{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).

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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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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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{Super Charge Your 2015 Savings} 52 Week Money Challenge | Bingo Style

Can I get a “BINGO”?  It’s a new year, which means it is time for the 52 Week Money Challenge.  I can tell by looking into my stats for the She Makes Cents that people are researching ways to save money in the new year. I mean really, we can all do something a little different with our financial decisions that will set us up for financial success.  For the past two years now, I have taken part in the 52 Week Money Challenge.  In participating for the past two years, I created a simpler way to save that was both lucrative and effortless.  My She Makes Cents Bingo Style Sheet, free for She Makes Cents readers, has made it easier for those participating in the challenge to save money on one’s own terms.  Using my Bingo Style Sheet has helped me to pay off my credit card debt, save for the holidays, and start saving for my wedding in October.  

52 Week Challenge

How Does It Work?

The original challenge was to 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 27 you deposit $27.00 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.   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 (without doing any of the bonuses) 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.

Still Need Motivation?

I will post my progress on Fridays and I invite you to keep us up to date on your progress.  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 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.  Happy Saving!

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How Are You Going Use Your $1300+ ?

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{Debt Management} Is This Super Easy Financial Move Worth The Risk?

You Get Out of Debt The Same Way You Learned How to Walk- One Step At A Time

Dave Ramsey

I am from the generation of instant results. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, but in this case, I think my generational behavior will pay off. I am working toward my next financial goal of having a zero balance on my credit card by August 1, 2014. Once I reach my goal, I plan to only use the card for things that can be paid off before the end of the billing cycle (if I must use the card at all). Last year, my balance reached over $5300.00 and my monthly bill was putting a wrench in my spending/savings plan. That was my “aha moment”. It was then that I decided to take full control over my financial situation by not only setting goals, but dates to meet the goals. Financial coach and author, Dave Ramsey, believes that you get out of debt the same way you learned to walk—one step at a time. For this idea, Ramsey created 7 Baby Steps to help people beat debt and build wealth. The first Baby Step is to start an Emergency Fund of $1000.00. Once you’ve completed Baby Step One, you then move on to Baby Step Two where you start to pay off debt using the Snowball Method. I’m at Step Two and I am trying to pay off my credit card and then move on to my student loan debts as fast as possible. This led me to a thought one day to do something extremely risky….

Credit Card copy

Playing Russian Roulette With My Finances

In my Week 14 update of my money challenge, I relieved for the first time just how I have gone from balance of $5300.00 to a $1345.00. The closer I get to the $1000.00 mark the more crazy ideas flow through my head.

For instance, I came up with the idea, a while ago, to go against Ramsey’s advice and completely deplete my emergency fund.  I would do this only when I got my credit card balance under the $1000.00 mark. The Pro to that idea is that I will immediately have a ZERO balance by using the Emergency Fund to pay off the remaining balance. The CON… well we call it an “emergency” for a reason. It is a somewhat good idea if I had a crystal ball and a glimpse that there would be no financial emergencies soon. No one can foresee when you really need to tap into that fund. Plus, not having the funds at all will send you right back into debt because you will have to cover the “emergency” with credit or even worse, borrowing from someone else.

Keeping my original idea in my, I considered a tapered down version of my risky plan. Instead of depleting the Emergency Fund completely, I would take out $500.00 and apply it to my credit card balance once I got under the $1000.00 mark. Doing so will help me to reach the zero balance goal, two months ahead of time and stay on track with my financial plan. Once the credit card balance is paid in full, I would then continue my normal $300.00 per month + money from the 52 Week Money Challenge to replenish the Emergency Fund until August 1st. Because I have eliminated interest, I would actually end up with $100.00 extra going back into my Emergency Fund.

If You Were Me, What Would You Do?

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~ Update: Click here to see what Danielle decided to do ~

{Financial Cents} How To Make A Financial Plan

Sometimes I need to remind myself that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Every morning I would pray for financial blessings but somehow found myself going through the motions, which was slowing my progress to my goal of zero debt. For me, it is about finding that balance between enjoying my lifestyle and making financially sound decisions. I have been bitten by the travel bug and I can’t wait to explore the world, I live for bottomless mimosas at brunch, and I believe shoes and the right lipstick makes the outfit. However, I also believe in building hefty savings, going into marriage without bad debt (i.e. credit card and student loans), and building generational wealth. I must agree with Dave Ramsey, financial guru, who affirms, “Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge”. I am working on the behavior part. I found that even though I enjoy shopping, I’m more likely to shop when I’m bored. Recently, I started filling that boredom with QT with the Mr. walking and exploring our city. I am focusing on better decisions, which will yield better behavior. Every cause has an effect and every decision has a financial consequence; that’s why coming up with a personalized financial plan has been my saving grace. Yes, I prayed for financial blessing…I still do, but I have also added the caveat that with financial blessings come financial responsibility.

Check Out My Financial Plan!

1.  Write down your debt & don’t forget to include people you owe money.    I was talking with a childhood friend who says he had zero debt.  As we got to talking it was revealed that he did not include the almost $7,000 he owed to a family member and the card he maxed out in his college days.  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.  Once we dove deeper into our conversation, he and I started listing our debt.  My list was simple- one credit card, student loans, and mortgage.  His, well…let’s just say that I composed a very sobering list on his behalf that included all the debt that he could remember.  Seeing your debt listed makes it more real.

2.  Emergency Fund Minimum.  Baby Step One of the Total Money Makeover is to get your emergency fund to $1,000 if you have an annual income of $20,000 or more.  “Your car will need repairs and your kids will outgrow their clothes. These are not emergencies; they are items that belong in your budget. If you don’t budget for them, they will feel like emergencies”.  It was this statement from the book that caused me to stop dead in my tracks and redefine what I considered an emergency versus saving.

3.  52 Week Money Challenge- BINGO Style.  This was actually a part of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.  The challenge is to 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 27 you deposit $27.00 and so on.  I took the challenge one step further by remixing it into a BINGO style which makes it easier to be successful.  In the end, you will have saved $1378.00!  I’m using the money from the challenge to pay down the balance on my credit card, birthday, and holidays. Update: In 2016, I saved $1,900.00 doing this challenge.  Want to join in on the 2017 version, grab your FREE copy of the bingo card here.

4.  Tackle Your List.  I revealed in the post, Tackle Your Credit Card Debt Today, that as of January I started with $5300 in credit card debt.  I have reduced my debt down to $0.00  by paying a little over the minimum and applying the Bingo Style money to the balance EVERY Friday (I have yet to miss one), but that was interest is killing me.   While making additional payments to the credit card, I am making the minimum payment toward my student loans and mortgage.  Once the credit card was paid off, I will now apply that money to extra payments to my student loans and so on…this is called the Snowball Method.  Now, I will confess, if I had more debt, I would recommend switching between the Snowball Method and the Avalanche method, which we will discuss later in the Financial Cents series.

5.  Emergency & Savings.  Don’t forget to save that money you are no longer paying to others.  Use it to prepare for the future.  Emergencies will arise and more than likely something will come up that will cause you to tap into your savings….be prepared.

She Makes Cents Wants to Know If Personal FInance More Behavior or Knowledge?

{Friday Ramble} One Reason He Hasn’t Put A Ring On It!

The Ring Didn’t Mean A Thing!

She Makes CentsI wonder does former Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Zolciak, still think that after she got hers two years ago? In fact, he put a ring on it after she stopped living off someone else and started bringing in the big bucks from Bravo. My inspiration for this post, however hits a little closer to home as it comes from a girl talk with a girlfriend of mine…let’s call her “Christine” for anonymity sake. Christine and I were catching up the other day laughing at a prediction gone wrong. You see, at the beginning of last years, either she or I made the prediction that her boyfriend would pop the question in 2012. During our girl talk, she revealed that she asked her boyfriend the money and relationship questions discussed in the post 5 Financial Questions you Should Ask Your Significant Other Today to  open up lines of communication about money and their future as a couple.  Our conversation then led to people who lie about their finances to a significant other.
Sure, like Christine, you and your boyfriend could have talked about marriage, but that doesn’t mean he has been secretly studying up on Tacori, now does it? If being engaged in a certain period was a similar goal and that didn’t happen, let’s examine one major possibility… a.k.a. your financial situation.  While I am very open about my personal financial situation with you (SMC readers), my family, and the Mr., I know that everyone is not so comfortable talking about money. Many people were raised to think that frankly, discussions of money are just plain rude. Although I must agree with financial journalist, Jean Chatzy, who advised in article for the Winter 2013 edition of Martha Stewart Weddings that you should “never STOP talking about money”. People list money as the top reason they fight and they confess hiding financial information from their spouse, but if you are planning on a successful marriage and not just a wedding, then you should be able to talk about anything- especially money!

Things to Consider:

her money piggy bank

Know You Before He Can Know You.  This is the epitome of money and relationship advice.  On the financial side, you can’t share accurate information about your finances, if you don’t know your current situation.  Check your credit score.  Keep track of your debt.  He can’t know your debt until you know it, just like he can’t fully know you until you know yourself.
Argument

Be Open.  You may be fluent in your love language, but how is your financial fluency?  One thing I had to learn with the Mr. is to truly engage in communication you have to be willing to talk as much as you listen.  Give as much as you ask and be prepared to hear things you may not like.  Relationships thrive on open lines of communication.  Again, if you plan on jumping the broom, you have to be ready to talk about everything, including those stupid financial decisions you made in your early 20s that you are still paying for…literally.
Danielle jona's ring

Great Expectations. The 6 carat dream on the .25 carat budget.  I have another friend whose boyfriend told her, he was not proposing to her because he couldn’t afford the rings she was pinning on Pinterest.  Does she really expect a celebrity ring? No. Does her boyfriend have a point?  Yes…well, maybe.  Yes, he has a point because he doesn’t want to disappoint you.  Maybe, because Pinterest is like an online vision board of awesomeness where you group images that you like that lead to articles that you love (follow SMC on Pinterest).  Why not pin pretty things?

slideshow_1002208641_APTOPIX_Serbia_Bridal_Race

Tick Tock, Gotta Beat the Clock.  I’ve heard women say, including myself, that they want to be engaged to be married by [insert date/age here].  For many, the race is more so against the clock than against the Joneses.  How many of you put a similar emphasis on paying off student loans, credit card debt, protecting your investments, or living debt free? Maybe he is not ready. Maybe you both aren’t ready as you think you are. I will say that you need to make sure your ducks are in a row. Wouldn’t it be lovely, when the time comes, to go into a marriage with no financial surprises. In my opinion, that is WAY better than a ring…but that’s just my two cents.

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