Super Financial Intentions

The New Moon always feels like a good time to set intentions* and this go round, I set intentions with a “Landmark Birthday” in mind. Granted, these intentions are lofty (they may be bigger than lofty but we’ll go with that) so I’m calling them my Super Intentions. Since this blog deals with my financial state, I’ve decided to share my Super Financial Intentions with you all.

Without further ado…

By my 30th Birthday/Life Anniversary, I will…

  1. Have erased at least 80% of my student loan debt (roughly $81,000).
  2. Have amassed a savings of $20,000.
  3. Have cleared ALL of my medical debt (approximately $2,700).

Now you are probably wondering why these are being called SUPER INTENTIONS? Not only is this month’s new moon considered a Supermoon (the moon looks larger because it’s a bit closer to Earth) but my Landmark Birthday is 504 days away. That makes these goals completely outlandish seeing as I take home roughly $1,900 a month.

These goals are so crazy that I was almost afraid to write them down but there is something about putting pen to paper that makes a goal seem more attainable. Now you’re thinking to yourself, “Okay Young. That’s cute. But come on, how are you going to do this?”

Short answer – I have NO clue whatsoever but as my Life Coach Stephanie would say, “[My] job is not to figure out the details.”

Longer answer – I have thought about it and I plan to take baby steps. In light of this, I came up the following “rules” for myself.

  1. Unless a trip is sponsored, I will cease traveling until after my 30th
  2. For each leisure purchase, 15% of the total purchase price goes to the smallest uncleared loan.
  3. Every penny counts so all of my “extra” money will be split evenly between my three goals.
  4. I will stick hard to a budget because I don’t have a choice here. My priority? My financial freedom.

I will be keeping a tally of where I am on these goals and I’ll be sharing with you all (so you can share my joys and defeats).

Do you all have any financial goals by a Landmark Birthday? If so, share below in the comments.

~Young

*I’m not superstitious, I just like rituals.

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Is This Thing On?

*taps mic and cues intro from Public Service Announcement*

Allow me to reintroduce myself… MY NAME IS YOUNG!

Well, actually, it’s not. That’s just a nod to Jay Z, or as I like to call him, the Best Comeback Artist since Jordan Actually Retired.

Hello Good People, Followers, Readers, and Others who just haphazardly stumbled across my small space of the internet. It’s been a long time since I blogged (unintentionally, it’s been exactly a year), but not having a laptop, internet connection, and emotional wherewithal will zap even the mightiest Greek god of the urge to share.

I’m going to keep this short, as it is just a quick note to let everyone know that I’m back (for mostly good). For the newbies, I’ll take a moment to share some things about myself.

From my name, you should be able to tell that I AM Young, Gifted, Black…and well, Broke. To say the same thing differently, I’m an under-30, Ivy-League and two-time graduate who is overeducated and underemployed. Although my current job isn’t the most ideal, I stay because the benefits are great and I work with this fine ass man who I might or might not want to have babies for. To top it off, my net worth is currently so far in the negative, I laugh in sheer desperation when I log into Mint.com (#shoutout to da mints).

Even with all of that and a grasp of basic financial principles, I AM STILL BROKE.

The reality is that I’m like many of my peers and much of America. If there were a self-help group for people who “have it together” but still (BARELY) live paycheck to paycheck (P.O.P. Hold it down!), I’d nominate myself for President without a moment’s hesitation. The crazy thing is that although I know I’m not alone (statistics don’t lie and too many people like my tweets about Sallie “Navient” Mae on Twitter), I still feel isolated.

And that’s why I write this blog. To get the emotional “yuck” that’s tied to my dire financial situation out. I’m not alone and I don’t want anyone else to think they are alone in this either.

Here’s what you get here:

  • Regularly scheduled posts two to three times a week
  • Honest accounts of my financial status and my progress to reaching my personal goals
  • Information that I have found helpful in my goal of erasing my debt and starting anew

Here’s what you don’t get here:

  • SOUND FINANCIAL ADVICE BECAUSE I AM NOT A FINANCIAL EXPERT (my name is not Suze.)

If you’ve stuck around through my unintended and accidental hiatus, thank you from the bottom of my heart which is way bigger than my bank account. If you’re new here? Welcome, welcome, and welcome! I hope you stay around.

~Young

I Took a Pay Cut

Haven’t been here to write about my financial life in a bit. Don’t worry (it won’t happen again – I have planned blogging into my day like a real blogger).

I do have some great news – I have a job again!

Being someone with a small business to run (especially with a service and not a good), this takes a bit of a load off of my shoulders. I’m always tired but I have a steady check and I can move toward finally getting on my feet. So let’s celebrate.

The not-so-great news is that I took a pay cut with my new job. I am no longer a salaried employee and I only make $14.01 an hour. But as with every decision that I make, there is a method to my madness.

With my $14.01 an hour, I am eligible for overtime – to the tune of time and a half. I also receive amazing benefits that I only pay roughly $85 every two weeks (in my salaried position, I was paying over $200/month for just medical and dental). I will even have the option of contributing to a retirement plan (and I plan to take full advantage of this).

The other great thing about my pay cut? I qualify for some rental programs where I don’t have to pay market rate. In my salaried position, I made too much for these programs but not enough to pay the market rates of rent (thank you gentrification – this is me being cheeky). With my student loans, I am eligible for income-based repayment plans (look into those y’all) and my payments are now super affordable. So affordable, in fact, that I can pay over and make more of a dent in the principle amount. I am even a member of a credit union.

This is great. The pay cut is great. And I never thought I’d say those words.

My Most Expensive Financial Mistake Ever

Many people tell you that you should postpone going after your dream if it’s an unconventional way to support yourself financially. Those who love you, usually older relatives that have succumbed to the demands of everyday life, will point out the majority of people that don’t make it when following a wacky dream similar to yours (this is especially true if the road is one of creativity like artist). Yet, on January 8, 2014, I sat ruminating on some things and it occurred to me that living safely netted me my most expensive financial mistake ever.

You are probably wondering what this mistake is but if you are like so many other people in the United States, especially hard-pressed and out-of-work Millennials, then you already have an idea of what I’m going to say.

My most expensive financial mistake ever is that I went to college*.

To my knowledge, I owe roughly $104,000 in student loans (I rounded up but only slightly). Thinking about my degrees (B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Urban Education Policy), I’m grateful for the training and the amazing professors I studied under. However, 17-year-old me would make a completely different decision about life if she knew what I know now.

That’s a hard and frustrating pill to swallow.

I’m not upset about the limited advice that family members shared with me when I pondered whether I should go to college. After all, that next step is the logical step when you are talking about a person who had been on someone’s Honor Roll since kindergarten and excelled almost effortlessly when it came to academics (Physics does not count as Physics is Satan himself in some academic form). Why would an A-student want to be an artist or a dancer? Because that’s what she spent her free time doing.

And that’s the realization that hit me like a ton of bricks.

I feel (somewhat) hindered by what society deems as acceptable and I feel exposed admitting that I am a perfectionist who seeks the support and approval of others – part of why I’m in this hot shit right now. But the great thing about being exposed is that once you let go of the shame from your confession, you can move on.

In my case though, it’s too bad I can’t readily relieve myself of this chain I’m attached to.

With that being said, I made a personal vow to myself. From this day forward, I will focus on living my joy while sharing all of my Life Fails so that others don’t have to suffer like I did. I don’t know if Sallie Mae would consider this a job but they probably don’t care seeing as I can’t tell them how much I can contribute toward that late payment. It is my hope, as always, that those of you who read this blog take something from this painfully transparent post (don’t tell my Mom though, let me…thanks.) and apply it to your life. Life is for the living and you shouldn’t have to waste your time holed up in a cubicle or chained to a desk while wearing some “approved in the dress code outfit” to make a wage that will pitifully cover your living expenses.

Seriously.

The moral: Do what you want. Live in joy. The money will follow and you won’t find yourself on someone’s couch wondering where the hell you went wrong. The end.

*I want to say that I’m extremely grateful for every soul that I have ever come into contact with as a result of following a traditional course of study. Some of my closest friends and strongest supporters are in my life because of this. I hope that none of you read this as an expression that I could do without you because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I just wish I hadn’t wasted so much time doing something that I know in my heart of hearts doesn’t fill me with joy – which is hoping to share the “correct” answer in a lecture hall to receive some arbitrary mark of satisfactorily mastering material that some dead, white guys agreed on.

Millennials Are Lazy

Don’t you hate when you read that? You being the most awesome, overworked and stressed out person born between 1980 and 2001-ish.

The longer title of this post is: “Millennials Are Lazy…And Other Lies The World Tells Us About Ourselves.”

I am writing this because I wanted to give someone some encouragement after a particularly trying week I’ve had. Within the last nine days, I’ve had maybe 14 people ask me when I was going to start working again (DUH! When I’m actually hired!) AND I’ve been belittled by our favorite people ever – those Student Loan Customer Service Representatives (“We saw you made payments regularly. What happened? You spent your money on things you didn’t need?”). After spending the great majority of my Monday in bed watching Ancient Aliens in between fits of tears, I decided that my feelings would be best on paper.

Or the internet…hence this blog. I really asked myself, “Wait. Why am I believing the snark that other people tell me? Why am I letting the anxiety that others feel because they can’t control something get to me? Why am I believing these lies that people tell me about my kind (my kind being the “idealistic 20-something who moved back in with their parents because the real world was too rough for the pampered sort”)?

And I stopped. I stopped and I wrote out the truths that I know about me…and people like me.

The Cold Hard Truth About Millennials

1. Millennials Are NOT Lazy

Millennials are actually the OPPOSITE of that and here’s the proof. I remember being in high school and having Zero Hour. That means I went to school before school actually started (the hell?) and took an extra class. In this class, I would have to eat a second breakfast because I actually walked off the breakfast that I ate at 6:15 am. Following Zero Hour, I would be in class from roughly 7:50am (yo…your workday doesn’t even start at 7:50am but mine did) until 2:50pm. Beginning at 3:00pm, I was in practice for Cheerleading or Track, depending on the time of year it was. Practice ended at 5:00pm unless my Coach decided I needed extra work OR there was a very important competition/meet coming up. If it were a game day, my “school day” didn’t end until close to 11:00pm at night. I’d go home and do homework and fall into bed close to 1:00am. Then I’d get up and do it all over again….unless it was Saturday. Because Saturday was the day that I would go to work….at McDonald’s.

In college, I took no less than 15 credits (12 credits in the Summer) while working multiple jobs and being involved on campus (I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; was involved in Student Government Association; and co-founded an organization for students of color who majored in Psychology and wanted the support that was otherwise lacking in our department).

And I did that while battling Crohn’s.

I know that if you’re reading that, you’re tired. I got tired just typing it out. But here’s the thing – I’m not the ONLY Millennial to do such a thing. Nope. As a matter of fact, I can point to MANY others who did that and more (more power to you if you did more because Jesus you are awesome!). So know this, we are NOT lazy.

2. Millennials Moved Home Because The World Was Too Much

On top of being called lazy to our face and on the interwebs, we have to deal with the assumption that we move back home because our parents made us breakfast every morning and we really missed that. Oh! And let’s not forget that we also move back home because Real Life made us cry.

Real Life probably made us cry, but not for the reasons you think.

If you are anything like me, then you graduated in 2009 with amazing degrees (B.S. in Psychology) and again in 2010 (M.A. in Urban Education Policy) with the intention of, you know, getting a job! Because you went to school to actually use what you learned in the real world. The problem is that Real Life didn’t get that message and so there wasn’t a job to match your degree. Rather than face homelessness and being an indigent person (by the way, MOST of us don’t even qualify for state aid but that’s another story for another day), you suck up your pride and swallow your self-esteem and you move in with someone who eventually begins to hate your presence. If your Parent was a Baby Boomer, you’ve probably heard things like, “Why don’t you walk into a place and get a job?” I’ll tell you why — ALL of the places I could do that aren’t hiring me because I’m overqualified. If the person you live with was someone who didn’t go to college and has a job, you’ve probably heard things like, “You spent all that money and for what?”

I’ve heard both and I’ve cried many of nights because they’re mean and you just want someone to understand. And they don’t. The only people that understand are other depressed ass Millennials and you don’t want to talk to them because they trigger you. It’s a vicious cycle.

3. Millennials Have Multiple Ways to Make Money

Now, most people call these hustles but I hate that. Why? Because I know real hustlers and they are not about building others up. They are only about themselves and doing things to get YOUR dollar in their pockets. So no…we shall not say that we have multiple hustles. We shall say that we have multiple (legal, hopefully) ways to make money. Myself? Well, I’m a Policy Analyst by trade, a Technical Writer because I’m good at that, a Blogger, a Tutor for elementary-aged children and I create/edit resumes through my small business Professional By Design NOLA.

That’s five ways to make money. In the future, I’m looking to increase ways to make money passively because I actually don’t like working into the midnight hours. The point here is that I have multiple ways to make money. I have an entrepreneurial streak and a spirit to be independent and financially secure. Much like many other Millennials.

But perhaps the one thing that people don’t want to admit about us is this:

4. Millennials Are Overworked People Who Deal With Unfair Stereotypes from Others

Seriously – we want and deserve a break.

Remember what I said about my days as a high school student? Well, I want people to know this. Personally, I’ve dealt with challenges that are often overlooked or brushed to the side or painted as character-building. Up until the time I was 16 years old, I dealt with intermittent homelessness. I became skilled at doing my homework at school or on the bus because I was afraid of taking my books home because I didn’t know where we were going to be some nights. Stressful.

By the time I was 13 years old, I had a regular job as a Babysitter/Tutor for a set of twins in my neighborhood. I spent many weekends on their pullout couch in the den because I needed a place to sleep and food to eat. Honestly, I can safely point to my entrepreneurial spirit as being kindled by a need for stability and security. Having worked since I was 13 years old, I’m tired.

I AM TIRED.

There are people my age who look like they are in their 40s and people make jokes about this. Don’t.

There are people my age who deal with serious depression which is OFTEN brushed to the side because it’s just us “being brats.” Don’t do that either.

There are people my age who deal with serious ailments that cripple their ability to actually work and yet we work anyway. We get up and we go to work from 8:30am or 9:00am to 5:00pm (which is a joke in MOST places because if you want to get ahead, you’ll work extra long hours at less than a living wage and you’ll do it with a smile because you don’t want to be THAT Millennial).

There are people my age who have dealt with life experiences that our parents, family and friends couldn’t imagine. Or they could and don’t want to acknowledge.

We are possibly the first generation to have a super full schedule from the time we were four or five (dance class at 2) who continues to live an existence of being Stretched Too Thin. We are tired Creatives. We are Dreamers who are doing our best to hold on to the idea of a better world. We are Millennials and we’re living on borrowed resources.

But we are far from lazy.

Don’t You Want More Than That?

Disclaimer: I’ve decided to write this post here instead of on my main blog because when I deal with this issue, it’s largely centered on one topic – money. Before I begin, I would like to say that this is a vent. I don’t know if it’s polite or not, but I had to get it off of my chest, which means I’m venting.

Now that I have that out the way, I want to talk about something really annoying here: other people’s expectations for your life.

Not too long ago, @Smooth_Orator shared some interesting thoughts on Twitter. He pointed out that people always feel the need to push you to want more. He went on to say that those who do that often say it’s because “you should want more.” I had to agree when he said that isn’t everyone’s aim in life.

It’s certainly not mine…and that’s okay.

For the record, wanting “more” and wanting “better” are two different things to me. In my own life, I hear people who mean well question why I’m not always moving or working crazy hours or doing something. They see my resting as a sign of laziness (never mind that I have an actual autoimmune disorder that dictates how shitty my day is going to be). To them, people who are always moving or doing something are focused on the right thing – making more money to buy more stuff that they probably won’t use anyway. They go on to support their argument that I MUST want more and I MUST want to work extra hard to get more. Otherwise, why do I have two degrees and want to go on to get my PhD? Or why do I want to travel so much and do other amazing things? To them, these things point to the fact that I want more and since I’m not “doing” anything in their minds to get there, it’s a problem.

Remember what I said about wanting better? Well, they’ve misunderstood that my aim to complete the goals I’ve set for myself is to have better.

Not more.

I want to pay off my student loans because I want the lower stress levels that come with that. I want to become wealthy so I can break the cycle of poverty my immediate family is in. I would also like to give back to my community through a Homeless Amnesty program, a nonprofit that caters to young girls and their developmental needs and a scholarship in my Brother’s memory. I want to travel because I want to experience life in other places and I’ve always had a dream about filling putting thumbtacks in the cities I’ve gone to on an Atlas hanging in my library. I see nothing wrong with living comfortably or modestly. I don’t want the big house (more to clean and more people who will stay with your during the holidays because you have space). I don’t want the big truck or super long car (none of you have ever seen me try to park so why would they wish this on me). And I don’t want a ton of money to be a show-off.

I don’t want more. I just want better. And since that’s alright with me, it should be alright with you.

You can follow @Smooth_Orator on Twitter and read his blog.