5 Things I Wished I Knew in My Twenties

When we are young we are in such a rush to grow up and be older, be an adult. When we are older we live for the days when we were young and wish we could have the knowledge we now have, but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. We have our elders try to tell us their wisdom, but deem them as “too old to know” and “times are different now”. I remember before going to high school my mother told me “ Vita (that’s one of her special nicknames for me), you’ll make a lot of friends going to high school, but when it’s all over none of them will be your friends.” Now I don’t know if she spoke that over my life, but she was right. To this day I have less than maybe 5 friends from high school and really the ones I do have are more like family than friends. I always took what she said with a grain of salt. The friends I had going into high school were solid people then. I couldn’t imagine not being their friend. The friends I made in high school I thought would be forever, but slowly they dropped off like flies.

The people I met in college became friends for life. They are stuck with me whether they want to be or not –lol.  

I was on Facebook mindlessly scrolling, when I came across a repost that was giving some advice on things you should know while being an adult. I thought it was awesome advice, things I wish I knew at that age. – would I have listened?  Probably not, but at least I would’ve had it in times of need.

Here are 5 things I wished I knew in my twenties

1.       Finances

I was given some great tips about finances growing up, but no one ever taught me about finances. It was as if it was something I was already supposed to know. I didn’t understand the importance of it until I was flat broke; borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. I treated money like it was disposable and like it would always come, because up until a certain point it did. I lived paycheck to paycheck and sometimes was flat broke with not a penny to my name the day before payday. I had no concept of balancing, budgeting, or savings. I think this is the common story for most people, especially in the black community. Either our Elders didn’t know much about finances or they failed to teach it.

I really started to get a handle on my finances later in my 20s. I began to change the way I looked at money. After researching and finding people who talked in a language I understood when it came to money, these few things  helped me: TFD on Youtube, 52 week money saving challenges, and learning how to properly budget for my income using the 50/30/20 rule, so I wasn’t living check to check.- another thing was listing out what I wanted so I wasn’t mindlessly buying

It still takes a lot of discipline for me when it comes to finances. I still slip every now and again, but I can manage it better.

2.       Education

Everyone tells you getting an education and having a degree is extremely important. Not just for income purposes, but for critical thinking life skills as well. Not every career in life requires you to have a degree, but it is nice to have to fall back on; a degree will never depreciate. College is expensive, there’s no doubt about it. When I started college in 2007 classes were about $500 a class. Now in 2021 some classes are triple that if you’re going online.

Even if you opt out of getting a degree, try for a certification or trade. Certification shows that you were trained in that job and know how to do it and it takes a lot less time than going to college. Jobs really love when someone knows how to do the job vs having to train them for the job. The key is to never stop learning, you may be good at what you do, but you can always be better!

What I wish someone would have told me is how to be smart with the loans and refund checks. I wish I would have paid the interest or at least the principle on the loan while in school. That way when I got out of school my debt wouldn’t have been as high. Or to save my refund check and use it as emergency funds while going to school, because your car will break down or you will need a little extra to cover rent one month, instead of blowing it on spring break or clothes. 

3.       Health is Wealth

I never took my health seriously. I was for the most part fit until after college. I could eat what I wanted and not worry about gaining weight-probably because I danced it all off at parties-. I was what a fitness trainer would call skinny fat. I had no muscle and could not run a mile to save my life. I went to the doctor if I was sick and that was it. It wasn’t until I started noticing I was tired all the time and generally never felt good, that I began to take a personal interest in my health.

Looking back I wish I would have taken exercising and my overall well being more seriously. I noticed that people who were physically fit at a younger age, like middle school and high school, have an easier time keeping up with staying fit than those of us who slacked off. Trying to get fit now takes a lot of discipline, a lot of tender love and care, a lot of I really don’t want to, but forcing myself to. I love how I feel after. I work at a desk all day so getting up and going for a run really loosens my body up, but working up the strength to actually go for the run and not sit on the couch and veg out or lay in the bed and take a nap that’s the hard part.-hell I’m sleepy now tying this! lol

4.       You will never have it figured all the way out, do it anyway!

Time is of the essence. This moment right now is all you have and you can not get it back.  When I was younger I thought I had all the time in the world to figure it out. What I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, the kind of life I wanted to live,  I felt I had the time to put the serious stuff off. Instead I partied and bullsh*tted.- but remember there should be a balance to everything.– After college life hits you fast! I still had no idea about any of it. I got a full time job out of necessity, but it was not what I wanted to do. In that job field, although I gained a ton of experience and learned a lot,  it wasn’t something that I was passionate about.. I didn’t have a plan, I wasn’t intentional about anything. 

Truth is you don’t have time. If 2020 has taught me anything it’s that you need a plan for longevity, but do what you can in that moment. I wish I would have been more willing to step out of my comfort zone and tried on different things to see how they fit. New experiences, different jobs, different men even, everything I did was out of comfort.  One day I looked around and realized everyone had moved on and I was still here, trying to figure it out. There was not one person’s life I wanted. Not that you should want someone’s life, but you should have people who you aspire to, and I for a moment, had no one. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying figuring it out is a bad thing, but don’t waste life away. Do what sets your soul on fire. Go and try different things on and see if they fit you. Most of us know what we want to do, we are just too scared to take the leap, too worried about what people are going to think or say, or afraid to fail. If we stop looking at failing as a negative and start looking at it as a stepping stone or a lesson on what not to do, we would be much further along.  Make the most of the time you have,  but have a plan just in case!

5.       Nobody Cares

Which brings me to my next point. When you’re young, no matter how much you say you don’t care what people think, we all know you do. It’s why you move through life the way you do. You care if your friends or family don’t support your dreams. You care if you’re not acknowledged. I wish we would stop saying that we don’t care because in some way we all do. In reality, no one should care more than you do. 

Your dreams, your passions, the things you choose to pursue are for you and nobody else. Those are the things that bring you joy and nobody else. So guess who is going to care about those things? Only you. Self-doubt, especially for an artist, stems from your fears of how you will be perceived or what people will think and how you’re judged in the world. Truth is no one cares. Most of your support will come from people who don’t know you, but relate to you and the ones who hate to see you succeed. No one will care more about what you’re doing than you. If it’s something that you’re proud of, that truly brings you joy without harming others, do it. I say go for it. Tyler Perry is heavily criticized for his plays and content, but guess what he still creates them and he is a millionaire now. He once said that he doesn’t create art for the people who don’t understand, he creates it for the people that do. Whatever it is that you want to do, do it. You will find your tribe and then you’ll continue to create it for them. There’s a million different brands of bread, still everyone has their own preference. SHINE ANYWAY!

Though I’m not disappointed in my journey or regret a thing, I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, still these things would have been great to know and not have to learn the hard way ha! I may make a part 2, writing this actually made me think of 5 more things I wish I knew.

Do you agree? What are some things you wished you knew growing up?

And Remember,

Dont be Bitter,

Be Better!

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A New Way to Think About Budgeting: A Financial Journey

I feel like wealth isn’t talked about enough within the black community due to various reasons, such as lack of family time within the household, no mentorship, or no one else in the family educated enough on finances. This leads to children being uneducated on finances when becoming an adult. Leaving them to figure out how to manage money. Figuring out how to manage money when no one has shown you how to, is pretty hard. Most of us end up living paycheck to paycheck or blowing it on wants more than needs. We dig ourselves into these deep debt holes that we can’t get out of and then are judged heavily when we ask for help. Sound familiar? – it does for me!- 

I figured out money how probably most people do, by observing. I grew up in a single parent household. My mother didn’t have time to teach me. My grandmother gave me tips here and there, but I learned mostly by observing her. My grandmother spent money like she was always going to have it. There wasn’t one time we went to a store and she didn’t spend under $100. I thought to myself “I’m going to be just like her when I grow up”. And I was, only she knew how to budget and I didn’t. 

I have gone through a lot financially and I’m still learning and adjusting. I am by no means a financial guru and do not give out financial advice. I am, however, your favorite lil sis here to give you just a few things I’ve learned on my road to financial wealth.

I’ve learned that small changes win the race. The first thing I did when I decided to get serious about my finances was, – you guessed it– research! Youtube, Pinterest and books were my saving grace. What got me started was Dave Ramsey Baby Steps. Of course I had to tweak it because I’m not saving for kids or college, but it was definitely a start. Then on Youtube I followed TFD ( The Financial Diet) , Camille Collazo, and The Break. TFD has 2 books (available on audible as well) that dive deep into money. They are good short reads and worth it. I do have a few books that I want to read, such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad ,which always comes highly recommended, but I’m a visual person when it comes to numbers and investing, so I started there with watching people talk about money. While researching, I also found a few tricks of my own.  

  1. Pay Yourself First AND last

I know you’re going, duh! This isn’t new, it’s what everyone always says! Well, that’s because it’s true! You did all the hard work, so when the check comes pay yourself first! In the beginning this was a little hard for me. I would pay myself and then I would take it back and spend it. If I could see the money in my account then I was sure to spend it. I had to figure out a way to save money without being able to see it in my account. I set up a separate savings account at a local credit union that had a 2.5% return without a card to the account. I have a percentage of my check direct deposited into that account as soon as I get paid. This way I cannot remove the money from the account without physically going to the bank. I never have to see it and I check the account by the monthly statements. 

Another way I paid myself first was a savings challenge. I would always see the money challenges going around on Pinterest and other social media apps, and I thought “What could it hurt?” I grabbed a mason jar cut numbers 1-52 and I pulled 2 numbers at random every 2 weeks ( I get paid biweekly, however, this challenge was weekly so I had to tailor it for myself). Whatever the numbers equaled went straight into my emergency savings at my bank. I think its important to have a bank and a credit union. Banks are everywhere and credit unions are usually local. You get more perks with a credit union than a typical bank account. I enjoyed this challenge because it really did feel like a game. I never knew what the amount would be and it was thrilling to see how fast the numbers added up. It even challenged me to see if I could save even faster. I actually became obsessed with how much I could save. 

One thing I started doing that most people don’t do is paying myself last as well. The day before payday, what is ever left in my checking goes to my emergency savings. This has helped a lot with savings and budgeting. Flexible bills tend to fluctuate so I over budget just to make sure I have it all covered. I also budget myself an extra spending fund just in case I forgot something, I call it a cushion. Normally, those funds are left over and I slide that money into my emergency savings.

I love to shop. – we should know this by now– so paying myself first meant budgeting being able to shop. Saving money is nice, but as Carrie Bradshaw once said “ I like my money right where I can see it… hanging in my  closet.” Yes saving is necessary, but so is enjoying it. One reason I could never save the money is because I would always take it out to eat or shop, it made me feel better. A little treat –or a lot of treats– always made me feel like the hard work was worth it. I carved out a spot in my budget to both save and be able to buy myself something –or a lot of somethings– nice. 

  1. Everything Counts!

Speaking of budgeting, having a budget is important not only for paying your bills, but also as a guide to get past living paycheck to paycheck. One major reason I failed at meeting any financial goals was because I left too much out of my budget. I wrote down my monthly bills in my budget, but things that were flexible such as; gas, food, going out, subscriptions, grooming, personal items etc. all got left out. I would pay my bills and whatever was left was up to chance. 

This was a big no no. It left me overspending and sometimes left without things I needed. I was living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes couldn’t even make it to pay day.  

I fixed my monthly budget to include every single thing possible that I needed money for. This took some getting used to because I hated having to guess at what my flexible spending would be. After a few months I began to pinpoint a number that pretty accurate for each of my flexibles items in my budget such as $80 for gas, 50 for personal items etc. this helped me stay on track within my budget You can always work backwards to find this. After all your bill are paid lets say you have $300 left, break that $300 down to each item and stay within the allotted amount.

Here’s an example of an old budget I did on NerdWallet

I have found some neat tools to help me budget. One of the best tools is the paycheck calculator. Whether you’re hourly or salary, make overtime or bonuses, it will calculate how much your checks will be with post and pretax deductions calculated. It will also give you suggestions for credit cards and savings!

NerdWallet is the next best thing to keeping you on track with how much you should have for each part of your budget if you follow the 50/30/20 rule. I have found this rule to be the best for me, especially with saving, i was cutting myself wayyy short when it came to saving. they also have articles on the site that offer advice for finances as well.

  1. Use all of your Job’s Benefits

So much money is left on the table because people do not use all of their job benefits! I’m not talking about matching the 401k so you get the maximum benefits- but that is important by all means get all the money they are willing to offer– but the other benefits that get left on the table. 

Say for instance stocks. You work for the company, why not buy a stock in it? One of my coworkers earned an extra 10k just from her stock alone! She was able to put down that money on her first house. 

My main full time job is a huge fortune 500 company in the healthcare field. Almost anything health related I get a discount for. Sinus meds, asthma equipment, gym memberships etc. I get a discount for. My job also offers a plethora of discounts with other companies for auto insurance, phone bill, to hotel discounts, to pay for parking at the airport. My job also gives us free money for being healthy if we have an HSA account with our medical insurance. That’s right, free money for being a non-smoker, or meeting certain health criteria’s, or for donating blood. We even get an extra $600 for getting pregnant. 

Your job can have so much to offer. I suggest looking into the company you work for and see where you can save or earn.   

I’m still learning and researching as I want to get into investing soon. I still have my setbacks, but I learn from them and continue to build. I hope some of these tips were helpful. How did you learn about finances and what are some of the ways you save? Let’s talk about it!

And Remember,

Dont be bitter,

Be better!

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