{2017 Word of the Year} How One Word Will Guide My Entire Year

fb-qotd-templateI pose this question every year and 2017 is no different.  What one word reflects your vision for 2017?  So many of you submitted thoughtful responses via the SMC Facebook group and Instagram such as “gentleness”, “perseverance”, “do”,  and “focus”.  I even had one response that was in line with my word of the year…INTENTION from the Instagram handle @yourlifefinance.  By definition, intention is a determination to act in a certain way.  I chose “intention” to reflect my vision for 2017 because it adds purpose to all thoughts, words, and actions.  To be honest, I have found that haphazard thoughts, words, and actions tend to get me into trouble.  Toward the end of the year, I started asking God to guide my words so that I speak with intention and not for the sake of attention.  This past year was my year of BRAVERY and even though it started out shaky, I ended the year with one of my bravest moves yet (post to come later on that one…).  intention-adds-purpose-to-all-thoughts-words-and-actionsFour years ago was my year of BALANCE, 2014 was my year of FOCUS, 2015 was my year of PASSION, 2016 was my year of BRAVERY, and I welcome my year of INTENTION.  I am working very hard to make sure that my words and actions are in line with the following criteria:  Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it truthful?  As each year passes,  I take a moment and reflect on why I chose my earlier words, where I was in my personal development for that to be a necessary focus, and how I  incorporated the meaning of  those words in my life.  

What’s Your Word for 2017 and why did you pick it? Share Below!

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{Financial Cents} BINGO Money Challenge Hits MAJOR Milestone

Coins of Knowledge

Hello Lovelies!  I have some exciting news to share with you this morning.  Yesterday I crossed off $14.00 – doesn’t sound too exciting yet, but wait for it….. – on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  That $14.00 put me at the $1,000.00 mark for this money challenge!  –INSERT HAPPY DANCE!!!!

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On the same day that I hit the $1,000.00 mark in savings, I also hit the under $1,000.00 mark in my credit card balance!!!  While I am proud of the financial gains made in the first six months of this challenge, I am even more excited about the about the savings habits I have created for myself.  I believe that creating a healthy savings routine is the first step on my journey to DEBT FREE living.  I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine who made the observation that I have only been focusing on saving and not making increasing my sources of income a priority.  In a lot of ways she was correct.  I have placed a serious focus this year on saving because in the past, I would start the year strong with savings goals and plans for myself only to find some of them abandoned by mid-year.  That being said, splitting my focus between increasing streams of income and saving would have only created more problems at that point in my journey when I wasn’t steadfast in making saving a priority.  The phrase, “More Money, More Problems”, exists for a reason.  Without a healthy savings routine and more income coming in, I could have easily  created more debt and worsen bad spending habits.  I have spent the first six months of this year really focusing on correcting past bad behaviors and replacing them with healthy habits.  Now that I have solid saving habits, I can start also focusing on increasing income and using that increase to move on the next snowball in my overall financial plan- student loans debt. I attribute my success to personal will, saying no to social (sometimes), and having accountability partners, like readers of She Makes Cents to help keep me motivated.  I would love to hear how you are doing with this challenge… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

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Please share below or feel free to email me.

{Week 4 Progress Report} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

It’s the fourth Friday of the year which means it’s time for the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  Today I have crossed off $20.00 on my BINGO money sheet.  This puts me at a total of $245.00 extra dollars to be applied to my credit card balance.  What makes this challenge exciting to me is that fact that I’m saving little chucks of money that I don’t miss in my day to day life.  I know with each passing week, those “little chucks of money” will start snowballing into something bigger. 

Caucasian businesswoman with tip jar

Here is how month has broken down so far:

  • Week One: $35.00
  • Week Two: $40.00
  • Week Three $50.00 + $100.00 (bonus)
  • Week Four: $20.00

We are lucky enough to have five weeks in January, which is great because you gain an extra opportunity to save a little more while the momentum is good and people are still somewhat on focus with their 2016 resolutions.

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How Much Have You Saved So Far?

{Week 3 Progress Report} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

It’s Friday and week 3 for me for the 52 Week BINGO Challenge. This week I am crossing off $50 and my first bonus box for $100.00 for a combined savings of $150.00 for week 3 and a grand total of $225.00. Every day I receive emails with inspiring stories of people, their financial goals, and their progress of making smarter money moves. It makes me so happy to get check-ins on Fridays, especially from people who have joined the challenge.  I hope is it shows readers of shemakescents that you are not on this financial journey alone.

SMC- 52 Week Money Challenge

If you would like a personalized check in, please leave your twitter handle below or tweet me at @shemakescents.

How Much Have You Saved So Far? Please Share Below.

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{Week 2 Progress Report} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

It’s the start of the year and people are still very focused with their resolutions.  For some, the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge is another goal on their resolution list.  For me, it has to be a lifestyle.  For the past few years, I have accepted the challenge to save for a specific amount to  help with paying down my credit card, saving  for the holidays, or even saving to help out with my wedding to the Mr; however, once I accomplished the goal, I fell off.  I was doing well with a zero balance and then I started to swipe my credit card for wedding expenses so now I am back to the beginning of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2. That’s why they call it a challenge because it is challenging.

Happy Friday

 This year, I am back at the goal of wiping out my $3,886.78 credit card balance completely by or before May 1, 2016.  My plan is to pay a set amount every two weeks plus the  savings from BINGO money challenge, every Friday.  Once the credit card balance is non-existent,  I can start snowballing my student loans so I can shorten the length of the term dramatically and reduce the amount of interest I would have to pay back.    Today, I marking off  number 40 on my Bingo Money Sheet (leave a comment below for your FREE copy of the 2016 BINGO style sheet).

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpgWhat Are You Using Your BINGO Savings For? 

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{Super Charge Your 2016 Savings} 52 Week Money Challenge Like You Have Never Done Before!

Financial Affirmation: “I am aligned with the energy of wealth and abundance”.

Photo Credit- Colin Anderson (Getty Images)


It’s the first Friday of 2016 which means it is time for the Bingo Style version of the 52 Week Money Challenge.  For the past few years, I have  used the bingo format to help pay off my credit card debt, save for the holidays, and  save for a little extra for a wedding.  This year, I plan on using the extra money from this version of the challenge to get my credit card balance back to zero (another story for another day) and start snowballing my student loans.

Here Is How It Works!

I’m sure you have seen the original challenge floating around the internet where you 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.  One year, I even attempted to do the original challenge in reverse by saving more money at the beginning of the year and less the closer we get to the holiday season. The only problem with doing it that way was that I was shelling out a lot of money right after the holidays when… for most people, money is still a little tight. 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. At the end of the year, I would still end up with the same amount of $1378.00  and if I am having a tough financial week, I can pick a lower amount to save. The good thing about the bingo challenge is that you are able to start at any time and if you get off track, it’s easy to see where you need to make it up to get back on track.52 Week Challenge

What Makes 2016 Different?

The power of choosing how much you want to save is what has always made the Bingo Style different from the original 52 Week Challenge. This year, though, we have upped the ante and included optional bonus+ boxes for those who are able and willing to push themselves further on this challenge. It will take more sacrifice, but it will help you gain more strength and momentum toward your financial goals since you will be saving a minimum of $1928.00 versus $1378.00.

Check Ins

You know goals are more likely to materialize when we share them with others.  That being said, check ins will take place on Fridays at noon where I will share my progress on the challenge and its effect on my overall financial goals and I encourage you to do the same. I love hearing your stories of how you are doing in the challenge and the financial milestones you have accomplished by making saving a habit of your daily life.  Sometimes doing it with a friend or even a blogger friend like me, keeps you better motivated since  you aren’t in it alone.  If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, shoot me a line below or email me for the latest Bingo Style Money Challenge, free to  shemakescents readers!

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{World of the Year} What ONE Word Reflects Your Vision for 2016?

2016 WORD OF THE YEAR- BRAVERY - from http://shemakescents.comAt the top of the year, many people are thinking about their future and making resolutions for 2016. Since some people have a hard time keeping up with resolutions, selecting a word for oneself could be a more realistic goal for some of my busier readers.  Back in 2013, I started asking my readers on the She Makes Cents Facebook page to share one word to reflect your personal goals/resolution/vision for the year ahead and the response I got was inspiring, thoughtful, and honest. For me, the year 2013 was my year of BALANCE, 2014 was my year of FOCUS, and 2015 was my year of PASSION. This year I have selected BRAVERY as my word.

If you could choose one word to reflect your personal goals/resolution/vision for 2016, what word would you choose?  Please share below.

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{The Countdown Begins} She Makes Cents Returns

SMC Returns

Engagement Photos & The Hidden Expenses I Didn’t Think About

About a year ago I announced my engagement to the Mr. and since then, it has been full steam ahead.  I started by pinning inspiration pictures and decided that one of the very first vendors we pick should be the photographer.  After the wedding day has passed, all you are left with are the memories and the photographs, so I believe this is a good place to invest your research and money.  When coming up with the budget, we wanted someone who included the engagement photos in their package.  What I didn’t think about was all of the other expenses that I hadn’t included in the overall budget.  For example, finding the perfect outfit, hair, makeup, and sometimes even location fees depending on where you take them.  All of these things are luxuries that anyone could live without, but enhance the overall experience.  I stressed for weeks about buying the perfect outfit but after all was said and done, I ended up wearing a mix of new stuff and timeless pieces already in my closet.  I found my shoes on sale  and asked a friend/makeup artist to do my makeup.  Instead of paying for a fancy location shoot, we decided we wanted our photos to reflect our lives together. We started in the neighborhood where we will be living as husband and wife, paid homage to our Atlanta University Center (AUC) roots, and ended in the heart of Atlanta, where both of us are from.   Our engagement photos and story were even published in MunaLuchi {check them out here},  the leading multicultural wedding publication catering to women of color. 

Here is a Sneak Peak of the photos no one has seen yet!

brimcdanielphotography_danielle+michael_engagement-27
brimcdanielphotography_danielle+michael_engagement-117

brimcdanielphotography_danielle+michael_engagement-282Photography by  Bri McDaniel Photography

 

Let’s Get Social!

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{Woman to Watch} Misty Copeland

For years I have followed the career of ballet dancer, Misty Copeland.  Beyond her killer legs and amazing stage presence is a woman who encourages young dancers of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds to be the best they can be on the stage and off.  This week, Copeland was promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater, making her the FIRST African-American ballet dancer of the A.B.T. to lead the company, a goal that she set for herself years ago.

Misty Copeland

At the beginning of every year, I ask readers of SMC the same question: What ONE word reflects your vision for the year?  Back in 2013, I selected the word “BALANCE” and framed the picture above as a visual reminder of the balance I so wanted in my life at that time. She has been an inspiration to me and an example that hard work and the belief in oneself is the most powerful prerequisites to accomplishing one’s goals. She is unstoppable, she is glamorous, and #shemakescents!