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Hello, Lovelies. Today I wanted to encourage you all to reflect upon the money, career, and lifestyle goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. The end of April marked the end of the first quarter of the year…meaning we should be a quarter of the way towards accomplishing your goals for yourself. It is easy to be motivated at the beginning of every year because many of us view that time as a master reset. With December being a time of reflection we take the time to think about all of the things we could do better. We then set up goals for the new year. By January we are ready to make a plan and act on those goals and by May…. well, let’s just say sometimes things fall off a bit. If you have fallen behind or off track for your goals, don’t worry. You might just need a moment to stop and refuel. The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment before a miracle. Don’t give up.
Are Your Goals Still Relevant?
A lot can happen in four months, so it good to go back to your goal’s list to see which ones are still relevant, which ones need be adjusted, which ones need more of you to make them work, or which can be removed altogether. Leaving irrelevant goals on your list takes up unnecessary space in your mind and takes the focus away from things that really matter.
Stop & Refuel
The truth about accomplishing a goal is that the journey is not always fun nor easy. We are so quick to give up on things just because they get hard. If being the boss was easy then everyone would be the boss. If being fit was easy then everyone would probably be walking around showing off their 6-pack (certainly I wouldn’t be the only one rocking a crop top on the weekends). If having no debt was easy, then people would probably be less flashy and invest in things, people, and experiences that really matter. The thing is, instead of fixating on the journey, find your energy in picturing the end result of the work. How would your life change if you accomplished the money, career, and lifestyle goals you set for yourself? Would you be happier? Would you live a richer life? Is it a life that your 20-year-old self would be proud of? Figure out what is keeping you from taking these steps. The only way to walk is mile is one step at a time. The same is true for you and your goals. Now think about this, what happens if you keep doing things exactly like you have been doing them? Are you happy with the state of your finances? Is your career where you want it to be? Are you currently living the life you deserve? If so, keep pushing girlfriend. If not, take the rest of the day to stop and refuel so you can crush your goals in the second quarter of the year. Stay Fab!
A great credit score can be the difference between being approved for that car you’ve saved for, that house you’ve looked at, and even that job that you just interviewed for that is now pulling your credit history. If you have a low score, the people who decide whether you are an “attractive” candidate hold the cards. If you, however, have a great credit score, you hold ALL the cards. I learned this when I was buying my first home just three days after my 24th birthday. In the midst of trying to prove to my parents that I was, in fact, a real and financially responsible adult by doubling up on student loan payments and keeping my credit card balance low, I was unknowingly improving my credit score. In fact, during the contract negotiation period of the home buying process, my score improved by 20 points. A great score also came in handy once I moved because the majority of my utility expenses did not need a deposit and I was offered a lower rate. No matter what your score is, it is never too late to start improving it.
Here are 5 Easy Ways to Boost your Credit Score
- First and foremost, it is imperative that you know your score, that way you know where you stand. By law, all US citizens are entitled to one FREE credit history report, but depending on where you live your state may pay for one more. Georgia residents, for example, are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each reporting agency. This is a great time to make sure that all the information is correct and give you an overview of where your finances stand. Related Post: How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
- Pay your bills on time. It sounds simple, but I’m going to take a quick flashback to my college days when I was on the dance line of the marching band featured in Drumline. (insert flashback bubble here) To be early is to be ON TIME, to be “on time” is to be LATE, and to be late is UNACCEPTABLE (end flashback bubble…now). The same essentially holds true with how you pay your bills. The earlier you pay your bill, the better. For one, you are certain that your bill will be received by your service provider way before the date. More importantly, paying your bills as soon as you get them can be a quick but subtle increase to that credit score. I try to pay all bills within days of receiving my statements and then record the due dates and balance due in my calendar. This allows me a quick glimpse of my monthly financial trends. This is something I recommend to EVERYONE!
- Use only one credit card. If you have more than one card, start paying down the card with the smallest balance first by doubling the minimum payment. Once, that card is paid down, move to the card with the second lowest balance. Double the minimum balance and tack on whatever you were applying to the first card, until that card is paid down, and then so on. This, lovely people, is what is called a money snowball. Next, choose one card to work with, preferably the one with the highest interest rate and take the other ones out of your wallet. Freeze them, cut them up, lock them away but whatever you do, do not close them. Closing a credit card can sink your credit score faster than you can say “She Makes Cents”. Don’t do it, don’t do it, do not do it…
- Increase your credit limit. Now that you have worked towards reducing the debt on your existing card, credit card companies should begin to see you as an “attractive” customer. Call your company and request a credit increase. Again, this is not meant for you to start increasing your spending¸ but rather it is an opportunity for you to increase your credit to debt ratio. Can anyone say credit score boost? Related Post: How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score
- Pay in Cash. I have said it before and I will say it again. Paying in cash forces you to really consider whether your purchase is right you. Personally, I find that paying for things in cash acts as a visual aid and helps keep me on track with my spending. In swiping a card, I can’t “see” my funds dwindling, but watching your cash go from thick to thin is definitely a sign that you could be mindlessly spending. When you pay in cash, you don’t have to worry about interest rates and hidden charges because Cash is
So far we have read books that covered some of our favorite topics- money, career, lifestyle, and female empowerment and our latest book is slated to give us all of that. This month’s She Makes Cents Book Club selection is from author and master life coach, Cara Alwill Leyba. Cara is known for encouraging women to create a ”Champagne Life” that entails living effervescently, celebrating themselves every day, and making their happiness a priority. Through loving guidance, support, and an expert perspective, Cara empowers women to challenge their fears and create a lifestyle and career that feels authentic, vibrant, and inspiring. She sounds like #shemakescents, right?
The Girl Code
Every time I take a trip to my favorite bookstore, I come across this book, Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur and I tell myself that I will add it to the SMC book club reading list. Well, that time is now! This book has a rating of 5/5 on Good Reads and I can’t wait to dive in. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m not an entrepreneur” but I am confident that the information and inspiration from this book can apply to all women at every stage of their careers.
How Our Book Club Works
Every other month we select a new book and announce that selection a week before the start of every month. This will give you time to go to your order from the online bookstore, borrow from the library, or download here. Selections for the books come from a mix of editor and reader suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace powerful women, business cents, fictional favorites, and anything that informs and inspires us. As you read the book, please leave your questions for the book club in the comment section below. We will begin discussions for this book on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
The difference between one day and day one is HUGE! One day I will buy my first house. One day I will apply for a job at my dream company. One day I will lose the weight. One day I will take that trip I have always dreamed of. You see, the notion of “one day” allows your dreams and goals for yourself to stay in a constant state of delays and may never happens. Sure, one day you may accomplish them but who knows when one day will come. By comparison, “day one” creates a start date of action to get you working toward your goals. Want to buy your first home? Your day one should include checking your credit report and score. Want to work for another company? Cleaning up your LinkedIn page should then become your first micro-goal. Want to lose the weight? Start by researching which foods are best for your goals and what foods to cut from your diet. Want to go on a trip, start putting money aside every check.
Day one doesn’t have to be dramatic, but it is a necessary step in getting where you want to be. Once you get day one out-of-the-way, keep chipping at each of your goals until you accomplish your purpose. Doing so will make sure that it will be the last time you have to think about one day because once you start, you should be able to set a date of accomplish goal. I could say, “one day my student loans will be under the $15,000.00 mark, but instead I know that by my birthday in August, my student loans will break the $15,000.00 mark! See the difference?
When I was a little girl, my mom explained to me that my job as a child was to be great in school. The operative word in that sentence is JOB! I got up every day and went to school the same way my parents got up every day and went to work. So when review time came, or in my case report card time, my parents would allow me to post my latest report card on the refrigerator. I was a straight A student who was proud of my hard work and my parents created a physical and mental space for me to express pride in accomplishments. The refrigerator was a space in the home where everyone who visited could see what I have been up to. My parents were proud of me and I was proud of myself. That’s a nice memory, but why does that matter now? It was important to my development because it gave me the ok to toot my own horn and the space to do so. In that space that my parents created, I learned how to share my success without realizing that that very practice could someday have negative repercussions.
Why Women Mute Their Accomplishments In The Workplace
I’m sure many of you can relate to that childhood memory….but how many of you can relate to the transition that many women experience. Somewhere along the way, women are taught that sharing our own accomplishments often comes with declines in popularity and other professional ramifications. In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg recalls, “Jocelyn Goldfein, one of the engineering directors at Facebook held a meeting at Facebook where female engineers were encouraged to share the progress they had made on the products they were building. SILENCE. No one wanted to toot her own horn. Who would want to speak up when self-promoting women are disliked? Jocelyn changed her approach. Instead of asking women to talk about themselves, she asked them to tell one another’s stories. The exercise was communal, which put everyone at ease”. Why can’t we be at ease talking about our own success? Are we more at ease in our silence? These are the questions that we rarely think about but we must address.
How to Toot Your Horn at Work with confidence
It’s funny, we get fed conflicting messages all the time with regard to the topic. On one hand, we are told to “work in silence and let success make the noise”. Again, why is there such an emphasis of to silence talk of one’s own accomplishments? On the another hand, we are told that “closed mouths don’t get fed”. I’m not promoting cockiness in the workplace, but I am inviting women to be more confident in their achievements and ok sharing them. I have experienced something very similar to the example of the quiet female engineers. Women in the predominately female office were always shy to tell stories of success when asked for. Again silence. Below are a few examples of how to take the eek out of self-promotion.
Change Your Mind Set. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The same question can go for you and your career. You can do beautiful work in your perspective industry. You can make strides in your field, but if no one knows about your successes that can leave the door open for others to take credit for your work, it keeps your reputation pigeon-holed, and often leaves money on the table. If you can’t clearly, comfortably, and confidently share your career achievements in a professional setting you are also diminishing the worth of your work. I once advised the owner of a design firm in Atlanta on the disadvantages of this very concept. “You do beautiful work”, I said, “but it means nothing for you and the development of your brand if not one knows about it”.
Shoot A Brief Email. In theory, your boss wants the best for you because you succeeding makes them look good. Try sending them an email to shine a light on a recent accomplishment. For example, if you hit your sales goal for the month a little early, let them know. If you found a more efficient way to do something in your industry, shoot your boss a brief email sharing your discovery. Insider Tip: If you work on a team, make sure that you include EVERYONE who impacted the outcome. You can break out what each person’s contribution was or you can group the win. Whatever you do, do not take sole credit for a group effort.
Buy Your Name. Purchase your name as a domain and create a website or even a static page that works as a digital portfolio of your work. For example, at one point, my name was Danielle Boler, so my corresponding website should have been DanielleBoler.com. In this space, which I recommend you update quarterly, you can allow your clients to post testimonials, you can share press that you have received, and post pictures of WOW projects that you developed. Obviously, the specifics of what you feature will depend on your industry and skill set.
Lean In. Do you remember that example of the Facebook meeting when the female engineers were asked questions about their progress on the products they were building? Well instead of echoing their silence, you should “lean in” and answer the call. In fact, try to be the first person to answer this type of question. In many instances, it is rare when bosses give you their undivided attention for you to share your achievements, so don’t waste their time and your opportunity with silence. Going first presents you as a leader and I’m sure that once you begin sharing your success story, others will follow suit.
So many people fall victim to their own negative thoughts…particularly when it comes to money. When we form negative associations with money we give ourselves permission to fear it. Raise your hand if you have ever thought the following: I don’t have enough money. If only I had more money I would be happier. I will never get our of debt. These type of thoughts are not only negative but are also damaging to progressing in your money goals. When we are negative and fearful, insecure or anxious we will tend to attract the very experiences, situations, or people that we are seeking to avoid. Below are some techniques that will help you release your negative mindset with money so you can approach your finances from a mental state of confidence, pride, and positivity.
What Are Affirmations & What Do They Have To Do With Money?
An affirmation is a practice in positive thinking that manifests good things into our lives. If you can picture yourself succeeding, you are already accepting the image of success for yourself. According to the book, Creative Visualization, “If we are basically positive in attitude, expecting, and envisioning pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness, we will attract and create people, situations, and events which conform to our positive expectations”. For the next hour, try to be more aware of the thoughts you have and the things your say with regard to your money, career, and even lifestyle. If you are not positively lifting yourself up in these areas of your life, how can you expect positive energy to flow in these areas of your life? As negative thoughts creep into your mind, replace it with something positive. Once you have started to neutralize your feelings towards money, next you can start saying your money affirmations to attract wealth and abundance into your life. Check out some of my favorite money affirmations. Feel free to PIN them, share them, or print them for your use.
Add An Extra Zero to Your Money
I was reading a book by Marianna Olszewski call Live It Love It Earn It who shared a powerful visualization and affirmation technique that gave me chills. Her method is to imagine an extra zero added to the amount of money you have in your checking and savings accounts. For example, if you have $500.00 in your checking, you visualize it at $5,000.00. If you have $8,000.00 in your savings, that number automatically jumps to $80,000. Just thinking about the energy of money moving so abundantly and effortlessly gets me excited. and ready to start adding extra zeros to my checking and savings accounts, as well as the money from the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. According to Olszewski, The idea is to get used to seeing a lot of money in your bank account, so that when you start manifesting money you are ready for it”. I plan to even take this visualization and affirmation technique a bit further by dropping a figure from my student loan debt and mortgage as I prepare myself to be one step closer to financial freedom!
So people think the practice of affirmations is just hocus pocus while other people swear by them. I can’t speak for you but I find affirmations to calm my anxiety and fill me with an energizing feeling of opportunity and a focus toward my goals. Either way, I invite you to give these affirmations a try. What’s the worst that could happen, a money manifestation??
Welcome to the weekend #SMCmoneytribe. Congratulations on finishing month 3 of the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge! How does it feel to see your money grow and know that you are closer to your goals than you were before you started the challenge? Keep that feeling close in the coming months. This is around the time, where people need the most motivation to keep going. As I revealed in the February recap, 80% of people fail their resolutions by February. If you are still going hard on this challenge, you are already more focused and goal-driven than most people. While the challenge isn’t hard, it does take discipline and consistency. I must admit I even found myself getting a little behind and then having to catch up before the end of the month. I am happy to report I am all caught up with a new sense of motivation.
How I Stay Motivation Doing The Money Challenge
Every once in a while, I calculate how long it would take me to pay off the remaining $17,940.40 in student loan debt I owe if I only made the monthly payment. The answer- 11 years and 3 months. Then I calculate how long it would take me and how much interest I would save if I added extra money toward the principal. For example, if I paid an extra $300.00 per month starting in April 2017 toward this goal, I would only have 3 years and 6 months left to pay on this loan. That’s right, making an additional $300.00 payment per month toward my student loans would shave off 7 years and 9 months off the term of the loan and would save me a little more than $5,550.00 in extra interest. Let that soak in for a minute, shall we. If I were to up the ante even more and started paying an additional $500.00 per month starting August 2017 instead of the $300.00 in the example above, I would be able to pay the loan off in 2 years and 8 months, shave off 8 years and 7 months of the repayment term, and save $5,862.60 in interest. Now folks, if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. When I feel myself drifting off my path to financial freedom, I take a moment and do this exercise. It immediately fills me with a sense of inspiration, purpose, and energy especially considering that my student loans are the only thing now keeping me from moving from Baby Step 2 to Baby Step 3.
The March Recap
For the month of March, I saved $72.00 which puts me at a YTD of $221.00 through the end of March. I save more money than the previous month and I am really looking forward to what April brings. The end of April represents the end of the first quarter of the challenge which is when I will take the 2017 savings from this challenge and make a principal payment toward my student loan debt! If my financial projects for next month are correct, April will be the most successful month of the challenge thus far. Want to join the challenge? Click here for your FREE money card download.
Your time is not FREE, so spend it wisely. Take some time to do, read, and try things that feed your soul. For the month of April, here are some goodies we are looking forward to.
We swapped out the April SMC book selection at the very last-minute (trust me, you will LOVE what we selected). For the past seven weeks, I have tried to figure out the big ending of the on-screen adaptation of Big Little Lies and after watching the finale on the HBO show, I have to read the book. They say, that books are always better than the movie and if that proves to be true, it will be nothing short of amazing.
It’s time for you to pull up your sleeves and get to work. This month I challenge you to get rid of everything that does not make you happy so that you can give your attention to things that do. For me, that always starts with physical clutter. I cannot think clearly in a cluttered space and I am willing to bet that some of you can say the same thing. I do a little at a time and I start with the quickest project that will give the quickest gratification. My purge started with my nightstand where I keep a mix of books I’m reading, books on display, journals (I am always writing something), jewelry, phone accessories, receipts, water etc. See what I mean? It’s funny, do we even need or love half of the material things that are taking up space in our space? Take that stuff and sell it to put towards a savings goal…like that dream vacation so many of you wrote to me about. I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of your space. Nightstand done….next up, my makeup vanity.
I love entertaining, which makes sense considering I worked in the luxury event design industry for the past five years. Since that has taken a less dominant role in my day-to-day responsibilities, I now have time to host my own events for friends and family. This month we will give you the tools you need to plan a party like an event pro. You will learn how to prep your home/apartment for guests without blowing your budget and see inspiration on how to pre-game for a night out like a VIP. I will even let you in on my insider’s hack that combines a great purging and entertaining tip to create a simple and chic DIY your guests will love!
We shared the Girl’s Guide to Travel: 5 Trips Every Woman Should Take This Year so now it is time to start planning one of those trips. I can’t tell you which trip to plan first, but I will show you the best places to invest your hard-earned money in with regards to your travel plans. When is the best day to buy an international plane ticket (you can find that answer here)? How to make the best road trip playlist? How to tip appropriately at all-inclusive resorts? How to stay safe on a solo vacation?
Travel the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer. So how do you travel when money is tight? Before getting married, I had a money envelope where I would set aside $50.00-$100.00 per check specifically for travel goals. I started the habit when the Mr. decided he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday in Germany. Saving for that trip got me into the habit of making travel a priority. Germany was actually our first time traveling together….EVER. We stayed there a few days and then road tripped our way to Prague, in the Czech Republic with his best friends where we rang in his 30th birthday! Wow, that seems like so long ago. After that, I kept saving so that when it was time for another trip, I already had money saved. When we got married, I stopped saving for travel and put that money toward saving for a wedding. I guess I never picked back up the habit of saving for travel. That ends now!
The goal is to travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. According to a survey from by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, 55% of Americans did not take all of their vacation days leaving approximately 658 million unused vacation days on the table. Taking time for yourself is a very important form of self-care which is why I have created this list of vacation ideas that every millennial woman should strive to take this year. As you sit in cubicle nation or look out of your office window and picture yourself on a sandy beach with a frose’ in hand, just think that this can all be a reality. Even you don’t get a lot of vacation time (raise your hand if you have been there) you can monopolize on 3 day holiday weekends to make your days stretch.
The Girl’s Trip
The Solo Trip
I was contacted by Bustle a few weeks ago asking my advice on how I spend and save money. Since I LOVE to talk about money, I happily obliged. The thing is, the good folks over at Bustle conducted a survey that revealed millennial women are NOT discussing personal finances with their inner circle of friends. Seriously chicas, we have got to do better! We will ask suggestions about hair colorist from our girlfriends but we don’t ask about recommendations for certified financial planners. The fact that women don’t talk about personal finance is not surprising to me. Some believe it’s because women are not confident in making big financial decisions while others believe women avoid talking about finances for fear of saying something wrong or sounding dumb. I’m inclined to disagree. When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be just confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices as our male counterparts. The results of the survey inspired Bustle to launch the new series Grown-Ass Finances that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money. Check out 21 Millennial Women Making $30K To $150K Explain How They Spend And Save Their Money as a brave group of millennial women start the public conversation about money (you might see a tip or two from yours truly in there, as well). Listen up ladies, the future is female and if we don’t start these conversations now, what will that mean for our financial futures?