Coaching women to become masters of their own independence

·4 min read

The economic fallout from the Covid pandemic coupled with soaring inflation and a rise in the cost of living has left many people struggling to adapt to an increasingly unstable environment, not least women. But they can turn the situation into an opportunity says Chinese-American financial coach Yulin Lee.

While bringing its fair share of suffering, the Covid crisis has also provided a wake-up call on both economic and environmental levels.

In terms of employment and the jobs market, people realised how governed they were by expectations and social conditioning.

Many realised they didn’t enjoy their jobs and wanted to do something more fulfilling. Others were forced to change jobs, get training or reassess their lifestyle choices.

For women, often the first victims of economic downturn, the time is ripe to take action to avoid getting caught out in the next storm.

Yulin Lee has spent the last 10 years running workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions with women of different ages, from diverse social and cultural backgrounds.

She's gathered her observations into a new book “Unleashed: Tapping Into Your Feminine Instinct to Create Financial Independence".

Pouring from an empty cup

One of the main obstacles, she says, is getting women to believe in their self-worth and capabilities.

They may not acquire financial knowledge because they think they won't need it, and fall into a false sense of security thanks to their existing job or a husband who earns.

“There’s a belief system that we as women are not as good with money as men, that it’s a man’s job. It’s so much conditioning we’ve had as women,” Lee tells RFI.

“Women have been catering to the needs of other people but not really taking care of themselves," she adds. "They've got into a space where they’re pouring from an empty cup."

The "unleashing" part, therefore, is the crucial moment when women stop and say "now I’m doing something for myself", she explains.

This can be through doing the "homework", which starts by taking stock of personal finances such as income, spending and investment – the three pillars needed for establishing a solid financial foundation, Lee says.

“What is your biggest challenge right now? What does your perfect life look life?” Lee asks the women who have signed up to her workshops on managing money.

"It might seem frivolous to dream but breaking down the overwhelm associated with finance actually starts in the mind. Thinking about the ‘whys’ and not the ‘hows’ forces people to come to terms with their attitude to money and find out what concrete steps they can take."

Sustainable solutions

“We tend to jump to the ‘hows’ first because we want the quick solution, like believing in the ads that tell us we can earn a million dollars in a month."

These might work sometimes “but the problem is that they are not sustainable solutions,” she adds.

The five women from different walks of life, who feature in her book, are fictional, but all their choices are based on real-life situations Lee has observed. And as ordinary as they seem at the outset, the women manage to transform their lives.

Lee says this comes through a savvy mix of tapping into the “feminine energy” related to “nurturing” capabilities some women already use in daily life, and combining it with data driven analysis.

Statistically, women live longer than men and divorce rates are going up in many western countries. At some point, Lee says, most women will find themselves living alone.

“Do you really want to wait until you’re in your 70s and 80s to figure out how to support yourself financially?” she asks.

“We’ve worked all our lives: do you really want to end your life scraping by on the bare minimum?”. The answer is always no.

Humanistic focus

"Why leave things up to chance, and rely on the government to pay for your retirement or settling on working until you can’t anymore? By making informed and carefully guided choices early on, women can prepare their way to financial independence and autonomy," she writes.

That’s why Lee is also committed to teaching teenagers financial literacy, so that some of those early mistakes can be avoided and healthier money habits can form.

Lee is quick to point out that her work has a humanistic rather than feminist focus.

“It’s about human beings. Women should be looking at finances the same way men do. Even in a couple, it’s not about power struggle, it’s about how to become a better team and work on family finances together and make joint decisions.”

Yulin Lee is holding workshops in Paris on 25, 26 June and provides sessions online year-round, including for teenagers.

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