Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching, and there’s one relationship that most people could stand to make improvements to – their relationship with money. Many people’s relationship with money is wrought with stress, confusion, anxiety, and poor communication. Here are some helpful tips for how to turn your negative relationship with money into one of positivity, motivation, and control.
Get Serious About Your Future Together
Money (and often debt) will always be a part of our lives. So where do you see your future together? Like any relationship, it is important to consider your long-term goals and aspirations. Goal-setting is a vital part of figuring out what you want for your future and how to adjust your financial decisions accordingly. Without goals in mind, it can feel like you are stumbling through life a little blindly. How else would you know how much you should be saving and whether you are making the right decisions for your future. Just like any romantic relationship, you could spend time with someone who is fun and makes you happy now, but are you really compatible together down the road? Consider where you want to live, your career path, your debt repayment strategy, and lifestyles choices when thinking about your financial future.
People are afraid to talk about money. They don’t talk about how much they earn, how much they spend, or how much debt they owe. And often they don’t even talk about it in their real relationships, which can lead to big trouble. Bottling up our fears and anxieties about money can often do more harm than good, especially when more than one person (such as a spouse) is involved. It is important to remember that debt is not a 4-letter word and it is ok to talk about it with your spouse, a close friend, or a family member. Often just being able to express the reasons for our stress can take a weight off our shoulders, and they may be able to offer some advice. If you aren’t comfortable talking to others about the sources of your financial stress, consider keeping a journal where you can write down what you’re feeling and why. Bottom line? Communication is an essential part of any healthy relationship, including your relationship with money.
Often just being able to express the reasons for our stress can take a weight off our shoulders, and they may be able to offer some advice.
Take Time to Relax
Everyone needs a little break sometimes. While it’s important to develop responsible spending and budgeting habits in everyday life, letting yourself get obsessive about it can just lead to more stress. The intent of a budget is not only to allow you to save and pay debt, but also to allow you to live a little and still do the things you enjoy. Make sure you have some “fun” built into your budget, even if it’s just as simple as treating yourself to lunch once a week. It is also important to find ways to take care of yourself and find ways to alleviate your financial stress. Think of it as taking a night off from your SO to take time for yourself or hang with friends.
Get Professional Help
If your relationship with money has just gotten so bad that you aren’t sure how to begin even improving it, perhaps consider talking to a financial advisor or an attorney who specializes in debt resolution. Depending on your financial situation, these experts can suggest various ways to get your finances back on track. You can think of it like couple’s counseling – it’ll force you to think about what you want from your money and how to get there.
As you can see, there are a lot of parallels between romantic relationships and your relationship with money. And just like romantic relationships, the best one is the kind that makes you feel motivated, in control, happy, respectful, and excited for your future together. These tips can help save your bad relationship with money and turn it into the type where you grow old together.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."