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Black Conscious

Dear $: How To Start A Money Journal

I started a money journal to take a closer look at my finances and assess my behavior in my spending habits. Over time I realized using the journal has helped me become more conscious about my money management. It has helped me identify my darkest fears with finances. For instance, what are the true factors that have controlled my spending? Where do I spend my money? Were these items intentionally helpful in me working towards my money goals?!

Below, I have included writing prompts to help you excel in your journey and start a money journal.

$ If you could write a lower to money what would it say? Now your time to start the conversation. Today’s prompt will be a letter to money. Start here Dear $

$ Want an extra way to keep your expenses, debt, and income in order? Use your journal to document your everything you this. Nothing beats pen to paper when staying on top of your money goals.

$ Do you know your credit score? If you not, check out freecreditreport.com and write this number in your journal. Is it a score that makes you happy, sad or mad? Reflect on these feelings. 

$ Where do you see your relationship with finances in the next 3-5 years? Is it a better credit score? Do you want stacks saved in the bank? Does a car exist in your life in the next few years? Write these goals down; you can reflect on the things you’d like to accomplish. Having these goals down can serve as a constant reminder to stay focused.

$ Document your money goals for the week. Do you want to save $20.00 or refrain from spending altogether? Note and date it! Check back at the end of the week to see if you were able to reach your goals.

$ I am not my traumas. Today think of a traumatic moment with money and reflect on the role it’s played in your life. Is it taking up too much space in your life? What did this experience teach you? Now, answer who would you be without these traumas?

$ Money can’t buy happiness but it can bring _______________ fill in the blank.


$ Let's set your money goals. What are your money expenses for the upcoming week?

$How does money impact your mood in the workplace? How is money discussed in the workplace? 

$ What would your world look like if money was endless?

$ What is the biggest purchase you’ve made? Do you regret this purchase? 

$ When have you felt the most secure with money? 

$ How much money is enough money? What does that mean to you? 

$ If you received a windfall of $50,000 how would you spend the money? 

Hopefully these prompts will help you build a stronger relationship with money. Let me know where these prompts lead you!!

Why You Need An Accountability Partner

My mother would always tell me "I’m not too grown to get my behind whooped".

What I received from those words is that: I can still be put in my place, and I believed every single word.

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The biggest lesson that I’d learned in that sick message (lol, I may get whooped for saying this) is that I’m never too old to be accountable. She was my first accountability partner.

Now that I’m #adulting I realized the importance of being held accountable for my goals and list of to-dos.

Life hits you hard and fast, and sometimes, you can lose sight of your focus. This is where accountability partners come in.

Accountability partners help you reach your goals by holding you accountable for the things you desire. They are coaches and, show up to remind you what you need to do, “that is if you wanna keep your thing together.”

Me: Girl, let's go out to eat
My Accountability Partner: "How are you spending and saving?"

I decided to have an accountability partner when I wasn't being responsible in setting boundaries.  I had a friend who was facing a similar struggle.

We decided that we could support and encourage each other by helping each other refrain from unnecessary money stress (oh, what a stress, what a stress) and question the purpose of everything we desire and it's within our lives.

We understand that:

1. Holding each other accountable helps us reach our goals.
2. We set boundaries for ourselves.
3. Sometimes we have setbacks, and we support each other through it by reflecting on what can we change next time.

As effective partners we are committed to helping each other do better. We are clear about our faults and the temptations that exist

This April bet on an accountability partner. It can be someone who you trust but most importantly someone willing to check in and remain consistent in this commitment. That's right, because that's what an accountability partner is for.

Hell, sometimes there’s no better accountability partner than the one looking in the mirror.

Remember, I told you to hook yo-self up.

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Can We Talk About Money And Mental Health?

The first time I encountered financial hardships and its impact on mental health I was observing how my parents dealt with their money issues.  “It was like the less money we come across the more problems we see”.

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From conversation, activity, and mood swings my parents shut off when they faced financial hardships. In my understanding of their experiences today, their struggles mirrored a financial stress-induced depression. However, they never referred to the struggle as such or made the connection to how the stresses of money could shape our mental health. They simply were trying to survive.

Depression, like many other mental illnesses, is caused by varying factors including physical, biological and environmental factors. As research suggest when it comes to money, psychologists agree that personal finance is a contributing factor of depression.” For many of us we may carry a heavy anxiety tied to our finances.

As a result we stress over how we may be able  to pay our bills, maximize our income to make ends meet or to eat and sleep with ease. If anyone knows how it feels being broke and stressed they understand when your pockets are low they feel like the heaviest pockets in the world.

And to be honest, it’s a conversation many of us have in the back of our mind but don’t know how to bring it to the table. Whether it’s because  “the struggle” is not something we happily want to address or the perceptions of people regarding what it means to be broke is a sensitive subject. There exists many articles telling people why they are broke and blaming individuals for their economic hardships without factoring in the multitude of reasons people experience financial challenges.

They skip over the anxiety people have surrounding money and how their upbringing plays a part in the relationship individuals have with the dollar. If anything that should be addressed.
When you factor in the systemic challenges babyyyyyyy we’ll be talking for days about how race and gender factors in to your coins and social mobility.

For Black women and men money and finances play an integral role in their stress and mental health disorders.

Now, I feel like my observations of money and mental health have become more apparent within my circle. When you grow up poor in a low-socioeconomic household, weigh your options and become inspired to go down a path that is seemingly able to provide you social mobility, you ask yourself why the hell does it seem like you are a broke Millennial even when you “did everything right” to climb that ladder of success? Perhaps it takes time.

Nevertheless, I know a number of individuals who I spoke with in the past few months that in some way, shape or form their mental health has been impacted by the dolla dolla dolla bill y’all.

1. The person pouring from a half empty cup, trying to support their family and can’t afford
2. The fresh college graduate struggling to find a good entry level paying job
3. The individual battling STUDENT LOAN DEBT
4. The hustler milking three jobs to keep their head above water

We know of them because they exist in our everyday lives, they each have a story and chasing the bag is a topic that is universal no matter where you are from. The thing is sometimes that bag may have a hole, the emptiness may blow you to another dimension, and it may feel like you’re walking with a ton of bricks on your shoulder.

Here, there is room for discussion. While we highlight the importance of mental illness we must address how financial hardships can induce depression and provide solutions and resources to assist those through their hardships.

We must remove the barriers that prevent us to talk comfortable about money and be willing to understand that the struggle is real but like any struggle it is possible to make it through.

When it comes to money we don’t just want to keep our head above water, we want to build a damn boat that doesn’t sink.

Steps to Building an Emergency Fund When You Are Broke

Media: Stocksy 

Why should you have an emergency fund? Because when the going gets tough, you’re going to wish you had something to protect you. It’s no fun being unprepared when an emergency hits. It's crucial to get prepared for the unknown. When I got fired, I was left with the “I just got fired” shock, and had no emergency fund to help me through my rainy days. It was the most depressing time for me because I kept beating myself down about how I could have better prepared for an emergency. I now know better and am here to help you.

Here are a few things to assist you in developing an emergency fund.

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How Much Should I Save?

The amount of money in your emergency fund varies. Although experts recommend savings of three to six months worth of basic living expenses, the reality is it’s hard for most people to accumulate a fund of the size. Starting with smaller fixed amounts between the ranges of $1,000 to $4,000 can suffice. However, what you need depends on your budget and where you are currently in your life. Some of us are single and broke, some of us have families and are broke, the list can go on.  When you are deciding to build an emergency fund you should include these factors:

  1. Who do you need to support? The more people you are support — the larger your emergency fund should be.
  2. How easy will it be for you to bounce back if you were to suddenly lose your job position? 
  3. In looking at your emergency fund right now, if an emergency were to arise, would you be covered? What does a comfortable cushion look like yo you?

To make things easier, it may be helpful to brainstorm what may count as an emergency to you and what you’d be able to afford. Some examples include losing a job, being evicted, or having a natural disaster impact your home. List how much in each situation it may cost you to bounce back.

How Do I Build A Cushion?

Once you set an amount that you’re comfortable with. It’s time to prepare your savings.
After you’ve met your necessary living expenses in your budget, you should allocate extra money towards an your cushion. You can begin with small amounts like $20 or $40.

  1. If you are having difficulty finding spare change try to find areas in your budget you can cut back. Going out every weekend, pampering yourself even though you are bad and bougie is not cute when your cushion is struggling. Once you commit to building an emergency fund, you can make room for these expenses later. 
  2. You may be interested in opening an account that you use to build your Emergency Fund.
  3. Did you receive a big bag? A tax return? A financial Gift? No, it’s not party. This money can be used as an excellent boost toward building an emergency fund.

Reexamine your emergency fund size periodically It’s always best to have a fund’s size that correlates to your current situation in life. You may need to increase or decrease your how much you’re allocating to your fund overtime. Remember that an emergency fund is only to be used in an emergency. Go without one, and you’ll risk playing catch up.

Broke And Apartment Hunting? Here Are Some Things To Consider

Awwww, the time has come for you to move out. Kudos to you.

Moving out is a big step in adulthood. Not only is it exciting because you can live freely and on your own but, you do so by your rules.
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The first piece of advice I can give to someone who feels they’re ready to move out is PREPARE. PREPARE. PREPARE. The better prepared you are, the smoother your transition to living on your own will be. The second piece of advice I can give to young adults who are ready to move is if you can stay and save as much as possible at home, do that before leaving.

Although I understand for some that may not be ideal, everyone grows up in a different  environment. Before making a move, it is essential to realize that when you are living away from home, it carries a price tag.  I have compiled a list of things that can be helpful for “new independents” who will embark on the journey of moving out.

Pre-Move Out

Where to and what’s the Cost of living?

Great, you now know that you want to move out. Where to? And how much does it typically cost to live there? It’s important to have these answers because it will provide you with an overview of the cost of living and the expenses that will need to be accounted for BEFORE you embark on your journey. If you don’t have the answer to this question, you should check out Cost of Living Calculators  online. If you are relocating its a MUST you factor in the expenses of relocating.

How much do you have saved for the move? 

Now that you have an estimate for the living expenses, do you have enough saved to move out? Remember most rental spaces require a security deposit and first-month rent. For example, let’s say if your security deposit is $995.00 and the first-month rent is $995.00 you’d be required to pay $1990 upfront before receiving your keys. In this case, you want to make sure you enough saved to account for other expenses you will need (more on that later).

Do you know your credit score?

Your credit score plays a vital role in the apartment hunting process. Property managers and landlords use credit scores to examine how “trustworthy” of a prospective tenant you are. If you have a low credit score, it can potentially prevent you from getting a good apartment and slow the apartment rental process down. You may also be required to provide a co-signer. Not to mention you dodge having to deal with slumlords who appear  “willing to work with your credit” but don’t provide the best living facilities. In other words, make sure you have a good credit score. Anything less than stellar may require a co-signer and headaches.

Will you be living on your own or with a roommate?

As I said before independence comes with a hefty price tag. If you can’t afford to live on your own, you may want to consider splitting the price. However, living with a roommate should not be taken lightly. I remember living with three undergraduates on campus in my first year of graduate school, and it was an experience you couldn’t PAY ME to do again.

Moving Out

Who will help you? 

Alright so now that you have decided to move out out (the second out reflects you're serious). How will you be leaving and who will assist you? Will it be one of your family members or friends? How much will it cost you to transfer your belongings from you current spot to your new home?

Do you have a budget in place to get settled?

When you first move into a place, you will need to clean and organize your home to your liking. Germs of past tenants and whoever else are real? You will need to clean before you settle in, checking out the Dollar Tree or your local discount store is a great place to start for cleaning supplies and organization tools.

Where will you purchase your apartment furniture? 

Shopping around is key. And no, whoever told you you are required to shop at this name brand store they are WRONG. Thrift stores offer a lot of hidden gems and flexibility for those looking to save a penny. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever sleep on a discount. Besides, you can always purchase your furniture piece by piece.

Who doesn’t love food?  

What’s a new home and an empty stomach? A match made in hell. You must have food in your new place. Food sustains you. Whether you decide to purchase groceries and have them come to you, or go out and shop for your necessities on a budget, nutrition is a must. However, the budget part of this shopping experience is non-negotiable.

Be attentive and cautious about your food shopping. Just because you can afford to buy a lot of produce, remember that produce often comes with a quick expiration date.

Draft a list of the items you need and prioritize your shopping items. Also, don’t forget to shop at different stores because it may save you more money than purchasing all your items in one place.

Are you happy? 

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Your happiness sets the tone for your experience in your apartment. While I’m sure everything won’t be peaches and cream you have the opportunity to start your journey on a positive note. Welcome to adulting.

Broke Narratives: The Spin Cycle of Family Financial Burdens

Man being broke, is annoying.

But you want to know what's worse? Being broke and carrying the financial burdens of other people.

Perhaps, it's lending a helping hand to a friend or family or being trapped in the spin cycle someone saying "hey, can I hold something for XYZ?" I often wonder how many people are like me, feeling stuck in the same cycle of being financially drained by supporting others.

Over the years, I felt I had been trapped in the same spin cycle; somehow I've managed to maneuver my way through life. I don't say this proudly.

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My experience of carrying the financial burden of my family members started a the age of 18. It was like my life was predestined to help others and it has hindered my ability to focus on my needs, dreams, and desires solely. I've lived for everyone but myself, inside, I am deteriorating.

Statements like these hunt me:

"Niece, can I have $5.00."
"You, don't want to look out for the family?"
"I need to borrow a couple of dollars to take care of some things?"
"My account is running on empty, can you please save me?"

That's not because I don't want to help out, but I don't have the funds to give. I do so, anyway in the name of family and when I have nothing, there is no one to help me.

In my head, I'm screaming FUCK!!!!!!!! I can’t keep living like this.

I was recently having a conversation with a close coworker of mine; we were discussing the stress of overextending ourselves to help others.

It gets to the point where you feel that you have overextended yourself to and after a while, some people think that are entitled to your assistance. I mean it's only "lending a helping hand."

The reality is, I can't do any more than what I have, and sometimes that means I can't help at all. Some of our friends and relatives keep coming to us for assistance not realizing how much their dependence is inhibiting our personal growth.

I would much rather have my shit on point, to be frank, being able to do what I want without my account saying "okay you better not look at me because "I.CAN’T. HELP. YOU." I guess that makes sense when you've put everyone else above your own needs. It's crippling!

Although, its ok to say No! (That’s a complete sentence just in case you're wondering ).Sometimes I have to admit when saying no, I feel guilty. You begin to feel like you're not trying to help or you don’t care, even when that's not the case.

Then, you begin to take a step a back, if you were not there to the break fall of a loved one, how else they would get the help they need?

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Then IT hits.

I have failed to realize is that  I can’t help every time someone needs something. How can you help someone when you can barely keep your head above water?

What I have learned is that it's time to make sure my bank account can sustain ME not anyone else.  Being broke is temporary! It's time that I make sacrifices for me and my future, and that starts with me putting myself first.