Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Lesson on Selflessness and Risk Management

Photo Credit: NFL.com
This is Keith Fitzhugh, former free agent with the New York Jets.  Recently he made headlines for turning down an offer to re-sign with the NFL team to continue working as a railroad conductor with Norfolk Southern Railroad, a stable occupation that allow him to provide for his parents financially.   While some may scoff at his decision, I commend him for his act of self-sacrifice, and completely understand how he could make such a decision. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Shopping Tips

It’s that time of year again!
It’s the season where budgets go out the window and the line between wants and needs become blurred.   Before you join this spending frenzy, here are a few tips to keep you on track with your financial goals:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Things First

I've been working full time for exactly 4 months now! If getting adjusted to the "real world" of working 40 hours a week was not enough, I had to get used to getting paid only once per month. In all of my previous work experiences I've been lucky enough to get paid weekly, so needless to say it was an adjustment from having a frequent source of income to working weeks at a time for (what felt like) nothing. Now I never thought I would say it, but I'm starting to see the bright side of my monthly pay schedule.  All of my bills are due at the beginning of the month, so I'm never worried about missing a payment. With all of my necessities out of the way early in the month, I spend the remainder of the month adjusting my activities/expenses to make sure I can stay in budget (assuming there is no emergency).  I just started having a percentage of my paycheck deposited into a savings account so now I'm able to save money upfront instead of scrambling to take what's left over at the end of the month to the bank...It's much easier for me to treat my savings as a bill that has to be paid.  Also, despite my bills and savings taken out of my paycheck at the beginning of the month, the amount left over is still a pretty nice amount due to the larger monthly checks.  Psychologically, I like seeing the bigger monthly paychecks...it makes it seem as if my money lasts longer, unlike the "revolving door" effect that comes with weekly pay.  All in all, this pay schedule allows me to take care of what's important, and surprisingly helps me to be a better budgeter (tongue twister!).  Imagine that!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun & Budget Friendly Idea Generator

One of my goals is to have a "no-spend" weekend each month.  Needless to say, I've had to become creative in finding ways to manage my time without wrecking my budget.  To make things easier, I've created a simple generator with 50 low cost activities that anyone can do.  It's easy to use, and if you are indecisive like me, it will select one idea for you with just the touch of a button! Your idea of fun may be different from mine, so feel free to add your own ideas to the generator.  Download by clicking HERE or selecting the link under my "Helpful Tools & Downloads" page.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What "The Apprentice" taught me about money management

This week I caught the premiere episode of the new season of The Apprentice.  The show was an absolute thrill ride! I think I'm going to try to watch this season regularly...I especially like how this season is focusing on second chances for people who have been struggling due to the economy.   From hearing the personal stories of the contestants and watching the struggles of the team challenge, I found some life lessons and inspiration for my financial journey.  Here's what I learned:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Disappearing Acts

It's the day after payday.  Do you know where your money is?

$5 at the corner store.  A quick dollar menu lunch from McDonald's.  The daily Starbucks latte.  These little purchases may not seem like much, but that's the problem.  It takes a few of these before you are able to really notice a big dent in your account,  so it's easy to justify making these purchases everyday.  By the end of the month, you may have spent $100 or more than you planned!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The More You Know...

I am no longer in school, so I am completely in charge of what I choose to read and study for the first time in years. I wholeheartedly believe in personal development and being a lifelong learner, so I am committed to gathering all the information I can to help me improve my finances. I want to share with you all some of the resources that I’m using to bring me closer to achieving my goals.

Short Term Goals

Here's the plan for the next couple of years:

  • Create a $1000 emergency fund by September 2011.
  • Have a "no-spend weekend" every month.   
  • Double my 401k contributions by December 2011.
  • No credit card debt by September 2012.
  • Set a wedding budget (and date) with an action plan for saving the money to pay for it by January 1, 2011.

Personal Growth
  • Read 1 book a month from now until December 2011.
  • Identify 1 skill that I have and create an action plan (certification? Books/other resources? Practice?) with a timeline to develop it. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Surprise Income: The Do’s & Don’ts

When I was in college, I had two extra holidays on my calendar: “Tax Refund” Day (I was always working or doing an internship) and “Student-loans-were-dispersed” Day. I celebrated these holidays every year…I decorated my closet with new clothes. I ate (sit-down restaurants), drank (top shelf baby), and was definitely merry. I told myself that if I got money that I didn’t expect, I could blow it all without feeling guilty…after all, “unaccounted for” money did not exist. That means that refund checks, birthday money, and even the “gas money” my grandmother slipped me every time I went to visit, all disappeared without a trace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I want it all...and I want it now.

Maybe it’s the new Smartphone, or the fierce stilettos in the boutique window. Maybe it’s the new Madden for the Xbox. At some point, we have all seen an item that we had to have at all costs. There’s no feeling like getting something as soon as it hits the shelves; and when the object of your desire is right in front of you, it takes a strong person to fight the impulse to buy, buy, BUY!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Transferable Skills & Your Money

School is not just about learning facts and memorizing vocabulary. It is about developing knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in various areas of your life. The most obvious place to use these skills is in your work, but these transferable skills can also apply to managing your finances. I believe that the same skills that you use to impress an employer in a job interview can also bring you closer to financial freedom:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Financial Story

Early Years

Growing up, I was the scrooge of the family. I collected coins for years, and as a result I amassed (what seemed like) a mountain of shoeboxes filled with rolled pennies. I had a piggy bank, a mini “safe” with a numerical code protecting my treasure, and a book bag stuffed to the brim with pennies from my great-grandmother. When I was old enough to earn an allowance, you better believe I kept a wad of money stuffed under my mattress. Once my father went a whole month without giving me an allowance; I took a sheet of copier paper and a black pen, and drafted an agreement stating that he would give me an allowance every two weeks. I made him sign it, and even asked my mother to notarize it (although she refused)! You would think that a girl with this attitude towards money would become a personal finance pro by the time I began my first job, right? WRONG! I developed a love for the hip hop/rap culture and a tiny crush on Damon Dash, so my weekly minimum-wage paychecks often turned into a fresh pair of Roc-a-wear jeans. Then I wanted the Roc-a-wear velour tracksuits…and the Roc-a-wear handbags…and the jewelry. I guess you could say that I was a full blown Label Whore. Luckily all that changed when I went off to college…