I don't remember the exact moment that YOLO began to define my credit score. Maybe it was the time I bought that $400 game system for my brother that he stopped using after a month. Or the shopping spree I went on every other week because I “needed" new interview clothes, concert clothes, traveling clothes, brushing my teeth clothes and everything in between clothes.
Every time I headed to pay for these things, a ball of guilt formed in my throat. I knew I shouldn't have been spending money. I had JUST paid my card minimum to get my credit balance back to $32. Nevertheless, I shrugged my shoulders, yelled “WHY NOT?" and dug myself deeper into the debt pit of hell.
Living paycheck to paycheck sucks but it was a reality I had accepted after getting my first real job after college. Claiming I had no money, I still managed to travel, eat out, shop, enjoy concerts, and get my nails done regularly. But last year, I decided enough was enough.
Through the loans, the credit cards, and bad habits, a massive debt amount of $86,411.27 stared back at me.
Yes. You read that correctly. This financial burden had also left me with a piss poor credit score of 585.
So, after a major breakdown in my car when I watched my paycheck go to nothing, my best friend ordered Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover for me. After reading it, my edges were not only snatched, they disappeared.
For the first time, I had a vision.
I wasn't becoming disciplined because it was responsible or fun (although it was eventually), but I was choosing to change a pattern in my family. I wanted to be free of dodging bill collectors, attracting high interest rates, and throwing away my check to four maxed out credit cards. I wanted to know what it was like to go into H&M without frantically checking my bank statement to see if I had enough. I wanted to stop the broke and boujee cycle. I wanted financial freedom.
With these new goals in mind, after 12 months, I was able to raise my credit score from 585 to over 700. This was all while earning $30K from my first real job. I had to struggle. I sacrificed the turn ups, girl trips, and even moved in with family to save on rent.
But I pushed myself to break free of a generational habit of “I'm bad with money" syndrome. This is what I learned along my journey from a credit score of 585 to over 700:
I Got Clear On What Happened To My Credit
If I wanted to create a plan, I had to know what I was working with. I realized that I had to face my debt head-on and truly understand my credit score.
Before I started The Total Money Makeover with Dave Ramsey, I sat down and saw what I had been spending most of my money on. The site I used was Credit Karma, which tracked all my credit, loans, and transactions. Can you guess where most of my money was actually going? After credit card bills, it was fast food and shopping.
This brought me to the realization that “paycheck to paycheck" was a choice that I was making because I somehow found coins for other expenses – not necessarily a reality I had to settle for. This helped me cut my budget down to include just the things I needed and pay fast food and shopping to dust.
I Put An End To Credit Limit Increases
This was one of my biggest mistakes ever. When I couldn't keep up with my bills, I would call the bank and ask them to extend my credit line.
Little by little, this dug me in my biggest hole. I thought by receiving more money, I would manage it better, but I was just wrapping more chains around my wrists. Those were truly moments of desperation and I knew I couldn't continue to put myself in a place that forced me to beg for more credit.
This meant I needed a tight budget so that I knew where every penny went. I even cut up my credit cards altogether. This physically forced me to stop depending on them.
I Accepted That Debt Could Not Be Conquered In A Day
Once I totaled all my debt and realized how huge of a mountain I had to climb, I knew I couldn't conquer it all in a day. Instead, I decided to try the debt snowball that money guru Dave Ramsey talks about.
Listing out ALL my debts from largest to smallest, I came face-to-face with this monster I had created.
I picked the smallest debt and just attacked it. That required some missed happy hours and trips to the mall, though. But once I paid off one debt, it created confidence and momentum for me to move on and keep going with paying off the other debts.
Closing Accounts Hurt Credit More Than It Helps
When I actually started knocking out my debt, I wanted to close EVERYTHING. “Just get those demon cards out my sight," I said.
But I learned that closing the accounts would only prove to hurt my credit. What you might not know is credit reports love when you've kept accounts for a long time. It shows that they can trust you.
So even when I began to pay off a credit card, I kept it open to help positively impact my score.
Know That Broke Friends Won't Be Very Supportive
Look, getting your credit score up is HARD. And I hate to say it, but my broke friends did not understand why I was "so serious" about getting in a better financial situation. I had to stop discussing my finances with my deeply-in-debt friends because I often got answers like:
"One purchase isn't gonna hurt anything."
"You have your entire life to pay back your loans."
"It's time to enjoy yourself."
They were like the Hooded Kermit advocating for staying in debt. They didn't mean any harm, but I knew that I didn't have peace. I was tired of going from check to check. I was tired of barely pulling enough pennies together to go on a sub-par vacation.
I had to avoid money conversations with the people who discouraged me from getting my life together. On the flip side, I found some accountable people who walked alongside me during the days I really wanted to quit.
A Financially Free Debt-Free Life Is Truly Possible
When I saw how low my credit score was, I realized that if I wanted to get control, I had to be all in on this financial commitment.
Getting out of debt can be so overwhelming and seem nearly impossible, but as I created a plan and prayed to God, I realized that this was something I could do on my own. Even if it took some time. I had to trust that the process would continually remind me of why financial freedom is something I deserved.
Conquering your credit score is a mindset and it isn't for everybody and I still have a long way to go. But with a budget, a vision, and some sacrifice, I am now able to breathe easier knowing that I'm setting myself up for success.
And I wouldn't change a thing.
Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Hear more about this story and how xoNecole founder Necole Kane, along with co-hosts Sheriden Chanel and Amer Woods, are working to tackle their credit scores and debt on the latest episode of xoNecole's Happy Hour podcast. Listen now on Itunes and Spotify.
Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on December 29, 2017
- how can i raise my credit score 100 points in 6 months | Credit Karma ›
- 7 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score | Bankrate.com ›
- 3 Steps Could Improve Your Credit by 100 Points — Fast - NerdWallet ›
- How can I raise my credit score fast? | Experian ›
- Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 Moves | Money Talks News ›
- 11 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score | Credit.com ›
- 5 sneaky ways to increase your credit score | Clark Howard ›
- 11 Ways To Raise Your Credit Score, Fast ›
- How to Improve Your Credit Score | Experian ›
Alaina is a Las Vegas freelance writer and founder of the website GlowSZN, a post-grad survival blog for the lit and educated. Embracing the raggedy moments of adulthood, she is always looking to push the narrative of growth in God, becoming financially free and owning your truth in your 20's. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @hotlaina_.
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
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash