The core tenets of my work as a personal money coach:
- approach each client with unconditional positive regard, and
- reject the notion that everyone secretly yearns for (and should yearn for) a white, upper-middle class lifestyle.
My experience of the Personal Finance world and of Personal Finance “professionals” is that they generally assume that second point — that everyone yearns for the same image of financial independence: a mortgage-free home in a solid upper-middle-class neighborhood, a cushy stock portfolio, a few toys in the driveway, and full retirement by 45 (if not earlier).
Don’t get me wrong — if that’s your dream, go for it! [I could help you work to achieve those goals.]
The problem is that we’ve been socialized to believe that’s the dream we should all be hoping to achieve. And if it’s not what we want, then we’re wrong — or there’s something wrong with us.
But they’re the ones who are wrong, not us. And the message they’re pushing is twisted and perverted. The implicit bias of the American Dream is implicit class bias and it is just as damaging, just as demoralizing, just as dehumanizing, and just as pervasive as implicit racial and gender bias.
There is no ONE right way to handle one’s finances. There’s no ONE right set of goals and values. To imply otherwise is to reject the uniqueness of each individual, to invalidate the intersections and complexities of each person’s vulnerabilities and strengths, and to deny the right of all people to self-expression and self-determination.
Don’t see yourself as part of this implicit bias? I challenge you to the hidden language/normativity test — What comes to mind when you read/hear the following terms: Gender Issues and Race Issues?
did you think of women’s issues? Gay issues? Transgender? Naturally. But did you think of heterosexuals? Odds are, no, you did not.
did you think of Black/African American? Asians? Latinx? Hispanic? Maybe even Muslim (yes, of course it’s a religion) but still…? Sure you did. But did you think of whites/caucasians? Probably not.
The dominant culture — White heterosexual — becomes invisible in its normativity. The Other is what comes to mind when we talk about “race” or “gender” issues.
So now, ask yourself what comes to mind when you contemplate the term “personal finance?” Then, ask yourself what’s invisible in my answer? What’s hiding behind the normative social construction you conjured?
I’d love your feedback. Reply with your comments and thoughts.