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Seven Habits That Show I Took My Relationship With Money Seriously in 2018

At the beginning of this year, I told y’all I was getting VERY serious with money, and I meant it. My relationship with money this year is the biggest (and probably only) proof that I am an adult. To be fair, I was never reckless with money to begin with so it wasn’t such a huge leap. Anyway, so find below some of the ways my relationship with money has changed since beginning to be more conscious about money habits.

1.) Budgeting: listen, this is a game changer. After a few months of tracking what I spent, I was able to develop a realistic budget. This means, I factor in my rent, food, entertainment, utilities, transportation etc. and set a financial limit per month for each expense. The goal is to not exceed the budget for each expense. Because of this I write down every SINGLE expense. If I pay $4 to get a cart at the airport, I write it down. If I get a $4 white chocolate mocha at Starbucks, I write it down too. I’m almost anal about it. And at the end of the month, you know what you earned, what you spent, and the rest can go towards your financial goals: saving, investing, paying back debt etc. So basically, money management.

2.) Reading books and getting financially literate: umm, I have read many money books and contrary to what you might think, many of them are actually fun; think Broke Millennial and The Financial Diet. I also watch YouTube videos. Dave Ramsey is really good, but he can be too intense and somewhat unrealistic. I mean, you want to be good with money, but not at the expense of actually living or glorifying it. Important or not, many other things surpass paying debt, and tracking your expenses. I also read Refinery 29’s Money Diary series. I want to say I read it to see how other millennial women in America spend, but really I am a nosy person who likes to feel good about not spending so egregiously like the rest of America. Bite me. Seriously though, Money Diaries give you the full spectrum: from the twenty-something-year-olds that earn middle six figures per year (and make me think of my life and inadequacy LOL); to the ones that earn $20,000 per year and spend half of it on a stupid boyfriend; to the one that granpa left a hefty inheritance for. Wild. Biggest lessons from that series are: people are hella privileged; many Americans can’t survive not being coupled up; and many, many girls wouldn’t survive if their boyfriends weren’t footing [at least half] their bills. Yeah, I said it.

3.) An emergency fund: I haven’t completely nailed this but I am onto something; meaning I am building it. The most concern here is so you don’t lose your safety net if anything happens; say, you lose your job or something. And let's just say my faith in God comes to play here (HAHA), plus I am somewhat privileged to not be afraid of becoming homeless. That said I am working on it. One huge lesson you will learn from becoming responsible with money is that it is not a one-size-fits-all thing; different lifestyles, different goals, but a few basic and fundamental principles: like an emergency fund is compulsory.

4.) Buying investment pieces: I was never a big shopper. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fine things of life but I can do without them. I also really like to look good (sometimes) so yea I buy clothes. Now though, I am learning to buy things that will last forever even if they [sometimes] come with hefty prices: like a good winter coat, a nice pair of boots etc. I am not going to be bougie and say never buy fast fashion. Meh. Buy what you can afford, but consider buying things that last and staples rather than every single thing in fashion at the moment. I mean there is also the conversation about the ethical standards of some of your favorite clothing stores, but that's conversation for another time.

5.) Treating my credit card like a debit card: ooh this one. One time many years ago, young
Ife had no job, but had a new credit card and totally forgot that APRs kicked in after a year or so. Long story short, I tanked my credit score from not understanding when minimum payments were due and completely ignoring the credit card (I just kept on spending lmao). Now though my credit card is like my debit card, so I buy only and only what I can fully pay back at the end of the month. That way I am building my credit history but also being responsible. Now, once in a while of course you will have needs that you can’t afford, so you may need to use your credit card. Do it, but try to pay back quickly. P.s: these kinds of needs are why emergency funds and savings are important.

6.) Building my credit score: Enough said. Many of the aforementioned principles have contributed to my success in this regard.

7.) Thinking about retirement: Not in the sense of wanting to stop working, more like in the sense of thinking about my future. Before I didn’t even know what IRA meant (individual retirement account), stocks were like rocket science to me. But now, and again this is due to consciously willing to learn, I have a better understanding and know where to begin with investing in my future.

It's like Chelsea Fagan says, this is all basically like taking care of future you. You will probably not regret it. Listen, pick one thing to do to get better with money. And to be fair, for a lot of people the solution to their money problems is to earn more. However, for a WHOLE LOT of others, it's superfluous spending: shoes, clothes, natural hair products you and I know you will never use, gym memberships that you don't need, trips you can do without because traveling is NOT and will never be that big a deal, expensive cars, and all of that lifestyle creep you allow just so you can post on Instagram or compete with your friends in a passive aggressive manner. Do better in 2019. Okay? Okay. Haha

I promise this is not in any way a criticism of people's lifestyle but mostly to say there are benefits to getting better and having a better relationship with your money. There truly is.



Book of the Month: The Financial Diet

I included this book because it’s the only book I’ve read in December, so far. And that’s okay. People like to compete slash show off: I read fifty books this week. Lol, ok boo. As I have often said, I diversify my hobbies and what not. And reading is just one of them, in addition to you know, actually working some 60+ hours (or more) every week. So yeah. I say this to say, people often feel bad about not reading enough and the thing is, reading should be fun and/or educational, not punitive. When you can, by all means, please read. When you can't, don't feel bad. More importantly, this is the book of the month because it’s a money book. In my next post,  I will share how being better with money has improved the quality of my life, so this seemed like a good precursor.

The Financial Diet was written by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage, the co-founders of a hugely popular website with the same title. They were my first teachers in this whole millennial-becoming-good-with money business, and it seemed like it was worth it to invest in and support them. So I’m glad I did. Well technically the book was a gift from my friend but I requested it sooo same difference. Even before the book, the goal of The Financial Diet website has always been to inspire women to take control of their finances, become more comfortable talking about money, and just be a general bad ass in life in the most realistic, yet optimistic way. The book models this approach. It gives step-by-step guides on how to save, spend, cook, decorate your apartment, thrive at work, and dress your way to your best financial life.

The first thing I want to say is this book was a very easy read. Truth is, I tend to select books of the month that are easy to read because no one has time for authors who write to deliberately confuse their audience and complicate things just to sound smart. My favorite writers have always been the ones that write plain and clear. So yes this book is easy and it takes you through the aforementioned life necessities through practical applications, suggestions, and interviews with experts.  While I enjoyed it, I also was left wanting for more. But I think this was largely due to the fact that I have watched many of their videos and read several posts on the websites, so nothing the book said was particularly new [to me]. Again, perhaps because they are millennials, their approach to finance is very relatable and they are sure to emphasize that managing money is not a one-size-fits-all thing. How you handle money depends on your lifestyle, financial goals, personal hobbies and favorites, and of course your reality. They also remind you not to forget to live or  enjoy life because of insurmountable and unrealistic expectations you have set on yourself.

Chelsea is the perfect person to talk about finance. She has gone from maxing out several credit cards, to quitting college, to drunkenly quitting her job over the phone at 4am (?) because she didn't feel like waking up early the next morning or so, to co-founding a successful lifestyle and finance website, and now leading a team of about 5 at the the same website in New York City. Yeah, what a rollercoaster, huh? Chelsea is humorous, and she has a lot of personal advice to dispense without coming off as condescending. Even if you don't read her book, watch their videos on YouTube. You will enjoy them.

Another finance book I read earlier this year was of course Broke Millennial, which frankly, I slightly prefer to this. I found that one much more resourceful, as far as learning technical terms, investing, saving, paying back debts, the different kinds of financial institutions that exist etc. Broke Millennial was incredibly helpful. Not to say The Financial Diet wasn't at all helpful; it was. But it was also very lifestyle-bloggish, if that makes any sense at all. Again, I think the reason I feel this way might be because it is geared towards total beginners, and as my next post will show you, I'm no longer a beginner with money *flips hair* so some advice in the book seemed rudimentary to me. However, one way The Financial Diet stands out for me is the real, practical advice on making career choices. They are careful to warn readers to beware of the "dream job" trope; even going as far as coining a term "career lattice" in place of the traditional career ladder. You know, life is real and not an Instagram hashtag or yet another trite motivational quote. Don't seek all your happiness in your day job. Sometimes, your job is not the answer to all your fulfillment and happiness challenges. Sometimes, you job is just that, your job; your source of income; another outlet to prove yourself smart and resourceful. Diversify; meaning spread out the source of your fulfillment and happiness. Another interesting part of the book includes all the cute graphics at different points of the book; they made it even much more engaging. I mean, even the paperback is definitely one of a kind and makes for a good coffee table book/decor.

In the end, you should know (and this book reminds us often throughout its pages) that there should be a goal to money. It's not just about acquiring and acquiring; as one of the experts in the book say, "Money is nice, but there has to be a point to it or you'll ever have enough."

That's it. I have actually started another book, and maybe to compensate for my sporadic postings this year, I will do another book of the month. Maybe not.



Book of the Month: An American Marriage

I honestly need to title this post, book of the year. This is definitely the best book I read this year—by any measure. First, praise God I am back to fictions and this is what you would describe as back with a bang. I love how it is both deep and lighthearted. Whatever you have heard about the book, it lives up to and surpasses that hype. I first heard about this book this past summer on The View. Joy Behar recommended it, and because Joy Behar is all of our aunties in our head, you know we gotta listen to her. Also it was on Obama’s summer reading list…uhm that’s enough reason it.

An American Marriage tells the story of a couple through different people’s points of view.  As this new couple, Roy and Celeste begin life of marital bliss, they are thrown into an unfortunate, external circumstance beyond their control.  While they were visiting Roy’s parents in Louisiana, Roy is arrested and eventually sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime his wife is certain he didn’t commit.  This event would shape the rest of their lives, and this book shows us how they navigate its aftermath, with some glimpse at life before this inauspicious event. While Roy is in prison, Celeste finds some comfort in the hands of her childhood friend, Andre (who is also Roy’s childhood friend!) and ahem a relationship ensues. Now a few years after, Roy’s conviction is overturned, and he returns home to resume his life but…bloop, so much has occurred. I know it looks like I already told the whole story, but I promise I haven’t. So much more happens. Plus all of this was on the cover of the book, so I gatchu.

But that’s what makes it such a good book: it’s not just that such life altering events happened, it’s the HOW. It’s the style of story telling, and the way the author draws you into the minds of every character, because somehow you empathize with ALL of them, but you are also furious at them. She created real characters. And oh God, I have so much about to say about each and every one of them, but I also don’t want to spoil the book. So this is an ideal book for a book club because there is a lot to unpack. There is also a lot about culture in America’s South. It’s about the juxtaposition of families and upbringing. And of course, there is racial injustice and discrimination, and the complexities of our justice system in this country. Normally a book like this would have you think it’s about to tackle the complexities of American justice system, but nope it goes beyond to examine the way it destroys souls and families. It is very, very well written, and is able to delve on a lot about black experience in America without seeming like that’s what it is doing. The book is about love, and about hurt, and about friendship.  I’m currently writing this post while traveling in the South so I feel an extra connection. Buhahaha. No. Seriously, this is also quite easy to read, so you never want to drop it. Trust me on this.

If nothing, know that a book that got me to blog must be a good one. LOL

Also, YIKES, it is the last day of November, unbelievable! 2018 is about to end and it has been a great year. So good, I want to break my own rule and do an "in memory of..." post. But then again, I might be too lazy/busy to actually write one. Hmmmn, we'll see.



P.S: I'm looking for Christians who have changed churches as young adults. What prompted this change? Why did you do it? And how? If you have, please let me know!

Happy Thanksgiving Plus Meet Patricia

Y'all, Happy Thanksgiving!

My family entrusted the turkey to me, and not to humble brag but it turned out pretty dope; especially in pictures. I mean I almost got frost bite from defrosting the 14 pound bird, and I have a big gash on my finger from a cut, but turkey was delicious so it was all worth it. So I brought pictures. After pictures more words to be said below. But enjoy. This is not a food blog so let's not bother with a recipe? But if you see this, and love it, email me and I will send a detailed and elaborate recipe to you. It has a Naija tweak to it (which means well spiced and delicious).

Look at that bad bird, huh? We named her Patricia. Poor thing. Anyway, moving on.

Not to bring down the mood, but a popular entertainer and OAP, the Voice of Lagos, Tosyn Bucknor passed away this week from complications of sickle cell. Now, of course I didn't know her personally, but it just hit me so hard. The worst part about death, like I posted on Instagram is how everyone just moves on with their life. Like someone just lost their sister, someone just lost their best friend, someone just lost their daughter, and yeah people posted and stuff, but then life carried on. In fact, some of her own friends went ahead to post about random things that same day after they had publicly posted their sadness about her death. But life had to continue, people had to work...you know? We are here one minute, and poof the next one. So, you are really on your own. So better live your best life (and I don't really like this phrase haha). But really, do your best to live your best life. Love hard. Laugh harder. And really, just chill. Try to be there for people you love.

Okay, that's it for the day. Sorry I didn't have a more inspiring post. My thanksgiving post last year was equal parts deep and thoughtful, so check that out. Happy thanksgiving again, guys! And if I never come back here before Christmas, well then, haha. Kidding. I probably will be. God willing.

Now let me go cradle my food baby while having a glass of wine.



Friday Reflection

1.) When a stranger decides to destroy your life.

2.) Such important message from Jane Fonda on love, hate, empathy, fear, forgiveness, and growing old.

3.) Tammy Duckworth, on being a new mom at 50; the first Senator to give birth while in office; and the first female amputee in the Senate.

4.) I felt this video (about women with different salaries and their anxiety about money) to my CORE; Way too real. But it is also the PERFECT example of how fleeting money is...no matter what you earn.

5.) Njideka Akunyili Crosby, daughter of former NAFDAC chief, Dora Akunyili is now somewhat of a superstar in the art world, with paintings selling for $3 million. This article tells a little bit of her story from Enugu to Los Angeles, California.

6.) "To not be political is to be political", Timothy Keller says in the New York Times op ed. His argument is that Christians don't fit into the two party system, and I am very inclined to agree.

7.) "I am black and I'm a member of the 1%" Check out this feature on some of the richest black people in America.

8.) Everything you could possibly want to know about therapy

Defining Home

My friend, M got married on the last day of August. Now, since she is practically a sister to me, this meant I had to visit Nigeria after a VERY long time. Coincidentally, on our way back, M, her husband, siblings-in-law, and I were all on the same plane. After the most chaotic airport experience in Lagos, we briefly talked about what home meant. How could home be so...hostile? Annoying? Stressful? In addition, the woman that sat near me from Lagos to Paris narrated her frustrations with the system in Lagos and vowed to not return home.

Interestingly, before all of this, the Luvvie situation got me thinking a lot about what home meant to me. Some background on the Luvvie story: Luvvie made a joke on Twitter (like most people do) about an African American musician. And before anyone could say Jack Robinson, people (some African Americans) questioned her blackness, told her to return home to Africa. The same sentiments of neo-nazis, really. People deemed her unqualified to speak on African American culture and pretty much told her she wasn't black enough. The same way the neo-nazi would say those of us with darker skin hues would never be American enough. Now, all of this was said to Luvvie who moved to America when she was just 9; whose formative years were all in America; and who frankly, probably has no recollection of the Lagos/Nigeria she left behind. To better understand the Luvvie story, check it out here. Is it possible some Africans haven't educated themselves enough on racial history and black American culture? Hell yes. But when white people say I'm not American enough, and black people say I'm not black enough, you know I gotta sit and think about where and what home is. What does home mean to me?

Lagos will always be home. By default. Yet somehow I had a more difficult time fitting in that I thought. I thought it would be a perfect fit like my pajamas. But I had forgotten roads and struggled to identify major places. I passed by my secondary (high) school and felt no tinge of nostalgia. The driving drove me crazy and the potholes worsened my motion sickness. Is it weird to say people just...stared...a LOT? Nonetheless, Lagos was still familiar. I took a local flight from Lagos to Port Harcourt, and the pilot introduced himself (or herself, can't remember now), it was weirdly cool for me that it was a Nigerian name. That everyone knew how to rightly say my name. All of that felt...normal.

The funny thing is I'm probably (almost certainly) not as American as Luvvie. This means that the African Americans who abused Luvvie would definitely tell me to go back home. And for a minute during the Luvvie debacle, I started to wonder if I would ever be accepted in America. After all, people still ask, where are you from? And when I tell them where my family lives in America. They say, no, where are you really from? Hmmm interesting. America is home. America is where my family is. America is where my phone automatically connects to wifi. Hell, I am incredibly privileged to have more than one home in America. America is where I found a career[path] I love. America is where I found my voice; where I better understood justice and equality. America is where I truly understood my spirituality, and frankly, where I re-found God. America gave me a world class education. No one can take that from me. Ever.

When we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport and I saw my city on one of those announcement TVs with our time of departure to the United States, I screamed, “home, soon!”

A week before then, when I was landing in Lagos and I saw the view of the cityline, I thought “home, again!”

I'm incredibly lucky and privileged to have more than one home, and the world is globalized such that it doesn't or shouldn't matter as much anymore. Home is where my heart is. Home is when I am with people I love. Home transcends bigoted views. And make no mistake, I am black, blackity black, blackity blackity black. That my progenitors were not slaves does not and will never nullify my blackness. So what does home mean to me? No other person can define what home is to me. Home is wherever the hell I want it to be.




One reason I rarely blog is because I feel like I have to say something grand all the time. This is of course ridiculous; just write is often is advice. To be fair, the main reason for my absence is busyness. I am busy; am I ever not? Are we ever not?

I just took what was my last exam ever (I think for the rest of my life), and let me say, I feel relieved. Relief. Joy. Hope. Excitement. I will be honest, it was an all encompassing, thorough, and HARD exam. But I am grateful to God because it represents an advancement in my career.

I am taking a few hours to not think; you know, re-watch Grey's Anatomy from season one, or maybe West Wing? Who knows? I just need to chill.

I have been wanting to blog about contentment for a while, and today feels like a good day to talk about it. I remember reading in my September devotional that we often conflate what we want with what we need. The Bible says we really only need food, clothing, and shelter.  But then we crave more and more and more. If you took away competing with people you know, showing off and the likes, would you find you have all you need? Could you actually enjoy all you have without an audience? Without anyone liking or validating your experiences?

Satisfaction should not be found in money. Money is meant to provide our needs, the needs of others, and an opportunity to give back to God as an act of worship. In Philippians 4:15-19, Paul mentioned he was content. When all the gifts they sent were enough, Paul said, enough, and kind of returned the rest rather than acquire more and more and more. Now, I don't mean to badger pastors (because frankly, it's trite to keep abusing pastors every time Lol) but our current spiritual leaders never say they have had enough. They continue to acquire and acquire and acquire. We live in a world with no contentment whatsoever. Everyone of us is freaking greedy.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory." Verse 19.

This part, he has proven to many of us over and over again. We can trust that God will meet our every need. His generosity exceeds ours exponentially, so there is no need to worry.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for moment, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  
- 1 Timothy 6: 6 - 10

This one is filled with many truths: we came with nothing to this world and will leave with nothing. So why can't we be content with with what we have and especially when we have enough? Why do we get carried away? The temptation to acquire more and get more can lead us into more temptation and make us get carried away. When the truth is we will leave this world with nothing.

Maybe this will give us rest and peace. We need to know that peace comes from God; security comes from God not money. Forget competing with friends,  forget living your life just so others can have a certain perception of you. Stand your ground on principle and don't be afraid of being different.

"I can't afford it"  is a perfect response.

True godlinesses with contentment is itself great wealth. Longing too desperately to be rich can push you to be trapped by harmful desires that plunge you into ruin and destruction. Don't we see this everywhere? People will do just about anything, and I mean, anything for money. For fame. For attention. I don't know that a lot of people can live without attention.  Let people think what they want, but live with your means and on your terms. All of this is of course, counter-culture. Even spiritual leaders want to fly in private jets and own as many cars as the colors of the rainbow. So feel free to ignore this, but know that we can strive and strive and strive, ultimately except we get peace from God, it will be chasing the unattainable. You will find that no amount of cars, designer clothes, Instagram likes and comments can feed the giant hole in your heart.

Yeah, I'm telling it like it is today, sorry.