Beauty And Budget Must-Haves For The Brown Girl Millennial

November 5, 2015  |  

There’s something really wonderful and empowering about being your own woman in all ways. I’m talking about having your stuff together from the inside out: your career is on the move, you’re handling your finances like a champ, and your attention to your personal appearance is impeccable.

For some brown girl millennials, this is a lofty dream punctuated and mired with bouts of feeling lost and off-track. But having it all in the way of beauty and finances is easy if you take to heart the following advice.

The Money Advice

Create a realistic budget. Instead of tracking every penny, which may not be realistic, think about budgeting in a more conceptual way. Think about creating a savings-centered budget. To do so successfully, make sure you know exactly how much you bring in after taxes each pay period and decide on a “can do” percentage that you want to save. Say to yourself, “By the end of the month, I want to save x-amount of dollars.” This is a “backwards” savings strategy of attack.

Once your check comes in, you will take that amount out (or have it automatically withdrawn), and then figure out how to pay the bills and splurge, not the other way around. When you do this, you put savings at the center of your budget while still giving yourself enough wiggle room to spend on experiences and your material guilty pleasures without amassing pointless consumer debt.

Consider this “paying yourself first” which is the Holy Grail of any brown girl millennial focused on making her money grow. Even though no one knows the nuances and intricacies of your finances like you, here are two savings and budgeting “rules of thumb” that can give you some insight into where to start planning for a “savings-centered” budget:

The 50:30:20 Rule: 50% of your budget goes for “needs” like food, housing, insurance, and transportation; 30% goes towards your “wants” like clothing, services, and entertainment; 20% goes for savings.

The Three E’s Rule: Author of Rich B-tch Nicole Lapin advises following this financial hierarchy: 70% goes toward Essentials like rent, utilities and insurance; 15% percent for the End-game, retirement and savings; The remaining 15% goes toward Extras like experiences and entertainment.

If you’re not able to save at these levels yet, no worries. Consider them short-term or long-term goals; strive, though, to save at least 5% of your income and gradually move toward  saving an amount that can help you stack 6-12 months of emergency fund cash as quickly as possible. You can also check out apps and sites like Digit, Mint, and The Finance Bar Expense Manager for tools to tracking, managing, and better understanding your savings needs. Other tips for money management include:

Automate debt payments. The key to becoming debt free is focusing on a series of small wins. Small wins create big change. If you know that you will have difficulty paying your debt on time and consistently, speak with your bank representatives to set up monthly reoccurring payments to the institutions to which you owe money. This is especially true for bills that you hate to pay. (For whatever reason, I hate paying my cellphone bill and made sure that I automated this payment to avoid interruptions in service.) This structure takes some pressure off of you because payments are automatically withdrawn from either your checking or savings accounts. With automation, though, it is still important that you are regularly checking and reviewing your accounts to make sure payment amounts and dates are accurate.

Manage your credit like a queen. Despite the prevailing sentiment that credit cards are evil, the brown girl millennial knows that this is not true. Credit is neither good nor bad. It takes on the personality of the credit card holder. If you are using (abusing) credit by living above your means, then credit cards and the exorbitant interest payments and late fees that accompany them will mirror themselves in your credit score. On the other hand, if you use credit cards to build a solid credit history— by paying on time and paying in full each month— you will be able to leverage your excellent credit standing to secure low-interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and small business loans in the future.

Check out sites like Credit Karma to get a free credit score from TransUnion, one of the three big credit bureaus free. Credit Sesame also offers you a free credit score based on updates from Experian, another big credit bureau.

The Budget Beauty Advice

Become a #FrugalBeauty: YouTube is one of the best places to find free tutorials from everyday women who have extraordinary talents and are willing to share their know-how with you. Go to YouTube for tutorials on nails, eyebrows, natural hair, locs, and even body scrubs.

In addition to YouTube, you should also check out Pinterest for inspirational fashion ideas on how to work the basics that you already have and organizational tips for making your closet more organized so you can reinvent your style exponentially without breaking the budget.

Host a Swap. Swapping clothes is the premier alternative to thrifting. When you host a clothing swap or attend one, you avoid having to worry about who wore the clothes your claiming and having to spend money to alter items with “potential” to be fierce. Swapping is usually done with an intimate set of friends with (hopefully) similar or complementary sartorial tastes. I’ve attended and have hosted swaps a few times this year and walked away with a “new” wardrobe without having to pay a red cent.

Don’t believe the hair hype. Expensive is not synonymous with quality when it comes to taking care of our hair. In fact, I’ve found that some of the low-cost products out there work just as well, if not better than, their high-cost, high falutin’ counterparts. Companies like Strength of Nature which is home to brands like African Pride, Profectiv, Relax & Refresh, GrowthRenew, MegaGrowth, SmartPerm, and Strong & Healthy are proof of this. Their products are created to meet your hair care needs and desire— moisture, sheen, length, and fullness— without causing you to get a second job or take out a second line of credit on your house.

The assumption that women on a budget must sacrifice their standards of beauty and style is erroneous, especially when it comes to their hair and clothes. Be that brown girl millennial who is living proof that you can be beautiful on a budget.

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