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“There is nothing wrong with enjoying the abundance God has given you, but there is something terribly wrong when you think everything God has given you He gave you with only you in mind.” Erwin McManus, The Last Arrow
[Image via @laurencefortincote]
It’s a frigid morning in NYC, as I am writing this from the Q train. Today, in this finance piece, we are talking about giving. Giving has no season. It is something we should do every day.
I could sit here and talk on and on about how it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But this is part of the problem. We talk a lot about giving, maybe even to the point where we think we are generous people— when, oftentimes, we aren’t as generous as we could be.
There are a multitude of ways in which we can give. We can give our time, influence, talents, hospitality, joy and resources. I encourage you to sit down and really think intentionally about all you have and how you can spread God’s love through it.
[Image via @laurencefortincote]
It may be donating all the stuff you Marie Kondo-ed out of your closet this winter after a Netflix binge or sharing a meal with someone.
I was listening to a story by Sazan Hendrix, and she was talking about how a person in need approached her. She had no change on her, but she and Stevie (her husband) have Subway gift cards they give out to people in need, and she handed one to the man.
I am notorious for not having cash on me. In New York, sometimes it feels like every corner you turn, someone is asking you for something. It can be overwhelming and frustrating and depressing, all at once. It can also leave you feeling a bit desensitized.
Not putting safety aside, I thought it would be neat for us to participate in a similar act and to put love into action.
Where I am, it’s freezing cold. Giving a gift card to an eatery or cafe is a good way to share a meal and/or a warm drink with someone who is elderly or in need, who I may run into. Maybe you are in Australia, and someone needs a cold drink.
When I was in Florida, our church would go prepare meals for out-of-town family members of cancer patients completing their chemo at our university hospital. These may seem like small things, but there is always something we can do to help those around us.
I want to encourage you to join me on this gift card challenge. Even if you are a student, and you buy just one gift card to share with someone– everything helps.
These gift cards don’t have to be tucked into a church invite or card that says “Jesus loves you.” This is just about love for loves sake.
“This is just about love for love’s sake.”
I want this to be a thing I do always, and I have to start somewhere. I have gift cards to Starbucks and McDonald’s (two of the most accessible eateries in NYC). I will start passing them out.
[Image via @laurencefortincote]
If you would like to join the challenge, show us your gift cards on Instagram and tag us @modernwitnesses_. You can also use the hashtag #MWChallenge. You can also tag us on any creative giving initiative you may come up with that works wherever you are in the world. The point is to address a need for someone in your community.
“The point is to address a need for someone in your community.”
God gives to us so we can be a blessing. He told Abraham that He would bless him and make him a blessing (Genesis 12:2). He wants to do the same through you.
We can often do more and contribute more than we realize.
“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” Erwin McManus, The Last Arrow
[Image via @laurencefortincote]
GENERAL FINANCIAL INFO & RESOURCES
- The Motley Fool: This is a company my boyfriend has known about for years, dating back to his days in an investing club. It addresses current business news, but it also dishes out great advice regarding savings, retirement, benefits (like social security), investments, etc. They have a podcast accessible on iTunes, and the site is linked here. This is a new source of info I am using. The site has a whole section on how to invest.
- The Fiscal Femme: I get the newsletter from the website, and I always enjoy the tips and information they share. The site has an entire section on living better and saving more.
Join our giving initiative, and tag us.
[Image via @laurencefortincote]
We are talking about investments, net worth, retirement and expanding our vocabulary, a bit. As I am no expert on this topic (we have been learning together), you will find this is aggregated and curated, including direct quotes with linked sources and some information obtained by interviewing those who are experts and traders in the field. This is not a comprehensive guide, but it’s a good place to get your feet wet before you dive in the pool. I tried to organize it, so you could navigate to the topic of your choice, easily.
The purpose is to share resources, so you can decide what is best for you.
None of this post was sponsored by anyone. This is simply a place where we share resources. I am not a financial planner or adviser. Treat this as an informal financial crash course, from a friend. Click on links, watch the videos, go deep. The more you read and watch, the more you will take away.
[Image via @morganesezalory]
WORDS OF WISDOM
First, I wanted to start off with some words of wisdom from a successful trader and investor, Marlon John (hereafter referred to as ‘MJ’).
MW: If you could give women advice on investing, what would you tell them?
Marlon John (MJ): Women (most) don’t make as much as men. The best advice for young persons, especially women, is:
1. Think of long term goals when putting money to work;
2. Invest in yourself, first, meaning, invest in your education;
3. Utilize money efficiently;
5. Conservative living.
Then, once you have the basic principles down, you should save as much as you can.
MW: What are ways in which young women can invest?
MJ: You can invest in real estate, the stock market, a great business idea– but as I said, the greatest investment is investing in you.
You should avoid the many pitfalls of blowing money away on silly and unneeded things.
A great quote I live by is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” by Ben Franklin. Most young people think short term and save very little,
so they have nothing to invest.”
“The greatest investment is investing in you.”
Mr. John’s book recommendations:
Warren Buffett investing books
[Image via @ayda.hdi]
BEFORE YOU INVEST
1. Pay off high-interest rate debt.
2. Have enough saved in your emergency fund. (Three to six months pay).
3. Educate yourself on what your place of employment offers, as far as 401(k)s are concerned.
4. The 50/30/20 rule. “That means 50% of your take-home pay goes to needs like your rent, the clothes you need for work; 30% of fun, because you have to have fun; and 20% to Grandma You. That’s for saving and investing.”
“‘Investing is the only way to build wealth,’ says Bola Onada Sokunbi (in conversation with Man Repeller), a Certified Financial Education Instructor and the founder of Clever Girl Finance. ‘Any funds you don’t need in the near term — say, in the next five years — need to be invested in order to grow.’ High-interest savings accounts are a thing of the past, and few banks offer more than 1% interest on these accounts. With inflation holding steady at around 2.5 percent annually, ‘you’re actually losing money’ when you leave your savings in cash, Bola [said].” Source: Man Repeller.
It’s important to consider your long term goals, discover what kind of an investor you are (what is your level of risk?), and pick how you will invest. Id.
Also, research shows women are better investors than men. Why? Women are shown to earn higher returns, and they save more. Source: Fidelity Study. [https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170518005645/en/Who’s-Investor-Men-Women]
WHAT KIND OF AN INVESTOR ARE YOU?
Take this awesome quiz from Nicole Lapin, to see how much investing heat you can handle.
FIVE THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND FOR INVESTING
1. Find an expert who can work with you and can put your interests at the forefront. This is called a fiduciary.
2. Check fee costs, and keep them as low as possible.
3. Invest in a diverse portfolio. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
4. Shift investments as you get older. Go to less risky investments as your reach old age and are closer to retirement.
5. Start as soon as you see fit.
MISTAKES WOMEN MAKE IN INVESTING
1. Not taking risks. “But without risk, there’s no opportunity for investment return.”
2. Wanting to know everything before we start. No one knows everything. It’s ok to learn along the way.
3. We get busy, and forget to start. “The longer we wait, the more it can cost us. Wait a decade, which is not unusual, we estimate that if you’re making $85,000 a year and wait a decade to invest, historically, that could have cost you $100 a day.”
4. We let our partners hold the reins. Don’t let anyone hold you back. A Godly partner supports growth and empowerment. You should be part of the conversation.
“Don’t let anyone hold you back. A Godly partner supports growth and empowerment.”
[Image via @fashiondesfemmes]
GETTING STARTED ON RETIREMENT
They say you should have started saving for retirement, yesterday…
1. Talk through it with your partner, or if you are solo, visualize what it is you want.
2. Financial planners can help you create a portfolio and analyze a forecast that matches what you desire. (As in all things, it’s a risk that has no guarantee, but you can make informed and educated choices).
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED FOR RETIREMENT?
This answer will be different for everyone, as it depends on the lifestyle you want, where you live, your current salary, etc.
But here are some helpful tips, from Ellevest:
1. Aim for 90% replacement of your pre-retirement take-home pay. “This is a great place to start because you already know whether you make enough to cover your living expenses and support your desired lifestyle. You might have lower expenses in retirement since you may not have some costs like mortgage payments or work expenses. However, you might also incur higher health care costs or wish to spend more on travel and other leisure activities.” Source: Ellevest.
2. Store 10% to 15% of your annual income in your retirement accounts.
3. Multiply your ending salary by 10 to 15 to estimate the sum that will produce that level of income. “Because inflation will chip away at the value of your money, this number may be larger than you might think. Based upon the retirement income you think you’ll need, Ellevest determines the sum you should aim for in future dollars, which are adjusted for the impact of inflation. Some checkpoints to make sure you’re on the right track to hit that goal: You should aim to have saved the equivalent of your salary by age 35, three times your salary by 45 and five times by 55.” Source: Ellevest.
[Image via @sam_sing]
What is net worth?
“The combination of what you own (your assets) and what you owe (your liabilities) makes up your personal net worth. Knowing your net worth is important for two reasons: 1) It lets you understand your current financial situation; 2) It gives you a reference point for measuring progress toward your goals.” Source: Schwab.
Want to calculate your net worth? Net worth calculator.
What is an annuity?
“An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company to cover specific goals, such as principal protection, lifetime income, legacy planning or long-term care costs.
Even though they may be marketed as investments, ‘annuities are not investments,’ Haithcock. ‘They’re contracts.’ They lock you and the insurance company into contractual obligations, and breaking them – if that’s even possible – can come at a steep cost.
‘Annuities have been around for centuries,’ says Troy Bender, president and chief executive officer at Asset Retention Insurance Services in Laguna Hills, California. ‘In Ancient Rome, people would make a single payment in return for annual lifetime payments. Even back then, retirement planning was a concern.’
Annuities became popular in the U.S. during the Great Depression, when people began to worry about stock market volatility endangering their retirement, he says. Today, with pension plans becoming less common, ‘many retirees are looking toward annuities as an option to replace income streams.’
You buy an annuity because it does what no other investment can do: ‘provide guaranteed income for the rest of your life no matter how long you live,’ says Walter Updegrave, editor of RealDealRetirement.com, a site offering retirement planning advice.
Beyond these basics, there’s little about annuities that’s simple. Annuities and the rules under which they operate can be complicated, so it might help to recognize that a common source of retirement income – Social Security – is an annuity of sorts.
‘Annuities work by giving you limited access to your funds annually much like how income is received from Social Security,’ Bender says.”
CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT (CD)
What is a CD?
“Sold by banks, certificates of deposit (better known as CDs) are low-risk –- and relatively low-return — investments suitable for cash you don’t need for months or years. If you leave the money alone during the investment period (known as the ‘term’ or ‘duration’), the bank will pay you an interest rate slightly higher than what you would have earned in a money market or checking account. All gains from CDs are taxable as income, unless they are in a tax-deferred (IRA) or tax-free (Roth IRA) account.
CDs are among the safest investment a persona can make. The interest rate is determined ahead of time, and you’re guaranteed to get back what you put in, plus interest once the CD matures. What’s more, if the bank goes belly up, your deposit is probably insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000.”
Source (click to learn more about the most common types of CDs).
How to invest in a CD (according to the Wall Street Journal).
What is a bond?
“Bonds are ways to diversify your portfolio — it’s an IOU, basically. It’s a way for governments or major corporations to borrow money from you to build roads, for example, or a new research center. They’ll lock in a rate of return over a specific timeline, and that’s where you make money — as a return on your investment. These are usually a safer, more conservative option than stocks, since the government is unlikely to go out of business (if it does, we’ll probably have bigger problems).” Source: Man Repeller.
[Image belongs to @twiceblessed_]
MORE ON INVESTING
The special site that helps women invest, Ellevest.
Managing your investment accounts through Sharebuilder.
GENERAL FINANCIAL INFO
Eight things to do with $1,000 to better your future.
Out of money at the end of the month? Try this.
Join us for the last installment on our finance series, soon.
Today, we are talking savings.
Finance experts say it’s important to have a savings account that has at least 4 months of rent and expenses in it. Some suggest putting away 20% of each paycheck into a savings account, no questions asked. I like that idea.
But before we start talking practical tips, let’s get personal.
[Image via @boxofstyle]
HOW I STARTED MY OWN SAVINGS
When I graduated law school, and once I had moved into my new apartment and started to work full-time, what I had in savings had been depleted. I started fresh when I started working.
Budgeting and saving goes hand-in-hand. I realized that I was spending a lot on Uber (for late get-togethers with church friends in far off neighborhoods and as rescue from horrible NYC train lines) and eating out with friends. And while I think it’s important to have those nice social moments once in a while (and you can budget that), a collection of these can really deplete your account. It also took me a really long time to furnish my apartment, and that was ok. I preferred slow if it meant I could avoid debt.
After passing the bar (another huge expense), I really focused and decided on an amount I would be putting into savings each month. That means that this amount is set, and I live off of whatever is left in my checking account. I had some savings (it’s not like I had nothing at all), but I realized that every time I went home for the holidays or went to someone’s wedding, it was like I took one step forward and three steps back. That needed to change.
I had been stowing away my acorns in my bank savings account, until my boyfriend, ever the knowledgeable one, encouraged me to open a savings account with Discover Bank, which has a glorious interest rate, which means my savings account would grow a lot faster. My other bank wasn’t contributing anything to the growth of my savings account.
If you don’t have a Discover Bank savings account, I encourage you to open one. This isn’t an ad (though, Discover, if you want to sponsor… kidding). I am just sharing the good news. If you know of a bank with a better interest rate– do share!
So, this is a bit about my story, but you have your own.
Let’s talk generally, what can we do to save a dime?
According to experts, our “spendy” culture and the attitude of shame around money has set us back and is actually preventing us from saving and reaching our potential. Source.
The stores, those pesky emails from all the stores where we swipe our credit cards, our emotions, social media, our pride– all of these things are things that can really be a roadblock to our financial success. Retail knows what it’s doing. Do we? [How to manage and maximize your savings: Have Trouble Saving? This Will Make It Infinitely Easier]
[Image via @boxofstyle]
Use the round up feature: Some debit cards have this feature, and what it does is it rounds up to the nearest dollar, and the difference in the round up gets put into savings. Source: My Domaine.
Use the credit card responsibly: If you have credit card debt, pay that off first! Also, apparently, using your credit card is a fantastic resource. Many credit cards offer rewards, cashback or points. (Take advantage of the rewards!)
Save the extra paycheck: Most people are paid bi-weekly, so save the special treat of the third monthly paycheck on those special months, when that rolls around. Source: Business Insider.
Buying used/refurbished items
Skip the drycleaner: Here is how: How to Skip The Dry Cleaner – The Everygirl.
Getting multipurpose products: An area where you can do this, oftentimes, is with natural beauty products. Source: My Domaine.
Exercise and investing in eating right: Preventing illness means less medical bills and less meds. Medical bills add up. Also, supplementing. I remember the first time I saw the cost of one supplement, I felt ridiculous when I took the leap and got it. But after a year of perfect blood work and endometriosis symptoms in remission, I think it was money well spent.
Collect your loose change and take it to the bank so they can deposit it in your account. I had loose change in my purses, and I put them in little ziplock bags according to coin, and after a year, I took it in to the bank. I had more than $60 in coins deposited into my account. Not bad.
Shopping alone: The author of 365 Ways to Live Cheap suggests we spend less when we shop alone. “A single person equipped with a planned shopping list has the least chance to slip an impulsive purchase into the cart, so go alone to save some money in the checkout aisle.” Source.
Reduce food waste by shopping with a specific list with appropriate quantities. (Especially when it comes to produce).
The Wait: If you see something you want, wait 72 hours before making the purchase. You may decide in the interim that you don’t need it.
Join Perk Clubs: If you are shopping or eating there, might as well enjoy a perk or two. I am horrible at this. I hate giving my email out. BYOW: Boss Your Own Wallet with These Shopping Tips – Nicole Lapin
These money hacks will save you money: 14 Easy Tricks That Will Save You a Ton of Money | The Everygirl
[Image via @boxofstyle]
MORE ON BUDGETING
Ways to save during the holiday season (ladies, it’s coming).
Things you are spending too much money on.
How to save money when you are living paycheck to paycheck.
Budgeting: Click here for a small list.
Financial Health: Click here for a small list.
[Image via @whowhatwear]
RELATIONSHIPS & MONEY
GENERAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES
[Image via @coveteur]
Now, go open that Discover Bank savings account! Who is with me?
Attitudes and Character in the Money Game
We live in a consumer society, where more is— well, more. But, is it really?
I won’t be preaching Japanese minimalism or anything of the sort here (though I have learned so many principles from many minimalists). This note isn’t about minimalism.
Before we talk about savings, it’s important to talk about the attitudes and character flaws that stand in our way, when it comes to reaching financial goals, staying out of debt and actually saving a penny.
I am not here to tell you a list of “shoulds” and “should nots.” I want this to simply be a reflection where we can all reflect, together. It’s not enough to look at our past 90 days of spending and make a blind budget. The idea is to look at the attitudes and underlying motivations that inform the way we handle money.
[Image by @saint_ambroise]
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Pride. The desire to be seen a certain way or our elevated view of ourselves can lead us to foolish financial decisions.
Pride is one of those things that sneaks up on us. Sometimes, it comes under the mask of self worth or value, but in reality, we are ignoring who God is and who He wants us to be.
The truth is: We have what is ours because He has provided. “Through Him we live, move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
God isn’t interested in what you bring to the table, unless it’s your heart. That’s what He wants.
He has said: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart–” that is something He won’t cast aside. (Psalm 51:17)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
One of the pieces of evidence, if you will, that God is working in our lives is through the fruit of the Spirit. And note, it says “fruit” not “fruits,” which could lead us to safely imply that it’s a package deal.
We cannot proclaim to be followers of Christ and through our lack of self control deny His power that can work within us to transform us. It’s not an overnight thing, but the key is to see that we can’t treat self control as a nonessential. It’s not something we can gain on our own. Clearly we cannot. This is why we set up our messes and failures in so many aspects of our lives. But— while we cannot, Christ can. He not only can but He will, if you invite Him into your life.
[Image from @carolinereceveur]
Have you ever read the story of Ananias and Sapphira? If you haven’t, see below.
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”
When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
Acts 5:1-11 ESV
What was the issue in this story? Here is the thing, scholars say that Ananias and Sapphira didn’t need to promise everything. They could have contributed the amount their hearts desired. After all, Scripture tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7) The issue with these two was the fact that they lied. The result, their death, shows how seriously God takes dishonesty. They lied to God.
Sometimes, in our finances and giving we lie to God, and sometimes, we lie to ourselves.
It’s important for us to live in our reality and to deal with others, with God and with ourselves with truth and honesty.
Lying about something doesn’t make it true. It’s mighty ridiculous to think we can fool God, because we can’t. God is not mocked and sees the heart. (Galatians 6:7 and 1 Samuel 16:7)
Lastly, we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. We may end up believing our lie, but then we make ourselves fools.
“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.”
Proverbs 23:17 ESV
It’s a commandment: We are not to covet. Envy doesn’t really have a tangible solution that relies on an action. Envy is a spiritual issue. We can defeat envy by looking to God and focusing, with gratitude, on His provision in our lives. Only God can help us, with all of these attitudes, because these attitudes are naturally engrained in our sinful nature. They are our default, but God has a greater plan for our hearts.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:4 ESV
This goes for everything we do. We should do nothing out of “selfish conceit,” as some versions of this verse read. This means selfishness should not inform how we treat others, and how we handle the resources we have. If we thought more about others, the world would look like a very different place.
FOCUS ON THE TEMPORAL
“as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV
Oftentimes, when we overspend or accumulate things, it’s because our focus is off. Scripture tells us to not focus on earthly things, where thieves steal and moths and rust corrupt. (Matthew 6:19)
Instead, our actual treasure is in heaven. The way we store our treasure in heaven is by valuing that which is not tangible. The eternal things. That could be a kind word, service, a testimony, tithing and supporting mission— these are all examples of laying up your treasure in heaven. Not because heaven is earned by good actions, but because our actions are how we show the faith we have in the One who paid it all.
[Image by @carolinereceveur]
So, here we have six attitudes/mindsets/character traits that we should be mindful of when we look at our motivations or patterns in handling money. Sometimes, it’s obvious, and sometimes, it isn’t. I encourage you to take a minute and reflect on what motivates your spending and what informs your relationship with money. It’s only through prayer and introspection that we can see new things about ourselves that we have been blinded to, in the past.
Why discuss this at all? Because this is a root issue. Our saving, spending and debt can spring up from a root. If you can catch something you don’t want growing in the space you have, you take it out by the root. Lucky for us, we have the Master Gardner.
[Image by @brothervellies]
What is your financial goal for the rest of this year? What usually stands between us and our financial goals is debt.
[Image by @sexandthecityquotes]
There are more articles than I can count on good vs. bad debt. There is the classic live-beyond-my-means debt and there is debt accrued through education and other not-exactly-pleasurable sources (especially in the USA, where higher education is more-likely-than-not super costly and not free). Some people debate on whether student loan debt is good debt or bad debt. I really wholeheartedly feel that this is a very personal determination.
STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Personally, my student loan debt is something I see as an investment. I responsibly pay each month, and I know that there is no other way I could have the profession I have, were it not for that debt and the leap of faith that I took on. I don’t come from money; I don’t have daddy to be my safety net, and this is calling, pure investment and hard work.
This investment (in education) allows social mobility. I can have nicer things and live in nice places because of the career I chose. That was my choice.
Through academic achievement, I was able to get a scholarship for undergrad, where I had my full ride covered. The same academic achievement also gave me a partial scholarship in law school. I work in public interest, and have federal loans, which means I can qualify for a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program after ten years.
Federal loans also give you the option to have an income-based repayment plan (which I recommend). (All about student loans).
These are things that one must research. If you have a student loan or plan on obtaining one to launch your dreams, you should undergo loan counseling. (See also: How to manage student loan debt). I did this in law school, and it was super enlightening. (I see nothing wrong with taking out a student loan. I still see education as a gateway to a better future. Not many of us who believe this left, out there). In my view, education is something to be celebrated. I wish we celebrated vanity less, and celebrated education more. (I mean, there are only so many makeup tutorials you can do— am I right?)
How you choose to see loans and debt is entirely up to you. Do I wish education was free? Yes. But it’s not in my country. We have to work with what we have. As a scholarship recipient, I encourage scholarships (especially those based on academic merit).
But back to debt— so what happens if you have debt? Pesky debt. No matter what debt it is, it may be something that weighs heavily on you.
[Image by @sexandthecityquotes]
First, regardless of whether you are living beyond your means, I recommend you sit down for an old school budgeting session. Sounds so basic, but few people do it. What is budgeting? An itemized list of expenses, broken down. Everything. From rent (which is traumatizingly high in NYC) to your “eating out” stash. Awareness and knowledge means you can control the situation. (Taking control of you money with Marie Forleo).
Getting out of debt takes discipline, strategy and hustle.
WAYS TO REDUCE DEBT
[Image by @diklagoren via @boxofstyle]
One of the questions we received was ways to make additional income. Clearly, the following list is not exhaustive, but I hope it sparks some idea(s)!
Consume less: Enough said.
Skillshare: “Skillshare is a learning platform with online classes taught by the world’s best practitioners.” Personalized, on-demand learning at your finger tips. You can install the app and take advantage of the free classes, if you aren’t quite ready to invest in the learning of a new skill. For the free classes, all you need to do is invest the time. Generally, the platform has classes from illustrator to photography, design to languages. Go for it.
Freelance: Then, use your skills to freelance. You can find freelance opportunities on university classified boards online or university new papers. (There is always a professor or writer who needs another set of eyes to look something over). You can find opportunities on LinkedIn for things like document review or document translation, if you speak another language. Media Bistro is also a great resource for temporary or freelance copy editing and freelance work in general, for media related ventures.
Churches: They often hire musicians or people to do administrative work. Or you could offer a course to the community.
Get creative: You can rent a room for Airbnb, making sure it’s legal where you are, of course. You could be a Task Rabbit, where people hire you to do things (such as assemble furniture). Selling your creations or old books and clothes on Etsy or Ebay. If you are reading this, you probably speak English, and there are online schools always looking for English instructors with flexible time schedules— listen, there is a world of possibilities.
[Partly inspired by: Ideas to make money.]
Debt. It can lead to greater things, and it can also be erased. First, explore what kind of debt you have (the source). Next, see what changes you can make to stop it from accruing. And then, make a payoff strategy.
Remember, so much about this is mindset. Maybe, there is a subscription you can do without or maybe a subscription expands your opportunities for the future. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all.
Taking control of your finances means you have to sit down and grapple with your reality, and your goals, and then, you have to make a plan. Mindset is everything. God provides all things. Plan responsibly.
[Image from @sandradrifter via @by.babba]
So, we are going to be talking about several different topics regarding finances, over the next few weeks.
We can’t tackle it all in one go. Some of you dropped in some questions and comments about stuff you want to know more about, and while I am no expert in finance, I am an independent woman with a career who has learned a lot over the past couple of years, and I am constantly trying to learn more. What we don’t know, we will ask and research. We will aim to cover all of the questions asked. And if you have a question, drop us a line on the site or on Instagram or Tumblr.
So, we will be hitting all kinds of topics, and I will be linking resources and such for your further exploration. The idea is to collect these resources in one place.
I thought that for this first one, we would talk about tithing and building credit.
We are going to start with the basics.
Millennials are known for avocado toast, those lattes (you know what I am talking about), renting more and buying less, and spending more money on experiences rather than on material things (raise your hand if you have ever dreamed of going to Coachella— I see you; no judgment). Source: My Domaine.
Women have more opportunities, and we are using them. The workforce is diverse and growing. So… this means we have more money in our hands.
These first two topics are things you should start doing the minute you get that first paycheck: tithing and building credit.
[Image from @lainyhedaya]
Tithing is a marker of stewardship (someone who administers that which is not his/hers) and a relationship of trust with God.
THE BASICS ON TITHE
Tithe is ten percent. It is given from the first fruits and from the very best that you have.
In the same way that you don’t give someone a gift that is torn apart, unwanted and dirty, you don’t take whatever is leftover and go: “Here, God, for you.” Let’s not be those kinds of women. Let’s be obedient women to what God has requested (because it will only bless the formation of our characters), and let’s be classy.
Tithe belongs to God and it is holy to God. Leviticus 27:30-33
Tithe is a commitment to return to God what is His, as acknowledgement of His sovereignty, provision and love.
In this act, we show trust, let go of the selfish urge to hoard (we shouldn’t be like little squirrels before winter with acorns), and we see money for what it really is, which is a resource that floats around us and not a marker of an end, status or success.
Many argue that God doesn’t need your money, and while that may be so true (there is more where that came from), tithe is a commitment to supporting the cause of God and the movement to spread the gospel. So, while God owns all in the universe, He has established this mechanism to fund His mission.
“We can not afford to be disorganized, careless, or haphazard about funding the mission.” John H. H. Mathews
If tithing didn’t have blessings in store for us, God wouldn’t have established such a system. Everything He puts into motion or requests from us has a positive effect on who we are, and it shapes us to reflect Him, more and more.
In Malachi 3:10, God clearly states: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby, put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
God is a generous God. Therefore, we are called to be generous. He has never been stingy with us, rather He gave us all of Himself. Therefore, we have no excuse to be stingy with a God who has given us all things.
Once upon a time, there was a work scenario where there was going to be a renegotiation of a contract, and employees at an organization were threatened to end up with no salary, for an indefinite period of time. A nightmare. I know this because I was one of those employees. And while it would have been really simple to be like, “God, can’t you see what is happening? I need to store my acorns because winter is coming. I need to be prepared, so maybe I will put my tithing on hold,” I knew that wasn’t an option. I knew God had always been faithful at every step of my journey, and every time I was paid, I wrote out that tithe check, and rounded up, not withholding anything but rather adding on. This story isn’t about me. It’s about God’s faithfulness. That nightmare chapter ended with a raise, and while not all chapters end like that (I know because I have lived many chapters), I can tell you this, He has always been faithful, no matter how bad the circumstance looked at face value.
God doesn’t need you to trust Him blindly. In fact, He says “put me to the test.” This means He is ready to prove Himself to you.
I encourage you today, if you haven’t been tithing, or you had a situation where you felt you needed to store up your acorns, let go. Loosen your grip, and let go. Let God.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
[Image via @by.babba]
My boyfriend loves a good credit score. His is “excellent.” He is much more educated when it comes to these topics than I am. He started building his credit in high school, while I started on my own after I graduated law school. Word to the wise, don’t just share accounts with people and help others pay bills that are under their names, because when you do that, the other person whose name is on the account or bill is building credit and you are building nothing.
So my advice here will be very basic: Get a credit card, as soon as you can. Use it wisely, even if it’s just to pay gas or food. Get a great card like Discover, Citi Bank or Amazon that gives you cash back, or one with travel rewards like Capital One (Venture) or JetBlue. Do your research, and see which one is right for you.
If you can’t get a regular credit card, you can get a secured credit card.
What is a secured credit card, you may ask? According to Bankrate.com, “A secured card requires a cash collateral deposit that becomes the credit line for that account. For example, if you put $500 in the account, you can charge up to $500.”
Building a good credit can help you in the future. It can mean you save money on interest rates for loans.
Why should you build credit? What does your credit score say about you?
According to the TurboTax blog: “Your credit score is more than just a number. It represents how reliable a borrower you are, how well (or poorly) you manage your debt. Just like your SAT scores back in high school (which I prefer to never think about again), it will spark judgement.” (Read more about What Your Credit Score Says About You)
So, remember these two things. The minute you have money in your bank account, you fabulous independent woman, you should be tithing and building credit. This is lesson number 1.
A great resources: Nicole Lapin on Six Things to Protect Your Financial Future
If you read these books, you don’t need a financial planner.
More, coming soon! Stay tuned.