After my last post I asked my social media followers what was their biggest financial flaw and inevitably every response had to do with 20 somethings not being able to save for the life of them. So I decided to look further into why that is and how our saving habits got to be as poor as they are as a collective. Hold on to your wigs and slick them edges because I’m about to tell you exactly why you are broke over the span of the next few weeks (which no one wants to hear). But relax and take notes, I am also here to explain how you can fix that and motivate you as much as humanly possible to do better.
I am no financial expert but I am a 23 year old college student who has learned through trial and error how to not live paycheck to paycheck. At this point in my life I can confidently say that I have leveled up significantly in my finances but I got to a better place through understanding my mistakes and educating myself on money. But the most important factor was repairing my “money mindset ” which we will get to soon. Being broke is not just lack of funds, it becomes a lifestyle and way of thinking that we must break ourselves of. So let’s get into it…
Change your broke a** frame of mind & entitled attitude
Harsh, I know. But this might be the most important factor of all. If you’re anything like me, your brokenness AND your broke frame of mind have been inherited. You’ve watched your parents work their a** off and penny pinch. You’ve listened to them complain about bills piling up and going into debt. You’ve probably even seen them argue about spending habits if your parents are anything like mine. But do not take on these financial curses and core beliefs. They don’t have to be yours and I strongly advise you to leave them at the door before you even begin on your journey to saving and changing your spending habits.
I want to begin this with a story that a friend of mine felt was important for me to tell. I’m really weird about sharing my wins and losses so I tend to share neither, as I don’t like to feel like I’m “flexing” or bragging about what I have accomplished. But truthfully you’re not going to find my advise credible if I don’t tell you how I’ve acquired my knowledge on the topic of money. So here it is (and I promise to keep it as short as possible):
Truthfully I’ve always been really good at acquiring money. I worked my first job at 15 and I was never the same. I really got off on making my own money and being able to spend it as I please. I became addicted to the feeling of independence and financial security pretty early. My parents have never had to tell me to get a job because I literally HATED not having one. I was extremely tired of being broke by my second year of high school. Skipping lunch so you can save up all the money your parents give you to buy cute clothes or a new phone was no longer worth it and ya girl was already a toothpick to begin with back then. When I reached about 19 was when reality had truly set in. I had once believed that when you work hard you get money then you get to spend it freely. By my first year of college I had realized that wasn’t entirely true because as hard as I work all of my dreams seemingly came crashing down one semester in.
In my mind I was doing everything possible to stay afloat. I spent my senior year working super hard to build a portfolio of my writing to get my way into my dream University. Which I did, and I was accepted with scholarships and a grant. But one semester in after tuition hiked ever so conveniently, it became really clear I wasn’t going to be able to survive (as in the cost of living all on it’s own) and go to school. I was commuting to San Francisco every day to work and to take my classes. I had gotten a good job at a high end (and very boring) store at Westfield mall and I had just secured my room and board situation (or so I had thought). When tuition went up I sat at home with my mom and calculated how much my parents would have to come out of pocket. It was then that I knew I couldn’t continue my education there. My parents didn’t have it because I grew up the furthest thing from rich and I’m the oldest of three kids (they still have two more to put through college…in today’s economy…couldn’t be me!). I knew exactly what I had to do…
Be a stripper! Just kidding. Although it’s crossed my mind I have weak ankles and men easily irritate me. But in all seriousness, I knew I had to drop out. Because of the school I went to being a private school they had began instruction late, which ultimately meant I was ass out. I couldn’t get classes anywhere and I was stuck living at home with nothing to do for an entire semester. That lasted about a week and a half before I went nuts because I am the biggest busy body and workaholic that I know. I immediately starting looking for local job listings. Within a week I had applied to a million different places and it seemed like none of them had gotten back to me. Keep in mind I had very little work experience so all of the places I was applying to were in retail of course. I began to get discouraged because not even Walmart had called me back. I didn’t want to work there anyways, but the feeling was similar to having a phone full of men and you text them and not even the least desirable one texts you back. You start to wonder if you’re ugly. But instead I was starting to wonder if I would be a jobless bum forever.
But I wasn’t, and from this experience I also realized I’m incredibly dramatic. Within a week of feeling useless and bored at home I was suddenly getting calls from everywhere. I had gotten multiple job offers and I was extremely excited. But I didn’t know which store to choose. I narrowed them down to the top 3 highest paying options and I bet you can guess what I did next….I took all three because I’m clearly a psycho! I had two day jobs and one overnight job and I worked all three even into the following semester at community college. The plan was to only work all three jobs until classes had started up again but I’m a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of gal. During my time off from school I had also began modeling. I made sure I had nothing planned on my weekends so that I could fly out to Seattle and LA to my home agencies. Eventually I began taking all of my courses online so I could get more sleep. But right before I turned 20 it all came crashing down.
I was doing great in school and I made a lot of money between all my jobs. I had gotten some great opportunities through modeling and yet I was extremely grumpy and tired all the time. Everything felt like work and I knew I wasn’t enjoying any of it. Modeling was the first to go. Then two of my jobs. However, the convenience of online courses stuck and I took on five of them while working one job. I had finally quit working at Target because they weren’t at all considerate with the fact that I was in school and instead I started working at Forever 21 a few weeks later and started with almost full time hours. But this was no better. Yeah I got more sleep and had more time for school work, but truthfully I hated retail. I was literally getting paid to be yelled at and disrespected DAILY about our no return policy (which I have no control over) for only $10 an hour. Thank goodness they’ve changed it since because I’ve literally watched my coworkers be verbally and physically abused over it. Capitalism in America is a trip…you hate to see it.
I worked maybe one more retail job during my 20th year of life and I knew it would be my last. I started feeling defeated. I would work on my birthday, work holidays, and even work over time just for the managers to play favorites, never give me a raise, and hardly acknowledge my efforts. It finally hit me one day as I was working my crappy sales associate job at the Livermore outlets. As I was watching rich caucasians mess up my neatly folded polo table it became clear to me that these people who park in valet at the mall and use black cards to pay for the same polo’s every week were no smarter than me. They worked no harder than me, nor were they more talented than me. The only difference was privilege. I had managed to worked around my blackness and being a woman my whole life so where was I going wrong? After walking out days later and never returning to my crappy retail job I realized all this time working harder had gotten me nowhere. It was working smarter that always worked in my favor.
Work smarter not harder & stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
After quitting retail I began to Nanny and it was much more convenient for my lifestyle. I liked being able to make good money while also getting my education which is pretty hard to do. I started out nannying part time and taking the courses that Chabot College required me to on campus. Then when those courses were completed I made sure to transfer to a university that would allow me to get my degree 100% online. Nannying allowed me to work up to 15 hours a day and get my work done. I had my laptop with me so that every chance I could I was able to get my work done. I made sure to take advantage of every snack, nap time, homework time, dance practice, or sport event. Hot spot was the best thing I had ever invested in at that time.
The best part was being able to make my own schedule and take off from work whenever I needed the mental break and then get right back to it. Things that allow me to have the freedom to work at my own pace and make my own schedule work for me because I have a natural discipline about myself. Being self aware and knowing this about myself has helped me to figure out what works best for me and what makes my life easier. When you know what kind of lifestyle works best for you that’s when things start to click. After 3 years of nannying and becoming restless and bored I knew I wanted to level up and stay away from more college debt. At this point I have zero help in paying for school. My own hard work and financial aid is fully what keeps me afloat. But I wanted more than to stay afloat I wanted to be comfortable and be able to invest in shades of pink. So I decided to work harder, save my money, and quit nannying.
I literally woke up one day and said “I’m going to be a teacher”. It sounds crazy, but I am much happier in a setting that has purpose but also makes me money. In California teachers aren’t paid amazing but to be paid what I am now at only 23 (and because I only have to support myself) I’m doing extremely well. I took two weeks to myself to enroll in child development courses and I became a teachers aid. I worked on my current major (and keep in mind I am a double major) while getting the needed credentials to teach. It was hard work yes, but I stayed locked into both so that I covered all my bases and I’m never a** out of a job. That’s what I mean by stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. At 22 I started thinking way ahead of just the next 5 years. I spent 6 months slaving, doing more homework than you could imagine so that I could coast forever after. Here I am a year and some change later a teacher with her own classroom and her credentials. I’m also a few months away from graduating with a BA in Journalism & Mass Communications. I run a blog and I absolutely love the life I have created for myself.
I’m able to take a trip if I wanted to, drive a new car, or even move out of my parents house tomorrow if I wanted to (but I don’t because I’m saving and I don’t want to have to live with 5 other people. Y’all can keep that), and I’m able to invest my money in things that will make me even more money (my biggest flex thus far). So I say all of this to say, things looked up when I stopped thinking that it couldn’t be easier and that I can’t be happy in the process of making money. I absolutely believe there is beauty in the struggle because I learned so much while in that space. But truthfully, the struggle does not have to be your whole 20’s. It’s all up to you. You absolutely have 100% control over the decisions you make. Every day with every small decision we shape and create our own reality. You are broke because you are choosing to be. You are broke because you make broke a** decisions instead of productive ones. The reality is you might have to sacrifice the partying, the traveling, and the expensive eating habits. You may have to spend some months in solitude awaiting your come up. I sure as hell did a lot of that.
The sacrifice part is required and you can’t cheat it. But I can tell you this, I’ve never truly missed out while getting my sh*t together, it only feels that way. Feelings are temporary and so are these points in time where you’re feeling alone and left out. I’ve had to go without in every way imaginable at one point in time and sometimes I still do. But what I work for always supplies me with that and then some. When you have a vision for yourself and for your bank account be realistic about what it requires. Budget and stick to it. I’m not saying never have fun but make sure it’s within your means and don’t be afraid to say “Nah, I’m gonna have to sit this one out”. Your future self and your bank account will thank you later. Every sacrifice I made, I made in knowing that I owe it to myself to be disciplined now so that I can have everything I’ve ever wanted later. And I certainly have most if not all of the things I imagined I would have a few months ago when I was working for 2 degrees. I’ve paid off a good chunk of my debt, my credit score is great, my bank account is (almost) always hefty, I just bought a new car, I have a retirement fund (not a 401k and I have little desire to have one but that’s a blog for another time), my money is invested in stocks (the right way), and I have a job that comes with full benefits. But the best benefit of all being that what I wake up to go do every day is something I love.
There’s a lot I still have yet to accomplish but I do feel it’s a great start. I’m blessed to have people in my life who encourage me to celebrate myself from time to time. Sometimes I’m so busy being “in it” that I forget to step outside of all that I’m doing and just be proud of myself. I encourage all of you to do the same. Start where you are, stop thinking with a broke mindset, stop thinking the universe owes you money and go out and find what makes you money. Pay attention to the qualities about yourself that easily make you money and capitalize off of them. Tap into your other abilities that can make you money while you’re getting your degree and working hard to get to your ultimate goal or dream job. If you are multitalented use that as leverage to have multiple means of income. Never stop at just one. I kept it light this time so I can ease all of you into this but be ready to take notes and piece your edges back together real soon. We’re breaking these shi**y money habits together and I want you all to be ready to do the work. I want us all to be financially thriving by 2020. You owe it to yourself ! (And your dusty bank accounts).
Scared money don’t make money.