Let’s talk, Money, Moolah, Dough, Dinero, Benjamins.
Look around you, this is one asset that we all use, rely on, work for, fight over; yet, we do not all know how to manage it. Most of us were not born into wealth or the privilege to not work for what we want. I remember my first introduction to money was my mother giving me a coin to go purchase a Coca Cola at our nearby tiendita (small store). All I knew about money was that it was used in exchange for goods or services. Growing up in Mexico and eventually moving here to America did not really change my perception of money. I grew up depending on my mother for food, shelter, and clothing like everyone else. As I grew older, I realized that my mother depended on food stamps, Section 8 housing for low-income families, and clothing donations from a church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; help is there to help people get ahead and that is exactly what my mother did.
I slowly began to realize the warrior that my mother was. She would go to her job at Furr’s cafeteria (you remember, that all you can eat buffet). Those were the days! Anyway, because of her circumstances, she had to depend on assistance and her minimum wage paying job to raise two kids in a country where she did not know the language. My mother eventually stopped using public transportation when she had saved enough to purchase her own car. Then later, she was able to purchase her own home. She was the definition of an EmpoweredFem before there was such a thing, but more on that later.
Growing up very humble definitely molded my view of money. Money is the one and only reason that, at 11 years old, I decided to be a Petroleum Engineer. Why, you ask? Because I saw a chart that showed it was the highest-paid degree coming out of college. I had no idea what an engineer was or what they did. But I got it in my head that if I was going to go to college for four years, I was going to get the highest-paying degree. I was convinced that would be the only way that I could help my mom and change our family’s legacy.
Fast forward to 18-year-old me having worked at my first job for the past two years and having absolutely nothing to show for it. I did not know anything about money, nothing, NADA. I just knew how to spend it.
Those spending habits followed me into adulthood and into my marriage. I remember depending on Toys for Tots for my children’s Christmas toys. I remember getting in line for a free turkey every Thanksgiving. Already all grown up with my own kids and still no idea how to handle, use, or manage my income. Every year, I would anxiously wait for my income tax return because I was going to get a big fat check. Then, as quickly as it came was as quickly as it was gone.
After numerous times of our lights or water being cut off and having our Suburban repossessed, I decided that I had enough. I was no longer going to be living paycheck to paycheck like the average household. I was not going to give my hard-earned money to Visa, MasterCard, Department Stores, or Chevrolet. I swore that my lights would never be cut off again. I was going to do everything I could to stop being average. I determined that I’d had enough of struggle and was going to change what I knew for my family.
One day while listening to talk radio, I was introduced to Dave Ramsey. He is a financial speaker who teaches you the basic principles of money and how to create wealth. After listening to one episode, I was obsessed. I then made it a point to listen every day. I checked out all his books from the library. (Oh, dang, now I feel old. When was the last time you checked out a book?!) Because of everything that I learned from his radio show, combined with my determination and a little bit of anger, I was able to refinance our home, put our family on one income, and quit my job with the state. Yes! Yes! Yes! I did it, girl!! I did it with very little yearly income. I learned how to FREE myself from the chains of debt, credit, and average thinking. Only then was I able to return to school to fulfill my dream of getting a degree. Since then, my life has never been the same. (You can read about my first vacation here. You can read about my love for fashion here. These are just two of the ways my life has changed.)
There are many books, websites, podcasts, speakers, and resources that focus on money but here are the most basic, authentic, and proven ways to shift you into a money-thriving diva. You know that Arianna Grande song 7 Rings… “I want it, I got it” (see below for the video), well, that will be you by the time you come to the end of this blog.
Four Steps to Becoming a Money-Thriving Diva
Step 1 – Skip the Settling.
Stop craving the dollar menu and experience the prime filet mignon with a side of twice baked potatoes, then only take two bites because you are just fancy like that. Stop being average! Begin to see yourself in a light of wellness, abundance, and overflow of money. Rich never looked better on anyone else more than on you, girl. See yourself with so much money that you are able to be a blessing to all your favorite local charities, that because of your monetary contributions 100 kids get to buy new shoes for school, that 100 moms do not have to worry where that school shopping expenses will come from this year. When you stop settling, you realize that money isn’t evil or hard to get, you just need to want it bad enough to stop spending it on things that are beneath you.
Step 2 – Direct Your Money.
Tell your money what to do because you already know you can’t tell an Empowered Fem, nothing, Nada. Money is not going to tell you where it needs to go every month; instead, it is going to go straight to where you assign it to go. If you are telling money where to go, you are in control. When you know where your money is going each month, then it’s probably because you already wrote down on paper your monthly game plan, aka your budget. (Yup…I said the B-word.) Stick to the game plan. Create and revise your game plan as needed and write all expenses down. EVERY ONE OF THEM, BEAUTIES. That means the gum at the checkout counter, the soda from the vending machine, the tip with you Starbucks. Doing this will shine a light on where you might be spending more than you need to. It could be on entertainment, shopping, or just that daily coffee run.
Step 3 – Grab the Fine-Tooth Comb & Red Pen.
Over scrutinize absolutely everything. I mean literally go through all your current bills and get out that fine-toothed comb because you are going to take out all the lice… I mean lies within your budget. Most of your bills are filled with line items that you don’t even know why you are paying, didn’t know you were paying, or don’t even need. You are going to no longer get paperless billing. That is a big fat trap. What that does is make you completely unaware of what you are being charged for because most of us will not take the time to download and print our monthly statements. Instead, you can recycle the bill after you have bled in a red pen through all your statements and have identified all the line items that you don’t need anymore. Then you are going to contact each provider and have them remove all items possible to lower your bill. You can also see that call to negotiate better rates or find current promotions.
Empowered women call their insurance every time you renew and then get to a place where they pay it in one installment. They call to lower their credit card percentages, see which deals they can get on their cell phones, and keep the plan that is most needed for their current lifestyle. Once they have a budget with savings, they increase their needs to wants and start allowing themselves luxuries. Since you’re reading this, you are an empowered woman. That means you will be doing this if you aren’t already!
Step 4 – Sacrifice and Say NO.
Prepare yourself for the biggest sacrifice you have ever made. You will need to learn how to say this simple word over and over and over and over. This word will be key to your success in achieving your money goals. There is not a more powerful word than this one. You do whatever it takes to not forget this word. You write it down, spell it out every morning, teach it to your spouse, say it in the shower. You do whatever you need to do to always have this word handy. Here it is…are you ready? Get your screenshot ready, cause no one else will tell you this but me.
The magic word is NO. So simple but so hard for us to say.
- When your coworkers invite you to lunch, say NO.
- When Apple announces the next iPhone, say NO.
- When your kids are asking for another video game, say NO.
- When you feel like supersizing, say NO.
- When you pass that oh-so-fabulous outfit you just have to have, say NO.
- When you’re tired of saying NO, say NOOOOOO!
Be strict and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to your money goals. Do not say yes to anything except paying off debt, accumulating savings, and developing that emergency fund.
Learning to navigate through your earnings, spending, and overall financial habits are going to take time. Do not get discouraged when you still have debt next week, next month, or next year. Always remember your why and keep on pushing until you see that debt balance at $0 and your savings at an amount that makes your eyes sparkle (we beauties cry glitter). Start to make small changes to gain momentum and then just keep going. Being a good steward of your money will open up a world of possibilities when you are finally in control. You’ve got this. I’m proof that following the steps above will bring you closer to living the life of your dreams!