Busting the Noble Poverty Myth and the Cycle of Underearning for Women
When I was getting my coaching certification, our training leader asked me and my cohorts, "What is your niche, who is your target market and how much do you plan on charging to start."
A lot of ummms and errrrrs. And then one woman said, "I plan to charge whatever my clients want to pay, or can pay. Since my husband is the main breadwinner, I really see my work as a noble service, not a job.”
I fell out of my chair.
My feminist blood boiled, to be sure. But our leader saved me, saved all of us really, when he said, "That's all well and good, but there's really nothing noble about poverty. What are you really afraid of?" And that launched a two-hour inquiry--and it's a conversation I continue having with my negotiation clients routinely.
Mikelann Valterra is a prosperity teacher and money coach, and our Money Therapy Expert in She Negotiates' newest project, The Daily Thrive. She describes this approach to setting fees for our services and products as Noble Poverty, excerpted here from a recent post:
When you live in Noble Poverty, you tend to believe there is some unnamed virtue in not having money—or that Truly Good People shouldn’t want a lot of it. Your mantra is something like: "I may be struggling, but I'm a thrifty soul who doesn't need material trappings to love life!"
While there is immense value in avoiding senseless consumption, Noble Poverty takes that principle to an extreme, where the pursuit of comfort or even solvency is suspect. The result is a series of decisions that a) keep you in financial straits; and b) never earn you that halo.
You may be mired in Noble Poverty if:
- You say you want to earn more, but never raise your rates or pursue better-paying work.
- You "make do" with a beater car, worn-out boots and a toaster that occasionally flames up because you believe deprivation is macho.
- You judge friends with money as bourgeois and slightly sad.
Because it's easy to justify Noble Poverty as anti-materialism you end up keeping your income low to avoid the danger of becoming materialistic. But materialism has nothing to do with earning money, but how you spend your money!
The real danger is that when we decry the wastefulness in the world, we deny ourselves the money to live a truly full life. If you've taken an unconscious pledge to keep your income in line with your internal financial beliefs, revoke that pledge. When you charge and earn enough money, you can enjoy life, take care of your family, your self and give back to the world. It is time to be bigger. There is nothing noble about poverty. Nothing.
Our mission at She Negotiates is to end the income and leadership gaps for women. We start with the pocketbook because economic power is political power. And without political power, we have no voice. No presence. No platform. No credibility.
When women are empowered to lead and given the tools and support to do so, they make choices that change history. We bring our natural creative capacities to mend fences, knock down walls, and bridge moats. We teach, heal, feed, mend, fix, and nurture. We create, design, empower and transform.
Learn more about Mikelann Valterra's contribution as the Money Therapy Expert at The Daily Thrive launching January 30--daily blasts of learning with coaching and feedback from experts on the topics of balance, negotiation, productivity, money therapy, everyday technology and nourishment. HERE.