Living Habitually Brings Discontentment, Living Intentionally Brings Growth.

Uncategorized

“Wherever you are, be all there. Enjoy and find the good in every phase, in every season, while being mindful to always strive to grow. By extinguishing doubt and trusting in God, you clear a space for the power of intention.”

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

“If you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty”  – Proverbs 21:5

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

How to Survive the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank

Debt, Family, Lifestyle, Money Tips

The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the weather, the general joyous vibe, the season of giving, it all makes me happy on the inside. This is a serious time of year however, in the fact that if you don’t prepare for it, it can break you. And of course I am referring to the financial aspect of the season, but it can apply to much more including mentally preparing for the busy time ahead.

So you can probably guess what I believe the key to having an enjoyable and stress-free holiday season is…..which is being prepared by SAVING. I’ve heard it before, “Madison I can’t save for other things throughout the year, what makes you think I can save for Christmas?!”. Time to learn friend. Being prepared for these few months is the absolute key, and I’ll tell you why.

When I tell you that this is my favorite time of year, I’m not kidding. I LOVE gifting. And this is the one time of year that buying things for virtually everyone you know isn’t viewed as borderline creepy. (Can you tell that gifting is one of my love languages?) And before I started learning self control and budgeting, I have been known to blow several thousand dollars during Christmas time. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Though I slightly hope that my husband doesn’t read that part. Several thousand dollars sounds like a ridiculous amount of money, but the holiday money traps adds up SO fast. When I try to help others rein in their holiday spending, there are so many aspects that are forgotten and therefore don’t get worked into the budget. So, like when setting up any budget, start by sitting down and writing out things you KNOW you spend money on. This includes your kid’s presents, the white elephant gift for the family party, work gifts….you get the idea. Write down what you know will cost you every Christmas.

Below are some costs that get forgotten most often:

  • Christmas or Holiday Photos
  • Christmas Cards
  • Extra Money for Food
  • Giving

Though these things get forgotten, they are not cheap, photos and Christmas cards add up FAST. Honestly, these are usually the first two things that I bring up to forego when clients are still in the debt slashing phase. If you are drowning in debt and need to get your financial life together, the holiday season shouldn’t be a big one for you this year. The first year that my husband and I started cleaning up our finances, we bought very few gifts, we bought none for each other, and made it known to our family that we couldn’t participate in the gift exchanges that year. I know it’s not quite as fun, and it hurts our pride a little. But we only had to do that for one year and now that we have gotten rid of debt, I can tell you that passing on that one year was totally worth it. Christmas photos and cards cost on average, $250-$300, and that can help a lot if you are paying off debt. Of course, you can always cut down on how much you spend for each person as well, which leads me to my next tip:

Set a limit for gifts and STICK TO IT. This limit should be reasonable and non negotiable. The best way to do this is write out a list for everyone you buy for (this was a HUGE eye opener for me as I realized I typically bought something for nearly fifty people!) and then set a general price limit for each person. This includes your husband, kids, nieces and nephews, great aunt Bertha and the like. Once you have a general gift limit, then add in the extras like Christmas cards, and I always recommend adding about $200 to your grocery budget for each month of the holidays. Then once you have that number, I always have a line item in every budget plan that is labeled “extra”. This is because even though you try to plan so well, you still end up forgetting that your brother has a new girlfriend that is coming to the party that you want to get a gift for, or your aunt decides we are going to do crafts at the party this year that ends up requiring a $100 to Hobby Lobby. Things always pop up, and that is why you plan for “extra”. This amount can vary of course, but I have $200 in our “extra” fund.

Now don’t sit down to do this budget in November. You know in January that Christmas is every December, so make the list at the beginning of the year and then you actually have time to put back the money you need for the holidays. This is doable friends I promise! We had nearly $2,000 saved by the time November rolled around this year, I got all my shopping done and it was so much more enjoyable. My biggest tip for enjoying the holiday season is to GIVE. Our culture of Santa and elves watching our kids to make sure they are “good” enough for presents instills in us an attitude of selfish wanting rather than a heart for giving. This is the season of giving, and I promise giving to those that need it will fill your heart way more than getting anything that is on your list. If you are out of debt and have the ability to, I challenge you to make your “giving to those in need” fund larger than your Christmas fund. Get involved with your local community because I promise you there is a need. And if you don’t know where to start, local churches, DFCS office, nursing homes, and shelters are a perfect place to start.

I saw a photo on facebook that said ” No holiday should manipulate you to the point where you’re going into debt just to show someone you love them.” It’s ludicrous. I know the Black Friday sales (which p.s aren’t really great sales anymore) and $3.50 3-wick candles at Bath and Body Works are so tempting, but remind yourself that it is the season of giving, not getting or spending, and giving love or your time is worth more than whatever you want to buy. If you are in a good space financially, plan and spend your money responsibly, I promise it is just as fun if not more fun because you can actually buy without worrying of going broke.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!

Re-Aligning: When We Look for Everything in All the Wrong Places

Building Wealth, Career, Debt, Family, Lifestyle, Money Tips

Listen. Nobody is perfect. We all know that. People mess up and get misguided and look for love, and respect, and attention and advice in the wrong places. It happens. I’ve got to tell you if I haven’t already, that what started the journey that I am now on with this blog, my financial coaching, and my personal growth came straight from God. No ifs about it. It was his plan. He led me to this line of work that is fulfilling and wonderful. Now. He showed me the path, and like with literally everything, I took it and ran. I get excited you see. God and I both know it’s a fault of mine because I don’t know how many times I have had a conversation with God that goes something like, “God, you showed me what to do. But I’m so sorry that I looked for your guidance just long enough that I feel like I had it under control and then stopped looking for your help and started messing up again.” Every. single. time. I have a patience problem, and a problem where I feel the necessity to try and handle everything myself but I definitely am trying to work on it. Me and God, we’re talking. And just like every other time that I crawl back apologizing for thinking I can do life without Him, He unconditionally wraps me up and forgives my crazy self. I’ll never understand it.

I’m telling you all this because this blog is about living life intentionally. I mostly speak on intentional financial management, but I don’t stop there. This topic and series of events has touched my heart, and taught me a big lesson about living intentionally and that is why I feel that I should share it because maybe it’ll will help someone else too. So back to the story. God showed me this career path, and then I took off. I drowned myself in books and articles and interviews and motivational videos. I emailed people and got a platform going and started to follow the advice of literally everyone but God. Not all the advice I got was bad mind you, but I cracked open the world of self improvement and I got to tell you, it went a little wild. If you’ve ever jumped into this world yourself, there are some huge names out there that have made tons of money off of motivating and empowering people like us. And boy did I buy into it. I bought the books and listened to the podcasts and used the hashtags. I listened to these people because they had the credibility that they started from the bottom and are now successful and sometimes they talked about God. Seemed legit.

To be completely honest, even though I was starting down this path of helping others and entrepreneurship, I was still struggling (and still am) about how I am supposed to do life. I want to have an identity that is separate from being a mom. I love my job. But I LOVE being a mom, and I want to be present for my kids and raise them to be Christ like adults that make the world a better place. But I can’t do that and be gone working 24/7. So what did I do? I asked everyone but God. Literally everyone. Sometimes I get so upset with myself for the dumb choices I make. I just want to scream, “The answer has always been right there in front of you Madison!” but I digress.

Then, a friend of mine shared a graphic that one of these famous people that sometimes talks about God shared, and it “quoted” a Bible verse. Except, though it listed the where you could find the verse in the Bible, the actual verse quoted had absolutely nothing to do with the real verse. The verse she listed was a made up one that supported her agenda to sell more of her content. And if my sweet friend hadn’t had posted this, I never would have noticed and I became completely disappointed. Not in the famous person (though I was), but mostly in myself. How in the world did I build a relationship with God and as soon as he started blessing me I dropped Him like a hot potato and intentionally started spending my time seeking answers from other sinners? What was I thinking? So I started looking a little closer at these “inspirations” that I had been drawing from over the last few months and realized it seems many of them mention God here in there just as a part of their marketing to attract Christian consumers, and the rest of it is about what they themselves has accomplished.

After this realization followed by lots of studying in the only book that matters (Bible), I found that my plan for life, my hopes and goals are all useless without God. I don’t mean that I couldn’t do any of it, because I could probably lose 10 pounds without asking God, but why would I? I worried and stressed and cried over how to be a mom and a career woman at the same time for months when it only took five minutes for God to show me that if I had Him, if I truly worked everyday to keep God at the center of everything, that I would be so fulfilled in the seasons he guides me through that “work-life balance” wouldn’t even be a thought. Plus if these inspirational people were really led by God, then they would share that the only reason they have succeeded or won at anything is because God worked in them. Not because they themselves are amazing or credible or worked extremely hard. They succeeded because God let them, helped them, and led them. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’ve heard that verse all my life and it took me being so dumb to actually listen to it.

The point is that there are millions of humans out there with advice. Tons. And the super popular ones are giving advice not to really help you but to make money. Or some give advice that is actually meant to tear you down so that they feel better about themselves. We’re all sinners. None of us have it figured out. I’ve decided that if you’ve got advice for me, like actual life advice, not “use your wrist to check the temperature of the baby bottle”, and your advice isn’t backed up with, “Girl, read your Bible”, it will be received with the tiniest grain of salt. This isn’t meant to be a slam or a “I don’t care what you have to say”, it is truly a life lesson that I am so tired of intentionally choosing other paths besides God’s only to realize I should’ve stayed with the One who created all in the first place and I don’t want to make that mistake again. It was months of stressing and crying and exhaustion of trying to figure out how to best help others and run a business and be a mom because I was taking advice from people and not God.

So I’m most definitely still coaching, and still writing blog posts (obvs). But the tone is changing a bit. It’s no longer about prioritizing life according to how you want it to happen. It’s no longer about managing your money to best align with those priorities. Instead, it will be about intentionally putting God first. Making sure He is the one guiding us by making Him our one and only priority. I found that not only is this WAY easier, but it is so much less stressful because if God is our one and only, He shows us the way. He gives us the goals. And once we have our priority set and our goals established by Him, I’ve never not had Him provide financially as well. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t budget your money or be a responsible human, but if we’ve got God first, in the words of my adopted mom, “It’ll all buff out”.

Retirement: Why You Need To Start NOW.

Building Wealth, Debt, Family, Lifestyle, Money Tips

Retirement isn’t something that is super fun or captivating to talk about, I know. But I must talk about it because what you have saved for retirement is literally all you’ve got to support you when you wish (or must) stop working. Now, I’m going to throw some words and numbers in that may have been confusing in the past but understand that none of this is really confusing. It has been made to seem confusing so that people feel they can’t do it alone, and I will mention several times how you absolutely should consult a competent financial advisor/planner on things you don’t feel 100% confident in, but that is so you can learn.

Now let’s start with some chilling facts. 60% of Americans have less than $25,000 saved for retirement. 45% of working aged homes have no savings at all! That is barely enough to keep you floating for one year, much less the 20-30 years that is now the average time that people spend in retirement now. Now understand this fact: Less than 1 in 10 people think they will have the opportunity to retire before the age of 60, but 36% of those people HAD to stop working due to physical or other debilitating reasons that left them in an extremely tight spot. The lesson behind that last statistic is to show you that life is extremely short and unpredictable. You don’t know for sure whether you will be able to work until 65 or even 70, so you need to be intentional and prepare for retirement as soon as possible. Plus, I’ve never seen anyone living off of a government disability check or Social (In)Security that is living comfortably without worry of covering expenses. PLEASE don’t think you can retire and count on the government. You can’t even count on the government to add correctly or do right by its citizens.

Let me break it down and give you some specific reasons as to why you should start saving now for retirement:

  1. You don’t want to depend on anyone to care for you financially. Not only do you not want to depend on the government to keep you up, you shouldn’t want to rely on family to do it either. Whether you have family that would be willing to financially care for you or not, it is an extra burden that you don’t want to put on them. Be responsible now so that you can take care of yourself later.
  2. Reduce stress by knowing that you are financially secure. For the same reason that you should get out of debt and save an emergency fund, knowing that you don’t have to worry about losing what you have and buy what you need is such a stress reliever. Not to mention the closer you get to retirement the higher chance you will start having medical issues, so you really don’t need any additional stress.
  3. You will be creating a legacy for your family. Saving responsibility for retirement not only teaches your children correct money management, but having a large nest egg that is protected to keep you comfortable in retirement will also allow you to leave something behind for your heirs to inherit that actually helps their future.
  4. You need to view retirement savings as an extraordinary gift. You know how I feel about perception. If you view retirement savings as a hinderance to your life now, chances are you won’t properly save or give it proper attention. Retirement savings is amazing, just like having an emergency savings. It is reassuring to know that your future is financially protected, no matter what else comes your way.

So let’s just say that all these things has you sold that you need to start saving for retirement, or maybe contributing more than you currently are. The next question I typically receive is what is the best way to save? Let’s start by saying that if you have debt, you need to get rid of that first, before you save anything for retirement. I’ve talked a lot about priorities and their importance, so you need to prepare for what can cripple you now before you prepare for retirement. So ditch the debt and get that emergency savings fully funded with 3-6 months worth of basic expenses. Only then, when you are prepared for the now should you start investing in your future.

Speaking of investing, that I how I recommend you save for retirement. You want your money to work for you, meaning that you want it earning enough interest that it compounds at a decent rate (10-12% avg). Savings accounts don’t begin to earn enough and do not even get me started on cash. Too late, I’m already there. If you are one of the old time thinkers that has a coffee can with your life savings in it because you are too scared to responsibility invest due to risk, know that with investing there is a chance that you lose some money. If you save your funds in cash you are guaranteed to lose money. How? Inflation. When you invest properly you earn enough to outrun the inflation rate, but if you just keep cash that earns no money then your dollars will be worth way less over time than it does right now. Just as an example, you could buy an average home in full for $25k in the 60’s. The average home costs over $250k now. Inflation, friends.

Now when wondering how to get started investing I definitely recommend that this is the point where you find and build a relationship with a fantastic financial advisor. They (if you found a good one) will teach you instead of make you feel unintelligent and will guide you in the right direction and ensure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket to reduce risk. If you have a retirement plan like a 401k offered at work, a financial advisor can assess the types of plans your employer offers and guide you on how your money will best be allocated as well as setting up your own accounts if work plans are not offered. You should also redefine retirement in your mind as a number, not an age. If you had the opportunity to save the amount you need to retire by the time you are 52, then wahoo for you! Don’t let the age make you think you have all the time in the world to save up a nest egg.

I know this is more of a nerdy subject, but it is absolutely a topic that you should never let intimidate you since the choices you make now literally decides the type of life you will be able to live in the future. Don’t squander the opportunity that you have to begin early, and if you are older know that it is never too late to get started in investing in your future!

How To Save and Pay Cash for Vacations

Family, Lifestyle, Money Tips

You don’t have to read many of my posts or have known me for a long time to know that I love to travel. When it comes to spending, travel is most definitely where our fun money goes. Now that we are debt free and have emergency savings, we wasted no time in planning trips. Within the next year we’ve got five planned, one to the beach that we actually just came back from, one to Disney (because of course), one to the Midwest for a friend’s wedding, then Hawaii, and then a big trip to Italy. It’s a lot I know, but like I said I wasted no time planning once we starting having the money for these trips. If you are like me and have a knack for travel, it’s imperative that you plan.

Planning trips once you have learned responsible financial management allows you to fully enjoy the vacation since you aren’t running on credit cards (money you don’t have) or worrying about how much money you do have, but making sure that you have planned correctly is key. Obviously, because I won’t ever feel comfortable going to a new place without knowing I will be able to cover an expense, I always pad the vacation budget, but not enough to go crazy just enough to make sure every expense is accounted for. For smaller trips like the beach and the wedding, everything is pretty easy to plan and estimate. We actually ended up coming back from our beach trip with $200 that we didn’t use (Wahoo!) that we can put towards the next trip.

However, with the bigger trip like Italy, we use the talents of a fantastic travel agent. When you have several places you want to go to that involves International travel as well as several different accommodations and sight seeing, accurately estimating costs becomes quite a bit harder. Just like with anything, I recommend that if you don’t know how to do something, find someone that knows better than you! Not only will you not have to stress over planning as well as saving, but you will be able to learn from a good travel agent as well. If you need a travel agent, I can’t recommend Lisa Lacy with Joyful Journeys enough. She been planning our trips since we lived overseas growing up in Dubai and South Africa, and she knows her stuff especially when it comes to Europe. (She’s got a Facebook page, and you should definitely check her out).

Once you have estimated costs for the trips you’re planning, the obvious next step is to start saving! We organized our trips in order of when we were going, then once all of our other expenses were covered we throw every extra dollar we have towards those funds in that order. You’d be amazed how fast these funds can fill up when you get serious. My husband and I both started looking for ways that we could make extra money on the side when we were paying off our debt, and now that we are debt free we didn’t really slow down because of how much it helped out! Plus, both of the side businesses that my husband and I opened we really ended up loving, which is another huge reason why we keep the ball rolling. It is hard for some people to keep the mentality once you become debt free, because then all the funds you have aren’t have-to’s, but want-to’s. And wants can also be new clothes or movie nights or Target runs and before you know it all the extra money that you gained by eliminating your debts flies out the door just as fast as when you had debt. And of course how you spend your extra money is completely your choice, but travel is just the goal that my family has always put first, so we don’t want to ruin that by blowing money on other unnecessary things.

As much as I love traveling because I think it is fun, it is also extremely important to me that my baby boy is exposed to as many cultures and world beauty as possible. As I mentioned, I grew up traveling for most of my life and there is nothing that I learned sitting in a classroom that I didn’t learn by seeing it firsthand somewhere on the other side of the world (Except for the Pythagorean theorem, and honestly, never really cared for it much anyway). You learn so much about history, human behavior, culture, literature, geography, language, and science by traveling that I will never not recommend it as a goal that everyone should have for themselves. I know its not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t help but share how it changed my life. And if you’ve learned to properly plan a trip (logistically and financially), I promise you will never regret the stress free and amazing experience that you will have.

Where is your next trip planned and how are you preparing for it? Let me know in the comments below!

How To and Why You Need To Prioritize Your Life

Family, Lifestyle, Money Tips

If you haven’t read my other post titled, To The Women: You CAN Do All The Things, this would be considered the sequel post because prioritization is the ‘how to’ answer when trying to do all the things. Take it from me, practicing prioritizing my life has been where I have grown most because it is something that, when attempting to become more self aware, I found that I completely sucked at. If you live your life running around like crazy, with no time to do anything but at the same time feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, you need to take a good hard look at your priorities. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I don’t think prioritizing is something that you decide and then just don’t think about again, it is an ongoing, very intentional process. You can set your priorities and then someone call and ask you to do something that you truly don’t have time for if you’ve prioritized properly, but because you struggle saying no, you do it anyway and then feel like you’ve let yourself down. (Story of my life.)

That’s why I’m writing this post. Priorities is key. Mine? Recently I have tried being extremely intentional to ensure that I make time for:

  1. My Health – Self care is so important when you are trying to do all the things because if you aren’t healthy physically and mentally you won’t be able to keep up. I decided to make a change and get up at 5 every morning and I go to the gym before my hubs and baby wake up.
  2. My Spiritual Relationship- the first thing on my resolutions list that I made in December last year was, read my Bible and pray everyday, strengthen my relationship with God. I make time either before I go to the gym in the morning or before I go to bed at night and I read and work on a bible study. I can’t tell you the impact making this time has done for me. I’ve learned so much and I’m in a much better place now.
  3. My Marriage- My husband and I are really good communicators. Really, we do a fantastic job talking things out but over the last year with us trying to work as much as possible to become debt free (We did it, yay!) we have both opened our own businesses, as well as working full time jobs and are SO busy. We pretty much see each other when we say bye in the mornings and then to say goodnight and that’s it. So we intentionally get off of work early one day per week now and have a date night. It is time carved out, on purpose, to focus on each other. Not to mention it’s baby free, so we actually do get to focus on each other.
  4. Mom Life- Don’t we all want to be the best mom in the world? Because of our crazy work schedules and just life in general I feel like I’m lacking here sometimes because even though I want to spend all my time with him, I would get no work done if I did. So I’ve got a schedule worked out with sitters so that I have a few hours each day to get things done and then after, I get to focus on just spending time with him instead of trying to juggle everything at the same time.

These are my top four. This means that if people call wanting things or needing things, whatever I am planning, these four priorities get done before I say yes to anything else. Period. If you aren’t intentional about it, the things that you want to be most important in your life will slip through the cracks before you know it. It is natural that whatever you devote your time and thoughts to is what becomes your priority, so be careful about how you divide your time. I truly do believe that it’s possible to do everything that you want and need to do, as long as you have good time management and proper prioritization!

When intentionally creating your priorities, it is important that if you don’t know the word no, that you learn it quickly. Even if you want to make a change, that doesn’t mean the world or all the people that currently rely on you will change also. There will still be plenty of requests for you to do things that are not your priority, and you have to tell them no. People can and probably will get frustrated because you are no longer at their beckoning call, but their feelings are not your responsibility. If they really want the best for you, they’ll get over it eventually and start taking responsibility for their own to-do list. It’ll be okay, I promise. If you’re a people pleaser like me then obviously this is going to be the hardest part, but just practice being intentional with your time and actions and remind yourself of why you are doing all this in the first place. Your “why” is your biggest motivation so make sure you remind yourself of it often.

I say this virtually in every post that I write, but I hope this helps someone. I write about things that have made a huge impact in my life, and things that I feel are extremely important in making a positive change. Prioritization and positivity are my favorite tools to have, as they make a world of difference friends!

Four Walls: The Basics of Managing Your Money

Debt, Lifestyle, Money Tips, Uncategorized

Whether you follow a budget/plan for your money or not (you definitely should) there are a few areas that should be your top priority when allocating your funds. Dave Ramsey coined the term “four walls” to explain why these areas should get first attention when it comes to being paid. The idea is that if you have these four areas paid, then your basic necessities are covered which is so important because so many will spend their money on things they don’t need before they realize they don’t have enough to pay rent. Big problem. So here’s the four walls broken down:

  1. Shelter
  2. Food
  3. Clothing
  4. Transportation

Shelter: This includes your rent/mortgage and utilities to live in the home. Remember that this is your very basic necessity, meaning that if you live in a house you can’t afford, selling to rent a smaller living space may be necessary but you should make sure that you have paid for a roof over your head before spending money on anything else.

Food: Obvs. Girl’s gotta eat. Dudes too. Basic human survival 101. The catch is that when I say that you make sure you have food to eat before you pay any other bill like credit card payments or personal loans, that means basic food. Not Chipotle or Whole Foods super organic every chemical free sprouted 7 grain protein bars. Like basic run of the mill, keeps you going even though it might be boring, food. Remember, the idea of the four walls is make sure you are making it by, and if you have more money to work with then you go girl, but not everyone does at first. Especially when you’re drowning in debt and can’t even make enough money for your four walls and all the minimum payments you’re juggling. Time to make a change friend.

Clothing: Clothing is part of the four walls because it is frowned upon in society to walk around naked (unless you live in one of those nudest colonies). Again, it probably feels a little redundant at this point but I still have to say it. You have to wear clothes, but you only NEED basic clothes. Shirt, pants, shoes, you get it. This doesn’t mean you get a monthly allowance because A&F (is Abercrombie and Fitch still cool?) is having a sale, and it doesn’t mean you get the Gucci belt and the super cool $200 sneakers. It means you are wearing something on your body and preferably don’t look homeless. Queue Macklemore, “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in muh pocket”

Transportation: You guessed it! BASIC transport. Meaning gas money, bus money, car payment money if the car payment reasonable enough for you to keep (meaning that you can pay off the car in a short amount of time). Get it? Basic.

So the four walls covers you so that if **** hits the fan you, at least for that month, have a place to sleep, something to wear, something to eat, and someway to get you to a job so you can make enough money for the next month. It sounds morbid I know, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people I have met with that don’t have enough money to eat and are charging groceries to a credit card just to make minimum payments on everything. Understand this clearly, the four walls gets paid for with cash meaning that it comes straight out of your account. NOTHING gets charged. If you can’t pay for your four walls with real money and have enough to cover all of your minimum debt payments too, it’s time to make a change to get rid of that debt. No matter what, even if your credit card doesn’t get paid that month, you pay for those four walls and let the credit company know that you had to eat instead of pay them this month, and you will get caught up ASAP. You tell them, don’t ask because credit companies can be bullies. This also isn’t an excuse to not pay your debts, you were the nugget that went and ran up the credit card, it is your responsibility to pay it, we just make sure you have a place to stay and food to eat first.

This is the first step when assessing someone’s finances and creating a budget. You take your monthly income, and then subtract the four walls from it first. THEN, you take what is left and deduct all of your other bills and hopefully there is still some left after that for saving and investing. Don’t let this overwhelm you and if you attempt this and see that you are in the negative, don’t freak out. If you feel lost and don’t know where to start, you can always shoot me an email or message me and I can help you get started on a financial freedom journey. It’s so worth it friends! Just remember that your basic needs come first, and then worry about everything else after!

Other People’s Feelings Are NOT Your Responsibility.

Career, Family, Lifestyle

I am always reading. I typically read a few books at a time, usually three to four, all about different topics and one of the ones that I’m reading right now is Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. I read this excerpt and it just hit me so hard that I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

I was raised with a voice of authority that was male. My daddy is a strong and very forceful personality, and he demanded total obedience. I learned to live in hope of his approval and terrified of his displeasure. Then I met my husband when I was nineteen years old, and though he is a very different kind of man, I can recognize in retrospect that I transferred my feelings about my father to my husband. I was utterly codependent. I lived every day to please him and make him happy, and if he was unhappy- even if it wasn’t about me- it was crippling. I would drown in anxiety until I could do something or say something that would change his mood. I remember about seven years ago he’d had a bad day at work and he was really frustrated when he got home. I went immediately into “fix it” mode. I was like, “Can I make you a drink? Are you hungry? You want to watch a movie? You want to have sex?” and he looked at me very firmly but very kindly and said, “Rachel, I’m in a bad mood, and I’ll get over it. It’s okay if I’m upset. You don’t have to make it better. It’s not your job to make sure I’m happy.” Holy crap you guys. It was a freaking epiphany! It really never occurred to me that I should just let him process his feelings and it wasn’t my job to fix them. I had been raised in a house where we did everything possible to keep Daddy happy, and I didn’t know there was any other way to be. Consequently, when I began to understand that the entire purpose for my life wasn’t to please someone else, I began to consider things I hadn’t before.” – Rachel Hollis

Y’all. Y’ALL. This little snippet from this book could have knocked me over. Her experience was my exact experience, including the daddy issues and all, except that I met my awesome husband when I was fifteen instead of nineteen. I have struggled and struggled because I have spent so much time and energy unnecessarily stressing because I attached my success as a wife and happiness as a human to Chris’s happiness. So I match his energy. If Chris comes home snippy or tired, I’m snippy and tired. And I’m snippy and tired because I’m anxious and failing at cheering him up. This is completely me just continuing my childhood circumstances because when I was growing up if pops was mad, everyone else better be quiet and willing to do whatever he needed, because being happy when he was mad only seemed to make it worse. This is most definitely no way to live. Just like I have said in so many of my other posts and podcasts: other people’s feelings are not your responsibility. If they are mad it is not your job to fix it or obligation to be mad too. Read. That. Again. If you attach your happiness to someone else’s feelings you are always going to feel like a rubber band being slung back and forth.

This is huge for me guys, because I have literally always attached my feelings to someone else’s as well as took responsibly for how others feel my entire life. If people get pissed or offended at you for stating an opinion it isn’t your job to apologize for disagreeing with them or be responsible for making them feel better. The same goes for the “Don’t go beyond your raising” people that get ill when you make a better life for yourself, it’s not your problem that you followed your dreams or put in more effort for a better life than they did. And it most definitely isn’t your job to lower your standards or give up on your dreams to make someone feel more comfortable. Comfortable is so boring.

Don’t get me wrong. Not taking responsibility for your spouse’s or mother’s or children’s feelings doesn’t mean that you don’t care about them. I hate when my husband has bad days, and I wish he didn’t have them. I still ask him if there is anything that I can do to help him but now, I ask not because I feel personally responsible to change his feelings but because I just love the guy and am always there for him. This changes everything because though I’m part of his support system his bad days doesn’t automatically make my days bad. I love my family and care about them deeply but I’m not responsible for how they feel. I also feel like I have to say that if I did or said something that hurt someone that I did not mean, apologizing is mature and the right thing to do. I don’t think we should never apologize. We are human and we mess up sometimes. I just don’t think we should ever apologize for saying or doing something that we believe in even if it offends or angers or makes others upset. Huge difference.

The point is that I realized I was living my life to make sure others weren’t upset, and for me that meant always keeping my opinions to myself, not trying to accomplish any goals that would make those around me feel small, and people pleasing to death just because I wanted to be liked. People pleasing isn’t something that is easily overcome, but I have learned that amazing word ‘NO’ and friends, it works wonders. I’ve also created a few things that I keep with me as reminders so when people get offended or upset at my no’s or anything else I know that it’s not my problem to worry how they feel, and its LIBERATING.

Friends, I hope this post or the section from RH’s book helps someone else realize they are a serial people pleaser and hopefully set the path to understanding that the only feelings you are responsible for are your OWN.

How Do You Plan for the Future While Enjoying the NOW.

Building Wealth, Debt, Lifestyle, Money Tips

I was talking to a potential coaching client the other day, and she was asking me different financial questions. I struggle with pitching the idea of delayed gratification to some people, because I am essentially telling you to put the fun stuff on hold until you get your big girl pants on. (Big girl pants meaning getting out of debt and actually having the cash in your account to do the fun stuff). And no one wants to hear that. An even harder concept to effectively communicate is how to be content and enjoy the season you are in while you are saying no to the vacations, or Target runs or fishing trips etc. I completely understand. Really I do. If you haven’t read my last post about gaining financial freedom yet, give it a look because I go over all the lovely benefits of delaying that gratification. The topic of today is more about being content right NOW.

Contentment is hard, and I definitely struggle myself being such a big dreamer. However, contentment is such a big key in the happiness goal that everyone has. Breeding contentment comes way easier when we practice what I like to call the 3 Pillars of Happiness: gratitude, positivity, and accountability. I’ll explain. These three pillars are my Mecca goals for life. I truly believe that if you are constantly searching for positivity, gratitude, and hold yourself accountable that life is about as near to perfect as it can get.

Let’s start with positivity. If you have listened to my podcast or talk to me ever, you know that I firmly feel that whatever you look for in life is what you get. That means if you live your days waiting for the bad stuff to happen guess what- bad stuff happens. However, if you live your life looking for the positive and looking for the lessons in the struggles, not only will you find good more often but you seemingly float through the road blocks instead of tripping over them. (I’ve experienced it for myself) Seriously, when you focus on the good less stuff bothers you because you start realizing how little it really matters. I could talk on the power of positivity all day but I hope that if you aren’t looking for the good in the world that you start because it really is a game changer.

The next pillar is gratitude. Giving thanks, and not just around the table at Thanksgiving. I am talking being truly grateful for the important things- which means that you realize the fact that you are living and breathing and get the chance to make a difference for another day is a blessing. In short- drop the entitlement and understand that we don’t deserve ANYTHING. We are not gifts to the world, the world and this life is a gift that God has given us and the second you start viewing life this way, oh man does things change. You naturally get less upset when life doesn’t go your way because it is a gift that we are here anyway. You also gain so much empathy for people around you and judge way less because you start to see that none of us are special and we all have the same chance to live a full life. Also definitely worth mentioning that when you are immensely thankful for what you have, you don’t judge or grow jealous of others and what they’ve got. (Ya know, since that one is so hard for many of us to grasp). If you don’t know how to start making a change to be more grateful, try journaling. Rachel Cruze even has a fantastic contentment journal to help you realize just how much of your life is truly a gift, and I promise you will see the shift in your perception of the world almost immediately.

Now on to the last and most difficult to execute pillar: accountability. You can just look at America or listen to the news for two minutes and learn that we have a BIG problem with taking responsibility for our actions. I mean, just think about how we say that we don’t want the government to have so much control over us but something tragic happens like a murder and we immediately start demanding that the government impose more laws (control) so that if it happens again we can in turn blame the government for not affectively controlling. You see what I mean? We LOVE to blame. Sandy is not happy at her job and it’s her mean boss’s fault. Drug users slowly ruin their own lives, and it’s their family’s fault for not doing more for them. Take the blame guys. If you aren’t happy at work- change your perception of it or for goodness sakes- quit. I can tell you firsthand that I had a job that I absolutely dreaded getting up for everyday and complained about constantly. After a tough discussion with my husband where he virtually told me to “**** or get off the pot” I realized that my job was awful because I was looking for the awful. I absolutely love my job now and spoiler alert, it’s the same job. Life is what you make it. If you hate life it is your fault and no one else. Elenor Roosevelt said that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and it applies to way more than inferiority. No one can make you feel or do ANYTHING without your consent. Let me put it this way. If someone came up to you one day and said ” You are intimidating.” Your natural response (especially if you are a woman) might be “oh, I’m sorry.” Listen. You are responsible for no one’s feelings but your own. Meaning that your response should be, “Am I really intimidating or do I just make you feel intimated? Because I can’t do anything about that.” But that also means that if someone intimates you, or drives you insane, or makes you cry, that’s on you. If someone bothers you so badly that you get angry just thinking about them, that doesn’t mean that that person should work to do better for you, it means you should stop caring. Stop letting their actions control your life and take responsibility for the actions you make. In the blame game nobody wins, and in reality everyone ends up looking really dumb with no progress made whatsoever.

I know I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, but explaining those three pillars are so important because if you can truly adopt them into your life, contentment naturally grows and you hardly even have to work to be happy in the process of gaining financial freedom because you recognize that the journey is the best part anyway. Of course, once you reach financial freedom and can start living and giving like you’ve planned it is extremely enjoyable, but if you are grateful, accountable, and positive you know that you’ve been living your best life the entire time.

Comment below and tell me ways that adopting these pillars have affected your perception of life!

Your Credit Score Doesn’t Matter

Building Wealth, Debt, Money Tips

Ah the credit score. In a world where the credit card is the largest marketed product on the planet, I feel as though the credit score is right there behind it. The credit score has been so well marketed that people truly believe that having a high credit score means that they are doing well in life, are responsible adults, and something that should be taken care of forever. Wrong friends. So wrong. It is true that having a good credit score means that you pay all of your bills on time which is a responsible thing to do, but the fact that you have the bills in the first place is where I’m headed. So if you don’t know, credit score can also be called an ‘ I love debt’ score, and that is because keeping a high score requires that you have a large amount of debt, have had it for a really long time, have made all the payments perfectly, and keep the debt amount in a ridiculous percentage related to your income. Does any of that sound good to you? Because that is literally what they use to calculate your score.

It never fails that I receive inquiries from potential financial coaching clients on a regular basis that are requesting that I help them rebuild their credit score. If this is a goal of yours I have one question- WHY? I ask this because I almost always get an answer like, “Well I want to buy ——- , and they said I needed a better credit score.” Oh, so you want to go into further debt. Why? To which the response is usually, “To build my credit score.” Oh. So you want to build your credit score so that you can go into more debt so that you can in turn build your credit score so that you can go into more debt. Makes sense. Is any of this starting to sound a little crazy to you? But somehow society has done a tremendous job at convincing us that this I love debt score is a reflection of how good we are at managing money and being a responsible adult when really its just a reflection of how sunk we are!

Don’t fall for it friends. I do have to mention however, that having a poor credit score is not something to be proud of either. I don’t want you to think I’m giving you permission not to pay the bills that you have committed to pay. The goal shouldn’t be an 800, and it shouldn’t be a 400 either. The perfect credit score is one that is indeterminable. This means you have no debt for them to calculate a score at all. I know what you are going to say though. What if you want to buy a house? It would take forever to save up enough cash to buy a house outright and you can’t get a 15 year fixed mortgage without a credit score. Well that’s false. The majority of banks have done so well at marketing debt that the majority of them do not have mortgage departments or underwriters that know how to offer a loan without a credit score. Thank fully, there are some very few companies left that offer something called manual underwriting. This is the old school way of obtaining mortgages, you know like how people bought houses before the banks and credit card companies started making bank off of selling you the importance of a credit score. So you can most definitely obtain a home without a credit score and anything else you want to buy you can do it the actual responsible way, save up and pay cash.

In conclusion, you shouldn’t waste any time, or money, on padding your credit score. It doesn’t matter and instead of a high score making you look good, it actually makes you look like a slave to debt. The idea should be that you start paying off all the debts that make up your credit score (which will give you a decent credit score during that time), then roughly six months after the last debt is paid your credit score will miraculously disappear. That is something to be proud of friends. Stop working for the big bankers and their bonus checks and start working for yourself instead.

Credit Cards- The Most Well Marketed Product Ever.

Debt, Money Tips

Let me start by saying that I detest credit cards. So if you though that I was going to be giving you a list of the best cards with the lowest interest rates and best benefits, you are sorely mistaken because I think they are all crap wrapped in pretty plastic. The true point of this post is to try and convince at least one person that they’ve got the wool pulled over their eyes and I think I’ve got a fairly competitive argument to do so.

First I’m going to dive in with the arguments that I get from people everyday as to why they think credit cards are good and debunk each of them really quickly for you:

  • “I’m pulling one over on the credit card company because I pay it off every month meaning that I don’t pay any interest and still get the airline miles.” I get a good chuckle out of this one every time. I love the Dave Ramsey quote that goes, “You actually think you are going to take on a multi-billion dollar company who studies your behavior more than YOU study your own behavior and come out on the right end of this stick?” PREACH. My mind boggles when people say that they only buy what they need and pay the card off every month just to get the points. These credit card companies knows what’s up. They spend hundreds of millions every year to study your behavior and buying habits. They know that there are no pain sensors that go off in your brain when you swipe a card like when you pay cash and in doing so have discovered that people (yes you friend) spend 12-18 percent more when they use a card. This means that if you went into Target to get just a few things that you need, you are extremely more likely to splurge for those throw pillows and the coffee mug when you pay with a credit card than if you only brought cash. This means that in the long run, you spend more which means you are more likely to end up running a balance on the card which means the credit card companies get their interest payments and all is right with the world.

The credit card is the most aggressively marketed product in the history of the planet and has sold so many cards to so many people so well that we think they are required in today’s society. Which leads me to the next argument:

  • “I have to keep a credit card because it’s not safe to use my debit card online or at the gas pump.” Hello effective credit card marketing. Do me a favor. Pull out your debit card and call that 800 number on the back. Ask them what their protections are on the debit card if it is ran as credit. Then, compare those protections to the ones your credit card offers. SAME PROTECTIONS. All you have to do is hit the little button that says credit on the gas pump instead of entering your pin code and BOOM: you just ran your debit as a credit and it has the exact same protections in case of theft that your credit card has and you didn’t run the risk of wasting money on interest payments. Your welcome. And I’ve never made an online purchase that worked any differently either. I have even had my debt card number stolen and I got the exact same treatment during the process that I would if it were a credit card. All the purchases were put on hold and investigated, because I ran the card as credit the money doesn’t instantly come out of my account, and the charges were then denied before I lost any of my money. Common sense friends, don’t just listen to the commercial or the news guy that read an article that AMEX (credit card company) wrote and funded that says that debit cards are dangerous. FAKE NEWS.

The fact is that credit cards are just a product like your iPhone, your shoes or your tv is. It has been so effectively marketed to you that you think you can’t live without one which is why everyone reading this has 1-7 credit cards on average in their possession. This is also why the average American has over $16k in credit card debt alone and why the credit card companies can get away with charging you 24% interest. (Outrageous!) Become smart consumers friends. Take the information including what I am telling you right now with a grain of salt. Go do your research. Go see what the credit cards companies pay yearly to convince you that credit is necessary and somehow different than using debit. I promise you won’t only feel violated, but probably a little upset with yourself to realize how much of your yearly wage that you’ve worked so hard for was given to multi-billion dollar companies instead of building your personal wealth. Yes, there are people in the world that own credit cards and pay them off every month, but the issue is that the pure temptation is there to spend more or use it for an emergency and the risk is not worth the reward. Steer clear of the credit sharks and stick to the money you actually have.

Do you agree? Have a different view on credit cards? Let me know in the comments!