The 25-Year-Old Culture Manager Who Believes An End Goal Is A Budget Must-Have

"What I needed began to come without asking and what I wanted came at the leisure of when I wanted it."

Money Talks

As young millennial women, we don't talk about money enough - how we use it, how we earn it, how we feel about it, and everything else in between. Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to women about their relationship with money and how they get it.

Jaleska "J. Mulan" Holman is a culture manager, dream builder, entrepreneur, mentor and lifestyle specialist - who is a beast at saving money. At only 25-years-old, the Houston, Texas native is the founder of the J. Mulan Agency, which specializes in creative directing, casting, and more. Some of her most notable accomplishments to date include being solely responsible for the casting of Drake and Travis Scott's Grammy nominated music video "Sicko Mode," providing models for Lil' Wayne's SXSW event, as well as booking talent for Travis Scott's "Astroworld" concert.

As you can imagine, the fact that she's in her mid-twenties and so successful at what she does in the entertainment sector, money ain't a thing to her. However, everyone needs a budgeting strategy - and she's got the perfect advice for you. When asked by xoNecole about the money mantra she swears by, the professional print and runway model shares three: "money is a tool only a fool can abuse;" "money saved is just as important as money made;" and "assess the worth, not the dollar." Sounds like this boss babe knows her worth and how to add tax.

Culture queen and lifestyle specialist J. Mulan spills the tea on all of her money secrets for xoNecole's "Money Talks" segment about selling valuable trading cards, the feeling of purchasing her first home and the key to maintaining a health bank account.

On savings:

I try to save about 25-30% of total income monthly. I allocate percentages accordingly to two separate high-yield savings accounts. I haven't gotten into the Roth IRA field just yet because I'm very hands on when it comes to my finances so I'd like to have someone that I can trust with investments.

On defining wealth and success:

Wealth and success to me goes hand in hand with a proper measurement of your happiness. They both go far beyond the definition. Each person is different and value is placed on individual desire and no one thing is wrong, or even right. With that being said, the one particular thing that has always made me happy is being able to help and provide for others in any way I can be of service. Success is when you can look around and not be the only one enjoying the fruits.

Courtesy of J. Mulan

"Success is when you can look around and not be the only one enjoying the fruits."

On overcoming financial lows:

The lowest I've ever felt when it came to my finances was having to make a choice of enjoying something that I wanted or that made me happy versus having a necessity. There are certain things that don't deserve a price on it that does have one and when you can't reward yourself with that it gets tough and even depressing at times.

I overcame it by working harder and keeping my faith in God. Honestly truly putting forth the effort to change my mindset to meet my prayers and alter the power of my tongue and the words that I would speak over my life daily. Changing my surrounding and/or immediate circle for the time being to truly focus and become better. When you truly recognize and honor the small blessings of everyday life like being able to walk, and put your clothes on by yourself, your perspective of life really changes dramatically.

On her biggest splurge:

My biggest splurge was purchasing my first home! It honestly gave me a piece of peace. Of course, with the help and guidance of very close loved ones, we were all able to get the job done but it was something that was necessary for me. As I get older, certain things begin to lose value and at a point the necessary occurs and makes you look at what you need to do against what you want. It could've been very easy, and quicker, to go buy a new bag or designer pair of shoes but substance has been a new favorite word for me.

On if she’s a spender or a saver:

I mean honestly we're all sort of both spenders and savers because when you look at it, you're spending when you're saving. That isn't money that is accessible anymore, well it shouldn't be until in dire need, so I'd say both. I train myself to save by immediately removing a percentage from a check or payment I receive so that I don't see it. I'll immediately make a transfer to my savings account so that the only thing I see available is all I have to actively spend.

Courtesy of J. Mulan

"I train myself to save by immediately removing a percentage from a check or payment I receive so that I don't see it. I'll immediately make a transfer to my savings account so that the only thing I see available is all I have to actively spend."

On savings goals and retirement:

I feel like no one should have an overall savings goal, unless you're actively working towards a grand purchase or investment, because you should try to save everyday if you can for as long as you can. Every time you're adding funds, you should be immediately subtracting to increase your savings. Retirement to me right now is sort of blurry because I don't have the luxury to slow down anytime soon. My goals are becoming a lot more clearer, but I will say I am saving relentlessly to live comfortably whenever/if ever I decide to take an extended break or emergency or what have you.

On investing:

Investing is very important and is something I think one should fully understand before diving into. It is an everyday revolving door and just as heavy as the reward, heavier is the risk. I've been researching and practicing investing with more local close things that I can keep an eye on and really grasp before I decide to get into the big leagues. In hindsight, the goal is always to make your money work for you and investments are supreme ways of doing so. So knowing how to invest and assessing the risk is a great way to begin that process.

Courtesy of J. Mulan

"Investing is very important and is something I think one should fully understand before diving into. It is an everyday revolving door and just as heavy as the reward, heavier is the risk."

On her budget must-haves:

A budget must-have is an end. The budget must have an end point of where there is absolutely no wiggle room or negotiation. If it doesn't fit within that block, it can't happen.

On creating multiple streams of income:

When I started the J. Mulan Agency, it began with a one-track mission which served its purpose, but also caused me to burn out a bit quicker than I had planned. I had to get creative and open up a few different lanes that I had almost missed being so focused on not riding over the median. The Agency became full-service: branding, marketing, curating, etc. So I took one door down to reveal several others ultimately creating this endless creative revolving machine. So finding more ways out of one is always ideal when creating multiple streams of income. Having only one source can cause you to get comfortable and/or complacent, and that is fine as long as your desire for more out of life doesn't alter as well.

On the craziest thing she's done for money:

The craziest thing I've ever done for money was sell a valuable trading card that I had. It was one that I was gifted as a child that continued to increase in value as the years went by. It was a limited edition Yu-Gi-Oh! card. At the time, it was worth about $800 dollars and I sold it for $450. Today, it's worth about $7,435. It was part of the down payment for where I am today.

On the worst money-related decision she’s ever made:

Selling a collector's item about 1,000% percent under mark-up (laughs). But seriously, almost taking a deal that altered the integrity of my company, and myself for a good payout. I wouldn't call the deal me selling out or it even being extremely bad, but I made a vow to myself to always stay loyal to who I am and what I stand for regardless of any circumstance because there's always somebody we don't know watching for guidance.

On unhealthy money mindsets she had to release to succeed:

Having to feel like I had some sort of intense image to keep up. Everybody at some point gets caught up in the glitz and glam of things especially when you're making a couple of dollars and people start to know your name. It's one thing to look good and keep a well-groomed appearance, but it's another to be trying to look good.

On what changed once she adopted healthy money mindsets:

A healthy bank account and a clearer head space to focus on what's really important. What I needed began to come without asking and what I wanted came at the leisure of when I wanted it.

For more of J. Mulan, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of J. Mulan

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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