Let’s Talk Money
Like far too many, I have never really been interested in finances, mine or otherwise. I’d turn off at any mention of the budget, superannuation was a foreign concept and I was blissfully unaware of my student loans and their repayment system. It’s family legend that I fell asleep after misguidedly asking after the financial crash of 2008 and I did no research on Hecs loans before I signed my name on the dotted line. I just didn’t understand the ins and outs of money. I was as surprised as everyone else to find myself creating content for Incent, a company about building wealth and cracking a warped financial system.
So began my journey to enlightenment, with those who knew me well having to assume divine intervention. What I learnt will come as no surprise to many of you: the complex network of legislation, commercial business, economics and above all, money, is not designed to be easily understood, least of all by a young woman.
So where do you start, as someone gaining control (to some degree) of their own finances with no real knowledge or interest in a financial system that’s designed to confuse? The truth is, I don’t have the answer. What I can share is some core learning I’ve done over the past year. So, have a read of the findings of twenty-something lady trying to understand the world of money.
Our financial system prioritises the wealthy and the white.
Like most of the existing systems that make up the network of our Western society, the financial system was designed for and accommodates those with money and privilege. The rich make money off having money, while the “poor” have to take on personal debt to make ends meet. We need to understand this system because it profits off us and our lack of education.
Financial literacy is essential.
In my experience, understanding money and how it worked was something I had to seek out on my own. There were no mandatory classes in school about finance or taxes and so unless you were taking economics or business studies in your HSC years, you were unlikely to come across it. By the time people were talking about their finances, I felt like it was too late for me to catch up and that it was a conversation for those who were smarter and more successful than myself.
With 85% of women under the age of 35 saying they don’t understand basic investment concepts, it’s clear that understanding fundamental financial concepts is a huge problem in modern society, particularly for women and marginalised peoples. In order to find financial success and security, we need to have a base level of understanding; the world of finance and business needs our voices to be heard and as a result, financial literacy is not something we have the luxury of avoiding.
Money is power. Duh.
Realistically, this is a concept that I understood prior to working at Incent. Money, privilege and power are constantly feeding each other – you only have to look at our government and figures of power to work that out. However, I hadn’t fully appreciated the flip side: a lack of money, means you are often powerless in your own reality.
While I’d often rather be reading something superficial, the truth is that money is at the heart of nearly everything – including so-called frivolous things.
As a journalist, I follow the media avidly with no holds barred: foreign affairs, pop culture, celebrity gossip and social issues. The one thing they have in common is money. It dictates public opinion, scrutiny and the what-happens-next. It helps us decide who we like and who we don’t; who’s fake and who’s genuine; where, when and if something happened. There is a reason they say follow the money and as a journalist, it took a ridiculous amount of time for me to realise that doing so is impossible when you don’t have any financial smarts.
To some, the things I’ve learnt might seem obvious or insignificant in the grand scheme of improving my financial literacy. To me, they are key understandings that puts our financial system in a context that I can begin to understand. After all, our financial system is one I never really cared about understanding – it’s through research, exposure and a lot of reading that I understood the gravity of being fiscally responsible and knowledgeable, particularly as a woman.
It’s only been a year since I joined the conversation about money and I have an enormous distance to cover before I really feel comfortable in taking control of my finances. I was lucky (I think) to be pushed into the world of money and thus forced to start learning but I firmly believe that if my interest could be piqued by this complicated world, anyone can do it.
If getting started is the problem, check out any of the resources I’ve linked below – they’re all super accessible and frame money in a way that’s actually relevant and, dare I say it, exciting. Otherwise, the only advice I’m qualified to give is to go slowly, one day at a time, and you’ll get there. Take it from someone who knows!
Great Money Content:
- She’s on the Money: A podcast produced by the women of Shameless was always going to be a winner, but this one really is brilliant. It’s timely, relevant and tackles different areas of the money world in easily digestible segments. It’s a young podcast but it’s been my go-to ever since it launched!
- The Financial Diet and Financy: Both create content on money that’s easy reading and a great starting point when you’re trying to spark an interest for finance. While not all their work is necessarily instructive or a how-to, it gives voice to women-focused stories which I really enjoyed.
- There’s actually some really good Instagram content out there if you are looking to slowly integrate money education into your every day. My personal favourites are @girlboss and @thefinancialbar.
The content of this article does not intent to provide any general or personal financial product advice (as defined in Section 766B of the Corporations Act). It is meant to be informational and of a general nature only. You there need to carefully consider whether the information in this article is relevant to you in light of your particular needs and circumstances. Please consider your finance carefully and spend responsibly