Financial Fridays: 5 Things That’ll Save You Money Now!

Welcome to Financial Fridays! Are you looking for financial advice so that you can obtain financial freedom, meet your savings & investing goals and retire early? Well you’re in the right place. Here’s 5 quick tips on things to do, to help you save money now.

1) Stop paying too much for insurance!

I remember the first time I switched over my car insurance I was 19 with a brand new Hyundai and my monthly payment had just increased by $54! I called and asked why and they informed me that rates all across the state has increased, as they do biannually. I called around, found a better price and cancelled that day. Six months later I did it again, at this point I had gotten $20 below my ORIGINAL insurance rate. I did this a few more times. I no longer have to do this because I finally settled down with State Farm. They give me great discounts for bundling all of my insurance needs. But, I suggest switch and cancel at least once to add big savings to your budget.
2) Stop buying expensive clothes, especially for your kids!

I have a growing 5 year old boy who I like to look good. He has just as many Ralph Lauren shirts and Levis as the next kid. But, I NEVER pay full price, like ever. There are a couple things I do to keep the clothing budget cheap. I shop sales and consignment when shopping for my little guy. I check out the back of Atlanta Parent to figure out what consignment sales our coming up in our neighborhood. I also frequently shop at store like, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Ross to find him name brands for cheap. When I need to stock up on school clothes and graphic tees, I aim for Crazy 8’s, Children’s Place and Zulily. I love these stores the most when they send me 10% to 25% off coupons.

Two tactics I use to keep the closet and wallet full are 1) buying in advance and 2) shopping off season. I shop for Deuce’s summer clothes the winter before and vice versa. I will get him pretty much anything with a great sale price. He was 6 months old with outfits in his closet up to size 3T. My philosophy is that he’s going to grow, I might as well buy these $1 shirts now.

I honestly don’t shop for myself much, I haven’t grown in years. But, when I do I typically stick to the sales racks and online deals.
3) Stop eating out and start eating in!

So, I recently reviewed my spending over the past 12 months and I was shocked to see I spent nearly as much on food as I did on general shopping. Overall, I spent WAYYYY too much money eating out. It’s an expense I’m definitely focused on cutting this year. There are two key ways to start eating more at home and out less, trust me your wallet will thank you. I know you’ll miss lunch with your co-workers, but financial freedom tastes better.

Meal planning: This is the primary method I use to cut costs. I plan out my meals for the next two weeks before I go shopping. I sit at the dining table with the local grocery store ads and my computer open to the digital coupons that match. I create as many meals as possible based off what’s on sale, especially the proteins. I make sure to check the pantry and freezer inventory before heading out to avoid buying things we already have.

Meal prepping: This is level two of meal planning, I’ve done it before and I dream of living this life again. With meal prepping not only do you plan the meals in advance, but you cook large meals and portion them all out. When I meal plan I save about 30%, when I meal prep I save about 50% on total food costs monthly! I typically will only cook two days a week Sundays and Wednesday, I will cook 2-3 meals each prep night.
4) Start using cash and start leaving your cards at home!

The best way to not spend money, is to not have money. I save sooo much when I leave my credit and debit cards at home and only leave with my cash budget. I used to make excuses all the time to make sure my debit card stayed close (i.e. an emergency might happen, Deuce might get too hungry while we’re out, etc). Don’t be like me and make excuses. Instead, make a decision, to stand on the financial ground you mapped out.

5) Stop spending extra money on utilities!

Okay so I probably could write an eBook on all the ways you could possibly cut your utility costs. But, I’ll just share my favorites with you today.

  • Cut the cord. Do you really need that expensive cable? There are tons of cheaper options for TV that can save you money. Netflix, Hulu, Sling and a few others. Don’t forget to check out your local library. Many libraries host online movie databases to their card holders, for free.
  • Flip the switch. How many lights are on in rooms without people when you look around you? If you’re saying 2 or more you need to have a family meeting. The men of my house will literally leave on 5-7 lights on at a time!!!! Talk to the kids and the adults, let them know the importance of energy efficiency.
  • Use your resources wisely. I discovered that in Georgia electricity actually costs less between the hours of 11pm and 5am. What does that mean for me? If means that I schedule the dishwasher and laundry to complement those hours as much as possible to save me money. Most of the time I’m up anyways. Check into your local company to see when their peak hours are. Align your big energy activities during the off hours to save money.

I hope you guys have enjoyed this Financial Friday post! I look forward to assisting you with meeting your financial goals one day at a time. If you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out at tbyd@thesonshineenterprise.com.

Make sure to share, comment and subscribe! See you Monday for the next “Momming on a Budget post!”

Momming on a Budget: Snacks for Small Bellies & Small Wallets

We all want our babies to eat good and live well. We want nothing but good fruits and veggies in their diets, with no fast food. But, let’s be honest, we’re moms, we’re busy and we’re tired. Which makes good eating such a demanding chore. I want to help you make it easier to actually meet your healthy eating goal, without breaking the bank.

  1. Make your snacks in bulk: Save yourself the time by just making a bunch of snacks when you are making one, it’s worth the extra 5 minutes, I promise. Just grab a couple before you head out and the house, and avoid the fast food stops to cure their hunger. You also have them conveniently on hand for when you’re doing other things around the house. Here’s a few ideas for quick, easy, cheap snacks that you can stick in small 2-4 oz containers or sandwich bags.
    • apple slices and peanut butter (the apples will last 3-5 days in the fridge once sliced)
    • carrots/celery and dip (ranch or peanut butter)
    • mini wraps (use 6 inch flour tortillas, stick in baked chicken chunks/lunch meat with lettuce, cheese or anything else)
    • make a pan of granola bars using your kids favs (cut them into squares and stick them into airtight bags)
    • cheese blocks (add nuts, strawberries or anything else)
    • yogurt and pretzels (if your kid isn’t a yogurt dipper maybe try go-gurts here)
    • MINI-PIZZAS! obviously my favorite (bake/buy crust, cut it into kid size portions; put cheese, pizza sauce and pepperonis in a storage contain; add a Popsicle stick for spreading)
    • glad-contain
    • One of my favorite snack containers, 8 ct, 4 oz, you can find these at Walmart for about $4
    • take-toss
    • These are 8 oz size for larger snacks, they come in a 6 ct at Target for $3
  2. Make the snacks accessible: Do you have a toddler that won’t stay out the fridge? Do they grab the ketchup and onions constantly? Do yourself a favor. Put healthy snack choices on kid accessible shelves to encourage healthy snacking. Wash off some apples, add a few snack containers of grapes/strawberries/cantaloupes, maybe some yogurts and mini water bottles. The more bad food they see, the more bad food they desire. Keep the cookies and cakes out of sight.
  3. Take the extra minute and pack the snack: Now you’ve done all this snack planning, the most important step is to follow through. How many times are you out and about, running errands, enjoying the sunshine and your toddler bursts into a hunger fit. You stick a applesauce squeeze in his hand, you scramble around your purse for the straw to the milk box, because who needs a diaper bag for a 3 year old. Sound familiar? Take the extra three minutes to put the snacks and drinks into an insulated lunch bag. You’ll thank yourself later when the snacks are still cold and easy to get to.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I look forward to helping every mommy I can save time and money. Look for the next “Momming on a Budget” post next Monday!

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Cheap/Free Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine's Gifts

If you’re here reading this post I know two things about you: 1) You’re a procrastinator like me 2) You have some people around you that need some presents today!

Don’t worry I’m here to help!

Spouse:

  1. Coupon Book: You know those things you hate to do that your spouse lovvvves for you to do? Now’s the time to show them your love with a custom coupon book! Don’t forget to add the kinky and romantic coupons too 😉
  2. Dinner & $3 gift: Have dinner, cook it yourself, make it meaningful. Have an indoor picnic or a candle lit dinner. When it’s over, present them with oil and a candle or bubble bath and a candle, continue the party from there.

Kids:

  1. 14 Reasons Why: Tell your little ones how much they mean to you. Type or draw up a list of 14 reasons why you love them. Get creative, sticky notes on the mirror, cardboard heart over their bed, whatever, have fun.
  2. Coupon Book Kids Version: Give your little babies a couple freebies, a day that they can skip the dishes, a day where they can stay up late, free hugs and kisses!

Friends:

  1. Unexpected love note: Do you have a friend that you need to express your love to? Make a homemade love note expressing your appreciation and stick it in their mailbox.
  2. Snacks: Come on who doesn’t like handmade goodies, especially when they’re heart shaped. Cookies, cakes, pies, whatever. Bake it, split it up, wrap it and share!

I hope these help! Good luck fellow procrastinators! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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4 Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Job

We’ve all been there, hanging on a thin thread, wondering is it worth it. Is  it worth it to continue to give another individual 40-60 hours of your life every week? To deal with their drama, their problems and their workplace gossip? Is it worth it to keep waking up early, to avoid traffic, to still get jammed on I-20? Many clients have been asking me, when should they quit their job and start working for themselves full time, I tell them:

“Before you type up that resignation later, think about these 4 things…”

1) How will you replace the income?

  • The first thing you need to figure out is how you will supplement your income and how much income you NEED. Figure out what your baseline is to sustain yourself, use your budget (if you haven’t made one, check out my last blog). Make sure you accurately change and calculate expenses that will reduce or disappear (i.e. gas and parking, afterschool childcare costs, etc). Now be realistic with yourself, can you support that amount tomorrow if you walk away from your job today?
  • Make sure you have enough money saved to sustain all costs for at least 2 months before you cut off your guaranteed income. Now this isn’t enough to be safe, but this plan is for those who really can’t wait much longer. If you have time, space and opportunity, save for six months of expenses. I refer to this concept as Cashout Before You Crashout. Don’t throw yourself into bankruptcy when you could have saved in advance and avoided the financial drama

2) Is it likely for the same issues to arise in the new opportunity?

  • Don’t jump out the skillet into the fire. If you are hating your job because of the commute, don’t pick another one that’s still 20 miles away just on a different freeway. If you hate being micromanaged, don’t pick another company with less than 10 employees and think it won’t happen again. Regardless of what your situation is, be sure the new opportunity won’t present the same issues.
  • If you are going into work for yourself, make sure you have your head on straight. Are you responsible? Are you prepared to work 6-12 hours, seven days a week? Hopefully not permanently. But, if you cannot handle a temporary grind without someone “making”  you do it, you might not be ready. If you are having childcare issues, will this still be an issue with your line of work or schedule? Make sure you think through all of the changes that will occur when you leave your job.

3) Are you being emotional?

  • Be honest with yourself. How much of your reason for walking out the door is deep set in emotion? I’m mad! I hate them! My boss is annoying! You may need to re-evaluate and learn how to separate your emotions while at work. Understand that you are not there for happiness, nor peace of mind. You are there to work, you are there to perform your job, collect your check and go home. Happiness, joy, love, friendship, those are for outside of work. Mixing that up will only cause trouble and emotional torment. Don’t have expectations of friendliness amongst peers or supervisors. Instead, expect respect and professionalism. If those expectations can’t be met, it make be time to move along in your career elsewhere.

4) How quick and easy will the transition be?

  • Alright so you’re thinking things through, you have some money saved you’re jumping out the boat, but wait. How close is the raft? Can you see it? Or have you just started thinking about it? Don’t be so eager to quit your job that your don’t have your next opportunity appropriately aligned. Study, research and plan according for exactly want to do next. You only have one life to live and you don’t want to regret career changes. A bad plan can cost time and money, that would have been better spent on being patient. Once you have made your decision to leave, shut your mouth and plan it out. Don’t discuss your plan to go with coworkers, you never know how quickly people will turn on you in the workplace for raise and position opportunities. Be strategic, continue to do your job well, do NOT be a slacker. Changing your work ethic will not benefit you in the long run, stay true to who you are. When the raft is in place, put in your two week notice, and jump!

 

before-you-quit

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3 Steps to Take Control of Your Finances!

Taking control of your finances always seems like a difficult task. But, I’m going to show you how easy it really is in three simple steps!

Step 1: Understand Your Finances

  • The first step to taking control of your finances is to face them. Stop running and hiding from the numbers. First, make a list of all your long term debts (i.e. house, student loans, car, etc). Next, make a list of all your recurring expenses, whether they be annual, monthly or bi-weekly, just note them as such (i.e. mortgage, utilities, car registration, etc). For flexible expenses such as groceries and toiletries, be sure not to leave them out, enter a monthly estimate. For annual/major expenses like car maintenance/business licenses/etc, estimate an annual amount and divide it by 12 to have a number for your monthly budget. You should have two lists in front of you now. Congrats, you have now successfully prepared yourself to create a debt payoff plan, as well as a monthly budget. Wasn’t that easy?

Step 2: Plan Your Finances

  • The next step is to organize and plan your payments accordingly. With larger bills like rent and childcare, total them for the month, then divide them based on how often you are paid (i.e. biweekly employee: divide the rent by 2, put that amount away each check). This helps soften the blow major bills can cause on your budget.
  • In order to understand your current status you have to look at your monthly debt to income ratio. Total all of your monthly income and then calculate all of our monthly expenses (use the list you created in the above section). What percentage of your income is needed to pay your bills? If you come up with a number of 70% or more, you’re in the orange-red area and it’s time to make some changes if you want to see some real growth.
  • Tip: Divide your monthly bills by your total income to figure out this percentage
    • Bills $2100, Income $3500: 2100/3500= 60%
    • In this example the individual needs to use 60% of her income to pay her bills.
  • Now that we have obtained that information, we can create your customized 50/30/20 plan. I’ve seen the minimalist budget plan of 50/30/20 everywhere. Though, it reads well, I don’t think it’s realistic for everybody’s situation. The three groups are essentials/personal/savings, respectively. I typically like to increase the amount going to my savings and then I split that amount in half. I then create sub categories of savings and future payoff. The future payoff category is what I use to pay off my debts early and essentially buy my financial freedom.
  • Once you know the remaining percentage of income you have left after bills, you can determine how these categories can work for you and your budget. The first two categories speak for themselves. Essentials are all the things you must pay for to survive (i.e. housing, utilities, transportation, food). Personal are all the things you like to add (i.e. cable, internet (unless you need internet to earn money), eating out). Category three, Savings requires the most planning and is also the most important category.
  • Go back to the list you created in step 1 with your long term debts, order them from smallest to largest. Use this as your game plan for knocking out your debt, with your future payoff funds. I have a spreadsheet that you can enter this information into for visualization and planning.
  • Now it’s time to make some decisions. In the above example the budgeter has $1400 left after bills, 40% of her income. She decides to split her remaining income into 10/30, giving herself 10% for personal spending $350, and 30% for savings $1,050. She’s a disciplined spender, be realistic with yourself, but still set goals to do better. In this plan we have a 60/10/30 split.
  • Here’s a couple other realistic splits, keep in mind in the real world these numbers are NOT perfect. And can be found in any variety, my personal budget is currently 68/12/20. Which is not good, but I’ve cut all my BS expenses. I have a ton of overhead and not enough income right now. Yours may look like 45/20/30: 65/5/30: 80/7/13: 50/35/15: 45/10/45: 60/15/25: or anything in between.

Step 3: Command Your Finances

  • Here’s the part where you have to put your foot down. You know what you want to do, so do it! Once you can see the clear path to financial success, don’t stray from it. In the above example the budgeter will save $500 a month and pay off an additional $550 of debt a month. She will save $6,000 in one year and will pay $6,600 more than the minimum payment on her debts annually.
  • Most of us deal with a financial vice. Regardless of what it is, now is the time to get it under control. If it cannot comfortably fit in your personal spending category, cut it completely. I know it’s hard, but if I can do it you can too. Stop making excuses for your spending habit. I used to love blaming mines on moments of sadness. I can tell you the credit card bills after $1800 of “sadness” finally made me get my act together.  If you need to get a finance buddy to keep you focused, do it. If you need to stick a picture of Terry Crews in your wallet, do it. If you need to leave your bank cards at home and give yourself cash, do it. Do whatever it takes to resolve your debt, set up your future and set yourself free!

I hope this has been helpful. Make sure to subscribe and share! If you’re interested in the spreadsheets behind this budget, email me! I’ll send them to you.

Start Planning Now, to Save Time & Money Later

Hey everybody! I hope you’re having a great New Year. In my last blog (click here to read) I discussed goals for this year, but what about next year? And the year after that? Well, I have a simple solution that will literally take less than ten minutes and will really give you something simple to look forward to. I wrote mine out three years ago and though some of my goals changed, others are still aligned and relevant. I call this document the T.G.I.F. (Thank God I’m Focused) plan, follow us today to get a copy for your own personal use. It’s something I was inspired to do after watching E.T. The Hip Hop Preacher’s Thank God It’s Monday Youtube videos. If you haven’t heard of him you can check his videos out here, they are super inspirational and kept me afloat in college.

I originally had my T.G.I.F. posted above my desk, I then folded it up and placed in my pillow case. It now lives in a small box on my desk. But, I know it’s there, I check it frequently and I continue to strive for those goals daily. It’s extremely important to keep your goals where you can see them, visualization keeps things present in your brain. You need two things to get your T.G.I.F. plan started: 1) Ten minutes of your time 2) Somebody that loves you to sign the pledge.

I want you to take a few minutes and think about your true goals and put them in broader terms than you usually would, keep it simple. T.G.I.F. provides slots for 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goals, keep it simple! Our true goals don’t lie in what you can accomplish this year, but what you can accomplish in this lifetime. Taking it in bite-size pieces will make your goals realistic and obtainable allowing you to progressively move forward with your life and your company.

How are your New Year’s Resolution goals going for Year 1? If you feel yourself already sliding off course, it’s time to tighten up those consequences. If you want to succeed, you have to hold yourself accountable.

I decided to give you guys three tips that I believe are super relevant to achieving your goals.

  1. Research is good, but having your own mind is better. Make sure that you are as critical of the “expert” pieces you are reading/watching, as you are on yourself. Some things you read/watch will not make sense or won’t be relevant to your situation. If this occurs, take whatever knowledge was relevant and move on from that strategy.
  2. Be confident, work confident. Regardless of the type of goal you are working towards (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, fiscal) you will need to actually put in work, if you want to see your goal come to fruition. Plan your work and your schedule, play the music you love, and grind away at your your to-do list.
  3. Learn how to say “no”. If you continue to go out to lunch every time your co-workers invite you, if you go out and spend $50 every weekend with your friends who found a babysitter, if you give others your time when you need it for yourself, you are failing yourself. Learn how to say “no” to benefit yourself, it’s not selfish, it’s self-care.

Continue to be a light in the world around you. Follow me today to get the FREE T.G.I.F. Worksheet. I posted a picture of mine on Instagram, if you don’t follow me find it @sonshine_enterprise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Plan an Incredible Year & Stick to Your Resolutions Too!

Hey Guys! I’m so excited to have you join me on my mission of fiscal and entrepreneurial success. There’s a ton I have planned for this year and I want you to stay tuned in order to achieve maximum results. Today let’s discuss New Year’s Resolutions.

I read a statistic that stated that 45% of Americans create NY Resolutions, I’m not sure how true that is but I can confirm at least 75% of the people around me tie themselves to new found expectations come January 1st. Though, most of them return to their natural behaviors before Valentine’s Day. I must admit, I too have fallen into that category many times before. But, one year I decided that I wanted to actually stick to my goals and I knew that was impossible without a plan.

So, the question is how do you make a plan that you can stick to, to actually achieve your resolution goals? It’s simple and I’ll tell you how, by just using these three rules.

  1. Be realistic.

    If you want to be successful in this you have to be honest with yourself. Like really honest with yourself. If you make $25,000 and pay reasonable adult bills including rent, car note, insurance, phone bill, etc. please don’t plan to save $20,000 this year. I will explain how to really calculate this later but just be realistic in order to be successful.

  2. Be focused.

    Take some time during this planning to review your behaviors of last year. Where did your free time go? When you got off work, would you lounge around on social media? I’m guilty. Would you watch TV? Pace around doing a lot of nothing? Sit in front of your computer without a goal list and ended up with a lot of unproductive sessions? Whatever the behavior was, get ready to get rid of it, you need that time to focus on your goals.

  3. Be ready to be held accountable.

    If you want to be successful you have to have consequences when you don’t meet your goals. There are a number of ways you can do this: Have an accountability partner, cut your spending budget for 2 weeks if you don’t meet you savings goal for 1 week, set alarms in your phone to align with the deadlines you set, etc.

Setting Your Goals

Let’s first, be realistic. For starters, don’t create a super long resolution list. I like to cap my goals at 5, if I accomplish them all early I can add 5 more in July. Next, you need to be extremely focused on what type of goal it is. This will allow to you plan the amount of energy to exert to each goal accordingly. I like to categorize my goals into one of these five groups; fiscal, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional. I then sub categorize them into either personal goals or business goals.Okay now the last step. What is your plan of action for holding your self accountable for each of these goals? Put your pencil down and think about this, what are things that would deter you from failing yourself the next time.

Example Goals

Here’s a set of example goals for you to get an understanding of how to set your own goals in a manageable way.

Goal Goal Type Sub Group Accountability Smaller Goals
Save $5000 this year Fiscal Personal/Business Cut spending budget when savings goal isn’t met 1. Create a budget to achieve this goal 2. Be more focused on meal planning and other spending cuts
Pray more consistently Spiritual Personal Will ask a friend to be my accountability partner and to check on me at least once a week 1. Add alarms into my Google calendar to remind me, maybe download a prayer app 2. Create more time for fellowship
Put in at least 25 hours a week into SSE Mental Business Will cut eating out from the agenda and focus during lunch 1. Set a strict schedule, stick to it 2. Add written to-do lists into my Pomodoro app to keep me on track
Let go of bad relationships and be open to new ones Emotional Personal/Business Use a journal to track when relationships are moving my spirit in a bad direction 1. Working on Goal 2 will help you achieve this goal easily 2. Be careful of the silent haters
Workout at least twice a week (25 mins each) Physical Personal Cut extra sugar out of my diet for the week when I can’t stick to my routinue 1. Create a schedule and plan what type of workouts will be done 2. Try out the free gym memberships, see if you like them

Stay Focused

Alright, so you set your goals and now here comes the hard part, sticking to them. If you have strong consequences in place to hold you accountable, you’ll succeed. If you feel yourself drifting away from your goals, it’s time to create tougher consequences. This will not be easy. So, get ready to draft and redraft your consequences as well as your smaller goals to achieve success.

I’ve created spreadsheets that align with the example above that will help you create your weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. If you are interested just subscribe to my blog and the templates along with a complete example will be sent via email.

I hope this has Brightened Your Day, stay tuned and stay positive!