Here’s a basic truth about money. You can’t out earn bad financial habits. Even if you earn $500,000 a year and spend $500,001, it is impossible to get ahead financially.

April is Financial Literacy Month. It has never been a better time for us to take stock of our finances and get them in order. This includes our spending habits, investment portfolios, assets, retirement plans and money mindsets.

The Harsh Reality of Women of Color and Money

Many of us are first-generation professionals who earn significantly more than our parents. In some instances, women of color are the primary breadwinners in the family.

As women of color, taking control of our financial well-being is critical for us to thrive and create better lives for ourselves. Here’s why.

  • Collectively, women owe a staggering $929 billion in outstanding student loan debt. Black women carry a higher student loan debt load than any ethnic or racial group.
  • Women of color are paid significantly less than their white male colleagues regardless of education, experience and job title.
  • Lenders are more likely to charge women of color higher interest rates for a loan than white men.
  • Women of color are investing and saving less money for retirement than their white counterparts.

It’s no question that women of color are equally as talented and deserving of all the financial rewards that are available to our white colleagues. But somehow, we continue to lag behind and start from scratch when it comes to our finances.

The truth is we may not be able to change the wage gap issue or avoid taking out student loans. However, we can be smarter about managing our money. Here are 30 tips to help women of color take control of their finances.

Tip #1: Invest in your future by taking courses to upgrade your skillset.

Tip #2: Negotiate a salary increase or apply for a higher-paying position.

Tip #3: Affirm your professional worth in the marketplace and never settle for less than you deserve.

Tip #4: Set new retirement, savings and investment goals.

Tip #5: Establish an estate plan.

Tip #6: Update your will and insurance beneficiaries.

Tip #7: Review your credit report for inaccuracies and fraudulent activity.

Tip #8: Meet with an accountant or tax attorney to devise the best tax strategy for your financial situation.

Tip #9: Create a budget and stick to it.

Tip #10: Pay off debt as quickly as possible.

Tip #11: Set philanthropic goals and engage in purposeful giving.

Tip #12: Consult with a wealth advisor or financial planner.

Tip #13: Calculate your net worth.

Tip #14: Start a part-time business or consulting service.

Tip #15: Build an emergency fund.

Tip #16: Downsize your expenses.

Tip #17: Resist the urge to enhance your lifestyle every time you negotiate a pay increase.

Tip #18: Invest money in things that have the potential to earn more money such as stocks, fine art and rental property.

Tip #19: Max out your 401(k) and retirement plan contributions.

Tip #20: Say no to high-interest debt by boosting your credit rating.

Tip #21: Find legal ways to lower your taxable income.

Tip #22: Attend financial management seminars and conferences.

Tip #23: Spend more time with other people who understand the importance of building wealth.

Tip #24: Diversify your financial portfolio to decrease your risk of loss.

Tip #25: Resist the urge to supplement a family member’s income – this includes adult children, siblings and able-bodied parents.

Tip #26: Pay off student loan debts.

Tip #27: Use credit cards sparingly and pay them off at the end of each month.

Tip #28: Teach your children about money starting at an early age.

Tip #29: Enroll in online banking to review your account activity each week.

Tip #30: Don’t try to keep up with the latest trends and high-rolling friends or colleagues.

It doesn’t matter how much you earn, it’s always a good idea to be a good manager of your finances. That way, you will be sure that you will have enough money to withstand inflation, high gas prices and rising mortgage interest rates.

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