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Hey girl, hey!

How many times have you upgraded to the newest technology device, and left the old device just thrown in the nearest drawer - only to find it months later, covered in dust or lost amongst a mound of clutter?

Did you know that instead of just letting old technology devices like cell phones, tablets, or game consoles die in the land of unwanted tech gadgets, you can actually make cold hard cash, girlfriend?

I’m talkin’ easy money, and at Girlfriend’s, Budget… you know we’re all about those coins! 

So today I’d like to share a little gem with you that can have you making effortless cash in no time. Are you ready for this?

Let’s chat!   

GreenBuyBack.
If you’ve never heard of GreenBuyBack, it’s an electronics buyback company that purchases your used technology at prices that are said to be highest in the industry.

I came across their website via a post I saw on Instagram, and immediately got excited like:

“Wait... you mean to tell me there’s a company out there who will take MY electronic clutter AND pay ME for it?”

But with the Internet being… well, the Internet, these days you have to fact check and do some research. So being the low-key investigative detective that I am... I did some digging.

And when I say digging... I wanted to know everything:  the process, if it would cost me any money to ship, what devices they purchased, if this was actually too good to be true, if my data would be jeopardized, how fast would I get paid, and everything in between...
So here’s how it works...
  1. You get a fast and free quote online by using their super-simple-even-your-grandma-could-do-it website.
  2. Shipping is FREE because they pay for YOU to ship the device to them.
  3. After receiving the device, they deposit the funds right into your account.

I mean, c’mon! It really doesn’t get much easier than that.  
But wait… there’s more...
They legit take almost every technology device you could think of. I’m talkin’ cell phones, ipads, laptops, headphones, tablets, smart watches, smartphones, gaming consoles, headphones, and even virtual reality devices.

And the best part is, even if your Iphone happens to be broken or cracked, GreenBuyBack will still take the device, and send you the cash for it (POOF: Mind blown)!

Not only that, you’re data is always secured.

​They definitely recommend restoring any factory settings and removing any personal data prior to shipping, but they also promise to remove, reset, and destroy any SD or Sim cards received. Plus, they will never resell a phone in which data cannot be deleted.

That speaks high volumes about the integrity of the company!
And last, but most certainly not least… the mulah! ​
GreenBuyBack will typically render payment within 24 hours of receiving your device(s), and you can either choose to receive the funds via a check in the mail or your PayPal account.

Don’t believe it’s this easy?

Check out their raving reviews from other satisfied customers who’ve utilized this wonderful service.
So what are you waiting for, girlfriend?
Chances are you’re sitting on an abundance of money, and you didn’t even know it. So start digging around, capitalize on your old tech devices, and snag some easy cash, FAST! 

Until Next Time, 
​Elle

*This is a sponsored post brought to you by GreenBuyBack. The opinions are completely my own and based on my experience.* 
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Hey girl, hey! 

Do you find yourself in a never ending cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck with no savings to show for it? Studies show that most people actually aren't broke, the real problem is just mismanaging funds - meaning we pay for the things we want, instead prioritizing what we need to help create a better financial future for ourselves. So today, I'd like to give you 5 expenses you can cut out or cut back from your budget to help you free up some coins right now! 

​Let's chat!
Are you currently paying for memberships or subscriptions that you're not using? Do you have expensive habits and routines? Are you dining out way too often and eating all your coins away? 

RELATED: Your Spending's Way to High... You Need to Cut It!

Then girlfriend, we got some slicin' and dicin' to do! Check out the video below to find my tips on expenses you could (and probably should) cut from you budget to allow you more money to reach your financial goals!
5 Expenses You Could (And Probably Should) Cut From Your Budget | Girlfriend's, Budget! - YouTube

What did you think of this post? Leave a comment below and let's chat! 
Until Next Time, 
​Elle
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Hey girl, hey!

Have you ever been to Portland, Oregon?!

I actually had the pleasure of experiencing my first time in P-town this Spring, buuut if I”m gonna keep it real, I’ll have to be honest… initially I wasn’t all that excited about going.

“What the ‘f’ is in Portland?”, I asked my friends as we were narrowing down our last few choices on where our next trip should be. You see… the point of this whole trip was to land on a destination that none of us had been to before, and with our crew… that could be a bit of a challenging task.

Nevertheless, we decided on Portland and I…. hesitantly agreed. However after visiting, I must say that Bridge City is now one of my very favorite travel spots, and there’s 3 things you absolutely have to experience for yourself!

And the best part is… it’s all in the budget (wink)!

(pssst... stick around to the end of this post to check out my Portland Vlog)!
1. The Food.
If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you know how much I absolutely looove food. That’s honestly where Portland stole my heart (ya’ll know my inner big girl comes out from time to time). Like literally, everything I put in my mouth was sinfully delicious… almost to the point where uncontrollable moans and grunts were drawing attention from others nearby.

Quite embarrassing... but so worth it!  

Portland is, for sure, a food lover’s paradise. There’s a plethora of highly rated food spots pretty much everywhere you turn. One tool that helps us decide on where to dine (and spend our hard earned coins) is Yelp.

​We always turn to Yelp because it paints a pretty accurate description of what you’re about to get into. There’s pictures of the establishment so that you know what would be the appropriate attire, there’s price categories and menu details so you can filter based on how much you want to spend, and maybe decide what you want before you even get there, and the reviews (which is my favorite part) will tell you if the place is even worth stepping foot into.

My favorite restaurants we stopped by when visiting Portland were Screen Door (the Shrimp & Grits dish is to die for), Pok Pok (because my bestie is Asian at heart and forces me to find my inner Asian), and last but certainly not least, Tasty and Sons (who’s brunch almost made me not want to go back home).

If you’re ever in the Portland area, you’ve got to try these spots out. All three places are only two dollar signs ($$), which means it’s affordable, but if you want to cut cost even more… share plates, because the servings are huge and there’s plenty of food to go around!

Plus, I can’t forget to mention Voodoo Donuts if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat! It’s unequivocally one of the best donuts I’ve ever had… hands down.
2. The Nature.
Blooming cherry blossom trees, lush greenery, and breathtaking waterfalls is exactly what you’ll see when you visit Portland...especially in the Spring. Perhaps we got lucky (no wait - scratch that), I know we got lucky when it came to the weather during our visit, because the locals repeatedly told us how we’d just missed all the rain and it was the first weekend they’d seen sunshine in a while (talk about thanking our earth angels)!

Nevertheless, we were in awe of all the gorgeousness that surrounded us and because my friends and I are nature buffs… we were ready to explore!
Here are the places you gotta go check out if you love nature, and finding free (or cheap) things to do:

Multnomah Falls.
Towering at a staggering 620 feet, it’s the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. It’s views are immaculately stunning, and best of all… it’s free!!!

Beacon Rock.
Just twenty minutes away from Multnomah Falls is a hiker’s dream! This 848 - foot volcanic plug hosts some ah-maz-ing views. So amazing that words can’t even really describe, you just have to see it yourself (another reason why you should totally stick around to watch my Portland vlog at the end of this blog post).

The Chinese Gardens.
If you’re a blogger, vlogger, or just want to take some beautiful family pictures… The Chinese Gardens is definitely the place to do it. The views are so unreal that people will swear your photo has a backdrop. Plus, it’s only a $10 entry fee and you can hang out there as long as you want!
The People.
Portland seriously has some of the nicest locals I’ve ever encountered. Being a brown girl, I always pay attention to how many other people in the city look like me, and to be honest… I didn’t see many. But the signs of inclusion (race, sex, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc.) posted in restaurants and shops alike, the tributes to our 1st black president scattered around the city and in neighborhoods, and the fact that most people are probably high because marijuana is legal there (and high people are usually happy people, and happiness is contagious), truly made me feel warm and welcomed.     
I just honestly cannot say enough good things about my trip to Portland, and perhaps I’ve persuaded you to want to make a trip there as well. Buuuuut, if you still need a little more convincing… check out my Portland vlog below to see what this beautiful city has to offer.
Travel VLOG | Budget Travel | PORTLAND - YouTube

​What did you think of this post? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

Until Next Time,
Elle  
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Hey girl, hey!

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you’ll know that we often talk about saving those coins, cutting back on expenses, and tackling that debt…. but today we’re gonna switch it up and talk about the part of budgeting that most people love… SPENDING!

I know, I know...weird coming from me, right?

​Keep reading! 
Here’s the thing… budgeting is not meant to make you feel restricted, and one thing that helps you not feel restricted is setting aside a little spending money for yourself to purchase some of the things you desire, that way you can keep a little fun in your life... because after-all, you do go to work everyday for those coins, so you should be able to enjoy yourself just a little bit... do you agree?

The issue comes in when people take their budgeted spending money and splurge it all in the first few days, instead of prioritizing their purchases so they’ll have enough to last them to the next paycheck.  

Now I know everyone gets paid on different pay frequencies, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll say if you get paid bi-weekly you’ll have $200 of spending money and if you get paid monthly, you’ll have $400 of spending money set aside for yourself, cool?!.

Cool.

Let’s get started.  

​1. Use the Cash Method.
​I always recommend new budgeters use cash for their spending money instead of a debit card. The reason being is that it’s so easy to get carried away swipe, swipe, swipin’ your card that before you know it, all your spending money is gone and you just got paid a few days ago (whomp, whomp, whomp).

If you get paid bi-weekly, you know that you have at least two full weeks until you get another paycheck and per the scenario we mentioned earlier… you have $200 to last you through 2 weeks.

Similarly, if you get paid monthly, you’ll have $400 to last you through about 4 weeks (give or take a few days) until your next paycheck.

So here’s my suggestion:

Take a certain amount of cash out for the current week (in this case I’d say $100 per week), leave the rest of the money in your bank account, and keep those debit cards at home tucked away in a safe place. Then don’t take the next lump sum of cash out until you reach the beginning of the next week.

By doing this, you limit yourself to how much you can purchase in one week, therefore forcing you to monitor how much you spend and what you decide to spend on.

Priorities sis, priorities.


​2. Calculate a Daily or Weekly Spending Limit.
Now let’s say you’re a more advanced budgeter, or perhaps you’re not comfortable carrying cash and would like to keep a papertrail of your purchases by using your debit card.

If this is the case, try setting a daily or weekly spending limit for yourself.

So that $200 bi-weekly spending budget divided by 14 days or 2 weeks would mean you could spend about $14 daily or $100 per week.

Or for my girlfriends who get paid monthly, that would be around $13 per day (if you estimate 31 days in a month) or $100 a week.

The key here is to actually monitor your spending… so keep your receipts to add up at the end of the day and/or week, check your bank balance nightly, or see money managing method  #3 (say that three times fast)!


3. Get Notifications Sent to your Phone.
One of the best ways to monitor your spending allowance is to have daily notifications sent to your phone. Most banks have this option and it’s kinda necessary for two reasons:

First, the notifications sent to your phone keeps you well aware of your bank balance, so there’s no saying you didn’t know you had no money, girl.

Secondly, in the event anyone ever gets a hold of your information, like a case of identity theft, you can catch it fast before the perpetrator has a chance to do any serious damage.

I always suggest getting morning notifications... like 9 or 10ish. That way you're wide awake, it's just before lunch (before you can make the decision to go out to eat with your co-workers), and you can prioritize your spending for the rest of the day. 

4. Spend Only on the Weekends.
Now here’s where it gets good.

If you can find the discipline to not spend any allowance money during the week (which is completely doable if you take your meals to work each day and find free things to do throughout the week), then you can find yourself slightly ballin' on the weekend. You’ll have your whole weekly allowance to splurge on weekend purchases.... kinda like a reward for your discipline all week! 

Answer me this... when was the last time you went a day without spending money? I challenge you to try it in the near future. It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

Ya see... when all your necessities are already budgeted, like groceries to make meals at home, and gas to keep your car fueled so you can get to and from the places you need to go... there's nothing else you really neeed to buy, because all your needs are taken care of!

Pretty sweet, right?! 

That's the power of a budget, girlfriend! Get you some. 

Need help? Check out my one-on-one coaching services here and drop a comment below to let me know how you liked this post. 
Until Next Time, 
Elle
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Hey girl, hey!

According to a finance article on CNBC, the average American family is spending around $3,000 a year just on eating out alone. This same article also goes on to mention a story about how in 2016, one couple reviewed their credit card statements only to discover that they had spent $30,000 on eating out in one sole year (that’s nuts!).

However... with the conveniences of fast food and restaurant chains popping up all over the place, it’s way easy for one to both overeat and overspend.      

But for the sake of your budget girlfriend… EAT IN!

The fact of the matter is… eating out is expensive (let’s just be real), and in order to get to where you want to be financially, you can’t go eating and drinking your funds away! To be successful with your budget, it’s actually mandatory that most of your meals (like 90% of them) are made at home. ​

And before you start making excuses, just know that I’ve heard them all before:

“I’m single and have no one to cook for.”

“I’m so busy and I really don’t have the time to cook.”

“I don’t know how to cook, because no one ever taught me.”

Listen girlfriend, where there’s a will… there’s always a way, right?! So let’s trash the excuses and discuss some ways that’ll help you save money and have fun while eating in!

Let’s chat!  

​1. Find Recipes That Interest You. 
You know what you (and your family) enjoy, right? So stick with recipes you know will delight your taste buds.

Here’s my suggestion:

When you’re sitting on the couch or laying around scrolling through social media, make the most of that time and search for recipes that may interest you. Look for meals with ingredients you know you’ll love... that way you’re more likely to make it, versus something you’re kinda iffy about.

In my down time, I sometimes hop on pinterest, scroll through the recipes I see there, and pin my favorites. You can follow the GFB Food Board on Pinterest if you need some inspiration for when you don’t know what you make.

I pin all kinds of things on that board and I legit make almost all of them. And if you follow me on snapchat (mselle21), you’ll catch me whipping up all kinds of meals there too!    
2. Use What You Got! 
So before you go grocery shopping, you have to make a list, right?

But here’s a tip:

Take a look in your fridge or pantry before you start your grocery list. Usually we all have food items left over from other recipes we’ve made, which can be used in future meals too.

So let’s say you have half a package of pasta left, maybe a couple of chicken breasts, some spinach and a little bit of parmesan cheese (because this totally just happened to me). With those ingredients, think about what kind of meal you can make and only add to your grocery list the items you actually need.

I decided to make this Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken that I served over the leftover pasta we had, and O.M.G… it was freakin’ delicious!

The best part was that I saved some money on my grocery shopping because I made good use of what we already had, instead of letting it go bad and having to throw the old food (and the money we spent on it) in the trash.

And let’s be honest, none of us can afford to throw money in the trash...  

3. Shop For What You Need... Only! 
If you’re anything like I me, when I go to the grocery store (and if I’m not in a rush), I love to take my time and peruse through every aisle of the store… just to check out all the goods. But then I’ll find myself adding all kinds of things into the basket that were nowhere near being on my list. Then when I make it to the check line, and the cashier tells me the total… I’m up there lookin’ like bambi eyes because I’ve gone way over budget, but I’m too embarrassed to put anything back.

Sound familiar?  

That’s why I really love online grocery shopping, because it keeps me from getting more than I need. I just write down my list of grocery items, search for them on the website, watch the amount as it starts to get close to my spending limit, then check out when I’m done.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s usually a pick-up or delivery fee, so always be sure to budget that amount in as well. So if your grocery spending limit is $80 for the week and the fee is $5, only purchase $75 worth of food so that you can still cover the service fee without going over budget.

​4. Factor in Quick Meals & Snacks.
Often times, people will get stuck with a fridge full of food that eventually gets old and expires because they went into the whole “cooking at home” thing with good intentions, but then never mustered up the energy to actually cook the food they purchased!

To remedy this, I will typically recommend purchasing items that can be quick to make and throw together, and this tip is especially helpful for those that are, shall we say… culinarily challenged.
.
Just make fast, simple meals like these Garlic Bread Pizzas, tossed with a side salad… and finito!

Creating a meal doesn’t have to be complicated, just stick to the things you like and make it easy for yourself.

But what about the snackers?

So here’s a suggestion:

Grab some of your favorites when grocery shopping to make your own little snack pack. Put together a handful of grapes, a few cheese cubes, and maybe throw in some trail mix, pretzels, or whatever else you’d like.

The point is to just stay prepared. Set yourself up for financial success by planning ahead, so you’re not tempted to slide back into old, budget-busting habits.  


​5. Meal Prep YOUR Way!
When it comes to meal prepping, there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. Some people choose to make all their weekly meals on one day and others choose to make meals as they go throughout the week.

The key here is finding what works for you.

Personally, I tried cooking all my meals for the week on Sundays and discovered that method did not work for me. So now I just buy enough food to cook at least 3 meals during the week and as I make those meals, I’ll “prep” a meal or two and set it aside in tupperware for an easy heat ‘n’ eat meal later in the week!

So do what fits your lifestyle and make it work for you.

Plus, the more you practice your culinary skills girlfriend, the better you’ll be… and the more you’ll want to do it… and the more you’ll save.

See how that all works?!
So hop in the kitchen and whip up something good! If you need some help, sign up for the weekly newsletter the GFB fam sends out every Friday that contains all sorts of quick and easy meals you can begin incorporating into your regular routine right now. And once you begin making these behaviors habits, you’ll inevitably have more money because you’re not eating it all up!

Have any money saving tips for eating in you’d like to share? Drop a comment below and let’s chat!
Until Next Time,
​Elle
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Hey girl, hey!

Love is in the air as Cupid’s little pampered butt shoots his arrows into the hearts of couples all over the country. But here’s the thing… did you know that according to a study done by The Knot, the average couple is spending over $33,000 on their wedding!

Thirty-three. Thousand. Dollars, girlfriend!

That’s equivalent to what some people earn for an entire year! I mean, you could also pay off a whole baby Benz with that amount of money.

It’s a lot. It’s cray.

But people are actually spending this kind of money, all the time, on an event that only last a couple of hours... when really the focus should be on what comes after the wedding, because isn’t that what’s most important?

When you think about getting married to the person you love... do you think of a lavish wedding, in an opulent venue, filled with hundreds of guests who have come to witness your union? Or are you the kind of person that wants to save as much money as you can, but still feel like you didn’t jip yourself on one of the most important days of your life?

In all honesty, weddings are beautiful experiences, and we all want to make the most of our big day, but regardless of what side of the fence you fall on... I’ve got 5 secrets to share with you today that will hopefully keep you from spending a small fortune on your special day, so you don’t have to worry about the stresses of on-going wedding debt.

Let’s chat!

​1. Plan Out Your Wedding Budget!
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that with me… everything begins and ends with a budget. So here’s my advice:

Grab a piece of paper, sit down with your partner, and write down everything you think you’d want for your dream wedding. I’m talking everything... from the location, to the music, to the food and dranks!

Everythang!

Then determine how much “everythang” is going to cost you, item by item, and write it down. This may take some research on your part, but it’s better to do all this up front than to start spending money willy-nilly and end up broke as a joke before you even step foot down the aisle.

So for example, let’s say your hypothetical dream wedding that you’ve written out is looking like it’s going to cost you about a cool twenty-five grand! And now that you’ve gotten the final number, from here you can do one of two things:

1). You can determine how much per month you need to set aside from your income to reach this amount. And depending on how long you extend your engagement period, time could be a major factor. So, hypothetically speaking, let’s say you’re planning a 12-month engagement with a $25,000 budget:

$25,000 / 12 months = $2,083 set aside per month for your wedding alone. That’s some people’s home mortgage!

However, if you have the means in your budget to achieve that goal, then by all means… do so. But if you’re not in a position like that… then girlfriend, see option #2.

2). You can identify that this amount of money is probably way more than you should be spending, review the list again, and cut out things that are not a priority.
Like do you really need that $3,000 dress? Does the venue absolutely have to be $12,000? Is it really necessary to have $8,000 worth of food and an open bar?

I think not.

​So when it comes to putting together a wedding, you must know your budget and how much things are going to cost you.

Perhaps it may help you realize that every, single thing you thought you wanted may not be in the budget, but that’s okay, because in the long run… spending the extra money will most likely not even be worth it. So prioritize what you really want, focus on that and stick to the budget!

And for the love of God… whatever you do, please do not (I repeat) DO NOT take out a loan to pay for your wedding. There’s nothing worse than still paying off wedding debt, two, three, or five years into the marriage.

It’s not worth it, sis.

It’s just not worth it.

2. Research, Research, Research. 
When planning a wedding, it’s a must to compare prices. If you’re not dead set on your wedding being during a certain month, or on a certain day… it’s possible you can find packages from venues that are significantly lower than it would normally be during peak seasons and/or peak days. Plus, some venues may offer more amenities than others, which could really give you more bang for your buck.  

Or if standard venues are appearing to be a bit too pricey, you could get real creative when it comes to the details of your big day.

​Maybe borrowing the beautifully landscaped backyard of a friend or family member may suit your venue budget much better. Recently, as I was getting in some morning exercise, when I came across a wedding that was being held on the bridge of a local lake. It was beautiful, it was creative, and I would be willing to bet you… it was super cheap.

But if a local wedding isn’t your thing, perhaps a destination wedding could be a better option. It’s not uncommon for a Caribbean wedding to cost less than $10,000 for 40 - 50 people with everything included (ceremony, the clergy person, food, drinks, decor, etc). Personally, my Wife and I decided on a destination wedding in Puerto Rico for a few major reasons:

1. We love the beach and we wanted our wedding pictures to be by the water.
2. We wanted to incorporate our wedding and honeymoon all in one to cut down on the cost.
3. It limited the amount of guests that could come to the wedding, which in our opinion made things much easier and much more drama free.

Which brings me to my next point….
3. Be Selective With Your Guest List.
This is where shit gets real.

When it comes to your guest list girlfriend, really take some time to think about who you want to be in attendance on your special day, because everybody and their mama will not make the cut.

The reason why you want to be selective with your guests is because when it comes down to dollars and cents… you’re paying for all this people to come to your wedding, eat your food, drink your drank, and possibly talk bad about your shit when they leave.

Listen Linda… as much as you may want to think everybody is happy for you, your love, and your union… they ain’t. So it’s up to you to weed out the bad apples and determine who will genuinely bring good energy and good vibes to the celebration of your union.

Trust me,  the whole world does not need to be invited to your wedding. It will drastically reduce the amount of stress and heartache you experience leading up to your big day by keeping your guest list small.

It’s possible that some feelings may be hurt if they notice they didn’t get an invite from you… but they’ll be okay, and you will be too when you remind yourself of tip #4.
4. Remember This Is YOUR Day!
When it comes to your wedding, the key word here is YOUR. So do things the way you choose, and not what someone else wants you to do.

If your family wants you to spend boat loads of money on your wedding because they didn’t get the chance to experience their own and are living vicariously through you… the answer is simply ‘no’.

If your friends are encouraging you to spend more than what you can afford, because they’re pumping your head up with the idea that you’re wedding has to be lavish and expensive… again, the answer is simply ‘no’.

The real question is… are they paying for it?

Most likely not…

So people who aren’t chipping in on the cost of your wedding, cannot afford to give their unsolicited two cents (and that’s all pun intended).

Remember that this special day is about you, your partner, what ya’ll like, and what ya’ll can afford.

Dassit!
5. The Wedding Is Just The Beginning.
While weddings are exciting to plan and look forward to, the fact of the matter is…  it’s just one day in the whole grand scheme of life. Taking years to pay back a small fortune that you’ve spent on one day is ludacris when you really think about it!

Because I mean... let’s be real.

No one wants to imagine their blossoming love potentially going south, but with the fact that 50% of marriages end in divorce (most due to financial issues), it would be foolish to still be paying off debt, years later, for something that didn’t even work out… but it happens all the time, and that’s what I’m trying to save you from, sis.  

​At the end of the day, the wedding is just the beginning of the lifetime you and your partner are vowing to spend together. So start your marriage off on the right financial foot, and know that in doing so… you’re already ahead of the game!
So What Did You Do For Your Wedding, Elle?!...
Ahh well… thank you for asking, girlfriend.

Actually, my Wife and I were engaged for 16 months before our wedding day. We chose to have a lengthy engagement because we wanted to give ourselves enough time to plan… both creatively and financially.

Off top, we knew we wanted a destination wedding… and we also knew we wanted the ceremony to be in Puerto Rico (we visited 2 years prior and fell in love). We ended up finding this beautiful resort called, The Gran Melia nestled right in the heart of the Rio Grande. What we loved about this resort was that they really understood the meaning of a budget, and they were happy to work within our means.

Their wedding packages were extremely reasonable, and their on-site amenities were an added bonus. But above all that, their customer service was beyond superb and upon arriving we were unexpectedly surprised with upgrades for both us and all of our guests!

We were upgraded to a Villa, with our own private pool and outdoor shower. Plus, we were assigned a Butler, who was absolutely amazing and took care of all of our requests. Lastly we were accommodated with our very own Chambermaid, who made sure we were as comfortable as possible during our week long stay.

Sounds real luxurious, right?

But guess what?... We did it all for under $10K and didn’t have a dime of debt when we returned home. The things I slightly splurged on were my dress, makeup, and pictures… because I wanted to capture all the beauty that surrounded our special day.

But a lot of the luxuries we were afforded just happened to be gifts from the resort. I truly believe that most of it happened because we remained patient, kind, and positive throughout the co-planning process, and they felt generous enough to gift us upgrades to make our stay special.

All in all, it was absolutely amazing. There’s nothing that I would have changed about my wedding day, and I hope that when you look back on yours, you’ll be able to say the same!

Happy Planning!

Drop a comment below and let me know what you think of this post?
Until Next Time,
Elle
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Hey girl, hey!

Any Erykah Badu fans in the house? I ask only because I was totally feelin’ her vibe during this photoshoot. Like seriously, I put on a whole Badu concert in my head… and it was fabulous (lol)! But I digress…

Let’s talk fashion, girlfriends!

​When it comes to my personal style, I really like to mix it up… a lot. And it honestly just comes down to what I’m feeling like in the morning when I wake up.  There’s days I just want to be comfy, yet cute. Other days I’m feelin’ a street vibe - like real edgy or rock and roll-ish, but most days…  I just love to be fashionably chic!

Ya see, in my head... I’m totally a celebrity (lol). So when I step out (like out - out), I want to look and feel my best. Plus, with both a Wife and Bestie that are stylish Out. Of. This. World…. I really have no choice.   

But regardless of the style of the day, I always feel good knowing that I can look like a million bucks without having to blow my budget!

So let’s highlight some of the deets of this outfit..shall we?!
The Top.
Since the weather is ever-changing in bi-polar ass... I mean, beautiful Dallas, Texas,  you’re never really sure what you’re going to get when you step outside. That’s why I love versatile blouses like this Zara brand white self-tie peplum top that I found for a steal of $16 at Uptown Cheapskate University Park - a local resale shop here in Dallas.      
It’s light, comfy, and flowy, plus the shape of the garment allows me to eat all I want without my food baby showing afterwards. But most of all… it’s simple, yet stylish which makes it really easy to pair with almost anything. I found a similar (and just as affordable) top at one of my favorite online stores Shein.com.
The Jeans.
Who doesn’t love boyfriend jeans?

​For those of you who don’t know what boyfriend jeans are... the style icons describe this type of jean as a closet essential. Mainly because the fit is much more relaxed and looser than a skinny jean, but still just as chic nonetheless. It kinda gives off that vibe of effortless style with a touch of boyish flare… without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Check out these super cute boyfriend jeans I found for a steal here
The Shoes.
I genuinely cannot get enough of these floral pumps from Payless ShoeSource. Like honestly... they pretty much go with everything.

Solids.
Patterns.
You name it.

And rest assured that with these babies on your feet, you’re bound to get tons of comments and compliments...because I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t love these shoes?
I, personally, love these shoes because they give me just the right amount of height (I’m super short by nature) with just the right amount of comfort, which can really be difficult to find in a closed-toed pump. But the designer, Christian Siriano, does a great job of combining quality, comfort, and style… all for an affordable price. And in my eyes… that’s super dope!

You can snag these very same Floral Pumps right now for just $25, plus take an extra 20% off when you purchase online! #totallywinning
The Accessories. 
Accessories are really what make the outfit pop! 

All my accessories (hat, glasses, and backpack) were purchased from Uptown Cheapskate University Park (I told ya’ll it’s my fav). They seriously have some of the cutest accessories for the low-low and they’re always having sales and discount days! 

Recently when I stopped by the shop, my eye immediately caught this camel-colored suede backpack. I wasn’t going to buy it initially, but every time I’d looked in its direction… it just kept calling my name. Mainly because I had nothing like it in my closet already, and I’ve been really ready to venture outside of my norm lately, sooooo…. I got it.  ​
Backpacks are a totally in accessory right now. It really adds to the “I’m cute without trying to be” vibe. Plus, you can just throw your belongings over your shoulder - allowing you to have both hands free, which I definitely need because I’ve been know to be a bit clumsy at times.
Lastly, my stylist paired these glasses and hat to complete the look and I immediately went into Badu mode (lol). If I honestly had to rate this outfit, I would definitely say it’s one of my top 5 favorite looks... ever.

In this ensemble, I felt confident, chic, and like the girl boss that I believe I am. And when all of those components are working in your favor… you know you’ve found yourself a badass outfit! 
Feeling your best is really all that matters when it comes to fashion. When you feel your best, you look your best, because it’s radiating from the inside.  

So just don’t overthink it.

Fall in love with what makes you feel good and everything else will just fall into place.

​I guarantee it!

Want more post like this? Drop a comment below and let me know how you liked it!

Until Next Time,
Elle

P.S. Somebody, that knows somebody, that knows Erykah…send her this post please? We definitely need to collab. ;)

*This post may contain affiliate links to products we use and love.
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Hey girl, hey! 

As we grow older, we sometimes learn the hard way that life doesn't always run so smoothly. It has peaks and valley's, and it doesn’t always move forward in the way that we hope. But the crazy thing is, most of us don’t even think about the financial curve balls life can throw our way. And it’s also why most of us don’t think about opening and maintaining an emergency savings account.
It's a well know fact that life can be completely and utterly unexpected. I mean... you could be happy in your job one day,  and the next (poof!) not have a job at all. Would you be able to financially survive that scenario?

​Not unless you have an emergency fund to see you through, girlfriend.

Or imagine this... you could be happily driving to work, minding your own business, then bang – an accident happens outta nowhere, and you’re laid up and injured. It’s not the way anyone wants to think, but when you’re sitting around with your legs in a cast trying to get hold of your accident lawyer, you’ll be wishing you had an emergency fund to keep you afloat.

To be quite frank, the last thing you want is to end up drowning in debt, or relying on others to support you while you recover from an accident, job loss or any other unexpected event that could cost you big bucks.

​So today girlfriend, let's discuss four reasons why you should really look into starting an emergency savings account... like asap.

Let's chat!

​Income.
​When you’re relying on your own income and no one else to pay your rent and bills, it’s absolutely essential to have an emergency fund to back you up. You should try to gather at least six months of expenses as fast as possible to support you when things go south.
Self Employment.
Being self-employed means that you have to rely on yourself to work. If you’re sick, you don’t earn anything. If you’re injured, there’s a chance you won’t be able to work. So you have to be able to support yourself when times are hard. Start a budget to keep track of your spending and expenses, then save as much as you can... whenever you can.

​Homeowner.
When you’re a homeowner, you’re accountable for repairs and insurance. Having an emergency pot of cash will be a blessing when your AC or heater decides to clock out at the least convenient time.

RELATED: 6 Secrets Every Single Woman Homebuyer Should Know!
Travel.
If you live far away from your family, it's pretty much necessary to have a bank of cash ready to go just in case of family emergencies for travel and accommodation. If, god-forbid, anything happens to any of your loved ones, you'll want to make sure you're able to get back home in times of an unfortunate event. 

​While these aren’t exhaustive reasons to have an emergency fund, they’re all the best reasons to ensure that you’re covered. Plus, keep in mind that an emergency savings should be separate from regular savings, too, so you don’t get tempted!

Plus, keep in mind that more than half of Americans (57% to be exact) have less than $1000 saved in a savings account and what's worse... 39% of no savings at all (like zero, zip, zilch)! So don't find yourself falling into a statistic girlfriend - discover ways to begin saving now... and I guarantee your future self will thank you for it! 

What are you thoughts on this post? Drop a line below and let's chat! 
Until Next Time, 
​Elle 
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Hey girl, hey!

From time to time, I’ll have other women approach me to either compliment or inquire about an outfit I’m wearing. And more times than not... these ladies are shocked when I tell them where I’ve purchased certain pieces, and how much it actually cost me!

So recently, I rocked this cute little off-the-shoulder number to a holiday backyard barbecue. The sheer shock in people’s reactions when I told them the details of my outfit were enough to get me inspired to write this very 1st fashion blog post for Girlfriend’s, Budget!

If you really want to know the truth... fashion is all about what you make of it, and a well-fitting, well put-together outfit can make any girl feel like a million bucks - without having to break the bank.

Can you guess how much this whole outfit cost me?
Less than $50 bucks! That’s right, girlfriend… $50. Bucks.

Let’s discuss the deets… shall we?!

​So whenever I begin thinking of how to piece an outfit together, I try to keep 3 major components in mind: The outfit itself, the shoes; and the accessories.

As long as your mindful of those three things, you’re already on the road to fashion success, sis.

RELATED: How To Still Be Productive at a Job You Hate!

​The Dress.
First and foremost, I absolutely adore this off-the-shoulder dress. It’s fun, flirty, and I copped it for a steal at a consignment store near my area called Uptown Cheapskate Lewisville for only $16 bucks!

Although I loooove consignment stores, because you can sell old items that you no longer wear and get cash or store credit to spend on something new. Plus you can find some pretty high-end name brand items for cheap. The only unfortunate things are that most don’t have online shopping, and unlike a department store or a store at the mall, consignments usually only have one (or very few) of the same item.


​But not to worry, girlfriends. There’s a whole internet playground that allows you to shop for comparable items (within your budget) with just a few clicks of a button.

Shein.com is one of my very favorite online shops. I love this site because they have a plethora of super cute, trendy clothes at very, very affordable prices. I found these 2 off-the-shoulder dresses similar to the one I have for the low-low here and here.

Note: when shopping online, always read the reviews and the sizing chart. 

​The Shoes.
That’s why I love these American Eagle Classic Sneakers from Payless Shoesource! They’re stylish, versatile, super comfortable, and the quality is outstanding! Plus right now, they’re on sale for only $12.99 (ummm… can we say winning?!).

Okay, but let’s have an honesty moment here...

​I have to admit that I used to be super bougie about purchasing footwear from Payless (don’t judge me). Not because they had budget-friendly shoes… but because back in the day, with kids being kids, Payless was just not the cool place to shop. But after perusing the payless.com site, I realized I had really been trippin’ this whole time!

Payless ain’t the same Payless it used to be, ya’ll! They have really stepped their shoe game up and I am seriously hooked!

Don’t believe me? Click here and have a look-see for yourself!

​The Accessories. 
What’s funny is I never used to be a huge accessories girl, and I still can’t really say that I am now...  but what I do know is that an outfit just wouldn’t be complete without a few accessories to pull the entire look together.  I’m telling you… even the simplest outfits can be leveled up with some pops of jewelry or even just the right pair of shades.

Speaking of shades... I’m rocking these Brown Tinted Aviator Shades from Forever 21 to give the look a little more sass!

Forever 21, believe it or not, is one of my favorite go-to stores for accessories. They have a large variety of items that will compliment any style, and at very reasonable prices.    

And lastly, but certainly not least… I added a Black Skinny Waist Belt to tie the whole outfit together. I found a similar one here, on Shein.com for just $4 bucks (sign... gotta love that place).

Listen girlfriend.. never be afraid to add a belt to your outfit. It can really help to change the shape of the garment, while accentuating all your beautiful, womanly curves… which is something to be proud of (love your body, girl).

So like I mentioned before, fashion is about expressing yourself… and not about breaking the bank! To be quite frank, even if you were wearing a brown paper bag, girlfriend - as long as you rock that shit with confidence… you’re bound to be turning heads. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, because you’re a Queen no matter what you’re wearing or how much it costs!

Want more posts like this? Drop a comment below and let me know, and don’t forget to share this post with all your girlfriends!

Until Next Time,
Elle

P.S. For more fashion inspiration, check out our GFB look books on YouTube!
Girlfriend's, Budget! Mini WorkWear Look Book - YouTube
Girlfriend's, Budget! All Black Look Book - YouTube

​*This post may contain affiliate links to products we use and love.
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Hey girl, hey!

When you hear or think about the words Student Loans, how does that make you feel?

Excited? Encouraged? Uplifted?… Doubt it!

If you ever went to college, whether a Community College or a 4-year University, chances are you’re like the 44 million other Americans who have student loan debt. And as of right now, Americans collectively owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt (yes, girl... trillion) with the average debt being a little under $40,000!

So when one begins thinking about the dark cloud of student loan debt hovering over their head, the thought can really put you in a negative emotional state... I mean, how does a girl journey her way to financial freedom with the weight of student loans holding her back?

Well don’t fret girlfriend, I gotchu... because today I’m sharing with you five steps you can begin taking right now to get that student loan debt off your back.  

Let’s talk money!
1. Master Your Cash Flow.
First things first, girlfriend… you absolutely, absolutely have to be aware of your household cash flow. If you’re not familiar with this term, cash flow is the total amount of money that flows into and out of your bank account… and the only way to truly be aware of this flow is to have and maintain a well planned out budget (there goes that “B” word again).

RELATED: So What’s This Thing Called Budgeting Anyway?

Listen girlfriend, a budget is nothing to be afraid of… if anything, it’s actually your best friend! A budget just simply allows you to see where your money is going, instead of wondering where the hell it went!

Trust me, we’ve all been there... and we all know it’s not a good feeling when money seems to be leaving our bank account even faster than it’s entering.

But if you haven’t started a budget yet, how can you really take control of your student loan debt (or any debt for that matter)?

Do you know how much, in total, you currently owe?

Do you know the interest rate for each loan?

Do you know how much of your payment is going towards interest and how much is going towards the principle?

You see… when you utilize a budget and make the choice to stay committed to it, you will - without a doubt - know all the answers to these questions and be able to make informed decisions on what your next steps should be.

And speaking of next steps… see step #2

2. Minimize Your Expenses. 
This is a big one.

Listen Linda…  If eliminating your student loan debt is a goal you’d like to achieve, you’ve got to start cutting back on your expenses. If you’re stressed about your budget being tight… it’s because your money is being spread way too thin - buying everything you want, taking on more unnecessary bills, and giving into bad habits - all while the debt just keeps piling up higher and higher.

Girlfriend… that’s no way to live!

So after you create your budget, find ways you can decrease or eliminate some expenses, then put that freed-up money towards your debt.     

RELATED: Your Spending’s Way Too High… You Need To Cut It!

Is your home or apartment costing more than 35% of your net income? Consider downsizing or getting a roommate.

Are you eating out way more than you should be? Try meal planning and cooking more at home.

Are you taking on more bills than you should be (i.e. cable, netflix, hulu, music subscriptions, gym memberships, other people’s bills, etc.)? Then take a minute to think about the things you really need, and get rid of the other stuff asap, because whether you know it or not... little bills add up in major ways.

RELATED: Dividing Your Paycheck...

I just recently finished reading Oprah’s book, "What I Know For Sure", and girlfriend… if you haven’t read it, you need to - it’s life changing! But there is a quote from that book that I absolutely must share with you:

She says, “What I know for sure: When you define yourself by the things you can acquire rather than see what you really need to be happy and fulfilled, you’re not just living beyond your means or overextending yourself. You’re living a lie. That’s why being burdened with bills feels so awful. You are being untrue to yourself. When you free yourself from debt, you create a space to purchase with purpose - to add to your life things that are meaningful.”

Whew… powerful stuff! And that’s exactly why I rock with my girl ‘O’!

RELATEDWants versus Needs: Knowing the Difference.

3. Increase Your Income.
Remember we talked about cash flow at the beginning of this post?

We all know it’s easy for money to flow out, but what about the money flowing in?

Look girlfriend, I’m not naive in any way, and I know student loan payments (even the minimum) can be a b*tch on your budget, and the higher the payment is… the b*tchier it gets!  
But if your current income situation does not allow you to make the minimum payment on your student loans, plus a little extra to knock down the principle… then girlfriend - it’s time to get your hustle on.

Believe it or not, there is so much money out there to be made - you just have to make the choice to go after it!

​RELATED: How I’m Manifesting Abundance Into My Life!

Do you have a hobby you can turn into a side hustle (i.e. makeup, hair, tutoring, sewing, etc)?

Do you have a car that you can use to make some money with Uber or Lyft?

Do you have items in your home or in storage that you can sell to make some extra cash?

Lemme tell you something... when I was in graduate school at Texas Woman's University, not only was I taking a full course load... I worked a whole full-time job, and was a bartender on the weekends at a local night club. 

So girlfriend… where there’s a will, there’s a way. Stop making excuses, get creative, believe in yourself, and make it happen!

4. Research Student Loan Forgiveness.
So did you know that there are actually Student Loan Forgiveness Programs out there?

There’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs, Income Driven Forgiveness Programs, and even Forgiveness Programs for Teachers, Lawyers, Nurses, and other Healthcare Professionals.

Of course you’ll have to do some research to see if you qualify for any of these programs, and if you do… they have repayment plans that can span from anywhere between 10 to 25 years.

It’s a much slower process than just getting your hustle on and paying the sh*t off… but on the flip side, whatever isn’t paid at the end of your loan term, can ultimately qualify for 100% forgiveness.

Sound too good to be true?! Well… not to be the bearer of bad news, buuuuut - it kinda is.

The downside to loan forgiveness (that most people don’t want to talk about) is that any loans forgiven under these programs will be considered taxable income - according to the Internal Revenue Service, otherwise known as the IRS.

So in other words, if you have - let’s say - $30,000 worth of loans forgiven at the end of your term, when tax time rolls around - your loan lender will send both you and the IRS a 1099-C form, basically stating that you’ve received an extra $30,000 of income on top of what you already made for the year.

Then the IRS (being the IRS) taxes you on that extra $30,000 income - which could leave you with an $8,000+ tax bill that you now owe back to the IRS. So yeah… you didn’t have to pay the full student loan amount, but now you’re stuck with a pretty hefty tax bill!

But on the brighter side of things (because there’s always a brighter side of things), if you’ve been budgeting and saving like GFB has taught you…. $8,000 dollars might be quite easy for you to pay off in 10 - 25 years from now.

Right?!

​RELATED: Grow Your Stash… Stack That Cash! Saving Money The GFB Way!

5. Consider Loan Consolidation or Refinancing.
Last, but certainly not least, loan consolidation or refinancing can really save you thousands of dollars in the long run - if you do it right.

By consolidating, you’re combining all of your federal loans into one lump sum - giving you one fixed interest rate and one monthly payment.

But here’s a tip, if you do decide to consolidate your loans do not (I repeat) do not extend the term of the loan. Doing this will inevitably make your monthly payments lower, but it’s going to cost you way more in interest by extending the time out longer.

So only consolidate and/or refinance your student loans to reduce the interest rate and possibly lower the payments. Couple this strategy with your hustle mentality, and you can pay that thang off even faster than you ever thought possible!

Make sense?!
So yes, student loans can be daunting… but they don’t have to control your life. Take your power back today girlfriend, and begin taking the necessary steps to get rid of those loans once and for all.

Oh.. and as you’re learning through this process, be sure to pass the knowledge on to the young people you know in your life - like soon to be graduates or students that are fresh outta high school.

Inform them that it’s okay to go to a community college to take their basics, rather than go straight to a 4 year university - and if it’s possible for them to work while in school… do it! There’s no greater feeling than receiving that degree without having to stress about student loans later in life.

Let’s help the generation to come after us - be even better than us, because we’re all in this thang together. We got this!

Drop a comment below and let me know how you liked this post!

Until Next Time,
Elle   
P.S. Have you snagged your #GFBTEE yet? Officially join the #GFBSQUAD and snag yours today! 
​*This post may contain affiliate links*
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