The past year has been challenging and eye-opening in many ways including financially. As these experiences get added to our collection of lessons learned, we can use the new knowledge to be prepared for the future. Here are 3 ways to celebrate Financial Literacy Month to help get you out of the paycheck to paycheck budget begrudging mindset and into taking pleasure from adulting.

Create a Spending Plan that honors your true priorities.

It’s likely that self-reflection increased during this time of reduced access to theatres, concerts, eating out and frolicking in general. What questions did you ask during those times when you wondered how to support yourself financially if your income was affected by the pandemic? What did you realize had more meaning than you thought? What did you find that no longer brought you as much joy as you once thought. Only you can know what is true for you. Use these revelations to design a budget that supports living a life that’s in alignment with your true priorities.

“Create and use a budget.” is one of the answers to the question, “How do I start being financially responsible”? Actually knowing when and how much money is coming in and when and how much is going out provides clarity. A key piece of the cash flow puzzle is using the difference between income and expenses to your advantage. The difference can be used for many things that propel you like an Emergency Fund, paying down debt or saving for things on your bucket list.

Create a Savings Plan that unlocks your dreams.

Now that you have a grasp on the flow of your income and expenses, use your new budget to do more than live paycheck to paycheck. Beyond the Emergency Fund that can replace a loss of income, you can also save for things that bring you joy. Cabin fever may have you feeling like you need to go outside and play. Vacations, road trips, and long weekends give us something to look forward to. Imagine how a savings account dedicated to travel would make you feel. Imagine that same account growing enough to pay for your getaway before you even make a final decision about your destination. With your travel fund in place, it’s easier to resist the temptation to throw caution to the wind and just put it on the credit card and pay later. Not paying high interest is just one of the many benefits of being financially responsible.

Create a Debt Elimination Plan that will free you from the burden of obligation.

Use the clarity of your Spending Plan and the hope from your Savings Plan and use debt elimination advice to experience debt free living. Indebtedness is in the way of living the financially sound life that we envision. There are many debt elimination strategies that can be used to accelerate your debt free date. Imagine what could change for you if your credit cards had a zero balance. What you allow yourself to dream about and save for if your current credit card payment could go towards your Savings Plan instead? How would that affect your travel fund?

How would your life be different if you implemented these strategies? Would getting the mail and checking email feel different when you saw a bill? How would having the option to set your bills up on autopay free your mental energy and time? What else would change that would improve your quality of life?

Utilizing a Financial Coach is like having a personal trainer for your money. Find out if a mentor, accountability partner, guide or cheerleader is right for you by scheduling your FREE 30-minute Q&A call.

Updated: Apr 12

One of the effects that systemic racism has on Black people is that it can sometimes seem daunting to achieve financial security. Lower incomes and shortened life expectancy can decrease faith in better tomorrows. However, as we become intentional and proactive with our finances we can shift from a paycheck to paycheck mindset. As we lengthen our horizons, it is wise to discern between needs and wants.

Consumerism as a way to prove our worth has created a debt-ridden society. Bad debt is a form of slavery in that we are bound to our lenders. Our movements and options are restricted and limited because of these prior obligations. Prioritizing debt elimination in order to become debt-free will have a positive impact on overall financial health, which in turn, impacts pretty much every aspect of our lives. Of course, there is institutional racism which by design has been very successful at preventing Black people from building wealth and, for many, basic security. In spite of the multitude of hurdles strategically placed in our path, I believe in a both/and world and therefore we have to do what we can with what is in our control.

Using debt to finance a lifestyle in order to project a certain status or to purchase distractions that prevent us from connecting with our feelings keeps us in an unhealthy and expensive cycle. When you experience an advertisement and you feel the familiar rush of wanting whatever it is, pause for a few minutes and breathe. With compassion, ask your true self the following questions:

  • Why do I want it?

  • Is it to fill a void?

  • Will it actually fill that void?

  • What is the source of that void?

  • Will it give me lasting value or pleasure?

  • Who am I hoping to impress by making this purchase?

  • Why do I feel the need to impress them?

  • Does this purchase get me closer to a goal or further away from a goal?

  • If I don’t have a current goal, why not?

Wants can bring us joy or they can sabotage our efforts. It's up to us to decide if instant gratification is more important than retiring in dignity or building a legacy. With longer outlooks, we can take advantage of the power of time on money. This is called compound interest and it's essentially how debt is eliminated and wealth is generated. Albert Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it”. Utilizing it to our advantage influences the trajectory of our financial health which also has a direct impact on our mental health.

This chart exemplifies the effect that time has on building wealth.

Years ago when I was beginning my journey toward financial peace of mind, I realized that I needed to be consistently intentional and proactive with my choices. I chose to act broke temporarily by pretending to be poor so that I could achieve my goal of acquiring assets (instead of liabilities) so that I wouldn’t have to actually be poor. Reframing my situation empowered me, bought me time and helped me to have a deeper understanding of my priorities. I invite you to begin your journey.

  • Make a list of your needs. Use it as a guide to help you make purchasing decisions.

  • Commit to breaking the cycle by making a stand to compromise by choice.

  • Look within for guidance on how to balance now with later.

  • Create a solid multiphase plan that captures your goals, hopes and dreams and develop the discipline to follow it.

It is likely that your Joneses are in debt and have allowed retail therapy, YOLO and FOMO to influence their decision-making. Look within for alignment and be your own Joneses.

Utilizing a Financial Coach is like having a personal trainer for your money. Find out if a mentor, accountability partner, guide or cheerleader is right for you by scheduling your FREE 30-minute Q&A call.

  • Terry Banks

Updated: May 27

There are money problems in relationships and that's why a major reason for divorce and breakups is money. There are many reasons why but a major underlying issue is communication about money in marriage. We are not taught in school how to do money management basics. As we navigate our consumeristic society without this knowledge we pick up more negative beliefs about money than positive. These beliefs often come from family and friends that are likely muddling through as well. PRO TIP: Don't take money advice from broke people.

As it is, a single person is swimming upstream trying to navigate their finances. It's even more difficult when two people with different money outlooks get sweet on each other. At the beginning of a romance, it can be daunting to be the first to bring up the topic of money. Will this person start to think of you as a buzzkill or cheap or greedy? Or will they be relieved because they wanted to bring it up but didn't want to be seen as the buzzkill or cheap or greedy? My advice would be to get into the habit of talking about the hard stuff, in the beginning, to help avoid money problems in marriage.

My wife and I were "budget buddies" from the very beginning of our relationship.  We both had credit card debt from poor choices made earlier in our 20's as well as student loan debt.  Being vulnerable from the beginning really helped us to become closer and get into the habit of being aligned and working together toward a future of financial security and eventually financial freedom. Spending time together was free and all we really wanted to do was spend time with each other so we used it to our advantage and paid down our debt.  From there we saved for our first home and have continued to make investing a priority.

The tension created when one is a spender and the other is a saver may seem insurmountable.

There are ways to create harmony even when there are different money personalities in a relationship. Adults typically don't want to ask their partner for money. It is disempowering and introduces an unhealthy dynamic. My wife and I have our own separate play accounts so that each of us is free to spend however we want.  Since we're best friends we also have a joint play account for when we spend money together.

One may be a good money manager while the other wants to be completely hands-off. What if something happens to the money manager? That can leave the other partner in the position of having to put the pieces of the financial puzzle together in addition to grieving.

The good news is that these issues can be resolved with open and honest communication. Working with me can help couples to refocus, gain control and set a unified plan. Cheezy but true - Teamwork makes the dreamwork in money and marriage.

Utilizing a Financial Coach is like having a personal trainer for your money. Find out if an accountability partner, guide or cheerleader is right for you by scheduling your FREE 30-minute Q&A call.

"You can be young without money, you can't be old without it."


-Tennessee Williams