A year ago, I was triggered by a tweet. It read:
"If you didn't come from a wealthy family, then a wealthy family should come from you."
This was posted on a page I really liked, because it was dedicated to teaching our community about investing, flipping properties, purchasing stock, etc. While I always appreciated that type of content, I wanted to see more transparent posts acknowledging the fact that everyone isn't quite there yet. This led me to start saving money, on a smaller scale, that would add up over time. My ultimate goal was (and still is) to get to the point where I can make large investments, but we've all gotta start somewhere right?
One of the biggest ways I've been able to save more money is by living beneath my means and finding ways to cut back on expenses. If you want to know some of the ways I've cut back on everyday expenses and how I've ultimately saved $1,500 because of it, here's what I did:
I Re-evaluated My Car Insurance
My premium was a bit high from a few speeding tickets in the past. I called my insurance provider, and asked how long it would take for them to fall off my record. Come to find out, they'd already been removed the month prior, but they never updated my account! The representative informed me that my new monthly payment would be lowered by $30. However, I didn't stop there. I also called a few of their competitors for free quotes.
Ultimately, I found a premium that was another $19 cheaper. So, I switched and ended up saving $49/month, which was an extra $588/year put back into my pocket!
I Re-evaluated My Cell Phone Service
I browsed my service provider's website, and noticed an advertisement for a free Netflix subscription, for customers with at least two lines. My fiance' and I recently started a family plan, so I called to find out if we could receive this incentive. Turns out, we had access to a free subscription the whole time, but the representative who signed us up never mentioned it! I then set up that free Netflix account, and by cancelling my old subscription I saved $12.99/month. (You may be reading this thinking, Or she could've just borrowed someone else's account. I definitely support that as well...do whatever works best for you boo!)
Shortly after that, I noticed a new plan listed on their website that was $15 cheaper than ours. It was almost identical to our plan, with the exception of two minor changes we didn't even care about, so I made the switch. This new service plan (plus eliminating my Netflix) put $27.99/month back into my pocket...that's $335/year.
I Re-evaluated My Electric Bill
(This would only work if you live in a state that has multiple options for energy companies.)
Bae handles our utilities, so while I was negotiating the phone bill, he was getting free quotes from competitors of our electricity company. He ended up receiving a quote for $11 cheaper, so we switched. That saved us $132/year.
I Made Temporary Sacrifices
Lastly, I decided to eliminate a few costs temporarily, until I hit a few of my personal savings goals. My complex has a really nice gym that I never use. So, I canceled my gym membership, and started using it. I also pushed myself to do more in-home and outside workouts. This saved me $15/month, which was $180/year. The next one was tough, but I decided NOT to upgrade to the newest iPhone! As bad as I wanted a nicer camera, I still chose to pay the remaining balance on the phone I had, then started saving an extra $27/month. This was the first time I didn't have a "phone note", and I felt really good about it. I decided, moving forward, if I can't afford to pay in full for a new phone in cash, then I don't need it..
In total, I was able to save $1,559 from a few quick phone calls and making slight sacrifices! What started out as a temporary change, has shifted into a new lifestyle where I am constantly on the lookout for more ways to cut expenses and save money. I still have a ways to go to reach my long-term goals, but I'm glad I finally got down to the root of my problem. It was me. I had to get out of my own way, on this journey to financial freedom.
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Shay Moss (@s.moss) is a lover of sunflowers, sequins, and celebrating Black achievement. As a former high school counselor, she has always taken pride in helping others accomplish their goals. Her love for female empowerment inspired her to create "Good Girl Season", a lifestyle blog committed to motivating women in various aspects along their life journey.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Here Are 12 Of The Supplements That Your Vagina Totally Needs
Over the course of time, I’ve written articles for xoNecole on how to incorporate foods that will improve the health of your vagina (“The Foods Your Vagina's Been Craving”) as well as ones that will ultimately do your vagina more harm than good (“Here’s What Your Vagina Wishes You Would Eat LESS Of”). And while, in a perfect world, our daily diet would consist of all of the nutrients that our va-jay-jay needs, the reality is that most of us need to add a few supplements — ones that will keep “her” happy and thriving.
That’s what we’re gonna tackle over the next few minutes — different supplements that you probably knew were good for other parts of your body yet can also do wonders for your vagina (and vaginal-related activities) too.
1. Vitamin A
If you want to have a strong immune system, the ability to get pregnant easier/faster, great vision, and the assurance that your organs are receiving what they need in order to function properly, you definitely need to get some vitamin A into your system on a regular basis. Some foods that are rich in this particular nutrient include tomatoes, mangos, eggs, carrots, butter, and salmon.
As far as your vaginal health goes, vitamin A is essential because it helps with the development of your mucous membranes. This is relevant when it comes to your vagina because not only do they play a role in keeping your vagina moist, but they also make it easier for that part of your body to fight off infection as well.
2. Vitamin C
There’s a reason why health experts advise that you up your intake of vitamin C during cold and flu season. Not only is it a super potent antioxidant that’s incomparable when it comes to fighting off free radicals, but this vitamin also helps to keep your blood pressure in check, reduce your risk of heart disease, and helps your body to absorb iron. Vitamin C is also dope on the natural beauty tip since it helps your body to produce collagen (which is what helps your skin and hair to maintain elasticity). Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.
Your vagina could benefit from vitamin C if you’re looking to treat a bout of bacterial vaginosis (BV) or if you want an all-natural way to decrease vaginal odor (although if the odor persists, you should definitely make an appointment to see your doctor).
3. Vitamin D
You probably already know that vitamin D is good for your teeth and bones. Did you also know that it’s essential when it comes to fighting bodily inflammation or that it helps to treat depression and can help you to lose weight? Foods that are a great source of vitamin D include dairy, salmon, fortified orange juice, fortified cereal, and mushrooms.
The reason why Vitamin D makes the “pro vaginal health” list is that it helps to prevent vaginal dryness in menopausal women. Studies also reveal that people who are deficient in this nutrient tend to have a lower sex drive and a more challenging time experiencing orgasms. Salmon tonight, anyone?
4. Vitamin E
From your brain to your blood to your reproductive organs, vitamin E is something that your body needs from head to toe. Personally, I’m all about it because I like what the nutrient does for my skin. That’s because it’s great at reducing the appearance of scars, softening the skin, and keeping it from premature aging (it’s also got properties that reduce the itching that comes with eczema and psoriasis). Foods that are good sources of vitamin E include almonds, peanuts, collard greens, pumpkin, and spinach.
Also, if you’re feeling a little dry down below, applying some pure Vitamin E oil can bring some immediate relief. Just make sure that you don’t rely on it for vaginal lubrication if you plan on using a latex condom. Latex and oil do not mix — even when it’s something as awesome as this particular oil-based vitamin.
5. Aloe Vera Juice (or Tablets or Gel)
Even though it’s definitely something that you’ll want to put into your juice or a smoothie (because it’s kind of…blah without some assistance), you can’t go wrong with adding some aloe vera juice to your diet. For starters, it’s quite the mega-nutrient when you stop to consider the fact that it includes vitamins B12, C, and E, folic acid, a ton of different enzymes, and magnesium and zinc (and that’s just scratching the surface!). That’s why it’s not surprising that aloe vera juice is good for regulating blood sugar levels, healing inflamed gums and ulcers, and treating constipation. Beauty-wise, it hydrates dry skin and soothes the effects of eczema and psoriasis.
And what can it do for your vagina? Well, consuming it in juice form can help to keep your vagina naturally lubricated from the inside out. If you apply it as a gel, it’s got a pH balance that complements your vagina, and its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties can make it a great vulva soother after a night of a lot of friction or even as a lubricant if you’d prefer to go a chemical-free route.
The reason why DHEA is actually called that is that its real name is dehydroepiandrosterone (right…try spelling that after looking at it only one time). Long story (and name) short, it’s a natural hormone that helps to produce other hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Because DHEA is somewhat of a hormone balancer, some people take it in supplement form to treat things like depression, erectile dysfunction, and even obesity. It’s also effective as it relates to slowing down the signs of aging. Plus, some studies show that people with type 2 diabetes have a lower level of DHEA in their system than they actually should (good to know if that’s a health issue for you).
Vaginally, DHEA is helpful at balancing estrogen levels inside of your vagina, which can help to make sexual intercourse more pleasurable. Just make sure to run this one by your doctor first because too much estrogen in your system can sometimes produce unwanted side effects.
7. Sea Buckthorn Oil
Although it’s certainly not the kind of nutrient that comes up in daily conversation, never sleep on sea buckthorn oil. The backstory is it's an oil that comes from a Himalayan plant called — yep, you guessed it — the sea buckthorn, and it does all kinds of awesome things for your health. Not only is it a solid source of Vitamin E, calcium, zinc, and copper, but it’s also an oil that helps to reduce your blood sugar levels, keep your skin moisturized, support your liver health, strengthen your tresses, and even make menopause easier to deal with.
And why will your vagina adore it? If you want a source of fatty acids that will help to keep your vaginal walls lubricated, this oil can help to accomplish that goal. Also, if you’re post-menopausal and you don’t want to do traditional estrogen hormone therapy, sea buckthorn oil has studies to support that it’s an awesome alternative when it comes to treating vaginal atrophy (the thinning and dryness of your vagina that oftentimes comes with menopause).
8. Hyaluronic Acid
Probably what hyaluronic acid has the best reputation for is beauty. That’s because it’s awesome when it comes to softening the appearance of fine lines and reducing the appearance of scars on your skin. However, don’t overlook the fact that it contains properties that keep your joints working well as well as keep your eyes hydrated (because experiencing dry eyes is the absolute worst).
When it comes to vaginal atrophy, this is another all-natural treatment that leads the pack. Applying it topically can also help with vaginal dryness or discomfort from sexual penetration, especially if you’re currently dealing with cancer treatments.
9. Fatty Acids
If you’ve always wondered what a “fatty acid” technically is, the best way to describe it is, it’s a building block of fat — one that actually works in your favor. Take omega-3 fatty acids, for example. The properties in it are able to reduce anxiety, improve your vision, naturally assist with the treatment of ADHD (in children), bipolar disorder, and autoimmune diseases and make period-related discomfort more bearable. By the way, foods that are high in this particular fatty acid include tuna, walnuts, and canola oil.
Vaginally, you can benefit from fatty acids because they help to treat vaginal infections (like BV), vaginal dryness (especially in breast cancer patients) and increase pleasure-related chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, so that you’re able to have a more sexually-fulfilling experience. Very cool, indeed.
10. Cranberry Pills
Something that’s definitely packed with antioxidants is cranberries. Its high acidic content makes it pretty reliable when it comes to healing oral health issues, reducing the risk of heart disease, and providing a holistic approach to treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). If you’re also looking for a way to maintain your digestive health as you reduce bodily inflammation, cranberries have your back in those departments too.
Since cranberries are so good at keeping UTIs at bay, this means that they help to reduce the build-up of bad bacteria in your vagina, which is always a good thing. So, if you hate the bitter taste of cranberries, remember that you can always take them in pill form — unless you’re allergic to aspirin; some studies say you could experience side effects if that happens to be the case.
11. Black Seed Oil
Something that I’m a super fan of is black seed oil. It comes from the Nigella sativa plant, and another name for it is black cumin. Actually, who put me on to it is actor (and choreographer) Darrin Dewitt Henson. I can’t seem to find the clip on YouTube, but years ago, he was on The Breakfast Club saying that he attributed his ageless appearance to black seed oil. I looked it up, and an article on its whopping 101 benefits had me hooked. If you’re looking for an all-natural way to lower your blood pressure, heal breakouts, boost your immunity, and even treat asthma, look no further (although I adore it for what it’s done for my skin!).
As far as your vagina goes, if you’re like me and you have a natural fungal sensitivity, this is an oil that can help to keep candida in its proper place. It can also help to clear up vaginal discharge that may irritate your vulva.
Probably the easiest way to describe probiotics is they are live microorganisms that help to keep your gut healthy — and since 80 percent of your immunity is in your gut, taking care of that part of your body is always a vital thing to do. Probiotics help to keep bad bacteria from overtaking your system, make it easier for you to digest your food properly, can make taking medication easier to do, will reduce cholesterol levels, and is great at treating acne, eczema, and hydrating dry skin.
Definitely get some for your vagina because probiotics keep bad bacteria from causing a yeast infection, help to treat BV, and can even help to prevent the growth of cervical cancer cells. And since probiotics can also assist with improving your moods, boosting your energy levels, and increasing your libido — the next time you’re at your local health store, be sure to pick some up. If you need a bit of assistance in making the right selection, check out Byrdie’s “10 Best Probiotics for Women of 2023 for Gut Health” and Healthline’s “10 of the Best Probiotics for Women in 2023 According to a Dietitian.” Your vagina will certainly thank you!
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