Category Archives: Money Management

Abundance Mindset & Income Goal Charts

Long-time readers will remember that I have, at times, struggled with the scarcity mindset. Recently, I discovered that as much as I thought I had moved on from it, I hadn’t.

Since the divorce, I’ve been operating from a place of survival again. I had thrown a lot of money at trying to save things, and have had a hard time getting back to a place where I’m comfortable. I feel like I’m running on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter how fast I run or how many calories I burn; at the end of the day, I’m still in the same place.

One day while listening to Lizzo, I decided to do something ambitious. I decided to start setting monthly income goals that weren’t necessarily realistic. Realism is typically what I do.

But perhaps in this instance, realism was holding me back. What I realistically expect out of myself may be far less than what I am worth or capable of.

I calculated my dream income, divided it by twelve, and realized I wasn’t quite ready for my mindset to be that abundant.

I subtracted about $1k/mo. The goal was still crazy ambitious, but I figured if I hit it, I could raise it. I’m cognizant of the moon, but I’m also totally cool if I hit that number that’s $1k less, landing among the stars.

Am I hitting my income goals?

I busted out a pen and paper and drew my Lizzo-inspired income chart. Want to see how close I came to reaching my goal?

RIDICULOUSLY CLOSE!

I’m counting income as work I lined up and completed that month rather than the income I actually receive. I have far more control over the former, so it’s the metric I’m choosing to focus on.

Did making a chart really help?

Yes. It’s in a place I can see it everyday, and that did two things for me. First, it helped me remember how quickly small amounts really do add up to big sums. Each small block I colored in was its own victory, but zooming out and seeing my efforts inch me closer to my larger goal was really encouraging.

The other thing it did was really motivate me. So much so that I’m going to be using motivational lyrics of female artists moving forward to get me into action. For example, July’s chart inspired by Cardi B:

Scarcity vs Abundance Mindset

I could cut back my spending; I know how to live on next to nothing. And I’m going to take more drastic steps in that direction as I move through this process.

But for the first time, I’m embracing the idea that I can build my income to a point where I could actually meet some more of my goals rather than just continuing to slog through with the focus on extreme frugality.

I’m starting to have a little more faith that I can create my own future and truly believe it will come to pass rather than waiting for the floor to drop as I brace once again to pivot my goals to match my ever-changing surroundings.

This time around, I’m finding that establishing that confidence in myself at the income level is a step in the right direction. I’ve had more faith the money I need will be there when I need it, which can be a major concern when you’re a freelancer.

That makes me marginally less stressed so I tend to make (marginally) better financial decisions.

Those marginally better decisions start to make life marginally easier and easier still, reducing stress and upping good decision-making. Because you’ve asserted power in one area of your life, you feel like you can regain it in all the others.

This is all kind of heady. I mean, I’m only on month two of this little experiment.

But I’m curious: Have you ever struggled with abundance vs getting by vs realism? And if you created an income goal chart, which lyrics would you use to motivate yourself?

A Cat’s Guide to Money

Text reads" Who can say no to adorable kittens? Book review on Femmefrugality.com" Below that is a picture of a seafoam green book with illustrations of cats and money all over the front. The title is "A Cat's Guide to Money" author Lillian Karabaic

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to this great event in NYC. I’ll tell you a little more about it in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, you can follow along the photo journey.

ANYWAYS.

The point is I that while I was there, I got to meet a lot of new friends for the first time. One of them was Lillian Karabaic.

Lillian is amazing. She hosts the Oh, My Dollar! Podcast, has traveled the world and seen far away places I’ve only dreamed of and wrote a book where cats teach you personal finance.

In fact, she releasing the second edition in the coming weeks.

It’s a book about cats and money.

You need a copy.

A Cat’s Guide to Money

Guys, this is likely the easiest and most engaging personal finance read I’ve ever held in my hands.

It breaks down the same complex topics as other personal finance books: money mindset, budgeting, investing, student loans, debt payoff strategies, insurance, credit–it’s all in there.

But it does it with persistently delightful feline-inspired illustrations, puns, analogies and sometimes even stickers!

Very rarely do I read a personal finance book that’s so approachable. Lillian writes with empathy, zero judgement and a level of understanding that only comes through experience.

Also included: punk rock references and writing inclusive of the Rainbow Community.

Order Your Copy Today

picture of an open book with an illustration of a cat sitting on money on a solid purple background. Heading on the next page reads "2" for the chapter number, and then, "Purrrfecting the Budget"

A little over 24 hours ago, Lillian’s Kickstarter launched to get the self-published second edition to print.

In just over 24 hours, she’s already at half her goal!

If you want to get your hands on a copy, there are tons of ways to do so. To just get the book (including early shipping!) you can pledge as little as $7 for a digital copy and $22 for a print copy.

There are all kinds of ways to support this project, though, both for more and less cash. Rewards at different levels include:

  • High-quality cat stickers. (The kiddos and I gave them a test run! Love!)
  • A 12-month kitty calendar which will help you stay on top of things like bills and budgets.
  • A book donated to someone in need in your name.
  • Access to the Get Your Money Together online course.
  • An original illustration of your own money-smart cat (or just regular cat–it’s all right if they don’t know how to budget) in both print and sticker form.
  • Sponsor a financial workshop for low-income youth with a larger pledge.

Go pick up whichever package makes the most sense for your budget today!

Flash Education Opportunity: Credit Repair Masterclass

Text reads "Tia Chambers & Chonce Rhea Credit Repair Masterclass femmefrugality.com" image: backlit african american woman crossing her hands across her chest. Dark pink sunglasses are reflecting a series of white lines on the ground.

Mmmmkay. Let’s get real today.

Sometimes your credit score isn’t super hot. Maybe you had no idea what the hell you were doing with your money. Maybe you knew what to do, but couldn’t get the money flowing in fast enough to meet your financial responsibilities.

Whatever happened, having a poor credit score sucks. It means higher interest rates on loans–if you can even convince a financial institution to issue you a loan–higher rates on insurance in some cases, and a higher probability of losing your job or having trouble finding housing.

It’s not right.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it.

Catch Tia & Chonce as They Break Down Credit

You guys probably remember Chonce. She’s written here on Femme Frugality in the past, and shared her epic story of overcoming in The Feminist Financial Handbook.

She and powerhouse Tia Chambers are hosting a Credit Repair Masterclass tomorrow and you don’t want to miss it! The class will take place live online on April 4th, 7 pm CT/8 pm ET.

Both women are Certified Financial Education Instructors and have increased their personal credit scores by more than 100 points.

In this 90-minute masterclass, they will go over:

  • What makes a good credit score?
  • Common credit score myths you might have fallen for
  • Step-by-step DIY process to improve your credit
  • How to properly dispute accounts without hiring someone
  • Debt payoff tips and strategies
  • Should you trust credit repair businesses?
  • How to protect your credit and identity for the long haul
  • And more!

The masterclass will also conclude with a Q&A session where Tia and Chonce will stick around to answer everyone’s questions about credit.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to improve your credit, now is the time to take action and learn from the experts!

Tips for Maintaining Your Home So You Don’t End Up with Huge, Costly Issues

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

Outside deck with pink hues and blue pillows under a Califonian sky lined with other houses, palm trees and expansive white clouds in a blue sky.

When you’re a homeowner, there are regular costs to fit into your budget, such as monthly mortgage payments, various types of insurances, and repairs. However, while you want to save money and avoid putting your hard-earned savings into thing after thing when it comes to your home, keep in mind that you must complete maintenance throughout the year, every year, to keep things in order.

By sorting out maintenance tasks on a regular basis, and not leaving things unchecked for years, you will save yourself money, time and energy in the long run. Many people avoid doing maintenance jobs as they want to be frugal, but then find this backfires when they have to replace whole roofs, walls, floors, pipes or other areas because of a lack of maintenance.

To help you avoid this situation, read on for some top tips for maintaining your home this year and in future ones so you don’t end up with huge, costly issues on your hands.

Maintain HVAC Systems

One of the key things to stay on top of is your heating and cooling system maintenance. HVAC devices can be incredibly expensive to repair if major issues are found (and sometimes it can even be cheaper to replace units altogether), so it’s wise to do an annual or twice-per-year inspection to pick up potential problems ASAP.

Start by cleaning and replacing the filters in your heating and cooling units. The best time of year for this job is usually spring or fall, so that the machines will work more efficiently in summer and winter when you’re likely to be using them many more hours per day.

While a lot of people are comfortable doing the filter job themselves, for anything more intensive it’s a good idea to bring in an expert, such as these Atlanta HVAC contractors. In particular, if you notice cold spots in areas of your house, or if you hear any strange noises coming from the heating/cooling vents, you may have a ventilation issue, which will need to be examined by a professional. In addition, have a contractor check the condensation hose on your air-con annually to be sure water flows adequately from the line.

Pick Up on Pest Infestations ASAP

Pest infestations can be a big issue if they’re not picked up on quickly. Termites, especially, pose a risk as they can cause significant damage to the structure of your property and internal walls and doors, amongst other things. It’s easy for nests to both form and grow in a short timeframe, so have a pest inspector come to check the inside and outside of your home (including under the house and in the roof) annually.

There are some signs you can spot which indicate termites or other pests could be encroaching on your property, such as cracks and bubbles in paint and thin mud tubes on walls, but by the time you see these signs you’re actually likely to have quite a bit of damage to contend with. If you keep up with inspections, though, you should be able to avoid this situation.

Clean Out Gutters

It’s not a job that’s fun or quick to do, but regardless every homeowner needs to ensure their house’s gutters are cleaned out throughout the year. This should be done annually at a minimum, but it’s usually better to get the job sorted quarterly or at a minimum twice per year. If you don’t want to do the task yourself, ask a plumber or gardener or other qualified contractor to take care of it for you.

Cleaning gutters out is imperative because it gets rid of ice dams and icicles which can form and then melt and pool up, leading to rust and holes. The job can be completed with simply a leaf blower and a rake and bucket. Professionals often have more intensive equipment on hand to help them get through the work sooner.

Check the Roof

One job for your maintenance to-do list is checking the roof of your home. It’s not something you probably think about often, but because the roof has to cope with all sorts of weather, it can wear down over time and be damaged from extreme climate or even plants (such as creepers and vines) and animals.

Tiles and shingles may break, and any exposed areas can open up. This creates leaks and holes which can get into the inside of your home and cause further damage. Unless you’re trained in roofing, it’s best to hire a professional who can come and check the roof for issues and make repairs as needed. An annual inspection is fine for most properties.

 

#InternationalWomensDay2019 PF Blog Tour

Hey, guys! March 8th is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, I got together with some fab personal finance bloggers to arrange a blog tour. Each one of us answered the question, “Why is financial independence important to you as a woman?”

Keep scrolling to read Robin’s piece. It’s deep, and will definitely leave you thinking about money on another level.

Want to check out other posts in this blog tour? You can do so here:

As an Asian immigrant woman, I have to survive on my own and have learned not to use my background to lower my ambition.”

Elise on brokeGIRLrich

“When we were fighting over where to live, he ended the fight one day by just going out and buying a condo.”

Mel on Mastering the Side Jam

 

“You’re forced into poverty. You learn to get by on what little you have. There is no pathway to financial independence. And that’s not okay.”

Femme Frugality on A Dime Saved

“Women have worked so hard for the rights that were begrudgingly given to us. Let us not relinquish them. Even in our minds.”

Robyn on Little Seeds of Wealth

And now, without further ado, I introduce you to Robin from Mastering the Side Jam:

Why Financial Independence is Important to Me as a Gen X Woman

In honor of International Women’s Day, a group of female writers were asked to share why financial independence is important to them as women. I decided to participate, knowing my story might be a bit different than others in my age range. I’m located squarely within the Generation X era, generally considered to be middle-aged.

Far enough from youth that one would assume I’d have a fair amount of knowledge and wisdom. And while I won’t exactly dispute that, I will say I’ve worn my share of blinders over the years.

But also, I love having opportunities like this, as it provides a venue to experience and share many unique perspectives. Because every story is different. Every scenario weighted and affected by millions of decision points. Not one person has a life, or background, or “why” precisely the same as someone else’s. We are a product of our genetics, upbringing, influences, experiences, actions, choices, and challenges.

So why is financial independence important to me specifically?

I think it essentially comes down to how complicated life can sometimes become. Because for all the planning, and education, and best-laid plans …. well, you’ve probably heard the end of that phrase. No matter how much time you’ve spent in painstaking preparation, things don’t always go the way you expect them to.

Family Structures

Case in point: I am in a long-term, committed relationship. However, I am not married. Our relationship has lasted a lot longer than the marriages of some friends and peers. But just the same, we have no legal document saying we are responsible for, or indebted to, one another.

In addition, I’ve been the parent of two children who are not my own. I chose to raise them, provide for them, support them emotionally and financially. That was my decision. Do they owe me anything? No, of course not. I am not their mother. I love them like the children I never actually had (and never will.) But they technically don’t owe me a thing.

As I grow old and gray, there’s no guarantee I will have anyone to care for me in my later years. There’s no reason to assume they will provide assistance, like one might expect children to care for their aging parents. While I do give them the benefit of the doubt, since they’re amazing young men — it’s not a position I prefer to even put them in.

In my early 20’s, I willingly entered into a relationship with a single father of two children. Their “real” mother had hightailed it out of there, for reasons no one will ever know. But I knew what I was getting into. I was fully aware of what I might be giving up. How they would always come first, since they were his flesh and blood. I was just the person who cooked, cleaned, paid bills, packed lunches, attended school conferences and baseball games.

Putting the needs of all others above my own, because that’s what a mother does. (Even though I’m not a mother.)

Three women wearing pink and white khimars standing looking out at a blurred vista underneath a flowering, pink/purple plum tree. Underneath, pink and black words on a white field read "International Women's Day Personal Finance Blog Tour"

They’re grown. What next?

Twenty years later, they have sprung into adulthood. They’re self-sufficient, and I am nothing but proud of all they’ve become. But as they get older, their lives will begin to evolve as well.

They’ll fall in love, get an apartment or a house, begin a family. Do I want to remain a part of their lives? Absolutely! But that’s not an ironclad promise. Because their “real” mother may enter back into the picture. They may begin to feel nostalgic, and forgive all of her transgressions.

And if their father and I part ways someday? There’s a chance I may be cut out of the fold. After all, he is true family, and I’m not. What loyalties do they have for me, over him? When push comes to shove, if they’re forced to take a side, I know it would be him. It would have to be, since he’s their father.

He and I have never married, which I suppose makes it both better and worse. Better, because we legally don’t owe each other a thing. Worse, because it would almost be too easy for one of us to make that decision, take that leap. No messy divorce red tape to cut through, because we are just “dating.” (For twenty years.)

Because of that, he also does not owe me anything. All I did was raise his children, keep house, act as disciplinarian, and give up a huge chunk of my youth and child-bearing years. But that was my choice. I know that, and have no regrets.

Raising those boys has been the absolute best part of my life, and I truly believe it was my purpose. But also, acknowledging there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “Why bother changing now? We’ve made it this far — and marriage is just a piece of paper.”

And now that I’m a bit older, wondering where my life has gone — there’s a renewed frenzy to start getting my financial house in order. Because back then, I was needed. Whether appreciated or not, I was a staple in the household. They couldn’t get by without me. And now they can.

So the years of putting others’ needs ahead of my own are finally beginning to gnaw at me. A lack of savings, inadequate retirement plan, barely perceptible emergency fund. Those are things I’m in the process of building, because no one else is going to do it for me.

I have to learn how to be self sufficient, financially independent, if need be. To have a handle on where the next phase of my life is headed.

I know plenty of middle-aged single women, who have been operating on their own for many years. And I know just as many middle-aged married women, who have the inferred safety of leaning on another for financial worries. And I’m not sure where I might fit in with these groups.

Because although I’ve been part of a family unit for an extended amount of time, I’m still essentially on my own. When it all comes down to it, no one is going to take care of me, except me. And that is my goal in pursuing financial independence.

I’m the odd woman out. Or am I?

So why is it important for me to be financially independent? Because there’s that possibility I may have to fend for myself one day. No one else has an obligation to care for me — which is a scary realization.

And while my circumstances may be a bit unique, I’m pretty sure there are women out there who may be in a similar situation. Putting too many eggs into one basket. Betting on something that is far too risky to gamble.

After years and years of giving pieces of yourself, be careful you haven’t given away too much. Make sure you have something else to fall back on, just in case you need it. And if you don’t — well, then that’s the best possible insurance policy for you to hold on to.