Growing up in a household led by a single-mother who immigrated from the Caribbean and was partly responsible for supporting some of her siblings make their way to the United States, I saw firsthand how her role as chief financial leader (CFL) and head emotional caretaker (HEC) left my mother emotionally burnt out, overwhelmed, and financially depleted.
I think part of the work in our sister circles, community organizations, Black think tanks and churches is to discuss or explore how African-American women can better navigate the emotional and financially implications of these roles. Which can be draining at least, and devastating at worst, especially those who are ill-equipped and unprepared to handle the magnitude of these responsibilities.
In an effort to bring more financial control and emotional support to all of the African-American women, I think we should start with small and deliberate acts of financial self-care. In fact, I believe every Black woman should host their own Financial Self-Care Weekend.
A Financial Self-Care Weekend is an important first step in giving black women the space to organize their thoughts emotions, and finances so that they can be there for themselves and others in their lives. With a Financial Self-care Weekend, time gets to stop so Black women can focus on themselves: attend to their spirits, create long-term and short-term financial goals, and create action plans to actualize them.
Here is an example of what you can do to prepare for and benefit from your Financial Self-Care Weekend.
- Announce it. In preparation for this weekend, tell everyone that you know that you will not be available for socializing. If you have kids, find a way to have them go to a family member’s house so you can get some time to yourself. If you are married, let your husband know that you are off-duty for the weekend. (At a different time, the two of you can do a couple’s financial retreat.)
- Create an Abundance and Prosperity soundtrack: Find as many songs that you can to inspire you and encourage you to attend to your emotional and financial worlds. I love India Arie’s “Strength, Courage, & Wisdom,” “Ain’t Nothing Going On But the Rent,” “Happy,” “A Rose is Still a Rose,” “Beautiful”, and “Empire State of Mind.”
- Prepare for a positive experience. Buy healthy snacks ahead of time and make your space beautiful and clean, so you can make the Financial Self-Care Weekend a sensually positive experience.
- Use media to make your money grow. Identify a range of movies, films, and documentaries that will soothe your soul, entertain you, and deepen your understanding about the importance of financial literacy and wealth building in your family. While I can’t speak for your personal tastes in movies, I know that Keeping Up With the Joneses and Confessions of a Shopaholic are films with strong themes around financial literacy and consumerism. They are also (kind of) entertaining. On the other hand, documentaries that will raise your consciousness level about the wealth game include: Spent: Looking For Change (narrated by Tyler Perry) Black Heirlooms, and Maxed Out.
- Reflect on your financial identity. Think about your current financial identity. Are you a money hoarder, a spender, or somewhere in between? Think about how and why this identity formed and if it benefits your future self to continue relating to money in this way.
- Organize your files and take the first step to putting structures in place around budgeting, downsizing the number of credit cards that you use, and setting up appointments with your bank and workplace to better educate yourself on retirement options and policies.
- Act and automate: While automation is not the cure-all for building a strong financial foundation, it definitely is an excellent tool. Over the weekend, automate the amount of money that you want to save every pay period from your checks. The rule of thumb is that you should aim for saving 20% of your take-home pay all of the time. Set your account to swoop in and remove 10% each time before you can even miss it. An online savings account like Capital One 360 and Ally are great places to start and have above average interest rates for savings accounts. If you can’t swing 20%, start with 5% or even 2%. The most important thing is that you start now and stay consistent.
- Repeat and refine: You can’t completely overhaul your finances in one weekend, but you can make them a lot better within 48 hours. Once you start the process of reconnecting with your finances, you will get a better gauge of what your financial next steps will be. This is the essence of repeating and refining: your second Financial Self-Care Weekend will take its cue from the first, in the same way that your 22nd Financial Self-Care Weekend will be an extension of all that came before it. You will see that as you make more progress with your finances, your Financial Self-Care Weekends will be about making tweaks, adjustments, and pivots, instead of major reconstructions.
The most important part of making sure that our family’s finances are taken care of is, to ensure that the woman holding the purse strings has the time and space to take care of herself financially and emotionally. No?
BMWK Family: What do you think? When was the last time you had a Financial Self-Care Weekend? Do you think this is something that would be beneficial to you or a woman that you know?