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Holistic Wealth: Five Reasons All Women Should Develop Their Own Financial Identity

4min read
Finance

Holistic wealth is about creating the circumstances in your life that allows you to be resilient and resourceful. I love these two words – because they embody what I want for all women – the ability to bounce back from life-altering setbacks and the ability to create and leverage resources to be financially independent. In my new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, there's a whole section of the book filled with advice on how to achieve financial freedom.


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 work full time. Whether this means retiring by the age of 40, or taking a more traditional route, building your financial portfolio depends on your financial identity. Here's an excerpt from the book:

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.

Excerpt from Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness. Copyright @Keisha Blair.

Holistic Wealth Book coverPhoto Courtesy of Keisha Blair

There are a few things you should be doing today that can help you rebound from setbacks in your future. Get a life insurance policy, plan for your retirement, and build an emergency fund, for starters. But your well-planned future also depends on developing your own financial identity. Here are five reasons why all women should develop their own financial identity:

It Relieves Worry and Stress

When you have your own financial identity you don't have to second guess every money move you make and you are confident that you are on the right track. Your own savings philosophy and investment philosophy that's tied to your personal values and mission is a key piece of becoming financially independent. It allows you to assess your goals and your money moves to ensure you're on the path to success.

It Leads to: A Life, Well Lived

This is the title to the opening chapter of my book. Its aptly named for the first chapter, because its hard to have a life well lived, without having your own financial identity. When your money and spending decisions are constantly influenced by someone else – your family and friends, a business partner you are on slippery turf. Not only does that railroad your dreams it puts your future in a precarious position.

It Fosters Taking Measured Risks

Taking measured risks is key to achieving a life, well-lived. It is important to take measured risks to achieve certain goals. For instance, the decision to buy that first home or investment property, or even starting that business you've always dreamed of, requires taking measured risks. Achieving your goals also rests on the realization that not taking measured risks, or simply not taking action at all, is detrimental to achieving holistic wealth. Yet in taking measured risks, we look for validation from others to do so. When we don't have a financial identity but look to the crowd for approval – then taking measured risks becomes less likely, and we bow to the pressure of doing what everyone else is doing – and not charting an individualized path forward.

It Allows for a Well-planned Future

Planning well means ensuring you have life insurance, adequate emergency savings to last for at least six months, and investments that can yield enough to enable financial resilience.

Everyone should have a good hold on their spending. Developing a budget and building an emergency fund is paramount. Make sure you have life insurance in place. Focus on addressing debt. After that develop a savings plan (both short and long term) and stick to it.

It Prevents A Never-Ending Cycle of Money Mistakes

When you haven't developed your own financial identity you risk making the same money mistakes over and over again. In addition, we end up living our lives in the footsteps of others—and possibly making the same money mistakes. We get stuck in two-step cycle: We make our own money mistakes repeatedly – like getting into unnecessary debt, accumulating things we don't need – and making the money mistakes others make – spending too much on entertainment or too many night out with friends.

In summary, having your own financial identity can save you from a lifetime of disappointment and frustration. It can make the difference between having a fulfilling happy life and constantly living in fear and anxiety about money issues. Most important of all, it can enable you to be financially resilient, and better able to weather the inevitable storms and setbacks that life brings.

​4 Min Read
Business

Please Don't Put Yourself On Mute

During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.


When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)

This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.

By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.

But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.

I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.

If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?

At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)

At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.

They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.

  • Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
  • Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
  • Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
  • Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
  • Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.

It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.

So please don't put yourself on mute.

Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.

But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.