I recently started “reading” (the audiobook) Suze Orman’s new book “Women & Money”. So far I’m still a little amazed at the fact that she never utters the word gay or lesbian when referring to unmarried women or women with a partner even though she is now out herself. The fundamentals are all the same (I’m up to the part of the book where she helps women understand cash flow and savings) but it would be nice to get a little acknowledgment and validation from one of our own when listening to a frank discussion of our money. She talks about a number of reasons why women struggle with money, and one of those is a lack of self-confidence or asking for what we really want and deserve. A little more pride behind our financial teachers might help with our own self-confidence building as we observe powerful role models. But I digress…
Now that I am off my little soap box, I wanted to talk a little about one point she makes early on in the book. She calls it “Don’t Put Yourself on Sale”. By this she is referring to how so many women are eager to cut themselves short when it comes to money whereas a man in the same situation would never think to do that. Some of the ways we put ourselves on sale from a financial standpoint are:
- Not negotiating for a better salary
- Reducing our rates for customers that say they can’t afford the products/services we offer as business owners
- Bartering even when we would prefer the cash and/or don’t want the service we are bartering for (or worse yet, bartering in unequal shares — hour for hour even if our hourly rates are different)
- Giving our products or services away because potential customers balk at the price or say they can’t afford what we offer
- Not asking for a raise when we deserve one
- Volunteering our time and expertise when we can’t really afford to be doing so (volunteering itself can be great and rewarding, but if we do so at a detriment to ourselves financially or otherwise, it is not helping anyone!)
I thought this was a great way to frame how we as women often devalue ourselves financially. That got me to thinking – how else do we put ourselves on sale even if it isn’t directly tied to money? How often do we put our personal well-being, self-worth, and value on sale? What impact does this have?
As I thought of this I instantly thought of ways women, especially lesbians, often put themselves on sale.
- Not being honest or authentic about who we really are.
- Hurting ourselves and our relationships when we deny that they exist by dancing around the question or making up stories to avoid coming out. Even the little subtle dishonesty by ommission counts and I know more than one relationship that has gone south because the partner feels disrespected or not valued because her other half doesn’t acknowledge that she exists.
- Saying “yes” when we mean “no” to obligations, offers, careers, volunteer requests…you name it
- Overbooking our schedules to within an inch of our sanity
- Ignoring our intuition
- Disregarding our true feelings and what our body and spirit really want to tell us
- Beating ourselves up with negative self-talk or other self-abusive behaviors (overindulging, addictions, unhealthy lifestyles, etc.)
- Staying in careers or relationships that don’t serve us
- Not speaking up when we have something to say
I’m sure there are other ways but these are just the ones that pop off the top of my head. When we behave in this way we are telling ourselves, others, and the world that we don’t deserve more. We say “it’s ok, I’ll settle for a little less” or “I don’t want to make waves so, I’ll hide in the corner on the sale rack”.
While these examples may not have a direct, quantifiable financial impact like the examples Suze states in her book, I believe they have a huge impact on life quality and even on our financial health since our relationship with money, is after all, a relationship built on our own personal opinion of ourselves.
Where in your life have you been putting yourself on sale? What is one thing you can stop or start doing right now to start appreciating your own value?