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Millennial Natasha Abellard $hares Why Her Finance-Inspired Animated Series Is Needed

Finance

"Money makes the world spin. Period."


It's unfortunate, but truer words have not been spoken and no one knows this better than well-respected journalist and college graduate, Natasha Abellard, who found herself living her best life, but that wasn't until coming to the realization that she was going broke.

"From college up until my early 20's, I messed up a lot. I can't count the number of times I was living paycheck to paycheck, didn't stick to my budget, used a credit card when I shouldn't have. The list goes on," the millennial shared with xoNecole.

How many of us have experienced the same problem? Ordering that extra round of drinks, knowing you'll feel regret when the check comes; or maybe you're the person that goes all out to spoil yourself but can barely afford to pay the hefty bill. Trust, we know the struggle, sis.

Courtesy of Natasha Abellard

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the moment, but like Natasha, one day you will have to come to the conclusion that if you don't get your financial priorities in order, you'll always get caught up "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and you'll never truly get to enjoy your bag.

After reading an article about how black people are destined to be broke in upcoming decades, Natasha knew that she had to make different choices in her spending.

"There was a 2017 piece in Fortune that reported that a median black family only had about $1,700 in wealth, but on the flip side, median household wealth for white families is $116,800. That's a major divide. The goal is to spread information that will in time help close that gap."

Finally beginning to get a grip on her finances, Natasha paired with Anthony Copeman to help educate young black millennials on how to hold on to their dollars with their YouTube series, $hares, which are short shows based around four relatable characters:

Courtesy of $harestv

Essence is a girl who comes from a financially stable family. Troi is loosely based on Natasha who comes from an immigrant family. Michael is a 20-something who decided not to attend college and finally Brandon, who also comes from an immigrant family, works as an IT professional and lives at home with his parents.

"Whenever someone buys a piece of a company's stock, they are purchasing a share of that company-- a shareholder," Natasha shared about the inspiration for the series. "So, the idea is that when people share their experiences with money, they take ownership of their individual financial situations. Our characters share the wealth by being open about their own experiences... Knowledge is power. If people have an avenue that will provide them with the necessary information, they'll do better."

So, how do you remedy the pattern of bad spending? According to Natasha, it's all about getting disciplined and making a financial blueprint that's realistic. "It's not easy to do. But it's not impossible. You just gotta wake up one day and decide you want a change."

And it all starts with learning early.

"My dad started teaching me pretty early. Though I still messed up a lot, I did have somewhat of a foundation," Natasha shared. "I just had my first son and I know that his first lesson will be about money. If I knew some of what I knew now at 18 years old, I'd be better off financially. The first thing my father ever taught me was the importance of saving and it helped me in the long run. I would recommend that as a simple introduction to money between parents and their young children."

Courtesy of Natasha Abellard

As for her last words for fellow Black millennials? "We are the next generation and we need to break the cycles. No one wants to be broke."

Natasha also has these lifestyle tips for xoNecole that will not only help WOC get on the path of cash, but also feel financially empowered!

Take Inventory, Then Act

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Take the time to regularly check your bank statements for patterns of overspending or foolish spending. "Every month, I'd run down my statement to see what I may have unnecessarily bought. For a while, it was Starbucks. So I was able to cut down on that and saw a major difference in my funds."

Save Those Coins, Sis

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Don't be afraid to buy the off-brand product. There's no shame in getting that Fashion Nova brand. "Look for cheaper alternatives to things you love but aren't always in your best interest financially."

DIY Is A Girl's Best Friend

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Know that there is nothing wrong with DIY because it will save you money in the long run. "Sometimes try saving money by doing it yourself which includes, hair, nails, facials, and more." Not only will you save money but you may realize that you have a skill or talent that also makes cash!

Secure A Bag For A Rainy Day

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ALWAYS have an emergency fund! This money is not to buy those Gucci shoes on sale. Don't do it, girl! This money is reserved for paying rent if you lose your job, etc. You get the point.

This is very sound advice that we can all start using right away. So let's get to securing our bags and holding tight to our coins!

To learn more about Natasha and catch up on the latest $hares episodes, follow the squad on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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I Paid Off $40,000 Of Debt In 18 Months: Here's How - Read More

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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