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Kelly Rowland On The Cons Of Being A Millionaire At 20: "I Didn't Know What To Do With It"

Kelly Rowland

Destiny's Child exploded onto the scene in 1997 with the release of their hit single "No, No, No." But by the time the ladies were singing, "Can you pay my bills?" they had many of them awaiting them in their mailboxes. Three Grammy awards, numerous coordinated outfits, and a Super Bowl performance later, Kelly Rowland reflects on her experiences as a young millionaire. She recently spoke with InStyle Magazine about what she did with her first big paycheck, how she navigated being rich at an early age, and how success has taught her better spending habits and the importance of being financially independent.

One of the hardest things to do when you're young is to actually listen to sound advice. The 36-year-old singer was once a young woman eager to bask in her newfound fame and money bags. Like many of us, when you finally have your own money, you want to spend it on all the things you were once told were too expensive instead of using that first check as an investment. Rowland reveals that this is exactly what she did. She says:

"I remember so many people telling me that I needed to save my money and invest — but I didn't listen. When I got one of my first paychecks, I went to the grocery store and bought almost everything that my mom used to tell me was too expensive. I bought all of that shit, had a party at my house, and everybody ate up everything. I'll never forget it, because it was fun and it was something I was able to fund myself."

But the fun didn't outweigh the fact that at just 20 years old, she didn't have the financial knowledge and restraint that she does now. Rowland may have had a lot in the bank, but she didn't always know exactly what to do with it. When she inevitably bought a 5,000-square foot mansion, she quickly realized that it was more than she really needed.

She says:

"I was a millionaire by the age of 20...It's insane when you think about a 20-year-old having all this money and not knowing what the eff do do with it. When it was time for the big purchase, I bought myself a house that was way too big. I was, like, 21 years old with five bedrooms and 5,000-square feet to myself. I was way too young to buy a home like that."

The Writings on the Wall dropped 19 years ago, and was the catalyst for making Rowland richer than her wildest dreams. Now that she's older, however, she practices the same advice she was given when she was younger and says, "I've also learned that you need to save, but also to invest." But in the beginning, she was admittedly an overspender.

The Voice: Australia judge admits that before she put a spending limit on her AmEx, she would rack up charges that would have any financial advisor shaking their head. She says:

"I lost my mind—when it came to extra hair, fashion, I had to have everything. I remember just going completely nuts on trips to Paris and Italy, blowing like 30 grand in 30 minutes at Bergdorf Goodman. It was ridiculous. Eventually, I started to realize that my AmEx bill was really, really high and I needed to chill out."

Over the years, she has become much more frugal and conscious of how she is spending her coins. But financial freedom includes more than just more money and more problem. As women, our financial independence is increasingly crucial and necessary. Learning the ins and outs of money management, credit, and investment isn't always a simple process, but the resources are available if you want to ensure your independence remains intact. "Ladies, it ain't easy being independent," but it sure is empowering. Rowland says:

"As a woman, I think it's the most empowering thing when you're actually able to take care of yourself."

There's no better feeling than being able to provide for yourself and those around you without the help of a man. We are creating more businesses than any other demographic, are more educated, AND remain humble enough to share our success with a man, if we so choose. The songstress reminds us of all just how far we've come and, for that, we should be proud. She tells InStyle:

"In the past, women were made to feel like they could only make things work if they had a man. Now, we're CEOs and start our own companies. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs right now are women. You can put your hand over your chest with pride because we've come such a long way. To be able to take care of yourself and be proud of that is a reward for all the hard work you put in."

Since black women are still only earning $.79 per dollar compared to some of our counterparts, pay equality is still an uphill battle. The more we speak up about this inequality and demand our worth, the more likely the next generation of women will benefit.

This all starts with actually knowing what you're worth. Rowland says that you need to come to the negotiation table armed with facts, figures, and confidence in your market value. She says don't be shy about asking for more:

"Know your worth. When it comes down to it, if you have a number and you've done your research on whatever field that you're in, and you feel like you're worth this much, you very much so need to make your worth and your presence known—and then stick by it. Don't be shy about it, and stand firm and believe it. Stay true to who you are and your gift, and make sure it's something you're passionate about because that's when you're going to be absolutely amazing at it."

Many fall victim to the pitfalls of an extravagant lifestyle once them make a lot of money, especially if that windfall comes at a young age. We've seen it everywhere from lottery winners, to artists, entertainers and athletes alike: a financial education is the key to financial longevity.

That's why Kelly Rowland is a good example of someone who started early by emboldening herself with the proper tools to have more discernment with her spending and make sound investments while continuing to work and increase the bag. Good decisions can now lead to long-term financial comfort. Choose wisely.

Read her interview in full here.

Featured image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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