This article written by Lazetta Rainey Braxton, MBA, CFP® originally appeared on CNBC.com.
Women who set their mind on something usually achieve great things.
As a female certified financial planner professional and founder of my advisory firm, I enjoy seeing women get excited about achieving financial confidence. They learn to value the role money plays in living their best life. They experience the freedom to build, enjoy and share wealth on their own terms.
Simply stated, the right money mindset makes women an even more formidable force in the world.
One threatening mental block to financial confidence and freedom for women is “money FOG.”
FOG — fear, obligation, guilt — attacks sparkling minds and blocks healthy views on money. Money FOG slows the progress you need to grow, keep and distribute wealth. And wealth is the key for supporting the life a woman desires for herself as well as for those whom she loves and supports.
Women’s wealth is rising. By 2020, women are projected to control $72 trillion in private wealth. With outpaced revenue growth for women-owned businesses, women can’t afford money FOG. Its potential damage to wealth is too expensive.
Let’s take a closer look at how money FOG clouds a woman’s money mindset and dampens a joyous life.
The “Bag Lady Syndrome”— the thought of being homeless and penniless—ranks as one of the biggest money fears for women. Surprisingly, BLS impacts women at all economic levels. It appears in women who question their spending habits and debt levels, the size of their retirement nest egg and the amount of money left to them as a widower or divorcee.
Financial-related news also intensifies fear in women who don’t feel savvy about financial concepts such as investing. Stock market crashes and “Bernie Madoffs” set off mental alarms that often smother their interest in financial literacy.
Real facts — such as the gender pay gap, the lack of gender diversity in the workplace (including the C-Suite), and a low representation of women on corporate boards — also invoke fears of unemployment, job loss and stagnant careers. Sexism threatens to reduce a woman’s chances to earn the money in ways that support her financial and life goals.
Women often assume the primary role of caregiver. Caregivers place the needs others first, even at the sacrifice of their own care. When it comes to money, women say yes too frequently to money requests made by adult children.
When grown children refuse to embrace “adulting,” women often feel obligated to bail their children out of self-inflicted financial messes by covering their rent, debt payments and other bills customary to managing basic household finances.
A woman’s desire to offer financial assistance often extends beyond children to parents, other family members and friends. She feels obligated to help those in need, trusting that her contribution will improve their situation. She doesn’t dig deep into the true nature of the financial request, nor does she realize the outlays fuel financial irresponsibility by both parties.
Guilt also chips away at money confidence and freedom, particularly for stay-at-home moms (also known as domestic engineers) and female breadwinners. Stay-at-home moms don’t earn a tangible wage for their work as domestic engineers despite their duties as a consultant, coach and chief of staff. Shame can creep up when this mom asks for or spends money. She constantly agonizes over every requested and spent dollar.
The ability of female breadwinners to “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan” should be a confidence-booster. And yet, the guilt of being absent from home can drive a woman to buy love in the form of extravagant gifts, trips and schools.
Building, enjoying and sharing wealth requires the courage to identify money FOG — and just as importantly, a commitment to releasing it. Being true to one’s goals and values reduces the chances of money missteps and regrets.
Women must lift the money FOG by continuing to set their minds to achieving money confidence and freedom.