Reported by Bahiyah Shabazz, MBA
I am almost positive that everyone knows someone who tries to “keep up with the Jones”. Let’s look at Jennifer who clearly lives outside her means. On the outside, she has a beautiful home, new Mercedes-Benz, and a wardrobe to match her attitude. She makes an annual income of $95,000.00. However, her disposable income is limited and an emergency fund consists of a phone call to her parents for another loan that would never be paid back.
No one knows her struggles of portraying to others a woman of statue with expensive jewelry, large square footage home, and a foreign vehicle equipped with everything. As previously mentioned she asks her parents for small loans that are withdrawn from their retirement fund. She is also no stranger to credit cards. Although most are maxed out, she manages to open more to live the lifestyle she portrays.
Jennifer has come to a point in her life that she can’t suffer any longer. She admits her debt excluding mortgage comes to $300,000.00. Her credit cards used from purchasing food to exotic trips to Africa and Europe .
Jennifer clearly has a problem with debt. Her dilemma with finances and having a sense to want to belong started as far back as her teen years. I asked Jennifer as far back she could remember to describe an incident trying to keep up with someone outside her means. She smiled and stated, “high school”.
High school is a time when most of us are confused about where we should belong. There are groups from popular, jocks, nerds, outcasts, etc. Jennifer wanted to be a popular girl, but didn’t initially look the part. She recalls begging her parents to shop at the designer stores and paying for spring break trips.
I decided to have Jennifer start with taking care of herself, realizing who she truly is, accept it, and then tackle her debt. She was hesitant because she presented a façade for so long. Everyone who knew her categorized her as the “it” girl. No one realized the pain and loneliness she had. Jennifer let the materials define who she was when in fact she was a carefree woman with goals and ambitions.
Her goal was to actually love herself and enjoy life as well as defining her level of success. While having the discussion with me she admittedly cried about dying with debt and having nothing worthwhile to show for all her hard work.
Steps needing to take in order to address the issues:
1. Admit to identifying one based on others’ perception.
2. Define who you are and embrace it.
3. Identify all your debt to begin elimination.
4. Start eliminating the high interest credit cards first.
5. Decide what could be eliminated from a daily routine and put the cash away in an emergency fund.
“Love yourself enough to support yourself.”
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