“I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet” Carrie Bradshaw
Sex and the City was supposed to be the 90’s version of women power. In it women are free to talk about sex, be independent, choose to have a partner or not and generally live a very indulgent and materialistic lifestyle. Only thing is, in the Sex and the City version of women’s empowerment, women apparently do not have it together financially at all.
I could never relate to Sex in the City and don’t think I managed to get through a full episode at the time. And that wasn’t because I was so financially savvy, in fact quite the contrary, I think I couldn’t get through an episode because subconsciously all the disempowering money moves Carrie made, were so similar to the ones I was making!
So now, years later, as I work to build healthy money habits, I can consciously recognise the old sad, bad and outright limiting money actions Carrie kept committing. These are the five BIG ones that I had to unlearn myself.
Know where your money is going, in fact plan where it goes and put it to work building your financial freedom.
“I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes” Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie quite literally has no clue what she does with her money and somewhere in season four this all comes to a head when she is about to lose her apartment.
Oddly this whole experience does not slow her spending down at all. She makes a pitiful attempt to catch public transport instead of a taxi but that is it.
I wish at some point she had realised that her money was just like all those seemingly uncaring boyfriends she kept on dislodging. Don’t pay attention to your money and don’t direct it to where you want it to go and its off on its own mission.
And the result; extravagant spending and mindless indulgences painfully cumulating in us being totally ghosted as our money disappears out of our lives never to be seen again.
The first step to taking control of our money is to track down where it is going, to eliminate the outflows that don’t serve us and to consciously plan and direct it to flow where we want it to go.
Having planned the purchase of the apartment and built up the deposit would have saved Carrie a world of stress, not to mention the potential of ruining the special friendships she seems to value so highly by continuously asking her friends to sacrifice on her behalf, Charlotte ends up loaning Carrie the deposit to buy the apartment which had a huge potential for ending the friendship,
A little sacrifice in our money now, sets us up for a future of financial independence and who doesn’t want that?
Build you savings
“So here I was, a 35 year old single woman with no Financial Security” Carrie Bradshaw
The one thing we know for sure about life is that the unexpected can and will happen. And the unexpected quite frequently could turn out to be not a great thing if we aren’t prepared for it.
And knowing we are prepared is what gives us the freedom to take measured risks.
Having an adequately funded emergency savings account gives us these “freedom wings”. And building these savings teaches us the whole concept of “saving before we spend” and the discipline behind putting those words into action.
Building our emergency fund is the ultimate kick starter to becoming a money boss and getting our money to work for us.
It is a lesson that Carrie never seemed to learn despite operating on a freelancers irregular income, and it is one that would have changed the whole trajectory of the series, in a good way in my opinion.
Instead of talking about how she loved to see her money hanging in her closet, she could have gone on and on about how much she loved having the security of a “F%$K YOU” Fund and watching her investments and wealth grow as the market appreciated. Ahhhhh…. Music to my ears!
Control your credit card, don’t let it control you
“Treat credit cards like what they are; little plastic grenades that must be handled very carefully” Elizabeth Warren
Debt isn’t glamorous no matter how Sex and the City portrayed it.
Carrie, deciding to indulge in some emotional spending in one episode pops into Dolce and Gabbana, tries on a pair of shoes and seemingly without any thought hands over her credit card. Said credit card promptly gets cut up by the cashier as it is declined, supposedly because she is up to her credit limit and the balance is overdue.
A credit card bearing friend pays for the shoes and Carrie waltzes out, patting herself on the back for knowing the only words in the Italian language that count, Dolce and Gabbana.
She literally does not bat an eyelid over the fact she has just apparently found out she has an overdue credit card about to cost her a truckload of interest.
Debt is often described as “Bad debt” or “Good Debt”. This is debatable as the bottom line in either case is whether or not it is affordable debt as a starting point.
But the definition of bad versus the good debt is used to differentiate debt that adds income earning assets into our lives, or at least provides us with an asset that may increase in value, and debt that is used for pure consumption.
I’m sure you can guess which is which. Clearly Carrie couldn’t and throughout every episode of Sex in the City continued to treat debt as the inconvenient side effect of her spending habit.
A man is not a plan, have your own money
“There is no one who would guarantee you the security, financial independence, and the lifestyle you want except yourself.” Haisah Aisya Joohary
I think looking back on the brief bits of episodes that I did see, the one thing that really irritated me was that Carrie worried about finding her true love more than she worried about taking care of what should have been her first love. Herself.
Providing for ourselves financially is the ultimate form of self-care for any woman.
A man is not a financial plan, neither are our friends, our families or even our hope of winning the lottery.
There is a wonderfully powerful quote that I don’t know the author of, I’m paraphrasing here but it says something along the lines of, “may we all know financially independent women, be financially independent women and raise financially independent women”.
Women were prevented for centuries from being such women. Because it would give us a tool to use our power. A power that men feared.
Ironically as more and more women have become financially empowered it Is very evident that the power we wield is being used by us, not for our own self-indulgence or selfish pursuits, but to make positive changes in the world.
Barbara Bush said “To empower a woman is to empower her children, her family and her community”, she went on to add that our smartest investment is in women. So make your smartest investment, now, from today, invest in your own financial future and independence.
Have a financial vision and achievable goals to build it
“The future does not get better by hope, it gets better by plan. And to plan we need goals” Jim Rohn
And the Carrie Bradshaw version;
“Every year the women of New York leave the past behind and look forward to the future… this is known as fashion week”.
Carrie didn’t have a financial plan whatsoever. And while it seemed all trendy and full of “joie de vivre” the reality is if we don’t have a financial plan we are going to end up in a financial destination which is very uncool and far from the glam lifestyle of Sex and the City.
Life is all about changing the things we can and making us resilient for those things that we can’t change.
The truth is there is nothing sexy or stylish about battling financially because of poor money choices.
Timeless elegance comes from being financially confident and empowered. From knowing we have choices and when life surprises us, being able to pivot and be flexible because we have built solid money habits and supportive financial structures as we work towards achieving our goals and creating our financial vision.