My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. While we were never rich, there was a basic sense of financial security when my parents were together.
After my parents’ divorce, the lean times began.
As my mother worked impossible hours for our survival, I must confess I didn’t understand her motivation then. It is only when I grew to be an adult that I truly got the whole picture — her reason for working so hard was just to take us through a financial storm that was raging all around us. Hopefully, to a better place sometime in the future.
My mother worked multiple jobs and went to college at the same time because she felt that having an education would better our circumstances. My mom was right.
As I got older, I began understanding that as a woman of color I had a higher chance of being poor than my white counterparts. That’s what I gathered from numerous reports on the subject. The nightly news often highlighted stories of single moms struggling and the real possibility that their children might find it extremely difficult to move beyond their circumstances.
And then I was knocked over completely when one much-publicized report claimed that women of color ages 36 to 49 have a net worth of $5.
Five freaking dollars, after a life of working hard, caring for other people, sacrifice and struggle. There couldn’t be worse demotivating news for someone just entering adult life. I might as well put my hands up in total surrender.
I decided then and there that I would prove the naysayers wrong. Ironically, those depressing reports have become my motivators. No, I was not going to be one among those with just $5 net worth to their credit. So, I began writing about my financial struggles, my debt, and some of the reasons I made the financial mistakes that I did.
I must admit in the initial years, my self-confidence was constantly tested, even shaken, but I kept moving forward. As I wrote more and more about money, debt, and the stress that comes with being indebted, I realized that my story wasn't just a story that resonated with people of color: My story was — and still is — a universal story.
I learned the value of hard work, focus, and determination from my mother: She also had to deal with naysayers who didn’t believe in her, that she could achieve her financial goals.
I didn’t get it right every time; many things did go wrong with my finances. Besides, I was learning money management from scratch.
Today, I am proud to say that I have a net worth of more than $5!
Every time someone told me that I couldn’t do it, I used their words to motivate me so that I could prove them wrong. My naysayers became my biggest money motivators.
Let me tell you it is not easy to share my financial failings on a weekly basis via a blog. But I do it with the hope of empowering others. I share both what I’ve done right as well as what I have done wrong. There are lessons to be learned both in failing and succeeding.
I want everyone who finds themselves in a tight corner to know that they aren’t alone; that it’s possible to change your financial fate in spite of a scary picture that others might have painted of you or your community.
I am not yet where I would like to be financially. But I keep running toward my destination, as I understand that reaching your financial goals is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.