Female Money Mentors

Where were all my female financial mentors?

Women Rock MoneyTo celebrate International Women’s Day in 2018, I’m joining in with MamaFishSaves in #womenrockmoney, and writing a series of feminist posts, with a finance theme. Today’s topic is mentors; specifically financial mentors or money mentors. International Women’s Day seems an appropriate day to reflect on how women are influenced financially. And it seems embarrassing to admit, all of my financial mentors have been men. And all my role model and financial idols were also men. This feels quite problematic to the feminist in me.

My privileged background

So, to set the scene, I was privileged to grow up in a white middle class home in the UK. Growing up was always comfortable, but frugal. To give an example, we owned our house and I’ve always had my own bedroom yet my family has a strange affection for  Ladas as cars. Note the plural; they replaced one Lada with another Lada in succession. To those across the pond, Ladas are not the sexiest cars, and this was reflected in their pricing. Which made my parents love them. Their stable approach were also reflected in their occupations, both working for the government and having final salary pensions. Combined with a low tolerance to risk, this fact meant they were both never exposed to investing in the stock market. Hence I was taught to be frugal, always save, but never to invest.

My twenties

Financially, nothing very exciting happened in my twenties. I was textbook normal for white middle class university graduate. Earning between £16k and £30k, I followed my parents financial model. I saved, saved and bought property to live in. The idea of investing never crossed my mind. And besides I didn’t really have much spare money then.

My early thirties

Things started to change for me just after hitting thirty. I got a break and moved to London with a commensurate bump in salary. And then a few years later, my salary started to increase dramatically (see this post for details of my eventual rise to £100k). Despite the geographical difference between us, I was still following my parents model. Save, save and buy property to live in. I had no friends or mentors that followed a different path, and the idea of investing was foreign to me.

Men who talked about investing

At my first six figure job, I was working alongside a team of mainly older men. As our desks were crammed, we all took lunch together in the canteen. This is when I noticed a different dynamic to my previous workplaces. Amongst some other geeky topics, we also talked about money. And investing. In particular shares and funds were openly discussed. Along with commentary on the market and political influences. This was the first time I had been exposed to such investing talk, and began to realise that yes, it was normal to invest.

Financial Mentors

White suited menAt this time I also got interested in money, and started to research online. Given my atheism Dave Ramsey obviously didn’t appeal. But I did find a straight talking geeky guy I could relate to. Enter Mr Money Mustache. So, you can guess my confession. I’m embarrassed to say, but my financial mentors look like this image. See anything? It’s exclusively male. Not just one man or two, but a full on collection of them. But that was the reality of my life. Female colleagues did not talk about money or investing, but male colleagues did. Friends were not interested in talking about finances either and did not invest. I was 100% influenced financially by men.

Societal impact

Taken individually, does it really matter if my mentors were male? After all I am only one person. We all know a sample size of one is meaningless. Then I asked around, and the majority of mentors quoted were also male. So we were seriously lacking in female financial mentors. As a bigger societal picture this is more troublesome. Therefore as well as occupying less power positions, women are paid less and have less financial role models than men. Money and power have traditionally been very male dominated spheres, and indeed these traditions still remain true today. It is not hard to see that females may feel marginalised around money, and be uncomfortable talking about money and investing. As part of #womenrockmoney we want to empower women to manage money, and having access to diverse financial mentors and role models is key.

Can we get new role models?

As the previous section shows, I needed some new role models to influence my thinking. And I’m pleased to report I have found some. There are so many varied and diverse financial gurus in the financial independence community, there truly is someone for everyone. You can find many here, in MamaFishSaves campaign for #womenrockfinance. And Tread Lightly, Retire Early has a whole post celebrating the Women of the Financial Independence movement. I’d urge you to bookmark and make your way through all these inspiring blogs. Get thee a new financial role model now.

My hopes for the futureFinancial Mentors

So back in wider society, how do we get a more diverse set of financial mentors out there? Are you able to step up and help? And if you are reading this, do you talk to women about money and investing? Can you be a financial mentor for someone?We all need to look deep into ourselves, and be willing to help those around us, and make sure everyone gets onboard. Then together we can #PressforProgress, which is the apt theme for International Women’s Day in 2018.

Over to you?

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Who are your personal financial mentors?
  • And your financial role models?
  • Can you step up and be a female financial mentor?
  • You can checkout my Feminist Utopia Pinterest board below, please follow me, and let me know if you also want to contribute. The more the merrier.

28 comments on “Where were all my female financial mentors?

  1. Your experience pretty much mirrors mine. My previous partner did the investing, or whatever little we did at the time. The first I came across was Mr Money Mustache! At the same time, I had a friend who got interested in investing so I could talk to HER.

    In all of that though, it’s still mostly men that I have conversations about investing. When conversation with women come up, tthere’s are a few standard reactions: they’re excited and have a lot of foundational questions, seem uninterested or feel it’s too complicated.

    So personal finances are well, personal! And I don’t want to be preaching or coming across as telling anyone what they should look into. But when it does come up, I’m surprised at how passionate I become and how much I have to say. I get especially excited if it’s another female.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, it’s really interesting to hear that we’ve had similar experiences. And I agree, it’s easy to get passionate when talking about money.

  2. “Money and power have traditionally been very male dominated spheres, and indeed these traditions still remain true today.”

    This. And I think that’s reflected in the fields we’re encouraged to pursue and then subsequently how we monetarily reward those fields, regardless of their actual value to society.

    Loving the CTA, too. Will have to look out for those mentoring opportunities and take advantage of female mentors myself as they come along.

    1. I’ve just recently got on board with that thinking, that we need to start valuing “womans jobs” as much as “mens jobs”. Why does the government always spend on things that create “mens jobs” such as infrastructure, rather than things like care that would have an equal if not better effect on the economy.

      And yeah, nothing beats a blog post with a CTA, we aren’t going to make progress if we only moan about it! Let’s make the change ourselves.

  3. What a great point. I am really glad I stumbled upon the personal finance blog community. Before that, I didn’t really have any women mentors for my financial life. We still have a long way to go, but its a start 🙂

    1. Hi Adventure, interesting to hear you were in the same boat as me without female mentors too, hopefully we can all change this for the future generations!

  4. This is so true. Until I discovered Mrs. Frugalwoods, I didn’t have many female financial role models, especially mainstream ones. I saw you’re on track to retire before 40?! You go Ms.ZiYou! Also I love your blog theme. The font is pretty (see? Another reason for female financial role models. Good aesthetics!!).

    1. Hi Laurie, thanks for reading and commenting. Sad (but not unexpected) to see you are yet another without female role models. But hey, Mrs Frugalwoods is an awesome one. She rocks, I love her post about the beauty tax.

      Thanks for your comments on the theme, I agree the font is awesome. And yeah, on track to give up the working purely for money at 40. Good times, only a few more year left to enjoy before moving onto different things.

  5. My female financial mentors are Paula Pant from Afford Anything, Mrs Fruglawoods and Gwen and J from the Fire Drill Podcast (as well as you Ms Ziyou!).

    I would happily be a financial mentor for younger women although I’m relatively early in my journey to FI. I work in a school and spoke to a 15 year old yesterday about my job. I told her I was a Chartered Accountant and her somewhat disappointing response was “Did you go to business school? That sounds like a lot of work!”. With only a few minutes, I tried to point out that short term hard work has led to long term gains for me but it’s going to take a lot more to have some positive impact on our teenage girls!

    1. Hi thesavingjourney, thanks for stopping by and commenting. You have some awesome financial mentors there, I’m honoured to be included in amazing company.

      I’m sure you can make a difference to kids in the school, you must just have found someone who wasn’t that motivated, I’m sure others will be more receptive. Keep up the great work.

    1. Hi, thanks for stopping by, and confirming my suspicions that we all tend towards male role models.

      But yes, online we have some rockstar females, and MamaFishSaves has got together an epic group of role models for future generations.

  6. Having just spent hours and hours trawling through all the #WomenRockMoney posts – I’m stoked to have found more like minded women on the same journey as me – some much farther ahead! It’s inspiring to read about and listen to other women who are confident enough to talk about money. More please!

    1. Hi Peti, I know there are so many amazing posts in the collection, and they all have a slightly different focus which makes for fascinating reading.

      I agree finding an online community of women on the same journey is epic, and it’s great how we can look up to those further ahead than us for advice, and well as offering others tips based on our own experiences.

  7. My mom actually wrote her Master’s on this in the late 90s and it’s been something that pokes at me when I read blogs about finance. I’ve been very fortunate to have a mom who has an MBA who can guide me on all of the questions that I have about finances, but it makes me notice more how few women there are in that sphere for other people to ask. Finances and the reasons why we want to get to a comfortable place can also be so gendered and it’s fascinating to me the assumptions that male mentors have always made that would NEVER apply to my life.

    It makes me more vocal about my financial situation and all of the money tricks/tips I’ve acquired over the few years I’ve been paying attention to ensure that the awesome women around me have a woman they can ask. If I don’t know the answer, I damned well know a woman who does.

    1. You have a way cool mum Kat, what a great masters topic. And so fabulous you now are open about finances and happy to share, and have a great network of female role models.

  8. Ha, I remember the Lada jokes (interchangeable with Skoda at the time) – what do you call a convertible Lada? A skip. Sorry….but your parents had the last laugh, not spending a ridiculous amount of money on cars.

    Recent financial mentors of mine have all been blokes seeing as they dominate the FIRE community. MMM first, and then UK bloggers TheFirestarter and Huw from Financially Free by 40.

    I guess my best friend is my financial mentor – divorced with two kids, she likes to joke that she’s a ‘single mother from Liverpool’ but runs her own successful IT consultancy business and has invested for many years, so she’s one person I can speak to about investing. She recently bought the home she’ll be retiring in for cash and has set an early retirement date for later this year, with her youngest still in uni.

    The thing is, my mum really should have been my financial mentor right from the start, if only I hadn’t spent pretty much my entire life thinking how different I am/was from her – she did retire early after all but I just thought “That’s not me!” Oh well, better late than never!

    1. Yeah, those jokes were rife, cause let’s face it they were not the most attractive of cars.

      I love the fact you have such a financially savvy best friend, she sounds awesome, achieving so much on her own.

      Sadly, we all try to avoid turning into our parents, but I think it may be inevitable and we’re just avoiding it unnecessarily.

  9. Hey Ms. ZiYou! Your experience seems to mirror mine. Very few women around me seem to possess even a superficial interest in personal finance and investing.

    Funny thing is my father attempts to get my mum interested in this and she refuses.

    In India particularly, I am yet to come across a strong female voice about personal finance and money. That gap is what I hoping to try and fill with my blog.

    1. Hi Arpana, thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like we are very much on the same page about female financial role models. It sounds like you have an even bigger gap in India, and I love what you are doing with your blog.

  10. An interesting point and, now I think about it – this it true for me too. Any financial education I have had has come from books (written by men) and blogs (which again, were mostly by men). Even finance related forums and groups I frequent are male dominated.

    I think you’re right about social expectations and norms. Women are paid less. We take time off to do woman stuff – raise kids etc. Only yesterday I heard a man comment about his wife’s spending and the response was something along the lines of ‘Not just your wife, mate. All women shop a lot.” Perhaps we’re less inclined to talk about investing because we’re not expected to have the spare cash to invest? And if we don’t take about it, the next generation of girls grow up thinking it’s not something for them to talk about.

    Thanks for sharing the links – I’m off to find some financially savvy females.

What do you think?