There’s something really wonderful and empowering about being your own woman in all ways. I’m talking about having your stuff together from the inside out: your career is on the move, you’re handling your finances like a champ, and you’re attention to your personal appearance is impeccable.
For some brown girls, this is a lofty dream punctuated and mired with bouts of feeling lost and off-track. But having it all in the way of beauty and finances is easy if you take heart to the following advice.
Create a realistic budget
Instead of tracking every penny, which may not be realistic, think about budgeting in a more conceptual way. Think about creating a savings-centered budget.
To do so successfully, make sure you know exactly how much you bring in after taxes each pay period and decide on a “can do” percentage that you want to save. Say to yourself “By the end of the month, I want to save x-amount of dollars.” This is a “backwards” savings strategy of attack.
Once your check comes in, you will take that amount out (or have it automatically withdrawn), and then figure out how to pay the bills and splurge.
When you do this, you put savings at the center of your budget while still giving yourself enough wiggle room to spend on experiences and your material guilty pleasures without amassing pointless consumer debt.
Consider this “paying yourself first,” which is the Holy Grail of any brown girl focused on making her money grow.
Even though no one knows the nuances and intricacies of your finances like you do, here are two savings and budgeting “rules of thumb” that can give you some insight into where to start planning for a “savings-centered” budget.
The 50:30:20 Rule: Fifty-percent of your budget goes for “needs” like food, housing, insurance, and transportation; thirty-percent goes towards your “wants” like clothing, services, and entertainment; the twenty-percent goes for savings.
The Three E’s Rule: Author of Rich Bitch, Nicole Lapin advises following this financial method: Seventy- percent for essentials, like rent, utilities and insurance; fifteen percent for the end-game retirement and savings; another fifteen-percent to extras like experiences and entertainment.
If you are currently unable to save at these levels, no worries. Consider them short-term or long-term goals; strive, though, to save at least 5% and gradually move to saving an amount that gives you a 6-12 emergency fund stash.
You can also check out apps and sites like Digit, Mint, and The Finance Bar Expense Manager for tools to track, manage, and better understand your savings needs.
Automate debt payments
The key to becoming debt free is focusing on a series of small wins. Small wins create big change. If you know that you will have difficulty paying your debt on time and consistently, speak with your bank representatives to set up monthly recurring payments to the institutions to which you owe money.
This is especially true for bills that you hate to pay. (For whatever reason, I hate paying my cellphone bill and made sure that I automated this payment to avoid interruptions in service.)
This structure takes some pressure off of you because payments are automatically withdrawn from either your checking or savings accounts. With automation, though, it is still important that you are regularly checking and reviewing your accounts to make sure payment amounts and dates are accurate.
Manage your credit like a queen
Despite the prevailing sentiment that credit cards are evil, the brown girl millennial knows that this is not true. Credit is neither good nor bad. It takes on the personality of the credit card holder.
In other words, if you are using (abusing) credit by using it to live above your means, then credit cards and the exorbitant interest payments and late fees that accompany it will mirror themselves in your credit score.
On the other hand, if you use credit cards to build your credit score by paying on time and paying in full each month, you will be able to leverage your excellent credit standing to secure low-interest rates on mortgages, car loan, and small business loans in the future.
Check out sites like Credit Karma to get a free credit score from TransUnion, one of the three big credit bureaus. Credit Sesame also offers you a free credit score based on updates from Experian.
There is this erroneous notion that women on a budget sacrifice their standards of beauty and style, especially when it comes to our hair and clothes. The Brown Girl on the Go knows that this is not true. She focuses on ways to stay on trend using technology and buying from brands that are beauty and budget friendly.
Become a #FrugalBeauty
YouTube is one of the best places to find free tutorials from everyday women who have extraordinary talents and are willing to share their know-how with you. Go to YouTube for tutorials on nails, eyebrows, natural hair locs, and even body scrubs.
In addition to YouTube, you should check out Pinterest for inspirational fashion ideas on how to work the basics that you already have and organizational tips for making your closet more organized so you can reinvent your style exponentially without breaking the budget.
Host a Swap
Swapping clothes is the premier alternative to thrifting. When you host a clothing swap or attend one, you avoid having to worry about who wore the clothes and having to spend money on items with “potential” to be fierce.
Swapping is usually done with an intimate set of friends with (hopefully) similar or complementary sartorial tastes. I attended and have hosted swaps a few times this year and walked away with a “new” wardrobe without having to pay a red cent.
BMWK: What other beauty and budget must-haves should we include?