How Black Women Can Shift to a Money Mindset, According to Financial Therapists

·5 min read
Portrait of african american businesswoman back to work at office after pandemic lockdown. Female entrepreneur with protective face mask standing alone in office with her arms crossed.
Portrait of african american businesswoman back to work at office after pandemic lockdown. Female entrepreneur with protective face mask standing alone in office with her arms crossed.

There is an endless amount of information online about transforming your finances, but if you don't first address your money beliefs, you may find it hard to really connect with any advice. I can relate because for a long time, I didn't believe money was accessible to me, or that I even deserved it. As a Black woman, I thought I had to work twice as hard to earn or deserve anything. And seeing as how we earn 21 percent less than white women and 38 percent less than white men in the US, I wasn't exactly wrong.

Although racial and gender discrimination contributed to my scarcity mindset, there were other underlying beliefs keeping me from reaching my earning potential. I had to discover and unlearn my toxic money beliefs before my finances improved. Because this is something I desperately want for all Black women, POPSUGAR spoke to a financial therapist and money mindset coach about how we can shift our mindsets from scarcity to abundance. Here are their tips.

Find Out What Your Mindset Is

Understanding what shaped your beliefs about money is the first step to changing them. When I asked Aja Evans, a Licnesed Mental Health Counselor and Financial Therapist, about the most common theme she notices in Black women's money mindset, she stated, "Overcoming financial and money experiences from childhood and growing up." She explained that the messaging we receive from friends, school, and the media also influences our beliefs about money.

This has definitely been the case for me. After assessing my money beliefs, I found many of them came from my parents and their financial habits. I developed a scarcity mindset; I thought money was hard to acquire and lacked the self-confidence needed to ask for more.

If you want to understand your money mindset, Evans encourages you to do some journaling and ask yourself some hard questions. More specifically, she says ask what your feelings around money are, what your experiences have been, what position your family was in financially, and how that affected you. For example, if you watched your parents penny pinching because they struggled financially, you may feel guilty if you're the first in the family to earn six figures.

Consider Therapy

When trying to understand where your money beliefs come, painful memories and feelings may resurface. This is why Evans recommends hiring a professional. Although you can uncover the root of your money beliefs alone or open up to a loved one, a therapist can help you navigate any trauma that might arise. "You want to be sure that when you open up about some of your past, you can do so in a safe space that's comfortable," she said. "It can get really deep really quickly."

She also recommends finding a friend or therapist who looks like you, especially if you doubt your ability to earn a certain amount because you're Black. You want someone who is culturally competent and gets the unique challenges you face.

Get Around People With the Money Mindset You Need

Once you understand what your money mindset is and the beliefs holding you back financially, it's time to work on shifting them. How can you do this? Jelisha Gatling, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and Money Mindset Mentor, suggests looking for friends, mentors, or acquaintances with the mindset you aspire to have.

Be very intentional about who you share your financial situation and newfound aspirations with. "You need to lean on someone who is doing what you want to do already, or who is supportive of where you want to go," she advised.

This isn't to say you should abandon the people in your life who aren't where you want to be financially. Just be vigilant about who you share things with as they can affect you negatively if they don't have the right mindset.

Ask For More Money

As Black women, we're often afraid to ask for more money, be it in business or the workplace. However, the data on our median annual wages show we should be asking for more. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, Black Women's median annual wages are $24,000 less than white men.

While discrimination plays a role, research shows there is also a gender gap in negotiation. In our common self-sacrificing nature, we tend to negotiate more assertively for others than we do for ourselves. Maybe it's because we don't believe we're worthy of the money we should be asking for, which is absolutely not the case. "Maybe you don't charge enough, you don't ask for a raise, or you don't ask for time off because you're putting others' needs first, which I think is just sort of ingrained in us as Black women," Gatling said.

When you don't negotiate and ask for more, you aren't doing yourself any favors. Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University says not negotiating could cost you $1,000,000 throughout your lifetime. That's seven figures less for savings, retirement, and generational wealth. To shift your mindset, Jelisha suggests leaning into the discomfort and asking for more money, even when it's scary.

Improve Your Financial Literacy

How can you welcome abundance into your life if you don't know how money works? Money is a tool, and to use it as one, you need to be financially literate. "It's difficult to grow your money, negotiate, or have a conversation about earning more at work if you don't know you can," Evans explained.

Some common strategies she suggests for increasing your income include getting a well-paying job, ensuring you're getting equal pay, budgeting, creating an emergency savings fund, and asking for raises. You can use resources on platforms like Clever Girl Finance or The Budgetnista (run by Black women) to improve your knowledge. Evans also says you must also be specific about how much money you need and how getting that will change your life.

Ultimately, you must believe and invest in yourself if you want to see exponential growth in your finances. Just remember, you deserve more and being a Black woman doesn't deny you access to abundance.