Women: The Media Prevents You From Stepping Into Wealth!

I want to talk to you about some of the biggest influences that affect how we step into wealth. How do we deserve more money? How do we keep hold of more money? Then how do we give more money to ourselves and to the causes that we want to, to use money towards out in the world. This brought me to some research that Starling Bank, our sponsors of the In Her Financial Shoes podcast, have done over the years around how the media actually communicate money entirely different to men, and entirely different to women.

65% of articles define women as excessive spenders, advising them to limit shopping ‘splurges’, save small sums or depend on financial support.

I wanted to talk today about one of the biggest influences which is how we talk to money or how we talk about money ourselves. Then also how our outside influences like the media affect our relationship with money. I know that you’re reading this, and you’re going to be either one of these three things: 

  • You’re going to be somebody who has no problem bringing money in but maybe you have some difficulties holding on to money, 
  • You’re somebody who has difficulty holding onto money, who’s maybe overspending or suffers with the fear of missing out syndrome, always chasing the next thing, 
  • You might be somebody who is absolutely fine to give to other people but when it comes to giving to yourself, it feels somewhat shameful or guilty. 

There’s a lot of emotions that we carry around money so I specifically want to focus this subject on how the media affects how we feel about money as women. I want to talk through some key notes that I’ve made, having read Starling Bank’s #MakeMoneyEqual campaign. 

I really recommend that you go and read this research. It’s so, so interesting to think about how this impacts on how we feel about receiving money, keeping hold of money, and growing money. 

One of the things that the report talks about how the media implies that women treat saving money like an exercise in squirrelling away pennies to spend on things like shoes and handbags. This tone is so demeaning and condescending. It’s dumbed down to make finances more understandable and it really just isn’t applicable at all. If someone said to me about spending money on shoes and handbags, it’s just not my thing at all. I think it’s quite derogatory to women that we are overspenders or that we just save money to go and buy makeup and shoes and handbags. I thought that was really, really interesting. Why is it that we are talked about in that way?

71% of money articles in women’s magazines encourage women to seek out vouchers, discounts, bargains and coupons to save money.

The way that the media talks about money and finances is that women are constantly needing to rein in their spending, or it talks about language like hints and tricks so as not to splurge. Whereas when the media talks to men about money, what this research shows is that men are spoken about in terms of impressing their friends or having luxury or having a stash of cash or using money to impress their friends. It’s very status driven. 

I’ve done a lot of research around this. In our certification programme, we teach people how to become financial coaches. Part of that is about understanding their own relationship with money. When people feel very status driven around money, they will automatically be driven with the main aim of feeling safe by trying to impress other people. I see this all the time with clients. I see this with very successful wealthy women who make a lot of money, but then they use it to portray that they’re living this luxurious lifestyle, which really is a deeper meaning around wanting to feel safe and valued and connected. So they somehow feel like by going on luxurious holidays, or having luxurious handbags, or splurging, is a way that makes them feel in alignment, it may be in alignment, but it’s often to do with wanting to impress other people. 

There’s no right or wrong with that. It’s actually a very good narrative to have around money because it can actually help to fulfil that need to feel safe. Often people who are status driven around money will look after other people. But there’s always this deep need that overspending around status driven, can fulfil this need for wanting to be liked and loved. So that was really interesting to me. Why is it that the media feels that men should be communicated around status, and women should be communicated around like splurging and squirrelling away the pennies. It just makes no sense to me.

One of the other interesting parts that was identified in the Make Money Equal report was that assigning these gender norms to finances, stops men and women from cultivating healthy relationships and having a productive dialogue around money. This takes me back to our relationship with money as a mirror reflection of the relationship that we have with ourselves. Assigning gender norms is for me, not necessarily about men versus women. It’s not about talking to men differently to women when it comes to money. But what is interesting is our own dialogue around money, because the things that we tell ourselves become the behaviours that we then do or don’t do around money. 

For example, if your money narrative has been that it’s hard to make money, or you have to work hard to make money. This was a big one for me growing up. I evidence that because my dad, who was my hero, growing up, he would work Monday to Sunday. He would work really hard in his business and was a very successful entrepreneur. The belief I therefore gained from his behaviour was I have to work hard to make money. That became my unconscious dialogue, that surely I couldn’t run a business where I don’t have to exchange 90 hours a week in my business to be successful. So when I started to be successful making money in the business, I would just get rid of it as quickly as possible, because it felt so unfamiliar, to not have to work hard to make money. Our dialogue around money is super, super important.

70% of articles aimed at men emphasise that making money is a masculine ideal, and that monetary success and financial literacy are essential to enhancing personal status.

One of the other things that this research brought up was that talking about money should be fun. It really is in our communities. We have a lot of fun conversations around money because remember, it’s never about the money. It’s about the meaning and the perception that we attach to money that makes talking about money taboo, or makes talking about money feel difficult or hard, and brings up all those physical emotions, guilt and shame and judgement and regret and responsibility. We physically carry that in our body. So when we have to talk about money, sometimes it can feel really disruptive to our entire nervous system, because we feel threatened somehow because of those core beliefs, and those core narratives and dialogues that we hold around money.

Now, what was also interesting in this research was that 71% of female centric articles will encourage women to specifically seek out vouchers to spend as if they can’t just spend freely. That’s just nuts! 73% of pieces about men suggested that they should make big investments like art and buying flash cars and investing in property. Why is it that men get communicated about big investments and women get communicated about saving money by using vouchers? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in using discount codes and cashback websites and vouchers, I do that all the time. But it’s really important to go from daily managing of money, which historically is where we’ve been really good at, as women, generationally. We’ve been very good at managing the household purse. But what we’ve not been so good at is making the big investments. That feels like the man’s game to put on the men’s trousers to make those investment decisions, or we sometimes feel like we have to step into this masculine energy in order to have conversations about investments because it’s so unfamiliar.

Starling have worked with researchers at Brunel University who have analysed over 600 photographs used for articles about money and finance, They found that men and women were depicted very differently. Men were shown as being in control and making financial decisions, whilst women were shown clutching piggy banks and counting pennies. They’ve teamed up with Lensi Photography to create a new library of 100 photographs that better represents women and money. They’re free to download. Corporate Advertsing Photography by Lensi Photography

Why is it so unfamiliar? Because of this, if we’re going to encourage any more women to invest, we’ve got to change the way that we’re communicated about. This is one of the things that I am a huge advocate for is standing on speaker stages and talking about these things. If that’s not going to change, then that narrative is still going to be negative towards women being able and capable of investing. 

We designed an investing course four years ago, that was one of the first courses that we built, which specifically helps women to start getting investing, and for that very reason. We have so many myths around investing; that you have to have lots of money to get started, that you have to take lots of risks, that you have to be in your 20s to start investing, but it’s too late if you’re doing it in your 40s or 50s. We have these big myths surrounding investments. I think what this research shows for me is that we’ve got to change this narrative that investments aren’t just for the rich. Investments aren’t just for men and that it’s not just about scraping through the pennies or saving vouchers. It’s about having that real balance of managing the day to day household, but also being empowered that we can start making investments. 

There’s a whole bunch of research that shows that when women do get started with investing, we could change the world, because often we invest more ethically as well. So when we do make investments, we invest in sustainable investments. We’ll invest in funds that are not in things like tobacco, or the pornography industry, things that are on the UK FTSE 100, because we’re much more conscious about how our investing decisions are impacting the bigger world around us. Actually, what I find really empowering is that if more women get started with investing, the world would actually be a better place. This is why, because based on this research, we are not communicated that it’s normal for us to be making big investments.

60% of financial articles in male magazines tend to speak to men as if they’re savvy financiers, offering advice on the best tech to use to enhance their investments.

Now, what was also interesting for me around this was when you type in the word investment into the search bar of most magazines for women, their results are generally designer handbags and expensive coats. What is that about, that an investment for us as women is only about appearance. It’s just such an old fashioned approach, isn’t it. Investment for me is about investing in yourself. That’s one of the best investments you can make is investing in yourself. Investing in property or companies – which is really what the stock market is all about. It’s just investing in companies that you’re probably already buying. You’re investing in Apple or Netflix, companies that you’re already using their products and services, and we’re just buying shares in those companies so that when they grow, we get a proportion of that growth. But isn’t that interesting? Go and try it. Just type in the word investment into some of the women’s magazines and just see what comes up.

Let me know what comes up for you around that. I’d love to hear. Drop me a DM on Instagram or a Facebook message and just let me know what you found. I’d love to see what comes up in your search. 

Then the final two things that came up; one was why can’t we unhook conversations about money from guilt and shame. This is something I talk about a lot and also in my book that’s coming out on the 9th December, not that far away! I talk a lot about this subject. We have entire chapters, specifically around guilt and shame because we say things like, I am bad with money, I am not able to take risks, I am not comfortable investing, I am terrible at making financial decisions, I am irresponsible with money. These are some of the things that I hear when I coach clients. These I am statements are really attaching our sense of self with money. If there’s anything that you take from this episode today, I want you to think about detaching your sense of self from money. We know rationally that having more money doesn’t make you a better person, having less money doesn’t make you a worse person, yet we give away so much of our power to the amount of money that we have, or the amount of money that we make. 

I was literally speaking to somebody last night on WhatsApp who was saying that she didn’t feel deserving of having all this money that she’s generating in her business. She was generating £30,000 in income per month from her business but she didn’t feel deserving to have and hold on to that money. Why? Quite possibly because of the shame that she feels around holding money and holding wealth. We’ve not done any coaching together yet so I don’t know where that’s come from, for this particular lady. But what is really interesting is to think about whose shame is it that we’re carrying.

Third City Starling Bank Diversity in Finance Make Money Equal Corporate Advertising Photography by Lensi Photography

That shame, that guilt is probably just a borrowed belief, a borrowed emotion. That has quite likely come from people that we have grown up with, family figures or experiences. What’s interesting about guilt and shame is they are two different things. Shame is when you’re referring to a decision that directly relates back to you as in your sense of self, who you are. Whereas guilt is just feeling guilty about something that’s happened. They’re two very distinct things and there’s more around the subject coming up in my book. 

Why can’t we unhook conversations about money around guilt and shame? I think this is because we don’t like talking about these emotions. For me, money isn’t the taboo subject here. It’s that perception and the emotion that we attached to it, that becomes the taboo subject. So in order to unlock conversations about money, I really do think that we need to speak more openly about our experiences since there’s no right or wrong relationship with money. For what we consider to be terrible decisions around money, it’s about time we started handing back those emotions of guilt and shame, and really practising self forgiveness. 

Those of you that have followed me for a while will know that the first step of changing our relationship with money is thinking about what decisions we have made, where we’re holding on to shame that we need to just release and hand back with love to ourselves, or somebody else. Often the shame that I’ve carried around money and how I’ve dealt with money has been from experiences from previous family members generations before us. 

I think about my great grandparents and my grandparents. They lived during a period of post war where everything was about a lack of and not enoughness. That scarcity mindset was actually quite appropriate for that time, when everything was limited. Food was rationed, for example, so that relationship with money very much served them in that generational period.

But some of that guilt and shame around having more than everybody else is something that just gets passed down the generations, through our core beliefs, and also through our energetic fields. How we feel about money, the feeling, is sat within the body, it’s within our energy fields. In order to release that guilt and shame, we can do things like journaling, meditation, even things like somatic work, where we’re working with the emotions that sit in the body and actually getting rid of them away from the body. 

Those of you that have been following me for a while will know that I recently qualified in emotional freedom technique or EFT and that is a technique that’s used to clear away trauma that is sat in the body by tapping on certain meridian points around the body, tapping those emotions away from the body, those traumas away from the body. It’s a little bit like acupuncture, but without the needles.

Just talking openly and asking, am I holding on to any decisions? What emotion am I holding on to there? If it is guilt and shame, then whose shame and guilt is that and is it time for us to hand that back with love, either to somebody else, or to ourselves, in order for us to move forward.

There’s lots of really juicy stuff in this report and I’d really recommend that you go and read it. The final thing I wanted to pick out and share with you was around how women are now the primary breadwinners in 40% of households. I just think that’s huge. If you think about that shift away from managing the day to day purse, to actually looking at some of the good, interesting ways that we can use money to live the life that we want to live and also do good for the world, with things like investing and growing our wealth, that’s really interesting because I think that this presents an amazing opportunity for us. As women who are, in 40% of households, now the primary breadwinners, we should be thinking about putting money aside for our future self and enabling us to safeguard and continue the lifestyle that we currently live way out into our financial future.

Third City Starling Bank Diversity in Finance Make Money Equal Corporate Advertising Photography by Lensi Photography

This is something I’ve spoken about on the podcast before where our brain doesn’t like uncertainty. Often when we start to think about our financial future, it locks down on us. Have you ever found that everything’s about today, or we’re more interested in maybe looking at what we’re doing next year, rather than what we’re doing with our money for the next 10, 20 or 30 years ahead? The brain doesn’t like that uncertainty, and the future is very uncertain. That’s why I’m a big believer in changing the language that the financial services profession uses on things like pensions. Pensions are boring, they’re dull. Who wants to talk about pensions? But what we do want to talk about is how we can safeguard our current financial situation to either improve it, or protect it so that we can live that life way into our 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even pass that wealth to future generations potentially. 

This research, for me, shows a couple of things. One, is that we need to change the way that the media communicates to us about money. Their tone is very demeaning and extremely condescending. This isn’t just about saving money to spend on shoes and handbags. This is about creating wealth, making investments in ourselves and in our futures. The likelihood is that for most of you listening to this, you’re going to outlive your partners. You’re going to live way into your 80s and 90s. It’s very typical now for a woman to live into her 80s. We know that because we’re seeing lots of challenges around long term care and financially being able to support ourselves in long term care situations. Many of us will need either care in the home or to go into a care home or residential home where we can be supported to live our life frugally and lovingly, and with doing all the things that we want to do, and still have enough money left at the end of it. 

This report is just incredibly powerful to look at. We can almost ignore what the media is saying, because in most situations, this is not about just spending money on handbags and shoes, and very much about stepping into a place of empowerment where you can make investments for yourself. You are capable of bringing money into your life, bringing money into your businesses. Don’t avoid talking about money just because it brings up those emotions. This is really about embodying all of those emotions because emotions are not bad. Those emotions are there to give you a message and we can really use those emotions to step into a place of positive empowerment so that you feel deserving to have money, you feel deserving to keep hold of it, and you feel deserving to use it to give back for your own needs, not just everybody else’s. Use that money in a way that’s going to support you now and in the future. 

I’d really recommend you go and check out this research that Starling Bank has done around their Make Money Equal campaign. It was a report that I read some years ago when I first started my business.

And I’m absolutely delighted that we will be speaking to Anne Boden, the CEO of Starling Bank. She is the first and the only female CEO of a UK bank. I know that this was something that she is hugely passionate about so I’m really excited. Depending on when you’re listening to this, you may have already seen this episode on our social media accounts, or you may be listening to that next, but it’s something that I am super passionate about. And I hope you are too. 

Let’s do something to change this dialogue. To change these narratives. We can’t necessarily impact exactly how the media are communicating to us. What we can do is make sure that we are surrounded by women and others that are talking about how we can use money to do good, and also how we can think about being curious to our own narratives and our own language that we’re using with ourselves, because that’s something that we can all change. 

If you’ve decided that now is the time for you to upgrade your life, grow your wealth and transform your relationship with money, then come and work with me and the other ladies inside The Money Circle, where I’ll show you exactly step by step how to make this all possible. Come and join the financial family over at catherinemorgan.com/join-now.

Small steps. Big wins. Let’s go

This podcast is brought to you with the help of my friends at Starling bank voted Britain’s best bank four years running at the British Bank Awards. They literally changed the way that I looked at money with their clever visual savings tools to give you insights into your spending. And those of you who are in our community, will know just how much we love our money pots. So come and join the millions of people who have changed the way that they bank and apply for a free digital bank account in literally minutes. Just head over to www.starlingbank.com/financialshoes to get started.


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