money and happiness

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, But It Does Buy Choices

I believe in living a life that you are happy with and that is exactly what I am doing. Money is not going to buy me happiness, but it does buy me choices. I work hard at my 9-5 while I build my multiple sources of income. I do this because I know one day all of my entities and investments will allow me to replace my 9-5. Again money is not going to buy me happiness, but it will give me the opportunity to have more choices. No one wants to live a life struggling to figure out how to pay bills or give their children the things that they deserve and some of what they want. Yeah my little one doesn’t get everything that he wants just because I said he can’t and not because I can’t afford it. He has to learn how to work for the things that he wants. I may not be able to buy everything that I want at that exact moment that I want it, but with planning and over time I can have everything that I desire.

Not all wealthy people are happy just like not all poor people are miserable. The difference is the choices that each group can make and the opportunities that come along with the wealth. I can afford to send my son to a private school that is close to my job so I don’t have to kill myself rushing thru traffic to pick him up from the afterschool program by 6:00pm. Yeah most places will charge you extra if you are late. I can afford to buy healthier and better quality foods for myself and child because of the investments I have made for myself. When I go on vacation I am diffentantly not staying at the Ritz Carlton, but I’m sure as hell not staying at the Motel 6 either. Yeah money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it does buy you choices; choices that will make your life easier and help you enjoy it just a little bit better. I would rather buy a good quality $300 purse over a $10 purse that won’t last, but if I am shelling out $300 on a purse I’m making sure my bills are all paid and I have more than $300 that I can put into my new purchase. I am not a believer in living beyond my means because it is like a domino effect.

Yeah I know some of you are reading this post and saying it is better said than done and you are exactly right. At a certain point you have to stop blaming all of the outside forces as to why you can’t get ahead and start taking control of your life. If you can’t find a job than make your own; plenty of people do it every day so there is no excuse and the world owes you nothing. If you want something you have to make it happen; create your own opportunities. My 9-5 doesn’t pay me as much as I would like, but it gives me the flexibility that I need as a single mother so I had to be creative since I like it there. I have my own business www.happilynaturalyme.com and I am an independent business owner for Total Life Changes. Happily Naturally Me is growing and TLC brings me instant and residual income thru network marketing. I love what I do and so does my son. He is like my little business partner because he comes with me the majority of the time when I am conducting business. He is learning the art of selling at a very young age because he is always talking about selling the toys he doesn’t want any more at the Flea Market. That was my first stomping grounds when I was trying out how my Happily Naturally Me products would do and I would sell his old baby clothes. We would play games in between customers, watch a movie or he would ride his bike around the tent I had setup. Yeah no excuses because if I can do it, so can you.

If you want a life you love, you will have to create it yourself so stop waiting and start taking some action. If you are interested in joining a network marketing company to make extra income just contact me or signup by visiting my site directly www.totallifechanges.com/5819311. Make sure you use rep ID 5819311 and contact me so I can help you get started.

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kids clothes

5 Ways to Save on Children’s Clothes

I only have one child at the moment and buying clothes and shoes for him adds up pretty quickly so I can only imagine what it is like when you have multiple kids.  I have learned that I can dress my little one very nicely and not have to spend thousands of dollars to do it and here are 5 tips that can help you do the same.

  1. Clothing Swap- If you have a group of friends or family with children around the same age do a clothing swap to help with cost. Children can quickly outgrow things and often times wear things once.  I can’t even tell you how many times I found a clothing item that I completely forgot about that he can no longer fit.
  2. Consignment/ Thrift Stores- Thrifting is the latest trend and with consignment shops and events popping up all over the place it makes it so much easier. I have been able to find great deals at these places for the little guy. Sometimes I can find items with the tags still on.
  3. Shopping Out of Season- Why wait till the next season starts to begin shopping for it. Right now it’s spring and retailers still have winter items at discounted prices they want to get rid of.  If your kid doesn’t have a massive growth spurt, it should be easy to estimate his or her size for next year.  I just got him a new winter coat for $5 and sweaters for $3 each at Primark.  Primark is one of my new favorite stores.
  4. Discount Stores- The discount stores that I am referring to are hidden treasures. Normally you find these places because you happen to stumble upon it or word of mouth. These discount stores carry items from last season or they bought a batch that has a slight defect like a messed up stitch or something. Because of this, the items are so cheap. You really have to check these items before buying because you don’t want to buy something with a hole unless you plan on sewing it yourself. One of the hidden treasures I go to is called Rugged Wearhouse. They have a few locations throughout the US with 2 being in Delaware.
  5. Make your own- I do not have the time nor the talent, but if you do more power to you.  I did get crafty and make his birthday shirt with items I found at AC Moore.

Let me know your ways of saving on children’s clothes. If you have any hidden treasure discount stores in your area or know of a great consignment shop please share.

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checking-account1

Two Checking Account System

Keeping your spending money and bill money all in the same account can sometimes be dangerous. Can you count how many times you have over spent and ended up with a negative amount? Overdraft fees are not fun because that is money you could have used for something else. Now you have negative funds for over spending and a negative $30.00 if not more in overdraft charges. Let’s hope you didn’t have multiple transactions that put you in the hole or you will really be in trouble. Remember most banks will charge you an overdraft charge for each transaction processed that accumulates while you are in the negative.

The best thing you can do for yourself to keep your money organized is to have different accounts: 1 for bills and 1 for spending. Any monthly bills you have should be coming out of one account and all of your spending money whether for groceries, entertainment, etc. should be in the account associated with your debit card. Trust me; it will make your life so much better if you separate your money. Utilize the Two Checking Account System in conjunction with your budget and you should reduce the stress of over spending. Keep in mind you can’t spend what you don’t have so you will still have to keep a ledger of any checks you write and not go crazy swiping your debit card buying stuff that you want and don’t really need. Yeah I know that was a long sentence, but you get the point.

Stay organized mommies with your MONEY!!! I am paid twice a month from my 9-5 so I dedicate sitting down twice a month to pay bills and check my funds. I don’t spend unless I have it and I do not rob Peter to pay Paul as they say. It is really not that hard to keep track of your money if you discipline yourself because after a few months of doing this, it will become a habit. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the Two Checking Account System.

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Easy Cheddar and Mozzarella Biscuits

Bisquick Cheddar and Mozzarella Biscuits

If you are looking for a quick and easy side to add with dinner try this dinner biscuit that I whipped up. I got the idea from the back of a Bisquick box and changed up the recipe based off of what I had on head. These cheddar & mozzarella biscuits are scrumptious and kinda remind me of the biscuits from Red Lobsters.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bisquick
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (The one I used had parsley in it)
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

The directions are fairly simple so you shouldn’t mess this up. Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed and mix cook together. Make sure you save the cheese for last until you get all of the lumps out. Scope mixture into a muffin pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. You should get about 6 or 7 biscuits out of this batch. You can add some old bay seasoning to the mixture to get an extra kick if you would like.

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2016

2016 Goals: Year of Focus

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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minimum wage

Minimum Wage Mommy

STOP!!! WATCH THE VIDEO BEFORE READING!!!!

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.

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ebates

Ebates- Get Paid to Shop Online!

It is the holiday season and if you are anything like me, you prefer to do your shopping online. Amazon became my best friend about four years ago because I didn’t feel like taking a baby out and dealing with the crowds. Now my online shopping experience is even better with Ebates. With Ebates, I can do my normal shopping, save money and earn cash back. Who doesn’t want that? And guess what…Ebates is absolutely free to sign up for. All you have to do is visit your normal sites via Ebates.com to start earning cash back.

Here are some of the stores with double cash back rewards for the holiday shopping season; don’t let these deals slip by you. Earn while you are already shopping for things you were already going to buy online.

Ebates- Double Cash Back

And of course Ebates has the refer a friend cash bonus to put more money in your pocket.

Ebates- Refer a friendClick the hyperlink or the Ebates button on the sidebar to get started today for free: Ebates-Get Paid to Shop

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Mommy Fix Your Credit

Mommy Fix Your Credit

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.”

Credit Score Ratings

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

What-Is-A-Credit-Score

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.

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planner 2

Planning is Key to Survival

As a single mother, I have to plan just about every aspect of my life; from weekly meals to designating time for me to do non-related mom activities. Dating and hanging out with friends require a babysitter. Planning is my key to survival. If you are not a  planner, it’s time to stop making excuses and get it together. Here are four techniques that will help make your life a whole lot easier.

  1. Time Blocking- Designate a certain amount of time to complete as many tasks on your list as possible. This only works if you can stay focused without distractions. Turn off your TV and ignore your cell phone. Make it a priority to get things done.
  2. Be an Early Bird or Night Owl- During the week I am most certainly a Night Owl. Once my son is in bed, I try to force myself not to also pass out. The key is to keep moving!!!! A body in motion stays in motion. On the weekends my alarm goes off at 6:00am no matter what. Now I may not always get up at that time, but I have learned I must get up before the little one does to get started on my to do list. Once he is up, my attention is automatically diverted to him.
  3. Calendars and Lists- This should already be a no brainer for everyone. I have way too much going on to even try to remember everything so I must write it down.
  4. Getting things done ahead of time. If there are things you have to get accomplished that are deadline driven, try to get them done early. Getting things done early will relieve your stress of constantly thinking about it. This also gives you extra time to resolve any issues and come up with a plan B.

So there you have it. This is how this single mommy, full time employee, blogger, business owner and so many other things makes it work. I’m not a robot, I figured out planning is key.

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doc-mcstuffins

Doc McStuffins: For Girls and Boy

Yesterday was my little man’s first day of school!!! With me working and commuting such a distance, I don’t normally get the joy of drop off/pickup duty so I took off of work of course.  During pickup time, all the children were allowed to pick out a coloring book to be used during lunch time….if they finish their food early of course.  There were mostly girl options, a few gender neutral and of course sports for I guess to be geared towards the boys.  By the time it was the little man’s turn, there were not many options left so he picked out the Doc McStuffins.  My first reaction was to say that is for girls, but I caught myself as I looked at the sports coloring book at the end of the table.  Instead I asked, “Are you sure you want Doc McStuffins?” and he replied, “Yes”.  I just nodded and started asking him questions about his day as his teacher labeled his coloring book with his name.

Now I am a very open minded person.  I am pro gender equality; support whether you consider yourself to be straight, gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered.  My first reaction to his selection was out of my natural instinct to protect him.  I don’t want anyone to make fun of him because he selected a “girly” coloring book.  But more importantly I want him to be ok with his choices and be himself so I caught myself before I spoke.  During our car ride home, I decided to ask him why he selected the Doc McStuffins coloring book and our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: So why did you pick out the Doc McStuffins coloring book?

Little Man: Because I like her.

Me: Why do you like her?

Little Man: Because she fixes all of the toys… boy toys and girl toys.

Me: That is really cool…I like her too.  Did you see the football coloring book?

Little Man: No

Me: Oh Ok

And that was the end of that conversation.  So what if my son likes Doc McStuffins!!!! He also likes watching Care Bears and Bratz because his older sister watches those shows.  When he is in control of the remote, he watches Power Rangers, Spiderman, Ninja Turtles and any other popular “boy” cartoon that comes on.  He plays in the dirt and throws rocks even when I tell him not to.  He loves soccer and basketball.  So no I am not worried about my son’s sexual orientation just because of the type of coloring book he selected.  What will be will be and as his mother I will love and support him no matter what.

 

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