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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

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high with many of us seeking self-improvement and healing with the support of therapists. Tucked away in cozy offices, or in the comfort of our own homes, millions of women receive the tools needed to navigate our emotions, relate to those around us, or simply exist in a judgment-free space.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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