How Lifestyle Inflation Is Keeping You From Getting Rich

lifestyle-inflation

Rapper Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he said “mo money, mo problems”.  That because of something called Lifestyle Inflation where your “lifestyle” needs increase as your income increases; thus, keeping you in the same financial situation.  This reality creeps up when people have debt, don’t save, don’t invest.  They don’t keep up with the Joneses, they are the Joneses.  By no means do I believe that one doesn’t deserve nice things.  In fact, I believe no one should have to sacrifice a quality lifestyle because of lack of resources.   A quality lifestyle comes at a price but let’s try to not dig ourselves into a money pit to experience the finer things in life.

CONFESSION OF A  LIFESTYLE INFLATING MILLENNIAL

I remember being at my job out of college and making around an entry level salary. I owned my car outright, had my student loans paid a year in advance, and was on my way to buying my first house. Back then, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t living a rich life. I wasn’t rich from a financial standpoint but it was the first time where I was “adulting” and was able to fund my lifestyle by myself.  This was a big deal considering a year and a half before that, I was a senior at Spelman College eating pizza at 1:00 am while pulling all-nighters.   As time passed, income changed, and lifestyle needs matured, I found myself “needing” more.  I had to get another car after mine was totaled in an accident but I couldn’t bear the idea of not driving a luxury German car (thanks Dad for that addiction).  I spent money on home decor so I could have a  “magazine ready” home.  I upgraded my wardrobe.  I was making a little money and working with people whose hourly rate was a luxury car note.  I wanted to show my family and friends that I had it all together….that I belonged in my new life.  That all changed when I left a promising career in one field to follow other dreams for another field.  It was in the transition that I started to place a serious effort in saving money and making smarter financial moves.  I had to.  It was my new reality, we were in a recession, and I was no longer constantly surrounded by the Joneses.  I took the time to invest in my own financial literacy so I could better understand how to stretch my money.  This was also around the time she makes cents was born.

BALLIN’ & BROKE

As you vibrate higher so will your expectations of people, experiences,  and things around you. The good thing is there are ways around lifestyle inflation where you can enhance your life without feeling broke. Lifestyle inflation keeps you in a constant state of financial paralysis because your need for “things” is keeping pace with your increasing lifestyle.  That’s how a millennial couple with no kids can feel financially stretched in a $100,000+ income household. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into the topics of lifestyle inflating from a millennial perspective and explore opportunities to elevate your life without the elevated price tag.shemakescents-com-1

{Millennials Guide to Money} What Is A 403(b)?

403b-moneyPeople are living longer nowadays, which means that it is more important than ever to get aggressive about saving for the future. While everyone’s vision for retirement varies, there is still an underlying need for basic expenditures. The cost of living is steadily increasing and as most people approach retirement, they are stunned when their new normal is a reduced fixed income. Not saving now could cost you peace of mind in the future. So let’s get our financial Zen on, together!

When most people hear the words “retirement plan”, their minds immediately go to a 401k plan. While it is the most talked about, it certainly is not the only option for retirement. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the 403(b) plan. A 403(b) plan is a retirement plan offered to employees of tax-exempt organizations that fall under the code 501(c)(3), like schools, churches, and hospitals. If you are eligible to participate, I would highly recommend that you do.

Formal Education vs Self Education

ADVANTAGES of a 403(b) Plan

1. Your contributions toward your 403(b) are pre-taxed. Meaning your contribution reduces your current income and the amount you owe in current income taxes.

2. All contributions and earnings are tax deferred, which presents you with tax savings since most people are in a lower tax bracket at the time of retirement. This is another instance where time is on your side because the sooner you start to make contributions, the faster your money will grow.

3. Similar to a 401k, employers are able to match contributions. 403(b) contributions must be made through a salary reduction agreement with an employer, even though your company does not directly administer them.

4. Hardship withdrawals can be made. While hardship withdrawals can be made, I would highly recommend this as a last resort option. You must prove that you are experiencing extreme financial distress and the money must be used to cover expenses such as medical bills, tuition fees, or in the event of an eviction or foreclosure. Just remember that you are only allowed to withdraw the exact amount needed and that the money will be taxed as income.

People who are eligible for this type of retirement plan are ones who make a living being of service to others. If you qualify for a 403(b), be of service to yourself and your financial future, by getting serious about your plans for retirement. They say the older you get, the faster time passes. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to make time and youth work for you.

This article was originally posted on the Feex Blog

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{2015 Week 11 Update} 52 Week Money Challenge

I believe that through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible for all of us.      -Dave Ramsey

52 Week Challenge

I’ve been contacted by quite a few of you asking for a copy of the 52 Week Money Challenge, which shows me that I am not the only one looking to save money.  While you won’t save a MAJOR windfall doing this challenge, you will gain financial discipline.  It’s harder than you think to get in the habit of saving but once up pick up the skill, it’s well worth the effort.  If you are new to She Makes Cents, I am happy to report that I paid off my credit card doing this challenge as additional payments over the minimum.  I am now adding this extra money to my wedding savings account after I see how much I have left from doing a zero based budget…aka, my saving grace!

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How Are You Going Use Your $1300+ ?

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A Key Benefit of Parents Funding Their Children’s College Expenses

I remember I asked the question on the SMC Facebook page, “Should parents help fund their children’s college expenses?”  The responses ranged from, “Oh, hell no” to “If I have the means, why not give back to the next generation”.  My Dad helped me and because of that, I graduated with about $25,000 in student loan debt, as opposed to $125,000+/ for a top-tier private college. According to USA Today, “in all but one state, the average graduate owed more than $20,000 in 2013, and in six states, the average student debt was more than $30,000.”  So what does this all mean post graduation?  It means that a generation is starting their adult lives in the red. When it’s time to make major financial decisions, such as buying a house, like our parent’s generation was able to do, the road to home ownership and financial freedom seems non-existent.

Stebo 008

A Key Benefit of Parents Funding Their Children’s College Expenses

I bought my house for my 24th birthday on a whim.  In fact, my story of how I purchased a home for my 24th birthday was nothing more than a beautiful blessing.  I had not saved one dime specifically for a purchase of this type.  In fact, I was simply praying for a way to get out of my parent’s house after moving back from college.  At this time in my life, Sallie Mae and I were close friends because I had my student loans paid a year in advance even with the recession picking up steam.  For about two weeks, I was looking on the internet for apartments when I recalled a financial seminar I attended in college where one of the panelists made the point that “renting was paying for something you would never own”.  I wondered could I afford to own.  With a strong push from my friend Jason, I took a leap of faith, that some would call a poor financial decision, and I made an offer on a property, without looking at other properties.  That was just four days after of my 24th birthday.

Read the full story here: Why I Think Parents Should Their Kids’ College Expenses

How Was I Able to Make Such A Big Financial Decision in Just 4 days?  Found out in the full story:

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Food For Thought: Finances & Job Security

Truth- There is nothing secure about job security. In fact, the emotional and physical stress that people experience over worry of losing a job and not being able to keep up a lifestyle or provide for a family is all too common. According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, “As many as two-thirds of people in the U.S. don’t have the recommended six months of expenses saved. The percentage of people with savings enough to cover at least three months shrank to 40 % in 2014, compared with 45%, a year earlier.”

save-money-after-job-lose-lay-off

So when do you make a plan for the worst? Well, it’s better to have one in place before you need it…and I hope you will never need it. Having the recommended six months of expenses is just that- a recommendation. You have to figure out what amount works best for you and if you are like me, having a goal and a plan to get more than the recommended amount would put my mind at ease, since it can still take more than six months to secure a new place on your career path. The good news is, it is never too late to start protecting yourself financially.  Are you saving enough? If not, don’t undercut yourself by saving a little this week and skipping next week.  Get in the habit of paying yourself first!  You owe it to yourself and those you support to be financially secure in a world where job security isn’t secure.

Companies are downsizing, departments are being eliminated, and employers are trimming the fat. If you lost your job today, how long would you be able to survive financially?

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Beginner’s Guide to: Understanding Financial Terms

As a millennial woman, I know many of my peers shy away from conversations about money and becoming financially fit for fear of looking dumb for not knowing the basics. Financial terms are spoken and we hear Charlie Brown’s teacher and stop listening. I want to help break down self-imposed barriers that could be keeping us from confidently making smart money moves. In an interview for Mint, I was asked off the record if I thought that women view money management differently than men. While some people believe women are not confident in making big financial decisions, I’m inclined to disagree.

When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be confident, powerful, and commanding in their financial choices.

Every week, She Makes Cents will introduce a financial term with hopes to empower you to expand your financial literacy. For some this is a refresher and for others, it may be the first time that you understand, what these terms mean and how they affect YOUR money. Either way, you are arming yourself to take the lead in your own financial situation and achieve the goal of living the fabulous life while being financially savvy!

If there is a financial term you want explained, shoot us an email and we will answer it on the site. Stay tuned tomorrow when we talk investments and returns.

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