Money is always an awkward topic because more often than not people judge you by the amount of money you have (or do not have). Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to open the conversation about finances even within the family. As Jen Sincere (the author of the book “You are a Badass at Making Money) would say:

“Not a day goes by where we don’t use money, or use something that was paid for with money, or have an experience that is somehow connected with money. Not. One. Single. Day. and yet, we rarely, if ever, stop to investigate how we feel about money, how we speak about it, or even what the hell money actually is.”

Jen Sincere

But it feels like home, when you are discussing finances with the community of Financial Independence Early Retirement (FIRE). The goals among the members may differ as well as the roads to achieve it, but you can feel the support and share your story openly. 

I have asked a community of Women’s Personal Finance (Women on FIRE) to share their struggles and challenges on the way to the FIRE. It was incredibly interesting to read how many stories were different and yet the same. Most importantly that in this journey you are not alone. I have found that in the Women’s Personal Finance community there are much less conversations related to “numbers”, stocks, funds then in mixed gender FI communities, but the topics are deeper, emphatic and very supportive. 

Changing the Mindset

One of the most common challenges that women were facing during their journey to financial independence (FI) was mindset.

“We have all the power within us to choose and create realities that totally kick ass.”

Jen Sincero

In order to find the power that Jen Sincero is describing in the quote above, sometimes we need to change our way of thinking. It is important to realize that you can achieve goals of your own, get out of the patriarchal mentality and understand that you can do what you set your mind to. Stop making excuses for yourself, finding your inner dragon and learning how to hoard resources for your own success and not for someone else’s. 

Sometimes you do not realise that you feel responsible for other people’s choices. Having your inner “Mother Teresa” feeling to look after your family, friends, significant other, it becomes difficult to disassociate your own goals and decisions. When I was processing this thought myself the only way I could resonate it with myself is by believing that ultimate help for others was preventing them from becoming the best version of themselves. Feeling responsible for others you lend money to your friends, disregard pointless purchases by your significant other, spend recklessly on the toys that your children wish for. In general it is incredibly difficult to say “no”, especially for the people that you care for.

The strength to achieve your goals comes with the ability to prioritize, balance and not become a statistic. There are so many things & experiences that we want in life and prioritising what come first is incredibly challenging. If you are saving for your retirement, what about traveling and emergency funds? Balancing savings, spendings and donations while trying not to get caught up on the end point. Looking forward so much that you stop enjoying life at the moment. It is the people that give up solving these issues become an average statistic. 

Financial Literacy

Based on statistics shown in the research of Women & Financial Literacy by Elaine Silvestrini it is clear that women lacking financial competency can face serious repercussions, such as taking on large amounts of credit card debts, defaulting on loans, and experiencing difficulty managing income, taxes and investments. In the Graph 1 below it is shown the difference gender’s financial capabilities in younger generation. 

First of all how to learn about finances when this subject is taboo? Or if your parents are not financially competent to teach you and there are no good role models around? Or culturally it is not accepted to teach women such things. Finally if by any sort of miracle you decide to learn it yourself and you do diligent research, the fear of making mistakes blocks you from moving forward. There is no one to tap on your shoulder and say “everything will be ok”. One of the ladies in the Women on FIRE group explained that the biggest challenge was to find the right person to teach finances. Having many doors closed in her face because people told her she wasn’t ready to learn and that she didn’t have “enough” to start. Some people say things like “just do this and you’ll be fine”. And then they got defensive when she started asking why she should be doing whatever it was they’re telling her to do.

To start your educational journey you need evaluate your current financial state:

  1. Learn your credit score & keep track of it;
  2. Keep a record of your personal debt;
  3. Make a budget;
  4. Open a savings account;
  5. Pay overdue bills; and
  6. Plan for retirement.

Further in Elaine’s Silvestrini research she recommends free financial assistance programs:

1. The Women’s Institute for Financial Education is a non-profit organization which began in 1988 and provides guidelines on cost of living, retirement planning, taxes, divorce and widowhood.

2. Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing long-term financial welfare for women, with a focus on retirement security. The group developed the National Resource Center on Women and Retirement Planning, which has a collection of free resources for basic financial planning. Site visitors can take advantage of guidance regarding divorce planning, estate planning, home ownership and caregiving information.

3. The Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls (FLOW) is a charitable organization dedicated to empowering females of all ages to achieve their financial best. It hosts conferences, seminars, workshops and boot camps to assist women in financial independence.

Another woman from the group suggested that besides learning about finances another big challenge was becoming debt free. She suggested that her FI started when she read the book “The Simple Path to Wealth” by JL Collins. As well as listening to finance podcasts like Choose FI and reading all the top books about financial independence. She also started attending a networking event for people in the FIRE community. Finding resources and support got her past the hump and ensured a smooth sailing!

Significant Other

It does not come as a surprise that your significant other plays an important part on your journey to financial independence. As JL Collins wrote in his book “avoid fiscally irresponsible people. Never marry one or otherwise give him or her access to your money.”. If the goals in the partnership are not aligned it may become very difficult or nearly impossible to achieve it. Being in a relationship sometimes is difficult enough even without a discussion about money, but if you want it to work you need to start at least with an honest conversation. You should explore the values surrounding budget, debt, lifestyles, retirement goals, children and so much more.

Understanding the law surrounding partnership or marriage is important in order to protect your finances and assets. In the article by Riju Mehta it is recommended that women would always have her personal bank account and her sreedharan, as well as becoming a joint partner in investment and assets. It is important to be aware of all the investments and no documents should ever be signed blindly. According to a 2015 survey conducted by ET Wealth and Economictimes. com, among 2,934 respondents, nearly 39% people believe it’s okay to lie about money in a marriage, while 56% spend money without telling their spouses, and 27% hesitate to have a discussion about money. Credit card debt, mortgage, auto loan, medical debt, student loans, bankruptcy or any default debt payments of your partner may affect you too. If your husband files for bankruptcy it could erroneously emerge on your credit card report. 

Jeff Landers in his article explains that property acquired during the marriage is usually considered a marital property regardless of which spouse owns the property or how that property is titled. Marital property consists of all income and assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage including, but not limited to: Pension Plans; 401Ks, IRAs and other Retirement Plans; etc. In a case of divorce or separation there are many factors such as length of marriage, income or property brought into the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that are being considered and it is difficult to predict the outcome. It is important that you safeguard your money and assets whether you’re alone or in a loving  relationship.

Low Pay Job, Gender & Kids

As if the challenges mentioned above wouldn’t be enough women are facing a very real gender gap pay. One of the ladies in the Women on FIRE group expressed that her biggest challenge was increasing the income. She continued saying that by leaving an academic job for industry she was able to pay off heer student loan and develop some great science while being able to live better than month to month. Nevertheless it was a hard decision as people in her social environment perceived her choice as “selling out”. Another lady said working in this “under-paid, under-appreciated, female-dominated” academic field had to make a detrimental choice to change from a higher paid but way higher stress public school to a lower paid but more enjoyable private school. Increasing your income is an important ingredient for reaching FI, and FIRE community shares many creative ways to start a side hustle. One of the common ways is becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft in your spare time or registering your services/skills in Upworks or PeoplePerHourMillennial money man suggests 40 side hustle ideas such as becoming a Pinterest virtual assistant or teaching English online with VIPKid. 

Struggling in low pay jobs more often than not women are left on their own with the responsibility of looking after children. One of the ladies in the FI community put an emphasis on the fact that women are penalized professionally for being parents, as well as being underpaid and undervalued. Another lady agreed by telling that her previous employer straight up admitted they don’t want to hire young women because they might start a family or leave. In some of the countries asking your family status is illegal. Another woman explained to her employer that told all the women that they needed to schedule their pregnancies around tax season. Admitting that It wasn’t a joke either. She witnessed many new mothers coming back in January from maternity leave. She continued by saying that during her work career there she only saw one person to have a baby during tax season because she had twins and went into labor early. 

Many women in the FIRE community admitted that having children is one of the biggest challenges. Having to prioritise career/advancement over children and childcare or paying for the daycare, not to mention the opportunity cost of energy and time spent on kids that is not dedicated to the career. Saving for kids college and helping them financially as teens and young adults. 

Lessons Learned

The main key of this article is to say that you are not alone. Whatever challenge you have in your way it is important that you feel your tribe is with you. A lot of women around the globe experience similar challenges and find the ways to overcome them. I would hope that within the lines of this article you haven’t found yourself. That you were lucky enough not to face any of the challenges above. But if you do I hope that you find a piece of advice that is helpful. During the discussion in the group one lady has opened up and said that sometimes it is enough for someone to listen or talk to the women that went through the same thing and feel support just by hearing “you’ll get through this”.

Another lady in the group asked: “Why do women need to support women? Men need to support women through this too.” She continued by asking how do we as a society support women through this journey?. Alongside she suggested some possible answers: “by providing affordable birth control, sex education, and health services, day care and stipends for necessities for things like diapers. Studies are showing that an unplanned pregnancy puts a single mom into bankruptcy within 5 years of birth.”. I have learned that similar to me there are many women that are afraid of financial decisions, as well as have low self esteem and struggle with low pay jobs. And most importantly many of those women have found the way to overcome it – start new companies, request for a pay rise, change industries, while successfully raising kids on their own. Maybe there is a new way to look are your bumpy road share your lessons learned. 


  1. Megan Leonhardt “Separate bank accounts will not protect your money in a divorce—here’s what will”

  • Rachel Cautero “I’m Getting Married: How Do I Protect Myself Financially?”
  • Riju Mehta “How a married woman can protect her financial rights”

  • “How Debt is Split in Divorce: Credit Card, Mortgage, Auto & Medical”
  • Jeff Landers “Understanding How Assets Get Divided in Divorce”

  • Millenial Money Man “40 Best 2020 Side Hustle Ideas (Make $1,000+ Per Month)”