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.

Equifax Data Breach: How To Find Out If Your Personal Information Was Stolen

Equifax, one of the three largest US consumer credit reporting agencies, announced this week that they were victims of a cyber-security data breach that will potentially affect 143 million U.S. consumers. The cyber hackers got access to names, Social Security numbers, birth dates,  addresses, and driver’s license numbers to nearly half of the U.S. population, with potential breaches also affecting consumers in Canada and the United Kingdom. Although the official statement from Equifax was released this week, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith maintains, “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.  We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.” Just because you are not a consumer of Equifax doesn’t mean that this breach won’t directly affect you. According to CNN, Equifax gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders who report on the credit activity of individuals to credit reporting agencies, as well as by purchasing public records.

How Can You Find Out If You Were Affected By the Equifax Data Breach?

Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted. Additionally, Equifax has established a dedicated website, http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially affected. As a consolation, Equifax is offering one year of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, copies of Equifax credit reports, the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports, identity theft insurance, and internet scanning for Social Security numbers for all U.S. consumers.

Equifax Data Breach: How Can You Find Out If You Were Affected By the Equifax Data Breach?

What You Should Do In the Event of Identity Theft

    1. Review your financial accounts daily
    2. Check your credit history at least twice a year
    3. Immediately report any errors or disputes (click here to see how to get the process started)
    4. Destroy all inactive and expired credit cards
    5. Contact your bank and/or credit card company to set up fraud alerts
    6. Change your passwords
    7. File a formal report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

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

How to Use Art To Blend His & Her Styles at Home

Sponsored: This post contains affiliate links.

The Mr. and I have been married for almost two years now and we have just started to decorate our home in a way that reflects both of our styles. The goal is a little less bachelor pad and a little more like something that reflects both of us. My style used to be eclectic but I am leaning more traditional with pops of accent colors. The Mr., well his style is clean modern lines and about four fewer pillows than I prefer. In addition to blending our furniture preferences, we have been working to blend our varying art styles. I left my 30”x30” canvas print of Audrey Hepburn at my old house for my niece to enjoy. I’m sure the Mr. appreciated that. The same way I took down some of his posters. To blend our two aesthetics, I came up with a design plan that reflects our joint loves, hobbies, and experiences. I believe people should walk in one’s home and think, oh, this is so them.

How to Blend His & Her Styles At Home

One thing that unmistakably represents us both is our love for the city of Atlanta. Although we are from two very different areas, we are both Atlanta natives. We are fluent in Southside, Eastside, and Buckhead, he can recite every Outkast lyric, and I am the queen of the Beltline. These are things we wanted our space together to represent- our love for music, our love for Atlanta, and our love for each other. During our first year of marriage, I bought a 45”x30” Boom Box canvas painting that represents our joint music interest. I then started a gallery wall of wedding pictures to represent our love for each other. The only thing that is missing is something Atlanta. We wanted our home to have a fun Atlanta flair by including iconic elements in the design for our home. What better than an art map of the city?  I started looking for a map that fit the style of our home when Modern Map Art contacted me to see if I would consider one of their maps in exchange for telling she makes cents readers about the experience.  They come in a range of cities and colors, including Aruba where we spent our honeymoon, but of course, we only had one city in mind.  

We decided on the black print because we both love the crisp contrast.  After we narrowed down the best color option for our home, the print arrived about 3 days later.  We both were pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t a traditional poster print.  The paper has a velvet-like finish that looks even better in person.   I am really into is oversize artwork so I requested the largest print size of 24″x36″ with the plan to have it matted and framed.  In my opinion, oversize art makes everything look more expensive and special, results my wallet and hubby can both appreciate.  One thing to keep in mind, though, when considering large-scale art for your home is framing.  I wanted to frame this print with a 4″ mat, which means I am now moving into custom framing which can be expensive.  To save money, I gave up the matted background.  The Mr. and I found a simple frame at our local Target and added the print in it the moment we got home.  Seriously, don’t you just love the scale of this? The Mr. modeled the print for me because I looked naked trying to take a similar picture in a dress.She Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintShe Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintWe are so proud of our growing art collection!  We keep trying out our new Atlanta print from Modern Map Art in different locations to find the best location in our home.  For now, it lives right next to our beloved Boom Box painting.  To grab your very own print to remember your hometown, the place you fell in love, or the best vacay ever, click here.  Insider Tip: Follow them on Instagram for 10% off your purchase  (code: INSTA10).

Major Milestone | She Makes Cents 6th Year Anniversary!

blogiversarySix years ago shemakescents started as a way for me to share my financial journey with the world… and by that I mean my dad and my cousin Dot because they were the only two people reading my stuff in the early days.  I kept writing because I wanted to share my story and connect with others.  I knew my financial journey felt different from my other twenty-something friends because they would come to me with their questions about buying a house and how to get ahead of student loan debt during a recession. Soon, other people joined my dad and cousin in subscribing to the blog and that was the first time I really felt like I wasn’t talking to myself.  In the past 6 years, I have been so surprised by the people who take a moment out of their busy day to tell me how much they enjoy reading shemakescents.  You have been with me when I paid off my credit card, bought a car off Craigslist and got married.  To the 1.3 MILLION visitors to she makes cents…. thank you for joining me for the past 6 years.  Stay tuned, 2017 has the potential to be our best year yet!

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What The Navient Lawsuit Means for Student Loan Borrowers

The government or more specifically the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)  filed a lawsuit against Navient, the nation’s largest student loan service provider last week. Navient is the twin sister to the head of the student loan mafia, Sallie Mae, Inc. that services the loans of more than 12 million borrowers, including my own.  As a loan service provider, they manage borrowers’ accounts, process monthly payments, and communicate directly with borrowers.  The suit was filed on January 18th  with another following just days before the transition of presidential power.navient-lawsuit

According to the CFPB Director, Richard Cordray, “Navient chose to shortcut and deceive consumers to save on operating costs. Too many borrowers paid more for their loans because Navient illegally cheated them and today’s action seeks to hold them accountable.” Some of the most pressing allegations include failing to correctly apply or allocate borrower payments to their accounts, steering struggling borrowers toward paying more than they have to on loans, obscured information consumers needed to maintain their lower payments and deceived private student loan borrowers about requirements to release their co-signer from the loan.  

What That Means for You?

If this lawsuit is successful, consumers affected by Navient’s alleged misdoings may receive some monetary restitution.  Don’t get too excited yet.  This is not a class-action suit that you can sign up for.  According to ClassAction.org, “Attorneys usually find out those who were affected by looking at the defendant’s records in a phase of the litigation known as the discovery phase. People who could be covered by the suit are usually sent a notice or check in the mail. The agency that filed the lawsuit will also have information on their website about the suit and who can claim money in the event of a settlement”.

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{Splurge or Save} Christian Louboutin Nail Polish


christian-louboutin-nail-polish

Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have an affinity toward nail polish. The Mr. once described my behavior in a Sephora on the Las Vegas strip as a “lioness approaching her prey”. With that being said, I have tried it all and I must say, nail polish should not be a splurge. Take the Christian Louboutin nail lacquer that was released yesterday. For $50.00 a bottle, that is smaller than the average nail polish bottle I might add, what are you getting?- A nice rouge polish that can be replicated with OPI or even NYX polish (which is becoming my new favorite because of how long it lasts). You see, you are paying for a name, cool branding with the spiked top, and for people to see you wearing Christian Louboutin. But unlike his shoes, which can be readily identified by their distinctive red bottoms, no one is going to recognize your Rouge Louboutin polish. Think about it like this, 12 bottles of polish could buy you a pair of Louboutin heels…which I would consider a better investment, by far.  

Splurge or Save? : SAVE

Danielle

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpgWould you spend $50.00 for nail polish?

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{Personal Story} The Mr. Asked Me to be His Mrs.

He stole my heart, so I’m stealing his last name!

It’s been a minute, but I have a really great reason for getting slightly off the editorial schedule. One week ago, the Mr. asked me to be his Mrs. That’s right folks, I’m GETTING MARRIED!! Every since I was a little girl I have dreamed of this moment.  Yesterday, when visiting my dad, he reminded me of a school project I had when I was five or six years old.  Then when asked to write about what I wanted to be when I grew up, my proudly wrote a ballerina, a bride, and a firefighter.  Well, at least I got two out of three.  Ever since he proposed, life has been a complete whirlwind in the best kind of way.  In honor of this exciting time, I’d like to share some of my favorite Money and Relationship posts of the past.

{Money & Friendships} The Real Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

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

{Money & Relationships} One Reason He Hasn’t Put A Ring On It!

{Money & Relationships} 5 Money Questions You Need to Ask Your Significant Other TODAY!

Let’s Connect!

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{The Bouqs} The Most Epic Way to Buy Flowers – But Is It Worth It?

You know I’m all about using my “cents” to live a fabulous life. As I get older, however, I’m feel empowered to define and redefine what a fab life looks and feels to me. One thing that is classic and has always made me feel… well fabulous is fresh flowers at home. It’s something about them that makes me feel very adult and chic, which inspires me to get my house super neat and clean as if Elle Décor was coming through. Being in the event design industry, I am fortunate to see all sorts of beautiful floral from around the world. Being on a financial plan, though, means that it is imperative to find creative yet economical ways to make sure that a simple luxury like fresh flowers is in the budget. Check out what could be one of my new go-to stops for fresh flowers on a budget.

The Bouqs

The Bouqs is a company out of California who contacted me last month about reviewing their product. Prior to that, I had not heard of them (I guess I missed that episode of Shark Tank). After doing a little digging, I learned that they offer sustainable and eco-friendly flowers that are grown on an active volcano in South America. Have you ever had volcano flowers??? Yeah, neither had I, so I had to order a bouq (short for bouquet) and let you all know if this is worth adding to your “simple luxuries” money envelope. I went to their website and I was immediately impressed that they had Ranunculus at a time when my floral distributor could not even get them for my brides at work. Swoon-worthy right?

While I LOVE ranunculus, I wanted something with a little flirty touch, so I took a chance and ordered their Desperado bouquet. As seen below, the Desperado is comprised of a lovely composition of pink roses and soft purple Dianthus. I thought the colors were gorgeous so I pressed “order” and waited a week. The delivery came as scheduled, but to my surprise, my pink and purple bouquet was all pink. It was not a big problem, but it just wasn’t what I expected… until I looked online and saw the note that stated: “Pink Roses with Purple Dianthus or similar accent flowers“. This folks, is a prime example of why it is important to read to the end of the line and the bottom of the page J.

Being that I had these delivered to my office, I had a slew of vases in our floral department to choose from. They arrived in a box so I immediately cut them under water at a slight angle to help them last longer. I also was advised by one of our senior designers at my office to remove all extra leaves and cut them short so that water and flower food is not wasted on foliage. I mixed in the flower food that was provided and started playing with how I wanted to style the arrangement I was making. This was my first arrangement right after I took it out of the box on day one.

 

Day Three

A Week Later

Bouqs start at $40.00 an order, including shipping, and would be a great option for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, dinner parties or just because. It’s not in my financial plan to get these weekly, but I will definitely take advantage of their concierge service that allows you to schedule floral deliveries to your favorite people. I know I will also use them again because the quality, service, and ability to stay fresh longer than your grocery store flowers makes it worth the money. I will list this as: A GOOD BUY.

 

What’s Your Take on Fresh Flowers? Fab or a Waste of Money

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What ONE Word Do You Want People To Think Of When They Think of YOU?

Recently, I was asked this question and I  admittedly I drew a blank… at least for the first few minutes of the conversation.  Over the years I have gone back and forth about whether other’s views of me are important and I have come to realize that while I can’t control what other people think, I can control the energy I  put out into the world. Since the conversation earlier this week, this subject has come up in both a professional and social setting where cause and effect and appearance and reality merge. Professionally, what your coworkers think of you and how they describe you to others could have an effect on your progression within your company and/or chosen field.  If excellence is not your brand and others share their thoughts of you with others, you could seem to others as anything and everything less than excellent.

thought cloud

So I ask you…. what ONE word do you want people to think of when they think of you?

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