Before I could learn about interest or inflation, I had to teach myself to open the letters. When I was growing up, bills and bank statements were left in a pile, threatening to avalanche. Whatever information they held, the message was the same: my family did not have enough money.
Some people receive lump sums as a legacy, but I inherited a fear of finances. Like many, I received little formal financial education. As I entered a more moneyed world, at university, and then at work, the tone of what I was taught just exacerbated my isolation. To read about increasing my wealth felt futile when there was none.
Financial literacy experts are starting to acknowledge that we must tackle our emotional histories before we can truly master money. In the US, the Financial Therapy Association was founded in 2009 by therapists and financial planners eager to help people understand how their financial histories inform their choices.
Women, in particular, can struggle to talk about finances. For generations, many had little control over their money and were not brought up to be breadwinners. They still earn less than men, while living longer, and they are more likely to get a raw deal from a divorce.
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