My Fab Finance is an award-winning personal finance site dedicated to helping millennial women change their money story and become their own fabulous. Follow this blog as we help you become financially free so you can do more of what you love.
*I received complimentaryInvisalign® treatment due to my collaboration with the brand, but all opinions are my own.
If you’ve been following the blog and our social media over the past year you might notice a difference in my smile. After years of consideration, I decided to improve my smile with Invisalign clear aligners. I can’t believe how quickly my treatment flew by even with an adjustment to my treatment plan mid-way. I spent much of 2018 either on the road for work opportunities or pregnant and I didn’t miss a beat with my treatment. That’s one of the things I loved most about Invisalign aligners; I was able to achieve a great smile without disrupting my busy lifestyle!
I take pride in my smile and it was one of the items I didn’t want to compromise on when it came to quality results. I’ve had budget dental care in the past and it ended up costing me more in the long run. I am happy I was able to experience the superior quality of Invisalign treatment to upgrade my smile. I wanted predictable quality results and not only did I receive that, but I received top-notch care from my orthodontist and her team.
A few pleasantly surprising experiences through my Invisalign treatment were…
The Advanced Technology
From the scanning tools to the patented SmartTrack® clear aligner material (exclusively designed to provide the predictability and control you want when transforming your smile), they have thought of just about everything. I confidently recommend Invisalign treatment because it is the most advanced clear aligner system in the world and backed by over 20 years of cutting-edge research.
For my Invisalign treatment, I visited my orthodontist office every 8-12 weeks instead of monthly check-ins. This became extremely helpful when I had to travel for TV appearances and my book tour. It was also very convenient to pop the aligners in and out when I needed.
Through photoshoots, media appearances and speaking engagements, my Invisalign treatment went virtually undetected. People were often surprised when I told them I was wearing Invisalign aligners since they’re nearly transparent.
My treatment was easy. I was able to easily change out trays from week to week which kept my treatment on track despite traveling and I’m happy to report that I never accidentally threw an aligner away, which was a genuine concern of mine when I started treatment because they are so lightweight and discreet. This is another way the new sleek case comes in handy so I have a specific place to store them when I am eating or need to have them out.
If I had to, I’d do Invisalign treatment all over again. I can’t stop smiling and the confidence boost I’ve received is invaluable.
If you are on-track with your financial goals and want to learn more about how you can improve your smile with Invisalign treatment, you can find an Invisalign-trained doctor in your area at Invisalign.com.
Have you ever looked at your credit score and thought to yourself, “Man, I could use a little boost?”
Well Experian must have heard you (and thousands of others) because they just rolled out Experian Boost, a free online platform that allows you to instantly and easily influence your Experian credit score.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
Thousands of people have already begun to see a “boost” in their scores.
It works by factoring in your utility payment history and other monthly payments you make regularly, but might not receive credit for when your score is factored. The great thing is only positive payment histories will be aggregated through the platform and consumers can remove the new data at any time so it has a higher likelihood to benefit you.
Experian Boost is a free feature that you can access by signing up for a free Experian membership to access it.
Experian Boost outcomes vary and individuals with “slim credit profiles” meaning they have little to no open accounts that are reported to the bureaus either by choice or those with poor credit score ratings will likely see the most difference.
When prompted, connect the bank account or accounts you use to make bill payments. (This step is what allows Experian to identify the bills you’ve already been paying, but haven’t been getting credit for).
Verify the bills you want applied to your credit file.
Get ready to boost your score!
The boost results will come back instantly, with the majority of people seeing their FICO® Score go up.
In some instances you could see a drop in your score and if that’s the case simply remove the boost and your score will go back to where it was.
It won’t hurt your credit and you can always try boosting your score again later.
It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it is a step in the right direction when it comes to credit scoring fairness and including multiple aspects of our financial lives, not just our relationship to debt.
I had a chance to give it a try and I genuinely enjoyed the process. It didn’t just look at my score it assess a variety of other factors that affect my score, explained them to me and calculated my debt to income ratio so not only was it helpful it was also informative.
Experian Boost doesn’t affect your Fico 2 score, which is still the scoring model most mortgage lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. It also only applies to you Experian credit report so you wouldn’t see a boost in your scores from other bureaus.
Ready to give your credit score a boost? Click here to give it a try, for free, today!
This post was sponsored by Experian however all opinions are our own.
Money management is probably one of the most common lessons every parent teaches their kids — knowing or unknowingly. You may have step by step discussions regarding money and finance or you might do this practically, like during weekly grocery trips..
You may be a techie dad who uses a children savings app to show the little ones how they can track their money online, or your might be a traditional mom who likes to keep track of the savings and expenses on a piece of paper. Whatever the method, teaching your kids how to manage money is a step you should start taking as early as possible. Smart management lessons in childhood can contribute to healthy financial decisions in adulthood. Here are a few tips you can start with on your journey to teaching your kids about smart money management:
1. Provide your children with an allowance and give them spending freedom.
As soon as they are able to handle money, start giving your children a fixed amount of money either weekly or monthly. Let them know that this money is for them to manage. Besure to explain the basic concept of purchasing necessities and luxuries. Make it clear that the allowance you provide is fixed and that it is up to them to make it work. If they want to buy something, then they have to be patient and save for it using their own money.
Do not give in when they beg you to buy them the latest pair of shoes from the shopping mall. It is only by acting firmly that they will learn the value of money and learn to spend wisely.
2. Offer them other sources of income.
Once your kids realize that the allowance they receive from you is a fixed amount, the thought of having extra income will certainly excite them. Once in a while, allow them to do extra chores and provide an incentive. This will motivate them to be more proactive in helping out at home and even lend a hand to relatives and neighbors.
Exercise caution with the frequency of offerings and which activities are rewarded. You certainly do not want them thinking that they will get paid every time they help out in the house. A proper reward system will motivate a hard work ethic.
3. Teach your children to save on a regular basis.
Encourage saving habits. Although they may receive an allowance, encourage your child(ren) not to spend all of their available funds.. For example, if they use their allowance for school meals, provide them with saving options. Packing lunch can save money spent on cafeteria meals. If they have the urge to buy certain items available at home,but are somehow too generic for them,draw a clear picture of the benefits of using the generic item. Using a generic item can often result in money saved for another desired item.
Every child is different but as parents, you have to guide them and help them start their financial journey so they can become adults who manage their finances well. Whether you’re earning six figures a month or you’re broke, your spending and saving habits will impact your children’s perception about money. The earlier you teach them how to spend and save wisely, the better the outcome will be. Just remember, set an example for them to follow.
Written by My Fab Finance Contributor: Olivia Williams.
Olivia Williams is a freelance writer and finance enthusiast. She is passionate about teaching people how to increase their income, manage wealth and eradicate debt.
For many, tax time means it’s time to visit your tax professional. Known for their expert guidance and upfront pricing, I visited my local H&R Block for a lively conversation with Master Tax Advisor, John Baskin to find out more about what you can expect when visiting an H&R Block. During our conversation John also shared a few helpful tax tips.
Visiting Your Local H&R Block - Vimeo
Tax time doesn’t have to be stressful and the folks over at H & R Block have got you covered whether you’re planning to self file or are seeking the help of a tax professional.
Check out the highlights from my visit and conversation above.
*I received complimentary Invisalign® treatment due to my collaboration with the brand, but all opinions are my own
It’s tax time again!
Most people look forward to tax time because it’s the largest sum of money they’ll receive within the year. If you’re expecting a sizable return this year it’s important to remember that this is not free money. It’s extra money that you have paid into taxes and it’s being refunded to you. It’s another chance to use the money you earned towards your financial goals and you don’t want to wastefully spend the money on items that you will regret by June.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of your tax return:
Get current on any outstanding bills:
If you have any outstanding bills or fell behind in the past year, this is a great time to bring them current. You don’t want to take on additional financial obligations or opportunities while neglecting outstanding financial obligations that could lead to more stress and regret.
Jumpstart Your Savings:
Studies have shown that most Americans don’t have $1,000 they could access in the case of an emergency. While most financial advice encourages individuals to have at least 6 months of their expenses in savings, I suggest starting with $1,000 at minimum. Most financial emergencies such as a flat tire, a towed vehicle, or a visit to urgent care cost less than $1,000. If you don’t have this amount available without creating stress in other areas of your life, you might want to consider putting it aside. It’s not if an emergency is going to happen, it’s when.
Invest in Your Health or Appearance:
Medical procedures aren’t always affordable and if you’ve been putting off a medical procedure due to costs, your tax refund could be just what you need to finally make it happen. This could range from a routine doctor visit (especially if you are uninsured) to improving your smile with Invisalign® clear aligners.
Invisalign treatment is the most advanced clear aligner system available today enabling you to straighten your teeth and transform your smile, with predictable results, all without interrupting your busy lifestyle. Getting Invisalign treatment is not only investing in your appearance, but can improve your oral health too like preventing tooth decay. If you’re interested in improving your smile, learn more at Invisalign.com.
Take A Class or Course
There are a number of reasons we enroll in continuing education classes or opportunities. Whether you’re seeking to learn a new skill or to position yourself for a promotion, your refund could provide the funds you need for the class and materials. Investing in yourself is one of the best investments you can make and a few new skills may take you a long way.
Make this year the year you use your tax refund for things that genuinely matter to you and make a difference in the long run.
This post is sponsored by H&R Block. All opinions are my own.
There are certain dates that happen every year like clockwork that we should be able to plan for in advance such as Mother’s and Father’s Day, Birthdays and… Tax Day.
Tax Day is the deadline established by the IRS when your individual tax returns are due to the government for the tax year. Tax Day is typically April 15th unless it happens to fall on a Sunday or if the IRS chooses to extend it. If the deadline is approaching, you can file at an H&R Block location all the way up until the deadline.
If you should miss that deadline, you can also file for an extension to avoid late filing or late payment penalties that would be assessed for filing after the deadline.
While an extension gives you extra time to file your return, it does not give you extra time to pay your taxes. Payments are still due by April 15, 2019, for the tax year 2018. Check out the H&R Block Calculator to estimate how much you may owe. But an extension can help reduce your penalties if you can’t afford to pay in full by the deadline.
Last year I decided to file an extension due to an aggressive travel schedule that took me out-of-state seemingly every week. I was also completing my first trimester and finalizing the publishing of my first book. Taxes were hardly on my mind and I had yet to locate a tax professional that I trusted.
This year I’ll also be filing another extension as my husband and I are adjusting to our new lives as parents and working parents at that.
You might want to consider filing an extension if:
You or someone in your family has experienced a medical hardship
You need more time to gather the documents necessary to file your return
You are looking for the right professional
While a familial hardship or incomplete documentation may require more time, you can eliminate reason number three, finding the right professional, by visiting your local H&R Block. They have a variety of filing options available and offer demonstrated expertise, helpful staff, and upfront pricing.
However, if you still need to file an extension you don’t need to hire a professional to do so. The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time you need is through the IRS website to use their free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension.
Life happens and thankfully the IRS is relatively flexible when it comes to providing you with more time to file your tax return. While you may feel anxiety, remain calm and assess all of your options ahead of time so that you can make the decision to file for an extension ahead of time to avoid penalties.
For every discussion about hustling and going hard for your dreams, there seem to be twice as many on indulging in self-care. The “I grind while you sleep” mentality is (hopefully) losing its momentum as more of us realize that keeping busy 24/7 is less productive than being still sometimes.
Like any concept, self-care is often thought of as an opportunity to blow money. #Self-care hashtags are everywhere along with pictures of spa days, vacations and shopping sprees.
When you’re working towards getting your coins together, this leads to a dilemma. What’s a frugal girl (or guy) to do when (s)he’s on a budget, but in need of some serious rest and relaxation?
Here are some ways to take time out for yourself and stay on track with your financial goals.
Have A Spa Day At Home
You don’t have to spend big bucks to get the fancy spa experience. Pour a glass of wine, run a warm bubble bath, light candles, and play some meditation music. Sit as long as you need and forget about anything work/stress related.
Take A Long Walk
Jill Scott may have been on to something. Walking around the park or in your neighborhood can help declutter your mind. If you live somewhere with unbearably humid summer weather, look for a gym with an indoor track. Plug in your headphones and get your walk on.
Write It Out
When you write for work on a regular basis like I do, the thought of writing as self-care initially sounds unappealing. This is a different kind of writing. You’re not doing it to meet a deadline or posting it on a blog in hopes of getting a million views. This writing is simply to release the thoughts clouding your brain. Try writing each day for 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or if it makes sense. Just write. More words on the paper = less chaos in your head.
Turn Off Your Phone
I did something a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t done in years—I shut off my phone. Not on silent, not on vibrate. Completely powered off. It felt weird but amazing at the same time, and I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. We live in a time where there is pressure to always be available, for fear of missing something “important.”
This creates an unhealthy mindset where you burden yourself with being constantly accessible, even when you’re mentally and emotionally drained. The world won’t burst into flames if you don’t respond to that e-mail/text/instant message right away. Hit that power button. You’ll feel much better, I promise.
What are some ways you practice self-care on a budget?
This post is sponsored by H&R Block. All opinions are my own.
Believe it or not, I filed my own taxes the first time I ever filed a tax return. I was a junior in high school working as a cashier at the local grocery store. I almost missed the deadline because I assumed I wasn’t required to file taxes since I was under 18 years old.
At the High School Graduation Celebration at my father employer
It was the early days of online filing, so the options were limited but my return was so straight forward I was able to file with ease. Doing my own taxes gave me pride and I felt like an adult as I bragged to my friends and awaited my refund.
These days as a business owner and wife with multiple streams of income and investments, my situation isn’t as straightforward. So, I enlisted the help of a tax professional to navigate my taxes.
There are advantages to doing your own taxes. However, just as in my situation, it isn’t for everyone.
If you are still trying to determine which filing method is best for you consider the following advantage and disadvantages of doing your own taxes.
Advantages of Filing Your Own Taxes:You can conveniently file in your own home
As long as you have a computer and reliable internet you could literally file your taxes from bed in your pajamas, provided you have all of your financial documents available.
It’s an opportunity to put your finances in perspective as you examine them
If you’re the type of person who skips routinely assessing your financial picture, tax time provides you with an opportunity to get up close and personal with your finances as you determine what came into your household and what went out over the past year.
Easy access to your necessary information
When you do your own taxes, your information is always easily accessible in your online account.
Perhaps the most obvious of the reasons is that filing online is cost-effective and can even be free.
But with everything there are a few disadvantages.
A few advantages of filing with a tax professional:You can avoid costly errors
The money you saved filing yourself might not be worth it. Tax professionals are professionals for a reason. They understand allowable deductions and tax laws. If you’re unfamiliar with the deductions available to you, you could end up missing out on cost saving areas. But on the opposite end, if you claim deductions that you aren’t eligible for the IRS could come back and audit you are charge you for the error log after you’ve cashed your tax refund.
You Can Save time
You know how when you start a new job, the first drive there is the longest, because you haven’t figured out the shortcuts, or the best time to leave the office to avoid traffic? There’s a learning curve to everything, your taxes included. While you could save money filing on your own, you could lose more time than it’s worth attempting to understand tax laws and how they apply to your circumstances. When working with a professional it’s highly likely they’ve encountered an individual with your scenario before so they are able to complete your taxes quicker and more efficiently than you would be able to on your own.
One reason many people don’t use a professional is because they don’t want to spend the time visiting a tax office. H&R Block launched an amazing option for these people! It’s called Tax Pro Go and it was created for folks who don’t want to go to a tax office but don’t want to do their own taxes either. With Tax Pro Go, you get professional tax prep without the office visit
When I became an entrepreneur, I knew that I would have to do quite a few things differently when it came to accessing healthcare coverage, funding my retirement, and taxes. What I didn’t account for was the ripple effect that these items would have on other areas of my life.
In the Spring of 2018, I made a bold announcement. My husband and I were going to buy a multi-family building in Los Angeles. We found an agent we liked and submitted paperwork for our pre-approval.
The mortgage broker requested our taxes from the previous year which were completed by a gentleman who was a recommendation from a friend. He was not a licensed tax professional, but someone “who had filed taxes for a lot of people and knew what he was doing.” It turned out he made quite a few errors when filing our taxes and based on his errors we did not earn enough to qualify for a property in Los Angeles.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson- tax planning and professionals aren’t just for the wealthy and everyone should confirm that their tax strategy is in sync with their financial goals.
Whether you recognize it or not you have a tax strategy. That strategy might be as simple as obtaining the biggest refund possible or to pay as little taxes as possible, but it’s a strategy.
When it comes to your tax strategy, here are a few things to consider before you file:
What major life changes are you planning to make in the upcoming year
What are your financial goals for this year and the next two years
Are there any situations that will be affected by how you file such as your student loan repayment plans.
Answering those three questions can help your tax preparer advise on the best strategy for you.
I’ve partnered with H&R Block, who has more ways to help you file your taxes than anyone else with more than 12,000 offices worldwide, to help you navigate tax season this year as well as ensure that you are informed of all the filing options available to you.
Thanks to the internet you can file online or in the office with a tax preparer. There is no right or wrong, just what makes you the most comfortable and is most convenient for you. Should you choose to file online, H&R Block offers the following three services to make your online experience easier:
A DIY Online Help Center, located throughout the DIY Online product, where you can find and navigate the self-help options, as well as get connected to a live tax expert if needed. as well as get assistance from a seasoned tax expert if needed.
Ask a Tax Pro, which gives you unlimited, on-demand chat sessions with a tax expert as you complete your returns. This includes screen-sharing and access to a member of the exclusive group of tax experts who are highly trained with an average of 15 years of experience.
Tax Pro Review which provides online filers the opportunity to have a highly-trained tax pro review their documents and actually complete the tax return, sign the return, and file it on their behalf without coming into an office.
I really like that H&R Block is committed to making your filing experience as stress-free as possible and that they have a transparent upfront pricing model. You know exactly what you need to pay so that you won’t be surprised by the cost of your taxes when you finish.
The 2019 tax season begins on January 28th and ends on April 15th. H&R Block has also provided this helpful checklist so that you can gather necessary documents needed for filing.
Customize the following list so that you can make the most of your appointment here.
To learn more about the options available from H&R Block to help you this season click HERE.
*I received complimentary Invisalign® treatment due to my collaboration with the brand, but all opinions are my own.
The arrival of a new year provides everyone with an opportunity (or an excuse) to wipe the slate clean or to build on the foundation that was established the previous year. The mission of My Fab Finance is to help people become financially free so that they can live a life they love.
One of the biggest complaints I have about most approaches to financial education is the shaming of individuals for doing things that make them happy. We focus heavily on return on investment but often negate the benefits of investing in yourself.
Now of course when it comes to investing in yourself there are things that are completely out of reason for your financial situation, but there are things you can do within reason.
Here are three ways to invest in yourself this year.
Prioritize Yourself and Say “No” More
When is the last time someone asked you to do something that you didn’t want to do and you said no? Sometimes saying yes to someone else means saying no to ourselves. This year I want you to think about what you want. Yes, there are some things that we can’t say no to, but ask yourself if something is optional or required before saying yes. You don’t have to turn down every request, and I don’t encourage you to but I do encourage you to become more comfortable saying no to things that you do not want to do and that does not stand to benefit you in the short or long term.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to show up for everyone, but you have to show up for yourself and continuously showing up for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s self-care.
Make the change you’ve always wanted
I’ve long rejected the belief that wanting to change something about yourself means that you don’t love yourself. If you don’t like something about your life or self and you have the power to change it, do it.
Last year I invested in myself by finally getting Invisalign® treatment. While others told me I didn’t need it and my smile was fine, I realized my teeth had shifted a bit from when I had braces at a young age, and with increasing media appearances for my business it was something that I was self-conscious about and wanted to improve. I’m really happy I moved forward with my decision.
I’m still currently in treatment, but the changes in my smile started to happen quickly and I saw such a great difference. My orthodontist has been monitoring my progress each step of the way to ensure that I ultimately get the smile I want. Believe it or not, I’ve been in treatment for almost a year already! Even with my heavy travel schedule and being a new mom, my Invisalign clear aligners fit seamlessly into my busy lifestyle and people can hardly even tell I’m undergoing treatment because the aligners are virtually unnoticeable.
To find out how Invisalign treatment can work for your smile, visit Invisalign.com to find a trained orthodontist or dentist in your area.
Whether it’s making improvements to your smile or finally committing to that workout routine, do what you need to do (within reason financially) to feel like you are putting your best step forward. I’m not saying go into debt for the change though. But if you can afford to do it, make the change.
Take The Class
Is there a skill you’d like to learn that will help you cut costs, boost your side hustle, or do something you’ve always wanted to do? Education shouldn’t be limited to grade school and college. There is so much to learn in life and there are classes that we can take to enrich our lives such as cooking classes, craft classes, or business classes that are actually investments in yourself. By taking cooking classes, you can cut costs on dining out and entertaining as well as healthcare costs. It’s an all-around win and investment in yourself.
A few years ago I took a knitting class because it was a stress relieving past-time that actually allowed me to create handmade gifts for friends and family.
Those are just two examples of how a class can transform your life for the better this year but there are so many other ways.
Investing in yourself will look different for everyone because we are all different. Take time this year to determine what investing in yourself in 2019 looks like and then take the steps necessary to make it happen.