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Are You An Underearner? (Overcoming Underearning - Part 1!)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Overcoming Underearning

I was on the phone the other day with my friend, rock star teacher, and author Barbara Stanny, who lights fires under women regarding their money issues. I was lamenting the fact that, since I quit my fancy six figure job four years ago, I’ve been working my ass off and not getting paid much. Sure, I’ve gotten some low-paying book deals, some corporate sponsorships, and some one-on-one clients. But I’ve had to take everything I’ve earned to invest back into running my business. (Well, I say “business,” but the very word reminds me of something my friend Marie Forleo says in her killer B School program. “No offense, but if it’s not making money, it’s not a business.” Ouch.)

Barbara dug in a bit in a very gentle way, picked my brain, asked me some insightful questions, and diagnosed this:

You don’t trust that you’re worth more. But you are. If you’re really truly ready to change that, give me a ring. It’s easy.

Whoa, Nelly. 

So I yanked out her book Overcoming Underearning and started really paying attention this time around. I’m so enthralled with what I’m reading that I want to share it with all of you. Here we go.

Are you an underearner?  Here’s how to find out.

10 Traits of Underearners
  1. Underearners talk as if they’re trapped. (Um, not exactly trapped here. But not perfectly liberated. One point).
  2. Underearners give their power away. (Yup. Yup. Yup. Been learning that one the uber-painful way. Two points).
  3. Underearners underestimate their worth. (But wait, is my new Get Out Of Your Own Way e-course - the one I’ve spent nearly a year developing- really worth a retail price of $347? Yes. It is. It rocks. Three points.)
  4. Underearners crave comfort. (Oh yeah. I regularly whine about how I crave the illusion of certainty. Four points)
  5. Underearners are self-saboteurs. (Why do I keep giving away free coaching sessions, even when I need the money? Five points).
  6. Underearners are codependent. (Refer back to #5. Six points).
  7. Underearners live in financial chaos. (Don’t even begin to look at the receipts I’m supposed to be organizing for tax time. If I don’t think about it, it will go away, right? Seven points).
  8. Underearners are vague about money and success.  (What, avoidance and magical thinking won’t solve my problems? Eight points).
  9. Underearners are anti-wealth. (Okay, so I was raised to believe that rich people are the devil because only evil people keep their money when so many others need it. And even though my Dad earned a boatload of money, my parents gave most of their money away and had little to show for it when my father died. Noble? Maybe. Financially sound? Not so much. Nine points.)
  10. Underearners are controlled by fear. (My number one fear = fear of success. Remember Marianne Williamson’s quote? “Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we’re powerful beyond measure.” Yup. Ten points.)

Sheesh. And I’ve earned six figures as a doctor. I’ve earned six figures as a professional artist, even! I clearly know how to do it. And yet, here I am, working my ass off, racking up book deals, being invited to speak all over the country, running Owning Pink, and underearning. WTF?

I’ve had it. I’m done. Finito. No more. 2011 is my year to overcome my money issues and skyrocket to the stratosphere in my financial life.

Why? Because I got skills, baby. I’m talented. I’m committed. And I’m worth it, damn it!

Barbara Stanny has promised to help me make this happen, not by giving me business advice, per se, but by helping me change my thinking.

What about you? You want to join me? This is part 1 in an Overcoming Underearning series, and I’m going to share with you what I learn from Barbara. But if you want to get a head start, go buy her book Overcoming Underearning and let’s start raking in the dough, darling!

You in?

What’s your skinny, my love? Are you an underearner? Are you sick of it? Are you ready to own your money and start rocking it -- because you’re worth it? Oh yeah, gorgeous. That’s the ticket. Tell me your story.

Tuning my Ipod to the killer Bruno Mars song “Billioinaire,”


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Change Catalyst coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.



Anonymous's picture

Marianne Williamson quote

Wow, all this time I thought this was a Nelson Mandella quote -- to the point that I just researched it on Google. What a fabulous thing to clarify - thank you for your kick-in-the-butt inspiration-packed work.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Wonderful Gail!

So happy you came to that epiphany.
Yes- you ARE worth it!
With love

Gayle Ellison-Davis's picture

Thank you

Wow. Ok. Not only did I hear most [if not all] of my tender growing years that I was the stupid little sister and stupid girl from my brothers ... but my family found what I had to say and offer as 'worthless' dues to my 'vivid imagination' and supposed storytelling.
My father told me a few years ago that I was always the puzzle of the family that my spending so much time alone was something they did not understand and feared. [no one ever asked me what I was doing, which was writing music/songs, poetry and journaling trying to make sense of the visions I was having and the emotions of others I was absorbing and working out]
Even in my adult-ness my friends/family tend to prefer logic/science to the intuitive and muse-like connection to Divine and I am only just [JUST] finding a tribe of people who are 'with' me.

I need to understand MY WORTH and realise that 'giving it away' is depleting my resources not empowering them.

Oh. And I JUST figured that out as I wrote it :) Thank you!
Moving on to #2 :)

Lissa Rankin's picture

What a kick ass testimonial for Barbara's work, Maddy!

Stanny ROCKS, eh?

I'm so delighted to hear that your intention made things happen for you, sweetie!

That was my intention for 2011. For two years, I've been working almost full time at Owning Pink and turning over every penny I earn to pay my staff and Owning Pink's overhead! But 2011 is the year this will change. How do I make that happen? By dealing with my money crap!

So amen, sister. Here's to all of us and our abundance!

Maddy's picture

This sh*t works

I took Stanny's OU class in 2009 and it was incredible. I took a few small steps forward, and then resisted for a long time. Then I declared the year 2010 to be 'the year to transform my relationship with money' - lots of beautiful (& several challenging) coincidences provided by the Universe held me up in this intention.

Then in October Regena Thomashauer sent me directly to the source, and I was amazed by how loving & supportive a friend Barbara has been to me. She is this way with everybody! It's incredible. Do you not believe in yourself? Are you worried about maintaining your commitment to your own powerful affluence? She's not worried. She's committed to standing for you. (For example, she's doing free Monthly Money Monday calls the first Monday of each month this year!)

In November I picked up the book again - this time with a notebook and a pen, and I slowly, intentionally read every word and did every writing exercise. I resisted a couple times (took 3 weeks off and returned to find I'd left at THE PAGE on resistance! Ha!) I have found the inner work to be incredibly compelling, and somehow I have found the strength to honor my commitment to becoming a financially conscious person. I know now that it is actually possible. Not through will power alone, but through love, support, regular action steps, self education, communication.

The last 2 months of 2010 I was in community with Barbara and Sister Goddesses from the School of Womanly Arts and we were all taking steps toward inviting abundance into our lives. What was remarkable to experience was the oneness of our experience. Some of us carry tens of thousands of dollars in debt, some of us live on the upper East Side of NYC in gorgeous homes and carry zero debt, some of us have fledgling businesses that don't yet pay for themselves, some of us have tripled our income in amazingly quick periods of time. The point is it DID NOT MATTER what our circumstances were - we all had fear, shame, regret, anxiety around some aspect related to money, actually, the inner work of money. What a revelation. None of us is alone in this.

Like you Lissa,I'm excited to share Barbara Stanny and her work with every woman I know, because changing relationship with money changes everything. In Austin I've started my Vibrant Books monthly gathering and we're kicking off with this book at our first meeting next week - click here if you're in Austin and want to join us! http://vibrantone.com/events/

Oh yeah - 'This sh*t works' was the catch phrase of the weekend I first took the Overcoming Underearning class. And I can tell you, it does!

I believe money is love energy in the physical - Happy Valentine's Day!


Lissa Rankin's picture

Money CAN grow on you, sweetie

I know entrepreneurs can be hard to work with because we're all bootstrapping it in the beginning and funding is always limited.

But you're right. If money is just an exchange of energy, we entrepreneurs must also be willing to flow the energy both ways.

Remember, though, the power lies in your hands too. You don't have to accept work that doesn't value what you do.
You're worth it, baby!

Anonymous's picture


You are right of course. At the end of the day the buck stops here. Let's hope lots of bucks
stop right here in the future!!

Anonymous's picture


I have read all of these truly inspiring stories of how you have all empowered
yourselves and challenged the issue of money and charging what you feel you
are worth.

My struggle with this issue is that although I feel I am worth $Xx and give not
only good value but commitment to their brands, the challenge is that
so many small business owners/entrepreneurs actually do not value the quality of the services they are buying into their own company. (I do understand several are start ups.) Somehow by underpaying their suppliers it seems to make them think they are better business people. What they don;t seem to understand or choose to overlook is that they are paying for someone else's time and expertise. Yet the expectation is that they should be getting the same results and have the same time spent on their accounts.

And, what is often the most frustrating part - these are so often "ethical businesses who are chasing certification for this that and the other, but somehow this does
not apply to the human element.

So sorry ladies for the soap box - it's onwards and upwards I hope with yet another
discussion with potential new business to pay a fair sum in exchange for good

Would welcome any advice on this. What I should perhaps put together is a model to illustrate the difference between spending silly money and spending good money and getting the service they deserve too. Everyone's a winner then.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Amen, Elise!

I hear you, sister!
I just wrote about this in the manifesto I wrote for the e-course I'm developing. Here's what I wrote about this very subject!

Here's that $ section from the e-course (which was REALLY hard for me to write but Barbara Stanny would be SO proud of me!)

The $ Manifesto
Let’s talk about money for a moment. Bear with me, because talking about money is the hard part for me (as I suspect it is for many of you). For almost two years, I’ve been giving of myself and paying staff to assist me because I’m so passionate about helping you ROCK this life with so much mojo you spill over and shine your brilliant light on everyone around you. During this time, I’ve never asked anyone to pay for any of the gifts I’ve given- the free teleseminars, Get Out of Your Own Way mini e-course, Mojo Mommies gatherings, Owning Pink Posse community forum, Pink Posse meetings, newsletters, blog posts, personal email responses, etc.

But recently, I had an enlightened thought and realized that I’m not doing you any favors by giving everything away without offering you the opportunity to invest. You see, money is just energy. When you let it flow out of you, it flows right back into you. And I’ve been hemorrhaging energy to support my passion, without inviting you to transfuse your energy back.

By not charging for anything, I’ve also attracted a bunch of well-meaning lurkers- fence-dwellers, if you will. Making the investment of financial resources into yourself is actually part of what will motivate you to get out of your own way and leap into the life of your dreams.

Let me tell you a little story from my own life that highlights the energetic power of making a financial investment

I dreamed of making a go at it as a professional writer, but after spending a year writing a book that never got published, I was ready to throw in the towel. Maybe the Universe just didn’t want me to be a professional writer. Maybe it was just supposed to be a hobby. But my big dream didn’t go away, even after twenty-something rejection letters, first from literary agents and then from New York publishing houses.

I had already read every book I could get my hands on. I had scoured the internet, picked my friends’ brains, and expended lots of energy trying to get free advice. But I was still no closer to becoming a professional writer. Then I heard about a series of programs that I believed would help me improve my writing, meet other writers, learn more about publishing, figure out how to write a blog and build a platform, and get clear on how to manifest my dreams.

But the price tag was big. And not only had I quit my lucrative doctor job; I had also spent nearly all of my savings after liquidating my entire retirement fund. Investing in something as frivolous as my dream of becoming a professional writer felt almost laughable to me. The Gremlin inside of me snickered and told me to get over myself- that I didn’t even deserve to have such a silly dream, much less to spend big money on making my dream come true.

I almost listened to that Gremlin. Then I got pissed. Really pissed. And I decided to not only send The Gremlin to time out, but to pull out my checkbook and show that Gremlin who’s boss.

It was a huge step for me, but it shifted something within me. It was my way of saying to myself (and The Gremlin), “You’re worth it. You deserve for your big dream to come true.”

And it did. But not until after I took the leap of faith to invest in making my writing dreams come true.

Once I put all that money into manifesting my dream, I was fully invested.
100% all the way in. No more lurking. No more fence-sitting. It was action time. Spending all that money motivated me like nobody’s business.

Since then, I’ve had two books published, I was offered my own magazine column, I get paid to write blog posts for other people’s websites, and I earned six figures as a result of my work as a writer this year. And I just secured a book deal for my third book.

The same kind of transformation could happen to you.

I want this Get Out of Your Own Way e-course to attract those who are REALLY ready, fully committed, and 100% in. If you are sick and tired of getting in your own way when you know there’s more out there, I want this e-course to be the biggest dang present you’ve ever given yourself because baby, you’re worth it.

So yes, Elise! That's what I'm talking about!
In case any of you want to read the whole manifesto, it's in progress here:

Don't forget dear ones- you're worth it!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Good point, Elise!

Personally, I imagine it's actually easier to value yourself more in a corporate environment than when you're self employed. At least when you approach a boss and ask for a raise, you know it's likely that there's money in the company coffers to pay you more, should the company value you as they should.

But when you're self-employed, your mind plays all these tricks on you. You're likely to be driven by mission, not profit. And you'll tell yourself you want your products and services to reach the greatest number of people, so you'll be tempted to undervalue yourself.

So many times, I've told myself, "Oh, you can't charge that- because then nobody will be able to afford it, even though I'm worth that." RIght? Sound familiar?

Well, I just did something I'm very proud of! Since I wrote the book Encaustic Art, which is considered the bible of painting with beeswax, I get requests all the time for people who want me to teach encaustic workshops, something i used to do but no longer do because it's time consuming, expensive, and takes a great deal of time. Plus, it made no financial sense for me, even though I loved doing it.

Nevertheless, since I wrote the bible on the subject, I continue to get requests. Just today, someone wrote to me from Australia to ask about taking a private workshop, and I finally quoted her the price I've been wanting to charge for a year. It's a hefty price tag, but I'm worth it. I'm a damn good teacher, artist, and coach- and I did write THE book, after all. Plus, I don't have time or money to be futzing around with my time anymore.

She didn't take me up on it. But I felt SOOOO good for standing for my own worth. And I suspect that when I stand in that place of worth, I will attract someone for whom price doesn't matter. And I will be handsomely paid for a service I can offer better than anyone on earth. Hell, why not? I AM worth it!

And so are you...
May we all do the same...

Elise Adams's picture


Great step...quoting your full price!

I love what you said about mission vs. profit. But, like Dave Ramsey says, if we don't pay attention to the money-end of our mission we won't have anything to 'spread the message' WITH!

And I believe that when we pay for something in some way (bartering can work but it has to be value for full value) we don't fully give it the presence in our lives it deserves...be that coaching, a book or anything else. When I've purchased a book I read it with much greater attention than when I've borrowed it from the library (not discounting the value of libraries...just the energy I give to what I spend my money on).

So, for those I consult with and design a unique Prescriptions for Progress for...they are more motivated to implement the Prescription when they've purchased it with their hard earned money than when I've given it away. I'm stealing energy from them when I don't require payment.

Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here. I've given away many services to wonderful people--many who have grasped the gift and used it to great advantage. But I think I am doing these folks a disservice by devaluing my own contribution to their lives so greatly.

Thanks again for continuing to wrestle with this! You're a great encouragement!!

Elise Adams's picture

Thanks...right on!

I love that you wrote this from the prospective of an entrepreneur. So often what I've heard has been directed at finding a way to get hired by some better company somewhere...but when we are selling ourselves, our ideas, our products birthed out of a long journey, it seems more difficult to price this right!

I'm tempted to devalue myself and my products just to get a positive response---I'm a sucker for praise and frothy words so I know I'm tempted to give away the bank. Thank so much for so frankly and openly discussing how carefully we must value and then guard what we value in this personal business.

Yes, my business is a hobby still--but it's a hobby that is paying for itself and growing. Very soon the tipping point will come because I'm planning on it, building for it and focused entirely on achieving it. :-D

Thanks again for the encouragement...and for connecting me to your great friend and resource. I'll be picking up that book too!

Elise Adams's picture

Thanks...right on!

I love that you wrote this from the prospective of an entrepreneur. So often what I've heard has been directed at finding a way to get hired by some better company somewhere...but when we are selling ourselves, our ideas, our products birthed out of a long journey, it seems more difficult to price this right!

I'm tempted to devalue myself and my products just to get a positive response---I'm a sucker for praise and frothy words so I know I'm tempted to give away the bank. Thank so much for so frankly and openly discussing how carefully we must value and then guard what we value in this personal business.

Yes, my business is a hobby still--but it's a hobby that is paying for itself and growing. Very soon the tipping point will come because I'm planning on it, building for it and focused entirely on achieving it. :-D

Thanks again for the encouragement...and for connecting me to your great friend and resource. I'll be picking up that book too!

Rachel Kudrich's picture


I have been doing this for the longest time. :/

Lissa Rankin's picture

You go, Shileen!

Rock on, sister- and join the club!

Shileen's picture

I'm In!!

OMG! I am in girlfriend! When the student is ready the teacher will appear! I have been wrestling with this issue for along time, but very intensely in the last few months. I have said so many times that if I could give all my services away I could have a boatload of clients, but I can't. Add money into the equation and I clam up!

The interesting thing about this is just last night when I was going to bed and listening to music that often puts my spirit in a place to be honest and receive, I heard it. "I can't earn a real income because I'm not worth it (not new) and I'm afraid to step up, fully embrace who I am (constantly teaching others to do this) and believe that I am worth it (new)." Note, this also came after watching the movie Secretariet. The housewife in this movie was a very strong, confident woman who stood up for who she was and wanted, believed in herself and went on to win a boatload through her love for horse racing. A Beautiful story ... true story.

I have a calling on my life ... I am a healer in body, mind, and spirit ... yet it is this issue that holds me back!

Oh my ... I could go on and on ... will try to make this brief. In Kim Kiyosaki's book Rich Woman .. she has some pretty shocking statistics in there about what happens to women financially. It should be enough to motivate me to make it happen. I have had this book for years and have read it several times, but here I sit, still stuck in my fear!

Ok .. enough. You get the picture. This is a hot button for me one that I am determined to overcome and become a financially independent woman!!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Let's overcome this ladies!

Thank you all for your feedback. And stay tuned. I'll be posting more about this topic soon.

We can do this!!!

Lori's picture

I'm Such An Underearner

I can totally relate to every one of those 10 traits. Why is it that I can earn 6 figures working for someone else, but I'm so afraid to jump off that cliff on my own?

Well, the only way to get past that is to just jump, trust, and see where I land. Because my 6 figure job, the one that keeps me in my comfort zone, is slowly going to kill my soul. And no amount of money is worth that. It's way past time for me to get serious about my own business.

Thanks for sharing this and helping me become aware of all of it!

Anonymous's picture

Love the post.

Awesome post Lissa. Money is SO much mindset. I had ready Barbara's book (the secrets of 6 figure women one) a few years ago...but what REALLY resonated with me was when I listened to her on Dr. Northrup's show recently. So I will definitely be reading the new book. Because...I, like you, took that huge leap into aligning with my life's work and riding the money journey part of it is HUGE. The inner growth is primary to being able to manifest the actual result of money.

And I remain a work in progress... that said, demystifying and opening the conversation is more than half the way home.

As always I love your vulnerability & tell it like it is ways...

Can't wait to follow the series!


Cheri's picture

The irony behind this: I have

The irony behind this: I have said every single word listed in regards to my "business" over the last 7 years and referring the the work I've done over the last 14 years.

Top this irony with the cherry that I am currently writing a marketing plan for a class, called several friends to help get break even numbers figured out and one heck of a ironic sundae has been created. These phone calls occurred in the last 2 days.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Let's link arms, my loves

And get over these limiting beliefs about money. WE DON'T NEED THEM ANYMORE, and damn it- we're worth more!


Megz's picture

I was ONE!!

I thought myself to be one till late last year and I am in midst of metamorphosis right now. I am changing it all right now.

I read Master Key System and realised I was an underearner bcos I was not respecttful of money and ambition. And these are my key focus words now alongwith POWER.!!


Anonymous's picture


I have been working for myself - it's not a business as I don;t earn enough and am
only barely treading water. Bringing in money in this climate is as tough as can
be - and I am not alone I realise.

The fact that some of your point a spot on with what I do on a day to day basis
is scary but enlightening.

Will I change. Not sure how to, but will have a go.
Meantime, a bit of a break would be good!

Show me the money - I'm there!

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