Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Credit.. 4 tips to help you get rid of it!

As the holiday season is in full swing, many of us have found ourselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping (for ourselves and loved ones). Although the process of shopping itself isn’t a bad thing, it does have the potential to be not so great if you are shopping excessively on credit. Credit card debt is one of the number one aspects of our finances that keep black women from becoming home and business owners. At times it can seem that our debt is a hopeless case and that there is nothing that can be done to correct it. This is simply not the case. Speaking from experience, I can assure you that there is always a way out of debt. Check out these tips below!
  1. Find out where you stand. This is often the hardest step, but you must calculate the present damage in order to make a plan to get you out of the financial hole you are currently in. Spend some time alone with that mountain of unopened bills that have piled up over the past few months and start sorting. How much do you owe on credit cards? When’s the last time you’ve paid above the minimum amount due on your bill? When’s the last time you’ve paid at all. Get out a blank notebook and begin to keep track of your financial habits and chart out a snapshot of what your total debt looks like.
  1. Create a realistic action plan. Now that you know where you stand, it is time to figure out how you will get yourself in a more stable position. Recognize that although it may have taken a few shopping sprees over the course of a month to get yourself buried under the cloud of debt, it will take much longer than that to get yourself out of it. Whether you can only afford to save $20 or $200 a month to put towards your debt, do what you can to get the ball rolling. There are a number of financial planners and consultants out there who can assist you and tailor a plan to fit your goals and resources. Additionally, there are a wide variety of books and information available on the internet dedicated to this very subject.
  1. Be honest- with yourself and with others. So, you know where you stand and you even know what you will do to make things better. What now? You must begin to get real with yourself and with those around you. First off, no more trying to live above your means and no more trying to keep up with the Joneses. No, you don’t have to go around telling everyone you meet that you are $20,000 in debt, but you shouldn’t be dishonest either. Get real with your bill collectors also. Let them know that you have fallen on hard times and own up to the fact that you have gotten behind in your bills. Discuss with them your new action plan and don’t get off the phone until you come to an agreement about how you will pay them back. You will find that the more honest you are with them, the more likely people (including your debt collectors) may be willing to help you.
  1. Keep your word. Now that you’ve gotten real with yourself and others, it’s time to stay real. Be sure to follow through on any commitments you’ve made for repayment. If you foresee issues in the future, be proactive and reach out to your creditors. Find out ways in which you can work out an extension if need be. The bottom line is that you must begin to show responsibility and accountability for your debt. It is only when this is done that you will assure that you do not make the same mistakes again.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that being in debt or out of debt does not define you as a person. There are wonderful people with a credit score of 480 and miserable individuals with a score of 720. Your debt situation is one aspect of your life, it is not your entire life and like every other negative situation you are presented with, it can be overcome.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Check out the latest article on my bi-weekly column on!

I have always been under the assertion that friends/family and money, “Don't MIX”. If you are fortunate enough to have never been on either end of a family loan situation, I'm sure you know at least one person who has. These sort of "informal" loans always seem to start out the same- Friend/Family Member A tells Friend/Family Member B that they've fell on some hard times and...

Read the Rest.

-Alecia D.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Art of Personal Branding

'Brand Me Minute': The Art of Personal Branding -

Check out this great video on on The Art of Personal Branding!

-Alecia D.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I GOT THE HOOK UP.. Get it for FREE while you can!

I'm sure this blog post's title grabbed your attention! Who wouldn't want to know more about a "free" product or service they can participate in or use, right? But is our eagerness to patronize a business only if we don't have to come up off a couple dollars one of the down falls of the black economy?

I stumbled across an article on that addresses this very issue, (then it came in my inbox from two other email newsletters I subscribe to)- apparently the issue of the black "hook-up" mentality is a huge deal among African American entrepreneurs. Although I have witnessed this phenomenon myself, I just assumed it was the way things were and that I needed to find ways to work around it in order for my own business to grow.

How many times have you had to coax black people to attend your event by making it free?
Or had a friend or loved one ask you to offer your products at a deeply discounted rate?
And here's the kicker, do you know someone who will go to an event to take advantage of the freebies, but when it's time to support the business and purchase an item, is no where to be found? Let me just say- this is not what's happening in white owned businesses. When they start businesses, every friend, acquaintance, and ex-boyfriend is lined up around the block in order to show their support by investing into said business. When will we black folk begin to do the same?

According to Alfred A. Edmond Jr., editor-in-chief of
"One of the biggest drags on black entrepreneurial growth and profitability is the "hook-up": black people expecting other black people to provide them with free goods and services just because they're black. We need to stop it. Today. NOW."

I tend to agree with Mr. Edmond, and I'm sure that you entrepreneurs who are reading would too. Check out the rest of this eye-opening article here.

-Alecia D.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Watch Your Back- The UGLY truth about Fraud.

Today is not a good day. I have officially become a victim of debit card fraud. Ugh. I never thought it could happen to me and I absolutely HATE the way this feels.

As I was surfing the web earlier today I got a little bored and decided to glance over at my bank account. I haven't been out on the town since Sunday evening so I was a bit surprised to see a purchase made today on my account. After my initial confusion, I researched more closely and found that there are a number of other charges all stemming from the Maryland area that I know nothing about beginning on November 30 through to today.

What is going on here??? After I race to call my bank, it's determined that someone has gained access to a duplicate debit card and was out there making holiday purchases with my hard earned money! While I am all about spreading holiday cheer, I don't think it's meant to be at my own expense.

Looking back at my own habits, I can already pick out a few things that I can start doing differently to make sure this does not happen again.

Here are some tips below:

1. Check your account balance daily. Be sure to check that you are not being overcharged on valid transactions and that there are no unauthorized debits taken from your account.
2. Pay with cash more often. The less you have to pull out your card and swipe those numbers in public, the better off you will be.
3. Sign up for a PayPal account. It's fast, secure, and accepted at more and more online vendors.
4. Be weary of stand alone ATM machines. It's always safer to use a franchise bank ATM, preferably your own (to avoid extra fees) than it is to use one in a corner convenience store or gas station.
5. Sign up for your bank's fraud alert program. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

Although thieves can always find a way to violate a victim, it will be less likely for you to become a target if you practice a little safety. The process has only just begun in recuperating my stolen funds, but I'm confident that I will eventually get back all that was lost. In the mean time I'm going to start applying these tips to my own daily routine in the hopes that I will never have to experience this violation again! I hope you will too.

Have you ever been the victim of identity theft or fraud? Do you have additional helpful tips to prevent this from happening? Tell us about it in the comments section.

-Alecia D.

About Alecia D.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
I am a Successful Lifestyle Consultant studying such philosophies as The Law of Attraction, Zen habits, and the Principles of Meditation and have been featured on,, and Ezine Articles as an expert author. I am interested in success- being successful and helping others be successful!