I’ve Been Thinking … Divorcing My Relationship With Money

My relationship with money was always very painful. I am an immigrant who came from communist Cuba at 4-years-old. My family lost everything from one day to the next because of Cuba’s entire regime, banking, and currency change. It was the worst thing imaginable that could happen. We were dead broke. We landed as political refugees in the U.S., a new country to whom we were very grateful, but with an economic and emotional trauma from which my parents never fully recovered and that I have carried in my DNA ever since.

Over the years, that relationship with money and its power over me overshadowed and permeated many aspects of my life. I wonder how many times I put up with unacceptable situations and conditions or stayed in relationships, friendships, and business partnerships where security, or the lack thereof, was a factor? I think this is a real block for women. We inadvertently allow this fear, and our bad relationship with money, to infiltrate all of our other decisions and relationships, until we say, “No more!” This was my relationship with money, until the day I decided to divorce myself from it.

I had to change my relationship with money. I had to turn money into my new best friend, my best ally, instead of my torturer. I had to realize there was no empowerment in my life until I conquered money, until I was completely self-reliant economically, and until I became self-made in my own way. I had to think bigger and believe that an immigrant woman of color with no background in finance could become wealthy (and that in spite of how I was raised, I decided “rich” was not a dirty word, it was a necessity). I had to think like an owner even when I worked for others and I started believing I could be wealthy and still be a good person.

I quickly learned that my values as an immigrant gave me an advantage in this quest. I did not turn this transformation into a grandiose feat, but rather like a turtle, I created the change methodically, slow and steady. I became financially literate by learning three new things a year, and I followed through by accomplishing three things a month, broken down into three things a week, and then three things a day. I stopped buying shoes and I didn’t buy expensive cars. I lived beneath my means and invested every penny I made in real estate. I bought buildings (very small ones at first) as my side hustle while I worked for others. And most importantly, I cultivated a group of women mentors: Irene (my banker), Elaine (my real estate agent who later became my development advisor), Roberta (my accountant), and so many more.

It wasn’t until I became “Self Made” that I began to see that my relationship with money had changed from wounding me to healing me by offering me freedom through choices. This new relationship has given me a grounded sort of self-esteem and confidence because I know I accomplished it- and that makes me proud and happy.

I think these are revolutionary times for women, with #Me TOO and #Times Up, and I believe the next phase of the revolution is about economic empowerment for all women. There is no true empowerment until you have your own money and women are the ones that will bring that money back to our families, our communities and then we will change the world.

To my women of color, I have to say, this is our moment to become rich in every way. Our numbers and our buying power demand that we create our own wealth. Whether you run your own business or work for others, we have to cultivate a self-made mindset and learn about all the opportunities that exist today, in order to become self-made. For those of us from traditional cultures and for those of us who are immigrants, I want you to know you can achieve this and keep your values, culture, beliefs and religion intact.

Ladies, we must divorce our old relationship with money and create a new one that allows us to be “rich” in every way.

Nely Galán is a self-made media mogul. She was the first Latina President of Entertainment for a U.S. television network, Telemundo, an Emmy award-winning producer of over 700 television shows in English and Spanish and is the founder of The Adelante Movement to empower and train Latina and multicultural women in entrepreneurship. Her women’s entrepreneurship manifesto is a New York Times bestselling book titled, “SELF MADE, Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way,” which has been published in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese

This essay was featured in the July 15th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.




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