{Health & Beauty} High-End Lifestyle Products for Only $10!!



I have meant to write a post about Birchbox for a while now. For the unfamiliar, Birchbox is a smart, streamlined, and fun way to discover high-end beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products. Birchbox delivers the best products and the best insider secrets, without any fuss. Each month, members receive a selection of samples that we’ve tried (and retried) ourselves. They source samples from both well-known brands and emerging gems. The women’s subscription includes everything from skin care to makeup, as well as fun non-beauty extras all for…wait for it…$10. What I love about the concept is that you fill out a beauty profile so products will complement your individual yet beautiful tones.  There is a short waiting list and they will send you an email when your place in line is ready. 

 Join for FREE, here!


Let’s Connect!


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

Whose Lifestyle Are You Funding? Yours or HERS?

Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?
How about the Housewives on Bravo? If so, you are probably guilty of spending money on the life you thought you lived, rather than the life you are actually living. The number of adults who try to emulate and even compete with their friends, foes, and even strangers on television is appalling. As a child of the entertainment industry, my parents told me at a rather young age that the majority of things you see on television are not real. What is real, though, is the increasing amount of debt that people are incurring doing this.

I was reading an article last week by author by April Dykman of Get Rich Slowly. The premise of the article was that idea that people spend for the lifestyle they want as opposed to the lifestyle one currently has. Dykman maintains that, “If you’re paying for a life you have only sometimes, you’re stealing from your most-of-the-time life. And breaking that habit can make you a whole lot happier”. This got me thinking… am I doing this? Am I spending for the lifestyle I want versus the lifestyle I have? In being honest, I’m not entirely sure. Dykman continues, “I tend to give too much thought to what I do once in a while and not enough weight to what I do every day. For example, I wear running shoes 29 days out of 30 days a month, yet I have three pairs of black flats and only one pair of running shoes.”

Click here to read Dykman’s Save on The Things You Do Daily .

What do you think ?


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

The Envelope System Saves $$$

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


Get on a Simple System

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

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

From Ramsey

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

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

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

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

What are your categories for your envelopes?


Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

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!

Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

College Students: How to Save Up To 80% on your Textbooks

Rent Books from Amazon

As an English major at Spelman College, I could easily spend $500 on books for one semester. It all depended on the classes and professors that I put on my schedule. While some classes required one or two major textbooks that cost a fortune, other classes required several books at a time and no you did NOT get the “hookup” if your professor wrote the book (s/o to Dr. Harper at Spelman College and her Langston Hughes class). Did I mention that I took a full load every semester for two and a half year straight, which meant a lot of books?

Rent Textbooks Electronically from. . .

Luckily, the college students of today do not have to worry about that. Today, Amazon.com announced the launch of Kindle Textbook Rental–now students can save up to 80% off textbook list prices by renting from the Kindle Store. Tens of thousands of textbooks are available for the 2011 school year from leading textbook publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis. Students can find details about the program at www.amazon.com/kindletextbooks. Kindle Textbook Rental offers the ability to customize rental periods to any length between 30 and 360 days, so students only pay for the specific amount of time they need a book. Students can also easily extend any rental period in increments as small as one day or choose to purchase the book they are renting at any time. Kindle Textbooks are “Rent Once, Read Everywhere” as they can be read across the most popular devices with FREE Kindle Reading Apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices.

What the folks at Amazon have to say. . .

“Students tell us that they enjoy the low prices we offer on new and used print textbooks. Now we’re excited to offer students an option to rent Kindle textbooks and only pay for the time they need–with savings up to 80% off the print list price on a 30-day rental. We’ve done a little something extra we think students will enjoy. Normally, when you sell your print textbook at the end of the semester you lose all the margin notes and highlights you made as you were studying. We’re extending our Whispersync technology so that you get to keep and access all of your notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, available anytime, anywhere – even after a rental expires. If you choose to rent again or buy at a later time, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.”

            -David Limp, VP of Amazon Kindle


Personally, I believe this can be a great deal! Parents, professors, and students good luck with the upcoming school year! Hopefully, this information provides you with another financial option for purchasing some of your back to school needs.

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The Best Time to Buy a Laptop is…

cute pink laptop

Your computer has been running slow, your keys are stuck, and it might not even turn on. I have even heard that the shelf life of a laptop is about as long as your warranty…lol. Well, it is time to buy a new laptop! So, when is the most economical time to buy one?

Timing is everything…

Did you know that the worst month to purchase a laptop is February. Perhaps it is because the holiday sales have ended and the newer models have yet to hit the stores. While February appears to be the worst time to make this type of purchase, the late winter months and the early summer months aren’t any better. If you can wait, and I am sure you can, Back to School sales are right around the corner.

Special Offers and Discounts

Apple in Education: College students and parents buying for college, as well as K-12 and higher education faculty, are eligible for Apple education pricing. Currently Apple has a promotion that for people who plan to buy a Mac for college. When you buy a new qualifying Mac with Apple education pricing* from June 16, 2011, through September 20, 2011, you’ll get a free $100 Back to School Card to use on the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore.

Those eligible to purchase from the Apple Store for Education Individuals include faculty, staff, students and parents as follows:

K12 – Any employee of a public or private K-12 institution in the United States is eligible. In addition, school board members who are currently serving as elected or appointed members are eligible. PTA or PTO executives currently serving as elected or appointed officers are eligible.

Higher Education – Faculty and staff of Higher Education institutions; and students attending, or accepted into a Higher Education institution are eligible to purchase. Purchases from the Apple Store for Education Individuals are not for institutional purchase or resale.

Higher Education Parents – Parents purchasing on behalf of their child, who is a student currently attending or accepted into a public or private Higher Education Institution in the United States, are eligible to purchase.

Dell University: According to studentbuyingguide.com , “Once you’re there you have to choose whether you’re a student, student’s parent, alumni or faculty at a higher education institution. You then choose your state and then school in that state. Not all schools are part of the program and each school has their own arrangement with Dell so discounts will vary. In general the discount will be from 5% – 12% off the price of a Dell branded product. When the discount shows up in your cart summary it is referred to as the “EPP Member” discount, which stands for Employee Purchase Program member. It doesn’t mean you’re an employee, it’s really just a bit of marketing to make you think you’re getting a deal similar to what an employee would get.” One thing that would be helpful to remember is that Dell displays the final discount on a product after you have configured it and priced it out.

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Back to School: College Students, Banks, & Credit Cards

Good Morning and Happy Monday! With every week that passes the “Back to School” season is coming closer and closer into view. Parents are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel while students and even some teachers are dreading going back to the classroom. I have been thinking about writing a post like this for a while because I remember all too well the abundance of “FREE” t-shirts, water bottles, and even iPod nanos given to us students at Spelman College to urge us to sign up for credit card offers and bank accounts. Simply put, banks and credit card companies target students and what separates the students who kill their credit earlier on and those who become financially savvy adults is knowledge. What makes it ironic, though, is the idea for this post came from my own memories and experiences as a college student, only to have suspensions of credit card companies and banks confirmed Friday on a visit to Clark Atlanta University for freshman orientation.

Do Not Open an Account without Researching the Bank
I guess in this economy, banks have scaled back on their swag. I saw a few t-shirt being given out, some water bottles, a nice highlighter set, but no iPods (sorry students). Now I’m not saying credit card companies and banks are evil, you just have to know how to play the game. Banks are becoming increasingly aggressive when it comes to recruiting the business of college students. This can be used to your benefit with a little bit of research
and patience because the banks are presenting more competitive offering to beat out the other banks. College students and parents, if the bank cannot offer you FREE checking, FREE online banking, and most importantly for the student, no minimum balance, then walk away because another bank will.

Location, Location, Location
I remember taking a weekend with my parents to drive around the campus and surrounding areas of Hampton University in Hampton, VA. I figured I needed to know how to get to all of my favorite places like Target, restaurants, and the mall. My parents, however, thought it was important that I knew where the closest bank, grocery store, and hair salon (shout out to my mom for trying to maintain my whip appeal) were located. My advice for you is to get acquainted with the area. The bank from your hometown might not be available in the city where you or your student will be attending school, therefore learning the area is important in trying to find the best bank. Now let’s take a moment for the other factors that could influence your decision to pick a bank. Will you be a commuter or resident? Is there a bank already on your campus? Are there shuttle services offered to get you back and forth? Are there any banks located within walking distance? If you cannot physically get to a bank it doesn’t matter whether it is a great one or not.

Credit Cards and the Credit Card Act of 2009
Pay off your credit card balance in FULL each month. By doing this, it forces you to really stop and think about your purchases because resetting your balance each month causes you to buy only what you can afford. American Express, for example, makes cardholders pay in full. Think about it, it is a win- win situation because you don’t fall into the increasing numbers of consumers who are in serious debt due to credit card spending and they get their money on time. The College Board adds, “Credit cards are actually high-interest loans in disguise. Companies may lend you money, but they get it all back and a lot more by charging you fees. Finance charges on the unpaid portion of your bill can be as much as 25 percent each month, and cash-advance fees have even higher interest rates. Annual fees just to carry the card in your wallet range from $20 to $100; there are also late-payment fees, typically $25-$50. Not paying off the entire amount in your account each month can lead to big finance charges.”

It is important to know that a lot of the information written for students and parents about student banking and credit cards was written before President Obama signed the Credit Card Act into law. Now, credit card issuers are banned from issuing credit cards to anyone under 21, unless they have adult co-signers on the accounts or can show proof they have enough income to repay the card debt. That’s right; it’s not just the students’ credit score that is at risk. Bad financial decisions of students will directly affect the credit of their adult co-signer. The Credit Card Act of 2009 also stated that credit card companies must stay at least 1,000 feet from college campuses if they are offering freebies to entice student to apply for credit cards.

To be honest, I didn’t get a credit card until I was weeks before graduating from Spelman College. I waited because I was not sure if I could handle the financial responsibility that I had witnessed other fail. I knew I would already have to worry about my girl Sallie Mae and the student loans I was owe her, so I didn’t want to add the extra stress of credit card debt as well. It worked for me and yes, I recognize that every situation is different. Before applying for a credit card and/or opening a student banking account, do your research. A good starting place would be my 5 Non-Negotiable for Students and Banks. College should be one of the best times of your life so don’t taint it with worries over bad finances. Start smart, create great habits, and end on top.

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5 Money Saving Lessons Learned from Extreme Couponing

…and the #SMCmoneytribe member of the week is… TRACI!

Happy Friday SMC readers! SMC reader, Traci from Flor inspired today’s post. I was checking out some older posts about how to get the most out of coupons, when she commented yesterday on a few lessons she has learned from watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing this past season. I thought they were great tips and I wanted to share them where everyone can benefit.

5 Killer Lessons Learned from “Extreme Couponing”…

The average person will not need to go to the “Extreme”. However, I did learn a few lessons and the series opened my eyes to a different approach to shopping.

  1. Purchasing items when they are on sale as opposed to when you need them. If you are a woman, you will need tampons. Purchase them when they are BOGO and combine with your coupons just makes cents. You may have six boxes under your sink but it is [almost] not doubt they will get used.

2. Coordinate your coupons with store promotions. Most stores do this regularly. Purchase two Sunday Papers (The First Sunday of the month has the most and best coupons). The double coupons are well worth the $3 price and there may be an interesting article in the paper.

3. The retailer with the lowest initial price may not have the best deal. If Walmart has BBQ Sauce for $2.98 ea and Winn Dixie has the same sauce $3.59 at Buy One get One Free. Winn Dixie has the best deal. You have saved $2.37 on WD BOGO vs. purchasing two at $2.98 from Wally-World.

4. You can use double coupons on BOGO items. You have technically purchased two items. If you have two coupons each for $1.00 off the BBQ Sauce, you can use both coupons. Therefore, you actually pay $1.59 for two bottles of BBQ Sauce.

5. I hadn’t really shopped at Winn Dixie in a while, just the occasional in and out run. However, with their Fuel Perks promotions and BOGO, they will more than likely be my grocery retailer of choice. My coworker recently saved $1.10/gallon on gas. Now you do have to use these Fuel Perks at specific gas stations but at $1.10 in savings, you still won’t be able to find a better deal.

It is a new way of approaching shopping. I don’t have a stockpile but I do see the logic in saving on what you can so that when you need to purchase fresh produce at regular cost you still have the savings.



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One Way to Rid Yourself of a Car Note

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

How I Bought A Car From Craigslist

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

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

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

Purchased off Craigslist for under $5000


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My 12 Commandments for Purchasing Cars from Craigslist


  1. Do your research. There are only two ways in which you can purchase a car from Craigslist– dealer or owner. Anything else is a scam!
  2. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Know the fair market value of the item you are trying to purchase. Just because it’s on Craigslist doesn’t mean that you won’t find anything comparable for less somewhere else.
  4. Stay away from money wires, transfers, or shipping of vehicles. Scam! Scam! Scam!
  5. Once you decide to meet, meet in a public place. I viewed both of my cars from Craigslist at a Walmart and/or Target.
  6. No title no deal. If someone cannot provide a clean title, you have no way of knowing if this person is the legal owner of the car.
  7. Do not bring money with you when meeting a seller. In my opinion, this is like inviting someone to rob you. Hello, my name is (insert your name here) and I have thousands of dollars in my pocket. Do you want to rob me? Creepy, huh?
  8. Trust your gut. Not everyone out there is trying to scam, con, or rob you. I facilitated this last sell on my own and despite advice from my dad to walk away, I pursued my car and trusted the seller based off of a gut feeling. She turned out to be an honest and nice person but she broke a few of my Craigslist shopping rules. She mentioned a transfer in an email correspondence and the title was not readily available in the negotiation phases.  In this instance, I acted based off feeling not good sense and it worked out.
  9. Talk to people who own the same make, model, and year as the vehicle you are trying to purchase. While I love my car for aesthetic reasons, this particular make, model, and year is known to have issues with battery drainage, which has been an ongoing issue with this car.  It’s not the fault of the seller or me for buying it. It is what it is.
  10. Owners over Dealers. If you are searching Craigslist to find a deal, remember that dealers often don’t include taxes and dealer fees when advertising cars. The price on the sticker is not the actual price of the car and depending on the price and your budget you could end up with a car note. Owners, in my experience, have been known to budge on their price and you drive away without the financial worry of a new car note and hidden dealer fees.
  11. Take a mechanic or someone who knows cars with you/Don’t go alone. Look at everything and take pictures of the car just in case something happens between the time you test drive it and the time you actual purchase it, you can have proof of the condition of the car. Check the condition of the tires, look under the hood of the car. Turn the car on and off. Accelerate and hit the brakes. Turn the radio on and off. Open the sunroof. Make sure the power seats, power mirrors, and power windows work. Ask for ALL service records and actually review them. Order a Carfax to find out detailed vehicle history. Walk around the car to inspect the exterior. Check for chipped paint and potential rust damage. Turn on all lights. Check seat belts. Everything.
  12. Deal Locally With Folks You Can Meet In Person. follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on Craigslist.