Most of us know we could make improvements to our finances. But we’re either not sure where to start, or we’re worried about the time and effort that might be required to make the changes. So we tell ourselves we’ll take a closer look at our money “someday.”

Meanwhile, we waste precious time (time that could be spent saving and building up our wealth) and any existing problems grow even larger. So, by the time we finally face the facts, we can find ourselves with a tangled money mess of debts and missed opportunities that are difficult, and costly, to unravel.


There are a lot of black and brown people who had to learn about financial management on their own. Having only their parents (if they are lucky to have them) or their friends as guides – and generally those people just “appeared” to be doing great financially, when in all actuality, that wasnt the case. In fact, following after parents or family and friends started a cycle of habits that became a way of life. Just as it had for them – it’s just that they did a good job of hiding it.

There is another set of people who just don’t like to do anything that requires work or discipline. If it can’t be obtained right away (like a diploma) then to hell with it. They just stay where they are comfortable. Then there is the last group who feels that they know everything already, so they continue to do the same things over and over and over and just hope that that will produce the results they want…someday.

But then there is you. You just decided for the next 30 days, or 4 weeks, that you are going to try something different. You are going to try what we call “Dollars and Good $ense”. Each week, new, proven steps, tried by young adults (36 and under) who are people of color that will help you start – of course you have to finish on your own. Motivation is just like bathing – it wears off. That’s why you have to do it every day. If you are someone who cares more about what other people think of you than your own financial state, this series will not help you. Now let’s begin.

Most people have at least a checking account. (If you don’t have an account at a bank, that should be number one on your to do list). Half of those people have a savings account. Most people stop there. 2 accounts. This works for some, but when you are starting out or starting over, you need to “think 3”. The three accounts you need should be labeled “bills”, “savings” and “fun”. (Sidenote: The people that we see as “rich” (Oprah, Dwayne Wade, John Legend, etc) all have multiple accounts – more than 3. No one denies that they would love to be like those people financially, but we never adopt their successful practices. We stick to the habits the people around us use – but expect to move higher.)

Let’s look at each account one by one, starting with bills. Sit down and make a list of all your bills for the month. Many people avoid doing this because they don’t want to see the number. This is the fastest way to go underwater. If you are planning to be successful in this challenge, make a list of how much you obligated yourself to over the course of a month, including food. Remember, these items are items YOU decided you wanted to have for an extended period of time, whether they are good or bad.

Take the total number of how much you have already agreed to let go of before you get the actual money in your hand (bills) every month and then write how much you make in one month. Subtract your bills from your income (all income sources, not just your job). We will deal with this number in a minute.


Savings is simply that. Money you set aside for a rainy day – or what I like to call life. Life ALWAYS happens. Most people get into debt because they found out the hard way that the longer you live, the more chances you have to experience life. You need to be prepared for life. Your savings account allows you to navigate through life without being caught off guard. Savings is also where you would go to when you decide you want to give to charity or support a fundraiser. I can’t tell you how many people give their word in regards to donating to NYPS, only to have to take their word back because life happened and they weren’t prepared. They didn’t expect life to happen.

Fun is all the things you like to do: shop, going out to eat, travel, etc. Everyone wants to have fun. This account lets you know what your limit is on how much fun you can have. The good thing is, if you blow your “fun” account and spend every dime in it, ALL YOUR BILLS STILL GET PAID. No late fees, no interest, no avoiding phone calls or not opening your mail!

That number that you subtracted earlier, after all your bills were deducted, is the amount that you now have to decide goes into the “fun” and “savings” accounts. Now this is where you have to decide for yourself on what to do next. Do you want more in SAVINGS or FUN for the first time? I say if you are trying it for the first time and aren’t in a hurry to have extra money, put the majority in FUN. But if you know you have self-control and will cut yourself off when the FUN account runs out, put the majority in Savings. Remember, you can always move money from FUN to SAVINGS, but you should never move money from SAVINGS to FUN (if you can help it). Never touch BILLS.

If you follow your own allotments, you will start to notice that your BILLS account stays the same every month, but your FUN and SAVINGS account just keeps growing. Guess what it is called when your bills stay the same and your savings and ability to have fun grows?


So here is the 30 day challenge. Starting with your next check or any source of income (I even split up money I get for my birthday, from parents or Christmas into three accounts) put everything you get in one of the three accounts. Every time you get money during the 30 day period, think 3. Stick to whatever limits you set on yourself in the FUN account. If you need to add more next time, just do that – but avoid using the SAVINGS if you can. Never touch BILLS.

Watch the video below from Gavin Stephenson, a young man around the age of our target audience who used ,and still uses, the 3 account approach.

National Youth Pride Services,

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone. 773-YPS-8051