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Your Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge IN 2018

Today is the last weekend of 2017 and my last check-in for the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge for the year.  In fact, this past Friday marked 104 consecutive weeks of doing this money challenge successfully.  In the past two years, I have eliminated my credit card debt altogether as well as shaved YEARS off my student loan repayment term.  More importantly, I have cultivated a habit of saving money.  Personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge according to the financial writer, Dave Ramsey. To be successful doing this money challenge I had to change my behavior and put saving for my money goals above fleeting things and experiences.  That was something that took a few failed attempts to learn.  Yes, a few years ago I would start the challenge, hit a mini goal, and fall off.  Then two years ago, I realized that I had to do something different if I wanted different results… and so I did.The Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week Bingo Money Challenge- from She Makes Cents

What is the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge?

The BINGO Money Challenge is a variation of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that I created back in 2013.  The original challenge called for people to save money according to the number of weeks of the year.  For example, on week one you would save $1.00 and on week 52 you would save $52.00.  At that time in my career, I had a base salary and I worked on commission so my checks were never consistent.  I attempted the challenge and failed. Hey, it happens.  I then thought to myself, girlfriend…. you should make a “bingo” version…  So I created my first bingo money card and started saving because the original version did not work for me. I needed something that would set me up for success.  The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you cross off $52 dollars on the 52nd week of the year, all that matters is that you cross off a box on the money card every week.  Either way, you end up saving the same amount of money and you have the ability to save more or less based off how your current financial situation for each week.  Since then, the BINGO Money Challenge has evolved into a money challenge with unlimited savings potential.

Who is the SMC Money Tribe?

The support from She Makes Cents readers started to pour in when I began sharing my progress on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  At the time, my money goals were top of mind but also was the new realization that I had to report my progress to people who were invested in my success.  I started to get emails and social media shout outs from readers who started the bingo version of the challenge themselves.  Before I knew it, I had accountability partners that I have never met who shared their progress.  We supported the BIG wins and the days were all anyone could afford to save was $1.00.  We were on this money-saving journey together and friendships started.  Now, the SMC Money Tribe is an uplifting community of women from all over the world that supports each other’s financial journey and savings endeavors.  Every year people contact me for the latest version of the SMC Bingo Money Card and I found that the most successful people had one major thing in common. In fact, people were 79% more likely to complete the challenge if they are active in the SMC Money Tribe.  It makes sense when you think about it because you have accountability partners there to lift you up when the challenge gets hard to keep up with.

How to Join the 2018 SMC Money Tribe

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge - from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes CentsThe new 2018 SMC Money Tribe Facebook group will serve as a “home base” for the #SMCmoneytribe.  There you will be directed to fill out a quick registration form and download the money card.   This is a space for active members and as a member of the SMCmoneytribe, you will gain exclusive content, motivation, and financial tips and tricks that will help you whether you are saving to pay down debt like me or saving to take a fabulous trip or two in the new year (also me).  This year, you will have the option to do your weekly check-ins on Friday and/or Saturday on all of our social media handles to make it easily accessible to people who are only active on certain platforms. 

Here is how you get started…

  1. Join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook Group
  2. Complete the registration form to select your weekly check-in date
  3. Follow She Makes Cents on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
  4. Pick a savings goal & get ready to save some $$$$ in the New Year


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5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance

A few weeks ago, a company called HealthIQ that celebrates health-conscious people with social and financial rewards, contacted me to create a quiz about millennials and life insurance. Yes, I can now add professional quiz writer to my resume! Since then, I have been reflecting on what happens to our loved ones financially when we pass on. This also came around the time a classmate of mine from high school passed away suddenly from a random heart complication leaving his fiancé and young daughter to pick up the pieces. One day you are living life and YOLOing and the next moment….well, you know how that goes. I am no longer in the headspace of thinking I am invincible, which means it is time for me to get a plan for my family in case the worst happens. Apparently, that means I’m growing up. While doing my research for my quiz, which you can take here, I realized there are several benefits to buying life insurance at an early age and right now millennials are in the best position to take advantage. While it is not a cheerful conversation to have, it is a necessary one and one that can protect those who depend on you and your income should the worst-case scenario happen. Since many millennials are delaying marriage and children, it is easy to say that there is no benefit of buying life insurance; however, that is not the case.  Other dependents such as parents who co-signed a loan or business partners for the millennial entrepreneurs out there also depend on you and your income and will be left with a great financial burden of debt, your funeral expenses, and trouble covering living expenses if proper measures are not in place.

5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance from Top Millennial Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

What Is Life Insurance?

If you ask my new insurance agent, he would tell you that life insurance is a “love policy”. I, however, prefer the explanation from Fidelity, which explains that, a life insurance policy as “a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for premium payments, the insurance company provides a lump-sum payment, known as a death benefit, to beneficiaries upon the insured’s death”. To bring it to terms that we can all understand, it is what GoFundMe has become when loved ones pass. I have to say this, but GoFundMe should not be your go-to plan to cover the funeral expenses of a loved one or to cover the financial burden that you may leave to your family.

Do Millennials Need Life Insurance?

Yes and yes. It will be easier to understand once you break things down into life stages. Millennials make up the awesome generation of people who are born between 1982-2002 which means that older millennials could be in the home buying, marriage, and kids stage while younger millennials are in the college life and first real job stage. So do all millennials need life insurance? The answer to that will depend on whom you ask. I believe everyone should have life insurance that at least covers one’s funeral expenses. Now in terms of a larger payout, known as a death benefit, I think that depends on who relies your income. To determine if you need life insurance, financial expert, Suze Orman, presents this question for you to ask yourself: “If I were to die today (or if my spouse/partner were to die today), will those I/we support be able to take care of themselves? If the answer is no, then you need life insurance”. Let’s be honest here, the subject of life insurance is morbid, boring, and a bit off-putting, but it is a necessary conversation that needs to be had by all.

5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance

  1. If Your Parent Is a Cosigner On Your Student Loans. A few years back, I remembered hearing a story about a grieving father who was struggling to pay his dead son’s student loan debt. During the height of his grief and after paying for funeral expenses, debt collectors began to harass him regarding his son’s missed student loan payment. That was the first time I remember learning that your debts don’t always go away when you pass. I thought about that Dad and then I thought about my own. So what happens to your student loan debt if you pass away? If you have Federal student loans, your loans will be discharged and your family will not be responsible for your debt. Parents with Parent PLUS loan borrowers are also eligible loans to have their loans discharged in the event of the student’s death since it is also a Federal loan. To receive the discharge, the surviving cosigner must submit a copy of the death certificate to their loan provider. However, if you have private loans, your family may inherit your debt, which for the class of 2016 is an estimated $37,172 and growing. According to this article from CNBC, “Even if your spouse doesn’t co-sign for you, he or she can also be held liable for a private student loan if you borrow while married and you reside in a community property state”.

  2. If You Are a Single Parent.
    While millennials are delaying getting married, a recent poll from Gallup reveals that almost half of surveyed millennials age 34 have children although they have never been married. Because of their single status, many parents elect their minor children to receive the death benefit to financial protect their children if something were to happen. Making a minor a beneficiary will cause major problems since life insurance companies do not payouts to children under the age of 18 or their guardians. If you are a single parent, you should consider setting up a trust to benefit the child and naming that trust as the beneficiary. This way, you can avoid costly court fees and you can have things managed based on the directions you have left in your trust.

  3. If You Have Life Insurance Through Your Employer.
    Congratulations, you have a real job with real benefits! I am so proud of you. Now it is time to go through and fully understand the scope of your benefits package. Many employers offer life insurance as a part of their benefits package, but is that enough? Something else, I would like you to consider is how long you plan to stay with your current company. According to a Gallup report, 21% of millennials have changed jobs within the past year.  Employee life insurance is provided as a group life plan and when you leave your job, you are no longer a member of the “group”.  Your former employer is no longer obligated to pay the premium; therefore, your coverage is terminated unless you convert your policy to an individual plan, often at a higher rate. Your best bet is to get an individual term policy in addition to your employer-based policy so that you will be covered.
  4. If You Think Life Insurance is a Financial Investment.
    Life insurance is NOT a financial investment. Let me say that again. Life insurance is NOT a financial investment But what about cash value life insurance, you ask?
    That’s not what your agent told you, is it? The good folks over at
    Investopedia define cash life insurance as “a type of life insurance policy that pays out upon the policyholder’s death, and also accumulates value during the policyholder’s lifetime”. Sounds good, right?
    Well not so fast… The idea of investing is appealing… even sexy to most millennials (or is that just me?) but insurance as an investment is a terrible idea that yields a very low return. If you are looking to invest your money or save your money, there are much better options out there like mutual funds, Roth IRAs, stocks, and bonds. Suze Orman maintains, “Under no circumstances do you want ‘cash-value insurance’ no matter how fabulous the agent makes it sound”. My financial guru, Dave Ramsey, agrees. Ramsey argues, “It is a horrible product that makes insurance companies the most money, which means insurance salespeople get the best commission on this trash”. I am inclined to agree with them both. Insurance is insurance and your investments are investments. Does life insurance provide financial protection for your family? Yes. Is the “investment” component of a cash life policy, also referred to as whole life, universal life, and variable life, a good investment? Absolutely not. If you have this type of policy, you should cancel it and thank me later.
  5. If You Don’t Know Where to Start.
    Many people know the importance of life insurance but have not taken the plunge. For the millennials out there, you will never be as young as you are right now in this moment.  Why not take advantage of the financial benefits of buying life insurance while you are young and in presumably good health. Millennials with a clean bill of health will find qualifying for coverage easier and more affordable, think less than $300.00 for the year for a $500,000 policy. So what type of policy do you recommend? Millennials looking to buy into a life insurance policy should consider a term insurance policy because the policy length can be tailored to your needs, it’s affordable, and you can lock in your rate while you are young. The maximum term for a life insurance policy is generally 30 years.  Since premiums never get cheaper, millennials can get an upper hand on their finances by locking in a lower rate for the maximum term.

I recently read something from Dave Ramsey that completely changed how I think of all of this… adulting. “The death rate for human beings is 100 percent. You are going to dies someday! None of us know when that’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean it should catch us totally unprepared”. Yes, you can still enjoy your youth while protecting your future. That’s why I have recently jumped on the life insurance bandwagon and you should too. Last week the Mr. and I met our agent in person to talk about our options and I encourage you to do the same.  In fact, through a collaboration with Health IQ, I am now able to offer readers of She Makes Cents and exclusive discounted rate for life insurance (for more information, click here).

Do you have life insurance questions or want to tell me about your experience with life insurance, please comment below or leave me a message via Twitter or Facebook.

She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

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{Money & Friendships} The Real Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

It starts with a question that leads to a ring, which ends up as a picture on Instagram, and is shared on Facebook. Yep, he asked and she said yes! Weeks later, you find a charming note in your mailbox asking you to stand beside her on the most important day of her life. You, my dear, are a chosen one… also known as a bridesmaid.The Real Cost of Being A Bridesmaid from Top Atlanta Blogger and Wedding Designer, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents Since 2010, I have been in seven weddings and I witnessed at least twenty of my girlfriends walk down the aisle toward wedded bliss. In fact, when the Mr. and I got married in 2015, we were the 13th wedding that year of our friend group.  Like many of you, I have taken off work and flown clear across the country in support of LOVE.  Too bad that the support of LOVE often comes at a hefty price tag. 

She Said Yes, But Should You?

It is truly an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding, but before you say “yes”, you need to understand what you are getting yourself into before you make that commitment. Just like in a romantic relationship, money can throw a major wrench into your friendship if you are not honest with yourself and the bride about your financial situation.  As a bridesmaid, I have paid for gowns, shoes, hair, mani/pedi, makeup packages, jewelry, liquor, plane tickets, hotels, car service, chipped in for engagement parties, hosted bridal showers, lingerie parties (apparently that is different from the bridal shower and the bachelorette party), oh yeah…bachelorette parties, bridal teas and even décor elements for the actual wedding. Nowadays, you have to add the matching bride tribe outfits for the bridal party photoshoot to the list of expenses you have to think about when saying yes. Did I even mention the wedding gift…eek? Once you accept the invitation to become a member of the bridal party, you are committing to this experience for richer or poorer.

I will admit, that years ago I declined the request to be in a friend’s wedding because the costs of being in the wedding would have been a strain on my finances.  That bride thankfully understood.  I often think, if we didn’t have that conversation and I participated in her bridal party, she could have very easily interpreted my reluctance to spend money as a lack of support and enthusiasm for her big day.  Not having that conversation would have cost me more than financial security, it could have cost me our friendship. 

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid?

Back in 2011, the Wedding Channel estimated the cost of being a bridesmaid averages around $1695.00.  Based on this estimate, I could have very well spent almost $12,000.00 on other people’s weddings.  Can you imagine what the average is now?  It always makes me wonder how Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses  could afford to be in 27 weddings, plus her own, on a personal assistant’s salary. To pay for my expenses as a bridesmaid, I used the envelope system before I even knew exactly what that meant. I set aside a certain amount of money each check for each bride.  

Brides, be nice to your bridesmaids…your “chosen ones”. They are the ones who are holding you down during one of the most beautiful and possibly stressful times of your life.  They do far more for you than you realize.  Bridesmaids, remember that your bride is a bride only once (fingers crossed) and she has a vision for her day. If you are both honest from the beginning, then you lessen the chance of unrealistic expectations from both sides.Bridal Party Costs


Monday Motivation | What ONE Power Word Reflects Your Vision for 2018?

It’s the first day….better yet, the first Monday of the new year and I couldn’t think of a better time to urge you to choose a power word to reflect your goal of self-improvement for the new year. Around this time, people reflect on the past year and envision the promise for greatness to come. The most successful people write down their goals, thoughts, and ideas to manifest the power of the law of attraction. Oprah explains, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe”. Back in 2013, I asked readers of She Makes Cents to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response I got was inspiring. Since this, I have asked the same questions to readers every year on the first day of the New Year. With every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change.  That being said, it is important to create a foundational vision with a “power word” to help guide the path ahead. Looking back at my earlier words, I remember where I was in my life, what was important, and what I needed to work on.  In 2013 my word was balance.  Then came focus (2014), passion (2015), bravery (2016), and intention (2017).  Power Word of 2018 | Word of the Year from Money, Career, Lifestyle Blog, She Makes CentsFor 2018, I chose “Declutter” as my power word. By definition, the act of decluttering requires one to simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, and complications. It also requires you to organize and prioritize your commitments and material possessions. The word “declutter” is one that I will apply to every area of my life in a mental, physical, and spiritual sense. I will take this year as an opportunity to declutter my finances, organize my career goals and execute those ideas, and rid my space of disorder. Back in 2011, researchers from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute studied what happens how the brain processes clutter.

When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.

I have never been so excited to apply a power word to my year and this one is all-encompassing to severals areas of my life.  I know many people do not do resolutions anymore, but I still do.  Now that I have my word of the year, I can create resolutions where I can clarify my goals and visions while ridding and mess and disorder that may negatively impact my money, career, or lifestyle.shemakescents.com

The Real Issue Millennial Women Face Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Fact. 3 in every 4 US workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder.  It is easy to chalk it up to poor spending habits, but is that the main thing that is keeping so many people counting coins until payday?  I would dare say, no.  While poor spending habits leave you feeling… well, poor, other factors such as debt, stagnant wages, and a constant increase of living come into play when looking at the stressful reality of living paycheck to paycheck.  Yes, this is a financial issue, but for millennial women, it can also be a  feminist issue.  The Real Issue Millennial Women Face Living Paycheck to Paycheck from Millennail Money Blog, She Makes Cents

The online women’s magazine, Bustle, recently contacted She Makes Cents Founder, Danielle YB Vason, to get her thoughts on the subject.  

“The fact that 54 percent of Millennial women live paycheck-to-paycheck, according to a 2016 Wells Fargo Millennial Survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 22 and 35, sheds light on a perfect storm of issues and realities that young women face.  In addition to paying more due to the ‘pink tax’ on everyday items, more Millennial women are graduating college than men, which means that, along with the degree, they get the $30,000+ debt that comes along with it. Then, when the first job comes, women are paid 20 percent less than their male counterparts. It is not just a financial issue, but a feminist one, as well.”

The fact that Bustle is promoting real conversations about money amongst millennial women is changing the way we as a culture think about talking openly about the subject.  In the article, millennials from all over the United States share their experiences about what living paycheck to paycheck is really like.  Maybe you can relate to their stories or maybe it opens your gaze to experiences of others, either way, it is a starting point to begin real conversations about money (how we spend it, save it, and invest it) and its direct impact on millennial women.  She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Millennials Get the Best Rates on Life Insurance & They Don’t Even Know It

When you hear the term “life insurance”, what comes to mind? Is it your parents’ and grandparents’ generation? Is it a sad thought like death or the process of planning a funeral? Or, is it something that you have on your to-do list to understand when you are “older” because you are not in that headspace right now? For many millennials, life insurance is just not high on their priority list, which is evident from the 2015 study from Life Happens and LIMRA that found that “60% of millennials prioritize mobile phones, internet, and cable over life insurance”. I believe that millennials are not jumping on the life insurance bandwagon because the idea of death seems so far away. More than that, millennials do not understand what life insurance is, what it does, and how we, as a generation, are in the best position to get the most affordable rates. Cell phones, internet, and cable are all elements of one’s day-to-day life whereas the need for life insurance is so far out, right? Wrong. Having life insurance provides a day-to-day safety net that financially protects the people who depend on your income, like family and in some cases friends, in the event that something happens to you.  How to Get Affordable Life Insurance | from Money & Career Blog, She Makes Cent
Of the living generations, millennials are in the best position to take advantage of the best rates on life insurance. That is because insurance companies view millennials as low risk because of their youth and presumably good health. Those “low-risk” statuses are one of the main reasons that millennials save more money and are able to lock in a lower, more affordable rate as compared to older generations. To take the savings potential even further, millennial women, in particular, generally receive the lowest quoted rate. That is because women live longer and are perceived to be less likely to partake in risky hobbies such as skateboarding, skiing, and sky diving – all hobbies that insurance companies consider dangerous, cause premium increases and are often attributed toward experiences men enjoy more by insurance companies. When you think about it in those terms, it should not be so surprising that millennials get the best rates on life insurance.

Why Do Millennials Get the Best Rates for Life Insurance?

The benefits afforded to the “avocado toast” generation and their ability to lock in an affordable rate is evident to Generation X (1965-1981) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and not millennials, according to data collected from this Health IQ quiz.  When asked this questions, “Which of the following generations is most likely to get the best rate for life insurance?” the results were eye-opening. Of the generations represented, 80% of Generation X and 62% of Baby Boomers answered correctly, in comparison to only 33% of millennials understood their own savings potential. That’s right, 67% of millennials do not know they are in the best place to lock in the cheapest premiums.  The point of life insurance is to protect those people who are financially dependent on you. Traditionally, that includes a spouse or children, both of which represent life stages that millennials are delaying until later in life. However, life insurance also covers parent beneficiaries who may have co-signed on a loan for you and would be held responsible to pay off debts like your student loans should the worst happen. 

Related Post: 5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance

YES! Millennials Need Life Insurance | from Money + Career Blog, She Makes Cents
For a generation with information at their fingertips, who comparison-shops and lives for the deal, it is surprising to find out that we are missing such a great savings opportunity. Life insurance for millennials is affordable because of their presumed good health and youth. It can be even more affordable when you find a life insurance company, like the Health IQ, that celebrates people like runners, cyclists, high-intensity interval training athletes, vegans, and more with exclusive rates. These special rates reward one’s healthy lifestyle with financial gains that leave more money in your wallet. Many millennials are embracing a health-conscious lifestyle anyway, so why not tap into the full benefits that come with it. Life insurance is something that every adult should have, so why not consider one that rewards habits that keep you healthy, and for being a She Makes Cents reader, I am able to offer you this special rate. You will never be as young as you are today, so it is time to lock in a rate now while it is cheaper. Trust me, it is A LOT cheaper than you expect and your future self will thank you for it.

This post was first featured on the Health IQ blog and the Froogal Student.

She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Monday Motivation | Signs It Is Time For You to Refuel Your Life

You are driving your car and the light signaling that you are running out of gas goes on.  How do you react?  Are you the type of person who never experiences this because you would never let your gas level get to that point, let alone even under the halfway mark?  Are you the type who immediately detours to the nearest gas station?  Or, are you the type that is completely unfazed by the warning light?  When I was younger, I made sure I never let my tank get below ¼ because I was intentional about taking good care of the car.  Over time, I started getting adventurous and stopped thinking about the sludge that my car was running on when I ignored all the warning signs to refuel.  Not only is driving on an empty tank dangerous, it often ends up costing you more than you think.

How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

All of the above are true statements for proper and basic car maintenance AND they are also true for your life.  You are still you in the analogy above because you have the power to make the decision to STOP and REFUEL when your mental, physical, and spiritual tank is low.  The car, well that can represent anything from your mind, body, career, money, lifestyle, relationships, etc…. anything that is an essence of you.  You see, when we ignore the warning signs of life we miss out on opportunities to refuel and invest back in ourselves.  I call this process “feeding your soul”.  It is so much harder to be productive in all areas of your life when you are running on sludge and close to emptiness.  The best way to avoid a low life tank is to make time to rejuvenate and figure out what feeds your soul.

Simple Ways to Refuel Yourself

Back when I was living off my reserve energy and had little to no energy to breathe life into my career and relationships, I was doing more harm to myself than necessary.  To combat this, I made a list of all of the things that I do that I lose time in.  This list included reading, enjoying the company of close friends, snuggling on the sofa with my hubby, going on walks with my dogs, making brand boards for clients, even being back in a dance studio environment.  I found that these were activities that I didn’t watch the clock while doing, but rather got lost in a moment.  Whether I have five minutes or 5 hours to give to these sorts of activities, I found that when I made time for things that feed my soul, I am also feeding my life tank so that I can be creative and successful in other areas of my life.

Going through life with the low fuel light on is one of those things that we know we shouldn’t do but still let happen from time to time.  Only when you are well fed will you have the fuel to feed your hustle in the best way.  Otherwise, you will starve your hustle, your mind, your money, your career, and your relationships when you are running on empty. Today, I want to urge you to take better care of yourself before warning signs, that often manifest as exhaustion and/or a health scare, gets your attention.  Refuel yourself this week and you will be a better person for it.How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | October Recap & End of the Year Money Goals

This morning, I took out my shemakescents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge card to forecast what the next seven weeks of the year will be like, from a money savings goal perspective. Since January, I have saved money every week with the challenge and in doing so; I have cultivated a habit of saving. Financial guru, Dave Ramsey says that “personal finance is 80% behavior and 20″ head knowledge” and I am very inclined to agree. If you are a new reader and have no idea what the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge is, click here to catch up. After forecasting the rest of the year to see whether I would be able to hit my latest money goal, getting my student loans to $12,500 or under by December 31, 2017, I started doing money projections for 2018.

First, I calculated how much and how quickly my debt would decrease if I made the same amount of money and repeated my most success money moves as I did this year. I then upped the ante to see how adding another $100 per month or $200 per month would get me closer to my goal of eliminating my student loan debt altogether. Finally, I increased my snowball calculations to see how quickly my debt would decrease if my income increased to match what I put on my vision board.  Looking at debt from these three different perspectives shows me the true cost of making different and better money moves, as well as, how quickly I can dump my debt.She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | Success StoryWhy do I do this, you ask? Sometimes I need a visual reminder of my goal at hand. I hear so many people say that they will never pay their debt off or that they are so overwhelmed by their debt that they choose not to even think about it, let alone to look at it. Do you remember that time, I broke down the difference between one day versus day one? If I waited years ago to get serious about tackling my debt, especially my student loans, I would never have been projected to hit my goal date by 2020, eleven years ahead of Sallie’s Mae schedule. The visual of saving eleven years of interest is enough to keep me motivated for these next three years.  That is because when you visualize something, especially positive associations with money, you give yourselves permission to prepare yourself to receive it.  

You don’t have to make a lot of money to get back on course with your money savings goals, nor do you have to be a personal finance guru. In the past two years, I have thrown an extra $5,550.00+ toward this debt (on top of my monthly payment) by chipping away at it piece by piece. In order to crush your savings goals, you first must change your mindset about your ability to succeed. Then you change your bad money habits and replace them with great money habits that honor your money goals. You see, it is not what we do every once in a while that makes us successful. Success is gained in our daily habits.

As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, I look forward to making new and fresh goals for myself. I look forward to not repeating my mistakes of the past and being willing to step out on faith when it comes to opportunities that come my way. Today, I affirm my success with my money goals for myself and for you too.
She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

SMC Book Club: Boss Women Pray-31 Prayers to Increase Your Success & Spirit

Inspiration comes from many places. In my case, the inspiration for our next book club choice came from an Instagram story where another influencer, @theemmaroseagency, shared a screenshot of a page from a book she was reading. After reading the page for myself, I had to find out more information about that book that appeared to encompass money, career, and lifestyle from a woman’s point of view. This month’s She Makes Cents Book Club selection is from author and founder of the small business empowerment-coaching firm, Kachelle Kelly. Kelly coaches career-driven women to activate their hustle and their faith by providing innovative strategies to achieve authentic success and happiness in one’s business and life and I invite you to join the SMCmoneytribe as we dive into her book, Boss Women Pray: 31 Prayer to Increase Your Success & Spirit: The Comprehensive Prayer Guide for Entrepreneurs & Women in Business .

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running.
Boss Women Pray- She Makes Cents Book Club

Boss Women Pray

The book Boss Women Pray will take us on a 31-day journey that is slated to inspire us to go after our dreams and visions by eliminating distractions. Who doesn’t love a good inspirational read?  It comes from a faith over fear approach to business and life and is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon and 4.5/ 5 on Good Reads.  The prayers on each page will ignite something inside of you and make you feel like you were right there as these prayers were written. According to those who have already taken this 31-day journey, you no longer have to feel alone in your business endeavors. You will walk away from this book empowered out of your mind to reach your full potential in business and in life!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to dive into this book with the read of the SMCmoneytribe.

How Our Book Club Works

We select a new book from a mix of editor and reader’s suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace powerful women, business “cents”, fictional favorites, and anything that informs and inspires us.  We then announce that selection before the start of the month to give you time to opt in and go get the book.  Since the paper copy is just about sold out everywhere, you can order a digital copy here.  As you read the book, please leave your questions or comments for the book club in the comment section below.  We will begin discussions for this book on November 1st on Instagram and our Facebook group.   

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Millennial First Time Homebuyers: Send Me Your Questions

Millennials are breaking into the housing market with great force with hopes of attaining one of the biggest stepping-stones to the American Dream- homeownership.   Whether or not the American Dream still exists is questionable, but one thing that is certain is that as the largest active generation in the housing market at 34%, millennials are making lemonade out of lemons and turning the boomerang generation into homeowners.

Millennial First Time Home Buyers | Get Your Questions Answered on She Makes Cents

Buying a house is the largest financial investment that most people make in their lifetime.  Its benefits, especially if the path to homeownership is achieved by establishing better money habits before buying, result in financial rewards throughout the year.

Before buying a home, first-time buyers should save for a down payment, raise one’s credit score, and figure out how much house they can actually afford.  To take the savings benefits one step further, first-time millennial buyers are urged to do a little research of their own to see what tax breaks are available that makes the home buying process a little more affordable.  

Keeping affordability in mind, the housing and financial industries have teamed up to offer resources that make the transition of renting to owning easier for first-time and millennial buyers. By anticipating some of the financial setbacks plaguing millennials, such as staggering student loan debt, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have changed the amount allowed to be financed and lowered some of the qualifications to attract young buyers.  I bought my house five days after my 24th birthday with an FHA loan.  This was the best move for me at that time because I was looking for a nice apartment when I came across a property that was priced so well I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.  I hadn’t saved specifically for a home or better yet a traditional 20% down payment, but I did have enough to put down to secure an FHA loan and become a homeowner by age 24.

Homeownership is affordable, attainable, and provides financial advantages for those who choose this path over renting.  While millennials are changing the narrative of the American Dream, one thing still rings true. Homeownership is still a good way to achieve wealth in the United States and thanks to the financial advantages of homeownership, the dream is so much sweeter. She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Are you thinking about buying your first home and have questions about the homebuying process?  Leave your comment or question below and/or tweet me @shemakescents to have your question answered.

How To Make a Movie Date More Affordable

Do you remember when dinner and a movie was a go-to date night activity? It was fun, it was easy if you and your date liked the same movies, and it was cheap…ish. Nowadays, dinner and a movie can easily run a couple close to $100.00+. If you break down the price of two tickets, dinner, and libations you can easily drop some serious cash before you even sit back to watch the movie. Seven dollar popcorn and a five dollar soda, anyone? Umm…no thank you.  According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average cost of going to the movies hit a record high in the of $8.84 in the first quarter of 2017. I don’t know about you, but a $9.00 movie ticket sounds good to me considering the prices in my area are more along the lines of $16.50 per ticket. In fact, at the time of writing this post, I checked on two standard tickets to my local theatre and with taxes, the total comes up to $39.56 for just two standard movie tickets. No reclining seats, no RPX upgrades, no popcorn, and no candy.Affordable Date Night Ideas | How to Go to the Movies for LessSince our very first date to the movies, the Mr. and I have been regular moviegoers and during that time, we have picked up a few ways to make the experience work a little better for our budgets. Below are a few ways we experience one of our favorite date night activities… dinner and a movie.

  1. Tuesdays. Before we were married, Thursday was our standing “date night”. This all changed when I found out about Ticket “Twosdays” that many service providers and rewards programs offer.  As an AT&T customer, we take advantage of the nice perk of two standard 2D movie tickets for the price of one.  I love it because it saves money and it breaks up the week to get us out of our routine.   If we are having a movie-themed date night, we try to plan for Tuesday and you can too even if you don’t have AT&T.  Other companies like T-Mobile and AMC movies have similar deals.
  2.  Movie & Then Dinner. Going to the movies before dinner is a nice twist on the dinner and a movie classic.  If you eat dinner first, you miss the opportunity to save on matinée pricing, which depending on where you live could be a savings of $7.00 or more per ticket.  Additionally, you are less likely to load up on movie food or overpriced drinks by going to dinner first.   If this is the first date, having a shared experience of attending the movie first can help fill in the blanks of awkward first date conversation during dinner.    
  3. Actually Netflix & Chill.  You can save money on a movie night experience from the comfort of your own home.  In fact, this may be one of the best ways to watch a movie with your significant other… all snuggled up on the sofa together.  You can have wine, whatever you like to eat, and you never have to worry about missing an important scene during a bathroom break.  We all know what the teenage colloquialism of “Netflix and chill” means, but this money-saving tip works best if you actually watch the movie.  
  4. Free Movie Screenings.  The word “free” simply means that you don’t have to pay money.  That being said, you can get access to advanced movie screenings weeks before the official release date in exchange for your opinion of it.  How do you do it?  Check out sites like GoFoBo.com or AdvancedMovieScreenings.com and sign up.  I have done this a couple of times and really enjoy it because I can usually get two tickets and share the experience with someone else.  Pro Tip: Make sure that you arrive early.  They often over share the free code to attend the screening, so once theatre is full you will be denied entry.   

If going to the movies is one of your go-to date night ideas, why not save money doing it.  In fact, with these tips, there is little reason to ever pay full price for a movie if you can help it.  The stars do not always align where people are able to make an earlier movie or get out on a work night, but if you can, use your “cents” and save some money!

How Defining Success Will Make You Successful

How do you define success? That is one of those open-ended questions that many people are asked in an interview. To be honest, we should be thinking about it outside of the normal boundaries of interview prep. Again, I ask, how do YOU define success? I am starting to believe that knowing the answer to that will help make decisions about money, career, and lifestyle clearer. Warren Buffet measures success by whether the people close to you are happy and love you. Deepak Chopra says, “Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals”. For President Obama, “success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives”. I believe success is being happy with the life you create, which ultimately is a culmination of daily choices.  The thing is, identifying what success means to you should help guide the path to reaching success, accomplishing your goals, and living the life you always wanted.Inspiring Habits of Successful People- She Makes Cents

To dominate your goals, you must first write them down and second choose a date to strive for. One of my very first money goals was to be debt free. I later realized that being debt free is not a goal, but being debt free by age 35 is. Do you see the difference? It goes back to the whole “day one or one-day” paradigm. To be successful at this aspiration, I have to make sure that my daily actions reflect my purpose. I will be honest, it is hard and sometimes I get off track, especially when the goal date seems so far away. My trick to conquering the hard times is to break my larger goal into micro goals. I take that larger target and break it into small manageable bites that are easier to digest. You can do this with money goals, career goals, relationship goals, and lifestyle goals.

Related Article: How To Comeback from a Setback

We have all heard that it take 21 days to make or break a habit. Recent studies have found that it actually takes about 66 days to cultivate a new habit. The key to staying motivated is understanding how long it takes to become prosperous in a new habit. It is important to be intentional with your everyday thoughts and actions. That is because success is found in your daily routine. Inspiring Habits of Successful People- from Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents