What’s your earliest money memory?
Let's talk about money.
Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware of how little I talk about money in social settings. Why is that? Well, as with everything in our default male society, our financial systems have been built by men, and it’s well-documented that money talk is gendered.
In my circle, talking about personal finances still feels super taboo, despite the fact that my friend group is full of intelligent, accomplished, and financially competent women. Beyond my girl group, I still get weird looks when I mention that I’m motivated by money so that I can unlock financial freedom, or when I mention (usually in jest) I hope to one day become a “tech billionaire,” people appear shocked. I can’t help but wonder if they’d be just as shocked if I was a man. This all feels problematic to me—why is there shame around pursuing financial dreams (or simply talking about those desires)? How do we make it normal—instead of taboo—to discuss money with our friends?
As with anything, a lack of education plays a huge part in the insecurities we feel around this topic. It’s imposter syndrome 101! Many of us don’t feel knowledgeable enough when it comes to money, so we’re less likely to bring it up in casual conversation. For example, did you know that 90% of financial literature that targets women is centered on “saving,” and 65% of that same literature defines women as “excessive spenders”? In contrast, 73% of financial literature geared towards men highlights the importance of making big investments and “putting money to work.”
Absurd. If this doesn’t feel antiquated enough, a 2021 study found that stock imagery tends to infantilize women and money. These images regularly show women only handling small amounts of cash or placing coins carefully into a piggy bank. It perpetuates the idea that money is scarce for women, and that women are unsophisticated when it comes to holding financial power. These images are everywhere, all across the internet! So where do we go from here?
Fortunately, change is happening. More and more women are building approachable fintech products, having hard conversations about money in public, and publishing content that encourages women to further their knowledge around personal finance. I sat down with two of these people, Eve & Anam from Alinea, a social investing app, to discuss how our earliest “money memories” can shape how we feel about money as adults.
EB: It seems we need “social proof” to talk about money. How do we get to the point where we feel comfortable talking casually about money with our friends?
Anam: Once you break the shell and get past that awkward point in a conversation, the conversation starts to flow. When we’ve been in social settings and started talking about finance, it sort of opens the floodgates and everyone’s like “well I make this much” or “I’m trying to budget” or “I’m too scared to ask for a promotion.” We need to be centering more conversations around this type of thing. I know a lot of young, ambitious women who don’t want to be dependent on anyone, so we need to allow ourselves the space to have these conversations and that starts with creating that space in places like intimate dinners [with friends].
EB: What made you recognize you lacked understanding of your personal finances?
Anam: I saw my mum in a financially dependent position in a not-great marriage so I know the consequences when you don’t have your own money or financial freedom. So that’s a huge driver for me. I studied Economics and took all the right steps, then I got to my internship on Wall Street and one of the other interns said he’d been investing since eighth grade in ETFs. He had made so much money, paid off his college tuition, and at that moment, I felt so stupid and behind. At the time, I didn’t know how to invest. None of my friends talked about investing and none of the media I consumed covered it. I started asking other female interns about their investing and none of them really knew where to start, so I was like well, where do we go from here?
Eve: We realized that none of our girlfriends were talking about investing or knew how to get started, so that’s why we decided to build Alinea. Our initial idea was to start the conversation around money. We started with community events at universities and it gained so much traction.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your earliest money memory? How do you think it’s impacted your perception of money? Share it in Diem and ask your friends!
Roll call! In exciting news, we’re creating a guest essay series for this newsletter and we want you to write for us – check out our pitch guide here.
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Till next week,