Monday, August 27, 2012

Save Money by Paying Yourself First

After you've worked hard for your paycheck, don't you think that you deserve the first cut of your salary? Finding money to save, especially in today economic climate, might seems like an impossible task. Saving money should not be an afterthought, it should be your first thought. As I worked on paying off my debt, I would commit a part of my budget toward savings FIRST.

Before I paid any bills, I set a portion of my salary aside to save. Sometimes I was only able to save $20 from my paycheck. There have been other times when I was able to save hundreds of dollars per check. Either way, I am still committed to this practice today. The money that you save by paying yourself first is NOT for vacation or some new piece of electronics. As you are working toward your future, this money is to invest in an opportunity, your dreams, your future.

God forbid you have an emergency. At least you know the money is there. My definition of emergency is something like dental surgery, you are out of work because of a health issue, or you need to repair your car because it's essential for work.

Set up an automatic deduction from your checking account into a savings account. For me, the money comes out the day after I get paid so I don't have much of a window to spend it. After a while, you will forget that you are deducting this money and will learn to live without it. Hopefully, after a year, you will be able to see the hundreds if not thousands of dollars that you have been able to save through consistency.

I also want to add this. NEVER let anyone know how much money you have in your emergency account. Biggie said it best in the "The Ten Crack Commandments". Never let no one know, how much, dough you hold, cause you know, The cheddar breed jealousy 'specially if that man fucked up, get your ass stuck up. Letting people know how much money you have saved, especially broke ass people, you will quickly start getting request to "borrow" money. As for me, I'm always "broke". Once people know that you are a reliable back up source of money, you will quickly become a 2nd source of income to them.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in helping people but, I believe in helping those that help themselves. After all, that's the way I learned.

Related Posts:
Want to fix your credit? Here's the 1st step!
10 Tips to Live Below Your Means
Change your Thinking, Change your Spending

Monday, August 20, 2012

Change your Thinking, Change your Spending

Control your expenses. Once I got my apartment, I didn't run out and furnish the place immediately. My first purchase was a bed. Other than the computer (my boyfriend, now husband, had to purchase it on his credit because I wasn't credit worthy), I literally had nothing. I was living out of a suitcase because I had no dressers. My dad gave me his microwave so most of my meals were made that way until I could purchase pots & pans.

When your happiness is at stake, it's funny how little we actually need in order to be happy. I purchased a 26 inch RCA television from P.C. Richards & Sons. Since I had no credit, I had to buy things with cash. I patiently waited for holiday sales when buying electronics. Once I got a television, I tuned into The Suze Orman Show regularly. She offers excellent financial advice.

I made a pact with a hippie co-worker to stop buying clothes unless it was socks and underwear. Think about it. Do you ever wear all of the clothes in your closet? Unless you've had a significant weight loss/gain, many of us buy clothes because shopping is a pastime. I rediscovered items that I hardly wore and put them to good use.

I got all of my dressers / armoires from the Thrift Store. As a matter of fact, I still own those same dressers because the quality of the wood is something that you just don't see too often anymore. When I finally moved, I remember when one of the movers saying "Be careful with this, I know it's expensive because it's real hardwood." Haaa, the price on those 2 dressers was so little, I don't even remember what I paid for it.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is an awesome resource. The NYPL, and most library systems, allows you to transfer books from one branch to another at no cost. I would sign on to the libraries website and put whatever books I wanted to read on hold. If you take advantage of their free online service, your books will put to the side for you and all you have to do is pick them up.

Some of the changes you make might be for the short term but your mindset should always be open to learning more. Always look to educate yourself on different ways to save money. Don't just say, "Oh, I have everything I want now. I'll stop saving." As someone that left her parents house at the age of 19, I have learned to get knowledge from multiple situations. I am constantly learning. I will take valuable information from any source. Even people that I can't stand, teach me what NOT to do.

A few examples of what not to do:
• Counting on someone paying you back by a certain date, which you need in order to pay your bills
• Calculating how much of a bonus you will receive and using that number as part of your budget
• Assuming that you will get a tax return
• Lending money that you can't afford to lose / Investing money that you can't afford to lose
• Choosing a vacation that forces you to come back to a huge credit card bill
• Dating someone that doesn't have the same financial outlook and doesn't want to change

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 Tips to Live Below Your Means

Finding the money to start paying off your debt can be done numerous ways. Below are some of the things I did to get my credit back in shape. I'm always looking for more information because you never stop learning when it comes to finances. I didn't just do these things until my credit was "fixed", but I still practice these things today. Consistency is key.

Live below your means. As a rule of thumb, I made sure that I rented an apartment that I could pay for with 1 week's salary. If you get paid every 2 weeks, divide that into half and that's the amount you can afford for rent. Back in '97, my salary was 45k/year. My weekly take home salary was around $750. I found an apartment across the hall in a small building because a friend spoke to the landlord on my behalf. It was a small 1 bedroom apartment for $625/month. You might have to give up that large apartment and move into a smaller one that's more suitable for your financial needs. If you have to move back in with your parents, pay them rent, and do what you have to.

After living in that apartment for 3 years, I realized that I needed to start saving for a house. I moved into my Mom's basement apartment for 2 years. I paid her a slightly lesser rent and I didn't have to worry about cable, heat or electricity. From time to time my mother would sneak into my refrigerator and steal my orange juice to make a "night-cap" for herself, but hey... it was a small price to pay.

Since I lived in NYC, I sold my car and went back to taking public transportation. The cost of car insurance in NYC is extremely high. God forbid you get a ticket, that's more money out of your pocket plus registration, gas and maintenance... goodbye. I won't say that it was easy going back to public transportation but I knew what I wanted and looked at it as a temporary situation.

There are other things that I currently do in order to save money. Take a look at the suggestions and videos below. Feel free to share some of your money saving ideas.
  • Unplug electronics that you're not using. Don't just turn the power off. Pull the cord out of the wall.
  • Change your bulbs to energy saving light bulbs. They cost a little more up front but are worth it.
  • If you have subscriptions that's not necessary for business, get rid of it.
  • Instead of getting manicure / pedicure, do it yourself.
  • Before buying another expensive lipstick, look in your stash, you might already own a dupe.
  • Buy a good quality toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Dental bills are very expensive, avoid them.
  • Have new or gently used electronics / products? Sell them on eBay.
  • Consider temping for a short period of time. Use the extra check to pay down your debt.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Want to fix your credit? Here's the 1st step!

Having bad credit at an early age was both a pain in the butt, yet a blessing in disguise. Once I learned how to climb my way out of the mess I created, I learned invaluable lessons that stood with me. In no way do I claim to be an expert at repairing credit, this is just a very detailed account of the things I did in order to fix my credit and get out of debt.

Get your credit reports from the three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian from Also obtain you FICO score, so that you know where you stand. You might have to pay for it, but if you have an American Express card they might offer it to you once a year at no additional charge. Once I saw how much debt I was in, I had to make some lifestyle changes in order to pay down my debt. I'll go through those steps in later posts. Once I had my credit reports in hand, this is what I did.

Write down all of the debt from on each card with the interest rate next to it. Don't get emotional about what you are looking at. In order to get through this, which is very possible, you need to be strategic.

Call each of your debtors and find out if they are willing to negotiate a debt settlement. Let them know that you want to make good on your debt, but you need them to negotiate within your means. The only thing they can do is say "No", but if you are able to come to an agreement, you might be able to save both money and time. *Please note: I do not have any experience with Student Loans. Check out the Student debt repayment assistant at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I've never used it, but Suze Orman speaks positively about it and I trust her financial opinion.

Start to pay down on your debt. Rule of thumb: pay down as much as you can afford to the card with the highest interest first while only paying the minimum on your other credit cards. Once the 1st card is payed off, take the money that you were using to pay the 1st card and combine it with the 2nd card. When the 2nd card is paid off, take the money from the 1st and 2nd card and pay off the 3rd card. You see the pattern? As time goes on, your debt will go down and credit will improve.

There are no quick fixes at turning bad credit into good credit. As time goes on you will establish good history. Whatever you do, don't ignore the problem. You're wages can be garnished. Your student loans debtors can take your income tax returns. It's much better to address the issue taking the offensive approach rather than a defensive one. You should also know that you do not have to be harassed. Take a look at the Cease and Desist Letters from

The next blog topic will discuss, how I found the money to pay off the debt.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Getting a contrast MRI

I was praying these XXXL pants
would not fall off
As much as I look forward to my FNC videos, yesterday I had another acronym to contend with... MRI.

I finally decided to take further action in dealing with my fibroids. Not only are they painful, pressing down on my bladder, creating a kangaroo pouch in my lower abdomen, but I'm just so sick and tired of dealing with all the multiple daily issues that come along with having fibroids.

Right now, I'm leaning towards getting a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). My GYN however suggests that I just get a hysterectomy but I'm not parting ways with my organs so easily. Especially since I'm only 37 with no children.

A UFE is still going to involve having surgery, but it's a far less invasive option. It basically blocks the blood supply to the fibroids, thereby shrinking them (in theory). Before getting a UFE, a MRI scan is required to see the size and placement of the fibroids on my uterus.


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