Broke & Living
The Money Lessons I’ve Learned from Trying to Keep Up with the Kardashians
Trill or Not Trill?

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In my late teens and early 20s I thought I was the shit and lived to impress others; desperately trying to keep up with the Kardashian-type chicks in my social circles. But over time the facade got old, boring and tired.  I desired more than just Chanel handbags, crazy parties, a carousel of lovers and conversations without substance. Experience has always been my best teacher and as maturity set within recent years, I’ve quickly realized that money and “stuff” aren’t all that important. At some point you’ve got to separate from the rest of the pack, put on your big girl panties and set boundaries. At some point you need to seriously ‘check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self’ (that’s Ice Cube right?) and get your priorities straight. There comes a time when you have to be more mindful of the people and influences around you and re-evaluate which direction your life is heading.

My reality check came real quick. I was in my early twenties and I just couldn’t take the pressure of constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t just to fit in. I was depressed and had constant anxiety about my future. Not only was there fear career-wise, but my bank account was in the red and soon enough I had accumulated a ton of debt, with nothing to show for it. Something had to change immediately.

I stopped collecting things to impress others and started exploring and pursuing my goals and ambitions. I knew there was more to life than what some of my girlfriends had exposed me to. Interestingly enough, we were all addicted to the thrill of the chase, whether that was men, money, material possessions or attention. My parents did not raise me to think this way, I have to add. But growing up insecure and with very little confidence I was always trying to please others and was easily influenced by whomever would accept me into their group. Trust me, that is no way to live. Life is so much more fulfilling when you stay true to yourself and do the right things, not the easy things. But despite the role my peers played, I take full responsibility for my actions. I wanted things I could not afford. I wanted to be a part of a crowd that I thought was super cool and I wanted to be well-known for bullshit reasons. I look back on this period of my life and can’t even believe it.

Owning my faults made it easy to create an action plan. I had to make a decision and focus on new goals; which was a cool career and financial stability. I hired a financial advisor to look at my mess and see if he could implement strategies to help me go from red to black. Indeed, he did. Fortunately enough, I was able to get on track, put money away bi-weekly and start investing into myself. I opened a Registered Retirement Savings Plan account, Tax Free Savings Account and in a few short years went on to purchase my first investment property under the age of 30. Today a lot has changed. I learned to become very clear with my money goals and this “control freak” mentality has helped me save nearly $20,000. It’s not a huge number but it’s a number I am really proud of. As for my debt, I still have some hanging around and should have it all paid off soon enough.

A famous rapper once said, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” But listen, when you have NO MONEY you’ve got even more problems to deal with. Allow me to break down my step by step action plan.

1. I sought after professional help
It’s never too early or too late to start planning for your future. The best person to talk to is an accredited financial advisor. It is recommended that you interview two or three in order to find a professional who understands your goals and has your best interest at heart. The first step is to make a commitment followed by a plan of action. When meeting with your advisor, he or she will encourage you to consider contingencies such as a disability, critical illness, or death within the family. It’s important to reassess how these circumstances will impact your life and what you can do to protect yourself. You need three things to reach your goal: time, money and rate of return. Focus on the two components you can control, which is time and money. Set small goals and think big. I started saving only 50-100 dollars monthly four years ago. It’s not a lot but it’s more than a lot of people can say they’re doing right now. Today, I’m saving closer to 500 dollars monthly. Still, not a lot but it’s what I can afford and I’m proud of my progress. Besides a contingency plan, you need to outline a budget. You’d be surprised how much money we waste on morning coffee and other items. You DO have money to save, you just have to keep it real with yourself.

2. Stress proof your financial plan
Life is all about change and at the drop of a dime an emergency can occur. Examine your plan regularly so that you can adjust it before something happens. Once it is designed to do a job, ensure that your goals are supported with the right options available to you. Protect your assets and don’t underestimate the need to do it sooner rather than later. Your actions will create discipline. I just turned 28. As I approach the golden age of 30, I see children, marriage and a fruitful career in my future. I don’t want to wait until I reach those milestones to start preparing for them. Life changes cost money. Money does not fall from trees. To avoid the stress, I started saving early. Then I took a look at my savings pool and thought about what power moves I could make in order to double, triple or quadruple my money. My avenue was real estate. Yours may look like something else.

3. Invest with Confidence
The big payoff to saving is that you have a far better chance to save enough money to do the things you want to do in the way you want to do them, for as long as you live. I won’t lie to you, taking action was very scary, but the idea of continuing to struggle financially was more terrifying. I will come right out and say it, I don’t want to struggle. Ain’t nothing cute about women who walk around with $2000 designer handbags with less than $200 in them and ain’t nothing cute about a man who drives a nice car but can barely afford to pay his insurance. I want to have the financial freedom to live fully. I have the choice to do that right now. I have my future in my hands. So I took the necessary steps to inch closer to my goals.

Many of us are chasing something. Only you know in your heart what that ‘something’ is. For me, it was once acceptance from my friends and my purpose in this world. I’m not afraid to admit that I was easily influenced by “reality” television. Much like Love and Hip Hop, Housewives of Atlanta or Keeping up with the Kardashians. I wanted the lifestyle and luxury, but quickly found out that the road map to that dream is not by way of taking easy street. It requires me to work smarter and most importantly at my own pace.

It’s no secret; as young adults, we feel the pressure from all angles. But financial literacy is a pillar which provides life support to a better future. The day I got my mess sorted out was the day everything changed for me. Now, I fill my life with experiences that feed my soul, not my ego and after peeling off the mask I wore for so long, I’ve found that I’ve become a magnet to so many positive things simply because I have taken charge of my attitude. I rather stay true to myself instead of settling for the superstar status of being young, broke & fabulous.

 

Pauleanna Reid is  an Author, Speaker, Brand Architect, CEO, New Girl On The Block. As featured in ESSENCE, MTV Canada, Global TV, Vibe Vixen. For more on Pauleanna and her work check out PauleannaReid.com