Come close.

closer…

I am about to give you top secretedy, secret information about the truth of balancing the Army reserves and civilian life.

You’ve seen the commercials that make you want to fist pump and high five yourself because America is amazing.

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Land of the free and home of the bad-asses that protect us.

(At least that’s how the commercial makes you feel anyway)

Then the screen flashes and you see ARMY RESERVES in golden letters calling out for you to take action. Be a boss in your civilian life with transferable skills AND a top notch Soldier when duty calls. It’s as easy as a light switch. Turning on one aspect of your life and switching off the other. They don’t tell you that sometimes it’s a melting pot mess if you’re not careful; even for the anally organized and professional like myself.

Instead you get fed this image

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But what about the cut scene of your boss sighing loudly in a “What the f*** you have another three day drill weekend in the middle of our busiest season!” kinda way?

Here’s the truth about balancing life as a Solider and a civilian from my own experiences and others I’ve been privy to. This  is what your recruiter won’t tell you but what you should know before making the decision to sign on the dotted line.

 

Your boss can’t fire you so suck it up.

It’s true. After being given your drill schedule which usually (I use that term loosely hence the italics) consists of a weekend once a month and a separate full two weeks out the year; your boss cannot fire you for fulfilling your military obligations when called to duty. Even if you’re gone for two years and up to five years. This includes any orders or active duty time that you may get selected for whether voluntary or involuntary.

The fine line with this is that if you have a spiteful boss they can make your work environment uncomfortable, stressful or plain out unbearable. If you can prove this then there are actions you can take to protect yourself under federal regulations that can be better explained with these links:

https ://employment.findlaw.com/wages-and-benefits/military-service-and-re-employment-rights.html

https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/

However, if I have to force a boss to treat me fairly then I would think that makes a hostile work environment in and of itself. Just saying.

Not to mention the schedule when it comes to being a full time student. You have to take into account that most professors will work with you to help curve any time you miss; however, in an increasingly demanding year you could miss anywhere from a week to almost a month of school in the start of the semester and if you have a professor who’s an ass then that’s a recipe for a disaster. Schools really aren’t required to look out for part-time Soliders.

In being open with expectations and issues with your employers and professors beforehand, also talking with college administration, you can curb some of these issues.

 

Sometimes you can’t be Mary Jane

Yes seriously. For all the reasons discussed above sometimes it will be difficult to give to your civilian job in ways that could help you advance at a faster rate. And vice versa. Balancing your schedule often requires you to shift or cancel things you may have planned in the civilian world based on your military needs. Fulfilling obligations on both sides could leave you in a gray area professionally if you’re not actively paying attention.

 

It pays for school…kinda.

When you’re in your enlisting process you must make sure you get the Montegormy G.I. bill put into your contract before signing your life over. Otherwise, you’re just out of luck. Some recruiters will take the time to explain this to you. Others not so much. I was lucky to have a decent recruiter.

Still, in the terms of hearing “it will pay for school” you will think that comes with a heafty check to the school you’ll be attending. Instead it comes in monthly payments made to you for about $500 to $700 depending on your contract.

You will hear terms like “Kicker” or “ROTC program money” my suggestion is get a good understanding of what financial benefits you’ll actually be getting because after you sign everyone will just assume you know.

There is also something called tuition assistance that can be paired with your scholarships, grants, and G.I. Bill and if used correctly you could graduate with virtually no debt. Oh how I wish someone would’ve told me these things. You’re welcome by the way. At this point it should go without saying that you should definitely read the fine print before signing. Because once it’s signed that’s it; no going back to get extra benefits.

 

 What YOU time?

Your administrators, unit, and superiors expect you to be all that you can be and EVERYTHING else. This includes taking care of military assignments, classes, appointments, staying physically fit etc…much of it on your civilian time. To compound this, your boss will likey expect the same treatment (rightfully so) this can translate into, as I stated in a previous post, this…

110 % to civilian job

110% to military job

40% to family and friends (because you have to fit them in somehow)

and very little, time or energy left over to yourself without some serious organizational planning skills.

I’m not at all saying that there will be no time for yourself and personal goals but you will be in a unique situation where you are expected to perform at 100% from your civilian job and especially for your military job. Make sure that you are planning time to prioritize yourself as well as your jobs.

 

Frenemies

I tell people all the time that me and Uncle Sam have a love/hate relationship when they ask about my military career. It is the most honest representation I could say. Most people have this glorified sense of the military and in some ways it’s justified; not many people are willing to sign over their time (the most precious commodity) to a government with mixed reviews.

 

Regardless of your personal opinion, that in itself is pretty brave. But the truth is being part-time military is in many ways just like any other job with its high points and low points. You are expected to perform specific tasks as an individual and a team player. Often there’s organizational issues,

disagreements, celebrations, and everything else you would find at your normal 9 to 5. Don’t let the stigma of “military” fool you into thinking you can’t provide what is needed to be a Soldier.

 

 FYI

Some people get confused over what the National Guard is compared to the Reserves. The biggest difference is that the National Guard is sorta like a militia for each state. This is where most of there funding comes from and if something like a natural disaster effects that states those are the Soliders you see as responders. Reservists are funded federally. We both have pretty much the same one weekend a month, two weeks out the year obligations. Other branches such as the Air Force and navy offer part time contracts as well. Don’t be afraid to ask or accept a bonus. No you won’t get screamed at every day in training and Yes, it was worth it.

 

My truth

I made many important milestones as an adult as a result of being a Soldier. I wouldn’t trade the experience, growth or financial advancements it has afforded me for anything. I had specific reasons on why I joined that has kept me focused on my military journey. Still, I made mistakes due to ignorance of my benefits and rights; had I’d known much of the information above I could’ve enjoyed an even better experience as a young professional and a Soldier. I hope these truths help you in some way. For questions, comment or email me and #LetsBuild

 

Someone or something told me dreams were not for me. Dreams were for the smart or the rich or the lucky; but they were not meant for someone from my background with my skin color. This is true for many underprivileged children. Many of them share the same sentiment without ever realizing it. Dreaming and setting goals can be the difference that changes one’s circumstances from “just getting by” to “flourishing.”

Unfortunately, children from low income homes find it hard to dream past their circumstances; often feeling hopeless in the face of others older and wiser than they having never overcome financial or educational struggles.

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Pixabay

I was 20 before I held my first dream like a precious egg; I was afraid it would break if I neglected it. So I nurtured it as much as I could and fed that dream until it hatched. Eventually, that dream birthed more dreams for me to mother. Up until that point I had made goals for myself that I achieved but to dream was out of the question for me. While setting goals and achieving them is great, a dream transcends you mentally, emotionally, and many times, financially.

A dream is what stirs your passion and gives you butterflies. It’s sad that so many children today will choose only to pursue goals because they view dreams as a luxury. The difference of a goal and a dream is as simple as this:

21 year old Miya comes for a household where income is low. She decided against college because of the cost and set a goal to get her certification as a hair stylist because she loves doing hair and interacting with women. She is eager to earn money to support herself and help her household. This mentality will be how she earns a living for the next 20 years.

as opposed to

21 year old Miya decided to get her certification as a hair stylist and take business classes at her local community college so that she could eventually open up her own salon. She saw spending money to take classes and getting her certification as an investment to her future. Within 20 years she has 2 hair salons, 14 employees and lives a comfortable upper class lifestyle. She is better able to help her family.

In the first example Miya has set a wonderful goal to become a stylist based off of what she loves to do and the immediate financial need of her family. In the second example Miya actively works toward her dream by taking the necessary steps to get there. The second example isn’t likely to happen without emotional mentoring in the form of encouragement.

Too often we allow our own negative life experiences to seep into the advice we give our youth. “That’s too big a dream, aim for something realistic.” We say this in our own paraphrases without understanding the impact it has. Miya likely had someone encourage her dreams and that helped to give her confidence in pursuing them. But how do you do that?

 

How do you dream when you can’t see past your circumstance?

One of the important things I’ve learned is, in order to break down the mental barriers of low income children you must expose them to environments that stimulate their mind and expand their world view. Although I was heavily affected by my circumstances in the teen years of my life, I can attribute my creativity, curiosity, and thirst for knowledge to my childhood. Watching history documentaries or nature shows with my dad for hours expanded my world to places outside of our tiny walls.

Constantly wanting to learn more, being equipped with 9,999 fun facts and being a general nerd has all steamed from him. Watching my mother and sisters create from their own imagination, bringing their passions to physical forms spurred me to play with my personal creativity. Children who are given an alternative way of seeing the world, free from the eyes of financial stress, are better able to dream past their circumstance.

 

It is hard to dream something you’ve never seen.

That’s why connecting children with a mentor can improve the way they view the world and most importantly, change the way they view themselves. Seeing someone living well who shares similar background baggage or physical attributes helps children envision themselves living well, accomplishing the “impossible” and conquering dreams. REPRESENTATION ABSOLUTELY MATTERS! In saying, “If she can make it, then so can I” a child is empowering themselves and establishing that they want more out of life.

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Wanting MORE is not a crime

Dreaming bigger than what you’ve personally seen accomplished can feel like a betrayal to those closest to you. It can feel like saying “The way we live isn’t good enough for me.” It can feel like you’re slapping your hard working mother/father in the face.

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The truth is that unless we live a dream realized then we all want more. Some of us just forget that. Even our parents or idols.

Another issue is that not everyone dreams the same. Your MORE may not look like my MORE. My more right now is having a successful mentoring program and middle class lifestyle while my boyfriend’s more comes equipped with extra zeros in his bank account. Similarly, I had completely stressed myself out a while ago wanting more for my mother.

She’s amazing and I think she deserves all the gold in the world. One day in her office at school I asked her “Ma, what did you always want to be or dream about being when you were my age?” I thought she was going to give me some off the wall response like a Hollywood actress, world renowned chef or something. Instead, she peaked at me from the top of her reading glasses and said “I love what I do now. I feed people and get to decorate and be myself. My greatest dream was to be a better mother than I had so anything extra is a blessing.”

(Real tears) I was floored. Here I was wanting a dream for my mother that wasn’t even hers. Her MORE had already been realized through the reciprocated love of her daughters. So wanting more for yourself is nothing to shy away from. Everyone has a “MORE.”

Some people have achieved it and others are afraid to pursue it. Don’t allow worrying about how others view your pursuit of more to deter you from it. As long as you travel the path towards your dream with respect for your past and grace for your future, you will be alright.

To me dreaming doesn’t have to be outrageous. Dreaming for people from households that don’t encourage or talk about the future often involves achieving things that no one else in the family has.

A dream doesn’t have to be something utterly trivial like wanting to be a star NBA player or world renowned author. Most times it’s dreaming of being the first in your family to graduate from college, start a successful business, join the military, travel the world, own a home etc…

In having discussions with others about the difference between setting a goal and pursuing a dream I realized that many people consider dreams those things in our lives that live outside reality and thrive within the probability of winning the lottery. However, to me dreaming often is far smaller than that.

Dreams are linked to our passions, sometimes our talents. Dreams are those things that call out to us from a distance ahead; urging us to take action through pursuit. Our dreams make use restless.

I’m not saying encourage your 35 year old cousin to continue in his pursuit of being a rapper but do offer a healthy discussion about the future with your 16 year old niece who believes she wants to be a surgeon. Help her to envision her dream and find ways to actively go after it.

 

Dream complete

When I was graduating from High School I got asked, “So what are your plans after graduation?;” more times than I can count. No one asked this the other 3 years of my high school life and I honestly don’t think I was really asked that question after the age of 8 when the answers were cute. They included astronaut, policeman, and actress. Once I became older and the reality of adulthood was nye; it became a different ball game in which my answers were expected to be followed up by actions.

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GIPHY: I virtually felt as though I was being thrown into the world of adults vulnerable and unprepared after graduation.

The problem was that since no one had really encouraged me to dream about my future, I didn’t. I was blindsided by the “what next” question that suddenly appeared in my senior year of high school so I only offered a response with no real follow through thinking. “So what are your plans after graduation?” I replied, “I’m going to school to become a psychologist.” Ha! I laugh at this now because man oh man was I clueless in what that pursuit really entailed. At the time it seemed like the best way to fulfill my need to help people.

The topic to dream complete means exactly what it says. Dreaming the process of the pursuit all the way through. Whenever you think about your dream you should make a plan on how to achieve it. Dreaming completely allows you to see your dream in it’s entirety and helps you make the decision on whether it’s really for you or not. Once I realized that I wanted to help people but I wasn’t willing to pursue a PH.D to do it; I changed my major to something more realistic. Encourage the youth, friends, and family in your life to dream complete.

This post in based on my views of what dreams and goals mean. What are YOUR thoughts? Comment below and let’s discuss. #LETSBUILD

 

I found myself sitting in the chair opposite my immediate boss participating in an exit interview after barely two months. “I just want to touch base with you to understand any improvements that we can make to keep people here,” he said. Apparently, there had been several people over the course of a few years in and out of the position that I was now returning back to the company like a bad fitting pair of shoes. I didn’t have the courage to tell him that my feet hurt; literally and figuratively.

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The Truth was…

I didn’t tell him that it was the lack of properly training me before throwing me into such a fast paced environment that was making me leave. I didn’t mention the 10 hour days with no break, the un-organization that I got blamed for no matter how much more organized I made the place since I’d been there.

The virtual babysitting of grown men. I didn’t even refer to the demotion I felt I had received after turning down the offer of a higher position which would’ve required even more of my time and sanity. Instead, I took the cowardly approach in saying “Oh, it’s just… I need to focus on some family issues.” There was some truth in there…somewhere. Maybe.

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But the real truth was more intense because it included mornings I woke up feeling unrested, unfulfilled, and unappreciated. Being a hard worker is something that comes natural to me but after a few weeks, I stopped caring about my work ethic at this place altogether. I then knew something was wrong. I had just come home from working my a** off overseas and didn’t think civilian work should be more draining than that but it was.

 

Somethings Gotta Give

So, why care about providing top shelf performance when they could care less about me? I’ll work, you’ll pay but don’t expect anything extra and especially don’t expect me to stick around.This was the mentality I had developed for jobs notoriously known for their low wages and high employee turnover rates.

Every night I would go home to refine my resume and spend at least 2 hours searching for jobs in my area. EVERY. NIGHT. Every morning I would listen to inspirational sermons and videos on YouTube about people leaving their jobs with or without a backup plan simply because it made them miserable. EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. This lasted at least a month until I finally wrote my notice.

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Quitting is not something that’s easy for me. My hard work ethic was a source of pride and nothing could take that away or so I had thought. I had been down this road before and was determined to value myself even if my employers didn’t. You want to know why millennials job hop? Why employee turnover rates are forever high at Burger King? (or wherever) Here’s Why.

 

What the Hell do you Expect?!

It always fascinates me when I see the inner workings of places that offer low waged pay. Productivity must always be high! They demand this even if that means going into a zombie-like trance after scrubbing the ice cream machine that doesn’t work for two hours on a slow day. Time theft is real. I get it.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE ALWAYS WORKING!

Meanwhile, as I’ve leveled up into more professional jobs, I’ve found that with better pay and an understanding that I am actually human, and not a robot, productivity and high turnover rates are not issues my employers are faced with.

Productivity doesn’t have to mean constantly moving. It took me being at my current job for months before I knew it was okay to sit at my desk without fear of backlash from my very sweet manager. And, alas! my productivity, contributions, and creativity are at an all time high.

I’ve been in some high points during my working history like being given an A/C cooled suburban truck to drive in the desert for work, while my superiors were walking in 140 degree weather. And low points like being a waitress for a restaurant after earning a college degree because I couldn’t find better work and rent was due. The high points vary but there are so many similarities in the low ones like…

No respect for schedules. If there even happens to be one. Sometimes I seriously think those things were suggestions. Just save the paper then.

No work/life balance. Due to the lack of scheduling you can virtually be called in or asked to stay. Whatever you had planned can wait because apparently your job should come first. YOUR JOB IS YOUR LIFE. Saying no too many times is unwise. I don’t know about you but No life + hella insomnia + crap pay makes me a very grumpy girl.

 

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No real raises and promotions are few and far inbetween. I was 17 working at burger king when they raised the minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $7.50/hr. Big deal for me but not such a big deal for a mother of a young son in sports with rent, insurance, groceries, phone bill, light bill, water bill, gas, and let’s just hope she or her son doesn’t get sick. Rent continues to rise despite low quality housing, grocery prices are crazy, and gas companies are trippin’.

Side note: I’ll never understand how we can justify paying people crap money for our convenience appetite/services but we’re okay with paying congress and other elected officials like they should all enjoy summer homes and country clubs. Meanwhile, they do a government shutdown almost every other year in which Soldiers don’t even get paid. Remember that next time you go order that #3 with cheese and a tea, it comes with a side of attitude for a reason.

Resuming…

No authentic relationship with bosses high up. I always hated that mad dash to make sure everything was in tiptop shape for store owners or whoever. Fake smiles and fake concern accompanying them through the door. In my eyes, if you bleed red then I can talk to you about real issues and try to come up with solutions.

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Putting owners/bosses/superiors on a pedestal because of their position is just doing them and you a disservice because you’re not gonna be real with them about what you want and need to be the best employee. I’m not saying ask for a $10 raise but do mention the ice cream machine stays broke because they keep sending a mechanic to fix a 25 yr old machine instead of replacing it. It’ll save you getting cursed at the drive thru everyday and make them more money than they spent replacing it.

 

No real concern for who employees are. I had one boss who I had several great conversations with. Customers gave him glowing reviews about me and still he couldn’t remember my name even after 12 hour work days, coming in when called and with a name tag on. Apparently, KRYSTAL wasn’t significant enough to remember though I  earned regular customers due to my performance. It really is the little things that matter. Sometimes employees don’t want a trophy, they’d just like to actually be acknowledged as a vital part of your operations.

 

No real reason for me working hard besides making money. “If you take pride in your work it makes me money and that keeps your paychecks coming.” Yea. Okay. That’s all dandy but while you’re taking a break in your office eating for the 2nd time today, employees who have been on their feet for 8 consecutive hours with an empty stomach feel unappreciated. Sometimes, making you money just feels degrading especially considering my minimum wage paycheck after taxes.

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No real solutions to fix issues. Getting called in early for meetings always erked me. Not because I’m opposed to meeting and talking about what to expect but because I’m not here for the fake pep rally. Generally, you just wasted my time because the meeting didn’t address real issues or provide any solutions. We’re just meeting for the sake of saying we did.

 

No communication skills. I am not your child. Do not speak to me as such. I’ve watched as employees (other than myself because they knew better than to try it) got berated and “talked down to” by managers, owners, or other staff. “Everyone here can be replaced.” There’s no quicker way to get me out the door than hearing that. If you think just because you’re paying someone that you’re doing them a favor instead understanding it’s a mutual relationship then you’re in for one wild turnover roller-coaster ride baby.

 

bad boss

Personally, when there is mutual respect with the people I work for there is almost nothing they can’t ask me for that I won’t trip over myself to make happen for them. I do this because they’ve proven that they’d do the same and more importantly, I’m valued. So, you need a kidney sir? I GOT YOU!

Often immediate managers or bosses deal with their share of these things, so they could care less about your complaint OR they’re so far removed from this with their set schedules, weekends off, and higher pay that it really is no concern of theirs whether you feel valued or not because they’ve been shown that they are.

It’s up to workers to know their own value. Once they come to this realization many leave. Those blessed enough to have savings or fall back support would rather deal with no job at all than to deal with some of these incompatible, hectic, and unimpressive conditions. Those not so lucky are explained in the book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America  which is one woman’s take on the poverty situation in capitalistic America. The book is truly amazing in so many ways in explaining the plight of those unfortunate enough to be low income or impoverished working in America. It was partly an inspiration for this post.Hand_to_Mouth_-_Living_in_Bootstrap_America_(book_cover)

 

 

 

The real inspiration, however, was for the young adult reading this wondering whether to leave their current crappy job. I can’t answer that for you.  I was that young adult a year ago. I went from one stifling job to the next. This process is referred to as millennial job hopping as mentioned in one of my earlier posts https://letsbuildfutures.com/2017/10/20/the-glass-slipper-job-hunt/

I don’t know if the reasons are the same for the corporate world but as a former (slightly current) low income young professional I understand. When starting from the bottom and working my way up, it was always weird to hear the shock companies express when discussing high turnover rates. Nobody wants to be miserable at a minimum of 8/hrs a day for 5/6/7 days a week for $8.50 an hour!! Not even for $10! Saying, “thank God I even have a job,” wears off  when the job puts more of a strain on you than unemployment did.

Looking back I wish I would’ve had the balls to tell my manager the real deal, respectfully, as to improve the environment for employees coming after me and especially for the poor sap replacing me. How can I expect them to improve if I don’t point out places in need of serious repair?

If you know your value and have the ability to move on. MOVE. Don’t apologize. Don’t berate yourself. Just move on and be honest with your ex-job about why you’re leaving.

Now, I had some savings which allowed me the luxury of hopping but a week later I ended up in another terrible work environment just to ensure I had money flowing in. Eventually, God looked out and placed me in a job I don’t just tolerant but I LOVE.

Coming for lower income beginnings can place us in some pretty uncomfortable jobs at first but we have the ability to aim higher, for better and land closer to that Cinderella job. So throw those deuces✌🏾 when you need to and #LETSBUILD!

 

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Ever been in a class and thought, when am I ever going to use this? Well, you’re not the only one. Don’t get me wrong learning algebra and American literature do help in establishing a great foundation for you to build on.

It’s always useful to have the necessary skills needed to properly handle money and to understand the endless book references of the Scarlett Letter and Pride and Prejudice in movies; but, what about the other things school should’ve taught us?

What about how to complete your first FAFSA? Establishing credit? Rules for building a Savings?

Those are some of the things that young adults usually learn as they go after unnecessary hassle. This post is all about helping to curve some of that hassle by explaining a few of the things that school never taught us.

 

What the Hell is a FAFSA?

 

FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid. It is prepared annually by current and prospective college students by both undergraduate and graduate students in the US to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. Basically…it is an application you fill out online asking the government to help loan you money for school.

 

What the hell is a fafsa?” That was the question I asked when my honors English classmates began discussing college and the things they needed to take care of; FAFSA was on that list. Here’s the thing. I sorta fell into college. It sounds crazy but it’s the truth. I was accepted through a high school program under preliminary circumstances and it just took off from there.

To be honest, college was not something that my household really talked about. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I decided to go to college as a last minute answer to “So…what are you doing after you graduate?”

The problem was the steps to take on this decision weren’t readily explained to me. Once I realized I needed to have FAFSA completed for college it was late in my second semester as a HS senior so I got a hasty explanation from my counselor who actually did it for me. The second semester of freshman year I was screwed because I didn’t know how to do it on my own or the passcodes she used for my account.

 

But I hope this helps! Here’s some tips on how to handle FAFSA:
1. https://www.fafsa.ed.gov this link will lead you to the website you use to fill out your forms or to just take a look around the website

2. First semester HS seniors should make an appointment with school guidance counselors to get more information and to get a jump on the FAFSA process. Honestly, HS Juniors should do the same.

3. You’re going to need your parent’s latest tax forms if you are considered a dependent. If you’re an independent student (not your parent’s financial dependent) you will fill as such

4. Write down your passwords and PINs so that you will remember them when you have to fill FAFSA out again. (If you or your parent filed your taxes electronically you may have the option to auto fill your forms through the IRS website)

5. It helps to request a tax transcript through the IRS if you’re unsure about tax information

6. FAFSA should be done every January if you plan to go to school the following school year. (It helps to put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar so you won’t forget)

7. After applying, a reward statement will be sent to you from your chosen higher education institution to let you know how much money the government is willing to give you for school. Loans and scholarship information will be documented on this statement.

 

FAFSA or “financial aid” is not free money. If the student is rewarded something like the PELL Grant or Life/Hope scholarship then that money is yours to put towards your education without having to worry about paying it back.

But, statements that show subsidized or un-subsidize loans should be treated as a such. Don’t, I repeat DO NOT blow your loan money on things other than your education because you will have to pay that money back to Navient formerly known as and un-affectionately called Sallie Mae.

Don’t get discouraged. Tax forms and online websites can feel a little overwhelming but when in doubt ask someone who knows. Ask someone from your church, school faulty or use the links below to help you in the process.

The following info will help you better understand FAFSA:

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about
Federal Student Aid help center: 1-800-433-3243

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Establishing Good Credit

 

When you’re young the LAST thing on your mind is building credit. Credit is the ability of a customer to obtain goods or services before payment, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future.

 

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DON’T BE THIS GUY

You will need credit in most cases to buy a car, to purchase your first house, sometimes to stay in a nice apartment complex, or even to ask for certain loans through your banks. Establishing good credit practices while you’re young can open a lot of doors for you when you’re older. Here’s a list on how to do just that…
1. Pay your bills on time. It sounds cliché but honestly, getting in the habit of paying your bills on time will not only establish good credit but also establish good money practices.

2. Live within your means; this sounds like common sense because it is. By living within your means you will have an easier time paying your bills without too many unwanted money issues.

3. Get a bill or item in your name. For example, I brought a car and had the money to pay it in full but I chose to finance a portion of the vehicle. I put a hefty down payment on it, negotiated a very low interest rate and put the money I would’ve paid it off with in a savings account.

I then set up where the bank I borrowed from automatically receives my car payment on time so that I’m establishing a good credit history. You can also begin doing this with any student loans you may have taken out before you graduate. There are student loan forgiveness programs that require a minimum of steady payment for about two years before they consider forgiving your loans.

You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start paying. The benefit of this is that there is no interest accruing while you’re in school and you’d establish credit and good payment history.

4. Check your credit history and score at least once a year to ensure no identity theft is taking place and no bills have gone unnoticed and unpaid. As young adults we rarely have anything outside a phone bill or student loans in our name; still, it is important to develop the habit of checking your credit report to ensure no funny business is happening.

There’s only one place to safely do that:

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

Stay tuned for more posts that serve young adults starting out in life. High School did a lot of things but sometimes preparing you for the nuances of adult life isn’t one of them. Vol. 2 will touch on how to open a banking and savings account and understanding the military enlistment process. #LETSBUILD

 

I’m frugal AF. No. Seriously. Up until recently I had somehow convinced myself that I was perpetually broke and on the verge of being a forever broke. I was so into this mindset that eating out more than once a week was considered over splurging. I swear by Dollar Tree and I will ride my car until the last drop of gas. The reason?…I have what my male best friend hilariously named Post Traumatic Broke Syndrome or PTBS. I’m constantly afraid of going broke so I live as though I truly am.

 

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When I was younger I didn’t have too much of a choice in the things I could purchase or do because I simply knew not to ask for them. Stress for bills was always present. It felt like there was never enough money for everything.

This was my first impression with money and so it was there that I developed a negative relationship with it.

I keep a tight grip on money like it’s a cheating, lying ass boyfriend that I can’t trust to stick around.

 

From that point on I became like Cory from That’s So Raven. I saved every bit of money I got and only spoke of it in hushed tones. Recently, my sister and I were having a conversation  in which I said, as I often do, “I’m broke.” she replied “You are not broke. You’re like one of those old women that buy the dented cans in the grocery store to save money but you’re secretly rich.” Funny enough, I couldn’t deny it. I learned that trick from my Grandma. Love you Grandma Rose!

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Anyway.

I have to really, really, REALLLLY want something priced $100+ dollars in order to buy it for myself and even though this has helped me grow my savings account; there are some drawbacks to thinking broke even when you’re not.

You don’t travel as much as you could because you’re stuck in the thinking that eating Ramen noodles and watching Netflix is cheaper than going out with friends. Now you’re missing out on great experiences, networking and fresh air because you didn’t want to spend a possible $50 even though you have plenty in the bank.

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When you don’t buy that one thing you really wanted in the store you obsess over it for weeks wishing you weren’t too cheap to buy it. When you finally decide to get it you can’t find the same style anywhere; now your only choice is a similar style that costs more.

(I truly hate it when that happens)

You may end up spending more buying the cheaper brands. IDK how many aux cords I’ve purchased from Dollar Tree. They work for a month and then give out. The ones at Walmart cost $10 and probably last far longer. Let’s face it…you just spent $10 anyway buying 10 cheap ones for $1 over the course of 10 months.

You miss out on great sales because you don’t buy in bulk. You buy only what you need. So you end up spending more because you could’ve caught the 3 for 2 sale and saved $2 but your tightfistedness decided to only buy the one thing you needed for less at the moment. Next month when that body wash runs out you’re gonna wish you brought that 3 pack for the price of two instead of just the one.

You obsess over money and bills unnecessarily even though you have enough; somehow it just never feels like enough. This puts a strain on you emotionally regardless of if you are financially sound. Plus, your cheap ass let’s everyone else pay for things you really want instead of treating yourself and others once in a while.

 

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While being money conscious definitely has it’s place so does spending. I’m recently learning that being thrifty and being tightfisted are two different things. I love that I price compare when I’m shopping for groceries or clothes. It helps me save and not over spend like most others in our generation today. I could care less about keeping up with the Joneses.

On the other hand, I have missed out on meaningful trips and events because I didn’t want to spend money. But isn’t that what it’s there for? I could save up thousands even millions of dollars until I’m an old woman but I can’t go back in time and experience things I was too closefisted to participate in.

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While this post is meant to be light-hearted and funny, this has been a mental habit that’s hard to break. Having discussions with others from similar financial backgrounds confirms that this stems from something a little deeper than just being cheap.

I am now learning that I have what it takes to make money so it’s ok to spend it. The fear of going broke in itself has made me miserable; not actually being broke. When I was broke (er) life was simple. Now that I’ve gotten enough mullah to have fun I’m afraid to lose the opportunity. This is my long winded way of saying 🗣🗣 SPEND THAT MONEY HONEY because like the old people say “You can’t take it with you when yah leave.”

Amen to that.

 

What are some unnecessary cheap habits that you have? Share in the comments sections below and stay tuned for more posts. #LetsBuild

🙍🏾💸💸

 

 

 

Constantly dealing with a feeling of guilt is a default emotion for many of those on the path out of poverty. Why me? Who am I to spend money on what I want but don’t need? Am I changing into someone my family can’t recognize?

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Many of these questions play on a constant loop in the minds of those who are attempting to dig their way out of the struggle.

We live in a country where pulling yourself up by the “boot straps” is glorified but we never talk about what happens in the attempt or the success for those who do.Those who come from humble beginnings to become first generation college graduates, business owners, or successes in their ideal of a better life often internally wrestle with the psychological impacts of feeling unworthy of their achievements.

 

Living misunderstood isolates many individuals; as family or loved ones can’t relate to where they’re going and friends can’t relate to where they’ve been. I’ve dubbed this mindset Survivor’s remorse as it reminds me of an individual who is lucky to survive a tragedy but they feel guilty and undeserving of life. Many articles call it Survivor’s guilt. In the case of someone from a low income background they suffer from feeling undeserving of all the things they now have that others still go without. Let me explain.

I have this “friend” who has just gotten financially stable and is self sufficient. She enjoys traveling to see another friend out of town. Every visit is an adventure because she finally has a stable car and money to enjoy herself. While visiting said friend she has gotten exposed to different ways of life, foods, and activities she had never been able to afford before. Every visit lead her to thinking she should bring one of her family members with her one day because she felt guilty for experiencing such joy without them.

She feels guilty whenever she treats herself to dinner and shopping. She feels guilty at her job she loves and when she gets home to her sweet little apartment. She feels guilty when a new opportunity to move upward financially or otherwise presents itself.

Why me? Am I changing? What makes me different? They’re better than me, why not them?….

But the thing is we all have choices, paths, and people placed in our lives.Those entering into a phase outside of poverty or low income circumstances have a combination of all three working in their favor.

Good, knowledgeable choices about who you are and what you want lead you to the right path. On the path you may meet people who will give you better direction (mentor ship); or people who expose you to things outside of your normal upbringing. These new experiences all contribute to your eventual achievements.

 

You are determined enough to attempt the journey out of poverty.

 

So why feel guilty for putting in the work and getting the result you were working towards? Often, those who find themselves in a different position outside of friends and family feel undeserving because others they know work just as hard.

Young adults from low income households always feel they owe a debt to family and friends who may not have the financial stability or career upward mobility that they now possess. I struggle with this.

My hard work ethic comes from my mother and sisters. So how is it that I’m experiencing trips around the world but they are still in our hometown? Is it fair that I’m getting more and more financially stable while those I love still live paycheck to paycheck? So, I got into the habit of down playing my hard work. “Yea, God sure is blessing me way more than I deserve,” I’d say. And while every word of that is true I just inadvertently denied any helping hand in the blessing.

Breakdown?…

Opportunity presents itself. You can choose to seize it or not. Push through when it’s rough or hard; because faith without works (hard works) is dead. Can I get an Amen from the Deacon corner?! AMEN! God blesses you with opportunity and freedom of choice but it’s up to you to take those chances presented to you. You have to put in work in order to reap the benefits of your blessing.

 

Living misunderstood isolates many individuals as family or loved ones can’t relate to where they’re going and friends can’t relate to where they’ve been.

 

So I chose to go to college and chose to graduate because goodness knows I wanted to quit several times. I chose different paths outside the norm in my family. I discovered that I wanted a career more than a marriage or kids. I wanted to explore helping others in a different way than I had seen.

Every choice is then an ingredient added to your personal recipe for success. Whatever that success may look like. For my mother and sisters, being wonderful mothers was their desire. They’ve mastered that recipe.

Mine is a little different because there was no ready, tried n true recipe I could go off of in my attempt to build a career, alleviate inter-generational poverty, and help others in the community.  So in the process of navigating uncharted waters I discovered so many other possibilities that could help me accomplish goals. The guilt I feel stems from my misunderstanding of what success means for others in my family. We do not share the same definitions.

 

Although, it is worth pointing out that low income families would benefit from more financial stability. Young adults who are just  getting to a point where living paycheck to paycheck or stressing over bills is no longer the norm may feel guilt.This stems from being able to indulge and focus on other things in life. Knowing that you can indulge a little leave many feeling like a fraud because those still struggling don’t have the same luxury.

I feel you.

I wrote this blog because I realize that many others battle with themselves every day trying to find a comfortable balance of where they come from and where they want to go.

Desiring more for yourself doesn’t mean you’re rejecting your past but rather you see a different way of living that would bring YOU joy. You are determined enough to attempt the journey out of poverty.

It is hard to explain the complex emotions you feel to someone who doesn’t share your past experiences or the difficult transition. I offer this blog as a platform to share your stories below so that you can enjoy your life guilt free and happy.

jpy