Prosperity Formula


As in many areas of our life, we tend to overcomplicate our finances.  I know I did.  But the reality is that money, winning with money, building wealth, prospering, and obtaining and maintaining financial freedom is really quite simple – spend less than you make, save and invest in your future.

We are instructed to put 1/10th of everything we make in the storehouse so that we may have food in the future.  This simply means save and invest 10% of everything you make so that you will always have what you need.  If you do this, you will prosper.  However, most of us do not do this.  We put it off thinking we have time, we are selfish and want stuff now and we think it will all work out in the end.

But when you think about it, it should be super simple.  For every $100 you make, you save/invest $10 and you get to do whatever you want with the other $90.  However, we tend to get greedy and want all 100 of the dollars (and more).  When you are looking at your finances and trying to figure out the issues, begin here – are you storing up your tenth or are you spending it now?

The bottom line is this – if you spend less than you make, you will be prosperous.  If you spend more than you make, you will be broke.  The problem isn’t how much you make, but what you do with it.  This is why most people who win the lottery are broke within the first few years.  Odds are if you are broke, more money won’t fix the problem.  However, a combination of more money and less expenses just might (setting aside 10% or more in savings/investments).

As long as you live on less than you make, you will always have money!

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Justifiable Homicide


My daughter just got back from a student leadership conference where she studied how to be a leader and learned about the field she wants to major in – forensic psychology.  So for the last few days I have heard a lot about murder and police work.  Now by this point you are probably thinking what does this have to do with money.

Everyday, many of us are committing what I call justifiable homicide with our money.  We make immediate decisions in the area of our finances without taking the time to think them through.  And in the process, we are killing our finances.  But that’s okay because we can justify everything, so don’t worry, right?

Wrong!  Justifying is simply making an excuse when you know you made a mistake.  It is okay to make mistakes – it is how we learn, but you can’t grow if you are not learning from them and instead you are justifying and making excuses as to why you did what you did.  Today is the day to throw out your excuse bag – no more excuses!

Homicide is bad, whether you have a reason or not, and if affects many lives, not just your own.  This is the same thing that happens when you make rash decisions in the area of your money.  The outcome is never good even if you can justify it.  So what does this mean and what is my point?  Odds are justification and excuses are playing a larger role in your financial issues than you think.  Now, part of my decision process when buying something is why am I buying it and if that reason has an excuse attached or is a justification, I don’t buy it.  When you have the money and it is the right thing, there is no need for excuses or justification.

In this country right now, there are a lot of homicides happening that fall under the category of “justifiable”.  But the consequences are still horrible and the life, an important life, is still lost.  Stop committing justifiable homicide in your finances.  It is hurting you more than you know and is probably hurting those around you as well.  Throw out your excuse bag, put on your big boy/girl pants, and change your finances!  I went from a single mom making $10,000 a year and being $200,000 in debt to financial freedom – I know you can do it!!

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Are There Any Advantages to a PayDay Loan?


The answer to the question is flat out “no”!  But you know me, I won’t say yes or no without a reason.  This particular no has many components to it.  But before I get to those, let’s discuss what a payday loan is and why people use them.

The What – A payday loan is just that – it is a loan to get your through a financial crisis until payday.  The problem is that once payday rolls around, unless you won the lottery, you still don’t have the money. It sounds easy because you know you will have money once you get paid again; however, what we tend to forget is that that money is spoken for already which means jumping right back on the hamster wheel for another ride.

The Why – When you are not prepared for the rain, you will get wet.  You need an umbrella – a rainy day fund – to cover you when it rains because it will.  Not having this rainy day fund makes us desperate when something happens.  We panic and we are attracted to offers like the payday loan lenders make – basically we will give you the money now and you can deal with it when you get paid.

Why “no” – The way payday loans really work is why there are no advantages to them.  They work like this – you take out a $500 loan.  When you get paid, your loan is due with interest (up to 1000% or more).  One of 2 things happen – either you can’t pay it so they reset it or you pay it and come up short again and have to take out another loan.  They have basically set you up to fail.  There are no regulations on the amount of interest that they can charge you in most states and it has been known to go as high as 1000% – yes that is 3 zeros.

Payday loans were designed to prey on the poor and the desperate.  When you don’t have the money to pay for something and you consider it an emergency, you will sell your soul to take care of it and they know this.  What you are really doing is just digging your hole deeper and deeper making it harder to get out.

How can you stop the “need” for payday loans?  First, you have to have an emergency fund in place, even $100 to start so that this doesn’t happen again.  Make it a priority to build it up so that when something happens you are prepared.  If you have a payday loan currently, pay it off as quickly as possible.  Sell stuff, cut back, eat Raman noodles – do whatever it takes to pay it off and stop the madness.  The sole purpose of these loans is to make money off of the hurting.  Put yourself into a position where you don’t “need” them and together we can put them out of business.

The ABC's of Personal Finance Book
The ABC’s of Personal Finance Book

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Money Can’t Buy Happiness or Can It?


This beautiful lady is my grandmother.  I was thinking of her yesterday as I do everyday.  Yesterday would have been her birthday.  She is in heaven now, but she lived 102 wonderful years here on this earth.  Having lived that long, she obviously did a lot of things right.  The thing I remember the most is her smile.  She always had a smile.  Even if she was fussing at my daddy in her later years, she would smile while doing it.  She was happy no matter where she was – when she lived alone because my grandfather was in a nursing home, when she lived alone after he died, even when she was in a nursing home.

Now I’m sure she had moments – my family tells stories sometimes that I find hard to believe.  But this is because her overall demeanor was happy and positive.  When I began my journey to go from $200,000 in debt to financial freedom, my grandmother was one of the first people I looked to to learn from.  Not because she had money, but because she didn’t.

How could she be so happy and be poor?  At the time, I couldn’t understand it, but now I can.  She was happy with life.  She lived everyday to the fullest and I believe this contributed to her living longer.  She also was very content.  Even when she needed clothes, she always wanted that money to be spent on someone else, usually a grandchild.  She didn’t need “stuff”.

I just read a great post from the @DebtFreeGuys about whether you are a “TP” or an “EP” – things person or experience person.  Most people can’t afford to be both and they go broke trying.  That is what happened to me.  I was trying to own everything my parents owned as well as take trips and do things that I enjoyed and convinced myself that I deserved.  Today, having gone through everything I went through – from bankruptcy to financial freedom – I can truly say I am an “EP” just like my grandma.

Now to answer the question posed in the title – money cannot buy happiness, but many times it takes money to do what makes you happy.  It takes money to buy things and it takes money to have some experiences.  What makes me the happiest is the beach (or the lake).  For me to go there and to hopefully one day live there, that will take money.  But how I do it will determine how much.  I don’t need granite countertops, 3 bedrooms, fancy amenities – I just need a bed, a bath, a kitchen and oceanfront.  This will cost me less than trying to have the experience and the stuff.

Determine your dreams – what makes you truly happy – and set up your finances accordingly.  Budget, set goals, and save to pay cash for those dreams because debt can turn a dream into a nightmare in about 3 seconds.  Live the dream and be happy – live to be 102!

The ABC's of Personal Finance Book
                         The ABC’s of Personal Finance Book

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College – Is It Worth the Investment?

Clemson's Tillman Hall
Clemson’s Tillman Hall

Today on Twitter, I was participating in a chat on this very subject.  And, as always, I was truly fascinated by the answers to the question and a little concerned.  As a majority, we tend to see college as a must.  We even go so far as to look down on those without a college degree.  But realistically, college isn’t for everyone and in many cases isn’t even necessary.  College is only worth the investment if it is needed and if it is approached wisely and with a plan.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to school debt free.  And it was understood that I would go to college when I graduated, basically for the reason I stated above.  No one bothered to ask me what I was passionate about – no one bothered to help me find out what I would love to do every day if money wasn’t a factor.  I just went to college and got a degree in a subject that I was good at in school and had a decent pay grade in the workforce.

And I was miserable for the first 15 years of my adult life.  Many of our youth are heading to college because they are pressured into believing that it is the next logical step.  Guidance counselors are giving out the emails of all students with decent grades to colleges so that they can bombard them with propaganda to come to their school.  The pressure is high and as a result is creating a problem in this country.  We currently have $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.  And much of that debt is for degrees that were never finished or never used.

When deciding for yourself or helping your child decide what to do after high school, consider these 3 tips and consider them in the order that is presented.

  1. What is your passion? – Many careers don’t require a college education.  Some require no experience, some a certificate and some a small amount of vocational schooling.  Before you can decide what education path to take, you must first decide what you want to do – not just a j-o-b, but a career and a passion.  I always throw out the question “What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?”.  The saying “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” is so true.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find this out until later in life, but I am so happy I did.  Because now I am doing what I love and I am guiding my 17 year old daughter to her passion – which by the way doesn’t require a college degree.  And odds are she will make more money than most because she will be working for herself.  Owning a small business is a great way to accomplish your passion and make lots of money if done correctly.  You should take some business courses, but it doesn’t require a degree – just some awesome mentoring from those who have been successful.
  2. What is the best way for me to get the education I need? – Once you determine the level of education you need, you then need to find the best way to get that education without becoming part of the statistic above.  You can pay for a 4 year degree with cash and without the help of parents, but you can only do it with a plan and determination.  You have no idea what your first job is going to be or how much you are actually going to be making.  Don’t mortgage your next 20 years if you don’t have to (and you don’t).
  3. Pay cash – This option is harder and may take a little longer, but I promise you it is the best way to invest in your future.  This is where I lose most people – if I haven’t already.  First of all, people don’t believe it can be done.  And secondly, they don’t want to do the work to make it happen.  Yes, it is easier now to sign up for the student loan.  But as millions are finding out, it is not the easiest in the long run.

Here’s the bottom line – I loved every minute of my college experience, but I wasn’t a fan of the 15 years I spent being miserable and not doing something that I was passionate about.  I was working a j-o-b to pay the b-i-l-l-s.  So find what you love to do, wisely get the education you need to get to follow that passion and do it with cash.  Live your dreams!

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The Tiny House Phenomenon


Last week was Tiny House Hunters week on HGTV.  I love watching all of the cool homes they show and how different they all are.  My husband and I have actually considered a tiny home for a lake lot in the future.  Would you ever consider living in a tiny house?  Here are 4 good reasons to include a tiny house in your future plans:

Saving money – When living in a tiny house, you are saving considerable money in several areas.  You save on the utilities, you save on the taxes and other home costs and you can even save on groceries (not as much cabinet or refrigerator space).  The money you save by choosing tiny house living can be used to pay off debts, invest in your future, or finally have the career you want.

Downsizing – Many people have way more home then they need or can afford.  Buying a tiny home might be just what you need to hit the reset button and start over.  What I love is that is gives you more nature and less house.  Who wants to clean a 3 bedroom/2 bath house anyway when you can be swimming, boating, hiking or making smores?

No mortgage – Most tiny homes are priced low which gives you the ability to pay cash and be debt free.  Can you imagine what it would be like to not owe a mortgage/rent payment every month?  Talk about financial freedom.  I saw nice homes last week that cost less than a 20% down payment for an average home.

Contentment – One of the biggest keys to wealth and financial freedom is contentment.  Owning a tiny house is the ultimate form of contentment.  You only have 200 – 600 square feet in which to put everything you own.  This makes you step back and look at what is truly important to you.  I think if you had to, you would be very surprised at what you could live without.

Tiny houses are not for everyone.  But like with any success story, you need to know all of your options and what it could mean for your bottom line.  For me, it could be a viable option in the future because of all of the reasons mentioned above.  I guess I’m showing my age, but sitting by the lake enjoying a sunset puts a smile on my face and cleaning a 1500 square foot home does not.  But everyone is different. My goal today was simply to give you something to think about and talk about around the water cooler.

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Money Advice for My Younger Self


On Wednesday I will be a guest on #CreditChat with @Experian on the subject of “Financial Tips I Would Give My Younger Self”.  This is something that I think about a lot and a subject I am passionate about.  As many of you know, 17 years ago I was a single mom, $200,000 in debt making $10,000 a year.  It became so bad that I ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

On a daily basis, when it comes to my finances, I have two choices:  to live in the past and all of the bad choices I made or live in the future and learn & teach what I have learned so that no one else has to make the same mistakes.  Most days I have chosen to do the latter.  This is why I love sharing what I like to call “What I Know for Certain”.  There are so many things that I have learned about money and about life in the last 17 years that I always wish I could hop in a time machine and tell my younger self.  But since that isn’t possible, I have chosen to learn and to pass on what I know for certain to anyone who will listen.  I would like to share a few with you today as a preview of the chat on Wednesday.

Money is not infinite nor guaranteed – I never personally had to see my parents go through a down time with their finances.  They did, but it was when they first married and were just getting started.  They always had great steady jobs and always handled their money properly – by giving 10%, saving at least 10% (usually more) and living on what was left.  They never went into debt for anything.  Because of this awesome example that I had, I believed that life would be perfect as long as I did what I was supposed to.  The problem was I didn’t know what to do.

What I know for certain is that money is not infinite (always there and available no matter how much you need) nor is it guaranteed.  You never know what life will bring you.  I believe that my parents always did well because of the choices they made and the preparations they made in case something didn’t go as planned.  When something came up, it was just a slight inconvenience instead of a total melt down like it was for me.  I wasn’t as prepared for those moments when there was a job loss or an emergency.  Instead I had mortgaged my future by having debt; therefore, making it much harder for me when something happened.  I actually had better opportunities than my parents did, but I didn’t handle them the same way.  Therefore my results were much worse.

Debt isn’t a given – Today young people are being told that you must have a credit score in order to exist and the only way to get one is by going into debt.  They are also told that student loans and car loans are “good” debt when the reality is no debt is good.  Debt is a burden, makes you a prisoner to the people you owe the money to and mortgages your future earnings which, as mentioned above, are not guaranteed.

What I know for certain is that debt is not a given.  You can live a perfectly good life without one ounce of debt.  A great credit score is a great thing to have, but you can get one by never going one dollar into debt.  You see, debt is owing more than you have; credit is a form of payment.  You can use credit cards and pay them in full and have a stellar score.  When I started my adult life, I tried to have everything my parents had worked 20 plus years to have.  The only problem was the only way I could do it was with debt.  This is why I ended up where I did.  At first after I filed for bankruptcy, I didn’t use any form of credit for two reasons: one is my score was so bad I couldn’t get any and the other is I knew I needed to build my financial muscles before I tried again.  Now I have 3 credit cards which I pay off every month.  This along with cleaning up my past debts have taken my credit score from very poor to great.  Debt is not a given.

Happiness can’t be bought – Everyone has that thing, maybe two things, that make them happier than anything else.  I didn’t sit down in my early life and figure out what that was for me.  I look back and see where I was just chasing happiness like a dog chasing his tail.  And for me, it always came back to money.  If I had taken the time to know what really made me smile, I could have focused my goals and finances in that direction.

Happiness can’t be bought but you can use money to reach your goals and dreams.  This is what financial freedom is all about.  On my computer’s wallpaper is a picture of my vision board (what financial freedom means to me) and on that board are grandchildren, children, travel and a lake house with boat.  2 of those items do not cost me a dime and two of those items are built into our financial goals.  Happiness isn’t paid for with a credit card; it is brought on by reaching your goals and dreams whether personal or financial.

These are just a few of the many things that I would tell my younger self if I had that time machine I spoke about earlier. But since I don’t, all I can do is make it my passion to share with others so that they never have to go through what I went through and they can start on their goals and dreams 20 years before I did.

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