Attitudes to Money
When I asked a group of doulas to tell me what they immediately think of when I say the word money, the responses were interesting
Tree! I need one.
I find it embarrassing to ask for.
The root of all evil.
What do I owe you?
I never seem to have quite enough of it…..
I find it hard to put a financial value on what I do. That I either feel I overcharge or undercharge.
Bain of my life
I just draw a blank
Lack of it!
I don’t know what it is
There was only two positive responses:
And one political response that showed an understanding that society at large may have a rather toxic relationship with money:
Hoarded by the elite, but it’s not considered a mental health issue..
The Psychology of Money
Deep in your psyche there are formative experiences that have contributed to how you feel about money today. We all fall somewhere on the following scales:
I veer towards avoidant miser and am definitely prone to the chaotic! Where are you?
From the looks of it, these deeply entrenched feelings are pretty common. Look at all those negative reactions above! The research seems to bear this out, consistently finding that women find it harder to ask for money and that, in general, human beings aren’t particularly rational in their financial decisions. The research around money and happiness is also really interesting.
Famine and Feast Are Real
So often when I see business gurus lecturing their adoring disciples, the message seems to centre around the idea that making money is just a matter of mindset. That is, if only you could see the universe as a place of abundance, the money will flow to you through the ‘law of attraction’ once you really understand you deserve it.
I think this message comes from a terribly privileged place that, frankly, would have made me rage inside when I was at my poorest. It’s easy to see money as something easily attained when you already have some! The reality is that if you are struggling to repay debts or pay the rent, if every pound counts, the idea that you can just manifest money out of thin air is rather insulting, implying that if you are poor, you’re just not doing it right.
There is no shame in making ends meet in any way that seems sensible right now. If your doulaing isn’t currently bringing in what you need, it is no failure to find other revenue streams. A part time job to keep the wolf from the door while you work on getting your doulaing working more efficiently for you makes perfect sense. Or you may be considering other birthworker strings to your bow. Is there a niche in your local market place that you could fill, with antenatal education, hypnobirthing classes or baby massage, for example? The training may well be worth the initial outlay, if you can afford it.
Likewise, for all the marketing and positioning ourselves as an investment, there will still be parents who yearn for a doula but just do not have any spare cash to pay for one. Do you want to help people like that from time to time? What can you do to make that a reality? How can you make sure people see your service as accessible and affordable? Do you signpost to the Doula Gift UK Vouchers? How are you helping the Doula UK Access Fund become a large resource that supports lots of doulas to support many families? Do you have a local access fund? Do you encourage your richer clients to tip you or donate to the Access Fund so that you can afford to support more vulnerable families? Are you open to payment in kind?
Value is All Relative
How much should a bricklayer earn? Or the Prime Minister? The CEO of a FTSE 100 company? It is almost impossible to rank jobs in any logical way. As a self-employed service provider, your service is merely worth what people will pay for it. How you price yourself will depend on your personal circumstances and choices, the client base you are targeting and the service(s) you actually provide.
Consider your overheads: childcare, professional development courses like this, petrol, equipment – it all adds up. Then think about making yourself available to your clients. Being on call, or dealing with texts and emails from postnatal clients in between your booked sessions, all need to be counted and valued too.
Do you work shared care ever? Whilst the advantages of working this way can be immense, it also limits your income. But that may be offset by whatever work you are able to commit to because of having a shared care partner!
Think about what YOU would consider fair to pay your doula, then set your fees and know that you are free to play with them and break your own rules whenever you like.
Sell WHY You Do It, Not WHAT You Do
It’s when people see your passion, your drive and your idealism. When they get a real sense of why you do what you do, that’s when they buy into you. Because your clients are not paying for your service, they are paying for YOU. So make sure all your marketing materials get across a sense of your motivations for doulaing and a taste of your personality.
So here’s your homework:
- Think about your childhood. What messages about money did you receive? What overt and implicit lessons did your family teach you about money? What attitudes have you carried with you ever since? Where do you sit on the earning, spending and managing scales above? Write down your thoughts and reflections.
- Think about the value you put on your work. Is there is a voice inside you that is telling you you shouldn’t be charging, or at least not charging very much? Our kind of work is devalued and taken for granted by society. Women’s work is seen as something that we should just give away, along with the milk of human kindness. Charging money for it somehow sullies, or debases, it. These often unconscious attitudes run deep.
Are you allowing those voices to devalue you?
- Think about what you need in life? What do you want? Do you need actual money to achieve those things? Would other exchanges of energy be just as effective? If you’re open to payment in kind or skill-swaps, how do you plan to incorporate that message into your marketing literature?
- Look at your website/marketing literature. Are you describing the features of your service or the benefits? If it’s just the features, give it all a rewrite and translate them into benefits.
Like the doula above who always seems to feel she’s either charging too much or not enough, many of us are constantly struggling with money. Many of us have to keep the home fires burning and can only do that by supplementing our incomes in other ways. But before you assume you have to get a job in Tesco, take a hard look at your pricing. Talk to your clients about it; ask them what they think of your fees. Talk to the other doulas in your area and if you feel you want to dig deeper and continue this conversation with support, why not consider doing my doulavation course and joining a community of doulas who are supporting each other to build doula business that suit them and are sustainable.