Not I: The Ideal Woman?

Let’s take a minute to discuss our flaws. It may seem a little odd to start a post this way, but I need you to allow me to explain. Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible. Well, sort of. I pursued academics with all I had within me because that was a world I understood. Not too concerned about those around me, I joined clubs, participated in other extracurricular activities, and volunteered in my community. The aim was not to get into an Ivy League school, but it was at the same time. I enjoyed studying, clubs, and volunteering. If those things just so happened to be what the top universities looked for, then it was a win-win.

“Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible.”

It was probably in high school that I began to see myself as different from my peers. The distinction was noticeable—not bad—just noticeable. I enjoyed serving at the local soup kitchen and taking part in charity walks on the weekends. It was easy to get so engrossed in a novel that half my day was spent reading about fictitious people in faraway lands. What’s more, I found satisfaction going to church and rehearsing for an upcoming skit instead of planning what I would wear to a party. In those days, my priorities were different. I was different.

The thought of becoming a “perfect woman” didn’t enter my mind until college. While on the grounds of Howard University, I could be any person I wanted to be. College was the time to reinvent myself. I could go by a different name, switch up my personality completely, or fake a backstory about being from an exotic country (accent included). The point is that the possibilities were endless once I set foot on that college campus. Nevertheless, while some minor things changed, I still basically remained the same. The biggest difference? My desire to achieve perfectionism reached its peak.

“College was the time to reinvent myself.”

I sought to become the kind of woman a man couldn’t resist. I desired the lifestyle of international travel, dinners with dignitaries, and more than enough money in my bank account. Like a shapeshifter, I found myself conforming to what I believed would appeal to my love interest at the time. Has that ever happened to you, fellow navigator? To read more, I talk about it in my book. The constant twisting and bending left me feeling like I had no identity. To be even more transparent, I felt like my identity was closely connected to my crush of the week.

After college, everything changed. Again, I changed. It was not until an event led to me abandoning many of my worldly possessions that I realized what was most important. Instead of trying to be the ideal woman, I pursued God with all I had within me. More than just going to church almost every day of the week, I spent time in intimate prayer and Bible study. It dawned on me that the ideal woman is one who finds her value in God. Eventually, I’ll have to part with my money and the things of this world. But, when it’s all said and done, my soul will have to spend eternity somewhere.

Fellow navigator, I no longer desire to be anyone’s ideal woman. It’s taken some time, but I’ve come to a place where I am content being me. Upon entering a dating relationship, I make my flaws and imperfections known. Sometimes, my strong sense of self-awareness leaves the other party taken aback, but I’m not concerned. I’m tired of wearing a mask—tired of the show we so often put on to get someone to like us. Yes, this approach has blown up in my face and caused a few men to turn around and leave quickly. However, the one who stays will be worth it.

What do you say we stop with the charade? I’m not suggesting we lay all our cards out on the proverbial table the very minute we meet someone of interest. Rather, I’m saying let’s be intentional about showing our real selves to those we encounter who we believe could be good life partners. Fellow navigator, do you play a role when around a dating prospect? Did you end up showing your true self? How did that unveiling go? Tell me about it!

Not I: Forsaking My Beliefs for a Man?

It seems like we just met yesterday. He was tall, had an athletic build, and charmed me off my feet. We conversed in English, French, and Spanish. We spent hours watching movies, laughing about silly things, and talking about our future. I enjoyed every moment of our time together; it just felt right. However, we broached a topic that brought my happily-ever-after fantasy to an end.

“By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men.”

Fellow navigator, please hear my heart. I’m not condemning those in mixed-faith relationships. If you are able to make it work, then more power to you. My purpose in telling that very real story is to illustrate a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. I meet a man. We hit it off. Then, we end up at a crossroads because our beliefs don’t align. By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men. They were decent guys who would make just about any woman happy, but they were not for me.

If I say that my faith is a major part of who I am but hide it from the one I claim to want to spend forever with, then it never really held such a high place in my life. If I openly profess Christ to total strangers but fail to talk about him to my partner, then I am no better than Peter before the crucifixion. If I continue being with a man who denies the existence of a God I know to be real and true, then I am just like Judas and lead a double life.

“There is grace.”

There is grace, fellow navigator. God can change the heart of anyone at any point and time that He so chooses. I don’t doubt this. My apprehension comes when I knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who is at enmity with God or has his own views about faith that completely differ from mine.

There must be something in the water, fellow navigator, because I hear similar stories of women who’ve had to choose between a seemingly good man and God. Based on those I know, the ones who chose the former live good lives but have strayed from the faith. The ones who chose the latter continue to live on their own terms but have yet to say “I do.” It begs the question of why God would allow women who willingly choose Him to remain single…but that’s a post for another day.

Fellow navigator, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to choose between God or a guy? What did you do? If you’ve tried having a mixed-faith relationship, how did it go? Tell me about it!

Not I: Afraid of Commitment?

When you’ve been single for any amount of years and believe you’re ready for a serious relationship, there’s no getting around the topic of commitment. A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work. It’s sacrificing precious sleep after a day of only texting just to hear his voice. It’s banging out items on your to-do list so that you can give him your undivided attention. It’s having open, honest conversations with him about your concerns when he says or does things that don’t sit well with you.

“A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work.”

If truth be told, I’m the only one who can determine whether I’m ready for a commitment or not. Sure, a therapist or trusted friend can ask thought-provoking questions and give me objective feedback or insight into my responses. However, I must make the final decision to move forward and step out or hang back and continue working on myself. There’s no shame in either decision because, ultimately, I’m the one who will be putting my heart on the line.

Being transparent, I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of commitment. I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others. It’s not a problem for me to carve out time in my schedule to make him feel like a priority. There’s no issue with allowing him to see me fail, cry, or lash out in anger about something that hurt me. Staying true to one man and seeing if the relationship can turn into something more has never been an obstacle for me.

No, I’m not afraid of commitment. I fear the hurt and pain that comes with choosing the wrong person. Because I seldom pick my head up from my books or work to give a man my time, dating can be quite challenging. Despite being a good judge of character when it comes to my friends’ boyfriends and love interests, I don’t always make the best choices for myself.

“I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others.”

Since I’m not active in the dating scene, I don’t always know the latest lines or schemes men try to pull on women. I see what I believe is a good man and allow him to pursue me until he proves me wrong. While this may not be the best method when it comes to dating, it’s what I know. As a result, my naivete has led to some dead ends.

Now, I’m not out in these streets dating a ton of men. But the ones who have been granted access to my heart, only to break it into pieces, really did a number on me. They’re the dudes who cause a woman to enter into a new relationship with all sorts of walls up, leaving her vigilant of any and all possible red flags the next dating prospect displays. Even if this new man is truly who she desires, she may make him jump through several hoops just to prove he won’t hurt her like the last one she let into her world.

This is all to say that, fellow navigator, we must get to a point where we face our fears of possibly getting hurt or choosing the wrong person before giving another man permission to pursue. If we do so, without becoming whole, the relationship becomes doomed from the start. It is built on a shaky foundation that’s likely to crumble at any moment because we enter into it anticipating that the man will fail us in some way. We desire to give him a chance, but we stand guard for that one moment when his humanity shows that he’s not a perfect creature.

While I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of committing to a man. I can’t honestly say that I’m ready, willing, or able to trust a man with all that is me simply because he makes his interest known. He hasn’t earned my trust. He hasn’t proven that he’s worthy of my devotion. Short of approaching me and expressing his desire for a relationship, he has done nothing to make me believe that he will love me, honor our union, and protect my heart. As a result, I don’t give him all of me. Instead, I sit and watch as he steps up and shows up. I observe his behavior when he’s discouraged, mad, happy, and even depressed. I allow him to get to know me on a deeper level, little by little, until I’m comfortable opening my entire heart to him because he’s shown that he can handle it. That’s what all those frogs from my past have taught me; the real man is easy to spot when you know what you don’t want, need, or deserve.

Fellow navigator, am I alone in this way of thinking? Have you come to the realization that you’re not afraid of commitment but fear choosing the wrong person? What insight have you received about yourself that makes dating just any random man who calls you beautiful hard to do? Tell me about it!

Ready or Not: Protecting My Mind by Practicing Self-Care

“When you practice self-care, you allow your mind, body, and soul to reset.”

“Self-care” is a term that’s become quite popular over the last several years to describe the process of allowing oneself to detach from life’s stressors and embrace relaxing activities. In many cases, when I hear what other women do to practice self-care, it typically includes spa days, trips to the mall for retail therapy, spending time outside of the kitchen, and a slew of other events. The idea is to pamper oneself in a way that doesn’t necessarily happen on a regular basis. When you practice self-care, you allow your mind, body, and soul to reset.

I’ve been terrible at practicing this whole self-care thing either because I didn’t have the funds to treat myself or time just wasn’t on my side. Let’s be real: exercising self-care can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be, true. However, if I’m really going to allow myself to indulge, I’d need at least a $100 each time to do anything worthwhile. Especially in these days of coronavirus, I have no desire to shell out that kind of money on a massage, facial, or new outfit just for the sake of it.

Next, self-care requires my time. If I’m going to properly allow myself an escape from the everyday stressors of life, I need at least 4-5 hours to do it right. Who has that kind of time these days? Not me. Going 30 minutes without having to check my phone for a new email, text, or message on social media is challenging as is.

Because no one can run on a full tank 24/7, there must be other ways to practice self-care without breaking the bank. Right? Yes!

I view self-care in regards to the physical and the mental. About a month or so ago, a friend asked for my address under the guise of wanting to update the contact information she had for me. Because this was an odd request, I suspected she was planning on mailing me a card or something. This woman sent me an assorted pack of face masks with a note attached that I should take care of myself. At the time, I needed a reminder to relax and break away from work every once in a while because coronavirus had impacted my business significantly.

You’ll be happy to know that I did heed her words and treated myself to mini-facials. They have been amazing! My skin looks clearer and feels great. I’ve found that I enjoy at-home facials because I can do them on my own schedule and don’t need several hours at a time. I just lie down on my sofa or bed and let them time fade away. My mind isn’t cluttered with thoughts of work, relationships, or responsibilities. For those 30 minutes, it’s just me, myself, and I.

“I view self-care in regards to the physical and the mental.”

The other type of self-care that has really made an impact in my life involves paying more attention to my mental peace. Recently, I stopped working with a client due to a string of conflicts that had arisen. What stood out to me, as I drafted the service termination email, was my reasoning for this decision. I wrote something along the lines of no longer wishing to continue the relationship because it disturbed my mental peace. Wow! Talk about growth. I don’t think I would have cited that as a reason for walking away from a business partnership a few years ago.

Since my last romantic relationship, I’ve spent a healthy amount of time paying careful attention to my mental health. While I am usually quite happy and bubbly, I have had my bouts with moments of feeling like I’m less than. After further introspection, I saw that those times almost always happened because I allowed someone deeper access to me than they should have been trusted with or granted. That’s what happens in relationships, though. People sometimes push the limits of the boundaries we’ve put in place to see how far they can get.

“I saw that those times almost always happened because I allowed someone deeper access to me than they should have been trusted with or granted.”

You may have heard it said before, but I ask that you allow me to say it again: guard your mind. Not every toxic relationship presents itself as such in the beginning. However, when you begin to lose who you are because of someone, it might be best to reconsider the role that person plays in your life. I can honestly say that I have not given the individual I referenced earlier a second thought since sending that service termination email. I no longer clinch my jaw when their name pops up on my phone out of fear of what the text or call is about. If I’m spending so much negative mental energy on someone, I think it’s safe to say that I need to reorganize my priorities.

Fellow navigator, self-care is not just about pampering what’s on the outside. It’s also about ensuring that our minds and spirits are in a good place. As someone who is known (good or bad) for being busy and a workaholic (by some), I’ve come to recognize that I must ensure I have peace in all aspects of my life. No, I may not be able to afford a spa day once or twice a month. But I can spend a few hours with myself to look at my life and see where there’s room for positive, meaningful improvement. I can take stock of potentially toxic relationships, or ones that produce more stress than peace, to assess if there’s hope for positive growth or not.

Joyce Meyer wrote Battlefield of the Mind years ago, but I believe there’s a reason why she had an entire book devoted to this subject. The Bible talks about us guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and later says that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). These two actions must be important, right? Fellow navigator, what do you do to practice self-care? How are you maintaining your mental peace? Tell me about it!

Not I: Waiting on a Fairy Tale?

Disney did me dirty. I’ve definitively decided that my daughters will not be exposed to Disney princess stories during their formative years. Why? Because I am absolutely sick and tired of the way young girls are conditioned to believe they’re in need of saving. Of course, Disney is not the only guilty culprit in this atrocity against girls. No, there are other companies producing content that teaches girls that they are the inferior sex. I wasn’t born in this country, but Disney’s reach goes far beyond the United States. From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side. He was my protector, source of financial security, and only hope in avoiding a life of utter loneliness (aka being an old maid).

“From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side.”

After spending some time in introspection, I realized the lessons I learned from princess stories took root deeper than I’d known. As a young, impressionable child, I was taught that girls were dainty, well-mannered, prudent, homely, and soft-spoken. We were to wear beautiful dresses, perform our domestic chores, and remain silent in the presence of men. I was shown that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had final authority over us. It was acceptable for us to be locked away in a room somewhere to only enjoy the company of animals and imaginary friends, and it was perfectly alright for us to sacrifice our dreams to make another’s come true.

Arguably the biggest lessons princesses taught me were about romantic relationships. In books, TV shows, and movies, I saw that girls were expected to be married at a young age. Many of them were not educated or did not pursue higher education. A proper young lady was also trained in domesticity and had very few friends outside of family members. She never explored foreign lands or conquered dragons. No, she stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.

She waited patiently for a man to come and to rescue her. She didn’t question his decisions, wonder why he never asked for her opinion, or consider that there was more to her life. When conversing with a suitor, the young lady never inquired about his goals, fears, past relationships, or plans for their future. She didn’t want to know whether he was kind to his mother, had character flaws that might make the success of their marriage challenging, or cared about what she wanted in life. There were no discussions about children, religious affiliations, or political sidings. To make matters worse, there was never ever any talk about finances or how money would be handled in the relationship. These are all important things young girls must learn prior to marriage to avoid becoming stuck in relationships where they are unheard, unloved, and unappreciated.

“She stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.”

The fairy tale was filled with smiles, laughter, music, dancing, and colorful outfits, but it always ended before the real relationship began. The man endured adversity and braved whatever obstacles came in his way to get his human reward, but that was all she was—a prize. Once the rush of the pursuit was over, the story ended. After he won her heart, things miraculously became spectacular. We were told they lived happily ever after. This is not reality, and it’s far from what I desire.

Relationships are messy. People are fickle. We’re hot, cold, and wishy-washy when it comes to just about everything. I’m not waiting on a fairy tale because it is riddled with untruths. I’m not helpless. I’m unwilling to always be the one to sacrifice what matters most when my partner consistently gets what he wants. I’m more than my cooking, sewing, and cleaning skills.

I wish someone had told me fairy tales weren’t one-size-fits-all from the very beginning. This isn’t what I want my daughters growing up to believe. It’s probably safe to say that the dream of obtaining the fairy tale, as presented through the lens of Disney, no longer applies to me. Nevertheless, I continue to proudly reject its stereotypes and stand as a dissident. Life was never meant to be lived according to a specific blueprint. Quite frankly, outside of serving God and representing Christ well on this earth, everything else is up to me.

Fellow navigator, which fairy tale did you enjoy growing up? What love story did you secretly wish would become yours? When did you have the realization that life was not a fairy tale? Tell me about it!

Ready or Not: Access Granted Through Languages

“Because of French, I have received prizes and honors.”

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the cartoon, Madeline. Even now, as an adult, it’s one of the few children’s programs I can sit down and watch to my heart’s content. I love the show so much that I still have some books about the title character and her adventures. Honestly, I don’t know why I loved Madeline. Growing up, I was what many would consider a “tomboy,” so maybe I felt I could relate to Madeline because she didn’t always do what was expected of her as a “girl.” Regardless of the draw to this program, Madeline exposed me to French life and culture. I believe that this is where my love for the language began.

In middle school, I began taking French classes. My teacher of two years was a soft-spoken woman who clearly loved sharing her language and culture with her students. Don’t get me wrong—she was strict. However, I learned enough in her class that I continued my studies well into my undergraduate years. Because of French, I have received prizes and honors. I was able to study at a prestigious language school with some of the best professors in the world. Also, I have received opportunities to utilize my language skills for financial and professional gain.

Arguably the greatest thing learning French has done for me, as a single woman, is allowed me to learn about other aspects of my personality. When I begin speaking and switch to my francophone alter ego, I experience a freedom that isn’t easy to explain. It’s almost as if I embody French culture the minute I open my mouth. The woman who has grown up in the West disappears and another with a different outlook on life replaces her. If you’re a language enthusiast, I’m sure you can relate. In any case, I see myself taking risks and doing things with my francophone friends that I would never do with my English-speaking ones.

“The woman who has grown up in the West disappears and another with a different outlook on life replaces her.”

Now, as I embark on improving my Spanish, I see another personality taking form. She’s sensuous, chatty, and eager to please. She’s not the first to initiate conversations, but she tries to hold her own. I started studying Spanish years ago in undergrad because I entertained ideas of becoming a UN translator or diplomat. Those dreams faded as my passion for teaching grew; however, I never lost my love for languages.

Brushing up on my Spanish was triggered by a string of conversations with friends over the last two years or so because of all that’s happening with globalization. On a practical level, having multiple popular languages under my belt makes me more marketable. When I go to sit at the table with other major players (primarily men), I don’t have to rely on someone to speak on my behalf. Also, I am a firm believer that I will gain more respect from those I come into contact with if I speak to them in their language. Not everyone shares this viewpoint, but it’s one that I’ve always held near. There are a few other personal reasons for me wanting to master Spanish, but I’ll save those for another time or post.

“When I go to sit at the table with other major players (primarily men), I don’t have to rely on someone to speak on my behalf.”

Fellow navigator, if you can, I encourage you to learn another language. Yes, this is America and just about everyone speaks English. But there is an entire world out there with people of every race, ethnic group, and tongue who have incredible stories, jokes, and thoughts to share. If we only limit our conversations to English speakers, we miss out on the richness and beauty our brothers and sisters have to offer. Now, you don’t have to be like me and aim to master seven languages. But I think that shooting to acquire a second language will grant you access to a life you never knew existed. Who knows? Maybe your Spanish alter ego is sassy, free-spirited, and holds nothing back. Perhaps your French persona is refined, soft-spoken, and reserved.

It’s 2020 and globalization isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s probably best that we embrace those who are different and find a way to get along with each other. Maybe, in this process, we’ll find a beauty in their language that sets us on a journey of our own self-discovery.

Fellow navigator, since many of us are still living under quarantine, have you considered learning a new language? Which language have you always wanted to study? What’s holding you back? Tell me about it!

Ready or Not: Ms. Fix-it

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed.”

As a single woman who has lived on her own for years, it’s safe to say that I’ve spent a good amount of money paying professionals to fix things around the house. When I lived in an apartment, it was fairly easy to pick up the phone to call the leasing office or submit a maintenance request. However, when I lived in my condo, I became responsible for all upkeep. This was one of the biggest reality checks of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed. When the bulb in my closet stopped working, I thought it would be a simple fix. Wrong. After buying a new bulb, I learned that the entire light fixture needed to be replaced. With the help of my father and YouTube videos, I was able to turn off the power source to my master closet and replace the fixture without getting electrocuted.

“Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.”

After that, the track lights in my kitchen gave out. They weren’t as easy to fix because the electrical panel wasn’t clearly labeled to indicate the power source. As a result, I had to play guess-and-check to determine which power source needed to be cut off. After consulting a professional electrician, I learned that there are instruments at home improvement stores that take the guesswork out of the whole ordeal, but I wasn’t really trying to spend money to purchase the apparatus. Once again, I called my father for help. Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.

By far the biggest job that had to be done in my condo was fixing the toilet in my master bathroom. There was no way I could’ve done this job by myself, and my father was not skilled in this area at all. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to call in the pros. While I could’ve used the second bathroom, it simply was an inconvenience I didn’t want to deal with. I dilly-dallied before finally shopping around for quotes because I really didn’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars I knew they were going to charge me. Plus, my condo was located in a more affluent community than my previous residences, so I suspected the price would soar simply because of my zip code.

Well, thank the Lord God in heaven for friends. After mentioning my issues to a friend, she volunteered her father services to help me out. To say that I was relieved would be an understatement; I was elated. And how much did it cost? Like $50 (or less). Her father was gracious and only required that I pay for the replacement parts. One Sunday after church, they came over for a few hours and resolved my bathroom issues. I couldn’t have been happier. When I asked her father how he learned to perform such a task, he told me he had grown frustrated shelling out money to have professionals come to his home to perform similar jobs. Being proactive, he watched them diligently and learned how to do his own household repairs. Fellow navigator, after my friend’s father completed the job, I never had issues with the toilet again. Score!

What’s the moral of the post? As a single woman, I came to the realization years ago that, despite what the world and TV shows tell us, life skills are not gender specific. Learning how to reconcile a bank account, do taxes, change a flat tire, switch out a dead light fixture, or replace a faulty toilet valve is not something only men can do. When you’re in a situation and don’t have the money (or want to pay the money) to fix something around the house, you have to decide if you’re willing to try to learn something new. Just so we’re clear, I would never voluntarily replace a bad carburetor or rewire a major light fixture. However, I’ve determined that I will do my best to learn how to do things around the house for my own personal edification; I will not wait around for a man to show up in my life and leave everything to him.

What about you, fellow navigator? If you live alone, what are some things around the house you’ve learned to do? Have you ever had to pay for a repair that you knew, if given training, you could’ve done on your own? Tell me about it!

Ready or Not: Can You Pay My Bills?

“The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt.”

You don’t need to be single to learn basic life skills every adult should know. However, being single means juggling responsibilities that married folks tend to split between each other. How often do you feel like you’re responsible for remembering to do everything? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help?

I ask myself these questions all the time as I learn to navigate the world of adulting solo. Thankfully, my father was always just a phone call away. If I ever needed guidance about something, he is my go-to person.

Nevertheless, there are definitely aspects of growing up that are not one-size-fits-all. Let’s take paying bills. Financial literacy is not often taught in schools. The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt. While I am not a financial coach, I would like to offer some tips I’ve learned for myself and from the varying journeys of those in my community. Although the names have been changed to protect their privacy, the stories remain the same. There are several approaches you can take, depending on your personality and lifestyle preference.

Managing my money!

“To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay.”

Rosalind knows she is not the most organized person on the planet. She sets reminders for her reminders so that she doesn’t forget to do things. After being assessed late fee after late fee for missed utility bill and car note payments, she finally decided to do something about her obvious challenges. The problem wasn’t that Rosalind didn’t have enough money in the bank to pay for these services—no, she was just terrible at remembering the due dates for her monthly financial obligations. To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay. Rosalind gave her banking information and authorization to the different companies so that they could debit her charges without her ever having to worry about another missed payment. After a few months of being on automatic bill pay, Rosalind noticed that the collection calls stopped, she no longer received late fees, and her credit score began to rise. It was as simple as that.

Making it rain!

Alyssa is crushing the adulting game. She knows what she wants, how to get it, and never let’s anyone stop her from pursuing her dreams. She prides herself on being punctual, organized, and competent. When it comes to paying her bills, she has a system that has yet to fail her. On the 15th and 27th of each month, Alyssa sits down to pay her bills. On the 15th, she pays the expenses due before the end of the month, like her car insurance. Then, on the 27th, she pays her bills for the upcoming month, like her rent. Alyssa never wants to be caught off guard by a surprise bill, so she does this to minimize that possibility. Her payment schedule also allows her to establish a reputation with her creditors. If ever on the off chance she misses a bill, she knows they will be more gracious because they can see how methodical her payment history has been. That way, they would offer to waive any penalties or fees without her even asking.

Nice, organized manner

I would say my bill pay method borrows bits and pieces from Rosalind and Alyssa. Like Rosalind, I use automatic bill pay for some monthly expenses. To maximize on certain savings discounts, I set my student loan repayment as automatic withdrawals through one financial institution. I also have my car insurance and sponsored child payment automatically withdrawn because those costs are fixed and always available in the account they are linked to. Much like Alyssa, I take time to list all my expenses for the month and cross them off as they are paid. I’m not comfortable having larger transactions, like my car payment, automatically debited from my bank account. I would rather go into the payment portals and manually make those payments myself.

What about you? Do you find that you prefer paying your bills yourself? Or are you the type of person who prefers to have an app or program that pays your bills for you through automatic withdrawals? If you belong to the former group, what is your system? If you’re part of the latter group, what apps can you recommend? Share your wisdom with our community!