{Looking for Money} Simple Suggestions to Start Saving Money TODAY!

If I walked in a room and asked everyone who is completely debt free to raise their hands and someone did, I would truly be surprised.  It’s not because I’m unaware of the fact that debt-free people do exist, it’s just because I see an abundance of people from all walks of life trying to get their finances in a better place.  I myself am one of those people.  The inspiration for this post comes after sitting down and looking at my finances for this month.  A wrench was unexpectedly thrown into my financial pattern when a mistake was made on one of my checks (hey, it sucks but it happens).  This caused me to take a closer look at my money.  Where is it going and could I save more?

Here’s what I found:

 I started the morning trying to pay a bill online that I have already paid. What can I say, at the point in the day, I hadn’t gotten my Starbucks fix. Once on the site, though I saw something about saving money with a FREE online Energy Audit from GA Power, so I followed the link. It took less than 10 minutes and it showed me how the changes I have made over the past year have saved me money in a monthly comparison of 2011 to 2012. It also provided some suggestions for home improvements that can increase comfort while lowering monthly bills. According to Energy Star, “a home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency.”

After the Energy Audit, I checked out my credit card balance (insert sad face).  Just to give a little background, a few years ago I paid off my credit card by paying a set amount ($200 a month) instead of the minimum payment. During that time, I saw the decrease in the balance move rather quickly. Now, after living off of my credit card for  one year + span of not working, then a complete career change with a different kind of salary, my credit card balance hit an all time high. I’ve been working to pay it and the balance is moving in the right direction, but it’s not moving fast enough.  So, I decided to input my information into a credit card payment calculator to find out the timeframe of being credit card debt free.  I added a credit card calculator on the right panel of SMC, but I really like this one from the Consumer’s Alliance because it reveals just how much that credit card is going to cost you, or how you can pay off your existing credit card debt a bit faster.  Now, i have an exact goal date and I understand better how a few dollars can make a big difference in the end. 

Lets Connect!


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

{The Green Experiment} How Going Green Can Save You Green

The Green Experiment, have you heard of it? If not, let me be the first to introduce how “going green” with your finances could really save you money. At its most basic level, it is doing away with your debit and credit cards and living off cash for a specified period of time. Did you know that most people spend more when they pay with cards over cash? One psychologically reason for this is that people can’t “see” the money dwindle down when using cards. If you are using the oh so fab, envelope system, you are already living a green life. For others, this experiment might not be as easy as it sounds.  For those of you up for the challenge, let’s see how you do for ONE week with cash only.  My thoughts… you will start saving money because you can physically see your wad dwindle with every purchase.   Hopefully, this will cause you to determine to spend or to save. Sophia Banay from Glamour magazine adds, “all you need to determine whether you can afford something is peek in your wallet.”  If you are down for the challenge, She Makes Cents is going green starting Sunday, August 5th.

Are You Down for the Challenge?


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

The Envelope System Saves $$$

Someone pinned this picture on Pinterest of them dividing their money into different envelops as suggested by financial expert, Dave Ramsey. His explanation of the envelope system was simple and made cents/sense, so I thought I’d share it. My thoughts are in PINK, of course. I hope you enjoy!


Get on a Simple System

The key component to Dave Ramsey’s, “Total Money Makeover” is the envelope system. What is the envelope system, you ask? Well, according to Ramsey, its “way to handle money still works. People used to always use cash envelopes to control their monthly spending, but very few do in today’s card swiping culture”. I will say that it works and the comments to post prove it. Check out Ramsey’s simple basics for starting a cash envelope system.

  1. Budget each paycheck. Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you’re going to successfully implement the envelope system. While I know plenty of people who budget a certain percentage of each check, I budget specific figures.
  2. Divide and conquer. Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing, and entertainment. I usually work off three main categories: groceries, restaurants/entertainment, personal maintenance (hair, nails, or anything that will help me feel “pretty”). I chose these categories for myself because these are the areas I could be tempted to overspend. I pay my bills off the top and then I budget each paycheck into these categories, which were listed in order of importance.
  3. Fill ‘er Up. After you’ve categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.

From Ramsey

When it’s gone, it’s gone. Once you’ve spent all the money in a given envelope, you’re done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can’t spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!

Don’t be tempted. While debit cards can’t get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.

Give it time. It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don’t give up after a month or two if it’s not clicking. You’ll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace! See … simple! Truth… I sort of fell of the wagon for a while. I actually, couldn’t remember what purse I put the envelopes in until today, when I found them, and I had $20 in my restaurant fund. I started back on the system TODAY!!! It takes work but most great things do….

photo credit: Tales From the Coop Keeper | content: David Ramsey

What are your categories for your envelopes?


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

Budgeting 102- Spending Diet

I saw the movie Eat Pray Love not too long ago. In it, is a reference to an old Catholic joke that I have become very fond of. In a voice-over, Liz, played by Julia Roberts, recalls the following:

I remember an Old Catholic joke about a man who spent his whole life going to a church every day and prayed to the statue of a great saint begging, “please, please, please, let me win the lottery.” Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says “my son, please, please, please, buy a ticket”.

Sometimes I find myself in situations where I am the one begging and sometimes I am the statue. Today, I come to you as the statue. I once heard it said that we buy what we want and beg for what we need. Is this you? Have you put you financial security at risk with things you wanted and now you are begging for a financial miracle? Be a part of your own miracle…buy a ticket. I am taking the points mentioned in Budgeting 101 step by step. Like dieting and working out, budgeting takes time, restraint, and accountability. I invite you to join me on my Spending Diet.

Write Down Everything You Spend Your Money On. Since April 1, 2011, I have been writing down EVERYTHING I have spent money on. I included this advice in Budgeting 101 with the suggestion to do this for two weeks. I would now like to retract that advice and tell you to extend it for an entire month. Every financial and money management writer will tell you to do this. Honestly, it wasn’t until the beginning of April that I actually did this myself. I thought between my memory and online banking statements, that I had an accurate grasp on how, when, where, and with whom I spent my money. SMC readers, I couldn’t have been more wrong. My spending chart has revealed that I am an emotional spender who blows a great deal of my food budget on eating out with my sister because I believe we don’t see, talk, or interact as frequently as we once did. My spending chart personified aspects by my sometimes-narcissistic personality. I made a donation to my alma mater that I really couldn’t afford, because I didn’t want to be the 5,999 person who comes shy of the 6,000 donor goal for the Founder’s Day scholarship fundraiser. I also learned that while there are aspects of my personality where I am admittedly spoiled, I also spend and give the a great deal of my money to others to make them happy. Hi, my name is Danielle and I am an emotional spender. Buy the ticket. I am putting myself in financial rehab to get back on track like my Rah Tiffany did years ago. I have locked my credit card away and most importantly, I am learning to say no to others. Catey Hill, the author of Shoo Jimmy Choo created a Day to Day Spending Chart that I particularly like. I used Hill’s chart as an example and made one that fits my own financial goals and spending style. Buy what you need and you will not have anything left to beg for. Buy a ticket and let’s start our financial journey together.

If you are interested in my own Spending Chart, please email me at shemakescent@gmail.com
subject: Spending Chart 


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One Way to Rid Yourself of a Car Note

A year after I graduated from college, my dad presented me with an Emerald green BMW that I named EMMY (yes, I named my car and it’s a girl). She was cute, small, and just what I needed to get me around town. She was also purchased off Craigslist from a guy who wanted to punish his son for slacking off in school. My father, who had been diligently checking the internet for BMWs, came across the ad for the sale of the car. Instead of jumping on the deal immediately, my father decided to wait it out and do as much research on the car, the person selling it, and vehicle purchases from Craigslist before he would make a financial transaction with a complete stranger. We met the man at a Walmart and my dad talked to the seller as I drove around in my version of a test drive. By the time I returned, I was in love with a girl named Emmy. 

How I Bought A Car From Craigslist

While I was test driving, my dad and the seller talked and the seller dropped the price of the car an additional $200. Apparently, while I was driving around my dad and the seller talked about something they had in common—their kids. My dad told the seller of how I had graduated not too long ago and how he wanted to buy me a car.   The seller confessed to my dad, a perfect stranger, of how he was disappointed in his son’s attitude towards academics and he was selling his car to teach him a lesson. While I felt bad for the son, I happily took the keys and drove off in my BMW. I mean, seriously, that dad was going to sell the car anyway so as much as I felt bad for the son who would come home to find his car and a cd that he left in the cd player gone, I wasn’t going to miss out on my opportunity. I loved that car, may she rest in peace.

R.I.P Emmy
Purchased off Craigslist for $3300

After I loss Emmy to a sudden battle with the concrete barrier on the highway, I had a window of about two weeks to find a car. You see, to get the best deal on insurance rates I have bundled multiple accounts that require you to maintain all accounts with the company. I certainly was not going to pay for car insurance when there was no longer a car to be insured, but I also did not want my home insurance, for example, to increase because of this. So back to Craigslist we went. My dad was looking for another BMW, which I wouldn’t have minded, but I felt like he kept showing me pictures of cars that looked exactly like Emmy. Then I found it, my new ride. I found a car, similar to this for less than $5000. Yep, I’m driving a Mercedes with no car note for less than $5000. Now let me show you how you can do the same SAFELY, with my 12 Commandments to Buying a Car on Craigslist.

Purchased off Craigslist for under $5000


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Budgeting 101- How to Make a Budget

Today I will be visiting my alma mater, Spelman College, to sit in on a class taught by the smartest woman I have ever met, Dr. Michelle S. Hite (seriously, she is probably one of the top ten people who have significantly impacted my life). Just thinking about Spelman puts me back in an academic frame of mind, so for today class, I will be teaching Budgeting 101. In my opinion, budgeting is like using common sense, everyone should do it but not everyone does. The importance of making and sticking to a budget is the freedom of knowing exactly how you spend, what money can be spent elsewhere, and where you overspend. So grab a pen and paper and let’s get started:

  1. Fixed (Mortgage/Rent, Car Payments, Insurance, Emergency Fund)
  2. Variable (Utilities, Groceries, Gas, Food, Entertainment)

    This is the time for you to really think about what’s important. Shelter, Food, Utilities, and Gas are at the top of my list. Although I hate to do it, I can live without costly entertainment.


    Do not leave anything out in this step. If you spend $1.00 at the vending machine, $3.00 for Girl Scout cookies, and $7.00 for parking downtown when meeting friends for drinks, you already splurged $11.00 on random spending that you probably don’t even consider when mentally reviewing your spending for the day. Writing EVERYTHING out will help you see exactly what, where, and how you spend your dineros.


    My friend and Rah Tiffany (hey girl) put herself in a mental shopping rehab back when we were in college. At first, my friends and I thought she was crazy, but in fact she was making the best financial decision as a then single black female addicted to retail (thanks Kanye). She went almost 40 days without random impulse shopping. Following suit, I did the same. I reviewed my spending habits from the previous step that revealed my mindless exhaustion of funds at the mall. I would get up, go to the mall, see something I thought I couldn’t live without, buy it, then after working so hard at shopping I would go for lunch, go back to shopping and finally come home. Now looking back, I have to ask myself, did I really need those shoes, that purse, that book, that phone case, or that expensive lunch….NOPE, I did not. Then I thought to myself, wow, I could have taken that money and put it in my bucket list fund. Trust…skydiving will be more memorable than that cute shirt I purchased sometime last season.


    This tip makes its way into almost every post I write. This is a must for financial empowerment!!!


    Things change. Financial situations change. Keeping your list up to date is the only way to ensure that your budget is working for you.

Good Luck and Enjoy!



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