Talking about money matters is taboo.
Disclosing how much money we make or being open about how much debt we owe is not on the list of topics to talk about at Brunch on Sunday. It makes people uncomfortable, and as someone that has had a love-hate relationship with my finances, I understand why. Most of us are trying to navigate our monthly financially responsibilities, chase our dreams, and build our futures.
My financial struggles made it hard for me to wrap my head around starting over in a new city where the median rent is $2,480 per month for a two-bedroom apartment. I knew that surviving on my hourly rate was going to be tough. I also knew it would be even more of a challenge if I went into this new chapter of my life afraid to sit down face to face with my finances.
So, I sought counsel from the one person I knew would help me get things in order: my dad. For years, my dad would try to get me to sit down and unpack where I was financially, but I was embarrassed and afraid that he'd scold me for not being smarter about my money. I spent years and thousands of dollars chasing my dreams of being on-camera and investing in building Mae B. I also spent years saying to myself, "If I just book this gig or if this product is a bestseller, I'll be able to pay off everything."
Looking back, using potential nonexistent income to justify overspending, even if it was to make my dreams come true, wasn't reasonable. Making your dreams a reality costs money. Nearly ten years later, I realize, I didn't have to be a starving creative to bring those dreams to fruition.
Financial planning is the key to success in life and building a career.
The first thing I did to start the process of gaining control of my financial situation was to sit down and look at all of my debt, monthly bills, my FICO score, and my projected net income each month. For years, I dreaded looking my debt. In my mind, I felt that if I just made my monthly payments and looked a way that somehow my debt would magically disappear. I was wrong.
Here is how I'm taking control of my financials while chasing my dreams:
Draft An Excel Spreadsheet
We're lucky to live in a digital world that allows us to check our account balance in seconds. But, what happens when you go out over the weekend, those pending charges hit your account, and the next thing you know you're staring at an overdraft fee? Annoying, right?
I no longer use an app to curate my finances. I use an old school excel spreadsheet. I set my budget on the first of every month, and each Sunday, I check in to see where I am for the month. Seeing my bills, debt, and disposable income has helped me organize my money —and save twenty percent of my income each month (I'll talk more about that later).
Mint offers some great free budget templates that can act as samples you can work with when creating your own budget.
Get Rid of Lingering Credit Card Debt
I have carried the shame of digging myself into a $10,000 debit hole for longer than I care to admit, but now that I am looking my credit card debt square in the eye, I feel empowered. After looking at each credit card, the outstanding balance, and its interest rate — my dad recommended I focus on paying off my Discover card first. Why? Well, it has the highest interest rate out of all of my cards. With a twenty percent interest rate, I was never going to pay off my balance paying my seventy dollars minimum payment each month. Each month, I have a recurring payment of $150, and I often contribute more if I have money left over for the month.
Have Multiple Streams of Income
If the objective is to secure the bag, you must have multiple streams of income. In a panel, Paula Madison (If you don't know her, you should) gave the best advice. She said your full-time job should be your side hustle. Now, that doesn't mean neglect the nine to five that keeps the lights on and food on the table, but there is value in pursuing things you're passionate about outside of your job.
As a freelancer, I can bounce from gig to gig, but freelancing also has its flaws. No health insurance, no job security, and when our contracts are up (usually three to six months), you have to find your next job. So, I always have an extra stream of income. It's a great way to impact your savings, pay off your debts, and build on something you love. I used to think of extra income as throw away money, but now I see it as extra money to save. There are opportunities everywhere to make a few extra dollars, whether you freelance write on the weekends or bake cakes for a few parties each month.
Plan For The Future
When you're young and ambitious, retirement might not be a top priority. CNN Money released a reporting stating that sixty-six percent of millennials have nothing saved for retirement. As a millennial that only has a few thousand dollars saved for retirement, I can relate. I also recognize this is something I need to fix. If I don't start saving for retirement now, I am mapping out a financial path similar to the one I was on for the last ten years. I have opened an IRA, but if I'm honest, I'm still learning how to save properly for retirement. With guidance from my financially savvy dad and articles like this one, I think I am headed in the right direction.
We can't forget to grow our savings account. It is a rule of thumb that we should save at least twenty percent of our monthly income. With student loans, health care (my premium is almost $300 a month.), and unforeseen expenses that can be hard to do. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to save twenty percent, I break my earnings down for the week like I do my expenses for the month. I pay my bills, shop for groceries, and whatever is left over at the end of the week, I save. Sometimes it's only ten percent of my earning, but it's something.
Trim The Unnecessary Spending
When I started my new gig in LA, I was throwing away money on morning coffee, fifteen dollar lunch dates, and UBER since I am one of the only people in LA that doesn't drive. If I was going to stay the course and continue to work on my finances, I had to rein in the miscellaneous spending. I saw the most significant difference in my monthly expenses when I cut out UBER and started taking public transportation. Taking public transit in Los Angeles isn't ideal. It's slow and dirty, but the bus stop is right outside of my house. Each morning, I take a bus to a train and walk a mile to get to work.
A commute like that coupled with the homelessness I take in every day does wear on me (Los Angeles County has the second largest population of homeless people of any region in the United States), but it keeps me humble. Not to mention, I am saving nearly ninety dollars a week. I have cut out all of my excess spending, including online shopping, three dollar morning coffee, and fifteen dollar lunch dates, and have committed to meal prepping each Sunday. I am living a no-frills lifestyle, but I don't mind. I am learning to be financially disciplined.
I understand that sacrificing now will set me up to live a debt-free, financially healthy life later.
I don't have this financial game down just yet, but the key is starting somewhere. If that means cutting weekend brunches, saving fifty dollars more each month, or picking up a job to bring in extra cash, small changes can make an impact. In the last six months, I paid off one credit card, saved twenty percent of my earnings (My savings account has never looked so good!), and changed my relationship with money.
Take it a day at a time, and if you have an off month don't beat yourself up about it. We're human, and it takes time to create new habits.
- How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt - NerdWallet ›
- Credit Card Help: 8 things you must know about credit card debt ... ›
- How to Pay Off Your Oppressive Credit Card Debt - Credit.com ›
- Settling Credit Card Debt | Consumer Information ›
- Credit card debt can be bad for your health ›
- Credit card debt hits record high ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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