She was on every form of government assistance offered. She was robbing Peter to pay Paul. She was living paycheck to paycheck, with a non-existent savings account and an embarrassing, credit score. Finally, enough was enough. Arnita Johnson was fed up.
Arnita took charge over her credit and finances and, by successfully doing so, was led to her purpose in launching Luxurious CREDIT™, a credit consulting agency and financial education empire. Grossing over million dollars, Luxurious CREDIT™ is the fastest growing black-owned female ran credit consulting firm in the country.
“I graduated high school with good credit thanks to my mother, but six months later, I messed it up. I had 25 different credit cards and couldn't keep up with the payments. When you have good credit, credit card offers are literally thrown at you and I believe I got addicted to just being approved. I was working a low paying job and just could no longer keep up with the payments. I let the credit cards go believing in the myth that after seven years, those credit cards would disappear from my credit report. I was 18 years old and felt that within seven years, I would be 25 and I could just live with my bad credit."
In addition to the demanding responsibility of keeping credit cards in good standing, the Dallas native had a baby, was living in the hood, and was just trying to get by with what she had. “I worked long hours at a low paying job and went to school at night. I would cry on my way to work, on my way to school, and at night in my bed. I remember an era where I just cried all of the time. I just wanted to get ahead financially."
Arnita's woes didn't stop there.
When a job opportunity with an annual salary of $60,000 slipped through her fingers because of her poor credit score, it was a glaring wake up call. “I went home, pulled my credit report, and my God; my credit was shot. I was embarrassed. I ended up working at a car dealership and while there, I saw the difference between how people were treated with bad credit versus those who had good credit."
“The majority of people aren't taught how to make money, manage money, and definitely weren't taught how to spend it. Applying for too many credit cards, not having a budget, and spending money before you have it may easily cause one to fall in to debt."
A strong will and determination are Arnita's hallmarks. It was these characteristics that prompted her to begin taking one step at a time towards the life she knew she deserved. She knew her road to financial recovery wouldn't be short or sweet.
“Where there is a will, there is a way. Budget! Budget! Budget! You have to find out where all of your money is going. You will find it very difficult to become financially independent if you are using your credit cards as a source of income. Trust me on this, NOT all of your money is going towards your needs, some of it is going to towards your wants. Make your credit card(s) work for you.
"Pay off the balance on your credit cards BEFORE the end of the grace period, this way you aren't paying interest. Use a credit card with a cash back reward system, this way you are making money while spending it on something you would have paid cash for anyways. After creating your budget, use the snowball effect to pay off your credit cards. The snowball effect is when you pay off debts or credit cards with the smallest balances. By doing so, it will encourage you to keep paying off other debts."
By creating a strategic and realistic budget, as well as living below her means, Arnita was able to pay down her debts. Every extra dollar she found from her tight budgeting went towards her financial goals. Slowly but surely, it became easier and the weight of her financial burdens began to lift. Using the snowball effect, she paid off lower balances while continuing to make the minimum payments on her remaining debts. This strategy challenged some of her spending habits.
“It took a major shift in my priorities and I picked up other hobbies. Instead of hanging out with the girls on Friday nights, I would purchase a cheap bottle of wine and cuddle up with a good book. Instead of taking the kids to the movies and pizza, we watched movies on Netflix and made homemade pizzas. I soon realized that I was also saving on gas because I was staying home more.
"I had to learn something that I was never taught in life and that was how to spend, save, and manage money."
Once she had a handle on her spending habits, Arnita began to save. With an estimated 47% of Americans unable to come up with $400 in the event of an emergency, Arnita highly recommends saving as a close second to budgeting on the list of priorities for financial freedom.
“Saving money wasn't easy and took self-motivation and discipline. Because I was living paycheck to paycheck and was pinching any extra money to pay off debts, I found saving any extra money difficult to do. I was very impatient and felt that the little money I was putting back just wasn't enough. I decided to turn off my cable, shop around for cheaper car insurance, and cell phone plans. The extra money I saved each month went straight to a savings account. Starting to see my savings account grow little by little was very therapeutic and exciting for me."
Arnita, a product of her own advice, goes on to describe her process. Set goals…Smash goals…Repeat, seems to be the pattern for this credit industry maven.
Her process wasn't easy in the least. In fact, like the rest of us, Arnita had to take a few “L's" along the way.
“I set short-term goals and long-term goals. I wanted to start setting goals like businesses did. Corporations had quarterly goals and that's what I wanted to start doing. They planned for years to come and budgeted that way. I soon realized I was cutting myself short. I was making business decisions every day. From the clothes I wore, the car I drove, where I purchased gas, where I worked and ate were all business decisions.
"My short-term goals were weekly and monthly and I connected those to my long-term ones. For example, one of my short-term goals was to save enough money to pay off a credit card with a $500 balance that contributed to my long-term goal of paying off all of my credit cards by the end of that year.
"Again, by me being a self-motivator, being able to scratch off shorter goals encouraged me to keep going and reach towards my long-term ones."
Vision and foresight to carry a dream from conception to fruition are what separate the average from the amazing. Rather than pursuing the instant gratification and relief of closing out her credit cards, Arnita took another route.
Arnita details how she was selective during her own process: “When it came to improving my credit report and credit score, I knew that closing out credit cards and waiting for my credit to repair itself was not an option. What was most important was knowing that closing my credit cards was a huge NO-NO. Closing your credit cards can actually lower your credit score because you'd be closing off your credit history, which is 15% of your credit score. I also knew that 30% of your credit score is your credit card usage. Once I began to pay down my credit cards, I knew that my credit score immediately began to increase.
"During this journey, I began to study credit consumer laws and learned that the information on my credit report had to be reported accurately and verifiable. After reviewing my credit report, I saw that a lot of my bad credit came from credit bureaus not reporting correct information about me and by law, I had the right to dispute these errors. With that alone, I was able to increase my credit score over 100 points."
Many women, like Arnita, with vision, passion, and ambition have the drive for success and are ready to “smash the ignition," so to speak, on their goals but feel paralyzed by debt. Some believe bankruptcy to be a viable option for a new start. Arnita calls this a “myth" and reveals the truth in her own terms.
“The myths when it comes to bankruptcy is believing that once you've filed, you are free of all debts and you will have good credit immediately after it is discharged. Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy can make your situation worse. Filing bankruptcy on debts that are past its statue for being sued it not a good idea. Filling debts on collection accounts that cannot be validated within accordance of the law is a waste of money. Lastly, a bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years. Moreover, some lenders will not extend credit to those who have filed bankruptcy because they feel they may be a liability and won't commit to paying their debts."
Arnita explains why bankruptcy was never an option for her, “I knew that a bankruptcy would do more harm than good and I knew that no matter how high my credit score, a bankruptcy would hinder me from larger investments, such as purchasing a home and establishing business credit. Besides, I didn't have large assets and felt that filing bankruptcy just wasn't suitable for me."
No longer did the then-single mother have to wait on tax refunds to purchase big ticketed items. Being denied for a job because she couldn't pass a credit check was the straw that broke the camel's back…a wakeup call…an epiphany to confront those financial hurdles with vengeance. “The success of recovering from my own personal credit and financial journey is what led to me to start my business."
Success from one of Arnita's clients
Arnita knew there had to be countless of other women out there like her and she needed a way to reach them. Soon after, her credit and financial educational blog, Luxurious CREDIT™, was born.
Leveraging social media to create the powerful platform purposed to educate, inform, and assist others to break free from financial bondage, Arnita ushers women into living a “Luxurious Credit Lifestyle" and that lifestyle is having the luxury of being able to get approved for what you want, when you want, on your own terms! She was able to turn her own financial mistakes and lessons in to a platform to teach others on financial freedom, self-investment, and ownership.
Her organizations, Luxurious Credit & AMB Credit, has helped hundreds of thousands of women get out of debt, reach their credit goals of home ownership, purchasing vehicles, building generational wealth, and most of all, feeling luxurious and confident about having happy finances.
Her vision remains revolutionary and successful, not only because it improves the lives of others, but because it teaches them that their alternate reality is just within arm's reach.
“God saved my daughter and I from poverty and therefore, I dedicated myself and business to help others. Good credit really changed my life."
It can change yours too.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images