Our #GivingTuesday Story: Princess Chambers, Inc.

In 2009, Jennifer Daniel founded an organization to empower high school girls but, at the time, she didn’t know it. She was simply looking for a way to fill a need in her community after she heard that a few high school girls couldn’t afford a prom dress and would be skipping the event altogether.

Jennifer knew that she had to help and immediately started reaching out to family members and friends to donate their gently used prom dresses. Within two weeks, she had collected more than 250 dresses and hosted an event for the girls to pick them up. Over the years, through word-of-mouth and partnerships with schools throughout New York City, Jennifer’s organization, Princess Chambers, Inc., has served more than 700 girls with not just prom dresses but also make-up application and hair styling.

It was at one of these events that Jennifer decided that she wanted to do more to help the girls internally as well as externally. Many of them cried when they saw themselves in the mirror after exiting "the chamber" -- their special dressing room with personal shoppers--  because they had never felt so beautiful in their lives. Although they were transformed on the outside, there was more work needed to help fight their internal battles with low self-esteem, depression, and poor self-worth.  

In addition to the signature Princess Chambers event held at the Brooklyn Marriott each year, Jennifer created a mentorship program, “Mentorship by Sisterhood,” which supports first-year college students as they transition to a new life on campus. The program provides workshops focused on goal setting through vision boards, healthy eating to combat the “freshman 15” woes, and mindful living to deal with stress, among others. Princess Chambers also offers a diverse, custom curriculum that focuses on helping girls build self-esteem and leadership skills through self-reflection, critical thinking, sound decision making, etiquette and goal setting for local girls. Finally, the Princess Chambers’ Crowned Princess Scholarship awards one eligible alumnus with a college scholarship at their annual Garden party.

"Teenagers are constantly bombarded with images that depict standards of beauty, which has an adverse effect on their self-esteem," says Jennifer. "Our organization is designed to equip them to overcome these challenges. We are constantly evolving and intentionally seeking ways to better serve the girls within our community. Princess Chambers Inc. offers more than a free prom dress, we invest in and offer long-lasting experiences and opportunities for girls far after prom. We want our girls to be achievers and believe they can do anything beyond their current circumstances. Additionally, we want them to feel beautiful within, so they can feel confident regardless of what they identify as ‘beautiful.’ I am excited about the future of Princess Chambers as we continue to grow and serve the community.”

Learn more about Princess Chambers and how you can donate. 

 

Seven Ways to Get Your Debt in Formation

“. . . To whom much is given, much is required . . . ” Luke 12:48  

Guess what? God has a purpose when it comes to your finances. Was that a groundbreaking statement? No, but it baffles me when I hear people talk about their finances with no mention of the Lord because he is in the details. He did not call us to be slaves to money or debt. In fact, financial freedom is attainable and easier than you think. This series will help empower you to take hold of your finances and make financially sound decisions in the future. I mean, how can God trust you with $100 if you can’t handle $10?

1. Establish your budget.

So you’re in debt but brunching every Sunday after church service. Don’t forget the unlimited mimosas. Yikes. Be honest with yourself about your financial situation. Where is your money going? Create a budget and hold yourself accountable. Actually, have your friends hold you accountable too. “Hey, I can’t brunch today ‘cause you know, this credit card debt is not gonna pay itself, but why don’t you come over and we can cook something?” Snap. Snap.

2. Know who and how much you owe.

This one may seem elementary, but when was the last time you made of a checklist of the debt you owe? Do you know who owns your debt? Due dates? Amount owed? How much of the debt is principal? Interest? You can confirm this list against your credit report, which is free to obtain, and this also gives you a chance to make sure there are no mistakes on the report. Keep your list as a guide, checking periodically, especially as you are making bill payments. This becomes a working document (meaning it’s constantly evolving), not something set in stone like the 10 Commandments.

3. Get your debt in formation.

After making your list of who and what you owe, prioritize your repayment. Credit cards usually get first dibs because of their high-interest rates. The one with the highest interest rate costs you the most money so try to pay that one down first. That’s a pretty aggressive approach, but I’m a pretty aggressive person. If you’re more into baby steps, start off with the one with the lowest balance.

4. Pay your bills on time

Did you know your payment history is a determining factor of your FICO score? I’m pretty sure if someone owed you money you wouldn’t want to hear, “Can I pay you next month?” multiple times. Make your bills a priority because with late payments come late fees, higher interest rates, and finance charges, oh my.

5. Make at least the minimum payment, and then some

I get it. Sometimes the minimum payment is all you have. I like to do little trick of rounding up to the nearest hundred when paying a bill. Ex: The credit card minimum payment for the month is $89.07. I will pay $100.00.  This helps me finish paying off a bill just a little but faster than expected. May not seem like much, but a little goes a long way.

6. Get Social

If you’re reading this, it’s 2017, and there’s this pretty cool thing called an app. If you’re a millennial who is completely stuck to your phone, why not download a couple of financial apps to make your finances a little easier to manage. Some free ones: CreditKarma, Mint. Follow a couple of finance gurus on Instagram for daily motivation: @myfabfinance @thefinancebar If you’re on your phone 24/7 why not check your account balance every morning, so you’re aware of pending items? Or set up notifications when a credit inquiry hits or when a bill is paid. Just saying.

7. C.R.E.A.M – Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Hmmm. Was Wu Tang Clan on to something? Unlike many current rap songs, this song stressed the importance of obtaining money, as opposed to spending it.  Halt credit card spending. Delete credit card information from online stores, so you’re not tempted to indulge in BOGO sale from Bloomies at 8 AM in the morning. Form a habit. Try to use cash, as your primary method of payment for one month, and you’ll see how much you have available.  You also won’t be able to spend more than budgeted.

Let’s face it. Talking about money is tough. Being in debt is even tougher. It takes patience, focus, and determination to overcome debt and to be in a position where you feel secure and stable. I hope this article was at least a stepping-stone to propel you in the right direction.

Next up in the series: Credit Management