#BEYOUROWN MEETS TONI COLLIER
May 2, 2018

Never in a million years did I think money would be a topic I'd need bravery to write about. We live in a society where money is easy to spend, and not so easy to confront. Just a few years ago, that harsh reality hit me square in the face when I found myself, what some would call, broke.

I grew up in a middle-class household with both parents. I had a dad that was an extreme saver, and a mom that was an extreme spender. Very confusing, I know.

My dad was extremely frugal and cheap. He had a poverty mentality with a talent for pinching pennies. My mom, however, was much more lavish. She had an abundance mentality and made us feel like we could have everything we needed or wanted.

Honestly, it was a confusing dynamic to watch growing up. It shaped some habits, behaviors, and beliefs in me that I am still learning to navigate.

My dads' example taught me the value of hard work at an early age. I began working at Forever 21 when I was 15 years-old, and I haven’t gone without a job (or two...or three) ever since. Thanks to my dads' example, I earned consistent money and made sure my bills were paid. Thanks to my moms' example, I spent my money almost as quickly as I made it. I was working as fast as I was spending, and somehow in those seasons I never felt broke.

All throughout college, and entering into young-adulthood, I had everything I needed and a few things I wanted. I was set-or so I thought.

After I graduated college I left Texas, rushed into marriage and moved to Georgia. I was 19, and I believed I was making the best financial decisions for my life. What I didn’t expect was to find myself staring straight into the face of broke.

I was working really hard, but I was no longer making enough money to meet my needs. I was on government assistance, the WIC program, Food Stamps and receiving financial assistance from my church. Times were tough. I was drinking coffee for breakfast and lunch so that I could curve my appetite until dinner.

During this time I had a beautiful little girl and began breastfeeding her out of necessity and not desire. I drove a two-door Toyota Yaris that, frankly, had seen better days. When it rained outside, it also rained inside of my car.

I was tired, disappointed, depressed, broke and broken in more ways than one. I hid all of this from the world, including my parents and closest friends. I was so hard on myself, and I felt horrible for the unhealthy relationships and financial mess that I was in.

But when I prayed and looked into my little girl’s big brown eyes, I was reminded that my story had a greater purpose in ministry. I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:9 “...persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I knew that, if I allowed it, my brokenness could be used for God’s glory! I couldn't let money bully me anymore. To do this, I had to tap into a level of bravery that I didn't know I possessed. I had to stare money in the face and say, "You may be a giant in my life right now, but there are no giants that could defeat the force behind my faith."

It was time to make a change. So I did.

I began praying like never before. I transitioned out of some organizations and relationships that were toxic, and I met wonderful people that helped me get back on my feet. I also met an incredible man named Sam Collier who became a bonus dad to my sweet daughter, and a lifelong partner to me.

I was introduced to some folks in Minneapolis who specialized in teaching young adults and couples practical tools on how to write a better love and money story.

Brightpeak Financial has not only opened my eyes to new ways of managing money; but it has taught me new ways to talk and feel about my money as well. Through their 5-dimensional approach and in-depth financial research, they’ve guided so many young people and couples to financial health. We are so happy with our results that we have decided to join their initiative, and partner to help young couples around the world write new love and money stories of their own.

Here's what I know for sure; when I stopped letting money bully me, I found a bravery that I never knew I needed. My hope is that the courage and vulnerability it took to write this blog post would encourage you to tap into the same bravery in your own life as well.

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