Personally, I don't know any billionaires. Do you? (I know, right?) So, since our monthly—or if we're lucky, bi-weekly—paychecks seem to come and go so freakin' quickly, I'm assuming that it's a fairly safe assumption that we're all trying to figure out how to make our money stretch. And voila—here it is. While there are probably a million times 10 ways for you to save money, I put together 10 hacks that are pretty easy to implement and can definitely help your bank account from going into overdraft.
Are you ready to save some extra dollars for a rainy day—or, at the very least, not go into (further) debt?
1. Set Long-Term Goals
I'm someone who grew up going to yard sales and thrift stores. It wasn't because we couldn't afford to buy the "new-new ish", it was that my mom enjoyed finding rare items at a good price. The influence definitely rubbed off on me, so I tend to lean towards the same kind of shopping experiences. The challenge is, when you already know that you're getting a great deal, you can find yourself buying so much stuff that you don't really need, which ultimately still means that you could be destroying your budget. Something that helped me to break this habit was to set long-term goals. For instance, rather than getting 15 outfits from a thrift store or 20 tees on Etsy (Etsy has some dope black culture stuff), I would tell myself that I'd rather remodel my living room or save up for a plane ticket to see my godchildren.
Setting long-term goals is a great way to encourage yourself to be a responsible spender while also preventing you from spending money, that you don't really need to, on all sorts of —let's be real, shall we?—randomness.
2. Eat Out Less
Did you know that the average American spends a whopping $3,000 a year, just on eating out? Geeze. Matter of fact, I've got a friend whose accountant scolds him on the regular. Why? It's because he easily spends double that amount because he never (ever) cooks at home. As someone who enjoys preparing my own meals and also going to restaurants, I can vouch for the fact that when I choose to only eat out 3-4 times a month (max), my expenses drop significantly. So, if you're looking for a way to keep an extra $250 a month in your pocket (because 3,000 divided by 12 is $250), eat at home sometimes. It's cost-effective and actually much healthier for you too (since you know exactly what is going into your food and who is preparing it).
3. Create a Shopping List and Food Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've heard somewhere that you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and that would absolutely be correct. When you already want to eat, suddenly everything looks good in just about every aisle. That's one reason why it's always wise to go grocery shopping with an already made out list in tow. Another reason is so you'll actually remember what you need (I can't tell y'all how many times I've bought paper towels over and over…and over again). Along with a list, you know what else can come in handy? A food calendar. If you're not familiar with those, they can help you to plan out your meals for the week, so that you shop based on what the calendar says that you are going to make. This can save you money because, if you like to eat a lot of produce, you won't get more than you actually need; that way, your fresh fruits and veggies won't spoil. As a bonus, a food calendar can save you time while you're in the store (if you're someone who actually hates to grocery shop) too because you'll know exactly what you need, so you can get in and get right out. You can get tips on how to use your Google calendar to implement this lil' hack here.
4. Make Your Place More “Green”
Are you sick and tired of your utility bills being totally off the chain? When's the last time you "green-erized" your home? That's not actually a word, but I made it up because it fits in this instance. Sealing your windows can reduce the drafts that cause you to change the temperature on your thermostat a lot. Getting a low-flow showerhead can help you to use as much as 60 percent less water (whenever you shower) each month. Make sure that your light bulbs are LED ones; not only are they cheaper than incandescent bulbs but many last for as much as 50,000 hours (there are approximately 8760 hours in any given calendar year, so you do the math). Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before around 1/4 inch of ice builds up so that they'll both run more efficiently. Stop opening your oven while you're cooking; every time you do, that causes the stove to drop 25 degrees which results in the oven needing more time to heat up again.
Unplug whatever you aren't actually using; you're wasting around a dollar of electricity for each day you've got something in an outlet that doesn't actually need it (this includes your cell phone. Let it charge up before going to bed and then disconnect it from the charger). The power grid that you're on is probably running at its peak between the hours of 4-6pm. So, try and make it a practice to turn on your dishwasher before turning in at night. It will put less strain on the grid and can actually cool down your house in the process. During the summer, try and keep your thermostat at around 75 degrees (turning on your ceiling fan can drop the temp about four more degrees) and 69 degrees during the winter season; it will save energy costs between 4-6 percent (besides, setting your thermostat lower doesn't make your home cool down any faster). Make sure your thermostat is electronic too; that can easily save you between 10-30 percent on your energy bills. Replace your HVAC filter every 90 days, without fail. That will keep it from working harder than it needs to.
5. Ditch Your Cable (Watch the Streaming Services Too)
I'm an ambivert. So yeah, I've got cable in my home (if you're an ambivert or introvert, I'm pretty sure you're able to connect the dots). That doesn't mean that I don't have a conversation with myself, shoot, at least once a month, when I'm like, "Girl, you could save so much money if you let this cable go." My package is around $150 a month, and a part of what comes in that package, I don't even use, so that soft inner voice is spot-on. I'm honestly just lazy when it comes to switching over to loading all of the streaming packages vs. using a remote control. Plus, there are some Black cable stations that I dig. But the thorn in my side has absolutely nothing to do with y'all. $150 times 12 is $1,800. That's a nice chunk of change. So, if you want to put a down payment on a car or something, disconnecting your cable can definitely put you onto the path.
Oh, and watch out for the streaming services too. Yes, Netflix is (currently) between $13-15 a month, Hulu is (currently) between $6-12 a month and UMC is (currently) $50 a year—but if you've got all of these (and more), you're still spending a small mint. Choose wisely.
6. Bundle Your Insurance Polices
Insurance companies. Y'all, that's a Twitter thread all by itself. But the reality is they are a "necessary evil" and a business—and businesses like to offer deals. Another way to keep a little extra money in your pocket is to bundle your insurance policies. For instance, if you bundle your home and auto insurance packages, you can easily save as much as 16 percent on your overall insurance costs each month. Hmph. I'm thinking that you could probably save even more. It's all about hitting up your insurance company and doing a little negotiating. Most of them are open. If they're not, remember that there are always others who will gladly take your hard earned cash. You can check out some of the best home/car insurance bundles for 2020 here.
7. Always Use Coupons and Promo Codes
Something that I have downloaded on my browser is Honey. Basically, it's an app that, whenever you shop online, it tries to find any savings that might be relevant to it. Matter of fact, it works so well that PayPal purchased it for four billion dollars last fall. If, for some reason, the thought of an app "reading" all of your sites freaks you out (you might wanna get off of Al Gore's internet, for one), then use a site like RetailMeNot to check out the promo codes on there. Over time, I've saved a mint, using both. Oh, and don't forget about downloading coupons from your phone when you're at the grocery and drug store too. You ain't never too young to clip (and scan) coupons. If you'd like a few coupon hacks and tips, the Krazy Coupon Lady totally has your back. Go here to start perusing.
8. Avoid Using Autofill on Your PC
On the heels of what I just stated, let me just put it right on out there and say that I absolutely do not do what I am about to recommend. I think it's because I'm not an online shopaholic. But if you happen to be one, something else that can save you some money over time is to remove the autofill feature on your PC. If you use Gmail, click on the Google apps option on the far right, then click on "account" and "payment & subscriptions" and delete any of the credit or debit cards that you've got there. That way, if something that catches your eye, you won't make an impulsive move whenever the autofill info comes up on the payment screen. You'll actually have to get up and find your cards first, which could prevent you from buying the item in the first place.
9. Implement a 48-Hour Rule
Speaking of removing autofill, how about taking things up a notch and disciplining yourself to not purchase anything online that interests you until you've waited a full 48 hours later? I'm willing to bet that a good 6 times out of 10, you'll come to realize that you don't need or even want it as much as you initially thought that you did. Or, you'll come to the conclusion that you should wait until it makes more financial sense to buy it or until it comes on sale.
10. Put Your “Fun Money” in an Envelope
The definition of the word "tithe" is one-tenth of something. Just like many Christians tithe to their church, I'm a firm believer that you should also tithe to yourself; literally set aside one-tenth of your income that can go strictly to whatever you want to spend it on. But just to make sure that you don't tip over into your money that's set aside for other things, consider pulling that tenth out of your account and putting the cash into an envelope. There is something about seeing cash and breaking bills that can psychologically make us want to be more cautious with our spending. Plus, once that's gone, it's gone until the next payday, which can also keep you from overspending. Be good to your coins, y'all. They are so much better to you when you are.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
"I Have Truly Survived the Unimaginable." Megan Thee Stallion Is Ready To Resume Her Next Chapter.
Megan Thee Stallion is ready to resume her life, not as a victim but as a survivor of gun violence.
In a recent as-told-to essay for ELLE, the 28-year-old mega-star took time to reflect on her experience surviving the shooting incident involving rapper Tory Lanez in July 2020.
In the piece, Megan described her traumas in the aftermath of the shooting and the drawn-out legal case and trial that brought on the public's negative reaction to the incident.
“Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day?” Megan says. “Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle.” She notes that many people were quick to doubt her story and blame her for how the incident unfolded. For nearly three years, she went through the weight of public humiliation, while being the brunt of jokes, memes, and “sneak disses” as her humanity was ignored.
“The truth is that I started falling into a depression,” the rapper says. “I didn’t feel like making music. I was in such a low place that I didn’t even know what I wanted to rap about. I wondered if people even cared anymore.”
She adds, “There would be times that I’d literally be backstage or in my hotel, crying my eyes out, and then I’d have to pull Megan Pete together and be Megan Thee Stallion.”
Megan wrote how not fitting “the profile of a victim” played a role in the dismissal of her traumas in the public eye and emphasized the importance of believing women when they come forward with their own stories of violence and abuse. “But my heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help,” she says.
“So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’ They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, ‘I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,’ and that I didn’t need support or protection.”
With time, the Houston fem-cee has been able to take a step away from the public eye to heal, spend time with her dogs, and “doing a lot of praying” to recover from the incident. “The physical and mental scars from this entire ordeal will always sting, but I’m taking the appropriate steps to resume my life,” Megan says.
And while she is “in a happier place,” there are still moments of anxiety that come up from time to time. “Talking about being shot still makes me emotional. I’ve started journaling as a way to better process my thoughts, hopes, and fears,” she says. “Prayer has also played a therapeutic role in my healing, because I can have honest and unfiltered conversations with God without any judgment.”
Megan concluded her essay by expressing her hope for a future where people can live without fear of gun violence and victims of trauma and abuse can receive the support and healing they need.
“My purpose is for these words to serve as the final time that I’ll address anything regarding this case in the press,” Megan notes in the article. “I understand the public intrigue, but for the sake of my mental health, I don’t plan to keep reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again. I’m choosing to change the narrative because I’m more than just my trauma.”
With new music to come, we look forward to seeing Megan back on her healed, hot girl ish.
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Featured image by Hubert Vestil/WireImage