Financially Real

Getting Financially Real: My Mom Reclaims Her Money Power

Getting Financially Real: My Mom Reclaims her Financial Power | www.TheHeavyPurse.comLet’s get REAL. Money is emotional. The decisions you make right now around money are driven in part by emotional needs, whether you realize it or not. I see it every day with my clients as I teach them to let their goals guide their decisions, rather than let their emotions fuel their need to compete, keep up or feel good about themselves.

However, my greatest lessons around emotions and money come from someone I love and care about very deeply — my Mother. Today, I am going to share some of those experiences with you. Please know that I am not doing this without my Mom’s knowledge. She not only fully approved of my sharing her story with my readers but encouraged me to do so, in hopes that it would help others understand their emotional responses to money. While her experience is uniquely her own, it is also a story many of you may be familiar with yourself.

Relinquishing Her Money Power

My Mom is smart, brilliant, in fact, as she tests out at genius levels. She worked her whole life in top level positions with major companies. She is beautiful and kind. She also had a father who was not kind to her, belittled her feelings and never loved her the way she needed him to love her. So what does this have to do with money? Everything.

My parents were divorced when I was eight years old. My mother had several relationships and subsequent marriages afterwards. She told me that she was “looking for a man to love her” since she had such a large hole in her heart from her father. She ended up in several marriages that not only broke her heart but also her piggy bank.

Forty-two percent of all women lack financial security. Three out of five women over 65 cannot afford to cover their basic needs.

Source: Analysis of U.S. Census data by Wider Opportunities for Women

Once in a relationship, she would give away her financial power. She didn’t understand sound financial principles and felt she could “earn” love by entrusting her husband to manage her hard-earned money and take care of her. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Her trust was destroyed by gambling problems and huge credit card debt.

3 in 10 Americans commit “financial infidelity” by lying to their spouses about money.

Source: Financial Behavior & Attitudes: Marriage and Money Stats, Financial Infidelity, Financial Planning

It is hard as a daughter and a financial advisor to stand by and witness this, feeling powerless to stop this vicious cycle. My Mom commanded top salaries and certainly had it within her means to create financial freedom for herself, yet it remained outside her grasp. Her emotions and wounds from her childhood deeply affected how she handled money decisions and kept her from the life she deserved.

When my Mom “woke up” to the patterns she had created in her life, she was terrified. She worried about how she would make it financially and was nervous to discuss it. She judged herself so harshly that she was afraid to even come to me for help and guidance.

Almost 2 out of 3 people have modified their financial behavior because of their fears.

Source: 41 Money Facts that Will Blow You Away

It has been a long road, but my Mom eventually trusted me with the whole ugly truth. More importantly, she was honest with herself about why she did not take responsibility for herself financially. I started to work with her to educate her on how to handle her own money and make good decisions. I will never forget the day she looked at me and said “I get it! It is not that hard.” We laughed together and I knew my Mom was going to be okay.

Shannon with her MomWe talk every week and many of our conversations focus on money and emotional responses to it. I am so proud of what my Mom has accomplished. She now makes good money decisions and owns her financial life. My mom is REAL; she acknowledges her shortcomings and worked so hard to break negative patterns in her life. Together, hand in hand, we have walked through some dark days and emerged stronger. I have learned so much from her willingness to be vulnerable with me.

Women and Money

To honor the beautiful, strong women of our past and future in celebration of Women’s History Month, I’m going to get Financially Real with women. From our emotional responses to past experiences to gender expectations, women of all ages too often give away their financial power, much to their (and their partner’s) detriment. We’ll take a closer look at some common mistakes women make with their money and steps they can take to own their financial lives.

And men — don’t tune out. You have mothers, sisters, wives and daughters who need this information too. Truth be told, we all need this information because every one of us — male or female — need to own our financial lives.

A final note on my Mom — last year she married the love of her life. He loves her dearly and sees her for the beautiful person she is. They are building a beautiful life together on equal terms.

What drives your emotions around money? Are these emotions helping you achieve what is most important to you or pulling you further away from your dreams?


March 23, 2015  •  30 Comments  •  Financially Real

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  1. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    You two look so beautiful! I myself learned so much things on financial matter from my mother.She is the reason why I have grown to be a saver. I as much as possible avoid my emotions drives my decisions as most of the time it results in something bad. It's kinda hard to resist, but it takes practice, commitment, and strategy. You're correct that goals should be the one guiding us.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thank you, Jayson! Emotions really do drive how we spend our money and it's great that you recognize this. More importantly, are doing the work to avoid letting them lead you to the wrong decision.
  2. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Excellent post Shannon and so awesome that you've been able to be there with your Mom and realize that vulnerability is a big part to that. As a man this is something I think about a lot with relation to my wife and daughter - well everyone in my life. :) It's a huge part of why we work with our kids on money as I want our daughter to be empowered as she gets older and manage her own financial life and she goes on in life. The same holds true with our sons, but we work to communicate that it doesn't matter who you are but it does matter to own your financial life and to make wise decisions.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thanks, John! Getting vulnerable is so important and something we struggle to do, even with those we love deeply. I know both Chris and I are extra vigilant because we want our girls to feel confident about money too, especially after everything we have gone through with my Mom. She is doing so great now and an inspiration to all of us on what amazing things can happen when you take control of your finances.
  3. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Great post Shannon, and I'm glad you shared your Mom's story. I feel like there are many situations where only one person in a couple has control over the finances. While there likely will always be one person in a relationship who takes primary control, it's important that both are capable of understanding their finances and able to take primary control as needed. I think both men and women have this issue, and it's important that EVERYONE becomes financially literate and can handle their finances on their own.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thanks, DC. I agree - everyone needs to be financially literate so they can good decisions around money individually and as a couple.
  4. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story Shannon. Your mom sounds like she has overcome a lot but has now found true happiness and contentment. Good for her!

    Our bad money decisions have stemmed from actions we took when we were emotional. We simply can't make important money decisions when we are in pain, sad, depressed, feeling insecure or too excited. It's a surer bet the decision will be a poor one when made under those conditions.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Brian. My Mom is doing great and I am so proud of her. It's amazing how much our emotions drive how we use our money and how few of us realize it.
  5. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    I can TOTALLY relate to this because my mom is exactly the same. Just recently she started allowing me to help her have a better relationship with her money and it's starting to have a difference in many areas of my life. I didn't always know much about money, but I definitely started to get a solid foundation in my 20s, and I am always shocked to think that my mom (and many other women) didn't start to get it until their 50s or 60s.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Another thing we have in common, Shannon! :) I'm so glad your Mom is opening up to you and receptive to your help and wisdom. It is very shocking how many women don't have a solid foundation on money until they are forced to.
  6. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Thank you for your mom sharing her brave story, and I'm happy she has found a great guy now! I think many more women give away their financial power than we know. It's possible I could have ended up that way had I not gotten so into personal finance just because I'm lazy about money sometimes…"here, you take care of it," could be my motto. It's a great reminder you need to take care of yourself no matter what your relationship status.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      I agree, Tonya. So many women give away their financial power and don't even realize it. You definitely need to own your financial life regardless of your relationship status and I'm glad you do!
  7. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    I love this post and I feel like you're writing about me and my mom! I am glad to find out that I'm not the only person who has been troubled by a parent's financial foundation. It is very difficult to get my mom to talk about her finances but I keep at it and I've gotten a better idea of the whole picture. It's not as good as I would like...but it's not as bad as it could be. My parents divorced when I was seven and it really caused a lot of financial stress because of the money dynamics in that marriage. Basically, I've learned what NOT to do with my future husband. And, I've learned that constant communication is key!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      You are definitely not the only person who has had concerns about a parent's financial foundation. Because money is still such a taboo topic, parents can feel very uncomfortable talking to their kids about their financial situation. And yes, constant communication and money transparency is key to a happy marriage.
  8. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Thanks so much for sharing the story about your mom. She sounds like a wonderful lady and I'm so glad she's on the right track now. It can be so hard to tell the people we love about our mistakes, but usually it's a good thing to come clean. Generally we judge ourselves more harshly than they would anyway.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      She is a wonderful lady and I couldn't be more proud of her. It can be hard to admit mistakes and be vulnerable, but as you said, it's good to come clean and release that burden.
  9. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    I'm so happy to hear that your mom is in control now! Thanks for sharing her story, Shannon!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Holly!
  10. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Thank your Mom for allowing you to share her story. We've gone through similar struggles with family members. I think the key point is that it's never too late to take control of your finances and how freeing it is to finally be in charge.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      It's definitely a familiar story to many. You're absolutely right that it's never too late to take control of your finances and make good financial decisions.
  11. Monday, March 23rd, 2015
    Thank you for sharing the story of your mom, and congrats to her on getting it all together. She has it all now, and that is inspiring! Success is not just about more money but a sense of contentment about all of your blessings!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      I agree - success is more than wealth. Wealth doesn't mean much when you don't use it an manner that feels right and supports your values.
  12. Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
    I don't know that I could ever relinquish control of my finances- maybe that's my emotional baggage, the need for that control.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      The flip side of what my Mom went through. You certainly don't want to relinquish control but hopefully when you find the right person, you'll be ready to share control. :)
  13. Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
    Shannon, what an absolutely wonderful story of success, and what a beautiful picture of you and your mom!!! I love it when women finally come to realize how beloved they are, and learn to treat themselves accordingly. What a happy day. :-)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      Thanks, Laurie! My mom is a beautiful woman, inside and out. It is an amazing and blessed feeling when we realize how powerful we are and take control of that power.
  14. Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
    Thanks for sharing and glad you were able to help your mom reclaim her money power. My wife is not too interested in the finances as in how to invest it, though she is good at saving. But I always try to keep her in the loop and explain the reasons about why and how are money is invested so that she's apart of it.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      It's good your wife has you as a partner to keep her in the loop, so even though she may not be overly interested in finances, she is still aware of what is going on and helping make decisions.
  15. Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
    Great story. Thanks for sharing!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, March 26th, 2015
      You're welcome!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan