Overcoming the emotional side of money

Women & Retirement: Overcoming the emotional side of money

Recently I was having lunch with a girlfriend who at one point confided that she let her husband handle all the finances, because dealing with money scares her.

Ironically, this is how I used to feel about money. I’ve had many clients who at one point felt the same way.

Money can be an uncomfortable topic for women, because for us, money is emotional.

Typically, the emotions that get triggered around money makes women feel uncomfortable, because they represent what we money coaches call a “money blind spot.”

The four most common negative emotions around money are guilt, shame, resentment and fear.

Guilt around money comes from judgement of oneself. The question I like to ask women is, “What if judging yourself were no longer acceptable to you?” When the client replaces self-condemnation with self-acceptance, she becomes open to self-forgiveness, which in turn, increases her self-esteem. This is an essential step to financial empowerment. Guilt can keep women from receiving more money and more income because they believe they don’t deserve abundance.

Shame commonly shows up when debt is present. Shame is an emotion that causes a woman to seriously question her self-worth. It is usually accompanied by self-condemnation. There is usually some type of story the client is telling herself and perhaps reliving over and over in her mind, reminding herself of her short-comings and unworthiness.

Resentment is common for women who have nurturing personalities. Feelings of resentment surface when they take care of other people in their life financially but neglect their own financial wellbeing. Women may find themselves paying for things for other people out of a feeling of obligation or in an attempt to please. There is usually an issue with a lack of boundaries, especially around money and self-care. These women tend to put other people’s needs ahead of their own. For them, creating healthy boundaries around money is particularly important, as is the deeper exploration of why they feel compelled to take care of others by giving them money or paying for things when really they should be taking care of themselves financially. It would also behoove these women to explore areas in their lives where they might need to implement more self-care.

Fear and worrying about money is quite common for women when they avoid dealing with their money. Fear of the unknown tends to cause excessive anxiety. They worry about not being able to take care of themselves financially in the future, and since financial security is important for women, it’s important for them to work through this with a money coach.

One irrational fear that women face is referred to as the Bag Lady Syndrome. According to the Allianz Women, Money & Power study, forty-nine percent of women fear ending up broke and homeless regardless of their current income level. Among the women surveyed, a third of the highest income earners (those earning $200,000 and more) couldn’t shake this fear. The study states that “the pervasiveness of this worry may point to a deep-set financial insecurity that seems to be particular to women.”


In addition to the four emotions explained above, there are a host of other negative emotions that can get triggered for women, such as:













Obviously, no one wants to feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, so if the topic of money triggers these emotions for women, naturally they’ll avoid it.

This poses a big problem for women as they contemplate their retirement years, because avoiding the topic of money perpetuates those pesky bag lady fears.

If instead, you’d like to feel confident about your financial future, decide that this is the year you will connect with your money.

I’ve seen the biggest shift happen for women when they make it a point to know how much money is coming in each month, how much is going out in expenses, and how much needs to go toward retirement savings. Once I can get a client to this point, peace replaces fear and anxiety.

For women, having a plan is the best antidote to fear when it comes to money and retirement.


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