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Divanomicshow to still be fabulous when you're broke
By michelle mckinney hammond
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Michelle McKinney Hammond
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHISTORY LESSONS
THEY SAY NECESSITY is the mother of invention. And while some have been privileged to escape the hardships of life due to gleaning wonderful counsel or through the power of discerning observance, I have to admit, I graduated from neither college. Therefore I have learned everything I now know about money the hard way.
Blame it on my genes, ancestry, whatever. I was an international baby. My mother is from Barbados, West Indies. My father is from Ghana, West Africa. I was born in London, went to school in Barbados, and finally landed in Muskegon, Michigan, after my mother married a rather tall, handsome American, whom I call my dad. With such exotic beginnings, there was no way I could ever have a taste for anything normal.
As the child of Third World parents along with one solid American, I somehow missed some of the lessons I should have absorbed. Generally speaking, those of African and West Indian descent are known for being very money conscious. Ever saving, making sure there was a stash left over for a rainy day and retirement, being careful never to "cut your coat larger than the cloth you own," as they used to say, ourhouse never seemed to be in apparent shortage of funds. My parents did such a good job of supplying my every need that I assumed there would never be a shortage. The ever-indulgent Mr. McKinney (that would be my dad) was intent on my having everything I had written on my Christmas list, and so was I. Whatever he left off, Mr. Hammond, my biological father, would fill in the blanks. Imagine my pleasure as I sat opening present after present on Christmas morning and getting exactly everything I wanted. I was the envy of my friends.
Can you see how all of this generosity could give a girl the mind-set that no whim should ever be denied? This same thought process was only solidified as I grew up, made my own money, and found various and sundry ways of fulfilling my desires for all the niceties that life can supply. Somehow, I pulled it together and made it happen. Keep in mind that you are talking to a girl who had a fur coat in college, okay? And I bought it, thank you very much! It was not above me to work hard for what I wanted. Where there was a will, there most certainly was a way, and I was willing to put in the overtime to have my way.
Then, fresh out of college, I was caught up in the glamour of a fabulous advertising career. I was art director, copywriter, producer extraordinaire-flitting coast to coast producing television, radio, and print advertising for top-notch clients like McDonald's, Coca-Cola USA, and General Motors, to name a few. Flying all over the country, staying at the best hotels, and eating at the best restaurants on someone else's dime only fueled my love of the best life had to offer. Meeting celebrities, walking the red carpet, and being at all the soirees that others only dreamed of attending solidified my love for looking and playing the part. I learned all the top beauty and fashion secrets from the top makeup, hair, and fashion stylists in the business. Dahling, I was all that and a bag of chips ... until I got fired. But for me, that was just a small hiccup in the scheme of life. It was on to the world of freelance, and I embraced being my own boss with abandon ... until I got hit by a truck (literally). After three operations, a year and a half in bed, and the trial of learning how to walk again, I was still unwilling to release my diva status. You need to know I did not allow a cast that started at the top of my hip and extended down to my ankle to make me a fashion victim or stop me from getting my hustle on. In the words of the famous Tim Gunn, I knew how to "make it work."
Any diva worth her weight in gold knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. So, as I lay in bed, leg propped up in a cumbersome piece of equipment (I called it Harry since it was the only thing in my bed next to me), I wrote my first book, What to Do Until Love Finds You ... and bam! I was back in the game. With one hit on my hands, I went on to pen thirty-four more books, have several best sellers, and sell over two million books. I became known as a relationship expert and singles guru, a champion of women's issues, and a life coach. Cohosting an Emmy award-winning talk show, traveling the globe to speak at conferences, I was flying high from Los Angeles to Africa and all points in between. I appeared on the covers of magazines, made guest appearances on shows like Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet-news shows, cable shows, you name it! I was on the diva track, moving and shaking. I had the loft apartment of my dreams on the river in downtown Chicago with my own office one floor up. I had wonder ful jewels and clothing, along with two ... oops! ... three diva dogs. What more could a girl ask for? Believe me, during this stage in my life, if I wanted it, I found a way to get it.
When I saw Ed McMahon on television talking about declaring bankruptcy, I couldn't fathom how such a thing could be possible. How could a man who had obviously been a multimillionaire celebrity high roller with tons of money end up flatlining to nothing? But I found out. A funny thing happened on the way to my fabulous life that I thought would go on ad infinitum. I hit a dead end I didn't see coming.
Of course, all of this unchecked whimsy that I enjoyed, with no clear-cut checks and balances (and I do mean checks, literally), can only go so far. So here I sit at the end of my financial road, back at square one. Savings? Gone. IRA? Bottomed out. (Isn't everybody's?) Creditors? We're on a first name basis. Shall I go on? How did I get here, you ask? Well, it's a long story that I'll share as we go along, but for now I'll give you the Cliff 's Notes version. After making several business decisions that resulted in severe losses coupled with a parade of bad employee choices, my speaking engagements hit an all-time low, and my losses outweighed my gains. I had way more output than input going on. I was supplementing my losses with what I had left, but as you know, every good thing must come to an end. I had been able to stave off the impending flood but not outrun the downward tide. In short, I was just keeping afloat when a series of unexpected emergencies hit. (You know about the unplanned expenditures that happen in life, right? The car suddenly breaks down, medical hiccups ... you get the picture.) Follow that up with the economy going south without checking with me to see if it was a good time, and I began to drown in the overwhelming tsunami of my debt. It was not pretty.
The consequences of all that had transpired had finally caught up with me. As I sat looking at my profit/loss sheet for the year, the conclusion was in harsh black and white-all my hard work had netted me exactly negative $1,154. Every sign I had been avoiding now slapped me in the face. Negative! Can you believe it? Somewhere along the way I had missed the memo on how hard times were getting. Forging ahead with business as usual, I failed to pay attention to the bottom line until I was forced to. I had to reexamine what had brought me to this place. So if I may, allow me to share some diva-licious tidbits throughout this book that can make the difference between your navigating through the murky waters of lack and drowning. 'Cause believe me, sister, if you lose your boat, as opposed to your shirt, you still need to know how to swim!
Take a look at where your parents are financially right now. That is a picture of your financial future. If they are rich, that's good news. If they're not ... well, that means you've got some work to do. For those of you who like to blame everything on Mama and Daddy, I believe that, since Jesus destroyed all generational curses on the cross, it's now up to you to break the cycle of generational habits (I really call it generational "stupid") that can affect your future. You do know that there's a difference between curses and habits, don't you? So take charge of your life! Learn from their successes as well as mistakes and make the lessons learned count.
WHAT'S A DIVA TO DO?
Take a good, hard look at how your parents handled money. What was their mind-set? Spending habits? What was the outcome?
Check yourself. In what ways are your money habits similar?
List what has worked and what has not, as well as what you want your financial landscape to look like. Make a list of resolutions about how to move forward based on your observations and conclusions.
Do not make unfair comparisons if your financial level is different from your parents', but remember that the fundamental issues remain the same. It's not what you spend; it's how you spend it!
Excerpted from Divanomics by michelle mckinney hammond Copyright © 2010 by Michelle McKinney Hammond. Excerpted by permission.
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