We don’t mean to lie to ourselves, but we do it in an attempt to justify our spending habits and reduce feelings of guilt or anxiety, and eventually, we start to believe them. But while these little lies may make us feel better in the short term, they can do some serious damage in the long run. These little lies we tell ourselves are all signs of financial denial and hold us back from true financial freedom. Here are 6 of the most common lies and the truths about them:
“I just need to make more money.”
We may have the best intentions when it comes to money – to save, to pay off debts – we know we need to do these things, but we’ll get around to them once we make more money. The truth? With this kind of mindset, you will never feel like you have enough money. There will always be temptations and other things you want to spend your money on, no matter how much you make. If saving isn’t a priority when money is tight, it sure won’t be when you have more of it to spend. And what if you never were to make significantly more than you do now? The lesson here is that now is as good a time as any to practice good financial habits and get a head start on saving and debt repayment. Even if you think you have no room in your budget to save, there are always ways to reallocate or reduce expenses, even if just temporarily. Factor savings and debt repayment into your budget and make sure to pay these first, not at the end of the month with whatever little is left.
“I Need This New ______.”
An important part of financial responsibility is learning to distinguish between needs vs. wants. We all have things we feel we need, but when we take a closer look, more often than not, it’s just a “want” and something we can live without. From a financial perspective, a “need” is something you can’t live without – groceries, heat, electricity, rent. A “want” is a discretionary expense, ranging from anything like lattes and movie tickets, to a new handbag and restaurant dining. Of course, no one is advising you cut out all your wants from your spending – but it is important to understand the difference between the two so you can make informed financial decisions that won’t negatively impact your ability to save, pay off debts, and pay for your needs.
“I can afford the monthly payment, therefore I can afford it.”
Ahh, the beauty of financing. That new, fully loaded car doesn’t seem so expensive when broken down into a nice little monthly payment – until you look closer and realize you’ll be stuck with said car for the next 5 years and paying well over the sticker price once you factor in interest. Anyone can “afford” just about anything with the right financing, but this is short term thinking. Extending the terms of a loan over a longer period of time just to lower the monthly payment isn’t doing yourself any favors and only makes something appear more affordable. Think big and look at the total cost of what you’ll be paying for and then decide if it’s really worth it.
“Budgeting is only for people who are tight on money.”
Budgeting has become synonymous with sacrifice and financial desperation. However, a budget is simply a tool to track money coming in and money going out. Businesses do it, and so should you. Just because you may earn a high income, doesn’t mean you are immune to financial hardships. In fact, with even more at stake, this should be even more motivation to budget and manage your finances responsibly.
After all, how many celebrities have we seen go into massive amounts of debt? Bottom line? Everyone can benefit from budgeting.
“I’m young, I can start saving for retirement later.”
Sure, you can start saving later (and later is better than not at all), but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll wish you started earlier. Retirement may seem far away and this is exactly why it’s good to start sooner rather than later, because the longer you allow your money to grow, the greater the effects of compound interest. Starting early means you can contribute less and end up with more. There are many different retirement savings options available, including ones offered by employers, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and self-directed savings plans such as an IRA. Do a bit of research or consider speaking to a financial advisor about what options are best for you. Also consider looking into whether your employer provides any retirement matching programs – this is free money you should absolutely be taking advantage of! If you haven’t started yet, the good news is you can plan for retirement at any stage of life, but don’t wait another day!
“I’ll put the money back into savings, I just need it now to buy this.”
If you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it. Treating your savings account like a checking account is dangerous. Once the money has left your savings account, it will be hard to find ways to pay it back. It also creates a mentality that it is ok to dip into your savings here and there for indulgences. Savings should be just that – saved. There are times where you can justify spending your savings, but this can sometimes be a grey area. To avoid spending it on things you shouldn’t, consider making a list of appropriate things to use your savings towards – for example, a down payment on a house or using your emergency fund for things like unexpected car maintenance. Think of all the scenarios in which you might want to use your savings, write them down, and don’t make any exceptions.
Coming to terms with these little lies we tell ourselves is the first step in heading towards financial freedom. Once you stop denying the truth about your spending habits and financial mindset, you can begin to create a more healthy relationship with money and work towards achieving your financial goals.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.