Let’s talk money
It’s difficult to talk about money. Finance is both an intensely personal subject and something that I think we should discuss more openly. As women we already know that our gender puts us at financial disadvantage. Over the course of our lives women will typically earn less, about 18% less than men and despite the fact we tend to live longer, the average woman will typically have one third less saved for retirement than the average man, by the time she reaches the age of 60.
We need wholescale change at every level of society and industry to address the gender pay gap, but on a personal level one of the very best things that women can do to redress this balance is face up to our finances and take control.
Getting on top of debt, making sure you have enough to live on and saving or investing even small amounts for the future are excellent places to start. It can feel overwhelming at first, but there are some excellent resources and help out there. I’ve listed a few at the bottom of the page.
More, more, more?
The less money we have, the easier it is to let it control us.
It’s difficult to disengage from a capitalist, consumer culture which constantly tells us we should be striving for more.
The best things I have done in recent years to get a better handle on my spending is to make a budget, get very familiar with what is coming into and going out of my bank account on a daily basis and to unsubscribe / unfollow lots of accounts that were only making me want more stuff.
It doesn’t mean that I never overspend. Of course I do, but I’m always aware that I’m doing it and I make myself think about what the consequences are going to be and how I’ll make it up in the future.
One of the reasons discussing money is so difficult is that everyone has such different expectations and circumstances.
It’s hard to have open conversations when everyone is starting from such different places. Some of us have more, some of us have less, probably most of us, whatever our circumstances, feel like we could do with more.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking more money will solve our problems. While this may well be true in some cases, it is our attitude towards money, rather than how much we have of it, that really matters.
For a start, it is never helpful to compare your own financial situation to those of others. That’s like trying to compare apples with pears.
I found this graphic by Alexis J Cunningfolk, (originally shared by Jocelyn K. Glei of Hurry Slowly) really helpful for putting levels of financial privilege into context and to help me reflect on my personal financial situation.
Finance for your business
Finances for business are a little more complex but perhaps less personal, although that again depends on so many different factors.
I have been used to handling budgets, making forecasts and projections for many years, both as an employee and a business owner. I’ve never loved the process of doing it but what I do love is the clarity it brings. Trying to plan and run a business, team or project without having a handle on the finances is a bit like trying to drive blindfolded.
A bit of patience and time spent on a simple spreadsheet will repay itself tenfold.
It can be difficult to put real numbers against what you think you can achieve, but even a good, educated guess, based on having done some desk research and by talking to others, will give you a strong handle on whether or not what you’re hoping to do is achievable or realistic. It will very quickly show up any glaring gaps and then you know you have to figure out a way to fill these.
Showing you have done your numbers, even on a basic level will help you feel more confident and well informed when talking to others about your business or plans, which in turn will make you more credible, particularly to those who might be interested in supporting you.
How Keystone can help
Money Mindsets and Business Planning, one of the courses in the Keystone programme, will help you examine your own relationship with money. With tools, exercises and templates we guide you through steps towards better financial and business planning that’s aligned to your values and personal circumstances.
Money is important but it’s not the driver for everything. Even if you only have a small amount you can still make it work better for you, for your life and your business.
By Melissa McConnell