Controlling Your Credit Score: Procrastination Bites!

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Paying credit cards can seem like such a hassle. At times we often put such things off or simply pay the minimum balance due each month just to keep the collectors off of our backs. It is important to remember, however that the debt is ours to pay…often times with interest! That being said, you do NOT want to wait until you are in the market for buying a home to take a look at your credit report and score. Your credit report can take years to get under control, therefore start NOW! Grab your yearly free credit report and review everything. Make sure that all items are actually yours and seek professional assistance if you are not sure of any charges. Identity theft might also come into play so you want to be sure that you know what your credit report says. If anything is false or incorrect, you have a right to dispute and remove such items. There are laws in place that protect consumers from such threats.

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The next thing to do is to look at your credit score. It is a sum total of all of your financial behavior and stewardship – yes you are graded on your financial stewardship. This is what lenders look at on whatever document you provide your social security number on, such as mortgage application, vehicle leasing applications, renting applications, credit card applications, home security applications, and so on. When applying for such things, as quickly as it seems to take, you are placing separate inquiries on your credit score and it WILL continue to go down until you stop applying. Ironic isn’t it? Here you are with decent a credit score – between 720 and 800+, and you are applying to lease a car or home and yet with each application and credit inquiry, your score goes down a little each time! There is a difference between a ‘hard inquiry’ which will affect your credit score and a ‘soft inquiry’ which will not affect your score. Before providing the completed application, it’s in your best interest to inquire which type of inquiry the lender is pulling. Most times however, it is a hard inquiry bringing your credit score down with each application.

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It is important to remember that your payment history alone makes up 35% of your credit score. This means that any time you miss a payment or are perpetually late; your personal credit score goes down. What does this mean for you? If you are looking to apply for more lines of personal consumer credit or looking into making a larger purchase that requires a lease or inquiry into your credit history, the majority of the final review will be base on how often your pay your already acquired credit on time.

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Since it takes such a long time to credit the perfect credit score, you want to be sure you are executing behaviors that work in your favor. The best I can explain it is that when your finances are going well, use this time to be sure to keep your payments on credit on time if not early. Four to five days early is best, especially if you have any credit established in a business name. Don’t know how to do this? Subscribe for info on one of my upcoming FREE webinars.

Feel free to share and tweet!

~ladiSims

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Letting Go and Pressing Foreword…Passion First!~

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Many times in our lives we experience heartbreaking circumstances that cause us to reevaluate our choices in life. During my time as a case manager in Workforce Development, I often sat across from someone who would question their previous actions in their career and education. I almost always gently explained that we never know what is going to happen in our lives and that they should have comfort in knowing that they made the best choice possible at the time. We just won’t know that a certain stock will crash, or a business would close, nor do we expect to be laid off from a job we’ve sacrificed years of hard work for. Nothing is certain anymore. We used to be able to rely on experience and loyalty in the workplace in order to maintain employment. We used to be able to rely on college education and degrees in order to assure success and promotion – that is just not the case anymore. We have to make the decision to make better choices for what is going on RIGHT NOW!

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No one has to be tied down to a position title anymore. Many of us are surprised when we feel so hopeless after losing our jobs. We often lose our way a bit. As a culture, we rely on our occupations to guide us through our careers, give us pride, pay our bills, and warrant us the opportunity to pursue more out of life. But what happens when our jobs are snatched from us? Are we doomed to rely on public assistance and/or wait for retirement? Do we have to accept our circumstance and failure? Sometimes we lose our way when we lose our jobs but we don’t have to.

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It is often during difficult circumstances when we can think deeply about where we actually want our lives to go. I would often sit with a client and listen to their ideas about their future. My duty was to provide the resources to start clients toward accomplishing their goals. I would make clients aware of the path necessary to achieve their desired goals – including information on industry, wages, location and growth. Some clients expressed wanting to own their own business, go back to school, or change industry completely. Either way, it was a chance for exploration and re-evaluation. A devastating lay off could also be the chance to follow one’s passion instead of the paycheck. Have you become what you wanted to be? What is your passion? How can you turn it into a paycheck?

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Why you should work in your passion?  Time works against us in a regular 9-to-5, but in your passion you lose track of time. You believe in your work. You know you do your work well, so everyone else’s opinion doesn’t sway you as easily. You constantly want to evolve. No one sets your hours or limits you. You can speak candidly about what you do – in a crowd, at a networking event, during an interview, at a job fair, etc.  Have you thought of consulting? Do you have a skill or trade that many people need but do not want to do themselves?

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Many people question their decisions in life with regret – I’ve personally decided not to do such a wasteful thing! We go through things in life that make us question out previous motives and intelligence but we cannot dwell on the past, it will not help us to be hopeful for the future. I take it upon myself to seek out why I made decisions and how that should effect my future decisions in life…and then I consciously decide to move on.

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~ladiSims

Debt Elimination: Snowball Effect

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The discipline for getting rid of debt can be very tiresome but extremely rewarding. One concept on getting rid of debt faster is utilizing the ‘snowball effect’. This is when you are able to pay off one source of debt in full, possibly by paying more than the required minimum monthly amount; and then using the entire recurring amount towards another source of debt.

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An example of the ‘snowball effect’ would be that if you had three credit cards, each requiring a minimum payment of $30/mos. You have an additional $25 to pay towards debt each month so you decide to put that toward one of the credit cards, preferably the one with the highest interest rate. You now commit to paying $55/mos on the one card while still paying the minimum $30/mos on both of the other credit cards. Once you pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate, you would apply the entire $55 monthly commitment to one of the other credit cards, thus paying $85/mos on the 2nd credit card and continuing to pay $30/mos on the third credit card. The 2nd credit card should be paid off even faster! Once the 2nd credit card has been paid off, you can then put that monthly payment towards third credit card, making its monthly payment $115/mos. Instead of putting that monthly amount back into your budget for additional spending, add it to your other debt for faster elimination. You have now tackled three sources of debt without having to acquire any extra income. Aren’t you smart!

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When using the ‘snowball effect’ it’s wise to first focus on the debt with the highest interest, unless it’s something large like your mortgage which would take 30-40 years to pay off. Being able to pay all of your bills is a blessing that many of us struggle with monthly! The only upside to living paycheck-to-paycheck is the consistency. Utilize what you have to pursue what you want. It may take some time but it will be well worth it! Yes, having credit is great for large purchases (ie. Even larger debt) but taking care of the credit you have is most important. Instead of buying coffee or lunch everyday, limit yourself to 3 times a week. The savings you acquire from any form of discipline can go towards eliminating your debt. If you are able to put more than the minimum payment towards at least one source of debt, use it to get rid of that particular debt…then don’t get too excited and go on a shopping spree but instead put it towards another source of debt so that you can be completely debt free. That’s when its time to party!

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The concept of the ‘snowball effect’ requires discipline and planning but is very effective – as long as you do not acquire more debt along the way. The idea is to make sure that you are planning out your debt elimination over a longer period of time and staying committed to getting rid of ALL debt strategically. Our goal should not be to free up more funds to borrow more, but to use your funds to get rid of the debt WE’VE acquired. I think we forget as consumers that OUR debt is OUR responsibility. At some point we borrowed funds to pay for things, and now we have to pay it back.

~Please share and tweet!

~ladiSims

Danita Sims is a Workforce Consultant with extensive experience in social services, workforce development, and case management. Ms. Sims has assisted a variety of job seekers, including veterans and disabled adults, with finding employment and adjusting to career changes. Many of her clients seek to transition into new careers with financial and educational barriers hindering their success. Ms. Sims also shares resources, teaches Employment Readiness, and provides solutions for small businesses in her community. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Ms. Sims has a passion for helping people progress towards their career/entrepreneurial goals and is an advocate for education. Her BA degree is in English with a minor in African America Studies from SIUC where she also studied creative writing, journalism, and education. She also has a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) with a concentration in Community Development from UIC. Among her peers, she is known for simplifying complex issues, offering conflict resolution, and being able to connect with individuals of various socioeconomic statuses, cultures, skill sets, & educational backgrounds. Ms. Sims also has experience in Business Development and uses her ability to create and maintain strategic partnerships that would influence a community as a whole. Find ladiSims on Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope.

Mommy bloggers

My Top 5 Mommy Blogs

As a busy working mom one of the things I value is easy to follow instructions and items cultivated for me so that I can find what I need quickly. With that thought in mind, I enjoy several mommy blogs that are particularly awesome for deals, meals, activities and validation. I thought I would collect my top 5 of them for you as an easy reference guide.

Peace, Love & Happy Reading,

Kristen

Top 5 Mom Blogs

ScaryMommy.com  – This blog always provides funny, interesting and the latest news stories always focused on motherhood for a wide range of ages

Happy Hooligans – This blog has the neatest activities and the best deals around the momsphere.

Pop Sugar Moms – This blog has some great parenting advice, interesting blogs from other mothers and lots of fun anecdotes

100DaysofRealFood.com – Although more of a food blog, this real food mama shares lots of recipes and information about how to keep your kiddos healthy

Working Moms Against Guilt  – WMAG will make you feel so good. There isn’t a problem they don’t discuss. Start reading and watch your guilt fade away.

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Multitasking Mayhem

mom juggling tasksThe ability to effectively multitask seems to be all the rage these days, however my husband brought up a great point last week.  We are not designed for multitasking.  As our society has become preoccupied with productivity and efficiency, we have lost the ability to be devoted to and engaged with one task at a time.  Often times, losing our effectiveness.   As moms I believe we often struggle with this the most; I sure
do!

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Multitasking is defined as “the handling of more than one task at the same time by a single person”.  We often want more, so we feel we have to do more…seemingly all at the same time.  So, what does this look like on a daily basis?

● Emailing your child’s teacher about parent/teacher conference while on a conference call for work

● Checking email while at your child’s soccer practice

● Texting your co-worker, while at a stoplight, about tomorrow’s meeting

●  Planning the week’s grocery list in your mind while checking voicemail

● Rehearsing your sales pitch in your mind while your child reads to you

It’s so unfortunate that we find it so hard to be in the moment.  As a matter of fact, I am writing this post as Junior plays at the playground, while waiting for Kid Flash, who is across the parking lot at soccer practice (thus the constant references to soccer).

Our minds are so crowded with and distracted by impending assignments that we don’t know where to begin half the time.  We don’t know whether we’re coming or going.  So, we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, scrambling from one task to another.

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A recent (Oct. 2014) Forbes article cites that “Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.”  Click here to read the full article.

Imagine a world where we didn’t feel the pressure to get everything done all at once…and get it done yesterday.  Is everything that we’re rushing to do really that important or urgent?  Each of us has to make that determination on our own.  Just think, having a “one track mind” might not be so bad.

Until next time-

“Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6 NIV)

God’s best-

Alexis

The 4 B’s of Bedtime

go to bedEvery family has their own bedtime routine. We follow what is popularly known as the 4 B’s: bath, brush, books, bed. This method works beautifully and I only slightly modify it for my infant by adding the 5th B, breast or bottle. It also means that both boys have a similar routine and go to bed around the same time most nights. I call that a parenting score!

Here is our typical evening routine.

6:00 PM – Dinner

6:30 PM – H plays, Baby C2 gets a bath (I can’t wait until they can start taking baths together)

6:45 PM – Baby C2 nurses, H Bath

7:00 PM – H brushes teeth and gets on PJs

7:15 PM – Read books with both boys (Unless Baby C2 is already asleep) We are starting to incorporate some bedtime prayers into  this step too. 🙂

7:30 PM  – Bed

Occasionally, one of the kids needs more cuddle time and then Andy and I are both happy to oblige. H also uses this as an opportunity to not go to bed. “Mommy, I need water. Mommy, I need milk. Mommy, I have to go potty. Mommy, I need insert random item.” That is when we give him a choice, settle down and I will cuddle with you or to the crib you must go. Most of the time though H or Baby C2 just need a little lullaby. My favorite to sing is Godspeed by the Dixie Chicks. Watch out it will make you cry!

Our next bedtime adventure will be transitioning H to a toddler bed and stopping Baby C2s nighttime feeding. Stay tuned…

What are your bedtime routines? Do you have something specific that works well for your family? Share your stories in the comments. We love to read them!

Peace, Love and Bedtime

Kristen

Image Credit: Huffingtonpost.com, theidearoom.net

 

 

 

I NEED an Easy Button

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Staples was on to something when they created the EASY button. It’s my week to get the boys ready for school and take them to school.  Every morning is the same…we are rushing to get through our routine so we can get out of the door on time.  Our rushing is often accompanied by:

● arguing – me with them and them with each other

● fussing – me at them

● giggles – them with each other

● name calling – them with each other

● yelling – me at them and them at each other

● fussing – did I already say that?

Then, we finally make it out the door.

I need an EASY button!

After I returned home this particular morning, my Corporate, Lean, Six Sigma husband asks me about my “process”.  Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought we were at home, not the office.  So, I allow him to offer his feedback on “my” process.  His suggestion is to basically do it like he does it when it’s his week because, of course,  things run so much more smoothly.  Here’s his idea to make things “easy”: Stations.

#1. Bedroom station – where I watch the boys get ready, such that they stay on task. When we all leave the bedroom they are completely ready with shoes on.

#2. Bathroom station – where I watch the boys floss and brush their teeth (and most likely offer some assistance to make sure it’s done correctly) and wash their faces.  Finally,  I brush their hair.  [Who brushes their teeth before they eat?  I tell him I don’t like this part.]

#3. Kitchen station – where I prepare breakfast, then prepare lunch while they are eating breakfast. [I’m thinking I’ll switch #2 and #3.]

Oila!  The boys are ready and we are off to school with no arguing, fussing, giggles, name calling, yelling or fussing (did I say that already?).  I snapped,  “Fine, I’ll try your way!” and walked off.

Personally, between you and me…I’d prefer the EASY button.

Until next time-

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20 NIV)

God’s best-

Alexis

Image credit – staples.com

Mommy Brain

I don’t know what happens to you after you have kids, but my brain feels like scrambled eggs. This is your brain. This is kids. This is your brain after kids.

 

Before kids I use to think I was busy. I worked full time, was in graduate school, had a husband and three dogs. *Insert maniacal laughter* Before kids I knew nothing about being busy. I don’t know that it is as much about the kids as it is all of the things you have to do for yourself and the kids. It is honestly more about the stuff you must do in order to live in this world. This is the point where I usually wg019_island_life_1insert my fantasy about living with my family on an island in a little hut far from the modern world.

This week has been extra insane. I am going out of town for work. The baby got tubes. H’s birthday and party are 1 week away. The list goes on and on. The first really annoying thing I did was misplace my debit card. Watch my shoulders deflate. Cue internal monologue. “Kristen, really? Is it that hard to just consistently put it back in your wallet?” Then a few days later I misplaced my wallet. Awesome. I really hope I haven’t lost it. It isn’t a great idea to lose your license days before you need to get on a plane. Please keep your fingers crossed I find it at home tonight. Please…

This isn’t to say that I didn’t lose things before kids, because I did. It is just soooo  much worse after kids. Part of it is you don’t have time to find things. I still don’t know where my debit card is…. I guess I should call the bank and order a new one…. Insert deflated shoulders again. It isn’t that I don’t need to or want to accomplish everything it is just that I keep meaning to do x, y or z, but somehow x, y and z just stay on my long list of to dos.  I was much more on top of it prior to two bundles of joy entering my world.

There are things I find that help me stay a little more on task and help me not run around like a crazy woman. Admittedly, I do run around like a crazy woman some days, but here are my top three sanity savers.

  1. Slow Down – Usually I am racing in 100 million directions multitasking as I go. However, this pace is rarely effective and can ultimately be detrimental. See paragraph about lost debit card and wallet. When I do slow down. Life is better. The basics happen which prevent me from having to redo or spend extra time looking for lost items.
  2. Use An Organizer – It doesn’t matter what kind of organizer. It can be an electronic PDA or an app on your phone. Heck, it can be paper. The point is to compile all of the items you need to accomplish in one place that you can check frequently. I use an app called Things. It allows me to document tasks and projects while simultaneously keeping them all organized. I also get to check them off. Which I love!
  3. Schedule Fun and Relaxation – If I schedule time that I know I can chill with a glass of wine, watch my favorite TV show or even just hang out time at the house I know I can count on some me time or family time. If I pack the schedule so full that there isn’t this relaxation time everyone, including the kids, feels it.

What are ways that you try to minimize your mommy brain?

Peace, Love and a Slower Pace

Kristen

Banner Image Credit: Forthefamily.org

Artkive the Digital Archive

My sweet little darlings make the most beautiful artwork. Scads of little handprints papers and crafted treasures are stuffed in their baby books and all over our house. 

As much as I want to keep every little piece, my kids are only 2 years old and 4 months old and I am already running out of space.  YIKES! 

Let’s also be honest. Do you really need 50 cute handprint turkeys? Probably not…

What to do? 

Insert a new app called Artkive. (This is NOT a paid endorsement.) It allows you to make digital scrap books of your kids artwork by taking photos of it From the albums you can print hardcover books. 

If only you had the time right? Wrong! Mail them your artwork and they’ll photograph and upload it for you for a small fee.

I can’t speak to their customer service because I 

haven’t ordered a book or used their paid archiving service… yet. However, the app is fairly intuitive and allows you to access stored artwork easily. 

What a neat tool, right? Plus now I can store every scrap without adding to the clutter or feeling guilty about tossing out a future Picasso’s first strokes. I will still keep a few special hard copy pieces, but Artkive will definitely simplify the process. Plus once I have it set up I can snap photos of art from my  phone. 

Artkive is officially on the to do list. 

Have you used Artkive? What are your thoughts? What other ways do you save your little ones momentos? 

Peace, Love &  Archiving,

Kristen

Wake Up, Sleepy Head!

So, I’ve called their names several times and to no avail. Then I notice a slight movement under the covers. Junior wakes up, hops out of bed and drags himself to the restroom. Kid Flash, my youngest son on the other hand, is not feeling it. After calling his name a few more times, I get agitated and he responds with, “I don’t wanna go to school. I’m sleeeeeepy.” Here we go, another morning of coercing children to get up and get ready for school. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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Here are three tips to get your kids up in the morning and out of the house on time:

1. Establish and enforce a bedtime that will allow them to get the proper amount of sleep. WebMD says school-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. My boys’ bedtime is 8pm.

2. Establish and enforce a morning routine. Children respond very well to order and schedules. When they know the expectations they usually meet them. My husband and I alternate weeks when getting our boys ready for school, but the routine is pretty much the same. Get up, use the bathroom, get dressed (they take showers at night), eat breakfast (we pack lunch while they eat), floss/brush teeth, wash face, put on coats/hats (fall/winter), kiss/hug the parent still in the bed, read scripture, pray, head out the door to school.

3. Keep track of time and keep them moving. If you have young children like mine you have to stay on them and make sure they are in a continuous state of motion. Any lag time and they will get off track. If they start talking, playing or fighting, things could go awry very quickly. Trust me, I know.

What is your morning routine?

Until next time…

“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NIV)

God’s best-

Alexis

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