Are You an Emotional Spender?

Emotional spending is when you buy things you don’t need to mask or dull emotions or with the hope that the purchase will make you feel happier. While spending can make you feel happier in the moment, you are often left with a spending hangover. Emotional spending can get the best of us, especially during after a year full of ups and downs. Mint, provided a wonderful visual breaks down what emotional spending is, the different emotional spending trigger types, and how to counteract each type of emotional spending.

Check it out!


The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Money Goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R

When it comes to goal-setting, the S.M.A.R.T. goal system reigns supreme in its methodology. According to this approach, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. To make them S.M.A.R.T.E.R., goals must also be able to be evaluated and rewarded or readjusted.

This year, the hubby and I made the joint decision to focus our financial efforts on making a dent in the balance on his car. In theory, this is a good goal but because it’s vague AF without a clear timeline, among other things, it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal. So back to the drawing board we went.

How to Make Your Money Goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R by top Atlanta personal finance blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

How To Make Your Goals More Specific

Ask yourself these questions: What do you want to achieve?  Why do you want to achieve it?  Who needs to be on board for this goal to be successful? If your written goal doesn’t address these questions, then revise.

We needed to improve our goal because we didn’t clarify what a “dent” represented numerically.  Was a dent $1,000.00, $5,000.00, $10,000 or more?  I realized quickly that we were not on the same page.  Making a dent in the remaining balance for his car became a more specific goal once we decided we wanted to get our balance down from $17,601.01 to $5,000.00 or less by the last day of this year.  To be successful at this money goal, my hubby and I would need to combine forces because our “dent” represented a $12,601.00 reduction.  This goal is important to us because the sooner this debt is eliminated, the sooner we will be debt-free (not including mortgages), we can move on to Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 3, and focus on increasing our savings and sinking fund contributions.

Giving this goal a deadline of the last day of the year OR a balance of $5,000.00, whichever comes first, makes it measurable and timely.  It checks off both prerequisites because it identifies how and when we would consider this goal accomplished.

Are Your Goals Realistic & Attainable?

Setting unrealistic goals is a set up for failure and defeat- both of which can kill your spirit and drive to pursue future goals.  This is why if you follow Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps the first step is to save only $1,000 because the gratification of reaching your first goal inspires you to move on to the second.  

Setting goals that are too easy can also be a set up for failure because an easy goal requires lower expelled energy and effort, which lowers motivation.  Finding the right balance is like Goldielock’s breaking and entering to find the perfect porridge.  Your goal has to be just right…

In her book, Boss Women Pray, by Kachelle Kelly, she asserts that “a goal can be both lofty and practical”.  When I read that, I immediately thought about how the idea of paying off my student loans was a lofty goal but also attainable.  The success in that was breaking the BIG GOAL down into smaller goals with specific benchmarks until the BIG GOAL no longer seemed so…well, big.

For the case of our $12,601.00 goal, it is a bit lofty in the sense that it requires us to expel higher energy, intention, discipline, and sacrifice for it to be achievable. Once we set down and figured out how much we could afford to put into this goal right away and then figured out how much we would need to save per quarter to stay on track, our joint goal also became practical. I even went so far as to break the goal down on a micro level to see how much we would need to save per month and per week to stay on track.  Seeing those numbers and that information all at once, made the goal that could seem too lofty become feasible with the right amount of effort and action.

Even though paying off $12,601 on the car loan doesn’t eliminate the debt completely, it is relevant because it does link to the larger objective of ultimately paying the car off in full.  Once we reach our goal this year, we will only be $5,000.00 away from a debt free life (not including mortgages). 

Going the Extra Step from S.M.A.R.T. Goals to S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

The difference between the S.M.A.R.T. and S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals acronym is the “E” and the “R”, which represents evaluated and rewarded or readjusted.  In your goal-setting journey, it is imperative that you evaluate your goals on a regular basis to make sure you are on track.  This is why the #SMCmoneytribe check-ins occur weekly (join the SMC Money Tribe on Facebook). If you find yourself off track and constantly dodging obstacles, then it is time to revisit the goal, tweak where it is necessary, and get back on the goal-setting journey.   If, however, your regular check-ins reveal that you are on track for the timeline for your goal execution, take a moment and celebrate that!  Taking the time to acknowledge where you started versus how it’s going, not only honors your hard work, but it may also inspire someone else in the process.


GRAB YOUR S.M.A.R.T.E.R. MONEY GOALS PRINTABLE?

Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. As an active member of the #SMCmoneytribe, you will no longer have to walk the path toward financial freedom and a fabulous lifestyle alone. 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.

5 Things You Should Do Before Starting the SMC Money Challenge

It is important to challenge yourself every now and then. This helps you push beyond what you have previously done before. The more you challenge yourself and succeed, the greater your confidence in your ability to do it again next time. Good habits form and eventually they become lifestyle changes. When you accept a financial challenge, like the SMC Money Challenge, it doesn’t just help you grow your skills and knowledge, it helps you grow your belief that you can. The 2021 SMC Money Challenge begins January 1st in the #SMCmoneytribe FB group but before you start, here are some of my favorite ways I kickstart my money goals at the beginning of each year.

the beginner’s guide to hacking a money challenge

  1. Download & Print your money tracker for the year. Sometimes it is easy to forget the progress you are making.  In the SMC Money Challenge, there will be weeks where the progress seems minuscule and other times where the progression of better money habits and actions is obvious.  Using the tracker will help remind you at the end of the 52 weeks just how far you’ve come.
  2. Pick a S.M.A.R.T.E.R money goal.  Are you paying off debt, saving for a rainy day, putting money in a sinking fund for a specific purchase, or investing? Now is the time to make sure your goal(s) is clear and attainable.  Is it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, evaluate, and reviewed?
  3. Tell Your Money Where to Go.   If you are using the challenge to pay off debt, I recommend that you make a principal payment toward your debt instead of putting that money in a savings account or sinking fund (that is one of my easiest tricks for paying off my student loans 11 years ahead of schedule).  However, if you are using the money you save in this challenge for sinking funds or boosting your emergency fund, I would consider opening a high-yield savings account and transferring your challenge money into it each week instead. 
  4. Set a Reminder.  Add a reminder to your phone or calendar to remind you to check-in.  By saving something every week, you get to practice your savings habit over and over again.  Remember, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.  YOU WILL NEED A REMINDER if you want to make it through ALL 52 weeks.
  5. Invite a Friend. There is nothing better than getting support and supporting people you know, IRL (in real life). Iron sharpens iron. Glow up together with your friends to become real #squadgoals.


ARE YOU READY TO JUMPSTART YOUR MONEY GOALS?

Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. As an active member of the #SMCmoneytribe, you will no longer have to walk the path toward financial freedom and a fabulous lifestyle alone. 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!

How To Jumpstart Your Money Goals with the SMC Money Saving Challenge

Hey there, goal-setter!  I see YOU.  You are looking toward the new year and you are ready to make some changes.  You recognize what worked for you financially and what didn’t this past year and you are finally ready to do something your future self will thank you for.     

If this sounds like you, keep reading because the SMC Money Challenge may be just what you need…

WHAT IS THE 52 WEEK SMC MONEY CHALLENGE?

The SMC Money Challenge is back for its SEVENTH year!  This challenge is a weekly savings plan that works for everyone, no matter one’s level of financial literacy or income.  Hint Hint: accept the challenge, your future self (one year from now) will thank you! Every week you will cross off a number between 1-52 and apply that amount toward your money goal(s).   Bonus boxes are also available for those looking to push themselves to save even more.  SMC Money Tribe member, Cari, took advantage of the SMC Money Challenge bonus boxes on her money tracker and saved $15,000.00 in last year’s challenge. In the past three years, SMC Money Tribe leader, Danielle YB Vason and her husband used this challenge to pay off $44,000.00 in debt. Now, imagine what your money success story will be.

How to Jump Start Your Money Goals In the New Year from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

WHO IS THE SMC MONEY TRIBE?

The SMC Money Tribe is a community of goal-setting women who accepted the challenge to invest in their money and lifestyle goals with the best accountability partners out there- other women who are also shifting mindsets while tackling debt, saving money, and replacing bad money habits with smart money moves.   

Those who accept the challenge are most successful when they also join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook group for weekly check-ins to share their progress, ask questions, and cheer each other on.  By saving something every week, you get to practice your saving habit over and over until it becomes a lifestyle.  Remember, personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge.

SMC Money Tribe member, Cari, took advantage of the SMC Money Challenge bonus boxes on her money tracker and saved $15,000.00 in last year’s challenge.  

WHEN DOES THE CHALLENGE BEGIN?

Mark your calendars, the SMC Money Challenge begins Friday, January 1, 2021.  After that, weekly check-ins will open up every Thursday at 11:00am (EST) and will stay open until Friday night on the SMC Facebook Group.  During that time, SMC Money Tribe members are expected to invest in their goals by actively participating in weekly progress updates, money chats, and mini-challenges.  Interactive content related to the challenge will also be available on the @shemakescents Instagram page.

HOW TO JOIN THE 2021 SMC MONEY CHALLENGE

  1. Follow @shemakescents on Instagram
  2. Post this image below in your Instagram Story  (you MUST tag @shemakescents to I can see it).
  3. Join the SMC Facebook Group (this will be your home base for the tribe to ask questions, support each other, and hold each other accountable).
  4. Download your 2021 SMC Money Challenge Guides- Instagram version or Print version (Challenge Hack: Use the Instagram version to share your progress with the tribe & print the main version to add more private information to track your more personal goals at home).
  5. Set a calendar weekly to save your money & check-in

ARE YOU READY TO JUMPSTART YOUR MONEY GOALS?

Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. As an active member of the #SMCmoneytribe, you will no longer have to walk the path toward financial freedom and a fabulous lifestyle alone. 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!

HOW TO SELECT THE PERFECT POWER WORD OF THE YEAR

Oh…My….Goodness.  We did it.  We survived 2020 (assuming we make it the next few days) and that is not to be taken lightly.  So now that you survived let’s get 2021 in order.  If you are a long time follower of She Makes Cents, you know that we start every new year with a power word/ word of the year to help set our intention. So let’s get started.

HOW TO SELECT THE PERFECT POWER WORD OF THE YEAR

When choosing a word of the year it is important to select a word that is both inspirational and aspirational. Power words are often verbs because they require action on your part to fully integrate them into your life. That’s right, it is time to be intentional with our actions. Ask yourself, what doesn’t feel like [your power word] in your life right now? Think about how you could apply your word to your goals for yourself. For example, the team from Dave Ramsey.com shares 7 areas in your life for S.M.A.R.T. goals. The goal categories are financial goals, spiritual goals, educational goals, career goals, family goals, fitness goals, and social goals. Does your word of the year apply to any, if not all, of the S.M.A.R.T. goal categories? If so, keep reading.

WHY POWER WORDS ARE EFFECTIVE

A power word is like a New Year’s resolution but so much better. When used correctly, it guides the intentions and goals that one sets for oneself. Since 2013, I have asked She Makes Cents readers to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response every year is inspiring. I love doing this because with every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of 2020 and my mental, physical, financial, and emotional evolution this year has inspired my power word for 2021.

Unlike in previous years, my 2021 power word works for every aspect of my life: financial, personal development, career, lifestyle, and quarantine life.

Looking back at my earlier power 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), intention (2017), declutter (2018), bloom (2019) – fun fact, my daughter was born in 2019 and her name, Chloe, means “to bloom and discipline (2020). This year, I am very proud to share that my word of the year is SIMPLIFY.  

Power Word of the Year 2021 by Top Personal Finance and Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason, of She Makes Cents.

By definition, simplify is a verb that means to make [something] less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. For the year 2021, I challenge myself to simplify my financial goals, family goals, fitness goals, personal development goals, and every other area of my life.  I am looking forward to uncomplicating my life, goals, and actions and I look forward to seeing how much has changed one year from now.


I would love to hear your POWER Word of the Year. Please share your 2021 Word of the Year in the comments below, or hop over to the SMC Instagram to share your word there!


How I Reached My 2020 Money Goal Despite A Financial Pandemic

At the beginning of 2020, I set a goal to get my mortgage balance on our rental property under $40,000. I wrote the goal down on a post-it, shared it in the #SMCMoneyTribe group on Facebook, and dedicated one month of my SMC Money Challenge savings toward a large principal payment on my mortgage. Four weeks later, the Coronavirus pandemic hit followed by a financial pandemic and I forgot all about my BIG GOAL. At that point in 2020, my focus was trying to find toilet paper and make sure my family was fed.

Top Atlanta financial blogger, Danielle YB Vason, shares how she reached her 2020 money goal despite the financial pandemic

I started the year with “discipline” as my power word but “pivoting” became more appropriate. I had to pivot when some of my income sources became unreliable and my 2020 money goal got further and further out of focus. Then one day, after months of quarantining, I found my little post-it displaying my BIG GOAL. I took a moment and thought about how it would feel to have my mortgage look like most people’s new car payment. I thought about the long term money goals that my husband and I have for our family of three (plus 2 fur babies). Then…I thought about what it would feel like if it was paid off completely. Could I reach my goal by getting my mortgage under $40,000.00 this year? I wasn’t sure, but I sure as hell was going to try.

Since I wasn’t planning on traveling anytime soon due to the Coronavirus, I pivoted and used my travel sinking fund to make a principal payment in addition to the monthly mortgage & escrow payments. Then anytime I had extra money from a sinking fund, I would send another payment. One principle payment was as low as $15.00 but I didn’t care because that meant I was $15.00 closer to my goal. On December 11, 2020, I sent my last principal payment of $80.00 and with that payment, I hit my BIG MONEY GOAL for 2020. My current mortgage balance is $39,977.20. I am so proud of myself and I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings.

I walked into 2020 with excitement and hope. I plan to leave it with excitement that I survived and gratitude for both the big and small wins of this year.


WANT TO REACH YOUR 2021 GOALS?

Invest in your money and lifestyle goals with the #SMCMoneyTribe by following along. You will be informed, inspired, and empowered to use your “cents” to live the #fablife.


Why Yearly Power Words Are Important for Goal-Setters

 

2020 Word of the Year from top Atlanta blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents>

A power word is like a New Year’s resolution but so much better. When used correctly, it guides the intentions and goals that one sets for oneself. Since 2013, I have asked She Makes Cents readers to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response every year is inspiring. I love doing this because with every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change. Looking back at my earlier power 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), intention (2017), declutter (2018) and bloom (2019).  Fun fact, my daughter was born in 2019 and her name, Chloe, means “to bloom”.

2020 Word of the Year from top Atlanta blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes CentsMy power word for 2020 is DISCIPLINED. By definition, being disciplined is being trained to develop through self-control. The word “disciplined” 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 take a disciplined approach to complete the money challenge, hitting my milestones for my long term goals, and setting time aside for self-care. I was inspired by this quote, “You will never ALWAYS be motivated, so you must learn to be DISCIPLINED”. Truth be told, it is easy to be great when you are energized and motivated. The true value of a disciplined mindset reveals itself when you are too tired to keep pushing, when temptation is in the midst, and when distractions are everywhere but you’re strict with your goals and prevail anyway.

I’m so excited to apply a power word to my year and this one is all-encompassing to several 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 clarify my money, career, and lifestyle goals.

Talk to me in the comments below, what one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead?

How You Can Learn From Our First Money Fail of 2020

If you follow @shemakescents on Instagram, you know that we became a party of 3 with the birth of our daughter, Chloe, back in October.  Since her arrival 3 months ago, she has learned to hold her own bottle, sleep through the night, and has stolen our hearts.  Seriously, I cannot believe that she is 3 months already and I now understand when parents say they wish time would slow down.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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In 3 months, the Mr. and I have mastered overnight diaper changes, morning snuggles, and baby swaddles while being sleep deprived yet grateful. What we completely bombed was our plan to pay for our week-long hospital stay when she was born.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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We received a series of bills in November that totaled over $40,000.00, not including insurance.   My entire jaw hit the floor when I read that number and the breakdown given from hospital.  A big part that that number was because we had to stay for a week due to complications that happened during childbirth.  Even so, that five-figure estimate had our anxiety in high gear because we had to wait several weeks to see what the final bill was, after insurance. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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After another few weeks, we received a final bill with over 90% of it covered from insurance. THANK YOU, GOD! With very little left on our FSA card, we decided to schedule a payment after the new year so that we can use our new FSA cards with replenished funds. 𝐁𝐈𝐆 𝐌𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐊𝐄!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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While this is probably a DUH MOMENT for most of you reading this, I had not considered that we wouldn’t be allowed to pay for a 2019 medical expense on a 2020 FSA card. [le sigh] Thank goodness that we had a sinking fund for something else that we could borrow from. I would much rather borrow from myself than credit. That being said, the money saved from the SMCmoneychallenge will now be used to replenish my sinking fund.

Update: Using the SMC Money Challenge, I was able to pay back the full amount of the money I borrowed from a sinking fund to cover our budgeting mistake by week 6 of the money challenge.

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How To Crush Your 2020 Money Goals with the SMC Money Challenge

The SMC Money Challenge is back to help you crush your money goals in this new DECADE! Now it’s time for the SMC Money Tribe, a community of goal-setting women,  to accept the challenge and invest in their money and lifestyle goals in 2020. We are shifting mindsets while tackling debt, saving money, and replacing bad money habits with smart money moves.   

Beginning on January 2, 2020, weekly check-ins will take place Thursday through Sunday on Instagram.  To check-in, all you have to do is post your 2020 SMC Money Card on to your InstaStory, cross off your savings amount, and tag @shemakescents to share your progress.  The conversation will also continue in the private SMC Money Challenge Facebook group where tribe members invest in their goals by engaging in money chats and mini-challenges with the best accountability partners out there…other women with money-saving goals. Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. This is why a community for women to discuss personal finance without shame or embarrassment is important.

In the past two years, SMC Money Tribe leader, Danielle YB Vason and her hubby used the SMC Money Challenge to pay off $30,000.00 in debt. Other tribe members, like Victoria from Atlanta, shared a $27,000.00+ debt payoff and Angela from Australia saved enough money for a 5-week vacation to Mexico and the US. Regardless of whether you are joining the challenge to pay off debt, save for the future, or save for something specific like a house, wedding, or vacation, the SMC Money Challenge is for you!

How to Jump Start Your Money Goals In the New Year from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

How Does the 2020 SMC Money Challenge Work?

At the beginning of the year, a new money challenge guide is created. Each week, tribe members select one number from their money guide with the option to add “bonus” money and save that amount toward their money goal. With the bonus option, the sky’s the limit with one’s saving potential.

This year will be the fourth consecutive year I have accepted the challenge and so far I paid off my credit card, my student loans, a cell phone, and my car.  I am not a personal finance blogger who sold all of her stuff and lives off rice and beans.  I am not rich nor did I come from a wealthy family.  I am an “every girl” that woke up one day and decided I could do better for myself and for my future.  I made a choice to change my financial future.  What choice will you make today that your future self will thank you for?

How to Join the 2020 SMC Money Challenge?

  1. Follow @shemakescents on Instagram
  2. Post this image below in your Instagram Story  (you MUST tag @shemakescents to I can see it).
  3. Join the SMC Facebook Group (this will be your home base for the tribe to ask questions, support each other, and hold each other accountable).
  4. Download your 2020 SMC Money Challenge Guides- Instagram version or Print version (Challenge Hack: Use the Instagram version to share your progress with the tribe & print the main version to add more private information to track your more personal goals at home).

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge from top Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents>
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How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents>

Financial Planning How-To’s for Millennials and Generation Z from Personal Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

She Makes Cents Founder, Danielle YB Vason, will be a featured panelist for a live #CreditChat discussing financial planning how-to’s for millennials and generation Z.  The panel, hosted by Experian, the leading global financial information services company, will take place on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 3:00pm (EST) and will feature a diverse mix of financial literacy enthusiast.

The panel will include: Rod Griffin: Director of Consumer Education and Awareness at Experian; Tori Dunlap: Money + Career Speaker and Coach; AK: Millennial Personal Finance Blogger; Danielle YB Vason: Founder of Personal Finance Blog She Makes Cents; Kevin Matthews: Director of Consumer Information; Joseph Francis: Financial Advisor; Tim: Owner of Life for The Better blog; Kali Roberge: Chief Content Officer & Co-Host of the Beyond Finances Podcast; Jelani Smith: Founder of Bay Street BlogThe Centsables: Financial Literacy for Kids; Melissa Pedersen: Director Of Strategic Partnerships for moneytips.com.


Join the Credit Chat on Twitter & Facebook Live

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