Confidence is a funny thing. When you have it, you feel like you can conquer anything, but when you don’t, you find yourself stuck in no man’s land.
This happens with a lot of things. How many of you have ever not done something because you thought you’d be bad at it? My favourite (that I have used WAY too many times) is ‘I can’t go to ‘fill in the blank’ workout class. I need to get in better shape first!’ That’s my serious lack of confidence showing. Other examples might be ‘I can’t fix the leaky faucet, I’m not a plumber’ or ‘I think I’ll just stay home, I’m not going to know anyone.’ Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.
And confidence can play a huge role in how you handle your money as well. Not only in how you spend but also how you save and how you earn. I want to talk about that a bit because I think it’s super important that we’re aware of how the emotions tied up with money impact us all.
Feel Good Spending
I’m sure the majority of us have heard about emotional spending, and I bet many of us have participated in one way or another. You don’t feel pretty enough, so you splurge on a new outfit. You had a tough day at work, so you deserve to go out for dinner. It’s pretty damn common to reward ourselves through spending. And that’s ok but, it can lead to unhealthy spending habits that may end up making you feel worse.
If you rely on spending money to boost your mood then that spending can be tough to rein in. This is how that downward spiral of debt happens. Emotional spending leads to guilt about spending, leads to feeling crappy which leads to more emotional spending. It’s a tough cycle to break.
Know Your Trigger
My emotional spending almost always comes in the way of food. I feel tired, or cranky, or lazy and instead of cooking, I want to go out for dinner. One of my goals for this year was to limit that and make eating out an event. For me, the solution lies in meal planning and keeping a few cop out options in the house. If I’m having a day then maybe I’ll eat that frozen dinner or box of Kraft Dinner. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than spending $50 at the fried chicken joint down the street.
Understanding what your weakness is will help you come up with alternatives to spending. Maybe instead of buying a new outfit, you have a DIY spa night with a fresh manicure and a face mask. If you’re bored with your home decor, then try a new furniture layout or switch around few pieces of art.
Lack of Knowledge
This is a biggie when it comes to money. One of the most common reasons I hear for why millennials aren’t investing is because they don’t know where to start. Here’s a scenario: Hypothetical 25 year old has graduated college and has her first full-time job. She’s making decent money and is saving a couple of hundred bucks each month. That’s great, good on her! The problem, she’s just letting that money build up in her savings account earning 0.2% interest. And when asked why she’s not investing she says it’s because she doesn’t know how.
Was that hypothetical 25 year old me? Maybe.
Women are even worse about letting lack of confidence get in the way success. Yup, we’re talking about imposter syndrome folks!
Sure, confidence levels out between the genders over time, but in those years where we are developing our careers and building assets, females are way behind men.
Why is this important in regards to money? Women are less confident in their skill set and therefore less willing to jump into something like investing.
Overcoming the Fear
You DO NOT need to be an expert to invest your money. And one more time for the people in the back…
YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE AN EXPERT TO INVEST YOUR MONEY!
Keep it simple and let someone else do the legwork for you. There are options out there like WealthSimple, that will invest your money for you at a low fee, and you don’t have to do anything but set up your automatic savings. Don’t stress if you don’t understand the difference between a bear and a bull market, and have zero desire to learn. The only thing you need to know is that investing is important, and it’s ok to pay someone to do it for you.
The third way confidence can play a role in our finances is how we determine our earning potential. If you think you are a freaking all-star, then you are going to charge all-star prices. If you think you’re just ok, then you’ll be charging discount rates.
Ladies, I want to drop some stats for you:
- Men initiate salary negotiations four times more than women, and women ask for 30% less when they do
- Half of female participants compared to one-third of male participants reported self-doubt in their job performance
- Women only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the qualifications, men will apply if they meet 60%
- When asked if they were ‘good at science’ women ranked themselves on average 6.5/10 and men 7.6/10. After a test, the actual results were almost equal. Even worse, after they got the test results and were asked if they would enter a science competition, only 49% of women said yes compared to 71% of men.
Not only do women underestimate our skills, but we are also less willing to put ourselves out there and try something.
Asking for raises, applying for promotions, starting a side hustle, etc. all require confidence. And a lack of confidence can have a serious negative impact on your income. That’s a big deal!
I’m right there with you. I hate pushing for something I might not get. I am not at all a go-getter when it comes to these things, but maybe that’s just my bias speaking.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great solution for you. Strive to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while by asking for what other people think you deserve.
A lack of confidence can wreak havoc in your finances in numerous ways. Recognizing that will hopefully make you more aware and more willing to write off your fear as a confidence issue as opposed to a skill issue.