Featured

{2017 BINGO Money Challenge} The Easiest Way to Save Money In the New Year

It’s the season when people begin making new plans to start afresh in the New Year. We make goals/resolutions and we vow to take this great opportunity to reset and do better than the year before. Sound familiar? It’s important that we take time to reflect on this crazy year so we are that much more successful when we start over in 2017.   Were your financial goals attained? Did you fall off? Did your goals change? easietway-toavemoney

shemakescents  BINGO Money Challenge

This year some of my most basic financial goals included paying off my credit cards, snowballing my student loans, seeing the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge to completion.  For those of you who are new to shemakescents.com, the BINGO Money Challenge is a remix of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that went viral a few years ago.  The original challenge was to make a weekly deposit that reflects the number of weeks of the year. For example, on week one you deposit $1.00 and on week 52 you deposit $52.00 and so on.  However, doing it this way will have you shelling out the big bucks during the holidays when people’s money is the most limited.   I thought to myself…”Danielle, how can you find a way to honor the challenge in a way that will not hurt you financially?”  Then I came up with the idea to create a “bingo” style format.  The original version only has a max savings potential of $1378.00 whereas this version has an average of $1900.00+ .

This year, I have been pretty successful with this goal and my other financial goals from the stand point that I never gave up. There were a few bumps in the road but I pushed through and so many of you did too.  In pushing through, I was able to find more efficient ways to work towards my 2017 money goals.

Introducing the #SMCmoneytribe

In reflecting on the past year, I noticed that those of you who participated in the weekly check-ins for the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge, via Twitter and the Facebook group (click the links to follow), had the highest success rates.  For 2017, all those who take part in the BINGO Money Challenge will become members of the #SMCmoneytribe giving you access to personalized check-ins, support of others with similar money goals, and a FREE printable of the 2017 version of the bingo money sheet.  Together we will reach our money goals and enjoy the company of other goal-oriented readers.  Past members have used their savings for travel, holiday gifts, pay down debt, save for a car down payment, and pay for professional certifications.  The sky is the limit with the savings because of the bonus boxes and if you really want to up the ante you can do so by doubling the value of each box.

Related Post: {Reader Success Story} A Shockingly Easy Way to Save Money for Fun2017-tribe-quote

If you would like the full benefits of joining our #SMCmoneytribe, please click here.  We would love to have you apart of our group.  Did I mention I have saved a little under $1,900.00 with two more weeks to go for the year??    If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@shemakescents.com .  

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score

debt-to-credit-ratio-credit-score-she-makes-centsLast year, one of my girlfriends and I decided that we were going to pay off our credit cards at the same time.  I was paying down debt to start my snowball and get me one step closer to Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step Three.  She was knocking down her revolving debt before she purchased her first home.  In the process of us paying down our credit cards, we were both offered limit increases from our perspective credit card companies.  I accepted the increase and she declined. Her rationale to decline was that she was trying to get rid of her monthly credit card payments because a limit increase would only entice her to spend.  For me, accepting the almost $5,000.00 increase meant that I was lowering my debt to credit ratio.

What is A Debt to Credit Ratio?

A debt to credit ratio or a credit utilization ratio is just as it sounds….It’s the ratio of how much money you owe a particular debt as compared to the credit limit.  If you have $4,000.00 balance on $10,000.00 credit limit, your debt represents 40% of your credit limit.  The lower the ratio or percentage the better impact one’s credit score.

How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score

Outside of your payment history, your “amount owed” or debt to credit ratio, is the second highest factor in calculating an estimated 30% your credit score.  Keep your balance under the 30% mark and you stay on the lower side of the debt to credit ratio, which is where most personal finance gurus would urge you to stay if you have to carry a balance.

At the same time that my credit card limit jumped up $5,000.00, my balance was quickly decreasing and I had a credit score of 786.   The next month it moved up six points and stayed that way for three months.   In July, the month I paid off my credit card, it jumped to 806 for about two months.  I started using my credit card just a little bit carrying a small balance and it went back down to an 800 for about three months.  I was on a high when I saw my score increasing so to see the decrease was disappointing…even if it was only a 6 point drop.  I vowed then to do whatever I could to not let my credit card balance roll over to the next month ever again.   I am happy to report that I currently have an 810 credit score.  Moral of the story… lower your debt to credit ratio and it will have a positive impact on your credit score.  You can do this by making on time payments to lower your debt balances and if you are offered a limit increase, take it only if you can continue to be responsible with your financial goals.shemakescents-com

3 Organic Products That Will Change Your Beauty Routine

I wanted to take a moment and share three game-changing organic products under the $15.00 price point.  Not only have I personally sampled each recommended product, they have now replaced other beauty staples in my daily routine.  While some organic products can be more expensive than their chemically treated counterparts, these are a splurge, if you can even call it that, that is worth the upgrade.  Be good to your body and it will be good to you!

beauty-organic-she-makes-cents

Charcoal Soap

I’ve been wanting to try charcoal soap for a while after hearing that it removes toxins, pulls all the gross stuff from your pores, and helps with skin issues like my eczema, which conventionally flares during the winter months.  While walking through Atlanta’s  Krog Street Market, I came across this lovely handmade soap shop called Mama Handmade Bath & Body that has since become one of my favorite places to explore there.  While playing with sample oils and inhaling the fabulous scents of the different types of soaps, I found several bars of raw handmade charcoal soap.  I purchased a bar for $8.00 so I could give it a try.  For almost 3 weeks, I have washed my face with this vegan soap and follow-up with the Cerve moisturizer every morning and night.   I knew that it was a naturally anti-fungal and antibacterial soap but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was loaded with moisturizing oils like avocado, jojoba, and wheat germ.  My face is so clear and smooth and  I have gotten so many compliments on my skin (check out my IG for my Jan 19th selfie…no foundation at all with a little blush!!!) I love that I am not clogging my pores with unnecessary ingredients. 

Raw Charcoal Soap.jpg

Organic Argan Oil

Argan oil, produced from the kernels of the Argan tree, is becoming very popular in the cosmetic world because of the restorative benefits for hair, skin, nails.  I hear it also does wonders for pregnant women with stretch marks.   I was asked to try out a sample of 100% pure Moroccan Argan oil from a brand called Actually Organic and I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

Around the same time the 1 oz bottle of  Argan oil arrived, I have weening myself off gel manicures and was suffering from soft and brittle nails that would break if you just looked at them.  I started moisturizing both my cuticles and my nails and guess what happened… my nails started to grow again. I could even look at them and they would not break.  I then started to use the oil to help heal dry eczema patches on my body and I have really enjoyed the results of smooth nourished skin in these dry winter months.  I originally thought that $12.00 a bottle was a little steep for a 1 oz bottle, but I quickly learned that a little product goes a long way.  This bottle will last me through the August, which is perfect considering Argan oil in its pure form has a 12-month shelf life.  I apply oil to my nails about once a week and I use the oil on my skin to heal specific problem areas like my elbows, inside of my ears (strange, I know), and the crease of my hands. ~ Thank you to the Actually Organic team for providing the She Makes Cents team with this product ~

 Argan Oil.jpg

Organic Nail Polish Remover

I will be honest, I have had a sample bottle of organic nail polish remover from an old Birchbox for a few months now.  I was cleaning out the house in one of those Kondo Method type of purges when I decided that I would do one of two things with the stockpile of unopened beauty products- use it up or donate to a local women’s shelter.  My 4oz bottle of Soybean and Tea Tree Oil organic nail polish remover from Karma Naturals was on the chopping block because I have always used a standard nail polish remover.  Yes, traditional removers are full of all sorts of harsh chemicals but they always got the job done.  As it was going into the pile of products that would soon be donated, I decided to keep it to see how it removes pink nail polish from my toes.   Compared to traditional removers, it takes a little longer to remove nail polish but that was okay with me once I felt how moisturized my bare toenails were.  It was amazing!!!  I now even take my own bottle of organic remover with my when I go to the nail salon so that they don’t use the harsh remover that I was used to.  This is a vegan and cruelty-free product that has replaced my previous brand FOREVER.

Organic Nail Polish Remover.jpg

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg

  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

info@shemakescents.com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

Money Challenge | January Savings Recap


Hello #SMCmoneytribe and welcome to the weekend!  We are a month into the challenge with almost 50% more participants than the previous year.  Great job everyonet ladies!!! That says to me, they there are people out there making smarter money moves in 2017.  What made this year different for me was including the Mr. so we can double the money from this challenge.  Full disclosure…. the Mr. decided it was easier for him to remember if he just set a fixed amount of $50.00 per week to the challenge.  It makes it easier for him and I like it because even if I cross off a lower amount, I have the $50.00 to add to it.

money-challenge-week-1-recap

Show Me the Money!!!

Week one was all about learning how to win at the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  For week two, the focus was inspiring you to stay motivated toward your savings goals.  It is easy to keep your eyes on the prize in the beginning of the year, also know as Resolutions Season,  but getting through 52 weeks is only hard if you lose motivation.  Week three, the country paused to witness the transition of presidential power and we did too.  Before I knew it, we successfully completed month one of the money challenge.  Below is the financial breakdown for the month of January.monthly-review-template

How to Join the Challenge

Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE bingo money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.

smcmoneytribe

What The Navient Lawsuit Means for Student Loan Borrowers

The government or more specifically the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)  filed a lawsuit against Navient, the nation’s largest student loan service provider last week. Navient is the twin sister to the head of the student loan mafia, Sallie Mae, Inc. that services the loans of more than 12 million borrowers, including my own.  As a loan service provider, they manage borrowers’ accounts, process monthly payments, and communicate directly with borrowers.  The suit was filed on January 18th  with another following just days before the transition of presidential power.navient-lawsuit

According to the CFPB Director, Richard Cordray, “Navient chose to shortcut and deceive consumers to save on operating costs. Too many borrowers paid more for their loans because Navient illegally cheated them and today’s action seeks to hold them accountable.” Some of the most pressing allegations include failing to correctly apply or allocate borrower payments to their accounts, steering struggling borrowers toward paying more than they have to on loans, obscured information consumers needed to maintain their lower payments and deceived private student loan borrowers about requirements to release their co-signer from the loan.  

What That Means for You?

If this lawsuit is successful, consumers affected by Navient’s alleged misdoings may receive some monetary restitution.  Don’t get too excited yet.  This is not a class-action suit that you can sign up for.  According to ClassAction.org, “Attorneys usually find out those who were affected by looking at the defendant’s records in a phase of the litigation known as the discovery phase. People who could be covered by the suit are usually sent a notice or check in the mail. The agency that filed the lawsuit will also have information on their website about the suit and who can claim money in the event of a settlement”.

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps Explained

Hey #SMCmoneytribe!  Yesterday I took a little time out of my day to create an infographic for you that provides a quick overview into Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.  I wanted to do this for you because I reference these steps in a lot of my writing because they have become the meat and potatoes of my financial plan.  If you are a long time reader of She Makes Cents, you might remember when I was so excited to get to the second part of Baby Step 2 that I tried a risky financial move of playing financial Russian Roulette.  Let’s just say the outcome was not what I expected when my car broke down one week later and I only had half of an emergency fund to help me out.  (P.S. According to Ramsey, car maintenance is not an emergency and rather something that should be budgeted for).she makes cents

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

info@shemakescents.com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

MLK Quote to Inspire You to Keep Moving Forward Through Any Situation

she-makes-cents-mlk-quotes

Sometimes unexpected things happen…2016 was proof of that.  The thing is, we cannot give anything the power to paralyze us in a state of anger, fear, grief, complacency, etc.  Today I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I like this quote because it represents that there will be things in life that will attempt to block your path to greatness.  Sometimes we can even block our own blessings.  If you can’t fly then don’t shrug your shoulders and throw in the towel.  It’s so much easier to give up after the first roadblock (See  “How To Come Back from A Setback”).  Lace up your favorite pair of sneakers and get to running, girlfriend.  You might not get to your greatness quickly, but as long as you keep moving forward you are taking the necessary moves to get you one step closer than you were when you realized that flying was not an option.

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

How to Stay Motivated To Save Money


she makes cents money blogHappy Friday #SMCmoneytribe.  I am coming to you on week two of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge to talk about the subject of motivation.  I imagine most people join this challenge for one major reason; they want their future financial situation to be better than their current circumstances.  This can be with respect to a very specific goal, such as saving for vacation or it could simply be the catalyst to fostering better saving habits like starting an emergency fund.  Either way, you accepted the challenge and are in it to win it, so I ask you…what keeps you motivated?

How I Stay Motivated

It’s very strange to say, but I am just as motivated by not disappointing readers like you as I am to clear my now $18,025.00 balance on my student loans.  This goes back to the idea of the #SMCmoneytribe and the village of supportive accountability partners who know my goal and know my progress.  Should I miss a week, which has happened before…hey, I am human, I think about all the people whom I’m sharing this experience with and I do whatever it takes to catch up.  I tell people all the time, if you get off track, either catch up or start over but don’t give up.Quotes

Watching my balance go down is also a very gratifying feeling.  I know where I started, I know where I want to be, and I know that timeline I have given myself to accomplish my ultimate goal to be completely debt free, not including my mortgage, within the next 3 years.

When I had credit card debt, I would allocate the weekly deposits from this challenge along with a monthly set payment of $300.00 to pay off my balance quickly.  Once I eliminated that debt, I set aside that $300.00 + the weekly deposits from this challenge to make quarterly lump sum payments towards my student loan principal.  This, my friends is what you call snowballing your debt.  I know how I excited I get to see my balance on the student loans go down at the slow pace it is currently moving since so much of the payment goes towards interest and not the principal.  The idea that my balance is about to make a major decrease by attacking the principal head on is the fuel I need to keep me motivated toward my larger goal of debt-free living.

Week 2 Update | She Makes Cents Money Challenge

For week two, I decided to cross off $25.00 on my bingo money card.  Since the Mr. and I are joining forces this year, that gives us a joint year-to-date (YTD) total of $145.00.

smcmoneytribe

What’s Your Motivation To Save? Please share below

  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

How To Win on the She Makes Cents Money Challenge

Happy 1st Friday of 2017 everyone and welcome to the 2017 version of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge!  Need a quick overview of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge?… click hereIf you know me, you know I LOVE Fridays.  It’s the day I eat tacos and drink margaritas with a sugar rim, it kicks off the weekend, and it’s the day I make smart money moves on the She Makes Cents Bingo Money Challenge!bingo-money-challenge

The Benefits

They say you should do something today that your future self will thank you for and that is what this money challenge is for me and the #SMCmoneytribe.  As a part of the #SMCmoneytribe you will take this financial journey with the best accountability partners….other readers like you.  Last year I paid off my credit card completely and I am still carrying a zero balance (insert angels singing…seriously can you hear them?).  While I have used the money from this challenge to help pay down debt, other members of the tribe have used their savings to go on vacations, pay for professional certifications, holiday gifts for family, and to ramp up their emergency funds.  By accepting this challenge, you will gain more than the financial payout… you will gain a new sense of discipline, determination, and better money habits overall.

Should you get off track, you can always catch up or start over, we just ask that you don’t give up on this challenge, your goals, or yourself.  YOU can do it and you have an entire TRIBE of people cheering you on!

Double the Fundanielle-yb-vason-and-michael-vason

This year I have talked the Mr. into participating…sort of like a dollar for dollar matching.  For every number I cross off and save, he will match it.  If we decided to “double of fun” last year, we would have saved almost $4,000.00 together.  I’m doing this with the hubby because we have a shared travel goals and an invested goal to reduce my student loan debt.  The cool thing is that you don’t need a spouse to double your savings, you can do this with anyone who you know and trust who shares your goal.  Saving for a girl’s trip, why not combine efforts with your bestie(s)?

If you share your progress on social media (which I highly recommend), please make sure you use the hashtags #SMCmoneytribe so the tribe can cheer you on!

How to Join the Challenge

Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE bingo money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.  

smcmoneytribe

  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

 

{2017 Word of the Year} How One Word Will Guide My Entire Year

fb-qotd-templateI pose this question every year and 2017 is no different.  What one word reflects your vision for 2017?  So many of you submitted thoughtful responses via the SMC Facebook group and Instagram such as “gentleness”, “perseverance”, “do”,  and “focus”.  I even had one response that was in line with my word of the year…INTENTION from the Instagram handle @yourlifefinance.  By definition, intention is a determination to act in a certain way.  I chose “intention” to reflect my vision for 2017 because it adds purpose to all thoughts, words, and actions.  To be honest, I have found that haphazard thoughts, words, and actions tend to get me into trouble.  Toward the end of the year, I started asking God to guide my words so that I speak with intention and not for the sake of attention.  This past year was my year of BRAVERY and even though it started out shaky, I ended the year with one of my bravest moves yet (post to come later on that one…).  intention-adds-purpose-to-all-thoughts-words-and-actionsFour years ago was my year of BALANCE, 2014 was my year of FOCUS, 2015 was my year of PASSION, 2016 was my year of BRAVERY, and I welcome my year of INTENTION.  I am working very hard to make sure that my words and actions are in line with the following criteria:  Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it truthful?  As each year passes,  I take a moment and reflect on why I chose my earlier words, where I was in my personal development for that to be a necessary focus, and how I  incorporated the meaning of  those words in my life.  

What’s Your Word for 2017 and why did you pick it? Share Below!

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

{2016 Money Recap} She Makes Cents Money Challenge Success!!

Hello #SMCmoneytribe!  It’s the last Friday of the year and I am so happy to hear from you all who are completing the She Makes Cents  52 Week BINGO Money Challenge  today and tomorrow. I officially finished mine today!  In the past three years I have attempted to complete this challenge, I would accomplish a short term goal and just stop.  This year, however, I have made it all the way to the end thanks to my accountability partners in the #SMCmoneytribe, as well as, my will to stay focus on my goals of zero credit card debt (mission accomplished) and snowballing my student loans (current goal in progress).2016-52-week-money-challenge

She Makes Cents Money Challenge vs. the 52 Week Money Challenge

The She Makes Cents Money Challenge is a variation of the traditional 52 Week Money Challenge.  In the traditional version, participants save a specific dollar amount based on the corresponding week.  For example on week one you save $1.00 and on week 52 you save $52.00.  Doing it this way would have you shelling out the bigger bucks in the weeks leading up to the holidays.  No Bueno.  Also, doing the traditional version only leaves you with $1378.00, which is not bad for money that you would normally spend unintentionally, but it could be better.  With the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge, you have the same time period, 52 weeks, but you empowered to decide how much you save on a weekly basis.  You control your own money and have the ability to cross of boxes that correspond to your current financial situation at any given time, which is how is should always be.  Plus with the bonus boxes you can save $1900.00+.

The Breakdown of Money

This past year,  I found myself keeping track of the weekly and monthly savings and comparing the amounts during my frequent progress reports.  I saved the most money in the month of January with $286.00  and the least amount of money during the month of September with $76.00.  Below is my breakdown of the monthly savings that reflect my grand total savings for 2016… an even $1900.00!!!!2016-money-challenge-yearly-report

Join the #SMCmoneytribe

Thank you to everyone who did this challenge this past year.  It was so much fun.  We all cultivated the habit of saving and you might have made a new friend in the process like I did, hi Alysa!  Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get  access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.  Mark your calender’s for the next round of the challenge starting January 7th!

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents