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How To Improve Your Relationship...With Money

Career

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.

Communicate

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.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

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.