Original Article Written by Lynn Richardson for Global Grind…
A lot of celebrities come into the game trying to impress their friends with money and sometimes they make mistakes that they never recover from. What were some valuable lessons you learned early in your career?
Alesha: I grew up poor. It was really hard growing up for us financially, and my parents got a divorce when I was fourteen. So I’ve had a job since I was fourteen. I was working hard putting myself through college and when I got my job at BET, I was like 20 , 21 years old and I was making about $72,000 back then — at 20, 21 — I was making more than the average household, you know what I’m saying? Girl, you couldn’t tell me anything. So I remember going to Payless. For me, that was thing, that’s what I knew, I grew up on Payless Shoes. So I went to Payless with my new money and I literally spent like $2,500 at Payless and swiped like it was nothing. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t doing it! (laughter … and I said, “girl … how do you spend $2,500 AT PAYLESS???? What did you buy … everything? Did they have any shoes left?!? (more laughter) The funny thing was I bought stuff for me, shoes for my girlfriends who were with me, because I’m the kind of person if I have it, I want to make sure my family has it. I was so proud to swipe my card, I was in college, you know? I carried those actions that I did. When I would go home to visit my mom, and take my mom out to dinner and my friends in Houston, I was always the one who would pick up the bill. I constantly put myself in situations like that, because again, at 21, I’m making seventy-something thousand dollars, and a lot of my friends were making way less than that, that was rich to me, so I had no forethought for the future at all.
So fast forward, Stephen Hill gave me a call one day and he was like “you need to be in New York, like yesterday.” So now imagine living in Houston on $70,000 and living in New York on $70,000 … the cost of living is way different. I literally had no money. I had more money going out than I had coming in. And because I was an independent contractor, they weren’t taking any taxes out, so I didn’t pay any taxes for two years and then the IRS started calling. I was literally up a creek without a paddle. They were calling me, I was crying … thinking I was going to jail. It was terrible, but it grew me up.
Coach Lynn’s Money Message:
Be careful about the “friends” who help you with your spending addiction. A spending addiction is what you have when you go to the department store for toothpaste, but you walk out with $179.47 worth of stuff you don’t need. Remember this: If it ain’t free, and it ain’t in your budget, then it ain’t on sale for you!