Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back to School

My oldest daughter, Emma, starts school today!
Can you tell I'm excited?  Probably more excited than her.  It's been a VERY long summer, .
I do love my girls, I absolutely do, but I also really relish fall and the back to school routine.
I bring out the fall recipes, start burning yummy smelling candles because fall is one of my favorite times of year in New England.  It starts at the end of August and stretches out until Mid-November.  It has beautiful crisp 70 degree days, with a little bit of wind and a little bit of chill.  It's perfect for throwing on a light sweater or vest while getting the kids out of the house.This is the perfect time to start thinking about the dreaded Christmas shopping.
When I only had 1 child I would start Christmas shopping right around now.  I would pick up 1 toy, piece of clothing, or stocking stuffer on my weekly trip to Target.  By the time November hit I was finished.  Sadly that doesn't work so well anymore.  I need to figure out a new system but since having Ella I haven't.  In fact, I've been more of a last minute do it all online shopper instead.
This year I plan to have things a bit more in order.  I plan on each child getting 2 pairs of pjs and 1 Christmas dress/outfit for pictures and Christmas Eve.  I also plan on getting each child 5 books and 4 toys.  I think that's more than enough.
I have already started cleaning out the girls closet and getting things in order.  I need to make a few trips to good will over the next few days to get rid of the clothes that no longer fit or aren't wearing well.  I also will be listing some items on local yard sale sites on Facebook.  I want to spend no more than $150 per kid this year.
Have you started the dreaded Christmas shopping yet?  Made a list?  Even thought about it?  Any tips and tricks?  Let me know in the comments.  I'd love to hear how others plan it out each year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why is Talking About Money Uncomfortable?

One of the things that I have found over the past few years is that people get very uncomfortable when you start talking about money.  Not just money, but anything that has to do with money.  People just don't like to talk about their finances and I get it.  It's uncomfortable.  It can be awkward.  And honestly, if you have money you come across as a snot and if you don't then you come across as needy.  So I get it.  Money is a topic that most people keep to themselves, much like sex.
How do we get past this though?  Because we have to.  Money needs to be discussed and for a number of reasons but here are the big 2 - or at least in my mind, these are the 2 biggest reasons money is so important
1. Money is a necessary part of life
Sad but true.  Money is a necessary part of life.  Some people will say it's a necessary evil, but I don't see it that way.  Money is how we pay our bills, rent, utilities.  It is the currency that runs the world.  If we didn't have money, there would be some other similar system in place.  While bartering for goods may have worked in the past, it's not going to get you very far in this day and age.    
2. Money allows you freedom and power
Some people may not actually agree with this statement but this is what I have found.  Money allows you to be independent.  It can provide you with a sense of security.  If you have money it can make you feel as though you are in control.  Many times when people don't have money they feel trapped, stuck in their circumstances and unable to remove themselves from situations.  Money, if well received, can allow you the freedom to go where you want to go, when you want to go.  And money can cause you to be more or less independent, which is where power comes in.  If you have little money to play with and are unable to get out of your circumstances you will feel powerless, where as if you have money you may feel more powerful as you can come and go as you need or want throughout life.
The fact is money will not buy happiness or the things that are truly valuable, although it will definitely help contribute.  Much like material possessions money can be fleeting.  Here one minute, gone the next.  If we are not talking about money and how to make the most of it while it's in our possession we are going to have nothing left to leave to our children.  And while that's not a huge deal, we do want to leave them some sort of legacy.  How to handle their day to day finances so that they can live their lives freely and without fear is a great way to provide that legacy.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Did You Do It?!

I know I said I would go into how to read a credit report, however I wanted to check in and see if anyone did the 7 Day Challenge I issued a few days ago.  Did you do it?  How did it go?  Did you find any area's where your spending needs to be curbed or where you can save a little bit in the future?  Were you able to come up with a better idea of where your money is going?  Are you buying too much coffee?  Are you using credit for everything?  Do you take money out of the ATM and then forget what you purchased with it?
I want to hear how things went.
Let me know in the comments what your takeaways were/are.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Power of the Almighty FICO Score

A FICO score is an (un)necessary evil according to many.  It determines so many things.  What interest rate you will get on a loan or a credit card.  If your credit limit is raised or lowered.  If you have to pay points on a mortgage.  If you qualify for a refinance.  If you should or should not get a loan you may or may not need.
And it also can determine things like whether you get an apartment or qualify for a lease.  It can also determine whether you get a job.  Sound crazy?  Unfortunately it's true.  Employers, land lords and others all have access to your credit history.  And while they may not see your actual score, there are a lot of other things on that report that they will see and it can be to your benefit or to your detriment.
A FICO score is definitely an (un)necessary evil.  While it may not seem fair, it is beneficial to know that your FICO score is determined 100% by you.  So if you know how to read a credit report and understand how a FICO score is determined then you are way better off then someone who doesn't.  On Monday I am going to go more into detail about how to read a credit report and the 5 factors that make up a FICO score.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Doesn't Affect Your FICO Score

Maybe you're wondering what FICO even stands for.  Well, it stands for Fair Isaac Corporation which is really just a nice way saying an abbreviation for the guys who came up with it.  Bill Fair and Earl Isaac, who were the founders and the fist ones to offer a credit-risk model with a score.  

So what doesn't affect your FICO score?  
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Where you live
  • Salary
  • Occupation
  • Employer
  • Employment history
  • child/family support obligations

A number of these things may show up on your credit report, and in fact I would say the majority of them show up there, they have no actual score implications.  And while that is something to be mindful of when you are reviewing your credit report, you actually want to make sure that any of this information that shows up on your credit report is valid and belongs to you.  I have had a number of people who have had some of this information incorrectly listed on their reports and it has played a roll in them having information inaccurately reported on their credit report which has then affected their credit score.  

Now, if you do find information reported incorrectly on your credit reports, such as wrong address, past employers or something of that nature, you do want to try to dispute this information and have it corrected.  This can be a very tedious process.  I suggest contacting your local credit union to get the number for a non-profit company that can actually assist in the process, as opposed to contacting and trying to deal with a credit reporting agency directly.  You can 100% go through the agencies yourself, however it can be difficult to get that information corrected in a timely manner on your own and I have found even with a go-between it can still be a long and drawn out process.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Doing My Best

My husband gave me some feedback on my blog today.  He said I am writing this blog the way I talk, as opposed to writing in good ol' proper english.  I told him I wanted it to come across as relational.  He said that's not even a word.
So I apologize if it seems like I'm being too stilted or not stilted enough.  I am still learning this blog thing and not 100% sure how to find my voice or get my points across in a way that is both me and yet screams I was a Journalism major.  I am in many ways a work in progress, as is my blog.
I don't really know how to make FICO scores and credit reports and applying for loans and everything else that goes along with money and credit all that interesting and so I guess I am just trying to figure that out.
In the past when I have tried writing blog posts I have always found them super boring and tedious.  Usually I end up giving up after a few days because I feel like I have no real content to share.  I mean, who really wants to hear about my kids for the umpteenth time?
Even when I thought about writing a blog about starting my own business as a Jamberry consultant I still found the material to be boring and superficial.  At least when it comes to credit and money I know a thing or two about it.  I actually feel like I am sharing something of value.
So please, bear with me as I figure this out.  My style isn't polished.  I haven't figured out how to write a blog post without sounding like a college kid in a composition class mixed in writing in their journal.  It will take me a while to find my voice.
I hope you will join me over at and the other ladies who have already joined me there.  I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and expertise and hopefully being of value to you and others.
Finances are not easily discussed and I'm hoping to make it an easier conversation to be had.  

The 3 Credit Reporting Agencies

There are 3 different credit reporting agencies:
  • Experian 
  • Equifax 
  • TransUnion

Depending on where you live, depends on where your bank or credit union will (in most likelihood) pull your report from.  Your score may be different for each credit report pulled from these 3 agencies.  If you live on the East coast they will pull your credit report from Experian, if you live in central US or the south then Equifax tends to be king and if you live on the West Coast Trans Union seems to be the reigning favorite.  

The discrepancy in credit scores may not be super significant but really it depends on who your debt collectors are reporting to (by debt collectors I mean, your credit card companies, loan processors and whoever else you may have borrowed from).  Not all credit card companies report to all 3 agencies.  In fact, it is very common for them to only report to 1 or 2 agencies and not a 3rd.  If there is a large discrepancy on your credit report in regards to score this is normally the issue.      

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report, from each agency, per year.   It is important that you either pull all 3 at once or pull 1 every few months to make sure there are no mistakes on it.  You want to make sure all the information on the reports is accurate. To obtain your free credit reports, visit:  

Some credit unions may provide a service called a score enhancement or something similar to that where they break down your credit report so you can see why your score is what it is.  If your credit union offers this service FREE of charge I suggest taking them up on it.  You should always know or be aware of what is happening with your credit report.  I have seen many instances where people didn't know and were unable to qualify for loans or mortgages that they needed due to mistakes or their own lack of knowledge of how a FICO score is calculated.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Almighty FICO Score

The almighty FICO score is truly the key to your financial health.  There are some who believe that you don't need a FICO score at all and others who think you should piggy bank off the financial health of others when it comes to a FICO score but in reality it is (for most people, obviously not everyone) a very important part of your life.
A FICO score is really just a number that is given to show how creditworthy you are.  It is determined by a few different factors, such as how long you've had credit, what kind of credit you have AND probably the most important how you pay back your creditors.  If you are someone who has a few credit lines, low balances and have never been late with a payment then your FICO score will be much higher than someone who has many credit lines, high balances and is always late.  Obviously this is a generalization and there can be other factors that come into play, but this is the easiest way to explain it.
A FICO score ranges from 350 to 850.  It is a magical number that will determine what interest rate you pay on an auto loan, if you can qualify for a mortgage and also may determine if you can get that apartment you've been thinking about moving into.  It is an extremely important number to know if you are interested in any sort of loan or credit card.  In many ways, it can make or break you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Let it Go

Last week was all about budgeting.  Obviously there's a lot more to it so we will delve a little deeper at some point.  However I want to share a few things happening in our lives right now.
Emma at 6 months old
First off, Emma turns 6 on Wednesday!  Where did time go?  Seriously, it has flown by.  I am amazed by what a smart and animated little girl she is.  She is very well mannered when we're in public (at home is a completely different story, but we won't go there) and while she is a bit on the dramatic or theatrical side of things temper wise, she is growing up to be a very extraordinary little girl.  She loves to read and write.  She enjoys karate and dance - whenever I tell her she will eventually have to decide what she loves more she tells me she can't.  And I am grateful that she seems to love school and make friends fairly easily.  This did not come easily for me as a kid so I'm glad it seems easy for her.
Secondly, Kyle and I finish refinancing our mortgage this week.  Yay!  It was a pain to get all the paperwork together and to set up dates for appraisals and such but it's done and now all we have to do is sign the paperwork.  We are happy it's just about done.
Thirdly, Kyle and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this past week and while it was a quiet one for us, we have much to celebrate.  We have 3 beautiful children, a nice home and while not everything in life is ideal, life is good.  We are truly blessed and I'm grateful for the 9 years we've had and look forward to the year ahead.
Lastly, I am closing a chapter in my life that I started 1 year ago.  I am no longer going to be a full time consultant for Jamberry.  Instead I am going to focus my attention 100% to Norwex and this new endeavor and let Jamberry.  It's something I have been thinking about for quite some time, but have yet to pull the plug.  I decided to give it one more month so I could say it had been 1 full year but when it's time to let go of something, you just have to do it.  I am excited to see what the next year holds for me and hope that I continue to grow and learn more about myself through the process.
I hope you all had a blessed weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Budgeting 101: Day 5

Today I am going to challenge you to do something you may not have ever done before.  I am challenging YOU to write down everything you spend for 1 full week.  
So how do you go about this?  Keep a log on your phone.  Most have a notes app.  Keep track and write down the amount, where you spent it and how you spent it (cash, credit, debit).  This may sound super easy.  But it may not be.  Especially if you have automatic payments set up out of your accounts - make sure you include those.
While it may sound like a silly challenge, I have a reason.  
It's kind of amazing how small amounts can add up and how quickly you can spend money without even thinking about it.  Here's a sample log:


By keeping track of 1 weeks worth of expenses you will have a better understanding of where you are spending your funds.  You will see where you can cut back and what habits you may need to think about breaking if you are having a hard time saving money and that's a financial goal you've set.  Tracking expenses will help you to know where your money is going.  
If you have any questions head on over to and I have some resources there that will be able to help you get started.  If your phone doesn't have the notes app just track using paper and pen, but make sure you are definitely keeping track somehow (when I tracked my expenses for this exercise I kept all my receipts and then just double checked the amounts I had written down.  
I hope this helps you and I look forward to hearing how you are doing.  See you Monday where we will talk about methods you can use to help break poor habits.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Budgeting 101: Day 4

Day 4:

Budgeting is nothing if you simply make a budget but aren’t willing to stick to it.  You have to follow through.  Many of direct sales girls know all about implementing and that you can buy all the trainings in the world but if you don’t follow through and implement what you’ve learned in those trainings then there is little to NO point. 
So what are the steps?  
First thing is you MUST make the commitment to follow through.  Because budgeting can be difficult.  Figuring out your goals, priorities and what you want to accomplish financially is KEY to making a budget.  
Next you must figure out what your expenses are and what your income is.  Last night we talked about writing down EVERYTHING you spend your money on.  By everything I mean EVERYTHING.  Write down if you put it on plastic, use a check or cash… You have to do it.  You have to look back at this written record and figure out what you are spending your money on.  This written record will allow you to see where you can cut back, where you need to cut back and gives you a great place to begin.  
Once you have done these things you need to get on the same page as your spouse if you have one.  If you don’t have one you need to get an accountability partner.  Someone who will help you to see your overspending (if you are doing that), someone who can help you set goals and someone who will cheer you on and encourage you!  Find someone that you know won’t judge you and someone who will be “in your corner” and help you to be your best self.  
Next, come up with a written plan.  A budget.  Use a spreadsheet.  Use paper and pen.  Use a written outline.  Use an online calculator.  Use a worksheet, online or printed out.  Find something that works for you.  Write it out.  
Make sure you have your four necessary expenses written down: Shelter, Utilities, Transportation and clothes.  Once those are covered then write down all other expenses for the month.  One of the things that really helped me when I was single was to write down my balances of all my debts and expenses.  When I was working to pay off my debt I would work out in my budget how much I wanted to pay toward each debt each month or each pay period.  As I got older and once I was married my husband and I had things we would pay with our first pay check and things we would pay with our next.  Obviously we have a lot more expenses these days than we did in the past, with 3 kids and a mortgage.  
So once you have a written plan and you’ve figured out what you want and you’re on the same page as your spouse or have that accountability partner to keep you on track - you have one more step.  
That step is to stick to your budget.  To do it.  To work on the plan so that you’re able to meet your goals.  You have to do it!  You have to be willing to put in the work.  If you don’t do it you’ll always be stuck.  Living paycheck to paycheck.  You have to work the plan.  You have to do it!  You can do it!  And that’s the truth - you can!  

I will post a few links over at so you can find resources to help you in this process.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or put them in the comments.  I am always available to help or to help you find the resources you need.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Budgeting 101: Day 3

Day 3: 
Today we are going to take a look at necessary verses arbitrary expenses.  What the heck does that even mean?  Well, we will answer that below but it's really important that we figure these things out before we start our budget.  It will help us to figure out what is truly important and what isn't.  What a need is verses that want you can absolutely live without if you need to.  So let's answer these questions: 

What is a necessity?  
What must be paid?
What is an arbitrary expense?
Why is this important?
How do these expenses get you closer to your goals?

Necessary expenses: 

Shelter - mortgage/rent
Transportation - car/gas/upkeep
Clothes (be reasonable)
Utilities - heat, water, electric

What is arbitrary?

Credit card debt
Like to have’s

The fact is if you are trying to get out of debt, are trying to save for the future or for a specific goal/project then you need to look at your expenses each month.  I suggest you write down everything you spend your money on during a given day.  From the $5 for your coffee to the $25 you spend to fill your gas tank to the $2 you gave to your kids for their school lunch.  Keep track of everything.  Do this every day for a full week.  This will help you to figure out where you are spending your money.  Even if you are using a credit card or a debit card or just grabbing cash - write it down and keep track of it along with what currency you chose to use.  At the end of the week go through - how much did you spend on the necessities?  How much did you spend on things that aren’t, like eating out or coffee or a pack of gum?  How many of these expenses were things that you had planned on spending your money on and how many of them were things you actually needed and had planned on purchasing?  

Now figure out what’s important to you.  Is it important that you allot money towards coffee or that you make sure you have a line item in your budget for eating out?  Is there an area you want to cut back on, such as eating fast food, where the money can be better spent toward your goal of paying off debt or put toward groceries instead?

Keeping track of these expenditures will help you to make a more cohesive budget and will give you a great starting place.  

Dave Ramsey says that you should use an envelope system for items that tend to bust your budget.  Food, restaurants, entertainment, gas and clothing are 5 key areas he thinks the envelope system works great for.  
I have used an envelope system in the past - in college - and I was glad to have tried it.  My husband and I have been talking about using a system like that for a while but have yet to do it. I admit that I am very good at pulling out the debit or credit card when I need something and not getting out cash from the ATM.  Often times I do not have cash on me and I am trying to get better about that.  Tonight at the Farmers Market was a perfect example of when the envelope system probably would have come in handy.  My daughters and I went and there were tons of wonderful vendors.  While checking out the margarita mixes made by a local vendor my daughters saw the delicious looking chocolate chip cookies for $1.  So I pulled out the $5 bill I was saving for tomorrow and bought them a cookie to split.  A few minutes later we were checking out some yummy protein balls made by another local vendor and they took credit so I pulled out my card because I don’t carry cash and 5 minutes later we were checking out a local winery and I bought 2 bottles of wine, also with my credit card… ouch.  I am now a dollar short for tomorrow, and I have spent money that I didn’t intend on spending and if I had been using the envelope system i would have had the cash I needed and wouldn’t have had to grab the credit card.  

 Dave Ramsey put together  this worksheet for people who are looking to learn how to budget or how the envelop system works.  I highly recommend checking it out, as there is a lot of great information there.  

Ok, so this is a lot of information I'm throwing at you.  We will go back and talk about these things in further detail later on but I really want to get the basic steps you have to take before you can truly come up with a workable budget.  I hope that you'll stick with me and head over to and join the discussion there.  I'd be interesting in hearing your feedback on the information I'm providing so far.  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Budgeting 101, Day 2

So yesterday we talked about why it's important to budget and answered some basic questions.  Now, today we will focus on Goals and priorities.  Once again there are a number of questions that need to be answered, with the very obvious questions what the heck is a goal and what is a priority?  How are they different?  Why do they matter when it comes to creating a budget?

Day 2:  Goals Vs. Priorities
We are going to answer these questions and hopefully give you a great foundation so that you can figure out what is truly important to you in regards to your financial future.  
What is a goal?
What is a priority?
Why does this matter?
Why do you need to know the difference?
Why is this important when it comes time to create a budget?

A goal is an observable and measurable end result with one or more objectives that are achieves within a certain timeframe.  

A priority is a goal that takes precedence over all others.

When it comes to a budget it is important to realize that you are going to have financial goals but you are going to have to prioritize those goals and figure out what is truly important to you.  Which means you will have to make sacrifices and if your goal is to start saving for a home improvement project then you need to prioritize savings and figure out a budget that allows you to do that.  

How does one figure out their goals and what to make a priority?  

There are several ways to create goals - you can use the S.M.A.R.T. method.- what the heck is that?  Why should I use this method when creating financial goals?
If you’re in direct sales then you have probably already heard about SMART goals.  
OR you can use the method Charlene Johnson recommends in her FREE 30-day PUSH Challenge.  Either way is fine.  

Specific  - What exactly what is to be done with the money involved?
Measurable - Exact dollar amount?
Attainable  -  Determine how it can be reached, which is often determined by your budget
Relevant - Is it attainable?  Is it realistic?  Are you able to achieve it?
Time bound - what is your deadline?  Be very specific and determine when the goal needs to be reached.

You can find worksheets online along with more information on creating SMART goals - seriously, Google it and tons of information will pop up.  Here is an example of a financial SMART goal:
Build a 3 months emergency savings fund ($10K) over the next year.
Is this attainable?  Is this realistic?  

Chalene Johnson’s PUSH method - 
This is how you create your goals each week:
**Create a list of 10 goals EVERY week.
Same date/time every week
1. Something nearly impossible but possible
-Do not set a goal that you KNOW you will achieve
-Not something that’s a stretch
-Something that makes you slightly uncomfortable
-Outlandish BUT not unreasonable
2. Come up with a KEY PRIORITY and then reread that statement and make sure your   
 goals align with that statement
3. Written as if you already accomplished them
- I am exercising 
- I am earning
4. Measure
-Write them out in such a way they are NOT ambiguous
-My goal is to exercise 5 days a week.  
-I have earned ________ dollars
-I am enjoying a date night with my husband once a week every month
-You need to set an end date for it so you can say I nailed it.
*The more specific you are the more likely you are to accomplish them.
****Don’t forget at least 1 goal is meant to be FINANCIAL!

I HIGHLY recommend that you take Chalene’s course.  It is FREE and you can find it over at her website  I will post a link on the creditsavvydiva group wall.  If you haven’t taken it yet this could really help you to figure out your priorities and where you want to focus your attention, both in life AND FINANCIALLY!

No matter what your financial situation and no matter what your goals are, you must keep them in mind when creating your budget.  Otherwise your money isn’t going to be working for you and you’re still going to be wondering where it went at the end of the month.  Yes the bills are paid but that cash left over… where did it go?  Did it go into savings or did you throw it into a discretionary fund?  Did you just spend it because it was there?  well… probably.  So set some goals  Figure out what your priorities are.  Then write them down, make them attainable and then put them into action so you can achieve them!  Seriously, it isn’t difficult.  

Tomorrow we will discuss necessary verses arbitrary expenses and why when creating a budget it is important to figure out what you must pay and what you are willing to give up in order to achieve your goals.  DO you want to give up anything?  What are you willing to do in order to make sure you are living within your means and not go over budget each week/month?  Is there something you absolutely won’t give up?  We’ll talk about it tomorrow.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Budgetings 101

A lot of people have asked me about budgeting and to provide a basic outline of how to get started.  Through Periscope (you can find me at Periscope.TV/Stacycreditsavvydiva)  I spent a week educating people on the do's and don'ts of budgeting.  In some ways this is material that takes a lot more than a week to really delve into but I decided to post this information on my blog for those of you who have no idea where to even begin.

So Day 1, let's get started. 

These are the basic questions you have to answer when it comes to budgeting.:
Who needs one?  
Why have a budget?
What's the point?
What needs to be on there?
What doesn't need to be on there?
Why is it important to have a budget?
Do you really have to have a budget?

There are a lot of reasons to have a budget.  You want to pay off debt, save more money, put money aside for a trip or a present for someone, need to pay for a project or just in general need to figure out where your cash is going every month.  The reasons for starting a budget are varied but it is an important step to financial freedom.  The fact is not many people have a budget or know how to stick to one. 

Dave Ramsey believes that having a budget puts you more in control of your finances, and I have to agree with him.  He says that you have to tell your money where to go instead of allowing money to have all the power.  And it’s true.  You must have a plan, a written plan, that you follow that puts your money where you want it to go or where it must go so that later in the future you are not wondering what happened to it.  

You have to have a system.  You have to have a way of keeping track of your finances, daily, weekly, monthly.  You need to have a way of keeping track of all that.  
My husband and I are really good at the whole paper part of a budget, but honestly, when it actually comes to adhering to the budget… well, that’s another story.  The truth is, a budget (a written plan) is nothing more than that unless you are going to implement that plan and moving forward make sure you do this on a regular basis.  If you get paid weekly, biweekly, bimonthly or monthly YOU must have a plan and you must stick with it.  

A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it - Robert Fulghum

So here’s the deal, this week we are going to talk about budgeting, about goals, about priorities, about expenses and making the commitment and the steps to creating a successful budget, but I want to be honest with you right here - if you have no intention of actually following through on a budget then really you are only hurting yourself in the long term. 

One of the things I really want to talk about starting next week is debt management and how to get your spending under control.  I almost feel as though that is a better starting place than budgeting 101, but I wanted to give you what was asked  for you so you’d know I’m listening and I do hear you.  So tomorrow we are going to talk about goals verses priorities and why this is important when creating a budget.  

Remember: if you aren’t willing to implement and follow through on it, a written plan or budget will only get you so far.  It will help you to be more aware but it won’t actually do anything for you.  

Budgeting worksheet and resource links:

These links are all to different styles of budgeting worksheets.  My husband and I use a spreadsheet that we’ve set up with all our expenses.  I personally really like Dave Ramsey’s worksheet but I also like budgets that are simple and easy to read so if I were single and didn’t have a huge amount of expenses I would use the simply because it is an easy to use format.  If you have any questions please let me know in the comments OR head over to my Facebook group Credit Savvy Diva and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Want Freedom? Make a budget.

Budgeting may come very easy to some people but not come so easy to others.  I personally was never someone who was very good at it.  I like to spend money, not save it.  Honestly though, I have found over the years that it is important to make money work of you and the only way to do that is to have a budget.  
A budget may seem restricting or feel like you're limiting yourself.  But don't see it that way.  Try to think of it as a way to give yourself freedom.  Freedom from being overdrawn, fees, being broke or just not having options.  
Oppression when it comes to money comes in many forms.  From not having security to being able to pay for things you need to having to rely on others to not having any flexibility. 
A budget is freeing.  It gives you security in knowing where your money is going and that you have enough to pay for what you need.  It's not having to rely on others for your sense of worth and well being and it's having the flexibility to do what you need to do when you need to do it.  
If you need help starting try going very basic.  Start with what you bring in and what you have to pay out.  Then go from there.  Try  keeping a log of what you spend and how you spend it.  Do it for 1 day and then carry on for 1 week.  You will start to see patterns.  Create some goals, both financial and personal.  This will help you to see where you need and want to focus.  
Budgeting will help you to find the freedom to do the things you want and need to do.  I can't promise that just because you budget everything will fall into place but financially, once things start falling into place, you will begin to see your life going a bit smoother.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Budgeting - it's not that hard but it's not that easy

There are a few things you need to remember when it comes to keeping a budget.  

First off, it's not easy.  You can find a ton of resources to help you.  Go online and type budgeting into Google and you will find worksheets, advice and lots and lots of information about where to start.  It may seem almost overwhelming but remember, if you don't start somewhere you'll never get anywhere.  

Secondly, It's not a quick fix.  If you think that a budget will magically solve your debt issues or make saving money a breeze then you're mistaken.  Budgeting will help you to reach your financial goals more quickly and effectively than if you don't have a budget but it's not going to do it overnight.  It will show you where you are spending the majority of your money and where you need to work but it won't magically add money to your bottom line each month.  Only by adhering to and doing your best to stay focused on your goals each month will you start to see your finances make a shift.  

And third, If you don't actually follow the budget than you probably won't get very far.  It's ok to get frustrated.  Everyone does.  Sometimes it feels like you'll be paying down debt forever or only putting a few dollars into savings every pay period.  But remember that it's not a race.  Everyone moves at their own pace and if you have a goal you will eventually get there.  

So keep working at it and stay focused so that you can eventually be where you want to be.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

3 things you MUST do today when it comes to your money

#1 - Create a budget.  
You need to know where your money is going each and every month.  If you don't have a budget you will start to feel like your money is just disappearing and you have no control over it.  I went through a period a few years ago where I didn't have a budget and I was always broke by payday.  Once I started keeping a regular budget I was able to start saving and always knew where my money had gone or where it was going.  I was never late on a credit card payment, a car payment or rent.  I knew how to make my money work for me and it felt really good.  

#2 - Make sure you are putting money away into an emergency fund or a "rainy day" fund.
Emergencies to happen and you don't want to have to rely on a credit card or feel stressed every single time one happens.  They are inevitable and they will happen and usually when you are the most broke (or so it seems).  So do yourself a favor and start putting money aside from your paycheck just for emergencies.  If you're single or make less than $20K a year then start with $500 in a savings account.  If you are married and make more than $20K then start with $1000.  Once you have paid off your debt then you should work on having anywhere from 3-6 months worth of expenses set aside for future emergencies.  This sounds crazy but with the world as volatile as it is 3-6 months of expenses can go pretty quickly so make sure you are ready in case you lose your job unexpectedly or something comes up and you need to deal with it.  And remember that an emergency fund is strictly for emergencies.  Try not to dip into it for things that are needs or things that you forgot to budget for.  

#3 - Invest in yourself and make sure you have a 401K or IRA set up. 
I realize that not everyone works (haha, like me!) but it is important to set aside money for your future.  If this is something that you don't know how to do then talk to someone who does.  You can find financial planners at your local banks and credit unions or ask family members if they know anyone who can assist them.  If you need someone, you can always head over to Dave Ramsey's website and see if you can find someone through him.  Remember that you want to find someone you can trust and some one who is looking out for your best interest and not their own.  If they want to put you into something that sounds risky or if you don't know what they're talking about make sure you do your own research so that you can be on your game.  It's your future and your retirement and you're financial future! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


My husband and I sat down and talked about our finances yesterday.  Budgets meetings are always so much fun - note the sarcasm.
Does anyone else ever feel super guilty about spending money?  
I have this problem where I feel guilty spending money, even if I know that they are things that are needed.  I never used to feel this way, but since becoming a stay at home mom, I feel like I have to be very careful with what I spend and how I spend it.  I don't want my husband to think that I'm just buying things to buy them and at the same time I want to feel as though I'm contributing to the family finances, even if I'm not.  
When I was working I never felt guilty about putting something on my credit card because I knew I could pay it off.  When I was working I used to put money in my savings account regularly and I knew that I would have it for a rainy day.  When I was working I didn't feel too guilty for buying an expensive handbag or a few pairs of jeans or a new pair of shoes just because I wanted them.  
Now that I'm not working, I feel like I have to justify everything I buy.  
I am a consultant for 2 companies, Jamberry and Norwex.  I love both products.  In the beginning I felt like I had to spend money in order to be successful but I've found over the past few months that I need to be better focused on only spending my commission on trainings, products and marketing material.  I have a separate account that I only use for those companies and I try to not use any personal funds for anything related to them.  
As far as the kids are concerned I feel bad if I don't take them places or do things with them during the summer.  So I have done a few things to help make things easier in that department.  We bought a zoo pass so we can go to the local zoo as much as we want.  It's not that big but the girls like it and it's a nice way to kill the morning or afternoon.  We also get discounts at other zoos in the area so that's helpful.  There's a local indoor playground and my 2 youngest girls and I will go there sometimes just to do something different.  We have a pass which gave us a discount and gets us so many visits before we have to buy a new one.  
Finding ways to keep spending in check can be tricky but you shouldn't feel guilty for spending money even if you aren't contributing to the family finances.  It can be difficult to keep that guilt at bay, but remember that as a homemaker you are still contributing.  You are keeping costs down in the daycare area.  You are a full time housekeeper, cook, chauffeur and while you may not see yourself as contributing or saving money for the family, you are definitely doing that.  
It may be difficult at first, but talk it over with your spouse because they need to know how you're feeling as well. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Be an Encourager

Encouragement is something that is often lacking these days.  It is very easy to get caught up in our own drama and forget to see that there are people all around us who are hurting, struggling, need our time and our patience.  So I wanted to write a quick post on ways that we can encourage others.  While this may not seem finance related, I think it's important to remember that being an encouragement to others can definitely help us and others to be more accountable and build trust.

Tip #1: Take time to listen - listening to others struggles and being genuinely interested in what they have to say can be a huge encouragement and blessing to others.  Actively listening says that you care and shows that you are making the time to be there for that person.  It builds trust, allows them the ability to be honest and truthful and gives you the chance to be there for them in a way that you may not have been in the past.  It makes you vulnerable and it allows them to be vulnerable.  So stop talking, start listening.

Tip #2: Be a blessing - It may sound cliche but doing acts of kindness for others without expecting something in return can be an encouragement to others by simply making their days go a little smoother or a little better.  Everyone loves it when someone pays for their coffee or they get a handwritten note in the mail telling them how much you love them or are thinking about them.  But there are so many other things that we can do.  Smile, be friendly, be kind.  Those are truly ways to bless someone who may be having a bad day.  Try not to take it personally if they don't respond in kind.  Try to remember that everyone has days that just don't go right and maybe this is one of those days for them.

Tip #3: Be present -  By being in the moment and not on your phone you are being engaged and that allows you to be more open to the opportunities around you.  It shows you aren't too busy for others or their situations.  It shows you are an active participant and makes the other persons involved feel important or more apart of the moment themselves.  This is something I try to practice with my kids.  I want them to know I love them and want to be part of their lives so often I don't pick up the phone to take pictures or take phone calls if we're in the middle of projects because I want them to see that I was there and I was actively participating and having fun with them.

While being an encouragement to others can be difficult at times, especially when we have our own dramas to deal with, remember that life is that way for everyone.

Friday, August 5, 2016

3 Tips for Keeping Your Spending in Check

#1 - Write down your expenses
Keep a written record of what you spend and how you spend it.  Are you a cash and carry or a credit card swiper kind of person?  Keeping a written record will allow you to know where your money is going and will show you if you are a cash or credit kind of spender.  I personally am terrible about carrying cash with me but have learned what I need cash for.
Keeping a record of what you spend and how you spend it will allow you to keep track of wants verses needs.  It will show you where your priorities lie.  Not only that but it will show you where you can cut back and what you need to work on in regards to your budget.  If you are someone who has a budget but never actually follows it, tracking your expenses will help you to be more in tune with it.
#2 - Make a budget
If you aren't someone who's great with numbers or tracking your expenses, then I highly recommend that you start a budget.  If you've never had a budget before then I recommend that you start small and keep it as simple and basic as possible.  Just the basics and then add things to it as you get better at it.  If you have a lot of debt make sure you include that debt in your initial budget.  If you are overwhelmed by the debt then make sure you have your basics covered and then go from there (I will go more in detail about budgeting in the future).
#3 - Always pay cash or use a phone application for expenses that tend to be hard to keep in check
Have a coffee addiction?  Download the Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks app.  Preload it with a certain amount and then once the funds are gone, they're gone until it's time to reload again.
Have a shopping addiction?  Keep track of coupons, discounts and sales by using apps like Retail Me Not or Target's Cartwheel.
Are you eating out a lot?  Try setting aside a specific amount each month and then take it out in cash. Once that cash is gone you're done eating out.
Love buying clothes?  You can take out a few dollars every pay period and set it aside.  Then when you find a cute top or a pair of jeans or the kids need a new pair of shoes you can just grab it out and then replace it the following pay period.
It can be hard at first to do these things, but I highly recommend that you try.  Take it one step at a time and it'll get easier and easier until it becomes habit.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Are you a spender?

I certainly was.  Before I had kids I didn't worry too much about where the money was going because I worked full time and my husband had a great job.  And even once we had kids we didn't have to worry too much about money.
About 3 years ago my husband and I bought a home in a great community and refinanced our new mortgage into a 15 year fixed.  Around the same time my husband took a new job and while his base compensation was higher, he lost out on stock options and bonuses that we were used to using for vacations, savings, paying down debt, and for larger purchases for home and entertainment.
This past year my husband took another job and his base compensation was cut but he gets bonuses and stock options again.  While this is great because it means we will have funds for large projects and things we haven't had the funds for, it also means that we have to do a better job of living in our means month to month.  While we don't have to cut things out of our budget, we definitely need to be better about adhering to it.
My husband and I have gone through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and I highly recommend that if you have any struggles when it comes to money or questions in regards to how to make your money work for you that you go to his website and go through his course.  Financial Peace is often held at local churches and run by a past student.  Please check it out if you want to learn more about how to make your money work for you - you won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

3 Ways to Start Saving

There are so many ways to save money.  It may seem like you aren't getting anywhere at first but a few small changes can add up quickly.
Tip #1 - Get some insurance quotes and make the switch:
Insurance companies are constantly changing their rates and sometimes you can get a better rate by shopping around and doing your homework.
My husband and I had Liberty Mutual for a long time.  We got discounts for having great credit, being members of the credit union I worked for and a few other things but our rates over time slowly went up.  We called and tried to get them to lower our rates but they really couldn't do much better, so we started shopping around.  My husband eventually found us a much lower rate through another company and we made the switch.  Saved us a few hundred dollars every few months and we have been very happy with our decision since.
Tip #2 - Quit your cable bundle:
If you aren't someone who needs a landline or who watches a lot of TV then breaking up with your cable provider may be in the cards.  For some it is cheaper to bundle everything together but for others it may be easier to just pay for a service like Netflix or Hulu and give up with cable completely.  It may cost you a little up front to purchase a device to access Netflix or Hulu but the long term benefits may be great for your bank accounts.
Tip #3 - Quit your coffee habit
Seriously, are you a Dunkin or a Starbucks person?  I was a Starbucks person.  And that Starbucks habit was killing my wallet.  When I graduated from college I wasn't making much but I was addicted to my coffee habit and unfortunately my bank account hated me.  My habit was terrible and I spent more money there than I ever want to admit but let's just say I was on a first name basis with my barista (his name was Stephen, he was my favorite and he knew what I wanted before I did most days).  When I quit my Starbucks habit I was able to get some money into my savings account and it was a huge wake up call.  So see where you can cut back.  It may be a coffee habit, a shopping habit, a party habit... but look at your habits and see if there's somewhere you can cut back.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Where's this going?

It's been a long time since I've bothered writing a blog entry or even had any sort of direction or idea of how I was going to use this blog.  I've tried to do this before and never felt like I was any good at it.  I'm not 100% sure how this time will be any different but I'm going to give it a go.
In my former life, before I became a full time homemaker (I really hate that word, probably need to come up with something better if I can) I was involved in the financial services industry.  I started out as a teller, fairly naive but good at my job.  Then worked my way up to a call center rep.  I moved from one credit union to another and eventually became a loan officer and helped people with crappy credit raise their FICO scores and those with great credit get the information they needed so their credit could remain there.
My last position was pretty amazing.  I had the opportunity to help so many people who truly needed it and I relished it.  When I was no longer able to do that effectively, I quit.  And I love what I do now but there were so many things that I learned during my time in the banking industry (and don't kid yourself credit unions are banks, even if they don't want you to think that) and I want to share that knowledge with others.
So that's what I plan on using this blog for.  To give tips, tricks and information to people who need it.  Hopefully people will find it useful.  I plan on using Periscope and my Facebook group to help create a community where people feel they can ask their questions and hopefully get useful information and share information with others.
If you are interested in joining me on Periscope and Facebook at Credit Savvy Diva.  Please join me there.