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Lily Zhao

SFU Alumni
Health Sciences

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Being financially savvy doesn’t have to be just to increase your bank account. Think of money as a tool to help you achieve your goals, take care and protect yourself and those around you.

It was a cold winter on December 2011 when my whole world shattered. My boyfriend of three years was cheating on me. At first, I was suspicious, then I found out that I was right all along. He denied it of course, but I knew.

I remember seeing the text messages he had exchanged with another woman. He seemed very excited to see her that weekend and Silly Me actually believed him when he said he was going on a business trip. I remained in denial as I struggled with frustration and low self-esteem. I slept for 14 hours a day to avoid my life altogether.

My boyfriend was in charge of all the finances and he kept me out of the loop. I was lost. I wanted to leave but I couldn’t. My life was a complete mess. I had nowhere to go… I was trapped. 

Being in this dark space of my life was a wakeup call. Leaving a relationship without any financial resources and knowledge was not an easy task. Luckily, I was able to get myself out of the trap by increasing my financial literacy through self-education and building passive income streams. I had to struggle to get myself out of this relationship where I was completely controlled by my partner. 

Since leaving that relationship, I have made it my purpose in life to empower women to take control of their finances. Building your financial intelligence is crucial because you can protect yourself from financial abuse in relationships. Financial literacy can play a powerful role in helping you recover and even prevent abuse in the first place. 

According to the national coalition against domestic violence, “economic self-sufficiency is frequently the difference between violence and safety for many victims.” 

In fact, 90% of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives, whether from experiencing divorce or simply living longer than men. (Marketwatch)

According to Dr. Richardson-Heron, CEO of YWCA, a lack of financial resources and options is the number one reason that women cannot leave abusive relationships. Like all forms of mistreatment, financial abuse is about power. It uses intimacy, trust and needs as weapons to make a woman feel unequal and helpless. It builds off of societal messages that are seen in everything from the way women are treated as sex objects in ads and pornography, to the lower pay women get for doing the same work as men. The situation is even worse for women who are elderly, lesbian, disabled or a member of a racial minority because they often face extra discrimination. It doesn’t have to be this way.  

You Have The Power to Create Change 

Taking steps to prioritize your financial wellness can set you up for better overall wellness. You can educate yourself on financial literacy, there are many books in the library that you can read for free. A Personal Finance course is also offered at SFU (BUS 221) to help you prepare for your future.  Find out about different streams of income such as portfolio income, passive income, and active income. Financial literacy will empower you to save enough to provide adequate income in retirement while avoiding high levels of debt that might result in bankruptcy, defaults, and foreclosures.

Join like-minded communities: Surround yourself with like-minded people who are also on their path to financial literacy and confidence. Being financially savvy doesn’t have to be just to increase your bank account. Think of money as a tool to help you achieve your goals, take care and protect yourself and those around you. It’s a means to getting the life you want and dodge power abuse in relationships.

There are very few financial problems that can be improved by ignoring or neglecting.  Start by having a conversation about money and ask critical questions such as:  

How is your relationship with money? 

Do you control it or does it control you?

How does it affect you mentally and emotionally?

What do you want your life to look like if you can stop trading your time for money?

About the Author

Lily Zhao

SFU Alumni
Health Sciences
Lily Zhao is a Health Sciences Alumni and is passionate about helping women take control of their personal finance. She enjoys writing and formulating coaching methods to increase their financial literacy. Her mission in life is to empower women to elevate their feminine core and redefine their relationship with money so that they can take control of their lives.
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