June 30, 2018
I vividly remember that relentless hot day. After living in my apartment for two years, I moved back home with my family. I made the decision partly because I was preparing to enroll in grad school full-time. My rent was also ridiculously increasing. I knew that if I renewed my lease, I would be living far above my means.
After surrendering my apartment keys, my drive back home was derailed. My ’02 Buick Century, which had been my road dawg, had recently begun overheating multiple times daily. That move-out day, the temperature gauge on my dashboard did its familiar dance, “hit the ‘H'”. While my “no car note” life was more comfortable, I knew that my car was dying on me. It would soon be time to shop for a new car, readjust my budget for more reasons than one, and adapt to every life change.
Adult financial challenges, especially from this past year, have kept me awake many nights. Though I have been blessed to have a stable job, debt and unforeseen expenses have added up. It’s been a battle to trust God and not let either financial success or stress dictate my value. Even so, my experiences have been teaching me several encouraging principles:
Be resourceful. Financial literacy is a real obstacle for many in the Black community. The lack of accessibility to money management resources clearly deepens wealth and opportunity gaps. It has been crucial for me to seek guidance from wiser individuals within my reach. Several resources have been amazing for me:
- The Budgetnista: Tiffany Aliche has a powerful testimony of overcoming financial turmoil. Today, she shares tons of information about investing, budgeting, and credit on YouTube and her online school, Live Richer Academy.
- Soul Tribe Group Coaching: Detroit-based Monica Marie-Jones spearheads this coaching business. Part of her expertise involves inspiring clients, virtually and in person, toward financial empowerment. I was fortunate to be a part of her online Soul Tribe Group.
- Primerica Life Insurance: I am forever grateful to David Holcomb for teaching me some strategies for conquering debt and the importance of having life insurance.
- Greenpath Financial Wellness: This nonprofit is the real deal! For $Free.99, you can call this organization and receive credit counseling over the phone.
- Friends: Can you think of one friend that is financially savvy and loves to talk about what they know? I can think of a couple (shoutout to Leonard). Perhaps, there is someone in your circle who would be eager to chat with you!
Be giving. When I prayerfully give, I feel abundant. Regardless of how drastic my debts are, I am not empty. I try to reflect on how meaningless my gifts, talents, and resources would be if I kept them to myself. For me, giving looks like tithing at my church and searching for opportunities to be a blessing to others.
Be discerning. Note that I mentioned prayerful giving. It is only loving to give with healthy boundaries in place. I now understand that it is never okay to give out of obligation. It is also necessary to sometimes say no. Whenever I say yes out of fear of anger, rejection, or whatever else, I am not being directed by love or freedom. In their book Boundaries, Drs. Cloud and Townsend break it down simply:
“…if we say yes to God or anyone else when we really mean no, we move into a position of compliance.”
“Appropriate boundaries don’t control, attack, or hurt anyone. They simply prevent your treasures from being taken at the wrong time.”
-From Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Be hopeful. Financial setbacks are just fragments of a good, cohesive story. Though I still worry about money sometimes, I know that I’m growing. I am convinced that the mishaps are equipping me with wisdom to help others, extending to future generations.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
-Romans 8:28 NLT
Be disciplined. I set a budget once per month in accordance with my pay schedule. Some people prefer to create their budgets using Mint.com or Microsoft Excel. I’ve found that budgeting in a journal and sticking to it as much as possible works best for me. Before purchasing something, I am also trying to get into the habit of asking myself, “Why?”.
Be dependent. In the Bible, the book of Romans says that not even my worries can separate me from God’s love. Every day, I am trying to lean on the love and provision of God, who is the source of everything that I have.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:19 NLT
Be grateful. Regularly writing in my gratitude journal shifts my focus from fear, scarcity, and comparison. It helps me to perceive my life as overflowing with small, beautiful moments.
Be kind to yourself. My forever friend, Tae, says it best: Be grateful for the wisdom you’ve gained. In exchange for your mistakes and every experience, you have the opportunity to gain something that is indispensable.
“Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.”
-Proverbs 3:15 NLT
I’ll leave it at this. My credit score, bank account, or anything material does not define me. This capitalistic society may try to depict self-worth as something to be determined by net worth, a number. That is a lie. Along my journey to financial stability, I am cautious to not trust money more than I trust God. I am mindful that accumulating money without the right heart leads to dangerous misuse.
With love and honesty,