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CEW+ launches financial empowerment initiative

By Sandra Iaderosa, Associate Director, CEW+ 

Listen to the audio interview with CEW+ Executive Director Tiffany Marra and financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin

Register here for an FEI workshop (Click on the “Finances” box on the left once on the CEW+ page to see dates/times.)

Money stress can lead to depression, shame, isolation, and anxiety, along with accompanying physical manifestations. There is no end to the resources available at our fingertips to instruct and guide money decisions. And yet, there is a chasm between practical knowledge and the myriad unseen and underappreciated forces that influence our behaviors related to money.  

To help bridge the divide between emotions and financial decision making, CEW+ debuted an innovative approach last fall that delves beyond spreadsheets and interest. The Financial Empowerment Initiative (FEI) deviates from the “instructional” model of teaching about financial literacy by taking a holistic approach to the underlying  forces that shape our decisions, our values, and our fears related to money. 

In partnership with Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a clinical social worker and financial therapist, CEW+ is hosting a rolling series of 5 workshops that explore spending and saving from an individualized, psychological perspective. Each workshop is intended to provide a safe and judgment-free environment; participants explore their own relationships to money as well as share some of their insights, if they are comfortable doing so. 

The workshops are designed to be taken sequentially, but they can be taken in any sequence. These include:

Workshop 1: Your Money Story: In the first workshop, Lindsay shares a statistic that we form our ideas about money by the age of 8. Our concept about money is shaped by our environment and early exposure to our parents, caregivers, neighborhood, religious community, school and friends. She poses questions like: What did we learn that guides our behavior even as we become adults? Do those beliefs serve a purpose in the present? 

Many are not aware of how we embodied these ideas and where those messages originate. By looking at the genesis of our “money stories” we can gain valuable insights into our spending habits, as well as anxiety related to money.

Workshop 2: Making Confident Money Decisions: This session explores why making money-related decisions can cause so much stress, how to deal with financial choices, and ways to lessen the discomfort in the process. 

Workshop 3: Ultimate Financial Wellness:  This session defines financial self-care by learning how to identify when uncomfortable feelings arise related to engaging  with money and exploring strategies to manage these feelings. 

Workshop 4: Caring for Your$elf: This session discusses the “dry and boring” topics such as budgets, interest rates, and credit scores with a focus on the emotional/ psychological and systemic reasons why it can feel so overwhelming. Finance terms are explained and discussed in a supportive, shame-free environment.  

Workshop 5: Be the Boss of Your Finances: This final session focuses on financial boundaries and how to make decisions that align with our values rather than perceived expectations from friends, family, society or some version of ourselves. Financial boundaries help create and maintain healthy relationships and create realistic goals that truly support “self care”.    

We live in a culture that is constantly giving us messages about what an ‘ideal’ life looks like. We cannot escape the reach of social media, television, advertisements and the influence that they hold in our society. How we respond to these perceived or real pressures depends a great deal on our belief system, the values we hold and the life we want for ourselves. By examining the forces that shaped who we are, we can more confidently make financial decisions that reflect those values and embody the true meaning of “wellness.”

Register here for an FEI workshop (Click on the “Finances” box on the left once on the CEW+ page to see dates/times.)