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Money Talks: 5 Tips Our Favorite Celebs Gave Us About Securing A Bag

You can't pick apples from a banana tree, and you can't expect to get great financial advice from broke people.

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You can't pick apples from a banana tree, and you can't expect to get great financial advice from broke people. If you're wondering why you've been stuck in the same place, it's probably because you've been taking advice from the wrong people. While our homegirls can be both our comforters and our confidants, one thing that they are not is our financial advisors.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having the ability to take things with a grain of salt is a superpower that shouldn't be taken lightly. Understand that to truly level up your bank account, you might have to switch up your method and seek out mentorship through people that currently are where you're ultimately trying to be.

To jumpstart you on your quest, xoNecole has culminated a list of financial tips from some of our favorite rich people that will help guide you into the land of financial freedom.

Serena Williams: Count Your Coins Carefully

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According to Google, Serena Williams' net worth is estimated at about $180 million and she didn't become the fabulously wealthy mogul mom that she is without being intentional with her coins. Last year, Serena shared that the most valuable financial advice that she's ever gotten came from someone we all know as the original rich auntie. She told HuffPost:

"[Oprah] said to watch every dollar that you spend. In other words, if you have a company and people are using your money, to look at every single expense. And to this day, I do that."

Kandi Burruss: Invest In Yourself 

In an interview with ESSENCE, Kandi Burruss revealed that she built her multimillion-dollar fortune by following two simple rules: invest (both in yourself and your future) and pay off your loans as soon as possible. Kandi revealed that she learned her first lesson in finance from LL Cool J, who encouraged her to pay off any debt sooner than later, and ultimately, it paid off.

"He told me to put extra money toward the principle of my loan every time I got a check no matter how big or small because it would knock years off of my loan. He was so right. It shocked me at how much of the note mainly went to interest, and by paying off the loan early you save tons of money and the stress of having to make those payments for all those years."

The singer also revealed that she believes that saving money and investing in yourself are the most efficient ways to build wealth:

"I meet people all the time who say they want to do this or that but say they don't have the money. A lot of times they are living to the full extent of their income and they'll have nice bags and shoes but haven't even invested in quality business cards or [a] nice website for their brand. Who will want to gamble or invest in you if you're not taking the first step to invest in yourself?"

Here's a video of her talking about why it's important to save your coins for the future.

Issa Rae: Don’t Lowball Yourself

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When starting a business, it's really easy to get a bad case of the "enoughs". Maybe it's time for you to quit your job and pursue your hustle full-time, but you think you don't have enough. You're running the business but you know that your margins aren't cutting it, but you aren't confident enough in your brand to raise your prices. In the early stages of her career, Issa Rae could totally relate and says that she eventually had to evaluate her worth, and add tax, shipping, and a convenience fee.

"As a freelance videographer and editor, I constantly had to set my price points, which was hard in the beginning because I honestly didn't know my worth. As I grew more confident in my work, I began to set my prices higher. Sometimes I'd get resistance and sometimes I wouldn't get the job at all. I'd often have to convince them that I was worth the money."

Taraji P. Henson: Ball On A Budget

Many of the industry giants that are securing the bag right now came from humble beginnings, and the same is true for What Men Want actress Taraji P. Henson, who said that she was certainly humbled after uprooting her life and moving to California to pursue her dream:

"Living in Los Angeles, I think everyone is aware that we have to cut down on our water use. So I've done some water conservation that also cuts down on costs. I wash my dishes by hand — no dishwasher. And even though I kid that my alter ego is Miss Diva, I still like to bargain shop for shoes, clothing, furniture … everything."

Taraji explained that even after her come-up, she stayed true to her budget-friendly roots and continued her frugal lifestyle despite the newfound zeros in her bank account. According to her, cutting back on the coins she spent on daily essentials helped her save and secure a successful future for both her and her family.

"I still go to the 99 (Cent) Only Stores, Target … I'll tell people when I got a real bargain if they ask, but otherwise I won't. And I do a lot of photo shoots with beautiful clothes and accessories. If I really love something, I'll ask — or my publicist will — if I can keep it and take it home. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. Work and money is steady right now, and I just hope it stays that way. I've saved for my son's education, which is very important to me."

Tina Lawson: Start A Money Trail

Tina Knowles is responsible for giving birth to two of the most successful names in the R&B industry, and really, no one womb should have all that power. Mama Tina has built a fashion empire of her own and was gracious enough to drop some gems on how she became the matriarch of the ultimate family of Mother/Hustlers. The celebrity mom said that she hasn't always been balling, and had this advice for women on the grind, looking to stack some extra coins:

"Everyone can't afford a financial planner, but if you own a book, for $20, everybody can have the advantage of knowing that, basically, you can do it. It's not how much you make, it's how much you save.'"

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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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