Everyday is Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is the day of love. But in my marriage, and I would bet in your relationships as well, love is an everyday event. And with this philosophy comes a lot of savings and a lot less stress.

If you celebrate love everyday, then when February 14th rolls around it is just another day – another day of love. This means that it is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on your loved one to show them your love.

Let me share what my husband and I have done for 11 years that has worked great for us:

* Get a card (from the dollar store) that helps us say what is sometimes hard to put into words.
* Make a romantic dinner at home (which we do at least once a week already). I love to make my shrimp scampi which is 3 ingredients and takes 15 minutes to make.
* Rent a movie or watch an old classic on TV.

I am very blessed. My husband, every so often for no reason at all, brings me beautiful flowers he buys at Aldi (if fresh, they have beautiful choices at low prices). That means more to me than a day on a calendar where he feels obligated to buy me something and take me somewhere.

The lesson here is not one of savings, although that works. And it is not one of love, although that is very important. The lesson is about not letting society decide for you what something means and what is expected of you. My husband and I do not feel bad for one second for how we celebrate. And if anyone asks what we are doing, we proudly tell them. Valentine’s Day is a date on a calendar but having and celebrating love in your life everyday is priceless.

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All of Debbi’s award winning books are available at Amazon.com.

What About Me?

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We all at one time or another ask “But what about me?”.  Even the most selfless person will ask this question from time to time.  As a typical southern girl and a person of faith, I was raised to not be selfish and to always think of others first (which is not a bad thing, by the way).  And I have always said that selfish people do not become wealthy.

So why am I getting ready to teach you a situation where selfishness pays off?  Because it is not the form of selfishness where you don’t care about others and only care about yourself.  I am going to talk about a situation where being selfish will pay dividends for years to come.

When it comes to your money, there are scenarios where you need to be selfish.  Being selfless means that you don’t care about yourself and you put others first.  But when it comes to how you handle your money, doing what is best for you has to be the number one priority.  What works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa.  You have to be selfish and stick up for what will work for you and your financial success.

For many years, I did what everyone else told me I should do.  I even went to school for what my parents told me I should, not what I wanted to do.  After I graduated, I did what everyone told me was the next logical step.  However, the next logical step didn’t work for me.  Taking the next logical steps landed me in $200,000 of debt, divorced and very unhappy.  I am not blaming my parents or anyone else.  This is all on me – I made the decision to follow the crowd and not be true to myself.

When it comes to your career, how you handle your money, when or if you buy a house, who you marry (or if), if you go to college, or any other life decision, you have to be selfish and do what is right for you no matter what other people think.  It is always good to get advice with large decisions, but always remember that the final decision has to be yours and if someone gets upset, it is their problem, not yours.

Personal finance is personal.  This is true for every aspect of it.  This major lesson that I learned the hard way is what makes our coaching firm different from the rest.  Our only goal is to find what works for you.  One way or another, find what works for you and do it 110%!

http://www.abcsofpersonalfinance.com

**Make sure to visit Amazon to purchase Debbi’s award winning books in paperback and Kindle format.

Are You Really Ready?

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This weekend, to spite the controversy, the Super Bowl will be played – the biggest football game of the year.  The most asked question by reporters, coaches, captains, and friends will be “Are you ready?”  And you will not hear one player answer no.  They have been dreaming of this game their entire lives.  They have trained for this game.  It all comes down to this weekend.

But what happens if a player thinks he is ready but he really isn’t.  What if he has let the controversy cloud his mind?  What if he begins to doubt his abilities?  Or what if he gets a little too full of himself?  What will happen then?  Well the odds are he will not have a great game.  And the fact that he really isn’t ready might affect his dream and the dreams of all his teammates.

Many people have the dream to reach financial freedom by getting out of debt and saving money.  But the reality of whether or not you reach that dream is if you are truly ready.  I never wanted to have the financial stress that I had many years ago.  I didn’t wish for it – it wasn’t the story I told when asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  However, due to poor decisions, bad money habits, impatience and so much more, it became my reality.  Every time I went to the mailbox, every time the phone rang, every time I was stressed out about money, I thought “I have had enough.  I am going to change my situation”.  But the truth was, it would never change until I was really ready.

Really ready means that you will do anything to make it happen.  Do you think the football players just said “I want to go to the Super Bowl” and it just happened.  No – they had to work and work very hard, and sacrifice to make it happen.  And this is what you will need to do if you are looking to get out of debt and reach financial freedom.

The good news is this – the decision is 100% yours.  You don’t have to wait on anyone or anything to make your dream a reality.  You just have to be ready – I mean really ready!

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**Buy the award-winning book “The ABC’s of Personal Finance” or “26 Weeks to Wealth and Financial Freedom” on Amazon today in paperback or e-book format.

Great Tips for Immediately Improving Your Credit

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When it comes to the category of “good” credit, you have two choices. You can either have a zero credit score or a high credit score. The zero credit score is easy to obtain – you simply pay off everything including bad debt and never use credit again. This method takes longer, but is the best way to go if you are a person who uses credit as debt (buying something you don’t have the cash for) instead of using it as a convenience, the reason for which credit was established.

A high credit score is just as easy to obtain and uses one of the same steps as the other. You need to pay off everything including bad debt. You will need to use credit in order to maintain a high score, but there are wise ways to do just that. You have one or two credit cards that you pay off every month, you have a reasonable mortgage (no more than 25% of your take home pay) on a house that has equity in it, you have a low % car loan (2% or less) that you use and pay off early instead of pulling money from investments – these are just a few of the examples. The key is that you are using credit, not accumulating debt.

Many of you are in that middle ground where you are trying to rebuild your credit. There are a few steps you can take right now and every month to boost your credit score.

1. Check you credit report for errors – go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com and get one free credit report from each agency (you get one free per year). Print them out and look over them for any errors. If you truly owe the debt, this is not an error. If the amount is higher, this is not an error (it is fees). An error would be something you can prove you paid off or settled in full in writing or something that truly isn’t yours. This happens a lot if you have the same name as someone else. Many companies don’t check social security numbers; they just match a name and move on. If you find an error dispute it with the agency directly (call them or visit their websites for instructions). Making your credit report accurate can boost your score (give it a few months to catch up).

2. Keep your balances low – a part of your credit score is your balance to limit ratio. If your limit is $500 and your balance is $400, that shows that you have an 80% usage ratio. You want to keep this number low. There are several ways to accomplish this:

A. Don’t charge more than 20% of your limit in any given month.

B. Make a payment before your billing date. Most companies report
your bill balance so if you make an extra payment or pay it off
before the billing date, it will report low.

C. Get a limit raise, but do not use it. This one is tricky, because
doing so makes you vulnerable to using it and causing bigger
problems. You also have to be careful because having high
limits can also affect your credit score.

3. Pay all of your bills on time. Once a bill hits 90 days overdue, it affects your score greatly. And once this has happened, it will take a while to rebuild.

Your credit score is your financial reputation. Whether you like it or not, it shows you and others how well you handle money. As you make wise decisions, the results of those decisions will transfer to your credit score. A zero credit score says you can handle money because you do not use debt in any form. A high credit score says that you are responsible and make wise money decisions and have great discipline when using credit (not debt). A middle score shows that you have made a few mistakes, hopefully from lack of knowledge and now that you have that knowledge, you are making wiser decisions.

We all have the ability to be wise when it comes to money. Some people, like myself, take a few wrong turns in the beginning, but it is never too late to turn things around. Take it from one who knows. I hope this helps you and I am sending you love and encouragement today and every day. Have a blessed day!

** Get any of Debbi’s award winning books at Amazon today.

Are You Black Friday Ready?

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Decorations are going up, Christmas music is playing and Thanksgiving is 10 days away. All of this can only mean one thing – Black Friday is almost here. This year, stores are starting sales even earlier than that. So to make sure you are prepared for the biggest shopping time of the year, I wanted to share a few money tips with you to make this a happy holiday and not a bah humbug one.

1. Pay with Cash – this is more important this year than it has ever been before. I have always recommend to make a list of gifts with pricing for each person and put the total, in cash, in an envelope. This prevents you from overspending and paying for Christmas for months or years to come because you charged everything. But this year there is an even bigger reason to pay with cash and that is to protect yourself from hackers. Just this week, the news reported that hackers have found a way to crack through the latest protection used on new cards. So even if you are a person, like me, who uses cards and pays them off every month, I highly recommend that you use cash during this holiday season because this will be a very busy time and will leave you open to being hacked. By the way – this includes debit cards as well. Anything electronic is at risk.

2. Make a List – you want to make a list for 2 reasons: one is so you don’t forget anyone and two is so that you don’t spend more than you have. Christmas is not about gifts, but it is nice to give to the people we love. And I encourage you to do so, but just make sure you do so within your reality. And this list includes our kids. Every parent wants their children to have more than they did, but this doesn’t mean that you have to go into debt to do this. Things are just things. Remember that this year as you make your list and be sure to include a less fortunate child or family as well.

3. Don’t Forget the Trimmings – many times in our “budgeting” for the holidays, we list only the gifts and we forget about all of the other expenses that come with the holidays. Make sure to make a cost list of the tree, decorations, food, travel expenses and any other cost that may arise between now and Jan 1st.

Well, here we are. Just 10 days until the official start of the holiday season. I have shared my top 3 tips today in hopes of making this a happy holiday and to prevent you from becoming the Grinch. And I hope it works because only your money should be green, not you. Love to you all and Happy Holidays!

The Business of Divorce

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Once a couple loses the spark in their marriage, that marriage can begin to feel more like a business arrangement than the loving and healthy marriage it was supposed to be.  This is happening way too much in this country where we currently have a 52% divorce rate.

One aspect of my firm is to help couples work out their problems and try to save their marriages.  It is reported that 80% of divorces happen due to financial issues, but usually the real issue is something deeper; it just showed up in their money.  However, many marriages can’t be saved because one or both parties are not willing or perhaps the marriage happened for reasons other than love and respect.

When a marriage can’t be saved, the relationship quickly turns into a business transaction.  Many of you have gone through this, as I have, and some of you are going through this now.  Here are a few tips I wanted to share with you on how to handle this huge business transaction:

  • It is always easiest to blame the other person.  But in order to come out of this transaction unharmed and healthy, you must take responsibility for your part and let go of what the other person has done.  I know you think this is impossible, but you need to do it – not for them, but for you (and your kids if you have any).  Anger, hatred and bitterness have no place in your life and your success so get rid of them immediately and move forward.
  • I see this happen a lot, especially in women – you completely rely on the other person to support you.  This can happen for many reasons:  maybe this is your first time being on your own and you are scared, maybe you lack the self-confidence to know you can make it on your own, maybe you are still holding on to the bitterness and you just want them to pay.  Whatever the reason, you need to know that you are awesome, you are strong and you can do this on your own.  Stop holding your spouse prisoner over a few dollars.  Take this time to go out and prove to yourself, the world, your kids and them that you don’t need a man (or woman).  You’ve got this.
  • Always be fair – even if the other person isn’t.  Even if you are left with nothing – financially speaking – you are something and no one can take that away.  You can start over and build up your life and your finances and never look back.  Most of the time, holding on is only hurting you, not them.

My divorce was bitter.  I was left suddenly with no support and an infant daughter.  And look where I am now.  For the first 5 years, I wallowed and I held on by refusing to sign the divorce papers.  Then my sister got in my face and asked me what was I waiting for – he wasn’t coming back, he had moved on and it was time for me to do the same.  She loved me enough to help me see I was only hurting myself.  A year later I met the man of my dreams and have had a wonderful life and marriage ever since. But I couldn’t do that until I moved on.

I love you enough to tell you that if you are going through this today, forgive and move on.  Become everything you were put here to be.  Don’t let someone else stand in your way.  And if you feel like you are headed this way, I hope you can work it out and get the support you need.

Everyone should be happy and have someone who loves them unconditionally.  That is my sincere wish and hope for you today.

http://www.absofpersonalfinance.com

Why 90%?

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I have always said that personal finance is 10% math and 90% emotion.  This statement could not be more true.  However, many people don’t understand this statement and many of those who do understand still question the 90%, saying it is too high.  But it is not too high.  The emotions involved in personal finance can be crippling if not acknowledged and controlled.  I tried to better my financial situation right after my bankruptcy and still failed, month after month, and the emotional part is what stymied me.

Once I discovered this secret, however, my life changed forever.  Let’s take a moment and talk about these emotions and how you can acknowledge them and turn your situation around.  The math is easy – your monthly income is $4000, your monthly expenses are $3800, which leaves $200 extra every month.  Simple right?

So why do you have a low balance in your savings and retirement accounts?  Because of the emotions of money.  I am going to list just a few examples with a brief explanation, but this doesn’t even begin to cover everything.

  • Expectations – Are you expecting an awesome life and a life of prosperity or are you believing you will always be where you are?  Odds are what you expect to happen will happen – good or bad.  Believe in yourself.
  • Habits – This was a big one for me.  If you have bad money habits, they will not go away just because you want them to.  You have to work very hard to replace bad money habits with good ones.
  • Attitude – Attitude is a lot like expectations.  You control them and they are your choice.  And what path you choose will decide your results.
  • Perspective – Do you see the glass half empty or half full?  How you look at your situation and your solutions will dictate whether or not you succeed in the area of your money and your life.
  • Keeping Up With the Joneses – This one can destroy you – always do what is best for you and not what everyone else is doing.  Make the right financial choices for your goals and dreams and stop worrying about everyone else.  If you need to rent or drive an estate sale car for a little while, do it.  Other people don’t have to live with your choices.

This is just a small sample for this blog post.  This is the main reason I wrote my first book “The ABC’s of Personal Finance“.  This was a major lesson that I learned in my financial comeback and I wish I would have known how important it was sooner.  If you are struggling to make your finances work, but believe you are making all of the right decisions, take a few minutes and consider some of these emotions and how they are holding you back from your success.  You are awesome!

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