As Boyz II Men once famously said, ladies, we've come to the end of the road. It's almost time to say goodbye to 2021 and hello to a new year. Though there's only less than a week until we all ring in 2022, you can still get started right now on your end-of-year money checklist. Get those finances in order or at least set a up a plan for next year in order to get yourself on the right track.
Start with these six steps to build the plan to reach your financial fitness goals:
1.Create (or review) your budget.
This might sound redundant but some of you needed the reminder. If you've never even looked at your bank statement, are afraid to face your money issues, or just don't want to feel like your life is being stifled by financial boundaries, you definitely need a budget. At best, it's just a great way to be fully informed about where your money is going. At worst, it is the tough love you needed to finally stop living check to check, or working multiple jobs.
And if you've had any major changes such as a new job or job loss, marriage or major move, or a new addition to your family, you definitely want to review your budget now to be sure that you're adjusting if needed. It's always good to get ahead of any issues that might come along and have a plan for addressing them. (Here is a great resource, for example, if your finances have been drastically affected by COVID-19.)
Experts at WalletHub, a leading personal finance website, say a budget can be "as simple or complex as you want it to be," but it must at least keep track of inflows and outflows of money, including your income and expenses. (Check out our guide on how to start a budget as well as more on other women who have tried versions of budgeting like this and this.)
2.Think about places you're leaving money on the table—or worst, wasting.
Even on the heels of the world reopening after the pandemic lockdown of 2020, a recent survey found that people spent $765 more per month this year than they did last year. Another survey found that 99% of business owners are leaving "significant wealth on the table." And in a bit of more-telling research, women still make 82 cents on the dollar, and Black women, in particular, make even less.
That being said, there are clearly a few places where we're either ignoring extra money or savings or we're totally throwing it away. Ask yourself a few questions here. Are there money-back advantages to any of the credit cards you use? Are you getting the best rates on your loans or other accounts? Could you be missing discounts and savings offered to you as an employee of your company or as a student? Does the management company of your apartment complex offer incentives or other gifts throughout the year for doing things like referring new tenants or writing a good online review?
What about that side hustle you never followed through on? Is it time to finally advocate for yourself and ask for that raise or to get a new job where you've negotiated for better benefits? Is it time to utilize that HSA or those pre-tax benefit add-ons?
Are there subscriptions or memberships that just no longer serve you or that you don't even fully use? What about the extra fees for ATM usage or add-on purchases that are not necessary or are excessive? (It's like the $50 difference between a "deluxe" pedicure with gel varnish versus a "basic" one with the old-school regular polish. Are your feet really that crusty three times a month?) We're not telling you to get rid of the salted caramel foam in your Starbucks order, but really put things in perspective.
3.Look at that credit report.
You can request credit reports for free at least once per year, but you can also track your credit scores more frequently via various platforms or via your bank. Even with "good" credit, you want to at least have a sense of what's on there and whether everything listed is accurate and up to date.
And if you're in debt and dread even the thought of sifting through those reports, you can at least put your heart at ease by ripping the Band-aid off to find out what exactly you owe and to whom. Sometimes, we're still holding on to the shame of years ago when we were denied a car loan or Bloomingdale's card and found out our score was less than perfect. In reality, maybe your score is higher today or there are easy corrections, adjustments, or payments that can be made to boost the score. You won't know until you know.
4.Prepare for filing taxes.
Again, a great way to approach this is to look at it from a half-full mentality versus the "what if I owe" terror. With all the legislation tied to COVID-19 relief, there might be tax breaks that you're still eligible for that could put money back in your pocket (or at least lower what you have to pay Uncle Sam.) If you're an entrepreneur or self-employed and you haven't gathered your receipts for filing expenses or at least talked with a tax preparer or trusted financial adviser, now might be the perfect time to get on their books. Go digital to make this year's filing much more seamless and less frustrating, and either read up on or ask about ways you might save this year. Get to those calculations early so that you'll get a sense of what you might potentially owe (Try a tax calculator like this one or this one).
This year's deadline for filing taxes is April 15, so go ahead, and if the last quarter of 2021 taught you one thing, that should be time waits for no one and it sure does fly.
5.Invest in technology and use it to your financial advantage.
Life can be a lot easier with tech (as long as you know how to use it and it serves your needs.) If you have a hard time keeping up with your spending, tracking savings goals, or knowing where your money is going, there are apps for all three of those problems.
Automatic savings apps like Acorns and Chime will round up your purchases and put the extra money in your savings account. Online browser extensions like Honey and Capital One Shopping are add-ons that auto-generate coupons and discounts when you shop. (Your laptop might even already have this included, like Microsoft Edge Shopping, for example.)
Another great idea, especially for saving, is opening an account at an online-only bank. Many have awesome rates, are covered by the FDIC, and offer less fees especially when using your cards internationally. Having a web-based account will also provide just the barrier you need for the temptation to make frivolous withdrawals. (While you can indeed access your money, it's not the one-step process of just going to the ATM or visiting your local teller. For most, you have to transfer money or have direct deposit set up in order to add to these accounts, or you'll have to search for retail or bank locations that actually allow withdrawals).
Experts say to use these accounts to start that emergency or travel fund that you need to set and forget. (True story: I had a web-based account that I forgot about. Years later, I tried to open a whole new account with the same bank and found out that I not only had a dormant account, but the account had a couple thousand dollars just sitting in there. God works in mysterious ways because that money came right in handy at the time!)
Bonus tip: Set up alarms or calendar alerts that remind you of your goals, money promises, or inspiration that will keep you pumped and motivated. It can work wonders!
In the same way that you'd go to a hairstylist, makeup artist, or personal trainer to get your look together, go get the help you need for managing your finances. Many financial advisers actually offer free consultations, and there are also resources right under your nose at your own bank. If the idea of taxes overwhelms you or you're missing out on tax breaks every year, let the experts handle it and stop using those DIY online platforms.
There are even money coaches, financial therapists, and portfolio managers who can help you get to the bag, especially when you have a specific goal in mind like early retirement, property ownership, estate planning, or business expansion.
Come on, ladies! We're thinking big and doing big things in 2022, so you'll need that all-star team behind you to ensure you can not only obtain wealth but maintain it.
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15 Hot Tips Giving The Missionary Position The Upgrade You Crave
Ah, yes, the missionary position. If there’s one sex position that pretty much everyone off top knows what it consists of, the missionary would have to be it. So, where does the name exactly come from? Oddly enough, even though it’s probably the most common sex position there is, there’s conflicting information about how its name actually came to be.
Some say that the Catholic church deemed it to be the only “non-sinful” position, and folks followed suit. Others believe that it’s tied into “patriarchy” since a man being on top puts a woman into a submissive receiving position (I mean, the Bible does tell wives to submit to their husbands, and sex is referenced for married couples, so that tracks — Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1-7, Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20). There are even stories about missionaries teaching people of African, Native American, and Chinese ethnicities that any other position is wrong and so those people came up with the term “missionary position” to make fun of the missionaries (chile).
Whatever the actual backstory is, what we know for sure is the missionary position continues to be super popular (although leave it to millennials to knock it out of first position and replace it with doggystyle these days), a great way to cultivate emotional intimacy (more on that in just a sec) — and it is oftentimes perceived as hella boring.
That last point is what I’m gonna address today. Because since it is indeed a great way to connect with your partner, it makes it easier to hit “your spot” (the G-spot, to be exact), and it’s also easy on your body (you know, if the desire is there but your limbs are not exactly cooperating), in my eyes, the missionary position needs to receive the proper respect that it deserves — and the best way to do that is to give it a few, perhaps much-needed, “upgrades.” Here are 15 of ‘em.
1. Do Some Eye Gazing Before Anything Else
Recently, I was talking to a male friend of mine who told me that he doesn’t do casual sex in the missionary position. After asking him how he is subtly able to even pull that off (another article, another time), I then wanted to know the method behind his madness: “It’s too intimate and vulnerable. I need to be in something serious with you to be that…into you.”
One might say that literally putting your member into a woman’s vagina is “into her,” yet I digress. Instead, I’ll just focus on the fact that when they say that eyes are the windows to the soul, there is definitely some truth to that. And when it comes to cultivating intimacy with your partner, there is a practice known as eye gazing that can help to connect the two of you in a very special way.
In fact, there are studies to support that you can analyze how someone feels about you by looking into their eyes, you can increase your level of attraction to them by looking into their eyes, and you and your partner can go up a new level in trust if you look into each other’s eyes as well.
How long should the eye gazing last? Some experts say that the goal should be for five minutes while taking deep breaths in between. While doing that might feel awkward at first, look at it this way — y’all are gonna be face to face for a while anyway, right? Why not take the exchange of energy to another level while you’re doing it? And why not get into this mind of headspace by eye gazing as a form of emotional foreplay?
2. Bring Some Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang or Lavender and Vanilla
One of the best things about the missionary position is it encourages you to shut out the rest of the world, ignore any distractions and really focus on your partner. Matter of fact, a sex therapist once told me that one of the perks of this particular position is it significantly decreases your chances of you and/or your partner fantasizing about other people during coitus (hey, it happens…way more than people care to admit too).
Something that can help to keep you and your partner centered on one another only is the scent of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and a combo of lavender and vanilla. As a bonus, all are also sensual, calming, and relaxing too. You can add a few drops to a carrier oil (like sweet almond or grapeseed) and create a DIY massage oil. You can sprinkle some of them onto your bedding. You can also add a few drops into your sexual pressure points for a nice surprise as far as your partner’s sense of smell goes.
3. Pull in (More) Pillows
For some reason, I can’t find it now (sorry!), but a few weeks ago, I was cracking up at a video of a guy who was challenging his girlfriend to get into the position of being on top like a man and pushing for more than a minute straight. She failed miserably (it really was hilarious!). After I sent it to a few male friends, one wrote back and said, “Y’all have no idea what being on top can do to a brotha’s back sometimes.”
A workaround that will make everyone happy? Bring in some more pillows. It will elevate your body so that he won’t have to bend over quite so low. Plus, it will help him to penetrate you more deeply, which is almost always a good thing.
You can use the pillows that you already have (they should work just fine). Or you can invest in a sex pillow. They tend to be a bit firmer so that you don’t have to be slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Glamour did you a solid by providing a list of some of their favorite sex pillows here; Self did the same by providing their best-of-the-best list here.
4. Light Some Candles
Back to the eye thing real quick. Yeah, I don’t know how y’all are gonna be able to stare deeply into each other’s eyes if it’s pitch black in the room. And here’s the thing about letting some light shine in; there was a study conducted that said when a light box (like the kind that’s used to treat depression) is brought into a man’s space, it can increase his levels of sexual desire. The reason why is it has a way of boosting his testosterone levels.
However, if you don’t want to feel like you’re standing — well, lying — in a room that has the ridiculous lighting that is in department store dressing rooms, go with candlelight instead. A soft glow can still help him to see your shapes and curves and the two of you to look at each other yet because everything with candles is way more subtle, it can help you to feel less self-conscious if you’re not as confident in the sex department as you would like to be (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”).
5. Add Some Flavored Lube
Although pretty much all of us have heard the saying, “The wetter, the better,” at this point, this tip is a shout-out to the safe sex crowd (since reportedly, only one-third of men and one-quarter of women actually use condoms. SMDH). If you want to make bringing rubbers into a mix a much more pleasurable experience, go with some flavored lubricant. Although you might only think of its use in the context of oral sex (more on that in a bit), dabbing some on your neck (so that he can taste something sweet-er when he kisses you there) or on your wrists or forearm (so that he can lick them while your hands are pinned back) can be a truly welcome surprise.
And what are some of the best-tasting ones on the market these days? No worries. I got you:
6. Modify the Position…a Bit
As we continue, I will be — no pun intended — deep diving into some tweaks that can be made to the standard missionary position in order to intensify sexual pleasure. For now, I’ll just say that spooning face to face, allowing your partner to pin your legs back, having sex while standing up, letting him ride cowboy (which means he’s literally in the position that you are typically in during the cowgirl) and your partner lying horizontally over your body instead of vertically — these all are twists to the missionary that could cause you to hear “missionary position” with new levels of excitement.
7. Apply the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)
Speaking of modifying positions, what do y’all know about the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)? If you’re staring at your screen like, “What in the world is that?” it’s when your partner gets into the downward-facing dog yoga position while you’re on your back in the missionary one. This causes your partner’s penis to stimulate your clitoris as they are entering you and sometimes as they are going in and out. The (main) benefit is if you’re someone who finds experiencing a vaginal orgasm challenging, you significantly increase your chances of experiencing one since your clitoris will be stimulated during the act of intercourse.
Another bonus is “doing the CAT” can help a man to last longer if premature ejaculation is something that he is prone to experiencing.
8. Get Out of the Bed/Bedroom
The older we get, the more bedroom sex makes sense. After all, beds were specifically designed to support our bodies. Still, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship for quite some time, just like approaching the missionary position the same way every time can get old, so can always being in your bed — or bedroom.
You’re paying good money to utilize more than just one room in your home, so why not maximize each one’s potential? And as far as the best room in the house to get busy, I recently read an article that said bathrooms and balconies are fan favorites, followed by closets and utility rooms. Personally, I’m with what a Men’s Health article stated, which is the living room is probably the most comfortable (and common) — yet whatever you do, just try and think outside of the box sometimes. In this case, think outside of your bed and bedroom to see what other places are comfortable for you both.
9. Or…Get on the Edge of the Bed
So, what if you're like, "I hear you, but it's gonna be the bed for me, more times than not?" I hear you. There's a way to upgrade the missionary position and how you use your bed at the same time — have him pull you to the edge of the bed and either penetrate you by lifting your legs over his shoulders, or the two of you can just have "regular sex" that way (so long as he's good at maintaining his balance and keeping you from falling off at the same time).
The perks? For one, if his penis is more on the average side (check out "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"), he will be able to penetrate you more deeply. Another benefit is if you like to bring vibrators into the mix, it will be easier to do (especially if your legs are up). Another is this is one way to get your clitoris, vagina, and cervix all stimulated all at the same time — in fact, this is why another name for the edge of the bed is "the edge of heaven" (makes sense).
10. Keep Your Bra on — Kinda
As a doula, whenever new moms talk to me about easing back into sex, it's very common for them to talk about how "conflicted" they are when it comes to their breasts, especially if they are breastfeeding. It makes complete and total sense when you think about the fact that first, our breasts are ours alone, then men come in and use them as foreplay, and then here comes a baby who uses them as a food source. A top suggestion that I give is that moms invest in some super sexy nursing bras. That way, if they want to still keep their breasts covered up, there is something pretty for their partner to look at.
Along these same lines (kinda sorta), consider keeping your own bra on during missionary — well, kind of. Either get one that is extremely sheer or pull your breasts out so that they are hanging out over the front of your bra. Why? Well, a lot of men have told me over the years that while nothing really tops a woman in her birthday suit, the peek-a-boo effect of breasts over bras and crotchless panties turns them on in a way that they can't fully articulate. Plus, if you're a bit insecure, this can help you out like it can a new mom (believe it or not), especially if you're going to bring some lighting in (like I suggested earlier).
11. Enjoy His Nipples
Speaking of breasts…although not everyone finds their nipples to be the ultimate erogenous zone (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”), don’t automatically assume that your partner is one of them. The reality is men have the same glands and nerve endings that we do when it comes to their nipples which means a lot of them find their nipples getting some TLC to be super erotic and enjoyable.
A husband client of mine once told me in a session that he wished that his wife would lick on his nipples more, especially during intercourse, because it takes his orgasms to a completely different level. When his wife heard that, she asked, since she’s not a contortionist, how could she possibly pull that off in a comfortable way? This actually brings us to the next point.
12. Try Some Kama Sutra Piercing
On the heels of what I just said, what do you know about the Kama Sutra approach known as piercing? It’s kind of similar to CAT, only with a twist. This time, a man should position his shoulders to where they are directly over your head — that way, as he is moving in and out, you can get direct clitoral stimulation.
How is this any different from the CAT? Well, with that position, his arch is backed farther away from you. Plus, it tends to feel the most amazing upon entry only. On the other hand, piercing makes it possible for you to do the whole nipple thing that we just talked about while he’s able to stimulate your clitoris more intentionally the entire time. A win/win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?
13. Engage in (Some or More) Edging
Another way to almost guarantee that your orgasms will be next level is to engage in a bit of edging. If you're familiar with the word, yet you've never exactly researched and/or tried it before — let's just say that it's the kind of act that requires some stamina (on his part) and some self-discipline (for you both). The reason why I say that is because edging is all about having intercourse, your partner stopping for 15-30 seconds, and then you both starting back up all over again.
And why would someone want to send themselves through this mind of, in a way, mind f-ck? It builds anticipation and excitement, which can actually make your orgasms super intense. Hell, it could even lead to multiple orgasms if y'all play your cards right. Anyway, you can learn more about edging by reading "All About Edging: The Ways Prolonging Pleasure Makes For Mind-Blowing Orgasms" on our platform.
14. Stop. And Switch.
As I was in the process of penning this piece, I asked a few people to share why they felt that some people take a ho-hum attitude about the missionary position. The general consensus was if that’s all you do the entire time, things can get old really quick.
Good point. That’s why it’s also a good idea to keep in mind that, just because you start off in missionary, no rule says that you have to stay there (unless you happen to live in Florida because, apparently, only the missionary is legal there; Florida stays wilin’ out). No rule says that once you start having sex that you can’t do some other, eh hem, activities in between positions too.
My vote? Be down to get into some oral, especially if you want to increase your chances of having an orgasm. A “good giver” is gonna get off so much on pleasuring you that you probably won’t have to worry about him needing to maintain an erection even if he spends a few moments downtown (cue SWV’s song). Oral sex intermissions are so unsung. Whew, chile.
15. Moan ‘N Whisper
The last and final point. "Dirty talk" is always gonna be a winner when it comes to sex, period; however, when you're in the missionary position, it's really amazin' considering you're both right next to each other's ears.
And what if dirty talk isn't something that you've exactly mastered (yet)? The key is to not overthink it. Moan. Whisper the things that you like being done to you (or that you want him to try). Ask him what he likes (or wants more of). When he's got it right, praise him. If he's got a pet name, use it. If you want to go with his government name, he probably won't mind that either.
The main point here is to remember that great sex incorporates all of the senses — touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. And since words are our most effective form of communication, you can't go wrong with using some in the bedroom…especially when you're giving it all that you've got in the missionary position…especially as you're adding in some of these upgrades that I just shared.
Enjoy, sis. EN-freakin’-JOY!
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