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

It starts with a question that leads to a ring, which ends up as a picture on Instagram, and is shared on Facebook. Yep, he asked and she said yes! Weeks later, you find a charming note in your mailbox asking you to stand beside her on the most important day of her life. You, my dear, are a chosen one… also known as a bridesmaid.The Real Cost of Being A Bridesmaid from Top Atlanta Blogger and Wedding Designer, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents Since 2010, I have been in seven weddings and I witnessed at least twenty of my girlfriends walk down the aisle toward wedded bliss. In fact, when the Mr. and I got married in 2015, we were the 13th wedding that year of our friend group.  Like many of you, I have taken off work and flown clear across the country in support of LOVE.  Too bad that the support of LOVE often comes at a hefty price tag. 

She Said Yes, But Should You?

It is truly an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding, but before you say “yes”, you need to understand what you are getting yourself into before you make that commitment. Just like in a romantic relationship, money can throw a major wrench into your friendship if you are not honest with yourself and the bride about your financial situation.  As a bridesmaid, I have paid for gowns, shoes, hair, mani/pedi, makeup packages, jewelry, liquor, plane tickets, hotels, car service, chipped in for engagement parties, hosted bridal showers, lingerie parties (apparently that is different from the bridal shower and the bachelorette party), oh yeah…bachelorette parties, bridal teas and even décor elements for the actual wedding. Nowadays, you have to add the matching bride tribe outfits for the bridal party photoshoot to the list of expenses you have to think about when saying yes. Did I even mention the wedding gift…eek? Once you accept the invitation to become a member of the bridal party, you are committing to this experience for richer or poorer.

I will admit, that years ago I declined the request to be in a friend’s wedding because the costs of being in the wedding would have been a strain on my finances.  That bride thankfully understood.  I often think, if we didn’t have that conversation and I participated in her bridal party, she could have very easily interpreted my reluctance to spend money as a lack of support and enthusiasm for her big day.  Not having that conversation would have cost me more than financial security, it could have cost me our friendship. 

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid?

Back in 2011, the Wedding Channel estimated the cost of being a bridesmaid averages around $1695.00.  Based on this estimate, I could have very well spent almost $12,000.00 on other people’s weddings.  Can you imagine what the average is now?  It always makes me wonder how Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses  could afford to be in 27 weddings, plus her own, on a personal assistant’s salary. To pay for my expenses as a bridesmaid, I used the envelope system before I even knew exactly what that meant. I set aside a certain amount of money each check for each bride.  

Brides, be nice to your bridesmaids…your “chosen ones”. They are the ones who are holding you down during one of the most beautiful and possibly stressful times of your life.  They do far more for you than you realize.  Bridesmaids, remember that your bride is a bride only once (fingers crossed) and she has a vision for her day. If you are both honest from the beginning, then you lessen the chance of unrealistic expectations from both sides.Bridal Party Costs


Monday Motivation | Cultivate Better Habits

Not too long ago I read this quote from the top financial expert, Dave Ramsey, and I knew it was too good not to share.  “You can’t get out of debt while keeping the same lifestyle”.  Often times we want results for our lives that’s different from our current situation.  The thing is, you have got to change your habits if you desire a different outcome.  If your goal is to upgrade your financial situation, you have to upgrade the effort you put into your goals to see the results.  Increase your income + reduce your spending = the start to a great plan.  Last Friday, I had a three-week profit from our BINGO Money Challenge of $383.00 that could have easily paid for a pair of shoes.  Instead of living the lifestyle that is keeping me in a stagnant financial situation, I snowballed that $383.00 and threw it directly at my student loans.  The gratification I get from a new pair of shoes is nothing compared to the natural high I get from getting closer to my debt free goal.  

Money Quotes from Dave Ramsey on Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

Today, I encourage you to use this week as a week of self-reflection.  What habits do you want to cultivate?  What habits do you want to quit?  We know what each of our end goals are but we often are blind to the things we do to ourselves that sabotage those goals    Start thinking about the things you do every day and how they affect your money goals.  Yes, you can upgrade your financial situation, but you have to upgrade your actions first because your actions become habits… good or bad.

How Much is Student Loan Interest Really Costing You?

The rising student loan debt is one of the greatest financial problems plaguing millennials, especially millennial women.  As of 2014, women account for 55 % of students enrolled in four-year colleges in the United States, according to the Federal Education Department and the figures continue to lean in favor of higher educated women.  With the average student loan debt at a little over $30,000 and growing, how are we ever going to eliminate student loan debt at all? The answer lies first in understanding the numbers.

How To Calculate Your Real Student Loan Interest from Top Millennial Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

By definition, a loan is something that is borrowed that is expected to be paid back with interest.  The operative word in that definition is “interest”.  When you borrowed money from the government or your loan provider, you were given this money with the expectation that they will get their money back from you.  In fact, they expect you to take your take, defer, and get off track because their business is in the interest and not the actual repayment of the original loan.  Let me say that again for you.  They make their money on the interest because you are expected to pay back what you originally borrowed.  Student loan interest accrues daily once you are in your repayment period, which usually begins 6 months after your graduation date.  So what does that mean exactly?

How Does Student Loan Interest Add Up?

I will use my student loan numbers to help you visualize why interest will keep you in debt if you don’t start to get aggressive.  The exact math on this chilling realization is why millennials have a record amount of debt and a lower amount of home ownership.  I have two loans that were consolidated for a collective original loan amount of $24,422.77 back in 2007.  As of today, I have paid $21,189.89, which means that if this were an interest-free loan, I would only be $3232.88 away from having the loan paid off completely.  However, because of interest, I still owe $16,738.90.    How’s that you ask? Well, in the 10 years that have had this loan, interest has accrued daily. If you have studied your loan, you will notice that your daily accrual rate will change over the life of the loan.  If you are paying down your debt, your daily rate will eventually reduce as a result of the reducing current balance.  However, if you are one of those out of sight out of mind people who knows you have student loan debt that you have ignored, paying a reduced payment when you really can afford to pay more, or continually delaying your payment period, your daily rate is increasing…well, daily.

How To Beat Your Student Loan Debt

Currently, my student loan interest in accumulating at $3.09 per day/ $1127.85 per year, which is the lowest it has ever been.  To beat the system, you must pay your debt down at a faster rate than it is growing.  At $3.09 per day/ $92.70 per month, my snowball must be more than the monthly interest to make a difference.  Now that you have seen my numbers, it is time to look at yours.  To calculate your daily interest rate you must have the following numbers ready: your current balance and your interest rate.How To Calculate Your Real Student Loan Interest from Top Millennial Finance Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

In the past two months, I have watched my current balance drop at a faster rate than usual. That is because I have started making my regular monthly payment as well as an extra payment of money saved from the 52 Week BINGO money challenge. I was motivated to get a little more aggressive with paying down this loan when I set a  micro goal for myself to have my loan under the $15,000 mark by the end of my birthday month (August).  Coming up with a plan to beat your student loan debt first starts with the numbers.  If you don’t already know your numbers, I urge you to look up your current balance and interest rate, calculate much your interest accrues daily,  and as soon as you can, start making an extra payment above your monthly interest rate to get your debt moving in the right direction.  Instead of focusing on just how much you have left to pay, pat yourself on the back for how far you have come on this debt journey.  You can do it!  You have to do it so you may as well do it as quickly as possible so you can put that money saved toward your next baby step toward financial freedom.

shemakescents.com - OOTD | Student Loan Interest

Career Advice: How To Toot Your Own Horn With Confidence

When I was a little girl, my mom explained to me that my job as a child was to be great in school.  The operative word in that sentence is JOB!  I got up every day and went to school the same way my parents got up every day and went to work.  So when review time came, or in my case report card time, my parents would allow me to post my latest report card on the refrigerator.  I was a straight A student who was proud of my hard work and my parents created a physical and mental space for me to express pride in accomplishments.  The refrigerator was a space in the home where everyone who visited could see what I have been up to.  My parents were proud of me and I was proud of myself.  That’s  a nice memory, but why does that matter now?   It was important to my development because it gave me the ok to toot my own horn and the space to do so.  In that space that my parents created, I learned how to share my success without realizing that that very practice could someday have negative repercussions.

Why Women Mute Their Accomplishments In The WorkplaceAtlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason, explains why Every Woman Should Know: How to Toot Her Own Horn with Confidence.

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I’m sure many of you can relate to that childhood memory….but how many of you can relate to the transition that many women experience.  Somewhere along the way, women are taught that sharing our own accomplishments often comes with declines in popularity and other professional ramifications.  In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg recalls, “Jocelyn Goldfein, one of the engineering directors at Facebook held a meeting at Facebook where female engineers were encouraged to share the progress they had made on the products they were building.  SILENCE.  No one wanted to toot her own horn.  Who would want to speak up when self-promoting women are disliked?  Jocelyn changed her approach.  Instead of asking women to talk about themselves, she asked them to tell one another’s stories.  The exercise was communal, which put everyone at ease”.  Why can’t we be at ease talking about our own success?  Are we more at ease in our silence?  These are the questions that we rarely  think about but we must address.

Related Post: Best Career Advice I Ever Received: Don’t Give a Damn If They Like You

How to Toot Your Horn at Work with confidence

How To Toot Your Own Horn. Career Advice for Smart Millennial Women from blogger Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

HOW TO TOOT YOUR HORN AT WORK WITH CONFIDENCE. Career tips for millennial women from Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents.

It’s funny, we get fed conflicting messages all the time with regard to the topic.  On one hand, we are told to “work in silence and let success make the noise”.  Again, why is there such an emphasis of to silence talk of one’s own accomplishments?  On the another hand,  we are told that “closed mouths don’t get fed”.  I’m not promoting cockiness in the workplace, but I am inviting women to be more confident in their achievements and ok sharing them.  I have experienced something very similar to the example of the quiet female engineers.  Women in the predominately female office were always shy to tell stories of success when asked for.  Again silence.  Below are a few examples of how to take the eek out of self-promotion.

Change Your Mind Set. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  The same question can go for you and your career.  You can do beautiful work in your perspective industry.  You can make strides in your field, but if no one knows about your successes that can leave the door open for others to take credit for your work, it keeps your reputation pigeon-holed, and often leaves money on the table.  If you can’t clearly, comfortably, and confidently share your career achievements in a professional setting you are also diminishing the worth of your work.  I once advised the owner of a design firm in Atlanta on the disadvantages of this very concept.  “You do beautiful work”, I said, “but it means nothing for you and the development of your brand if not one knows about it”.

Shoot A Brief Email. In theory, your boss wants the best for you because you succeeding makes them look good.  Try sending them an email to shine a light on a recent accomplishment.  For example, if you hit your sales goal for the month a little early, let them know.  If you found a more efficient way to do something in your industry, shoot your boss a brief email sharing your discovery.   Insider Tip: If you work on a team, make sure that you include EVERYONE who impacted the outcome.  You can break out what each person’s contribution was or you can group the win.  Whatever you do, do not take sole credit for a group effort.

Buy Your Name. Purchase your name as a domain and create a website or even a static page that works as a digital portfolio of your work. For example, at one point, my name was Danielle Boler, so my corresponding website should have been DanielleBoler.com.  In this space, which I recommend you update quarterly, you can allow your clients to post testimonials, you can share press that you have received, and post pictures of WOW projects that you developed. Obviously, the specifics of what you feature will depend on your industry and skill set.

Lean In.  Do you remember that example of the Facebook meeting when the female engineers were asked questions about their progress on the products they were building?  Well instead of echoing their silence, you should “lean in” and answer the call.  In fact, try to be the first person to answer this type of question.  In many instances, it is rare when bosses give you their undivided attention for you to share your achievements, so don’t waste their time and your opportunity with silence.  Going first presents you as a leader and I’m sure that once you begin sharing your success story, others will follow suit.

Toot Your Own Horn At She Makes Cents

Things to Do This Month: The Everygirl’s Guide to Lifestyle

Things to Do This Month- April 2017

Your time is not FREE, so spend it wisely.  Take some time to do, read, and try things that feed your soul.  For the month of April, here are some goodies we are looking forward to.  

Read

We swapped out the April SMC book selection at the very last-minute (trust me, you will LOVE what we selected).  For the past seven weeks, I have tried to figure out the big ending of the on-screen adaptation of Big Little Lies and after watching the finale on the HBO show, I have to read the book.  They say, that books are always better than the movie and if that proves to be true, it will be nothing short of amazing.

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Home

It’s time for you to pull up your sleeves and get to work.  This month I challenge you to get rid of everything that does not make you happy so that you can give your attention to things that do.  For me, that always starts with physical clutter.  I cannot think clearly in a cluttered space and I am willing to bet that some of you can say the same thing.  I do a little at a time and I start with the quickest project that will give the quickest gratification.  My purge started with my nightstand where I keep a mix of books I’m reading, books on display, journals (I am always writing something), jewelry, phone accessories, receipts, water etc.  See what I mean?   It’s funny, do we even need or love half of the material things that are taking up space in our space?  Take that stuff and sell it to put towards a savings goal…like that dream vacation so many of you wrote to me about.   I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of your space.  Nightstand done….next up, my makeup vanity.

Entertain

I love entertaining, which makes sense considering I worked in the luxury event design industry for the past five years.  Since that has taken a less dominant role in my day-to-day responsibilities, I now have time to host my own events for friends and family.  This month we will give you the tools you need to plan a party like an event pro.  You will learn how to prep your home/apartment for guests without blowing your budget and see inspiration on how to pre-game for a night out like a VIP.  I will even let you in on my insider’s hack that combines a great purging and entertaining tip to create a simple and chic DIY your guests will love!

Travel 

We shared the Girl’s Guide to Travel: 5 Trips Every Woman Should Take This Year so now it is time to start planning one of those trips.  I can’t tell you which trip to plan first, but I will show you the best places to invest your hard-earned money in with regards to your travel plans.  When is the best day to buy an international plane ticket (you can find that answer here)?   How to make the best road trip playlist?  How to tip appropriately at all-inclusive resorts?  How to stay safe on a solo vacation?

5 Trips Every Girl Should Take This Year!

Travel the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer.  So how do you travel when money is tight?  Before getting married, I had a money envelope where I would set aside $50.00-$100.00 per check specifically for travel goals.  I started the habit when the Mr. decided he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday in Germany. Saving for that trip got me into the habit of making travel a priority.  Germany was actually our first time traveling together….EVER.  We stayed there a few days and then road tripped our way to Prague, in the Czech Republic with his best friends where we rang in his 30th birthday!  Wow, that seems like so long ago.  After that, I kept saving so that when it was time for another trip, I already had money saved.  When we got married, I stopped saving for travel and put that money toward saving for a wedding.  I guess I never picked back up the habit of saving for travel.  That ends now!

The goal is to travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.  According to a survey from by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, 55% of Americans did not take all of their vacation days leaving approximately 658 million unused vacation days on the table.  Taking time for yourself is a very important form of self-care which is why I have created this list of vacation ideas that every millennial woman should strive to take this year.  As you sit in cubicle nation or look out of your office window and picture yourself on a sandy beach with a frose’ in hand, just think that this can all be a reality.  Even you don’t get a lot of vacation time (raise your hand if you have been there) you can monopolize on 3 day holiday weekends to make your days stretch.

The Girl’s Trip

The Road Trip

The Couple’s Trip

The Solo Trip

The Staycation

{Every Woman Should} Get to Talking About Finances

I was contacted by Bustle a few weeks ago asking my advice on how I spend and save money.  Since I LOVE to talk about money, I happily obliged.  The thing is, the good folks over at Bustle conducted a survey that revealed millennial women are NOT discussing personal finances with their inner circle of friends.  Seriously chicas, we have got to do better! We will ask suggestions about hair colorist from our girlfriends but we don’t ask about recommendations for certified financial planners.  The fact that women don’t talk about personal finance is not surprising to me.  Some believe it’s because women are not confident in making big financial decisions while others believe women avoid talking about finances for fear of saying something wrong or sounding dumb.  I’m inclined to disagree.  When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be just confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices as our male counterparts.  The results of the survey inspired Bustle to launch the new series Grown-Ass Finances that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money.  Check out 21 Millennial Women Making $30K To $150K Explain How They Spend And Save Their Money as a brave group of millennial women start the public conversation about money (you might see a tip or two from yours truly in there, as well).  Listen up ladies, the future is female and if we don’t start these conversations now, what will that mean for our financial futures?

Beginners Guide To Car Buying: Everything You Should Know BEFORE Buying a Car

How Much Should Your Car Down Payment Be? Into into Car Buying
Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

Buying a car can be a stressful process with so much to think about.  Are you getting the best deal?  How much car can I afford?  Does it come with a rear view camera?  For the first time ever, I am looking to buy a car from a dealership and I am not in a position to buy the car outright.  I have never had a car note before and the idea of an additional monthly expense gives me anxiety.    So how does one make such a large purchase with confidence?  The answer is going into it well informed so that you don’t get hustled by the vision of you riding off into the sunset with sexy new wheels or hustled by a salesperson trying to make their quota.  Over the next few weeks, I will break down everything need to consider before buying a car.  Today, we will focus on two of my favorite starting points- New vs. Used and Down Payments.  So buckle up and join me on this car-buying excursion.

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

The New New

There is this character in the 2006 movie ATL whose nickname was “New New”.  New New got her name because she was known to have the latest and greatest of everything.  If she were looking for a car in the year 2017, she would be considering a 2018 because the 17 model just wasn’t new enough for her.  Even though New New is a character in a movie, many people out there share the same mindset.  The thing is she places her money in items that depreciate in value at an accelerated rate.  In fact, just by driving your new car for the first time as a new owner decreases its value by 11%.  The $30,000 car you just drove off the lot is now worth $26,700 by the time you get to the highway.  Instead, consider a used car that is between two and three years old.  They are often still under warranty, they offer many of the same features, and comes with a lower price point.

Cash Is Queen

I understand that most people cannot afford to pay cash for a car.  I did it by dealing directly with private sellers on Craigslist, buying older models, and going into the process with a set amount to spend.  It worked for me and I did it at a time when the cars on Craigslist were good deals for both buyers and private sellers.  I am a regular person who found a way to make the money work for me.  Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, reflects on people who give him push back that regular people cannot afford to pay cash for a car in his book Complete Guide to Money (a must read, click the here for a FREE download with the app).  According to Ramsey, “people don’t buy with cash because they are rich; they’re rich because they buy cars with cash”.  I must agree with his statement.  I am in a better financial position today because I decided I couldn’t afford to have a monthly car note.

Assuming you can’t buy the entire car with cash, consider how much you can pay for up front to keep the overall price of the car as low as possible.  Whenever you finance a car, you are paying interest on that auto loan.  Instead of financing the entire amount, you should aim to have 20% or more as a down payment to avoid wasting thousands of your hard-earned money on interest.  Additionally, taxes and extra fees should not be considered when calculating your 20% down payment because you should NEVER finance taxes and fees.  Before you even set foot in a car dealership you need to ask yourself, can you actually afford the car you have been researching?  Rich people ask “how much?”  Broke people ask “how much down and how much per month?”  A salesperson will tell you the lowest down payment to get you to sign on the dotted line but going into negotiations well equipped with the knowledge of best down payment to make, you know you can do better…and if you can’t, that means you cannot afford that car. Ramsey explains, “When a rich person says she can afford it, she means she can actually afford the car.  When a broke person says she can afford it, she means she can probably make the monthly payments as long as there are no emergencies and she doesn’t lose her job”.    Think about it, could you afford your monthly car payment if you were out of work for a month?  How about 3 months?  These are all things to think about before you buy a car.  Stay tuned next week for Part II as we discuss  Every Thing You Need to Know About Leasing and Financing a Car!

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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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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