Category Archives: Think

A Very Feminist Gift Guide

This post is in collaboration with Etsy.

This is so awesome. Definitely loading up my Chirstmas shopping list with a lot of these frugal feminist gift ideas!

The holidays are just around the corner! And many Etsy shop owners are offering up to 60% off to celebrate.

While you should definitely check out the deals on feminist gifts today, I wanted to put together a gift guide that could last beyond the clickiest holiday all year.

They’re great when the sale is on. And they’re great afterwards, too.

8 Feminist Gift Ideas

Without further ado, here are 8 gift ideas for the feminist in your life.

 

Feminist Financial Handbook

Woman holding a copy of The Feminist Financial Handbook on a white background.Sale: 16% off
Where to get it: Amazon

First, let me introduce you to The Feminist Financial Handbook, written by yours truly! If you’re tired of reading money books that pretend like you’re already rich — or ignore the kyriarchal economic systems we all live under — this is the book for you. Here are some more in-depth reviews of The Feminist Financial Handbook.

 

Frida Kahlo Clock

black clock with green numbers with frida kahlo's face and some foliage hand painted on itPrice: $38.99
Where to get it: FunAroundtheClockCo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who explored so many intersections. From gender to race to colonialism to socioeconomic class, she covered all the bases in truly powerful ways.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mug

ruth bader ginsburg giftPrice: $15.75
Where to get it: SheMugs

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Pioneer. Women’s advocate. Dissenter at large. With this gift, your feminist can start her morning with caffeine and a reflection: What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg do?

 

I’m Speaking Sweatshirt

powder blue sweatshirt with 'i'm speaking' printed in small print across the chest. shirt is surrounded by various accessories and foliage for artistic purposes. kamala harris quotePrice: $33.99
Where to get it: TheRepublicDesigns

We’ve all been where Kamala was — even if we weren’t on the world stage.

 

Carry Yourself with the Confidence of a Mediocre White Man Cross Stitch

Cross stitch sitting on a background of pennies. Cross stitch has flowers around the outside and reads 'Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man'Price: $40
Where to get it: SarasEccentricSewing

Because you deserve to be in the room, too.

 

Customizable Fearless Girl Statue in Bronze

tabletop statue of the fearless girl who faced the market bull in NYC's financial district. She is standing on the name 'NANCY' but name can be customized to your own. Bronze statue.Price: $136.08
Where to get it: 3DesignGiftShop

Whether she’s taking on bulls or the patriarchy, this customizable bronze statue is an inspirational gift for your little feminist.

 

Narrative of Sojourner TruthNarrative of Sojourner Truth

Price: $15.99
Where to get it:
AffordableBooks

If you’ve got a reader on your hands, you’ll seriously want to consider ordering the Narrative of Sojourner Truth from AffordableBooks. Truth was arguably America’s first intersectional feminist, and the pages of her narrative cover her years as a slave, an abolitionist and a feminist.

 

In This House We Believe PosterIn this house we believe black lives matter love is love science is real feminism is for everyone no human is illegal kindness is everything

Price: $8.00
Where to buy: littlegoldpixel

Odds are, your feminist holds the values encapsulated in this poster printable:

  • Black lives matter.
  • Love is love.
  • Science is real.
  • Feminism is for everyone.
  • No human is illegal.
  • Kindness is everything.

 

Celebrating 11 Years with 11 Good Things

Image of a woman celebrating her birthday by herself with cupcakes and a party hat. Text reads 'Celebrating 11 years with 11 happy things femmefrugality.com'This summer, Femme Frugality turns 11 years old.

This past year?

It’s not been my favorite.

That’s an understatement. And I know a lot of you are right there with me.

One of the things that helps me get through times like these is practicing gratitude. Even when the world is a steaming hot pile of garbage.

So today, at the conclusion of a particularly difficult year and what I hope is the dawn of a much, much better one, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the good things that happened between the summers of 2021 and 2022.

Some of these things are Femme Frugality adjacent. Some of them are totally unrelated wins and accomplishments of my peers in the PF space.

All of them have brought me great joy. I hope they bring a smile to your face, too.

1. Mom Autism Money launched & nominated for awards.

Joyce Marrero and I launched a podcast! Mom Autism Money has a pretty self-explanatory name: We talk about personal finance for parents of kids on the spectrum.

We’ve gotten to speak with some pretty amazing guests, and have covered topics you don’t often hear talked about in the personal finance space, like:

  • ABLE accounts.
  • Supplemental needs trusts.
  • Medicaid access.
  • How to successfully apply for SSI.
  • Guardianship vs supported decision-making.
  • And the list goes on.

Here’s where you can check out the full episode archive.

Bonus on top of getting to do something we love that’s making a difference?

Mom Autism Money was just announced as a finalist for two Plutus Awards!

  • Best New Personal Finance Podcast.
  • Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities.

This in and of itself is an honor enough. But if you’d like, you can also nominate us for the People’s Choice Award. You can also nominate anyone else from this post.

We’ll be launching Season 3 sometime this Fall, so it’s worth subscribing now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to podcasts. That way you’ll automatically be updated when we start releasing new episodes.

2. Shalese Heard is winning.

This year I was introduced to a new-to-me content creator, Shalese Heard, AKA the Autistic Travel Goddess. And I’m so glad I was.

Shalese primarily covers travel content. But within that, there’s a whole lot of personal finance content. Because what better way to help you travel the world than establishing some financial freedom for yourself?

Shalese has used tons of creative and outside-the-box ways to fund her travels, which we did discuss a good bit on an episode of Mom Autism Money.

She’s had a TON of wins this past year, from speaking at huge conferences to launching new courses. Be sure to keep up with the latest from Shalese on Instagram and YouTube.

3. Pauline got her CFP.

shorter woman with brown hair and black shirt standing net to taller woman with black cowboy hat black shirt and pink hoodie. both women wearing white lanyards and smiling

Pauline and me in Dallas back in 2017. I need to get better about taking pictures with people when we spend time together!

My good friend Pauline from Reach Financial Independence spent much of the first part of the pandemic studying away to earn her CFP. And in December, she got it!

Pauline is now using her CFP to work with active duty military members, and doing some charity work on the side.

Pauline is one of the most money-savvy people I know. She’s found incredible ways to use her finances to explore the globe, and has made sure to also use her wealth to support others in all of her communities along the way.

She’s a wonderful, compassionate person, a personal finance genius, and someone you’re always glad to see succeed.

4. Nicole Lynn Perry continued to change the world in new capacities.


I had an opportunity to chat with Nicole Lynn Perry this year. You probably remember Nicole’s story from The Feminist Financial Handbook. At the time the book was published, she had just secured a job at Amazon. Which was great.

But in the time since, even better things have come her way. Nicole has been working as a paralegal and mitigation specialist for the Lavender Rights Project out of Seattle. This year, her advocacy work and insights have been featured in many major publications, like the Washington Post.

I continue to be impressed by and grateful for all of the change she makes in the world — whether it was her work back in Texas or in her new role in Seattle.

If you’re an editor or writer and want to get in touch with Nicole for like media features, I’d be happy to put you in touch.

5. Rebecca Neale received the Nery Arrano Award.

I have so much respect for Rebecca not only because she’s a talented, skilled attorney, but also because of her phenomenal character as a human being.

This year, the head of Bedford Family Lawyer received the Nery Arrano award for pro bono work from the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts.

I have witnessed Rebecca dedicate so much of her career to survivors of domestic violence. I have seen her raise her voice to bring awareness to economic abuse, which almost always accompanies these cases.

It is so nice to see someone who does so much good being honored for their work.

Rebecca shares some super negotiation tips for women in The Feminist Financial Handbook.

6. Cashing Out was published.

I met Kiersten Saunders of Rich & Regular in the Spring of 2019, and her perspective on FIRE (financial independence/retire early) blew my mind. I was instantly impressed and wanted to learn ALL THE THINGS from her.

Her approach to FI wasn’t about hustling away your 30s and giving up all the luxuries, but rather about leveraging corporate systems — and then walking away from them — in order to buy back more of your life for yourself. It was also about decidedly making these goals less exclusively white.

This year, she and her husband Julien released the book Cashing Out, which covers all those topics and more. The book teaches you how to quit your job within 15 years without burning yourself out along the way.

They’ve been featured on Good Morning America, Marketwatch, and had a super successful book tour. (More dates may be added — keep up here so you don’t miss one in a city near you!)

I am so happy to see Julien and Kiersten get so much attention for their phenomenal work, and happy for all of us that we get to learn from them with this new tome.

7. Stacked hit the shelves.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emily Guy Birken (@emilyguybirken)

Another great book that came out this year?

Stacked by Emily Guy Birken and Joe Saul-Sehy!

I reviewed the book earlier this year here on Femme Frugality, but here’s the synopsis:

It’s a funny, engaging way to learn about personal finance, especially if you’re new to the investing side of the equation. It takes complex topics and breaks them down in a way that will actually keep you turning the pages rather than falling asleep. Hilarious analogies and pop culture references abound!

Emily and Joe have had a lot of success with this book, and you LOVE to see it.

In fact, both Stacked and Cashing Out are both finalists for Best New Personal Personal Finance Book from the Plutus Awards.

8. Jackie Cummings Koski was featured on Rachael Ray.

And about a million other exciting places, like CNBC and Black Enterprise.

Jackie‘s story, which she generously shared in The Feminist Financial Handbook, is so inspiring. It shows how you don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to become a millionaire. You can retire early without sacrificing ALL the things, even if you make an average income.

One of her long-term goals has been taking the time to focus on giving back with her knowledge, and it’s been really cool to see her achieve this in such big ways over the past year!

Be sure not to miss her on Rachael Ray.

9. J$ is back!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by J. Money (@jmoneyyyyyy)


After some time away, J$ is back and blogging at Budgets are Sexy!

And he and Nate have already brought back the Giving Cards!

I know I’m not the only one who missed J in his absence. He’s done so much to further the accessibility of financial literacy education. He also does so much to give back to the community. If you think the stuff he posts on his blog is kind, you would be so impressed by the goodness he shares with the world when no one is looking. And by the fact that he never mentions it.

Having him back is cause for rejoice.

10. Shanté became a screenwriter for PBS.

Last Fall, Shanté’s music video was featured at the Plutus Awards!

And her artistic vision and successes didn’t end there. This year, she became a screenwriter for the PBS show Two Cents. Check it out here! New episodes are forthcoming.

Joyce and I were lucky to sit down with Shanté for an episode of Mom Autism Money this year, too. She’s such a brilliant educator, able to break down even the most super complex financial topics and turn them into digestible lessons. If you aren’t already a member of her Financial Common Cents community, you’ll want to change that fast.

11. Personal finance and public policy intersected at Plutus Voices Philly.

I was honored to speak at Plutus Voices Philly this year alongside the brilliant Courtney Richardson.

We talked about the different ways public policy and personal finance intersect. We touched on some pretty deep and important topics, and I’m hoping to have a video for you all soon.

I have been taking extra care with COVID, so this trip was something that was carefully considered and planned out. I encourage you to be COVID safe, too. For others, if not for yourself.

It was so nice to see old friends again after so long. Especially such compassionate and inspiring ones like Harlan of the Plutus Foundation, Miranda of the Plutus Foundation and the Freelance Writer Academy (<— for any of you looking to break into that field), and Jason Vitug of Phroogal, the YOLO book, and various other financial literacy projects.

It was also really great to meet new people in real life, like Courtney. Who, have I mentioned? Is absolutely brilliant across so many domains. I have learned so much from her, especially in recent months, and I’d highly recommend following along so you can learn from her, too.

I found out that Jason is coming out with another book soon, so be sure to follow him to stay on top of that news!

What good things have happened to you this year?

Obviously, more than 11 happy things happened in the world of personal finance this year. Whether you’re a writer, media producer, or just an individual who paid off the last of their debt this year, I want to hear all about it!

Leave your win or someone else’s win that brought you joy in the comments. Or @ me on social media.

The world can feel so tenuous lately. Let’s point out the things that are definitively celebratory.

Not to ignore the bad. But to give ourselves one, brief moment to recognize the good.

I’m a Black Disabled Woman. My Identity Has Been Stolen More Than 6 Times During the Pandemic.

This latest installment in the Intersectional Money Series is by Heather Watkins.

Black woman wearing a yellow sweater typing at her laptop. Coffee, a notebook and pen are in the background.

“Oh no, not again.”

I thought after receiving a letter about yet another attempt to steal my identity to get credit or compensation in some way.

In the past 18 months while in pandemic lockdown and loosening stages, scammers have tried to:

  • File for unemployment in my name in two different states.
  • Ordered food using my debit card info on both the east and west coasts of the country.
  • Tried to buy clothing from online retailers.

The latest scam involved taxes being e-filed in my name.

We’re all living in desperate times during this coronavirus wildness and many folks are experiencing far more disparities depending upon where you live, socio-economic status, marginalized identities, or lack of access to opportunities that might connect you to increased quality of life.

So many of us who live gridlocked with low-income tied to health insurance, food and housing security, transportation, childcare costs, etc have also had supplemental income and secondary support systems dry up overnight.

Many have had to pivot and get their quick footing by eyeing new ways to survive and stay safe, fed, and housed. There are scores of folks who may have run out of options and then there are quite a few who prey upon unsuspecting others for sport without a care about the carry-over.

According to this recent article, scams like these have cost Americans more than a half billion dollars since early 2020.

My lived experience makes me hyper aware of my finances.

As a Black disabled woman who doesn’t live too far past the poverty level, I know this sense of anxiety all too well. I’m cautious about how I spend my money and keep a watchful eye on my finances.

My state-sponsored health insurance is income-contingent and loss of coverage would interrupt the continuity of care needed. I have a physical disability that impacts not only my mobility but my respiratory muscles also. When resting at night, I require the use of mechanical ventilation to assist my breathing otherwise I could risk respiratory failure.

My health insurance covers the costly rental fees of this much needed durable medical equipment (DME) or else I would not be able to afford it since it exceeds my monthly income. Any fraudulent financial claims can quite literally affect my access to healthcare, and can affect other areas of my finances, too, since I am required to live on a limited income.

That lived experience and disability lens perspective has informed my work in advocacy in many ways. I’m empathetic to social conditions and failed systems that impact quality of life particularly where race, disability, and gender may intersect.

As a person in need of care, a caregiver, and community-builder all at once, I know many women who live in this continuum, especially Black women and other women of color. We often have little choice not to do so pulling double and triple duty in terms of responsibility.

Even places of rest like our bedrooms become office command centers; I’ve run board meetings and the whole house from atop my bed, managed healthcare, grocery delivery, and family finances. Disability may dictate staying in place for the day and/or many days.

Here in the U.S. one out of four persons is estimated to have a disability and that includes apparent, non-apparent, and chronic illness. That’s about 25% of the population, and Black people number at around 14% of the population.

When we consider the nexus of being Black and disabled as this recent Atlantic article attests, the percentage of disabled Black Americans is 14% and disabled Black people who live in poverty number at 36%.

Black people typically don’t have the cushion of generational wealth that might soften the impact of financial damage incurred from injury of identity theft and fraud. Multiply-marginalized populations like disabled Black persons have even less of a financial safety net because of factors like racism and ableism.

Being better-informed doesn’t shield me from the effects but does help shape my worldview beyond doom and gloom to a more expansive one. Think more context not just consequences; more proactivity instead of being reactive only.

Still, it’s unnerving that hackers gained access to my private information and used it in nefarious ways. So right after being initially upset, I made sure to activate better security measures.

Handling Unemployment Scams

First, I made sure to call both state’s unemployment offices and let them know that I didn’t initiate those claims. Thankfully, both times they confirmed that claims had not moved further because they had been unable to verify all information.

Addressing Debit Card Fraud

Next, the debit card claims were handled by the bank and the funds were immediately returned pending investigation. If the claims were found to be account holder’s responsibility then the funds would have been paid back to the bank. This usually happens by automatic debit.

I’ve since placed alerts on my bank accounts so that every time funds were moved I would get notifications, which would allow more time for an immediate response if something were found to be amiss.

The fraudulent online purchases were caught in time and were still “pending,” so I alerted my bank that the purchase was not initiated by me. It was denied and the retailer was blocked for my bank account.

If I want to purchase anything from that site in future, I will have to contact the bank to have the block lifted.

Tax Identity Theft

Lastly, after receiving notification in mail regarding tax filings, I contacted the IRS and it was  confirmed that just a few months ago someone had filed taxes using my information. I was urged to file an identity theft form for them to investigate and have on record for my own protection.

Also, contacting the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report is another proactive measure that raises the red flag. It adds another layer of scrutiny for creditors to consider before granting applicants lines of credit and loans. You can either call or apply online.

Once you alert one of the credit bureaus they alert the others. The alerts can be temporary and last a year or as long as 7 years.

More stringent measures are security freezes and credit locks which place holds on your reports. They differ slightly and are explained in greater detail here.

The emotional labor of dealing with fraud during the pandemic.

It’s a lot of work to stabilize finances and find balance in such trying times. It can be a tough challenge especially when you may not have the physical and mental wherewithal to stay afloat without additional support.

Even now during festive times of year, it’s hard to muster up enough cheer when yet another strain of coronavirus is dominating the news. You start to wonder about further impact to marginalized communities. It’s complex, layered, and can feel overwhelming.

My advocacy work has expanded my awareness and reminds me to stay grounded as many of us are just trying to do the best we know how. There is such connective tissue that binds us all, and being mindful of that helps to keep my focus on building a better world where more of our basic needs are met, rather than focusing solely on blaming the wayward few who stay trying to break down individual and community morale.

I’m grateful that I didn’t incur much loss and hopefully don’t discover any more attempts in the future. But I’ll be ready and think I’m pretty well-buffered from all the gains, life hacks, and insights I’ve learned along the way as a Black disabled woman active in the disability rights community.

Woman in grey coat, blue and white blouse and blue earrings smiling at the camera.

 

Heather Watkins is a disability advocate, author, blogger, mother, graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in Mass Communications. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, loves reading, daydreaming, chocolate, and serves on a handful of disability-related boards. Her blog, Slow Walkers See More, includes reflections and insight from her life with disability.

 

More from the Intersectional Money Series

The Intersection of Islamophobia and Domestic Violence

Nour Naas shares her important story and perspective on domestic violence and how marginalized groups face additional barriers when it comes to reporting.

First-hand account of disableism impacting your money situation from an autistic woman.

How Disableism Has Affected My Finances

How hard is it to get a job when you're autistic? And then, once you have a job, how hard is it to keep even if the quality of your work is excellent? Read this important and eye-opening post--and then pass it along to the HR manager at work.

Intersectional Women's Finances

Overcoming Financial Obstacles as a Black Woman

Black women in America face double the wage gap, work more for less pay and incur more stress as a result. Join us as Chonce Maddox shares her experiences.

Stranger in My Native Land: Asian American Money

Asian-American women face racism and xenophobia on a regular basis. Along with it comes the need for hypervigelence around career and financial matters.

Where to Give this #GivingTuesday

Looking for somewhere to give this Giving Tuesday?

After the holiday weekend where we all took a moment to contemplate our gratitude, it may be a good moment to contemplate something else: That the Thanksgiving holiday narrative many of us white people grew up with was distorted, and very far from the truth.

The holiday, and much of our country, was built upon exploitation, colonialism and continued oppression.

If you’ve never heard this before, here are some helpful truths.

That makes this a great time to give to Indigenous peoples. Not to alleviate your guilt. Not because one small gift will compensate for centuries of harm, violence and dishonesty.

But it is one tiny step in the right direction.

Where to Give

In the US, we are all living on stolen lands. You could takes steps to stop inflicting harm by returning the land you ‘own’ to its original Nation, like this couple in Nova Scotia.

Whether you rent or ‘own’ your own home — but especially if you ‘own’ — you could pay a voluntary land tax to the Nation whose lands you are living on.

You can find out whose lands you are living on with this tool. Then further look into how you can make some small attempt at personal reparations with that specific Nation.

Give Directly

You could also give directly. Here are some direct giving opportunities from the Twittersphere:

 


You don’t have to wait until this time of year.

This is a time of year when we’re all thinking about giving, but don’t let this be the only time of year you attempt to make reparations. Look for these giving opportunities all year long.

How Your ACE Score Affects Your Money Habits

This feature by Eugenié George is the latest in the Intersectional Money series. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your physician’s advice or another qualified health provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. 

Economic inequity takes on many forms. One of the forms it takes is through trauma. This article will discuss Adverse Childhood Experiences and how they can affect Women of Color’s economic inequity. We will also cover steps to address the past with the present. 

Money Triggers

Imagine grocery shopping one sunny afternoon. You have all the right ingredients in your grocery cart, and you’re ready to purchase. 

But you have a taste for Honeycrisp apples. 

You look at the price tag and see that the apples are $3.49 a pound. That’s, like, a dollar more than any of the other apples! You have money to purchase the product, but you experience a weird uneasy feeling in your gut. Your brain is running several ideas: 

Girl, don’t waste your money on that! You can get cheaper apples at Kroger.

But on the other hand, apples are healthy, and you know what they say about apples and doctors.

You don’t have any money at all. 

If I had a man (or woman) who supported me, I could buy apples. 

I bet White people don’t have this problem. 

We can’t afford that because papa is looking for a new job. 

Now in the 35,000 thoughts that we run through our brain, which thought was the weirdest?

It was probably, “We can’t afford that because papa is looking for a new job.” 

Why was that thought in your brain, you might ask?  It’s because even though we are deciding on an action in the present, our minds can be triggered by Financial PTSD

Our money triggers can help us.

We experience money triggers from our traumatic experiences in the past. In many ways, these triggers help us avoid a lot of terrible situations. 

When I was little, my family told me never to walk in a check-cashing business because many of them engage in predatory lending. 

And I’m glad that they did because, according to the National Associates of Consumer Advocates, payday lending could ruin your credit and charge you five times more than cashing your check at a bank. 

This warning was given to be because my family did go to the check-cashing place and learned from their experience. 

Our money triggers can hurt us.

On the other hand, our money triggers can hurt us. They can stop us from getting the things we want. 

It can be as little as not purchasing Honeycrisp Apples — even though you can afford them. It could manifest as accepting less pay than you’re worth, even though you’ve attempted to negotiate your pay. 

Trauma and Money Habits

On a personal level, the most challenging thing as a writer is to convey to readers the urgency around money and trauma. Using trauma as a reflective-interactive tool can help Women of Color process their cultural beliefs around gender and race. 

As I was looking for more scientific research to support this case, I stumbled upon a TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Harris Burke entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences.  

What is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)? 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the traumatic events that occur during childhood between the ages of 0-17 years. Some examples of these traumatic events are: 

  • Experiencing sexual, physical or emotional abuse — including neglect. 
  • Witnessing alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Divorce or family separation.

ACE scores are formulated on a one to four scale. A score of one means you’ve experienced one form of childhood abuse. Four or more means you had many hardships to overcome. 

It’s also important to know that ACE scores don’t talk about racism. They don’t talk about coping strategies or how someone overcame adversity. 

So if someone has a high ACE score, they can also be dealing with environmental trauma, such as gender and racial inequity.

The Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente investigated childhood abuse and how childhood abuse and neglect can impact adults. It turns out that most adults have experienced trauma in their life. 

According to the Center for Youth Wellness, about two-thirds of study participants had experienced at least one ACE category. The higher your ACE score, the higher the likelihood of developing long-term health problems like heart disease or cancer. 

Could ACE Scores be the missing link to personal finance?

When I stumbled upon this research, I kept asking my personal finance friends if they had heard of ACEs, and many of them scratched their heads in disbelief. This research meant that we could find out adults’ long-term health habits if we learned about their trauma. 

It also meant that I could find the relationship between ACE scores and socioeconomic patterns.

A 2014 study explained that the monetary hardship on women who had an ACE Score of two or more had a history of economic adversity. A UK study found out that women with an ACE score of two or more have a higher risk of premature death than women with lower scores. Many of these women had premature deaths from lack of health planning and budget prioritizing.

So what does this mean? 

It means that our trauma can have an economic impact that can affect our future lives. When we experience trauma as children, it can create barriers around future health and opportunity if not addressed early. 

The pathways associated with ACE scores could increase the likelihood of adopting harmful health behavior, impacting one’s ability to achieve upward mobility (i.e., education, employment, and income.) It also means that our ACE score can create an awareness of how vital social connections are to our overall health. 

Because we know that most Americans have experienced trauma, we must start the conversation around our behavior and emotions. 

My Family’s ACE Story

In my book, Our Money Stories, I go through a journey of understanding my ACE score through my father’s eyes. It occurred to me that my father had a high ACE score. Still, he managed not to endure all the adverse outcomes associated with high ACE scores: Violent behavior, incarceration, and premature death. 

But my dad did have one addiction that I was able to identify: His soda addiction. 

Coping with one’s emotion through addiction is a common practice. According to reporting done by Tulsa World, soda and cigarettes help people soothe and regulate emotions

The larger problem is that many adults with high ACE scores didn’t develop the ability to soothe and control emotions when they are stressed.  So as adults, they create ways to relieve their feelings either through food, soda, or cigarettes. 

On the economic side, the cost of any addiction is expensive AF. When I sat down with my father, it occurred to me that my dad spent money on soda every day. 

How ACE Scores affect your spending 

Prior to 2016, money was the number one cause of stress in America. The American Psychological Association reported that 72% of Americans stressed out about money at least some time during the previous month. 

ACE scores are the aspirin to your money headache. Why is this? 

It’s because the way we handle stress stems from our childhood. The adversity that we experience as a child — like divorce or neglect — can alter how our body reacts to all situations. In a recent discovery, ACEs Too High explained that our ACE scores could create long-term changes in our bodies without us even knowing it. 

Let’s go back to our example earlier in the article:

If I had a man (or woman) who supported me, I could buy apples. 

We can’t afford that because papa is looking for a new job. 

These ideas may stem from ACEs. 

Thought The potential link to ACEs
We can’t afford that because papa is looking for a new job. Because the family dealt with financial insecurity, the child feels neglected.
If I had a man (or woman) who supported me, I could buy apples. You might be a child from a divorce who fixates on ‘what-ifs’.

Our past can unconsciously help us make decisions. Paying attention to our thoughts and behavior patterns with money can help us create reflective money habits. Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to find what’s going on.

3 Action Steps to Understand Your ACE Score 

Take the ACE Test 

Let’s be real: Taking the plunge of learning your ACE score can be a traumatic experience. 

Sometimes many of us block our traumatic experiences. They can be overwhelming. If you are comfortable taking the ACE test, you can do so here. You can also take it with a therapist or a specialist. 

Write in a Journal

One of the most healing forms of understanding one’s trauma is by writing it on paper. Take out a piece of paper and start writing about your past. Hannah Brame, author of The Year of You wrote a series of money journal prompts, and we’ve found the best ones to get your ACE brain activated:  

How do you talk about money with friends and family? (Do you?)

What does it mean to you to have “not enough” money

What does it mean to you to have “too much” money?

Write a Money Brain Dump 

A quick money stress reliever is creating a money brain dump list. 

A money brain dump list is the act of setting a timer and writing down all of the things that are bothering you. You can make your brain dump money-specific and write out a list of financial stressors. 

Getting your fears on paper can relieve your current money stress. It can also help you make a mental note of why you are stressed, so you can work through it and process your stress in new, healthier ways. 

Eugenié uses her 10+ years’ experience in tech, education, and finances to lead high- achieving individuals to understand their money habits. She works as a financial wellness strategist and is the author of Our Money Stories.

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