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.

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 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

Money Challenge | January Savings Recap


Hello #SMCmoneytribe and welcome to the weekend!  We are a month into the challenge with almost 50% more participants than the previous year.  Great job everyonet ladies!!! That says to me, they there are people out there making smarter money moves in 2017.  What made this year different for me was including the Mr. so we can double the money from this challenge.  Full disclosure…. the Mr. decided it was easier for him to remember if he just set a fixed amount of $50.00 per week to the challenge.  It makes it easier for him and I like it because even if I cross off a lower amount, I have the $50.00 to add to it.

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Show Me the Money!!!

Week one was all about learning how to win at the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  For week two, the focus was inspiring you to stay motivated toward your savings goals.  It is easy to keep your eyes on the prize in the beginning of the year, also know as Resolutions Season,  but getting through 52 weeks is only hard if you lose motivation.  Week three, the country paused to witness the transition of presidential power and we did too.  Before I knew it, we successfully completed month one of the money challenge.  Below is the financial breakdown for the month of January.monthly-review-template

How to Join the Challenge

Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE bingo money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.

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How to Stay Motivated To Save Money


she makes cents money blogHappy Friday #SMCmoneytribe.  I am coming to you on week two of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge to talk about the subject of motivation.  I imagine most people join this challenge for one major reason; they want their future financial situation to be better than their current circumstances.  This can be with respect to a very specific goal, such as saving for vacation or it could simply be the catalyst to fostering better saving habits like starting an emergency fund.  Either way, you accepted the challenge and are in it to win it, so I ask you…what keeps you motivated?

How I Stay Motivated

It’s very strange to say, but I am just as motivated by not disappointing readers like you as I am to clear my now $18,025.00 balance on my student loans.  This goes back to the idea of the #SMCmoneytribe and the village of supportive accountability partners who know my goal and know my progress.  Should I miss a week, which has happened before…hey, I am human, I think about all the people whom I’m sharing this experience with and I do whatever it takes to catch up.  I tell people all the time, if you get off track, either catch up or start over but don’t give up.Quotes

Watching my balance go down is also a very gratifying feeling.  I know where I started, I know where I want to be, and I know that timeline I have given myself to accomplish my ultimate goal to be completely debt free, not including my mortgage, within the next 3 years.

When I had credit card debt, I would allocate the weekly deposits from this challenge along with a monthly set payment of $300.00 to pay off my balance quickly.  Once I eliminated that debt, I set aside that $300.00 + the weekly deposits from this challenge to make quarterly lump sum payments towards my student loan principal.  This, my friends is what you call snowballing your debt.  I know how I excited I get to see my balance on the student loans go down at the slow pace it is currently moving since so much of the payment goes towards interest and not the principal.  The idea that my balance is about to make a major decrease by attacking the principal head on is the fuel I need to keep me motivated toward my larger goal of debt-free living.

Week 2 Update | She Makes Cents Money Challenge

For week two, I decided to cross off $25.00 on my bingo money card.  Since the Mr. and I are joining forces this year, that gives us a joint year-to-date (YTD) total of $145.00.

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What’s Your Motivation To Save? Please share below

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How To Win on the She Makes Cents Money Challenge

Happy 1st Friday of 2017 everyone and welcome to the 2017 version of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge!  Need a quick overview of the She Makes Cents Money Challenge?… click hereIf you know me, you know I LOVE Fridays.  It’s the day I eat tacos and drink margaritas with a sugar rim, it kicks off the weekend, and it’s the day I make smart money moves on the She Makes Cents Bingo Money Challenge!bingo-money-challenge

The Benefits

They say you should do something today that your future self will thank you for and that is what this money challenge is for me and the #SMCmoneytribe.  As a part of the #SMCmoneytribe you will take this financial journey with the best accountability partners….other readers like you.  Last year I paid off my credit card completely and I am still carrying a zero balance (insert angels singing…seriously can you hear them?).  While I have used the money from this challenge to help pay down debt, other members of the tribe have used their savings to go on vacations, pay for professional certifications, holiday gifts for family, and to ramp up their emergency funds.  By accepting this challenge, you will gain more than the financial payout… you will gain a new sense of discipline, determination, and better money habits overall.

Should you get off track, you can always catch up or start over, we just ask that you don’t give up on this challenge, your goals, or yourself.  YOU can do it and you have an entire TRIBE of people cheering you on!

Double the Fundanielle-yb-vason-and-michael-vason

This year I have talked the Mr. into participating…sort of like a dollar for dollar matching.  For every number I cross off and save, he will match it.  If we decided to “double of fun” last year, we would have saved almost $4,000.00 together.  I’m doing this with the hubby because we have a shared travel goals and an invested goal to reduce my student loan debt.  The cool thing is that you don’t need a spouse to double your savings, you can do this with anyone who you know and trust who shares your goal.  Saving for a girl’s trip, why not combine efforts with your bestie(s)?

If you share your progress on social media (which I highly recommend), please make sure you use the hashtags #SMCmoneytribe so the tribe can cheer you on!

How to Join the Challenge

Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE bingo money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.  

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{2017 BINGO Money Challenge} The Easiest Way to Save Money In the New Year

It’s the season when people begin making new plans to start afresh in the New Year. We make goals/resolutions and we vow to take this great opportunity to reset and do better than the year before. Sound familiar? It’s important that we take time to reflect on this crazy year so we are that much more successful when we start over in 2017.   Were your financial goals attained? Did you fall off? Did your goals change? easietway-toavemoney

shemakescents  BINGO Money Challenge

This year some of my most basic financial goals included paying off my credit cards, snowballing my student loans, seeing the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge to completion.  For those of you who are new to shemakescents.com, the BINGO Money Challenge is a remix of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that went viral a few years ago.  The original challenge was to make a weekly deposit that reflects the number of weeks of the year. For example, on week one you deposit $1.00 and on week 52 you deposit $52.00 and so on.  However, doing it this way will have you shelling out the big bucks during the holidays when people’s money is the most limited.   I thought to myself…”Danielle, how can you find a way to honor the challenge in a way that will not hurt you financially?”  Then I came up with the idea to create a “bingo” style format.  The original version only has a max savings potential of $1378.00 whereas this version has an average of $1900.00+ .

This year, I have been pretty successful with this goal and my other financial goals from the standpoint that I never gave up. There were a few bumps in the road but I pushed through and so many of you did too.  In pushing through, I was able to find more efficient ways to work towards my 2017 money goals.

Introducing the #SMCmoneytribe

In reflecting on the past year, I noticed that those of you who participated in the weekly check-ins for the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge, via Twitter and the Facebook group (click the links to follow), had the highest success rates.  For 2017, all those who take part in the BINGO Money Challenge will become members of the #SMCmoneytribe giving you access to personalized check-ins, support of others with similar money goals, and a FREE printable of the 2017 version of the bingo money sheet.  Together we will reach our money goals and enjoy the company of other goal-oriented readers.  Past members have used their savings for travel, holiday gifts, pay down debt, save for a car down payment, and pay for professional certifications.  The sky is the limit with the savings because of the bonus boxes and if you really want to up the ante you can do so by doubling the value of each box.

Related Post: {Reader Success Story} A Shockingly Easy Way to Save Money for Fun2017-tribe-quote

If you would like the full benefits of joining our #SMCmoneytribe, please click here to download your money card sheet.  We would love to have you apart of our group.  Did I mention I have saved a little under $1,900.00 with two more weeks to go for the year??    If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@shemakescents.com .  

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{Life Skills} How To Comeback From A Setback

Goals and Setbacks

I came across this quote the other day and I thought it was too good not to share.  I talk and write about goals all the time, but I rarely write about how to stay on track after a setback.   In the simplest of definitions, a setback occurs when there is a reversal in progress.  Last year, I had a slight financial setback when I put a few thousand dollars on my previously paid off credit card.  I consider this a setback because it literally set me back and an entire year of my money snowball and the added interest I will be paying to make up that year is definitely a reversal of progress. This year, my setback was not being exactly where I wanted to be career wise.  This is something that has stressed me out a great deal until I realized this is my arrow year.  They say an arrow can be shot only by pulling it backward so when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.  I hope this post launches you back onto your chosen path to greatness.

4 Steps to Come Back from A Set Backsetbacks-and-come-backs-she-makes-cents

  1. Question Your Goals.  Are the goals you set for yourself still relevant?  What was important to you six months ago, may not even be on your radar anymore.  That being said, it is okay to abandon goals that you have outgrown for more relevant endeavors.   Take a step back and examine your career, relationships, and finances and decide what’s worth resetting and what can be let go.

  2.  Setbacks Are Meant for Learning.   Okay, so your proverbial “tire” got a flat.  What was your lesson?  Was it to slow down?  Focus more on the road ahead?  Lean into the curves that life throws you?  The only waste of a setback is not learning the lesson.  A lesson missed is a mistake waiting to be repeated.

  3. Break Down Your Goals Into Smaller Manageable Goals.  Sometimes people have a reversal in progress when they get overwhelmed by the task at hand.  It’s like eating pizza.  You shouldn’t be able to eat the entire pie at one time, you have to eat it slice by slice.  Weird example, I know… but you get the point.  Here’s something a little more personal.  I have a goal to be debt free (not including our mortgages) in the next five years.  If I looked at the $27,000 in credit card and student loan debt in its entirety, I might have easily gotten overwhelmed with my goal.  I had to break it down into smaller manageable goals.  First I separated the debts- $5,000.00 for credit cards and $22,000.00 for the remainder of my student loans.  I then set separate goals dates to be done with the debt.  For example, my goal was to pay off my credit card debt by August 1, 2016,  and I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal ahead of time.  I did that by setting weekly goals with the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge and bi-weekly goals of making a minimum $150.00 payment every two weeks regardless of the minimum payment.  With the credit cards out of the way, I am now able to snowball that money to tackle  part two of my student loans and knock out that remaining debt in four years or less.  

  4. Set a Goal Date & Get Her Done.  In this post, “{Got Goals} How To Make and Achieve Your Goals” I break down the tools needed to complete this step.  Check out the post and you will see what I’m talking about.  Don’t forget when breaking down your goals into smaller manageable goals to assign milestone markers for you to stop and reflect on your progress. When I got my credit card under the $1,000.00 mark, I stopped and patted myself on the back because I could see my achievements in the near future. shemakescents-com