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Do you remember the first time you felt like you didn’t belong?

I remember it clear as day. It was my first day of school in Charlotte, North Carolina. My family relocated from Moore, Oklahoma, a small city just outside of Oklahoma City.

I went from attending a predominantly white school to one that was intentionally desegregated. It was the first time that I was submerged in black culture other than my church (where everyone is supposed to be kind). My first weeks were full of culture shock and it was brutal…

I was picked on for everything from my buck teeth, to my Kohl’s clothes, to my puffy hair since I just graduated a year prior from ponytails and barrettes to box relaxers. That was around the time I became more concerned with my appearance and looking like I belonged. Even though I came from an upper-middle-class family and my parents owned multiple homes, my outward appearance said otherwise. I recall going home and saying “Marquita’s parents must be rich because she has every single pair of Jordans that comes out.”

My parents didn’t use that as the teachable moment, but over the years I’ve learned about the generational dynamics that were at play during my childhood.

Between Slavery, the Black Codes, redlining, Jim Crow, and continued disenfranchisement, property ownership for people of color in the United States has looked different which has had lasting effects in a society that clings to the laurels of capitalism.

For so long in the history of people of color, our possessions served to define our worth and status. Once we reclaimed ownership of our bodies it was one of the only things we had true ownership over and the ability to adorn to depict our status in our communities and society as a whole.

We may not have been able to circumvent the barriers established by redlining when it came to owning property but we could buy clothes and cars to our wallet’s content.

I continue to see the effects of this today. The disapproving looks when someone walks into a room underdressed or seemingly out of place because they could care less about the latest trends (and not in Luca Sabbat kind of way). This is not an experience limited to people of color, I’ve heard non-poc discuss someone’s attire or presentation, however, the branches from which the judgment extends differ.

The next time you go shopping ask yourself why you are buying certain items and what you hope to achieve by wearing them.

It’s okay to like nice things, we’re My Fab Finance after all.

However, the pursuit of nice things in lieu of financial freedom is a pervasive tradeoff that was systematically designed to keep disenfranchised in a cycle of generational poverty.

This February 2019, and beyond I want us to become more conscious about making space for others to be their unique selves even if that unique self doesn’t fit into our perceptions of acceptability and success.

Happy Black History Month

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Tonya Rapley is a paid influencer for Citizens Bank, N.A. All opinions and/or advice are her own.

The common game plan for adulthood sounds simple. Attend a good college or university, party a little (or a lot), learn all about the field you plan on working in for the next few decades, get a degree, make tons of money, and live the good life.

While life after graduation can and should be a very exciting time, the stress and anxiety about the future can quickly become crippling. For many young adults, the transition from college to the “real” world includes the looming, dark cloud of owing thousands of dollars in student loans.

The good news is that if you know all of the available options, you can pay off your student loans without too many sleepless nights. Here are four things to consider that can help you avoid costly mistakes when paying your student loans after graduation.

First things first: Prioritizing Repayment

Going from eating Ramen noodles to having extra cash in your account will definitely give you a sense of financial freedom (cue Bruno Mars 24k Magic). The temptation to purchase a new car, new home, or eat out every day might be high, especially if you have just landed a new job. However, giving those student loans first dibs on your priority list will help you immensely in the long run.

Often times, people build their postgraduate life around their salary, not their responsibilities. Develop an action plan as soon as possible. Cut costs where you can and use those funds to chip away at loan payments every month. If you have multiple loans and feel overwhelmed, try the snowball method. Choose one loan to pay extra on every month (typically start with the smallest loan amount) until is paid off and then move on to the next loan you want to tackle.

Want a few more options? We discuss loan repayment strategies in our Banish The Balance e-course.

Consider Different Repayment Plans

Income-driven repayment plans were created to offer more affordable options based on income and your family size. One of these four options could be a suitable plan for most graduates:

  1. Income-based repayment (IBR) – Once your loan enters repayment status, your monthly payments are calculated based on a default plan called the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan assumes that once you graduate you will be in a position to pay back your loans within ten years. However, if this plan does not fit your budget straight out of college there are other options to choose. The income-based repayment plan bases monthly payment amounts on 10 to 15 percent of your discretionary income or money you have left after paying for rent/mortgage, food, and clothing. Generally, you have to owe more than what your annual salary is.
  1. Pay As You Earn (PAYE)– with this plan, monthly payments never exceed 10 percent of your discretionary income and will never be higher than the Standard Repayment plan payments.
  1. Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)– this plan is similar to PAYE because payments are calculated according to 10 percent of your discretionary income. One major difference is that there is no set maximum on payment amounts if there is an increase in income—meaning that if your income goes up your payments will too. More borrowers will also be eligible for this plan.
  1. Income-contingent repayment (ICR)– Any borrower with federal direct student loans can qualify for this plan, but it is not always the best option for everyone’s situation. If you have Parent PLUS loans, ICR is the only plan that you can use if you are searching for an income-driven plan. With this option, monthly payments are capped at 20% of your discretionary income, which is higher than the 10% and 15% max of the other three income-driven plans. However, if you are a brand spanking new graduate in a field that has high future earning potential and can afford to pay more per month, then ICR can save you money on interest in the long run. An added plus is that your loan term goes from the standard ten years to twenty-five years. Contact your servicer today to find out what type of repayment plan you are currently on and if there is one better suited for your income and situation.

Refinancing

If you have found yourself in the valley of indecision about income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness is not an option, consider refinancing. If your current interest rate is 4% or higher, choosing to refinance could put thousands of dollars back in your pocket by lowering your interest. Another benefit of refinancing is if someone was gracious enough to cosign on a student loan for you, refinancing is a good way to say thank you and relieve him or her from this financial responsibility.

Refinancing could also mean better financial management of your loans. Having one lender, one account, and one payment you can easily keep track of balances and terms. When choosing a company to refinance with, decide whether you want a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Also look into the other options the company may offer. Some lenders even offer unemployment assistance and mentorship. With the influx of banks and startup companies entering the loan refinance arena you have options and it is critical that you do your research!

One thing to keep in mind about refinancing is that in order to receive the best rate possible your credit needs to be in good standing. If you think you will want to refinance down the line, make sure you’re paying your other responsibilities in a timely manner so that you can qualify for the best interest rate possible.

Forbearance and deferment

When financial setbacks arise, forbearance and deferment are two options that could be explored. Still in school at least half time? On active military duty? Or maybe you are in a health residency program or working in public service for an organization. Applying for a deferment would temporarily suspend any loan payments anywhere from a few months to a few years.

One thing to consider is that private and unsubsidized federal student loans continue to accrue interest during a deferment. Making interest-only payments would keep the principal balance from ballooning once the deferment is over.

In cases of illness, unemployment, or financial hardship, you might be eligible for forbearance. Like a deferment, interest continues to accrue but a forbearance period is generally for a shorter period of time.

For millions of college grads, student loans are a scary thought, but learning how to navigate them is the best defense against feeling like a victim to this common form of debt. Knowing the ins and outs of your current loans and looking into each of the available options for repayment can give you peace of mind and set you on the right track financially.

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Good or bad, a lot can happen in thirty-five days. For about 800,000 Americans, thirty-five days probably felt more like an eternity as they worked without pay or were furloughed until further notice due to the government shutdown. Unfortunately for the workers who have been most affected by this, no one saw this coming.  For a long time, working for the government was viewed as “the” job to have. The benefits, pay, and security were all unmatched. This recent fiasco, however, has revealed plenty of hard truths and valuable lessons for all of us. Here are a few lessons that we could all benefit from… 

Lesson #1: An emergency fund is a necessity, not an option.

If you are new to the savings world, putting away money for an emergency seems unnecessary and sometimes too difficult. There are regular monthly bills and then the unforeseen car repair, medical bills, or family emergency that are all vying for a piece of the budget. Think about how much harder it is to suddenly lose your income and literally have nothing to fall back on.

Consider opening up an online savings account so that the funds will not be as readily available for whimsical spending. Then, set up automatic transfers every month, every week, or whatever works for you.  Do not, I repeat, do not get caught up in the amount you are able to save. Even if it’s only five dollars, start there! The goal is to get the momentum going.

The recommended amount of savings is three to six months of living expenses. If that feels too intimidating, make your first goal $1,000 in savings. One day you will look at that account and be glad that you started.

Lesson #2: Consider the big picture.

Laser focus is good but, stepping back every now and then to see how your financial decisions are affecting your overall future is even better. Maybe you have been okay with making minimum credit card payments not realizing that hundreds or thousands in interest charges are racking up over time.

Reassess all of your current financial habits and goals to see if they will get you any closer to where you want to be in the long-term.

Lesson #3: Teamwork makes the dream work.

If the recent government shutdown has not taught us anything, it should show us how important cooperation is.  When both parties on the same team are unyielding, it can create a serious roadblock and have many ramifications.  If you are in a marriage or other shared-money responsibility situation, consider ways in which you can change your mindset.  

This will require some honesty, self-reflection, and compromise. Saving comes easier for some while others like to spend more.  Having a conversation early on about each person’s approach to money will help to solidify which financial approach the couple will take on. Also, agreeing with what is considered a major purchase can prevent future arguments and playing the blame game.

Everyone’s viewpoint is different so there is no room for assumptions. Keep the end goal in mind which is to knock out all financial goals together.  You owe it to yourself to live the life you have envisioned.

Written by My Fab Finance Contributor Candice Davie

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This post is sponsored advertising content by State Farm®; however, all thoughts are genuine and my own.

On November 22nd my life changed forever. Joseph Karris Rapley Flash was born and everything I had been working towards my entire life made sense. I became a mother the day I received the positive reading on my pregnancy test, but it really hit home the moment I held him in my arms for the first time. He was so little, so precious, so perfect and beyond worthy of all of me. As I looked in his face and cried, I immediately wanted to do everything I could do to protect him.

It’s important to me to be financially secure so my son can experience the life we envision for him. The following decisions will get us on that path:

Business

Smart business decisions enable me to remain an entrepreneur and be involved in his life in the capacity that I desire. This is important to me because I was born to military parents who often didn’t have a say in how much time they spent with my sister and me growing up, due to military obligations. I want to determine how much time I spend with my children, not leave that decision to an employer. Smart business decisions include:

  • Staffing and delegation of tasks to staff
  • Managing relationships with partners
  • Determining proper business structure
  • Working with my accountant
  • Properly allocating revenue using the ‘Profit First’ model

I’ve used several of the tips in the Entrepreneurs Toolbox found on LetsStartToday.com to make sure I’m on track and making the best decisions for my business, myself and my family.

Healthcare

I’ve prioritized my healthcare decisions, including remaining insured, eating properly, exercising, and maintaining low-stress levels so that I remain in the best health possible. This also means making sure our son has access to quality healthcare and quality ingredients when it comes to food and products applied to his skin.

Self-care is also an important aspect of my parenting —ensuring I have enough time to rest and recharge so that I am showing up at my best for him, as well as minimizing stress on my body. Our health is tied to our financial outcome in many ways and I love that State Farm offers healthy lifestyle tips in addition to financial tips, that are useful and effective. Maintaining good health can help lower healthcare costs, can increase your quality of life and has the potential to lower life insurance premiums.

Finance

I often say that the best gift a parent can give their children is financial freedom. Not a child’s financial freedom but your own financial freedom. It’s common to get stuck buying things for our children to give them happy experiences when they’re little. We don’t realize, however, that by failing to prioritize our financial security we run the chance of becoming a financial burden to them later when they’re starting out in their life, which sets them back. I’ve witnessed too many of my peers unable to move forward in their own lives because they are financially responsible for their parents.

I began establishing my financial foundation when I created My Fab Finance, which meant improving my credit score and my relationship to debt, creating an actual savings account and boundaries so that I wouldn’t use savings on non-savings related items, and making diverse investments so that I can grow my money. Having a solid financial foundation has not only enabled me to create my desired maternity leave and bonding experience, it also has given me more confidence that we will be financial assets to Karris as he grows up, not financial burdens.

Insurance

My biggest fear is our time together ending prematurely. I want to be here for him and with him forever, and in the event I’m not I want to make sure that he is adequately taken care of. While I’m making wise financial decisions on my day-to-day investing for the future, I’m also diligent about keeping my life insurance policies up to date.

I purchased term life insurance at the beginning of my financial journey years ago, but after the completion of Season 4 of the Color Full Lives podcast, presented by State Farm last year, I realized it was time for me to add a universal life insurance policy to my portfolio.

Life insurance can be one of the best ways to create a legacy and helps ensure your family is taken care of in the event of your passing. It helps ensure your family is taken care of in the event of your passing.  Life insurance can help loved ones pay day-to-day expenses, eliminate debt (like a mortgage, car loan, or credit card…) and cover future education costs. Life insurance also provides peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will have financial stability and security when it matters most.

There are a variety of different life insurance options available. To explore what’s best for you visit statefarm.com/Life to research the different options, and connect with your local State Farm agent.

Planning for my son’s future doesn’t stop here. We also established an education savings plan that we, along with family and friends, can contribute to, and I’ve been speaking with my financial advisor about setting up a custodial account for him so that he’ll be ahead of most of his peers financially from the start.

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow or next week to get started on your financial goals and planning for those in your life. Visit LetsStartToday.com to begin.

This post was sponsored advertising content by State Farm.

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This post was sponsored by Frost Bank

On average, Americans experience 148 days of financial stress each year and 62% of American families say that they are just getting by. I know it sounds like a lot of doom and gloom and it’s so easy to get caught in a cycle of negativity. I’d be lying if I said I’ve always had and always keep a positive outlook when it comes to life let alone money. But one thing I have learned is that it takes as much effort to be positive as it does to be negative and I find that when I focus on positive outcomes, good things happen.

But don’t just take it from me.

According to recent studies, 62% of optimists exhibit better financial health, nearly seven times higher than pessimists (9%). Optimists are reportedly seven times more likely than pessimists to be successful in meeting their financial goals, according to research reported by the Frost Bank Opt for Optimism study. A positive mindset has been shown to not only have a significant impact on overall well-being but it also has helped people make more sound financial decisions. The proof is in the pudding.

It turns out that a positive outlook can not only make you feel better about life, but it can also play a role in positively impacting your bottom line.

Let’s dig into how you can harness the power of “mind over money” to help you as you achieve your financial goals in 2019.

Commit to being a doer
Some successful people are successful because of factors beyond even their control, but those who are usually are because they committed to doing and executing. As you’re setting your financial goals, stop letting doubt deter you from what you believe is possible and from going after what you want. Invoking optimism means focusing on the potential positive outcomes that will result from your efforts instead of the negative ones. When you focus on the positive it gives you more courage to try, which can go a long way on the quest to achieve your dreams.

Everything won’t always workout in your favor, but give yourself more credit in your ability to steer outcomes in a favorable direction. As the Frost survey found, it’s more important to seek progress, not perfection. Step into 2019 knowing that the shot you will always miss is the one you never take.

The more you “do”, the more comfortable you become taking chances creating a pattern of positivity that reinforces your optimism.

Take comfort in the power of knowledge.
Have you ever noticed that you’re able to approach a situation with more positivity when you are informed? While it’s common for people to have feelings of dread when paying bills and dealing with their finances, most people become more comfortable when they have an informed, well thought out plan.

Face your finances and then educate yourself on what it’s going to take to keep your finances intact. In fact, for the optimists in the survey, knowing how to manage their money was the No. 1 reason they were optimistic about their finances. Start small if you need to and build your confidence from there. Increased confidence can lead to increased optimism and one of the best ways to increase your confidence is by taking the guest work out of your finances and knowing your numbers.

What numbers should you be aware of?
The sum of your monthly financial responsibilities are each month
The amount of debt you have
How much money you have in savings
How much money you need in retirement

Look for the lesson
Life is filled with lessons and optimist are notoriously good at finding those lessons and using them to make positive decisions and or assessments. One way I’ve used lessons as learning tools is by asking myself the following two questions:

1.What does this experience say about me?
2.Is there anything I’d do differently next time

There’s always a lesson to be learned in every setback. Even optimists experience setbacks, citing an average of four in their lives. The survey found that one of the things that help optimists bounce back from financial mishaps is to learn from each mistake so that they don’t make the same costly mistake twice. Over time, being aware of what went wrong will help you steer clear of obstacles that have caused you to stumble in the past, leaving a clearer path for you to take significant steps towards meeting your goals.

This process is important as you work toward your goals this year. If you experience a setback in pursuit of your goals, look for the lesson instead of reinforcement that you should give up.

Celebrate every win.
Where others may get discouraged by not making huge leaps of progress, optimists find motivation in even the smallest wins. Remember that progress is progress. The journey to financial freedom is a marathon, not a sprint. This is why the best tips on goal setting often include setting smaller goals along the way. Breaking your larger goals up into smaller increments make them feel less daunting and more manageable.

If you’re having trouble with feeling optimistic about your finances that is okay. It’s important to acknowledge our true feelings and begin to ask ourselves why we feel them. One practice that helps me deconstruct my negative feelings is asking myself why constantly. When I find an answer to a simple question such as “Why am I having so much trouble being optimistic?” I ask myself why. Once I come up with that answer I ask myself why again. This practice often helps you single out the true culprit that holding you back, making it easier to address.

When it comes to your finances I hope you find that you actually have quite a bit to smile about. Optimist aren’t positive because everything is perfect, they’re positive because they know what at the end of the day, everything likely works out as it should. “In fact, Michelle Gielan, a positive psychology researcher and partner for Frost’s survey, describes optimism as the expectation of good things to happen and the belief that behavior matters, especially in the face of challenges.”

As you prepare to improve your finances in 2019, also consider doing a once over of your attitude about your finances. A little positive thinking can actually go a long way.

Need inspiration? Join the 30-Day Optimism Challenge!
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This post is sponsored advertising content by State Farm®. All thoughts are my own.

Personal finance is closely tied to almost every aspect of your life. You can’t really separate your life from money. A few weeks ago, I shared the money lessons I learned from our Color Full Lives podcast guests, but that wasn’t all I learned. During Season 4 of the podcast, I also learned a few valuable life lessons from my counterparts and our guests that will without a doubt have an impact on the remainder of my year and how I plan for 2019.

Here are a few non-finance lessons I learned from this season…

  1. Thriving After Surviving

My co-host Aminatou Sow recently defeated cancer. Prior to meeting Amina I had never really interacted on a personal basis with a cancer survivor. During this season I learned about how her body was changing as a result of her fight but was most impressed by her strength and focus following her diagnosis and treatment.

Not only did Amina continue to press forward to her cancer-free diagnosis, but she also continued to attract and capitalize on business opportunities which ultimately enabled her to pay off all of her medical bills and continue to save a substantial amount of money.

While medical emergencies set some back, spirit, and support enable others to thrive after their diagnosis. Amina’s triumph encouraged me as I worked through my first and second trimesters of pregnancy. She also reminded me to check on my friends who are going through life events, both minor and major events because support in all forms is important.

  1. How to Properly Pitch Your Idea

Starts at 19:48 Episode 8: Listen here

Angela Benton is the founder of the NewMe accelerator and her companies have raised more than $43 million in funding, so she knows a thing or two about pitching ideas. Angela shared that pitching is essentially storytelling, but you should always have a one-liner that compels the person to ask more.

So often we want to tell a new contact everything at once without piquing their interest. Angela suggests developing a one-liner that gets them to ask questions and once you open that door be prepared to give your actual pitch which should be about two minutes.

During that time you should fill them in on the problem, the solution you’ve created to solve it, the market size, who your competition is, how you’re making money, and the team behind it. Your goal is to arm investors with the high-level idea so that you can secure a meeting.

As an entrepreneur you’re always pitching and, while I may not be pitching a multi-million dollar idea, I think this formula could be used to start future conversations with potential partners and collaborators.

  1. The Power of Weekly Accountability Check-Ins

Each week we kicked the episode off with accountability check-ins. As I mentioned on Episode 3, I never had that type of support because I’m typically that support for others. By having two other people who were as committed to achieving their goals as they were to supporting me and encouraging me, I accomplished quite a bit this summer.

I didn’t want to let myself down, but I also didn’t want to let them down, and when things didn’t go as planned, my co-hosts Angela Yee and Aminatou Sow boosted me and helped me look at the bright side. I’m going to miss that about the Color Full Lives podcast, but have implemented those weekly check-ins with my team so that I’m still working towards my goals.

There is power in allowing other people to support you.

Joining the podcast as a co-host has no doubt been one of the highlights of my personal career. I’ve learned so much and we have helped so many listeners realize they aren’t alone and that even successful women stumble and have much to learn.

What’s one non-finance lesson you learned from this season of Color Full Lives? Let me know using the hashtag #LiveColorFull on social media!
This post is sponsored advertising content by State Farm.

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For many decades healthcare access and affordability have been a long-standing issue. Even with Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid, and a slew of health insurance companies, there are still millions of people who cannot afford life-saving, routine healthcare services.

Many individuals fall into two categories: uninsured and underinsured.  Individuals employed by companies that do not offer health care and cannot the cost of coverage are considered uninsured.

Underinsured individuals may include those who have health insurance but pay high out of pocket costs for items not included by their policy. Whichever group you might fall into, you can still receive the necessary medical care you need to help you live a healthier, successful life.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CENTERS

One of the first options for low-cost health care services should be your local community health center. These not-for-profit organizations are the largest providers for medical care for low-income and uninsured individuals.

No one gets turned away because of the inability to pay. Instead, your income is taken into consideration and a sliding scale fee is given. Community health centers offer many services that include:

  • Immunizations
  • Primary care
  • Referrals for mental health, substance abuse, and other specialized care
  • Prenatal care
  • Dental care

Not sure where a community health center is near you? Go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services health center locator at www.findahelthcenter.hrsa.gov

Hill-Burton Program

Another option for health care that will not put a strain on your finances is the Hill-Burton program. This sixty-year-old program gives hospitals and other healthcare facilities federal funds, in exchange, for providing free or reduced-cost services. However, some of the participating hospitals have their own eligibility standards so the terms can vary. Also, once the specific amount of free or reduced-cost healthcare is reached, the hospital can choose to deny any other possible participants.  To apply for admission, contact a Hill-Burton facility in your area.

A list of these facilities can be found at www.hrsa.gov/hillburton/hillburtonfacilities.htm.

To increase your chances of being approved for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You need to be living in the United States for at least the past three months
  • Not covered by any existing health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid

MAMMOGRAMS

If the sea of pink everywhere did not clue you in, October is Breast Cancer awareness month. If you are over the age of forty or have a family history of breast cancer make getting a mammogram a top priority.

Do not let lack of insurance or extra cash stop you from staying on top of your health.  Mammograms save lives and during the month of October, there are health care facilities that offer this screening for free or at a super-low cost.  

  1. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer program, founded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offers free or low-cost mammograms to those who do not have insurance or whose insurance does not cover this screening.  To qualify, you also must be between the ages of forty and sixty-four. Find out more about the program in your state.
  2. The Susan G. Komen foundation has affiliates in cities across the United States that provide affordable mammograms and breast cancer treatment programs. For more information on locations in your area, call 1-877-GO-KOMEN.
  3. The YWCA in your neck of the woods is also an option if you are currently uninsured or strapped for cash.  Certain chapters offer mammograms and breast health education for free. Contact your local YWCA for details.

Feeling good and looking good should be available to all regardless of socioeconomic status or circumstances. Regular physicals and important exams play a key role in staying healthy.

If you have postponed seeing your doctor because you thought you could not afford to, now is your opportunity to utilize the resources available to you.  

Written by My Fab Finance Contributor, Candice Davie

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A solid financial foundation consists of knowledge, savings, a minimal debt load, a decent credit score, and investments. As a financial educator, I often see people fixate on the first four components while avoiding investing all together for a variety of reasons.

While there are legitimate reasons to put off investing such as focusing on maintaining consistent income, building your savings and/or eliminating debt, a lack of information typically prevents people from investing. When provided with the proper education and a better understanding of how to begin investing, most people can get started with investing on their own.

Don’t let the following common myths stop you from investing.

Myth 1: You need a minimum of $X,000 to get started.

This myth has some merit. There are certain firms and companies that will not work with a client unless they have a certain amount of investable assets. For years this prevented most working-class people from accessing the wealth-building options that were only available to a portion of the population. Today that is changing, and while some firms still require a minimum amount of assets to invest, not all of them do.

The industry is evolving, and in the last ten years, a host of Fintech startups such as Robinhood have been created to enable the everyday person to begin investing without costly minimums. Thanks to technology and innovation, investing on your own has never been easier; and in most cases, such as with Robinhood, you can start investing for as little as $1.

Myth 2: You Have To Work With An Advisor.

Similar to the previous myth, this is changing with the evolution of the financial industry. You don’t have to work with a financial advisor to begin investing. There are a few advantages such as working with a knowledgeable individual to craft your overall investment strategy, but you do not have to work with a financial advisor to get started.

I personally work with a financial advisor on my larger sum investments and self-manage my smaller amounts. A knowledgeable advisor can help you blend your self-guided investments into your portfolio picture once you are ready to work with a professional and as you continue to build investable assets.

While working with a financial advisor can be helpful if you are uncomfortable investing large sums of money, you do not need a financial advisory to begin investing.

Myth 3: All of the good stocks are already too expensive.

Good news! The investment ship has not sailed. You can still hop on board with a stock that works for you. There are several companies going public each month, and plenty of solid legacy companies that you can begin investing in today.

While they might not become as lucrative as Amazon has become, they can still earn you a decent return on your investment and are worth considering. For every break out stock, there are several more options that can and should be considered to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re ready to learn more about investing in the stock market, you’re in luck because I’ve partnered with Robinhood and Brit + Co to bring you Investing 101.

During this FREE class I take you through all the basics of investing in the stock market, covering:

  • How the stock market works and breaks down all the confusing terminology
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This post is sponsored advertising content by State Farm®. All thoughts are my own.

My first season as a podcast host has come to an end.

Earlier this year I was a guest on the Color Full Lives podcast and then this summer I had the pleasure of joining Angela Yee and Aminotou Sow as their third wheel with Season 4. As an official member of the Schmoney Team, I had an amazing time talking about everything from money to business structure to keeping your hands out of the coconut jar (Episode 8) throughout the season.

I’ve been a financial educator for nearly five years and some may consider me a veteran blogger, but there is still so much for me to learn, and I was exposed to something new with each of our guests from this season, as well as my co-hosts. There was so much to choose from but I was able to narrow it down to 3 things that I think you could benefit from as well.

  1. The goal isn’t to highlight the problem, it’s understanding how it became a problem.

During Episode 3 Julien from Rich and Regular spoke about how he approached learning that Kristen had $9,000 in debt when they came clean about the state of their finances. Julien was incredibly gracious, and rather than seeing the amount of Kristen’s debt as the problem, he was more concerned about what it would take to shift her thoughts and what the debt represented.

His approach reminded me that debt is often a symptom of a larger issue. Those issues are different for everyone and it could be low wages, low self-esteem, or a lack of boundaries. It could be a combination of all of the above. But his isn’t just limited to debt or financial matters. When sorting through any problem or a dilemma, it’s important to keep in mind the root cause of the problem so that it doesn’t become a reoccurring norm. Once you identify the root you can treat the problem at the source so that you can avoid continued problems down the road.

  1. Check Your Ego

As an expert, you’re used to people asking you for solutions but not necessarily questioning your credibility. On Episode 5, Marsha Barnes shared how a woman toured her educational bus and upon finishing, she questioned if Marsha “knew what she was doing” when it came to helping people with finances in the manner she planned.

Rather than respond with ego, Marsha reminded us and the listeners that when doing things differently than what people are used to seeing, there will be doubters. It’s important not to take their doubts or questioning personal because it probably isn’t personal and if it is, then reacting to their personal insult will do little to help you. No matter how confident you are in your vision and your abilities, you might have to prove yourself to naysayers, and that’s okay.

  1. Limited Pay Life insurance Options

State Farm offers a variety of products to help individuals protect themselves and their families from the unexpected and unforeseen. I’ve had life insurance for years and was familiar with the concept of the term and permanent life insurance, however, on Episode 7, State Farm Agent Victoria Anderson educated us on Limited Pay Life insurance which was an option I was previously unfamiliar with. Limited pay differs from term insurance wherein it doesn’t expire at the end of a specified time frame such as term. It differs from permanent insurance because you can pay slightly more yet limit your contributions to 10,15, or 20 years and once you’ve reached the end of that specified timeframe, you keep the policy value and it continues to earn cash value.

We had the best guests this season and I’m so thankful to them for taking time out to share their knowledge and journeys with us. So I want to hear from you, what is one thing you learned from tuning into Season 4 of Color Full Lives?

This post is sponsored advertising content by State Farm.

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Top 4 reasons why fall is the number one season: cooler temperatures, pumpkin patches, fly fall fashion, and bugs returning back to where they belong. Not to mention, eating pumpkin spice until it practically becomes a blood type.

While it may not sound really sexy, it’s also the perfect time to look at your finances. With back-to-school shopping and upcoming holiday trips, expenses can quickly add up. Be prepared by making money moves that will reap dividends for this last stretch of the year and the new year ahead.

Budget ahead of time for the holidays

If the thought of the holidays leaves you feeling anxious and overwhelmed, taking charge of your finances before the holiday season could help. Lack of money, overspending, and feeling pressured to make expensive purchases are some of the reasons many people do not view the holidays as a joyous. During the start of the fall season, look at your financial goals and your budget, and decide what is a priority to you.

Write down expected expenses to be made on travel, hosting parties, and gifts. Make it a point to only spend what you can afford. Then, begin putting away money in a savings account that you cannot readily access. This will decrease the temptation of withdrawing the money before you need it. Get a jump start, if you can, on purchasing gifts and booking travel. This will help you beat the holiday markups and frenzy so you can save you some dollars.

Home Maintenance

Getting those windows sealed, adding some new weather stripping, and getting the furnace tuned up now will eliminate high heating bills once the height of winter has hit. If you do not have one already, invest in a programmable thermostat.

This one device can save you tons of money because you can set it to a certain temperature that best suits your comfort level and pockets.  Program the thermostat to suit your lifestyle. As soon as cooler temperatures appear, place home maintenance tasks high on your to-do list if you do not want your bank account to suffer later.

Open Enrollment Season

Fall is also the time of year when most employers have open enrollment. This is the window when employees can make changes to their health insurance and if you play your cards right you can save some money.

The first step is to look at what your expenses are and ask yourself a few essential questions. Did you participate in a Flexible Spending account? Did you use all of the funds in that account or go scrambling to spend it before the end of the year? Flexible spending accounts allow you to save money each week before taxes to pay child care, elder care, or health care costs. The fact that the funds are taken on a pre-tax basis can save you up to 30 percent of each dollar that goes into that account.

“The trees are about to show us how to lovely it is to let the dead things go”- Unknown.

Be intentional about creating a better life for yourself and your family. You do not have to wait around until New Year’s Eve to start planning.  

Let this autumn by the time you set aside to reflect, re-assess, and plan to see some extra zeros in your account. Follow these special tips and get a firm handle on your finances before the new year.

Contributor: Candice Davie

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