Working towards financial independence and stability is a priority for me. I strongly believe that to live and thrive in our lives, we need to be in control of our finances. I acknowledge that finances are a very personal topic, as everyone's experiences and status vary. It is crucial that you are taking steps towards being financially healthy no matter what your current financial situation is.
In this blog post, I will share the five things I am doing differently with my money this year. Check out my other "Her Finances" posts for amazing financial tips.
Starting Point: Reflecting on my financial journey
I have had a sometimes good and bad relationship with money all my life. Growing up, we faced some financial challenges. A lot of my memories were centered around things that we lacked. Interestingly, my sister and I had a happy childhood, but there was always an underlying concern for how we will get things we needed. Living through those experiences made me resolute about having more positive experiences with my finances.
Fast forward to 2001 when I moved to Germany. I was still struggling financially. As a student, I had to work multiple jobs at a library, café, babysitting, and other small jobs to survive. As you can imagine, that is not the quickest path to accumulating wealth. However, in those difficult times, I learned the most valuable lesson about financial health. The lesson that I learned was that I had to start taking small actions to achieve financial wellbeing. I started building my savings with small amounts that I could afford and have continued this practice until today.
Over the past 20 years, I have added more tools to my toolkit that have helped me grow my finances. I am still learning and unlearning so many lessons about money.
What am I doing differently this year?
As I set my financial goals in 2021, I asked myself what financial decisions have helped me accomplish my goals so far and what new things I was willing to explore. Some of the things that I will be doing differently include the following:
#1: Enjoying my money a little and paying for services that simplify my life
Especially when you have been poor at some point in your life, it can be hard to enjoy your money. This year, I want to permit myself to do things for myself. In this phase of my life, as I am working a full-time job with a baby, this point is even more important. There are some "luxuries" that I would like to spend money on to save my time and improve the quality of my life.
#2: Creating forums to share and learning bold things people are doing financially
There is a lot of power in sharing your knowledge and learning from others. I want to normalize conversations about money with other amazing women in my community. I am incredibly interested in learning how others who have built sustainable wealth, explored new avenues to grow their finances, overcome generational financial challenges, and how they are continuously working towards financial independence. I also want to offer myself as an accountability partner to anyone who wants to accomplish big things financially.
#3: Getting professional financial help
One of the things that I have been planning to do is talking to professionals about some steps that I can take to build wealth. I have a lot to learn about investing, optimizing my taxes, planning for my son, and putting long-term plans in place for retirement. Learning from financial experts will help me make the bold moves that I plan to with my money in 2021.
#4: Restarting my investing
With everything that happened in 2020, I stopped investing. This decision was counterintuitive as it was a good time to invest. I was so scared of being financially unstable that I wanted to hold on to my money. This year, I want to start investing again, explore new avenues such as buying property and building long-term wealth. Although I know that Investing is the right thing for me to be doing at this stage of my financial journey, I am overly cautious.
#5: Facing my fears around finances
Interestingly, one of my biggest fears is being broke. It is one thought that guides a lot of the decisions that I make around money. While I want to stay financially responsible, I do not want to be driven by fear. I want to be free to do new things with my money and not be constantly concerned about being financially unstable.
There is so much we can learn and explore when it comes to our finances. To start your own journey to financial independence, evaluate what you are doing now, identify what you want to be doing differently, and start doing those things.
Call to Action
Is your life story remarkable?
Over the past months, I have been thinking about the power of sharing our life stories. Have you ever told someone something about yourself and they say, “oh wow, that is a very interesting background “? Has your response been “no, it’s not that remarkable, many people have experienced similar things”? That is exactly how I have responded to people's comments when I share my story with them. It has been my way of normalizing and minimizing my unique life experiences. However, this year as I celebrate the huge milestone of living abroad for 20 years, I am determined to celebrate my journey and no longer take my experiences for granted.
In this blog post, I will share how I am approaching telling my story to commit publicly to ensure that I follow through. This officially kicks off my "Her Story" series, where I will share different experiences and lessons learned.
In 2019, I had the strong desire to start writing down my story. I set a goal to write my story by the time I turned 35 in 2020. Well, many unexpected things happened differently last year like a global pandemic and having a baby. Having my son rekindled my desire to tell my story. I have decided to take steps this year and start sharing my experiences with the world. This is one of my bold 2021 goals.
Why am I telling my story?
I like to start by asking myself what my motivation is and the outcome that I hope to accomplish by doing it with everything I do. As I began to think about why I wanted to tell my story, I realized that the reasons why I wanted to embark on this journey varied vastly. Some of them include:
What is holding me back?
As I embark on this new and scary journey, a few thoughts are holding me back from doing this amazing thing.
How am I going to approach telling my story?
Although I have some fears and concerns about sharing my story, I have decided that it is something that I need to do for my growth. For things that seem too big or scary, I create a plan and start working on them one task at a time. I will be taking the following steps over the next months on my quest to tell my story.
If you have ever wondered how remarkable your story is, remember that you are the only one who has lived the life you have and walked in your shoes - Your story is special and unique.
And if you have been thinking about writing or sharing your story, I encourage you to join me on this bold journey.
Time to Reflect
What part of your story do you want to tell people but have not permitted yourself to?
How do you think sharing your story will help others?
What is holding you back from sharing your story?
How will you overcome your fears and take the bold step to share your story?
It is mid-March and an excellent time for your first quarterly goals review. A time to reflect on your goals and review your plan. Let me start by saying this, if you are already feeling like you are not making enough progress this year, do not be discouraged. This time of reflection is your opportunity to make necessary changes to turn things around and start making progress. And if you are making progress, that is awesome. You can set up sustainable practices to continue the momentum.
In this blog post, I will share five things you can do during your reviews to accomplish your goals in 2021. Check out my blog post on "Why are you not achieving your goals?."
Starting point: Why should you do regular goals reviews?
One of the planning tools that have helped me accomplish my goals is regular reviews. I have made it a routine to do monthly and quarterly reviews. During your reviews, you reflect on the past months and plan for the coming months. The reviews’ primary objective is to ensure that you know where you stand today compared to where you want to be. I have found it very helpful to block out two hours of my time, sit in a very comfortable place and take out my notebook. Making time and getting into my zone helps me focus on the task at hand. Having regular reviews has helped me stay on track and accomplish my big goals.
#1: Take stock of where you are compared to where you want to be
We are three months through the year and have nine more months to go. This is a great time to check on the progress you have made towards your goals. The advantage of taking stock of where you are is that you learn about how far you have come, and you can start thinking about the changes you need to make. As you reflect on where you are, you want to be honest with yourself and evaluate your actual progress. This is a very important step if you are going to start or continue making great progress.
Strategies to consider
#2: Celebrate the progress you have made
Reflecting on what has been going well so far will help give you a boost for the rest of the year. Think about the small, medium, and big things that you have accomplished so far. This exercise is not always easy because we tend to focus on only big wins or areas where we have not made progress. Starting with your accomplishments shows you that you have made some progress this year. Even if you are making slower progress than you planned, remember that you have made progress and know how to make progress.
Strategies to consider
#3: Explore areas where you have not made progress
We still have nine months this year to make progress on our goals. This is a great time to reassess your priorities, actions you took, challenges that you faced. Knowing where you did not make as much progress is important. You can start by asking yourself why you think you did not make progress. Some of the reasons could be that the goals are not really important to you or that you did not have access to the resources needed to accomplish the goal.
Strategies to consider
#4: Adjust your plan for action
Now that you have reflected on where you are, celebrated your wins, explored areas where you have not made progress, you can now make adjustments to your plan. Focus on thinking about the activities that you want to work on over the next months and what you need to complete them. I recommend focusing on detailed planning for the next three months before your next review. This is also the best time to think about new goals that you might want to work on.
Strategies to consider
#5: Recommit to your goals and take action
There is something powerful about reminding yourself of your goals and actively recommitting to work on them. Personally, I have found that I leave my reviews feeling energized about the next months and the progress that I will be making towards accomplishing my goals. Remind yourself that reviews are a tool to help you refocus on what really matters. If you realized that you needed to change things, now is the time where you start making changes.
Strategies to consider
Time for Reflection
On March 8th, we celebrate International Women's Day. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge: We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. And from challenge comes change. So let's all #ChooseToChallenge.
In this blog post, I will share the thoughts I have around Women's day this year with the help of five questions.
What do gender bias and inequality mean?
I like to start with defining terms to ensure that we understand what they mean. Gender Bias is defined as the unfair difference in the way women and men are treated, while Gender Inequity is defined as the social process by which men and women are not treated as equals.
What do gender bias and inequality mean to me?
Growing up In Nigeria, the culture propagates that there are significant differences between men and women. There is a mindset that women are weaker, and they are not given equal access to opportunities. It starts with limiting the belief in what girls can become when they grow up to being trained to think that the highest accomplishment for a woman is getting married and having children. There were so many examples of women that I knew who were not set up for success and fully dependent on the men in their lives.
Fast forward to now, building my career as a woman in technology, bias and inequities exist in different ways. Ranging from the way people apply a gender lens when they view my contribution to not having access to the same networks and opportunities because of my gender. Another inequity that I experience is around compensation for the work that I do compared to my male peers.
How do we challenge inequality and bias when we see it?
Challenging inequity and bias is not the easiest thing to do. This International Women's Day theme is special because it reminds me that we need to choose to challenge and call out gender inequity and bias. Sometimes, I feel like I can challenge bias or inequity when it happens to others, more than when it is happening to me. Being an advocate and ally for others comes easily to me. I have learned that there is power in speaking out when we see something wrong. Furthermore, we can make a huge difference when we empower others to stand against the bias that they experience.
How do we train our children to challenge inequality?
As we continue to fight inequity, it is crucial that we pass on the knowledge to the next generation. Our sons and daughters need to be educated about inequity and the role they can plan to make the world more inclusive. I feel responsible for teaching my son, nieces, and nephews that they are equal and can achieve everything they want to do irrespective of their gender. I know that I can influence the next generation through the children that are in my family or the ones I meet. Thinking about the next generation and how we can change the world through them gives me hope.
What concrete actions can we all take to create a more inclusive world?
The great news is that we can all take action against gender bias and inequity. I came up with a list of three concrete things that we can all do. Firstly, we can increase the visibility of the biases we see every day. Secondly, we can uplift women and celebrate their accomplishments. Finally, we can collaborate with and support people who need a small boost to shine.
As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us celebrate our awesomeness and the amazing women in our lives. Take a moment to reflect on your strength as a woman. Happy Women's Day to all the women out there who are working to make the world a better place!
Time for Reflection
How are you going to challenge inequity and gender bias in your life?
How will you uplift the women in your life?
How will you celebrate yourself today?
My Life in the US - Year 6
One thing has been true for my time in the US; the time has gone by very quickly. I cannot believe that I have lived here for six years already. When I relocated from Germany in 2015, I had no idea how my life would change in only six years. So much happened in this year that I could not have imagined or planned for. The theme for my sixth year in the US was " even in the midst of chaos, there is hope for beauty to be created."
In this blog post, I will reflect on my sixth year in the US. This continues my "Her Relocation" series, where I talk about my experience living in multiple countries over the past 20 years. Check out my previous posts about My Life in the US - Year 1, Year 2&3, Year 4, and Year 5.
Hoping for a change in the government
Politics has never impacted my life directly as it has since I moved to the US. In my sixth year, I spent a lot of time hoping for the previous administration's end. Waiting for the results of the election was a very emotional time for me. I could not imagine reliving the past six years. Thankfully, I can relax a little and not worry about what policies will be made that will affect me as an immigrant in the US. Another good side effect is that I have learned so much about the American government over the past years.
Surviving a pandemic
In February of 2020, I traveled to Kirkland in Washington state, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. At that time, we had no idea how bad things would be. Initially, we thought things would go back to normal within a few months. Sadly, that was not the case. Seeing how long it is taking to get the virus under control is something that I could never have imagined. The pandemic's most significant impact on my life has been that I have not been able to see family in the UK and Nigeria.
Experiencing Racial injustice
The racial injustice uprising in the US over the past year has opened my eyes to many things around race and inequity. Interestingly, I have never been more aware of my race than I am living here in the US. My black experience has been different because of my bi-cultural background. I realized that in the past, I hardly shared my experience being a black woman in technology. This past year, I was given the opportunity to share my story, and I took it. Being vocal about the good and the bad experiences I have had living in Germany and the US was very liberating.
Especially with everything going on in the US this past year, I have been reminiscing about my life in Germany. While I watched the news and had conversations with my friends who still lived in Germany, I found myself missing the little things that made my years in Germany enjoyable. Do not get me wrong, I know that I am where I need to be. However, there are some little things that I wish can be part of my life here. I have been thinking about beautiful things like shopping in Aldi, visiting the Christmas Market, eating delicious bread, and being able to walk around. I guess there will always be a part of me that longs for some of the things I got to experience in Germany.
Having a Baby in a foreign land
When you move to a new country, some experiences impact your life in a major way. For me, having a baby in the US was an incredibly special experience. The norms and practices are quite different from Nigeria or Germany. My biggest fear was that the healthcare system would fail me because I had heard the horror stories from other people who had their babies here. Thankfully, that was not my experience. Everything went smoothly, and we have a healthy baby boy.
Enjoying my home
It is strange, but I feel like the past year helped me build more roots in the US. I just realized that I have not traveled to any other country since May 2018. We had a big trip planned to see family in 2020 but that did not happen. Without being able to travel, I found myself deepening my roots where I live today. Realizing that this is where I will be for most of the time helped me feel more settled. I have been having a nice time while I wait to be able to travel again.
Final Thoughts - 10 Lessons I learned