Your Self-Worth Determines Your Net Worth


I am no stranger to my money "being funny," being "broke as a joke," and struggling to survive until my next paycheck.

I have been through it all: the negative checking account, having to beg for some money to eat, losing my entire retirement savings, trying to pay rent with no income, which had me almost homeless, and creditors trying to bust down my door every chance they got.

There I was in a new city, feeling the crappiest I've ever felt about myself. I had hit a rock bottom that shook my core forever (both good and bad). My financial situation had me believing that I was worth nothing; my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. It impacted me so much that I had to go seek professional help and talk to a therapist, only to be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. All I did during that time was eat, sleep, and cry.

Looking back on that time, I've realized how my self-worth and the way I viewed myself had a direct impact on the way that I managed my coins (as well as income potential). Because I was so down, I had no desire to take control of my finances and ultimately, I allowed things to spiral out of control. I was ducking and dodging phone calls from bill collectors, scared to open my mail, and just in complete denial about the state I was in.

I was a MESS. The messiest of messes, if you ask me.

The way that we manage our money, as well as how much we make, can be directly tied to how we view and value ourselves.

Your self-worth plays a major role in your financial wellness; your thoughts, feelings, and emotions dictate how you behave with money whether positive or negative. Those individuals who think highly of themselves usually have no problem going out there and securing the bag because they know how to capitalize on opportunities. It's inevitable for them to be successful because they believe in themselves to make it happen.

When you struggle with low self-esteem, it's hard to believe in your abilities to obtain financial success.

That stinkin' thinkin' creeps in and shuts everything down! The reality here is this: the more you see yourself as worthy and really value yourself, then the more you'll be able to manage your coins with ease and turn your financial situation around. Things turned around for me once I gained clarity and changed the way that I thought about myself and money…

My poor spending habits changed.

I stopped living paycheck to paycheck.

I started saving.

I made wiser decisions.

My life literally changed forever as a result of a simple mindset shift. Here's a few ways that I personally built my self-esteem and started valuing myself more so that I could become a better steward over my finances. You have the power to do it too.

Get to know yourself.

Do you have a good sense of self-awareness? When you have a better understanding of yourself, you are empowered to make those necessary changes that you desire, as well as build on your strengths. You have to understand that your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors have an impact on your quality of life. Take some time to understand what your needs and desires are, your habits, and everything else that makes you tick. Journaling is a good tool for this!

Write a list of good things about yourself daily.


Each day, you should be taking out a few moments to reflect on the positive in your life. This list can be anything from a recent achievement, something you admire about yourself, or anything else that you've noticed about yourself. You should be looking back on these lists often, especially when you're not feeling the greatest.

Stop comparing yourself to others.


I've been guilty of this, but what I've come to realize is that I am who I am for a reason, and my journey is mine and mine alone. If you often compare yourself to others, it'll have you feeling less than. We're all great at something; determine what your strengths are and stop focusing on what Keisha and them on Instagram are doing.

Make sure your support system is on fleek.


Nothing will keep you down more than hanging out with a group of old negative Nancys. Some people fail to realize how much of an impact our close family and friends have on us personally. You need to surround yourself with people that speak positively and uplift and encourage you. Only hang out with those that give off positive vibes!

Redefine failure and stop aiming for perfection.

Setbacks, obstacles, and failures along the way are bound to happen. You have to be able to acknowledge these failures, learn from them, and keep moving forward. You can't let these setbacks cripple you. No one is perfect, so stop making yourself sick trying to reach this certain level that you never will.

More positive thoughts and self-talk.


There is great power in the tongue. We can speak life or death over our lives. Those negative thoughts and self-talk will have you believing in something that's not true. These things hold you back because you are placing limitations on what you can be and your abilities. You have to challenge these thoughts when they pop up into your head. Each morning when you wake up, say at least one positive thing about yourself. You'll be able to make this a habit over time, which will decrease those negative thoughts that you have.

Focus on those things that you can change and accept those that you can't.

If there are some things that you don't like about yourself that you have control over changing, put your energy into making those changes happen. It's pointless for you to continually dwell on those things that you can't change.

Celebrate yourself.

It's important that you take out the time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they are. Don't wait for anyone to validate you; you validate yourself! You should be doing taking out the time to do this at least once a month. Do something that you enjoy. Treat yourself to that slice of cheesecake. Take yourself out.

It's going to truly be hard to get your finances in order if you don't take the time to love and value yourself more. The beauty of it all is this: making a decision to take back control over your life and remembering that you can determine the quality of it is the easy part.

Once you make up your mind, you'll be unstoppable.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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