It’s that time of year again. Time to start mapping out your spending for the two months where people usually overspend on dinners and shopping.
The holidays are a special time of year for sharing good cheer, great food and generous gifts with the ones we love. Before you head to the mall or plan that extravagant holiday party, consider how you could save some money this holiday season.
Here are 5 ways to keep your spending in check from now through December:
1. Create a holiday budget or spending plan
When it comes to the word “budget” many people often think of complicated spreadsheets and restrictions but no, no, no - a budget will help you plan your spending and ensure there no surprises at the end of the year. No matter how big or small your holiday spending budget, ensure it is realistic. Shop around to find the best prices for the things you want to buy.
2. Make a list
Shopping for the ones you love can lead to overspending. All of the sales will exciting and tempting. Trust me I know. To help avoid going over budget make a shopping list. On your list include the individuals you plan to shop for and a budget for each person. This will also help you narrow down the gifts options. You can actually get very granular and add the actual gift to the list so there isn’t room for overspending.
3. Start early
Many holiday deals begins after Veterans’ Day. This year in the US Veteran’s day will be observed on November 11th. Don’t miss out on savings by waiting until the last minute to do your shopping. Starting early will help you stick to your shopping list and allow you to shop around for the best deal and not pick up what is left since you started late.
4. Unused gift cards
Check in your wallet to see if you have either unused gift cards or some with small balances. You would be surprised how this can help you fund a gift(s). Example: small balances on several Starbucks gift cards may be enough to get a gift from Starbucks for a boss or coworker.
5. Unconventional gifts
Instead of going to the malls, maybe print a photo of you and your best friend, get a frame and a blank card (you can get both of these at Dollar Tree) and handwrite a heartfelt message.
Maybe a wall or desk calendar with pictures of the family for each month for a family member you don’t see often, along with a blank card with a heartfelt message.
Making your money stretch during the holidays comes down to preparation. If you set your budget, make a plan and start early you can avoid excessive spending and bring in the New Year stress free when it comes to your money.
For more helpful tips on making your money better for you, and a free set of budget envelopes, Sign up for the It’$ My Money™ Newsletter.
Saving money for what you want is easier said than done. However, if you want to make travel a financial priority in your life, there are certain things that you need to consider to make your dream trips possible. After traveling to 26 countries while paying off student loans, saving for a house and now pursuing financial independence, here are four ways to save for vacations.
Start a travel fund
Make travel a financial priority by including travel as a line item in your budget. I would recommend taking it one step further by separating out your travel savings into a separate bank account called a “travel fund”. A travel fund can be a savings account, checking account or a money market. Having your travel savings in a separate bank account (away from your day-to-day expenses) ensures that you don’t commingle funds or overspend.
Automate your savings
After you’ve created a travel fund, automate your savings. Automation makes saving easier because it takes care of all the heavy lifting for you so you never have to worry about moving money into your bank account. Automate your savings by 1) setting up a direct deposit with your employer or 2) automating bank transfers into your travel fund.
Use Micro-Saving Apps
To boost your savings use apps like Digit. Digit helps you save effortlessly by analyzing your spending and saving your spare change. Other popular micro-investing apps include Acorns and Stash.
Finding Flight Deals
Lastly by saving for travel consistently you develop positive money habits, and you’ll also have money available to book flight deals. Here’s a short list of my favorite websites for finding flight deals: Through their daily newsletter, Thrifty Traveler notifies you of error fares, cheap flights and Delta SkyMiles Flash Sales. While there is a free version, I highly recommend signing up for premium so you get tailored flight deals from your home airports. The Flight Deal allows you to search for flights, hotels and car rentals, all in one place. This website is free to use and most flight deals depart from major U.S. cities like New York, Boston, Dallas, and Seattle. Flights will take you anywhere around the world from Asia to Hawaii.
While these are my top tips for saving for vacations I would love to hear what other things you recommend in the comments below!
Danielle Desir is an author, speaker, podcaster and the founder of The Thought Card, an award-winning affordable travel finance blog and podcast empowering people to make informed financial decisions - travel more, pay off debt and build wealth. She has traveled to 26 countries and 3 continents and strongly believes in not letting your financial responsibilities hold you back from pursuing your dreams.
Many of you have asked me about ways to invest. How to do it? When to do it? What does this term or that term mean? Well I connected with the invaluable Courtney Richardson who is known as The Ivy Investor to bring you a great podcast episode entitled Investing 101. You will learn about investing terms, ways to save and how she helped her mom go from bankruptcy to owning her home out right and retired living her best life.
Here are links to the various platforms for easy reference:
Listen to Investing 101 with The Ivy Investor - Eps. 28 from The Money Exchange in Podcasts.
Don’t forget to subscribe so that you will be notified of each new episode as it becomes available. The podcast is also available on Google podcast and Spotify. If there is a topic you want to hear on a future podcast, comment below and let me know.
Courtney can be found:
IG, FB, & Twitter: @TheIvyInvestor
My name is Patrina Dixon. I am a Certified Financial Education Instructor, international speaker, and award winning author. I am also known as the It’$ My Money Lady. I am truly grateful for the opportunity afforded to me to facilitate four workshops to the young ladies of St Jude’s All Girls School in Trinidad. This was the second consecutive year that my team and I was able to create meaningful financial workshops for the school.
The workshops were on: banking, savings, budgeting, credit, and entrepreneurship. The young ladies were able to learn the differences between banks, credit unions, the various ways to save their money, and how compound interest works. They gained knowledge about the credit process in Trinidad, which is different from what we are used to in the United States.
Furthermore, the students learned about online saving options, the pro and cons of becoming an entrepreneur, and the steps they must take to properly set up a business. On the last day, they received program completion certificates and a custom autographed copy my book - It’$ My Money, which includes the logos of all of the Silver Sponsor and collaborators.
The St. Jude School For Girls Administration stated that “the It’$ My Money workshops were much needed life skills for the girls which are not of their current curriculum” and that remark lead to their decision to have the It’$ My Money workshop at St Jude’s on an annual basis.
Some of the verbal highlights from the girls included:
“Miss - These sessions were Lit”
“Thank you for coming to teach us this important stuff”
“I learned the difference between wants and needs”
“Now I know what a budget is”
“ Now I see how I am spending my money, I can stop spending on hair stuff and save more”.
“We need longer sessions”
Students from last year’s session dropped in and another attended the sessions. I noticed the amount of material she remembered and it was fantastic to witness! She had such a confidence about her when I asked questions. She knew the answers about this year’s topics that she didn’t know before attending the sessions year prior.
Each year, I was fortunate to bring one of my interns with me to Trinidad. In addition to their support during the workshops, the girls were able to see someone close to their own age: working hard, travel for their job, and realize how that can be possible for themselves as well. It helped the intern see a different school setting while having a hands on experience of learning how the same topics differ depending on where you are teaching and how you may have to pivot on a dime as you gain more knowledge about your audience.
We successfully collaborated with PylarrTT this year, who provided the snacks for the girls and contributed to the credit session. We were supported by our Silver Sponsors: Howard K Hill Funeral Services, Traveling Gentleman’s Boutique, KB Development, Attorney King-Wade, Mr. Floyd Green of Aetna, and many others who donated.
Last but certainly not least, none this would be possible if it was not for the efforts of Taniqua Huguley, Former U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Trinidad and Tobago. She and I connected, emailed, texted and spoke numerous times prior to the first year’s trip. I was there while she was still doing her research in Trinidad. Once she returned to the states, her kind efforts didn’t cease! As we secured the dates for our second visit, she was right on board. Our team work made the dream work. I am forever grateful to her.
Taniqua and I have been successful at helping St Jude’s School for Girls in Trinidad to see the value and benefit of the It’$ My Money financial workshops. We are proud to announce that the students will receive the workshops on an annual basis. It is truly humbling when something you love to teach is received so well.
Additional information about It'$ My Money workshops can be found at www.itsmymoneyjournal.info or on Instagram and Twitter:@itsmymoney_ and FB@itsmymoneyjournal and her podcast “The Money Exchange”.
Several people have asked me my thoughts on buying stock via Robinhood. I am a fan of it! Even if you don’t know much about investing in stocks, it is no problem as they make it very easy. Essentially, you purchase “shares” of a company, which means you own part of the company. Think about it, if you drink Starbucks coffee or wear Nike sneakers, why not own a piece of each of their companies? With Robinhood, you can invest commission - free form you phone or computer.
It is easy. You can do in a few simple steps:
1. Create a Robinhood account.
2. Connect your checking account
3. Transfer money from your checking account to your Robinhood account
4. Once that money is available in your Robinhood account, then buy stock.
You can buy as many shares of the stock you want. You can transfer more money when you want to buy more. There are robust definitions as well as question and answer sections.
Join Robinhood by clicking here and we'll both get a stock for like Apple, Ford or Sprint for free. You will need to use my link to get the free stock. You can also sign up for Robinhood snacks which is an email that provides you financial news on a daily basis.It may be good to customize or turn off your notification so that you will not be tempted to take action every time there is a change in the stock’s performance.
This is a personal assessment of the app. You should always do your research on any service or app you use and read up on the company before buying stocks and if need be, check with an expert if you have questions.
Let's talk credit scores. Why? Because it is a major factor in your approval and interest rates for loans and other types credit, being offered employment, rates on car insurance and so much more.
I hope you have received and reviewed one or all of your free credit reports. If not, I encourage you to do so. You can find details on how to get your reports on my last blog post, click here
What is a Credit Score?
It is a three-digit number that represents how you have paid back money you have borrowed or how you used credit that have been extended to you. It summarizes your full report into three digits using a percentage scale. You can obtain your credit scores from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. It is important to get your scores from each of these national credit bureaus. The reason why you need it from each as the scores may be different on each as they have different information about your credit history.
The FICO Credit Score:
• Created by Fair Isaac Corporation
• Used by most top lenders
• Ranges from 300 - 850.
• The lowest number represents a bad score and the highest number is a good score.
• A good credit score is 720 or above
It is important to note, there are other types of credit scores, such as Vantage (2.0 and 3.) and Plus, and they use a number range and/or a letter grade as the measurement.
Below are the factors that affect your score:
1. Payment history - 35%
This has the largest impact to your score; The secret to this one is simple - pay your bills on time!
2. Amount of debt or amount owed - 30%
This is the next largest impact to your score. Try not to have more credit card debt then you can afford. Work each month to pay the balance(s) in full. A good rule of thumb is to not owe more than 30% of your credit limit. If you have a credit card with a $500 credit limit, try not to carry more than $150 if any balance if any at all.
3. Length of Credit History - 15%
How long you have had each line of credit is taken into consideration.
4. New Credit - 10%
Opening up too many accounts around the same time is not a great thing. Try to refrain from opening cards just because you get a % off the purchase the day.
5. Types of Credit or Credit Mix - 10%
It is good to have different types of credit, such as credit cards, mortgage, and car loan. It is not required but if you have a good mix and paying them all time or paying the full balance then that is favorable to your credit score.
Here are a few apps where you can get your credit scores. When accessing your credit score from these apps be sure to know which the of score method they use.
2. Credit Karma
3. Creditwise by Capital one
4. Credit Sesame
Stay tuned for our next blog post on this topic, which will show you different scenarios of how good and bad credit score can impact you!
Conversations about credit often make people feel intimidated or confused. Here is some information to help you understand credit reports.
Your credit report contains:
Who maintains all of this data?
One or all of the three national credit bureaus:
Businesses can send credit data about you to one, two, or all three of the bureaus. The bureaus are the data receivers not validators. You should ensure the information is accurate at each bureau.
You may ask yourself, “since my credit report has so much information, how can I get a copy?” Glad you asked! You are entitled to a free credit report, every 12 months, from each of the three above credit bureaus. I encourage you to get a copy from each. Why? Oddly enough, one report may contain a line item that they other does not. I also encourage you to use the following strategy in getting your credit reports; get one from one of the three bureaus in January, in February get a copy from the next bureau and in March get a copy from the next bureau. Using this strategy will allow you to get all three reports, in three different months which maximizes how often you can see you credit history for free and not overwhelm you to thoroughly review each.
You can obtain your FREE credit report in one of three different ways:
You should check for things like:
You may ask yourself, “ What if something is incorrect on my credit report?”
Please note, if you get a dispute corrected with TransUnion, it will not correct the item on the Experian credit report. If the error is on another one of your credit reports, you will have to dispute it with that particular bureau.
Monitoring your reports regularly will also help you detect any identity theft.
Did you know that your credit report is reviewed:
Based on the information contained on your credit report, you are given a credit score. This score will determine if you are extended new credit, denied additional credit, credit limit reduced or extended credit at a higher interest rate.
Stay tuned for the next blog for more information on credit scores!
Need help, I am here, Contact
I recently heard that a Side Hustle was defined as things you enjoy doing for income in addition to your main source of income.
Nowadays, having a side hustle is very common. Some people have more than one, in addition to their main job or career. People have side hustles for many different reasons. One may be saving for something special like a vacation, paying for college, a wedding, honeymoon, or additional life events. Other people may have a side hustle for a consistent flow of income to supplement their main source.
Either way, the important keys to starting a side hustle are:
1. Taking an assessment of your skills! Most people have skills that can be beneficial to others.
2. Taking an assessment of things you have a passion for!
3. Finding ways to monetize them!
Here are some ideas:
Social Media Management
Baker (cupcakes, cakes, brownies)
The list can go on and on. This gives you a sense of things people are out here doing. They are making great income in which they can utilize for various reasons. For your side hustle, you can determine the amount of time you want to spend in each. It can be an hour a day, two hours a day, or four hours a week! You own your schedule.
Remember that you are using skills you already have and the things you enjoy doing!
"Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe."
- Oprah Winfrey
There is always a lot of talk about vision boards around this time of the year. Several people host vision board events. Some people love them, and some people think it is a waste of time. However, vision boarding is the perfect first step to achieving your goals.
If you have goals for the upcoming year, then vision boarding is perfect for you.
Your goals may include:
As you can see, goals are things you want to accomplish. The vision board is simply the visual that you place in your home that frequently reminds of you of your plans and objectives for the year.
“The road to success is always under construction.”
Steps to Creating Your Vision Board:
After you’re done putting together your vision board, review it to ensure you have a picture for all of your 2019 goals. Hang the vision board somewhere so it will be a constant visual reminder of what you are set out to accomplish in the next 365 days.
I hope you have created or will create a vision board. Hang it up and start to execute the steps to see your goals manifest.
Let’s rock in 2019!!!
It is nearing the end of the year and some companies give holiday bonuses. If you get a bonus and you are trying to think what to do with it, you are probably saying to yourself “I worked hard all year, so I am treating myself.” I agree! Treat yourself to some stock.
Don’t know much about investing in stocks, no problem. You basically purchase “shares” of a company, which means you own part of the company. Think about it, you drink Starbucks coffee or wear Nike sneakers why not own a piece of each of their companies.
You can do that in a few easy steps:
1. Click here to create a Robinhood account.
2. Connect your checking account
3. Transfer money to your Robinhood account
4. Once that money is available in your Robinhood account, then buy stock.
You can buy as many shares of the stock you want. You can transfer for money when you need to buy more.
Join Robinhood and we'll both get a stock like Apple, Ford, or Sprint for free. Make sure you use my link to get the free stock.
Notifications: It may be good to customize or turn off the regular notifications so that you would not be tempted to take action everytime there is a change in the stock’s performance. .
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.