Here at GabarIskuFilan, financial freedom is a topic I discuss often because it’s the ultimate resource necessary for living a self-determined life. I’ve written about the wage gap, the signs of financial exploitation, and how money has made the life of my dreams possible. I’ve realized that I tolerated more when I didn’t have financial freedom. Saving for major purchases like a car, deposit for a new place or long term travel proved to be impossible. I started GabarIskuFilan to expose the source of the oppression, control, and exploitation faced by Somali girls worldwide. Here are 5 financial lessons every Somali girl should know. Let’s start a discussion about financial freedom, shall we?
1. Always negotiate your salary
Negotiating your salary is something I didn’t learn in college. It’s no secret that Black women are paid less for the same amount of work as a white man. It’s important to equip yourself with the expected range based on the average salaries found in your city. Just remember: you’re going to be paid less because of your race and gender, so it’s important to leverage your power. Black women live at the intersection of low wages, sexual harassment, and discrimination. We are also disproportionately more likely to be breadwinners. I’ve had positive experiences with negotiating my salary.
2. Move out
Personal finance blogs will tell you to live at home for as long as possible. Have they not met an eldest immigrant daughter before? I struggled more living at home than being on my own. I used to dread payday. Which emergency will they make up this time? My hard-earned money was being spent on frivolous expenses. I found myself rewarding irresponsible behavior. I couldn’t save money to move into my own place, pay off debt or my dream backpacking trip across Latin America. Moving out also provided me with peace of mind and absolute control over my schedule. 10/10 would recommend!
3. Put everything in your name
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! I used to be oblivious about how crucial it is to put everything in your name. If you live somewhere, make sure your name is on the lease. Also, ensure that your car’s title is in your name too. Other notable things to mention include student loans, car insurance, phone bill, etc. I can’t emphasize how important it is to have legal verification. My first car’s title wasn’t in my name. Since it wasn’t “technically” my own, it would be taken away from me if I didn’t do what I was told. So, I bought my own car. Now, I never have to worry about missing work.
4. Prioritize emergency savings first
If you want to maintain financial freedom, you will need an emergency savings account. If not, you risk more debt and possibly having to move back home. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices while building my emergency savings account. I cut out all luxuries: brunch, Netflix, daily Starbucks runs and gym memberships. I’ve also limited my traveling. I still get my nails done because #priorities. However, I don’t drink or smoke which saves me a lot of money. I put one paycheck away a month. I also drive Lyft (4.99 rating 🎉). Financial freedom can seem fickle, so it’s important to prepare for possible economic hardship.
5. Minimize debt
Minimizing debt is tricky in the US where a medical emergency can impel bankruptcy. I have zero credit card debt and managed to pay off my car. I still have student loans which I don’t regret. College was worth the debt to me. I discovered the wage gap, traveled to Southeast Asia and interned at the nation’s leading women’s economic justice organization. I probably wouldn’t desire freedom as much as I do now without my college experience. Student loans offer more protection and flexibility than credit cards, auto loans or payday loans. However, they are forever. They can also garnish your wages, seize your passport and they can even go after your house. I wish I knew this before I signed that dotted line 10 years ago.
What are the financial lessons you wish you knew? Leave in the comments below!