Money Bags

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photography // Coco Dandridge
creative direction // Kiah McBride

 

I TRADED IN COACH BAGS FOR COACH TICKETS

because that’s the kind of fly that I prefer to be.

And I stopped getting caught up on social media posts of peers settling into the American dream of new cars and white picket fences once I realized that they conveniently forgot to post how their mortgage and fancy car payments were half of their paychecks.

Shit, that can’t be me.

See, I too, once flauged like I was more than what I am, when I really had less then what it seemed. Champagne tastes, I’ve always gravitated towards the finer things. I wanted marble countertops, nice threads and lavish vacations overseas.  But there’s nothing fine about a woman who lives in a false reality.

There’s nothing cute about being broke, and nothing wifey about bumming off another. I was a straight up hypocrite shouting to the top of my lungs that I deserved a wedding ring when I hadn’t even mastered discipline or learned to manage money properly. Silly little girl with a backwards mentality.

I blended into a city of Chanel bags and empty wallets—Atlanta has always been known for housing the flyest of the fly who live in the cars they can’t afford. And while I certainly wasn’t flossing I perpetrated like I had more money than I really had.

Going out. Credit.

Dinner. Credit.  

Dessert? Card maxed out. Forget it.

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Debt was just as much of a lifestyle as my weekly jaunts to the club. The way I saw it, I’d eventually pay it off within the time frame allotted on my monthly statements—three years and thousands of dollars in interest later. Shit, as long as I could still step in the club looking like a snack, I was cool with that.

Work. Spend money.

Work. Spend money.

A slave mentality at its finest.

Yet ironically I’ve always had this thing for freedom. Free to live. Free to be me. Freedom from chains, shackles, anything holding me down or pulling me back. The concept of freedom seems foreign to people who were brought over here in bondage. But I thirsted for it, parched lips parting just wide enough to speak words of affirmation over my life. But affirmations mean nothing if your mindset stays the same. Not much different from the homeless, I too, begged for change.

I was tired of putting dreams on the backburner because I couldn’t afford to pursue them. I was tired of taking leaps of faith only to end up crawling back to a “good” job with fully paid benefits—not out of passion but out of desperation. The worst way to be.

My search for something more began with searching within. I got real and asked myself the hard questions. Why am I not where I want to be financially? Why am I, who have worked legally since the age of 14 pushing the same flat patties wrapped in yellow paper that I no longer allow myself to consume, at a significantly higher income still see paychecks come and go like seasonal relationships? 

And when I prayed for an answer, God unsurprisingly turned the mirror towards me.

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He showed me who I would be if I didn’t change my mentality. Nails did, hair did, everything did. Just another “she cute, but she broke” chick blaming the world for not being further ahead than she could be. I knew He wouldn’t bless me with more until I proved that I could handle less. See, money is a God-given gift often taken for granted.

We often pray for blessings that once received, we don’t know what to do with.

I wanted better. I wanted different. I watched family retire and struggle under the weight of their luxuries, witnessed industry folk who looked good on the outside but were crumbling within. So I flipped open a copy of Total Money Makeover and started envisioning a different life for my family and myself.

I didn’t want the dreams of my offspring to be optional because of their financial burdens. And after experiencing what lack of money does to relationships, I didn’t want to have toxic arguments over why I was still going into debt despite being given grocery money ever again. Nor did I want to have to decide between doing what I love and doing what I had to do to survive.

It’s bigger than me.

The idea of financial freedom was no longer a selfish desire, now it was about my legacy. What would I leave behind for the world and for my kids’ kids? How would I break the cycle of excess and distress? I grabbed my credit cards, cut them in half, and began studying those who walked in success. I settled into the idea of temporary sacrifice for long-term gain.

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Admittedly, I’ve always felt a little guilty about wanting money. But greed and abundance aren’t one in the same, and wealth and wisdom go hand in hand. The key? Don’t get enticed by the paper. False idols always lead to a real downfall.

A true Queen doesn’t just secure the bag, she multiplies it. Soon I’ll tell the story of how I was broke all my life but learned what to do with the racks God gave.

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