By Miesha Wilson

Have you ever wondered how an extra $1000 a year could positively transform your life? Do you see yourself going on a cruise surrounded by your closest family and friends? How about soaking up the sun on a warm sandy beach with your favorite drink in hand; how does that sound? If you’re like most women of color, or for that matter, most middle-class America, you will be familiar with the adage “money doesn’t grow on trees”, and it’s true, money doesn’t grow on trees, but with a little financial planning, you can allocate your funds in a way that will ultimately make your life far more happier.

Build a Finance List: Your First Round of Defense to Financial Stability

         Self-care comes in many different forms. Along with physical care, financial care is equally vital to happiness and mental stability. Try creating a financial list to help you get more organized. A finance list is a composed document of all of your monthly expenses. Making a list of your expenses (down to the Netflix and Hulu bill) will help put the guesswork out of managing your income. Knowing exactly how you are spending your money will help you keep track of your bills, avoid late fees, and retain more money in your pocket.

Budget Your Way to Financial Freedom

            Now that you’ve created a finance list, its time to start budgeting your income. Using your finance list, decide how much of your monthy salary contributes to your household’s expenses. Any funds that are left over after all bills are paid should go towards your “self-care” savings account. I suggest that you name this account “self-care” to remind yourself of the bigger picture. The goal of this task is to put yourself first. You spend all year working to provide for you and your family, but it’s just as important to set out some time and money to indulge every now and then. 

            To budget your finances, decide how much of your money is going to each bill, during this stage, you can see if there are any expenses that can be cut to allow more wiggle room for your income to spread even further. For instance, can your cable/satellite service be replaced using a cheaper alternative? Can you reduce your grocery bills by replacing bottled water with a filtration water pitcher? Could you save on personal expenses by cooking wholesome foods at home? These are all changes that you can begin to make once you know just where your money is going.

Income Taxes Can Help

            If you are eligible for receiving an income tax refund this year, take advantage of that! This can be a financial blessing for families or single individuals who would like to travel but just can’t afford to take a trip. Instead of blowing your well-deserved yearly income tax refund on a brand new car (which is essentially creating another bill for your family), opt to put at least half of the income into your “Self-Care” account so that you can travel and create new memories and experiences for yourself. There’s no point in working hard throughout the year only to give all of your money to corporations and institutions that, quite frankly, aquire an exorbitant amount of money yearly from customers. Yes, we live in a society where we must work to survive, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend wisely.

Remember, You are in Control

            Change doesn’t automatically come; you must choose to make better choices if you want to live your best life. With a little preparation and persistence, you can transform your life into something more desireable. Struggle and lack doesn’t have to be the story for any woman of color. Remember, you are stronger and more capable than you ever thought you were, and more importantly, know that you are the the conductor of your own symphony, the sailor of your ship, and the pilot of your plane. Continue to make the healthiest choices for yourself and those around you, and sit back and watch how your life will change for the better.