Money confidence. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
But what does it mean, and why does it matter?
Let’s start with a story. Last week I participated in the launch of the Girls Academy for Financial Education at The Museum of American Finance. I am working with the Museum to provide financial education to an amazing group of teenaged girls from public schools all around New York City. The program was made possible through generous funding by the Principle Quest Foundation, an innovative institution that focuses on programs for girls’ and women’s financial education.
In our first class, we discussed the context of women and money, looking at issues around the gender wage gap, women and work, girls’ rising ambition levels, and the importance of income in the overall financial picture. We did a fantastic exercise around salary negotiation, so the girls could begin to understand — and experience — that critical process.
When we came back together for a debrief of the activity, the girls discussed the challenges of the process, and also the exultation when they had made a strong argument for a raise, and gotten it. We talked about what it would take for them to negotiate a higher salary in a real-life situation.
I am always impressed with the realizations the salary negotiation exercise provides. In the exercise, the girls have to make a case for why they should be paid more. During the debrief discussion, one student remarked that she could see how much confidence in herself would align with what she would be paid in the future.
Without confidence in your own worth, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to make a cogent argument on your own behalf, or even start the conversation for a higher salary.
Last week in this space we talked about the importance of women taking risks, specifically, risks in investing. Asking for a raise, or negotiating a higher starting salary than was originally offered, is another form of risk, particularly for women. But in dealing with risk in both investing and salary negotiations, confidence is critical.
Which brings us back to the starting questions: What is money confidence and why does it matter? Money confidence is about believing in your ability to take care of yourself financially, and involves the ongoing learning and demonstration of the skills, mindset, and deeper understanding of how the critical financial pieces of your life fit together. These pieces include human capital, wealth management, and value creation.
The “what” of money confidence might seem complicated, although I believe with the right education, it is well within everyone’s grasp. The “why” is simple, but powerful. Money confidence matters because its manifestation is the basis for financial health and success.