Dr. Lakisha Simmons, an author and single mother of two children, saved $750,000 in four years and is on the road to be a millionaire by the end of 2022. However, this wasn't always her reality. The Nashville, Tennessee resident once described herself as "house poor."
Growing up, Simmons followed the "American Dream" path until she realized it wasn't the dream it was sold to be. "I was doing all the things that you're taught you're supposed to do: Go to college, get a good job, a nice car, house, get married, and have kids," she told xoNecole.
But that path led her to hit rock bottom. After a divorce in 2016, her finances were being used to keep up with a lifestyle that no longer satisfied her and left her feeling depleted. "It was completely draining me," she said.
"My money was going into the house and utilities with $300 a month. The lawn care was $150 every two weeks. I'll never forget. I was in this huge house that was supposed to be a happy home, yet I was broken and cried my way into the new year in 2017."
After hitting rock bottom, she knew there was nowhere left to go but up. She started asking herself questions about her finances such as: What can I do to grow my money? What can I do to be financially independent?
After being honest with herself and researching, she discovered a solution that would change the trajectory of her life: the FIRE Movement, which is an acronym for Financial Independence Retire Early.
Courtesy of Lakisha Simmons
For adopters of the FIRE Movement lifestyle, the intention is to save and invest in extreme amounts over a short period of time with the goal being to retire early as a result. Lakisha explained:
"I focused on the idea of financial independence by saving up 25 times my annual living expenses and I will live off of 4% of that lump sum."
Simmons is now teaching people through courses and workbooks about her financial freedom journey and how the FIRE Movement put her on a path to becoming a millionaire.
"I've consistently invested 60% of my income and proceeds from my workbook to help women learn how to skills to make themselves more marketable in The Unlikely AchieveHer. Not having to 'work' to pay my bills and live a comfortable lifestyle is a stress-free way to live so it isn't difficult for me to cut back on some luxury items here and there in order to invest more money. I have more choices on how I spend my time and that's what life is all about," she added.
If you're ready to level up your finances in 2021 and expand your mind to what is financially possible for you, then here are the steps Simmons recommends.
1.Reduce Your Expenses
Courtesy of Lakisha Simmons
One of the first steps Simmons took was selling her home. Even though the appearance of it was nice, she knew she no longer needed it for where she wanted to go. This decision allowed her to save $12,600 a year, according to Business Insider. To slash your expenses, you should look at where your money is going line by line in your budget, and identify areas you can cut back on.
- Cut your grocery bills by considering Aldi (gluten-free, organic, and fresh produce options available).
- Cut your phone bill by switching to Mint Mobile - plans start at just $15 a month. Simmons says she's been a customer for years.
- Shop around for auto and home insurance every two years.
- Don't be afraid to downsize, don't be ashamed.
Ask yourself what you truly value, and determine the expenses holding you back that can go. No need to keep up with Joneses!
2.Invest. Invest. Invest.
Simmons highly encouraged women at any age to start investing. "It's not as scary as it seems," she said.
Adding, that a common fear she noticed was that people believed they would "lose all their money in the stock market." She explained that you should calculate your risk in the stock market and allow your money to sit, grow, and mature.
"We're going to plant a seed out of our 401k this year, and in five years, seven years, 10 years, that seed will be fully grown in blossom and harvest into a nice lump sum."
If your employer doesn't contribute to your 401k, she went on to explain what it's still important to contribute:
- Your contributions are tax-deferred which means you get to invest the money pretax. That actually allows you to save money that isn't taxed and lowers your taxable income on your paycheck.
- Compound interest is your friend. Over the years, the stock market's compound interest is working for you growing your money even if you stop contributing new funds.
3.Maximize Your Retirement Accounts
Courtesy of Lakisha Simmons
One of the main challenges Simmons sees among women is that they are not taking advantage of their tax-deferred retirement account at work.
"That's how I built most of my wealth," she said. She noted that she has a 457(b) through her employers. A 457(b) plan is an employer-sponsored, tax-favored retirement savings account. With 457(b) plans, you contribute pre-tax dollars, which won't be taxed until you withdraw the money.
"The benefit of the 457 is as soon as you leave that workplace, you can start accessing that money. So it's perfect for people in the FIRE Movement because I'm planning to retire early. I can go ahead and start using my 457 as soon as I decide."
One of the biggest challenges she had to overcome was her mindset and belief that she could do it. She encourages women to find community. Simmons offers a free Facebook group people can join and courses and coaching opportunities for people ready to dive in.
Looking back on her financial journey, she can't believe how far she's come, and if she could tell her younger self anything, it would be to be fearless.
"I would tell her to be fearless, set a stretch goal for yourself. Because anything that you put out in the atmosphere that you want, you can have it as long as you believe you can have it," she said.
For more of Lakisha, check out her website.
Featured image courtesy of Lakisha Simmons
Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.
Meisha Amia, originally from Cambridge, Maryland, has changed the game in the healthcare industry. While she has been in the industry for over eight years, she has taken her passion in helping people into multiple streams of income, where she can live the lifestyle she deserves. In 2012, Meisha Amia started blogging to share her journey as a travel nurse. This led to her writing her own self-help book entitled The Bedside Boss: From Scrubs to Six Figures. This book has inspired so many other nurses to step outside of their comfort zones and strive to generate more wealth.
Courtesy of Meisha Amia
In 2016, Meisha Amia created the online platform, Chicks with Cheques. Chicks with Cheques is a full membership based curriculum that teaches hundreds of digital strategies needed to run an online business and grow a profitable brand. This community has grown to more than 30,000 female entrepreneurs and nurses. Meisha Amia is not only passionate about helping nurses create wealth for themselves, but she is adamant about changing the narrative of black women who deserve to have the finer things in life. Meisha does not believe in the idea of cheating ourselves in financial freedom and is determined to teach others how it's done.
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Meisha Amia about how she pivoted from dealing with a traumatic loss, the importance of being strategic with money, and how every woman deserves a Chanel bag.
xoNecole: How much money do you make in a year? A month?
Meisha Amia: I am used to having a $20K - 40K monthly income since becoming a travel nurse. Basically, I am contracted independently or through a third party via hospital organizations that are short staffed. I usually negotiate my contracts and before the pandemic, I was making around $20K a month. But during the pandemic, it has been $40K a month.
What do you define as “wealth” and “success”?
Wealth to me is freedom. What I mean by that is having the freedom to say "no" or taking a vacation for a month when you feel like it. Just being able to have the freedom to make choices that doesn't jeopardize your net worth. That is what wealth looks like to me. Now success, success is being able to serve and make an impact on others. It's not really the monetary side in my opinion. I can find success through the amount of people I've helped during this journey or the amount of people I've inspired because of my story.
What’s the lowest you’ve ever felt when it comes to your finances?
Being a contractor can be up and down. So at those low moments, I have definitely felt hopeless and depressed. I went through a traumatic loss two years ago and within those two years, I was not motivated to work. I unfortunately lost a lot of money that eventually got me into debt. What got me through was getting into therapy. Therapy was a game-changer for me and I was able to find my motivation again. Once I gained my motivation, I also became more aggressive in paying off the debt I created within six weeks.
"I unfortunately lost a lot of money that eventually got me into debt. What got me through was getting into therapy. Therapy was a game-changer for me and I was able to find my motivation again. Once I gained my motivation, I also became more aggressive in paying off the debt I created within six weeks."
Courtesy of Meisha Amia
Be honest, what’s been your biggest splurge so far and why did you purchase it?
I have always been a saver. I usually save 20 percent of my earnings a month. But I also live a lavish rich lifestyle. I'm not gonna lie, I am definitely into buying the finest of everything. So I would say my biggest splurge last year was a Chanel bag. I really want the world to normalize women of color, especially black women, having luxury and wealth. It can coexist. Us women just have to learn more about financial literacy and we would be good (laughs).
Never cheat yourself or feel you are not worthy of something nice. If your bills are paid, your savings account is good, and you have your investments, you deserve that bag, girl.
What are some unhealthy habits about money or some unhealthy mindsets about money that you had to let go of to truly prosper?
That 'spend a check and get it right back' attitude (laughs). I say that in the most humble way. Being a nurse, you can get used to having that mindset. But we forget about the physical part of putting in those extra hours and what it does to our bodies. I have taught myself that once I see my account at a certain amount, I am in panic mode. I still have a good amount in there, but it helps me be more intentional about my spending. It's important to be very strategic about how you save, how you invest, and how you splurge.
"I have taught myself that once I see my account at a certain amount, I am in panic mode. I still have a good amount in there, but it helps me be more intentional about my spending. It's important to be very strategic about how you save, how you invest, and how you splurge."
Courtesy of Meisha Amia
What is the money mantra you swear by?
"I don't work hard for money, money works hard for me." For me, that is when I use my earnings and invest it into my other businesses. I am always thinking about if I put an X amount of dollars here, then Y amount should be my return. This is how we should all be thinking when it comes to money.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through being a business owner and running multiple businesses?
The most important lesson I've learned is having multiple streams of income does not mean you need to have multiple businesses. You should not exhaust yourself being a CEO of multiple things. That is where the burnout will come from. If you are passionate about different things, focus on that. But make sure you are thinking about how to create most of your revenue under one roof.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received about finance during your first year of entrepreneurship?
One thing about being an entrepreneur is that I do not do this alone. I have my mentor and I have invested in multiple coaches to help me reach my goals. The best advice I have received is to set those prices and be firm with them. When you are starting a business, people usually start with low prices. We have this mentality and fear that people are not going to show support if we come off too "expensive". But what I have learned is that we are actually cheating ourselves when we set the bar low. Because when you want to change your price and increase it, the people that were supporting you before are no longer interested. You have already told them your worth.
To be better respected, set those prices at a quality rate and the right people will pay you exactly what you are worth.
Featured image by Meisha Amia
I think it's fair to say that most of us long to reach that place "where the money resides," especially in the present times when life is so uncertain and people are likely to lose their jobs at any given moment. On the other hand, perhaps thanks to the plethora of entrepreneurs that document their journeys on social media, there's the sense that an abundant financial wealth seems more accessible now than it ever has before. With that said, despite all the step-by-step guides to becoming rich available on the market, we can still hear the same question echoing in our heads: How do I get to the bag, though?
Well, apparently, it's in the mind, chicas. It all happens in our minds first.
The mind is a powerful tool that, depending on how we choose to use it, has the power to make or break us. This is a fact that the bomb business owners I had the opportunity to interview as part of this feature said to have learned the hard way while on the path to acquiring their Boss badges. The four ladies got real on the struggles that they've faced in the past which almost prevented them from becoming who they are today, the mindset shifts that helped overcome them, and more.
Befriending Fear To Unlock A World Of Luxury
Image courtesy of Candace Junée
Digital Marketing Maven & CEO of Epic Fab Girl
For the longest, I followed the 'American dream.' I studied mechanical engineering in undergrad, received my MBA by the age of 23, and transitioned into a job in Corporate America [and] began earning six figures. However, despite all the benefits of working that job, I knew after a little time that it wasn't what I wanted to do forever.
Corporate America, I felt, deprived me of being the master of my own time. My time was theirs and I had little to no say on that. Many times, I found myself wiping my tears because I had to work extra hours or on the weekends to complete the tasks that I was asked to do at the last minute, all while my personal life and loved ones were waiting on me. When September 2017 came, the moment finally came for me to reclaim my freedom. Although I was deathly afraid and almost talked myself out of it, I decided to quit my job and pursue my dreams.
Fear, I must say, is the companion that's been following me throughout this whole journey from giving up on a six-figure salary to building my own six-figure company. It's still there, to be honest, but I've learned how to tame it.
In the beginning, I feared wandering in the unknown. While we do know what we decide to walk away from, there's no certainty that what we'll find on our path will be any better. And then, once I became my own boss, the fear that my finances would never advance as much as my career did quickly took over me.
A year before taking this leap of faith, I launched Epic Fab Girl, "a community for women entrepreneurs who want to build profitable brands and grow their faith." The latter initially started as a blog but after I quit, I had to figure out a way to monetize it to generate revenues. On top of that, in January 2018, I launched my own marketing agency. I wanted to offer my target audience coaching services and digital courses to help them scale their businesses to six-figures. Funny thing is, I was nowhere near earning such an amount of money myself, even after giving my business more than a year to grow and flourish.
While my clients were getting the desired results, on my end, I was struggling financially; I faced difficulties paying my bills, my car had been repossessed and I'd received foreclosure papers on my home as a Christmas present. Earning six figures has never been a requirement for me, but it was somewhat mandatory if I wanted to maintain the level of comfort I was living in. All of which ultimately had me contemplating [whether or not] to go back to Corporate America. However, while it's a move that my entourage encouraged me to make, I never received any signs from God that meant this was what He wanted for me. So, as a woman of faith, I continued walking the path that I was already on.
As soon as 2020 rolled around and the pandemic hit, that's when everything changed for the better. Within the first semester of the year, my revenues reached six figures for the first time—which wouldn't have happened had I decided to take some steps back or had I simply not shifted my mindset to believe that my services are worth the luxury price point.
Image courtesy of Candace Junée
It probably wouldn't have happened either if I hadn't invested in a coach to help me make the shift on top of using affirmations and visualization to help me own my abilities and brilliance when I'm doubting.
Here again, fear made me doubt whether I was making the right decision or not because I wasn't fully convinced that my audience would pay those prices—although some of my clients were already paying me four figures monthly for some of the services that I offer. But because I'd managed to reach a level of self-confidence high enough to recognize that I was excellent at what I was doing and understand that my financial situation was only the consequence of me undercharging for my services, I was ready for those who want to work with me to pay premium prices.
The best thing was to realize that I wasn't insane for believing that numbers don't necessarily throw people off. Quite the contrary, they attract the right clients, the kind that can afford your expertise, and therefore make a way for money to flow to you easily.
Wherever you find yourself in your journey, fear is going to rear its ugly head. To me, it's a sign that you're on the right path. You've probably read somewhere that, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I believe that it couldn't be more true. Be willing to bet on yourself and know your value. Trust that anything is possible.
Follow Candace on Instagram @candacejunee.
Unlearning Scarcity To Discover Absolute Abundance
Image courtesy of Chris Bible
CEO & Owner of SheLuvsLashes
One of the biggest personal breakthroughs I've experienced thus far is realizing the vital value of unlearning. Unlearning the things that hold you back is just as important as learning new [things]. It's necessary to be successful and unlock your potential.
I was a mother at the age of 16 and was raised by a single mother solely responsible for five children. Needless to say, I had to unlearn the scarcity mindset engraved in my head from childhood. Becoming a mother before I became a woman also played a major role in the endless struggles that prevented me from exploring the boss lady hibernating within. Like many, I didn't have a direct example of entrepreneurship; I was raised to play safe and to think that financial stability was something that only Corporate America could offer.
With age and an evolved self-awareness, I began to take risks and explore opportunities I normally wouldn't as a way to overcome those struggles.
In 2012, I relocated from Los Angeles to Arizona after being laid off from a corporate position that I occupied for five years. This move that I considered to be bold truly cultivated the opportunity for me to discover what my passion was. Thanks to Arizona's low cost of living, I was able to quit the new job that I'd found after working there for a year to live off of savings and explore revenue-generating opportunities which I'd hoped would unveil my purpose and passion. Moment of transparency, I must give credit to my supportive husband and his steady income. Without him, I wouldn't have been able to do so.
I tried fashion blogging and freelance writing for local publications. I even dabbled in fashion event production. Although all of that was fun, it wasn't what ignited the fire in me, which is truly what I was seeking. After many failed attempts, I found myself enrolled in a lash extension training class—a $1,300 investment. My lash artist at the time encouraged me to do so because I'd always ask her thousands of questions about how she did mine. Unexpectedly, this training class is where I found my spark.
Back in the day, I wasn't aware of all the doors that would open from just trying something new.
Image courtesy of Chris Bible
Never would I have thought that I'd one day run my own business, let alone work in the beauty industry. But it turned out that lashing was a service that quickly led to the creation of my own training academy and a full-fledged lash product line.
Seeing the revenue that I was generating is partly what helped break the scarcity mindset that I earlier mentioned I was suffering from. What was truly life-changing, I'd say, was practicing daily affirmations as well as investing in a mentor, Pauleanna Reid for instance, salon staff and marketing experts. This is what truly propelled me to my current level of success and showed me that taking control of your daily rituals on top of having an organized process for goal-setting is the difference between having a side hustle and running a six-figure business.
A boss, in my world, is a leader. She has clear morals and values, yet balances that with an attitude that gets ish done by any means necessary. Sacrifice, hard work, and patience are the ingredients to achieve success.
I didn't reach boss status before I made countless mindset shifts, alleviated excuses, welcomed uncertainty with confidence, and followed an unorthodox schedule. Most importantly, I had to embrace that I was worthy and capable of reaching a certain level of success and that it could be done all on my own. Of course, some of these shifts were easier to implement than others, while some were made out of necessity. The hardest changes dealt with inner work and self-love. I struggle with imposter syndrome and reminding myself that I am worthy is a constant fight. Having to embrace who you're meant to be can be frightening but growth never comes from comfort; it thrives in the newest version of ourselves.
Follow Chris on Instagram @sheluvslashes.
When Failure Serves As An Expensive Stepping-Stone To Success
Image courtesy of Miranda Mader
Product Management Career Coach
I had a huge mindset shift in my early 30s when I launched a business that failed—but from which I recovered. That experience taught me a ton from bringing a dream to fruition to pivoting and iterating.
Five years or so ago, I launched a business with two friends and partners whose purpose was to encourage college students, particularly HBCUs students, to travel the world. My friends and I who are all HBCU grads have had the opportunity to travel abroad when we were younger and being aware of the benefits of doing so, our desire was to give that opportunity to an audience that didn't have the same ability as we did.
We made a ton of mistakes during the launching process. We firmly believed that this project would be the solving of an issue, however, we didn't succeed to shed light on the said issue in a way that resonated with our target audience. We failed to properly grab their attention. And then, we launched too big, way too big—and we actually paid for it.
Looking back, that situation was ironic considering that prior to that, I'd spent a significant amount of time teaching as a product manager—and now as a product management career coach and business coach to women of color entrepreneurs—to actually not do this [launching too big]. It's always best to start small and test your audience first, which is a fact that I was proven once again when I later found myself launching another venture with a pair of two other friends.
For years, we'd casually played a game about dating deal breakers during our girls' nights and wondered if it would be commercially viable. We wanted to create it and then sell it to the public. However, despite how good we thought this idea was, having learned from my past mistakes the hard way, I made it clear from the start that spending any money was out of the question for me; an announcement that caused my friends to glance at me with a confused stare stating that it would therefore not be feasible. But I knew we would figure something out. And we did.
We managed to come up with the simplest launching strategy which cost us the bare minimum but enabled us to maximize our success.
Image courtesy of Miranda Mader
To introduce the game to our audience and test both, we decided to organize a small gathering with our friends. The plan was to play with them so they could see how much fun it is and therefore potentially turn those friends into customers. As for the cards prototype, my partners and I had opted for at-home printing, a cheap and efficient solution. When the ladies validated our concept on that night, we were given the green light to start the next step of our launching process: social media promotion. There again, we'd only invested a few dimes in marketing, just enough to get a decent number of customers to pre-order the deck and allow the real production of our card game to finally begin. We suddenly had the cash to order inventory to cover the pre-orders and more, without taking a hit upfront.
While my initial attempt at entrepreneurship was a complete failure, the lessons that I've learned from our mistakes [not building proper brand awareness and launching too big] are the main reasons why my other partners and I managed to turn this second endeavor into a complete success. I told them that I wouldn't risk losing any more money and adopting such a sales strategy that spared us from buying in bulk without being sure whether we'd sell allowed me to honor my vow.
As I previously briefly mentioned, I now work as a business and career coach. I've been self-employed for approximately two years now, and the services that I offer allow me to generate a six-figure revenue. I believe it's worth noting that the journey hasn't been linear and didn't come without low-grade anxiety. Self-doubt was also ubiquitous; the "will-I-be-able-to-sustain-this-long-term" fear was real. But the thing that I did and which today allows me to say that I'm living a life beyond my dreams was pairing my ability to execute, my vivid imagination, and Godly faith. It's been equal parts of each: envisioning an outcome, believing that it's available to me—which has been difficult because as a young girl, I hadn't met many black women entrepreneurs who independently monetized their talent for the personal and professional benefit of others—, and creating and executing a plan to achieve.
Shifting from fear to possibility has gotten easier over time. I equate it to the first time you tackle a small fear. It's nerve-wracking at first but through repeated actions, it becomes a part of your muscle memory.
Follow Blair on Instagram @blairpres.
From Despising Exposure To Learning How To Cope With Introversion & Impostor Syndrome
Image courtesy of Caroline Beffa Photography
Founder & CEO Clever Girl Finance
My name is Bola Sokunbi, I'm the founder and CEO of Clever Girl Finance, "a mission-driven financial empowerment platform aimed at providing women with the right products and services as well as financial guidance." I'm also a super introverted individual who happens to suffer from impostor syndrome, all of which can be a tad bit problematic when you have high professional ambitions. I wish I could say that these feelings fade away with time and experience, but they don't. However, what the former and the latter did help with was to figure out my coping mechanisms.
Before I started my business, I remember how much of a struggle it was for me to make myself seen and heard when I found myself in important rooms. Instead of being as aggressive as my colleagues were in the pursuit of coveted promotions, I was trying to stay as quiet and as little as possible. I was unable to position myself for further opportunities—and had my advisor not convinced me that the founder of a brand is as important as the brand itself, my inner struggles would've probably prevented my company from growing as well.
One of my biggest challenges was to believe that my story—the story of how I managed to save $100,000, for instance—and accomplishments are valuable enough to be shared with the world. The question that would always pop up in my head was, "Who are you to actually say these things?" When I finally had the guts to put it out two years after the launch of my business, it turned out it became a huge anchor in terms of brand awareness. The exposure my story was given by other media outlets showed me that my fears of being judged were unfounded for people were actually inspired by it, and it also made me realize that what I'm doing is bigger than me.
When I first launched Clever Girl Finance, I used to decline all public speaking appearances and big events that would make me the focal point. Now, because my mindset shifted to thinking of purpose before self and I've learned how to cope with them, I'm able to seize those opportunities.
My secret when it comes to surviving being an introvert plus impostor syndrome as a business owner is to step out of my comfort zone when I need to and step back into it when I can.
When I step out of it, I prepare by repeating affirmations out loud, hyping myself up. I look for an accountability partner, whether it's a friend or my husband so that I have someone to push me and make sure that I do whatever it is that I'm supposed to do. And then, once it's done, I allow myself to rest. Keyword: rest.
Image courtesy of Caroline Beffa Photography
I came to realize that being an introvert was so much of a struggle for me—not just as a professional but in my daily life as well—because I never took the time to recover after I do an event. Or a video. Or a webinar. Basically, anything that puts me in a place where I'm surrounded by a lot of people.
By not giving myself time to recover, I was just compounding the effect of how much I disliked being out there and being the face of my business. But when I allow myself to step back into my comfort zone and sit there in silence for as long as I need to, I feel rejuvenated and motivated enough to go out and do it again.
Since I discovered the benefits that this technique has on me, 'recovery day' made it to my weekly calendar. It usually occurs on Fridays and to make it possible, I hired a team to help me alleviate the work, take the pressure off of me and allow me to hide for a short amount of time. My staff has been the best at pointing out when I need them to take specific tasks off my plate.
Because one thing about introverts, when they don't feel like doing something, that's when a whole nonessential delay game begins and time gets wasted, which is a fortune that as business owners, we cannot afford to lose.
On top of my team, I can also count on my three advisors to help me to be my best self. These ladies, whom I consider as my sisters and aunties in my head, make sure to speak life and words of encouragement into me. They also make me uncomfortable, but I like it because the discomfort is private. It's not happening on the public stage, but one thing that's for sure is that it prepares me to stand with confidence in front of my public.
As I said earlier, impostor syndrome and introversion are unfortunately not easy to get rid of—provided it's possible. For me, these are uneasy feelings I'll always have to deal with and I can tell from experience that they evolve with each level that you reach throughout your journey. But there are going to be times when you'll have to tell them to sh*t up because you have work to do. You have a purpose to serve—and recovery day is coming soon anyway, so you can do it.
Follow Bola on Instagram @clevergirlfinance.
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Featured image courtesy of Candace Junée
Walking into our twenties feels like we're stepping into our artificial glow of the "I'm grown, and no one can tell me nothing" phase; however, it's the decade we're prone to making the most money mistakes. What we do with our money in our twenties could also roll over into what we're doing in our 30s. And if you're not careful, your poor spending and saving habits can cost you in the long run.
Next thing you know, when you're ready to buy a home or car and they run your credit, and it looks horrible – you have no one to blame but yourself. Stepping into adulthood, we have to own our spending habits and pave the way to build financial wealth. It's never too late to change your money mistakes, but you have to be committed to following that plan instead of enabling those bad habits. Here's a list of things you may be doing now that you NEED to change ASAP.
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I know when we're young, we tend to think we're untouchable. Life won't shatter in our faces, but that's a false narrative; emergencies happen to all of us – despite our age. Though we may be committed to the jobs we work at, they aren't always committed to us when they have their personal quotas to meet.
So it's possible in some part of your life you can lose your job, and what happens next when you don't have the financial backing to depend on while you're job hunting? You should aim to have at least three months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund just in case that storm ever hits where you have no income and need some grace period money to get you off your feet. Start small and begin by saving $1,000 and then keep adding to it month to month until you have three months. Dave Ramsey has a great resource on how to quickly build your emergency fund. You can find that here.
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Learning to live below your means is the top tier secret to building wealth. I know the media plays a significant role in our spending habits as we see everyone do everything, and then we sit back and question why we aren't doing that too. Don't let comparison steal your joy and mislead you into financial ruin by living above your means.
No, you don't need every cute shoes you see or to say "yes" to every vacation your friends invite you to. You have to create a financial structure that will help you thrive in the long run, not just in the present. If you want that business, house, or car, it's not going to invest in itself; it needs your disciplined spending to build it.
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Listen, y'all, credit cards can be life-saving when you're in a bind, and they can also ruin your life if you don't know how to manage them. According to WalletHub, Americans started the new decade last year by owing a collective $1 trillion in credit card debt. For those who have credit card debt, the weight of the financial burden can feel quite debilitating and it can sometimes be a hole that is hard for debtors to climb out of.
In fact, the more you owe on your credit cards, the harder it is to bring up your credit score, and oftentimes credit card companies do not raise your credit limit when you owe a balance. So in order to get ahead of credit card debt, pay more than the minimum payments, factoring in the interest cost to reduce the amount of credit card debt you will have and increase your credit score.
Not saving for retirementOprah Retirement GIF by swerkGiphy
The sooner you start investing in your 401k or other retirement accounts, the longer that money can accumulate interest and the more funds you'll have when you are ready to retire. Saving for your retirement doesn't have to start out big; you could start out at 22 years old with your first job, investing two percent of your income to retirement and increase that rate every year or every other year. So when you step into your thirties, you'll be at the healthy ratio of investing 10 to 15 percent of your income into your retirement funds.
Not diversifying your incomework working GIFGiphy
Monogamy is meant for relationships, not our careers. Don't over-commit to one job because when they need to cut their budgets or just feel like you don't fit their role anymore – they'll just let you go without warning. It's always great to have a side gig or several side gigs you can jump back into if things ever go south with your main job.
Don't burn the bridges of your side gig braiding hair, flipping homes, babysitting, dog sittings, etc. If you're a great chef, still cater events when you can; if you're a jewelry designer, work on designing your own pieces and selling them in your spare time instead of only focusing on your corporate jobs design line. Bringing in more income opens doors to invest more and build generation wealth, so those little side jobs can be investing in your child's tuition or buying that condo you have your eyes on.
Not getting renter’s insurancestressed out stress GIF by SZAGiphy
In our 20s and 30s, we're mainly focused on moving out of our parents' place and living independently in our new apartments. I didn't even know of renter's insurance until a year of living on my own. Some people may think it's pointless because what are the odds water damage or a lousy tornado will occur and ruin your place? Or the odds that someone breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop and TV? But it happens and if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.
So now that you have the picture painted on the potential loss, that small monthly expense doesn't seem unnecessary; it becomes a no-brainer to have some sort of renter's insurance while living in your apartment. It's better to be covered just in case versus having to cover the expense of your things if they are destroyed or stolen.
Not having a financial plan when you move in with a partnerCouple Chillin GIF by Ryan TreyGiphy
Testing out the waters before marriage by living together is cute and all but you and your partner need to have the heavy conversations regarding finances. Deciding who pays what bill and how much of the rent you'll contribute, and more than anything, what you both are saving towards. Openly discussing your budget and spending habits helps to hold each other accountable to work on your credit scores, pay down debts, and entertain conversations like buying a house together and investing in vacations, babies, businesses, etc.
It may be an awkward conversation initially, but it's a conversation worth having to make sure you both grow together financially. If you find that you are not on the same pages financially, it might be worth holding off on cohabitating. Additionally, it might be useful to get something down in writing that covers the both of you if the relationship ends and you want to skip the potential mess of figuring out who lives where and if the lease will be broken.
Ladies, money mistakes are going to happen one way or another. But we have to start making big money moves by adjusting how we spend our money and what we invest in. It's never too late to stop those bad habits and create new ones to open the doors to financial freedom.
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Featured image by Shutterstock
When we were little, our parents constantly reminded us that money doesn't grow on trees, and while this is somewhat true, it's also somewhat… not.
According to Tiffany Aliche, best known by the internet as The Budgetnista, we are all in possession of every seed we need in order to harvest true financial freedom, but it's up to us to plant them.
Courtesy of Girl Trek
Tiffany is the founder of a movement that has helped over 800,000 women worldwide save more than $100,000 and pay off more than $700,000 in debt, but according to The Budgetnista, it all started with one seed. We recently caught up with Tiffany at Girl Trek's 2019 Stress Protest, where she reminded us that true wellness means getting your financial health in alignment, too, sis.
The Budgetnista's road to success hasn't been linear, but she picked up a few gems along the way that have helped women all over the globe dig themselves out of debt and into better budgeting. In an intimate conversation about leveling up your mindset and becoming a self-made mogul, Tiffany put us on game and told us everything we truly need to know about money management.
Here what we learned:
Money Is A Tool
Courtesy of The Budgetnista
As the daughter of a Nigerian CFO and accountant and one of five girls, Tiffany says that she was introduced to the concept of financial wellness early-on in her life. She explained, "[My dad] taught us about money because he wanted to make sure that who we chose to marry was not as a result of what we needed from them; that we can take care of ourselves."
Although Tiffany had grown up in a household where financial wellness was a priority, before she was the money-saving mogul that she is today, life threw her a number of curveballs that her father's financial proverbs couldn't have prepared her for. Shortly after buying her first condo at the age of 26, Tiffany found herself broke, unemployed, and drowning in more than $35K worth of debt due to an irreversible credit card scam. After being laid off and forced to move back in with her parents, the one-day online financial expert felt defeated and depressed.
Cash rules everything us, and at this point in her life, Tiffany had none, leading her to believe one of the biggest lies ever told: that she was no longer the master of her finances nor her destiny. Tiffany shared, "Sometimes we feel like we don't have control; that we are not in charge when it comes to money. [We feel] that money is sitting in your purse at night, conspiring against you."
But in reality, Tiffany said, this way of thinking is not only self-defeating but wrong AF. It was then that those proverbs and analogies that were given to her by her mom and dad truly came in handy. The Budgetnista recalled:
"He reminded me that your money is like a hammer. You have a hammer in your hand and you can use that hammer to build your financial house, but that same hammer can be used to destroy that very safe financial house; that who decides what the hammer does is you, you do it. It's the same thing with money."
Tiffany continued, "You picked up that hammer. So it's like, the bad news is, it's you. But the good news is...it's you. And so,when it's you and you take ownership of that, at any moment in time today, you can decide that you're not going to be in bondage to money anymore because you truly aren't. That's your hammer. You get to decide."
Money Is A Seed
According to Tiffany, the first mistake that you're making when it comes to money management is believing that you don't have any. She told us, "You don't believe that it's already there. Like literally, we could be sitting right now, the sky could open up and a million dollars could fall through this roof right now. That could happen. At any moment in time, money's going to come to you."
The odds of winning the lottery are only 1 in 275 million, yet, 11.8 million households in the U.S. net more than $1 million per year, proving that wealth isn't about luck, issa cultivation game.
"We think that in some lump sum, wealth is going to drop into our lap. No, wealth is earned. $5's, $10's, $20's right? $10 has come your way, $20 has come your way. Those were seeds to be planted."
Less than a decade ago, Tiffany says that she was out of money, options, and hope. $1.1 million dollars and 271K loyal followers later, Tiffany realizes that both the hammer and the seed that she needed to grow her financial house were in her possession all along, she just needed to learn how to use them. "I used to be [a] preschool teacher for 10 years, making $39,000 a year, which in New Jersey meant I was broke. It's not much. And yet I sit before you now a self-made millionaire."
She shared that by using this simple rule, you can reach mogul status, too. "Seeds come my way. I'm going to put up 20 of them in the beginning. You think to yourself, well 20 is not a million, but just wait. You eat up 80 put up 20, eat 80 put up 20," she explained. "After a while, you have enough of that 20 so that you can plant those seeds. That's called investing."
By using the 80/20 rule, Tiffany says that you can develop an entire ecosystem for your money that will set you on your way to true financial freedom. "Putting up the 20s, it's called savings. Eating 80 is called budgeting. The 20 that you have is called investing, and over time, if you watered the seeds, if you give it sunshine and you look after it, that is called increasing your knowledge as it relates to investing."
Money Is Abundant
Courtesy of The Budgetnista
You have everything you need to be successful, sis. Let that sink in for a minute.
But don't just take my word for it, Tiffany's journey is a reminder that being broke is a mindset, and the key to becoming a self-made mogul is changing your perception. "[Having financial freedom] looks like knowing that money is not the goal, it is merely one of the tools that you can use to achieve the goal."
You often hear people say you have to have money to make money, Tiffany came to debunk this myth with a vengence. Securing a bag might make you rich, but planting a seed can make you wealthy. She explained, "Let's just say we're planting apple seeds. So these seeds have now grown into this tree. What happens when you cut open an apple? [There are] seeds. From one seed comes 200 apples. From those apples come millions and millions of seeds. You don't need to have $1 billion to make $1 million. If you just plant the seeds that you are given, you can grow to that."
Tiffany also noted that investment capital isn't always monetary and in some cases, your sweat equity can be more valuable than any number in your bank account. "I took like my skill set as a teacher and I planted it and I invested it. I invested in myself. I grew into a business. Now, I'm a self-made millionaire."
The Budgetnista also reminded us that her story isn't unique, and by using this formula, you can level up your income and your net worth, too. "I just want you to understand that you have the power within you. The money is coming your way. What will you do with it? Are you going to be someone that's going to eat every seed that comes [your way] or [are] you going to be someone who's going to set some aside?"
Tickets for Girl Trek's 2020 Stress Protest go on sale Oct. 1, click here to learn more about how you can be a part of next year's experience! To keep up with Tiffany, follow her on Instagram @TheBudgetnista!
Featured image courtesy of The Budgetnista.
Our credit scores are one of those things that can be out of sight out of mind, and yet impact our entire lives. Whether we check our scores as much as we check our text messages or happily turn a blind eye, they are still impacted because of our spending habits and the way we view money. If you've been thinking about getting serious about money goals and getting your funds together, your credit score is a key place to start.
Now, I know that looking at it can be intimidating, and that's probably why it gets this out of sight out of mind reputation. But with these small and simple steps, you can help rebuild and improve your score to get it to where you truly want it to be.
7 Steps To Rebuild & Improve Your Credit Score
1.Knowledge Is Power
For starters, what is your credit score? While it's none of my business, it's certainly all of yours. Those little three (seemingly petty) numbers have the power to determine some of life's most major moments we hope to experience. But if it is worthy of a side eye, then that can definitely be a downer.
The first step in building or improving your credit is actually knowing your score. Sites like Credit Karma do an amazing job of not only giving you your score and entire credit report history as many times as you want it for free (without making your score go down), it also alerts you of any changes that are made. They allow you to learn more about your credit habits and why your score might not be as high as you like. While they offer tips for improvement, the most important factor is that you have to know what your score is to begin with. After that, you can get to work.
2.Set A Goal
Now that you know your score, what's your goal? Let's be realistic and aware. Be realistic in knowing that your score might not jump up as fast as 1,2,3 (despite what some credit repairing companies tell you), but also be aware of what some companies and lenders look for in a credit score. This will determine how far you need to go so you can set goals that will actually help you measure your success.
The best part is, once you reach your goal, and you certainly will, you can set another. Eventually, you will have not only surpassed it and have a booming credit score that will have companies reaching out to you for business, but you will have mastered smart and disciplined money habits that can positively impact your finances for the rest of your life. Get it, girl!
3.Pay Off Debt
Once you know your score and set a goal, now is the time to start putting it to work. The first true actionable step is to start paying off debt. While that's obviously a necessity in improving your credit score, it's safe to say that most people really don't know where to start. In reality, a lot of us are asking ourselves how we got in this position to begin with.
Still, there's hope for a turnaround. Most experts say it's best to start with the smaller debts first (i.e. the snowball method). This helps knock off some of those delinquent and collections accounts from your credit report so your score can start growing slowly but surely (although it might take years to see the true results of these actions). Plus, when you start to see accounts make their way off your report, you will build your confidence for the bigger ones so they don't seem as intimidating. By the time you get to the higher ticket accounts, you'll be kicking tail and taking names, asking who's next.
4.Dispute Anything Incorrect
As you start paying off debt and evaluating your score on the regular, you might realize some things on there that you have no idea where they came from. This actually happened to me and is pretty common. If there's anything on your score that you don't recognize, dispute it. I would recommend contacting the company as well as the credit agency that the item is displayed on (Experian, TransUnion, etc.).
You'll be asked to explain why you are disputing it and if it's really not supposed to be on there, it should get removed from your credit report sooner than later. This might be the smallest item, but you shouldn't have to pay for something you're not responsible for, especially if you're trying to boost your credit; your hard earned money can go elsewhere. This can also lessen some of that time it will take to raise your score to your desired number.
5.Contact Your Creditors
They might not be as intimidating as they seem. I've had times where I've called my creditors to set up a payment plan and once they realize that I really did have every intention pay, they were really understanding. Even if it's just a few dollars a month, the fact that you're at least trying says a lot. It's a completely different experience from trying to avoid them hoping that maybe their system will crash and they'll lose your record altogether.
Ultimately, your credit score is a number that says how much creditors can trust you. If we're dodging them left and right and getting an attitude about money that we spent and have to back, that's not a good look. You never know, you might have favor with them and they can make moves for you that you didn't think they would.
6.Keep Those Credit Card Balances On The Low
Life happens, so it makes sense to have a credit card and as a result, credit card debt. Unfortunately, some credit companies have no soul and don't care why credit card debt has skyrocketed. So, it's our job to make sure we keep our balances as low as possible. The ideal amount is below 30 percent. Once you go past that, your score will take a dip baby, dip.
At the same time, please, I'm begging you, don't take out a ton of credit cards to boost your available credit because this will have the exact opposite impact from what you're trying to do.
Another tip with credit cards is to refrain from closing ones that you don't use. The best and most proven way to improve your score when it comes to credit cards is to pay down your debt (if you can, going beyond the minimum amount owed), and keep the balances below 30 percent.
I'm going to be honest with you. I'm 31 and have had debt since I was 18. I was one of those many people who gave in to the banks and credit unions advertising credit cards on college campuses (they should really be ashamed lol).
But I've learned that even though it can take years to get an amazing credit score you can be proud of, it will happen. As much as we want it to take 30 days, if we're real with ourselves, it didn't take 30 days for us to get to this point. It took years, so it will most likely take years to get out of it. But that's okay. Just be patient, set goals, be consistent, and your credit score will be worth bragging about.
Feature image by Getty Images.
The Budgetnista Tiffany Aliche Reveals How Her Credit Score Went From 547 To 800+ – Read More
I Cleared $35,000 Worth Of Debt While Making $12 An Hour – Read More
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