Repelling Money: Pushing Money Away


repelling moneySome women are so darn competent, yet never seem to come out into the limelight.  They don’t push for raises or promotions and, if they get them, they find a way of sabotaging themselves.  It’s almost as if they have a comfort zone they don’t want to get out of …

That, my friends, is a true money repeller.  It’s someone who–because of some childhood perception or experience–wants to distance herself as far as she can from money.  She’ll block it from coming in.  And, if it somehow does get into her possession, she’ll get rid of it as fast as she can.  And she probably doesn’t even know why.

Repelling Money is one of the twelve classic money behaviors. It’s the first of the three general categories these behaviors fall under (pushing money away, pulling it towards you, and using it to mess up relationships). Instead of passively ignoring the existence of money, as a Money Denier would, a Money Repeller proactively pushes it away. This behavior permeates a woman’s entire relationship with money.

Where Does This Money Repelling Come From?

Dealing with money by pushing it away is particularly common in our society as a reaction to the great value that is placed upon it.  Money is glorified everywhere you look: on billboards, in magazines, online and on television.  However, a conflict arises when we factor in any messaging that makes us feel guilty about having or wanting money.

The origins of repelling money relate mostly to the “money is bad” maxim.  In short, there is a major confusion between what money is and what money can do.

As a result of this negative judgment of money, it’s as if the subconscious has taken the equivalent of “vows of poverty,” and the grown woman will find herself putting up roadblocks to building or holding any wealth.

She may have been raised in a family that honored the idea that there is great virtue in poverty and suffering.  Imagine the guilt she will feel as an adult if she has money, even if accessed through marriage.  She’ll find herself sabotaging her good fortune by burning through money, and her husband will never understand why.

In her childhood home, the “money is bad” idea may have been seen as meaning that people who have money are also bad.  Her parents may have created an “us versus them” dynamic, either as a means of saving face or because they truly believed it.  If she was told that life came too easy to those who had money, and that only those people who worked hard and struggled were good, that message would be carried into adulthood.

The conflict that would arise is obvious if she later found herself with money or, even worse, actually earning considerable money.  To have money at all is bad enough.  What if she had thoughts of making more than her parents?  This is where you hear expressions like “don’t get too big for your britches.”

A different reason for deciding that money is bad is when it brings up painful associations, such as being linked to the loss of loved ones.  If a child benefits financially from someone’s tragic death, she may feel guilty ever deriving any pleasure from that money.  It will be tainted and she will feel guilty.  She will make every effort to push it away, often watching as it flows through her fingers at record speed.

This behavior is not limited to childhood loss; family members of those who lost their lives in 9/11 were also known to suffer from it.

Women who come into instant money, such as lottery winners, athletes or people who receive insurance or legal settlements, may suddenly find themselves outside the element they were raised in.  They do not see themselves as “someone who has money” and may carry judgments against those who do.  They will soon find themselves behaving in ways that return them to their original status.

Another stumbling block is “deserving.”  However a child takes on the perception of being undeserving, it will affect how she deals with money throughout her life unless it is addressed.

Being wealthy can bring on money repelling behavior for yet another reason.  If a young girl grows up within an extremely wealthy, ostentatious family and feels shame and embarrassment over being different from her friends, she may blame money.  And if her parents leave her with nannies because they’re too busy socializing or making even more money, she’ll relate money to her feeling of isolation–and money will be blamed.

Another form of parental behavior that can lead to money repelling is dishonesty.  If a child is asked by a parent to participate in any way in behavior that is dishonest, whether lying to bill collectors knocking on the door or being part of a scam or theft, the child may develop in one of two directions.

Either she’ll pattern herself after the parent or she’ll reject money in her life.  If she has no money, she figures, she can never be accused of having acquired it dishonestly.  Regardless of her skills or potential, she’ll find a million ways to keep money out of her life.

Telltale Signs of a Money Repeller

Look at a woman who you know is talented and capable, but always seems to be flying under the radar, and it’s likely you’re looking at a money repeller.  She may never propose herself for greater responsibilities, or will take them on without asking for compensation.

She could also keep her fees too low for the services she provides or give too much for what she charges.  She might volunteer too freely or not follow up on moneys due her.

If she inherited or married into money, she’ll be the one spending in order to get rid of it as quickly as possible, or she’ll refuse the lifestyle she can easily afford.

Money repellers are often in the helping professions, such as social workers and teachers.  Many come from humble beginnings and see the good they can do by helping, but they’d feel guilty leaving that same socio-economic group.

Where Repelling Money Leads

Think of the damage that’s been done to a woman’s relationship with money, all because of a misguided belief that money is bad–and that it in some way causes pain, shame or embarrassment.  The roadblocks created by that distortion make it virtually impossible to accrue wealth.  And any that is accrued is quickly squandered in one way or another.  The result is a life not lived to its fullest.

Note: This is the second of a series of twelve articles, identifying each of the classic money behaviors that trip women up and keep them from controlling their money … and their life.  If parts of this behavior feel familiar, be sure to stay connected with me on Facebook so you can continue on this exploration.

And let us know in the Comments section below if you saw yourself–or any of your friends–in this overview of Repelling Money.


Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.

  • I sure hope your book is released soon… I’ve been identified as a repeller… always volunteering, not expecting compensation… I hear your gentle voice of wisdom and reason, Sharon, in this article… you are helping so many! Thank you 🙂

    • I’m going just as fast as I can! Book’s written, just going through publishing paces now … ;

      • I agree with Susan … can’t wait to get my hands on your book! You are providing so much valuable information and wisdom many are desperately seeking when it comes to handling our finances. Information we have never been taught before, yet is so essential to making peace with money and growing our wealth.

  • Well written and great insights for women about money. I have seen between husband and wife when making decision for life insurance. The woman or the man tend to think and decide lesser coverage for the woman. Is she less worthy? They both work. Her salary is normally less because she is a woman and secondly she might not work as much as the man because she opt to take care of children.

    • Interesting, Claudia. That’s actually backwards because, not only will her salary need to be replaced, but so will many of the “home” duties she provides. To have that discussion requires that the woman be clear about her own value … which in turn requires that all her own money issues be sorted out!

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  • Sharon, You have brilliantly provided the insights needed to understand one’s relationship with money. This will help so many realize through self-assessment that they have the power to choose and change what has been interfering with the success they deserve…and empower them to stop the cycle that was passed to them so they will pass on a healthier attitude to their children! Great Post!

    • Denny, it’s the second of 12 in a categorization I’ve written about in my book. Once you read through all of them, you see little bits of yourself in several. And then it’s just a matter of figuring out where that belief came from and then revisiting it “as an adult.” Fascinating stuff! (And certainly a tool to be sure we don’t pass things on to the next generation…)

  • Uh-oh, I think I see parts of myself in this article! Thanks so much Sharon-

    • There are 12 of them, Lily, and we each see little bits and pieces of ourselves in several of them. As you know from your work with public speaking fear … awareness is the largest part of turning it around!

  • Boy Sharon – can I relate to the messages of ‘money is bad’, ‘money is evil’, ‘money will make you greedy’ – you name it, I’ve heard it. What I tend to share with people (who have that money belief) “Money doesn’t make you bad, evil or greedy. Money just intensifies who you were to begin with. So that just means they were greedy, evil or bad before. If you’re someone who is caring and giving, when you have abundance in your life – you can be more abundant.” You’re sharing such an important message. I’m honored to know you Sharon, blessings…

    • Annemarie, I know you help people work through similar issues. Between the two of us, maybe we can make a dent!

    • Joseann Freyer-Lindner

      The point is that people who believe themselves to be bad (and there will always be children who take this on as long as the belief that there is good and bad exists) will repel money so it doesn’t magnify their badness! And when they finally acquire money, it will happen in a “bad way”. I wish you would replace “that just means they were  greedy, evil and bad before” with “they believed to be greedy, evil and bad before, so they acted accordingly”.

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  • Martha Giffen

    Interesting take! I think the most telling sign I see in business is the low fees. So sad because usually those are the women who have the most to offer.

    • That’s certainly what’s most visible in the area of your life where you are really active and having tons of fun, Martha: your business. But the number of over-spenders is frightening too!

  • Meryl Beck

    Great post and such valuable information. Women tend to not value themselves and their capabilities as much as they should. We are very empowering as individuals and need to share that with others. Or relationship with money is very important in the decisions we will make for ourselves and our business.

    • Thanks, Meryl, for the kind words. Because of how we were raised around money over the generations, many of us were not taught that money empowers us. Therefore, it takes revisiting the issue as adults to straighten out where we might still be carrying mistaken messages picked up as children.

  • Roslyn Tanner Evans

    The closest I come to being a repeller was my discomfort when we were given an upgrade to ‘the Honeymoon Suite’ @ the Atlantis. It was so luxurious and excessive space, I couldn’t relax in it. It didn’t feel comfy. Happened again recently, 15 years later, and this time after a bit of squirming, said, I’ll spread out.

    • Glad you’re allowing yourself to enjoy the little (big?) gifts that come your way, Roslyn! But the fact is that we are most comfortable in our own environments and have to make a conscious effort to feel we “command” an unusual one. It’s actually one reason why people who win the lottery lose the excess money: it allows them to go back “home” again, where they are around their social peers.

      • Roslyn Tanner Evans

        Thanks Sharon for your explanation. It does make so much sense and I realize I can get comfortable in an unusual one because it is only temporary.

        • We’re such creatures of habit, Roz! Especially when it involves where we come to take respite from the world: our homes! And that discomfort works whether we’re stepping up in life or down: our drive is to get back to what we know (and love) best. On the other hand, getting away from what we dislike, such as leaving a bad situation, is totally different …

  • Amanda James

    Wow this is very interesting! It’s very sad that there are women out there like this. Women should push themselves as much as they can and not take a back seat. Thanks for sharing!

    • There are so many behaviors that hold us back, all to a greater or lesser extent. Few of us had perfect parents and teachers who knew exactly what to say and do around us. So we all have a little clean-up to do! And it’s mostly just based on awareness …

  • Diane Bester

    Loved this article because I can see these stereotypes in my friends and relatives! I also am guilty of not wanting to deal with it after my life experiences. There is some great insight in this article, and I know it enlightened me! I will try to help myself in my view of money and how it affects me and my friends. Thanks for sharing!

    • Diane, I hope you’ll explore anything you felt was familiar, because it could be tripping up something in your life. We all have bits and pieces of the different behaviors, all to different degrees. The next article is already out …

  • Norma Doiron

    Awesome post. You know, you are right. Money has been portrayed as being bad because many who have it use it to do bad things with it. But it’s not money that is the issue, it’s the heart… always will be. People can do GREAT things with money and it takes money to do these things. Thanks for another great post.

    • You’re right about the “heart” part of money, Norma! But unfortunately as kids many were told by authority figures (i.e., parents or teachers) that it was bad for one reason or another. As adults, we just want to readdress any mistaken messages and release them! 😉

  • Alexandra McAllister

    This is awesome, Sharon. I can see a number of my friends who think money is “bad.” There are so many wonderful and helpful things one can do with money…if they have a heart, of course. Enjoy your 2nd article and looking forward to the next one. This is going to be a great series! Thank you!

    • Glad you’re looking forward to the series, Alexandra. I finished the third article and am continuing to update and round out the other nine … 😉

  • Nate Leung

    I personally know people who feel they don’t deserve money. Therefore, repell against money. For whatever reason they are holding onto a story in their minds about how they feel about money. I think that has a lot to do with their success in business as well.

    • How someone feels about money certainly has a lot to do with their success in business, Nate. You’re right!

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  • Great post and educational for people who repel money… Thanks for another great post..

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  • Ashley

    I love how in-depth into the relationship between women and money you have gotten. As a psychology major, I love understanding why people have certain feelings/thoughts so this was very intriguing to read. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

  • Veronica Solomon

    I think I am guilty of being a money repeller by all definitions. I need to work on this right away!

    • Awareness is really the key, Veronica. Once we see something we can change, it’s out in the open to be dealt with. Before that we’re not even aware of why we do things!

  • Tina Ashburn

    Could be I am one of these women, too. I never thought of it this way. This is very enlightening. Thanks.

    • As the series goes forward, we’ll each find little “bits” of us, Tina. It IS enlightening!

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