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Frugal Joys – Taking a Step Back and Then a Little Step Forward

I know all too well about unlimited to-do lists. Regardless of everything I have to get done, I try to take a step back every month or so to really look at the big picture. What am I about? Why am I doing what I’m doing? What could I be doing better, easier or more effectively? What am I not doing and why? Spending a day by yourself or with friends going through some of these reflections can be hugely powerful and energizing. It’s a frugal joy.

Once you are back in tune with what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you want to do it, it’s easy to attack the day! What three things can you do today that will really move you forward? What can you remove from your to-do list that’s really not getting you where you want to be? These are just some of the incredible things I’m learning from Erin Moran McCormick’s book, Year of Action. I had the pleasure of working with Erin yesterday and what I learned completely blew my mind. What would the next amazing year of your life look like if you didn’t have time to filter it or think of excuses? What would you do if there were unlimited possibilities and you could be and do whatever you want? The crazy thing is… you can! We just have to take it one little step at a time. More to come from this book soon!

Year of Action_Eric Moran McCormick_Money Coach_Fiscal Femme Book Club_10.30.14

Guilt… why does it hit us every time we spend?

If you have worked with me, you understand the concept of a money or spending journal. Especially at the beginning, I ask clients to write down everything they spend (nothing is too small) along with the amount and how they felt before and after they made the purchase. It can be done in a physical notebook you carry around, the notes app in your phone or I have one client who crafted a gorgeous word table that shows all this information plus how much she has left in each spending category after each expense. All money journals look a bit different and are unique to us as individuals.

Regardless of what your money journal looks like, I’ve noticed a couple of things that most of my clients have in common… 1) they dislike keeping a money journal at least at first and 2) they feel guilty after many if not most purchases. Can you relate?

I say it over and over again, but the more you dislike keeping the money journal, the more helpful it will probably be to you. Writing things down forces you to get really conscious about where your money is going. You may have the same experience keeping a time journal where you track your time or a food journal where you track what you eat. When you write it all down in one place you have to face the facts and get honest about your behavior. The good news is, once you know what’s actually happening with your money, you can do something about it. If you haven’t ever done it, I urge you to try keeping a money journal for a week or two. It can be a transformative experience!

So why all the guilt? For most of us, before we keep a money journal we don’t really know what are spending and we also probably don’t have a plan for what we should be spending. When you don’t know if you are within your limits, you don’t know if you are overspending in any given area and might feel guilty for any expense that’s not a necessity because it could be harming your financial health. The guilt can all about the unknown.

The easy fix

A happiness allocation (or budget) is such an important piece of financial wellness. Not only does it help you reach your financial goals but it also takes the guilt out of your spending because you know what you are trying to spend to be within you limits. Creating a budget is a hugely freeing experience. As we put happiness allocations together I can watch a huge boulder of weight lifted from my clients’ shoulders. They are financially free!

If you want help creating a happiness allocation but aren’t sure where to start, sign up for my 30 Day Money Cleanse starting Monday, November 3rd. By the end of the 30 days you will have a budget you can actually stick to because it will work with your lifestyle and your financial goals. Are you ready to experience financial freedom?

Guilt... why does it hit us every time we spend_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.30.14

Ready to take the 30 Day Money Cleanse? Here is what to expect!

Not sure if you are ready to take the 30 Day Money Cleanse? Here is a week by week summary along with some funny gifs to help you know what to expect.

Week 1: We cleanse. You will learn how to detox from you current money habits by cutting out frivolous spending for seven days. You will learn why a detox is so important and will reap the benefits immediately!

Week #1 30 Day Money Cleanse_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.28.14

Week 2: We supplement. You will learn what is truly important to you and you will add items that support your values back into your spending.

Week #2 30 Day Money Cleanse_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.28.14

Week 3: We observe. You will recognize environmental toxins and how they affect you financial health. You will learn to maintain your new money habits even when in the midst of toxic relationships or environments. Your new value bases money habits will be growing stronger and you will be feeling incredible and empowered!

Week #3 30 Day Money Cleanse_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.28.14

Week 4: We solidify. In the last week of the program you will continue to make your new money beliefs and habits more strongly ingrained. You will learn to challenge and overcome any setbacks and will be reaping the mental, physical and financial benefits of your new mindsets.

Week #4 30 Day Money Cleanse_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.28.14

Wrap Up: We finish. On the wrap up call you will learn how to continue living with you new money mindset long after the program. I’ll provide tools and tips for streamlining financial health and success in the future!

 Wrap Up 30 Day Money Cleanse_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.28.14

Looking for some of this in your life? Join the 30 Day Money Cleanse November 3rd!

What Money Toxins are Poisoning Your Life?

Just like there are things that are toxic to our bodies and our health, there are things that are toxic to our money life. A toxic money life effects our happiness, health and our overall wellness. I call them “environmental toxins” and you will know it when you experience them. They can feel very out of your control. They either negatively influence us, leave us in a tail spin with our spending out of control or make us feel guilty and overall blah! These environmental toxins come in three forms – people, places and things.

Now toxic people in our lives can be wonderful and generally good human beings, it’s just that when you are with them, they negatively effect your spending and money mindset. You might meet them for dinner and then come home wondering how you spent $150 on cocktails or meet them to shop and come home with bags on bags and buyers remorse. Whatever shape or form it comes in, you generally spend too much when you are around them and end up feeling terribly guilty. The same goes for toxic places and things. It can be that store you can never visit without spending a bunch of money or the purchase that has you spending out of control.

Luckily, despite how out of control this may feel, cleansing our life of these money toxins is in our control! YES, we can do something about it!

The first step is identifying where the toxins are coming from and how they occur. List them all out in order of which is poisoning you the most because that’s where you want to start. Once we’ve identified them, we can then use numerous strategies to mitigate them. To learn more about ridding your life of poisonous money toxins, join me starting Nov 3rd for my 30 Day Money Cleanse. Through the program you will actually create guidelines for yourself that you can live your life by to prevent these toxins from harming your financial and overall wellness.

What Money Toxins are Poisoning Your Life_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.24.14

The Mind Game – Weekly Update on Project ‘Get Abs & Save Money’

This week I’ve been working with a few clients on the emotional side of money and spending. We often think personal finance and money are all about the numbers but just like food, there is a WHOLE lot more to it than that. If it was just a numbers game we would have no problem sticking to diets and budgets!

Have you ever tuned into what you tell yourself when you eat or buy something that you shouldn’t? Imagine if we talked to a friend that way? They would probably run in the other direction real quick! But we think nothing of saying such terrible things to ourselves. No wonder we have an emotional reaction! We make such a big deal of our mistakes to ourselves. No wonder we think “my entire budget has gone to hell, I might as well buy more”… or “my diet is out the window, might as well eat the entire pie.” When we practice a little patience and forgiveness of ourselves it can go a long way.

Now, it’s easy to say, stop thinking these terrible things to yourself but that won’t work for most. For any of you who have ever tried meditating, it’s almost impossible (actually impossible for me ha) to think about nothing. “Stop thinking thoughts!” No way. Same goes for our minds in daily life. Instead of just removing the negative, we have to inject positive thoughts to replace them. That’s why it’s so much easier to meditate on gratitude or love than on nothing.  Instead of trying to stop the negative self-talk, we can catch and replace it. What would you say to yourself if you were forgiving and patient? It might like, “enjoy the latte and we will think of a better strategy later” or “you tried your best, we’ll get it next time.” Whatever it is, fill your mind with positive thoughts. If you are telling yourself how horrible you at X all day, everyday, surprise! You are going to be horrible at X.

Write down a couple of mantras that you would like to replace your negative thoughts with and try to catch yourself in negative self talk and replace it. You might not 100% believe yourself at first but with time, it will get easier and fell more natural. Remember, you probably have been saying these negative things for a long time so you will have to be patient as you start to transform that into something more powerful. Then, sit back and enjoy as you notice great things start to come your way!

Mind Game_Weekly Update on My Plan to Get Abs & Save Money_Chang Photography_Money Coach_the Fiscal Femme_10.24.14

Photo by Chang Photography

 

 

Frugal Joys – Chillin’ like a villain

I have to relearn this lesson many times but there is nothing more wonderful, more happiness inducing and more productive than taking a good rest. It can be as long as a vacation or as short as a nap but it’s so important for me to take some time to recharge and regroup. This is one of the many lessons I’m learning from my puppy who takes time to recharge every two hours.

Frugal Joys_Chillin Like a Villain_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.22.14

The 6 Things I Wish I Knew About Money When I Was in College

I started Knowing Your Worth to demystify the world of money and personal finance and thought what better way to do that than to share what I wish I knew when I was in college. Here are the 6 things I wish I knew about money when I was in college.

#1 Start Now

When in college and even many years after it can seem like we don’t have enough money to save. What’s the point?  It feels like it won’t make a difference. Due to the 8th wonder of the world, compound interest, even small amounts of savings and investments can add up and multiply! Also, understanding our personal finances and getting in the habit of saving and budgeting will be SUPER helpful once you graduate and have your own salary and expenses.

#2 Save for a Rainy Day

It’s so important to have a buffer for unexpected expenses and emergencies. If something happens and we don’t have money saved up, we will have to take out credit card debt which is very expensive (I’ll get into this in #5).  Not sure where to start when it comes to a rainy day fundHere’s how to set one up.

#3 Budget Are Our Friends!

Budgets get a very bad rep but they are one of the most powerful financial tools you can master. Budgets are really just a way of understanding what’s coming in and what’s going out so you can allocate the money you have in the ways that will make you the happiest. It’s all about planning so you can do and have everything you truly want.

#4 Build Credit Early

We aren’t born with a perfect credit score. We have to build it up and the sooner we start, the better off we are! If you are able to open a credit card (read #5!) before doing so. This is a great way to build your credit if you can manage it effectively. If you aren’t able to open a credit card, you can get a secured credit card, put your name as a user on your parents account (just make sure they pay their bills on time), or put your name on a utility bill. Being the account holder on a utility bill (if you pay your bills on time) is a great way to build credit!

#5 Be Weary of Credit Cards

If you don’t pay your credit card balance in full each month, credit cards are the most expensive debt out there. In order to hold a balance, you have to pay interest to the credit card companies, which can be as high as 20-30%. That’s pricey! Think of interest on credit card debt as wasted money. If you aren’t able to pay the interest, that just builds your balance and it can spiral out of control. Credit cards are not free money.

#6 Know Your Worth & Ask for It! 

I remember when I got my first internship and then job. I felt so lucky that someone would want to hire me. There was no way I was going to try to negotiate my salary. Looking back, I wish I had at least tried! The worst that can happen is that they say no. I’ve never heard of anyone losing a job offer because they tried to negotiate. Negotiating early in your career is very important because of #1 on my list. Salary increases and bonuses are often calculated as a percentage of your current base salary. A salary of $500 more doesn’t seem like a lot but compounded with raises and bonuses it can make a huge difference!

Gamma Phi Beta_St. Johns University

My Quest to be a Lazy Chef

With my new plan to ‘Get Abs and Save Money,’ I do more grocery shopping than eating out. The two positives of this plan – saving money and eating healthy. The negative, time. I was worried with this new plan that I would be spending a lot more time in the kitchen and a lot less time having fun and working on my business. I had to come up with some ideas. How could I make this new lifestyle user friendly for a lazy chef?

To start, I decided to order my groceries for delivery which would save me the time of travelling to the grocery store, walking through the aisles, carrying the groceries back and unpacking them. With FreshDirect delivery (or whichever service you choose), I now just have to order the groceries and unpack them. Saved an hour there!

Enter Samantha, my amazing nutritionist, with a website that allows you to import recipes, create menus and turn them into shopping lists – Pepperplate. If you do prefer to go to the grocery store, the site breaks up your shopping list by section of the grocery store which saves a lot of time. The part I love is that I no longer have to consolidate the recipes I want to make into one shopping list. For example, if I need 2 eggs for recipe A and 3 eggs for recipe B but am doubling it, I will need 8 eggs. Yes, that’s just some simple math but Pepperplate takes care of all of that for you, saving extra time when ordering or going to the grocery store.

My Quest to Be a Lazy Chef_Money Coach_10.20.14

Samantha shared another tip for saving time that sounds like a no brainer but I always forget to do it! Whenever you cook, make extra. Leftovers are a beautiful thing. I now will double or triple recipes so I get a dinner and lunch for a couple of days out of it. You can always doctor it up differently or throw it on a salad to change it up.

Any ideas or secret tricks you have for being a lazy chef? I’d love to hear them!

Quinoa bean salad for days... I might have made too much.

Quinoa bean salad for days! 

Confessions of an Excel Nerd: How I Manage My New ClassPass

As part of my plan to ‘Get Abs & Save Money,’ I switched out my membership to Equinox which is $193 per month for a ClassPass membership that is $99 per month. While this an amazing deal for unlimited boutique classes all over NYC, there is some organization and logistics planning involved because…

1) You can only go to each studio 3x per month
2) The classes are all over NYC
3) To get the best classes you have to be on top of registering

To complicate matters a bit more, based on what I’m looking to accomplish, my nutritionist recommended I do mostly Pilates and then maybe a cardio or yoga class here and there. My first day on the Classpass site my head was spinning… so many studios, so much information… what’s a girl to do? I decided to turn to my dear friend, excel.

I first looked up all the studios in my area because I don’t want to spend that much time travelling around and then I typed out the studios that offered Pilates. I then got recommendations for the best Pilates studios regardless of location for when I happen to be in the neighborhood. Due to the 3x per studio limit, I would have to find numerous Pilates studios. If I want to do Pilates 15x a month, I’d need to find 5 studios that are convenient and good. I then wanted an easy system for tracking how many classes I had left at each studio per month. I thought the traffic system would be easiest – green for 3 left, yellow for 2 left and red for 1 left. I would always know where I stand. To book classes on time, I create short Google calendar appointments so I get reminders to sign up. Here’s how it looks…

Confessions of an Excel Nerd_How I Manage My New ClassPass_Money Coach_The Fiscal Femme_10.20.14_v2

Weekly Update on ‘Feel good, Save Money and Lose Flab’

Happy Monday! Project ‘Get Abs & Save Money‘ is going strong! Last week I talked about being realistic with your lifestyle to boost your chances of success, the idea of forming habits like peeling away layers of an onion and remembering we improve our health because we love ourselves! Here’s what I learned this week.

Confront the numbers and make a plan

This week I checked in with with Samantha on how my nutrition has been going over the last couples of weeks. I was eager to see how I did because I’ve really been trying my best to nourish myself in the ways we discussed. Taking a closer look at my numbers we noticed an area that needs improvement – my protein. We then broke down my daily protein goal into a per meal goal which made it much easier to swallow (pun intended) and easier to plan for. We also came up with a list of foods that I can start including in my meals and snacks to boost protein. A lot of my meals didn’t change but we were able to sub in a more protein-filled version of the same foods to beef up my numbers.

Going through this experience I immediately thought of my clients. Many of them hate and despise keeping a money journal initially. I challenge them to work through it because facing the numbers is such a powerful exercise. It gives us the power to do something about it. We now have something to work with. It doesn’t matter if you spend too much in one area or don’t eat enough protein or fat, don’t judge or beat yourself up. You now have the information you need to make a plan to get those numbers wherever you want!

Change is good!

I had a funny experience one night last week when I ordered butternut squash soup on a chilly evening. The soup tasted sickly sweet to me. I couldn’t even eat it! It might as well have been butternut squash soup mixed with a cup of sugar. I looked at the ingredients and saw it had a some honey in it. After speaking to Samantha I learned that my palette has probably changed over the last three weeks of eating nutrient filled foods and no sugar. I was shocked. This kind of relativity exists in our financial lives as well. Some might think it’s obscene to spend $2,000 a month on rent while others might think it’s completely normal or even cheap. Whatever you have decided is “normal” for your spending doesn’t have to be the reality, especially if it doesn’t work with your goals. We get to create our reality with money and get to choose what’s normal for us. It’s all relative.

The numbers

This week I didn’t spend any money on Amazon, spent $156.44 for groceries, and $36.39 on eating out which totals to $192.94. This is over what I’ve budgeted per week and I think it’s realistic of what I’ll be spending so I adjusted my budget (or happiness allocation).With the revised numbers I’m saving $32 a week which will total to $1,648 a year. After the initial consult and 3 sessions with Samantha, I’ve will have paid $685 which leaves me with $963 of savings from this project. Not too shabby! It’s always important to check in with any savings goals and your happiness allocation after ~2-3 weeks of testing it out.

My Plan to Get Abs & Sav Money_Charts_Fiscal Femme_Money Coach_10.20.14

 

Justin has also been eating most meals with me which has been a big surprise! It’s been fun to share this with him and I’m excited he enjoys the food I’m eating.

My Plan to Get Abs and Save Money_Money Coach_the Fiscal Femme_10.20.14