COVID-19 reminded us how important it is to have savings. Companies are laying off employees to downsize. Many 9-to-5 workers are doing side-hustles to pull in extra income. Some have found ways to lower expenses such as biking instead of driving or moving to a smaller home. It feels like the United States is being tested on concepts covered in the Essentialism book. Great book, by the way.
Even with the recession and increased cost of living country-wide, some people are still neglecting the basics of money management. With issues like single mothers and crime increasing more, especially within the Black community, you have to check yourself and reflect on your financial choices. I'm no professional in personal or professional finances. I'm not going to talk about stocks, bonds, or anything of the sort. Everything I say below, you can work on now.
Cost of Living
I already mentioned downsizing your home and limiting gas usage. There are tiny houses and recreational vehicles (RVs), both with their own pros and cons. Apartments provide flexibility and free maintenance. For the thrifty but lazy commuters, there are electric bikes now. Maybe you can set up a carpooling schedule with co-workers. Or, find a job that allows you to work remotely.
Does your preferred grocery store have the best prices for items you commonly purchase? Look around and find out. That rundown store you always ignore could lead to big savings in the long run. I'll only quickly mention coupon usage.
Homelessness is a huge issue that has only surged since the pandemic began. These situations result from various external and self-inflected problems, no doubt. But sometimes, I wonder why more don't just move to another city, state, or country. I know, you're probably thinking:
- Computer and internet access to research
- Money to move
- Nearby family and friends
- Comfort in a familiar area
Of course, these are all valid reasons. But they don't apply to everyone. Generic smartphones with internet access aren't expensive. You don't need an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Public libraries often have free computer access.
Driving is more expensive because of the hike in gas prices. It is possible to sleep and shower at some rest areas along the way, though. If there isn't Wi-Fi, you might be able to use internet tethering from your cell phone to get online work done. A nearby Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility might be able to provide short-term housing.
Do you pay for web hosting services? If so, are getting the most bang for your buck? If you only installed a single web application on your shared server or virtual private server (VPS), consider searching for a cheap hosting plan where you only manage that one site. If you have multiple applications installed on a managed cPanel VPS, but can manage without a server control panel, look into migrating to a cheap unmanaged Linux server. If you're close to technical expertise, you could learn how to configure Secure Shell (SSH) access and install a cheaper or free control panel. CyberPanel can install WordPress and PrestaShop for you with just a few clicks. This frees up funds for other digital marketing efforts.
Cost of Lifestyle
We all like to spoil ourselves sometimes. If your method of self-pampering is draining your wallet, cut back and find an alternative. If you have way too many shoes, clothes, or other random crap with no valid reason, reflect on the root of the reason why and address it. The problem might be that you're more focused on looking like you have money than actually making money. Excessive consumerism is a huge issue within the Black community (there's historic evidence). Learn this now: it is often best to pay for experiences instead of material things.
Gamblers, try getting into the stock market. Adrenaline junkies, get creative thinking about local special events and volunteering possibilities. Many US cities take volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and police officers. If your favorite hobbies involve expensive consumables (fuel, ammo, etc.), pivot focus to cheaper simulation drills and free courses to learn more about the history of your passion.
I enjoy supporting Black owned businesses because of some long-term goals. But when I don't want to spend money, I find another way to support the company. Usually, I share it across social media. That's free.
It is costly having toxic people in your life. Think about the problems you have due to people who add nothing to your life. Unnecessary drama kills energy and time, two things required to innovate and be productive. It leads to worse mental health and can impact your job performance, grades, and other healthy relationships.
Hold yourself to a higher standard. Then, demand that they do the same. If they refuse, cut them off. If you can't remove them entirely, create boundaries and enforce them at all times.
Debt is not cool. It is a wealth deterrent, especially if you don't make the most of whatever caused the debt. Before you apply for a new loan, fix your credit. It might lower the interest on that car loan or home down payment.
College is not for everyone all the time. IT is one of many industries where you can get a third party certification and be just as, if not more, eligible for entry-level positions. The only guaranteed advantages to attending university these days are a greater network and alumni resources. Veterans, you can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill for more than college:
- Professional certifications
- Trade schools
- Some other training programs related to improving chances of employment
Save at least a couple bucks a month. Automate it through your banking app. Increase it gradually while you learn more about how you spend money. Acquire the discipline to leave the savings alone unless you truly need it. Ask your bank for other advice on saving money and making that money work for you.
Relationships and Marriage
This might seem random. If two people live together, they can split expenses. Friends, lovers, siblings, and pairs of single mothers (shout out to Kevin Samuels) can benefit from this. But you have to learn how to co-exist with someone else, how to compromise with someone. That's a tall ask for some people.
Marriage has legal, social, emotional benefits. But it has also become a steep, uphill battle for the average relationship. Half end in divorce. Interracial marriages are more likely to fail due to cultural clashes. Gay relationships have higher occurrences of domestic violence. I've already covered common challenges in Black heterosexual relationships. But yeah, marriage and partnership in a home can work.
Make money. Save money. Make your money make money.