{April 5, 2016} National “Go Broke For a Day”

It seems like every time I look up, there is a new “holiday” to be celebrated.  National Pet Day….LOVE, National Ice Cream Day….LOVE, National  Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Day…umm, well okay Derek Zoolander.  Any who, today is apparently National Go Broke for a Day, which is like a “cheat day” or excuse to take financial risks be it good or bad, spend in excess, or do something you have been too scared to do.

Shopping

Here is how it was explained to me:

National Go For Broke Day is celebrated annually on April 5.  Go ahead, go for it…this would be the day!  What is it??  That is for you to decide.  Are you a gambler?  If so, take a big risk, “Go for Broke”.  If you are not a gambler, it may be you want to take a risk with your job, a new project you are working on, buying a new home, financial investments, relationships, travels or any risk, go for it….”Go for Broke”! Take a risk and Go for Broke. Use #NationalGoForBrokeDay to post on social media.

I can assure you that if you are laser focus on your goals, saving money, and building wealth, you will not fall for something as silly as #NationalGoForBrokeDay which will likely leave you with a  financial hangover .  It may be fun to go broke for a new purse, to go broke for that new  6 series car, or to go broke seeing the world, but it is not fun paying those things off.   What’s more important to you: the burden of paying  off things you are willing to go broke for or what you acquire?  That is to say, would you rather have a new car and deal with the debt or would you rather have no debt and the car you are currently driving?

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{Week 8 Recap} Beyonce’, Credit Cards, & the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Sunday- the end of the week or start of a new one? For me, it is the wrap up to week eight of 2016 and time for the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. To chose a number for the week, I start by looking at my bank account and seeing how much I can afford pay on top of my bills and money envelopes. While I manage my money on a zero-based style budget, I do leave a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses and this BINGO Challenge. I then review my credit card statement, since that is how I am using the extra money from this challenge.  Looking at the declining balance of credit card debt gets me right back on track when I start thinking about excess spending. For example, I was on the Ticketmaster site earlier this week determined to get BeeHive presale tickets for  Beyonce’s Formation Tour that went on sale at 10:00am.

beyonce-10-dollar-bill

9:44 am….I had my credit card out on my desk and was ready to purchase up to four tickets on my card.  But why?  I love going to Beyonce’ concerts.  “It’s about the experience”, is what I said to justify the “almost expense”.   I have only missed one of six Beyonce’s World Tours, I Am…Sasha Fierce, so to say that I’m really missing out might be a reach.

9:58am… Credit card is in hand and I am watching the countdown clock for the start of presale tickets.  I’m ready to risk my progress toward my financial milestone dates that I have set for myself as an individual and that my husband and I have set as a couple.

9:59:59… I hit refresh.  Picturing me, hubs, and another friend couple having the time of our lives.  Aww…the fun we are going to have.

10:00am…. I am entering my information trying to get tickets for the Atlanta show. So excited to tell the hubs that I got these tickets for us.

10:03am… “do not refresh or you will lose your place in line” Really Ticketmaster?

10:15am…  The same message is on the screen when the phone rings and I have to stop #OperationFormationTour and take care of business.giphy

Looking back, I have to credit divine intervention for me aborting #OperationFormationTour.  I was saved by the bell…or ring… especially considering  I was prepared to spend up to $150.00 per ticket for this concert.   If I am really being honest with myself, all of this was more about  FOMO (fear of missing out) than seeing my fifth Beyonce’ concert.  Dave Ramsey has famously affirmed, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else”.  There are a lot of broke people going to see Beyonce’ who are sacrificing responsibilities for what I am sure will be an epic experience.  I’m okay missing this concert (unless someone wants to graciously gift me tickets), if that means I am making strides to get to the point where the question  changes.  I am staying steadfast with my goals and very soon that the question will change from, Should we spend $150.00 per ticket? to What country to you want to see this concert in?  For now, I will focus on getting my finances into formation and I will cross off $15.00 on my BINGO money sheet.

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{Money Hack} Quick Guide to the Debt Snowball

If you are a frequent reader of shemakescents, then you will constantly hear me referring to a snowball, but what exactly does a snow ball have to do with personal finance? The snowball is a metaphor that represents my current financial goals. Picture this… someone picks up a small handful of snow and creates a ball. That ball is then pushed down a hill and with every rotation picks up more snow and speed. By the time it reaches the bottom of the hill, the ball has multiplied in size. Money SnowballPhoto Credit: PM Images

Now let’s break it down…

  •  Simply picking up the ice to form a ball represents motivation. Most people would have seen the snow but left it alone because it’s too cold to bother with.
  •  The small ball, created from motivation, is a manifestation of the strength of my current financial situation. It’s small right now, but will grow with better money habits ahead.
  •  The snow ball being pushed represents my obligation to myself not to settle or stay stagnant. You have to keep moving to make progress. With every rotation (aka payment above the minimum) the fight against debt gains momentum until it gets to the bottom of the hill aka “The Land of Financial Freedom”.

Financially speaking, it looks like this:

Current Credit Card Minimum Payment = $89.00
The Average Monthly Payment I Make = $450.00 ($300.00 per month + the average of the 2016 version 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge) will have me credit card free in 9 months at the longest.

Once the credit card has a zero balance, that money will be “snowballed” onto my monthly student loans. Instead of paying the $200.00 minimum for those, I will then pay $200.00 + $450.00 to equal $650.00 per month on student loan debt. Doing this will shave 12 years and 7 months off my expected repayment term and save me about $6,555.55 on interest alone.

Once the student loans are eliminated, I will then have an extra $650.00 every month.  That’s an extra $7,800 per year that could be applied to savings, investments, or a down payment for a large purchase.

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{Financial Cents} 4 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

tax refund

 Have you ever gotten your tax refund and thought to yourself, it’s time to go shopping? I have. Growing up, my mom would take a large part of her refund and she and I would go on a shopping spree…even if it meant driving from mall to mall to find a wider selection or hanging out on a school night. That is how I grew up thinking about refund checks… like some sort of magical windfall of new shoes, purses, and dresses. Now fast forward to the present, I now know it’s better to try to break even than to get a fat refund. In reality, if you are receiving a large refund then you are paying too much in taxes throughout the year.

Divide and Conquer Your Money

If you are like me and you know you will be getting a refund of some sort, it is important to find a better way to spend your money than blowing it on a  new tv or handbag. Before you even receive your refund, you should already have an idea of what you may be getting back. Take this time to divide your money, so when you actually received it, you will be less likely to blow it recklessly because you have already decided where it is going. For some, this will take some serious financial discipline, but in the end, it’s worth it! I plan to make my money work for me by using these four categories below to get me started.

        • Fund your funds. If you don’t have an emergency fund of at least $1000, now is the time to start paying yourself.  You should think of this fund like those Chinese finger traps that kids used to pay with- it’s easy to put stuff in and difficult to take things out!  If you already have at least a $1000 Emergency fund, then you should take a percentage of your refund and put aside for your savings account.

        • Pay Down Debt.  This is the time to give your “snowball” effect an extra boost. Putting a portion of your refund toward your debt with the lowest APR (annual percentage rate) or lowest balance will help you pay get out of debt faster and feel good about your accomplishments.  Remember, you don’t have to have thousands of dollars all at once to start getting out of debt. Every payment above the minimum helps you get closer to your goal.

        • Take Care of Things You Have Been Putting Off.  If you have been meaning to call the plumber over to fix that leak you can’t find (raises hands) or get the brakes on your car checked out (raises hands) or even get the shoes with that weird heel repaired (raises hands) then take this time and money to do it.  These are things that people put off because they don’t have the money or time.  You now have the money, so make the time.

        • Prioritize Fun.  When budgeting your money, you have to remember to prioritize for things that bring you JOY.  Set a goal and when you accomplish it, tap into this category and unleash your fun fund.  This could mean buying those shoes you have had your eye on, a spa day, or planning that impromptu weekend with your loved one(s), girlfriends, or even by yourself!  It doesn’t have to be big, but it does help if it is something that brings happiness and drives you to work toward your goal. 

How Do You Divide Your Refund?

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{Honesty is Free} What Does the “Fab Life” Mean to You?

So I took a little hiatus…okay, well a longer one than expected, but I am back with a vengeance. I needed some time to have new experiences so that I can have something exciting yet honest to write about. To be honest, the original idea behind this site was to inform and inspire ways to use your “cents” to live a fab life. Along the way, I believe I got off target.  So as we prepare for our upcoming one year mark (March 1stJ), I want to take things back to basics.  To do so, I’ll start with a simple question; what is the fab lifeMy answer could be ever-changing, but at the moment, great people, great food, great fashions, great adventures, great love, great leaps of faith, and a greatly styled place to come home to.

Fab People


Fab Fashions


Fab Adventures


Fab Love


Fab Faith


Fab Home

 So that is what I’m going to write about…how to get the fab life without breaking the bank, my budget, or my financial integrity. I hope you join me along the way and learn from both my successes and my failures. That’s life and sometimes, you don’t learn the lesson until you fall on your face and have to get back up.

Talk to me! What is the “fab life” to you?

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Watching for Spring!!

 Update: Please click here for “Watching for Spring Update” 

My favorite season is here, which means it’s time to start packing away my fall/winter stuff and refresh my life and look for spring. One way I prepare myself for spring is by cleaning out my closet.

I am all about donating my old clothes and accessories that do not fit properly or no longer fit my style, but if I can sell them, I will. I am good for selling clothes to Rag-O-Rama in Atlanta and other consignment stores. Whatever they don’t take, I donate to a shelter, clothing drive, or the Goodwill. I used to have a hard time letting go of clothes because I attached a memory to them or I used to tell myself that I wear it one day…now I think how someone else can benefit from buying them at a price that’s in their budget.

Plus, getting rid of the old makes room for the new! Old me would have just bought whatever without a thought. Adult Danielle now takes into consideration the “adult bills” she is now responsible for…. that doesn’t mean I lose the fab, it just means I use my “cents”.  Thanks to my Mr., my newest style obsession is the bracelet/watch look and I plan on using the money I get from selling to consignment stores to go toward the “Danielle needs a cute new watch fund“. 

I love the layered look like this:


These are my top contenders for achieving my watch style for Spring!


What are you saving for!

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{Fab Alert} Honesty is Fabulous& Free!

So I took a little hiatus…okay, well a longer one than expected, but I am back with a vengeance. I needed some time to have new experiences so that I can have something exciting yet honest to write about. To be honest, the original idea behind this site was to inform and inspire ways to use your “cents” to live a fab life. Along the way, I believe I got off target.  So as we prepare for our upcoming one year mark (March 1stJ), I want to take things back to basics.  To do so, I’ll start with a simple question; what is the fab lifeMy answer could be ever-changing, but at the moment, great people, great food, great fashions, great adventures, great love, great leaps of faith, and a greatly styled place to come home to.

Fab People


Fab Fashions


Fab Adventures


Fab Love


Fab Faith


Fab Home

 So that is what I’m going to write about…how to get the fab life without breaking the bank, my budget, or my financial integrity. I hope you join me along the way and learn from both my successes and my failures. That’s life and sometimes, you don’t learn the lesson until you fall on your face and have to get back up.

Talk to me! What is the “fab life” to you?

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100 Ways to Save Money!!

98…99…100 ways to save!


It has been a while……a long while, since I have had the opportunity to just be still and enjoy one of my favorite Sunday pastimes, reading other peoples’ blogs. In doing so, I can across a post about savvy ways to save your hard earned money. I think some of the points are great and they force you to think before you spend. With the holidays coming up, the urge to overspend is heightened as many people correlate gifts with love. Then what happens? Saving money, along with losing weight, rises to the top of many New Year’s Resolution List. Savvy Girl, from 24savvy.com, created her “100 Savvy Ways to Save” (to check it out, click here).

I’d Love to hear what you think!

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inform and inspire ways to use your “cents” to live a fab life


4 Simple Ways to Save on Your Next Power Bill

Saving Money is a Breeze!

For the past few months, I have noticed a trend with my Georgia Power bill- It keeps going up! I’m not the only one experiencing this either. If you are looking for some ways to see a difference and keep your wallet a little fatter, check out some suggestions for simple ways to save your cents. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.

Air Sealing


Many air leaks and drafts – like those around windows and doors – are easy to find because they are easy to feel. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills.

Programmable Thermostat


Did You Know?

The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills – nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings. When I first bought my house, I made sure that I had a programmable thermostat. However, I later found out that I was not optimizing my saving because of that temperatures I programmed the thermostat to, actually caused it to work harder. Thus, I was not saving $$$ 😕

Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats (from Energy Star)

Through proper use of a programmable thermostat (using the four pre-programmed settings) you can save about $180* every year in energy costs.

Rules of Thumb for Proper Use:

  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule — Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By “examining” the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  5. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  6. If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

*The $180 savings assumes a typical, single-family home with a 10 hour daytime setback of 8° F in winter and setup of 7° F in summer, and an 8 hour nighttime setback of 8° F in winter and a setup of 4° F in summer.

Lighting


Change to compact florescent light bulbs. They provide bright warm light while using 75% less energy than standard lighting – they also generate 75% less heat and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 23-watt compact fluorescent bulb can save you up to $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Learn more about ENERGY STAR lighting products.

Power Strips


Use a power strip as a central “turn off” point when you are done using equipment. Even when turned off, electronic and IT equipment often use a small amount of electricity. U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year to power devices while they are in a low power mode, roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs. Using a power strip for your computer and all peripheral equipment allows you to completely disconnect the power supply from the power source, eliminating standby power consumption.

I was watching The View not too long ago, and they had a surge protector that had a timer on it. The timer turns the outlet off after a pre-selected time. According to the show, charging your cell phone and other electronic devices overnight kills the battery. The power strip with the timer will not only save you on energy cost, but will also lengthen the life of your electronic devices.

Want More Ways to Save, Check out these tips from ENERGY STAR


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Changes in Our “New” Economy

This morning I replied to the question,What lifestyle changes have you made in our “new” economy?   Here is my reply:

Creating the blog She Makes Cents, has been one way were I am held accountable for my financial decision…since I’m blogging about it. In our “new” economy and for research for my site, I now do the following:

  • I make spending and saving goals for the month. Then I tell the people around me my goals. That way, when I start to slip or go regress to old habits, I have a support system to help keep me on track.
  • I am notorious for going to restaurants multiple times a week. I now make sure I eat before leaving the house and I pack fruit and random snacks in my bag. That way, when I start to get “snacky” I don’t have to make a trip to the vending machine, closet Chick-fil-A, or restaurant.
  • I track my spending. EVERYTHING! I tried it because of a suggestion from this financial writer. It really adds some perspective to your spending habits and it made/makes me think hard about my purchases and the motivation/emotion behind them. (You can download the original template I used from author Catey Hill, here).
  • I opened an alternate email account and I send email coupons and store sign ups here.
  • Before I go out, I check out Groupon Now, HalfOffDepot.com, & Living Social. Why pay full price when you can get a better deal on the same product and service?

    I have more tips; check out SMC Money Journal & Fix Your Finances!

This question got me thinking about you SMC readers.

What changes have you made, if any, in our “new” economy?

Have you benefitted from any advice you read on here?

I’d love to hear from YOU!

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