Posted in Building Wealth, College & Student Loans, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

Every Mother’s Dream

Or this mother at least!

My daughter is currently attending the University of New Haven.  She graduated high school in May of 2016 and began her college journey that September.  I try not to over talk about her or her decisions; however, when it comes to college, I believe we all can learn from her journey.  So if you will indulge me, I would like to share a few things she has done that I believe everyone should do when it comes to life after high school.

1.  Research your passion – We all dream of something as a little person – we want to be a teacher, firefighter, garbage man – so many options for a young mind.  However, when we turn 16, it starts to get real.  We reach that part of our lives where we not only need to dream, but we need to take action.  Let me be clear about something – college isn’t for everyone.  If you choose to not go to college, you are no less important than anyone else.  The important thing is to find your passion – that thing that you will enjoy doing day in and day out.  And understand – this may change along the way.  You are only 16 and have many years ahead of you, but you have to start somewhere.

My daughter’s high school required that every student do one day of job shadowing in order to graduate.  However, my daughter had a few careers she was considering and so she did three job shadowing days.  In doing so, she eliminated two career choices right away and ascertained that she wanted to go into the criminal justice field.  You may find, by the way, that your passion doesn’t require a college education.  Don’t spend the money on college if it is not needed.  Use college as a place to get the required education, if needed, for your field.  Many careers require only a high school diploma or trade school experience.  Know what you need and go about getting that – college or no college.

2.  The best for the least – In today’s job market, where you get your education isn’t as important as the experience you receive in the process.  There are a few schools that are still held in high esteem, but most employers are looking for what you know, not where you learned it.  This is why in most cases, the least expensive way to pay for college is by attending a community college for 2 years and then transferring to a four-year college if needed.  Just like when you are shopping, you want to get the best education possible for the least amount of money.  This requires a plan of action.

After researching many schools, my daughter really wanted to attend the University of New Haven.  They are one of the top criminal justice schools and have organizations such as banks, the FBI, and more recruiting directly from them.  However, UNH is a private institution.  This has its pros and cons – it cost a lot, but has great potential for large school scholarships.  My daughter had always tried to maintain a high GPA in high school because she knew it could benefit her financially when college time rolled around.  And it did just that.  She was able to get a scholarship directly with the school for half of her tuition.  She then applied for other scholarships and received them, ended up in the honors program after her first year, which afforded her more scholarships and ended up paying less to go to private college than she would have going to an in state university.  She also took AP exams which gave her credit for classes she needed, took summer classes at the community college online, and is now graduating a year early, saving her over $26,000.

Again, I don’t say this to brag.  I share this because she is an awesome example of how to get the best for the least.  She had a dream and she went after it with everything she had.  She even surprised me and I raised her.  She did things I never would have done when I was in college.  She is proof that it is not about just signing up for a college, getting student loans and hoping it works out.

3.  The words we all want to hear – We helped her pay for most of her college, but in the end she took out small loans for her part that she already has a plan to be paid back within a year of graduation.  That was for the first two years – however, this year, she moved off campus which saved a bunch of money.  In June, we received the tuition bill for the fall semester.  We paid our part as always.  And then she told me she wanted to cash flow her senior year.  2 weeks ago she paid $4,000 in cash and is working to pay cash for her last semester.  No more student loans!

Of course, that is music to my ears given my profession – teaching people to pay cash for everything.  But what made me even more proud as a mom was what she said – “Mom, it was hard to let go of the cash, but it felt so good.”  She was able to feel the pain of having a loan, even though it is small, and the freedom of paying cash.  Guess what – she won’t borrow money anymore.

As a parent, we have to find a balance between doing everything for our kids and holding their hand as they learn this thing called adulthood.  It was hard for me when she took out the loans, but I knew she would learn what I had learned.  Luckily, she had 3 less zeros on her’s.  And before one dollar is due, she has a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible – she is not just wishing or hoping, she is putting action behind it.

Thank you for allowing me to share my daughter’s journey with you.  I am very proud of her as I know you are of yours.  Teach them, let them learn, and always keep the conversation going.

Check out “The Adulting Survival Kit: The Ultimate Personal Finance Toolkit” in Debbi’s store.  It is what every young adult needs to start this journey called life.  Shop Now

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Posted in Budgeting for Everyone, Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, You and Your Money

Why I Didn’t Buy a Microwave

45 days ago my microwave blew up – sparks flying everywhere, blew up.  Well, of course, a microwave is a need, right?  So I started shopping for the best bargain I could find.

3 days later, the least expensive one I could find was $70.  I remembered paying that just 2 years ago for the microwave that blew up.  That seemed a little pricey for something that would only last 2 years, so I decided to wait.  And since it was Christmas time, I challenged myself to see how long I could go without a microwave.

I thought my family wouldn’t last a week, but here we are 45 days later and still no microwave.  So, why haven’t I bought a microwave?  I have the money, not an issue.  It’s a need, right, so why haven’t I bought one?

During the 2 week challenge – waiting until the new year – I channeled my beloved grandmother and realized that she never had a microwave.  She cooked wonderful meals and great desserts, all without a microwave.  And I realized over the 2 week period, that I too could do everything I needed to do without a microwave.

I haven’t bought a microwave yet because I am perfectly content without one.  Do some things take me a little longer – sure.  But this gives me time with my family as we prepare meals together.  Without a microwave, I can’t make all of those wonderful frozen dinners that are so convenient.  This means I am cooking more natural meals and eating healthier.  So far, there has been no reason for me to purchase a new microwave.

I’m not writing this to tell you to get rid of your microwave – I am writing this to encourage you to challenge yourself more before you buy something.  Make sure it is going to bring value to your life.  I took my $70 and put it toward our 10 day cruise in April – that brings me more value than a microwave.

We can have anything, not everything.  We must evaluate closely what we need and what we think we need.  Most people would classify a microwave as a need – I would have too 45 days ago.  But having lived without it now for a while, I realize it is not as “needed” as I thought it was.  Take the time to evaluate your purchases, give yourself a short time to discern your true need, and then decide whether to buy or not.  I think you will be surprised at how many purchases you will choose not to make and how much money you will have to invest in your future and spend on things of value to you.

Order Debbi’s latest book “50 Shades of Money” today!

Posted in Budgeting for Everyone, Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Raising Your Income, Saving for Your Future, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

New Year, Better You

Why do we continue to be enslaved in our finances?

Why do we continue to spend more than we make?

Why won’t we do what we know to do?

Deep down most of us know what we need to do to better our finances.  Maybe we need to spend less.  Maybe we need to make more.  Maybe we simply need to say no every once in a while.  So why don’t we?  Personal finance is 10% math and 90% emotions.  We get the math – it’s 1st grade math for heaven’s sake.  But the emotions of money take us to places we never thought we would go.

When you were in the 9th grade and the teacher asked you to write about where you saw yourself in 10 years, you would never even think to write “I want to be doing a job I hate, but I need because of my $50,000 worth of debt.”  But that’s exactly where you are.  How did you get here?  For me, it was years and years of misspending and trying to live a life that my income couldn’t support.  Within 8 years, I had amassed $200,000 in debt and had gone from making $30,000 a year (it was 1998) to making $10,000 a year.  This was definitely not the story I had written in the 9th grade.

I believe that if it was just a matter of education, most of us would not be in debt, especially nowadays with the internet and all of the information out there about money.  We know exactly what we should be doing.  Odds are you have been handed the key to wealth and financial freedom numerous times, yet you still choose to stay shackled.  Why is that?

Wealth takes actions – not just ideas. In order to get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth, you must take action each and every day – action that will take you in a positive direction.  Here are a few things you can do in 2018 to make it the best year ever:

  • Budgeting – People hate budgets; however, they are your biggest wealth building tool.  A budget is simply a monthly layout of where you need (and want) your money to go.  It will help you spend less than you make which allows you to save, invest and build wealth.
  • Spending Journal – Keeping track of every dollar you spend helps you to prepare an accurate budget and to see where all of your money is going.  How many times have you looked up at the end of month and wondered where the money went.  With a journal you never have to wonder.
  • Spending Freeze – I am doing a one year spending freeze for 2018.  There are many reasons – we are taking a huge trip this year, I want to learn contentment first hand, and I want to take a deep look at needs vs. wants.  You don’t have to do a year like me.  I have done multiple one month freezes and that is where I would start if I were you.  You can’t imagine how freeing it can be – once you get past the shock
  • Cleansing – Take an opportunity this year to look at everything you have and be real with yourself about what brings you value and what is just there.  Begin to release the “just there” and let someone else get value from it.  Have a yard sale, donate items, sell them on Ebay – move them out of your life and into someone else’s, someone who can enjoy them.  It is a very refreshing process.
  • Save a little – Make sure you save something – even 2%.  If you keep telling yourself that you have nothing to save at the end of month, you won’t.  However, if you budget 2% and pay yourself at the beginning of the month, you remove the risk of spending it instead of saving it.  Reality is you have more than you think.  You have the money for lattes, for eating out, for movies, for cable, for unlimited GBs on your cell plan – you have money.  You are just choosing luxuries over your future.  You can have both – you just need to make sure you have your priorities straight.  Pay yourself and then enjoy life.
  • Value – Look at every purchase, every bill, every decision through the eyes of what brings value to your life.  I heard this from a colleague of mine when I read his book last year and it was very eye-opening for me.  You can have anything, but you can’t have everything.  Learn what brings value and spend your money on that.  Don’t waste money – focus on making money.

2018 is going to be your year – a year of hope, a year of renewal, a year of financial freedom.  You are not going to make a new you this year – you are awesome!  But you are going to make a better you this year – better decisions and better results.  Let’s do this – together!

Look for Debbi’s newest book “50 Shades of Money” releasing on January 20, 2018. You can preorder it in paperback or for Kindle.  Don’t miss this amazing book answering the top 50 personal finance questions asked to Debbi over her 15 year career.