With the holiday season behind us and Black Friday Sales and Prime Day Deals safely in the rearview, many of us face the financial aftermath of our indulgences. Now is the time to take stock of the seasonal dent in our bank accounts and tidy up the economic impact. The new year is as good a time as any to take financial inventory and chart the course toward fiscal resilience in the year ahead. Consider this your financial wellness check.
ESSENCE tapped renowned money expert and New York Times Bestselling author Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche to perform our collective financial health assessment. In her own words, she shares valuable tips to help us stay accountable to our money resolutions throughout 2024.
Knowledge: Envision Your Future Financial Self
Step one involves identifying who you want to be financially by December 31, 2024. Picture this version of yourself – what does she look like? What is she wearing? Where does she live? What is she driving? Where does she work? How much does she have saved? This approach, in my opinion, is superior to creating traditional resolutions. Instead, visualize yourself as the person you aspire to be by the end of the year; this makes the goal more realistic.
Consider whether it’s feasible to expect to be in a brand-new furnished home. It may be. Maybe you’ve been diligently working towards it and planning to have the down payment by then. Perhaps you envision adopting a minimalist lifestyle by the end of the year.
Your December 31 person might live in a studio apartment or have successfully eliminated that one credit card. Whatever it is, take the time to write a detailed description of who she is by December 31, 2024 – her appearance, her identity, and how she navigates financially. This clarity is crucial and marks the first step in the process.
Access: Uncovering Key Resources on the Path to Financial Wholeness
The second step in keeping your money resolutions is seeking help and guidance. What tools and resources are you going to lean into?
My book, Made Whole: The Practical Guide to Reaching Your Financial Goals, guides you through something that I call financial wholeness. These are the ten core steps that you need to do and master to reach what I call “financial wholeness,” which is when you have such a strong financial foundation that the rest of your goals, and hopes, and dreams when it comes to your money can be achieved.
Here are the first five areas you need to address for financial wholeness, taken directly from the pages of Made Whole: budget, savings, debt, credit, and income. Those first five steps are foundational. Then, once you lay that groundwork, the remaining steps move you into investing. So, the remaining five steps to invest set you up for both wealth and retirement. Those are insurance, building your financial team, focusing on net worth, and lastly, estate planning.
Community: Find Your Guides to Financial Success
Lastly, the third step in maintaining and achieving your money resolutions is to do so within the community. This sense of community is integral, especially for us as Black and Brown people, as historically, we have thrived in such communal settings.
I am Nigerian American, and both my parents were born and raised in Nigeria. The first time I visited my village, I experienced a revelation about the significance of community. My last name is Aliche; it’s an Igbo-Nigerian name.
And so, my dad was taking me around the village and introducing me to people, and, he would say, ‘Oh, this is Chuku-Oba Aliche,’ and I’d say, ‘Oh, my last name is only Aliche,’ and he’d say, ‘Yes.’
And then he would say, ‘This is Marcey Aliche.’ I’d say, ‘Huh, my last name is Aliche,’ and he’d say, ‘Yes.’ So after about the fifth ‘Aliche’ we ran into, he realized I did not know.
He said, ‘Tiffany, everyone here is Aliche.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what? The Whole Village?’ He said, ‘Yes.’
He didn’t realize, I didn’t understand — that’s what a village is composed of, it is your grandmother, your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your cousins, cousins. I did not realize everyone in that village was family and extended family.
That is the nature of a village. It is from there that we garner our strength because you are not alone. You are not alone in raising your children. You are not alone in navigating the world. You’re not alone in sickness. You are not alone in death. We derive strength from the community. And it’s the same here; no matter where you are in the diaspora, the same rings true.
I have built my brand, “The Budgetnista,” with that in mind. I provide so many free, safe community spaces for people to navigate their money alongside other people — with the mix of them doing better than you, doing the same as you, and doing worse than you, so we can all lift each other up. And so, finding safe space and community to work within is key. In the toolkit that comes with my book, Made Whole, one of the things I gift is access to the free communities I’ve created. So, you can work alongside people who are working through all the steps to financial wholeness with you.
So again, the three ways to maintain your money resolutions this year are first identifying who you want to be by December 31; seeking the guidance, tools, and resources you need to get there; and working alongside the community.
It comes down to knowledge, access, and community.