Women, Power, and Money

Laura Webb Article published in the October 2018 issue of WNC Woman


Money is power.

It‘s taken me a while to get comfortable with saying those words, and I’ve worked with people and their money for more than 23 years. Women seem particularly uncomfortable talking about money and even more uncomfortable admitting the power it has in their lives. But when you think about it, having the power that money gives you simply means having the capacity to influence the course of events. And who wouldn’t want the power to make their life turn out better? Having control of your money means having more choices and better options in life.

Money creates financial freedom, so think of what that freedom and that sense of stability might provide for you … the power to walk away from a terrible job and have the resources to find a new one that’s a better fit … the power to leave an abusive relationship with the means to make it on your own … the power to start your own business … the ability to support yourself in retirement without worrying that your children will have to take care of you. There’s no doubt, having money can make things easier, and knowing how to manage money can change your life.

Over the next few months, we’ll look at the 3 biggest mistakes women make when it comes to managing … or not managing … their money and what you need to do to capture your own money power and improve your financial future.

My passion around the topic is probably rooted in my own upbringing and my own Money Story.   Everyone has a Money Story whether they realize it or not. Frequently, we’re not even aware of how it shapes our views, decision-making and behavior. Most often, our story comes from our past.   It’s usually what we witnessed or experienced within our own family.

I’m not sure of my earliest recollection of money, but for some reason … and I can’t tell you why … I hardly ever asked my parents for money. Somehow, I thought if I asked my father for money, he had all the power and I was beholden to him. If I earned my own money, then I was in control.

I remember being on a trip to Boston with him after I was out of college. We were trying to find a parking spot to go to a Red Sox game and traffic was terrible. He told me to go left. I saw it was a one-way street going the wrong way and I didn’t take the turn. In a heated moment, he said “DO WHAT I SAY.” I looked at him and said, “You don’t pay for me anymore, so you can’t tell me what to do.” Very revealing.

In a way, I thought money represented freedom and that’s probably why I started working when I was 13 and never stopped… founding my own wealth management and investment consulting practice at 36.

Not to give you the wrong impression, my father was a wonderful and kind man. Because of him, I graduated from the University of North Carolina debt-free. When I was 30, I really learned I was more important to him than money when I called off my wedding with less than 2 weeks before the scheduled date. I was petrified of what he would say about all the wasted money. What he did was the greatest gift he could have given me. He deposited some money in my account and let me know I didn’t have to pay him back. It gave me the stability and power to take my time and figure out what was next.

So, that’s mistake number 1. Not understanding the impact of your “money story” and the influence it has on you and your relationship to money. Having a good grasp of how you view money will help you avoid the pitfalls women typically make when it comes to money.

So how do you figure out your own Money Story and how can you use that information to recognize and better understand your current relationship to money?

Start by asking yourself, “What’s my earliest memory around money?” How was it earned, how was it spent, and how was it saved? What memories do you have of your parents discussing money?

What do these memories reveal? Is money good or bad? Are people with money good or evil? Are they empowered by the choices available to them or are they petty and deceitful?

Your Money Story can reveal your money mindset, the prevailing attitude you have about your finances, how you make financial decisions, and your ability to accomplish your financial goals. Insecurities around money can cause you to be intimidated or have fear about having money or dealing with it. And usually those feelings create avoidance and procrastination, which inevitably leads to whole new set of problems.

Having money = having freedom. And isn’t that what we all want? More and better choices? The power to control your own destiny to the maximum extent possible?

Of course, it is. And capturing that power to influence your life for the better all starts with what you say to yourself about money and understanding how your money story drives your behavior.

Once you understand, everything changes and you’re able to comfortably and confidently take on any financial management challenges that come your way.

And that’s where we’ll be heading in our next column, so stay tuned.

Laura Webb, CFP® is founder of Webb Investment Services, a locally owned, wealth management and investment consulting practice and a Certified Financial Transitionist®.  82 Patton Ave, Suite 610, Asheville, NC 28801, 828-252-5132. www.laurawebb.com   Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Webb Investment Services is independent of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. and is not a registered broker/dealer. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors. CFP Board owns the CFP® marks in the United States. Any opinions are those of Laura A Webb and not necessarily those of RFJS or Raymond James.