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Five years ago today, our lives were changed forever.
That might seem like an exaggeration, but it is the absolute truth.
Five years ago today, Meet the Women of the Financial Independence Movement was published. What initially seemed like a simple blog post listing women writing about money (FIRE, specifically) turned into the impetus for the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook page, and then later, WPF as a business and force within the money space.
While five years isn’t all that long over the course of a lifetime, the face of money conversations has changed significantly in that time. While there were absolutely women writing and talking about personal finance before then, the assumption that money conversations were mainly “guy things” was deeply entrenched. Sure, there were a few women around, but most conversations skewed toward the male perspective or believed there was no difference in how to talk about money, no matter who you were.
Enter Women’s Personal Finance.
Women’s Personal Finance, from the very beginning, has been something different. We believe that to talk about money, we have to talk about real people and how our whole lives are impacted by and have an impact on our finances. And that, as women and nonbinary folks, we have different concerns and focuses when it comes to those finances. We’re dealing with being told we’re too ambitious. At the same time, we’re told that we spend too much and must focus on couponing and “fixing” our spending habits.
It’s 2023 now, and we’re done with being told how we “should” do money – and that we should rely on the men in our lives to take care of it for us. Instead, we see in WPF that, more often than not, it’s the woman who is running the household finances, even if there is a man “to take care of it.” And too often, we see the fallout in financial abuse and divorce when women leave the money up to their men.
It’s 2023, and five years into Women’s Personal Finance; we’ve leaned into this space we created. A place where all women and nonbinary folks are welcome, no matter where they’re at on their money journey. (That is, as long as we can agree on ground rules of human rights and science).
We’ve learned that the most important thing is community, and we’re proud of what we’ve built at WPF. We are more than just a place to learn about High Yield Savings Accounts and Mega Backdoor Roths (though we talk about those things, too). We’re a place that is community first, money second. Where folks can come to ask their questions, big and little, and be supported with all of it. The place where they are known and loved. A home in the wild world of online media.
Five years ago, we wouldn’t have begun to guess how much a simple blog post would change our lives, but it did. And we’re so glad it has – for us and all of you. The world is a better place for Women’s Personal Finance, and we’re honored to continue to curate and protect that space.
Similar to two years ago, when we launched the WPF website and prepared to welcome our first cohort of WPF Insiders, this anniversary time is special to us. It reminds us what a big thing we’ve created and encourages us to dream even bigger.
This year, we’ve set our sights on the larger Women’s Personal Finance community. Our Facebook group now has over 66,000 members and thousands of new posts every month. We adore our WPF Facebook community and what we’ve been able to create with such a large and dynamic space, but we don’t adore Facebook.
After months of deep discussion and research, we decided we wanted a home for the larger WPF community outside the Facebook platform. Facebook might be “free” to use – but as always, if you aren’t paying for something, you are the product: Meta’s ad revenue per user has continued to climb year after year. (This is also why we’re continuing to see more and more third-party ads and videos on our feeds – that’s how they make money).
That alone might be okay, but Facebook’s platform is also heavily influenced by its algorithm, which is meant to amp up disagreements and negativity (because it spurs more engagement). Within the WPF Facebook group, we’ve been able to battle this some – but it’s something we have to fight and getting more complicated every day. We manage to run a wonderful community, but only with ever-increasing amounts of work behind the scenes to keep it that way.
It’s worth it though – for the incredible things we see unfold there every day. Our direct giving threads will forever bring us joy, as will the realization that a woman will finally leave an abusive marriage when she sees her story again – but from the future on the other side. For the thousands who have paid off debt, opened retirement accounts, or maxed them out for the very first time. It’s worth it for being the place where women and nonbinary folks find their power in their money story.
But it is hard. And many of our community – us included – would love to find a way to have that space without having to exist within the Facebook ecosystem. We have no intention of leaving Facebook altogether at this time, but we’re ready to have the larger WPF community have a place to gather that isn’t on Facebook.
Enter Woven by WPF. This past week, we launched Woven, our brand new off-Facebook community space, just for the Women’s Personal Finance community. Already, members are saying they find themselves on Facebook less and less as they can interact with WPF without opening that app. We want a place where we can continue to connect, support, and empower each other on our money journey without being a product for Facebook’s ad revenue, and Woven is it.
One of our favorite descriptions from one of our new members on Woven: “Facebook feels like coffee at Starbucks with lots going on, and Woven feels like a soft velvet couch with friends.” All of the good stuff from the larger WPF community, but in a kinder, gentler space.
A note on paid spaces
For those of you who have followed along on our journey for years now, you’ll have noticed that we have leaned into paid community spaces, starting with our premium community WPF Insiders and now with our expanded space with Woven.
Why have we gone this path instead of continuing to expand with more free spaces?
For starters – we are practicing what we preach in WPF, that people should be paid what they are worth, including us. We have spent countless hours curating this community, and this labor is worth a lot. Not all communities continue to be good places as they grow, and we’ve done so very intentionally to keep it a place that gets better with time.
We’ve also learned through WPF Insiders that folks who show up and commit with their dollars are more committed to a space and show up with more kindness and care. (Kind of like when you pay for a personal trainer, you’re way more likely to get your workouts done than telling yourself you’ll watch free videos on YouTube in the mornings). The commitment to the space means folks get more out of it, but the magical piece is how perspectives shift too.
Free spaces – especially on social media – tend to be places where we’re more likely to see the bad in people or at least be more likely to snap at a comment that may not have been intended to inflame. Some of that is the algorithm, which rewards this behavior, and some is simply the way we seem wired in more “anonymous”/loose connection spaces. Places where you have opted in – where you vote with your dollars – are the places that allow for a more authentic community and a safer, kinder space. Just a week into Woven, and we see that magic in action.
But if all you’re looking for is a place to pop in when you’re already on Facebook, a place to learn a lot about money and life? The WPF Facebook group is still it. We’re proud to have such a wonderful, free space, and we will continue to curate and protect it as we have in the past. But, you’re ready to dig in deeper this year though, Woven is waiting for you.