All Articles Tagged "Personal Finance"

5 Ways To Deal With Stress When Shopping & Eating No Longer Work

April 20th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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One of the great things about working as a personal finance coach is that I get to help women enjoy breakthroughs as it relates to their relationship with money.  Recently, I was working with Susan, a client who was accustomed to relieving stress through shopping and eating.

She recently had a breakdown and resorted to buying herself something or treating herself to something sugary to eat, but realized after all of our work together, that these strategies no longer served her.

She was torn. On the one hand, she was proud that she no longer looked to food or shopping to regulate her mood. At the same time, though, Susan felt out of control because she hadn’t identified alternative ways to deal with her stress.

After a brainstorming session, here are four strategies we came up with that she found helpful for managing stress:

Weekend blackouts: Susan turned off her cellphone 5pm on Friday and wouldn’t turn it back on until Monday morning. She said the most important people in her life had her landline number so they could be touch in case of an emergency.

Cleaning: When Susan was stressed, she had little or no motivation to clean. The irony is that the messy house made her feel even more stressed. To beautify her environment without overwhelming her, she decided to tackle one room at a time and for a certain amount of time. For example, she set a goal to clean her kitchen for thirty minutes. Once the 30 minutes were done, she would stop and leave the rest of the cleaning for the next day.

Preplanning how she wanted to feel ahead of time: Susan had three jobs so she was always running. One of the ways that she focused herself was to be intentional about taking time to think positively between transitions. For example, in the morning, before she got out of her car and entered the office, she would say an affirmation of her choice. At the end of lunch hour, she would center herself before she returned to work. Between her first and second and third jobs,  she would take a moment. Pressing pause and setting intentions throughout the day helped her feel lighter.

Clearing her evening schedule. For some reason, Susan always felt the need to have something to do even after working three jobs every day. But this sense of “busyness” was starting to make her feel like her time was not her own. The irony was that she created this schedule. So, we talked about clearing her schedule, especially the hour right after she came home from work. No calls. No errands. No nothing. Just sitting and regrouping.

Going to bed at a set time: Susan is a perfectionist and has a “no excuses” mentality, which often has her taking colleagues’ work home to do to ensure that team deadlines are met. We discussed how destructive this was for her morale and her self-care. We established at bottom line when it came to her night schedule: lights out at 10pm for Susan.

After implementing these strategies, Susan feels better about her ability to manage her time and by extension, her life and her happiness.


Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.


Does Your Man Have A “Lotto Mentality” When It Comes To Money?

April 17th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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First of all, who does not want to win the lotto? I know that there are very few, if any that would say that they don’t want a bucket load of money to drop into their laps without having earned it.

The difference between those of us who occasionally play the lotto and those that consistently play it is that the former do not view playing the lotto or any other form of gambling as a sound financial strategy. The latter do.

If you are dating a guy and he shares (or you notice) that he spends a substantial amount of his money playing the lotto and all of his time thinking about how to hit it big without working, you have just been introduced to a man with a “lottery mentality.”

While there are a ton of definitions for this phrase, a basic definition is that the desire for unearned success. A man with a serious lottery mentality looks for external, quick solutions to money problems.

These type of men will hedge their bets on a possible (not probable), future, random, windfall event that has the potential to change their lives and “make them happy.” The problem is that the “jackpot” is generally out of their control and completely (or at least mostly) subject to chance.

Despite all mathematical evidence, they simply become totally obsessed with the prospect (no matter how small the chance) of winning it. Research shows that people who play the lottery were raised to believe that wealth is not within their reach of power.

Implicit in this looking for external, easy-to-make solutions to personally created money issues is that he does not have confidence in himself. He does not see himself as a solution to his problems.

The “lottery mentality” robs a person of the truth that real wealth is created through hard work, saving, planning and spending less than you earn.

If you are thinking about a long-term relationship with this guy, please consider the financial and emotional consequences of the lottery mentality in your marriage and it’s impact on your financial security.


Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.

When Faced With Tough Financial Decisions, Do You Sacrifice Your Dreams Or Your Marriage?

April 7th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Go Back To My Ex


There comes a point in every marriage when you need to ask whether your personal goals are more important than your union.

I’m thankful for my relationship with my husband and more importantly, the balance we’ve created when it comes to personal pursuits and family needs. We couldn’t be more different with our careers. He’s an engineer who has worked for the same company for the last 10 years. He enjoys the traditional 9-to-5 life with a consistent schedule and general concept of the things he needs to accomplish. I on the other hand pursued the self-employed and freelance route. While things have thankfully been steady for many years, the times when they weren’t made us buckle down and figure out a few things.

Needless to say there needs to be compromise and a general respect for each other. Too bad some friends can’t seem to find their balance. At a recent gathering at a family friend’s house, my husband’s friend and his wife spilled a little too much tea.

She revealed that she left her job as an educator in a neighboring state to marry her husband. Unfortunately she didn’t know it would require a sacrifice on her part, one totaling close to a $20,000 loss in salary. Because of this, she has pleaded for the past several years to move back to her home state so she can make more money. Her husband on the other hand feels their current residence is the best place to launch a business, which is his plan. In many ways, he’s correct; there are lots of opportunities for small businesses in Oklahoma.

Once I was able to sift through the resentment, I discovered the wife and husband just weren’t on the same page regarding their goals and financial endeavors. Needless to say their marriage is at a standstill. This impasse has caused strife, resentment and the inability to think clearly about their future. There’s so much anger between the two of them that counseling doesn’t appear to be working.

It’s really hard to hear about their problems, especially since my husband and I can understand their situation. Both are good people but must learn to sit down and try to find some sort of middle ground. While my husband’s friend works side jobs to fund his entrepreneurial endeavors, he has seen some pretty good success. Sure they aren’t rolling in the dough, but things appear to be working. In addition to building up a nice clientele, he’s making progress he wants to see. Unfortunately that means he wants to stay in an area that doesn’t pay teachers very well.

Does this mean his wife must sacrifice her career so he can have one of his own?

As someone who takes the non-traditional career approach, the endless possibilities of success can blindside you from reality in some way. Not everyone wants to follow the same path and that’s okay.

While I do pretty well for myself, my husband is still the main breadwinner. But I don’t think that means he automatically gets to call the shots. Does money determine direction, or equal power in a relationship?

Hopefully they can come to a compromise. Perhaps he can research markets for his business outside of the area and try to establish a new location that would also benefit his wife?

Who knows.

How Far Are You Willing To Go To Ensure Your Family Is Financially Stable?

April 6th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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I typically don’t cry when I watch an episode of The Real because, well, it’s The Real. But this revelation really spoke to my heart. Co-host Jeannie Mai shared a touching story about her upbringing and fear of not being able to provide for her family.

Her parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in hopes of providing better opportunities for their children. With limited funds, her father took a meeting at Jeannie’s school in order to land a janitorial position. The only catch is he wanted to work at night so his children wouldn’t see him. Throughout the week he would treat his family to takeout and would watch them eat. Whenever Jeannie asked him why he wasn’t hungry, he simply answered because he already ate. One night, she found him digging in the trash eating their family’s scraps. Telling this story brought tears to her co-host’s eyes, and mine.

Talk about sacrifice.

There’s something about becoming a mother that has opened my eyes even more to my limits and how far I would go to provide for my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but he can take care of himself at the end of the day. I’m so thankful we’re financially stable but know–without a doubt–he would take any and every job he could to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. His parents did the same for he and his sisters in Panama, lighting the path for them to attend college and pursue their dreams. Heck my own father worked overtime as a police officer to make sure he could help pay for my higher education. Because of his line of work, I never saw him all the time, but knew he was out risking his life to make sure I had a better one.

As much as I’d like to think folks would do what’s necessary to provide for their family, I honestly don’t see it as a reality many could handle. If it came down to you having to work a blue-collar job you thought was “beneath you” to pay your bills, would you do it? Could you set your pride aside to ensure your household wouldn’t have a care you couldn’t provide for? The recession really opened my eyes to the reality of people’s financial situations and who was willing to do what it takes to keep their family afloat. I knew some people who would work nights and part-time at CVS  or Burger King while others would turn their noses to such a thought because it didn’t utilize their master’s degree. Rather than work an “in the meantime and between time” hustle until they landed a better job, they would kick back until their next interview and collect their unemployment check.

And what about the other end of the spectrum, that is, those who bend over backwards all the time for their family? Is there such a thing as doing too much? While I agree with Jeannie Mai about wanting to provide for my family, I also need to keep it “real” with myself when it comes to who and how. Unfortunately, not everyone in my immediate clan is financially savvy . They would definitely misuse any funds I provide, or make excuses as to why they no longer need to work. One close family member in particular has borrowed money from me here and there since I was 18 years old… and never paid back a cent. I had to learn to love without attaching my wallet because my “bailouts” seemed to create more financial trouble and never taught them to do things on their own.

It’s important to set some realistic guidelines when it comes to providing for your family and just how far you’d go. You have to ask yourself if the sacrifices you’re making to bring in money helps or hinders their general well-being. If someone is bad with money, should you look for financial alternatives, like an IRA that will provide for them down the road? Cut them off entirely?

What would you do?

Are You Just Hard-Headed? Money Advice You’ve Heard But Don’t Follow

April 1st, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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There comes point in your life when you need to stop and give all the advice you’ve heard some real thought. While you might think you know the ins and outs of being money savvy, few people put recommendations into action. That leads to more poor decisions and debt. Here’s a look at money advice you’ve probably heard but might not have followed.

Should Married Women Have A Separate “In Case Of Divorce” Emergency Fund?

March 31st, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Call me an optimist or a believer in happy endings, but I truly pray my marriage can stand the test of time. As much as I love my husband and our union, I’m well aware of the divorce rate in this country and how quick folks are to call it quits. Marriage isn’t for everyone and takes hard work. You need to hold each other down during the happy and the difficult times.

Does this mean I need an emergency fund in case things don’t work out?

I never really thought about one until a (single) friend of mine asked if I had one. Now I consider myself a pretty savvy person when it comes to personal finances, but had no idea about this concept. Sure most of us heard about prenups and having your own retirement accounts, but a fund in case your marriage ends in a divorce?

As horrible as it might sound, it kinda makes sense.

While I’m only three years into my marriage (I’ve been with my guy for a total of seven years), I have heard horror stories about some marriages. How many of us have heard about a wife being shut out of money from the very man who talked her into staying at home? Or what about women who were clueless their husbands had double lives? This stuff isn’t just for television.

Even though I enjoy “traditional roles” in my marriage, I also have independence when it comes to my husband and our finances. Yes I do stay at home but I also collect checks through freelancing and my own personal business ventures. There’s something about relying on a single person for everything that just doesn’t work in my book. Plus, we’re able to save for our children’s college, a house and other endeavors with two incomes. Having my own pot of coins helps to make certain wants a reality, even if my husband is still the main breadwinner.

In fact, I’m the main one between my husband and I who always has their head inside a financial magazine or looking for ways to invest our money. While I am thankful we have a pretty good portfolio that’s growing, I’ve always considered creating an additional account for myself. My husband and I have a joint checking account and savings for emergencies. I also have a separate checking account since I’m a gal on the go, but perhaps I need a separate savings too? It has been on my mind considering I tend to have the flexibility in my finances to try different investments.

I just hate the idea of having it in case I get divorced.

Maybe I’ll call it the “Tanvier fund” or something. As much as I hate the “D” word, I also can’t be oblivious to the idea. After all, who enters a marriage thinking, “Hey, I’d like to get divorced in a few years?” As a wife and mother, it’s very easy to fall into the role of caregiver as you’re always working to take care of your household. Having a separate account or emergency fund is a great idea that empowers you to invest in yourself.

There are dreams I have that are separate from my family and will require an investment. Building up a fund for myself–that’s not associated with retirement–sounds like a smart money plan. And God forbid something happens to my relationship, I have coins in the bank to take care of myself.

Headed In The Right Direction: Signs You’re Making Progress With Your Finances

March 31st, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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It feels really good to have a plan, work hard to accomplish it and see amazing results. Even if you haven’t made it to the finish line, you can–and should–be happy about the progress you’re making. Here are some signs you’re headed down a healthy financial path. It’s okay if you stumbled as there’s always room for improvement.

5 Signs That Your Miserly Relationship With Money Has Improved

March 26th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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A lot of personal finance advice goes to overspenders, ballers, and people living way beyond their means. It’s important to know, though, that people that always save and never spend also have a toxic relationship with money. Super duper compulsive savers or misers tend to think that they are one biscuit away from being broke. As a result, they become stingy, chintzy, and often times predatory when it comes to keeping the bulk sum of any money that comes their way.

You may have these types of people in your life. Heck, you might be one. Even if it’s baby steps, misers can show promise of a healthier, less obsessive relationship with money. Here are five signs things are changing for your favorite cheapskate.

They reward themselves for an accomplishment or a major milestone. Misers tend to want to skimp on everything– including celebration. But if a miser is pulling out their wallet to reward themselves for a promotion, weight loss, a completed personal project, even in the most modest of ways (i.e. massage, dinner, a new dress), then that is sign that they see that money can be used to bring pleasure or buy experiences.

Leave better tips When it comes to misers and money, they can be very selfish and refuse to tip or woefully undertip great customer service as a principle. When misers see that giving a few extra shillings won’t kill their account and possibly improve the quality of life for a hard worker, they have started to change their thinking about money– instead of focusing on what money can do for them alone, they are beginning to realize that money can be used to help and reward others.

Buy for quality and not price. For an old-school miser, the cheaper the better no matter the item and no matter their personal preference. But when misers start thinking more rationally about money, they begin to see that the cost of the combined life cycles of several cheap items is actually more expensive than the purchase of one high-quality items. This goes for handbags, shoes, luggage, clothes, and in some cases, cars.

Don’t rationalize why they can do without a necessity. If it’s time to replenish the bathroom cabinet with essentials like toothpaste, deodorant, or hair products, they are not trying to find an excuse as to why they don’t need these items. “Well, smelling natural is what Mother Nature intended,” or “Rinsing with mouthwash is just as effective as brushing.” One of the biggest hurdles that I have noticed about misers is their underestimation and attention to self-care. When they start handling their self-care routines with a hitch, it’s a positive sign of growth and financial maturity.

Paying bills doesn’t cause anxiety and resentment. Most people get anxious around bill paying time because they actually don’t have the money to pay what’s due. But misers get upset about having to repay anything because they just don’t want to, despite having more than enough to repay. When misers feel less stressed about bills, they are losing some of their miser mindset.


Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.

If Creating A Million Dollar 401k Is So Realistic, Wouldn’t More Of Us Be Rich?

March 25th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Does anyone else feel like there’s been a flood of “become a millionaire” articles from finance-related outlets? I can’t seem to scroll through my Facebook page without reading about how us millennials can become millionaires by investing in our 401k. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome concept, and a wonderful mindset to have. But exactly how realistic is it for today’s professional?

While I’m certainly am no financial expert or guru, I do my best to stay abreast of recommendations and save what I can. Working for myself, I have my own individual 401k that allows me to choose my own investment platforms, which can be a daunting but rewarding task. Given there’s no company match (it’s just me, myself and I), I invest at least 10 percent of my monthly income in my growing nest egg. My husband, who also works from home, has been with his company for a decade and invests a similar amount with his company, matching seven percent. He’s also enrolled in the pension they no longer offer to newer employees.

We don’t consider ourselves “rolling in the dough” but think we do okay with what we have. We pay down our debts as much as possible in efforts not to owe anyone, are saving for our children’s educational future through 529 college saving plans and continue to build up our savings, which includes purchasing a home in the next couple of years.

No matter how much we try to do, I’m not entirely sure we’ll hit the million dollar mark–at least not with our 401k alone.

I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer (I’m a pretty hopeful person), but can’t imagine growing a million dollar portfolio is that easy. There’s just too many variables: high student loans, unequal pay, company layoffs and non-existent raises that seem to make it really hard for the average person to put away a big chunk of their income for retirement, just to name a few.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some of us who would rather spend what little riches they have on frivolous things instead of thinking about their financial future. I know quite a few professionals who talk about what they don’t have, but drive fancy cars and wear designer clothing. News flash! You aren’t going to reach any goal by putting away two percent of your income each month–at least not one where you don’t have to work during your golden years. Sometimes we need to make a few sacrifices right now in order to enjoy a better life down the road.

One thing that’s pretty clear throughout many of these articles is the importance of starting early. In fact, most examples use young professionals in their 20s to help steer their point. While the laws of compounding interest are true, what happens to those millennials in their 30s who–for whatever reason–didn’t start saving in their early years? Obviously certain invest recommendations wouldn’t apply as they would need to play catch with their contributions.

While I’m not exactly sold on the numbers, I am hopeful my family and I are headed in the right direction. One can only hope it pays off!

What are you doing to save for your financial future? Here are some tips to help you on your journey.

I’m Ready to Be More Financially Savvy? How to Start Investing

401k Financial Moves to Make in Your 30’s

10 Important Financial Goals to Have on Your Bucket List

10 Wrong Ways to Pay Off Your Debt

Take Your Money to the Next Level: How to Build a Financial Portfolio

Creating a Financial Plan of Action for a Baby on the Way

March 20th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Welcome to our Mommy Mogul column where we cover issues of importance for moms who are launching a new business, working a side gig, or managing work life and home life. Is there a topic you’d like us to address? Send your thoughts to And, as always, take to the comments with your feedback.

Pregnant woman at the computer


Are you expecting a little bundle of joy? Congrats! I’m due to pop myself in a couple months and never feel like there’s enough time to get everything I want in place. Then again, when can you ever plan to perfection? It’s just not realistic.

As this is my second time with baby (I have a 14 month old), there’s one thing I learned on my journey to mommyhood and that’s the importance of having a financial plan. Now you probably heard of a birth plan, which honestly goes out the window when you’re in labor. Seriously, who has time to check all their demands off a sheet when you’re battling through contractions? A financial plan can be a budget or new money saving model for your household that incorporates your new child. It’s really easy for expecting moms to assume they have everything they need (e.g. diapers and onesies), but the truth is, your finances are going to change… drastically.

My husband and I had to include diapers into our monthly budget as babies (and toddlers) go through them like water. Luckily we were able to save on food for a while considering I breastfed, but once the child heads to solids, you need money for frequent trips to the store.

Do you see where this is going?

Having a financial plan really came in handy considering I don’t always have a set salary. Sometimes when you work for yourself, you have months of plenty and others where you get enough to cover your costs that allow a wee extra. It’s good to have a set idea of what you need to buy along with a “just in case” fund for those miscellaneous and unexpected items.

Are you ready to start thinking about your financial plan? Here are some questions and tips to consider.

  • Adjust your spending budget. Speak with other mommies for a general idea about baby-related expenses that include diapers, formula and baby food.
  • Research childcare. Who’s going to take care of your baby once your maternity leave is over? Childcare costs are very real and very expensive. Start researching providers now.
  • Will there be any additional medical premiums?
  • Take a look at your healthcare. Is it adequate for you and more importantly, your growing family?
  • Get his/her Social Security card as soon as possible. Once your child comes to this side, it’s important to file for their Social Security card sooner rather than later. You’re going to need this to claim them as a dependent on your taxes and other important forms.
  • Start thinking about college. Contrary to popular opinion, the sooner you start saving for your child’s education, the more you’ll have to give down the road. Start looking at 529 college savings plans and other resources that can help your money grow throughout the years. Even if you can only put away $40 or $50 each month, that money will surely add up over time.