Women and Money: Why I decided to Lean In to the math, instead of my career

I have been hesitant to post here, but the universe has been sending me signs for 2 weeks and my Grandma says that God always throws pebbles before he hits you with a BRICK. So, here goes…here is my story.

As a woman I already navigate the world knowing I have to work twice as hard for a fraction of the pay; and like many women, I was willing to do that.

But as a black woman, I am not blind to the absence of leaders across all industries who look like me. For many of us, climbing the ladder is an agreement to participate in a rigged system where you try your hardest and then blame yourself when it doesn’t work out.

My own experience teaches me that regardless of what I bring to the table, my influence will likely stop just short of a seat at it.

While I admire Sheryl Sandberg and did find some value in her book, I struggle with subscribing to a movement that does not address the elephant in the room.

Now if you only know me in a professional capacity (hey, co-workers!), reading this may make you uncomfortable, but I encourage you to push through the discomfort and keep scrolling. Because this is what it means to be “woke”; it is a process of seeing the world as it is and not just how you want it to be.

Also, the receipts are in the links above and…well…

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I need you to understand that rich & REGULAR is intended to be a critique on modern American values. And the one that suggests that the workforce is the most effective place for a woman to advance her place in the world is not a sacred cow here.

Money is a thing that we are ALL deserving of and rich is a term that we define for ourselves. Therefore, becoming rich is a series of choices that we ALL have the capacity to make. If those choices do not include asking for more responsibilities at work, so be it. If those choices do not include spending 40 years working for someone else, even better!

I am passionate about rich & REGULAR because I want to challenge the notion that being rich has to be a zero-sum game like it is purported to be – especially for women.

To be clear, my path to this level of enlightenment has not been as straight-forward as my tone may suggest.

I spent most of my 20’s hustling backwards; believing that making money was easier than managing it. I was a hardcore careerist. I even finished college a year early so I could get a head start on climbing the ladder.

Somewhere between the rungs, I lost my footing. I became the loud and proud owner of an inflated lifestyle fueled by a bad habit of using money to deflect.

I acquired over $20,000 in credit card debt (twice, ya’ll). I had a $550 car note (and a credit score that lingered right around the same amount), 2 bank accounts (both riddled with fees), and a closet full of shoes and clothes that I never had time to wear.

In hindsight, I was a hot ass mess…but my income was growing at a 3x rate and my career remained on the up and up….so really, I was fine!

When I met Julien, he was the first person who openly challenged the way I was living. In 2012, we went on vacation and when he found out that I put it on a credit card, he told me that if he had known that I was in debt, he would have never started dating me.

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I can laugh now, but at the time I was OFFENDED. I was among the many hard-working Americans who believe that consumer debt is normal and that selling my time to a company in exchange for a salary was the most secure path to a good life.

But when I took inventory, I knew I had a problem on my hands: if I continued climbing, the good life I aspired to would always be constrained to nights, weekends, and a few weeks of Paid Time Off.

It takes just as much effort to solve the wrong problem as it does the right one, so when I was faced with the crossroads of leaning into my career or leaning into the math – I chose the math.

My life literally changed the day I realized that my money can work harder than I can.  I am 33, debt free, mortgage-free, on my way to early retirement and reminding my husband about that time he said he would have never started dating me EVERY.CHANCE.I.GET!

I still go to work everyday and lead a team that I adore and respect; but I am fulfilled by my ability to serve them from a place that does not put my long term success at the forefront.


Bottom line: Many of us already make enough money to afford the lifestyle that we dream of, don’t be afraid to lean in to opting out.

Mrs. r&R

Photo credit: Leanin.org

 

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6 comments

  1. First off the gifs are so appropriate!
    And Mr. R&r geezzzz so harsh but I get it. I’m so happy you did decide to post this. I have read every post so far and this one resonated with me the most. First, I appreciate the honesty because I’m where you were in the beginning. Not as much debt, car note about $200 less, credit score on the brink but decent.
    My biggest question: once the math is figured out- what’s next?
    For me right now I’m on the path to be debt free by 2018, but after assessing “the math” and soon to be debt free…where do I go from there to ensure I’m not in the same place again. Career Salary isn’t growing 3x fold but trending upwards to say the least…
    -Much Love Mr. & Mrs. r&R

    • Hi Lexi. Congrats on being on the path to debt freedom. It’s an awesome feeling right?

      What’s next?…Once you’re done being debt free and you’ve figured out the math then you should invest as much of your newfound surplus. For example, when we paid off our mortgage, we took the surplus payments we used to send to the mortgage PLUS the mortgage payment itself and ramped up our investing/savings. Go HAM in a 401k, IRA and any other tax deferred account you have access to. If you still have more left over, then open a separate brokerage account and invest invest invest. While you may not be at 3X today the trick is to keep the cost of your lifestyle the same. We’ll talk more about how we’re doing this in a few weeks!

      Til then…

      Mr. r&R

  2. Great post! You guys are so inspiring and you’ve really got me thinking about my finances in a new way. Can you recommend a financial advisor in the Atlanta area?

    • Thank you JWeb! We appreciate your comment and for following our journey.

      Honestly, we DON’T have a recommended financial advisor. We largely self-manage our investments for the reasons stated on our post “the high fructose corn syrup on your 401(k). However, considering we’re big fans of Personal Capital (website and app) I would recommend you at least consider their services if you don’t have the time or interest in self-managing. You can also check our article on them as well.

      Whatever you choose, just pay attention to the fees.

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