Quantcast

What Does "Living Below Your Means" Look Like In 2020?

It's the key to affording the things that are really valuable to you, as opposed to whatever is merely in front of you.

Finance

Gather 'round, ladies, we have some good stuff to discuss today...

Finances.

OK, so if 2020 has taught us nothing else, hopefully by now we all understand that we never know what may be headed our way. We have experienced major loss, onset forms of trauma, a sense of uprising, and a new normal, all without not even really knowing if we even celebrated Easter. This year has been ten long years wrapped in one, and we have a few more months (years) before we close it out.

Understandably, our finances are, and should, be something we're pulling the strings on just a liiiittle bit tighter. And simply living below our means, is not only something we should also be doing, it's probably the best precaution for the time being.

It simply means you don't want to be controlled by you money and drowning in any unmanageable debt, especially during uncertain times. That's it.

But wait, isn't that most of us?

Listen, I never want to be the bearer of bad news, but yes. Yes, it is. I'm not saying we cannot have a little fun, but if we are, let's make sure we are having a little fun-ds while we're at it, right?

But what does this look like?

Well, first things first, we need to define what living below your means, means for you. Listen, Beyonce living below her means, and me living below mine, are two completely, completely, completely different things. So, accessing our own situations is key in getting this right.

Put simply, living below your means is nothing more than not outspending what you earn. In essence, that is really all there is to it. It does not mean that you never spend money on things you enjoy or have a good time. It also does not mean that you have to live as if you were poor or act miserly when it comes to your money, so ladies, yes, you can get those bottomless mimosas on Sunday.

Dispelling myths like this is important, because many people believe that living below their means will make them miserable. But you certainly do not have to be unhappy.

So let's start here:

Spend. Less. Than. You. Earn.

Whew, yall. When you're poor like we are, it is in our nature to want to indulge in things that we can't always have.

But think of all the things you have ever wanted but never been able to afford: that next vacation, a new gift for someone around the holidays, a new car, or even a dream home you have been eying up for a while. None of these things are possible without money and usually large sums of it.

Living below your means is the key to affording the things that are really valuable to you, as opposed to whatever is merely in front of you. Take a moment to think about all the things you could one day afford if you began spending your money more wisely today.

Understand Your Monthly Income

Ladies, we have to have an in-depth understanding of your monthly income. Try to find an average of what you make on a monthly basis and use that as a starting point. Staying as far below this as comfortably possible is the ideal, since that will maximize your ultimate goal. Seek a financial coach/mentor, or maybe someone who is good with managing finances, to assist, if you aren't sure where to begin.

Use a Personal Finance App

There are a lot of apps and tools out there which will help you track your monthly spending and will help you to create a budget. Here's a list to get you started.

Control Spending Habits

Once you know roughly how much you make each month, you will need to take control of your spending habits by examining them closely.

  • Where and when do you spend the most money each month?
  • How much of it is truly necessary?
  • What can you comfortably cut from your spending?

These are important questions, and the answers are definitely even more important. Look through your bank statements over previous months and see where your money has gone...and then adjust.

Shutterstock

Keep Track Of Petty Purchases

You may find that you have spent a lot of money in small sums over a period of time without even realizing it. A $5 coffee every day for a month will cost you $150. On coffee.

Stop. That. Tuh-day.

Opt for making coffee at home before the day starts, or being the resident office brewer your damn self.

Eliminate. Eliminate. Eliminate.

After you have gained an understanding of your monthly income and examined how you have spent it in the past, your next step will be seeing what expenses you can realistically eliminate, and you are quite likely to find that there are many things you can cut out of your budget partially or even entirely.

Anything that is totally unnecessary or might be categorized as an inessential luxury is what you should focus on removing. If you have a perfectly good stove but find yourself consistently ordering take-out week-to-week, then there is no reason to keep eating out. You don't need to.

Cut.

Gym membership? Opt for working out at home or finding a fitness routine that allows you to enjoy the outdoors.

It may be painful, but avoiding unnecessary expenses is the best way to make our goals possible.

Then, from there, make sure that you are not spending more money on essential items than is actually necessary.

  • Can you buy less expensive brands?
  • Do you need that much cell phone data each month?

Leave no part of your budget unexamined. Even if you only save a small amount on each item every month, those totals will add up quickly. And when savings add up, that's always a good thing.

And if you're going to spend, make sure you're always getting something in return.

I will never forget how mind blown I was when my sister said to me, "If you're going to spend the money, make sure you get something from it."

It wasn't that she said anything particularly revolutionary, it's just that when I was in my 20's, I never thought of it that way. We, as consumers, don't often realize that there are thousands of opportunities to make the dollars that you spend work for you, and truth is, we're going to have to spend money eventually—it's not practical to not think so. So, if you're going to spend, make sure you get a cashback reward or accumulate points in some way. Yeah it sucks that your washer no longer works, but if you have to work one in the budget, make sure you get a return on buying a new one.

Now, I personally don't like to purchase anything if I'm not compensated; these companies have to work for my swipe. Make them work for yours too. Gas, groceries, major appliances. There's a card or program out there that will help you get closer to your financial goals, and maybe reward you with a free flight too.

--

With discipline and organization, there are many ways to make living below your means a possibility without sacrificing the things that make you happy.

Be patient with yourself as you go, and adapt habits that work best for you. Don't get discouraged by the initial troubles, as time goes on and you practice the basics, you will find it becomes easier, especially once you begin to see the rewards of your newfound frugality.

Happy saving!

Join us in the xoTribe community and gain access to Mentor Mondays, bi-weekly workshops from our dating and career coaches, an archive of digital fireside chats, and virtual happy hours. Plus, connect with Necole, the xoNecole squad and a community of empowering women committed to being their best selves. Find your tribe today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

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.

Reparations

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

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

"Black men, we're in constant warfare. Every day is a fight outside of my house, so why would I want to come home to more fighting when that is the very place where I should be resting? There are loved ones who I don't speak to as much anymore because they aren't peaceful people. A huge part of the reason why I am happier without my ex is she was rarely a source of peace. The older I get, the more I realize that peace really is the foundation of everything; especially relationships, because how can I nurture anything if I'm in a constant state of influx and chaos? Guys don't care how fine a woman is or how great the sex may be if she's not peaceful because there is nothing more valuable than peace. If the closest person to me is not a source of it, that can ultimately play a role in all kinds of disruption and destruction. No man wants that."

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

When Ngozi Opara Sea started Heatfree Hair almost a decade ago, curly and kinky extensions weren't the norm on the market as they seem to be today, especially if you wanted those textures in quality human hair. Beauty supply stores mainly sold synthetic curly hair, and there was a surge of renewal for women who were just beginning to embrace natural styles, taking to YouTube to experiment with new techniques and styles.

Keep reading... Show less

No one is excited about paying taxes, but for the most part, they're unavoidable for the working woman. Yet, not everyone has to pay quarterly taxes. You may have to get acquainted with quarterly taxes depending on how you earn money and who signs your paychecks. Not only is it essential to know if you should pay quarterly tax payments, but you need to know what your tax liability is and the deadline to submit your taxes — unless you want the IRS visiting.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts