Mo Money, Mo Problems…to Solve!

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Many times over, I have had the opportunity to revamp a budget for myself or someone else and have exposed ‘extra money’. This money, often times, is used for spending – we usually feel as though we deserve to spend it on ourselves. We do deserve to enjoy our income however I would encourage you to look into making plans for all money – including the seemingly ‘extra’.

Your ‘extra money’ can be something that you let run through your fingers or you can look to the future. If you think you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and do not have access to ‘extra money’, I have to ask about your spending. Do you eat fast food on a weekly or daily basis? Do you subscribe to cable or satellite TV? Are there things you spend money on monthly that are beyond the basic essentials? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the previous questions, you are able to adjust your budget and get some ‘extra money’.

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What can you do with ‘extra money’? You might want to first secure an emergency fund. Your emergency fund is needed for the ‘just in case’ moments that you and your family may experience. It should be at least 3 months of expenses for your household that sits without being touched unless there is an emergency!

Ever thought about investing? It is not just for the wealthy! Banking professionals and financial gurus will tell you that in order to start investing you have to first be financially set. Being set financially includes budgeting for your expenses and saving for a rainy day. Your ability to save is often the key to having a mindset of investing. You want to be able to set an amount aside without touching it for quite some time in order to invest well and obtain a profitable return.

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Investing can be done in a number of ways. You can seek out business owners who may be in need of funds. You can take courses or attend workshops from financial institutions on the basics of investing into the stock market. There are also opportunities in network marketing, an entrepreneurial stream, or a type of passive income that may require an upfront fee- this too can be counted as an investment.

It’s important to remember that you are not only on this planet to exist but to fulfill a purpose. There are many people in need and who may lack the very resources you have in abundance. You can make a difference with your ‘extra’ by touching others around you, even in simply giving in order to meet a need. I encourage you to also think about others when spending that ‘extra money’. Where else would it be more effective?

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This message is not only for my readers but myself as well. Of course my goal is to be financially free – paying off my student loans and medical bills, but that is not all. I’d like to be able to give on a larger scale – providing wells in foreign countries and meals right here in the U.S. I would also like to pursue passions that I feel blessed to be talented with in order to earn my income instead of working a meaningless, purposely 9-to-5 making someone else wealthy. I would like to see my child taken care of and out of the public aide system. I would like to leave a legacy for my lineage and not just a long line of debt they never acquired. I’d like to do my part in our economy and invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs. What are you looking to do with your ‘extra’?

~ladiSims

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Wants vs. Needs: Prioritizing Your Budget for Balance

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Often times we can get caught up in our spending by confusing our wants and needs. What we’d like to do with our money and what we need to do with our money can sometimes be put into the same category. Sure, it would be great to shop whenever there is a sale, or go out to eat with friends after a stressful week at work, but what does it really cost? Our bills continue to pile up but when we look at our income, it seems as though everything should be taken care of.

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Our budget is not just a tool to keep an eye on what we earn but also what we spend. This is where a Spending Diary can help you understand where, when, and how much you tend to spend. Having a few drinks vs. not being able to pay your mortgage seems like an obvious issue, but is it really? Since much of our shopping can be impulsive and driven by emotion, we might not pay close attention. My initial response to emotional spending or retail therapy was to simply stop doing it! I would feel like I deserved a treat with all of my hard work to earn the money. It can’t all go to bills; I have to be able to enjoy my income right? No! This must end, I thought. I have to get a hold of this spending now or else I will be in a lot of debt! I know! I’ll just stop spending out of my emotions all together – if I do not need clothes, I won’t buy any just because there is a sale. If I am hungry, I will prepare meals to take with me – no need for bars or restaurants when it is much cheaper to eat and drink at home…right?

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After about a month of not spending outside of my essentials, I became angry and felt like I was missing out on something. People were shopping sales and bragging about the nice meals they had at lunch while I stuck to my brown bag all month. Sure I was saving money but at what cost? This is why I determined that my budget was essential to my balance in finances. My budget included the essentials to my household but nothing was attributed to my ‘wants’. Although this is extremely fiscally responsible, this is not a long term solution. If you are working a full time job and only spending on basic essentials and nothing else, you miss the joy of your labor. Just like everything else in life, a balance is necessary to make sure you are being responsible but enjoying your income as well.

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Since I was in a lot of debt (student loans, car payments, credit cards, etc.) a one point, going on such an extreme change with my spending for a month was actually a good thing! I would recommend it as an exercise from time to time in order to get your finances under control. I was able to catch up on some bills and really hone in on what was becoming an addiction for me. According to my Spending Diary, I ate fast food almost every day but spent the most on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. I also saw from my notes that I would often eat out after shopping for a long period of time, even after buying groceries! With this information I was able to note my behaviors and adjust. Instead of eating out so often during the week, I would pick 1 day a week (this later became 3 times a month) to go out and invite friends and/or co-workers. That way I’d have something to look forward to and could indulge with company – making it seem longer.  As far as sales, I would maintain a list of items I needed for a couple weeks in anticipation of a sale (there’s always a sale) and then go shopping for everything on the list.

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You can do similar activities in order to get yourself in financial shape! I urge Moms to be on the look out for their household behaviors and adjust as needed, a little tweaking could go a long way! You may be able to set an allowance for weekly or monthly spending. You may see an area where you’d like to invest into a way bring more money into the home just for retail therapy so you don’t touch household expenses. Maybe you have a business and are spending too much out of your own pocket to keep it running – have you sought out business financing? How did your Spending Diary help you adjust your budget for the better? I’d love your comments and feedback!

Liked what you read? Feel free to retweet and share~

ladiSims1

ladiSims is a Workforce Consultant with 6+ years of extensive experience in social services, workforce development, small business development, recruiting and case management. She serves 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. ladiSims also shares resources, teaches Employment Readiness, and provides solutions for small businesses in her community. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, ladiSims has a passion for helping people progress towards their career, family, and entrepreneurial goals – she is also 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. Her ‘why’ includes her daughter Charlotte, 2 moms, 2 dads, numerous siblings, faith in Christ, and the youth of ChiCity. 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. ladiSims uses her ability to create and maintain strategic partnerships to influence both rural and urban communities. Find ladiSims on Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope for more of her shenanigans!

What’s in YOUR wallet: The Bare Basics to Budgeting

A budget is basically a plan for your income. It can be used as a guide for how and when to save and spend money. When starting an effective household budget, a complete list of all income and expenses are required. Income from 1st, 2nd, and all side jobs/hustles are required. Don’t get paid consistently? Pick the smallest amount you’ve made within 1 month’s time. Total up your Net Income (this would be after taxes – no need to include gross since taxes are typically taken out automatically.)

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Your expenses need to also be laid out in front of you…in writing! Hopefully this is also shared with your family members so nothing is left in the dark and a sense of trust can be established and maintained. Your expenses should include EVERYTHING you knowingly spend money on throughout the year – this could be weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even every 6 months. The anticipated expenses should be planned in order to maintain control over your finances.

Your complete list of expenses can include anything you pay into. Savings, tithe, mortgage, insurance, child care, clothing, food, and cable are just a few examples of typical expenses. If you have miscellaneous items you pay into, include an ‘other’ section for the average amount for the timeline structure. Do not be afraid to add everything as this will help you focus on what you need and things you just want to have. Writing out your budget can be an eye-opening experience and should be used as a guide as you may have to revise it a few times.

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After your initial information has been written, do the math! Ahhh…doesn’t everyone just love math? Your total expenses for the month can be subtracted from the income in order to determine how much you have left over for a ‘Spending Allowance’. To determine the daily amount you need to earn in order to cover expenses, simply add up your monthly expenses and divide by 30 (average amount of days within the month). For the specific amount of salary you may require to cover expenses, add up your monthly expenses and multiply by 12 (total months within a year). For your records, you can even divide the yearly expenses by 52 (number of weeks in a year) in order to determine how much you need to earn per week (or divide the yearly expenses by 26 like I do for how much you need to earn bi-weekly).

Why all the math?

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I like to emphasize specific budgeting practices to my job seekers and entrepreneurial clients in order to make it clear to them how much they will need to earn in order to know, what I like to call, their “bottom number.”

I refer to a “bottom number” as the amount individuals need in order to maintain their lifestyle. This number can be used to concisely and confidently negotiate salaries, raises, or personal goals within their careers. Our “bottom number” helps us to know without a doubt how much we can financially survive on and even compare it to how much we’d like to earn – leading to our desired lifestyle.

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Coming from a limited income background, I often used my budget to manage my expenses as well as to create what I desired. I would create my actual budget and then an alternative one that would include family vacations, seasonal shopping sprees, upgraded car payments, and additional childcare costs (I used to want a large family!). You can do this as well! It’s a great exercise for imagining the possibilities and envisioning your desires that some say, will ultimately appear if your focus is consistent. We’ll see! Stay tuned and one day very soon I hope to share my success story with you once I reach my goal of becoming debt free!

Feel free to retweet, comment, and share!

~be blessed,

ladiSims

Birthday Traditions

So, Super F recently turned 7! When he was first born, everyone told me how fast the time would go, that I’d blink and he would be all grown up. At the time, changing diapers, round the clock feedings, and typical parental exhaustion seemed never ending and I often thought those people were crazy. The days seemed like they dragged on and I couldn’t wait for Super F to reach each new milestone. I’m here to tell you, they were right!

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Anyway, I wanted to share our birthday tradition with you. I always take his birthday off work to spend with him and my husband. It’s a family day and we start out by going out to breakfast, followed by a trip to Toys R Us so Super F can get his birthday crown and balloon! He gets to pick out a new toy and then we head home so he can play. I’m sure this tradition will come to an end at some point – he’s not going to want to shop at Toys R Us forever!

Do you have any birthday traditions in your family? How do you celebrate your child’s special day?

Briana

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C.R.E.A.M.: Envelope Budgeting Strategy

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Today’s topic is a little more specific to budgeting strategies. Now I know for some of us Moms, we have a knack for paying for everything electronically, automatically through some type of auto-pay arrangement (some companies let you save money with this option, especially cable TV!), or online banking. For other Moms, electronic budgeting is much too confusing and doesn’t feel concrete or secure. For the Moms who budget with cash, you’re in luck! There is a system for you too! This post is for you~

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Although I love the convenience of the debit card, I needed to slow down on my retail therapy. For those of you who know me well, you know I like to ‘trick’ my mind into being better – it’s an easier transition than scolding myself for making poor decisions. In order to ‘trick’ myself into slowing down on my spending, I would withdraw cash for my spending. That would mean that anything I swiped my debit card for would be used for bills only. The money I set aside for my spending that month would be in my wallet. This practice made me see exactly how much I was spending on items and how fast money could go when purchasing impulsively. I quickly changed my habits! The concept of Envelope Budgeting is very similar in that you take out cash (or checks I guess) in order to organize your bills, labeling each envelope with the item assigned to the amount within them.

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The envelopes can be placed strategically through your house for easy access and can be a source for getting the entire household involved. This keeps everyone in the know regarding what is due and where all of our money is going. It can also be a great intro to budgeting for the little ones – they will eventually need to know the cost of everything they indulge in. The idea is not to keep your budget to yourself – in your own head. Sometimes, we compromise on our spending much easier in our thoughts than with the dollars we hold in our hand. This strategy can help with bringing to reality the cost of your lifestyle and you can more readily decide what you can live without. Maybe you end up deciding your lifestyle is a bit costly which could lead to pursuit of a different position, home, car, career, or just adding an income that you thought you didn’t need.

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There are many ways to get your budget to work for you and your situation. No matter how much you bring into your home, getting organized can help you to manage your finances and become an excellent steward of your wealth – yes I said wealth! We all have wealth and riches running through our fingers, how we choose to use it is totally up to us.

~ladiSims

ladiSims1

ladiSims is a Workforce Consultant with 6+ years of extensive experience in social services, workforce development, small business development, recruiting and case management. She serves 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. ladiSims also shares resources, teaches Employment Readiness, and provides solutions for small businesses in her community. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, ladiSims has a passion for helping people progress towards their career, family, and entrepreneurial goals – she is also 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. Her ‘why’ includes her daughter Charlotte, 2 moms, 2 dads, numerous siblings, faith in Christ, and the youth of ChiCity. 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. ladiSims uses her ability to create and maintain strategic partnerships to influence both rural and urban communities. Find ladiSims on Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope for more of her shenanigans!

 

Marble Jar Miracle!

I wrote before about my attempt at a reward chart for Super F and how it caused things to get worse rather than better, so we stopped using the chart. I had been looking for other ways to get him to take responsibility for himself, his behavior, and his things, and to encourage him to “go above and beyond” with what he does to help around the house.

The new idea came to me thanks to the former nanny and mom of a boy in Super F’s swim class. She said she had spent 15 years as a nanny, and in those years she learned that there is no single approach that works with all kids, and to just keep trying different things until I find what works with Super F. She suggested a marble jar, so I went home and googled the marble jar system, made sure Dean was on board with trying it out (because you have to have a united front on these things), and purchased this one from Amazon.

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We started it the day it arrived and explained to Super F that good behavior would help him earn marbles, but that not following directions would cause him to lose marbles. The most important part of this system is letting him put in and take out the marbles himself. We have been using the system for nearly three weeks now, and he is getting close to filling the jar for his first reward.

What I like about this system is that he is seeing tangible progress towards his reward as he watches the jar fill up. He is also involved in the system by putting in and taking out marbles so he instantly sees how his behavior impacts his goal in filling the jar. Also, it is easy to remind him to think about the marbles when he is struggling with making good choices. It’s also very easy to customize this system depending on the type of behaviors you want to see in your child. Whether you are potty training and your child gets a marble each time they make it to the potty, or trying to get your teenager to stop leaving dirty clothes on the floor by giving them a marble each day that they put it in the hamper, it’s easy to make it work for all ages.

Briana

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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

My Spidey Senses are Tingling

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We have often heard it said that it would be nice if motherhood came with a manual.  Maybe you hvae uttered this comment yourself at times.  And while there are thousands (probably more like tens of thousands) of books that attempt to teach us how to raise our children, I still struggle from time to time.  So, I am forced to rely on my gut (or Spidey senses) much of the time.

Today’s post is inspired by Junior, who struck this pose as we were outside for a break when the kids got home from school.

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A mother’s Spidey senses come in many forms.  Sometimes its a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach or sometimes its a thought that won’t leave your mind.  But, whatever form it takes, it is often a sign or signal that should not be ignored. 

For example, our boys play outside in the backyard often.  Sometimes my husband and I sit out there with them, but most of the time we let them play independently.  But, we (I) always look out the window to check on them.  Every now and then my Spidey senses kick in urging me to go check on them…even if I just did.  And what do I find?  Sometimes a slightly injured child or sometimes, dueling brothers and other times, my checking is uneventful.  Nonetheless, I am always glad I surrendered to my Spidey senses.

How often have your Spidey senses saved the day? 

Until next time-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

God’s best-

Alexis

Raise the Child You Have…

I learned this lesson the hard way. Super F loved playing ball with us at home in the backyard, or at the park, so the logical step was to sign him up for T-Ball, right? Wrong. He loves playing at SBC_pw-sl-tbhome, but put him on a field with 12 other 5/6 year olds? He didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped he would. I figured it was a right of passage for little boys to play T-ball, as all the boys in my extended family played, and so did my husband when he was little. So, even though he hadn’t expressed much interest in playing on a team, I signed him up anyway. The end result was that he played on the team, but he didn’t enjoy it, or fall in love with the game. T-ball just isn’t for him.

So, now I’m working on raising the child I have, not the one I thought I had. I am going to try harder to listen to him and what he wants to do, and not pressure him into an activity he isn’t interested in. We will keep up with the monthly drawing classes at the library that he LOVES and the weekly swimming lessons, where he is flourishing. We found an acting workshop he is excited to try out, and if he wants to pick up another sport, that will be fine with me, and if not, that will also be fine. The goal is to let him experience different things and find what he loves to do. T-Ball isn’t it. Lesson learned.

Briana

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Does Work-Life Balance Really Exist?

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I just read an inspiring article on LinkedIn about Merideth Gilmor and “her idea of integrating her work into her life–not balancing, not making her life work with her career”.

It begs the question: Should we demand more family-friendly policies in the workplace or just create our own workplace?

Read the article here and weigh in with your thoughts.  We love to hear from you!

Until next time-

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
(Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

God’s best-

Alexis

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