3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially


3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially

This may end up being the most important article you read all year. Really!


On a recent girl’s night out my two best friends and I gathered for dinner and engaged in our usual discussion about work, politics, culture, new things we’ve discovered that we’re loving, and updates on what’s happening in our lives, which were nothing out of the ordinary. But on this night, a new topic found its way into our conversation: money.

3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially

Why is talking about money still off-limits?

One of my friends had started a new job and the topic of savings arose; suddenly we all tensed up. “How much have you saved up?” I asked, feeling as if I was crossing a forbidden boundary. “I’m not telling you, it’s embarrassing.” We quickly changed topics. For a few moments we were completely incapable of talking candidly, as we have for the past 16 years.

Usually nothing is off the table with us: sex, health problems, relationship concerns, anything, no matter how sordid, icky, or complicated, we discuss it – often quite proudly with onlookers listening in. But money is a sore spot. We’re taught at a very young age to avoid the topic: “Never ask how much someone makes,” said, well, everyone. As women, it’s just not something we discuss, unless it’s somehow related to who we’re dating or our shopping habits.

Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it.

But this is how a patriarchy operates — it’s designed to keep women oppressed by keeping them poorer (and thereby giving them less options and freedom) than men. Part of that is paying women less for the same work, charging ‘luxury tax’ on things like tampons, charging women higher rates for just about everything from haircuts to healthcare, and making talking about money, salary, and savings taboo for women. Together, as woman who want equal rights and freedoms, we must empower each other to open up about money and regain control, so that we can have power over our finances and future.

Seriously — It’s time to start talking about money! Come on — You can admit it. You love money. I mean really — who doesn’t?! We all want more of it.

3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially

Yes, you can grab the power. Control your financial freedom!

Today, women account for 52% of the world’s population and influence 75% of all purchases. Women worldwide represent the main source of income for 30% of homes, and 48% of female workers contribute half — or more than half — of the household income. Yet for every one female millionaire, there are four men to rain on her parade. What gives?

From childhood we are taught that while we shouldn’t discuss money, going shopping (ie. lowering our bank account and putting our money into the pockets of mostly male-owned corporations) is the way to get over a breakup, bond with girlfriends, or simply spend a Saturday. And male-written fairy tales like Cinderella teach girls that men are the moneymakers and women are the booty shakers, so to speak. Through adulthood, shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” give us the idea that catching the man means catching the cash.

But forget marriage! There are better ways to gain financial freedom rather than marrying a rich old man. Besides, if it’s not really your money, then you still don’t have financial freedom. So many women are all too willing to hand everything over to their husband — and when he leaves, so does their financial security. And then there’s the issue of your self-respect. Oh yeah, that.

Life is fickle. Circumstances beyond your control could rapidly change your life, whether it’s divorce, death, pregnancy, losing your job, needing to move, unexpected bills, etc. There are a lot of good reasons for women to be financially prepared.

I get that learning about money management sounds a lot like homework (ick), and that financial stuff and investments can be… well… kinda intimidating. Beyond the fact that it’s all tediously complex, I, like most people, have to resist the tendency to tune out when my husband starts talking about investing in securities, the stock market, or other income earning assets. Without the help of a great financial advisor, making investments can be a daunting task. But luckily, these aren’t the only kind of investments that can help to secure your financial future.

Many women, at every level of success, have a very distant, unattached feeling towards money, coupled with a very personal anxiety. And eventually this feeling catches up to us.

Here are some ideas to help you take back the power:

3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially

Use financial companies that put modern women first

We’ve all gotten that credit or debit card we were going to use to “build credit” or “cover emergency expenses,” only to use it to splurge on items we just had to have. Those slightly-over-budget OTK boots? Check. That Equinox membership we almost never use? Check. That $40 lipstick that’s probably poisoning us? Check.

But while we knew we would have to pay some fees or interest on these purchases, what we didn’t know is that we would be charged a tiny fortune in hidden “service” and “luxury fees.” They add up — fast! This is money that belongs to us but is being taken from us without our knowledge because many banks and credit card companies have not been up front with us about it.

But this is just one example. There are literally dozens of other examples of avoidable hidden fees from banking products and services we are buying or signing up for that are being taken—some might say stolen—from us. The average adult in the U.S. is paying nearly $1,000 in these types of hidden fees every year that are charging us without our knowledge. And if you remember my earlier example, saving those fees could add up to over half a million dollars by the time you retire. That’s right!

Now, before you go into an “eyes-glaze-over” phase on me, hear me out girl.

3 Lessons For Women: How To Empower Yourself Financially

Radius’ platform makes money management easy!

Here’s how can you avoid letting hidden fees run you dry:
By choosing your financial services providers very carefully.

My favorite bank is Radius Bank.

Radius is an online and mobile bank that is all about empowerment and transparency. They don’t charge hidden fees — instead, they give you interest, 1% cash back on purchases, plus unlimited worldwide ATM fee reimbursements! Yowza! Plus, they empower women with online video courses, and have cool, built-in budgeting features.

They also have a mobile app that allows you to quickly send money to anyone, turn your bank/credit card on or off remotely, add geo restrictions, set spending caps, see your budget, get alerts, make mobile payments, and more. Misplaced your card for the upteenth time? No worries! Just switch it off in the app until you find it. Prettttyyy cool! And it only takes 5 minutes to open an account online.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 164 Comments

  1. Edna Stumpf

    When you really want to cut your expenses, it’s time to start considering the small things first. But why the small things? In my experience, it’s the small things that amount to bigger amounts of spending. Maybe because I assume that it’s so cheap and spending on it won’t create a dent in my bank account. However, once I start adding up those small amounts, they amount bigger than the rest of my monthly expenses. I was honestly so surprised because it’s really the harmless purchases that really drain your account.

  2. Kelly Dziedzic

    Uh, I think companies have written rules in their handbook regarding sharing how much your salary is so you might want to double check that before talking about it with your fellow co-workers. I was about to resign that time and the manager that we were close to urged me to tell her how much my pay is because she was so curious about how little my salary was because I kept complaining about it and it was my main reason on why I was going to resign. She told me that she’ll keep it a secret because we’re not supposed to be discussing it. She just wanted to help me out with my decision.

  3. Raquel Kepner

    I’m not going to say that we should marry a rich man, but I think it’s smart to marry a man who knows how to handle money and is earning enough money to be able to support a family in the future. It’s not about looting his money for your own sake, but for a tandem of financial stability. Let’s just say that I don’t think it’s ever smart to have a good paying job, then for your partner to have no job or for him to have a very low paying job. Not only is it a recipe for arguments and insecurities, it’s just not… Smart. 🤨

    • Victoria Carson

      I understand what you mean. It’s not similar to marrying a rich man, but more on financial security.

  4. Angela Linville

    When women marry, it shouldn’t be about joint accounts. I think a good man will always appreciate his wife’s financial stability and respect that she has savings of her own. Sure, she has to contribute to the household income but a good man will always let his wife be successful under her own wing. When people get married it only says for richer and poorer but it doesn’t say there that they should merge their assets… LOL. So ladies, have an income that’s solely yours. It’s for your pride and glory.

  5. Betty Galicia

    Control– that’s what most of us need. Do you really need that lipstick? Do you really need those shoes? Do you really need that bag? Do you really need to go shopping 2-4 times every week? That’s what we need to ponder on! Don’t use stress as an excuse to go shopping when you still have no savings for the future. Always remember, even if that lipstick, bag, or shoes are on sale, DO YOU NEED IT? You have to keep in mind that something as little as a dollar can multiply in a matter of weeks and months… YEARS even.

    • Barbara Jimenez

      I don’t even have control.😭

  6. Barbara Scott

    Business isn’t for everyone. So I don’t think this part is applicable to most people. Let’s not give them an idea that it’s the only way for their money to double up or triple up.😚

  7. Georgia Helwig

    I sometimes despise the thought of money making the world go round because it’s the source of all evil as well. Everyone wants to get ahead of another person just for the sake of earning more. Sometimes I just hate whoever it is that invented this shit. Now I have to earn and my whole life depends on it.

  8. Gertrude Molina

    I recently read about a study that a higher percentage of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. Almost as if it’s already a luxury for people to have money saved for their future. I would probably appreciate this article more if it was about helping women NOT live from paycheck to paycheck despite the income they have. It’s not for me to judge that the job they have is the one at fault for them living like this, because I know that opportunities differ from one person to another. Not everyone who had a higher education background can always land a good job and not everyone who has no educational background can have little to no luck.

    • Patty Aguilar

      Hmm… This is true. But I guess the readers of Urbanette has certain demographics. So let’s just assume that this isn’t for everyone.

  9. Frances Murphy

    I don’t think something like public speaking can earn me anything. I’m a graphic designer. They appreciate my output but rarely my input.

  10. Rebecca Harris

    We’re a bunch of jealous and insecure beings. Talking about money is synonymous to talking about your stature in life. Not everyone is willing to humiliate themselves or take pride in whatever they’re earning.

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