Let’s Talk: Fiscal Responsibility

Money is a tool, not a toy. How are you using it?

I want to start this post off with a definition today:

House Poor – Being able to pay rent, mortgage, bill payments, etc., but unable to purchase basic necessities such as groceries, fuel, clothing, etc. and/or live a happy life due to financial strife.


As we begin making preparations to head into the new, grand year of 2020 (a whole new decade!), I wanted to take some time to impart the knowledge that I acquired this year regarding Fiscal Responsibility. I’m doing this because I want those around me that I have the ability to impact, to financially start their year off right. If I can help it, I would like to prevent anyone from dealing with what I dealt with this year.

Many of you already know that I struggled a lot with my finances this year.

A lot.

However, in the midst of a struggle, you learn, you change and most importantly you (hopefully) grow.

If you’re still reading, there’s a few steps I want you to take as soon as you can. No, actually, do it now. Enough fooling around.

Step One – Control Yourself: Open up an INTEREST BEARING SAVINGS ACCOUNT at ANOTHER BANK (preferably a credit union). Do NOT by any means, order a debit card for this account. If you get one by default, hide it from yourself, cut it up, give it to someone you trust, but you better not use it unless it’s for emergencies.

Step Two – Automate EVERYTHING: This part is really important. Take 7% of your paycheck (or whatever you can afford to do), and set up AUTOMATIC TRANSFERS TO THIS SAVINGS ACCOUNT AT THE OTHER BANK. Set it up for every time that you get paid, whether it be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Why? When you are moving money automatically from one bank to another, it’s in process for 3-4 days. It’s up in the ether, and you can’t touch it. Therefore you can’t spend it. Once it arrives at the other bank, it’ll take the same amount of time to transfer it back, once again inhibiting you from unnecessarily spending that money you’re supposed to be saving.

Also, the way my bank is set up, there’s a $3 transfer fee to an external account for the 3-4 day transfer. I never notice those missing $3 dollars. If I’m feeling spicy, I can immediately transfer the funds the same or next day for $25, but ain’t nobody got time for all that.

I would also suggest that if you can, set up auto pay on bills that are easily manageable. Sometimes you get a discount for doing so!

Step Three – Tame your Money: Download these Monthly Budgeting and Bill Tracking Excel Spreadsheets from my Google Drive.

Budgeting has a bad rap. Budgeting is not something that’s supposed to give you restrictions, it’s something that’s supposed to liberate you and make you aware of how you’re utilizing your income. We use budgeting sheets to see where our money is going and to tell our money where to go. It helps us identify if we’re spending money on things that we don’t need and can do without. When you’re filling out the sheet, make sure that you…LIST EVERYTHING YOU SPEND MONEY ON. Including all your lil’ subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Discord, Apple Music, alladat.

If you want tips on budgeting per paycheck, check out The Honest Plan on YouTube.

Once you’ve completed your monthly budget sheet, the Bill Tracking sheet will be your best friend. You’ll use this to list everything you pay a monthly bill for, see if you’re staying on top of your bill payments, observe to see if there are any fluctuations in bill amounts and overall be absolutely sure that you’re paying things on time (especially when the collectors attempt to call you and tell you that you’re behind).

Not only do these two tools give you peace of mind, but you’ll also feel like you’re doing a lil’ sumn sumn as a money managing guru.

numbers money calculating calculation

Step Four – Side Hustlin’ (Optional): Find a side hustle you wouldn’t mind doing. If you’re good at something, you might as well get paid for it. There’s nothing wrong with a little extra income! While you’re at it…check out Blankets of Blessings 🌚

Step Five – Trading & Investing: It would be worthwhile to hop onto YouTube and watch some videos on Trading vs. Investing. It’s never too late to start, and besides, if it goes well, it’s something you can set aside and “forget about” while your money grows. I’ve recently started using the Robinhood and Stash apps. If you’re interested in Robinhood, use my link here to get a free stock! Disclaimer: You should already know this is not a quick way to increase your income (unless you get the blessing of a lifetime and have an incredibly successful day trade).

Step Six – The Snowball Effect: I’m sure many of you have heard of this. …No? Okay, my bad for the assumption. Allow me to enlighten you: The Snowball Effect is something that one of my mentors shared with me, and it involves paying off looming bills. Essentially, all you are doing is paying off the small bills first so that you can launch a full, head on attack on the larger bills and aggressively pay those down. It’s effective, it works, do it.

Step Seven – “It is Finished.”: God rested on the seventh day, so we shall rest on the seventh step. Put this cycle in motion and you’ll be taking your first steps on your path to Fiscal Responsibility.

Matthew 25:14-28 

These things I mentioned above will take time to get going, and this blog post is not the end all to education about Fiscal Responsibility. This is just what I’ve learned from my experiences and those around me. You have to ask questions, you have to be attentive to what’s going on with your wallet. It’s up to you to take control, and use money as the tool it was intended to be used as. I do care to mention that, be careful you don’t become obsessed with money. Money isn’t everything, but how we use it determines how we live our lives.

Here are a few things to take away from today:

  • Wherever you put your value, that’s where your money is going.
  • Don’t go after things that have no eternal value.
  • You cannot serve both God and money. – Matthew 6:24
  • Figure out what your definition of money is – this will help you determine if you’re using money as a tool or a toy.
  • Don’t forget to pay your tithes.

 

Happy Holidays! 🎄💖

 

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BlerDCon the Recap: Part Two

Let me just hype my fam up right QUICK.

YER. I see you made it to Part Two. Clearly that means you enjoyed Part One 👀. Welcome back, my dedicated reading friend.

Well, since Part One was mostly comprised of the activities I took part in while at the convention, you already know that the second part is going to be about…THE COOKOUT FAM, AYYYYY.

Every convention I go to, just expect me to mention the litty litness of The Cookout. Cookout Fam Chronicles if you will, haha. There’s a lot of pictures that I took of us, so please, enjoy this lovely slideshow:

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ANYWAY.

I already learn so much from everyone day to day in Discord, but it’s on a different level when you see your fam in person actually speaking on their personal experiences, etc. with a passionate tone in their voices. Many of the panels I went to, we mostly ventured

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Genesis speaking da truth

to together and it was astounding to hear everyone’s perspectives up close concerning stories and occurrences happening in our communities.

We basically traveled together in one big and various group pods the entire time, and let me tell you, it was the best thing ever. Sure it’s nice to enjoy something alone, but it’s even better to be able to share a moment with someone and laugh, cry and yes, even debate with them about what you all just witnessed (or overheard, LOL).

My most favorite moments occurred when we were all chilling upstairs in @Genesis_0109 hotel room, just hanging out, playing a card game he introduced us to, and just voicing our different opinions on a myriad of topics. If you fell asleep and got caught slipping, best believe you got sleep cammed by yours truly, LOL.

Yes, I have this thing I do called Sleep Cam: if you fall asleep around me while we are all being extremely loud and having fun, your picture will be taken and most likely with people doing random funny things in the background behind you.

I definitely can’t forget the after parties. WHEW CHILLEEEE. We danced and danced and danced, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The fam gets super hype okay, that’s all I’m going to say on that.

So, about this COSPLAY.

Last but not least: I cosplayed for the first time in my entire life and let me tell you, that was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences I have had in a while. I’m actually getting emotional as I reflect on getting everything together for it. I’m even more emotional because I cosplayed a character of my own original design.

Realizing the fact that I was able to bring her to life, and it wasn’t too shabby looking either? I WAS SHOOK. What made it even better was that a couple people actually chased me down to take a picture with me! I definitely wasn’t expecting that because, even though I was happy that I cosplayed, I was thinking that my cosplay wasn’t as great as some of the others I saw. I honestly had to keep reminding myself that none of that mattered and that I needed to stop comparing myself. At the end of the day, all that mattered was that I cosplayed, I did my best with what I had, I had fun and freaking I enjoyed it! Now I just have to work on my posing, LOL. (Solo photos of me courtesy of @Tru1p)


Right now, I’m tearing up because, this is my family, and in such a short time, these phenomenal individuals have become incredibly important to me and I care about each and every one of them. It’s such a blessing to be able to serve the community as an Admin staff member because I really get a chance to see how our efforts are helping those that come into the community from a granular perspective. Like I mentioned earlier, I learn so much from being around them and hearing their stories. Even though they roast the heck out of me (out of love, LOL), the out pouring of help, support and love I and everyone else receives is incredible. These are some of the most talented, driven, intelligent, hard-working and dedicated people that I’ve come to meet so far in my life. I hate that we all live so far away from each other, but it’s comforting to know that we are all just a Discord message, Voice Chat, Stream or Game Lobby away.

If you’re a PoC Content Creator looking for a group like The Cookout, I definitely recommend you check us out. The group is only accessible through an application, and that is temporarily closed while we process the huge number of applications we’ve received in the past month or so. However, keep up with us on Twitch, Instagram and Twitter!

Special Shout Out to the Cookout Fam I was able to hang with at this convention, y’all are top tier ❤

@blisscreates, @stellyblanca, @SpoonGodTitan, @willthegreatest, @therealrapcritic @LilaBoBina, @Tru1p, @JermainePlays, @vickibewicked, @_LadyKayLee, @DippedNV8Splash, @007Steeze, @_kingether, @DJ_Cocoa_Butter, @CSamSim, @ProdigyDaPrince, @JediOso, @Leesh_Capeesh, @Nizzy917, @Bball4Life35, @frenchiefied, @unicorninthekitchen@RobRegalGxC, @Genesis_0109, @Son_of_a_yellow, @shinageeeexpress, @TheRetroAstro, @dream_killa22, @xStill_Infamous, @skool_the_otaku and @kendallxanime

(Everyone above isn’t necessarily in the Cookout) If I missed you, it wasn’t on purpose. There was a lot of y’all in two days LOL.


Thank you again for reading Part Two of my BlerDCon Recap! There will be an actual vlog of the activities coming soon, once I find time to sit down and edit!

BlerDCon the Recap: Part One

Here’s Part One of that Re-cap I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, lololol. Part Two soon come.

Not that I don’t mind blowing up everyone’s Twitter and/or Instagram mentions with tags, replies, etc., AND WOULD DEFINITELY DO IT WITHOUT HESITATION… I figured I’d type up an article (paired with a vlog, soon come) of my experience at my first Blerdcon this past weekend instead, because, whew chile I have a lot to say.

I truly don’t even know where to begin. I suppose I’ll first talk about the activities I attended! I probably am going to split this into two parts.

Aside from the blazing heat at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City (LOL), I was in AWE from the moment I walked into the hotel.

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Repping our North Carolina Area Codes

This time, having my sister (@Bball4Life35) AND brother (@dream_killa22) in tow, we not only went on our first “family” road trip, but we also got to experience a world that we really are mostly cut off from back in our hometowns. I’m glad that I was able to take them with me, and that we were immersed in this adventure together. It’s definitely a memory we will always cherish!

BlerDCon was nothing short of magical. It was a multi-level, action packed weekend, with everyone absolutely living their best lives with no ragrets (not even one letter). I was able to participate in my first Maid Cafe!

That food was AMAZING. It was just as fun as it’s portrayed in Anime, haha. For the first time in my life I tried soba noodles. Not to mention, one of my good friends from college (@treezyspeakeasy) was actually a maid (Her maid name was Michiko)! It was super awesome to see another one of my friends enjoying the same type of interest as myself. The rest of the Maid Cafe staff were super hospitable too. Since I went to the Cafe alone (I high key was wandering and forgot to tell my fam that I ended up there, LOL), they sat and talked with me the entire time which I really appreciated.

We also visited a few panels. To name a few: It Really Be Your Own People: Gatekeeping the Black Experience, D.I.Y. Sci-Fi Filmmaking and discussion on the Culture of Black Twitter.

It Really Be Your Own People: Gatekeeping the Black Experience was an insightful IMG_0829.jpegdiscussion because it drew light to the fact that, whether we mean to or not…we all gatekeep at some point.

  • If you’re unsure of what “Gatekeeping” means, it’s referring to making someone feel as though they can’t enjoy a hobby, show, book, series, etc. because they don’t necessarily have as much knowledge as you do on the respective topic. Basically making them feel as though they don’t have a right to enjoy whatever it is they’re trying to enjoy because they don’t know all the backstories. Miss me with that.

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I, along with many other people, have witnessed this happening on various social medias, and it’s honestly disgusting and pointless. Just let someone enjoy whatever it is they’re trying to enjoy (as long as it’s not illegal or very wrong, yikes).

The D.I.Y. Sci-Fi Filmmaking panel I came in at the end of (because I was putting on my cosplay, huehuehue). However, for the little bit that I could listen in on, I thoroughly IMG_0842.jpegenjoyed it and probably will soon be getting back into learning more about Premiere Pro and After Effects since I have access to them for now! My takeaway from this panel was that you can do a lot with a little, and you’re really only limited by your imagination.

The discussion on the Culture of Black Twitter, led by one of my super totally awesome brilliant friends Lila (@LilaBoBina), and two other women making some power moves outchea, Tanya (@cypheroftyr) and Shonté (@ShonteWrites),

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Tanya, Shonté and Lila

IMG_0990highlighted how Black Twitter means a lot of different things for everyone. They also discussed how much society takes ideas from Black Twitter and tries to market it back to the rest of the world as if it was their original idea. They especially are privy to doing this without giving credit to the people that they stole from.

Quirktastic, the group who hosted Quirkcon back in June, also collaborated on a video with another group called TeamRedPro to make a live action short film called Afro Samurai Champloo. Y’all. This had to be one of the best and most hilarious short films I’ve seen in a while! The blooper reel definitely had me rolling at the end, ahaha.

Among the other things, I was able to attend a little bit of the comedy show and peek in on some of the table top gaming they had going on as well. I can’t forget the PLETHORA of extraordinary vendors that seemed to never end! Oh, and don’t get me started on the Food Trucks, WHEW CHILE.

I also SHOOK ESTELLE’S HAND, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Haha, well, I think this is a good stopping point for BlerDCon the Recap: Part One. If you would like to read Part Two, stay tuned. If not, that ain’t no problem! I definitely do appreciate you taking the time to read Part One! Be Blessed fam!


Also, I want to just say that everyone, no matter which con you go to…everyone should experience a con. More specifically a comic, gaming, anime, etc. type con. It’s an incredible adventure that I believe would bring out the inner kid in all of us.

More pics from the convention:

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The Diamond: A Short Story

Don’t let anyone determine your worth, or misuse you as a result of what you’ve survived and experienced in your lifetime.

Once upon a time, there was this man, who went for a walk at the same exact time every day. You could call this walk his daily walk of life. Walking through highs and lows, and sometimes difficult spots that weren’t so easy to get a foothold on. As it seemed that his walks were getting tougher and tougher some days, he prayed and asked God to bless him with something that would keep him company and make the walks worth the trouble.

One day, as the man was walking along one of the more difficult parts of his walk, a glimmer caught his eye. As he approached the spot where he saw the faint glimmer from a distance, crouching down and beginning to dig once he arrived at that spot, he happened upon something rare and tough to find. To his amazement and gratitude to God, he realized that he had found a diamond! Now, what would a diamond like this, be doing here? No one knows how the diamond got there, but it didn’t matter. This diamond wasn’t like any other diamond, however. It was the most beautiful, shimmery, warm, glowing and enchanting diamond anyone ever did see! Usually, rocks are cold and off-putting, but not this one. This diamond shone like none other before it. There was something incredibly special about this diamond, and the man realized this from the moment he picked it up. Upon closer observation, the man noticed the diamond had a few scratches and some seemingly irremovable dirt on it (no matter how hard he tried to wipe it off with this shirt). Like before, none of it mattered because the man was so joyous, happy, and excited, he thanked God and hurried home to clean and properly take care of that diamond.

Once home, the man carefully took the diamond out of his pocket and quickly prepared a nice wash for it to cleanse it of the dirt it had incurred from being in the ground for so long. He treated it with the utmost care, careful not to rush the process. Once he finished washing the diamond, aside from the scratches that it possessed, he was able to finally see its true beauty. This diamond was near perfect!

Words could not express how happy this man was, and he could not thank God enough for blessing him with this very unique gift. The man would just sit and stare in awe of the diamond after he finished his daily walks, captivated by its own unique glow. A glow that nothing else could possess.

The man would take that diamond everywhere, happy to know that it would always be right there ready to shine light onto his life in the difficult times that he went through, making the experiences more bearable…

For a while, the diamond stayed spotless, constantly gleaming its beautiful rays of light that seemed to blot out the minor scratches it had on it. Then one day, to his surprise, the man noticed that the diamond got dirty again. “How could this be?” he asked himself, for the man knew that he took extra care to wash and protect the diamond. This didn’t matter though once again, for he simply shrugged and took it home to wash it and get it cleaned again. Not even two days later, however, the diamond began to get dirty again. The man, befuddled, asked himself again how this kept happening. Especially this time, he noticed the diamond was dirtier than usual, and more scratches began to appear on it. After this, it seemed that no matter how much he cleaned the diamond when it got dirty, it just would not stay clean for long, regardless of everything he tried. He even started using harsher cleaners just to make sure the diamond had no possible way of getting dirty, though much to his dismay, it only made the diamond look worse.

During this time, the meticulous care and attention the man paid to this lovely diamond began to fade as the days went on. He no longer stared at it in awe whenever he held it in the palm of his hand. He even started to pick up other rocks from time to time when he went for his walks (though, he never kept those). Looks of disgust and annoyance began to take over whenever he would look at the diamond. He even stopped taking it on his walks with him everyday and just left it laying at his house. He figured, why clean it if it’s just going to get dirty again? He figured it was a waste of his time and energy. Eventually, the man grew tired of this constant routine of having to constantly clean this diamond. He couldn’t understand why it just wouldn’t stay clean. Then one day, the man had finally had enough, he couldn’t take it anymore. As he went on his walk that day, with the diamond in his pocket, he reached in, grabbed it and looked at it one more time. For a moment, he saw that glimmer, that brilliant shine the diamond gave off when he had first came upon it. He paused for a moment, unsure of what to do next, but then too soon did all the struggle he went through to keep it clean start running through his mind. His next action was none other than letting the diamond fall out of the palm of his hand, and watching it roll down the hill, becoming obscured by the dirt and plants around it. He could no longer see the glimmer that once captivated him. The diamond seemed to have fallen in slow motion as he let it slip from his hand. Time seemed to almost stop…

Staring at the sunset as he breathed out and turned to walk away, he thought he heard a faint voice crying and saying “I can’t stay clean. Sometimes life just gets to you and you have to be dusty and dirty for a while. We won’t always be clean, but we will get clean again. It makes the dirtier time not seem so bad. What matters is that we should never give up, but I understand. Sometimes you just can’t take it.” It was enough to make him stop, and turn back to look at where the diamond fell, but he just shook his head and said, “there’s no way…”. He turned around and continued on his walk.

Two years he had that diamond. One of God’s precious blessings. Though, in the end, he forgot the value of it, he forgot that he prayed so fervently for it, and he simply discarded it and went about his business. The diamond had grown fond of the man during that time and tried its best to shine bright through the muck contained on its surface, just to brighten his day no matter what it looked like. It still wasn’t enough.

The diamond laid there for a long while, watching the sun rise and sun set day after day. It’s still laying there, even now, patiently waiting for someone else to come and receive it as a blessing as the man once did. If the diamond had a heart, there would be no hate in it for the man, as it understands that sometimes life is unbearable and people give up. It hoped the man was doing well.

Every now and then, the diamond would catch a glimpse of the man as he walked by on his daily walk, not even glancing at where he let the diamond fall long ago.

Be Sure to Spend Time With God

He’s the best friend you could ever imagine having, so why wouldn’t you spend time with Him?

I know that as we go throughout our busy days, we many times forget to sit down and give thanks to God for the many blessings He bestows upon us as we go throughout our busy days.

Why is it that we can devote so much time to all these various things that stress us out, disappoint us, anger us, etc., but we struggle with spending time with God who relieves all of that stress, anger and disappointment? It’s very backwards. It does not make sense. It frustrates me, especially because there’s really no excuse for why I don’t spend time with Him. The extended amounts of time that I can sleep or play video games for…I could be spending time with God. The extended amounts of time that I spend worrying about things beyond my control…I could be spending time with God.

I used to pray every morning before I left for work. I fell off. However, that alone just isn’t enough. God deserves so much more than that from me! Especially the way I’ve been getting blessed recently? I should be running through the hallways at work, at home, where ever I go. I should be praise breaking all OVER the place.

Yet…I don’t.

Why?

There’s numerous distractions, numerous illegitimate reasons that I could come up with as to why I don’t spend time with God. It’s ridiculous really. It’s ridiculous because, do you think God sits back and says “Oh, I didn’t have time to bless you or forgive you because I was too busy and distracted with something else, but I’ll get around to it.” No! He absolutely, DOES NOT do that. Do you know how bad things would be if that happened? We would be S.O.L., on steroids. No, but instead I imagine God shakes His head at us daily, probably saying “my children, my children, what will I ever do with you”, but still continues to love us and bless us REGARDLESS of our actions. Oh yes, and let’s not forget, He’s teaching us lessons in the process. God will not hesitate to break us down first in order to teach us a valuable lesson about not being humble, not spending enough time with Him, etc. God gets jealous, just like our boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives, or even our FRIENDS do when we don’t make a point of spending time with them.

I get it though, I get it. We can’t see God. We can’t see Jesus. Out of sight, out of mind right? If we aren’t interacting with something physically every day, it’s easy to forget about whatever that something may be. We’re human. That’s bound to happen. However, it. is. not. an. excuse! I have to do better. WE have to do better. God has done way too much for us, for us not to sit down, thank Him, spend time with Him, tell Him about our day, give Him praise for simply being who He is and taking care of us, EVERY DAY.

How you spend time with God is how you spend time with God. There’s no special technique or method you’re supposed to do. What matters is the strength of your relationship with Him. Imagine, all the time you spend being angry or worrying about something beyond your control, all that time could be time you’re spending with the One who created you. It’s one of the best times too because you can cry and let things out and not be judged, you can laugh with God (yes, contrary to popular belief, God has a sense of humor), you can even vent your frustrations! He will listen to every single word you have to say. You just have to patient, quiet and listen to what He has to say about everything.

Also keep in mind, just because you’re improving your relationship with God, doesn’t mean your life will be without hardship. If life was easy, we wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t need God. God is there for us. God is our strength when we become weak and can’t fathom how we will continue living life. Let God fight the toughest parts of your battles for you. Don’t try to do everything on your own. It won’t feel good and everything will spin out of control, and we don’t want that.