the Urge to Discount
Pending late summer in a villa en Provence, most mornings I would start my day with a trip to the local market (yes, I became part of the marché in-crowd with the other 78 year old French women who went everyday). I would pick out gorgeous fresh produce, select a perfect rotisserie chicken, and then I’d stroll the aisles sampling delicious cheeses and artisan treats (a framboise clafoutis didn’t stand a chance with me).
Early on in the trip, I decided I’d bring home a bouquet or two to add some life and color to our new Provençal space. I was immediately drawn to one particular stall run by a woman who had the most beautiful, vibrant flowers on display.
I picked up one bunch and asked, “Combien?” To which she replied “5 Euro.” That sounded fine to me so I told her I’d take it—along with another bunch that caught my eye. She was clearly taken aback by my additional selection. Giving me an apologetic, concerned look, she warned, “Ceux qui sont chers,” meaning, those are expensive.
Having worked on my money story for so many years, this hardly phased me. What’s expensive is relative and everyone has their own definition, so I simply said, “Okay sure, how much?”
When she told me €12, I was more than ready to take out the cash. To be honest, the way she dramatized it, I thought it was going to be a lot more! In any case, I would have paid at least €25 for such a fabulous bouquet—it was well within my flower budget. But when I replied, “Great, I’ll take them,” instead of charging me the full €17, she said “Je vais vous les donner pour €15”—offering to give me both for a discount.
Now this surprised me. She had already made the sale! I had hardly hesitated (let alone haggled) and gave zero energetic indication that I was unwilling to pay her rates. Stunned, I simply handed her the amount of money she requested.
As I walked through the market with my flowers, my surprise gave way to understanding. I saw how this woman’s belief system around money was holding her back from making empowered business decisions—and how she’s not the only woman entrepreneur out there who’s ever feared making her products and services “trop cher” (too expensive).
I started to reflect back on myself as a new coach and realized I was the exact same way. I remembered that when people would ask for my rates, I would tell them $100—but before they could even reply, I’d also mention that I had a sliding scale and could go as low as $60. Of course they took $60 every time—did I really give them any choice?
Over the years of working with female entrepreneurs on their money stories, I’ve seen how the urge to discount is a common instinct in women. I started to wonder, why are we so uncomfortable charging our worth?
One of the biggest culprits, I think, is the belief that many people have that wealthy people are morally corrupt, which leads us to equate making a healthy profit with being greedy and selfish. At the same time a lot of women have been taught not to focus too much on themselves. We think, “WHO AM I to be wealthy and successful? WHO AM I to charge that much? Certainly there are others who need this money more than I do.” With an inner monologue like that, discounting, or offering a “sliding scale” becomes a way of giving to those who are less fortunate…even when in reality, your ideal clients fully have the means to pay for your services!
Another idea that plays into the urge to discount, is the long-held belief that you have to work really, really hard just to make a decent living. For so many of us, this means that whatever comes naturally—often our best talents and abilities—should be given away for free. It’s part of why a lot of women are more comfortable giving than receiving. Because we’d rather not charge anything at all, offering a discount is like a disclaimer for our own self-worth.
All of these “rules” we’ve learned about what’s expensive, what it takes to make money, what it means to make money and who deserves it are just holdovers from generations past. We don’t have to live by them any longer, and we certainly shouldn’t let them stop us from going after what we desire.
I wanted to share this story will all of you because what I believe the world needs right now is women who are financially empowered. By playing small and discounting ourselves, we’re only taking ourselves out of the game and limiting the amount of influence we can potentially have in this world. It’s time for all of us to be comfortable receiving, being supported and living life at a high-vibration.
Now you don’t have to run home and quadruple your rates—but I do ask that you consider all the ways you may be selling yourself short. When was the last time you examined the money rules that you live by? Are they learned and inherited, or are they your own? Are you truly charging what feels good to you right now? The great opportunity of our moment is to decide for ourselves what we value, who we are, and how we want to live. If you haven’t already, I invite you to start now. And remember, you are meant to prosper in all ways, including financially.