If your savings is looking dusty this one’s for you

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.



Creating with mindfulness and Intention: Shades of Pink turns 1



Photo’s by Joel Ismont

Happiest of Birthday’s to my shade babes (a belated one to say the least, which is due to me getting my shit together for myself and for this blog). The best gift my blog could have possibly received was the major support and love that comes in the form of views and the positive words sent to me through comments and messages every day (even when I’m not posting, which absolutely warms my heart in a major way). I can’t say thank you enough. All of this love and support has kept me driven and put me in the position to monetize off of my blog. Thus far I am putting all of that money towards making Shades of Pink an even better experience for all of you. Through the ups and downs of being a new up and coming lifestyle blogger and being a twenty something here’s what I’ve learned during my time away:

The theme of “intention” seems to be really big in my life right now. I have learned in a few different aspects of my life, that nothing will change or improve until you move with intention. I used to think that mindfulness only applied to coping with anxiety and dealing with self when you are in a state of stress. But that is far from true. Being mindful opens your eyes to how you are living and coping out in the world. I am a firm believer that the mind and the body mirror one another. They send the conscious messages about what is going on in your subconscious. The subconcious is our ultimate truth underneath it all. Some of us are more in tune with this truth than others, naturally. But I think at some point or another that mindfulness beats our ass so crucially at some point or another that we have no choice but to shut up and listen. That without a doubt is mindfulness at it’s finest.

As a creative, being mindful (or not) affects your business and your brand both negatively and positively when we let it.  But furthermore it is a gateway drug to emotional intelligence (the best drug there is..let me tell you). I’ve kind of taken some time for me in the midst of figuring out who I am as a creative and what I want to do with my blog and my brand. Increasing my mindfulness and actually being able to identify what it is that I am feeling about myself, the people around me, and what I am doing with my life has given me an even bigger plan for Shades of Pink than what I initially started out with. I started with a small goal for myself and my potential, and now I have a plan. After getting myself together mentally, emotionally, and physically I can set my intentions. I know more often than not the cluttered mess in my mind and lack of time management is what keeps me from being consistent in my projects.

I had to remind myself the other day that when I first began working on my blog last year I actually had way more on my plate than I do now. What made me slow down was the pressure I felt to be the best at everything I was doing instead of being mindful of what MY best was. Understand this: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. What feels good to me and what is standard for society and those we feel the need to impress are two totally different things. What you think is being required of you is not YOUR best. That’s someone else’s standard. That’s someone else’s best. What is expected of me by my peers, loved ones, and what society is projecting on to us is not necessarily going to be what I want for myself in the grand scheme of things. I have multiple driving forces in my life that cause me to spread myself thin and opperate like a chicken with my head cut off. For some creatives like myself, having the time to focus in on one thing is the hardest part.

It also doesn’t help that the world tells us what success is and then we feel disappointed when the success or achievement we reach doesn’t make us feel full. Through this realization and through excessive amounts of FOMO (fear of missing out). I know what my best is and I know what success means to me. Success and how we define it is a very personal thing. I have a better understanding of what is priority in my life right now because of falling on my ass a few times and feeling disappointed. It’s necessary. It’s necessary to go through the motions so that we can understand them fully. The hardest part can be figuring out how to verbalize what it is that we are feeling. For the longest time I’ve felt like I’ve been working way harder than those around me, yet I was feeling like I was missing the mark. My achievements were no longer doing it for me. The bigger picture was: I was falling short somewhere.

I’ve busted my ass for a credential (for teaching) and for my current grades with in my actual major (mass com) that made me feel like complete shit afterwords because of lack of sleep, little to no self care, and ignoring my mental health just to get an A in a class I don’t really care about when it’s all said and done. Then in the midst of that my blog posts are far few and in between and so is my YouTube content. I had a social life that was completely lacking (but is slowly but surely becoming more of a priority again), I had no time for a significant other, and I was barely spending time with my family. But during this process of going through the motions and realizing how I felt, underneath it all I felt burnt out and spread thin. I felt like I was being mediocre in all the other areas of my life that were important to me and what I feel my true purpose is.

By no means am I saying screw your education. I know a degree is worth a lot these days and it can save your ass on many occasions, as well as being an asset to financial stability. But I’ve learned that to me, my worth is not determined by a degree. Attaining a degree does not come before my mental health, and most importantly it will never mean more to me than this right here. With the understanding I have now, there are a lot more moments where I am facing a school v.s. self dilemma, and I choose myself. I choose to get the sleep I need and turn an assignment in a day late when it’s necessary. I choose a little less study time so I can get myself together after a hectic day. Sometimes I’m going to do C+ work so that I can cater to my blog. But I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to do so. If anything, its NOT okay to run myself into the ground for a grade. A degree will help further what I want to do but it’s not the end all be all for me. I’m no longer afraid of getting a B or a C. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t be the best at everything. But as long as I’m the best in the areas that are everything to me, I’m able to feel full.

With less than a year left of college I know where I stand with what I want and with that being said, my priority is myself. I won’t keep spreading myself thin and missing out on what is important to me. I am challenging myself to make more time to get a better balance on what works for me. I think that’s something all 20 somethings are searching for. How do we balance school, work, passion projects, friends and family, and a love life without losing our minds or spreading ourselves thin? Listen to your body and follow your heart. I would have laughed at that staement a year ago because I am always this “oh so logical, everything has to add up and makes sense” head ass, as I’d like to say. But the mind and body follow one another. If something doesn’t feel right (like your body telling you it needs to rest) listen to it. When your heart tells you something isn’t right listen to it. Work on what is lacking especially when you see signs of it wreaking havoc in your spirit.

I don’t have all the answers as to how to balance life and a busy schedule successfully, but I’ve decided I am dedicated to figuring it out and sharing it with you. I know it starts with intention. I know it starts with being mindful. I know it ends with emotional intelligence and being able to identify how you feel so you can identify what actually works for you and makes you feel whole. This comes with doing things that aren’t fun sometimes, so that you have time to spare. It will come with not being able to please everyone. It will also mean unlearning whatever you thought success was and redefining it for yourself.

As I start my journey, I want to begin with getting back to what I love most. I’m pushing myself to write even more often than before. I’m challenging myself to post every Sunday. I’m challenging myself to share a lot more of this journey of figuring out how to navigate life through all of its craziness. I’m challenging myself to be vulnerable. I want to end this with saying thank you to my friends who push me and are on my ass about me posting and continuing what I started. I also want to remind everyone that it is never too late to change how you think and process the world around you and start new habits. If you have a new habit you wish to create for yourself: Start today. Start where you are. At this very moment do something that will further move you into the direction you need to be in. Even if it’s a small task, get started. Fall back in love with what you do and prepare to have to make the effort to fall in love with it over and over again. The grass is only greener where you water it. To everyone who continues to read and share S.O.P thank you for your love and support. Happy Birthday Shade Babes !

20 something, stressed, and doing her best,

Nori <3

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A very first and very special shade babe post !

I am super excited to finally be posting the talent of other women who want to have a voice in writing or already do! All of our experiences and stories matter and deserve to be told. It’s been something I’ve been meaning to implement for a while and I’m excited that so many people have asked me about collaborating. Thank you guys for all the love and support that floods my messages, comments and DM’s from all over. I promise I listen to all suggestions and criticism (and take it with a grain of salt ;)).

In Every Drop

At this point it’s hard to know which bruises hurt more. The physical wounds are antagonizing. But the emotional distress is truly torturous. What am I so sad and low spirited about though? The fact that I have a new struggle to add onto, or the fact that life betrays me after every promise of a smooth ride? I guess that’s why we don’t trust in mankind or the life mankind has to provide. I should be rejoicing in the rain, in every drop God sent to remind me I am blessed. But how can I do that with a million different thoughts flooding me? I am drowning in a sea of questions, in oceans of uncertainty, in man made lakes of doubt. I am not just interrogating myself on where I have found my worth, but I am also wanting to question everyone and everything around me. My trust has failed to prevail once again. Setting up borders higher than the lasts. Building walls that don’t vanish in the horizons, hiding the frontier in which I can see a brighter tomorrow. If the grass IS greener on the other side I am not envying it. For I am locked in a dam, I don’t believe in grass and if there is grass anywhere it must be dead. Water doesn’t exist in the deserts outside the thoughts that drown me. I wish my mind was dry and empty like the west. I wish my mind was silent and abandoned, that every last thought I am fighting against decided to leave me like my good fortune. Solitude, now there’s a word that I find comfort in and yet cringe at. I am okay with being alone when it means in my head. But how I long for your spirit to reside next to mine. I yearn for the soft caress of your fingers on the back of my hand. I don’t want to be without you. But I want to be alone. Why are my spirits so low? Is it because thinking of us is thinking of the toxicity we poured on each other within the same water we used to grow? It’s thinking of the stones we threw when we decided you’d condemn me and I’ll condemn you. It’s thinking, and thats what I want to step away from. Every thought that invades my place of rest and incarcerates me. I am locked away in a jail that I sentenced myself to when I didn’t know how to love. I should be rejoicing in the rain, every drop God sent to remind me that his blessings are among me. His promise already fulfilled. But the boisterous winds of my past still haunt me. I can hear the storms whistling at the distance. Almost as to promise me that they will make a way into my present. The clouds aren’t clearing but the rain, the rain is a reminder of blessings. I am still. Not because I desire for the dry storms to catch up to me, but because I know this stormy weather won’t allow for old storms to arise. I look back but for what? All I see is the tornados that tore my home a part and spat it out into the far future completely intact now looking for new homes and cars to devour. Maybe I’ll leave a snack, for when it reaches this point I will be long gone. I should be rejoicing in the rain, in every drop God promises me blessings. So I turn my gaze ahead, I move one step forward and step out of my comfortability. I’ve got to align myself, my soul, my spirit, and I know my mind and body will follow. Submission, now there is a word I look forward to but toil with. Is it because I find submitting to the one that can bring the rain to me so beautiful, but can’t control my surrounding environment to submit with? It would mean to let go of me, if I’m not in love with who I am but in who you’ll make me…. why is it a brawl to lose me? I’ll go around the valley and starve my flesh. Once I am lost, completely lost in myself it will rain. I will rejoice in the rain, every drop God filling me with his blessings. I will find who he has planed for me to be. I couldn’t tell which bruises hurt more and now my wounds he healed. In the rain, he healed me in the rain.

A poem submitted by Blanca Flores.

Follow her on Instagram @_yeeeli !