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

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

3 Things To Do To Advance Your Career

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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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How You Can Start Making More Money With Cash Back Apps & Referrals

Long gone are the days where you sit around and cut coupons to save money. This is the time for cash back apps, digital coupons, and automatic promo codes that make the things we buy every day, more affordable. If you are not saving a little money on your everyday purchases, you are missing out. Months ago, I introduced She Makes Cents readers to the Cash Back App, Ibotta.  I shared my review of Ibotta after using it for one month because I was impressed with how easy it was to earn money quickly with minimal effort by shopping for the things I would normally buy.  Seriously, they have over 300 supported Ibotta retailers so there is no excuse not to earn money.  Since downloading the app, I have earned money back from buying groceries, clothing, Uber rides and even experiences from Groupon (I used that one as a birthday gift for the Mr. last year).  The $10.00 welcome bonus was also a great boost to add to my lifetime earnings using Ibotta.  Since then, I have learned a few ways to raise the earning potential so that everyone can get more money even faster.  

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How to Use Ibotta

How To Earn More Money With Ibotta

  1. Welcome Bonus.  Who doesn’t love FREE money?  A few people (my hubby included) missed out on the $10.00 welcome bonus because they did not know how to redeem it.  Repeat after me: “We are not leaving money on the table anymore”.  This happened to them because they didn’t  understand that after downloading the app with my promo code (tahbinu) you MUST redeem your first rebate within the first month of setting up a new account.  You will receive your special bonus AFTER you have redeemed a mobile shopping offer or an in-store offer (Any Brand and Any Item offers excluded).  Follow the link to begin earning money with Ibotta.
    **Please note: Make sure you sign up through my link on a unique mobile device that is not already associated with another Ibotta account. Also, remember to verify an offer (excludes “Any Brand” or “Any Item” offers) within the allotted time period found on your bonus.**
  2. Add Things You Are Planning to Buy to Your “My Offers” When You Find Them.   The folks from Ibotta suggest that you should save your desired offers as soon as you see them.  It is what I do especially when I am planning our household meals for the week.  I quickly scroll through to see if any of the items on my grocery list are also cash back items and when they are I add them to “My Offers” tab on the navigation bar.  I find it to be a much easier process when it is time to redeem.  
  3. Try to Redeem Offers Weekly.  Unless you are on a no spend week, I imagine that you will make a purchase from one of the 300+ retailers at some point during your week.  I say this, not to encourage you to shop and spend more but more so to make you aware that it really is easy to earn money back from things you are already spending on.  You can earn even more by redeeming weekly offers and earning bonuses with your team.  Plus when you check back weekly, it ensures that you won’t miss out on the option to opt into additional bonuses that usually have a bigger payout.  
  4. Invite Friends. Build Your Team. Earn Cash $$$ Faster.  By simply inviting friends to Ibotta and helping them redeem their first offer (excluding “Any Brand” and “Any Item” offers) you earn money and they do too.  Build your team by inviting friends. Each month, your team will be given a total earning goal. If you and your team reach the monthly goal, everyone on your team will earn a cash bonus! The more friends you have, the faster you will earn.

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SMC Book Club: The Girl Code

So far, the SMC Book Club has read books that covered some of our favorite topics- money, career, lifestyle, and female empowerment.  Well, ladies, our next book selection is slated to give us all of that.  Since the recent relaunch of the SMC Book Club, I wanted to bring back a book that may be familiar to some of my longtime readers.  This month’s She Makes Cents Book Club selection is from author and master life coach, Cara Alwill Leyba. Cara is known for encouraging women to create a ”Champagne Life” that entails living effervescently, celebrating themselves every day, and making their happiness a priority. Through loving guidance, support, and an expert perspective, Cara empowers women to challenge their fears and create a lifestyle and career that feels authentic, vibrant, and inspiring. She sounds like #shemakescents, right? 

Join Our Virtual Book Club from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Women, She Makes Cents | Girl Code

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a little $$$  if you make a purchase through my link.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

She Makes Cents Book Club- The Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur

The Girl Code

Every time I take a trip to my favorite bookstore, I come across this book,Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur and I tell myself that I will add it to the SMC book club reading list. Well, that time is now! This book has a rating of 5/5 on Good Reads and I can’t wait to dive in. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m not an entrepreneur” but I am confident that the information and inspiration from this book can apply to all women at every stage of their careers.

How Our Book Club Works

This virtual book club currently “meets” weekly for mini book chats in the SMC Book Club group on Facebook.  A book will be selected every other month and then announced before the start of the month to give participants time to  order the book from the >SMC online bookstore, borrow from the library, or download >here. Selections for the books come from a mix of editor and reader suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace powerful women, business cents, fictional favorites, and anything that informs and inspires us.   As you read the book, please leave your questions for the book club in the comment section below.  We will begin the book on March 1st (our Blogversary) and discussions will follow on Instagram and our Facebook group   starting Wednesday, March 14th at 7:00pm (EST).   Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents, wants to know what's the best book you have ever read?

How to Spend Your Tax Refund More Wisely

You can tell it is tax time because people are starting to get ultra fabulous on Instagram.  You wonder to yourself, how in the hell are they affording this and that?  Well, it is actually NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!  Repeat after me…. “What other people do with their money is none of my business!”  What is YOUR business is what you do with YOUR money, especially if you are one of the 31 billion Americans who get a tax refund.  According to the IRS, the 2016 average tax refund was worth $2895.00.  With that knowledge in hand, retailers hire the best of the best marketers to sell you things you don’t need to impress people you don’t know or maybe even like.  They count on you to CONSUME and not to make smart money moves.  It’s time to stop spending like we are RICH and start making money moves like the rich.  Below are 3 money ways to spend your tax refund that some form of your future self will thank you for. Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund This Year from the Millennial's Guide to Money from Top Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

Pay Down Debt

US households with debt carry an average $15,654.00 in credit card debt, $173,995.00 in mortgage debt, $27,669.00 in car loans, and $46,596.00 in student loan debt according to NerdWallet’s 2017 Household Debt Study.  Often it isn’t even the original amount of the loan that keeps us in an indebted state, rather, the interest that accrues that can turn a $60,000.00 student loan into $120,000.00 in less than 10 years.  TRUE STORY!  Regardless of how and why you amassed debt, it is time to pay back what you borrowed. Billionaire businessman and investor, Mark Cuban, advises people to “pay debt off first.  Freedom from debt is worth more than any amount you can earn”. Every extra payment that you make to pay down debt is an extra step earned on the journey to financial freedom.  In fact, depending on the amount of debt you carry, using your tax refund to pay down or pay off what you owe creditors could have a bigger return on investment in the long run.  If I were to get a tax refund, this is exactly what I would do with the money.

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Building Your Emergency Fund

Building your emergency fund is ALWAYS a smart investment in your financial security and future peace of mind.  When the unforeseen (operative word here = unforeseen) happens, you won’t have to start at zero to pay it off.  When emergencies pop up, most people reach for credit cards to pay them and then the cycle of debt continues.  When we use credit to pay off emergencies, we are really paying for the emergency itself PLUS interest.  Dave Ramsey agrees, “The cycle of dependence on credit cards has to be broken.  A well-planned budget for anticipated things [think Christmas and car repairs] and an emergency fund for the truly unexpected can end dependence on credit cards”.

Build an Emergency Fund with Your Tax Refund

Fund Your Roth IRA

Once you have your emergency fund funded for 6 months worth of expenses and you have eliminated your debt (not including mortgage), you would consider using your tax refund to save for retirement.  A Roth IRA is a tax-sheltered retirement account for individuals to save after-tax income for retirement.  Unlike most other money moves that have to be done before December 31st of the previous year, you can continue to make contributions until the tax deadline of April 18th (2018) up to $5,500 for people under 50 years of age.  If you do this, that money will compound in your favor and when you withdraw your contributions and earnings, after age 59 ½, you will get way more money back then the refund you put in it.  Did I mention this money would be both tax-free and penalty free?

Use Tax Refund to Fund Your Roth IRA from Millennial Finance Blog for Women, She Makes Centsshemakescents.com (35)

Monday Motivation | How to Navigate the Road to Success with a Simple Self Check

It’s a new week. You made it through the Super Bowl, but more importantly, you actually went to work instead of calling in for bereavement leave for Jack Pearson after lasts nights’ episode of This Is Us. Congrats, that is a mini win by itself. As we all begin a new week full of promise and progress, I want to urge you to take a deep look at things we unconsciously do as a form of self-sabotage. If we can self-correct these things that we are all guilty of, from time to time, we will be better with how we handle our money, careers, relationships, and lifestyle goals. In order to do better, we must know better and to know better, we must make self-reflection something that we do often. The smart, beautiful, diverse and encouraging financial accountability community affectionately known as the SMC Money Tribe inspired this post and I hope that it inspires a bit of self-love to some really dope women.

Monday Motivation | How to Navigate the Road to Success from Money, Career, and Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women, She Makes Cents

Every week, tribe members are encouraged to take part in financial check-ins where they share their weekly wins and progress on the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. In that space, women are not afraid to toot their own horns by celebrating their big and small wins. I’ve noticed though that many of the tribe members have been a little hard on themselves lately and embarrassed by their smaller strides. Maybe you are not as far in your debt free journey as you thought you would be. Or maybe, you haven’t actually started yet. Either way, it is time for a mindset shift toward positivity and abundance. One day or day one? Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Stay in Your Lane

Stay In Your Lane | 5 Ways to Overcome Self-Sabotage in Your Money. Career, and Lifestyle Goals from Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of the blog She Makes Cents

We all remember this moment when the swimmer, Chad le Clos, took his eyes off the prize to see what Michael Phelps was doing. If only he stayed in his lane and stayed focus. How often do we get caught up in what other people are doing? We focus on other people’s money, their careers, their relationships, and whatever else they are doing for the Gram.  Instead, we should invest that energy in our own money, career, and relationships.  When you take your eyes off the prize to see what other people are doing, you are wasting time that can be spent cultivating better habits for yourself.  Le Clos wasted his time and lost. Let that be a lesson to you. What other people do is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!  When you stay in your lane, there is nothing to distract you from the target in sight.

Evaluate How You Measure Your Own Progress

Progress Over Perfection | Ways to Defeat Self Sabotage from Top Millennial Blog, She Makes Cents

I have noticed lately that members of the SMC Money Tribe get embarrassed when they are crossing off a lower number on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge, especially when other members of the community are crossing off higher numbers for the week. That is because they are measuring their progress against the progress of someone else. I spoke a little about this on the She Makes Cents Instagram page, but I want to go a little deeper here. Instead of measuring your progress by how far you have left to go, instead, celebrate how much progress you have already made. Think about to your starting point and know that you are in a better place than where you first began. I created the BINGO version of the 52 Week Money Challenge was because I knew that there would be weeks where I could not afford to save a lot of money and in those weeks I could select a lower amount to cross off of the money card.  I would rather save a small amount than nothing at all and that fact that the SMC Money Tribe and I save money EVERY WEEK and put it toward our money goals is something worth celebrating by itself.  Also, if you wait until you have saved a significant amount of money or are in a place to make a lump sum payment

For this week and moving forward, I charge you to check how you measure your own progress and how you focus you are on your goals at hand.  Write your top money, career, and lifestyle goals on a piece of paper and put it up somewhere where you will see it all the time.  Stay focus on your goals.  Create a strategy to reach your goals and don’t’ be afraid to celebrate your wins, big or small.  Have a great week!

She Makes Cents Blog Named in the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the Web

The future is FEMALE and that future is NOW!  In the past year, I have seen an increase of women taking the reigns over their money and careers with a never seen gusto…at least since I have been an adult.  Women are investing in themselves, their money, their careers and their lifestyles and are encouraging other like-minded women to do the same.   Last week we learned that She Makes Cents, the premier money and career blog for goal-setting millennial women, was selected by  Feedspot as one of the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the web. The list, which was announced early January of 2018, features a mix of content producers who share similar goals- bringing personal finance to a female audience. She Makes Cents Founder, Danielle YB Vason shared her experience with her #SMCmoneytribe. “I am thrilled to be recognized amongst the list of well-known financial influencers and brands that I both follow and admire,” Vason admits. “As a blogger, it is easy to feel like you are talking to yourself out there on the web, so when you have your hard work recognized, it’s a very humbling feeling”. So where did She Makes Cents rank? Well, we are pleased to announce that She Makes Cents the blog came in the top 20 ranking at #19.

She Makes Cents Blog Named in the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the Web

Other bloggers included on the list were some of our favorite reads such as City Girl Savings, My Fab Finance, and the brand Daily Worth, which topped the list at number one.  According to Feedspot, “This is the most comprehensive list of best Women Financial blogs on the internet” and the blogs that made the list were reviewed under these criteria of Google reputation/search ranking, influence on social media, quality of posts, and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

A word from our founder

I am so thankful for the SMC Money Tribe for joining me on a shared financial journey.  Your stories and questions have helped to shape the content that is created for this blog.  When I created She Makes Cents, my goal was to help millennial women become more financially literate.  I wanted to inform and inspire readers to use their “cents” to live the fab life.  I wanted to encourage the community of goal setting women to define what the fab life means to them. I hope that I have done that and I will continue to do just that… inform, inspire, and encourage.  Congratulations to the SMC Money Tribe because this recognition is a reflection of your debt free journey too.