When Kara Stevens started Frugal Feminista, she was on a mission to offer something she didn't see enough of as a young Black woman looking to become debt-free. She'd taken her personal finance matters into her own hands, turning to library books and other free resources to get out of $65,000 in debt. "During that process, I'd found books—some written by Black women, some by white men—and they were all helpful, but I noticed that there was a dearth of literature really speaking to what Black women in their 20s and 30s were facing. I couldn't relate," she recalls.
"I began researching and implementing some of the things I learned. I wanted to broaden the discussion around what it meant to be a Black woman who is out of college, educated, looking for love, wanting to travel, and wanting to have it all, and how money plays a role in that."
Courtesy of Kara Stevens
After getting out of debt, Kara, an educator by trade, eventually moved up the ladder into administration, putting her in the club of six-figure earners. However, she found that she had some further growing to do when it came to how she approached managing her money. "I was still having a lot of anxiety around money despite being, on paper, more well-off than, say, 90 percent of average Americans. What that led to was a deeper understanding of the lessons I learned around money and self-worth in terms of asking and receiving," she says.
"[It was about] understanding the energy of being confident and assertive in a way that allows you to expect the possibilities and expect things to happen in your favor. Money is one of the values, ways, and measures of getting what you want whether it be a salary increase, starting a business or anything related to achieving something in that arena."
Below are six keys Kara found, through her own journey, in resetting her mentality about money in order to thrive:
1. Decide what you really want out of life and how money fits into achieving your goals.
It's important to explore self-reflection that will lead to decisions about your short-term and long-term goals related to what your best life looks like and how to create and sustain it. "What do you want to do with money?" Kara adds. "Do you want to travel with money? Do you want to start a business? Reflect on what your beliefs are about children, businesses, or travel, and see if they align with what you're trying to do with your money. If there's a disconnect, you're going to have a lot of difficulty in either finding the money or keeping the money in relation to achieving your goals."
2. Get to know your deep-set beliefs about money and their origins.
"Oftentimes, they're largely influenced by what your parents beliefs are," Kara explains. "In my experience, I had a lot of emotional hurdles to overcome when it came to dealing with money because growing up, I was taught that you shouldn't take risks with life, money, love—with anything."
"Even though I was able to technically get out of student loan debt, I still had this fear of being able to have a balanced approach to investing or a balanced approach to even giving myself the things I wanted."
Growing up, Kara saw a money management focus that was solely about basic needs. "Anything else was considered unnecessary. That made me a very measured and withholding person emotionally and financially, and that eventually led to having to learn more about myself in therapy."
Once she was able to pinpoint beliefs she'd carried from her childhood, she was able to form a renewed relationship with money and nurture a new mindset. "I was able to give and receive, take risks, and make my needs an important part of how I make decisions instead of looking at deprivation, hoarding, financial paranoia, and scarcity."
3. Pinpoint how those beliefs inform the way you currently view money and how that perception affects achieving your goals.
Kara urges women to create a "family financial tree" exploring childhood memories related to money that they still hold on to in adulthood. "I grew up thinking, for example, that due to my mom's heartbreak with my dad, men are never to be trusted with money. That was a given," Kara says.
"But you have to look at that belief and analyze the validity or the universality of it to determine how useful that message is in serving you in your life goals. I know that ultimately I want to be happily married, so I had to rethink that message to create one that's more affirming, rational, and abundant."
"Not all men can be trusted with money, but the man I choose, I will trust because I trust myself to make good decisions. So, think about how you can flip that negative narrative and rewrite it to make it affirming and thoughtful and align with your goals."
4. Create a budget that incorporates your values and puts a focus on progress versus perfection.
"Having a budget that doesn't allow for fun or pleasure is not a budget you can stick to," Kara says. "Putting the pleasure element and values element in a budget is a key part to enjoying your money management and to thriving with your money."
Kara remembers a time when she was first getting out of debt and how the process was much more sustainable when she gave herself grace throughout the journey. "Sometimes you trip and fall and miss a payment or overspend, but don't take it personally. If you continue to make progress in the general right direction, you'll be OK, and you'll eventually meet your goal."
She incorporated a debt payoff strategy that allowed her to tackle each one in a particular order, gaining momentum by getting rid of them one by one. "I felt good when I was able to reduce the number of debts I had. Eliminating them made me feel good that I was actually making progress."
5. Shift your approach to budgeting in a way that puts faith first.
"There's a place for living within your means, but the rationale behind it [is important]," Kara says. "You have to have that faith-based approach to handling money. Check in with yourself on whether the reason you're doing something is based on some type of fear perspective or more of an abundance or faith-based perspective. You have to tell yourself, 'I believe that what I'm offering is worth it,' or 'I believe that what I'm buying for myself is going to add value to my life so I'm going to do it without apology, shame or guilt.'"
6. Figure out a monthly flow for managing your funds.
"In addition to having a budget, knowing the flow of your money every month is important," Kara says. "I use a financial calendar. Sometimes you can feel that, by the end of the month, there's more month than money, and it's not necessarily that we don't have the money. It's about how we space out our spending and our savings to meet our various financial goals."
With a financial or budget calendar, you can track payment amounts and dates and estimate how much money flows in and out of your accounts on a monthly basis based on your money goals and lifestyle. You can do this the old-school pen-and-paper way, via an online spreadsheet or through handy apps that are free or downloadable for a fee.
Taking deliberate steps toward shifting how you think about money and its management can be totally life-changing and make reaching your dream life that much more believable and obtainable.
Featured image by Getty Images
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images