Hey chicas! I have a secret that I'm ready to share that's going to help you get to your next level with money AND style. Before I started my own business and ministry I worked in the banking and public accounting industry for almost ten years! My interest in checks and balances started my freshman year in high school. I noticed immediately that there were two kinds of kids at school "the rich kids and the broke kids" and that you couldn't always tell which were which. It took some time to figure it out, but as I looked closely I noticed a few things that sounded off an alarm that screamed "things aren't always as they appear."
At the beginning of the school year some kids were always decked out with brand new clothes looking sharp as a tack. Then there were other kids who looked like they threw on whatever they could muster up straight out of the laundry basket. The kids strutting down the halls with matching shoes and belts who were "dressed to the nines" at the beginning of the year also usually stood in the lunch line with a lunch card in hand to pick up their free or reduced lunch and never paid for anything in cash or with a check. However, those kids who came with grungy t-shirts and old shorts surprisingly were the ones who could afford everything including all of the special field trips that you would have to pay extra money to go on and paid activities (like dance class, karate lessons, piano, etc.).
The Day I Found Out
I remember it like it was yesterday! I was sitting behind a group of the non-dressing students and they were discussing the details of their upcoming spring break vacation to Cancun, Mexico! I had to pretend as if I wasn't ear hustling and conceal the mortal shock that I'm sure was written all over my face. I could not believe my ears that for spring break these dressed down students all year long were going on a vacation with a group of friends. The math began to add up: no lunch card + no fancy clothes + outside activities = The RICH KIDS! It was in that moment I knew I was a broke kid with broke-minded parents.
My "aha" awakening came with much surprise, frustration, and dismay. I suddenly realized that many of the kids that I knew and hung around who always had new clothes for the start of school, right after Christmas break, and TAX SEASON... "WE WERE THE BROKE KIDS!" We always looked like we had money at these pivotal points throughout the year, but truly couldn't participate in other things because it required more money and quite frankly are parents didn't have it ! YIKES!
This revelation devastated me, brought on shame, and made me want to shrink under my desk and hide. I was a broke kid and I hated how it made me feel!!! Although my parents never used credit cards, didn't owe people money, and we never went without the necessities of life, we never had a surplus either. There was no extra money for me to take dance lessons or go on vacations with friends or do anything other than what we needed to do. Needless to say, this meant that I didn't frequently participate in extra-curriculuar activities. My older sister was an amazing athlete in high school and I was just AIGHTTT so extra MONEY for track shoes, volleyball shoes, basketball gear, knee pads, etc. for me was out of the question (especially given the fact that no one was betting on me becoming a star athlete). Simply put, my family and I were living paycheck to paycheck, as many of people do, in the hope that everything would work out fine. Many nights I would overhear my parents strategizing what bill could wait until the next paycheck so we could get whatever was required for the activities that we did participate in. The MONEY STRUGGLE was real at our house!
This isn't to say my parents didn't do the best they could with what they had, but they needed a few more tools to break the "curse of poverty." The impression this left on me actually turned out to be a good one. I recognized in that moment that I never wanted to live like that as an adult and that I wanted to feel more in control of my financial future than they did. I begin to learn about financial management and its benefits at 15 1/2 years old and opened my first SAVINGS ACCOUNT when I was 16 years old with my first paycheck of $64.38 from Little Caesars Pizza which I took straight to the bank!
You know how much I love sharing the good news and empowering others to WIN at HOME, PROSPER in LIFE, and ROCK their STYLE so I couldn't leave y'all hanging without passing on all the juicy knowledge and tips that I have acquired over my lifetime of how to look great and live great without going broke. So in this post, I've laid down just a couple of tips and mind-set changes to get you started on a year of financial freedom and being that fly, financially savvy, and faith-filled person I know that you are!
Pre-Requisite: Build A Healthy Relationship With Money
You must start off by having a healthy relationship with money. Listen, we all need money to survive in this world. So for all of you who don't think so, click off now because I'm not talking to you. We must become masters of our money and not let money master us. For example, if you avoid bill collectors - MONEY has mastered you! If you depend on the government to provide for you (and you are an able-bodied adult) - MONEY has mastered you! If you can't wait for your income tax check to come back so you can get that brazilian hair extension bundle and a fresh $350 weave install - Girl, MONEY has mastered you! If you are ready to bust out those new $200 Jordon's for yourself or your kids or wear the latest Michael Kors purse and you don't have a college fund for "nan" of your children - MONEY has mastered you! If you want to claim anyone's kids other than the ones you really raise, support, and who are living under your roof on your taxes - MONEY has definitely mastered you! If you plan to win the lottery in order to change your life - MONEY has mastered you! If you get laid off from your job tomorrow and don't have at least two to three months of rent/mortgage sitting in a savings account - Money has mastered you!
I say all of that respectfully to awaken you to recognize the kind of relationship you have with money and show you how what you spend your money on shows what is important to you. The good news is, there is hope for your financial future! I know that not one of you want to live on earth broke, busted, and disgusted nor do you want to leave your children having to open up a GOFUND ME account as a form of life insurance if you were to pass away. So IF you are ready to take control of your life by making some simple changes that can help you secure your financial future, let's get to it!
Tip 1: GET RID OF SAYING THINGS THAT ARE KEEPING YOU BROKE MINDED
Think before you speak about money. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answers all things. Money isn't evil and you should no longer associate money as evil. When money is in the hands of an evil person that simply means that they have more opportunity to fund their evil deeds or ways. Money in the hands of a good person is a good thing! They often make good use of their money by providing for their families and giving to causes that help make a difference in other people's lives. So change your mindset now and quit hating on rich people! I want to point out a few statements many people use frequently and give you a few practical and Biblical nuggets to replace them with.
*Replace "I'm going to rob Peter to pay Paul" with "I owe nobody nothing but love". (Rom. 13:8)
*Replace "You can't take it with you so you might as well spend it" with "I store up blessings to leave to my children's children". (Prov. 13:22)
*Replace "Every time I get caught up something breaks down" with "God will sustain all that I have". (Isa. 46:4)
*Replace "The rich keep getting richer while the broke stay broke" with "Wealth and riches are in my house." (Psa. 112:3)
*Replace "FILTHY Rich and DIRTY Money" with "The blessings of the Lord make me rich and add no sorrow." (Prov. 10:22)
*Replace "I can't afford it" with "God gives me the power to acquire wealth." (Deut. 8:18)
*Replace "I'm going to WIN THE LOTTERY and pay off my debt and give to the church" with "I am a tither, giver, and a good steward over what I have." (Malachi 3:10)
TIP 2: STOP COMPARING, COMPETING AND GOING BROKE
NEWS FLASH: nobody with real substance cares about your Louie bag, fancy car, house, and all the external things you think people care about. The truth is that the real difference makers are too busy making a difference in the world to care about self-absorbtion, attention-grabbing people with no real value to add to those around them. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for nice things and looking good, but not at the cost of you being a slave to debt. If you took a vacation to Texas and you had a great time with friends and family only to return to read Jane Doe's Instagram post that her and her friends just came from Paris Fashion Week and they had a blast and now you are ready to book the next flight out to Milan using your credit card. You my friend are trying to live someone else's life.
Many people go broke competing and comparing there lives to someone else's. The moment you go from being inspired by another person to "I have to have it NOW" rest assured that financial ruin is inevitable. Let me say this - you don't know how hard that person worked to have or live the way they are currently living. You also don't know if they are living beyond their means or if they are truly good stewards of what God has blessed them with and they actually can afford what they have. I want to leave you with this, we should endeavor to be the kind of people who add to the people and the world around us, not distract with our foolishness - now that's priceless.
TIP 3: PLAN TO PROSPER
No matter where you are in your financial journey you will have to plan for your financial success. If you are in debt you have to create a debt-freedom plan. If you are debt-free you but have no savings you will need to create a savings plan. If you have a savings plan you may need to create a college fund, or retirement plan for your kids or elderly parents. Wherever you find yourself right now, your financial future can be bright and hopeful when you work towards the plan and goals that you make this year. After you create a plan you will then need to take action.
I decided to save an extra $1200 last year for something I wanted to experience this year in 2017. I started with a plan of saving at least $100 per month over a period of 12 months. If you break that down that is $25 a week. I then needed to strategize how I could create new wealth opportunities to fund my vision. I wasn't going to take from my household funds or any other savings plan that I have already put in place so with a little ingenuity I went to work. I wasn't going to wait until income tax time, or to win the lottery (which I do not play btw) or join some hocus pocus get rich quick scheme. Instead I was simply going to use what I had, leverage my skill-set in the marketplace, and work hard to achieve my goal. Because I planned for my success and took the necessary steps all year long to reach them I far exceeded my $1200 goal by a long shot. I say that not to brag, but hopefully to inspire you that with a proper plan in place you too can take your finances to the next level and get the things you want the right way.
INCOME TAX BALLER
Income tax time is upon us, and for some of you that isn't a good thing because you make so much money you will owe Uncle Sam. For others, you are waiting in anticipation to get your check back (which is a forced saving account without the banking paperwork). I hope that if you are one of the people who get money back that you would consider the tips above and before you make a mad dash to the mall, set some financial goals that will set you up in the future. Truly this could be a great opportunity to pay off a bill, start a savings account, invest in getting your child's college fund started, and many other things. I am hoping and praying that you have a wonderful financial year with much success in your family and life!
Happy Savings and Financial Freedom,
I hope these tips were helpful! If so, I would love for you to hit the THUMBS UP button and leave me a COMMENT. I love to empower people to live a life they're proud of so if your church, school, or organization is looking to be inspired and achieve more success and fulfillment, please contact me at cstemmons@hotmail for speaking information.
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How to Start 2017 With More Money & More Swag