2018 January Recap | 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare?  Both tortoise and the hare had the same goal…to get to the finish line; although, the strategy for getting there was vastly different.  The hare was quick, took a few shortcuts and thrived in moments of instant gratification.  He prided himself in how quickly the finish line came into sight, so much so, that he gave himself a moment to stop, even briefly, when he was on the brink of success.  But enough about him for now.  Let’s chat about the tortoise. 

Even though his pace is much slower than the hare, he is consistent .  Step by step, no matter how big or small that step is, he kept moving toward his goal. This folks, is where the lesson “slow and steady wins the race” originates.  While the hare was sleeping, the tortoise slowly passed him by and reached the finish line first.She Makes Cents | 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge January Recap

In my personal financial journey I have been both the tortoise and the hare.  Years ago, I took half of my emergency fund and applied it to my credit card balance because I was impatient and wanted the instance gratification of a zero balance. In that moment, like the hare, that finish line was in sight...literally I had about $600.00 balance that I owed.  Instead of paying at the pace that was working for me, I stopped, departed from my financial plan,  deviated from Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps  and I cashed out.  A week later an actual emergency happened and I couldn’t take care of it in cash.  So that very credit card balance that I risked it all to get to a zero balance instantly increased because I had to pay for the emergency on credit.  There are times when we know what the best course of action is and we take the “easy” way out.  I risked my financial stability and I lost money and time.  One thing I did gain, though, was the hard lesson… “slow and steady wins the race”.

Since then, I have taken a tortoise stride to becoming debt free.  I set my pace to put money toward my money goal EVERY week using the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  In January of 2017 my balance on my student loans was $19,000K+ and by December 31st the balance was $12,500.00.  This part year I saw the largest decrease in the loan balance in the 10 years I have been .  This partly because I figured out exactly how my interest accrues.  Once I understood that, I was able to break my larger goal down into micro goals.

January Recap: 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

This year I set an “paid in full” date of October 2019.  To reach that I have set a new goal to get my balance down to $10,000.00 by May 1st.  With the help of the Mr. we are knocking out debt together.  Every week I select a number on the bingo money card and I send that amount to my student loan providers.  The pace may seem slow to some people, but it is a pace that ensures that I continue to maintain the habit on constant saving.  I started at the year off with a $12,505.00 balance (that extra $5 is because of interest) and I am closing out January at $11,945.62.  Based on all of the awesome progress that member  of the SMC Money Tribe are sharing in our group, they are also cultivating great habit with an encouraging community of like minded-women.

 

She Makes Cents Blog Named in the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the Web

The future is FEMALE and that future is NOW!  In the past year, I have seen an increase of women taking the reigns over their money and careers with a never seen gusto…at least since I have been an adult.  Women are investing in themselves, their money, their careers and their lifestyles and are encouraging other like-minded women to do the same.   Last week we learned that She Makes Cents, the premier money and career blog for goal-setting millennial women, was selected by  Feedspot as one of the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the web. The list, which was announced early January of 2018, features a mix of content producers who share similar goals- bringing personal finance to a female audience. She Makes Cents Founder, Danielle YB Vason shared her experience with her #SMCmoneytribe. “I am thrilled to be recognized amongst the list of well-known financial influencers and brands that I both follow and admire,” Vason admits. “As a blogger, it is easy to feel like you are talking to yourself out there on the web, so when you have your hard work recognized, it’s a very humbling feeling”. So where did She Makes Cents rank? Well, we are pleased to announce that She Makes Cents the blog came in the top 20 ranking at #19.

She Makes Cents Blog Named in the Top 40 Women Financial Blogs on the Web

Other bloggers included on the list were some of our favorite reads such as City Girl Savings, My Fab Finance, and the brand Daily Worth, which topped the list at number one.  According to Feedspot, “This is the most comprehensive list of best Women Financial blogs on the internet” and the blogs that made the list were reviewed under these criteria of Google reputation/search ranking, influence on social media, quality of posts, and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

A word from our founder

I am so thankful for the SMC Money Tribe for joining me on a shared financial journey.  Your stories and questions have helped to shape the content that is created for this blog.  When I created She Makes Cents, my goal was to help millennial women become more financially literate.  I wanted to inform and inspire readers to use their “cents” to live the fab life.  I wanted to encourage the community of goal setting women to define what the fab life means to them. I hope that I have done that and I will continue to do just that… inform, inspire, and encourage.  Congratulations to the SMC Money Tribe because this recognition is a reflection of your debt free journey too.  

MLK Quote to Inspire You to Keep Moving Forward Through Any Situation

Sometimes unexpected things happen…the past two years have been proof of that.  The thing is, we cannot give anything the power to paralyze us in a state of anger, fear, grief, complacency, etc.  Today I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I like this quote because it reminds us that there will be things in life that will attempt to block your path to greatness.  Sometimes we can even block our own blessings.  Instead of giving up when there is a roadblock find another way to get to your goals.  

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If you can’t fly then don’t shrug your shoulders and throw in the towel.  It’s so much easier to give up after the first roadblock (See  “How To Come Back from A Setback”).  Lace up your favorite pair of sneakers and get to running, girlfriend.  You might not get to your greatness quickly, but as long as you keep moving forward you are taking the necessary moves to get you one step closer than you were when you realized that flying was not an option.

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SMC Book Club | How To Get the Most Out of Your Power Word of the Year

On the first day of the year, I asked readers to share their 2018 power word that reflects their goals and visions for themselves. The response to that one question, which was posed to all of our social media networks, was both inspiring and eye-opening. It occurred to me that in place of resolutions people are looking to find a purpose that flows into multiple areas of their lives. As people responded with words like happiness, growth, self-care, and consistency, I couldn’t help but think of books I would recommend to inspire people based on their chosen word. The power of choosing a word that you hope will define your year is that it forces you to reflect on areas of your life that you want to be better or that deserve your focus. Once a word is selected and claimed in advance, you prepare yourself to receive all of the good things that come with that word. My inspiration for the next SMC Book Club read comes from the idea of one taking an active step toward applying one’s own word to one’s life.

SMC Book Club from She Makes Cents _ Power Word of the Year.jpg

February Book Selection

This is the year to do better and be better and I resolve for our group to be great, supportive, consistent, and a place for goal setting women to come together. The energy in the SMC Book Club during our last book, Boss Women Pray, was so amazing and I want to build on that and I want to inspire you to be successful with your power word or else it will lose all power over your life. For the month of February, we are going to do something a little different. Instead of reading the same book together, let’s take the month of February to read a book that is inspired by the word of the year that you chose yourself. My hope is that each of you follows through and make the time to find a book that relates to YOUR word; a book that inspires you toward your self-mandated purpose to you have selected to help guide you this year. According to U.S. News, 80% of people give up on their resolutions and New Year goals by February. Let’s be the 20% together by starting our new book on February 1, 2018.

How Our Book Club Works

Every other month, we select a new book from a mix of editor and reader’s suggestions. For reader suggestions, we ask that selections embrace subjects such as power women, money, career, and lifestyle that informs and inspires us. We then announce the book selection here on shemakescents.com before the start of the month to give you time to opt-in and get your copy of the book from the She Makes Cents store on Amazon. Discussions for the book take place in our weekly book chats in the SMC Book Club group on Facebook as well as the She Makes Cents Instagram page. Trust me, the dialogue in the group is LIFE!

Since everyone will be reading different books for February, the book chats will be tailored to this unconventional reading experience. If you would like book suggestions based on your power word, let me know. I can be found on social media at the @shemakescents handle.

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Monday Motivation | What ONE Power Word Reflects Your Vision for 2018?

It’s the first day….better yet, the first Monday of the new year and I couldn’t think of a better time to urge you to choose a power word to reflect your goal of self-improvement for the new year. Around this time, people reflect on the past year and envision the promise for greatness to come. The most successful people write down their goals, thoughts, and ideas to manifest the power of the law of attraction. Oprah explains, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe”. Back in 2013, I asked readers of She Makes Cents to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response I got was inspiring. Since this, I have asked the same questions to readers every year on the first day of the New Year. With every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change.  That being said, it is important to create a foundational vision with a “power word” to help guide the path ahead. Looking back at my earlier words, I remember where I was in my life, what was important, and what I needed to work on.  In 2013 my word was balance.  Then came focus (2014), passion (2015), bravery (2016), and intention (2017).  Power Word of 2018 | Word of the Year from Money, Career, Lifestyle Blog, She Makes CentsFor 2018, I chose “Declutter” as my power word. By definition, the act of decluttering requires one to simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, and complications. It also requires you to organize and prioritize your commitments and material possessions. The word “declutter” is one that I will apply to every area of my life in a mental, physical, and spiritual sense. I will take this year as an opportunity to declutter my finances, organize my career goals and execute those ideas, and rid my space of disorder. Back in 2011, researchers from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute studied what happens how the brain processes clutter.

When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.

I have never been so excited to apply a power word to my year and this one is all-encompassing to severals areas of my life.  I know many people do not do resolutions anymore, but I still do.  Now that I have my word of the year, I can create resolutions where I can clarify my goals and visions while ridding and mess and disorder that may negatively impact my money, career, or lifestyle.shemakescents.com

Your Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge IN 2018

Today is the last weekend of 2017 and my last check-in for the She Makes Cents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge for the year.  In fact, this past Friday marked 104 consecutive weeks of doing this money challenge successfully.  In the past two years, I have eliminated my credit card debt altogether as well as shaved YEARS off my student loan repayment term.  More importantly, I have cultivated a habit of saving money.  Personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge according to the financial writer, Dave Ramsey. To be successful doing this money challenge I had to change my behavior and put saving for my money goals above fleeting things and experiences.  That was something that took a few failed attempts to learn.  Yes, a few years ago I would start the challenge, hit a mini goal, and fall off.  Then two years ago, I realized that I had to do something different if I wanted different results… and so I did.The Ultimate Guide to the 52 Week Bingo Money Challenge- from She Makes Cents

What is the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge?

The BINGO Money Challenge is a variation of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that I created back in 2013.  The original challenge called for people to save money according to the number of weeks of the year.  For example, on week one you would save $1.00 and on week 52 you would save $52.00.  At that time in my career, I had a base salary and I worked on commission so my checks were never consistent.  I attempted the challenge and failed. Hey, it happens.  I then thought to myself, girlfriend…. you should make a “bingo” version…  So I created my first bingo money card and started saving because the original version did not work for me. I needed something that would set me up for success.  The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you cross off $52 dollars on the 52nd week of the year, all that matters is that you cross off a box on the money card every week.  Either way, you end up saving the same amount of money and you have the ability to save more or less based off how your current financial situation for each week.  Since then, the BINGO Money Challenge has evolved into a money challenge with unlimited savings potential.

Who is the SMC Money Tribe?

The support from She Makes Cents readers started to pour in when I began sharing my progress on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  At the time, my money goals were top of mind but also was the new realization that I had to report my progress to people who were invested in my success.  I started to get emails and social media shout outs from readers who started the bingo version of the challenge themselves.  Before I knew it, I had accountability partners that I have never met who shared their progress.  We supported the BIG wins and the days were all anyone could afford to save was $1.00.  We were on this money-saving journey together and friendships started.  Now, the SMC Money Tribe is an uplifting community of women from all over the world that supports each other’s financial journey and savings endeavors.  Every year people contact me for the latest version of the SMC Bingo Money Card and I found that the most successful people had one major thing in common. In fact, people were 79% more likely to complete the challenge if they are active in the SMC Money Tribe.  It makes sense when you think about it because you have accountability partners there to lift you up when the challenge gets hard to keep up with.

How to Join the 2018 SMC Money Tribe

How to Join the Best Money Saving Challenge - from Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes CentsThe new 2018 SMC Money Tribe Facebook group will serve as a “home base” for the #SMCmoneytribe.  There you will be directed to fill out a quick registration form and download the money card.   This is a space for active members and as a member of the SMCmoneytribe, you will gain exclusive content, motivation, and financial tips and tricks that will help you whether you are saving to pay down debt like me or saving to take a fabulous trip or two in the new year (also me).  This year, you will have the option to do your weekly check-ins on Friday and/or Saturday on all of our social media handles to make it easily accessible to people who are only active on certain platforms. 

Here is how you get started…

  1. Join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook Group
  2. Complete the registration form to select your weekly check-in date
  3. Follow She Makes Cents on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
  4. Pick a savings goal & get ready to save some $$$$ in the New Year


The Real Issue Millennial Women Face Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Fact. 3 in every 4 US workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder.  It is easy to chalk it up to poor spending habits, but is that the main thing that is keeping so many people counting coins until payday?  I would dare say, no.  While poor spending habits leave you feeling… well, poor, other factors such as debt, stagnant wages, and a constant increase of living come into play when looking at the stressful reality of living paycheck to paycheck.  Yes, this is a financial issue, but for millennial women, it can also be a  feminist issue.  The Real Issue Millennial Women Face Living Paycheck to Paycheck from Millennail Money Blog, She Makes Cents

The online women’s magazine, Bustle, recently contacted She Makes Cents Founder, Danielle YB Vason, to get her thoughts on the subject.  

“The fact that 54 percent of Millennial women live paycheck-to-paycheck, according to a 2016 Wells Fargo Millennial Survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 22 and 35, sheds light on a perfect storm of issues and realities that young women face.  In addition to paying more due to the ‘pink tax’ on everyday items, more Millennial women are graduating college than men, which means that, along with the degree, they get the $30,000+ debt that comes along with it. Then, when the first job comes, women are paid 20 percent less than their male counterparts. It is not just a financial issue, but a feminist one, as well.”

The fact that Bustle is promoting real conversations about money amongst millennial women is changing the way we as a culture think about talking openly about the subject.  In the article, millennials from all over the United States share their experiences about what living paycheck to paycheck is really like.  Maybe you can relate to their stories or maybe it opens your gaze to experiences of others, either way, it is a starting point to begin real conversations about money (how we spend it, save it, and invest it) and its direct impact on millennial women.  She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Millennials Get the Best Rates on Life Insurance & They Don’t Even Know It

When you hear the term “life insurance”, what comes to mind? Is it your parents’ and grandparents’ generation? Is it a sad thought like death or the process of planning a funeral? Or, is it something that you have on your to-do list to understand when you are “older” because you are not in that headspace right now? For many millennials, life insurance is just not high on their priority list, which is evident from the 2015 study from Life Happens and LIMRA that found that “60% of millennials prioritize mobile phones, internet, and cable over life insurance”. I believe that millennials are not jumping on the life insurance bandwagon because the idea of death seems so far away. More than that, millennials do not understand what life insurance is, what it does, and how we, as a generation, are in the best position to get the most affordable rates. Cell phones, internet, and cable are all elements of one’s day-to-day life whereas the need for life insurance is so far out, right? Wrong. Having life insurance provides a day-to-day safety net that financially protects the people who depend on your income, like family, and in some cases friends, in the event that something happens to you.  

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How to Get Affordable Life Insurance | from Money & Career Blog, She Makes Cent

Of the living generations, millennials are in the best position to take advantage of the best rates on life insurance. That is because insurance companies view millennials as low risk because of their youth and presumably good health. Those “low-risk” statuses are one of the main reasons that millennials save more money and are able to lock in a lower, more affordable rate as compared to older generations. To take the savings potential even further, millennial women, in particular, generally receive the lowest quoted rate. That is because women live longer and are perceived to be less likely to partake in risky hobbies such as skateboarding, skiing, and sky diving – all hobbies that insurance companies consider dangerous, cause premium increases and are often attributed toward experiences men enjoy more by insurance companies. When you think about it in those terms, it should not be   so surprising that millennials get the best rates on life insurance.

Why Do Millennials Get the Best Rates for Life Insurance?

The benefits afforded to the “avocado toast” generation and their ability to lock in an affordable rate is evident to Generation X (1965-1981) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and not millennials, according to data collected from this Health IQ quiz.  When asked this questions, “Which of the following generations is most likely to get the best rate for life insurance?” the results were eye-opening. Of the generations represented, 80% of Generation X and 62% of Baby Boomers answered correctly, in comparison to only 33% of millennials understood their own savings potential. That’s right, 67% of millennials do not know they are in the best place to lock in the cheapest premiums.  The point of life insurance is to protect those people who are financially dependent on you. Traditionally, that includes a spouse or children, both of which represent life stages that millennials are delaying until later in life. However, life insurance also covers parent beneficiaries who may have co-signed on a loan for you and would be held responsible to pay off debts like your student loans should the worst happen. 

Related Post: 5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance

YES! Millennials Need Life Insurance | from Money + Career Blog, She Makes Cents
For a generation with information at their fingertips, who comparison-shops and lives for the deal, it is surprising to find out that we are missing such a great savings opportunity. Life insurance for millennials is affordable because of their presumed good health and youth. It can be even more affordable when you find a life insurance company, like the Health IQ, that celebrates people like runners, cyclists, high-intensity interval training athletes, vegans, and more with exclusive rates. These special rates reward one’s healthy lifestyle with financial gains that leave more money in your wallet. Many millennials are embracing a health-conscious lifestyle anyway, so why not tap into the full benefits that come with it. Life insurance is something that every adult should have, so why not consider one that rewards habits that keep you healthy, and for being a She Makes Cents reader, I am able to offer you this special rate. You will never be as young as you are today, so it is time to lock in a rate now while it is cheaper. Trust me, it is A LOT cheaper than you expect and your future self will thank you for it.

This post was first featured on the Health IQ blog and the Froogal Student.

She Makes Cents | Money, Career, & Lifestyle Blog for Goal Setting Millennial Women

Monday Motivation | Signs It Is Time For You to Refuel Your Life

You are driving your car and the light signaling that you are running out of gas goes on.  How do you react?  Are you the type of person who never experiences this because you would never let your gas level get to that point, let alone even under the halfway mark?  Are you the type who immediately detours to the nearest gas station?  Or, are you the type that is completely unfazed by the warning light?  When I was younger, I made sure I never let my tank get below ¼ because I was intentional about taking good care of the car.  Over time, I started getting adventurous and stopped thinking about the sludge that my car was running on when I ignored all the warning signs to refuel.  Not only is driving on an empty tank dangerous, it often ends up costing you more than you think.

How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

All of the above are true statements for proper and basic car maintenance AND they are also true for your life.  You are still you in the analogy above because you have the power to make the decision to STOP and REFUEL when your mental, physical, and spiritual tank is low.  The car, well that can represent anything from your mind, body, career, money, lifestyle, relationships, etc…. anything that is an essence of you.  You see, when we ignore the warning signs of life we miss out on opportunities to refuel and invest back in ourselves.  I call this process “feeding your soul”.  It is so much harder to be productive in all areas of your life when you are running on sludge and close to emptiness.  The best way to avoid a low life tank is to make time to rejuvenate and figure out what feeds your soul.

Simple Ways to Refuel Yourself

Back when I was living off my reserve energy and had little to no energy to breathe life into my career and relationships, I was doing more harm to myself than necessary.  To combat this, I made a list of all of the things that I do that I lose time in.  This list included reading, enjoying the company of close friends, snuggling on the sofa with my hubby, going on walks with my dogs, making brand boards for clients, even being back in a dance studio environment.  I found that these were activities that I didn’t watch the clock while doing, but rather got lost in a moment.  Whether I have five minutes or 5 hours to give to these sorts of activities, I found that when I made time for things that feed my soul, I am also feeding my life tank so that I can be creative and successful in other areas of my life.

Going through life with the low fuel light on is one of those things that we know we shouldn’t do but still let happen from time to time.  Only when you are well fed will you have the fuel to feed your hustle in the best way.  Otherwise, you will starve your hustle, your mind, your money, your career, and your relationships when you are running on empty. Today, I want to urge you to take better care of yourself before warning signs, that often manifest as exhaustion and/or a health scare, gets your attention.  Refuel yourself this week and you will be a better person for it.How To Refuel Your Life | Self Care Tips for Women from Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents