The Villains of Personal Finance & Personal Development
As a feminist money coach you will find me at the intersection of personal finance and personal development. In my work with clients (and in my own life), I started to see a pattern emerge. A pattern of thought which induced feelings of guilt, shame, and doubt when it came to money and one's ability to change. And these unproductive feelings led to unproductive behaviors which kept folks feeling like they were spinning their wheels instead of progressing towards their goals.
Here is what I want you to know.
There are villains messing with your money and your mind, and they are:
! Debt Shaming Culture
! The Mindset Masquerade
Debt Shaming Culture and The Mindset Masquerade lie to you. These villains get in the way of your change, progress, and growth. I can teach you how to recognize these money mindset villains so you can disrupt and disarm them from impacting your mind and your money. You are not the problem- they are.
Debt Shaming Culture.
There is no talking about money (and by extension access to credit) without acknowledging the history of disparities across racial and gender lines. It wasn't until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 was signed into law, that lenders were banned from discriminating against consumers based on their gender or marital status. Prior to this law, lenders could legally require women to have male cosigners on loans. Lenders could require women to make larger down payments on homes than men with similar credit profiles. The disparities and lack of access to financial tools were even greater for women of color compared to white women. And these disparities still exist today.
Access to credit can have a profound impact on your ability to reach your goals, whether you need to finance unexpected costs, have dreams of being a homeowner, or to pay for higher education. In some instances, you even need access to credit to get hired for a job. Due to the history of oppression and inequities- many women, especially women of color, rely on credit as a financial tool. Many marginalized folks have been historically discriminated against when trying to create assets for themselves (e.g. purchase a home, acquire land, attend college to earn higher wages, open a bank account, access credit, etc.). It's time for the f*ckery to stop.
You are not alone if you are feeling uncertainty, guilt, fear or shame when it comes to having debt. Debt Shaming Culture puts the blame on you. It says if you have bad credit then you have bad character. It says if you have high credit card balances then you value instant gratification instead of "working hard" (as if hard work has anything to do with credit cards). Debt Shaming Culture creates a sense of urgency and obligation that any extra money you receive should should always be prioritized to pay back creditors. It says your debt is a personal shortcoming. This is a lie.
Debt Shamers tell that you being in debt is due to a lack of knowledge and will power. They say
you don't deserve to go out to eat or get that new lipstick. Instead they say every single dollar should pay off debt- even if it means foregoing building up your savings or investing. Debt Shaming Culture tells you that your financial freedom only comes from having no debt. And that's bullshit. I help folks with debt disarm Debt Shaming Culture. I don't believe in waiting for financial freedom to come some day...I believe you can financially flourish today- yes, even with debt.
The Mindset Masquerade.
The personal development industry seeks to help individuals meet their goals in their professional and personal life. The personal development space is a multi-billionaire dollar industry with an expected value to reach over $50 billion dollars (yes, that's billion with a "B") by the year 2027. And it's an industry primarily geared towards women. Over the years as I've been exposed to all sorts of coaching techniques and programs- I started to notice something problematic. There seemed to be an over-emphasis on the responsibility of the individual to "improve" their circumstances. The main methodology taught to women was to manage their mindset. The belief being a "managed mind" is the main ingredient to success- this is a fallacy. I coined a term for this particular approach in personal development- the Mindset Masquerade. The Mindset Masquerade lies to women.
The Mindset Masquerade directs women to place their primary focus on addressing one's mindset in order to achieve personal success. This can feel alluring and seem attainable because you are simply being told to think more positive. And with positive thoughts you make more money, you can create more time, essentially you can achieve any goal your heart desires. For marginalized people, this particular lie is especially dangerous because it also means any failures or setbacks you experience- are the fault of your "unmanaged" mind. You are at fault even for the things outside of your control.
By definition the term masquerade means to put on a false show or pretense, as a verb it means to pretend to be something you are not, it means to pose, to disguise, it's a form of make-believe. The Mindset Masquerade lies and tells women they can use the law of attraction to manifest what they want from life. This is dangerously similar to the "manifestation" mindset of colonizers as they settled across North America. This belief was put into policy and given the term "Manifest Destiny. American colonizers believed that "God was on the side of American expansion" and therefore justified the acts of violence against the land, the indigenous, and the enslaved.
The Mindset Masquerade is indifferent to systems of oppression impacting those society tries to push to the margins (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.). Therefore those who call out the external systems of oppression as barriers to success are then labeled as having the qualities of a "victim mentality" or mindset. And as for the "successful" woman- there is danger here as well, because this approach teaches that if an individual is able to overcome systemic oppression- then this woman has "mastered" her mindset. After all, if a poor woman who is Black can become a millionaire- then surely the systems of oppression can't be that bad (can they?)
I believe in the value of personal growth. I believe in the power of setting intentions and taking inspired action as a way to achieve your goals. I also believe there is a responsibility in the personal finance and personal development industries to acknowledge how society impacts the health, wellness, and life experience of individuals. Not every challenge can be overcome via personal efforts. Society must deconstruct and dismantle the very systems designed to create barriers that block people of color, women, LGTBQ people, non-binary folks, and any person marginalized just for being themselves. I believe we can thrive in our personal lives and we can create a culture that is just for all people. That is the truth.