When I was 10, I made potholders on a metal loom and sold them door-to-door. (I grew up in the 1960s, so that type of peddling was still relatively safe.) I was savvy enough to offer a discount for bulk purchases.
I still have a few of my creations, which is a wonderful reminder of my first entrepreneurial venture.
My brothers and I even created a retail operation, selling our old comic books, lemonade, and my potholders on the corner of 195th Street in Queens. We were clearly ahead of our time. It was a combination Etsy and pop-up shop.
One of my nastier neighbors asked:
"Don't your parents give you an allowance?"
"I prefer to make my own money,"
Money represented freedom to me back then. And, in many ways, it still does.
Fast forward to my 20's. After working in publishing right out of college, I took a job in financial services mostly because of the earning potential. The money and status were great.
I commuted three hours a day while raising two daughters. I never really liked the banking industry, but I liked my big house, cool car, fun vacations, retirement plan, and the ability to send my girls to a great college.
I learned that P&L doesn't stand for purses and lipstick and how to ask men in the corner office for millions of dollars. It always made me nervous, however. I felt like an imposter much of the time, waiting for someone to burst into a conference room and shout, "She never took an Econ class...she's a fraud!"
I started my own business at 48, made and lost lots of money, and grappled with asking for retainers with confidence and calm. (Many women entrepreneurs say "Ummmm..." and stare at the ceiling when asked about their rates...I've worked for years on getting over that bad habit. I embrace my worth, even during tough times.)
Over the years, I've discovered that dissecting my relationship with money has been a critical step in finding true prosperity -- which is more than a bank balance. Although money still represents freedom, the definition of wealth is so much broader than that. I still indulge in a little retail therapy, buying myself special gifts or experiences when I'm feeling blue.
I miss that corporate paycheck sometimes, but I value my independence and health more.
I plan to be a millionaire before I hit 70 -- not for the status or "stuff" but so I can take great trips, buy my girls and grandkids fun things, and give back to charity.
Our relationship with our wallets is an important one, and only by talking openly and honestly about what money means to use can we manage it better.
We need to learn how to set our rates, ask for raises and bonuses, stop the "Ummm..." and ceiling stare, and teach our kids about healthy money management.
And, if you need a potholder or comic book, I've got some great deals for you! :)