7 women on the moment that changed their relationship with money

In partnership with NatWest

Posted by for Money

From killing it at work to shifting relationship dynamics, money plays a part in most major life events. These women share what made them reconsider how they thought about money and what it taught them…

Our relationship with money is dependent on many factors - from values instilled in us at a young age to emotional responses that we train ourselves to have (pay check euphoria, anyone?).

But often there are specific moments that shake up the foundations of our cash connection, from starting your own business to losing a loved one. Below, we speak to a group of women about what that moment was for them.

1. “Qualifying made me want to own a home”

While Rosanna Thomson was studying at university, she spent her money on shopping hauls and nights out. 

“I didn’t think about my future or saving,” she says, “but once I qualified as a podiatrist I realised I needed to start saving if I was ever going to own a home. 

“And I realised that settling into my own space was something I really wanted.”

Rosanna set up her own business and decided to take control of her spending. 

“I opened a Help To Buy ISA, worked more and partied less. Four years later, I own my own home and have a thriving business but it was feeling like I had finally entered the ‘real’ world that gave me a kick.”

2. “My parents’ death forced me into action”

By the age of 26, Josie, a civil servant from Coventry, had lost both of her parents within 18 months. 

As the oldest sibling in her family, the responsibility fell to Josie to deal with the financial fallout bereavement can cause.

“When my parents died, I had to take control of their estates, all our household bills and learn how to be smart with our finances. 

“Coming from a background where, culturally, the men deal with all the money, I didn’t have any experience or dealing with money at all.”

Now, Josie is much more clued up. “After I inherited my parents’ estate, I spoke with a financial advisor for advice on things like how to invest the money and how to protect myself before marriage. I feel more confident now I’ve taken control.” 

3. “A change in perception changed everything”

For Sima Kumar, Global Head of Strategy of The Other Box, it wasn’t until she started branching out in her own right that a shift in the way she fundamentally looked at money had a massive impact.

“As I began to grow as a female entrepreneur my lightbulb moment was recognising money is also called currency. 

“Currency is connected to energy. Seeing money as energy was a profound perceptual shift for me, turning an often draining relationship into one that was super energising because I saw my value with clarity.”

4. “Unexpected redundancy meant a little had to go a long way”

Last year, blogger Stephanie Yeboah (aka Nerd About Town) was made redundant without notice. As someone who’d always been good with money, it was a stark reminder that it’s not always enough.

“I had to make a little go a long way in terms of making ends meet. Having no job security forced me to be extremely frugal with my accounts, create budget spreadsheets, buy in bulk when I could and to really concentrate on my necessities, not my wants.

“Because of that, I think I’m much smarter with my money.”  

5. “Depression brought light to my spending habits”

When Jazmin Lee, founder of Plus Equals, was diagnosed with depression, she began to see how her mental health was impacting her finances.

“Being diagnosed made me refocus and see how my highs and lows impacted my spending. 

“I racked up a lot of debt and struggled to clear it for years, which made me feel ashamed.”

But when she did, Jazmin describes the feeling as a weight lifted. 

“I knew I didn’t want to be in that position ever again. When I set up my business, I knew I had to be financially savvy and know my worth - that my time is a service.” 

6. “Having twins made my money mean more”

The moment that changed everything for Emma Watkinson, CEO at SilkFred? Having a family.

“Being financially independent has always been the driver behind my relationship with money. That was as true when I worked in a bar as it is today, owning a company that supports a team of 80.

“When my husband and I bought our first house in 2017, and had twins shortly after, my money became not just about my independence, but taking care of our family and giving the girls the best future. 

“I started to relook at what my financial options were to give us the best security.”

7. “Becoming the main earner made me realise I could plan for the future”

London-based editor Emma always earned less than her partner until recently, and it was only when she became the main income for their household did she start thinking about not living pay check to pay check. 

“I’m fortunate enough to earn enough money that I have some spare at the end of the month but that’s only been a recent development.

“Previously, my partner earned a lot more than me and I’d never had the privilege of my pay not being spent entirely on monthly outgoings - his salary was the only income that could be used on luxuries like holidays and future plans - which we didn’t actually think about properly. 

“When leaving his job to go back to university coincided with a big career leap for me, I found myself as the main earner.

“I think this shift in dynamic also shifted my mindset and I realised that I could actually have more of an input in our financial future - instead of just hoping it would work itself out. I now look for investment opportunities to help grow our long-term wealth and make choices around money I wouldn’t have even had on my radar before.

“The whole thing has made me realise the importance of thinking about these things early - had I felt empowered around money a few years ago (even just enough to encourage him to do something with his expendable income at the time), we would probably be in a better position for our next steps.”

Whether you’re thinking about investing or just to talk about any financial issues you may have, join A Woman’s Worth Collective - a space created by Stylist and NatWest for women to get free tips on what they can be doing to improve their financial wellbeing - with no judgments or biases.

NatWest is the bank that believes ‘we are what we do’. Whatever your financial needs, they’ll do all they can to help keep your relationship with money healthy.

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