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  • Writer's pictureElla Davies, LMFT

From Financial Fear to Freedom: Lessons from Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is a best-selling writer, chart-topping podcaster, and financial educator.  She created her business, Her First 100k, to teach women how to harness their own power by taking control of their finances.  Recently, TBH Therapy attended an event to hear her speak and learn more about financial empowerment.  We were so inspired by her presentation and are big supporters of this mission!  We believe in creating the life you want, and we would be honored to help you get there. 


Three women smiling and holding pink books titled Financial Feminist
TBH Therapy @ Tori Dunlap!

Keep reading for a few big takeaways from Tori’s presentation & Q&A, and how therapy can help you explore your money mindset and unpack any feelings of anxiety, shame, or fear that arise for you when you think about taking a more active role in managing your finances.



Lesson One:  The System is Rigged.

A locked gate in the woods


If it feels like the system is rigged against you, that’s because it is.  There are a lot of ways that our society teaches women to not take up space -- not growing your wealth is only one of them.  From not wanting to be “rude” by asking for a raise or negotiating your bills; systemic issues in women’s vs men’s pay; societal lessons about it being improper to talk about money; and the whole concept of finance as a thing for “bros”; there are many aspects of our society that try to gatekeep and intimidate women from growing their own wealth.   Learning how to see these systemic issues can reduce your own personal feelings of guilt and shame for not being where you want to be in your financial journey yet.



Lesson Two: Pay yourself first! 


An emergency fund gives you the freedom to make the best choices for your own life.  Having savings allows you to leave a job, change your living situation, or start a new career.  It allows you to set boundaries with family members who may otherwise attempt to use money to manipulate you.  Additionally, financial abuse or inequality is a factor in a huge majority of domestic violence situations where individuals don’t feel secure or able to leave an unsafe situation.   Yes, it may be true that money can’t buy happiness; however, it definitely can solve problems that are making you unhappy.  Being able to sleep easy at night knowing that you are gonna be ok no matter what financial crisis or emergency might come your way is priceless.  Prioritize your savings and explore what saving option best suits your needs!



Lesson Three: Align Your Money with Your Values.

A multiracial family sitting at an airport gate


 Your money is a reflection of your values.  Are you using it in a way that feels authentic to you? Beyond financial security, aligning your money with your values can also bring a sense of fulfillment and even joy to your life. Taking the time to figure out your priorities and then align your spending with those priorities.  Tori gave the example of her family choosing to eat out less often, because they prioritized saving for a family vacation each year.  You can make space in your budget for the things that make you happy – if you are not overspending on things that don’t truly bring you joy.  If that afternoon Starbucks run feels fulfilling and energizing and empowering, awesome!  If it’s just a way to get out of the house or office for 20 minutes, maybe taking a walk, listening to music in your car, or sitting on a park bench and reading or people watching aligns better with your goals.  Therapy can help a lot in figuring out what your priorities are, so you have a clearer roadmap of where you want to invest your resources – both financial and otherwise.


Lesson Four: Money & Financial Skills are Learned Skills.


Just like any other skills, financial literacy can be learned and improved over time. At TBH Therapy, we define skills as things you can learn and improve at over time with effort and support.  If I wanted to learn how to knit, I wouldn’t expect to just sit down with some yarn and knitting needles and whip out a sweater.  I would want to take some time and learn the basics, maybe get a friend to help, watch some YouTube tutorials – and I would expect to be kinda bad at it at first!  The same principles apply for learning financial skills.  Most people hate being bad at things or not understanding things.  Summon some of your distress tolerance skills, take some deep breaths, and remind yourself that you have figured out new things before.  You absolutely can do this, and the more you practice and learn, the more comfortable and familiar it will feel.  Take it one step at a time.  If you are feeling really overwhelmed, that may be a feeling worth exploring in therapy. 


How Therapy Can Help

A young woman of color sitting on a therapist's couch


We are not financial planners.  We can’t tell you what stocks to buy or what high yield savings account is the best fit for you.  What we can do is help you unpack the lessons you’ve learned about money – maybe from your family, your peer group, your cultural or religious groups, or just society at large.  We can also help you learn to regulate and decrease feelings of distress, anxiety, or shame that arise when you begin to dig into your finances. 


You may have internalized messages like, “I’m not rich because I’m not working hard enough”,  or “I’m not smart enough to figure this out” and feel shame about your financial situation.  Your family may have had certain ways of handling money that no longer align with your goals for your life, but you keep finding yourself repeating the same patterns.  Maybe you can’t get out of credit card debt because you keep chasing the dopamine high of finding a good sale or the perfect outfit.  Some of our clients struggle with asking for a raise, taking a risk to start their own business, or setting boundaries with family members about finances.  Often this can link back to self-worth and feeling you are not deserving of having money and financial security.  Working on how you feel about yourself can help a lot with how you feel about your financial resources.


Taking some time with a professional to sit down and explore these messages can be extremely enlightening and help you figure out what aspects of your relationship with money you’d like to change.  All of our clinicians at TBH Therapy feel passionate about supporting you in getting to the relationship with money that you would like to have. 


If anything in this blog felt resonant for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at TBH!  We would love to walk alongside you as you explore your thoughts and feelings around money and the financial lifestyle you would like to have.  Contact us today to start, or continue, your journey from financial fear to freedom.

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