{Every Woman Should} Get to Talking About Finances

I was contacted by Bustle a few weeks ago asking my advice on how I spend and save money.  Since I LOVE to talk about money, I happily obliged.  The thing is, the good folks over at Bustle conducted a survey that revealed millennial women are NOT discussing personal finances with their inner circle of friends.  Seriously chicas, we have got to do better! We will ask suggestions about hair colorist from our girlfriends but we don’t ask about recommendations for certified financial planners.  The fact that women don’t talk about personal finance is not surprising to me.  Some believe it’s because women are not confident in making big financial decisions while others believe women avoid talking about finances for fear of saying something wrong or sounding dumb.  I’m inclined to disagree.  When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be just confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices as our male counterparts.  The results of the survey inspired Bustle to launch the new series Grown-Ass Finances that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money.  Check out 21 Millennial Women Making $30K To $150K Explain How They Spend And Save Their Money as a brave group of millennial women start the public conversation about money (you might see a tip or two from yours truly in there, as well).  Listen up ladies, the future is female and if we don’t start these conversations now, what will that mean for our financial futures?

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!

{Monday Motivation} Rich vs. Broke

Rich People Stay Rich By Acting.png

Today’s #MondayMotivation will hopefully inspire your thought process.  It is so hard to get caught in stuff….consuming “stuff”, showing off “stuff”, and being wasteful with “stuff”.  If you spend like you are wealthy, you will never be wealthy because you spent it all.  Instead of “acting” rich, why don’t you make positive changes to actually get to that status?  Like the word freedom, the word rich has so definitions.  Remember, rich doesn’t always have to describe someone’s financial state.   I motivate you to act broke with your spending and be rich in the things that really matter…like people and experiences that….FEED-THE-SOUL. Take this week and do things that make you feel like your best you.  Wishing you a great start to your week!

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{Mobile Money} 3 Fool Proof Tips to Keep Your Mobile Banking Secure

I remember not too long ago when mobile banking and payments was taboo.  It was thought to be unsafe by many people; a scary black hole in which unsuspecting users where trusting their entire financial lives.  Today, this is not the case.  Even with constant public breaches of personal information, consumer comfort seems to be at an all time high.  Instead of the traditional wallet with several forms of payment, people are leaning on the convenience of the mobile wallet. Perhaps, it is the evolution of technology and one’s daily mastery use of it or even the ease of access that makes cashing a check by taking a picture instead of driving to the bank, that much more appealing.  With an estimated $8.6 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) annually of card payments fraud, what should you do to keep your money and information secure?

tumblr_n699bwWDTS1s322uwo1_500Free Wifi + Mobile Payments = No Bueno. Logging on to free Wi-Fi in public spacing is like holding up a neon sign saying, “Please rob me”.  The reason for this is that public Wi-Fi is simply that…..public.  It is not encrypted since you don’t have to enter a password for access.  That is to say, that those who also share the network with you have access to certain sites you visit, even those with the https:// in front of it, which denotes a secured website.  Want to keep your access secure white using public Wi-Fi?  To start, only visit sites that don’t require you to enter a password like SheMakesCents.

Open Tabs On PhoneLog Out.  When you sign into your mobile banking, look at the balance of your student loans, or pay a bill through online bill pay, it is imperative that you not only log out when finished, but close the tab.  Cell phones and other mobile devices store so much of your private information that has the ability to collect your personal data when you visit other sites.  Think about it, if you had your banking tab open at the same time as your Facebook tab, for instance, you might start seeing banking ads in your timeline.

apple_pay_credit_cards_primary-100413350-primary.idgeStored Mobile Payment Information.  Keep track of the apps that you allow to store your payment information.  With all the conveniences of iTunes, services like Zifity who bring food to your front door, Uber who provides car service and even Fandango the movie ticket savior (I hate standing in long lines) it’s easy to lose track of who has access to your credit card/ banking information for mobile payments.

To enjoy the convenience of mobile banking and payments, is to make smart decisions, be as proactive as you can to protect your devices and access to your information.  Data breaches happen and for those highly skilled hackers these tip may not matter. But if you are on top these fool proof suggestions, it can make it harder for the average Joe to prevail in robbing you blind.

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{Shop Smart} 3 Killer Ways to Get the Best Deal from Flash Sale Sites

092211_0244_TheBenefits1.jpgA few years ago, there were only a handful of deal of the day sites. Today, however, it’s hard not to feel inundated with marketing campaigns targeted to make you spend more money. Who doesn’t love a good deal? A great purchase saves you money. It’s something you can afford, something you will use and something of great quality. Some of my favorite places to shop for everything from fashion, home decor and travel stuff has got be Beyond the Rack, RueLaLa and One Kings Lane. For me, I get double the pleasure from these sites because I love to shop and I love to save. Doing both, spending and saving, is possible when you keep these tips in mind. Otherwise, you risk spending more for a deal than you realized.

Click here to read the full article from Danielle Boler of shemakescents.com

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{Throwback Thursday} The Best of SheMakesCents.com!

Every Thursday, social media is flooded with the hashtag #tbt (Throwback Thursday) as people take a  moment to reflect on their past and how far they have come.  In celebration of this weekly milestone, I would like to invite you on a journey to the beginning.  This Saturday, March 1st will mark the 3 year Blogiversary for She Makes Cents and I wanted to share some of my favorite posts of the past.  Happy Throwback Thursday Lovelies! 

Broke Is The New Black

Identity Theft Credit Cards

She Makes Cents

Happy Throwback Thursday!

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Fashion Cents} Brand Loyalty or Brand Validation?

love-chanel1

Danielle and I have discussed how the psychological obsession with expensive products and luxury labels can lead to financial trouble. While setting up shop for the most relaxed SMC meeting ever, we discussed our favorite brands. Danielle likes O.P.I. nail polish and has a shoe game that would blow you away. I, however, have recently recovered from a serious infatuation with True Religion brand jeans and the both of these are pricey for the types of products they are. Sometimes within one’s own living circumstances, it makes no sense to step out of one’s’ budget for the sake of feeling validated by a brand. So why do so many people do it? Which has more value, brand loyalty or brand validation?

Let’s begin the conversation by defining these terms. Brand Loyalty is your devotion to a particular brand because of its proven usefulness. This is a tried and true product or brand that has won you, the customer, over for its merit or quality. (THINK: I’m loyal to Charmin tissue because of its thickness.) Brand validation, as its name suggests, is when a product’s mere reputation trumps the importance of its merit; thus fueling one’s desire for the label more so than the product. Yep, we let a brand validate us without proving itself worthy of its cost.

Brand names and their reputations are impossible to evade. Because of this, it is almost too easy to get lost in a particular brand so much so, that we allow it to eat out our pockets. The place where both brand obsession and financial logic intersect is where I am in my journey to financial freedom….SMC too, since she has repeatedly admitted that Chanel makes her feel pretty. In no way am I discouraging splurging for yourself or investing in expensive products that will hold you down in the long run. I, for one, own expensive jeans that have lasted years. When operating on a budget, though, it is imperative to think critically about the items you choose to spend your money on, and why. Are you loyal to your brands because they actually fulfill their purpose, or are your brands validating you while nipping away at your money? Granted, there is no cookie cutter way to address the issue of our obsessions with luxury brands. However, acknowledgment of this issue is a surefire way to begin searching for smarter ways to shop for the things you love…while staying within a budget, of course:)

Have you ever allowed a brand names to validate your purchase?  

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{Broke is the New Black} Are You Paying for the Fake Life with Real Money?

fake-life-real-money-moneyWelcome to the Good Life!

Over the past few years, social media has become a game changer. Its created jobs that did not exist even ten years ago, helped people connect who may not have had access to each other, and became a major catalyst for our cultural need to document everything. But what exactly are we documenting? – The life we live or the life we want people to think we live? All too often, I see people around me going into debt trying to rock the same fashion piece that they saw on one of the Kardashians. I asked this question a few months ago and I will ask it again, whose lifestyle are you funding? They can afford it, can you?
Fashion writer, Suzy Menkes called 2009 the “end of the statement bag” in a blurb for the 2009 autumn edition of H&M Magazine. She adds, “Insane shoes that mangle your feet, laughably expensive bags that no-one can afford; who can afford such extravagances in times of [financial] crisis?” If 2009 was the end of the expensive statement bag, then this must be the year of the appearance of luxury, where people are funding a fake life with real money. The reality is, even four years after the “fall of the statement bag”, we are still in a financial crisis.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion and will spend money when I have it, but I refuse to waste money staging a lifestyle for the world to see. I’m am not one of those people who are offended by the finer things in life, rather I feel sorry for those who mishandle their responsibilities in hopes of material possessions. This is not just a twenty-something problem either, as I witness people of all ages spending in excess to portray the good life…and for what? Public validation? Likes from Facebook, Twitter, and most notoriously Instagram from people you don’t even know in real life? Be yourself, rock what you love, but don’t go into debt doing so. Trust me, none of the people who “liked” your photo of those oh-so-fly out of your budget shoes, will help you save for that house you have on your vision board.

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{B-day Swag} How To Get Free Stuff on Your Birthday

 Calling all Birthday Girls!
As I sit at the computer looking for a birthday dress, I realize that my birthday is right around the corner. But enough about my b-day. I know so many amazing people who are August babies that by the time mine comes around, I am exhausted from the celebrations! This post is for all everyone out there celebrating birthdays, especially those celebrating birthdays today: Kaylah, Nicole, Amanda, Tanika. Last year to the day, I wrote a post about birthday freebies . Now I am here to tell you what actually worked and what didn’t.

My Highest Ranked Birthday Freebie
Hands down- the best freebie I have EVER signed up for is the Chef’s Table from Bennihana! I happily used my $30 gift certificate and enjoyed an amazing evening with one of my really good friends. In addition to the amount of the gift certificate, I can’t help but love that you get an entire month to use it. With my busy work/social schedule, I can sometimes be difficult to try to claim all of the free deals in one day….especially when you should be out painting the town….well PINK!

My Own Epic Fail
I called myself signing up for the birthday club at Moes and for whatever reason, it did not workL. I’m sure this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I was really looking forward to my FREE burritos (I crave Moes all the time). This year, I will make sure I have a paper copy of my birthday email to show.

Other Companies That Offer Birthday Freebies

Tips from the pros
There’s an art to grabbing gratis goodies. Keep these strategies in mind:

  • Set up a dedicated email account for birthday swag. Even if a business promises not to sell your info to marketers, it will likely send regular messages about sales and promotions.
  • Sign up for multiple offers, then s-t-r-e-t-c-h that celebration by dining or going out for dessert out as many times as you can in your birthday month. It helps to have friends who don’t mind being the buy-one half of the BOGO offers.
  • Call to make sure the local store accepts an offer (some franchisees opt out of national promotions).
  • Bring your ID and a printout of the offer, and tell the server ahead of time, not after the check has arrived.
  • When dining out, base your tip on what you would have paid, not what you actually paid.
  • Once your child ages out of the kiddie offers, sign him or her up for the appropriate grownup ones.
  • If it’s a “no purchase required” offer, such as a free bath product, don’t feel obligated to buy something. Just say “thank you” and go.

Happy Birthday!

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Are You Wasting Your Money on a Deal?

I got an email from Birchbox the other day announcing Glamour magazine’s collaboration for the July 2012 Birchbox. I found myself getting excited thinking about all of the goodies I will soon be getting my hands on. Then I looked over on my dresser and saw my June Birchbox basically untouched. Last month, I rushed home to see what beauty goodies were waiting for me. Once opened, I tried everything and didn’t touch my package for weeks; thus, realizing three things. Firstly, I love getting mail that isn’t a bill. Secondly, I like the idea of being surprised by what products were chosen for my box and finally (and probably the most important), if I continued this pattern, no matter how good the deal is, I am wasting my money.



Making the Deal Work for You
After coming to the realization that paying $10 a month for a deal that I wasn’t taking advantage of is wasting $10 a month( $120 a year). So what did I do? I used or am actively using ALL of the products. I ate my Luna bar, which by the way was both yummy and healthy. I took a long bubble bath, while catching up on Kardashians, with the BORGHESE Body Soak and I came to the conclusion that as long as I was using the products, that Birchbox still ROCKS!

Check out the Shopping/Money Saving Sites I like:

Birchbox
Beyond the Rack

Ideeli

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