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December 2015 archive

What does it mean to be Financially Stable?

First off what does being financially stable even mean?

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To me it means being able to pay for the necessities (rent, food, transportation) while still having a nice cushion for a rainy day.

The thing is that my definition may be different than yours. What I think is financially stable may  sound like I’m struggling to someone else. Maybe it means that you have money to go on spontaneous trips, be able to buy a new pony and a shiny Charizard while having zero debt and a nice, full savings account. It varies from person to person. What I want to know is, why don’t we ever talk about it?

I dunno

It seems to be a very rare topic of conversation among people, not just Millennials but all generations. The only time I’ve really talked about it was with my parents asking me if I felt financially stable. I mostly just shrugged and said, “I’m good,” but not really going into detail.

Lately I’ve been wondering why we aren’t curious about this term. When it comes to money talk no one wants to raise their hand and share if they’re doing poorly, but also if they’re doing well. I was talking to my sisters about financial goals for 2016 and I couldn’t come up with an answer other than to maintain what I’m doing now, because I’m actually doing pretty well (aside from my contract just ending, but that’s a topic for another day). I felt like I had to come up with a problem because I was starting to feel awkward and embarrassed. In reality it should be the opposite.

Striving to be financially stable should be something that we celebrate openly. It should make us want to discuss with others how we can improve our financial situation. In the end, isn’t that what we all really want?

YASSS

I’ve decided to issue you all a challenge! I want you to go and talk to one person about what being financially stable means to you. By sharing this you are opening yourself up the possibility of making it happen. You end up putting something positive out into the world and by saying it out loud you’re making your goal real. Instead of having those negative feelings about money, we can start working our way towards financial stability.

Start today and share in the comments what financial stability means to you and what you are doing to achieve your goal!

You got this!
-Karyn

Finance 101: A Quick Reminder Of What To Do With Your Money

Who taught you what to do with your hard-earned money?

Your mom or dad? Did you ask your friends? Do you listen to the advice a financial guru tells you?

Or worse, perhaps you don’t have a plan yet.

If you don’t have a plan, please don’t be hard on yourself. There are enough people telling you that you’re behind already. We’re here to encourage you to get on the right path right now.

Also, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

MarketWatch just released an eye-opening article that more than half of millennials (52 percent) have less than $1,000 in savings. And overall 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Woah.

We want to be in the camp that is killin’ the savings game, as well as earning mo’ money to have the lifestyle we truly want.

I love following the advice of the founder of LearnVest, Alexa Von Tobel. LearnVest is an online tool that empowers people to take control of their personal finances. The company was acquired by Northwestern Mutual for $250 million in 2015. Whenever I feel like I’m veering off-track with my finances – I seek out Alexa’s no BS advice.

She has a very simple three-step approach that she has shared in her book on how to start:

1. Know your take-home pay. This means recognizing that if you make $50,000/year, it’s going to be less than that after taxes.

2. Know where your money is going.
Use an app like Mint or LearnVest (if you’re in the US) to track how much you’re spending.

3. Know what you don’t know. There are so many challenges and complexities with finances. It’s important to go to someone like a financial advisor in your area who can demystify the process to getting what you want financially.

Once you know these answers, she has a rule called the 50/20/30 rule that she shares as a guideline of where your money should go.

50% to essentials: groceries, transportation, rent

20% to the future: paying off debt, saving for a home, investing

30% to lifestyle choices: concerts, gifts for friends, clothes, travelling for fun!

I hope this reminder helps you realize, it does not need to be super complex! You can do it and perhaps even have fun figuring out how to rock your finances!

-Gwen

 

Quitting is Easy

We’ve all been through tough times when it comes to money, failure, and everything in between. It’s easy to lose motivation. The hard part is getting back up when you fall down.

The only thing that separates you from everyone else is your will and drive to succeed—to never give up.

When life hits me hard, I turn to motivational videos, like this one. I personally love the passion and wisdom of Les Brown. I always end up feeling more positive and learning a new lesson in the long run.

Check out this video below for your daily dose of motivation:

“There’s no gain without pain.” -Les Brown

Don’t give up,
-Gabby

Financially Fab Female of the Month: Shannon Lee Simmons

Welcome to our Financially Fabulous Female series!

In our almost year-long journey of creating Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress, we’ve had the chance to learn from some absolutely amazing women (and men) who have taught us how to earn more, negotiate, save and take control of our finances.

In a monthly series we are excited to share with you our inspirations!

The first financially fabulous female we’re excited to share with you is Shannon Lee Simmons.

As a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), CIM (Chartered Investment Manager) and founder of The New School of Finance, Shannon is in the trenches of helping SO many people learn how to take control of their money. What’s so amazing about Shannon is that she teaches with humour and relatability. In The New School of Finance she has course called ‘Don’t Get Effed at Tax Time,’ ‘Budget with Your Boo,’ and ‘Track that Shiz’ to name a few.

We had the chance to ask Shannon a couple of questions and we’re thrilled to introduce you to our first Financially Fabulous Female!

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1. Hi! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a certified financial planner, chartered investment manager and founder of the New School of Finance.

2. Do you have a money habit that you practice that has made a big impact on how you make mo’ money or manage what you’ve got?

At the beginning of every year I list out my goals and plot out what needs to happen financially for me to make those happen. Then, I work backwards from there. I do my finances on purposes and adjust every year to reflect new goals, constraints and priorities. The savings plan I had when paying down student debt ain’t gonna cut it when saving for a down payment. I do this with my friends – we make a whole planning day around it. It’s not boring, it’s really fun and makes you motivated to reach your goals!

3. Who taught you how to manage your money? What was their best advice?

My parents. Their advice: Don’t let money define you.

4. What does being ‘financially stable’ mean to you?

Having enough money to pay your bills, travel and save for the long-haul.

5. What is the main lesson you think Millennials need to learn, or hear about, when it comes to making mo’ money and mo’ progress?

A little bit can go a long way. Don’t get discouraged. 🙂

Learn more about the amazing Shannon Lee Simmons here:

new school
Website: http://www.shannonleesimmons.com/
Twitter: @shanleesimmons
Instagram: @shanleesimmons

Knowing When To Say No

Once again I find myself unemployed trolling the internets for job posting and sending out my resume.

When I first found out that my contract was ending I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t be unemployed for five months like last time. This time around I’m giving myself two months… MAX. Since I haven’t been paying into employment insurance I won’t have that crutch while I’m looking for work. This is extra incentive to find myself a job ASAP.

Knowing I didn’t have this to fall back on my brain went into overdrive. But before it could explode I was able to get a job interview… and then a job offer. Suddenly I had a job! Within a week of being jobless I was an employed member of society again!

The only thing was that the position I was going to take didn’t suit my skills or my expectations. The company was amazing and had such a cool concept that I was psyched to get going. During my trial days I found that the tasks they had me completing weren’t what I expected. After working in such a fast-paced, high-stress job, the opportunity that I was given didn’t use me to my full potential.

Now, the money side of my brain was jumping for joy. This was a full-time position in a great location and the pay was alright. I was just so happy that it wasn’t a contract job and the stability made it even more appealing. The little banker in me was screaming that I should take it. Unfortunately there was also a little voice in my head nervously whispering that I should say no.

Why the heck would I say no? I had made a pact! I have bills to pay, student debt, and I’m probably going to be moving soon. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, people. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Every time I told someone about my new job they kept telling me that I should keep looking. Bigger and better things were out there for me. When I was describing it to them I wasn’t super enthused. I just kept saying that it was a stable job with steady income and that I just didn’t want to unemployed anymore. I wasn’t trying to convince them that it was the best choice, I was trying to convince myself that it was the only choice.

I tried to ignore the sinking feeling I had, but I couldn’t shut it out anymore.

I said no to the job.

Now I’m jobless and have no income coming in. I don’t get EI and still have debt and rent to pay, but you know what? It’s going to be okay.

I have a nice cushion in my account for this exact moment. I have people in my corner and new job experience in my pocket!

I can do it!

Wish me luck and stay tuned for some updates with my December Challenge!

Karyn

I’m Officially A Homeowner: How I Accomplished This Goal Under The Age of 30

Today, we are thrilled to share a guest post from friend of Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress, Pauleanna Reid.

I’ll never forget the day I checked my account balance and the statement said $2.09. I just wanted to cry because I felt so defeated. I had mountains of bills, creditors constantly calling me and no money to pay them. During my early twenties, my finances were such a mess and it was my best-kept secret. I was tired. I just couldn’t take the pressure of constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t just to fit in. I was depressed and had anxiety about my future… not only career-wise but my bank account was always in the red. Something had to change immediately.

Today, I cannot stop smiling because I just purchased my first investment property; a one bedroom stacked townhouse for $214,900 in Richmond Hill. It is currently in the pre-construction stage, so the strategy moving forward is to sell when it is fully established in 2017, take that profit to purchase another property and repeat those same steps when discovering new deals that surface in the market.

Work smarter, not harder

Work smarter, not harder

Work smarter, not harder

Work smarter, not harder

This has been my mantra for the past four years. But I want to share more about how I arrived here because I think the journey is much more interesting than the destination. I recently wrote an article called Broke & Living: The Big Money Lessons I Learned While Trying To Keep Up With The Kardashians which spoke about my inability to manage my money in my teens because I was too consumed with the idea of perfection.

What it looked like.

What it felt like.

Confused by my own definition.

Below is the action plan I created so that I could gain the skills, knowledge and tools needed to make the right choices about my future.

1. I sought after professional help

It’s never too early or too late to start planning for your future. The best person to talk to is an accredited financial advisor. It is recommended that you interview two or three in order to find a professional who understands your goals and has your best interest at heart. The first step is to make a commitment followed by a plan of action. When meeting with your advisor, he or she will encourage you to consider contingencies such as a disability, critical illness, or death within the family. It’s important to reassess how these circumstances will impact your life and what you can do to protect yourself. You need three things to reach your goal: time, money and rate of return. Focus on the two components you can control, which is time and money. Set small goals and think big. I started saving only $50 to $100 monthly four years ago. It’s not a lot but it’s more than a lot of people can say they’re doing right now. Today, I’m saving closer to $500 monthly. Still, not a lot but it’s what I can afford and I’m proud of my progress. Besides a contingency plan, you need to outline a budget. You’d be surprised how much money we waste on morning coffee and other items. You DO have money to save, you just have to keep it real with yourself.

2. Stress proof your financial plan

Life is all about change and at the drop of a dime an emergency can occur. Examine your plan regularly so that you can adjust it before something happens. Once it is designed to do a job, ensure that your goals are supported with the right options available to you. Protect your assets and don’t underestimate the need to do it sooner rather than later. Your actions will create discipline. I just turned 27. As I approach the golden age of 30, I see children, marriage and a fruitful career in my future. I don’t want to wait until I reach those milestones to start preparing for them. Life changes cost money. Money does not fall from trees. To avoid the stress, I started saving early. Then I took a look at my savings pool and thought about what power moves I could make in order to double, triple, or quadruple my money. The answer was obvious. Investing in real estate is one of the only sure-ways to accomplish this.

3. Invest with Confidence

Young investors should consider opening a Tax Free Savings Account because of the tax benefits. A Registered Retirement Savings Plan is a good option as well. The big payoff is that you have a far better chance to save enough money to do the things you want to do in the way you want to do them, for as long as you live. I won’t lie to you, taking action was very scary, but the idea of continuing to struggle financially was more terrifying. I will come right out and say it, I don’t want to struggle. Ain’t nothing cute about women who walk around with $2,000 designer handbags with less than $200 in them and ain’t nothing cute about a man who drives a nice car but can barely afford to pay his insurance. I want to have the financial freedom to live fully. I have the choice to do that right now. I have my future in my hands. So I took the necessary steps to inch closer to my goals.

In the past four years, my financial advisor, Ken Thomas, and my investing partner and realtor, Aaron Charles, educated me about how to clean up my debt and create generational wealth. They both schooled me on my careless spending habits and educated me on the same principles and values they use to navigate their lives. These two men each created something from nothing. They both started out like me but have disciplined themselves to create growing empires. Ken is the Division Director for Investor’s Group and Aaron owns more than $3 million in assets under management. Their energy has rubbed off on me BIG TIME.

Due to our country’s debt crisis, preparing the next generation about personal finance is critical now more than ever before. Financial literacy is a pillar which provides life support to a better future. The day I became a homeowner was the day everything changed for me. I purchased my first investment property under the age of 30; a goal I set for myself four years ago. People have many reasons why they hustle, but for me, the goal has always been to create a legacy; a brand and business that will outlive me. Ten years from now my (future) children will either eat or starve from the decisions I make today and I’m tryna raise kings and queens.

If you want more information about my real estate purchase or have any finance-related questions, please contact me directly and I will help you the best way I know how. If I can’t answer an inquiry, I can gladly forward you to my teammates Ken and Aaron directly.

Remember, if you never understand money, you will always be a slave to it. Don’t ever let what a man brings to the table be all you have to eat. The smartest thing a woman can ever learn is how to finance herself.

Guest Post by Pauleanna Reid

Pauleanna Reid is a motivational speaker, author and co-founder of New Girl on the
Learn more about Pauleanna at: http://www.pauleannareid.com
Twitter: @PauleannaR
Instagram: @PauleannaReid

Will It Ever Get Easier?

I’m almost 27 years old, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to know about finances.

When I hear people talk about stocks and bonds, I’m utterly confused. Saving for retirement? Haven’t even started. I’m still paying back my student loan, building a business on the side and living in a major city that ain’t cheap.

Every once in a while I feel completely defeated. This “compare and despair” mode especially comes up when I see Facebook statuses sharing, “I’m debt free!” I should be happy for them, but secretly I feel much further behind.

Why do I share this?

To recommit to being honest and open about money. Currently, I am not living life the way I want to.

This blog has been our outlet to share our adventures in making mo’ money and mo’ progress, and also a place to be brutally honest.

Even though I’ve made more money this year (with multiple streams of income) than probably in the last 2-3 years combined, I have come to the realization that I do not respect the money that comes in and have a solid plan to save and watch it grow. It seems like when I earn money, I immediately reinvest it somewhere new.

And it’s time to breathe, and respect the money that’s coming in.

Really today, I wanted to share that even though 10 years ago, I thought my almost 27-year-old self would have all the answers, I realize I am still figuring out the right questions.

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts. If you have any advice or tips to respect money, I am all ears!

-Gwen

 

1920s on a Budget

Last week I was trying to prepare for my work’s annual Christmas party. The theme was the 1920s: prohibition-style. It was going to be tough to find the right outfit, considering, well, nobody makes 1920s fashion anymore.

When I did the math, it would’ve cost me about $134 to get the perfect look, but then I realized I should probably figure out a cheaper alternative since Christmas is just around the corner, and I have a lot of special people to buy for.

I promised you all that I would find a way to manifest the perfect outfit with a budget of $20… and I ended up pulling it all together without spending a penny!

That’s right. I managed to whip something up without buying a single thing.

Let’s start with the dress: My awesome co-worker had a dress that didn’t fit her anymore, so she tossed it on my desk and told me to try it on. Surprisingly, it fit like a glove. I mean, I’ve never tried on a random dress that fit so well! BONUS: She let me keep it <3 Thanks, girl!

Tights: I needed to buy tights anyway, so having to wear some for the party was that little extra push to get me to the store! Sidenote: H&M tights are THE BEST. Only $14 including tax. I swear by them.

Necklace: I had this long, pearl and gold chain necklace that I literally never wear because I didn’t have the right occasion to wear it. It’s been so long that I completely forgot about it until I noticed it hanging on the wall. Well, damn. That’s another thing to check off my list!

Shoes: All my heels are totally NOT 1920s style, but I was lucky enough to find a pair I bought two years ago that went perfectly… but also killed my feet. The sacrifices we make for beauty.

Hair: I was tossing the idea around to get my hair done at the salon, but, once again, a co-worker came to my rescue and totally nailed it! She played around with it for a while and did this cool, curly side pony with pinned up bangs. When I arrived at the party, everyone thought I got it professionally done! Score!

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 10.33.45 AM
Me at the Blackjack table straight killin’ the game!

Moral of the story: sometimes you can really pull things together with a little extra thought and the help of your friends! In my opinion, unless you’re really into themed parties, just give it your best when it comes to finding the perfect outfit. Nobody will remember what you’re wearing, so it doesn’t make sense to break the bank, especially around the holidays. Just have fun and be in the moment!

Keep it real,
Gabby

 

Gwen’s November Challenge: Expenses!

I’m a side hustler.

As a side hustler, I have quite a few expenses that help me run my business.

From MeetingBurner for webinars, Libsyn for podcasting, Freshbooks for accounting and costs for business coaching, life coaching, podcast editing and the ‘small expenses’ that add up (like Dropbox to entrepreneurial events), I wanted to document and share all of the different expenses I pay every month and put it on one spreadsheet that I share with anyone interested.

That was my goal, and I have been faced with a HUGE amount of resistance to digging into the actual numbers and getting that grand total. Why? At the end of the day, it’s fear of judgement. I’m worried what people may think about the amount I spend on my business. But the truth is, I am worried about it too. So obviously, this is a big challenge I need to address.

So I was unfortunately unable to complete the challenge this month, but I will be taking it on again as my December challenge.

Send me all the positive vibes to get ‘er done!

-Gwen

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