We all know that abusing a child is wrong. Dead wrong. But I wonder how many parents consider not properly preparing their children to be financially stable and responsible adults as its own form of abuse; especially if you take into account a Dr. Phil definition of the word that I really like — "Abuse is 'abnormally using' something."
I know that growing up, this wasn't the biggest priority in my home and boy did I have to learn some lessons the hard way once I was out on my own. Don't bounce checks. Don't get a credit card without a job (heads up on that, college freshmen). SAVE MONEY. If you're going to be a freelancer, hire an accountant. The list goes on and on.
Hmph. Apparently, I'm not alone because according to "This Is How Much Debt the Average American Has Now—at Every Age", people my age (I'll be 45 this year) are, on average, $133,100 in debt. Folks who are under 35? At least $67,000.
You don't want to wait until you're my age (or your parents' age) to start caring about how to handle your coins because when you're financially ill-prepared, life has a way of beating you up (and down) like nothing else can. That's why, even if you're in your 20s, trust me, you want to be vigilant about setting a few money goals so that you can be proactive rather than reactive with your money.
In my opinion, here are 10 to put on your priority list:
1. You Need a Weekly, Monthly, and Annual Budget
I have a friend whose accountant told him that he's been wasting thousands of dollars annually on eating out. It's so out of control that he's been placed on a dining-out budget. Although that might sound crazy to you at first, dig this. It's been reported that if you spend even $100 per month on takeout, that's $1,175 a year!
This is what happens when you spend without a budget. If you want to keep your bills paid (on time) and have a leg up on not accruing debt, it's important to have a weekly, monthly and annual budget. Your weekly one should consist of things like gas and food. Your monthly one should focus mainly on your bills. Your annual one should be all about big purchases and vacations.
If you need a little help putting a budget in place, there are some cool budgeting apps here.
2. Open an Account with a Credit Union
I'm not sure why more of us (me included) don't have accounts with credit unions. They certainly come with some perks that make it well worth our while. For starters, they typically have lower fees and interest rates than most banks. Plus, if you have bad credit and you're trying to change that or qualify for a loan, they tend to want to work with you more than other financial institutions do. According to my friends that use them, another bonus is they provide top-notch customer service.
Every coin has its flip side and credit unions are no different. The two biggies are most have "qualifiers" (like living in a certain region or needing to be in school) to join. Also, since they are smaller than banks, their locations and hours may not be the most convenient. But when you think of the advantages that come with them (especially if you want to buy a house in the near future), they're at least worth looking into.
3. You Should Have a Savings Account (with at least $1,500 in it)
Some people think that the purpose of a savings account is so you have money for emergencies. No, that is what you need an emergency fund for (which we'll get to in just a sec). A savings account is for long-term goals or simply money that you can have set aside that can accrue interest.
If you know you are pretty frivolous with your spending, that's another reason to get one because most banking institutions will limit the number of transfers and withdrawals you can make (it's typically around six a month).
How much should be in your savings account? A lot of financial experts recommend no less than $500 but you can really pat yourself on the back if it's $1,500 or more.
If you want to start a savings account online, check out "Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts of 2019".
4. You Should Also Have an Emergency Fund
Here's a reality check like a mug: Did you know that 80 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck? This means if they lose their job, they probably can't even cover the following month's expenses.
This is why having an emergency fund is so crucial. Although we hope you won't get a pink slip or your car won't break down any time soon, you don't want to feel like you're up a creek without a paddle if either thing happens.
How much should be in this fund? At least one month's worth of expenses. But even once you reach that goal, it's a good idea to put $50-100 each month into this particular account if you can.
5. Hire a Tax Accountant
Last year, NPR did a special entitled "Freelanced: The Rise of The Contract Workforce". It revealed that approximately 1 in 5 workers are freelance workers. I happen to be one of them.
While nothing beats the sheer pleasure of working in my PJs from the comfort of my crib, let me tell you who I am consistent rivals with — the IRS. I've owed money to them, in some form, for almost 20 years now. A part of the reason is due to filling out 1099s instead of W-2s (which means I'm responsible for my own taxes). But real talk, another part of it is because I didn't invest in a tax accountant the moment I decided to freelance full-time.
Another great read is "Female Entrepreneurs Are the Next Wave of Business Success". If you don't plan on working for someone else, or you'd prefer to be a freelancer, spending money on a tax accountant is money well spent.
6. Download a Money-Making App
I can't tell you how many times I've made some last-minute money to cover an unexpected expense by knowing some ways to make a little cash on the side. One way to do that is by downloading a money-making app.
Ibotta gives you cash back, just for shopping. Field Agent pays you for completing small tasks around the house, etc. iPoll gives you gift cards and airline points in exchange for your opinion. There's a whole world of these kinds of apps at your disposal. And every little bit counts.
7. Reduce Your Amount of Credit Cards (and Credit Card Debt)
Personally, I don't have a credit card. Not one, and my needs have been met and my life hasn't fallen apart. One reason why is due to the fact that I recently read that while the average American household has around $8,000 of revolving debt, about 80 percent of it is due to credit cards. I'm not interested in being a part of that statistic.
Listen, credit cards are not giving you free money. They are high-interest loans that come in the form of little pieces of plastic. Convenience-wise, a debit card can do the same thing a credit card can (hold or book a reservation, etc.). If you're using them for big expenses, saving up and paying cash is the much smarter route. You'll own whatever it is you purchased and you won't have to worry about receiving a bill in the mail later.
But if you absolutely must have at least one in your possession, look for a low-interest card and pay your card off monthly. Otherwise, the interest alone may have you constantly playing catch-up.
8. Tithe to Yourself
All Christians reading this, I am well aware of Malachi 3. Yes, tithing is important. What's also important is self-care.
Oftentimes, what used to get me into financial trouble is, I'd randomly go on a shopping binge or treat myself to a spa appointment without taking my other financial obligations into consideration. This isn't a problem since I now set money aside each month for myself.
A lot of folks who live by this principle, set aside 10 percent of each paycheck for themselves. It goes to things like pampering, entertainment, or even travel. But even if that's too steep for you, do try and set aside between 3-5 percent. If you make $2,000 a month, 3 percent of that is $60. That's a mani/pedi each month or, if you save up for six months (and you look for deals), $360 can earn you an entire spa day (and then some) — all without pulling away from your cell phone bill or rent money in order to make it happen.
9. Make (at Least) One Investment
Investments are something else that pays off. Word on the street is, smart ones for people in their 30s include buying property and investing in stock-based index funds (which can help to set you up for retirement), like bonds and cryptocurrencies.
Even if you already own or, for whatever the reason, don't want to purchase a house to live in; I have a friend who's turning 29 this year who owns three Airbnbs in downtown Nashville. And chile, he's clearing $6,000-9,000 each month on those alone. No joke.
10. Get a Side Hustle
If someone were to ask me what I do for a living, I'd say I am a marriage life coach, a writer, and a doula. I'm pretty passionate about all three, so I wouldn't necessarily call any of them "side hustles". But the point I'm making here is I don't have all of my eggs in one basket.
Neither should you. Another friend of mine runs his own business. He's in his late 30s and cleared over $250,000 last year. But he's constantly talking to me about how it could all end in a blink (he's in the music industry; that's why he says that) and so he needs to come up with other sources of making income.
Being in your 20s and having a regular gig and a side hustle?! Just knowing the importance of having multiple streams of income will make riding this financial roller coaster ride we're all on so much easier to handle. Believe that.
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Feature image by Getty Images.
Originally published on February 8, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you are looking to bring a little spice into your life, dating a fire sign is the way to do it. These bold lovers are confident enough to take the lead but may surprise you with how generous they are as well. Fire signs are the heat, the passion, the charisma, and the heart of the zodiac. They are often the initiators in love, and don’t mind making the first move. The three fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, love uniquely in their own way, but all have a lasting impact on those they meet.
You can feel a fire sign’s energy from a mile away, and getting close to them on a romantic level is a whole other type of heat.
Fire Signs in Love: What Is It Like To Date a Fire Sign?
Dating a fire sign is exciting, heartfelt, intense, and sexy. Fire signs are some of the most independent of the zodiac signs, yet they are also some of the most loyal. Their inner fire will warm your heart, but treat them badly, and it can just as easily burn. Due to fire signs' nature of feeling everything a little more heightened, they make empathic lovers, but they can also let their feelings overwhelm them and become easily irrational or agitated.
Fire signs can get heated quickly, and dating an unevolved one can get messy as they love to put on a show. They need a partner who is a good balance to their fierce nature, but someone who isn’t going to put out their inner fire in the process.
When it comes to who fire signs are looking to date, they look for partners who can love just as passionately as they can, and expect an unwavering type of loyalty. They are also looking for confident lovers, as they aren’t one to play games or beat around the bush. They are the type of partner to be your biggest cheerleader and will support you in all your endeavors, building up your self-esteem in the process.
These lovers are ready to risk it all when it comes to their relationships and love, and dating them is a fun adventure, to say the least. These are creative, confident, romantic, and heart-warming souls, and dating a fire sign is inspiring.
Dating an Aries
Aries are independent lovers. They are free spirits that are a little hard to settle down with, as most fire signs are, yet you will know how much they are willing to give and put into the relationship through their efforts. You have to be going at the same pace as them in life, and they need to see you as someone who can keep up with them to gain their respect and commitment. Aries have a vision when it comes to their life and love, and are looking for a partner that aligns with their plans or goals that they have for themselves.
Aries, at their best, are loyal and exciting; at their worst, they are competitive and brash.
When it comes to dating an Aries, they want to do things that keep their energy moving and stimulate them. They are fun lovers and are constantly doing things as a young soul does, fueling their spirit. Aries doesn’t want to feel restricted or limited in any way and seek relationships where there is a certain amount of freedom, which in turn sometimes leads them into emotionally unavailable relationships. An evolved Aries seeks their balance and finds themselves in long-lasting partnerships where they can still feel authentically themselves.
Dating an Aries is a compelling adventure.
Learn how an Aries pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Leo
Dating a Leo is like entering a rom-com movie. Leos are bold, outspoken, and dramatic lovers. They tend to prefer a spotlight on them, but when it comes to love, they are usually willing to share the stage. Leos want a grand love. They are all about outrageous romantic gestures, complete and utter loyalty, and a little spice. Leos want to be adored, and when you are dating one, they want all of your attention to be on them. Evolved Leos understand they cannot be the center of everyone's world, but Leo’s still going through their love journey may find themselves entertaining drama and controlling the scenario.
Leo’s, at their best, are playful and loving; at their worst, they are irrational and disruptive.
All in all, however, Leos can make some of the best partners to date as they rule the 5th house, the house of romance, dating, love, and flirtation. They are fun partners and are often the ones planning the dates or outings, and creating an atmosphere that is happy and inviting. They are the type to create an uplifting energy in their relationships, and you can expect a lot of laughs in this pairing. Leos don’t hold back when it comes to most things in life, including love. They will express their love and admiration for you often and will expect the same respect in turn.
Dating a Leo is a statement.
Learn how a Leo pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Sagittarius
Sagittariuses are hard to grasp, but if they decide to let you into their world, you’ll find a space of wonder, adventure, and magic. There are many different stages a Sagittarius moves through in love, and as much as they like to do things quickly in all other aspects of their lives, when it comes to dating, they tend to take it more slowly. They are not the type to be in a rush to define the relationship and take their time when opening their heart. You will feel their love, their personality, and their attention, but getting to know their deepest selves, their goals, and their dreams is going to take time for Sagittarius, and they prefer to have some fun with you while they get there.
Sagittarius, at their best, are warm and hopeful; at their worst, they are harsh and disingenuous.
Being ruled by abundant Jupiter, Sagittarius lives larger than life. They want a love that feels like it was destined by the stars, and it needs to make sense and fall into place for them with ease. They are looking for all types of synchronicities and signs when dating you, and once you make it past this stage, they truly have their eyes open to you. Sagittarius wants to go on adventures, learn, travel, and explore the world and you while dating. This is a spontaneous sign, and if you can match their energy of passion and wanderlust, then this is a good match for you when it comes to love.
Dating a Sagittarius is a journey.
Learn how a Sagittarius pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
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