Making Money a Tool For Your Success

Written by survivor leader and The Avery Center co-founder Megan Lundstrom, this robust 130+ page workbook focuses on practical lessons and worksheets. Money is often used as a weapon against trafficked individuals, keeping them dependent on their trafficker or living in fear of poverty. This workbook teaches survivors how to use money as a tool for their success outside of The Game.

If you've recently left The Game, or are considering your options for leaving, this workbook can help you implement practical financial steps that make it possible.

You may find some of the information and tasks within the workbook triggering as you process past trauma. In Chapter 1, you will be led through creating Preventative Self-Care and Safety Plans to encourage self-care throughout this process. At the end of every chapter, you’ll be encouraged to take a moment to do a full-body inventory (How do you feel? What is your breathing like? Are you remaining present and aware of your surroundings?). This provides a "pause" where you can take a moment to decide what you will do today to continue taking care of yourself.

"As a survivor of familial trafficking, I often felt alone and misunderstood in the world. I had a lot of trauma surrounding money and believed that I would be stuck in the cycle of poverty forever. The only thing I had been taught about money was that I didn’t deserve to have it and the only way I could obtain it was through using my body. It wasn’t until I came into contact with Megan Lundstrom and The Avery Center that I was able to start my healing process.

The Survivor’s Guide to Money was a huge catalyst for change regarding my personal relationship with money. Megan blends financial literacy, everything from taxes to building wealth, with her personal experience as a survivor of trafficking. Normally math would scare me away, but I always looked forward to reading more about her experience and learning what seemed like a foreign language in an accessible way. After reading her book, I was able to create a plan to build credit, buy a house, and plan a future for my son that I would never have dreamed of otherwise. I believe that all survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation deserve to have access to this book so we can all heal our traumas surrounding money and begin to thrive."


—Survivor of Sex Trafficking

Lesson Overview

In addition to personal examples, Megan includes published research about financial abuse and resources for stabilizing your financial situation. Homework includes worksheets with real-life examples and hypothetical situations demonstrating and working through the following:

  • How to track and review cash flows
  • Reviewing and storing your critical identification documents
  • Understanding the difference between legal and illegal predatory financial practices
  • The true cost of predatory payday loans and rent-to-own companies
  • Understanding your post-tax take-home income and income tax brackets
  • Separating your worth as an individual from your paycheck
  • Dealing with culture shock entering the workforce after The Game
  • Methods for making Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based (SMART) goals
  • How to create your own financial and support safety net
  • Step-by-step processes for dealing with personal and financial catastrophes so that you can prevent and prepare
  • Exposing extreme financial behaviors and learning how to act with more moderation
  • Researching methods for ending poverty
  • Processing people in your life who may have too much, or too little, access to you
  • Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
  • Understanding The Four Forms of Capital and how you can leverage them to move yourself forward
  • Discovering that “overnight success” is a myth
  • Creating an actionable poverty exit plan

"I'm writing to express a sincere and wholehearted THANK YOU to Megan for meeting with us. The language and heart presented offered our women real hope, and it was beautiful to sit in a space of such delicately articulated moments. I am honored to be part of the partnership of our organizations around the issue of exploitation and survivors regaining control of their lives. I look forward to working with our women through the Survivor's Guide to Money workbook, and deeply appreciate the resource. Keep doing the lovely, wonderful, empowering work you do. I hope we are able to meet again soon!"


Jodi Coleman
Counselor, Rethreaded

Excerpt from the Survivor's Guide to Money

Here is the cold, hard truth: abusers, traffickers, and exploiters that use intimate relationships and the commercial sex trade as their weapons know what they are doing. Little by little, they encourage poor money management practices, remove stability, and fuel cycles of unhealthy spending.

They know that this is a sure-fire way to keep you not only under their control, but ultimately trapped in the sex trade. And they know that anyone on the outside looking into your relationship or your life will likely see your financial instability as a choice you made on your own. This is a part of the victim-blaming cycle that further isolates people into the sex trade.

The worst part about our current financial situation is not knowing what all that situation entails, and not being able to resolve every issue within the next 24 hours. Financial abuse is an incredibly effective means of controlling and manipulating someone, or limiting their options, because it is so long-reaching in its damage.

Do not be discouraged in the road ahead – as with any type of healing, it takes time, but it is possible, and it is worth it to persevere! Fixing financial instability, like any type of healing, is made more difficult by the fact that life cannot simply be put on hold while we untangle and repair. Bills still have to be paid, financial crises still happen, we still need a roof over our head. The journey to financial stability can feel impossible sometimes, and when you find yourself discouraged, that is the time to put some self-care practices in action and reach out for help in your support network.

While I cannot account for every potential situation throughout this workbook, I hope that through it, you are able to gain a clearer picture of your current financial situation, assess any damage, and know the general next steps you need to make.

—Megan Lundstrom, Survivor's Guide to Money

Order your copy of Survivor's Guide to Money

Written by a survivor of sex trafficking, this is the first financial literacy curriculum for survivors of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Survivor's Guide to Money is an evidence-based program designed to help survivors:

  • Develop safety and self-care plans to work through high-stress financial situations
  • Learn to track spending and saving habits
  • Understand financial abuse and its long-term impact on financial wellness issues
  • Examine the concept of self-worth
  • Grieve the loss of time and money following exploitation
  • Learn and practice communication and boundary tools
  • Identify common triggers around money…
    and much more!

This workbook is designed to give survivors a framework to understand the financial abuse they endured, identify obstacles, and set goals to work towards on their journey to financial wellness.

Designed for use in different settings: It can be used by an individual in a self-paced setting or used in group formats (peer support groups, residential programming, or supplement direct service outpatient services) along with the Facilitator's Guide, also available on Amazon.

Survivor's Guide to Money Table of Contents

Pre-Course Survey

Part 1: The Prep Work

Chapter 1 – Stress Management and Safety Planning

Stress Management
Safety Planning
Homework: Preventative Self-Care Plan
Homework: Safety Planning
Homework: Tracking Your Cash Flows
Homework: Reviewing Your Cash Flows

Chapter 2 – So, What is Financial Abuse Exactly?

Common Methods and Tactics of Financial Abuse
Homework: Identification Documents
Homework: Where Do I Go from Here?
Closing: Storing Your Documentation

Chapter 3 – Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

The Basics of Credit
Financial Counseling
Exploitative vs. Predatory Financial Practices
Loan Churning
Homework: Payday Loan
Homework: Rent-To-Own Companies
Homework: Pulling Your Credit Report
Closing: Protecting Your Loved Ones

Chapter 4 – The Cost of a Tax-Free Lifestyle

Long-Lasting Consequences
Homework: Take-Home Pay Calculator
Homework: Income Tax Brackets
Closing: Repairing Tax Damage

Part 2: Exploring the Abuse

Chapter 5 – From Price Tag to Priceless

“My worth has nothing to do with what is in my bank account.”
Homework: Determining Your Financial Needs
Homework: The Value of My Services

Chapter 6 – From Selfish to Self-Focused

The difference between selfish and self-focused actions
Homework: Control
Homework: Short-Term Goals
Homework: Safety Cushion
Homework: Property Maintenance

Chapter 7 – Grieving Loss

Debunking the Sunk Cost Fallacy
Homework: Moving Forward
Homework: Moving (Back) into Moderation
Homework: A Closer Look at Moderation in Relationships

Chapter 8 – Means to an End, or End to a Means?

Exposing the lie of “pretend rich”
Homework: How Would YOU End Poverty?
Homework: Poverty Inc. Documentary

Part 3: Moving Forward

Chapter 9 – Boundaries

“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.”
Homework: Access Granted (or Revoked)
Homework: Gates and Walls

Chapter 10 – Trusting Yourself (Again)

Recognizing Negative Thoughts & Patterns
Homework: Get Your Mindset Right
Homework: Reframing Experiences
Homework: Broke vs. Poor Mentalities

Chapter 11 – Numbers Never Lie

The Four Forms of Capital
Homework: Cultural Capital
Homework: Social Capital
Homework: Symbolic Capital
Homework: Economic Capital

Chapter 12 – The Come-Up

The lie of “overnight success”
Homework: Destroying the Myth
Homework: Not Your Average Dream Board

Creating a Poverty Exit Plan

Post-Course Survey