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How Can Black Women Achieve Financial Wellness: Interview with Financial Expert Marsha Barnes 

How Can Black Women Achieve Financial Wellness: Interview with Financial Expert Marsha Barnes 

Do you know that managing your finances is more than knowing how to budget and invest? Financial wellness is a big part of living confidently with your money and not being distressed over your finances.

Because financial wellness can be one of the most significant factors in economic freedom and health, Secret Deodorant has brought financial professionals together to educate 1 million women on this topic. One of those women includes Marsha Barnes, a financial expert and founder of The Finance Bar

BGN met with Barnes over Zoom to discuss achieving financial wellness and how more women can prioritize their finances for a happy and healthier way of life. We discussed how taking care of your financial well-being is as important as visiting the doctor, rotating your tires, and flossing.

What is financial wellness, and why is it important?

Financial wellness is the ability to live and maintain a healthy financial life. Women of color often work to survive and not thrive. Although many women seek to improve their finances, they often don’t focus on maintaining a healthy financial life, which is what financial wellness is all about. 

When we, as women of color, are not financially healthy, we feel it in the workplace by way of stress, tensions, and inability to focus. We are constantly worrying about finances instead of being able to enjoy our lives. 

Why is financial wellness essential for Black women?

Many women of color are overly concerned and constantly thinking about money. They often think about how to earn more money or what to do next. This constant worry is why the initiative with Secret is so helpful because it’s a multi-year initiative.

When we think about finances, we often think about them in the new year, on our birthdays, and during financial literacy month. However, financial wellness is not a one-and-done thing. We must continue to educate ourselves, and eventually, we move to action. 

What are financial therapy and money disorders? How does one know if they have a money disorder? 

Financial therapy evaluates and treats the cognitive, emotional, and mental aspects of financial health. 

Financial literacy and education mainly focus on learning more about finances. While education is essential, it doesn’t always identify why we have specific money habits. The way we are with money may be because of trauma or not getting paid what we’re worth. It’s less about numbers and more about why you manage your money and think about it as you do. 

Financial disorders are persistent and rigid patterns, such as shopping and not paying your bills. A money disorder can look like a compulsive buying disorder. Money disorders can also look like gambling disorders or hoarding. Also, being a workaholic can be a disorder because it’s this idea that you must constantly work to make money. Money disorders are linked to behaviors that are causing you harm.

What do you believe is one of the biggest barriers to financial wellness, and how can people, particularly women, overcome this barrier?

Consistent financial education has to be a resource that we are constantly applying. 

Equipping women with the tools to make smart economic choices early prepares them for a stable financial life. With this initiative, Secret is doing just that by providing access to in-depth financial courses. 

In addition to financial education, it’s essential to identify your financial triggers. What makes you think of money the way you do? Is it because you want to be in the same financial situation as your friends? Financial education can help, but without identifying your triggers, education alone won’t bring lasting change.

Therefore, take time to think about your mindset regarding money. Consider what you’ve been taught. 

In addition, consider what you value most about money. Some examples are having more money in the bank or more free time. In addition, take control of your spending. Sometimes we spend on things we like, and we spend less money on things we love.

Lastly, embrace the financial journey. There can be a lot of financial missteps along the way. Take the financial journey in strides. As you get older, continue to think about your value system and build on your financial confidence. 

In what ways can our emotions affect our finances? 

Our emotions are often driven by what we’re taught growing up. Often those emotions are not how we truly feel about money. When I was younger, I thought about what kind of car I needed to drive and how I needed to look. I wanted a luxury car because I wanted a toy Barbie car when I was younger but never got it because my parents couldn’t afford it. I held onto that desire.

When I was older and began making money, I bought a luxury car to feel that void of not getting the Barbie car when I was younger. Often we want things not as adults but because we didn’t get them as a child, so we use the money to rewrite that story.

What are some simple ways to prioritize financial wellness?

Identify what you first need. What is the squeaky wheel? What is one thing you’d like to work on, such as budgeting, a positive money mindset, etc.? There are many resources to connect you with your need, but don’t try to solve all the issues simultaneously. It’s about what applies to your life right now.

Commit to learning and applying what you are learning from these resources. Starting with one is important because it helps you build a foundation. That’s how you create financial wellness, but start with that foundation and learning first. If you are building a house, education is the foundation, and making the house’s walls is similar to applying what you learn. 

Is there anything else you’d like to mention? 

I want to encourage women to visit the website for free resources. Also, insert on your calendar a date to practice financial wellness. Treat connecting with your money as a day going to the gym or getting your nails done. 

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