’t help to fix your situation. Planning does. Sometimes that means reaching out to people who can actually help but the feeling of being judged often holds us back and keeps us from getting out of our financial crisis. These women shared their struggles so openly and honestly that it inspired others to share theirs as well. So many women in the room experienced the same exact feelings and knowing you aren’t alone helps move past all of that shame and into a healthy relationship with money management.
2. When you live paycheck to paycheck, like many of us did growing up, you live in the now and worry about the how later. Our parents lived on hope and hard work but working harder doesn’t always equal financial success. Financial literacy and planning does. Understanding how money works makes our money work for us and not the other way around like we have been taught to believe. Everyone spoke of the admiration they had for their parent’s hustle but questioned if that hustle was necessary. Maybe with more guidance they would have had more opportunities to participant in their own lives instead of spending it to earn a paycheck. We might have been spared heartache if we had only known we could have planned ahead for common life events instead of taking on yet another job to fix it after the damage had been done. One of the most devastating things that happened to my family was my father dying when I was 5. He was our sole provider and that loss, beyond the incredible emotionally painful, was financially painful because it was never planned for. Who wants to think about that though? I’ve known that financially planning, since then includes life insurance. It’s such a difficult topic but one very important one that should be had. It gives you a piece of mind like you wouldn’t believe. There are so many options out there, too. Just look: The Value of All You Do
3. It is never ever too late or too early to take control of our finances. We have a wonderful opportunity to break a cycle and to create a healthy new one. It starts and ends with us as parents. Changing spending habits and learning how to create more stable ones take time but it’s critical because our children are watching. Let us take all the incredible lessons we learned from our parents and do even better because isn’t that what they worked so hard for? You see, many of us in the room were immigrants, too. My parents left Colombia to bring my sister and I to America for a better opportunity. When my father died in an accident my mother had to make a choice. Learn a new language and begin a new career with two young daughters of or go home to comfort and care. She chose to stay here and worked at least 2-3 jobs at a time to rebuild what she had lost and we watched as she overcame every seemingly impossible hurdle. She had a goal and achieved it, albeit delayed. I do my best to honor their sacrifice by learning and growing and thriving.
Career, family, and other day-in, day-out commitments can consume every minute of your time if you let them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. So many resources are available to help women remain physically, mentally, and financially fit. The first step is to be willing to accept the help to take care of yourself and your financial health. Find more here: Taking care of yourself and your financial health
On an even more personal side note: I felt especially bummed out when I heard so many of the other parents talking about the college saving’s plans they had started as soon as their children were born. Well, mine are 8.5 and 10 and I really hope they do well and get scholarships because life’s circumstances held me back from being able to start or keep any sort of savings BUT that doesn’t mean I’m not going to look into what it is I can do right now. All we can do is our best and right now I’m doing what I can to get informed. Here’s some info they shared that gave me a glimmer of hope I can still be proactive so late in the game:
Mostly, I learned that talking about money doesn’t have to be taboo or mysterious or out of our reach. It’s a fact of life we must all deal with. We have the power to create a new conversation about it without fear or shame. I am thankful for the women and young ladies I got to share the couch with for one night and hope it inspires other women to do the same. We walked in as strangers and walked out #WomenInspired!