Last month we presented a MoneyTalks webinar (for those of you who do not know, WSCADV holds quarterly MoneyTalks for advocates to come together and talk about economic justice topics). *end shameless self promotion* This webinar was all about getting excited about money and how advocates can integrate talking about money into their work with survivors.
Money is hard to talk about. People are more willing to talk about sex than about money. Money is personal. Our first lessons about money (for better or for worse) were from our families, and oh, how those lessons can vary. When we ask people what they were taught about money growing up, answers range from “save, save ,save” to “spend it when you’ve got it.” Money is gendered. We’ve already talked about the wage gap. But this also goes back to what we were taught growing up. Many women tell me that they received very different messages about money than their brothers and other boys in their lives. They may have been told “you don’t have to worry about those things” or they were simply left out of the lessons about working, banking and budgeting.
Given all this, many of the smart, skilled advocates who work at our agencies may struggle with talking about money with survivors because of their feelings about their own financial situation. Some agencies offer financial education support groups for survivors, and survivors often report that when they get a handle on their finances, the power they feel in their own lives is liberating and propels them forward. Money can be stressful when it feels out of control, but it can be exciting and empowering when you feel confident.
We talk a lot here about big ideas and important goals like raising wages and offering better benefits. But sometimes even the little things can have a big impact. As leaders at your agencies, you could offer resources to help staff get their own financial houses in order. You could partner with a local financial planner or simply take some time to talk about it at a staff meeting. There are many resources on www.getmoneygetsafe.org that can help folks track their spending, understand credit, master their debt and more! Ask me more about this. What are you already doing at your agency?