Here at Young Women United, we are a women of color-led organization with all women of color staff. We have experiences of growing up in working class families and learning to cut costs any way we could. It also means that we grew up in communities where financial literacy is not taught to us or is embedded in our everyday lives. We’ve grown into young adults that have had to teach ourselves and one another how to be more financially literate. Sometimes we learn by trial and error and sometimes we create a community where we lean on one another for support and encouragement. In response to wanting to budget our money smarter, the staff of YWU has formed a personal budgeting group. We meet every so often and lay out all our money hurdles, victories and goals. We encourage one another to create realistic goals and layout manageable tasks to tackle until our next budget meeting. This gives us an opportunity to have a group of people to check-in with us, keep us accountable and share our victories with. It also allows us to ask each other for support on areas we don’t even know where to start. Here are a few resources or tips we’ve shared with one another, that you can apply for your own financial situation.
- First, find out how much debt you owe. All of it. Write it down in one place.
- Pay the monthly payment on everything.
- If possible, pay a little extra on the debt with the highest interest rate.
- Shop around for a low-rate credit card.
- Read a Suze Orman book. They’re only a couple dollars at Amazon. Follow her advice.
- Know your credit score. Keep up with it. Try Credit Karma for your free TransUnion credit score.
- Enroll in Upromise for a free 529 college savings plan. The money can be used for any kid in the future.
- Request your credit reports from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion for free once a year at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/
- Sign up for free credit counseling and housing counseling from Sawmill Land Trust
- Try a budgeting app like Mint.com to help you reach your budgeting goals
- If you or your kid are on Medicaid, sign up for Centennial Rewards which gives you free prizes
- Switch to a credit union from a bank
- Sign up for automatic payments for your bills if you are the type to forget to pay on time
- If you use your credit card, pay off in full each month- it raises your credit score
- If it saves money- switch phone companies, housing, insurance, etc- basically shop around. You don’t have to settle.
- Pack your lunch most days instead of eating out
- Choose more fun and inexpensive things to do in Albuquerque
- Try cutting bad habits that cost $
- Consider an income-sensitive repayment plan for student loans and look into student loan forgiveness programs
The list could go on and on. Our recommendations to one another are always personal to our own situations. Try a couple on the list and just get started budgeting. If you had to choose only 3 from the list to do- then at least find out your debt, create a budget and read a Suze Orman book. Remember, you taking control of your own financial situation as a person of color, as a low-income person, is absolutely revolutionary. Do it for yourself, for your family, for your community. We all deserve to be money-smart and should reclaim our financial power. For more reading on people of color and how we’ ve historically been denied the knowledge and access to financial sustainability – see this article:
[author] [author_info] Esperanza Dodge is Young Women United’s Mamas Justice Organizer and member of their Luna Sagrada collective. Stay tuned for more blogs about birth and parenting. Esperanza’s bio can be found here. [/author_info] [/author]