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Economic empowerment is the cornerstone to any communities’ progress, and the story is no different for the black community. More specifically, financial literacy for black women has emerged as a critical topic that commands attention. Issues around black girl finances and the image of the black woman with money are being explored with a keen eye, shedding light on the importance of mastering personal finance. Despite being one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs, the conversation that surrounds black women and wealth is often tainted with misconceptions and prejudice.
Like a thread weaving through a rich tapestry, financial literacy runs central to a narrative of resilience, triumph, and ambition that can inspire a generation of financially savvy black women that build generational wealth. As a mental health therapist, I don’t often discuss financial literacy with my clients, but financial security and stability are subjects that often come up. Typically, it’s in the context of being stressed about not being able to make ends meet, but there are also times when my clients are on a journey to become their highest selves, including being high earners. With this in mind, I think of 3 themes that should be considered when considering finances. Those themes include vision, boundaries, and people.
Financial Literacy 101 | Make Your Money Vision
My biggest piece of financial advice: I have said it once and I will say it again, it is so important to “write the vision and make it plain.” If you want to be a 6, 7, or 8-figure earner, eliminate credit card debt, pay off student loan debt, write the vision and seek guidance from earthly and spiritual figures, so that the vision will come to fruition. This is so important because how do you know where you are going if you don’t know what you are looking for? It’s an essential step in managing your money to build wealth.
It is also important to be aware of the language and mindset blocks that come up for you, as you are writing the vision. Are you speaking life to yourself?
Or are you allowing unhelpful thoughts to overtake your dreams and goals? If you connect with the latter more than the former, seek guidance from a mental health counselor so that you can get rid of your “stinking thinking!”
Let’s take charge of your financial wellness (and mental, too!). One way to get rid of your unhelpful thoughts is to engage in the ABC method. A stands for “activating event.” B stands for your belief about what happened. And C stands for your emotion about what happened. An example includes A- I did not have enough money to pay one of my bills. B- I will never be a good manager of money. C- Sadness and guilt.
Once you identify these three components, ask yourself “Is this thought helpful or reasonable?” Thereafter, ask yourself “What is something more compassionate and believable that I can say to myself?” Doing so will allow you the opportunity to create a more helpful thought. And what happens when you think “Sometimes I make mistakes with money, but I do manage to be on time with most of my bills” instead of “I will never be a good manager of money.”
More than likely, you will feel better and think more compassionately about yourself… and just think of the possibilities of what could happen when you think and feel positively about yourself. It’s time to grow your money mindset!
Path to Financial Freedom for Black Women: Set Boundaries
Next, now that you have the vision and are working through your unhelpful thoughts that are associated with money (which will be a skill you want to use as often as needed), make sure that your “boundary game” is strong. As a refresher, a boundary is when you set limits/principles in relationships. Boundaries apply to your relationship with self and others in various settings, including work, home, or elsewhere. Boundaries are how you respect and protect yourself, especially as women of color.
Boundaries can also help to enrich your relationships, as following boundaries can lessen feelings of resentment and anger. Some boundaries you might have with yourself might include: “I will not overspend when I hang out with friends tonight. I will not go into my savings account for non-emergency purposes. I will save $500 a month for my future.”
Other boundaries may look like telling your kids/partner that you cannot be interrupted while working so that you can complete tasks and make money. Another boundary with others might include not lending out money that you can’t afford to not get back or asking someone to pay you back the money that they owe you. One thing to keep in mind with boundaries is that you need 3 main ingredients to be most successful at setting them.
Those ingredients include self-worth (so that you feel worthy enough to set the boundary), communication skills (so that you can be skillful in stating/re-stating the boundary), and emotional regulation skills (so that you can regulate your emotions and properly communicate the boundary). Another thing to keep in mind, those who you are setting the boundary with, will oftentimes not like the boundary, so be prepared to utilize the “broken record” skill to re-state the boundaries as many times as needed. Setting boundaries can be hard, but they can also be very rewarding when respected and followed. The good news is, the right people will follow your boundaries, while those who might need rearranging in your life may not.
Path to Financial Peace for Black Women: Surround Yourself with the Right People
Lastly (and of course, this list is not exhaustive), you must have the right people in your life when working towards financial literacy (or any goal for that matter).
The right people include someone who has met your goal (so you know where you can/will go) and have the skills you don’t have to make the most out of your relationship with money (perhaps a CPA or financial strategist).
You will also want to have the right team in place (if you are a business owner or manager) and the right natural support (people who offer you support that you do not pay for a service) to help support you along the way. Be mindful of all dream killers and people who tell you that you are thinking too big. Those are not your people. Also, don’t underestimate the power of having the right people in your life.
If you’re looking for books by Black women to support your financial goals, check out “We Should All Be Millionaires” by the great Rachel Rodgers. In her book, she mentions you can make more money by having a strong, like-minded squad.
I found this to be true when engaging in her group, which, overall, has been a life-changing experience. If you haven’t read the book yet, I strongly encourage you to read it, page by page, and allow yourself to improve your mood, mindset, and financial literacy!
For more wellness and lifestyle content, check out The BrownStone Experience Wellness Column.