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Why Budgeting Is So Important

One of the most important components of our overall financial wellness is living by a budget that’s in line with our values and goals. Budgets, or as I like to call them, ‘happiness allocations,’ are a very basic concept but when used correctly, can set us up to live a very happy life! Why?

We spend within our means

One of the most critical parts of a budget is knowing what money is coming in and what money is going out. We aim to spend less than we earn. Not only does this prevent us from accumulating debt or burning through our savings, it’s one of the best ways to reduce financial stress! It’s not a good feeling to spend more than you have.

We allocate to what’s most important

At any given point, we have a certain amount of money to spend either from our job or an allowance from our family. When we spend this money in a certain way, we lose the option to spend it on something else. When we take an honest look at how we are spending our money, we have the opportunity to change or continue spending as we are. We get to decide what’s most important to us and how our money can support what’s most important to us. That’s powerful! We can maximize the happiness we get from each dollar we spend.

We know what’s available for our goals

Even more than spending within our means, when we have money leftover after supporting our lifestyle, we can use that for various savings goals. We might want to save up for a vacation, a new house or apartment, put it toward a wedding, or save up to invest in our own businesses. When you think about it, all of our life goals have a financial component. We either have to support ourselves while achieving those goals or there is money required to pursue them. This is why our financial life is a part of our overall wellness. When we have a budget, we can figure out how much money we have available to allocate to each of our goals each period and then can even figure out when we will have enough money to achieve them!

If you want help creating a budget (or happiness allocation) that doesn’t feel restricting and supports what’s most important to you, sign up for my 30 Day Money Cleanse that starts today! By the end of the 30 days you will walk away with a comprehensive budget that you can stick to that supports your most coveted goals.

Budgeting is Important_Fiscal Femme_09.02.14


Use ‘Opportunity Cost’ to Reframe Your Budget

We are constantly making choices. Big choices, like choosing between jobs or apartments and smaller choices like, choosing between restaurants for dinner (and then even choosing which dishes to order). We might not be aware of it but we are always faced with the opportunity cost of our decisions. According to Investopedia, opportunity cost is “the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.” By choosing one job, you give up the benefits of the other position and by picking a certain restaurant, you don’t get to check out the one you didn’t choose.

Thinking about opportunity cost is a great way to stick to a budget. First, it’s all about priorities and making a conscious choice. The first savvy spender I profiled really loves her sushi. She splurges on sushi because it makes her happy but cuts elsewhere to make up for it. If you love sushi or live to travel think of potential expenses in terms of the sushi, travel or [insert priority] to remind yourself what benefits you are forgoing by making this purchase.

For example, you are thinking about buying new shoes for an event but could wear shoes you already have. For my first savvy spender, depending on the price, a pair of shoes could be 4 sushi dinners. Or the new shoes could be a night at a hotel on your next vacation. Is it worth it? It might be! But with your priorities in mind, you are better equipped to make a conscious decision that will leave you feeling the most fulfilled.

Opportunity Cost of Spending

Talented People Are Everywhere!

I’m always amazed by how talented my friends and family are. Talented people are everywhere! Sometimes we know what they are really good at because it’s what they are aspiring to do in their careers and other times you’d never know because it’s just a hobby they enjoy. Justin and I have a friend whose hobby (for now) is taking photos and boy is he talented! He took photos of our engagement, our ‘She Said Yes’ party as well as our engagement photos. Not only was his pricing MUCH more favorable than a well-known wedding photographer with a great reputation at the top of his or her field, it was very special to have a friend who knew us both capturing the moments and creating memories with us.

My Mom calls this the Fiscal Femme way. It’s a game-changer for a wedding budget. Why hire the best known, most reviewed, and unfortunately often most expensive person in their field for whatever wedding (or any) service you need?  Why not find the really talented, up-and-coming or hobby-loving friend who wants to share in your wedding experience? All you have to do is ask!

Here are a couple of our favorites from the engagement shoot.

Talented People Everywhere Talented People are Everywhere_2


Productivity Lifehack – Inspiration

You know the saying… time is money. I’m a big believer in working hard but I’m an even bigger believer in working efficiently. Why not get the same thing done in a shorter amount of time so that you can do even more or even just simply enjoy that extra time doing something else. First and foremost, I have found that taking care of myself is my number one booster of productivity. How am I supposed to do my best when I don’t feel my best. Sleeping, eating well, working out, meditating and working with a coach all keep me feeling my best mentally and physically. Not only that, it keeps me happy and makes life better for everyone around me.

There is no great work to do without inspiration and ideas and I get mine in two places – the gym and from great people. I don’t know what it is about spin class but when I’m getting through a long hill or interval, the ideas start rolling in. I just came from an incredible networking breakfast for entrepreneurs. No description will really do it justice but I left completely recharged, amped up and inspired from spending two hours with an incredible group of energetic people.

I’ve heard others are inspired in yoga, while in the shower or even on a long subway ride zoning out. Whatever mindset you need to be in, whatever places do the trick, let yourself enjoy be there and enjoy it! .

Productivity Lifehack - Inspiration_08.21.14

The Negotiations Tactic that Blew My Mind

Last week I held a Negotiations workshop with NAPAWF*NYC and it was so much fun! We covered the basics, worked on some skills and tools to make ourselves better negotiators and then we practiced. This group was working it!

When I did the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, we covered one concept that really blew my mind – focus on interests not positions. In the NAPAWF*NYC workshop, we broke up into pairs and each side had to negotiate a scenario where one person had to sell their used car and the other needed to buy a used car. When each person just focuses on their side of the argument, the negotiation remains pretty linear. Someone will get more for the car and someone will keep less after paying for the car. There is a set pie and we are fighting to have the biggest piece we can. When we work to really understand why someone wants what they want, we can start coming up with creative solutions. That’s where we can actually expand the pie we are splitting up. It’s a entirely new way to look at negotiations!

In the used car scenario, the person selling the car wanted to buy a bike with the proceeds and the other happened to have a bike they could sell to add to their vacation fund. If the negotiators got past the price of the car and looked to the why behind their positions, they could have included the bike in the negotiation as well!

Next time you are negotiating something, big or small, stop to think why the other side wants what they want. If you don’t know, ask! See if you can come up with a creative solution that expands the pie and makes both sides happy.


All of us giving our best Wonder Woman pose.

How Do You Budget Your Time? Part II

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my time budget. I have been keeping a spending journal of my time over the last four weeks and then assign each item as a specific revenue or expense. While I have been keeping track of personal time just for fun, I stripped personal time out of my business analysis. From there, if it’s a revenue, I mark down which part of my business it was associated with and for how much. If it’s an expense, I also mark down which part of my business it was associated with, what type of expense it was and how much that time cost me. It may be a marketing or program development / creation expense or specifically associated as a cost of a certain program or idea. Getting specific about what the expense is helps me look at current and new projects in a different way. I now can see them on a financial and time basis. It’s a more holistic way of looking at our lives and businesses.

The time budget combined with the financial statements of my business creates a more comprehensive or true picture for me to analyze. I will be able to see what projects are valuable not only from a financial perspective but also including the use of my time. Our time is limited and creating an income statement of your time, allows you to pick and choose projects that are most profitable and efficient for your business in both time and money.

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What people are saying about the 30 Day Money Cleanse!

Lauren and I met at a women’s conference over a year ago, became fast friends and have been helping and supporting each other run our new businesses ever since. Lauren is a handbag designer, Founder of Lauren Cecchi New York and total fashionista so when she joined my 30 Day Money Cleanse and heard she would be cutting out frivolous spending, she was a bit worried. “Every fashion girl knows we’d rather buy clothes than pay rent,” Lauren said.

Her initial concern about the program makes her results even that much more incredible. Lauren dedicated herself to the 30 Day Money Cleanse and she absolutely killed it!

“Ashley launched her new program called the 30 Day Money Cleanse so I had to join and see what it was all about! Not only did I save $500 in the month of July but I learned valuable spending habits and guidelines on how to reach my financial goals. I honestly thought I would never be able to save a dime with New York City’s expensive lifestyle and with most of my money going back into my company. I was able to learn little things like creating a “happiness allocation” on things that were good spending that I wanted or needed and doing away with frugal spending like my $100 Duane Reade runs on only god knows what.

I urge you all to take her program because you too can save up for that vacation you’ve always wanted to take or pay off those student loans you never thought possible! With Ashley’s help I am on track to save over $2,000 this year and now I just have to decide what I will be spending that on – A. Put that money into my business B. Take a much needed vacation or C. Go to Bergdorf’s!”

If you have been thinking about doing something to improve your financial wellness, there is no better time than now! Start the fall off right and join me for my upcoming 30 Day Money Cleanse. You’ll walk away with a new found confidence with your money, a budget that will fits with your lifestyle and you will have taken the first steps to reaching your most coveted goals.

Lauren Cecchi Blog Post

Looking for some extra cash to pay down your loans or debt? Try eBay!

I often talk about all the ways we can spend less to save to pay off any debt or make a dent on student loans, but another way to pay down your loans is to make some more money! While getting a raise or second job can take some time, you might have a bunch of stuff lying around your apartment now that you don’t need or don’t want that you can sell on eBay. eBay makes it really easy to upload pictures, make descriptions, set pricing and estimate shipping costs. The site (or app) will make recommendations for you along the way as you fill out the listing. It’s also fun to track who’s seen your item and who’s “watching” it to make sure it doesn’t slip out of their hands.

If you don’t have any debt to pay down, you can also use eBay for a fun savings goal. Create a bucket in your high interest savings account for “vacation” or “birthday dress” and transfer money over each time you make an eBay sale. You then get to use that extra money for whatever you want!

Use eBay to Pay Down Loans

How they Saved $100K to buy an apartment in NYC!

LOVE this article from Refinery 29 on how a “middle class” couple in NYC was able to save up and buy their first home by age 28. I love how real she is about it. She doesn’t say it was easy, she doesn’t say it was glamorous but she shares how rewarding it was to write a $40,000 check with her husband and gives us some tips on how she did it.

- Her husband eats peanut butter sandwiches everyday for lunch
- Coffee from $3 can of Bustelo
- They take the subway everywhere
- They order the $3 draft vs. the $14 cocktail
- Cook at home and eat via romantic candlelight daily
- Never said no to extra cash jobs

For more about their process, read the full article.