My Financial Life: The 30th Edition

As of today, it will make 30 days since I turned 30! YIKES! I am officially in the 30 Club! If you are like me, then you had benchmarks set for yourself by 30. I was supposed to have the following: $10,000 in a savings account, making over $100K a year, and owning real estate. Guess What?!?! I have none of that and that is perfectly okay. There is a time and place for everything. In due time, I will have that amount in my savings account and that large salary. In the meantime, I will blog about my journey toward those millions. LOL! As I reflect on my twenties, I realized a few financial mishaps that I and hopefully you can learn from.

  1. WHO CARES ABOUT JONESES?

Ever heard of the phrase“Keeping up with the Joneses?” I was paying too much attention to the rappers, reality show stars, and local Instagram celebrities. I thought that I HAD to HAVE the latest and greatest clothing, cars, and VIP bottle service at the club. One of the reasons that I have debt is because I was trying to keep up with people who I don’t know.  Those same people wouldn’t care if I had it anyway. I will no longer go broke trying to impress people that I don’t know. Those people are not lining up to pay this Diva’s bills so I will just stick to my little cute budget and strive toward being free from debt.

joneses

  1. NO, YOU DON’T NEED CABLE.

Cable is a LUXURY NOT A NECESSITY! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need cable. Ask yourself, do you really watch that much TV? While I was in graduate school, I would leave home for work at 8:30am and get home at 10:30pm. That gives me just enough time to shower and get ready for bed. Yet I was paying $100 in cable every month. Why am I paying for something that I am not enjoying? I cut the cord in January 2014 and I haven’t looked back. I am a subscriber to Hulu and use my friend’s Netflix account so I can watch a show or movie when I am not busy doing other things. Also, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder comes on ABC which you can get without a cable (Think Antenna!) so I really don’t need it. I have been living my life cable-free and I am surviving ! If you really trying to trim the fat off your budget; I would suggest that you join me on my cable free journey. Think of extra $100-200 dollars that you would save.

netflix

 

  1. DEPARTMENT STORE CREDIT CARDS are agents of satan.

Yep, I said it! You know how the conversation starts….

You: Hello! I’m ready to check out.

Cashier: Awesome! Would you  like to save an additional 15% off today’s purchase?

You: Sure! How?!

Cashier: Apply for the store’s credit card! If approved today, you can start using today and receive 15% off your purchase. It takes 5 minutes.  All I need is your social security number.

You: Ok…. ***-**-****

Cashier: Types in the register….. CONGRATS! You qualify for a credit limit of $250! Would you like to use it today?

You: Sure I would! *puts debit card back in purse*

 

And the rest is history…  That is how Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom got me. Now I must warn others! That department store credit card is just another credit card. Now you have another debt on your credit report. Some people have 4-5 store credit cards stemming from this conversation.  That extra 10-15% percent discount is not worth it. Don’t add  an $250 debt to your credit report because you are trying to save $20 on your purchases. DON’T SUCCUMB TO SHOPPER’S TEMPTATION! JUST SAY NO!!!

Those are some of the financial mistakes that occured in my twenties.  I refuse to make these same mistakes in my 30s. I am now focused on debt reduction, savings, and investing. Stay Tuned! My journey to being debt-free is going to be a tough but necessary one to watch.

If you are 30 and up; what financial mistakes did you make in your 20s? What are you doing to ensure that you don’t repeat them? Do tell DIVAS and DIVOS!

Keep Saving  DIVAS!

With love,

Miss Diva Dollars

I won the Powerball! Now What?

lottery1

Let’s play the “What If?” game? What if I won the Powerball which is listed at $900 million with a cash value of $558 million. Either way, that is a lot of money! Disclaimer: I am NOT endorsing or condoning playing the lottery. That is your own choice that I will not judge you on.

If you were to win the Powerball; what would you do with all your winnings? Who would tell? If it was me… In the words of Keith Sweat..

ksweat

But we are talking about you…. Most people would say, “SHOW ME THE MONEY?!” They would want a lump sum of money in their bank account right away. Then here come the following people: your Momma who wants to start her own restaurant, your Uncle Junebug who always wanted to start their own barbershop, friend who now wants to start their rap career but want a custom studio, and your girlfriend/boyfriend who is looking for you to wine and dine because they feel they deserve it. Crazy right? But so true!!

Let’s look through your financial lens and see how much you would actually win. The estimated value of the Powerball is $900 million. You actually win $558 million (62% of the estimated value). Let’s not forget about the T word….TAXES! There is a 25% Federal Tax Reduction which will be taken off the top (think $135 million). You must pay Caesar what is due to Caesar or He will come for you and take the shirt off of your back. Now you will bring home about $419 million. Your hometown state also needs their coins too. State Taxes vary from state to state. I will use the state of Illinois as an example. According to USA MEGA, Illinois has a 3.75 state tax.

Now the question is… how should I get my winnings: lump sum or annuity? The common person would say LUMP SUM!!! Is that correct? NO!!!!  The most financially responsible thing is to do an annuity payments. This DIVA will tell you why. What is annuity? Glad you ask! Annuity is a fixed sum of money that is paid to someone for the rest of their lifetime. Bonus: if you die suddenly; your family can continue to receive annuity payments for the rest of their lives too! Morbid I know but hey you gotta be realistic.

Anywho… Back to the math. If you receive a lump sum payment, you will receive about $398 million. If you choose annuity payments, you will receive about $642 million. If you choose to get a lump sum, then you will pay more taxes off the top. If you choose an annuity; you will only pay taxes on the payments made to you annually. That means more money in your pocket!

So if you or I do win the Powerball tonight; please choose the annuity payments. Don’t forget to bless your fellow Financial Diva a coin or two for giving you this advice. In the meantime; keep SAVING and INVESTING DIVAS!!!

-Miss Diva Dollars

2015 Miss Diva Dollars Goals

Happy 2015! The Diva has made it to another year! I am excited for new beginnings. With new beginnings comes change. This year my goal is to continue on my journey to being debt-free and make my money work for me. Below are my goals:

1. I will pay off my credit card. My balance is not high but I need to be more manageable with my credit. A credit card is essentially an open loan. Think about it…. When you use your credit card to buy shoes; you are taking a loan out to buy those shoes. Do you really even need those shoes? I’m preaching to the choir. I know that I need to do a better job of utilizing my credit only for REAL EMERGENCIES! I must tell myself that Nordstrom’s Half-Yearly Sale is not an EMERGENCY!

2. Pay off at least 1 student loan. With my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I am least $70K in the hole with that heffa Sallie Mae. SHE MUST BE STOPPED!! But that’s another blog post for another day. I am on an income-driven repayment plan so that is helping me pay it down. I am going to challenge myself to make an extra payment of $50 monthly so I can get her off my back slightly quicker.

3. Start another savings account. I know… I know…. Why another savings account? You never know when a rainy day will come. I had my fair share in 2014. I just want to be prepared for anything. I have a savings account at a credit union. My next one will be probably be at my primary banking institution. I like to call it my “Five Dollar Holla Plan”. I will begin with a deposit like $100 and then have an automatic debit of $5 every pay period to the account. The automatic debit will increase by $5 quarterly. Automatic Debit is VERY SEXY especially for forgetful people like myself. By first quarter, I will save $30. Second Quarter, I will save $60. Third Quarter, I will save $90. By Fourth Quarter, I will have saved $120. You can join me on my journey to savings! You don’t have to start with $100. You can start with the minimum amount it takes to start a savings account at your bank or local credit union. Even start it at home in a jar, you should have saved at least $300 by the end of the year.

savings plan 2015

4. Obtain Life Insurance. It’s never to early to start thinking about death! LOL! I know that was a bad joke but you can’t stop the inevitable. This is the BEST TIME for millennials to get life insurance especially if you are a single person. Your monthly premium will be very manageable. The time to plan for your financial future is NOW.

I am approaching 30 therefore I need to get it together! The same problems that I had in my 20s WILL NOT be carried into my 30s. The time to plan for your financial future is NOW!
Tell me…. What are your financial goals for 2015? Eliminating Debt? Buying a House? Paying off credit cards? Share in the comments below.

Introducing: Debt Dairies

Hey Ya’ll (in my semi-Southen Belle voice)!!!!

I know…. I know…. Where have you been? Locked up in my library…  LOL!! But I am a free woman now.. I graduated with my M.A. in Economics on May 2, 2014!!!! YAY!!!! YAY!!!!  

Now you guys will have my undivided attention!! In the midst of me trying to obtain my Master’s. I have been keeping up with my finances. I have been doing better about budgeting and savings. I recently opened up a second savings account but that’s another blog post. 

Now another thing that I must tackle is………..DEBT!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone hates that word!! I know I do. Webster describes it as money owed to someone. This diva would describe it as a thorn in my side that needs to be removed. 

Instead of talking about I am going to do something about it……..INTRODUCING “DEBT DAIRIES”!!!!! I will feature me paying down my debts as apart of my financial journey so that everyone can see me taking down debts one step at a time. Join me divas on this journey!!!

What I learned from the Financial Fast!

Hey Guys!

I know that it has been a while since I posted. Life and grad school is taking over (I graduate in May! YAY!) Even though I haven’t posted, I still endured the financial fast. I ended the fast on Feb. 3. I saved almost $200 after I paid my bills during this fast (WOW!!!!).  Below are some other major lesson learned during this fast. 

  • God wants you to be prosper but also be wise with your financial choices. Don’t let the pursuit of money distances you from your relationship with God. 
  • Give when you don’t feel like giving. There is a blessing that will come from it.
  • Be content with what you have. Be grateful for what you have. Remember, you get in bed in go to sleep every night while someone is sleeping on the ground outside.
  • Prudence begets Prosperity. I already had a budget but now I am going further to include social activities in my budget so I will able to save for concert or theater tickets. If you fail to plan; you plan to fail. 
  • Debt/Credit is Dangerous. I disagree with the book in regards to debt/credit being evil. There are some purchases that you need to use a line of credit for (home, car, surgery, etc.) I would say I am going to be more careful and manage my debt better. I have created a debt dash plan because I got to get SallieMae off my back ASAP!!! 
  • Diversify your investments (if applicable). I have diversified my 401K. I do need to do a better job of managing my investments. 
  • New Bible Verses that I need to memorize in regards to financial freedom. Proverbs 3:9, Luke 6:38, Proverbs 13:18, 1 Timothy 5:8

I highly recommend this book if you want to get your financial life in order. This might just become an annual ritual for me. 

Happy Saving!

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Day 3: Financial Fast

God is generous to us so why not help others? You know the cliche saying “To Whom much is given; much is required.” Well it rings true in your finances. This book chapter highlights the responsibility of prosperity. We have a responsibility to help others financially if we can. It doesn’t necessarily have to be money. It can be time. When was the last time you babysit your cousin or friend’s kids?

My thought process toward giving was based on a person’s effort. I like to help people who have made an effort to help themselves. I have discovered in this chapter that I have the wrong attitude. Think about the times God has blessed us financially even when we didn’t deserve it?! I know he has bailed me out financially many days. (Thank you Lord!!) That is the same approach we need to have with people. You know that begging cousin that always need $5 and you know they are not going to give it back?! GIVE IT TO THEM ANYWAY!! I know… I know… Easier said than done. We are all a work in progress! (I know I am!!) God will give it back to you ten-fold!

 

This chapter also opened my eyes to the word “miser“. Do you or someone you know hold on to money for dear life? Do you or someone you know making your family miserable with their cheapness? You or them might be a miser. A miser use money for their own selfish good. Miser have a great fear about not having enough. You must pray for the miser so that they can rest in knowing that God will provide all their needs.

Challenge: Think about one person you can help financially and DO IT!!

Day 2: Financial Fast

Day 2 is about the Promise of Prosperity. We want God to bless us with wealth but we are not willing to submit to change. Our finances are the foundation of which everything is based on. Sometimes we are so busy chasing money that we don’t even realize we are running further away from GOD and His Will. This day examines commandments that we have broken in regards to our finances. Below are some of my offenses:

You shall not make for yourself or things an idol. 

I have made an idol out of clothes and concert tickets. Sometimes I wouldn’t give offering just to ensure that I got those front row tickets or the latest outfit.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

I have chosen to work on the Sabbath in order to make some extra money.

You shall not murder.

I have said that “I will kill for a pair of Christian Louboutins or Prada shoes. Words have Power!! Use them wisely!!

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

There have been times where I social media stalked (Yes, I am woman enough to say it!) someone just to see their latest purchase (In my defense, there person was materialistic and posted everything they ever bought!) I know…. I know… That still doesn’t make it right. I’m a work in progress.

Day 2: SUCCESS! I redeemed my Christmas gift from co-worker and got a FREE LUNCH! Therefore, I didn’t have to buy anything. It’s the little things in life. However, I got an email from Nordstrom’s that the shoes that I waitlisted are in stock…. Le Sigh!! 

Pray for my strength!