5 Trips Every Girl Should Take This Year!

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 Road Trip

The Couple’s Trip

The Solo Trip

The Staycation

{Every Woman Should} Get to Talking About Finances

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?

Want To Increase Your Happiness, Start Each Day With This….

By definition, gratitude is the quality or feeling of being grateful.  It is a characteristic that some people naturally possess and that others can cultivate to greatly influence one’s overall happiness and well-being.  According to Psychology Today, “studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially the expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy”.    In the spirit of deliberately cultivating gratitude, I plan to start the week with a gratitude list and I invite you to join me.

Make Your Gratitude List

That’s right, grab a piece of paper and pen and take the next minute to make a list of the all the things in the past 24 hours that you are grateful for.  Seriously, don’t spend more than one minute doing this and don’t over think or judge yourself for something that you think is silly.  This exercise is simply to retrain your brain to recognize the daily blessings and the positive things and moments in your life.

Writer and motivational speaker, William Arthur Ward, once said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”  Let’s kick off this week with intention and gratitude and see how our overall happiness and well-being is positively affected.

 

Beginners Guide To Car Buying: Everything You Should Know BEFORE Buying a Car

How Much Should Your Car Down Payment Be? Into into Car Buying
Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

Buying a car can be a stressful process with so much to think about.  Are you getting the best deal?  How much car can I afford?  Does it come with a rear view camera?  For the first time ever, I am looking to buy a car from a dealership and I am not in a position to buy the car outright.  I have never had a car note before and the idea of an additional monthly expense gives me anxiety.    So how does one make such a large purchase with confidence?  The answer is going into it well informed so that you don’t get hustled by the vision of you riding off into the sunset with sexy new wheels or hustled by a salesperson trying to make their quota.  Over the next few weeks, I will break down everything need to consider before buying a car.  Today, we will focus on two of my favorite starting points- New vs. Used and Down Payments.  So buckle up and join me on this car-buying excursion.

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

The New New

There is this character in the 2006 movie ATL whose nickname was “New New”.  New New got her name because she was known to have the latest and greatest of everything.  If she were looking for a car in the year 2017, she would be considering a 2018 because the 17 model just wasn’t new enough for her.  Even though New New is a character in a movie, many people out there share the same mindset.  The thing is she places her money in items that depreciate in value at an accelerated rate.  In fact, just by driving your new car for the first time as a new owner decreases its value by 11%.  The $30,000 car you just drove off the lot is now worth $26,700 by the time you get to the highway.  Instead, consider a used car that is between two and three years old.  They are often still under warranty, they offer many of the same features, and comes with a lower price point.

Cash Is Queen

I understand that most people cannot afford to pay cash for a car.  I did it by dealing directly with private sellers on Craigslist, buying older models, and going into the process with a set amount to spend.  It worked for me and I did it at a time when the cars on Craigslist were good deals for both buyers and private sellers.  I am a regular person who found a way to make the money work for me.  Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, reflects on people who give him push back that regular people cannot afford to pay cash for a car in his book Complete Guide to Money (a must read, click the here for a FREE download with the app).  According to Ramsey, “people don’t buy with cash because they are rich; they’re rich because they buy cars with cash”.  I must agree with his statement.  I am in a better financial position today because I decided I couldn’t afford to have a monthly car note.

Assuming you can’t buy the entire car with cash, consider how much you can pay for up front to keep the overall price of the car as low as possible.  Whenever you finance a car, you are paying interest on that auto loan.  Instead of financing the entire amount, you should aim to have 20% or more as a down payment to avoid wasting thousands of your hard-earned money on interest.  Additionally, taxes and extra fees should not be considered when calculating your 20% down payment because you should NEVER finance taxes and fees.  Before you even set foot in a car dealership you need to ask yourself, can you actually afford the car you have been researching?  Rich people ask “how much?”  Broke people ask “how much down and how much per month?”  A salesperson will tell you the lowest down payment to get you to sign on the dotted line but going into negotiations well equipped with the knowledge of best down payment to make, you know you can do better…and if you can’t, that means you cannot afford that car. Ramsey explains, “When a rich person says she can afford it, she means she can actually afford the car.  When a broke person says she can afford it, she means she can probably make the monthly payments as long as there are no emergencies and she doesn’t lose her job”.    Think about it, could you afford your monthly car payment if you were out of work for a month?  How about 3 months?  These are all things to think about before you buy a car.  Stay tuned next week for Part II as we discuss  Every Thing You Need to Know About Leasing and Financing a Car!

How to Have the Best Monday Ever!

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How Lifestyle Inflation Is Keeping You From Getting Rich

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Rapper Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he said “mo money, mo problems”.  That because of something called Lifestyle Inflation where your “lifestyle” needs increase as your income increases; thus, keeping you in the same financial situation.  This reality creeps up when people have debt, don’t save, don’t invest.  They don’t keep up with the Joneses, they are the Joneses.  By no means do I believe that one doesn’t deserve nice things.  In fact, I believe no one should have to sacrifice a quality lifestyle because of lack of resources.   A quality lifestyle comes at a price but let’s try to not dig ourselves into a money pit to experience the finer things in life.

CONFESSION OF A  LIFESTYLE INFLATING MILLENNIAL

I remember being at my job out of college and making around an entry level salary. I owned my car outright, had my student loans paid a year in advance, and was on my way to buying my first house. Back then, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t living a rich life. I wasn’t rich from a financial standpoint but it was the first time where I was “adulting” and was able to fund my lifestyle by myself.  This was a big deal considering a year and a half before that, I was a senior at Spelman College eating pizza at 1:00 am while pulling all-nighters.   As time passed, income changed, and lifestyle needs matured, I found myself “needing” more.  I had to get another car after mine was totaled in an accident but I couldn’t bear the idea of not driving a luxury German car (thanks Dad for that addiction).  I spent money on home decor so I could have a  “magazine ready” home.  I upgraded my wardrobe.  I was making a little money and working with people whose hourly rate was a luxury car note.  I wanted to show my family and friends that I had it all together….that I belonged in my new life.  That all changed when I left a promising career in one field to follow other dreams for another field.  It was in the transition that I started to place a serious effort in saving money and making smarter financial moves.  I had to.  It was my new reality, we were in a recession, and I was no longer constantly surrounded by the Joneses.  I took the time to invest in my own financial literacy so I could better understand how to stretch my money.  This was also around the time she makes cents was born.

BALLIN’ & BROKE

As you vibrate higher so will your expectations of people, experiences,  and things around you. The good thing is there are ways around lifestyle inflation where you can enhance your life without feeling broke. Lifestyle inflation keeps you in a constant state of financial paralysis because your need for “things” is keeping pace with your increasing lifestyle.  That’s how a millennial couple with no kids can feel financially stretched in a $100,000+ income household. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into the topics of lifestyle inflating from a millennial perspective and explore opportunities to elevate your life without the elevated price tag.shemakescents-com-1

52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | Week 9 Update

 

Welcome to weekend #SMCmoneytribe!  This week I crossed off $20.00 on the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  At the end of next month, I will take the money saved between January and April to make a lump sum payment on my Navient student loan principal.    My goal is to deplete my money challenge savings every four months to get my snowball moving a little faster.     Interested in joining our money challenge, click here for your FREE money card printable.shemakescents-com-2jump-start your way savings or lifestyle goals, click here to get your FREE money card download. 

Major Milestone | She Makes Cents 6th Year Anniversary!

blogiversarySix years ago shemakescents started as a way for me to share my financial journey with the world… and by that I mean my dad and my cousin Dot because they were the only two people reading my stuff in the early days.  I kept writing because I wanted to share my story and connect with others.  I knew my financial journey felt different from my other twenty-something friends because they would come to me with their questions about buying a house and how to get ahead of student loan debt during a recession. Soon, other people joined my dad and cousin in subscribing to the blog and that was the first time I really felt like I wasn’t talking to myself.  In the past 6 years, I have been so surprised by the people who take a moment out of their busy day to tell me how much they enjoy reading shemakescents.  You have been with me when I paid off my credit card, bought a car off Craigslist and got married.  To the 1.3 MILLION visitors to she makes cents…. thank you for joining me for the past 6 years.  Stay tuned, 2017 has the potential to be our best year yet!

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Money Challenge 2017 | February Savings Recap

Hello  #SMCmoneytribe!  Can you believe that we just finished the second month of the she makes cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge?  I sure can’t.  As we approach a new month I can’t  help by wonder, how many of you are still going strong on the challenge?  According to  Business Insider, 80% of people fail their New Year Resolutions by February.  It is easy to have a laser focus on your money, career, and lifestyle goals when a clear transition is before you.  Think about all of the people who vow to do better in the new year, who will start clean eating on Monday (aka the start of the new week), and who pledge to start saving more once they earn their next paycheck.  Anybody recognize themselves in the statements above?… as I raise my own hand.  The thing about all of those examples is that is pushes off you goals to another day; therefore, delaying your ultimate reward- a goal accomplished.  Last Friday marked the end of month 2 for the she makes cents  52 Week BINGO Money Challenge and the best thing about our money challenge is that you can easily catch up if you have fallen behind or you start over. The greatest thing about this challenge is that as long as you don’t stop, you will win at your financial goals.

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 February Recap

Below is the financial breakdown for the month of February.  As you can see, I crossed off lower numbers than the previous month.    I saved an extra $41.00 this month putting me at a YTD of  $149.00.  I  am really looking forward to March.  Hopefully, I will cross off my first bonus box of the year.

How Are You Doing on the Money Challenge? I’d love to hear from you!


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Steals & Deals | White Pineapple Lamp

I have been obsessed with pineapples before they became a trend. A friend of mine once shared the funniest story about pineapples and since then, every time I saw something pineapple related I thought of him. Being from the south, they are also a welcoming sign of hospitality so it’s no wonder why I incorporating pineapple decor for the shemakescents office was a must.  I was on the hunt to replace my desk lamp since the layout of the new shemakescents office is totally different that where I blogged since 2011.  Then it came down to two options.

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The more expensive lamp gave me the chic and slightly playful design and I wanted to blend into the design.  What it was lacking was respect to my budget.  I kept looking and while shopping at Hobby Lobby one day with my best friend, I found the exact lamp I was looking for; aesthetically and financially.  In fact, I loved it more for the gold accents that match other gold accents in the office.  Retailing at $59.99 + the 40% off coupon that I use EVERY TIME I shop at Hobby Lobby, I ended up paying $36.00 (not including taxes).  This has been my favorite decor steal, thus far, for the shemakescents office!steals-deals-1