Category Archives: Money Management

How to Reach Your Savings Goals in 2020

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Woman with short brown hair holding tiny white Christmas lights up to her face and shoulders, covered in a blue knit sweater.
Photo by Clay Banks

Ready to finally reach those saving goals that you’ve been aiming for over the last few years?

With the new year just around the corner, everyone is thinking about resolutions and strategies that they can use to change their life for the better. However, while it’s always a good idea to eat healthier and get more exercise, one of the best changes you can make to your usual routine is learning how to spend your money better.

After all, what would you do if your car suddenly broke down tomorrow? Would you take out a personal loan, struggle to find credit, or have emergency savings that you can use? Here are a few ways that you can start to turn things around in 2020.

Have a Target

The most important thing you can do when you want to make a change to your finances in 2020, is have a target. Don’t just tell yourself that you want to save more money. Although that technically is a kind of goal, it’s way too vague. You need something more precise if you want to make a real difference this year.

What do you want to be able to celebrate by the time the next new year rolls around? Maybe you want to have enough cash aside so that you can put a down payment on a new home. Maybe you want to go on a family vacation to some far-off, distant land.

There’s no wrong answer.

Track Your Spending

If you want to put more of your cash towards your future, then you also need to know where your money is going now. Think about where your dollars are going each day. Maybe you’re spending a fortune on fuel for a run-down old car, or perhaps you’re constantly paying for subscriptions to television resources that you don’t use.

Tracking your spending will help you to pinpoint the areas that you can cut costs in, so that you can start making a real difference to your finances. You might even find some opportunities to reduce costs that you never thought about before.

Banish High-Interest Debts

When you start looking at where your money is going each month, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some payments to debt companies in the mix. You might have some loans from places like MoneyWorld that you need to manage, or credit card debts. If that’s the case, take a look at the kind of interest rates that you’re paying, and see whether you can reduce the costs by consolidating your loans.

Consolidating your existing debts into something less expensive can be a good way to keep costs low. The less you have to spend on interest, the more you have to put away towards your savings at the end of each month.

Make Saving Automatic

Why not make saving cash in 2020 an easier process? One of the main problems that people have with saving these days, is that they forget to put money into their savings account after they’re finished paying for all their debts and other bills.

However, if you turn saving into an automatic process, then you’re less likely to forget about it. At the end of each month, arrange for an amount of cash to transfer into your savings account. This will mean that you don’t have to remember to make a deposit.

Additionally, if your money is automatically coming out of your current account and into your savings account each month, you’ll be less likely to spend it. As soon as you check your bank statement, the money you would have spent will already be gone.

Use the 24-Hour Rule

Are you a victim of impulse buying? It’s easy to get that way these days. Purchasing things online and offline is easier than ever thanks to things like one-click purchasing. To reduce your risk of buyer’s remorse, go to all your favorite websites online and remove your personal details from them. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to go and find your credit and debit cards whenever you want to make a purchase.

This will help you to stick to the rules that you set for yourself about how long you need to leave before making a purchase. For instance, most experts recommend giving yourself 24 hours to think about any significant purchase of more than about $20. You can reduce that cap if you need to, as well.

3 Crucial Steps to Rebuild Your Finances After Recovery

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

leaves hanging on a twine line fading from green to  yellow to red.

Drug addiction does more than damage your health and personal relationships. In most cases, your finances will also take a big hit. According to research, more than 27 million Americans between twelve and thirty abuse drugs. This is the most productive age for any economy, making a problem to stay aware not only individually, but also on a societal level.

If you are rebuilding your finances after rehab but feel lost on where to start, these tips will point you in the right direction. 

1. Harness your skills 

The crucial step to make is to get some money coming in. The cost of drugs and other substances is high, so it’s likely the hole you are in is pretty deep.

To get back to the workforce, you need to harness your skills. Did you have a job before addiction took over? Where did you work? What are you good at? These, among other questions, will help you figure out a starting point. OxyContin Attorneys advise that you stay clear of stressful jobs because they are likely to lead to relapse. Instead, find something you enjoy in a structured environment, and one with the opportunity to grow.

2. Create a budget 

Before you create a budget, take an in-depth look at your situation. Accept where you are, and then make plans on how you are going to repay your debts and get yourself out of the red. You may end up trying the zero-sum budget, the 50/30/20 budget or the envelope method. Regardless, budgeting is not easy, especially if you’re trying to get out of a particularly difficult cycle.

You may have to sacrifice more when you start, but with consistency and dedication, you will enjoy the process and see progress. 

3. Commit to the process 

It’s one thing to have a desire to make things work, and a completely different thing to actualize your plans. In some cases, you will find yourself starting, but abandoning ship somewhere along the way. Do not give up. Instead, renew your commitment and do everything in your power to make it happen.

Getting discouraged is easy, but it’s even easier to allow life to get in the way when there is so much to do and such little money. Every financial journey is different, but most are tricky when starting. You’re going to have to make some hard decisions, and you may even make some bad decisions along the way. This is normal.

Eventually things become easier, and you find yourself moving through the world with less and less financial anxiety. 

Rebuilding your finances takes time. Do not pressure yourself into making it happen overnight. The mess was not created in a day, so don’t expect it to disappear magically. Instead, stick to the plan, be honest with yourself, and keep moving no matter what. It helps to sign up for financial classes where you can learn tons of things about how to manage your money, make and stick to a budget, and even how to invest and grow your wealth. 

How to Handle Medical Bills You Can’t Afford

This post is brought to you and contributed by Amara Etter.

Many people think of bankruptcy as the result of people spending above their means on lavish vacations, large houses, expensive vehicles and fine dining.

But the truth is that about two-thirds (66.5 percent) of bankruptcies occurr because of medical expenses, either resulting from the direct cost of healthcare or because people had to take time off work due to an illness. The same research shows only 44.4 percent of bankruptcies are attributable to living beyond one’s means. This just goes to show many Americans experience financial distress because of something they have little to no control over.

Have you ever found yourself wondering how you’re going to pay off your medical bills? Here are some tips for dealing with healthcare-related expenses you can’t afford to pay out of pocket right away.

Review Your Charges Carefully

Medical bills are not always the most fun reading material. In fact, oftentimes they’re convoluted and difficult to understand. This is exactly why it’s so important to read them over rather than assuming everything must be correct simply because they came from a hospital or doctor’s office. Your medical bill may actually include an error like an overcharge — and you can only correct this costly mistake if you identify it.

Here are some steps Investopedia recommends when it comes to reviewing your medical bills:

  • Ask for an itemized breakdown of charges so you know exactly what each procedure costs.
  • Make sure you received all the services and medications listed; ask specifically about any charges you don’t recognize or understand.
  • Ask your healthcare provider and insurance company to audit your bills and correct any mistakes on their end.
  • Ask questions and develop a relationship with the finance departments, as the professionals within can help you navigate the complex process of handling your bills.

Before you start stressing over how you’re going to pay your bills, make sure the charges are accurate.

Try Negotiating Your Bill Right Away

Try negotiating down your medical bills before they become delinquent. Ask if the medical establishment in question has an assistance program — and if so, whether or not you qualify.

You can also ask for a rate reduction based on financial hardship. You may be able to work out a deal where you pay a percentage of the total original sum or work out a payment plan with low or no interest. You never know your options until you ask.

You also may be able to buy yourself some additional time to come up with funds before the hospital or doctor’s office sends your account to collections; it’s important they know you’re trying.

Explore Your Debt Relief Options

Are you already saddled with medical debt? If you’ve ever had to use a credit card to pay off a medical procedure, you know how frustrating and hopeless this cycle can feel.

Before filing for bankruptcy, explore your options. Many Americans have undergone debt settlement through Freedom Debt Relief due to overwhelming unsecured debt — like medical bills and credit card debt. Another option is to work with an NFCC-member credit counselor, who may be able to get you on a Debt Management Plan (DMP) in which the credit counseling agency distributes your monthly payment to creditors in exchange for more favorable terms.

Create an Emergency Fund

Last but not least, try to protect yourself from future medical debt by building an emergency fund slowly but surely. Even tucking away a few dollars a week can help you build up a protective buffer against debt. Having an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses ready to go can help you accommodate medical bills before they turn into staggering debt.

Are you facing medical bills you can’t afford out of pocket? Don’t panic. Review the charges, ask questions, negotiate and explore your options for debt relief strategies. Then focus on building an emergency fund for the future.

How to Get Free Tickets to the Mamas Talk Money Summit

The past couple years I’ve been doing a lot more live events. I’ve organized round table discussions for female freelancers, spoken on ABLE accounts and gathered audiences of women together to talk books and money.

It’s not something I thought I’d be doing eight years ago when I started blogging anonymously, but it turns out it’s something I enjoy.

The only bummer about doing these live events is that when you’re in one city…you’re in one city. I can’t invite all of you to come. I mean, I could, but I’d have to be hungry for a lot of rejection.

The live event where everyone can come.

That’s why I’m super excited to let you know I’ll be speaking at the Mamas Talk Money Summit.

In my sessions, we’ll be covering finances when you’re raising a special needs kiddo, which includes things like ABLE accounts, but also includes things like Medicaid access, maximizing resources extended to your child in IEP meetings and more.

My topic is very niche. The idea is to speak to all moms, so there are five days packed full of content about being a mother and managing money; there’s something for everyone!

There are two best parts:

  1. The summit is happening entirely online, so EVERYONE CAN COME!*
  2. If you’re watching live, the summit is 100% free, so EVERYONE CAN COME!*

You can signup to register for free here.

Sessions I’m excited for.

There are five full days of speakers for this event. You can catch me on Friday at 2:15 p.

There are other speakers you won’t want to miss, either. Like a ton. Here are some of the one’s I’m most excited for myself:

10 Steps to Financial Wellness with Tiffany Aliche

Find Tiffany’s session on the full schedule.

The first time I saw Tiffany speak was at a conference in Charlotte. She blew me away. She was entertaining, confident, smart and into establishing environmental supports to help people make wise money decisions.

Crazy excited to attend her session on October 21 at 2:15p. She’ll be talking about her own financial journey and the lessons she learned along the way that helped her feel financially “whole.”

4 Indispensable (But Rarely Talked About) Moves for Your Money with Jen Hemphill

Find Jen’s session on the full schedule.

Reading Jen’s book was so eye opening. I learned a lot about my own psychological baggage with money, and that knowledge helped me get conquer some hurdles I didn’t even know I was tripping over.

Needless to say, I’m pretty psyched for her session covering the emotions behind money. You can catch it on October 22 at 8:30a EST.

Surviving and Thriving When Tragedy Strikes with Michelle P. Cooper

Find Michelle’s session on the full schedule.

Michelle became a widow and single mother very suddenly. While money isn’t the most important thing in moments like these, having a grasp on how to manage that money well is imperative if you want to make it out of such upheaval financially healthy.

In my opinion, everyone should go to this session. You never know when tragedy will strike. You can prepare for it with Michelle on October 23 at 1:00p EST.

How to Create Positive Change at Work with Georgene Huang

Find Georgene’s session on the full schedule.

We talk a lot about gender inequality in the workplace here on Femme Frugality. It’s great to know that a problem exists, but how do you go about fixing it as a member of the oppressed group?

Gerogene Huang will be tackling that very topic on October 24 at 3:30p EST. I’m really excited to learn from this one. I know the methods I’ve used to successfully affect change without flipping over the entire apple cart, and I’m incredibly excited to pick up some new tools.

The Best Ways to Teach Young Girls About Money with Dina Shoman

Find Dina’s session on the full schedule.

Culturally, we still don’t talk to our daughters about investing as much as we do to our sons. Unsurprisingly, that results in girls and women feeling less confident in this area and compounds the coexisting investing gap.

On October 25 at 8:30a EST, Dina Shoman is coming to the Mamas Talk Money Summit to teach us how to change that. Dina is going to talk about how to help girls feel more confident across their finances, and I’m already getting ready to jot down notes.

Managing Your Finances with a Special Needs Child

Find my session on the full schedule!

With yours truly on October 25 at 2:15p EST!

Here are some of the things we’ll talk about:

  • Health insurance.
  • Applying for SSI to establish disability.
  • ABLE accounts.
  • Ensuring your child gets everything they’re entitled to at school.
  • Career and higher education resources available to your child starting around middle school.
  • And more!

And so much more!

Seriously, everyday is packed with great sessions. There are so many more great ones that I’m excited about that I just can’t cover them all in one post!

Make sure to check out the full schedule.

What if I can’t attend the Mamas Talk Money Summit live?

If you can’t catch a session live, it will be available for replay for 48 hours.

If that doesn’t work for you, or you want to be able to rewatch the content, you do have the option of purchasing an All Access Pass. Here’s what you get with this pass:

  • Lifetime access to all videos & their accompanying worksheets
  • One page summaries of each talk
  • Transcripts
  • MP3 downloads of sessions
  • 4 live group Q&A calls with Chelsea Brennan in the weeks following the event, just for All Access Pass holders

The pass normally costs $87, but if you purchase right now, you’ll get the early bird price of $67. That’s a 23% discount!

What do you say, friends? See you there?

*Obviously, not everyone has internet access, and they may not be available during the session time even if it is free. So I know not everyone can come. But those who are reading this blog post and prioritize the event probably can find a way to make it happen, or can catch the sessions via the All Access Pass.

Flow & Income Goal Chart Updates

A long, long time ago,

on a blog far, far away (seriously, it was two domains ago,)

I wrote about contentment and flow.

Honestly, it’s been a long time since I felt anything close to content. Not a long, long time. Just a long time.

Which is why recently, a sense of enjoyment in my regularly irregular routine — a not-stressed-out-feeling which I hear some other people have all the time — has been rocking my world.

I’m building a life that’s good for me. It’s not the most mathematically advantageous. I’m enjoying the work of improving my parenting skills. I recently got addicted to coffee, and some days I’m feeling way more bummed out than content.

But I’m liking that this feeling keeps cropping up. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Like I’m finally at a place in my life where I can build rather than repair.

Life is not a straight line. Nothing is static. My contentment, like my income, will ebb and flow. But it’s nice that the tide is finally coming in after a long while. Hopefully it’s not too fleeting.

Speaking of irregular income…

You may remember that last month I rocked my income goal for the first time ever. (Though I’m not even half a dozen months in.)

I’m sorry to report that I didn’t quite hit my goal this past month, doing a great disservice to H.E.R.

I sincerely apologize.

Partially colored in income goal progress chart reading "God is a woman I know H.E.R."

But, two things. First, not every month is going to be consistent when you’re freelancing. It was awesome to hit my goal last month and fun to try again in September, but I’m not going to beat myself up about not having it consistent yet.

The second thing is that last month was FinCon, which is one place where I pick up work, but is also so action-packed that it’s impossible to really get work behind the keyboard done while I’m there.

While I was at FinCon, I had a lot of great conversations, making both new friends and new business partners. It will pay off in time; September just looks a little funky because of it.

Nicki Minaj and Queen Bey are inspiring me this month:

Income goal chart partially colored in reading "Today I'm icy but I'm praying for some more snow."

I’m really hoping I can get there again. Given that it’s Day 2 and I’ve lined up more than 50%, I’m feeling like it’s not an unrealistic intention.

But we will see friends!

How have you been doing with your income goals?