by Judy M McCutcheon, MBA
I am convinced that my life has been somewhat sheltered up to this point. Now, I’m in no way a prig, but I just did not realise certain things were happening on such a large scale. So, I decided that this week I am going to talk to my tribe about gaining their financial independence, and of course I went to the guru of information – Google. Well, I got many hits and as any good researcher does, you check them out to see what’s good and what’s not. The startling thing I found out is that there is an annual summit called “Sugar Baby Summit”, and it’s happening this year in London on 18 May.
The mission or goal of this site is to deliver a new way for relationships to form — Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies or Mommas, get what they want when they want it. The site says that it provides relationship on your terms, “Where Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances. In turn, Sugar Daddies or Mommas find beautiful members to accompany them at all times.” The site has 10 million active members from 139 countries. My job and neither yours — is not to judge these women, who have decided to earn their living in a way that gives them the lifestyle they want. Let’s face it ladies, before we decide whether to judge them or not, let’s ask ourselves, “do we also rely on a man for our financial well-being?”
A 2013 study shared that only 29% of older women have made saving for their retirement a top priority. This is an alarming percentage, as women are more concerned with taking care of others, and tend to concentrate on paying off debt and making ends meet. These statistics show that most of us are not capable of taking care of ourselves financially; and while I was shocked (yes there are things that still shock me) and taken aback by what is promoted on this website, it simply shows the financial predicament in which women find themselves. We lack the financial education and maybe, to some extent the confidence needed to know that we can have monumental financial achievement without having to rely solely on a man. Now men, I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m saying, this is just for my sisters to understand that they are good enough and they can achieve and become whatever they want to; they just have to get rid of the fear that tells them they can’t achieve without a man. My goal with these articles is to help create value and to help you give yourself the permission to become financially independent, and for you to embrace who you are with certain knowledge that you can be self-supported. Healthy relationships are based on love, trust and mutual respect, not on financial security.
As a woman with many activities vying for your attention, you need to stop, breathe and realise that it’s time for you to take charge of your finances. Start by educating yourself on financial matters, create a spending plan and learn how to keep track of your expenses, so that you are not spending more than you are earning. Have a vision and a plan for what you want your retirement to look and feel like, that helps you to determine how much you need to put away each month. You may never retire, but it sure helps to know that you can if you wanted to.
Investing is not something that we think about much in the Caribbean, but it’s a sure way of allowing your money to grow and eventually work for you. There are options available to us in the region and we should start taking advantage of them.
In the end, we must realise that money is all about power, we can either allow it to give us freedom or we can let it enslave us by keeping us in unhealthy relationships, or waking up each day to go to a job that sucks. My wish for you is that you take the bold step and start learning about money and how you can put it to work for you. I want to invite you to a financial empowerment workshop that’s coming soon — this workshop is meant to empower you to take hold of your finances, we will talk about investing, why we spend or save the way we do, planning for your retirement and all round taking charge of your financial life.
Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company.