52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | May Recap

Hello lovelies and welcome to a 3-day weekend! Congrats to everyone who is going strong on the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  It makes me so happy when members of the #SMCmoneytribe share their progress and uplift each other.  I also love hearing how so many of you are making the challenge work best for you and your lifestyle.  For example, Angela from Australia wanted to maximize her savings for an anniversary trip to the United States, so I created a custom double version for her and her husband.  As of May 1st, they have already saved $1032.00 and that money is constantly growing for them!!!!  Some are saving a fixed amount every month (hey Kechia) but all in all, the majority of you are tackling this challenge the good ole’ fashion way…one week at a time with your trusty money card sheet.  Regardless of where you are in your progress, you are already winning at the habit of saving.  There is a quote that I really like from Roger Crawford that says, “Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”.  Every person who has accepted this money challenge is refusing to allow their money or lack of it defeat them.  Every dollar you save is getting you that much closer to your dream vacation, it’s getting you that much closer to paying off debt, or that much closer to building your emergency fund.  While everyone’s goals are different, just know that you can do it and that you have an entire tribe of women behind you to help cheer you on along the way.“Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”. | Quotes on She Makes Cents

My Growth on the Money Challenge

My progress on the money challenge is much different this year than years past.  My sources of income have changed and I no longer get paid on a consistent schedule, but rather on a client by client basis.  Ugh…entrepreneurial life at its greatest!    At this point in the challenge, I am usually hundreds of dollars ahead of my current progress.  For half of a second that bothered me because I am always trying to be better than I was before.  The beautiful thing is, this challenge is made to support the one’s financial changes and in the end that numbers are the same if you complete the challenge.  As long as I complete every box, I will end up in the same savings range as the years before.  What difference does it really make if I am crossing out low to mid numbers during the first part of the year and higher numbers toward the end of the year?  It actually makes no real difference at all.  In the effort to save more money this year than any of the previous years, I must focus on the four bonus boxes that are still empty on my money card.

Sharing Money Goals

Do you remember when I announced that the Mr. would be joining me in the challenge?  Well, he just started last month.  For him, doing the weekly version of the SMC money challenge was another thing added to his “honey-do” list that he never got around to.  That is one of the reasons it took him four months to join in.  He later suggested, instead of doing a dollar for dollar match, that he might try contributing a fixed amount every paycheck toward the challenge.  So far his YTD contribution has been $500.00!  From a financial standpoint, the numbers at the end of the year will be higher doing it this way than if he were doing a dollar for dollar match, because $250.00 per month translates into about $62.00+ per week and $62.00 will always be higher than $52.00, our highest (non-bonus) box on the money card.  It’s easy for him, it works for me, and it gets us closer to our debt free money goals.

Related Article: How to Win on the She Makes Cents Money Challenge

May Recap 

For the month of May, I saved $89.00 which puts me at a YTD of $376.00 by myself and $876.00 when combined with the Mr.   Every dollar saved on this challenge is helping me pay off my student loans.  Outside of our mortgages, this is the only debt we are carrying because we work hard to pay off any credit card debt that we rack up before each billing cycle.  At the end of April, I made my first lump sum payment of $679.00 toward the principle and I had originally planned to make a lump sum payment every quarter.  However, after seeing my payment drop a new passion for hitting certain milestones was reignited.  Now, I plan to make a lump sum payment every time the balance in the money challenge is over the $225.00 mark.  At the beginning of the year, my main money goal was to have my student loans under the $15K mark by the end of the year, but I decided to up the ante and push that goal date to the end of August (my birthday month).

I can’t wait to hear your progress on this challenge.  Please feel free to tweet me @shemakescents, email me, or stop by our Facebook page to say hello.  I love hearing from you and I love to hear your progress, motivation, struggles, and suggestions.  Until then, happy saving to you and yours.

Want to join the challenge?  Click here for your FREE money card download.

HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGE IF YOU ACCOMPLISHED YOUR MONEY GOALS?

 

 

 

How to Use Art To Blend His & Her Styles at Home

Sponsored: This post contains affiliate links.

The Mr. and I have been married for almost two years now and we have just started to decorate our home in a way that reflects both of our styles. The goal is a little less bachelor pad and a little more like something that reflects both of us. My style used to be eclectic but I am leaning more traditional with pops of accent colors. The Mr., well his style is clean modern lines and about four fewer pillows than I prefer. In addition to blending our furniture preferences, we have been working to blend our varying art styles. I left my 30”x30” canvas print of Audrey Hepburn at my old house for my niece to enjoy. I’m sure the Mr. appreciated that. The same way I took down some of his posters. To blend our two aesthetics, I came up with a design plan that reflects our joint loves, hobbies, and experiences. I believe people should walk in one’s home and think, oh, this is so them.

How to Blend His & Her Styles At Home

One thing that unmistakably represents us both is our love for the city of Atlanta. Although we are from two very different areas, we are both Atlanta natives. We are fluent in Southside, Eastside, and Buckhead, he can recite every Outkast lyric, and I am the queen of the Beltline. These are things we wanted our space together to represent- our love for music, our love for Atlanta, and our love for each other. During our first year of marriage, I bought a 45”x30” Boom Box canvas painting that represents our joint music interest. I then started a gallery wall of wedding pictures to represent our love for each other. The only thing that is missing is something Atlanta. We wanted our home to have a fun Atlanta flair by including iconic elements in the design for our home. What better than an art map of the city?  I started looking for a map that fit the style of our home when Modern Map Art contacted me to see if I would consider one of their maps in exchange for telling she makes cents readers about the experience.  They come in a range of cities and colors, including Aruba where we spent our honeymoon, but of course, we only had one city in mind.  

We decided on the black print because we both love the crisp contrast.  After we narrowed down the best color option for our home, the print arrived about 3 days later.  We both were pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t a traditional poster print.  The paper has a velvet-like finish that looks even better in person.   I am really into is oversize artwork so I requested the largest print size of 24″x36″ with the plan to have it matted and framed.  In my opinion, oversize art makes everything look more expensive and special, results my wallet and hubby can both appreciate.  One thing to keep in mind, though, when considering large-scale art for your home is framing.  I wanted to frame this print with a 4″ mat, which means I am now moving into custom framing which can be expensive.  To save money, I gave up the matted background.  The Mr. and I found a simple frame at our local Target and added the print in it the moment we got home.  Seriously, don’t you just love the scale of this? The Mr. modeled the print for me because I looked naked trying to take a similar picture in a dress.She Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintShe Makes Cents- Modern Atlanta City Map PrintWe are so proud of our growing art collection!  We keep trying out our new Atlanta print from Modern Map Art in different locations to find the best location in our home.  For now, it lives right next to our beloved Boom Box painting.  To grab your very own print to remember your hometown, the place you fell in love, or the best vacay ever, click here.  Insider Tip: Follow them on Instagram for 10% off your purchase  (code: INSTA10).

Things To Do This Month: She Makes Cents May Sneak Peek

Things To Do This Month from She Makes CentsWant a little taste of what the month of May will bring to She Makes Cents readers?  Well, we are back with our newest series, “The IT  List” that gives readers a preview of some of the lifestyle topics that will be covered this month on the blog.  Last month we started planning one of the trips that every girl should take this year and we will reveal that trip and destination this month.  Stay tuned to see what’s on my travel “lust list” for a fabulous beach vacay.  I plan on starting the SMC Book Club Selection: The Girl Code today, so grab your copy and join us!  There are so many exciting things happening and I can’t wait to share.  MONEY+ CAREER + LIFESTYLE.

Things To Do This Month from She Makes Cents

Inspire | One Day or Day One?

The difference between one day and day one is HUGE! One day I will buy my first house.  One day I will apply for a job at my dream company.  One day I will lose the weight. One day I will take that trip I have always dreamed of.  You see, the notion of “one day” allows your dreams and goals for yourself to stay in a constant state of delays and may never happens.  Sure, one day you may accomplish them but who knows when one day will come.  By comparison, “day one” creates a start date of action to get you working toward your goals.  Want to buy your first home?  Your day one should include checking your credit report and score.  Want to work for another company? Cleaning up your LinkedIn page should then become your first micro-goal. Want to lose the weight?  Start by researching which foods are best for your goals and what foods to cut from your diet.  Want to go on a trip, start putting money aside every check.Inspirational Quotese from She Makes Cents | One Day or Day One

Day one doesn’t have to be dramatic, but it is a necessary step in getting where you want to be.  Once you get day one out-of-the-way, keep chipping at each of your goals until you accomplish your purpose.  Doing so will make sure that it will be the last time you have to think about one day because once you start, you should be able to set a date of accomplish goal.  I could say, “one day my student loans will be under the $15,000.00 mark, but instead I know that by my birthday in August, my student loans will break the $15,000.00 mark!  See the difference? Follow She Makes Cents on Social Media!

5 Trips Every Girl Should Take This Year!

Travel the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer.  So how do you travel when money is tight?  Before getting married, I had a money envelope where I would set aside $50.00-$100.00 per check specifically for travel goals.  I started the habit when the Mr. decided he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday in Germany. Saving for that trip got me into the habit of making travel a priority.  Germany was actually our first time traveling together….EVER.  We stayed there a few days and then road tripped our way to Prague, in the Czech Republic with his best friends where we rang in his 30th birthday!  Wow, that seems like so long ago.  After that, I kept saving so that when it was time for another trip, I already had money saved.  When we got married, I stopped saving for travel and put that money toward saving for a wedding.  I guess I never picked back up the habit of saving for travel.  That ends now!

The goal is to travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.  According to a survey from by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, 55% of Americans did not take all of their vacation days leaving approximately 658 million unused vacation days on the table.  Taking time for yourself is a very important form of self-care which is why I have created this list of vacation ideas that every millennial woman should strive to take this year.  As you sit in cubicle nation or look out of your office window and picture yourself on a sandy beach with a frose’ in hand, just think that this can all be a reality.  Even you don’t get a lot of vacation time (raise your hand if you have been there) you can monopolize on 3 day holiday weekends to make your days stretch.

The Girl’s Trip

The Road Trip

The Couple’s Trip

The Solo Trip

The Staycation

Beginners Guide To Car Buying: Everything You Should Know BEFORE Buying a Car

How Much Should Your Car Down Payment Be? Into into Car Buying
Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

Buying a car can be a stressful process with so much to think about.  Are you getting the best deal?  How much car can I afford?  Does it come with a rear view camera?  For the first time ever, I am looking to buy a car from a dealership and I am not in a position to buy the car outright.  I have never had a car note before and the idea of an additional monthly expense gives me anxiety.    So how does one make such a large purchase with confidence?  The answer is going into it well informed so that you don’t get hustled by the vision of you riding off into the sunset with sexy new wheels or hustled by a salesperson trying to make their quota.  Over the next few weeks, I will break down everything need to consider before buying a car.  Today, we will focus on two of my favorite starting points- New vs. Used and Down Payments.  So buckle up and join me on this car-buying excursion.

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A Car

The New New

There is this character in the 2006 movie ATL whose nickname was “New New”.  New New got her name because she was known to have the latest and greatest of everything.  If she were looking for a car in the year 2017, she would be considering a 2018 because the 17 model just wasn’t new enough for her.  Even though New New is a character in a movie, many people out there share the same mindset.  The thing is she places her money in items that depreciate in value at an accelerated rate.  In fact, just by driving your new car for the first time as a new owner decreases its value by 11%.  The $30,000 car you just drove off the lot is now worth $26,700 by the time you get to the highway.  Instead, consider a used car that is between two and three years old.  They are often still under warranty, they offer many of the same features, and comes with a lower price point.

Cash Is Queen

I understand that most people cannot afford to pay cash for a car.  I did it by dealing directly with private sellers on Craigslist, buying older models, and going into the process with a set amount to spend.  It worked for me and I did it at a time when the cars on Craigslist were good deals for both buyers and private sellers.  I am a regular person who found a way to make the money work for me.  Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, reflects on people who give him push back that regular people cannot afford to pay cash for a car in his book Complete Guide to Money (a must read, click the here for a FREE download with the app).  According to Ramsey, “people don’t buy with cash because they are rich; they’re rich because they buy cars with cash”.  I must agree with his statement.  I am in a better financial position today because I decided I couldn’t afford to have a monthly car note.

Assuming you can’t buy the entire car with cash, consider how much you can pay for up front to keep the overall price of the car as low as possible.  Whenever you finance a car, you are paying interest on that auto loan.  Instead of financing the entire amount, you should aim to have 20% or more as a down payment to avoid wasting thousands of your hard-earned money on interest.  Additionally, taxes and extra fees should not be considered when calculating your 20% down payment because you should NEVER finance taxes and fees.  Before you even set foot in a car dealership you need to ask yourself, can you actually afford the car you have been researching?  Rich people ask “how much?”  Broke people ask “how much down and how much per month?”  A salesperson will tell you the lowest down payment to get you to sign on the dotted line but going into negotiations well equipped with the knowledge of best down payment to make, you know you can do better…and if you can’t, that means you cannot afford that car. Ramsey explains, “When a rich person says she can afford it, she means she can actually afford the car.  When a broke person says she can afford it, she means she can probably make the monthly payments as long as there are no emergencies and she doesn’t lose her job”.    Think about it, could you afford your monthly car payment if you were out of work for a month?  How about 3 months?  These are all things to think about before you buy a car.  Stay tuned next week for Part II as we discuss  Every Thing You Need to Know About Leasing and Financing a Car!

How to Have the Best Monday Ever!

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How Lifestyle Inflation Is Keeping You From Getting Rich

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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

Major Milestone | She Makes Cents 6th Year Anniversary!

blogiversarySix years ago shemakescents started as a way for me to share my financial journey with the world… and by that I mean my dad and my cousin Dot because they were the only two people reading my stuff in the early days.  I kept writing because I wanted to share my story and connect with others.  I knew my financial journey felt different from my other twenty-something friends because they would come to me with their questions about buying a house and how to get ahead of student loan debt during a recession. Soon, other people joined my dad and cousin in subscribing to the blog and that was the first time I really felt like I wasn’t talking to myself.  In the past 6 years, I have been so surprised by the people who take a moment out of their busy day to tell me how much they enjoy reading shemakescents.  You have been with me when I paid off my credit card, bought a car off Craigslist and got married.  To the 1.3 MILLION visitors to she makes cents…. thank you for joining me for the past 6 years.  Stay tuned, 2017 has the potential to be our best year yet!

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Jumpstart Your Week With Action!

I know Monday’s can come with a bit of eek to them.  It represents the end of the leisurely weekend where brunch rules supreme and making time for the things you want to do becomes a priority (#WeekendGoals).  Now it is back to reality and time to prioritize all the things that need to happen to help you be successful throughout the week.  I want you to think about this quote. “You are always one decision away from a totally different life”.  The decisions you make, good or bad, big or small, can have a major impact on the direction your life takes.  I once made the small decision to go see my little sister dance in a recital and I met my husband.  I have a friend who was unhappy with her job but loved her career.  She made the decision to apply to three jobs in three weeks and she now has a signed offer at another company with better benefits and a better salary.  Since following through on a decision requires action you need to think about what actions you make today that will align with your money, career, or lifestyle goals for tomorrow.header-logo-2017