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Chloe b.@2x

Financial Shame is the Other Pandemic We Need to Address


Financial shame is everywhere. But, this isn’t breaking news.

It’s taken me a while to realize why I’ve become so keen on helping others develop a healthier relationship with money and wealth. It’s because I think it’s what gets in the way of us truly being grounded, finding peace and being free.

I only just recently realized that my complicated relationship with money came from my surviving hostile physical abuse as a child. What surprised me though was that it’s been seemingly “easier” to heal from my being physically abused. But, it’s increasingly more difficult to heal from being financially abused.

As a teenager just trying to stay alive, I knew that I was an income source to one of my abusive parents. She relegated me to the money that would fund her addiction. On the other hand, I was the way the other abusive parent could save money – if I only just went to live with him. If I lived with him, he wouldn’t have to pay child support anymore.

Being relegated to money dictated how I would form a relationship with money as an adult. Unbeknownst to me. It’s been the source of the growing shame I feel when I’m not perfect with my money.

But, the financial shame I feel didn’t just come from my traumatic childhood. I realize now that it’s everywhere.

Financial shaming is everywhere. And it’s time we address it.

Open a newspaper or a blog. What do you see? How this 23-year-old paid off her student loans in 6 months. Is this supposed to make us feel better or worse about ourselves? Intentional or not.

Considering Coronavirus, financial advisors tweet: This is the moment where our jobs reward us most. We helped our clients save for this moment. As if to say that those of us who weren’t “wise” to save or build an emergency fund deserve to suffer in the wake of this pandemic.

I have more questions than answers about how to address financial shaming in our society:

  • What are the things that get in the way of us having a healthy relationship with money and wealth?
  • What is the cost of financial shaming?
  • Who benefits from shaming others financially?
  • Do we valorize wealth and wealthy people because we think their wealth makes them more worthy?
  • Why do we practice retail therapy? Why does money make us feel alive?
  • Why does it seem like all of the narratives and education available to us about money and wealth are rooted in shame?

I don’t know the answers. I’m not sure I will ever have answers. But, I do feel like I’ll be able to develop strategies for us to address financial shame.

But, I feel as though my purpose and mission to close the wealth gap and help people have a healthier relationship and money and wealth has even deeper meaning now.

I’ll leave you with this, since this was really just an introduction. Start noticing when you see and hear financial shaming. Note how you feel. Then, remember that you are worthy whether you have a penny in your pocket or not.

That I can say with certainty. But, that’s something you are less likely to take away from any media that discusses or teaches money and wealth.


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My resources do more than just build wealth literacy; they aim to impart wealth-building capability. All of my resources are culturally responsive, translated in Spanish and French and accessible for individuals with learning differences or disabilities.

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