Posted in Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

We all have seen or heard this saying before.  Every time I hear it, I picture the elderly lady laying on the floor, alone and helpless.  Until she hits the button and asks for help.  Do you feel like you have fallen and can’t get up?  Do you think you’ve made mistakes in your finances, your career, your relationships, and your life that are so big, you are stuck where you are?

That is simply not true.

Yesterday, like most Sundays, I was sitting around in my pjs, relaxing and watching football.  I happen to be watching the Washington vs. Atlanta game since my Eagles had a bye week.  For the last several years, Atlanta has made it to the post season.  They have been one of the top teams.  However, this year, just a few weeks ago, they found themselves with a record of 1-4.  This record is not good when you have Super Bowl dreams.  Basically, the Falcons had fallen.  And the question everyone was asking was would they get up.

The team answered that question with a resounding “Yes!”.

The announcers were talking about what Coach Quinn had done to rally his team out of their slump.  They talked about how members on the team stepped up and said this is not okay.  They begin making changes – what they had been doing wasn’t working.  They came up with a new plan, a new way and in the process, found success.  Their record after this week is 4-4 – they beat Washington (who is leading their division).  And Julio Jones, one of their key receivers, made a touchdown after 343 days.

So what can we take from all this jibber jabber?  We all fall – even the best fall.  The key to success and winning is whether you decide you get up or keep laying there.  When the lady fell, she reached out for help.  When Atlanta fell, they developed a new plan.

So back to the questions I asked in the beginning – have you fallen?  What are you going to do about it?  Are you going to get up or just lie there?  Are you going to develop a new plan or just keep doing the same thing over and over?  Are you going to ask for help or just stay where you are?

The decision is yours to make.  When I found myself over $200,000 in debt, a single mom, making $10,000 a year, I had these same choices.  I decided to get up.  I decided to develop a new game plan.  I decided to ask for help.  And in doing so, I found success.  Now, what are you going to do?

If you need to press the help button, simply click here and reach out to Debbi and her team.  They have developed products, books and services to serve you anyway that they can.  Personal finance is personal and Debbi and her team are here to meet you where you are and help you reach all of your goals and dreams!

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

Posted in College & Student Loans, You and Your Money

Back to School

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Well, here we are again.  One week from today, my daughter will be heading back to college for her junior year.  Where does the time go?  But I digress.

This time of year can be a major budget breaker if we are not careful.  Last year, I spent a lot of money getting her everything she needed for her dorm thinking this was a one time thing.  But every year they change dorms so of course there is always that “need” for new stuff.  And if your children are in K-12, don’t think you are off the hook.  Every year the schools provide a new supply list based on their grade.

The one big lesson that I have learned, however, is that just because the school or even your student says they “need” it doesn’t mean you have to buy it.  Below are a few tips for saving money when the “Back to School” season starts:

  • Take an inventory – Whether it is clothes, school supplies or dorm items, make sure you take an inventory of what you already have.  Just because it is a new school year doesn’t mean everything has to be new.  Did you know that it is possible to start the new school year without one single new outfit?  Or one new notebook?  I’m not saying don’t buy anything – I’m just saying be realistic about what they need and what they want.  Don’t break the budget buying items that they already have and are in perfectly good shape.
  • Stick to the budget – I love a good sale!  Who doesn’t?  And the sales at this time of year can be amazing.  But it is only good if you need the item that is on sale and if you have the money budgeted to buy the item.  Be careful not to get swept up in all the sweet deals.
  • DIY – This is mostly for the college readers, but can apply to anyone.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars decorating your dorm room, use stuff that you already have from home to make it feel more comfortable.  Also, make stuff to decorate with.  Get a cool frame from a yard sale, thrift store or even the dollar store and put your favorite picture in it.  Decorating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and you will feel at home if you have touches of it with you.

It is so easy to get swept up in the chaos that is back to school shopping.  And it is easy to spend way to much if you don’t go in with a plan.  Using the steps above, you will be well on your way to making this the best year ever without breaking the bank.

I hope everyone has an awesome year – whether you are starting school for the first time, moving on to the next grade or heading to or back to college.  These years are precious and need to be treasured, not for what you bought but for the experiences you will have.  Sending you prayers, love and encouragement!  Go kick some butt!  ~Debbi