According to Instagram everyone is living the carefree life. We work hard, play hard and slay while we do it. In reality many of us are staying quiet about our financial struggles. Some of us are making the wrong sacrifices to keep up and all of us are just trying to figure a way out of being broke. The fall means there are #SmartBrownGirls entering into college who are the first in their family to pursue higher education. The financial constraints of either being first generation or simply coming from a economically lower class family can gravely impact the college experience, causing students to sacrifice career and education opportunities in order to stay financially afloat. Then there are those of us who are just adulting and hit a rough patch, are in between judges, building businesses and trying to patience to stick to the goal but rent stills need to be paid. So here are some quick tips to help anyone survive being broke whether in college or just swimming through adulthood.

  1. Always, always keep up with your credit report. This is not just about what your actual credit score it, but it is to know how your debt is impacting your credit, protecting your identity and when you are ready to pay down on any debt you know what you’re working with in order to negotiate, because every credit company will have your credit report in front of them when you call in. Utilize one for the free credit report services and check it monthly.
  2. Setup passive income streams. Amazon Affiliates has one of the most robust affiliate programs, that is super easy to setup. Use the same Amazon login to set up an account and easily create affiliate links to any product. Avid book reader? Use affiliate links when you post the latest book you read to social media. Hair product junkie? Makeup junkie? Love cooking utensils and household appliances? Technology? I mean what doesn’t Amazon sell that we all use?
  3. Promo work is a great filler. Live in a college town or major city? This is a great way to make some good cash. The biggest caveat is that when you first start it takes 60-90 days to get your first check, but you keep it steady it will flow in. Please be careful with promo work. You can make $15-30/hr but do not let this overshadow your career/business ambitions. This is a lateral industry with very little room for growth. It is meant to be a filler and not a full time career option. Every major city has a promo team Facebook group, sign up to find out local promo gigs in your city. Liquor promos tend to be the easiest and most profitable, auto shows are also great money. Some of my favorite companies to work for were MarketStar, Aspen, Mosaic,  Big Orange, Massive Media and Gail & Rice. (Pro tip, look the companies up on Facebook, they regularly post jobs and it’s easier to track down who is doing the hiring, by searching “Brand Ambassadors of [Your City]” .
  4. If your debt is overwhelming use credit counseling. Credit counseling services are federally approved by state and credit companies are more willing to negotiate down rates with them than they are with consumers. They charge a nominal monthly fee (should be under $20) with the goal of negotiating your interests rate to single digit interest rates based on you making a consolidated monthly payment. Use this government list to find a credit counselor in your state.
  5. Be realistic about what you skimp on. Poverty is a cycle that is difficult to break, capitalism breeds off it and saving money is a privilege because being broke is not starting at 0, it’s starting at -39,589. If you can participate in financial challenges, do it. But here’s some advice you do not hear often: be careful how you sacrifice. Eating a week’s worth of ramen noodles sounds great, but besides the negative impact that has on your health, when you tire of it and decide to go out to eat, how much money do you spend? You saved $20 by eating ramen, then spent that $20 because after that week of sacrifice all you wanted was some good food and to eat with friends. In the long run you lost more than you gained. This is why in college, I was in every type of org for the events with free food. Time is money, your health is always the top priority and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to just be upfront and ask for help.

Have additional tips, share them in the comments below and help a #SmartBrownGirl out.