Don't Wait. Start Saving and Investing NOW.

I actively attract wealth.

"By all means, be responsible and pay back your debts in a timely manner but don't let repayment take precedence over your overall well being."

I'm not a financial analyst, investor, stock broker, adviser, accountant, etc. I'm a woman going through life one hiccup at a time on the quest to "get my shit together" or get it better, at least. Like many, I've gotten myself into debt, gotten myself out of it, only then to get myself back into it. I'm now on the journey to get out of it and stay out of it; end the in-n-out cycle. One thing I'm UNlearning is waiting until my consumer debt is paid off to start saving or investing. I love Suze Orman and maybe I misunderstood her message regarding debt and saving but I interpreted her books and the messages in her show, The Suze Orman Show (which I used to watch religiously), to be encouraging people not to actively contribute to a savings account when they had consumer debts, ie credit card balances, car notes, loans, etc. to pay off. Her reasoning is/was that you are making no money with it sitting in savings (Your money doesn't grow chillin in savings accounts. Their interest rates are too low to see growth. Even high yield savings accounts (CD's included) don't get above 1% these days) and that money could be used towards eliminating your debt much faster.

While I understood what she was saying, I soon realized that living by this philosophy, I had NOTHING for a rainy day. Nothing. I also wasn't putting anything away for my retirement because
I had put debt elimination as my first priority. BIG MISTAKE. All dollars that weren't for bills went to the debt. I was miserable. Yes, I got myself in this debt hole. Yes, I had to be responsible and pay it back and yes, I wanted to pay it off as soon as possible. What I've learned though is that, yes, you should take every responsible action to repay your debts but you also have to make yourself a priority. One time an emergency hit and I was close to being SOL. Thankfully I had a little reserve balance in my checking account and it was after this incident that I learned fast that though I was in debt, I had to put away a little something each month even if it was only $5 from each paycheck. I had to have a savings account and actively put money in it. I started out with auto depositing $25 once a month to my savings account from my checking account. I contribute more than that now but it's definitely not as aggressive as I want to because I am in the home stretch of finishing off my last bit of consumer balances. It provides me with a little buffer. Life happens and things come up, I'd rather pull from my savings funds than have to reach for a credit card that I just paid off or am paying down and now have to make payments on again or longer because I had no savings to pull from. Ya dig? 
Scrooge swimming in his money pool
Scrooge McDuck enjoying a swim in his money!

I also hesitated investing money into my retirement because again, my mentality was that I was in debt and needed to handle that first and put all that money toward that. THEN I would start investing. What happened? Life happened. Pay down debt, rainy days and no savings so rack up more debt, pay it down, rinse and repeat. Yes, free money that's not allocated for bills could be going towards a credit card but again, I have to take care of myself overall. I learned from The ABCs of Money by Natalie Pace (an eBook that I got for free from Amazon if you get for your Kindle) that if a creditor took you to court for not paying back a debt, they can raid all your modes of income and accounts (including savings) for repayment but they CANNOT EVER touch your retirement money like your 401K, IRA and Roth IRA accounts. I had to start saving for retirement even if all I could spare was $5 a paycheck at the beginning. I had to start and could always increase my contributions as my financial situation got better. Don't worry about what your friends are doing or what they're contributing. Do what you can right now.  Just don't wait. Don't wait, do something now and when you can later, then do more. Don't wait! Start NOW! Even if it's just a dollar as of today, it's better than zero. Start NOW.

I have so much more reading to do on the topic but I wanted to share this because I'm sure others have been romanticized by this philosophy. By all means, be responsible and pay back your debts in a timely manner but don't let repayment take precedence over your overall well being. Devise a financial plan that let's you pay for your necessities, repay your debt, save an emergency cushion, and save for your retirement. And also budget for a little fun like a latte once a week or dinner and a movie once a month. We've got to change our mindsets from fear, caution and a lack of to a mindset of empowerment and abundance. Money is not even real (I smell inspiration for another blog post.), do not let your life be ruled by it. Instead, YOU rule it. Be bossy with it and tell IT what you want it to do.

Milan is a New York City based, creative writer and the founder of AGrlCanMAC. She's a self proclaimed accessories junkie who's passionate about healthy living, adventure, books, crystals, the Law of Attraction and arts & crafts. AGrlCanMAC is a resource for women of color all over the world who want to look good, be good and feel good at the same damn time.

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nichelle said…
Hi Milan. Long time reader, but I don't usually comment. I just wanted to let you know that I loved this post and it really hit home for me today!!! I am in active debt elimination mode, and had started thinking "all extra money goes towards debt", and not saving like I should, but your post reminded me to do better with savings and investing. Thanks so much for this.

Money..."tell IT what you want it to do..." love it!

Have a good weekend!
I love this post, its so relevant! I used to follow Size, but lately I've been watching Dave Ramsey's he is phenomenal
Milan said…
I'm so glad you ladies were able to take something positive away from this piece! It really came from the heart. I know we're all on missions, I just want them to include taking care of ourselves as well. :-)
Anonymous said…
Hi Milan! I really enjoyed this post adn I do agree with the start saving and investing now philosophy but I recently read Suze Orman´s The Money Book For the Young Fabulous and Broke and I didn´t get what you got. From what I got she actually encouraged starting a savings account, especially a retirement fund like a 401K etc, as soon as possible, even above repaying debt. Maybe she said something different on her show? Idk. Anyway, either way the message is save save save and start now!