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

52 Week Bingo Money Challenge Milestone

If I told you the last five days have been a whirlwind, I’m not sure you could even comprehend what I mean. In the past five days I served as a juror on a trial for two days, driven from Atlanta to Jackson, Mississippi, attended a funeral, got back on the road for the six-hour car trip home, just in time to make it to a Sunday wedding for my sorority sister. That being said, I missed last week’s check in and the March recap of the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. 

Check out a few pictures from the wedding!

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IMG_20160403_190433For the first week of April, I decided to cross off $23.00 + a bonus of $75.00. My first April contribution, including the bonus, is only $4.00 less than my entire last month’s savings. I’d say I am off to a good start for month. Overall, I have a saved a total of $556.00 that I have been using to make extra payments toward my credit card debt. Every extra payment is helping me shave off the repayment term, shave of compounding interest fees, and is improving my credit score because my debt to credit ratio is increasing. I would LOVE to have my credit card balance under the $500.00 mark by the end of May. With a balance of $2400.00+, only time and discipline will tell. Until then, I will keep crossing off numbers on my BINGO money sheet.

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Mint.com Interview with Founder of SheMakesCents.com, Danielle Y. Boler

Back in March, I was contacted by a Editorial Assistant for Mint asking if I would be interested in doing an interview.  I interview people all the time, but rarely am I on the other side of questions.  Excited and a little nervous, I agreed.  Yesterday, they  contacted me to let me know that the interview was published. 

Check out an excerpt from my interview below:

Personal Finance Interview with Danielle Boler on Women and Personal Finance for Mint.com

Danielle Boler- Creator of She Makes Cents copyDanielle Boler hopes to start a conversation about how women can make smarter financial decisions and live a fabulous life on her blog She Makes Cents. When it comes to how women view money compared to men, Danielle says she believes women are more cautious – which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, saving more creates a good cushion for emergencies and other unforeseen events, but it can also prevent big financial gain. “Some believe it’s because women are not confident in making big financial decisions. I’m inclined to disagree,” she says. “When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices.” In the end, diversifying your financial portfolio (no matter what your gender) is important on every income level to make your money work for you, she says.

We recently checked out with the sassy blogger to learn more about her site and get her take on personal finance. Here’s what she had to say:

Click here to read the full interview and find out financial freedom is important!

Let’s Connect!

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{Week 16 Update} 52 Week Money Challenge

52 Week ChallengeHello Lovelies and Happy Friday! We are coming to the end of week 16 of the year. So far, I have saved an extra $370.00 as of this morning when I crossed off number 11 from the Bingo Money Saving Sheet. I know many people make grand financial goals in the beginning of the year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. The intentions are good but somewhere along the lines, people justify giving up on their resolutions because they did not make them a part of their routine. I am here to urge you if you never tried this or even if you did and stopped along the way to start the 52 Week Money Challenge (Bingo Style). You don’t have to wait until next year to start because the beauty of this challenge is that you can start anytime.  If you want my Bingo Sheet, send me an email!

Happy Saving!

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{Week 14 Update} 52 Week Money Challenge

Financial FreedomIt’s Friday already and time for your 52 Week Money Challenge reminder.  For those of you, like me, who began on January 3, 2014, we are 14 weeks in for this year!  Today, I crossed off $25.00 from the SMC bingo style money sheet , which puts me at a grand total of an extra $344.00 saved thus far.  The closer we get to August 1, 2014, my goal date to have a zero balance on my credit card, the more excited I get.  In some ways, the feeling I get every time I see the balance drop is becoming stronger than the high I get from shopping.  I am planning for big things to happen THIS MONTH by paying my set payment of $300.00 per month + the 52 Week Challenge each Friday + the possibility of a somewhat risky financial move, which I will talk about in Monday’s post.  Stay tuned to see how I plan to slash my credit card balance from $1345.00 (current balance) to less than $500.00 by the end of the month by taking of gamble with my finances.  If you want big rewards, sometimes you have to take big risks! 

Happy 3rd Birthday She Makes Cents!

If you are going to rise, you might as well shine”.

She Makes CentsShe Makes Cents celebrates the three-year mark. TODAY..wow time goes by fast!  Thanks to all of my fabulous followers  for joining me on my journey to becoming financially free.  I have enjoyed your comments and have been touched by your stories along the way.  Your comments, emails, tweets and pins, are what make me feel like deciding to share make journey with the world was well worth it.  Thank you for visiting and cheers to another year of working toward financial freedom, encouraging female financial literacy, and  inspiring ways to use “cents” to live a fab life!

HBD SMC

Pop | Clink | Fizz

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{Debt Management} How to Shorten the Length of Your Loans & Reduce Interest

She Makes CentsWanting to get control of your finances is great, but there is nothing like the empowering feeling of knowing when this MAJOR life goal could actually be attainable. After examining my debts, pay off amounts, and interest rates, I am proud to announce that my magic number is 8 years and 3 months to be debt free! Having an end date for a goal helps to make it more tangible and keeps me encouraged to hit my payment milestones from my personalized Financial Plan.

One Year from Now- Operation Credit Card

In January of this year, I revealed that I racked up $5300.00 in credit card debt, after getting it down to a zero balance. It happened by not adapting my spending habits to my drop in income. Today, that balance is now around $3400.00 by paying a little more every month on the minimum and doing the 52 Week Money Challenge (Bingo Style). Dare I say it out loud, I will have NO credit card debt by this time next year (insert fireworks here)! I’m truly proud of the way I have tackled this particular debt obstacle because I’m doing it at my own speed. I don’t even miss the extra money that I’m using to knock the balance down faster. If I were okay with just paying the minimum, it would take me 4 years and 3 months, instead of one year, to complete step one of my financial plan. Once the credit card is paid off, my monthly credit card payments will become extra payments to my student loans and so on…this is called the Snowball Method.

Four and a Half Years from Now- Goodbye Sallie Mae

debt-freeI have a love/hate relationship with Sallie Mae. Although we go back about ten years, she is not my friend nor is she yours. Don’t let her fool you. Yes, in times of financial need, she was there but in reality most people end up paying more than double for their educational loans. Currently, I pay the minimum $200 per month for my educational loans with more money being applied toward interest and not the principal. As I’m sure you know, paying just the minimum and nothing more will result in years and years of interest and a longer pay off timeline. In fact, by adding the money I would normally use for Operation Credit Card to make two or three lump sum payments per year toward the principle, not interest, I will shorten the length of my loan by 10 years and 11 months. Five years ago, I was a recent college graduate and while a lot has happened in that time, I still feel like time flew by. Knowing that these next five years could go by just as quickly helps keep me motivated. One day, four and a half years from today, I will be able to say goodbye to my financial frienemy- Sallie Mae for good.

Eight Years and Three Months- Debt Free

A lot can happen in eight plus years that could slow down my timeline or cause me to come up with a new goal altogether. Regardless of what life throws my way, I hope a victorious sprint toward financial freedom is in my foreseeable future. In eight years, my home will be a rental property providing is a great form of passive income. Having it completely paid off allows a greater financial contribution to my household. The idea of never having to think about another mortgage payment for my current house is a blessing in itself and I plan on tackling this debt by using the Snowball Method. In the same breath that I say goodbye to Sallie Mae, I will be begin this last phase by saying hello to extra payments, consisting of my monthly credit card payments and Sallie Mae payments, on top of my current mortgage.

What’s the point of all of this? Sure, I could continue to pay the minimum on my bills every month and I will forever owe someone but I have 17,636 reasons why that won’t work for me. Yep, having a plan and attacking my plan will help me save an overall of $17,635.15 in interest payments. While yes, I am at the beginning of my journey, I take solace in knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

How Long Will It Take You to Be Debt Free?

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{Financial Cents} Is Your Way of Thinking Making You Poor?

Just as slaves born into slavery can’t visualize freedom, we Americans don’t know what it would be like to wake up to NO debt.
Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

Is Your Way of Thinking Making You Poor.pngYour alarm clock sounds, alerting you that a new day has come. You awake to find yourself owning a car without a car payment, a home without a mortgage, an education without student loans, and credit card(s) with a zero balance. How did you get to this financial freedom? Did you a) win the lottery, b) rob a bank Sugar & Spice style, or c) align your behaviors with your long-term financial goals? Well, the answer to the question depends on whom you ask.

I told a friend of mine that I was working to become debt free and she looked me right in my face and laughed. I mean laughed to the point of tears while telling me how unrealistic I was being. “Everyone has debt”, she alleged. If this were her outlook on financial freedom, I would guess that she could image a debt free life comes only as a result of a windfall. She will either rob the bank or win the lottery. I, however, understand how even the most minute  sacrifices will help me get closer to my financial goals. I have to think beyond the day-to-day and month-to-month if I want to build  generational wealth. Financial expert, Dave Ramsey adds, “We have been sold debt with such repetition […] that it’s hard for people to imagine what it would be like to have no payments”. Debt shouldn’t be the normal status quo and I am not comfortable adopting that mind-set. When the day comes when I wake up with no mortgage, no student loans, and no credit card balance, I know it will be a result of my financial plan and my commitment to it.

Is Debt Normal? Share Your Thoughts…

Fashion Cents} Brand Loyalty or Brand Validation?

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Danielle and I have discussed how the psychological obsession with expensive products and luxury labels can lead to financial trouble. While setting up shop for the most relaxed SMC meeting ever, we discussed our favorite brands. Danielle likes O.P.I. nail polish and has a shoe game that would blow you away. I, however, have recently recovered from a serious infatuation with True Religion brand jeans and the both of these are pricey for the types of products they are. Sometimes within one’s own living circumstances, it makes no sense to step out of one’s’ budget for the sake of feeling validated by a brand. So why do so many people do it? Which has more value, brand loyalty or brand validation?

Let’s begin the conversation by defining these terms. Brand Loyalty is your devotion to a particular brand because of its proven usefulness. This is a tried and true product or brand that has won you, the customer, over for its merit or quality. (THINK: I’m loyal to Charmin tissue because of its thickness.) Brand validation, as its name suggests, is when a product’s mere reputation trumps the importance of its merit; thus fueling one’s desire for the label more so than the product. Yep, we let a brand validate us without proving itself worthy of its cost.

Brand names and their reputations are impossible to evade. Because of this, it is almost too easy to get lost in a particular brand so much so, that we allow it to eat out our pockets. The place where both brand obsession and financial logic intersect is where I am in my journey to financial freedom….SMC too, since she has repeatedly admitted that Chanel makes her feel pretty. In no way am I discouraging splurging for yourself or investing in expensive products that will hold you down in the long run. I, for one, own expensive jeans that have lasted years. When operating on a budget, though, it is imperative to think critically about the items you choose to spend your money on, and why. Are you loyal to your brands because they actually fulfill their purpose, or are your brands validating you while nipping away at your money? Granted, there is no cookie cutter way to address the issue of our obsessions with luxury brands. However, acknowledgment of this issue is a surefire way to begin searching for smarter ways to shop for the things you love…while staying within a budget, of course:)

Have you ever allowed a brand names to validate your purchase?  

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