2020 marks the start of not only a new year but also an entirely new decade. In terms of financial empowerment for women, it’s an opportunity to make big strides in our effort to address larger societal issues such as equality and justice, reproductive rights, poverty and domestic issues like financial abuse, as well as income security and retirement. It is estimated that 46% of women are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” about their ability to live comfortably after retirement, compared to only 31% of men who feel that way.
After my husband died unexpectedly, leaving me a 31-year-old widow with two small children, I realized that all women need to have a firm financial identity. I also found my voice in raising awareness about women’s financial empowerment, as well as the importance of gender equality, diversity and financial inclusion. Women’s rights have become my passion, and I realize that, globally, we can’t fully achieve holistically wealthy communities if women don’t have access to the same opportunities to thrive and be successful.
One common thread that runs through most of the #MeToo stories is the need for women to be financially empowered so that they can feel empowered to say “no” to any situation that will cause harm. Saying no to requests that are out of scope with your vision or mission in life or could endanger your physical, mental or even your financial health is important. As I state in my new book, Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness: “The word no is like an asset in a metaphorical bank account where our life’s energy is the holding. Use it to save, and use it to earn a greater sense of yourself, what’s important to you, and where you want to spend your time and energy.”
Indeed, financial empowerment is the new feminism, and this is why I’m claiming 2020 as the year of holistic wealth. In my book Holistic Wealth, I outline several strategies that can help women achieve financial wellness.
Embrace the Holistic Wealth Method
The “Holistic Wealth Method” is a framework I developed for assessing your actions and decisions. In applying the Holistic Wealth Method ask yourself: Will this decision be a withdrawal from or a deposit to my holistic wealth bank account? Approaching life with a holistic wealth mindset means approaching life mindfully and with the realization that each decision and each action represents a withdrawal from or deposit to that holistic wealth bank account. Repeated withdrawals from the holistic wealth bank account will lead to bankruptcy.
Similarly, there are some actions that act like compound interest in a holistic wealth bank account, like listening to your intuition and lifelong learning—the benefits of these actions multiply over time in many different areas of your life. The Holistic Wealth Method can be applied in everyday situations regarding a range of daily decisions. For example, in assessing if a decision will add to your holistic wealth bank account, think about the vision of your life going forward and what you truly want for yourself. If you have toxic relationships that lead to financial abuse, then ask yourself if keeping these relationships is a deposit into or a withdrawal from that bank account. Likewise, in thinking about your current spending habits, daily eating regimen and the amount of time you spend on social media, examine how these actions add to (or take from) your overall holistic wealth.
Holistic wealth is about having an intentionally designed life—so changing your mindset is key to ensuring you can achieve it and overcome any setbacks, like domestic and financial abuse.
Develop Your Own Financial Identity
Financial independence is one of the core concepts of living a holistically wealthy life. There are several strategies to get you to a place where you have enough income to pay your living expenses for the rest of your life without having to depend on anyone else. Whether this means retiring by the age of 40, or taking a more traditional route, building your financial portfolio depends on having your financial identity. Here’s an excerpt from Holistic Wealth:
A well-planned future also starts with developing your own financial identity. One way to do this is through financial literacy. Improving your financial literacy is also the greatest stimulant of wealth. Many of us make our first large purchase with a spouse or significant other. The first house, the first car, the wedding and honeymoon—these are all expenses tied to our expansionary years. We therefore transition into adulthood not having gained a full sense of our own personal financial identity. For instance, what is my investment identity? What are the things I will splurge on versus save on? This can also be tied to our values and mission in life. It is highly individual. Each of us should have a financial identity—one that is distinct and separate from our spouse’s or parents’. If you find yourself always wondering what your friends or parents think about the way you spend or invest, then it’s an indication that you haven’t fully figured out your financial identity. It’s impossible to design a well-planned future without a proper financial identity—we end up living our lives in the footsteps of others—and possibly making the same money mistakes.
Taking Measured Risks—and Determining Which Ones Are Worth Taking
Taking measured risks are imperative to achieving holistic wealth; it means stepping out on your own with the confidence you need to make your own financial decisions. Too many people become paralyzed by fear and take no action at all when it comes to living their dreams. In addition, when you confuse real constraints with fake ones, you deplete your holistic wealth bank account. People with a holistic wealth mindset don’t fear taking measured risks. They recognize fake versus real constraints, and they view setbacks as only temporary, and include their life’s mission in their definition of success. Get past your fear by focusing on the outcome you want to achieve—then say yes to your desire to take measured risks toward your goals.