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Fifty Shades of Broke

29 January 2013

This year I made a resolution to read more for fun. I own "The Fifty Shades Trilogy" thanks to three unrelated gifts from girlfriends - I feel the need to specify that is why I own it, I wouldn’t buy “that kind of thing” for myself. Which is a whole story of its own, but not where I am going with this.

In early January I began reading the first book “Fifty Shades of Grey”. In case you, like me up to 26 days ago, don’t know what "Fifty Shades of Grey" is, the book is about a beautiful, smart and talented young woman named Anastasia (Ana) and her older, gorgeous, “successful”, wealthy and powerful love interest named Christian Grey (Grey). The story focuses mainly on their growing love affair and his kinky sexual tastes around dominance and submission.

This is not intended to be a synopsis of the book nor a book review. I had the inspiration to write a blog called “Fifty Shades of Broke” to draw a connection between the themes in the book to the ways relationships can impact women’s financial lives and impact our purposeful abundance.

I am just making observations, a big part of what I “do” in life and in business, is to watch, observe and reflect back to women what I see and hear from them (with love and their highest good in my heart). Interestingly it helps them to make massive positive change. I also teach strategies, practices and mindset to make creating the life of their dreams possible which also create massive change. But that is another story.

So what did I see in Fifty Shades of Grey that I felt worth mentioning in a blog about women’s relationship with their money? I noticed a few things, mainly themes around: 

  • power & control, 
  • women’s identity, purpose and how she defines herself, and 
  • what the most important thing in a relationship really is.

(Note: I am not going to point out that Grey is a billionaire or go into any discussion of his kinky sexual tastes because that is not only obvious but also un-relatable for most women.)

Men, women, money & control

I was having lunch with a male friend the other day. I thought it quite cynical (and outdated) of him to say that men control women with money and women control men with sex. But maybe there is more truth to his observation than I initially let on.

In Fifty Shades, Grey wants to control Ana to the nth degree. He even tries to make her sign a contract to dictate the foods she can eat, how much sleep she needs to get, how much exercise she will do. He buys her a car & makes her sell the car she loves, he buys her a mac and a blackberry and forces her to carry it with her so he can contact her at any time. He has a rule that she will “obey” him and if she doesn’t she will be “punished”. And that doesn’t even include any of the really kinky stuff.

Grey is mega rich, like I said I am not even going to go there. We all get that what happens in Fifty Shades of Grey is really extreme and obviously none of us would ever let a man tell us what to do right? Hmmmm, except is it possible there are other more subtle ways we let men control us? Boss us around? Or maybe influence us? As a result of which we give away our power, get off track from our own paths, earn less money or spend what we have less wisely?

I need to share at least one example from my own life that relates to this issue. In my eBook “7 Mistakes Women Make With Their Money & How to Stop Making Them” I talk about Sexy Surfer Guy. Sexy Surfer Guy consistently earned more money than me (aside from when he wasn’t working and that is another story). I subconsciously felt he had more power in the relationship, especially when it came to joint financial decisions. Though I would put forward my point of view there were times when I would concede. Okay I admitted it. But I learned from it too.

In studying the feminine and masculine I have learned that the feminine en-joys when the masculine takes charge and leads us. But there is a fine line between surrendering to the masculine in certain contexts for the nourishment of both the feminine and masculine essence and actually just conceding to let him be in control of things to our own detriment. It is a fine line, a balancing act and a journey that it pays to be aware of.

Career, purpose, identity & getting paid

As the story begins Ana is just about to finish university and is excited about her future, she had her own job, her own friends. This part of her life becomes less and less a focus of the story as her relationship with Grey overshadows everything else in her life. Like a dark grey stormy cloud.

I know that many of us, myself included, have been at that place when new love (or infatuation if you like) is blossoming and we feel like nothing else matters but being with the object of our affection.

I get that. But Ana’s career seemed to mean something to her in the beginning. Her own identity was quite strong and really a part of who she was. As time moved on the only part of her identity that really remained in tact was her cheeky, witty, flirty self that challenged Grey and made him hot for her. Note: the bit about her that remained in tact was the bit that he was hot for. Her love of English literature for instance seemed to be overshadowed by his obsession with flying and music, to the point where she barely picked up a book!

Grey tried to encourage Ana to take an internship at his company and she said no, he tried to find out where she was applying to work and she said no because she wanted to be sure she got the job on her own credentials rather than by his influence. That was cool, I was like “Go Ana!”.

The one thing she did which let her down was when she was offered a job she just said yes, they asked her if she was aware of the salary and again she just said yes, no negotiation or discussion about pay.


I may be reading between the lines here but I think they were maybe opening up the discussion about salary, many employers will negotiate but they won’t go out of their way to say “hey, can I give you more money?”. The fact that Ana had her head filled with visions of Grey didn’t help but I think she missed an opportunity here and if you add what a tiny difference in her starting salary could mean by the end of her career it could be in the millions. (Literally in the millions!)


I didn’t start negotiating (effectively) until the last company I worked for before venturing out on my own with Journey to Abundance. I had this “goal” of doubling my income in 5 years and there is no way I would have reached it if I didn’t negotiate. I also negotiated a nine day fortnight (but don’t tell anyone because it wasn’t technically "allowed" - sometimes you can negotiate non cash benefits too). But first I had to actually believe I was worth it and had to care enough about the money (& the day off) to be motivated to do it cause it was freaking scary to ask let me tell you!


What really matters in relationships

Each person in a relationship will ideally value what they bring to the relationship. They will ideally also value what their partner brings. Ana, though madly in love with many things about Grey and the relationship, admitted to herself that nothing that was happening in her relationship really mattered if he wasn’t capable of loving her. And so she left him. That is very commendable.


But then she as left him, and she thoughts about “how all my hopes and dreams cruelly dashed” (p.551) and said to herself “I’m a complete failure.” (p.553) (my emphasis added). We women can get a little bit dramatic when we loose a lover. I know that. But this kind of view really puts the power with the relationship and strips the women of her power, self esteem, and self worth.


I think it is great she left him if she felt like her wasn’t capable of loving her they way she desired to be loved. Feeling loved and safe (as distinguished from expecting the partner to provide all our love appreciation and happiness) is a minimum for most women. But let’s not forget that if they can’t do that it doesn’t mean all our hopes and dreams are gone and that we are complete failures.


I must admit when Sexy Surfer Guy and I broke up I lost way more of my identity and self worth (even though I wanted out of the relationship) than I did when I was made redundant a few months later. Since then I have been very aware of letting a relationship define me, not 100% there yet but that’s the journey (to abundance).


Fifty shades of broke

So how does letting men control or influence us make us broker?


How does putting less emphasis on our purpose, career, salary and personal power make us broker?


How does overstating the importance of a relationship make us broker?


In loads of ways. Your challenge is to determine how that might be happening in your life and your level of comfort around it.


And when I say broke ladies I am not just talking about being financially broke, I am talking about all the ways we can live or not lives rich with purpose, freedom and joy.


A great line in a song I love sung by Rachael Jaybe Grover called “Cowboys and Fallen Angels” says:

“A women’s worth is tied up in finding her man, and far from feeling into her life.”


Maybe it is time for us women to start putting more of our worth into ourselves instead of giving it all away? Might make us richer. If nothing else it might make our lives richer.


If this conversation opened up anything with you that you want to go deeper into contact me today to schedule an obligation free money dragon assessment & coaching call.


Or better yet if you are ready to claim your personal power and open up to your abundance then join the six week class starting 4 February in Perth. It will change your life for the better, guaranteed or your money back. ;-)


To your happiness and harmony,



Susan Broughton

Journey to Abundance

© 2013  



Photo credit:

“Silver Necktie” image courtesy of “Worakit Sirijinda” ( (words added)



  • Rachael McKenzie

    Rachael McKenzie 7 years ago

    Welcome to Ruby Susan! Thank you for such an interesting article. All the best Rachael