June 19, 2024
Ellyce Fulmore is putting the personal back into personal finance

What was the biggest money lesson you learned as an adult? 

The understanding of how big a role your identity plays in your finances. Finance is deeply personal and intersectional, and your money is directly impacted by aspects of your identity such as privilege, race, gender, sexual orientation, mental health, disability, systems of oppression and more. The identities you hold will impact how you view, understand, spend and approach your money. 

I didn’t fully understand this until I came out as queer and was diagnosed with ADHD. These realizations helped me make sense of a lot of my money behaviours and challenges. For example, I struggled with impulse spending for years, and ended up with $15,000 of high-interest debt because of that. I felt so ashamed of this debt, but I didn’t know that having ADHD makes me four times more likely to impulse spend than someone without ADHD. By understanding who you are, the privilege you hold and/or barriers you face, your lived experience and your trauma, you can begin to change your relationship with money and create a financial plan that makes sense for your life.

Learning this lesson is what inspired me to write a book and start my financial literacy company, Queerd Co., where our approach to financial literacy goes beyond the conventional, giving folks permission to be full human beings—not just numbers on a spreadsheet. At Queerd Co., our goal is financial equity, and every course we create, resource we recommend, space we hold and discussions we lead will aim to take a shame-free and identity-based approach to money.

What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?

That your financial situation is not your fault, and the shame you feel around money is not solely your shame to carry. I learned this inside of the Trauma of Money certification program, where we spent time examining and unpacking the idea of shame and responsibility when it comes to our money. The reality is that many of us inherit money trauma and learn our financial behaviours and habits from our caregivers. We also have to consider the government policies, financial institutions, and larger societal systems such as capitalism, and how those play a role in the decisions we make and the financial challenges we are subjected to. In the Trauma of Money, we were taught to ask ourselves, “Whose shame is this?” to help call attention to the fact that some of the shame we feel has been placed upon us, despite it not being our shame to carry. This advice really helped me reframe the way I felt about my past financial decisions.

What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever received?

I tell this story in chapter 1 of my book, which is all about finding safe spaces: The first time I went to talk to a financial advisor at the bank, the advisor made a misogynistic comment along the lines of, “When you have a husband, he will take care of this for you.” This was his response when I tried to ask questions about some financial terms he had briefly mentioned. This was horrible advice because: a) it was misogynistic; and b) it was encouraging me to not be in control of my own financial situation. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have financial autonomy, even within a marriage. If you ever find yourself in an abusive relationship, having access to your own money will give you the freedom to leave.

Would you rather receive a large sum of money all at once or a smaller amount regularly for life? 

It would depend on the amount. If the smaller amount was enough to cover my monthly expenses, then I would choose that option, because it would give me the immense privilege of never again stressing about paying my bills. It would also take a lot of pressure off my business and allow me to explore more creative pursuits. But if the amount wasn’t enough to cover my bills, then I’d prefer the lump sum. I could actually make more money from the lump sum in the long term by investing it, but the first example would be a better decision emotionally. 

What do you think is the most underrated financial advice?

Gamify your finances. This is great advice for almost everyone, but especially for anyone who is neurodivergent. If you can make managing your money fun and enjoyable, you’ll be more likely to actually keep up with it, and have greater success with reaching your goals.

What is the biggest misconception people have about growing money?

That being “good with money” and building wealth is just a math game, and that all you need to do is manipulate the numbers—it’s so much more than that. Creating the perfect spreadsheet, debt repayment plan or investment strategy will never address the root of your money issues. We’ve been taught that if we follow the formulaic system for success, we will be wealthy and happy. But there’s no magic formula for success, because everyone’s lived experience, values, goals and definitions of wealth are different.

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