Elections are expensive, disadvantaging women with limited access to financial resources. Strategies to address this problem have focused on increasing womenâ€™s campaign funds or lowering costs such as nomination fees. While important, such strategies will not overcome the disadvantages women face in countries where â€œtransactional politicsâ€ is rife, with voter expectations for gifts and/or cash multiplying the costs of elections. Following the 2019 elections in Indonesia, women lamented that the only thing that mattered was: Isi ni tas? â€“ how much money is in your bag? This article contributes to the literature on money and womenâ€™s underrepresentation by identifying what is at stake in electoral systems overwhelmed by â€œmoney politics.â€ Our research in North Sumatera, Indonesia, demonstrates that women candidates can lower the cost of expensive election campaigns through practices that achieve the symbolic ends of money politics without cash transfers to voters and campaigners. Despite these possibilities, the perception that elections are unavoidably expensive continues to deter otherwise viable women candidates from stepping forward. The commonly held belief that elections are synonymous with money politics hence serves to sustain the dominance of Indonesian politics by privileged men. New narratives of electoral successes are required to address the underrepresentation of women.