I’ve written two novels. I would classify myself as a creative person. I don’t like talking about money. I don’t like thinking about money (but I have to). I don’t like people who work with money as a rule. I’ve never been able to work out what “bankers” or “fund managers” or whatever they call themselves actually do and I think what they do doesn’t deserve the salaries they get. (Plus, I don’t like the loafers with no socks they wear on “casual” occasions.)
For a long time I thought money was someone else’s business in my life. My husbands. Yes, huge gasp. You should gasp. It’s so 1957 but I rearranged that division of labour in my head to be I’m-creative-and-therefore-don’t-do- money. I make jokes about how boring finances are and superannuation accounts. And tax. Roll my eyes. Let’s not talk about it ever.
When it comes to money I’ll do as little work as possible in terms of getting to know more about it and I’ll just sign where the yellow sticker says to. I earn a regular income and it goes into a bank account and I go to the ATM. Isn’t that enough money literacy? All those articles about tax changes or interest rates or superannuation? Scroll past. Nothing to see here but Yada Yada Yada compound interest, CPI, investment something or other. It’s another country with its own language.
And all of this lack of money literacy is the stupidest thing I’ve let happen to myself.
You see, I’ve finally worked it out. Money is true power. Money is freedom. We talk about women breaking the glass ceiling and rising to positions of power. We talk about the lack of representation of women on boards. We talk about affirmative action in Parliament. We need to start talking about how to get power much closer to home for all those women who aren’t going to be on boards, who aren’t going to be CEOS or senators or bankers.
The way to do that is through having money. That’s a big part of why men have held power for so long. It’s the golden rule: those with the gold make the rules.
We need to start talking about money with women so it’s a normal part of the conversation.
What is your best friend’s salary? Do you know it? How do you know what you’re earning is fair?
What about your super account. Are its annual fees ridiculously high?
How exactly has your cousin bought that portfolio of shares?
What percentage of your income should you save?
How exxy is too exxy for a leather jacket?
Why can’t we talk about money and learn about money and take all of that knowledge and make more money for ourselves. It’s not vulgar. It’s smart.
I’ve always grown up thinking there is something a little crass about talking about money (that’s probably suited all the people who are smart with their money). How else do you discover the intricacies and realities of finances if you don’t talk about it? If you don’t have discussions around dinner tables with your kids and family and friends about it? If you don’t talk to your daughters about how to query their boss at the chicken shop because they haven’t been paid all their hours for last week? If you don’t read about it and ask questions? If you don’t set yourself up to be its master, instead of its slave?