This article was published on Business Women Media and can be seen here.
The word “Taboo” immediately strikes a reaction of judgement. Our world is becoming more polarized with what is and isn’t ok, which is creating leaps and bounds in terms of equality and important social issues. However, when it comes to having a conversation, we often get stuck on what we are allowed to talk about. But, what if some of the conversations we won’t let ourselves have are actually okay?
Insert money into the equation, one of the most taboo subjects on the planet. It is also one of the most empowering conversations you can have. Once you begin to ask questions, the stigma goes away, the mystery is uncovered and the reality sets in. For example, did you know the revered top 1% income in Australia begins at earning $400,000 AUD per year? It’s much less than the perceived millions and billions.
So what else are we assuming and making taboo that is actually limiting our income?
Don’t ask people about money
Many people have been raised to think that talking about the specifics of money or salaries is something you should never do. While you don’t want to pry and poke where someone is not open to the conversation, most people are happy to have a conversation, they have just never been asked about it. When you ask a question, you break the perception and get rid of the stigma. It stops it being a ‘big deal.’ Don’t be afraid to ask specifics either.
Don’t talk about money to kids
The worst thing is when we carry this taboo on to the next generation. If you don’t talk about money with your kids, they won’t be equipped to make educated decisions. No one ever talked to me about credit cards, so I handled mine pretty badly when I got one. Part of the danger of this was that I assumed I should already know how to handle it and shouldn’t ask a question. If you are willing to have a conversation early on with kids, then they grow up empowered to know they can ask questions and not feel stupid for it.
Don’t trust yourself with money
I often hear people say that they can’t have a certain amount of cash on them because they can’t trust themselves not to spend it – especially in social situations. Or, even if they did have the spare cash to invest, they don’t trust themselves to make a good decision. This is another idea we have around money, that we, as humans, can’t be trusted with it and it has power over us. That’s not really true – we run our lives, not money. If you don’t have your back with money, who else is going to? The key to creating financial stability isn’t having thousands tucked away in the bank, it’s about knowing that ultimately you trust your choices financially and that if something did go awry, you would get back on your feet again.
Don’t let yourself desire money
Do you actually know how much it costs you to live the life you would like to have? This is not about setting a budget or asking for millions of dollars to show up if that’s not congruent with where you’re at today. It’s to actually about looking at where you would like to use your money on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. I come across so many people who really struggle when I ask them how much money they’d like to earn per year. I find people have just never thought about it, or been asked to look at that figure. Society teaches us that it’s okay to want to be comfortable, but that it’s somehow greedy or immoral to want a lot of money. We are taught to survive rather than thrive, and to stay low and be like everyone else rather than being different or having more.
Don’t enjoy money
If you get to a stage where you do actually have money in your life, it’s so common to feel bad about what you have created. Have you ever let yourself enjoy money? If you’re feeling uncomfortable about the money you have or have a compulsive feeling to spend it as soon as you have it, you need to practice having money. Not to save it for a rainy day or to spend on something for the future, but to have money in your life for the sake of having it. One way you can start this practice is to create an “Honoring Account” where you put 10% away of everything you earn without spending it. Eventually this will grow to a size that you will relax and not worry about money and on a more practical level, you will also have a nice little egg in the bank that will look great on paper for any financial endeavours you want to take on in the future.
If you are willing to start asking questions, not let yourself get bogged down in the stigmas and supposed to’s with finances and start choosing something different, you will start creating a brighter financial future. Just the act of choosing to trust yourself more with money will make a huge difference. The next time you feel uncomfortable around money or the lack of money, check in with yourself and see if you are just buying into an outdated idea. You may find that a different financial reality is just a different point of view away.