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FIscal Femme Fridays – May 22nd Edition

The New & Improved Fiscal Femme_04.11.15

Happy Fiscal Femme Friday! We are out to demystify the world of money and personal finance for YOU. Please share, pin, tweet, etc. whatever moves you so that we can inspire and support a new conversation and language around money together. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

5-MINUTE FINANCIAL BLISS TIP: I’m a big believer of having a monthly money practice. Just a scheduled time each month where you take a look at your money life to see where you stand and what, if anything you want to adjust for next month. While your monthly practice can grow and change to fit what works best for you, I have something that you can try that will only take 5 minutes. Print out your most recent credit card or debit card statement (whichever you do most of your spending on) and look through each item. First, it’s great to check the statement for errors or reminders of charges you meant to cancel or negotiate away. Second, you can see how each expense sits with you. Which make your stomach turn? Which make you feel happy and abundant? Which do you regret? Which were worth it? You can mark different categories with different colors. Take 5 minutes today to print out your most recent credit card statement and go through it line by line. You will be surprised by what you uncover! 

FABULOUSLY FRUGAL:  I’m always looking for more ways to increase my lifestyle or fabulous-ness for the same or less cost. Almost a year ago, I discovered a company that helps me do that by offering private in-home dining with great chefs for less than it would cost me to go out to eat in New York City. The chef brings the ingredients, cooks the food and cleans up. The best part is that when you eat at home, you get to enjoy nicer wine for less. It’s fabulously frugal x 2. Kitchensurfing had a huge part in making my bachelorette fabulously frugal. We were able to have the entire weekend catered for less than $85 / person and the food was phenomenal. Not too shabby!

Fiscal Femme Friday_Kitchensurfing_Fabulously Frugal

LESSON LEARNED: With the sad news that B.B. King, the king of blues, passed away I was reminded of a pretty epic story where my Dad taught me a hugely important life lesson. Way back when, my Dad took me on a trip to look at colleges. When we were driving from school to school, a B.B. King song came on the radio and they announced he was performing at a sold out concert that night in Richmond which happened to be our next stop. My Dad said, “do you know who B.B. King is? He’s a legend. The king of blues. We have to go to that concert.” I honestly had no idea who he was but I got excited because my Dad was so excited! When we got to our hotel, the Jefferson, there was B.B. King’s giant tour bus. He was staying our hotel! My Dad asked the receptionist about tickets and she pointed us to a man who was walking through the lobby, which turned out to be B.B.’s manager. He said there were no tickets left, that the show was completely sold out and then scurried away in a hurry.

Later that night, we were sitting in the beautiful hotel bar (I was drinking a soda of course!) and B.B.s manager walked past us to head out of the hotel. My Dad looked up, waved and looked back to me. Then something incredible happened…. The manager walked over and said, “there will be tickets waiting for you at will call.” What?! My Dad didn’t want to get my hopes up too much so he warned that it might not be real and who knows, maybe the man wasn’t even B.B.’s manager. When we got to will call at the theater, the woman at the counter shuffled around a bit and then pull out a white envelope. In it were two tickets for seats front and center and also backstage passes to meet B.B. King. After the incredible show, where B.B. had people dancing and screaming in the aisles, my Dad and I were of the lucky few who got to go hang out with B.B. in his tour bus. I got to hold Lucille, his guitar, sat by his side and we chatted about life.

What I learned from my Dad on that trip has been one of the most valuable lessons of my life. Always ask. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe they’ll say no. So what? More often than you may think, you’ll get a big huge YES and will find yourself sitting on a tour bus next to the king of blues himself.

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MONEY INSPIRATION: This week I’m excited to share a very inspirational savvy spender with you. She teaches how to pay ourselves first, shares some fabulous travel tips and is an incredible example of how prioritizing our spending works to maximize our happiness and reach our goals. I hope you learn as much from her as I did! Here’s our interview.

Savvy Spender Profile #41_Fiscal Femme Fridays_Knowing Your Worth_05.21.15

Overall spending motto: I try to be balanced in everything I do. So, I spend, but not frivolously, and save, but not obsessively. Extremes have no place in my life. I also believe in the power of small rewards, and have built in ways to reward myself in life by staying in budget.

Frugal joys: Finding less expensive ways to live my existing life make me very happy. For example, I’m very social and used to meet up for drinks with friends nearly every night of the week, unless I was working late. A few months ago, instead of going out for drinks on a Friday night, a few friends and I decided to go to my house instead. Now, a small group of friends comes over to my place every Friday – we enjoy a few bottles of wine that are nicer and less expensive than what we’d have at a bar and decompress in a more relaxed environment. I owe my sanity to those Friday evenings. I also really like cooking – I find it relaxing. So I cook for myself often instead of eating out and ordering in.

 

Dining / groceries: Monthly spend, approximately $500. I cook a lot and I buy my groceries from Whole Foods, Fresh Direct and the local farmer’s market not too far away when I get a chance. I find that buying local and in-season helps me stay in budget and, if I do, I treat myself to cheese and a bottle of wine.

Drinks: Monthly spend, included in dining. If I’m drinking, I’m likely also eating. When I lived in Switzerland, I drank wine instead of ordering cocktails. I enjoyed the taste more, thought it was healthier and saved money because wine was a fraction of the price of cocktails. I’m not sure that I save money in New York drinking wine instead of cocktails

Beauty: Monthly spend, approximately $300. My biggest beauty extravagance is a $99 biweekly blow out at John Barrett Salon. Otherwise, I keep beauty spending to a minimum. I’ve recently become very cautious about spending money on beauty products because I seem to throw out a box-full of expired beauty products every time I move. Now, I go to the dermatologist for facials, buy my face products at my dermatologist and use coconut oil for just about everything.

Shopping: Monthly spend, unknown. I feel as though I’m constantly (window) shopping – I suppose that’s the gift and curse of living in New York. Years ago, I was very worried that I was a spendthrift and would spend all of the money I’ve ever earned on a collection of clothing and have no savings for retirement. I try to be thoughtful when I shop instead of restricting myself too much. I implemented a 24-hour rule on expensive items and edit my closet, either giving away or selling clothing (via Material Wrld or ebay) I no longer want. Recently, I’ve started purchasing art. I work with my sister, an art dealer, to research and get the best prices on good investment pieces and, per her advice, I only buy things I absolutely love. It can be expensive but it makes me happy.

Gym: Monthly spend approximately $100. I used to have an Equinox membership but forced myself to cancel it when I didn’t go for two weeks in a row. Instead, I use the gym in my apartment building, go to a local yoga/pilates studio for classes and I treat myself by taking evening dance classes at Alvin Ailey.

Transit: Monthly spend approximately $250. I have an unlimited monthly metro card that I pay for pre-tax through my firm. When it comes to cabs, I try to take them only late at night and never to/from work. It’s harder in the winter. I luckily have an amazing family that lives close by so I often get rides to/from the airport – after spending nearly $100 to get to Newark from my house (on a flight that was only $50 cheaper than a flight from JFK), I’ve been booking nearly all of my flights to leave from JFK and have asked a family member to drive me to/from the airport.

Travel: Yearly spend, unknown – maybe $10,000? Maybe more? I spend a lot of money on travel and the amount changes every year. Traveling makes me so happy – I get to see friends, make new ones, experience different cultures, marvel at things. It pulls me out of my routine, which can get very mundane to me very quickly and it keeps me sane. Also, I do some travel writing and with my best friend have a travel company called Wanderlust Simply. So, I excuse my travel spending by mentioning that I have a business interest in traveling often. There are a million ways I stay in budget when I travel and travel luxuriously for less – too many to list here. A few quick ones: (1) If I am traveling to visit friends, I stay with friends as a house guest. It allows me spend more time with them and to save on accommodations. (2) For each trip, I come up with a comprehensive budget that I discuss in advance with my travel companion in advance. It requires research but I realize once I put the work in before the trip, it is easy to stay in budget on the trip. (3) I am loyal to Delta Airlines, and my loyalty has been rewarded by first class upgrades, complimentary meals and drinks, companion tickets (two tickets for the price of one) and free flights. Within the last twelve months, I’ve flown first class to Mexico City, Colombo, Puerto Rico Los Angeles and many other domestic destinations. Yet, I haven’t paid for a first class ticket in years.

Apartment: Monthly spend approximately $200. I don’t have cable; I watch my favorite shows via HBOGo and Hulu. I monitor my electric/gas bill very closely and try to make changes so that utilities don’t get out of control. We have floor to ceiling length windows in our living room and don’t use curtains, so heating and cooling the apartment can get expensive.

Savings: Monthly spend, approximately $5500. My saving motto is to “pay myself first,” so I contribute to my 401k pre-tax and the amount I want to save monthly is deposited directly into my money market account.  I learned early on that was the only way for me to save money. It’s somehow impossible for me to transfer money from my checking to my savings accounts, and if it’s in my checking account, I will spend it.

Debt: Monthly spend, approximately $1500. I’m paying off my law school loans on an expedited schedule. For the last few years, I’ve used my tax refund to pay off my loans. It helped me pay down some of the principle and now I’m seeing significant progress towards repayment. My goal is to have them paid off within six years.

DON’T MISS: On Tuesday June 2nd, the Young Professionals Committee of Ellevate will be hosting ‘Money Demystified: Personal finance made clear, simple and relevant.  I’ll be taking everyone through an interactive workshop that gets to the bottom of what you need to know to create a spending plan that works with your lifestyle, doesn’t feel restricting and puts you on track to achieve your most coveted goals. Join us at the beautiful District Cowork for this special event. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served.

Don’t forget join the #frugaljoy campaign where we’re celebrating the things that make you really happy that are free or inexpensive. Just post your photos and videos with the tag #frugaljoy and check out what others are posting. Here’s a #frugaljoy from last week’s money inspiration, Lauren Cecchi:

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6 Steps: Part 5

We are putting together a plan to pay down debt & student loans and it feels oh so good! We’ve found compassion for our current situation in part 1, taken inventory of all of our debts in part 2, chosen a priority to pay down our debt in part 3 and put specific numbers to our plan in part 4. Now it’s time to test the plan and adjust as needed.

Every plan will need a bit of testing and adjusting. Maybe after living with your plan for a bit you find out that your interest rate was slightly different than you listed or maybe the number you assigned to pay down your debt was a bit too high and you felt it to be too constricting of you spending. Maybe you noticed that with a specific plan in mind, you found more ways to put extra money towards your debt. Great! It can be really motivating to have plan so you may end up finding ways to pay down your debt faster. Whatever you observe or find as you live your new plan, take note of it and adjust.

Take a look at your plan and the inventory chart you laid out and adjust it anywhere that you see fit.  Double check the inventory information, your priority list, and the amount you want to put toward your debt. This is just the first check-in and adjustment of many. Feel free to do this along the way as things change.

The final step to paying down debt and student loans is coming next week!

Pay Down Loans and Debt_Step 5_Knowing Your Worth_Money Coach_the Fiscal Femme

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6 Steps: Part 4

We are creating a plan to pay down debt and student loans and we are more than halfway through the process! We’ve rid ourselves of the shame that can come along with debt in part 1, taken inventory of all of our debt in part 2 and chosen an order or priority list for paying down that debt in part 3. At this point we have a great framework or outline for how we are going to pay down our debt but now we get to assign specific numbers to our plan.

First, we have to figure out how much money in total we want to be putting towards our debt. This step is a piece of cake if you have a happiness allocation. Basically, your total inflows (income) minus your total outflows (expenses) equal the amount you have available to allocate to your goals. One of your goals is to pay off your debt, another might be to save for a vacation, another may be to put money aside for retirement or a home, etc. Based on this equation, which I call the golden rule of personal finance, you will decide on a number that you plan to put toward paying down your debt.

This number can change as you find ways to put more money toward your goals or get a raise. It’s not set in stone and I urge you to adjust it as you gather more information. With this number, you will first pay the minimum or required payments on all loans and debt. Once you the pay requirements, the remainder will go to the piece of debt you listed as your number one priority in part 3. If you are unable to pay the minimum or required payments on all debts, you’ll want to get creative with your lifestyle and find room in your happiness allocation to meet this goal.

Once your first priority debt is paid off, you’ll pay the minimum or required payments on all remaining debts and then will put any remaining money toward priority #2. Let’s go through a concrete example.

Debt Inventory and Priority_Step 3_Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in 6 Steps_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

If I have $1,000 each month to put toward my debt in the above example, I’d first distribute money to my monthly payments for credit card 1 of $150 and student loan 2 of $250 which totals $400. After paying $400 toward monthly payments, I have $600 to distribute to my #1 priority debt, which is money borrowed from Sally. My new balance on money borrowed from Sally is now $400 and the credit card and student loan will have different balances after the monthly payments as well. Next month, I’ll do the same thing and when money borrowed from Sally is paid off or at $0, I’ll start putting the remaining money after required payments to credit card 1.

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans Part 4_Money Coach_the Fiscal Femme_Knowing Your Worth

Make sense? If not, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. Otherwise, go ahead and put specific numbers to your plan for paying down your debt and student loans.

Woohoo – we’re making progress! More steps coming later this week.

Fiscal Femme Fridays – May 15th Edition

The New & Improved Fiscal Femme_04.11.15

Happy Fiscal Femme Friday! We are out to demystify the world of money and personal finance for YOU. Please share, pin, tweet, etc. whatever moves you so that we can inspire and support a new conversation and language around money. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

5-MINUTE FINANCIAL BLISS TIP: Today I challenge you to find a financial wellness accountability buddy. Not only does accountability really work, but also doing something with a friend makes it much more fun. If one of your friends is interested in improving their financial wellness, team up. You can hold accountability calls where you commit to taking certain steps each month or even each week. Even better, you can actually make progress while on the phone. For the first twenty minutes of the call you may commit to going through last month’s expenses while your friend might decide to check her annual credit report. You then hang up and call back in twenty minutes to report your progress in real time. Take 5 minutes today and find someone who can hold you accountable to the actions you want to take toward improving your financial wellness. Bonus points if you set up your first call or meeting! It saves time and makes your life easier if you can set up a standing meeting time each month (i.e. the first Friday of every month at 5 PM). If your schedules don’t permit a standing time, put a reminder in your calendar to set up your monthly call.

Fearless Friday_John Wayne_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

FRUGAL JOY: I’m very excited to announce the launch of the #frugaljoy campaign! I want to know what free or inexpensive things make you really happy. Just post your videos and pictures with the tag #frugaljoy to get the party started. Hopefully we will get lots of great ideas from one another! Search #frugaljoy on instagram or twitter to see the latest posts.

Frugal Joy Campaign

LESSON LEARNED: This week I took the advice I give about money and applied it to my time. In an Inc. article on what super successful entrepreneurs wish they knew when they were 22, Arianna Huffington says “our culture is obsessed with time. It is our personal deficit crisis. We always think we’re saving time, and yet we feel like we never have enough of it… But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep that time we ‘save.’ It’s actually a very costly way to live.” It’s so true. Our generation is always thinking about how to save time, how to do things faster and how to be more productive. We want to do more in less time and it’s actually starting to drive us nuts!

The funny part is that just like with money, we are often our own worst enemy. We aren’t on our own teams. I laughed out loud last week when I was scrambling from task to task trying to get everything done and realized that I have 100% autonomy over my schedule. This full day scramble was self-imposed! What?! Seems pretty nuts but living paycheck to paycheck with lots of money stress is often self-imposed too! The good news is that we have the power to change it.

To break this cycle, I sat down on Sunday night and brainstormed. If this is an ideal week, what will I accomplish? What will make the most impact? I then planned those tasks out in action steps in time blocks on my calendar and added in time for the gym, plenty of sleep and time with my friends and family. This is no different than prioritizing our spending. We have a certain number of hours in a day just like we have a certain amount of dollars to spend. How are we going to allocate them in the way that makes us the happiest?

Then, I did something I’ve never done before – I left room in my calendar! This week there is space to breathe, think, adjust and get gloriously “behind.” How abundant and spacious! While I’m sure the “busy” bug will sneak back in again to test me, for now, I’m breathing easy and invite you to join me!

MONEY INSPIRATION: I’m so excited to introduce you to my fab friend, savvy business woman and handbag designer, Lauren Cecchi. Lauren’s luxury handbags are unreal gorgeous inside and out and are designed and made in New York City. Lauren learned to sew from her grandmother and strives to inspire women to make the most of everyday through her work.

Lauren is an incredible money role model because she pairs her loves of fashion with money savvy and wisdom. She shows us that being a Fiscal Femme doesn’t by any stretch mean that you can’t look chic. By prioritizing what’s most important, you can look fabulous AND reach your money goals.

Lauren, I have no doubt that your Spring 2015/2016 collection will be major!

Lauren-Cecchi_Fiscal Femme Fridays_Money Inspiration_Knowing Your Worth

What’s your #1 Frugal Joy?
My #1 frugal joy would have to be window shopping. The store windows on 5th Avenue are just to die for! And I mean just looking no going inside the store because otherwise it will no longer be a frugal joy! 

Do You have a ‘Money Motto?
My money motto is when you are shopping and pick something up ask yourself “do I really need this?” If the answer is no then put it back. Thanks for that tip Ashley! 

Best money advice you ever got?
The best money advice I ever got was to start saving as soon as you can. You never know when you will have an unexpected expense or want to take an impromptu vacation.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
Probably curled up on my couch sketching and watching Netflix. Otherwise, out to dinner with friends and family.

What are you most excited about right now?
I am designing my Spring/Summer 2016 collection for next year and I think it is going to be major!

How can people connect with you?
I am very active on social media so follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @laurencecchi!
Lauren Cecchi_Fiscal Femme Friday_Knowing Your Worth_Handbags

DON’T MISS: The #frugaljoy campaign is live and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’d love to hear about what makes you really happy that is free or very inexpensive. Just post your photos and videos with the tag #frugaljoy and check out what others are posting. Here’s my sister’s hilarious #frugaljoy!

There has been a lot of buzz recently on the impact of financial wellness programs offered within companies, including the fact that companies can save $3 for every $1 spent on financial wellness. The numbers don’t lie! According to a PwC survey, money is the number one source of stress for American employees and leading companies are going to start making moves to fix this! To get more information on the stats, check out this CNBC article, Financial Wellness: Coming to an Office Near You. Want help getting started? I’d love to tell you more about my customized financial wellness programs for companies. Just send me an email at ashley@knowingyourworth.com to set up a time to talk!

Stay tuned for more info on my twitter chat with Money Crashers next Friday, May 22nd at 4 PM EST. We’re going to be tweeting about some major summer spending tips!

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6 Steps: Part 3

We are almost to the halfway mark of creating our plan to pay down debt and student loans! Woot! You should be feeling pretty darn good about all of this progress! In step 1, we dug up some compassion to really understand why we are where we are in our money lives and then forgave ourselves. In step 2, we took inventory of all of our debt and student loans and now know what we have to pay down. This is hugely important for putting together a plan. On to the next step!

If you have more than one debt or student loan, you’ll have to choose which to prioritize or pay down first when making your plan. If you only have one loan or piece of debt, that will be your priority so you can skip this step.

You might be thinking, “I want all my debt gone ASAP… how do I pick which goes first?” Great question! There are a few strategies to help you choose which debt you want to pay off first. First and foremost, you want to pay off any debts that cause you a lot of stress or emotional heartache. Maybe you have a loan from your parents or a friend that charges no interest but really bugs you and causes you a lot of shame. While I encourage you to continue to practice the compassion and forgiveness we worked on in step 1, you also can plan to get rid of this debt first.

Or you choose to pay down debts with the highest interest rates first. This method theoretically will save you the most money in interest because the highest interest rate debt is costing you the most money. Lucky for us, we have the interest rate listed for each piece of debt from our inventory we created in step 2. Referencing that inventory will make prioritizing a piece of cake.

Another method to consider is the snowball method, coined by money guru Dave Ramsey. He recommends paying down the debt with the smallest balance first. This allows you to pay off an entire piece of debt faster which feels amazing and builds your momentum to pay off more and more debt. That’s where the snowball comes in. If you use this method, you’d just prioritize debts with the lowest balance first. Check that inventory again. Easy peasy!

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans_Step 3_Money Coach_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

Using one or a couple of these methods, you will prioritize each piece of debt, by writing 1, 2, 3, etc. next to it. 1 will be paid off first, then 2 and so forth. In my example below, I decide to use the emotional method and pay off the amount I owe my friend Sally first. I then use both the interest rate and snowball method and pay down my credit card debt next. The credit card has the second lowest balance and the highest interest rate. The student loan will get paid off 3rd.

Debt Inventory and Priority_Step 3_Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in 6 Steps_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

Once you have your order you are still going to maintain the minimum payments on all debts but will put any additional money toward whichever debt you made a priority. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and more steps to come next week!

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6 Steps: Part 2

In this series, we are paying down our debt and student loans in six easy steps. In step 1, we gathered up some compassion and forgave ourselves for where we are today in our money lives and we re-framed how we look at the debt pay down process. Paying down our debts is not an act of restriction and pain, it’s a tremendous act of self love. This first step may sound less important than the practical steps of paying down debt but it’s actually much more important and will show up in our progress and success. If you skipped over step 1, go back and try it out!

Now that we’ve taken this very important first step, we are ready to dig into the numbers. Before we can create a plan to pay down our student loans and debt, we have to know what we have. Makes sense, right? Sometimes, we hate our debt so much and feel so shameful about it that we can’t even bring ourselves to take an honest inventory of what we have. Now that you’ve forgiven yourself for where you are, this step might feel a whole lot more manageable. If you are still dreading it, you are not alone. The hardest part is getting started and once you have this down, you’ll most likely feel a huge sigh of relief.

Step 2_Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in 6 Easy Steps_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

Now we are actually going to take inventory of what we owe. I like to use excel but you can use whatever works best for you – even a sheet of paper does the trick. In the first column, write down each piece of debt you have. Choose a name that will remind you of what it is so that you don’t get it mixed up. Next to that, write your balance or the amount you owe. You will also want to include the interest rate, the payment date and the minimum monthly payment. For credit cards, the minimum monthly payment will be the lowest amount you can pay on your card and still be in compliance on your payments. For student loans, this will just be what you owe monthly. Here’s an example:

Debt Inventory_Step 2_6 Steps to Paying Down Your Debt & Student Loans_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

And that’s it! You’ve completed step 2 and are 1/3 of the way to having a plan to pay down your debt and student loans! Stay tuned for more steps later this week and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Fiscal Femme Fridays – May 8th Edition

The New & Improved Fiscal Femme_04.11.15

Happy Fiscal Femme Friday! I hope you enjoy today’s round up – it’s a good one! Please share, pin, tweet, etc. whatever moves you. We want to share all this money love with as many people as possible. I’d love to hear what you think!

5-MINUTE FINANCIAL BLISS TIP: I’m a big fan of automating our financial lives wherever possible. It’s less for us to do and worry about and you can rest assured whatever you set up for yourself is going to happen. You may have noticed that no matter what, you always spend everything that you make and take that as proof that you don’t earn enough money to start saving. Not true! Saving is not whatever is leftover, we have to pay ourselves first. After you figure out what you can realistically move to savings (plus a little buffer), set that amount up to automatically transfer over to your high interest savings account. Don’t know what a high interest savings account is. You want to – it’s a beautiful thing and you can learn about it here.

FearlessFriday_JimRohn_Knowing Your Worth_Fiscal Femme

FRUGAL JOY: Walking around. I know, it sounds silly but when the weather is nice even walking from place to place is a treat. You get some fresh air and exercise all the while taking in the beautiful sites and saving money on transportation!

LESSON LEARNED: Every month I have a financial meeting for my business where I enter in my revenue and expenses for the month, take inventory of my accounts and see how my month turned out when compared with my business projections. First, if you’re an entrepreneur and want to learn to do this for your business, send me an email at ashley@knowingyourworth.com because I’m putting together a CFO Bootcamp for entrepreneurs! I cannot tell you how important it is to have a financial model with actual data and projections for the coming months and years as well as a simple and effective system for your business finances. My experience this month is a perfect example of why!

I experienced a lot of new business and hosted some great events this month which had me feeling excited that I would have a record-breaking month financially. I couldn’t wait to enter in this month’s numbers but when I sat down to actually do it, I was quite surprised! While certain areas of my business had grown tremendously, I failed to think about the other areas which had actually decreased. All in all the month came out pretty average but it goes to show how important it is to have a plan, no matter if it’s personal or for business.

Maybe it was confirmation bias or my general optimism, but what seemed to be going on in my head was not reflective of my financial reality. When I sat down with the numbers I was able to get a better understanding of the true picture. Having a plan is great but it’s important to create a ritual for yourself and/or your business where you sit down and actually run the numbers. Have a standing money date in your calendar. There’s no reason why it can’t be fun. Get comfy, put on some music and reward yourself with a glass of wine or a tasty treat.

MONEY INSPIRATION: This week I’m very excited to introduce you to Elana who founded Bird & Stone, a socially conscious jewelry company that funds microloans for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. WOW! She also co-founded TRIBE with me and in her spare time is learning Swahili. Needless to say, she’s an inspiration! I hope you enjoy our interview and if you need any last minute Mother’s Day gifts, check out her website! The jewelry is not only beautiful but it is also changing the world for the better.

What’s your #1 Frugal Joy?
Going to a bookstore by myself like McNally Jackson in Soho. I buy something from the cafe and then saddle up with a bunch of books for a quiet Saturday afternoon.

Do You have a ‘Money Motto?
Nope! Should I?

Best money advice you ever got?
If you have a company match, not putting money into your 401-K is like throwing money down the toilet.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
A wine bar or outdoor free concert in the summer :)

What are you most excited about right now?
How I’m keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions! I’m learning Swahili and getting into academia.

How can people connect with you?
Check @Bird & Stone out on Instagram. :) It’s the best place to keep up with what we are working on.

Fiscal Femme Fridays_Money Inspiration_Elana Reinholtz_Bird & Stone

DON’T MISS: If you love fun quizzes, subscribe at Knowing Your Worth to take my free Money Persona quiz. In 10 questions, you will find out which of the four money personas you are and what you should be doing about it!  You’ll also receive my e-book, Knowing Your Worth in 30 Days for free, which will give you a step you can take each day for 30 days to get on track with your financial wellness! If you are already subscribed but signed up before these items existed, send me an email and I’ll send them along!

Knowing Your Worth in 30 Days

On Wednesday, May 13th I’m attending Ten Things Every Female Founder Should Know hosted by Cyrus Innovation with 10 amazing speakers (and wine & cheese!).

On May 17th Lululemon is hosting outdoor yoga in Elizabeth Street Garden with a money cameo from yours truly!

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6 Steps!

Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in These 6Having any type of debt hanging over your heard can feel like a burden. It can feel even worse when you have no idea how or when you are going to pay it down. In reality, debt is actually not good or bad. It’s just money you borrowed to do something or buy something that you will eventually want to pay back. Objectively, you might agree but for some reason, it usually doesn’t feel that way!

Over the next six posts, I’m going to take you through a six step plan to pay down your debt and by the end, you’ll have a detailed plan, will know exactly by when your debt will be paid off and will be ready to celebrate!

The first often overlooked but critical step to paying off any debt or student loans is to forgive ourselves! You might be thinking “huh?!” but it’s true. When you are working towards a money goal, do you ever feel like you are working against yourself? Part of you wants to save and the other part wants to go out and buy shoes, dinners and taxis? It’s a win-lose. You both can’t win! You might end up going shopping or buying the thing you told yourself not to and then beat yourself up for getting in the way of your bigger goals.

What we really want to do is get ourselves on our own team. No more beating ourselves up. All parts of us working together. It might sound silly but it works. We can get there by finding some compassion for ourselves and where we currently are in our money lives. I tell my clients this all the time. We most often don’t learn about personal finance and money growing up, it’s taboo and not frequently talked about and it’s very emotionally charged. Given all we have working against us, it makes perfect sense that we are where we are in our money lives today. Once we understand why we are where we are and see it’s not because we are terrible with money or are hopeless when it comes to financial savvy, we are ready to move forward.

So before we dive into planning, take a few minutes to really get why you are where you are today. Can you dig up a little compassion and forgive yourself for the “mistakes” you made in your money life?

Paying off our debts is a tremendous act of self love not restriction and we are going to start treating it that way! Stay tuned for more steps next week.Pay Down Debt & Student Loans in 6 Steps_Knowing Your Worth_The Fiscal Femme

Set Yourself Up for Crazy Fun Summer with No Money Stress: Part 3

We are setting ourselves up for a crazy fun summer with no money stress! In part 1 and part 2, we figured out what we want to create this summer and beyond and determined what we value most or what’s most important to us. These are HUGELY valuable pieces of information and we’re going to use it as a road map for the final step which is to actually create a plan.

You might be thinking.. “A plan?! Yuck!” But as boring as it might sound, having a plan is actually VERY liberating. Once you have a plan that works, you know that as long as you stick with it, you will reach your goals no problem. No guilt, no worry, just success and happiness! Here’s how: 

1. Let’s look back at what you came up with in part 1. How much do you need to put aside now so that you can do and have everything you want this summer and beyond? Write that number down.

2. Next, you’re going to take an inventory of your income and expenses. How much are you earning per paycheck, month or year? You can look at this however makes most sense for you and your specific goals. For example, if you want to have $3,000 saved to go on an amazing vacation that you plan to pay for in 3 months, it probably makes the most sense to look at your income over the next 3 months. Write that number down.

3. You’re now going to want to look at your expenses for that same period of time. Remember, you want to include everything. Don’t just write down what you spend on a weekly basis. It’s important to include birthdays, the holidays, haircuts, and anything else that you spend money on. Write your total expense number down. Now multiply it by 1.1 (or 110%). This gives you a little buffer for anything that turns out to be more expensive than you expected or for any unexpected expenses that may come up.

4. Now you get to put it all together. To see if your plan will work with both your lifestyle and goals, take your income minus your expenses to see if it equals the number you are looking to save for your goals. If the equation works or even better, you have some extra cash leftover, congratulations!

If you’re like the rest of us and that equation doesn’t quite work, we are going to look back to – our values statement.

5. Read your values statement you created in part 2 out loud and then look through each of your expenses. What expenses do you want to let go of? Continue to peel away layers of expenses away until your equation works!

Don’t forget, there are two other levers to this equation that can help us out tremendously: we can increase our income and / or rethink the goals themselves. Is there a way to achieve the same experience for less?

If you want help setting up a spending plan that empowers you to achieve your goals while spending your money on what’s most important, join me for the 30 Day Money Cleanse that kicks off tonight!

Set Yourself Up for a Crazy Fun Summer with No Money Stress_Knowing Your Worth_The Fiscal Femme

Tulips blooming in Philly.

Fiscal Femme Fridays – May 1st Edition

The New & Improved Fiscal Femme_04.11.15

Happy Fiscal Femme Friday! Get excited – I’ve got a great roundup for you today. Please share, pin, tweet, etc. whatever moves you. We are creating a community that inspires and supports a new language around money and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

5-MINUTE FINANCIAL BLISS TIP: If you use a typical savings account you are probably earning .01% in interest, which is almost nothing! A high interest or high yield savings account is a free savings account with an online bank. Right now, you can earn around 1% with this type of account. While 1% doesn’t sound like much, if you have $10,000 saved up, that’s $100 in interest a year that you could be doing something really fun with! The more savings you have, the bigger that number gets. Another perk of this type of savings account is that it’s completely separate from your checking so you can’t overdraft and transfer this money over on a whim. It’s a way to keep your savings mentally and physically separate from your everyday spending. Take 5 minutes today and open up a high interest savings account. Transfer over your savings to start earning a little interest. The fun part will be deciding what to do with those extra funds! 

#FearlessFriday_it's happening perfectly

FRUGAL JOY: Spring has sprung! Or has it!? I guess the weather can’t decide… Regardless, we have some warm beautiful days ahead of us and there is nothing I love more than being outside in the sunshine. As you know, I also love hosting family and friends. Putting both of those loves together, one of our big projects for May is to get our garden set up for company, which is going to take some planning and planting. I’m so excited to get my hands dirty and to create something beautiful! Stay tuned for photos!

Fiscal Femme Fridays_Gardening_Knowing Your Worth

Even if you live somewhere with no outdoor space, a beautiful potted plant (think orchids, succulents, oh my!) or even fresh cut flowers are an inexpensive way to bring some color, beauty and earthiness to your home.

Fiscal Femme Fridays_Succulents_Knowing Your Worth

LESSON LEARNED: This week I took advantage of the warm weather and a happy hour “deal” by enjoying a meal outside at a local oyster bar. Some nibbles, drinks and $96 later, I realized my wallet fell prey to one of the oldest tricks in the book – the good deal. Why do we always spend more when we think we’re getting a good deal? This doesn’t just happen at happy hour. If you’ve ever shopped at Costco, Target or any sale rack, you probably have experienced the same thing! When we think it’s cheap, we let our guard down and then the price racks right up. What’s a gal to do?!

First, check in to make sure that it’s something that you would buy anyway. If they weren’t on sale, would you really buy five double cans of beans? If you buy something you weren’t planning on buying, then you’re not saving money… you’re just wasting money at a lower rate. Then, actually do the math. If you are getting 10 shirts for $10, realize that you are spending $100. Don’t only think about the amount you are saving. Use this two step numbers reality check to stay on track with your happiness allocation (or budget).

MONEY INSPIRATION: Our inspiration for the week is Melissa Alam, founder of Femme & Fortune, an online magazine for ambitious women; the Hive, a co-working space for ambitious women in Philadelphia and Melissa Alam Strategic Brand Development, her consulting business. This woman has got it going on! I hope you enjoy getting to know Melissa and I can’t wait to check out the Hive next time I’m in Philly.

What’s your #1 Frugal Joy?
Good question! I love getting together with my roommate or friends to cook some delicious meals at home once in a while. It’s cheaper than going out, involves a bottle of red wine, and is the perfect way to unwind from a long day.

Do You have a ‘Money Motto?
After going freelance three years ago and recently opening a business, my money motto has become “Do you really need that Melissa?” I’ve learned how to curb my shopaholic tendencies in order to become more realistic about my spending habits. I’m happy to live a more minimalistic life these days.

Best money advice you ever got?
My mom is freaking brilliant with her money. The best pieces of advice come from her – “Save, save, save!” and “Don’t owe anyone any money. Always pay off your debts.” She’s my money idol because of her smart habits, and she’s been the sole reason I’ve been able to start my latest business, The Hive!

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
I try to balance my workaholic tendencies with some tomfoolery on the weekends. You’ll most likely find me out dancing with friends at some dive bar in Philadelphia on a Saturday night.

What are you most excited about right now?
I’m pretty excited about an entrepreneurial panel I was asked to speak on for NYC’s Internet Week this May. I’m also a total travel junkie, so I’m considering moving to a new city either this year or next. So far I’m thinking Denver, Austin or maybe San Diego!

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on social media @RingTheAlam, but also follow me at @FemmeAndFortune and @TheHivePhilly!

MelissaAlam_Fiscal Femme Fridays_Knowing Your Worth_Money Coach

DON’T MISS: Monday kicks off the 30 Day Money Cleanse! I can’t think of a better way to start off your summer than to set yourself up for unlimited joy in the sunshine without the stress and guilt. It’s going to be an amazing group and I can’t wait to dive into this journey with all of you.

While many of the past Money Cleansers enjoy hopping back on for another 30 Day Money Cleanse, they also asked me “what’s next?” I’ve answered with the Savvy Investor course that launches September 8th. I’m offering a very special discount and package for those who want to do the May 30 Day Money Cleanse and the Savvy Investor course for a financial wellness double whammy. Oh yes! Just send me an email at ashley@knowingyourworth.com for the details.

The Savvy Investor_Get Your Earn On!

Tuesday, Ellevate Network is hosting a wonderful networking workshop with psychologist Chloe Carmichael called Networking Nerves: Everything You Wanted to Know About Networking but Were Too Afraid to Ask. She’ll prepare us for common networking situations and then we get to practice what we learned over some wine & cheese! It will be a really fun evening.