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“School’s out for summer!” (*Queue Alice Cooper). Now, right about now, your kids are probably over the moon; but if you’re a parent, your head may be swimming thinking about the dollars you’re going to have to shell out for summer camp and various other activities to keep your children occupied and safe over the summer months. Luckily, finding affordable or free childcare options for the summer doesn’t have to be as out of reach as you may think.

YMCA – If you’ve ever visited your local YMCA, you’ll see that there’s a lot more to this organization than renting rooms. They’ve transformed much of their programming to make it more family friendly. Many offer full-day and/or half-day camps with a variety of different activities. Sticker prices for full-day camps can range from $200-$500 per week, depending on your city and the type of camp (specialized and shorter-term camps can run a little lower).

The good news here is that the YMCA almost always has discounts for parents who enroll more than one child (AKA sibling discount) or are members. Most YMCAs’ also have financial assistance grants or scholarships to assist low-income families.

Check out www.ymca.net to find information about summer camps in your area.

Summer programming at your local school – More and more public schools are offering free summer programming to provide safe alternative options for children and to also help prevent “summer learning loss” – that period of time during the summer months when educators believe that students begin to lose math and reading skills.

Check your local school district page for information about summer programming. Keep in mind that registration in these camps are often on a first-come, first-served basis.

Check out your local Parks and Recreation department – Leslie Knope would definitely agree that your local Parks and Rec. department is a great resource for free to low-cost neighborhood programming. Activities typically center around outdoor, physical activities, that promote wellness.

For more information, visit your city’s Parks and Recreation Department website.

Vacation Bible Schools – It depends, of course, on your religious affiliation, but local churches traditionally offer free community Vacation Bible School to children in their neighborhoods (snacks and transportation often provided).

Hours of the camp may vary and they don’t always cover the entire length of the summer, but it can be a great way to keep your children engaged during the day.

Do a summer nanny share – The average cost/hour for a nanny is $16 but can certainly be more depending on the level of education and experience of the provider. Consider partnering with another family to do a nanny share where you split the costs for a few weeks or the entire summer.

Here’s to a safe, productive, and engaging summer for you and your family!

Contributor: Christina Merriweather

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Whether money is of concern or not, we all want to spend our money wisely which includes determining when to save and when to splurge. It’s hard to determine what to do when you’re investing in yourself, after all you want to treat yourself to what you deserve, but you also want to ensure that you’re making wise financial decisions.

Let’s flush out what’s worth splurging on and when to save your dollars.

Splurge: Splurge on health care and dental care. They will often have lasting results and it’ important to invest in yourself.

Splurge on health care and dental care. They will often have lasting results and it’s important to invest in yourself. If you’ve ever considered fixing your teeth or have noticed your teeth shifting as an adult, I recommend Invisalign clear aligners.

It’s the most advanced teeth straightening system out there, and when it comes to my health and physical appearance I need to go with something that’s tried and true. I’m actually in treatment and people are amazed when I tell them I’m wearing my Invisalign clear aligners because they’re virtually undetectable.

Although I had metal braces as a teenager, my teeth began to shift and I developed another overbite over time with flaring of my front teeth. My smile looked nice from the front but was visibly uneven from the side.

Flaring front teeth

I began Invisalign treatment in March and the experience has been worlds different from my metal braces. I have found them to be more comfortable. I recall the days of pain following my mental brace tightening and treatment has been slightly uncomfortable at most. I can actually eat and since I change the weekly aligner trays myself, I feel involved in my treatment and feel that I have more control. I’m also thrilled with how quickly I am seeing results. I literally saw my teeth shifting within the first few weeks.

If it’s something you’re considering, consult an Invisalign provider to see if you are a candidate. Invisalign clear aligners has an easy-to-use Doctor Locator feature to search for Invisalign-trained doctors in your area. That way you can ensure that you are talking with an experienced orthodontist or dentist about your treatment.

Getting x-rays for my Invisalign treatment.

Save Save when there is a comparable alternative such as going to the local esthetician school or massage school for services.

Everyone likes to treat himself or herself every now and then, but treats don’t have to break the bank. When you visit high priced salons and spas you are typically paying for the experience, yet what you really are seeking is the result — refreshed skin or relaxed muscles. Students at local schools are required to get their hours before they can graduate and as a result the school often has programs that allow them to offer their services to the public for a nominal price. Students are still under the watch of an instructor, so you still have an expert overseeing the process, you just won’t feel it in your wallet.

I have received one-hour facials at a well-known reputable esthetician school for just $25!

Splurge Splurge on items that you will use continuously such as personal or household electronics.

I don’t know how many times a day you use your computer, but my life is on my computer and it’s something I’m willing to splurge on because quality is the most important thing to me when it comes to items I use frequently. It’s important to note that cost doesn’t equal quality though, but quality will often cost you a little bit more. So it’s important to budget for items you use regularly such as your computer or your mattress. They get daily usage and must stand up to the demand and you will also want a company that will stand behind their product.

Save Save when it is something that you can easily do yourself and it would otherwise be a splurge out of convenience.

There are some things we can do ourselves, but we pay for them out of convenience and not lack of skill. Time does equal money, but when money is tight sometimes it’s best to do those tasks yourself such as doing your own laundry instead of paying for wash and fold service, or washing your own car instead of paying for costly detailing. A manicure can cost anywhere between $10 and $35 a visit, but an at-home manicure kit will cost you less than $10. If you add up your manicures and pedicures for the entire year, it adds up. This is money you can keep in your pocket!

In closing

When splurging, focus on items that you will use frequently or that will have a lasting impact on your quality of life. These are items that count and you want to make sure that they can live up to their demand and that they won’t cost you more in the long run. But it’s also important to keep in mind that cost and quality don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

Do your research before making any splurge purchases to ensure you’re spending your money the right way.

Note: I received complimentary Invisalign treatment, but all opinions are my own.

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I think we can all agree that gone are the days of expecting to build significant wealth by hiding your “money in a mattress,” which nowadays, can mean literally hiding money in your home or stashing it in a low interest yielding savings account.

It all pretty much yields the same returns…nada. If you really want to get serious about achieving your financial goals, whether nurturing your nest egg or funding your dream business idea, investing is the name of the game.

What is investing? By sheer textbook definition, investing is the act of expending money with the expectation of achieving a profit. So in other words, you give something and then expect to eventually get back what you initially put in, with a little something extra.

So now that you have a basic understanding of the principles of investing, you should know that there are many ways for you to invest your money. For now, we’ll focus on stock market investing because it’s one of the most popular ways to invest and now it’s so easy to do. When you invest in the stock market, you are purchasing a percentage or share of a company. Essentially, you own a piece of the company and are entitled to get a portion of its profits often in the form of dividends.

Make sense? Great, now let’s get started.

First, do your research.

It’s hard to play the game if you don’t know the rules. If you know nothing about stock market investing start by doing some research so that you understand your options. This is key because the reality is that investing in stock is risky business and if you are looking to invest large sums of money, you need to be informed or work with an expert. Fortunately, there are tons of resources such as books, webinars, blogs, and of course, the experts themselves, stockbrokers that can help you along the way. Below are a few great resources to get you started.

How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad – book by William J. O’Neill

Investing Basics: Stocks – TD Ameritrade (video)

Ellevest – A great resource, particularly for women looking to get in the investing game.

What to look for when choosing a stock broker

Set goals and boundaries for investing.

If you want to build a solid strategy you have to know your goals. This involves reviewing your monthly budget, other financial goals, as well as the current state of your financial portfolio. Is it supporting your goal for early retirement? Starting a business? Growing your nest egg? You also want to ask yourself how much you’re willing to risk.

Remember that investing in the stock market comes with a high probability that you could lose some or all of what you have invested as can be volatile. If you’re in it for the long haul and have no plans to take your money out anytime soon, then the risk may not bother you as much because you’ll have time to recover what you’ve lost. However, if you’re looking for ways to make quick money to accommodate shorter-term goals, you may not want to put all your eggs in this basket. Keep this in mind as you’re setting your investment limits.

Determine how you want to manage the investment process.

Now that you have determined your investment goal and can afford to invest, let’s decide how to manage trading stocks. If you’ve done your research, you’ll see that you can either choose to go through a brokerage service and hire an advisor who can manage this process for you, or you can DIY.

If you choose the latter, you’ll want to spend a lot of time researching companies to invest in. Below are some general rules of thumb when selecting which stocks to purchase.

  • Figure out if you want to invest in individual stocks (higher risk) or mutual funds (lower risk).
  • If you decide to buy individual stocks, start with investment companies that you actually use and like.
  • Review the financial health of the company. Is this a company that is financially sound and can be expected to be around for a long time?

If you choose to hire a brokerage firm to manage most of this process for you, make sure to thoroughly research the firm’s fee structure. Some companies charge transaction fees every time they make a trade for you. For more tips on how to choose stocks to invest in, check out this super helpful article from MarketWatch.

Becoming a stock investor doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it doesn’t require a lot of money. You can move at your own pace and invest at your comfort level. For more great investing tips, be sure to check out  Tonya’s Facebook live where she discussed the 3 Things You Need To Do Before You Aggressively Invest. Watch it here.

Contributor: Christina Merriweather

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Women’s History Month has arrived! This month we’re proud to honor the many contributions of boss women from all walks of life who have been killing the game in every industry.

Here at My Fab Finance, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to highlight the contributions of a few heavy hitters in the corporate and non-profit sectors.

The added bonus is they all happen to be women of color. We’ll take you through some of the  biggest professional triumphs as well as challenges of these women CEOs, with a sprinkle of #blackgirlmagic

Rosalind Brewer

Position: Recently appointed Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks. She is the first African American and woman to fill this role at the company.

Background: Rosalind served as CEO of Sam’s Club since 2012. She has been named by Forbes as one of “Most Powerful Women in the World” in 2014, 2015, and 2016. A proud alumna of Spelman College and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, she has earned degrees in chemistry and advanced management degree respectively.

Credited with leading Sam’s Club through its successful leap into the digital age, she was largely recruited to join the senior leadership team at Starbucks to help smooth out their mobile ordering and online payment system among other tech projects in the works for the popular coffee company. She also currently serves on the board of directors at Lockheed Martin.

Challenge: Brewer came under fire back in 2015 when during an interview on CNN, she spoke of her commitment to diversity in hiring at Sam’s Club. She faced backlash from the public, being labeled “racist” and prejudiced against white men. Despite the negative comments, Brewer continues to mentor others, particularly women, and helps to groom them for leadership roles. She has not backed down from her stance that companies need to embrace diversity by diversifying their talent pools.

#blackgirlmagic Quotable: Brewer said. “I try to set an example. I mentor many women inside my company and outside the company because I think it’s important.”

Joi Gordon

Position: Chief Executive Officer of Dress for Success Worldwide

Background: Joi began her career as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx. Early in her career, she began volunteering at Dress for Success by making suit donations and later joined the organization full time in 1999. It wasn’t until 2002 that she finally took the helm as its CEO.

Under her leadership, the organization has grown to offices in more than 140 cities in 20 countries serving more than 1 million women worldwide.

Challenge: Leaving her cushy and prestigious position as an assistant district attorney early in her career caused some in both her professional and personal circles to question her choices to move into the non-profit space. In an interview with www.heragenda.com, Gordon shared that many saw her decision to leave law as “giving up”. Now, she continues to show those who doubted her career decisions by serving thousands of women all over the world and expanding Dress for Success’ partnerships and programs.

#blackgirlmagic Quotable: “I’ve learned so much through this experience. I think it’s important for women to find within themselves their own inner motivations. If you don’t move forward, you’re standing still. I’ve always believed whether it’s joining boards or getting involved in organization—if you don’t try, you’ll never know what winning might feel like.”

Ashley Company

Position: CEO of Jelani Girls, Inc. and Jelani Women, Inc.

Background: A proud graduate of Hampton University, Ashley Company left her position as a District Manager at Pepsi-Co. to start her non-profit, Jelani Girls, Inc., in 2013. She was inspired by her travels throughout Africa and South America and wanted to share the privileges of international travel and service with young girls of color.

In 2015, she founded Jelani Women, a for-profit travel company that curates service trips for professional women of color to African and Caribbean countries. In addition to running a successful non-profit and travel business, Ashley serves in the rank of Captain in the United States Army Reserve.

#blackgirlmagic Quotable: “I help young Black girls re-imagine what it means to be great.”

Challenge: “My biggest challenge as a woman has been working in a male-dominated travel industry with a lot of egos to deal with while doing business across 6 countries in Africa, especially because many people think I look younger than I am. I strive to overcome those challenges by letting my hard work speak for itself and show results. I also identify positive male leadership to work with and cultivate relationships to ensure longevity.”

Blog: My Fab Finance

Contributor: Christina Merriweather

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Last year I made my SXSW debut as a speaker at an unofficial conference event. While I did not have the chance to attend the actual conference, one thing was certain, the streets of Austin and the events supporting the conference are an environment where anyone interested in the merging of business and culture should be.

More and more women are taking control of their futures and successfully creating their own barriers, but despite their drive, barriers still exist. Two of the biggest barriers female entrepreneurs face are acquiring funding and getting in the right rooms with decision makers.

This year Intuit is giving an entrepreneur the chance to get in the room and providing them with access to Intuit’s SXSW activities.

I love Intuit as they are and have been a big part of My Fab Finance operations. QuickBooks makes it easier for me to manage our numbers so I can focus on creating content, products, and courses that help people take control of their finances so that they can live lives they love. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Intuit, they create financial and tax preparation software and related services for small businesses, accountants and individuals.

The #GirlOnFire campaign was inspired by Freedom Fry’s song, Girl on Fire. In the video a female character creates a robot to help a local small business owner who is struggling to navigate the operational demands of his business so that he can actually do what he loves in his business.

The following lyrics really resonated with me:

I have ideas burning…

&

Everybody wants safety

Everybody wants comfort

They resonated with me because it can feel like these things are at odds when you’re not supported in your business. Even successful entrepreneurs have found themselves questioning themselves, their ideas, and their sustainability at one time or another, yet they persist.

If you know a powerful entrepreneur that deserves to be in the room at SXSW, nominate them and give them the chance of a lifetime.

Contest Details:

Submissions end on February 28, 2018.

Winner Announced on March 5, 2018.

How to Nominate Someone:

Nominate an entrepreneur in your life by posting a picture on Instagram and sharing why you think they are a #GirlOnFire. You both could win SXSW tickets and VIP access to all things Intuit!

To Enter:
  • Post (1) One picture to Instagram
  • Tag @Intuit in the picture
  • In your caption, name the entrepreneur being nominated and include a story about why they are a #GirlOnFire.
  • Make sure you use the #GirlOnFire hashtag and the #Contest hashtag
Prize Details:

1 Grand prize winner will win a 4 day/3 night trip for the winner and one guest to SXSW in Austin, TX.

Winner must be available to travel 3/12/18 – 3/15/18.

Trip includes:
  • Two tickets to SXSW;
  • 3 night’s hotel accommodations;
  • Round trip coach class airfare; and
  • VIP access to Intuit’s activation
Good Luck!

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I haven’t always welcomed the arrival of Black History Month.

I grew up in Moore, Oklahoma a small city on the edge of Oklahoma City which has become known for its devastating tornadoes.

Oklahoma isn’t exactly an incubator for diversity and Moore wasn’t any different. Although student enrollment changed year to year due to our proximity to a military base I was often one of ten black children in the entire school and typically found myself to be the lone black child in my entire class.

I will never forget the day my fourth-grade teacher looked at me during the Black History Month lesson as she spoke about the slave trade. I can still hear her condescending voice as she described the inhumane conditions in which slaves were captured and forcibly brought to this country. It was as if she received pleasure watching me sit uncomfortably and fight back the tears as she recounted details from our textbook. I was the student she detested. I was smart, well loved, fully supported by my parents, and well adjusted. And I was black.

She sought to highlight my flaws every chance she got, and our black history month lessons were her ammunition.

In a class full of students I felt alone at my desk as my white and Hispanic classmates followed the teacher’s eye line and stared at me, a young representation of the resilience of the slaves who made it through the passage, the Jim Crow Era, Vietnam, and the Reagan years.

I should have been proud.

Now I know that my very existence is proof of my ancestors’ strength, but ten-year-old Tonya was just plain ol’ embarrassed. My teachers actions made me feel worthless and even more out of place in that Moore classroom.

My saving grace was the home that my parents created for me and my sister, where they constantly reminded us of our worth, our beauty, and our brilliance.

The Evolution Begins

We left Oklahoma after my first year of Junior High School and relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. For the first time in my life I sat in a class that was racially mixed. A wide array of students of all ethnicities filled the seats in my classroom.

As Black History Month rolled around I didn’t know what to expect in my new school.

The first day of February I was greeted in the school lobby with bulletin boards and exhibits highlighting the accomplishments of Black Americans. It wasn’t our pain on display, but our accomplishments, our brilliance, our contributions to America and the world.

It was that day that Black History Month changed for me.

It became more than the Negro National Anthem and counting all of the ways that George Washington Carver utilized the peanuts. The lessons instilled by my parents began to take root as I buried myself in stories of black revolutionaries and inventors.

I became obsessed with learning about my history and the more I learned the more empowered I became.

As a woman of African descent who identifies as African American every single day of my life is Black Appreciation Day. But today, Black History Month is a month where we take center stage in classrooms, buildings, and programming throughout the country and are recognized for all that we as a people have contributed to this country despite the historical and ongoing atrocities committed against people of African descent.

To celebrate Black History Month this year at My Fab Finance we’re highlighting Black Wealth Creators who are creating noteworthy financial legacies and inspiring future generations to be financially successful and responsible.

Negative statistics and narratives are only a fraction of the story yet they often overshadow our experience and the work so many of us put in day in and day out to rewrite our stories and to break the chains of poverty and oppression.

This Black History Month may we remember that it is up to us to own our narrative and continue to chart our course toward financial freedom so that we can create lives that we are proud of and that we love.

This #BlackHistoryMonth may we remember to own our narrative and continue to pursue financial…
Click To Tweet
Happy Black History Month.

This article was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. www.massmutual.com All opinions are those of the author.

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We all have body goals, but emptying your pockets at the gym is not to only way to achieve your goals. You can get fit, stay fit, and obtain those body goals without breaking the bank. It’s time to make your workout routine and path to a healthier lifestyle both enjoyable and affordable without sacrificing your health or your finances.

Plan Ahead.  Preparation is the name of the game when it comes to maintaining your waistline and sticking your budget. At the beginning of each week, plan out all of your meals before heading to the grocery store. Write down all of the ingredients and items you will need to avoid forgetting something. This will help you to have laser focus when walking down the store aisles. Also, use this prep time to look for coupons and sales that can help you save even more.

Call On A Friend. When trying to reach your goals, the right support and motivation is crucial. Finding an accountability partner or buddy can help to keep you on track. For your fitness goals, you can partner up with a friend, family member, or co-worker who also has similar goals.

The two of you can agree to work out together and check in at specified days and times to assess your progress. This can also eliminate the expense of a trainer. Can you say double savings?!  

Eat Out Less, Dine-In More.  All of the birthday parties, date nights, and dinners can lead to a whole lot of socializing and the temptation to indulge in one too many treats and alcoholic drinks. Making the decision to be a “homebody” or simply dining in more can help you to stay the course.

Become more selective with how often you eat out. This way you can keep more money in your pocket. Going out to eat with friends, or for drinks, every day can add up quickly. Prioritize which events you want to go to and which ones you can pass on. Stick to a set number of festivities each week or month and document your spending in a tracking sheet or in a notebook.  

Allow these options to motivate you to reach your fitness and financial goals. It is possible to get into the spirit of the season without later experiencing the guilt of not staying disciplined. Decide that you want it bad enough and formulate a plan that you can work with. When the holidays are over, you will feel empowered by the fact that you feel good, look good, and have money in the bank.  

Contributor: Candice Davie

Blog: My Fab Finance

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Now that the holiday season is over, it doesn’t mean the spending stops. Many of us are shopping, traveling, eating out, catching all the new movies, celebrating birthdays, and enjoying quality time with family and friends. But how can you be generous and buy gifts for others, and even yourself, without breaking the bank?

While gift giving can oftentimes be “difficult” for those who may have just experienced a layoff, loss of a loved one, experienced a break-up or financial hardship, those of us more fortunate can help to spread kindness and generosity without going in debt.

Small, inexpensive gestures can make a huge impact. Here are 10 ways to be generous during without breaking the bank:

1) Cook or purchase a meal for an individual or a family

If you are unable to cook, use UberEats, DoorDash or a restaurant’s delivery service to send a surprise dinner to a loved one as a gift.

2) Pay someone’s past due electricity bill

The seasons can be harsh depending on geographic location. Whether it’s heat or air conditioning, those bills can get pretty heavy. Why not ensure someone has continuous comfort in their home? If you don’t know anyone personally, ask your local utility company to apply a payment to a random person’s past due account. Kindness brings good karma… what goes around always comes back around.

3) Offer someone a ride to work or school

If you know someone who rides the bus/train or walks every day, offer to pick them up or drop them off. Or offer to pay for an Uber or Lyft ride.

4) Spend time with a child who has no siblings

Take them to see a movie, bowling, games, etc. Bring along some other kids, if you can, so that child can have fun bonding with you and the other kids.

5) Write an uplifting note to someone

Most people don’t send or receive handwritten notes anymore. Show someone some love by sending them one. Mail it or deliver in person if possible.

6) Purchase a Full Body Massage Gift Card

If you know someone who’s always working during the holidays and doesn’t get much time off, relaxation is definitely a necessity for them.  

7) Offer to babysit the kids

Offer to babysit for a single parent or couple who doesn’t get a break often, so that they can have a date night or enjoy some much-needed ME time.

8) Purchase a gas card

Gas can be expensive, especially if you have responsibilities all over town or drive long distances to work. Gift a gas card to someone who frequently drives long distances to work.

9) Visit with someone in person 

Go to someone’s home and just talk or watch a movie. Money doesn’t always have to be spent to have a good time. Sometimes just sitting and talking can be a great way to stimulate your mind.

10) Host a Vision Board Party

We are all works in progress. We all have goals and dreams to accomplish. Why not connect with others and provide a safe and judgment-free zone to encourage, motivate and inspire? Any day can be your personal New Year, and what better way to help someone else (or even yourself) hit reset on your life and get clear on your visions by creating an action plan for success!

Contributor: Cleo Davis

Blog: My Fab Finance

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I’m often asked what’s the biggest financial mistake millennials make when it comes to their finances. In the past, responses have been not getting started or paying for services they can do themselves, for less. After five years of teaching financial education, I’ve realized that one of the biggest mistakes millennials make when it comes to their finances is focusing on only one aspect of their financial journey.

When I say focus, I don’t mean assessing their overall picture and choosing a starting point with the intention of moving to the next once they’ve successfully achieved the task at hand. I mean assuming that just because one component of their financial picture is complete, their work is done and they can live financially happily ever after.

A few focus area’s millennials commonly get fixated on are student loan elimination, accumulating savings, growing their investment portfolio, and improving the credit score, but it’s important to not lose sight of your DTI.

#RealMoneyTalk: On Debt-to-Income Ratio - YouTube
Since my last post about how I dealt with financial shame, I heard a variety of responses from you all about what caused you financial shame such as:

  • You feel financial shame whenever you spend money.
  • Establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with money remains a challenge.
  • You feel like money controls you instead of you controlling it.
  • Creating financial boundaries that allow you to focus on your financial goals is a challenge

There are a lot of things to focus on and sometimes it’s hard to know when and where to start.

While credit scores are important, they are only one piece of your broader financial puzzle. To make sure you’re looking at your finances holistically, try out Turbo – it will show you your debt to income ratio (DTI), which is a number important to lenders because it helps them measure your ability to manage monthly payments and repay debts.

Turbo will help you check your DTI and provide you with an overview of how you stand, financially. You can also get tips and advice in certain areas that you want to focus on to improve your finances.

The most important thing to think about when starting your financial journey is remembering that you’re not alone, and realizing that there are tons of people going through what you’re feeling right now – stay positive and arm yourself with the right tools that will help you in your journey.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Turbo. The opinions and text are all mine.

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The first time I reviewed my credit report it felt like I was walking into a well-appointed room decorated with mistakes from my past. Some were bigger than others, but they were all there, and every line of my report reminded me of a bad financial decision that I would have loved to forget about — but due to my neglect, these mistakes were anchored to the walls and rubbed into the fabric of the carpet that paved my financial journey.

This process was filled with several emotions and I transitioned from optimism, to regret, to embarrassment, to shame. I began to question whether or not I had the tools and resources that would be necessary to untangle my financial mess.

The most painful and embarrassing part of the process came from confronting a financially abusive relationship that left me with physical scars, a drained savings account, maxed out credit cards, and collection items on my credit report. I was ashamed that I, the girl who grew up in a loving household, was a victim of abuse. I will never forget the feeling I had when my human resources manager called me into her office to inform me that Bank of America had won a court judgment to garnish my wages to pay off the balance for a credit card I maxed out during that relationship. As someone who prided herself on looking like she had it all together, I was devastated. Not about the fact that $180 was being deducted from my already meager non-profit paycheck bi-weekly, but that my job knew the truth about me and my financial situation.

I was a financial wreck.

To deal with the shame, I dug myself deeper into a hole. I clung to retail therapy because for me, looking good took precedence over being and feeling good.

Beginning The Road To Financial Freedom

Eventually I became tired of avoiding calls and feeling restrained by my financial history. I called the one person who I knew wouldn’t judge me, my younger sister, and came clean. After tearful confessions to her and my parents, I vocalized my intentions to become proactive about my financial situation and create a new story. I decided to start a blog to document my journey to financial freedom and My Fab Finance was born.

As my peers learned about my site they started sharing their stories and fears with me. We all began to feel a weight lift as we began to drop the financial baggage we had been carrying. Confessing what brought us financial shame allowed us to empower others, and ourselves, with life-changing solutions.

Talking about our experiences and financial secrets helped us realize that we weren’t alone. And if you’re reading this post, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

I’ve partnered with Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Mint, to drive the conversation about money through their #RealMoneyTalk campaign for Turbo. Turbo, is a free tool that gives you a complete look at your financial health – your credit, debt-to-income ratio and verified IRS income. I like it because it shows me where I stand financially, and if I am on track in comparison to my peers — it benchmarks users across categories so you can make your next financial decisions with more confidence.

Recently, Turbo gathered strangers from completely different walks life and encouraged them to confess their feelings about money. Have a look at what happened:

#RealMoneyTalk - YouTube

Now that I’ve shared my money story and you’ve watched complete strangers share theirs, I invite you to take a step towards releasing the shame and taboos surrounding financial discussions and share your story with us. The more we share, the more we normalize financial conversations that can help us heal and inspire others to begin their journey. If you’ve confronted your shame and fear, and want to empower someone else who may be feeling hopeless, please invite them to join the conversation. All I ask is that you loop us in on social media or comment below. If you share your story (tagging @IntuitTurbo, #RealMoneyTalk and #sweepstakes), you’ll also have the chance to win $5,000 cash!

Remember, you are not alone and you are supported on this journey.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Turbo. The opinions and text are all mine.

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