Being “broke” seems to be a recurring theme among Black women despite our collective levels of education, resources and income.
In order to break up with “broke,” we have to first answer the question, “Why am I broke?” If you happen to fall into the being broke category, here are four reasons why you might be struggling to make ends meet:
1. You are broke because you have yet to establish financial boundaries.
Many women do not establish financial boundaries. You must make clear your policies around borrowing clothes, money, co-signing for loans and extended visits to your moocher friends and family members. Be direct and say, “ No, I am not wasting my money on that.” If you want a little more finesse say, “ I wish I could, but my finances are not allowing me to do that right now.”
2. You are broke because you have not aligned your values with your spending. A lot of us walk through life in a financial fog spending haphazardly because we are not paying attention to what we really care about, what we really love or what we really need. Instead of customizing our lives and, by default, our budgets to reflect our priorities, we emulate the financial habits of friends or those on the media who are over the top in all things: clothes, entertainment, homes, dining and travel.
To identify what you should be spending your money on, jot down what you love doing in your free time along with the items on your bucket list. Determine how much of your money is currently funding those passions. If you find that you love fine dining but do not care much for movies, clothes or a fancy apartment, then you should direct most of your discretionary (guilt-free) income to that activity and eliminate spending in the other areas.
On the other hand, if you are dying to travel but are spending a whole heap of money on an apartment you don’t really care about or paying a hefty car note, it is better to trade in the costly rent and monthly car payment for a cheap place and lower note so you will have money to explore the world.
3. You are broke because you equate celebration with big spending. Whether it be landing a new job, celebrating a birthday or a graduation, it is assumed you have to go out and celebrate. “Going out” makes things seem more special and more important when that is not necessarily true.
When it is time to celebrate in a big way, consider taking it “old school” and invite people over to your beautiful home or apartment to revel in your success and happiness. Besides, when you entertain at home, you don’t have to worry about a mandatory gratuity, feeling rushed to leave after eating or sharing public restrooms with strangers.
4. You are broke because you don’t manage your emotions. The concept of retail therapy is usually associated with a woman needing to shop because she needs an emotional pick-me-up or a confidence boost. But we just don’t shop when we are depressed; we also shop when we are bored, happy, feeling lonely or feeling naughty.
Since experiencing emotions is part of the beautiful human experience, we don’t need to feel less. Instead, we need to identify healthy and cost-effective alternatives to shopping when our emotions start to surge. Try a hot shower, calling a girlfriend, dancing in the mirror in a bikini, doing something nice for someone else or taking a nap.
As women destined for greatness, we have to manage our finances in a way that empowers our lives, brings us joy and enriches our souls. The first step on this journey to greatness begins with self-reflection and a decision to no longer be broke.
If you are tired of being broke, sign up for my FREE 4-part video series, “How to Break up with Broke” so you can step into your full financial confidence.
Kara I. Stevens is the founder of the personal finance and lifestyle blog The Frugal Feminista, an online home for financial empowerment, girl power and juicy living. Connect with her on Twitter @frugalfeminista.