What to expect in this interview
At Empower2Free, Cynthia and her partner Meiyi teach money management skills that integrate self-awareness and life hacks. They believe that to be financially savvy, you need to know who you are as a person, what your dreams in life are, and rewire our perception towards money as a tool to achieve the life we want.
In this episode, Cynthia shares some misconception about money and how we can rebuild our relationship with money to Awaken our Dreams. If you have not looked at your relationship with money, this is for you!
Story behind becoming a co-founder in financial education
Before starting Empower2Free, Cynthia has been advising her friends in financial investments given she has an accountancy background and have an investment portfolio of her own. She noticed a gap - Despite them being highly educated and gained financial knowledge, many of her friends were still not implementing what they have learned.
That's when she realised financial training is more than teaching about financial life skills, but is helping young adults to feel safe towards taking action to build their financial portfolio.
Since then, Cynthia and her partner Mei Yi co-founded Empower2Free, to be a lifelong advocate of both empowering and serving others through leveraging her financial expertise to demystify the numbers and promote financial education.
Common limiting beliefs about money among women
Our earliest memory of relationship with money tend to be formed through learning from how our parents treated money.
Cynthia pointed out 2 common limiting beliefs about money, which affected many of her clients including herself:
1. Money as a security blanket
Cynthia's parents worked 3 jobs and only rested for 4 hours each day. Coming from a middle-income family with very hardworking and frugal parents, she saw money as the magical solution to everything. Her belief, "I need money to feel secure. Money is my security blanket." As a result, she would feel very anxious about spending money for herself, and would always either try to defer her spending such as postponing a holiday trip, or she couldn’t enjoy the spending process. She said:
“While I was financially rewarded from my corporate career, I wasn't allowing myself to enjoy the fruit of my success.”
2. Not worthy of being financially rewarded
Another common problem which she sees in her female clients is the feeling of unworthiness. Perhaps learning from their mothers who were mostly tireless housewives who were not financially compensated, they believe as long as they perform consistently, they will be rewarded for their efforts one day! As a result, they tend to undersell their value and are not as proactive as men in asking for a pay raise and promotion. And because a huge part of their salaries is used to pay for their family’s household expenses, they tend to neglect spending money on self care, which goes hand-in-hand with the limiting belief mentioned in point 1.
Money and relationship
Couples that argue about finances at least once a week are 30 more likely to get divorced. When we enter into a relationship with someone, we need to face each other’s spending and saving habits, as well as their underlying beliefs towards money! Cynthia advises it is very important for couples to uncover and discuss these underlying beliefs, as both will gain more awareness about their conditioning. By authentic communication, it provides a great opportunity to challenge these assumptions.
Cynthia shared authentically with her partner what she really wanted and what she didn't want. For example, she didn’t want to be the sole breadwinner because she believes that relationship is a partnership, while not losing themselves as individuals. As such, she wanted their financial arrangement to reflect:
- 1/3 herself
- 1/3 her partner
- the remaining 1/3 is about them coming together as a whole.
So, the key towards having a dream relationship includes having authentic conversations about money with your spouse, so different beliefs can be challenged, modified and accepted from both people.
Money as an instrument of change
Isn't it interesting that money is more than what it seems, but is an opportunity for us to look within our values and beliefs?
When we reframe money is a tool and a force for good, spending money can be empowering and liberating!
When we choose to confront the limiting beliefs, do expect the body reacting with fear, the heart races and the mind shouting. In Cynthia's case, she shared that the experience of donating a four figure sum for a church building project felt like "dying" literally. However, she went ahead and trusted that going out of her comfort zone, is an opportunity of growth. Once she conquered it once, she realised her belief of "money as a security blanket" is irrational and not true.
She now believes that whatever money she gives away, she will receive it in other ways e.g. happiness, gratitude, empowerment, feeling of generosity etc.
Good Financial Literacy starts with Self Awareness
Prior to my conversation with Cynthia, I’ve not examined my relationship with money before. I view Money as a hush-hush topic and I have never discussed my finances with anyone before. My husband handles most of the bills and I would rather not look at them.
Cynthia invited me to examine my money beliefs, with these 2 questions:
- Where did that come from?
- And where do you want to go?
1. Where did that money belief come from?
In my case, money was a shameful topic that I preferred to avoid.
My dad left our family when I was 10, with financial debts that my mom had to bear. As a sole breadwinner to 3 daughters, she worked hard. However, as a strong, proud woman, she did not talk about her financial struggles. Debt letters were kept aside, unopened. I also grew up believing men were not trustworthy. As such, we need to hide our own private stash to protect ourselves financially as women, in case the men bail on us.
This reflection dawned so much clarity on how my money beliefs were subconsciously formed, and now brought to the surface.
2. Where do you want to go?
I want to have a free and abundant life, with enough resources to positively impacted people's lives including underprivileged children, youth and women around the region.
When reflecting the kind of life I want to live - I realised I need to befriend money as it plays such an important role towards achieving my life goals!
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
Money is simply a tool in life that can help us achieve our full potential and life purpose. We don’t need to feel enslaved by money at all. Ultimately, when we heal our relationship with Money, we realize that there is no need to be afraid of our true selves.
By removing money as a "consideration" or a "distraction", we can empower ourselves when we are willing to rediscover our true selves.
So if you are ready to start on your financial literacy journey, you need to gain clarity on:
- Your risk profile.
- Your gratification profile.
- Your learning style.
It becomes easier to save and invest your money when you are more aware of how much financial risk you’re willing to take, whether you need instant gratification or you prefer to hold off your spending, and how you prefer to learn about money management. Here's a link to the quiz that Empower2Free came up with.
Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing such refreshing and empowering life lessons that you’ve learned through rebuilding your relationship with money through challenging limiting beliefs as well as having authentic discussions about money.
Thank you for giving me a chance to reflect on this topic, which is a difficult topic to discuss personally. I definitely have a lot of catch up work to do, and I hope it inspires my RAW readers too. This reminds me of why I created the RAW podcasts in the first place — to bring more awareness and to encourage more women to express their views on difficult topics with honesty and vulnerability.
Comment below to share your reflections behind your beliefs about money. Stay curious, be alive!
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