SMC Book Club | How To Get the Most Out of Your Power Word of the Year

On the first day of the year, I asked readers to share their 2018 power word that reflects their goals and visions for themselves. The response to that one question, which was posed to all of our social media networks, was both inspiring and eye-opening. It occurred to me that in place of resolutions people are looking to find a purpose that flows into multiple areas of their lives. As people responded with words like happiness, growth, self-care, and consistency, I couldn’t help but think of books I would recommend to inspire people based on their chosen word. The power of choosing a word that you hope will define your year is that it forces you to reflect on areas of your life that you want to be better or that deserve your focus. Once a word is selected and claimed in advance, you prepare yourself to receive all of the good things that come with that word. My inspiration for the next SMC Book Club read comes from the idea of one taking an active step toward applying one’s own word to one’s life.

SMC Book Club from She Makes Cents _ Power Word of the Year.jpg

February Book Selection

This is the year to do better and be better and I resolve for our group to be great, supportive, consistent, and a place for goal setting women to come together. The energy in the SMC Book Club during our last book, Boss Women Pray, was so amazing and I want to build on that and I want to inspire you to be successful with your power word or else it will lose all power over your life. For the month of February, we are going to do something a little different. Instead of reading the same book together, let’s take the month of February to read a book that is inspired by the word of the year that you chose yourself. My hope is that each of you follows through and make the time to find a book that relates to YOUR word; a book that inspires you toward your self-mandated purpose to you have selected to help guide you this year. According to U.S. News, 80% of people give up on their resolutions and New Year goals by February. Let’s be the 20% together by starting our new book on February 1, 2018.

How Our Book Club Works

Every other month, we select a new book from a mix of editor and reader’s suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace subjects such as power women, money, career, and lifestyle that informs and inspires us. We then announce the book selection here on shemakescents.com before the start of the month to give you time to opt-in and get your copy of the book from the She Makes Cents store on Amazon. Discussions for the book take place in our weekly book chats in the SMC Book Club group on Facebook as well as the She Makes Cents Instagram page. Trust me, the dialogue in the group is LIFE!

Since everyone will be reading different books for February, the book chats will be tailored to this unconventional reading experience. If you would like book suggestions based on your power word, let me know. I can be found on social media at the @shemakescents handle.

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Monday Motivation | What ONE Power Word Reflects Your Vision for 2018?

It’s the first day….better yet, the first Monday of the new year and I couldn’t think of a better time to urge you to choose a power word to reflect your goal of self-improvement for the new year. Around this time, people reflect on the past year and envision the promise for greatness to come. The most successful people write down their goals, thoughts, and ideas to manifest the power of the law of attraction. Oprah explains, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe”. Back in 2013, I asked readers of She Makes Cents to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response I got was inspiring. Since this, I have asked the same questions to readers every year on the first day of the New Year. With every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change.  That being said, it is important to create a foundational vision with a “power word” to help guide the path ahead. Looking back at my earlier words, I remember where I was in my life, what was important, and what I needed to work on.  In 2013 my word was balance.  Then came focus (2014), passion (2015), bravery (2016), and intention (2017).  Power Word of 2018 | Word of the Year from Money, Career, Lifestyle Blog, She Makes CentsFor 2018, I chose “Declutter” as my power word. By definition, the act of decluttering requires one to simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, and complications. It also requires you to organize and prioritize your commitments and material possessions. The word “declutter” is one that I will apply to every area of my life in a mental, physical, and spiritual sense. I will take this year as an opportunity to declutter my finances, organize my career goals and execute those ideas, and rid my space of disorder. Back in 2011, researchers from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute studied what happens how the brain processes clutter.

When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.

I have never been so excited to apply a power word to my year and this one is all-encompassing to severals areas of my life.  I know many people do not do resolutions anymore, but I still do.  Now that I have my word of the year, I can create resolutions where I can clarify my goals and visions while ridding and mess and disorder that may negatively impact my money, career, or lifestyle.shemakescents.com

Millennials Get the Best Rates on Life Insurance & They Don’t Even Know It

When you hear the term “life insurance”, what comes to mind? Is it your parents’ and grandparents’ generation? Is it a sad thought like death or the process of planning a funeral? Or, is it something that you have on your to-do list to understand when you are “older” because you are not in that headspace right now? For many millennials, life insurance is just not high on their priority list, which is evident from the 2015 study from Life Happens and LIMRA that found that “60% of millennials prioritize mobile phones, internet, and cable over life insurance”. I believe that millennials are not jumping on the life insurance bandwagon because the idea of death seems so far away. More than that, millennials do not understand what life insurance is, what it does, and how we, as a generation, are in the best position to get the most affordable rates. Cell phones, internet, and cable are all elements of one’s day-to-day life whereas the need for life insurance is so far out, right? Wrong. Having life insurance provides a day-to-day safety net that financially protects the people who depend on your income, like family, and in some cases friends, in the event that something happens to you.  

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How to Get Affordable Life Insurance | from Money & Career Blog, She Makes Cent

Of the living generations, millennials are in the best position to take advantage of the best rates on life insurance. That is because insurance companies view millennials as low risk because of their youth and presumably good health. Those “low-risk” statuses are one of the main reasons that millennials save more money and are able to lock in a lower, more affordable rate as compared to older generations. To take the savings potential even further, millennial women, in particular, generally receive the lowest quoted rate. That is because women live longer and are perceived to be less likely to partake in risky hobbies such as skateboarding, skiing, and sky diving – all hobbies that insurance companies consider dangerous, cause premium increases and are often attributed toward experiences men enjoy more by insurance companies. When you think about it in those terms, it should not be   so surprising that millennials get the best rates on life insurance.

Why Do Millennials Get the Best Rates for Life Insurance?

The benefits afforded to the “avocado toast” generation and their ability to lock in an affordable rate is evident to Generation X (1965-1981) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and not millennials, according to data collected from this Health IQ quiz.  When asked this questions, “Which of the following generations is most likely to get the best rate for life insurance?” the results were eye-opening. Of the generations represented, 80% of Generation X and 62% of Baby Boomers answered correctly, in comparison to only 33% of millennials understood their own savings potential. That’s right, 67% of millennials do not know they are in the best place to lock in the cheapest premiums.  The point of life insurance is to protect those people who are financially dependent on you. Traditionally, that includes a spouse or children, both of which represent life stages that millennials are delaying until later in life. However, life insurance also covers parent beneficiaries who may have co-signed on a loan for you and would be held responsible to pay off debts like your student loans should the worst happen. 

Related Post: 5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance

YES! Millennials Need Life Insurance | from Money + Career Blog, She Makes Cents
For a generation with information at their fingertips, who comparison-shops and lives for the deal, it is surprising to find out that we are missing such a great savings opportunity. Life insurance for millennials is affordable because of their presumed good health and youth. It can be even more affordable when you find a life insurance company, like the Health IQ, that celebrates people like runners, cyclists, high-intensity interval training athletes, vegans, and more with exclusive rates. These special rates reward one’s healthy lifestyle with financial gains that leave more money in your wallet. Many millennials are embracing a health-conscious lifestyle anyway, so why not tap into the full benefits that come with it. Life insurance is something that every adult should have, so why not consider one that rewards habits that keep you healthy, and for being a She Makes Cents reader, I am able to offer you this special rate. You will never be as young as you are today, so it is time to lock in a rate now while it is cheaper. Trust me, it is A LOT cheaper than you expect and your future self will thank you for it.

This post was first featured on the Health IQ blog and the Froogal Student.

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Monday Motivation | Signs It Is Time For You to Refuel Your Life

You are driving your car and the light signaling that you are running out of gas goes on.  How do you react?  Are you the type of person who never experiences this because you would never let your gas level get to that point, let alone even under the halfway mark?  Are you the type who immediately detours to the nearest gas station?  Or, are you the type that is completely unfazed by the warning light?  When I was younger, I made sure I never let my tank get below ¼ because I was intentional about taking good care of the car.  Over time, I started getting adventurous and stopped thinking about the sludge that my car was running on when I ignored all the warning signs to refuel.  Not only is driving on an empty tank dangerous, it often ends up costing you more than you think.

How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

All of the above are true statements for proper and basic car maintenance AND they are also true for your life.  You are still you in the analogy above because you have the power to make the decision to STOP and REFUEL when your mental, physical, and spiritual tank is low.  The car, well that can represent anything from your mind, body, career, money, lifestyle, relationships, etc…. anything that is an essence of you.  You see, when we ignore the warning signs of life we miss out on opportunities to refuel and invest back in ourselves.  I call this process “feeding your soul”.  It is so much harder to be productive in all areas of your life when you are running on sludge and close to emptiness.  The best way to avoid a low life tank is to make time to rejuvenate and figure out what feeds your soul.

Simple Ways to Refuel Yourself

Back when I was living off my reserve energy and had little to no energy to breathe life into my career and relationships, I was doing more harm to myself than necessary.  To combat this, I made a list of all of the things that I do that I lose time in.  This list included reading, enjoying the company of close friends, snuggling on the sofa with my hubby, going on walks with my dogs, making brand boards for clients, even being back in a dance studio environment.  I found that these were activities that I didn’t watch the clock while doing, but rather got lost in a moment.  Whether I have five minutes or 5 hours to give to these sorts of activities, I found that when I made time for things that feed my soul, I am also feeding my life tank so that I can be creative and successful in other areas of my life.

Going through life with the low fuel light on is one of those things that we know we shouldn’t do but still let happen from time to time.  Only when you are well fed will you have the fuel to feed your hustle in the best way.  Otherwise, you will starve your hustle, your mind, your money, your career, and your relationships when you are running on empty. Today, I want to urge you to take better care of yourself before warning signs, that often manifest as exhaustion and/or a health scare, gets your attention.  Refuel yourself this week and you will be a better person for it.How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

SMC Book Club: Boss Women Pray-31 Prayers to Increase Your Success & Spirit

Inspiration comes from many places. In my case, the inspiration for our next book club choice came from an Instagram story where another influencer, @theemmaroseagency, shared a screenshot of a page from a book she was reading. After reading the page for myself, I had to find out more information about that book that appeared to encompass money, career, and lifestyle from a woman’s point of view. This month’s She Makes Cents Book Club selection is from author and founder of the small business empowerment-coaching firm, Kachelle Kelly. Kelly coaches career-driven women to activate their hustle and their faith by providing innovative strategies to achieve authentic success and happiness in one’s business and life and I invite you to join the SMCmoneytribe as we dive into her book, Boss Women Pray: 31 Prayer to Increase Your Success & Spirit: The Comprehensive Prayer Guide for Entrepreneurs & Women in Business .

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Boss Women Pray- She Makes Cents Book Club

Boss Women Pray

The book Boss Women Pray will take us on a 31-day journey that is slated to inspire us to go after our dreams and visions by eliminating distractions. Who doesn’t love a good inspirational read?  It comes from a faith over fear approach to business and life and is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon and 4.5/ 5 on Good Reads.  The prayers on each page will ignite something inside of you and make you feel like you were right there as these prayers were written. According to those who have already taken this 31-day journey, you no longer have to feel alone in your business endeavors. You will walk away from this book empowered out of your mind to reach your full potential in business and in life!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to dive into this book with the read of the SMCmoneytribe.

How Our Book Club Works

We select a new book from a mix of editor and reader’s suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace powerful women, business “cents”, fictional favorites, and anything that informs and inspires us.  We then announce that selection before the start of the month to give you time to opt in and go get the book.  Since the paper copy is just about sold out everywhere, you can order a digital copy here.  As you read the book, please leave your questions or comments for the book club in the comment section below.  We will begin discussions for this book on November 1st on Instagram and our Facebook group.   

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Millennial First Time Homebuyers: Send Me Your Questions

Millennials are breaking into the housing market with great force with hopes of attaining one of the biggest stepping-stones to the American Dream- homeownership.   Whether or not the American Dream still exists is questionable, but one thing that is certain is that as the largest active generation in the housing market at 34%, millennials are making lemonade out of lemons and turning the boomerang generation into homeowners.

Millennial First Time Home Buyers | Get Your Questions Answered on She Makes Cents

Buying a house is the largest financial investment that most people make in their lifetime.  Its benefits, especially if the path to homeownership is achieved by establishing better money habits before buying, result in financial rewards throughout the year.

Before buying a home, first-time buyers should save for a down payment, raise one’s credit score, and figure out how much house they can actually afford.  To take the savings benefits one step further, first-time millennial buyers are urged to do a little research of their own to see what tax breaks are available that makes the home buying process a little more affordable.  

Keeping affordability in mind, the housing and financial industries have teamed up to offer resources that make the transition of renting to owning easier for first-time and millennial buyers. By anticipating some of the financial setbacks plaguing millennials, such as staggering student loan debt, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have changed the amount allowed to be financed and lowered some of the qualifications to attract young buyers.  I bought my house five days after my 24th birthday with an FHA loan.  This was the best move for me at that time because I was looking for a nice apartment when I came across a property that was priced so well I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.  I hadn’t saved specifically for a home or better yet a traditional 20% down payment, but I did have enough to put down to secure an FHA loan and become a homeowner by age 24.

Homeownership is affordable, attainable, and provides financial advantages for those who choose this path over renting.  While millennials are changing the narrative of the American Dream, one thing still rings true. Homeownership is still a good way to achieve wealth in the United States and thanks to the financial advantages of homeownership, the dream is so much sweeter. She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Are you thinking about buying your first home and have questions about the homebuying process?  Leave your comment or question below and/or tweet me @shemakescents to have your question answered.

How To Make a Movie Date More Affordable

Do you remember when dinner and a movie was a go-to date night activity? It was fun, it was easy if you and your date liked the same movies, and it was cheap…ish. Nowadays, dinner and a movie can easily run a couple close to $100.00+. If you break down the price of two tickets, dinner, and libations you can easily drop some serious cash before you even sit back to watch the movie. Seven dollar popcorn and a five dollar soda, anyone? Umm…no thank you.  According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average cost of going to the movies hit a record high in the of $8.84 in the first quarter of 2017. I don’t know about you, but a $9.00 movie ticket sounds good to me considering the prices in my area are more along the lines of $16.50 per ticket. In fact, at the time of writing this post, I checked on two standard tickets to my local theatre and with taxes, the total comes up to $39.56 for just two standard movie tickets. No reclining seats, no RPX upgrades, no popcorn, and no candy.Affordable Date Night Ideas | How to Go to the Movies for LessSince our very first date to the movies, the Mr. and I have been regular moviegoers and during that time, we have picked up a few ways to make the experience work a little better for our budgets. Below are a few ways we experience one of our favorite date night activities… dinner and a movie.

  1. Tuesdays. Before we were married, Thursday was our standing “date night”. This all changed when I found out about Ticket “Twosdays” that many service providers and rewards programs offer.  As an AT&T customer, we take advantage of the nice perk of two standard 2D movie tickets for the price of one.  I love it because it saves money and it breaks up the week to get us out of our routine.   If we are having a movie-themed date night, we try to plan for Tuesday and you can too even if you don’t have AT&T.  Other companies like T-Mobile and AMC movies have similar deals.
  2.  Movie & Then Dinner. Going to the movies before dinner is a nice twist on the dinner and a movie classic.  If you eat dinner first, you miss the opportunity to save on matinée pricing, which depending on where you live could be a savings of $7.00 or more per ticket.  Additionally, you are less likely to load up on movie food or overpriced drinks by going to dinner first.   If this is the first date, having a shared experience of attending the movie first can help fill in the blanks of awkward first date conversation during dinner.    
  3. Actually Netflix & Chill.  You can save money on a movie night experience from the comfort of your own home.  In fact, this may be one of the best ways to watch a movie with your significant other… all snuggled up on the sofa together.  You can have wine, whatever you like to eat, and you never have to worry about missing an important scene during a bathroom break.  We all know what the teenage colloquialism of “Netflix and chill” means, but this money-saving tip works best if you actually watch the movie.  
  4. Free Movie Screenings.  The word “free” simply means that you don’t have to pay money.  That being said, you can get access to advanced movie screenings weeks before the official release date in exchange for your opinion of it.  How do you do it?  Check out sites like GoFoBo.com or AdvancedMovieScreenings.com and sign up.  I have done this a couple of times and really enjoy it because I can usually get two tickets and share the experience with someone else.  Pro Tip: Make sure that you arrive early.  They often over share the free code to attend the screening, so once theatre is full you will be denied entry.   

If going to the movies is one of your go-to date night ideas, why not save money doing it.  In fact, with these tips, there is little reason to ever pay full price for a movie if you can help it.  The stars do not always align where people are able to make an earlier movie or get out on a work night, but if you can, use your “cents” and save some money!

{Money & Relationships} 5 Reasons to Have the “Money Talk” with Your Partner

You and your significant other have been together for a while. You have met the parents (and they like you…hopefully), you leave stuff at each other’s homes, and you’ve even claimed each other on social media! Sure, you have done all of the public things to show your significant other and the world that you care about your relationship but have you taken the necessary steps to reduce stress and drama in your relationship from a financial standpoint? I will be honest with you; having the money talk isn’t fun or comfortable, but it is enlightening and crucial to all serious relationships.

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I bet you searched him on Google and scoped his Instagram page when you were first getting to know him. Outside of being curious, you wanted to protect yourself by getting a head start to any red flags.  Simply put,  you wanted to figure out what you may be getting yourself into. No judgment, it’s smart and we all do it. If you protected yourself in the beginning, why wouldn’t you protect yourself now that things are getting serious?  Starting the conversation does not make you greedy or look like a gold digger.  In fact, it shows that you are looking at this relationship for the long-term.  Former Secret Service agent and Cosmo contributor,  Evy Pompouras’ gives advice about reading people in any situation, which will come in handy when you have the conversation with your beaux.  Pompouras says, “don’t openly judge, even if you don’t like what they have to say.  When people feel your disapproval, they will filter themselves, hold back information, or shut down”.  Remember you both had a life before your relationship and both of your financial decisions up until now will reveal that.  If you are ready to get serious about your relationship you should also be ready to get serious about your finances if you haven’t done so already.

FIND OUT EACH OTHER’S SPENDING & SAVING STYLE

This makes sense on so many levels.  This is not a situation where you are trying to figure out if he is a spender or a saver, but more so how he spends and how he saves.  This may be an eye-opening revelation for you as well since most people do not generally look at money and relationships in those terms.  Are you financially compatible?  Does your super saver style clash with his overspending?  

KNOW THINE SELF

 In the midst of “The Talk” you may start to learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before.  It is easier to see red flags in others than it is to see in ourselves.  You may find areas of yourself and your financial situation that need to be cleaned up… not for him or a relationship, but for your own financial security.  This is the time for you to take some responsibility for yourself, review your debts and assets, and come up with a personalized financial plan. 

HELPS YOU PLAN FOR A SHARED FUTURE

Let me first say that a shared future does not necessarily imply marriage.  A shared future looks like whatever you want it to look like as long as you two are in it together.  Some couples will move in together and will have to decide who will pay what.  Others may continue to live separately and your money talk for the future may include more social decisions.  How often will we go to restaurants, movies, concerts, on vacations?  Who will pay for what?  Or for those who see wedding bells in their future, well you should get in the habit of having weekly money talks and a review of how finances coming in and going out are affecting the household dynamic.  You don’t want to be the woman who hides shopping bags in the trunk of her car, but rather a woman who proudly shows off the goodies that she bought with financial confidence.

PREVENTIVE CARE FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP

If I told you that you could reduce the chance of burning yourself using a curling wand while creating date night hair just by using the little black gloves that come with it, would you use them?  How about if  I showed you the hands of someone who burned themselves because they didn’t use a glove?  Would you be more likely to use a glove then?  Probably, even if it was just for a short time.  Well, what if I told you that having the “money talk” and the subsequent follow-up talks with your significant other will reduce the chance of financial stress and lessen the risk of break up?  How about if I followed up stories about real relationships that burned because of money issues?  Would you have the talk, then?  Think about it like this, taking these steps becomes preventive care for your relationship.  Beyoncé said if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.  I’m telling you if you like it then you should put the black gloves of your relationship on and have the talk!  Save your relationship before it needs saving.

So you now have an idea of what you are getting yourself into… remember this is just the start and you should have several follow-up conversations.  It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will be well worth the effort in the end.  We were seriously dating the first time the Mr. and I discussed money in detail.  It was slightly difficult to start the conversation because I didn’t want him to think that I was only after him for this money.  I explained to him that I was needing reassurance that we were financially compatible and I wanted to introduce a sort of financial intimacy into our relationship.   He was open to it and so was I.  If you have never discussed personal finance with your partner, I encourage you to not let another day go by.  If you are starting the conversation TODAY and don’t know how to start, check out this list of questions that I reference every time the Mr. and I have “the talk”. 

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Monday Motivation | Measure Your Progress Not Your To Do List

The other day I was thinking about all the things I still want to do this year and started to get a little overwhelmed. As someone who is always looking forward and setting new goals, it is easy to get lost in what is left on the rolling to do list. Raise your hand if you can relate. By spending energy constantly thinking about how much we still have to do, we lose focus on what we have done already. One of my personal goals at the beginning of the year was to celebrate my successes, big and small, which to be frank; I have not really kept up with.Monday Motivation | Goal Setting Life Hack to Make Your Progress Feel More Impactful and Less Overwhelming

So today, I am encouraging everyone, myself especially, to review how we measure success and progress. Instead of focusing on how much you have left to do on a goal or project, measure your progress by much you have done already. Success Magazine backs up this paradigm with research. According to an article by Mel Robbins, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, “research proves that seeing your progress and how much you have completed will inspire you to keep pushing”. I will celebrate the fact that I hit my money milestone with my student loans and not on the fact that I have a way to go before I can eliminate my student loan debt altogether. Reaching that milestone was not easy so I have to take a moment and appreciate how far I have come on that path to financial freedom. In addition to keeping a rolling to do list, start a “did it” list that you can go back and refer to when you need a motivational push to keep going. As I said, it is easy to get overwhelmed and forget all the great things you have accomplished. Measuring your progress by what you have accomplished and keeping a rolling list of things that you have completed so far will help each action, big so small, feel more impactful.Goal Setting Tips from She Makes Cents