Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.
Lately, there's been a lot of chatter around Forex and cryptocurrency, but do we really know what it is or how to use it? Thankfully, Umanagement Public Relations' lead publicist Milan Mobley is a business coach, Forex trader, and investor willing to dispel any myths about the system for us. Though the D.C. native is well-known for her work as a full-time entertainment and corporate publicist, she has developed a passion for teaching millennials how to build generational wealth and deeper understanding of multiple streams of income. "I entered the Forex market almost three months ago, my girlfriend Che` introduced me to it. She's been in this space for a few years now. She ended up taking a break to focus on her career full-time, but she never lost touch," she told xoNecole.
During the pandemic, Milan's business slowed down and she began to fall into a depression due to the unexpected pivot of her business thanks to COVID-19. From there, her friend began to show her the ropes and through following by example, Milan is now developing a steady cash flow and effortlessly recouping from any financial loss she may have suffered. "Now I am still growing to be a master of the art but it is a skill that I am forever grateful for. It changed my life when life was changing the most."
Courtesy of Milan Mobley
Now with a current ranking of P1000, meaning she's been able to mentor and educate over 31 new investors, Milan is able to pay the education forward by passing along any and all information that was once given to her by her partner Che. "I made this choice based on Che`. Her mentorship and guidance made me the trader I am today, and allowed me to be educated in a space I was unfamiliar with. Becoming an IBO, I've been able to educate others on the Foreign Exchange Market who were in the same space of wanting to build generational wealth, needing an additional stream, and wanting money working for them. I do not have the conversations of becoming an IBO (independent business owner) with my mentees until I see they are being successful in the FX market."
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with the Atlanta, Georgia resident on being a "Frugal Fran" when it comes to spending habits, her worst money decision, and why she believes most people think Forex trading is a scam. Check it out below!
On myth-busting Forex and why most people believe it’s a scam:
"People believe it is a pyramid scheme because they are uneducated of what the difference is between Forex and the iMarkets Academy. The Academy is the number one educational platform/software for Forex Traders. This platform was designed to assist traders in their learning about the market, learning how to trade, software and strategies to assist in developing signal points for profitable trading and a special chart known as the Harmonic scanner. All of this is to help you earn while you learn. In an illegal pyramid scheme––or scam as we like to call it––there is no way for anyone who is under the head honcho to profit as much as that one person or to exceed them. Forex trading is a skill and trait you obtain and become successful with, on your own with the proper teachings."
On what being a trader and investor has taught her about her business and personal financial habits:
"It taught me how to capitalize financially. When you first start trading, not everyone has thousands to invest. In trading, you commonly use the word 'compounding', meaning you take what you invest and you build your account over time. For example, Che' and I encourage our Mentees who are afraid of the process or have lower capital to invest $50 but only trade with $20 and build your account slowly. With those teachings, our mentees have taken $20 and turned it into $95.00 in a day. We also tell them to focus on growing your account by 10% daily.
"All in all, teaching them has taught me to focus on compounding my personal finances and act always as if I have the lowest capital possible. Using money management on your investment amount will take you further as long as you are patient and not looking to get rich overnight. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is wealth. In the business aspect, there's a strategy and system known as S&S for everything. Based on the S&S you select/determine, your journey in business or trading can be either very simple and profitable or it can be complicated and a struggle."
"Using money management on your investment amount will take you further as long as you are patient and not looking to get rich overnight. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is wealth."
On questions she wished people would stop asking her about Forex:
"'How early can you actually start seeing profit coming in for yourself?' And, 'How much have you made?' It's a common question and I get it. However, that is like asking a fitness trainer, 'How soon am I going to see results?' The answer a trainer would give is the same answer I give. Everyone is different, no one person is the same. How early you start seeing profit and how much profit you see is how much effort you put forth to see results."
On how much she makes per year and her savings habits:
"It is very hard for me to say how much I make a year or a month honestly, being an entrepreneur that fluctuates so much––last year after the dreading amount of taxes, I made over $90,000. Normally, I don't share numbers in my finances since I am so private but I am comfortable to share that because that was my most profitable year in business. I try to save at least $2,000 to $3,000, that way it can be split between my business and added to my personal account. I have both my high-yield savings account through Marcus by Goldman Sachs and my Roth IRA is through my long-time bank Navy Federal."
On her definitions of wealth and success:
"Health is wealth and having much abundance in your life through happiness and prosperity brings great success. Wealth to me is being able to live the way I choose to––not working countless hours and working about how much I've made or haven't made or what's to happen next. Living the kind of life that makes you happy and fulfilled. Success is truly being open-minded and opening yourself to a new level of life that challenges you to grow and develop mentally, spiritually, and professionally forever."
Courtesy of Milan Mobley
"Wealth to me is being able to live the way I choose to––not working countless hours and working about how much I've made or haven't made or what's to happen next. Living the kind of life that makes you happy and fulfilled."
On the lowest she’s ever felt when it came to her finances and how she overcame it:
"The end of last year and the start of this year was the lowest I've felt – I was tapping in and having to drain my savings and not being able to replenish it for a while due to the decline in business from COVID-19. As stated previously, I was depressed from being in this unfamiliar state. I wasn't sure which way to turn for a while. Then I started focusing more on S&S and developing residual streams and being open to learning new skills. I could have counted myself out but a big part of my system was letting go and letting God. I started doing what I could and allowing Him to do the rest."
On her biggest splurge to date:
"I have never been a 'splurger'. My friends will tell you I am very financially responsible. I don't purchase much designer, I don't shop much, I don't spend money unnecessarily. I don't spend money that I can't spend two times over. HOWEVER, I did 'treat myself' last September for my birthday and that's because I didn't go out of the country or on a trip like I normally do. So I showered myself with the Louis Vuitton boots, red bottoms, one of the top suites at the W and a private chef all weekend. I can say that was a properly planned splurge I had prepared for that moment. It's OK to 'splurge' as long as you've properly planned for it."
On whether she’s a spender or a saver:
"I am Frugal Fran––I am very much a saver. It wasn't training, I just looked at my environment and listened to mistakes others made and used that as my guide to not repeat the same steps."
On her savings goals and what retirement looks like to her:
"I make contributions to my Roth, to my 401k, business and personal savings, Digit (the savings app I use it takes money from your account daily without a notification), I want each to represent and hold six- to seven-figures in them. Retirement to me looks like never having to work again, fully enjoying life, my family, and all that it has to offer, without the worry of making money. Also, retiring in my early 40's late 30's, not the time that has been placed on us. If I can retire before my desired time frame, that is even better!"
On the importance of investing:
"It is very important to invest in my opinion––you don't become wealthy by having zero investments. The goal is to be wealthy and have a strong net worth, not to be rich. I invest in, of course, my trading, but I also have stock investments, life insurance investments, and plans to invest in property and other assets in the upcoming years."
Courtesy of Milan Mobley
"I make contributions to my Roth, to my 401k, business and personal savings, Digit, I want each to represent and hold six- to seven-figures in them. You don't become wealthy by having zero investments. The goal is to be wealthy and have a strong net worth, not to be rich."
On her budgeting must-haves:
"At one point I would have said my nails. After the shutdown from the pandemic and not having that luxury, I realized how I didn't need it in my budget. My budget must-haves now are groceries, daily incidentals, emergency fund, household maintenance, bills, work wardrobe, subscriptions for business, [and] gas."
On the intention behind creating her multiple streams of income:
"In my business, I have both live and digital courses, pop-up consultations for various aspects in business, whether it be social media, marketing, etc., e-books, digital products, business coaching, and more. When developing those streams, I wanted relief for myself––where I didn't always have to be so hands-on. I had those residual pieces and money working for me all days of the week, even when I'm sleeping. My intention behind having multiple ways to make money was to have financial freedom, build generational wealth, and to grow my companies."
On her money mantra:
"God will bless me abundantly financially if He sees I can manage a little. He will not give me a lot If I can't handle the little."
On the craziest thing she’s ever done for money:
"I haven't had to do anything crazy––I just had to learn to be still and fully rely on faith. God gave me everything I needed; I just had to use what was in front of me to pivot."
On the worst money-related decision she’s ever made:
"Investing in t-shirts was the worst money and business decision I've ever made. The sayings on the shirts were great––but it wasn't the right product, right audience, or the right timing."
On her budget breakdown:
How much do you spend on rent?
"For an entire year on rent––$20,280.00."
Eating out/ordering in?
"Monthly, around $500 eating out/ordering in and $530 on groceries. I cook for the majority of the week. But Thursday-Saturday is up-for-grabs for eating out! [There's] two of us, so it is very hard to eat out/order-in and stay with a $20 minimum."
"I don't have a car note any longer and I don't drive much because I don't go anywhere since COVID is still a thing. I spend about $26 monthly on gas. I pay $110 monthly in car insurance."
"$160 monthly on personal expenses [including] nails, lashes, personal items."
For more of Milan, follow her on Instagram!
Featured images by @heytobs and @Toontyvisuals.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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French Curl Braids Are Summer's It Girl Hairstyle & Here's How To Wear Them
There’s just something about the summertime that makes a Black woman want to break out a fresh set of braids. Maybe it’s the ease of waking up and knowing that of all things on your to-do list, doing your hair isn’t one of them. Or maybe it’s the versatility that comes with the braided tresses that inspire you to want to try out a new style.
While traditional knotless braids and box braids have taken the crown for the last few summers, the word on the hair streets is that there’s a new style that’s stealing the show.
French curl braids have become the latest and most fly braiding style to take over our TikTok ‘’For You” page. What makes the style stand out from traditional box braids with the straight, dipped ends is the unique curly braiding hair that is used to achieve a bouncy spring to the ends of each braid. You might even recognize the look from OG-braid queen Brandy, who rocked the style so effortlessly in her 90’s sitcom Moesha.
The style has since found new innovations in the hands and creativity of Black women (as we do) to take on different styles, layers, and colors that are versatile enough to wear for any day party, graduation, wedding, or poolside you might find yourself at this summer.
Get Inspired by the Best French Curl Braids Inspiration & Styles:
The French curl braiding hair comes in packs of pre-curled synthetic hair, which has been praised for its lightweight yet voluminous look that truly makes a statement.
And if you’re looking to switch your style up for the summer months ahead, we’ve put together the best French curl braiding looks to add to your moodboard and, hopefully, your summer hair lookbook.
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Featured image by Jay Yuno/Getty Images