Welcome to the weekend #SMCmoneytribe. Congratulations on finishing month 3 of the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge! How does it feel to see your money grow and know that you are closer to your goals than you were before you started the challenge? Keep that feeling close in the coming months. This is around the time, where people need the most motivation to keep going. As I revealed in the February recap, 80% of people fail their resolutions by February. If you are still going hard on this challenge, you are already more focused and goal-driven than most people. While the challenge isn’t hard, it does take discipline and consistency. I must admit I even found myself getting a little behind and then having to catch up before the end of the month. I am happy to report I am all caught up with a new sense of motivation.
How I Stay Motivation Doing The Money Challenge
Every once in a while, I calculate how long it would take me to pay off the remaining $17,940.40 in student loan debt I owe if I only made the monthly payment. The answer- 11 years and 3 months. Then I calculate how long it would take me and how much interest I would save if I added extra money toward the principal. For example, if I paid an extra $300.00 per month starting in April 2017 toward this goal, I would only have 3 years and 6 months left to pay on this loan. That’s right, making an additional $300.00 payment per month toward my student loans would shave off 7 years and 9 months off the term of the loan and would save me a little more than $5,550.00 in extra interest. Let that soak in for a minute, shall we. If I were to up the ante even more and started paying an additional $500.00 per month starting August 2017 instead of the $300.00 in the example above, I would be able to pay the loan off in 2 years and 8 months, shave off 8 years and 7 months of the repayment term, and save $5,862.60 in interest. Now folks, if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. When I feel myself drifting off my path to financial freedom, I take a moment and do this exercise. It immediately fills me with a sense of inspiration, purpose, and energy especially considering that my student loans are the only thing now keeping me from moving from Baby Step 2 to Baby Step 3.
The March Recap
For the month of March, I saved $72.00 which puts me at a YTD of $221.00 through the end of March. I save more money than the previous month and I am really looking forward to what April brings. The end of April represents the end of the first quarter of the challenge which is when I will take the 2017 savings from this challenge and make a principal payment toward my student loan debt! If my financial projects for next month are correct, April will be the most successful month of the challenge thus far. Want to join the challenge? Click here for your FREE money card download.
Your time is not FREE, so spend it wisely. Take some time to do, read, and try things that feed your soul. For the month of April, here are some goodies we are looking forward to.
We swapped out the April SMC book selection at the very last-minute (trust me, you will LOVE what we selected). For the past seven weeks, I have tried to figure out the big ending of the on-screen adaptation of Big Little Lies and after watching the finale on the HBO show, I have to read the book. They say, that books are always better than the movie and if that proves to be true, it will be nothing short of amazing.
It’s time for you to pull up your sleeves and get to work. This month I challenge you to get rid of everything that does not make you happy so that you can give your attention to things that do. For me, that always starts with physical clutter. I cannot think clearly in a cluttered space and I am willing to bet that some of you can say the same thing. I do a little at a time and I start with the quickest project that will give the quickest gratification. My purge started with my nightstand where I keep a mix of books I’m reading, books on display, journals (I am always writing something), jewelry, phone accessories, receipts, water etc. See what I mean? It’s funny, do we even need or love half of the material things that are taking up space in our space? Take that stuff and sell it to put towards a savings goal…like that dream vacation so many of you wrote to me about. I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of your space. Nightstand done….next up, my makeup vanity.
I love entertaining, which makes sense considering I worked in the luxury event design industry for the past five years. Since that has taken a less dominant role in my day-to-day responsibilities, I now have time to host my own events for friends and family. This month we will give you the tools you need to plan a party like an event pro. You will learn how to prep your home/apartment for guests without blowing your budget and see inspiration on how to pre-game for a night out like a VIP. I will even let you in on my insider’s hack that combines a great purging and entertaining tip to create a simple and chic DIY your guests will love!
We shared the Girl’s Guide to Travel: 5 Trips Every Woman Should Take This Year so now it is time to start planning one of those trips. I can’t tell you which trip to plan first, but I will show you the best places to invest your hard-earned money in with regards to your travel plans. When is the best day to buy an international plane ticket (you can find that answer here)? How to make the best road trip playlist? How to tip appropriately at all-inclusive resorts? How to stay safe on a solo vacation?
Travel the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer. So how do you travel when money is tight? Before getting married, I had a money envelope where I would set aside $50.00-$100.00 per check specifically for travel goals. I started the habit when the Mr. decided he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday in Germany. Saving for that trip got me into the habit of making travel a priority. Germany was actually our first time traveling together….EVER. We stayed there a few days and then road tripped our way to Prague, in the Czech Republic with his best friends where we rang in his 30th birthday! Wow, that seems like so long ago. After that, I kept saving so that when it was time for another trip, I already had money saved. When we got married, I stopped saving for travel and put that money toward saving for a wedding. I guess I never picked back up the habit of saving for travel. That ends now!
The goal is to travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. According to a survey from by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, 55% of Americans did not take all of their vacation days leaving approximately 658 million unused vacation days on the table. Taking time for yourself is a very important form of self-care which is why I have created this list of vacation ideas that every millennial woman should strive to take this year. As you sit in cubicle nation or look out of your office window and picture yourself on a sandy beach with a frose’ in hand, just think that this can all be a reality. Even you don’t get a lot of vacation time (raise your hand if you have been there) you can monopolize on 3 day holiday weekends to make your days stretch.
The Girl’s Trip
The Road Trip
The Couple’s Trip
The Solo Trip
I was contacted by Bustle a few weeks ago asking my advice on how I spend and save money. Since I LOVE to talk about money, I happily obliged. The thing is, the good folks over at Bustle conducted a survey that revealed millennial women are NOT discussing personal finances with their inner circle of friends. Seriously chicas, we have got to do better! We will ask suggestions about hair colorist from our girlfriends but we don’t ask about recommendations for certified financial planners. The fact that women don’t talk about personal finance is not surprising to me. Some believe it’s because women are not confident in making big financial decisions while others believe women avoid talking about finances for fear of saying something wrong or sounding dumb. I’m inclined to disagree. When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be just confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices as our male counterparts. The results of the survey inspired Bustle to launch the new series Grown-Ass Finances that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money. Check out 21 Millennial Women Making $30K To $150K Explain How They Spend And Save Their Money as a brave group of millennial women start the public conversation about money (you might see a tip or two from yours truly in there, as well). Listen up ladies, the future is female and if we don’t start these conversations now, what will that mean for our financial futures?
By definition, gratitude is the quality or feeling of being grateful. It is a characteristic that some people naturally possess and that others can cultivate to greatly influence one’s overall happiness and well-being. According to Psychology Today, “studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially the expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy”. In the spirit of deliberately cultivating gratitude, I plan to start the week with a gratitude list and I invite you to join me.
Make Your Gratitude List
That’s right, grab a piece of paper and pen and take the next minute to make a list of the all the things in the past 24 hours that you are grateful for. Seriously, don’t spend more than one minute doing this and don’t over think or judge yourself for something that you think is silly. This exercise is simply to retrain your brain to recognize the daily blessings and the positive things and moments in your life.
Writer and motivational speaker, William Arthur Ward, once said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” Let’s kick off this week with intention and gratitude and see how our overall happiness and well-being is positively affected.
Rapper Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he said “mo money, mo problems”. That because of something called Lifestyle Inflation where your “lifestyle” needs increase as your income increases; thus, keeping you in the same financial situation. This reality creeps up when people have debt, don’t save, don’t invest. They don’t keep up with the Joneses, they are the Joneses. By no means do I believe that one doesn’t deserve nice things. In fact, I believe no one should have to sacrifice a quality lifestyle because of lack of resources. A quality lifestyle comes at a price but let’s try to not dig ourselves into a money pit to experience the finer things in life.
CONFESSION OF A LIFESTYLE INFLATING MILLENNIAL
I remember being at my job out of college and making around an entry level salary. I owned my car outright, had my student loans paid a year in advance, and was on my way to buying my first house. Back then, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t living a rich life. I wasn’t rich from a financial standpoint but it was the first time where I was “adulting” and was able to fund my lifestyle by myself. This was a big deal considering a year and a half before that, I was a senior at Spelman College eating pizza at 1:00 am while pulling all-nighters. As time passed, income changed, and lifestyle needs matured, I found myself “needing” more. I had to get another car after mine was totaled in an accident but I couldn’t bear the idea of not driving a luxury German car (thanks Dad for that addiction). I spent money on home decor so I could have a “magazine ready” home. I upgraded my wardrobe. I was making a little money and working with people whose hourly rate was a luxury car note. I wanted to show my family and friends that I had it all together….that I belonged in my new life. That all changed when I left a promising career in one field to follow other dreams for another field. It was in the transition that I started to place a serious effort in saving money and making smarter financial moves. I had to. It was my new reality, we were in a recession, and I was no longer constantly surrounded by the Joneses. I took the time to invest in my own financial literacy so I could better understand how to stretch my money. This was also around the time she makes cents was born.
BALLIN’ & BROKE
As you vibrate higher so will your expectations of people, experiences, and things around you. The good thing is there are ways around lifestyle inflation where you can enhance your life without feeling broke. Lifestyle inflation keeps you in a constant state of financial paralysis because your need for “things” is keeping pace with your increasing lifestyle. That’s how a millennial couple with no kids can feel financially stretched in a $100,000+ income household. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into the topics of lifestyle inflating from a millennial perspective and explore opportunities to elevate your life without the elevated price tag.
I have been obsessed with pineapples before they became a trend. A friend of mine once shared the funniest story about pineapples and since then, every time I saw something pineapple related I thought of him. Being from the south, they are also a welcoming sign of hospitality so it’s no wonder why I incorporating pineapple decor for the shemakescents office was a must. I was on the hunt to replace my desk lamp since the layout of the new shemakescents office is totally different that where I blogged since 2011. Then it came down to two options.
The more expensive lamp gave me the chic and slightly playful design and I wanted to blend into the design. What it was lacking was respect to my budget. I kept looking and while shopping at Hobby Lobby one day with my best friend, I found the exact lamp I was looking for; aesthetically and financially. In fact, I loved it more for the gold accents that match other gold accents in the office. Retailing at $59.99 + the 40% off coupon that I use EVERY TIME I shop at Hobby Lobby, I ended up paying $36.00 (not including taxes). This has been my favorite decor steal, thus far, for the shemakescents office!
I know Monday’s can come with a bit of eek to them. It represents the end of the leisurely weekend where brunch rules supreme and making time for the things you want to do becomes a priority (#WeekendGoals). Now it is back to reality and time to prioritize all the things that need to happen to help you be successful throughout the week. I want you to think about this quote. “You are always one decision away from a totally different life”. The decisions you make, good or bad, big or small, can have a major impact on the direction your life takes. I once made the small decision to go see my little sister dance in a recital and I met my husband. I have a friend who was unhappy with her job but loved her career. She made the decision to apply to three jobs in three weeks and she now has a signed offer at another company with better benefits and a better salary. Since following through on a decision requires action you need to think about what actions you make today that will align with your money, career, or lifestyle goals for tomorrow.
As an avid reader of the Cosmo, I have been a fan of Joanna Coles, former Editor-In-Chief, since her early days of at the magazine. She expanded the content to career advice, finances, and other less traditional “Cosmo” topics making it my all around go to along with Forbes and Inc. That’s right, I am a Cosmo girl. My fan girl experience, with regards to Joanna, went to a level 10 when she liked and retweeted something I wrote back in 2014 about rock star women in business. I felt like that was a small example of how supportive she is of women and their careers. She is one of my celebrity mentors (in my mind) that I actually have never met but learn so much from.
Career Advice from Joanna Coles
While watching episode 1 of So Cosmo, Joanna imparted her wisdom on a group of unsuspecting millennials visiting the Cosmo office. During an introduction exchange between Joanna and the group, one woman introduced herself by her first name only. Joanna explains, “First rule of Joanne Coles, women in particular should always say both names [when introducing their selves]. Women always go, hi, I’m Julie. You have to go hi, I’m Julie Thompson. Men never ever worry about doing that.” She further goes on to explain her rationale behind the “first rule of Joanna Coles” to relationship expert, Matthew Hussey, who overheard the exchange between Coles and the millennials. “It is very important. It’s my signature thing. Cause you think of yourself as Matthew Hussey, but if you were a girl you would just think of yourself as Matthew.”
Hello, I am….
In that moment, I replayed several instances when I introduced myself to clients as simply Danielle when my male counterpart would introduce himself first name last name. While doing a little research about introductions, I found that when people properly introduce themselves by first name last name, the other people is more likely to rememer you and your name. Remember my whole, Hi nice to meet you, I forgot your name already phase?? Perhaps this would have helped everyone back then. What I like about the “first rule of Joanna Coles”, is the expression of assertiveness and dominance in the first introduction. It’s like “leaning in” before anyone has even had time to make any judgements, good, bad, or indifferent, and letting them know you are a boss chick in the room. If this is the first rule of Joanna Coles, I can’t wait to see what else I learn from my celebrity mentor.