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

The SMC Money Challenge is back and better than ever. After a successful 2018 run, the SMC Money Tribe, a community of goal-setting women who accepted the challenge to invest in their money and lifestyle goals, is ready to take on a new money challenge. We are shifting mindsets while tackling debt, saving money, and replacing bad money habits with smart money moves. Beginning on January 3, 2019, weekly progress check-ins will open up every Thursday at 7pm (EST) and will stay open until Sunday at midnight in SMC Money Challenge Facebook group and on the She Makes Cents Instagram account. During that time, SMC Money Tribe members are expected to invest in their goals by participating in weekly progress updates, money chats, and mini-challenges with the best accountability partners out there…other women with money-saving goals. Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. This is why a community for women to discuss personal finance without shame or embarrassment is important.

Last year, SMC Money Tribe leader, Danielle YB Vason and her hubby, used the SMC Money Challenge to save money for EXTRA debt payments. In doing so, they paid off over $19,000.00 in debt in 2018 alone. Other tribe members, like Victoria from Atlanta, shared a $27,000.00 debt payoff and Angela from Australia saved enough money for a 5-week vacation to Mexico and the US. Regardless of whether you are joining the challenge to pay off debt, save for the future, or save for something specific like a house, wedding, or vacation, the SMC Money Challenge is for you!

How to Jump Start Your Money Goals In the New Year from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

How Does the 2019 SMC Money Challenge Work?

At the beginning of the year, a new money challenge guide is created (this is a FREE download for members of the SMC Money Tribe). Each week, tribe members select one number from their money guide with the option to add “bonus” money and save that amount toward their money goal. With the bonus option, the sky’s the limit with one’s saving potential.

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

It took a few attempts, but finally, the perfect mix of inspiration, determination, and discipline combined and I was able to make it through 52 weeks successfully. The next year, I added in “bonus boxes” on my money guide and saved a little more. Then I added a way to track the savings. You see, every year I complete the challenge, I find a new way to tweak it and make it better for next year and I must say the 2019 SMC Money Challenge guide is proof of that. Now, I am proud to say that I have successfully completed 156 consecutive weeks doing this challenge. In my three successful cycles of 52 weeks, I have used the money to make EXTRA payments to my debt snowball. I paid off my credit card debt, my student loans are paid in full, and when of writing this post, I am projected to pay off my car loan 4.8 years ahead of schedule (by February 2019)…and that is just a snippet of my journey.  I am not a personal finance blogger who sold all of her stuff and lives off rice and beans.  I am not rich nor did I come from a wealthy family.  I am an “every girl” that woke up one day and decided I could do better for myself and for my future.  I made a choice 156 weeks ago to change my financial future.  What choice will you make today that your future self will thank you for?

How to Join the 2019 SMC Money Challenge?

  1. Follow @shemakescents on Instagram
  2. Post this image below in your Instagram Story  or this image to your Instagram grid (you MUST tag @shemakescents to I can see it).
  3. Join the SMC Facebook Group (this will be your home base for the tribe to ask questions, support each other, and hold each other accountable).
  4. Print your FREE 2019 SMC Money Challenge Guide

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge from top Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents>
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How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents>

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

BEFORE THE CHALLENGE

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

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

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

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

Below is a letter to my future self…

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

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

[Related Post: How to Attract Financial Abundance]

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

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


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


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

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2018 February Recap | 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

We are approaching week ten of the 2018 She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge and I must say, that this year’s money tribe is the most committed tribe we have had in three years.  For those of you who may be new to this blog, the She Makes Cents Money Tribe (SMCmoneytribe) is an uplifting community of women from all over the world that supports each other’s financial journey and savings endeavors.  Every week, we share our wins, big or small and celebrate each other’s progress.  At the beginning of the year, it is easy to be motivated by the “newness” of everything, but as the year goes on, many people find it  Generally, the month of February is when most people abandon the goals and habits they resolved to attain.  In fact,  according to Business Insider,  80% of people fail their New Year Resolutions by February so the #SMCmoneytribe is going strong means that we are beating the odds with our money goals and resolutions we made for ourselves at the beginning of 2018.  WAY TO GO, TRIBE!

How To Save Real Money With This Money Challenge | February Savings/Income Report 52 Week Bingo Money Challenge from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog, She Makes Cents

How To Save Real Money With This Money Challenge | February Savings/Income Report 52 Week Bingo Money Challenge from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog, She Makes Cents


February Recap: 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Back in January Recap of the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge, I shared a MAJOR goal to have my student loans PAID IN FULL by October 2019.  In order for me to reach this big money goal, I have to aim for smaller milestones along the way.  For the month of February, I saved a total of $210.00 on this challenge by crossing off $45, $15, $50, $49, plus a $51 bonus.  Every week, without fail, I select a number from the She Makes Cents Money Guide and I send that amount to my student loan provider.  Additionally, since the Mr. and I are knocking out this debt together, the Mr.’s contribution of $250.00 helped us to send an extra $460.00 (in addition to the monthly payment) toward student loan debt.

This time last year, I had over $18,000.00 in student loan debt with a goal to get my student loan balance to $12,505.00.  Not only did I hit that goal, I surpassed it before the end of the year.  By January 2018, I had a balance of $12,505.00 (the extra $5 was because of the daily accruing interest) and I closed the month of February at $11,378.37.


How to Join the 2018 SMC Money Tribe

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge - from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

The new 2018 SMC Money Tribe Facebook group will serve as a “home base” for the #SMCmoneytribe.  There you will be directed to fill out a quick registration form and download the money card. This is a space for active members and as a member of the SMCmoneytribe, you will gain exclusive content, motivation, and financial tips and tricks that will help you whether you are saving to pay down debt like me or saving to take a fabulous trip or two in the new year (also me).  This year, you will have the option to do your weekly check-ins on Friday and/or Saturday on all of our social media handles to make it easily accessible to people who are only active on certain platforms.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN JOIN THE TRIBE & THE MONEY CHALLENGE…

  1. Join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook Group
  2. Complete the registration form to select your weekly check-in date
  3. Follow She Makes Cents on InstagramTwitterFacebook
  4. Pick a savings goal & get ready to save some $$$$ in 2018

    shemakescents header image - 2018

Your Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge IN 2018

Updated: Get Your FREE 2019 SMC Money Challenge Guide

Today is the last weekend of 2017 and my last check-in for the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge for the year.  In fact, this past Friday marked 104 consecutive weeks of doing this money challenge successfully.  In the past two years, I have eliminated my credit card debt altogether as well as shaved YEARS off my student loan repayment term.  More importantly, I have cultivated a habit of saving money.  Personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge according to the financial writer, Dave Ramsey. To be successful doing this money challenge I had to change my behavior and put saving for my money goals above fleeting things and experiences.  That was something that took a few failed attempts to learn.  Yes, a few years ago I would start the challenge, hit a mini goal, and fall off.  Then two years ago, I realized that I had to do something different if I wanted different results… and so I did.The Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week Bingo Money Challenge- from She Makes Cents

What is the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge?

The BINGO Money Challenge is a variation of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that I created back in 2013.  The original challenge called for people to save money according to the number of weeks of the year.  For example, on week one you would save $1.00 and on week 52 you would save $52.00.  At that time in my career, I had a base salary and I worked on commission so my checks were never consistent.  I attempted the challenge and failed. Hey, it happens.  I then thought to myself, girlfriend…. you should make a “bingo” version…  So I created my first bingo money card and started saving because the original version did not work for me. I needed something that would set me up for success.  The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you cross off $52 dollars on the 52nd week of the year, all that matters is that you cross off a box on the money card every week.  Either way, you end up saving the same amount of money and you have the ability to save more or less based off how your current financial situation for each week.  Since then, the BINGO Money Challenge has evolved into a money challenge with unlimited savings potential.

Who is the SMC Money Tribe?

The support from She Makes Cents readers started to pour in when I began sharing my progress on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  At the time, my money goals were top of mind but also was the new realization that I had to report my progress to people who were invested in my success.  I started to get emails and social media shout outs from readers who started the bingo version of the challenge themselves.  Before I knew it, I had accountability partners that I have never met who shared their progress.  We supported the BIG wins and the days were all anyone could afford to save was $1.00.  We were on this money-saving journey together and friendships started.  Now, the SMC Money Tribe is an uplifting community of women from all over the world that supports each other’s financial journey and savings endeavors.  Every year people contact me for the latest version of the SMC Bingo Money Card and I found that the most successful people had one major thing in common. In fact, people were 79% more likely to complete the challenge if they are active in the SMC Money Tribe.  It makes sense when you think about it because you have accountability partners there to lift you up when the challenge gets hard to keep up with.

How to Join the 2018 SMC Money Tribe

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge - from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes CentsThe new 2018 SMC Money Tribe Facebook group will serve as a “home base” for the #SMCmoneytribe.  There you will be directed to fill out a quick registration form and download the money card.   This is a space for active members and as a member of the SMCmoneytribe, you will gain exclusive content, motivation, and financial tips and tricks that will help you whether you are saving to pay down debt like me or saving to take a fabulous trip or two in the new year (also me).  This year, you will have the option to do your weekly check-ins on Friday and/or Saturday on all of our social media handles to make it easily accessible to people who are only active on certain platforms. 

Here is how you get started…

  1. Join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook Group
  2. Complete the registration form to select your weekly check-in date
  3. Follow She Makes Cents on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
  4. Pick a savings goal & get ready to save some $$$$ in the New Year


52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | October Recap & End of the Year Money Goals

This morning, I took out my shemakescents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge card to forecast what the next seven weeks of the year will be like, from a money savings goal perspective. Since January, I have saved money every week with the challenge and in doing so; I have cultivated a habit of saving. Financial guru, Dave Ramsey says that “personal finance is 80% behavior and 20″ head knowledge” and I am very inclined to agree. If you are a new reader and have no idea what the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge is, click here to catch up. After forecasting the rest of the year to see whether I would be able to hit my latest money goal, getting my student loans to $12,500 or under by December 31, 2017, I started doing money projections for 2018.

First, I calculated how much and how quickly my debt would decrease if I made the same amount of money and repeated my most success money moves as I did this year. I then upped the ante to see how adding another $100 per month or $200 per month would get me closer to my goal of eliminating my student loan debt altogether. Finally, I increased my snowball calculations to see how quickly my debt would decrease if my income increased to match what I put on my vision board.  Looking at debt from these three different perspectives shows me the true cost of making different and better money moves, as well as, how quickly I can dump my debt.She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | Success StoryWhy do I do this, you ask? Sometimes I need a visual reminder of my goal at hand. I hear so many people say that they will never pay their debt off or that they are so overwhelmed by their debt that they choose not to even think about it, let alone to look at it. Do you remember that time, I broke down the difference between one day versus day one? If I waited years ago to get serious about tackling my debt, especially my student loans, I would never have been projected to hit my goal date by 2020, eleven years ahead of Sallie’s Mae schedule. The visual of saving eleven years of interest is enough to keep me motivated for these next three years.  That is because when you visualize something, especially positive associations with money, you give yourselves permission to prepare yourself to receive it.  

You don’t have to make a lot of money to get back on course with your money savings goals, nor do you have to be a personal finance guru. In the past two years, I have thrown an extra $5,550.00+ toward this debt (on top of my monthly payment) by chipping away at it piece by piece. In order to crush your savings goals, you first must change your mindset about your ability to succeed. Then you change your bad money habits and replace them with great money habits that honor your money goals. You see, it is not what we do every once in a while that makes us successful. Success is gained in our daily habits.

As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, I look forward to making new and fresh goals for myself. I look forward to not repeating my mistakes of the past and being willing to step out on faith when it comes to opportunities that come my way. Today, I affirm my success with my money goals for myself and for you too.
She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Money Challenge Half Year Review

There are times when you are working toward a goal and it is hard to see the progress of your work.  This, my friends, is not one of those stories.  Since January of this year, the #SMCmoneytribe and I have used the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge that I created to save towards each of our money goals.  Many members of the SMC Money Tribe are saving for a dream vacation and it makes me proud that because of their planning and saving, their dream to see the world can happen without disrupting their long-term money goals.  I, on the other hand, am saving money to use as extra payments toward my student loan debt.  This process is known as a debt snowball.  Snowballing your debts helps you pay them off much faster and can save thousands of dollars in interest.  In my case, my student loans are keeping me from progressing to Baby Step 3 from financial guru Dave Ramsey because they are the last of my debts, not including my mortgage. 

Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents, shares her story on how she is tackling her debt using her money challenge and Dave Ramsey Baby Steps

JUNE RECAP

Last month was the first time I can remember actually seeing progress to reduce my student debt and this month blew last month’s money recap out of the water.  For the month of June, I saved more money than any of the previous months and the last four months combined.  I sent two major snowballs to my student loan provider to pay down the balance instead of pushing back my next due date.  This lets your money work for you and not the other way around.  I also saved $326.00 for the month and hit the $700.00 YTD mark for this challenge.  With a contribution from the Mr., we have saved a combined $1,575.00 that we could have easily spent on frivolous things.  Thanks, babe!  Teamwork makes the dream work.

MONEY GOAL TRACKING

At the beginning of the year, I wrote out my money goals and one of them were to pay off my credit card debt, which I did.  The second one was to have my student loans at or under $15,000.00 by the end of the year.  Around April of this year, I upped that goal date to October and then again, in May, I thought I would push myself further and make it a goal to have the balance at $15,000.00 by the end of my birthday month, August.  I did this because a goal date of the end of the year ensured that I would hit the goal, but with such a long time to work toward the goal, it took away the hustle for it.  By pushing the date up to August, it really forces me to review how I am spending and saving money and keeps me motivated to the short-term goal at hand.

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52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | March Recap

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.See how finance and lifestyle blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents, stays motivated toward her money goals to pay off debt

 

Money Challenge 2017 | February Savings Recap

Hello  #SMCmoneytribe!  Can you believe that we just finished the second month of the she makes cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge?  I sure can’t.  As we approach a new month I can’t  help by wonder, how many of you are still going strong on the challenge?  According to  Business Insider, 80% of people fail their New Year Resolutions by February.  It is easy to have a laser focus on your money, career, and lifestyle goals when a clear transition is before you.  Think about all of the people who vow to do better in the new year, who will start clean eating on Monday (aka the start of the new week), and who pledge to start saving more once they earn their next paycheck.  Anybody recognize themselves in the statements above?… as I raise my own hand.  The thing about all of those examples is that is pushes off you goals to another day; therefore, delaying your ultimate reward- a goal accomplished.  Last Friday marked the end of month 2 for the she makes cents  52 Week BINGO Money Challenge and the best thing about our money challenge is that you can easily catch up if you have fallen behind or you start over. The greatest thing about this challenge is that as long as you don’t stop, you will win at your financial goals.

new-year-resoultions-statistics

 February Recap

Below is the financial breakdown for the month of February.  As you can see, I crossed off lower numbers than the previous month.    I saved an extra $41.00 this month putting me at a YTD of  $149.00.  I  am really looking forward to March.  Hopefully, I will cross off my first bonus box of the year.

How Are You Doing on the Money Challenge? I’d love to hear from you!


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Block Anything That Gets In The Way of Your Goals | Money Challenge Week 5

Hello Lovelies and welcome to Super Bowl weekend.  This folks, is a big deal for everyone from my hometown of Atlanta!  Since it is Super Bowl weekend, I will break down today’s money inspiration for you in sports terms. I want to inspire you to check your financial plan.  Is it current?  Does it reflect your current financial status and goals (gosh, the last time I posted mine was in 2013)?  If you’ve never created a financial plan that’s okay too because today is a great time to do so.  Your financial plan is like your game playbook.  Your money is the football and it is your job to block anything that gets in your way of getting to you getting to your goal.  To do so, you have to reference your financial playbook from time to time.  There will be setbacks (see How to Comeback from a Setback), people who will attempt to block your progress, and times you may have to go out of bounds.   Trust me, you can win at this debt game! Let’s turn your Xs and Os to dollar signs.  shemakescents-com-1The weekly habit of saving money with the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge will always be a part of my financial plan.  I saved $108.00 dollars for the month of January and today I have crossed off $21.00 putting me at a YTD of $129.00.  I can’t wait to see how many thousands of dollars I save again this year.   So many of you shared with me that your savings will be going toward vacations and paying down debt.  Let’s make sure that you have also included this money challenge into your financial plan so we can see your savings increase and your money challenge rewards materialize.  Everyone have a fantastic weekend and Atlanta Rise Up!shemakescents-com-2