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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This Bank Helps Customers Achieve Their Money Goals & It’s Expanding in Atlanta

This is a sponsored post…meaning mutually beneficial. You get access to information about a brand or product that I’m confident you will LOVE (at no cost to you) and I get compensated to tell you about it (which keeps She Makes Cents going strong)! For more information, check out the SMC disclosure policy.


Atlanta…Hollywood of the South, host to Superbowl LIII, and now home to over 39 award-winning bank branches dedicated to helping Atlanta customers and communities. Regions Bank, Member FDIC is expanding in the ATL with innovative branches that offer a wide variety of products and services that actually respect the time of busy people on the go. Imagine what you could do with the time you save when you are able to focus more on life and worry less about money- financial and lifestyle goals, anyone?

Since the beginning of the year, SMC Money Tribe members have started planning and sharing their goals. Whether you are paying down debt, saving for a big purchase, or for many of you… a big trip, Regions offers financial insights to help customers achieve their money goals… like finishing the SMC Money Challenge, per se.

Regions Bank helps customers with financial goals from top Atlanta #personalfinance blog, She Makes Cents #BankonRegions

All new Regions’ branches are outfitted with new technology and enhanced personal service to support customers when, where, and how they want to be serviced. With a winning combination of hands-on assistance and cutting edge technology, Regions’ provide their customers and the communities they serve with simplified banking experience.

Instead of waiting in traditional teller lines at the new branch locations, each customer is greeted by a Regions’ banker who can help customers develop plans to reach their long-term financial goals, as well as, assist with a variety of services ranging from cashing checks, accepting deposits, opening savings, and checking accounts. This way, you spend your time experiencing one-on-one service without feeling rushed…because planning your money and lifestyle goals are nothing to rush through.

TIME IS MONEY & REGIONS BANK HELPS YOU SAVE BOTH

One of the most cited SMC Money Tribe lifestyle goals, for the new year, is to free up more time for people and experiences that spark joy and feeds one’s soul.  Advanced features such as the Regions’ Video ATMs, Deposit Smart ATMs®, and Regions’ Virtual Concierge frees up time for customers of the new branches. Can’t make it to a branch during traditional banker’s hours? No problem! The flexibility of being able to connect with a Regions’ banker via a live two-way video to process teller transactions during extended hours on weekdays and on weekends, reduces the stress of trying to make it to the bank before it closes.  The same goes for the Deposit Smart ATMs® that can accept deposits and cash checks for customers at any time, day or night.

The Regions’ Virtual Concierge, which is made up of an experienced team of Regions’ bankers, is another service that provides additional flexibility to bank when and how you want…hello email, chat, phone, and even Linkedin options.  That’s right, from the comfort of… well, anywhere…you can engage with a banker who can assist you with everything from Online Banking to Remote Check Deposits, as well as receive guided advice on both short and long-term financial planning. This, my friends, is a MAJOR time-saving leap in lifestyle goals- to make better money moves in a way that is both accessible and tailored to one’s individual needs. 

Regions’ new cutting-edge branches are a great way for the company to show you how it can make a difference in your life.  As Regions unveils its new innovative branches, you’ll see and experience the bank’s new state-of-the-art design and learn how technology is providing you with a simple banking experience.


Check out the new branches

Sugar Hill
5905 Suwanee Road
Buford, GA 30518
Branch Opening: January 22, 2019

Bethelview Plaza
5530 Bethelview Road
Cumming, GA 30040
Branch Opening: March 18, 2019

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How To Jump Start Your 2019 Money Goals with the SMC Money Challenge

The SMC Money Challenge is back and better than ever. After a successful 2018 run, the SMC Money Tribe, a community of goal-setting women who accepted the challenge to invest in their money and lifestyle goals, is ready to take on a new money challenge. We are shifting mindsets while tackling debt, saving money, and replacing bad money habits with smart money moves. Beginning on January 3, 2019, weekly progress check-ins will open up every Thursday at 7pm (EST) and will stay open until Sunday at midnight in SMC Money Challenge Facebook group and on the She Makes Cents Instagram account. During that time, SMC Money Tribe members are expected to invest in their goals by participating in weekly progress updates, 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.

Last year, SMC Money Tribe leader, Danielle YB Vason and her hubby, used the SMC Money Challenge to save money for EXTRA debt payments. In doing so, they paid off over $19,000.00 in debt in 2018 alone. 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 2019 SMC Money Challenge Work?

At the beginning of the year, a new money challenge guide is created (this is a FREE download for members of the SMC Money Tribe). 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.

Years ago, the 52 Week Money Challenge floated around the internet. It was a savings challenge that dared those who accepted to save the dollar amount that corresponded to that particular week of the year. For example, on week 1 you were expected to save $1.00 and on week 25 you were expected to save $25, and so on. If you were successful, by the end of the 52 weeks, you would have saved a grand total of $1387.00. The thing is, at the time that this challenge was beginning to gain popularity, I knew that it wouldn’t work for me. The idea of saving numbers like $49, $50, $51, and $52…during the holidays was a bit rich for my blood back in 2013. That is when I was inspired to create a “bingo” version where I had more control over my money and how much I saved each week. I selected one number between 1-52 weekly and I saved put that amount toward my debt payoff goal because, at the end of the year, it doesn’t matter how you saved because you will still end up with the same $1387.00. Years later I upped the ante with bonuses that allow tribe members to save a minimum of $1387.00 and a maximum with no limit.

It took a few attempts, but finally, the perfect mix of inspiration, determination, and discipline combined and I was able to make it through 52 weeks successfully. The next year, I added in “bonus boxes” on my money guide and saved a little more. Then I added a way to track the savings. You see, every year I complete the challenge, I find a new way to tweak it and make it better for next year and I must say the 2019 SMC Money Challenge guide is proof of that. Now, I am proud to say that I have successfully completed 156 consecutive weeks doing this challenge. In my three successful cycles of 52 weeks, I have used the money to make EXTRA payments to my debt snowball. I paid off my credit card debt, my student loans are paid in full, and when of writing this post, I am projected to pay off my car loan 4.8 years ahead of schedule (by February 2019)…and that is just a snippet of my journey.  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 156 weeks ago to change my financial future.  What choice will you make today that your future self will thank you for?

How to Join the 2019 SMC Money Challenge?

  1. Follow @shemakescents on Instagram
  2. Post this image below in your Instagram Story  or this image to your Instagram grid (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. Print your FREE 2019 SMC Money Challenge Guide

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>

The Goal Setting Hack You Should Do BEFORE Starting Any Money Saving Challenge

BEFORE THE CHALLENGE

REFLECTION: WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF ONE YEAR FROM NOW?

One of the powerful tools for goal planning is the ability to visualize a goal.  Many high achievers use visualization techniques as a practice to “see” their desired outcomes for themselves even before they happen.  As we approach the beginning of a new She Makes Cents Money Challenge, I will guide members of the #SMCmoneytribe, both new and old, by providing a weekly roadmap to success.  By engaging tried and true success techniques, our tribe will not only reach our goals for ourselves in the new year but surpass them.

Before we begin our new money savings challenge on week 1 of 2019, you need to first take a moment and write a quick letter to yourself..  The letter should be from your future self…one year from now, painting a picture of what you want your life to look like.  Make sure you include your big money goals, savings goals, and/or goals for your sinking funds.   Be as specific as you can because the more details you include the more you can prepare your mind to accept the image as possible.  Also, the challenge will get….well challenging.  Many people start out the year enthused and excited and slowly lose focus or discipline along the way.  By having this letter for yourself, when times get tough and “life happens” (my version of Dave Ramsey’s “Murphy”) it is nice to have this letter…this promise to yourself to inspire you and get you back on track.   Just think how nice it will be when you are looking back on your year, one year from now, and everything that you envisioned for yourself and family have manifested.

Do Something Your Future Self Will Thank You For- Motivational Quotes from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

Below is a letter to my future self…

One year from now I am… driving around in my BMW that was PAID IN FULL 4.2 years ahead of schedule.  This happened back in February of 2019. I feel so relieved that I was able to eliminate another debt so that as a household, we can move on to our FINAL DEBT  in Baby Step 2 (BS2).  Not only does this get me and my household one step closer to our #debtfree goal, but it provides a little financial cushion/security for when “life happens”. One year from now my hubby and I have put a major dent in his car payoff because we have opted to snowball the money was used to pay off my car and students loans to pay off his car ahead of schedule, add to our sinking funds, and increase our savings.  We began the year with $26,176.81 of debt left on baby step 2 (BS2) and we are ending the year having paid over $10,000.00 toward our debt.

See how I am claiming that in advance?  When you think positively, write down your goals, affirm your plan, you prepare your mind to accept those positive affirmations as true.

[Related Post: How to Attract Financial Abundance]

Working on our finances together has strengthened our marriage because it gives us another opportunity to work together as a team.  We are better together and making better financial decisions is just one example of that. One year from now, we have funded sinking funds that covered ALL of our holiday expenses, our flights for travel, and those “oh shit” moments like replacing an AC unit or repairs for the bimmer.  We are building for a better future one dollar at a time.  We are happy.  We are one step closer to being 100% debt free (not including our mortgages) before my 35th birthday in 2020.

This exercise may feel strange at first because you are talking about things that haven’t yet happened in the past tense. You are reflecting on things that are not real…yet. It is important, though, because when the financial discipline required for this challenge starts to fade, you will have this vision…this image to inspire yourself to keep going even though the going may be getting tough.


Pro Tip:  Create a She Makes Cents Money Challenge folder and let this letter to yourself be the first thing you put in your folder.  The 2019 She Makes Cents Money Challenge will include several prompts and freebies throughout the year and keeping your folder in a safe place that you can access weekly will render BIG results.  If you want to be successful, this is one of the very first things you should do BEFORE the challenge starts January 3, 2019.


Goal Planning- Questions to ask yourself when setting goals from personal finance blog, She Makes Cents

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Regions Bank Brings High-Tech Banks to Atlanta

This is a sponsored post…meaning mutually beneficial.  You get access to information about a brand or product that I’m confident you will LOVE (at no cost to you) and I get compensated to tell you about it (which keeps She Makes Cents going strong)!  For more information, check out the SMC disclosure policy.


When Regions Bank, Member FDIC, asked me to share how they are enhancing the banking experience with their branches, I knew it was something the Atlanta members of the #SMCmoneytribe, specifically, would benefit from.

Regions Bank will open new high-tech bank branches in two metro Atlanta communities before the end of the year.  Each branch will offer innovative services and convenient features tailored to meet the needs of people on the go.  The mix of modern design, advanced technology, and access to face to face guidance will create a hybrid of service and technology that ensures a simple banking experience for busy customers.

Regions High Tech Banks- She Makes Cents

This is a good thing for the Atlanta area especially at a time when some banks are purging brick and mortar locations, customer services, and in-person interactions in exchange for computerized “assistants” who, at best, can connect your call or tell you your account balance. Regions, however, is blazing the trail by embracing traditional customer service with a modern technological twist.  In lieu of the traditional teller line, each customer is greeted by a Regions banker who will help you with a variety of services ranging from cashing checks to stuffing your money envelopes, accepting deposits for your sinking funds, as well as opening savings and checking accounts.  Interactions like these are important because they create a comfort level and trust between customers and those who service their financial transactions. Personally speaking, such service also lessens the opportunity for me to look like a lunatic yelling “speak to the representative” for the 5th time into my phone at an automated “assistant” because I can save time by skipping teller lines and automated calls to actually…WAIT FOR IT….speak to a real person.  GO FIGURE!

Regions Technology That Enhances The Banking Experience

The new branches will also offer new innovative services like Video Teller machines (VTM) that connect customers with a Regions Video Banker via a two-way video.  Video banking provides another option to speak directly to a representative who is equipped to process most teller transactions, help customers with account maintenance, and other general inquiries.  I imagine this feature will be most appreciated by busy customers who need assistance from a banker during extended hours on weekdays, as well as, weekends and most holidays.

Interior Branch Shot.jpgIn addition to video banking, Regions will provide its customers with advanced features such as DepositSmart ATMs that gives customers 24-hour access to accept deposits and cash checks and facial recognition/fingerprint technology for a more secure and efficient banking experience for those who have safety deposit boxes located at that branch.

Service That Enhances The Banking Experience

Whether it’s online or face to face, Regions is committed to helping customers achieve their long-term financial goals through advice, guidance, and education.  Seriously, when was the last time you could say that about a bank? As an Atlanta native, I look forward to seeing the impact of Regions to assist customers to reach their financial milestones and help people focus on more life and worry less about money.

Check out the new branches

North Decatur Square Inline
1565 Church Street- Suite 570
Decatur, GA 30033
Branch Opening: Dec. 10, 2018

Parkaire Landing
680 Johnson Ferry Road
Marietta, GA 30068
Branch Opening: Dec. 17, 2018

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Is the UltraFICO Score the Best Way To Boost YOUR Credit Score?

A new credit scoring system, called the UltraFICO Score, is being introduced in the new year and it could mean a boost in your credit score, making it easier for you to get better rates for large purchases like a car or home.  Launching in early 2019, this scoring system is designed to validate the score of consumers, but more importantly, it will be used to assess the willingness of consumers to share their personal financial data for a potentially higher score.  By opting in and linking with your checking, savings or money market accounts, your UltraFICO Score enhances your credit score based on indicators of responsible financial behavior.

The model, developed by FICO, will be implemented through Experian and borrower data will be aggregated through Finicity.  The UltraFICO score is slated to potentially boost the credit scores of 7 million people with financially savvy millennials in one of the best positions to take advantage of the new score system.  The UltraFICO score isn’t for everyone, but it just may be a great tool for you.

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Is the UltaFICO Score Right for Me?

According to the UltraFICO press release, “Experian, FICO and Finicity estimate this new score has the potential to improve credit access for the majority of Americans and is particularly relevant for those who fall in the grey area in terms of credit scores (scores in the upper 500s to lower 600s) or fall just below a lender’s score cut-off”.  The process for applying for loans will remain the same, with loan providers checking your FICO score. If you are rejected from a loan based on your FICO credit score, you may request that they pull your UltraFICO which then takes into consideration the way you handle your physical money in your checking, savings, and money market accounts. If you make more deposits than withdrawal, have no bounced checks,  maintain an average account balance and don’t have a history of overdrawn accounts, for example, then it may present you as more creditworthy than when considering your FICO score alone.

Again, this applies best to those who fall in the grey areas of credit scores.

Why the UltraFICO Score Could Be A Good Things for Millennials

Millennials are known for a lot of things, good and bad, but one thing I can say for sure, we learned a thing or two from the Great Recession of 2007-2008 when many of us were in college, graduating college, or in our first job right out of college. I mention this because that terrible time for the US economy taught millennials the importance of putting money aside in savings. A survey from Transamerica found that fully 39% of millennials are defined as “super savers” since they are saving more than 10% of their salary.  That’s close to the 15% experts often recommend.

Millennials have delayed several life milestones, like buying a house, because student loan debt is factored into one’s credit score.  Now, if someone were to opt-in to the UltaFICO Score for consideration when trying to be approved for a mortgage, it may be into their best interest to leverage their checking and savings account data to access more lending options and better terms.  Especially when the access to one’s financial data supports the super savers finding from the Transamerica survey.

Why I Don’t Believe the Hype of the UltraFICO Score 

There are several scenarios where I can see the UltraFICO Score as a smart money move, especially for those who are looking to secure an affordable mortgage.  If leveraging your data can help get you approved for a mortgage or even a lower interest rate, then by all means, make that smart money move, girlfriend.  Like I said earlier, it isn’t for everyone but it just may be the measurement tool for you.  

Personally, my mind flagged some of the language used in the UltraFICO Score press release and on the FICO website and my spidey senses (also known as my intuition) were tingling.  Both the press release and the website used basic persuasive writing techniques by infusing the announcement with positive power words like “empower” and “control” to give consumers the feeling that they are in control of their own credit score destiny. Yes, in theory, you are in control of your credit score, but sometimes past decisions and life circumstances are a more powerful reflection of why your credit score is what it is. I interpreted FICO’s declaration stating, “you are in control of your credit score”  to mean that if you choose to opt-in to this new scoring model then you are controlling the boost that your UltraFICO score may reflect.

The thing is, rarely do we get something for free. In this instance, this consumer empowerment message that you are being sold is for the bartered price of your personal financial data.  In a world where personal data is just as valuable as money, if not more, it makes me wonder if we as consumers are being blinded by the smoke and mirrors of a better credit score.  Just think of how much your financial data is really worth if they are willing to give you a little credit boost in exchange for it.

Only time will tell how this will really impact the scores of those who decide to opt-in.  As more information is available, the questions that many of us have will hopefully provide more insight in deciding which score, FICO or UltraFICO would be best for you.

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Behind the Scenes from My Wedding

Yesterday, the Mr. & I celebrated 3 years of marriage.  This got me thinking about some things like love, progress, growth, goals, and our future.   It also inspired me to begin writing a series of personal money and relationship posts that give more insight into my…now our shared money journey toward a debt-free life.  Hopefully, both my successes and bumps in the road will help someone else out there make better money, career, and lifestyle decisions.

So this is where I will begin the share fest….our wedding day. Every money, career, can lifestyle decision that occurred in the past 3 years, happened because of this day.   If you are a longtime reader of She Makes Cents, you may have seen our wedding photos published in the magazines and on wedding blogs, but there is nothing like seeing all of the behind the scenes photos that documented the private moments of the day.  

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They say your wedding day is supposed to be one of the best days of your life. Well, whoever “they” are, they are right.  Nothing is perfect, but on one special day in October, I experienced the closest thing to perfect.  I slept well the night before, danced to Beyoncé while getting ready with my bride tribe, enjoyed being pampered with my mom, and took the best walk ever with my Dad.  I met my groom in front of a flower wall that I sketched while lying in bed on Black Friday the year before.  A little background about me.  for five years I was a member of an award-winning event design team.  On that day, everything was exactly how I dreamed it to be.  We said our vows and jumped the broom into an adventure called marriage.  We ate well, we drank more, and we danced the night away under 14′ tall sparkling chandeliers to the best DJ/live drummer combination known to man.  With 15 minutes left in the night, our planner came to us to tell us it was time to stop partying to get ready for our sparkler exit.  The dance floor was still packed and people were still having fun so we decided to stay in the moment and forgo our planned departure.  Why manufacture a moment, when there was so much beauty and love happening organically? Instead, we danced all night long at our black tie wedding and ended the night with a late night snack at Hooters (long story..and my first time eating there) with some of our wedding party before piling in a car that took us back to the hotel for drinks (the after party wind down).  It was after 3:30 am when we finally made it to the honeymoon suite.  Seriously, if there was one day that I had to relive on a loop, that would be the day.


Photography: Bri McDaniel Photography


She Makes Cents Logo- from Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason

My Credit Score Dropped 47 Points & I’m Happy AF

When I first earned a spot in the 800 club people asked me questions about how to raise their credit score. The truth is, it isn’t a quick process but it can be an easy one if you understand how to play the credit score game. I was proud of myself because I felt like it was a reflection of my hard work. I would dare say, it gave me validation, experience, and a sense of purpose. My credit score continued to rise to 827 and then one day I opened an email with my updated credit score to see that it reached 847. 8-4-7!!! That’s right, I was only 3 points away from a PERFECT credit score and being that close made me lust for more.

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For me, I found a perfect credit score to be sexy and I felt sexy for being so close to having one. Yet, I knew that my lust was for a fleeting goal so I lingered in the honeymoon stage of my 847 for as long as I could. It lasted for two months. I was not surprised one bit, though, because to understand why my score plummeted is to first understand how credit scores are calculated.

How Are Credit Scores Calculated?

Your credit score is a combination of debt history (35%), the amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new debt (10%), and type of debt used (10%). I didn’t have a credit card in college so my debt history began 10+ years ago when I got two loans to cover my college tuition for a year. My student loans represented the longest payment history and second largest debt owed outside of my mortgage. That is to say, my 10 years of on-time payments and one year of deferment toward student loan debt represented the two highest percentages that are used to calculate one’s credit score.

As the length of the payment history increased, the amount owed on my student loans decreased, and my debt to credit ratio was swinging in my favor, it created a perfect storm of excellent creditworthiness as measured by my FICO score. Hint hint: THIS…is how you get into the 800 club. I was snowballing my student loan debt so that when faced with a future change to the income of our household, the Mr. and I decided to pay off the remaining $7K and be done with the debt once and for all. One would think that the lowering my debt to credit ratio by eliminating the student loan debt would be enough to increase my credit score the last 3 points, but the opposite was true. Paying off this debt completely had the biggest negative impact on my high credit score. I watched my credit score fall 37 points and then another 10 more. So lame.

Even so, I would rather have a debt paid in full and suffer the consequences of a lower credit score than to draw out a debt payoff to get a perfect FICO score. Yes, I found the idea of having a perfect credit score sexy, but there is nothing sexier than a PAID IN FULL student loan balance…except the Mr. in a 3 piece suit. They say happiness is the new rich and inner peace is the new success. By that description, my paid in full student loan debt and my new credit score makes me “rich”, “successful”, oh….and happy AF.

She Makes Cents Logo- from Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason

3 Things To Do To Advance Your Career

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  That means if you click on a link and make a purchase of a mentioned or recommended item, I make a commission.  For more information, please visit our Disclosure Page. Happy Reading!

Have you ever noticed that people often refer to the journey of career mobility in the linear sense?  Think career path and/or the illustrious career ladder. They both direct you to go forward which is interesting because sometimes the best moves for one’s career advancement is lateral and then upward?  Melissa Kirsch, author of the book The Girl’s Guide: Getting the Hang of Your Whole Complicated, Unpredictable, Impossibly Amazing Life (a must read for 20-something women) explains it in one of the most realist descriptions I’ve heard. According to Kirsch, “Your career path isn’t a one-way paved highway that you whiz down on cruise control; it’s more like a windy trail through a brambly thicket for which you might even have to buy new shoes”.  Regardless of what symbol you use to represent the odyssey of your career, there are some things and people who make trekking through the brambly thicket of vocational exploration a more intentional experience.

Find A Mentor

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A mentor is a trusted and experienced advisor that is personally invested in your success.  The operative words here are trusted and experienced.  Many people assign these roles to public figures and online influencers, but the best mentor-mentee relationships are often formed through an established relationship between two people. Forbes contributor and General Counsel for Paypal, Louise Pentland agrees, stating,  “the common thread through all of my most successful mentorships have been that my mentor and I had a friendship first. It’s difficult to ask someone to be your mentor if they don’t know who you are because a mentorship needs to be about connection, chemistry, and trust”.  When choosing a prospective mentor, be intentional, selective, and concise.

Related Post: THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN FINDING YOUR MENTOR

Very few successful people got to the top alone because they were smart enough to find someone to guide and advise them along the way.  But finding a mentor is only 1/3 of your to-do list here today. You also need someone to advocate on your behalf. This person, ladies and gentlemen, is known as a sponsor and his or her role and responsibility is very different from that of a mentor.

Identify Those Who Act As Your Sponsor & Nurture That Relationship

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I remember suggesting to a mentee of mine who was about to graduate college that she should identify someone who could be a sponsor for her, and she took that to mean that she needed to find a Sugar Daddy.  Ugh…no sis, that is NOT what I meant.   In fact, many women, in particular, do not know what a sponsor is and those that have some understanding often think that a mentor and a sponsor are one in the same.  {Sigh}  Let’s add this to another bullet point of things that widen the gender pay gap when compared to our male counterparts.  According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, she argues that “women on average have three times as many mentors as men — but men have twice as many sponsors”.  In fact, the Harvard Business Review went so far as to say “women are over-mentored and under-sponsored.”  So why is this a problem?  It is because third-party credibility is always more powerful than anything you can ever say on your own behalf.  That’s why people check Yelp and Google reviews before making a decision. Sponsorship often times leads to the influence of a decision that will affect you in a positive way.

To get ahead, you need to pay close attention to those around you who pour into your career both in your presence and when you are working away in your office.  Someone who speaks on your behalf during closed-door meetings. Someone who puts their own skin in the game and name on the line by using their connections to help advance you. Financially speaking, a sponsor can help influence decisions that help you get considered for raises, promotions, opportunities and garner career success because unlike mentors, they work at the same organization as you and understand the culture of your company and industry.

My very first sponsor was someone who was advocating for me for months before I even found out.  When I found out about how often she spoke to the higher-ups about my accomplishments and contributions, I knew it was time to nurture that relationship a bit more.  I started sharing my career goals because if she knows where I want to go, she can help me gain access to the right people. While we no longer work together, our interactions have progressed to a symbiotic relationship where I am now in a position to scratch her back like she scratched mine.

Take Control Of Your Online Presence

3af2c108-5edb-4cf2-a008-a56abba89f07-146632_1626.jpgWhat pops up when you Google yourself? (don’t worry, I’ll wait while you check that out). Did something pop up that you would be embarrassed if your boss saw it?  How about your bosses’ boss? Is there information on the web that no longer reflects your interests? Are there spring break photos from Cabo that you would DIE if your co-workers saw? Hello, itty bitty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. I think you get the point.  

Security Settings

Before we talk strategy, you must first accept that anything you put on the internet can be seen by anyone, despite your security settings.  It’s true. If someone really wants to find out what you are posting, they can.  But let’s not make it easy for them.  Unless you are trying to get Insta-famous, you are your own personal brand or the content that you post is industry-friendly, then you may want to consider making your page private.  

Delete, Delete, Delete

Most people will tell you it is time to clean up your online presence and I agree with “most people” in this instance.  It’s time to archive your old photos that are unflattering and frankly embarrassing, especially if you leave your social media public.  I personally do a clean sweep of my social media about 3 times a year.  

In addition to a little sprucing up of your social media, I will add that it is past time to take control of your online presence. This is important because people will naturally Google you when that want to know more about you.  It is exactly what your bosses’ boss will do when your sponsor talks about you and it is imperative that your online presence matches what your sponsor says about you.

Personal Branding

So how do you do this?  Well, the easiest way is to build a professional resume website or personal branding for yourself, assuming this does not violate any social media policies from your employer. Think of it as a mix of a professional brag book, resume, blog, and portfolio all in one that serves as a career introduction.  Here is a snippet of what is out on the web about me.

Danielle Boler Vason

How to Start a Blog for Personal Branding
  1. Pick A Domain. Start with this domain name checker to see if YOUR NAME is available to use on your new site.  If your name is taken, try adding in a location to your domain name. For example, Topher Mack is tophermackatl.com because he is located in Atlanta.  By doing this, it will be one of the first things that pops up when someone searches for you on the web.
  2. Pick a Web Host.  A web host is a type of internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible on the web.   In my 9 to 5 life, I help creatives and busy business owners fuse style and strategy to develop a clear brand identity and visual presence.  That often means I create websites that reflect their personal brand and I use SMC affiliate, Bluehost for my web hosting.  I like it because it works so well with WordPress and it is easy to use.
  3. WordPress.  I am biased when it comes to publishing platforms because She Makes Cents is run on WordPress.  It is an easy to use platform that is SEO friendly, which means that you are likely to have the content you produce to rank higher in search engines.  When anyone searches for you, they are likely to see the good content that you put out on the first page instead of page 5 of Google.  Seriously, nobody has the time or the attention span to scroll through 5 pages to see who and what you are about.
  4. Content.  CONTENT! CONTENT! CONTENT!  If you have made it this far into this post, I know you are serious about ways to gain career success.  The content that you create for your professional brag site, should include recommendations from clients & colleagues, excerpts from your portfolio, accolades, ways people can get in touch with you, awards, your resume, and a small mix of your personal interests. You can even use this site to repost from influencers in your industry that you respect which shows that you go above the status quo to immerse yourself in your industry.  Want to take it a step up, link it to your LinkedIn page.

When you are feeling stuck in your career, you can use some of these tips to breathe life and inspiration back into what you do.  Get a mentor or two.  Identify your professional allies and advocates.  Take control of your presences and personal branding visuals.  If anything, revisit your personal branding website when you need a reminder all of the great things you are doing in your career, big or small.


Cliff Notes: A sponsor advocates on your behalf to help you get a seat at the table.  A mentor’s guidance and advisement teaches what to do to keep that seat. That’s why it is important to have BOTH.  Being the smart woman who you are, I know that you know that you can’t leave your career in everybody else’s hand.  That is why taking control and creating a personal brand through a professional website is the third component of attracting positive and professional success in your career.


Money + Career + Lifestyle for Millennial Women, She Makes Cents from Danielle YB Vason

Why You Should be Talking to Your Friends About Money

Do you think “money” is still a taboo topic to discuss with friends and family?  What about complete strangers?  Seriously, I had to really ask myself, “what is it about the subject that people find uncouth, especially for women”?   For years I was plagued by these questions all the while sharing my money goals, successes, failures, and lessons with the world-wide-web so freely that Emily Post is probably clutching her pearls from the grave.  For me, the benefits outweighed any conversational manners that many of us were taught as children.    Not only am I able to measure my progress on the path to financial freedom by going back to old blog posts, I am also able to see the progress of my financial literacy and maturity.   None of which would have been possible if I avoided subjects like money, debt, and that bi-atch, Sallie Mae.

Benefits of Talking About Money with Friends from @shemakescents.According to a  study from Fidelity Investments, eight out of ten women confess they have refrained from discussing finances with those they are close to even though 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning.  The study went on to find that  65% of women are most inclined to speak to their friends about shopping tips, 44%  of women will speak to friends about issues at work, while only 25% of women are open to discussing spending habits and even less about investment ideas at 17%.  The benefits of participating in money talks and investing in one’s financial literacy overweigh the social taboo of the subject.  If you are embarrassed by your current financial status or level of financial literacy, it is time to get over it.  Repeat after me: Today is the day that I will acknowledge where I am in my financial journey and take a step and then another toward my goals.  


TWEET THIS: Tweet: Repeat after me: Today is the day that I will acknowledge where I am in my financial journey and take a step and then another toward my goals. via @shemakescents Repeat after me: Today is the day that I will acknowledge where I am in my financial journey and take a step and then another toward my goals

TWEET THIS: Tweet: 8 out of 10 women confess they have refrained from discussing finances with those they are close to even though 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning. https://ctt.ec/vcyK5+ via @shemakescents 8 out of 10 women confess they have refrained from discussing finances with those they are close to even though 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning.


The Benefits of Talking About Money With Your Inner Circle

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I remember at one point in my life when I was not so much trying to keep up with the Joneses but more so trying to keep up with my former self who would frequently pick up the check for the table.  I was trying to keep up an old lifestyle that honestly I had outgrown and instead of sharing my newly established money goals with my friends, I just slapped down a credit card and bought another round for the table.  At that time in my life, I was embarrassed to announce my relationship with the dreaded “B” word…. budget… or even more vulgar…. broke-ish.   When you bare your soul to the world, it leaves little room for the inauthentic.  At one point, I reached a high credit card balance and I no longer was willing to try to keep up with my old life.  Instead of saying yes to every social occasion and international trip, I decided to say yes to my finances, instead.  Looking back about 10 years ago, I could have saved myself some serious CA$H if I had shared my financial goals with my inner circle.  In fact, it might have open the conversation for others to share where they were on their journey, their tips, tricks, failures, and successes.  Today, that same inner circle has become a source of strength.  We keep each other honest and moving on the path we have set for ourselves.  We talk investing strategies, dominating debt, and goals of providing wealth to future generations that aren’t even born yet… all while sharing our tips on the best place to get balayage for our hair and organic nail shops.  

Money & Friendship- Why You Should be Talking to Your Friends About Your Money Goals from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes CentsLadies, we have got to start speaking up, leaning in, and getting in front of the barriers that keep us from living our best life.  I am not saying that you have to blast your business to the world like I do, but I am saying that you should talk about money with people you respect and those who will help hold you accountable.   Even though the number of women who shy away from money talks with their inner circle is frankly frightening, it is even more puzzling that women say more support would encourage them to be more engaged in their finances.   Imagine what we could do if we all took on the charge that empowered women empower women.  My accountability group members are better women for it because we have learned to accept ourselves and each other where we are in our journeys.  As we are maturing as women, so is our financial literacy and authenticity.

Join Our Financial Accountability Tribe

If you are looking for a community of goal-setting women, then the SMCmoneytribe may be the group for you.  Instead of one accountability partner, you will have access to a tribe of partners to share your story, bounce questions and ideas off of, and celebrate your milestones.   In addition to gaining personal finance tips and tricks that have worked for the people in the tribe, you will also gain confidence in speaking on the subject money with people supporting your journey to the fab life.  
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