A Lake and A River: How Men and Women View Money Differently

Women look at money as a lake, perceiving it as a finite resource. Men look at it as a river, constantly renewing.
-Liz Perle, “Money, A Memoir:Women, Emotions, and Cash”

I heard Melissa Jasmin interviewing Candice McGarvey on The CFO Women Podcast and Candice repeated the quote from above.

What do you think? True or false?! I thought it was really inspiring and want to explore it more.

Money As A Lake

 If you view money as a lake, you see money as finite. A lake only has a certain amount of water, so if money is a lake, there is only a certain amount of money. Once that money is gone, there is no more left. But you need money to live. Therefore, you have to hold on tight to money. If you spend it all, it is gone and that is the end of it.

When money is a lake, it is about security; it is about having enough and not running out.

From viewing money as a lake, as something finite, you have a fear that there is never enough money and that money will run out, leaving you high and dry – stranded out at sea. 

Money As A River

If you view money as a river, you see money as constantly renewing. A river’s water is constantly renewing. Money as a river means that there will always be money. You will never run out of money because there is always more money out there for you. You do not have to fear losing money and being stranded without it because you can always get more money if you need it.

Women vs. Men

Taking a broad, overgeneralized look at history, we know that women were traditionally homemakers and men were traditionally breadwinners. In that model, women relied on men to provide the money on which they lived. With this historical viewpoint, it makes sense that women would fear money running out because they are relying on someone else to earn the money for them. They are completely dependent on men to make them money.

We are in different times now, and I’m not quite sure whether most women, all women, or some women feel this way about money. I wish I had a fabulous study to site right now, but I only have my experience and know of the experiences of those around me. I can say that for me, I absolutely used to think about money as a lake, as finite, as something to be feared that there would never be enough. The amazing part of my money journey has been transforming my money blueprint from a lake to a river.

Fear of Running Out of Money

When you are motivated by fear, you feel threatened, needy, and victimized. Fear is immobilizing and brings on feelings of desperation.

You attract what you are. If you are fearful and always think you’re going to go broke, that’s what you will attract.

That is to say, it’s not helpful to your financial future to think about money as a lake. It’s time to think about money as a river; a resource that keeps coming.

Here are my 5 tips to help you get out of the fear-based money mindset.

5 Tips to Help You Think About Money as a River

  1. Stop worrying about money. Play out the worst possible financial scenario in your mind and decide to be happy in that place. Fear of the unknown is often worse than reality. Visualizing the worse case scenario (e.g. that you’re broke) usually isn’t as bad as it seems.
  2. Practice gratitude. Anytime you begin to worry about money, force yourself to practice gratitude with your current financial situation and push the worry out. Tell yourself you will take care of it.
  3. Believe that you always will make your own money. Having ownership in your own money and your ability to make money will empower you, diminishing your fear.
  4. Take more thoughtful risks. Do what you love and don’t let money be a deterrent. Be smart and plan ahead, but do what is wise for you and if that means taking a pay cut for a better career path, go for it.
  5. Believe that you can and will build wealth. Confidence in your personal ability to succeed with money will make you feel in control of your financial destiny (and therefore, feeling like it’s out of your control). You will feel like a victor, not a victim.

Have you thought about how men and women view money differently? Do you think there is any truth to it?