Monday Motivation | Cultivate Better Habits

Not too long ago I read this quote from the top financial expert, Dave Ramsey, and I knew it was too good not to share.  “You can’t get out of debt while keeping the same lifestyle”.  Often times we want results for our lives that’s different from our current situation.  The thing is, you have got to change your habits if you desire a different outcome.  If your goal is to upgrade your financial situation, you have to upgrade the effort you put into your goals to see the results.  Increase your income + reduce your spending = the start to a great plan.  Last Friday, I had a three-week profit from our BINGO Money Challenge of $383.00 that could have easily paid for a pair of shoes.  Instead of living the lifestyle that is keeping me in a stagnant financial situation, I snowballed that $383.00 and threw it directly at my student loans.  The gratification I get from a new pair of shoes is nothing compared to the natural high I get from getting closer to my debt free goal.  

Money Quotes from Dave Ramsey on Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

Today, I encourage you to use this week as a week of self-reflection.  What habits do you want to cultivate?  What habits do you want to quit?  We know what each of our end goals are but we often are blind to the things we do to ourselves that sabotage those goals    Start thinking about the things you do every day and how they affect your money goals.  Yes, you can upgrade your financial situation, but you have to upgrade your actions first because your actions become habits… good or bad.

How Much is Student Loan Interest Really Costing You?

The rising student loan debt is one of the greatest financial problems plaguing millennials, especially millennial women.  As of 2014, women account for 55 % of students enrolled in four-year colleges in the United States, according to the Federal Education Department and the figures continue to lean in favor of higher educated women.  With the average student loan debt at a little over $30,000 and growing, how are we ever going to eliminate student loan debt at all? The answer lies first in understanding the numbers.

How To Calculate Your Real Student Loan Interest from Top Millennial Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

By definition, a loan is something that is borrowed that is expected to be paid back with interest.  The operative word in that definition is “interest”.  When you borrowed money from the government or your loan provider, you were given this money with the expectation that they will get their money back from you.  In fact, they expect you to take your take, defer, and get off track because their business is in the interest and not the actual repayment of the original loan.  Let me say that again for you.  They make their money on the interest because you are expected to pay back what you originally borrowed.  Student loan interest accrues daily once you are in your repayment period, which usually begins 6 months after your graduation date.  So what does that mean exactly?

How Does Student Loan Interest Add Up?

I will use my student loan numbers to help you visualize why interest will keep you in debt if you don’t start to get aggressive.  The exact math on this chilling realization is why millennials have a record amount of debt and a lower amount of home ownership.  I have two loans that were consolidated for a collective original loan amount of $24,422.77 back in 2007.  As of today, I have paid $21,189.89, which means that if this were an interest-free loan, I would only be $3232.88 away from having the loan paid off completely.  However, because of interest, I still owe $16,738.90.    How’s that you ask? Well, in the 10 years that have had this loan, interest has accrued daily. If you have studied your loan, you will notice that your daily accrual rate will change over the life of the loan.  If you are paying down your debt, your daily rate will eventually reduce as a result of the reducing current balance.  However, if you are one of those out of sight out of mind people who knows you have student loan debt that you have ignored, paying a reduced payment when you really can afford to pay more, or continually delaying your payment period, your daily rate is increasing…well, daily.

How To Beat Your Student Loan Debt

Currently, my student loan interest in accumulating at $3.09 per day/ $1127.85 per year, which is the lowest it has ever been.  To beat the system, you must pay your debt down at a faster rate than it is growing.  At $3.09 per day/ $92.70 per month, my snowball must be more than the monthly interest to make a difference.  Now that you have seen my numbers, it is time to look at yours.  To calculate your daily interest rate you must have the following numbers ready: your current balance and your interest rate.How To Calculate Your Real Student Loan Interest from Top Millennial Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

In the past two months, I have watched my current balance drop at a faster rate than usual. That is because I have started making my regular monthly payment as well as an extra payment of money saved from the 52 Week BINGO money challenge. I was motivated to get a little more aggressive with paying down this loan when I set a  micro goal for myself to have my loan under the $15,000 mark by the end of my birthday month (August).  Coming up with a plan to beat your student loan debt first starts with the numbers.  If you don’t already know your numbers, I urge you to look up your current balance and interest rate, calculate much your interest accrues daily,  and as soon as you can, start making an extra payment above your monthly interest rate to get your debt moving in the right direction.  Instead of focusing on just how much you have left to pay, pat yourself on the back for how far you have come on this debt journey.  You can do it!  You have to do it so you may as well do it as quickly as possible so you can put that money saved toward your next baby step toward financial freedom.

shemakescents.com - OOTD | Student Loan Interest

Reader Profile: The SMC Money Tribe

At the beginning of the year, I announced a new resource offered to She Makes Cents readers who were participating in our 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  I was inspired to create a “tribe” of like-minded women to make sure that no one feels alone on their financial journey.  Members of the SMCmoneytribe have become each other’s best accountability partners and not only celebrate each other’s successes but also inspire better saving habits among women.  We believe that we can reach our money goals while breaking the glass ceiling in our careers and living the life we always imagined because we have an entire TRIBE of people cheering us on!

Calling the SMCmoneytribe

She Makes Cents Money Tribe Reader Profiles

Are you a member of the SMCmoneytribe?   We want to the world to meet the inspiring community of women who make up our tribe, to hear your stories, see what inspires you, and feature your progress.  One of our mantras here at SMC is the idea that “empowered women empower women” and we can’t wait for the world to be inspired by our tribe of women who are breaking down financial barriers and engaging in money discussions.  Submit your reader profile here and you could be featured on shemakescents.com!  

 

 

SMC Giveaway | Travel Bag for Your Next Island Adventure

Wheels up and I am and off to the first trip of 5 trips every woman should take every year.  First up…. the couple’s trip to St. Lucia where the plan is a mix of relaxation by the beach and excursions through the rain forest.  As a reformed over-packer, I had to review my go-to tips for packing light to ensure I wouldn’t be a victim of extra fees for heavy checked luggage.  Coming in at exactly 38lbs in my is my pink DVF luggage. Mission accomplished and money saved!Travel Bad for Adventure Excursions from She Makes Cents

I received a free bag from Mato Naturals in exchange for sharing it with She Makes Cents readers like you.

Travel Bag For My Island Excursion

When I was packing, I was inspired by all of the vibrant colors of the island so I packed colorful accessories that correspond to the activities that we have planned.  Sneak Peek Alert: Follow @shemakescents and @sheslivingthefablife on Instagram for OOTD, travel hacks, and behind the scenes videos.  For the off non-resort activities like a rainforest ATV tour, I knew I needed durable crossbody that would survive my extreme tourist behaviors but I knew I wanted something with a pop of color or print. That’s where the Mato Boho Crossbody from Mato Natural comes in handy.  This handmade bag is made from eco-friendly canvas and unique handwoven Aztec patterns by local women from Nepal.  It features every island color that I was looking for AND it’s the right size to ensure that I am not taking unnecessary items off of the resort, although it is smaller than I expected.  Mato Natural is a sustainable lifestyle brand founded with the main goal to make available Eco- friendly products at very affordable prices so it is right with me!

Product Review from She Makes Cents: Mato Boho Black Cross body Purse with Bohemian Tribal Aztec Pattern

She Makes Cents Giveaway

To kick off summer, She Makes Cents is hosting a giveaway to one lucky reader from the United States.  To enter, follow @shemakescents and @sheslivingthefablife on Instagram and leave a comment with the hashtag #SMCtravelcontest.  Entries will be accepted until July 15, 2017 at noon (EST).  The winner will be announced via a Instagram story on the She Makes Cent Instagram page.  Retail value $49.99.

Product Review from She Makes Cents: Mato Boho Black Cross body Purse with Bohemian Tribal Aztec Pattern

52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | May Recap

Hello lovelies and welcome to a 3-day weekend! Congrats to everyone who is going strong on the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  It makes me so happy when members of the #SMCmoneytribe share their progress and uplift each other.  I also love hearing how so many of you are making the challenge work best for you and your lifestyle.  For example, Angela from Australia wanted to maximize her savings for an anniversary trip to the United States, so I created a custom double version for her and her husband.  As of May 1st, they have already saved $1032.00 and that money is constantly growing for them!!!!  Some are saving a fixed amount every month (hey Kechia) but all in all, the majority of you are tackling this challenge the good ole’ fashion way…one week at a time with your trusty money card sheet.  Regardless of where you are in your progress, you are already winning at the habit of saving.  There is a quote that I really like from Roger Crawford that says, “Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”.  Every person who has accepted this money challenge is refusing to allow their money or lack of it defeat them.  Every dollar you save is getting you that much closer to your dream vacation, it’s getting you that much closer to paying off debt, or that much closer to building your emergency fund.  While everyone’s goals are different, just know that you can do it and that you have an entire tribe of women behind you to help cheer you on along the way.“Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”. | Quotes on She Makes Cents

My Growth on the Money Challenge

My progress on the money challenge is much different this year than years past.  My sources of income have changed and I no longer get paid on a consistent schedule, but rather on a client by client basis.  Ugh…entrepreneurial life at its greatest!    At this point in the challenge, I am usually hundreds of dollars ahead of my current progress.  For half of a second that bothered me because I am always trying to be better than I was before.  The beautiful thing is, this challenge is made to support the one’s financial changes and in the end that numbers are the same if you complete the challenge.  As long as I complete every box, I will end up in the same savings range as the years before.  What difference does it really make if I am crossing out low to mid numbers during the first part of the year and higher numbers toward the end of the year?  It actually makes no real difference at all.  In the effort to save more money this year than any of the previous years, I must focus on the four bonus boxes that are still empty on my money card.

Sharing Money Goals

Do you remember when I announced that the Mr. would be joining me in the challenge?  Well, he just started last month.  For him, doing the weekly version of the SMC money challenge was another thing added to his “honey-do” list that he never got around to.  That is one of the reasons it took him four months to join in.  He later suggested, instead of doing a dollar for dollar match, that he might try contributing a fixed amount every paycheck toward the challenge.  So far his YTD contribution has been $500.00!  From a financial standpoint, the numbers at the end of the year will be higher doing it this way than if he were doing a dollar for dollar match, because $250.00 per month translates into about $62.00+ per week and $62.00 will always be higher than $52.00, our highest (non-bonus) box on the money card.  It’s easy for him, it works for me, and it gets us closer to our debt free money goals.

Related Article: How to Win on the She Makes Cents Money Challenge

May Recap 

For the month of May, I saved $89.00 which puts me at a YTD of $376.00 by myself and $876.00 when combined with the Mr.   Every dollar saved on this challenge is helping me pay off my student loans.  Outside of our mortgages, this is the only debt we are carrying because we work hard to pay off any credit card debt that we rack up before each billing cycle.  At the end of April, I made my first lump sum payment of $679.00 toward the principle and I had originally planned to make a lump sum payment every quarter.  However, after seeing my payment drop a new passion for hitting certain milestones was reignited.  Now, I plan to make a lump sum payment every time the balance in the money challenge is over the $225.00 mark.  At the beginning of the year, my main money goal was to have my student loans under the $15K mark by the end of the year, but I decided to up the ante and push that goal date to the end of August (my birthday month).

I can’t wait to hear your progress on this challenge.  Please feel free to tweet me @shemakescents, email me, or stop by our Facebook page to say hello.  I love hearing from you and I love to hear your progress, motivation, struggles, and suggestions.  Until then, happy saving to you and yours.

Want to join the challenge?  Click here for your FREE money card download.

HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGE IF YOU ACCOMPLISHED YOUR MONEY GOALS?

 

 

 

Lyft Riders Now Earn FREE Delta SkyMiles

Earning SkyMiles has gotten easier if you are a Lyft rider.  This week, Delta and Lyft announced their partnership that will reward their customers who are loyal to both companies.  Now, every time you request a ride through Lyft, you earn SkyMiles, to travel to over 1,000 global destinations or even pay for upgraded access to the Sky Club when you are traveling.  Trust me, this is a great upgrade option if you don’t already have this access, to keep in your back pocket when your flight has been delayed and you want to wait in style.How to Earn SkyMiles Through Lyft from Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

How to Earn SkyMiles Through Lyft

According to Delta, “it’s as simple as linking SkyMiles and Lyft accounts, and requesting a ride. All SkyMiles members are eligible. Customers who are not already enrolled in the SkyMiles program can sign up for free through at delta.com/enroll to become eligible”.   Even though I am not a current Lyft customer, I love the idea of the collaboration.  By requesting a ride, something I already do on a weekly basis, I can start earning miles that will help get me to one of the trips that every girl should take every year.  You earn one mile per dollar spent with unlimited earning potential and that never expire.  To make your experience sweeter, for a limited time, you can earn triple SkyMiles for rides to and from participating airports.

How to Use Art To Blend His & Her Styles at Home

Sponsored: This post contains affiliate links.

The Mr. and I have been married for almost two years now and we have just started to decorate our home in a way that reflects both of our styles. The goal is a little less bachelor pad and a little more like something that reflects both of us. My style used to be eclectic but I am leaning more traditional with pops of accent colors. The Mr., well his style is clean modern lines and about four fewer pillows than I prefer. In addition to blending our furniture preferences, we have been working to blend our varying art styles. I left my 30”x30” canvas print of Audrey Hepburn at my old house for my niece to enjoy. I’m sure the Mr. appreciated that. The same way I took down some of his posters. To blend our two aesthetics, I came up with a design plan that reflects our joint loves, hobbies, and experiences. I believe people should walk in one’s home and think, oh, this is so them.

How to Blend His & Her Styles At Home

One thing that unmistakably represents us both is our love for the city of Atlanta. Although we are from two very different areas, we are both Atlanta natives. We are fluent in Southside, Eastside, and Buckhead, he can recite every Outkast lyric, and I am the queen of the Beltline. These are things we wanted our space together to represent- our love for music, our love for Atlanta, and our love for each other. During our first year of marriage, I bought a 45”x30” Boom Box canvas painting that represents our joint music interest. I then started a gallery wall of wedding pictures to represent our love for each other. The only thing that is missing is something Atlanta. We wanted our home to have a fun Atlanta flair by including iconic elements in the design for our home. What better than an art map of the city?  I started looking for a map that fit the style of our home when Modern Map Art contacted me to see if I would consider one of their maps in exchange for telling she makes cents readers about the experience.  They come in a range of cities and colors, including Aruba where we spent our honeymoon, but of course, we only had one city in mind.  

We decided on the black print because we both love the crisp contrast.  After we narrowed down the best color option for our home, the print arrived about 3 days later.  We both were pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t a traditional poster print.  The paper has a velvet-like finish that looks even better in person.   I am really into is oversize artwork so I requested the largest print size of 24″x36″ with the plan to have it matted and framed.  In my opinion, oversize art makes everything look more expensive and special, results my wallet and hubby can both appreciate.  One thing to keep in mind, though, when considering large-scale art for your home is framing.  I wanted to frame this print with a 4″ mat, which means I am now moving into custom framing which can be expensive.  To save money, I gave up the matted background.  The Mr. and I found a simple frame at our local Target and added the print in it the moment we got home.  Seriously, don’t you just love the scale of this? The Mr. modeled the print for me because I looked naked trying to take a similar picture in a dress.She Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintShe Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintWe are so proud of our growing art collection!  We keep trying out our new Atlanta print from Modern Map Art in different locations to find the best location in our home.  For now, it lives right next to our beloved Boom Box painting.  To grab your very own print to remember your hometown, the place you fell in love, or the best vacay ever, click here.  Insider Tip: Follow them on Instagram for 10% off your purchase  (code: INSTA10).

Things To Do This Month: She Makes Cents May Sneak Peek

Things To Do This Month from She Makes CentsWant a little taste of what the month of May will bring to She Makes Cents readers?  Well, we are back with our newest series, “The IT  List” that gives readers a preview of some of the lifestyle topics that will be covered this month on the blog.  Last month we started planning one of the trips that every girl should take this year and we will reveal that trip and destination this month.  Stay tuned to see what’s on my travel “lust list” for a fabulous beach vacay.  I plan on starting the SMC Book Club Selection: The Girl Code today, so grab your copy and join us!  There are so many exciting things happening and I can’t wait to share.  MONEY+ CAREER + LIFESTYLE.

Things To Do This Month from She Makes Cents

Monday Motivation | How To Get Your Goals Back On Track

Hello, Lovelies.  Today I wanted to encourage you all to reflect upon the money, career, and lifestyle goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.  The end of April marked the end of the first quarter of the year…meaning we should be a quarter of the way towards accomplishing your goals for yourself.  It is easy to be motivated at the beginning of every year because many of us view that time as a master reset.  With December being a time of reflection we take the time to think about all of the things we could do better.  We then set up goals for the new year.  By January we are ready to make a plan and act on those goals and by May…. well, let’s just say sometimes things fall off a bit.  If you have fallen behind or off track for your goals, don’t worry.  You might just need a moment to stop and refuel.  The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment before a miracle. Don’t give up.  How to get your goals back on track from She Makes Cents blog

Are Your Goals Still Relevant?

A lot can happen in four months, so it good to go back to your goal’s list to see which ones are still relevant, which ones need be adjusted, which ones need more of you to make them work, or which can be removed altogether. Leaving irrelevant goals on your list takes up unnecessary space in your mind and takes the focus away from things that really matter.

Stop & Refuel

The truth about accomplishing a goal is that the journey is not always fun nor easy.  We are so quick to give up on things just because they get hard.  If being the boss was easy then everyone would be the boss.  If being fit was easy then everyone would probably be walking around showing off their 6-pack (certainly I wouldn’t be the only one rocking a crop top on the weekends).  If having no debt was easy, then people would probably be less flashy and invest in things, people, and experiences that really matter.  The thing is, instead of fixating on the journey, find your energy in picturing the end result of the work.  How would your life change if you accomplished the money, career, and lifestyle goals you set for yourself?  Would you be happier?  Would you live a richer life?  Is it a life that your 20-year-old self would be proud of? Figure out what is keeping you from taking these steps.  The only way to walk is mile is one step at a time.  The same is true for you and your goals.  Now think about this, what happens if you keep doing things exactly like you have been doing them?  Are you happy with the state of your finances?  Is your career where you want it to be?  Are you currently living the life you deserve?  If so, keep pushing girlfriend.  If not, take the rest of the day to stop and refuel so you can crush your goals in the second quarter of the year.   Stay Fab!HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGE IF YOU ACCOMPLISHED YOUR MONEY GOALS?

5 Ways to Start Improving Your Credit Score TODAY

A great credit score can be the difference between being approved for that car you’ve saved for, that house you’ve looked at, and even that job that you just interviewed for that is now pulling your credit history. If you have a low score, the people who decide whether you are an “attractive” candidate hold the cards. If you, however, have a great credit score, you hold ALL the cards. I learned this when I was buying my first home just three days after my 24th birthday. In the midst of trying to prove to my parents that I was, in fact, a real and financially responsible adult by doubling up on student loan payments and keeping my credit card balance low, I was unknowingly improving my credit score. In fact, during the contract negotiation period of the home buying process, my score improved by 20 points. A great score also came in handy once I moved because the majority of my utility expenses did not need a deposit and I was offered a lower rate. No matter what your score is, it is never too late to start improving it.Credit Score Hacks from the Money, Career, & Lifestyle blog, She Makes Cents | How To Improve Your Credit Score Today

Here are 5 Easy Ways to Boost your Credit Score

  1. First and foremost, it is imperative that you know your score, that way you know where you stand. By law, all US citizens are entitled to one FREE credit history report, but depending on where you live your state may pay for one more.  Georgia residents, for example, are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each reporting agency.   This is a great time to make sure that all the information is correct and give you an overview of where your finances stand.  Related Post: How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
  2. Pay your bills on time. It sounds simple, but I’m going to take a quick flashback to my college days when I was on the dance line of the marching band featured in Drumline. (insert flashback bubble here) To be early is to be ON TIME, to be “on time” is to be LATE, and to be late is UNACCEPTABLE (end flashback bubble…now). The same essentially holds true with how you pay your bills.  The earlier you pay your bill, the better. For one, you are certain that your bill will be received by your service provider way before the date. More importantly, paying your bills as soon as you get them can be a quick but subtle  increase to that credit score. I try to pay all bills within days of receiving my statements and then record the due dates and balance due in my calendar. This allows me a quick glimpse of my monthly financial trends. This is something I recommend to EVERYONE!
  3. Use only one credit card. If you have more than one card, start paying down the card with the smallest balance first by doubling the minimum payment. Once, that card is paid down, move to the card with the second lowest balance. Double the minimum balance and tack on whatever you were applying to the first card, until that card is paid down, and then so on. This, lovely people, is what is called a money snowball.  Next, choose one card to work with, preferably the one with the highest interest rate and take the other ones out of your wallet. Freeze them, cut them up, lock them away but whatever you do, do not close them. Closing a credit card can sink your credit score faster than you can say “She Makes Cents”. Don’t do it, don’t do it, do not do it…
  4. Increase your credit limit. Now that you have worked towards reducing the debt on your existing card, credit card companies should begin to see you as an “attractive” customer. Call your company and request a credit increase. Again, this is not meant for you to start increasing your spending¸ but rather it is an opportunity for you to increase your credit to debt ratio. Can anyone say credit score boost? Related Post:  How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score
  5. Pay in Cash. I have said it before and I will say it again. Paying in cash forces you to really consider whether your purchase is right you. Personally, I find that paying for things in cash acts as a visual aid and helps keep me on track with my spending. In swiping a card, I can’t “see” my funds dwindling, but watching your cash go from thick to thin is definitely a sign that you could be mindlessly spending. When you pay in cash, you don’t have to worry about interest rates and hidden charges because Cash is King  QUEEN.