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  • Transcriber: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

  • I grew up in a family where my father managed all of the money.

  • But for some reason, when I was eight or nine years old,

  • he started showing me things about money.

  • We would sit at the kitchen table, and he'd show me all the bank books.

  • Now, that was back in the day before the internet,

  • when we used to have little books that we used to keep our information in.

  • And he would show me how he saved in these accounts,

  • and he'd pay bills out of these.

  • And every time he would show me something about money,

  • he would end by saying, "And don't you tell your mother."

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, to this day, I really don't know why he said that,

  • but what I do know is,

  • to that eight-year-old girl sitting at the kitchen table,

  • it meant, "Don't say a word."

  • Years later, when I got my first job, my father said,

  • "You'll bring me your check, and I'll put it in the bank for you."

  • But because of what he taught me years before, I said,

  • "I'd like my bank book."

  • And to my surprise, he gave it to me.

  • Right then, at 16 years old,

  • I began managing my own money.

  • I went on to college and then to start my new career as a CPA,

  • but now, with students loans, getting an apartment and a new job,

  • I began the roller-coaster ride of accumulating debt, paying it off

  • and accumulating more.

  • Many years later, after getting married, I went through an unexpected divorce,

  • and I was left with a house I couldn't afford

  • and bills I couldn't pay.

  • You might be wondering,

  • "How does that happen to someone

  • that's educated and skilled at managing people's money?"

  • I had reverted back to what I learned growing up:

  • that one person managed all the money.

  • I had handed over my financial power,

  • and I had become financially dependent.

  • Financial dependency is when someone is dependent on a person,

  • a job or a situation for money,

  • and they feel trapped.

  • People fall into two categories:

  • dependent with choice and dependent without a choice.

  • Someone is dependent with choice when they hand over their financial power

  • and their participation.

  • It can happen in personal or business relationships

  • when one person doesn't want to be involved with the money,

  • so they hand over the responsibility to a spouse, a partner or a professional,

  • like an accountant or a manager.

  • This was my situation.

  • I spent all day long managing other people's money,

  • so I was relieved

  • that my husband was interested and good at managing ours.

  • I was free!

  • For the first time since that first job at 16 years old,

  • I didn't have to be responsible for managing my money.

  • But what I failed to realize was what felt like freedom

  • was really dependency.

  • My mistake is that I didn't stay involved

  • or understand what was going on with our money.

  • You may have experienced this yourself,

  • or you may have heard stories of celebrities or professional athletes

  • that have relied on family, friends and others to manage their money,

  • and they are left broke, bankrupt and betrayed

  • because they made the choice to hand over their financial power.

  • Someone that's dependent without a choice feels trapped

  • because of their financial situation.

  • They can be in a job or career where they're unhappy or being harassed

  • but they can't afford to leave.

  • Or, someone that's had to move in with family and friends

  • because they've had an illness

  • or gone through a divorce or experienced a tragedy,

  • and now they're financially dependent on others.

  • And how many of us know someone that has an elderly parent or a relative

  • that can no longer take care of themselves,

  • and they're left to rely on others,

  • sometimes handing over their homes, their money and other assets.

  • Another type of dependency without a choice is financial abuse.

  • Financial abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior

  • used to control and intimidate a partner.

  • Victims are in a relationship, and the other person has power over them,

  • because they don't have access to money, information

  • or the resources and support they need to leave.

  • The Allstate Foundation has a program called the Purple Purse

  • that helps victims of domestic violence

  • through financial empowerment.

  • They report that 99 percent --

  • in 99 out of one hundred domestic violence cases --

  • financial abuse helps keep victims trapped in their relationship.

  • The Purple Purse has coined financial abuse "the invisible weapon,"

  • because visible abuse leaves bruises and scars

  • but financial abuse doesn't.

  • Financial abuse and financial dependency leave emotional scars that you can't see.

  • They include hopelessness, guilt, shame, depression,

  • lack of confidence and self-esteem.

  • Financial dependency is also invisible, because no one's talking about it.

  • Why?

  • Because no one wants to show their emotional scars,

  • and because we're taught in our homes, on our jobs and in our community

  • not to talk about money.

  • So many people that I talk to about this issue,

  • they can relate and they have a story,

  • but they're not telling anyone their story.

  • When I was told at the kitchen table, "Don't you tell,"

  • I never told anyone.

  • It's even hard for me right now to break that rule that I learned so long ago.

  • So, what can I do? What can you do?

  • What can we all do to disarm this invisible weapon?

  • We can solve three problems.

  • The first problem is lack of awareness,

  • because knowing about money and having money

  • aren't always the solution.

  • In my situation, I was educated and experienced in managing money,

  • but that didn't stop me from becoming financially dependent.

  • Why?

  • Because of the beliefs and experiences I had growing up:

  • one person manages all the money.

  • After my divorce, I had to rebuild my life financially and emotionally.

  • So I took every self-development course

  • and I read every self-help book I could find.

  • And that's when I began to understand the dynamics of the family I grew up in

  • and how they played a role in me handing over my financial power.

  • When you become aware of your inner bruises and scars,

  • you can begin to break free from financial dependency.

  • The next problem is lack of information about financial literacy.

  • Financial literacy is having the skills and the knowledge

  • to make informed decisions about your money.

  • It includes topics like savings and investing,

  • budgeting and debt.

  • In 2018, only 17 states required financial literacy

  • in high school curriculums.

  • This corresponds with recent studies that show that 66 percent of Americans

  • are financially illiterate.

  • If you are in a financial dependency situation,

  • start by looking and going through your finances,

  • making decisions, participate in making decisions about your money.

  • If you are in a financial abuse situation,

  • get access to your information.

  • Look for financial documents like bank credit card statements,

  • social security information and account pass codes.

  • The last problem is lack of giving and getting support.

  • Many people don't know that there are free resources

  • online and in your local community

  • to help you learn and establish healthy money habits.

  • There are also free resources if you are a victim of financial abuse,

  • like the Purple Purse.

  • Giving support includes listening to others that are financially dependent

  • without judgment or criticism.

  • It also involves sharing your story,

  • because when you share your story, you empower others,

  • and you give them the permission

  • to rewrite their own.

  • It's my hope that by sharing my story,

  • more people will learn about financial dependency,

  • will share their own stories

  • and will connect with others to shed a light on this hidden issue

  • so that we can all have financial freedom.

  • (Applause)

Transcriber: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/26
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