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BellaOnline's African American Culture Editor

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Getting Finacially Fit


It is never easy trying to figure out which bill to pay first, when you really do not have the finances to pay either! Budgeting and cutting expenses are words that many wish were never apart of their vocabulary. However, it is, and is most necessary if one is going to break the cycles of debt and poverty.

Many Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. Most, just one away from being homeless. We never know when life is going to take an unexpected turn. Hence the term, unexpected. The unexpected times are the times we need to be preparing for right now. Getting out of debt, or amassing a large sum of money does not necessarily mean that one is in the clear. If one does not know how to manage their finances, they will continually find themselves in the same financial sinking boat.

PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Continuing in this Mini-series of Black Women and MoneyÖ.Getting Financially Fit, there is a key lesson that I learned as I was growing up. Over the years I have heard many financial guruís, instructors, and seminar speakers say the same thing: Pay Yourself First. To many this may seem ridiculous. But I promise you, it is a very smart thing to do. Think about it, after all that hard work you put in; all those hours of work, and all you do is pay bills? What do you have to show for your all the labor you put in. Itís is important to take at least ten percent from the top, and put it aside. Try putting it into a savings account. And whatever you do, donít touch it! See how much you can save in six months. Many would be surprised. And here you thought you couldnít afford it! You canít afford NOT to!

GIVE TEN PERCENT TO CHARITY

Being of the Christian faith myself, I was taught to tithe tenth percent of my earnings (My gross pay!) Some people choose to give ten percent to their favorite charitable cause. There are many places that are in need. You might be saying that you are in need. True. But I have learned over the years from experience that when you give from the heart and bless someone else, you will receive it back many times over. It may not always come monetarily, but you will receive back for all that you do.

CUT EXPENSES

Everything with a high price tag is not necessarily the best product. Learn to bargain shop. You have to begin somewhere. There are many store brands that are just as good, and sometimes better than those expensive name brands. Trust me, every penny adds up. Start clipping coupons. In addition, join some coupon sites that offer coupons that you can print out from your computer. One good site is, couponbug.com. Also, try your local stores that you frequent. Some now offer online coupons to their customers that sign up for their bonus/savings card. Itís wise to get one of those.

In cutting expenses, you may also think about forgoing that new wardrobe for a while. I canít imagine how many people have clothes in their closets with the tags still on them. Or, shoes that have never been worn, or worn just once. Try to cut out all unnecessary spending as much as possible. If you are serious about taking back your financial freedom and getting financially fit and debt free; then you are going to have to make some serious choices.

HAVE A YARD SALE

This is a great way to not only get a few extra bucks (to save, not spend!), but also to get rid of some clutter. Youíd be surprised how many folks love a good yard sale! Just remember, donít expect to get exactly what you paid for something--after all, it is used. Be reasonable.

TAKE A CLASS

So, still having trouble trying to figure out how to budget? Many communities offer free financial planning classes for the community. Many not-for-profit agencies offer financial workshops and first time homebuyers classes. These are great classes to attend. They are free to the community, offer a wealth of information, and can certainly help you with the ins and outs of getting out of debt. Check out any of your local Economic Development Centers, or Neighborhood Housing Services centers.

SAVE THAT CHANGE

Another great idea is to take all that change you receive, and save it. Try not spending the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. Collect them at the end of the day. Some use empty water jugs. Try saving your change for a year. At the end, youíd be surprised how much you saved. Between paying yourself first, giving to charity, cutting expenses, and saving that loose change, you will be surprised at how much you have actually saved in one year.

There are so many different things that we can do to get financially fit. However, we have to have a plan. A sound plan that we can stick to. Some of us have never learned to budget, or how to spend. Some of us have never had to face such hard times that we may be facing right now. But it is possible to make a change. It is possible to get control of our financial habits, and begin to retrain ourselves of how to see and think about money. Being in debt is not the end of the world. Sometimes circumstances and situations occur that are out of our control. Yet we donít how to remain a victim of our circumstances. We can take control of our finances by educating ourselves, and arming ourselves with the knowledge and mindset to make wise and healthy choices. One day at a time.

Black Women and Money
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Content copyright © 2014 by Ruthe McDonald. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ruthe McDonald. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ruthe McDonald for details.

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