Hey, hey Courtney Sanders here with another episode of the Think and Grow Chick podcast. I’m super excited about this one, kind of nervous though because I’m going to be putting all my business out on front street.
Welcome to my new/old series, the story of a black girl and her money 2.0. Consider this part one. Though this is a new series, it’s actually an old series that I’m resurrecting from my YouTube channel which I shown this maybe seven or eight years ago.
I did a series of three videos called the story of a black girl and her money. If you know my story then you know that I was in school, almost flunked out because I wasn’t going to class. I was trying to build this business and because I lost my scholarship, I ended up taking out a bunch of credit cards, trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. And it ended up just blowing him up in my face.
When I needed to get back on track, I got really serious and I read Dave Ramsey and started paying down my debt and taking on a bunch of odd jobs. I just got really serious about my personal finance journey. I did a little bit of documenting of that with these super old videos seven or eight years ago. I called the series the story of a black girl and her money.
This will be a series, make sure you are subscribed to me. Start following me so that when I do new episodes of this particular series, you will be the first to know. Why am I resurrecting this? Why do I feel it necessary to talk about my finances and kind of document it and do a little reality TV style or reality podcast style on my finances?
Well, it’s because I am personally embarking on a journey to get tighter with my money. I’ve been a little loose lately honestly for a few years, not in a way where anything is bad. We have savings and all that good stuff, but I thought that we could just be tighter, just more on point.
I’m kind of coasting and not really taking advantage of the things that I could be taking advantage of. Honestly, I just haven’t been that disciplined with my budget. In a way, I actually envy the financial discipline that I had when I was making less money.
I had just graduated from school, working 9-5, I was making an excellent salary for my age. And then quit my job and started my business and really brought in a lot of revenue. My husband does well; he makes a really great salary. It’s not an excuse but, we just haven’t been as disciplined or as tight as we could be. Sometimes when you feel like you’ve got it even, you overspend, it’s not a big deal because the money was in the checking account.
But I don’t want to be that way. I’m a big believer that just because you make more, that’s not an excuse to pay attention to your finances less.
My husband and I for the last few years did the basics, meaning we lived within our means. We do not have a lifestyle that exceeds what we bring in. We have paid down debts, we have exactly a year’s worth of expenses in our emergency fund right now. We have 401ks with money in it. We save on a monthly basis. We do everything that you’re “supposed to do”, the basics.
But that’s all we do. I think that it’s a problem because I feel like with our earning potential and the fact that we do live in Dallas right now, which is a city with really relatively low cost of living and we’re looking at moving to LA one day. That’s our ultimate goal, which is crazy expensive. I’m like, “Well, dang, if we don’t get our finances together here in Dallas, then we are going to have a problem in Los Angeles.”
We live in a study with a low cost of living so we have a great income potential. Having a year’s worth of emergency fund and contributing to our 401Ks feels like just doing the bare minimum. It’s kind of surviving, not thriving. I’ve always neglected “tightening up on our finances” because I just wanted to focus on building my business. I have definitely neglected the importance of reducing expenses.
I thought that as long as you make more money and more money is coming in, worry about the expenses later. It’s more important to focus on bringing the money in, but what’s the point of bringing in a bunch of money in if your bucket has holes in it. You’ll never be able to fill up the bucket. Now, I recognize focusing on both aspects.
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Notes from the Podcast:
There are four things that I’ve encountered where I had to talk with myself and said, “You know what, you need to get back to where you were when you were a broke college student and get tight on your finances.”
- I’m calling my business reboot or my business epiphany.
Last year, I felt like I really got off track with my original business mission even though it was one of my “most financially successful years” in terms of the revenue brought in. And we’ll talk about why I’m putting that in air quotes.
Yeah, I’ve made a lot of money, I mean multiple six figures in revenue. I felt like I was just focusing on developing programs and doing tactics that would help me move from multiple six figures to seven figures, instead of actually focusing on my original business mission and doing what actually started this whole thing and what I was actually passionate about. I got caught up in the hype, drank my own kool-aid, and got high on my own supply.
I took on a lot of one on one clients, launching higher priced programs because that’s the name of the game, charge more, charge more, charge more, charge more. I hit a fever pitch and got to the point where I felt like a lot of the stuff just wasn’t really in alignment with what my brand was all about. And I honestly didn’t want to do it.
I’m a creator, I love being creative, I love being accessible to my audience. I wanted to go back to that place, but I felt kind of trapped because I had built all of this stuff and I thought. “how do I unwind it?”
On top of that, that six-figure revenue that I was bringing in was tied up with expenses that I was now taking on. I was falling into the trap of making more and spending more at the same time. Crazy because I wasn’t even spending it on myself but was hiring full-time staff, paying other coaches, subscribing to a bunch of expensive software.
I was spending thousands and thousands of dollars in advertising, no joke about it. For many months, I was spending five figures on Facebook ads just to keep this afloat. Just to be real, I made over $330,000 in revenue last year, but I personally took home less than six figures. I’ll let you do the math, but my overhead was just out of control.
I literally had a “come-to-Jesus- moment” at the end of last year and just had a little heart-to-heart with myself and God , my husband , close friends and my community. And I decided to go back to the basics, to what I originally set out to do which is to help women think and grow into their potential in every area of their life.
I straight up killed revenue streams last year and at the beginning of this year that I felt were out of alignment and didn’t want to do anymore. I just started coming back to my senses, I started reviewing everything that I was paying for. And I realized I had so many unnecessary expenses in my business.
I felt comfortable spending a lot because I was making a lot of money in terms of revenue. But just because you can cover it, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. It doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for your business in the long term. And in general, the name of the game, yes, is to increase revenue, but it’s also to reduce expenses.
I realized that you can’t just play offense all the time ladies and gentlemen, you gotta play defense too. That lifestyle wasn’t going to work if I want it to be fiscally responsible parents.
2. I need to start a college fund for our kid. But real talk, my husband and I literally spend anywhere from 800 to $1,000 a month on food. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. And this was before we have the baby. I’m an exclusively breastfeeding mom so it’s not even like I have to buy formula. The crazy thing is we can afford it. And that’s the problem. Just because I can afford it, I can’t spend that much on food for two people. It is insane.
I really want to get into real estate and it’s my goal to buy my first rental property. It was my goal last year. I don’t know if I’d be able to do that with the baby and all. I’m taking this year to clean stuff up, reorganize, in my house and in my business. I’ll use this year to get adjusted and to lay a good foundation, so that next year, I’ll be more aggressive in terms of taking new things on. I am postponing my real estate goal in terms of buying my first rental property.
If we want a college fund and rental properties, we need to be tighter with our finances because there’s just so much more that we could be doing. I feel guilty because even though we’re doing the textbook financial practices, we aren’t really ascending to the next level because we have leaks in our bucket.
I honestly feel like it is criminal given how much money we make and we have than what our parents had at our age.
3. The third thing that’s really got me hyped up on getting our finances together is generational wealth. I recently watched a Netflix series where they explain all kinds of stuff. There was an episode that explained why there’s such a huge wealth gap between blacks and whites in America. I knew all that stuff but to see all of it laid out the way they explained it, it lit a fire in me. While we are still fighting for our rights, that is not an excuse not to do what we can do right now.
I feel like my generation is the first generation that’s truly free as an African-American. Slavery ended generations ago, but after that came the Reconstruction, which was not good for black people. I feel like my generation is the first generation to live in this country without discrimination.
There’s still stuff like that, but it’s not codified the way it was in slavery times. Now we have laws that protect us from being discriminated. We have a lot less barrier and a semblance of freedom that our parents and ancestors didn’t have. It’s not perfect, there’s a 300-year head start in America except for us.
I do not want to be the black couple that made great salary, had a beautiful house, drove high-end imported cars, travel to exotic destinations and wore really nice clothes, but behind closed doors doesn’t have any savings. They have little to no investment or not building anything legacy-wise. I say that because that’s a real phenomenon in our community too. I’m just being real.
On turning 30, personally, I feel like your 30’s are the last stop in terms of taking preventative measures before you have to start taking corrective measures. You’re old enough to know where it’s the last stop. If you screw up in your 20’s , you still got a whole decade to fix it. You need to get it together by your 30’s and if you do them, you set a good foundation that you don’t have to worry about your 40’s, 50’s 60’s and beyond.
If you buy your rental properties, make your investments, and contribute to your 401k in your 20’s and in your 30’s , you don’t have to hustle up as much money in your 40’s and 50’s in order to catch up because again, time is on your side.
We’ve paid down considerable debt and own our own home. We’ve done all that the textbooks say you’re supposed to do. But now, it’s time to do more than that. Now it’s time to really excel and take off.
I want to do that in my early 30’s. Those are the four things that set me off, my business reboot, having a baby, thinking about generational wealth and turning 30.
Now, let’s get into the specifics of what I actually want.
- I want to pay off my student loan, I owe about $30,000. It’s a federal loan, thank goodness. But the interest rate is still pretty high. I think it’s 6.8% or something like that. I’ve been out of school now for six years. Six years of paying almost 7% interest, not good. I need to pay that off.
- I want to pay off my car. I had a Honda that I loved. Iit was paid off and I drove it for years. But it was a Coupé, and I got a baby now. I didn’t want to be lifting the seat and doing all that stuff with the car seat so I bought my new Lexus, which I love. But we don’t owe much on it, we traded in my car and we put a lot down. I would like to pay my car off in between 18 and 24 months actually. That’s something that we can definitely do, maybe even faster if we stop spending $1,000 a month on food.
- I want my rental property, the first property that I invest in. I want to spend less than 150,000, hopefully, less than even 100,000. If I could find a nice 70 or $80,000 property, that would be great. With a 20% down, I’m looking at roughly 16,000 to 30,000 depending on how expensive the house is. And I think I can do that. I plan on saving up for the majority of that investment through my business revenue.
- I want to create a slush fund for things like travel, holiday gifts, home repair, that kind of thing because right now, we’re just taking it out of our monthly income, which again, we can afford to do. None of this is going on the credit card.
- I want to have investment accounts outside of our retirement. Right now, our sole investments are our retirement type 401k investments. Maybe instead of it being a long-term investment, maybe it’s just mid-term investment. I would like to play in the stock market and do different things where over the course of a few years if things look up then we could use it for a vacation or buy another rental property or something.
Now, I’m of the mindset that you can still achieve your goals and still live the lifestyle that you want as well. You just have to be smart about how you do it. You need to be honest about the lifestyle that you want to live and just what’s important to you. You only live once, goodness. Yes, you want to do things for your future and be responsible with your finances, but have fun now as well. I think that you can do both.
The lifestyle things that are still really important to me that I’m going to incorporate while shooting for these goals. One, I am a foodie. I have tried really hard to not like food, to not want to eat out. There’s a reason we spend $1,000 on food, which is not good. We’re going to cut that out. But there’s still got to be a way where we can eat well. And when I say eat well, I don’t just mean eating out, but also I still want organic groceries.
That’s important to me, to have healthy food in the fridge. But I also like eating fab meals and checking out the latest restaurant that’s new in the city or having a nice steak dinner. I like it, okay, I like it. Other people like really expensive handbags, but, I like food. I’ve been that way since forever.
I worked in restaurants because the only discounts I wanted were discounts on food. I’m a foodie, I still want to eat well.
Even though I’m not a huge spender on shopping and fashion, style and having a nice wardrobe is very important to me. I feel like I’ve been working on this concept of a capsule wardrobe for like 10 years now. And a capsule wardrobe is where you have a small curated wardrobe of amazing clothes that you just really, really love.
My Game Plan
Now, to wrap this up, I’m going to talk about my game plan, how I’m going to tighten up my finances, how I’m going to achieve those things that I want to achieve and how I’m going to do that while still maintaining the lifestyle elements that are important to me.
- Have a monthly handwritten budget.
I’ve had all these fancy apps to track your budget. I’ve done spreadsheets and it’s always where either I don’t check into the app or I start the spreadsheet and then I get behind and then days turn into weeks. And before you know it, the budget wasn’t adhered to or I didn’t look at it and it’s just too much hassle to try to go back and catch up on the spreadsheet.
My mom is great with finances. She’s always able to save for whatever she wants and has always owned her own home. She’s always done great even as a single mom when she was divorced for a while. She made sure that me and my sister were taken care of and had everything we needed on just a solo salary. And she has always done this by just handwriting her budget.
For now, I’m sticking with this columnar pad and I’m going to do my budget monthly handwritten on the first Sunday of the month. I’ll bring my husband in on it and we’ll have a little family meeting, write everything down by hand. And then that’s what we are going to use.
- Leveraging multiple accounts.
What I’m doing instead is just keeping several checking accounts and savings accounts that are designated for each bucket and then just treating the savings accounts like a budget.
We have our one main checking account, which all of our income goes into. And all of our fixed expenses are paid out of that, cable, internet, the mortgage, et cetera. All our fixed expenses are paid out of that. We have flex expenses or variable expenses, things like grocery, dry-cleaning, gas, all of that stuff. That is moved into a different checking account.
The whole goal is the first checking account where all the fixed expenses are, the goal is not to ever swipe that debit card because all of our expenses automatically come out of that account. No one should be swiping their debit card on that account.
The debit card instead should be swiped on the flex spending account or the variable account where our variable expenses come out of. Now, I had just a regular checking account for the variable expenses.
Our biggest problem is we have automatic transfers from our fixed checking account to our flex checking account for grocery. Right now, we have it set where $175 a week, which is still a lot for two people, I know. But I mean we’re blowing through that. Don’t judge me, we’re working on it, to tighten it up.
- Cut back on my business revenue.
To drastically cut back on this, instead of doing full-time employees and all of those expensive subscriptions and services I was using, now, I’m leveraging contractors, interns and other types of services that help.
I am going to find interns who are interested in working in the business. Also there are overseas contractors from the Philippines who I enjoy hiring. They speak great English, and culturally, they’re just really awesome in terms of online work. I also use a service instead of hiring a personal assistant to book hotels for you, organize your email and all that stuff.
- Now, let’s talk about those lifestyle goals.
In terms of the food, the commitment that I’ve made to still eat at really nice restaurants but not break the bank is to take advantage of happy hours for discount at meals. Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s Steakhouse have great happy hours.
I’m going to take advantage of services like Groupon and restaurant.com. I’d be using more Groupons to try out different restaurants in the city for the cheap. But restaurant.com is really cool and that you can buy these gift certificates at your favorite restaurant for way cheap, sometimes less than half off.
In terms of our organic food, which can be pretty expensive, I’m so excited that Prime is now offering not only two hour pickup at Whole Foods but you can get discounts for being a Prime member and shopping at Whole Foods versus if you weren’t a Prime member.
In terms of my wardrobe and wanting to still shop, how I plan on doing this is doing it through consignment stores, which I am pretty good at. I love a good consignment store and thrift shopping. My rules are: If it’s not on sale, I’m not going to buy it. I am also giving myself a limit, my goal is to spend no more than $50 on a particular clothing item.
Being well maintained or being a “high maintenance woman” and wanting my nails done and my eyebrows waxed and that kind of thing, I’m committing to one, doing my hair myself. For waxes and getting my nails done, I’m going to use Groupon.
I’m committed to using free and low-cost workouts using my neighborhood gym because it’s free for us if you are a resident of our neighborhood to use the rec center.
Well folks! That’s all I have for you today. We are right at an hour, so I’m going to go ahead and land this plane and get back to planning my finances. But thanks so much for listening and for joining me on this journey and be sure to look out for Part 2!