Growing up, money management was nothing I was ever taught. I knew when my family had money and I knew when my family didn't. I was never taught the importance of saving, leaving your credit score untarnished, and living below your means. I am not saying that my upbringing is the sole reason for my past poor money practices, but I definitely will say that it didn't foster great money handling.
When I became an adult I got credit cards, got in debt, and lived above my means, not knowing how this would affect the future. If I had the money, I would spend it. When Rick and I got together, we were basically a hot mess express. We didn't have a clue about how to build a smart financial foundation, we didn't have great jobs, and were struggling to get by.
After a while, you just get tired of struggling, tired of being in debt, and not having that financial freedom. We were determined to make a change and get educated on how to be great stewards of our money.
If you are in a financial place you're uncomfortable with, remember that this is not a permanent situation. You can make the choice to turn your circumstance around.
This is how we did it:
1.Get educated on good money practices.
You can't fix something if you do not know how. As a starting point, I suggest reading a book to give you the tools to become a success. I read The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and The Road to Wealth. If it is available to you, I would highly recommend taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom course. This was offered through our church and was a definite game changer. You do have to pay for this course, but think of it as an investment to your success! Or find someone that is amazing with their money and pick their brain! Tools are needed to be financially successful!
2.Change your mindset.
You can read books and take all the financial courses available, and it will all be for naught if you aren't changing your mindset. Just because you got it in your bank account doesn't mean that you have to spend it! That was something I had to understand. You have to change the way you think about money. We had to put ourselves in the driver seat for our finances. You must gain discipline, and you have to truly make the choice to want to break out of the struggle.
3.Evaluate your financial situation.
I know this is something you probably have been dreading for a while but it is a MUST in order to understand exactly your starting point. To evaluate your financial situation, that means checking and writing down all the bank account balances, pulling up your credit scores (which you can go to annualcreditreport.com to get it), and logging into all of your debt accounts. Sometimes your credit report is not currently updated so you want to get the most recent balances. Lastly, you want to write out all your expenses. All this will help give you the detailed picture of where you are at financially. In order to accurately evaluate our financial situation, we simply started an Excel spreadsheet with all this information with a monthly output tab and debt tab.
Once we knew the damage, we started putting together clear goals that we wanted to achieve. We made monthly and yearly goals to start out. Initially, we didn't put together a 5- and 10-year plan. We wanted to get out of the weeds first, and then put that together. Some of our monthly goals were to save a certain amount per paycheck. Eliminate this x amount on eating out. You want to set realistic goals that you can achieve. Setting lofty goals that are hard to hit will just discourage you. Be fair to yourself. Some of our annual goals were to have a certain amount of debt paid off, and have x amount in the savings. Before getting our house, that was also a goal of ours that we were so excited to achieve. Additionally, we regularly do check-ins on our goals to ensure we are on pace to hit them.
5.Initiate growth in your career (if applicable).
When Rick and I first started out, part of our issues stemmed from the money we had coming in. Please note: Whatever you make, you MUST still be good stewards of your money. Even if you only have $100 coming in. With that, Rick and I knew where we wanted to be and how we wanted to live, and in order to do that, it required us to level up in our careers. To do that I started educating myself on positions I would like to be at. I started asking to shadow and gain additional skills. Once I got those skills, I started always consistently applying for jobs that were a level up. This will not be an overnight change, but definitely something for you to work towards. Again, you can make a lot of money and still be broke. So don't think that getting more income means it will solve your problems. However, when more came in, we would pour it into correcting our finances and saving.
6.Establish a budget.
Can you believe that we were operating at one point without a budget?! Yikes! We would just pay bills as we could and spend however we wanted. Big mistake! Everything should be accounted for, and bill payments should be planned out. It took some time to find a budget system that worked for us. We tried Quicken, using a friend's template, and creating our own. Ultimately, we ended up finding a free Excel budget template online. We then put it in Google sheets so we can both edit and see the updates immediately.
Budgeting has to be the core of how you operate with your money.
It allows you to account for everything. If you follow your budget, you will hit your financial goals without a doubt. Creating a budget is not the tough part, following it is the hardest (in my opinion).
7.Have family business meetings.
We learned about this at one of our church's couples conferences. This has been such a key factor to our success working together. Having your finances jointly is not easy. I handle money differently than Rick. What we have learned that one hand must always know what the other is doing, so communication is key. Family business meetings are designated times to talk about the family operations and finances. We put it on our schedule, and that allows us both to be mentally prepared for talking finances. We go through our budget, talk about any discrepancies, go through our family schedules, and check in on goals. These meetings have helped us work together effectively. You can do it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings, whichever you prefer.
8.Add a side hustle.
I have become a huge proponent of having multiple streams of income. It helps add some extra money to the bank account to pay bills off faster and to have for spending money. Plus it allows you not to be solely dependent on one income source. It can be doing contract work in a field that you are already in, doing Uber or Shipt, selling your clothes online, getting a night job, joining a MLM, starting your own business -- the options are endless! Having extra income definitely helped us hit our financial goals faster!
This is real y'all. Some of our financial issues come into play simply because we were not proactive. My husband let me share this, but that is a huge thing my husband dealt with. Whether it was calling to set up a payment plan or putting off updating your resume. Years ago, my husband had an account close because he simply didn't call to make arrangements. Don't procrastinate paying your bills, making your budget, and/or talking to that bill collector. Be in control of your finances and stop procrastinating because it only makes financial issues worse.
10.Surround yourself with the right crew.
This applies to more than finances. Who are the people in your circle? Are they motivating you to be better? Or are they advocating for you to charge up that card and not go after leveling up? I am not saying drop those friends, but you definitely want to also be in a community with people that motivate and inspire you to be better.
11. Trim your expenses.
Once we established our budget, we then started looking at what we could cut out. Some of our expenses were things that could be eliminated or decreased. We decreased my shopping (insert sad face), lowered our cable package, went through those monthly subscriptions and took those out, decreased eating out, and so much more. You would be surprised with how much money you can have by simply cutting back on your expenses.
12. Save money.
This sounds simple, and really it is. Y'all, I have suggested a lot of things in this blog but this is basically mandatory. You have to grow your savings. Whether it will be for your future, or simply to have a safety net if something were to happen. Life will happen and you need a savings account that you are prepared for just in case. We save without even thinking about it.
We take a portion of our paychecks and have our employer deposit directly into our savings accounts. If we get bonuses, we put a large portion of that into savings or tithed more. We also use the feature with our bank that does keep the change and puts it into our savings. All of that really starts to add up. When you read any of Dave Ramsey's books, you will learn about the emergency fund and best practices of how much to have in savings. I have seen fellow influencers use a variety of apps that also help you save as well.
13. Pay off debt.
Once we made our plan to repair our finances, we got serious about being debt free. We do not want any type of debt. We use the snowball method where you pay debt off smallest to largest. This has helped us stay motivated and get some instant wins. We also have the mindset that if we can't buy it with cash, then it doesn't come home. We stopped getting store loans or charging it.
14. Live frugally.
This will look different for everyone, but you want to live beneath your means. Just because you got approved for this car amount, DOES NOT mean that you should purchase it. Get yourself in the mindset that just because you can, doesn't me you should! This was especially important for me to remember as our salaries increased. I had to put myself in check and remember where we once were. Rick and I have cut back on a lot.
15.Be patient and stay encouraged.
When we got fired up to really start getting serious about our finances, I was anxious for instant results. However, rebuilding your finances is not an instantaneous solution. Be patient, and know that it takes time. Keep doing the steps consistently and you will see success from it. This is a journey that you have to stay motivated. If you are married, help keep each other motivated. When my husband does something that helps us financially or takes care of something, I give him major kudos! You need to cheer each other on. If you are not married, find an accountability partner that can keep you encouraged.
Y'all, I am not a financial advisor. I am simply a person who at one point made poor financial choices, learned from my mistakes, and made a plan to recover and thrive. You can too. These tips to improve your finances are key elements that we took to fix our finances. Everyone's situation and journey will look different. I hope that you can implement even one of these tips and be successful!
Featured image courtesy of Taryn Newton*Originally published on Glamorous Versatility
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How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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The Scorpio man and Pisces woman form a relationship that is heartfelt, sincere, and not for the weak. There is an immediate connection and familiarity between these two, being that they are both water signs and are both ruled by their emotions. They are on a similar playing field in life, yet they go about their desires in love in a very different way.
Scorpio Man And Pisces Woman Love Compatibility
Ultimately, a partnership being formed between the two is an intimate and emotionally transformative one, and this is a relationship they both never forget. Things can get messy, but if they are willing to do the work within, then the love can also be pretty amazing for them as well. They are all in or nothing when it comes to partnerships, and they learn a lot about true commitment and vulnerability through this pairing.
What attracts a Scorpio man to a Pisces woman?
The Scorpio man is attracted to the Pisces woman's mysterious aura and emotional demeanor. The Pisces woman is attracted to the same things as the Scorpio man. See, these two are more similar than most signs of the zodiac, and they can intuitively feel this about each other right away. Pisces and Scorpio often share similar interests and have a lot of opportunities to meet each other because they like to do the same things and are often in the same places. These are two creative and artistic souls, and there is something that they both find inspiring about each other right away.
The connection and synergy of a Pisces and Scorpio couple is undeniable, and there is a strong force in life that often brings these two together. The Pisces woman can feel that there is more to the surface than the Scorpio man presents right away, and this is instantly intriguing to her, being that she rules the 12th house, which is where everything is hidden in life. The Pisces woman has secrets of her own, and she sees the Scorpio man as someone who can resonate with how she feels and dive deeper into the relationship together.
What is the relationship like between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man?
The relationship between the Pisces woman and the Scorpio man is emotional. Emotions run very high in this relationship, which is often a good thing, but can turn into something entirely different very quickly as well. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man often get into a relationship together quickly. They are not earth signs that take their time developing a relationship; they are water signs that base their decisions on their emotions and go with the flow of the currents here.
So when they meet and they feel that instant connection with each other, they often jump into a pairing with one another right away.
This couple will enjoy spending time together and will feel like they are deeply understood in the relationship. There is a comfort here that is truly profound, and if anything, they are best friends first and foremost. However, the Pisces woman and Scorpio man tend to let their emotions overwhelm them and can turn little things into something bigger. Arguments or disagreements in this relationship can get messy, and they are both somewhat emotionally impulsive. Neither will forgive and forget easily as well, so reaching a point of forgiveness or harmony after something challenging occurs may never happen.
This relationship works best if both parties have already experienced a long-term commitment or have learned their lessons in love and evolved. The longevity of the relationship will depend on how they begin it. However, the love they have for one another is undeniable.
What is the sex like between a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman?
The sex life between the Pisces woman and Scorpio man is transcendent. They tend to have no issues in the bedroom, and that instant connection they feel when they meet often has an underlying energy of sexual compatibility as well. This isn’t the type of couple to wait a long time to explore each other in the bedroom, and they form a deep intensity here right away. They are looking to connect on many different levels, and they feel enough compatibility in the connection to do so.
The Pisces woman is willing to explore in the bedroom, and the Scorpio man is ready for anything. This is a couple who will entertain role-play, bondage, etc., and there are a few limitations to what they are both interested in. With the Pisces woman providing a safe space to many, the Scorpio man feels comfortable opening up in many different ways, the main one including behind closed doors and in the bedroom. They are emotional at their core, however, and will still want a level of intimacy with each other that goes deeper than just sex, so although their sex life is great, there is more they both want at the end of the day.
What makes a relationship between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man work?
What makes the relationship work between these two water signs, is that they both understand each other deeply. They don’t have to explain themselves or work too hard on getting to know each other because it’s almost instant that they do. They speak the same language, in other words, and they can learn a lot from each other in the process. They are more open with each other, and their more reclusive demeanor changes in the presence of one another. This is a couple that likes to spend time together doing things that each other has an interest in.
At the end of the day, these are just two people who want to love and be loved, and they can give each other that.
The Pisces woman helps the Scorpio man open up more, go with the flow, and trust the universe. The Scorpio man helps the Pisces woman step into her power, stick up for herself more, and live life fully. There is something creative and eye-opening about this pairing, and they create their own world together. Trust is everything between the both of them and once they have that, they lay the foundation for the relationship to grow and thrive.
What may cause a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman to break up?
The thing about a water sign relationship is that things can get messy. Emotions are always running high, and if they are not on the same page, this can lead to the energy of the relationship being all over the place. The Pisces woman is loyal, attentive, and compassionate, but she is also a free spirit who likes her space and freedom. The Scorpio man, on the other hand, craves deep intimacy and partnership and may have a hard time trusting the Pisces woman, and that trust needs to be had in a relationship.
Scorpio may find Pisces to be too wishy-washy for his liking, although Pisces just sees herself as someone open-minded and flexible and doesn't understand why the Scorpio man can’t be a little more like that as well.
This relationship can fall apart due to things becoming overwhelming too quickly. They tend to get into the relationship quickly and break up just as fast as well. If they can act on mental clarity as much as they do their emotions, then this can create a more solid ground for the relationship to grow and continue to grow upon. You would think that being with someone who is the same element as you is a recipe for success in a relationship, but two of the same things can be too much at the end of the day.
Summary: Is a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman compatible?
Ultimately, this is a relationship with high compatibility, and depending on the two people at hand, it will determine how things unfold here. They have the tools needed to form a sincere, loving, and compassionate relationship but will have to confront each other's differences with the same attitude to work. Once the first challenge or conflict arises in the relationship, how they handle it afterward will determine if the relationship is going to work out or not.
These two are perfect when things are going well, but can be dramatic when they are not. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man can’t get enough of each other at the end of the day, and this will indeed be a relationship that they will never forget.
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