I absolutely love sharing my goals with you guys!!! It is like I have a whole bunch of accountability partners and I don’t want to let you down. So before I get into my 2016 goals lets recap 2015:
Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- Accomplished except it has a nice sized front yard with the back of my house facing a golf course. 3 bedrooms, 1 and ½ bathrooms and a finished basement that will basically be a playroom/office. I think I did a pretty good job how about you?
Pay off one of my student loans- I sure did settle my loan that was in collections for a huge $7,000 lump sum. I almost cried when I saw it leave my account, but it was worth it because my credit score jumped drastically and I was able to get approved for my mortgage.
Go on vacation- I said I wanted to take the little one to Disney/LegoLand, but instead I gave him a cool birthday party at the Philadelphia Zoo and continued saving for our house. This vacation has now been moved to the 2016 goals. Hopefully I will be able to give you that review soon.
Have an awesome 30th birthday- I did say 2015 was the year of me so I treated myself to a trip to Dubai for my 30th birthday. Including spending money, I didn’t even spend $2,000 for the entire trip. You can reach out to me if you want to know how I pulled this off.
Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish- This would have been me clearing up my credit which I did and any other random goals. Check out my Mommy Fix Your Credit post.
So as you can see from my recap, I did a kick ass job. So 2016 is going to be the Year of Focus for me. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish that require me to stay on task. Here are my goals and an extra bonus for you:
Double my income- So throughout 2016 I am going to try out various ways of making extra money and share my experience with you. Hopefully it will give you some options to generate more money also. I am still building on my natural and organic skincare line so check out www.happilynaturallyme.com and I have added being a Total Life Changes Rep to my resume. You can check out www.totallifechanges.com/5819311 if you are looking to lose weight naturally or for wellness products. Lose 5lbs in 5 days with the detox tea.
Divorce Sallie Mae- I will use my extra income to continue my journey in getting rid of that annoying bitch that takes a huge chunk of my money each month. The faster I can pay this off the faster I can purchase my next home and rent out my first home.
LEGOLAND/Disney- This is something I truly want to accomplish for the little one this year. I told him after we bought a house we can go so let the saving and deal searching begin.
Host financial literacy workshops- www.JustHisMommy.com will start to have more of a financial focus. I have not worked out the details yet, but I will be holding financial literacy workshops throughout the Philadelphia area to help educate those that want it. Sometimes you need help figuring out how to make it work financially in your household.
So there you have my focus areas. Help me help you by leaving comments on past and future posts. I want to provide you with the knowledge that you are seeking. Also, you can check me out under the parenting section of www.facephillymag.com.
Recently I came across this video and it was very heart breaking. I do not sympathize because she is making $7.50 an hour working at McDonalds, however, I do sympathize because she hasn’t realized it is up her to make things better. By no means am I writing this to bash this woman. She gave us a brief synopsis of what it is like for her being a single mother making $7.50 an hour. Many of the comments associated with this video were very nasty and just plain disrespectful.
Some people may or may not like what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway. Before I do, let me give you a little run down on what my life was like growing up. I am the product of TEENAGE PARENTS! I am a FATHERLESS CHILD! I spent the early part of my childhood in POVERTY! So with that being said, I have every right to say what I am going to say because I know what it is like to be that child and I am a mother. The bottom line is this, no one owes you anything. You made the choice to work at McDonalds knowing the pay. Yes it is rough, but you have to take action to put yourself ahead. You will continue to have less if you accept less.
I have the best mother in the entire world or at least I would like to think so. She made a lot of sacrifices to make sure my brother and I had a better life than the one she started out with. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish. I did not understand her sacrifices back then, but as an adult with a child of my own, I completely understand them now. By the time my mother graduated high school, she had two children and no intentions to further her education. Luckily she had people in her corner to encourage her to attend college. As a result, my mother went away to college to make a better life for us. We stayed under the care of my great grandmother until she became too sick to care for us, which than my grandmother took over. It really wasn’t that big of a difference location wise because she lived right next door to my great grandmother. It was like we lived in one big house, but living with my grandmother really taught me how to take care of myself LOL.
My mother worked while in college and came home almost every other weekend. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and she would be sleep on the couch. She always made sure we had everything we needed before she would head back to school and I would always cry because I wanted her to stay. This was the spot where all of the cousins came while the parents were off doing whatever it was that they did. Now looking back I realize everyone around me was considered poor or low income, but back then I didn’t really know what poor was because that is how everyone I knew lived. I knew what food stamps were, mostly everyone rode the bus because they didn’t have a car and there were a whole lot of daddies not being around. I barely knew anyone that lived with both parents and my childhood is the main reason why I do not eat microwavable food. Yea my brother and I learned very early how to use the microwave since my grandmother didn’t like to cook. She is also the reason why I don’t really like pizza.
I never experienced anything tragic growing up, but I know what gun shots sound like and how to be observant of my surroundings. I know how to read people and not be so trusting, which is probably what saved me from being kidnapped as I walked home from school by myself that one day. So yes I am so thankful that my mother made the necessary sacrifices while I was young to give me a better chance as I got older. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. Although it took her a little longer to graduate, I can proudly say I was able to watch my mother walk across the stage to get her college degree. It took her 10 years to get us out of the hood, but where there is a will there is a way. She has a great paying job, made sure we had an awesome education, and we had more than enough of what we wanted.
So with that being said, once again I am not here to bash this woman in this CNN Money video. I am here to tell anyone reading this post that your current situation is the result of your past choices. If you don’t like your present circumstances than change it, but only you can do that. At a certain point you have to stop playing the woe is me card and decide to make a change. We live in a dog eat dog world and no one is going to fix your life for you. If you are at rock bottom the only place you can go are left, right, or up. Digging left or right will keep you at the same level so make the choice to rise up.
When I became pregnant with my son, I was in a sales job not really making much money and drowning in student loan debt. My boyfriend and I decided to move back up north with each of us moving with our parents to try and save money. We both had to find jobs and I took a job at a marketing company making $10.00 an hour because I had a mouth I needed to start feeding soon. I quickly picked up a second job and worked until I was forced to go on bed rest. Working 2 jobs allowed me to pay off the majority of my credit card debt, pay off smaller debts that I had and put about $1,000 into my baby fund. Unfortunately, I had to use my baby fund money to pick up the responsibilities of someone else or face something else negative going on my credit. I shall not mention any names. I absolutely hated my $10.00 an hour job, but didn’t want to start looking for something else until I got the whole baby thing under control. It was a very small company and everyone was so miserable. It was either you were young and needed a job or you were older and didn’t think you could go anywhere else. Sometimes I would cry before I went to work and it took me about a year once I started my search to find something.
During this new life change, I found myself covering a lot of the cost of raising my son. I made excuses for the name I shall not mention which again left me crying trying to figure out how to pay for daycare that week because he was being financially irresponsible. I will never go back down that road again of letting someone else’s actions put me in a situation that causes me to struggle. I should have known than, but I was being stupid and trying to make our little family work.
So yes I have been on both sides of the spectrum, a child of a struggling mother and a struggling mother myself. I know the reason for my struggle and I am choosing not to struggle anymore. Right now I am at a peaceful place in my life because of the changes I decided to make. I am constantly doing things in my present to setup my future. There are no excuses!!! The knowledge to better yourself is out there. Where there is a will there is a way, but you have to decide if you have the will to find your way. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your child(ren) to stop making excuses. I encourage anyone reading this post and want some advice to reach out to me for help. I want to inspire as many women as possible to get on the right track financially. Stay tuned as I will be providing more posts on what I have learned throughout my financial journey. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post.
Being pregnant with my little one opened my eyes to a lot of things. At 24 I was young, but not that young, and still figuring things out for myself. I had credit card debt from college, mounds of student loans and my credit score was embarrassing. At the time I’m pretty sure it was like 505 which is horrible. I knew it was going to be a long journey so I needed to start immediately getting my shit together, not just for me, but more importantly for him. His little voice was screaming, “Mommy fix your credit.”
Cash is king, but if you don’t have cash than you better have a good credit score. A poor credit score can make buying a house and other “adult purchases” so much harder. It has been a long journey, mainly because I needed to clear up a student loan that was in collections, but my dedication and stubbornness has finally paid off. My credit score has made a drastic improvement and continues to rise. At my recent mortgage appointment, my credit score was 697 which is considered good. I was shocked because for the longest time I was stuck at the 620-630 range. Settling that Sallie Mae loan really helped boost my credit score. Here are 5 tips to help you fix your credit:
1) Education is Key- Before you can fix your credit it’s important to know how it is calculated. See the chart below
2) Getting to the root of the evil- Pull your credit reports so you know what is on them. Everyone is entitled to one free report every 12 months by each credit bureau. Use these as your guideline to fix your credit. Sometimes there are false items on your report and you will want to work with the credit bureau to get these things removed. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your reports for free.
3) Stop ignoring your debt- Debt makes up 30% of your credit score. You cannot ignore this if you want to fix your credit. Gather all of your debt and devise a plan to eliminate it.
4) On time payments- Make a pledge to pay your bills on time. Scheduling online payments will help with this so you won’t forget. Create a budget to stay organized with your money if you need to.
5) Low Credit Card Balances- If you have been following me, you may recall my “Life Without Credit Cards” post so it is do able. If you have them, I highly suggest you not use your credit cards until you get the debt under control. Keeping your credit card balances 30% or less is best if you have to have them in your life. A lesson that I learned is to keep the accounts open and just avoid using the cards. The length of your credit history is about 15% of your credit score so the longer you have the account the better it looks.
So there you have it. Mommy fix your credit so you can stop making things hard for yourself. By no means will this be easy so you are going to have to be disciplined and remember why you are doing this. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.
Going into 2015 I feel absolutely happy, accomplished, beautiful and worthy of all the things I want out of life. So yes, I am going to be selfish and declare 2015 as the year of ME. I will stop neglecting myself. I will stop making excuses as to why I can’t do something. I will start living my life. I will continue to work hard because I am finally starting to see goals I set years ago become reality.
As mothers we get so caught up in taking care of others we often forget to take care of ourselves. You cannot take care of others if you do not first take care of yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. It’s like being on an airplane and they tell you in case of an emergency you must put your face mask on first before trying to help others. You can’t help your child breathe if you can’t breathe yourself.
I am Just His Mommy so every goal I set, even if it seems selfish, has a greater purpose. So let’s recap the goals I set in 2014 and how far I got:
Build my emergency fund back up to $3,000- This was achieved successfully with some ups and downs of course. Not bad for starting off with $700.
Buy a car in straight cash without taking out a loan- I did get a new car but not in straight cash. The Iron Pimpkept taking all of my money so I had no other choice but to break down and get a new one. I was able to have a $2,000 down payment since I was already saving.
Start teaching the little one the value of money- We cashed in all of the change I had been collecting since his birth and opened up a kids account at a local credit union. They gave him a red piggy bank for him to start saving and this is where he “saves” his money for when we take our trip to Lego Land. He normally comes with me when I do events for Happily Naturally Me and I pay him a dollar. I always give him the option to spend or save his dollar; only once so far has he decided to spend it.
Last but not least my big financial goal of 2014 was to save $10,000 for a down payment on a home- Long story short, I still have a long way to go.
With that being said, here is what I plan on accomplishing in 2015:
Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- This will be my starter home with space for a home office. In 2014 I launched my own startup called Happily Naturally Me. It is a natural skincare line that specializes in all natural handmade products.
Pay off one of my student loans- I call it my journey to divorcing Sallie Mae.
Go on vacation- The little one and I have been talking about going to Lego Land in Orlando, FL so I intend on making that happen. I just found out that the Lego Land hotel doesn’t open till mid-year so hopefully in the fall. Stay tuned for my review.
Have an awesome birthday- I may not look it, but I will be the big 30 in 2015 so I plan on celebrating.
Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish.
Are you married, engaged or just seriously dating someone at the moment? No matter what level you are at with your better half, the bigger question is whether or not you are financially compatible with your spouse. If you aren’t compatible with your spouse this can be a very big problem and ignoring it won’t make matters any better, trust I know from experience. The number one reason why most marriages fail is you guessed it the “Evil Green”, the thing that makes the world go round…yea that’s right MONEY.
The dreaded money conversation can cause a lot of tension in a relationship if you and your spouse are not on the same path financially or totally have different spending habits. Like I said, trust me because I know from experience and this topic has caused friction in the relationship with my little one’s father and I. I thought we had the same financial goals, but our habits were totally different. I planned everything to the best of my ability and he hardly planned at all. We even tried to have a shared account for household bills, but that didn’t work out either. Having a monthly budget meeting turned into me doing my budget each month on my own; I got tired of trying to force it. I always knew he was bad with money, but I thought it would be something he would grow out of; you can’t force someone to do something they either don’t want to do or are not ready to do. All of this resulted in me constantly fixing the situation, which is what he become accustomed to. I stopped complaining and just did what I normally do…. Make it Work even if that meant going into my savings. Yea not fair at all.
So yes the tension in our relationship over money affected other aspects of our relationship. I wouldn’t be honest about the money I had and he wouldn’t tell me about his careless spending so there went the trust and communication. I was always angry because I felt like I was doing more; not because he couldn’t, but because he was careless and our priorities were different.
How could I marry someone I didn’t even trust with my money? The answer is I can’t and I won’t. As a right of all of this, we are no longer together and maybe he will change his ways and I can learn to trust him again, but right now I really am Just His Mommy.
This is what I have learned about relationships and money from my 5 year relationship. And yes this is the longest relationship ever for me:
1) If you can’t discuss money it’s most likely not going to work.
2) Your financial goals have to be in line with one another if you want longevity.
3) One should not be doing more than the other unless it is agreed upon and no it is not ok.
4) Love is not enough to make a relationship work.
5) Money is most definitely the root of all evil and can make you go crazy.
What I hope he has learned from this situation:
1) You can’t “rob Peter to pay Paul.” It will only come back to bite you in the butt.
2) Constantly not doing your part and allowing your spouse to pick up the pieces will result in a loss of faith in you.
3) Your financial decisions do not only affect you when there are others you are responsible for.
4) Gambling is a luxury and should be treated as such.
5) It’s not about how much money you have, but how you manage it.
So if you are serious about your relationship with someone or are already married you better fix this aspect of your relationship sooner rather than later. If you can’t work it out, you will regret it later on down the road. From what I have been told divorce is not fun and I hope to never have to go through one especially over money. So once again are you financially compatible with your spouse?
Ok so we are now in month five of 2014 and I think it is only fair that I give you an update to how I’m doing with my financial goals so far this year. If you read my post Financial Goals for 2014, you already know what my goals are for this year and how I plan to get there; for those of you not aware they are as follows:
Get my emergency fund back up to 3,000
Buy a car in straight cash
Start teaching the little one the value of money
Save for a down payment on a house
So how am I doing so far? To be honest I thought I would be farther along by now, but I had a major hiccup along the way. Read my article on The Iron Pimp and you will know what I am talking about. That thing cost me $2122.32 which really set me behind in my goals. I had to use my returned security deposit plus more to get me out of that situation; the little bit of money I had in my emergency fund to start the year off was depleted once again. That is like a down payment towards a new car and I’m spending more in gas commuting to work than I had originally calculated.
Although the Iron Pimp gave me a rough start in accomplishing my financial goals for 2014, I am still determined to reach them. So far I have accomplished my emergency fund goal and started teaching the little one about money. He had so much fun putting all of his change from his baby bank into one of those coin machines. We then went to the credit union to open up his first savings account, which they put $5.00 towards. Again this account is for him to put his own money into, not the money that I am saving for him. Whenever he goes into the credit union to make a deposit, they will give him a prize out of the treasure box. Also, they gave him a little piggy bank for opening up his account.
So now the hard part begins!!! Saving for a cash payment on a car and a down payment on a house are going to be tough because they are larger amounts. I’m still not ready to reveal my big secret to how I’m going to get there so you will just have to stay tuned for the announcement. I have my eye on the prize and I am determined to accomplish the things that I want even if it takes me into 2015.
So how are you making out so far this year with your goals?
Growing up my mother would always say your car is an Iron Pimp. I never really understood what she meant by that, but now I do. My Iron Pimp just gave me a few huge bitch slaps. Just when I thought I was done giving it all my hard earned money; that pimp decided to sneak in a gut punch to milk me for more.
Over the past 2 months I have dropped a total of $2122.32 into my car just for repairs. First my fuel system was having issues which caused my car to not want to restart after pumping gas. It would take me like 3-4 times of trying to start it for it to actually turnover. I was so afraid I was going to mess up my starter. Second, all the potholes in Philadelphia knocked my alignment out of place and cracked something else that apparently was important. Last but not least, my exhaust had a leak so i was driving around for a few days sounding like a motorcycle until i had the time to be without my vehicle. I swear when it rains it pours.
Really what can you do but take car of your mode of transportation. From scheduled maintance to unplanned repairs, you are always going to pay. If you take car of the Iron Pimp, it will take care of you.
I can not stress enough how important it is to make sure you have some type of an emergency fund set aside for cases like this. Start small and build if you must. You may have to keep starting over from scratch depending on the cost of the emergencies that you are dealing with.Trust me when I say you will be glad you have that safety net full of cash at the end of the day. Another option is to have a car repair fund in addition to your emergency fund. Every month I put aside $40 to cover my oil change, extra gas for an unexpected trip, or simply to get a car wash. If it doesn’t get used I will admit I tend to spend it on something else, but hey it’s my money.
What preparations do you make to deal with your Iron Pimp?
So you want to create a budget, but just not really sure how to get started. Here is a step by step guide to help you.
Know where your money is going! I suggest for the next 30 days try and only use cash and no credit cards. Get a small notebook that you can carry around or use your notepad on your smartphone to jot down all of your purchases. If it’s a dollar for a toll you must still write it down. For this to truly work try not to wait until the end of the day to write them down because you might forget something. At the end of your 30 day period you must evaluate your spending habits. Creating a budget will not work if you do not truly know where your money is going. Take note on the areas where you can cut back. You might be surprised how much per month you spend on eating out or how much that cup of Starbucks can add up over time.
Organize all of your bills including anything in collections. If you are going to create a budget you should be including any bad debt. Be aware of when bills are due.
Separate all of your expenses into two categories:
Fixed-anything that is the same amount every month that you know you will be paying. (Rent, mortgage, daycare, cable, medication, etc.)
Variable- anything that fluctuates in cost. (Gas, groceries, entertainment, grooming, wardrobe, etc.)
Now you can get started. You must base your budget on your monthly take home income. Exclude any bonuses or commissions since they are not always guaranteed and can vary.
I like using Excel to keep track of my budget, but a notebook will work just fine. Since I am paid twice a month, I have each month split into two. Your budget should look something like this with fixed cost listed first (This is just an example for you to get an idea so make sure you have all categories listed in your actual budget….entertainment, hair, clothes, car repairs, etc):
Don’t mix up your money. You can try the two bank account system; one with your bill money and the other with your variable spending like groceries, gas etc. You don’t want to accidentally spend your bill money. If you do not have a bank account you can try using the envelope system by separating your money into different envelopes. Or you can use a combination of both. I have found the two bank account system works best for me since I pay all my bills online each month anyway. Most banks these days have a bill pay option.
Get into the habit of paying your bills around the same time each month. For example anything that is due between the 1st-15th of the month is paid on the 1st. Anything after the 15th is paid on the 15th. Paying early is much better than paying late.
Stay in control of your money and don’t let your money control you.
So there you have it. Creating a budget is the easy part; sticking to it is an entire different story. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you are failing in the beginning; it takes 21 days of doing something on a consistent bases to make it a habit. You only fail when you stop trying. The key to success in budgeting is to plan ahead.
It is tax season and if you haven’t already done so you will be soon enough. Hopefully you don’t owe any money and you will be getting a nice chunk of cash back. So what do you plan on doing with this money once it is deposited into your account? If you’re not sure here are 4 financially fit ways to use your tax return, instead of buying that new purse that you have been eyeing.
1) Pay off an outstanding debt- If you are hiding from debt collectors they know this is the time most people have extra money so just take the call and see what they are offering. Debt collectors want to close the deal just as much as you want to get rid of the debt. Don’t let them talk you into committing to something you cannot afford. If you can settle straight out than tell them what you have and stick to it. If they say no to what you are offering; trust me they will eventually call back with a better offer, but be realistic because they also need to make money.
2) Save it-This can be broken down into so many different categories so here are a few suggestions:
Start that college fund for your child
Put it in you emergency fund or start building one
How about putting it towards a down payment on a car or house
3) Invest- You can use tour tax return as seed money to start that business or have you been thinking about stocks or mutual funds lately.
4) Have Fun!!!- Life is more about experiences rather than material positions so take that family trip that I’m sure you are in desperate need off.
No matter what you decide to do with you tax return, just make sure you are responsible with your money. Don’t go blowing it. My tax return will be going towards my financial goals of 2014.
I have been seeing the 52 Week Money Challenge all over Facebook since the beginning of 2013. I am not sure where it originated from, but I do challenge my readers to try it out except try it in reverse. The objective of this money challenge is to start off small and increase the amount each week. By the end of the 52 week challenge you should have $1,378.00 saved if not more. The reason I challenge you guys to do it in reverse is because the end of the year is when money starts to become really tight. We tend to spend more and save less during the gift giving season. So here is your chart to get started:
Your 52 Week Money Challenge
Don’t wait get started and if you can’t start this challenge in reverse start at the beginning with the smaller amounts. If you read my goals for 2014, you will know my saving goal for the year exceeds this amount so I will not be doing this particular challenge. If you stick to this challenge you will have enough saved to take a little family vacation, more than enough for Christmas gifts if you don’t buy anything crazy expensive, or enough to start investing.
Please don’t forget to stop back by to let me know how you are doing. Remember it doesn’t matter what time of the year you start this; you just have to do it for 52 weeks straight.