Paying Ourselves (First) and Owning Our Worth

Amidst the broader social conversations happening recently around access and autonomy and power and privilege, one of the things that has galled me most is that too many of us are still having to ask for permission to access the illusory “level playing field” and “equal protection” others enjoy implicitly. 

For women especially, pay gaps, VC funding patterns, systemic biases, and a whole matrix of external structures keep us persistently under-represented in positions of power and keep us poorer than men (even something as seemingly unrelated as access to abortions impacts women’s lifetime earning prospects and risks of falling into poverty). The statistics are depressing and universal, and all of the unpaid work women do robs us further of our potential wealth and influence.

But we can all do something about this. From demanding what we are worth at work and at home, to advocating for others, to paying ourselves properly from our businesses, the work starts with each of us. With getting actual cash and investing in ourselves. And with using the voices and values we have to push back and build up when everything around us seems to be pulling apart and falling down.

There are a few simple things we can do right now to give ourselves more money and therefore more options and more of a say: 

  • We can negotiate new contracts for EVERYTHING (mobile phones, utilities, subscriptions, broadband services, etc) and then put any savings into our personal savings accounts or into our businesses
  • We can chase up unpaid invoices
  • We can cash those checks collecting dust on our desks
  • We can finally increase our prices 
  • We can ask for a raise
  • We can do fewer tasks at work that don’t get recognized or contribute to promotability 
  • We can sell parts of our businesses
  • We can sell items in our homes and offices that we no longer need or use
  • We can negotiate payment terms and interest rates on everything from mortgages to business loans
  • We can ask for discounts 
  • We can pay ourselves from our businesses (even if only a little bit each month) with a plan for increasing our salaries as our revenues increase
  • We can start paying ourselves for some of the unpaid work we do at home or in the office AND get our life/business partners to share the load (use Amy Westervelt’s Unpaid Labor Calculator for a shocking wake up call… When I used it, my unpaid work totaled more than $70,000 a year. WTF?)

We can do all of these things and then use the time, money, and energy saved to invest in our businesses, invest in our training, invest in a coach, invest in a mastermind, invest in a new hire, or simply invest in a much-needed break.

My dear readers, the world already de-prioritizes women and minimizes our worth, but we shouldn’t do that to ourselves or let that happen to the women around us.

Let’s have those difficult money conversations with co-founders or partners or suppliers, let’s plan for our financial futures, let’s learn what we need to learn, and let’s start building our financial fortresses so that no one can ever, ever pull us down. The world needs more good people to control more wealth.

Money isn’t the answer to everything, of course, but having more control over more of it gives us all the freedom to do more of the good we want to do in the world and in our lives, and for the issues and causes we care about.

So let’s stop with the status quo. Let’s start paying ourselves and owning our worth. And let’s start now. Cha. Ching.

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About Me
Rupal Patel logo
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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