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Everyday Negotiations – The Good & Bad of Banks

I had two very interesting negotiations this week. One was completely pleasant and successful and the other, not so much.

I transferred money over just a little too late to my checking account and my automatic credit card payment was declined. I was charged fees on both ends of the deal. We are talking, late payment fee ($25) and interest ($44) from the credit card and a return payment fee ($34) and monthly servicing fee ($10) from the bank for having my balance lower than the suggested level. OUCH! I called up Chase to tell my story and all fees were easily removed. I have been a great customer for years and hadn’t had a late payment like this before. Imagine if I didn’t call to ask? That’s over $100 in fees!? Always negotiate away fees.

The other negotiation is more of a saga that unfortunately I don’t have the ending to yet. Stay tuned for my relentless pursuit of consumer transparency!

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Manifest the Entrepreneurial Life You’ve Always Wanted

I have one more incredible workshop this month with the talented and fabulous Jill Ozovek and Danielle Mercurio. We are taking our talents to In Good Company, home of many incredible woman entrepreneurs.

Being an entrepreneur is an incredible opportunity and honor but it comes with its challenges. Being in charge and wearing most if not all the company hats can have us working around the clock, taking on large amounts of stress and ignoring our health and wellness all the while missing out on huge growth opportunities for our companies because we are too busy getting things done to see them. Sound familiar?

We can help! This workshop is for entrepreneurs who are ready to take their life and businesses to the next level. If you are ready to earn more, live more, and feel great doing it, join us on January 30th for this amazing workshop – Manifest the Entrepreneurial Life You’ve Always Wanted. We’d love to see you there!

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How to Set Up Your Very Own Happiness Allocation: Part 2

At this point, you are hopefully keeping a money journal to see once and for all where your money is going. This probably has opened your eyes to some things. Maybe you didn’t even realize you were spending your money in certain places or maybe you noticed how the little expenses add up. You might even be seeing some ways you’d rather spend your money.

No matter how unpleasant this part of the journey is for you, know that knowing is MUCH better than being in the dark and it’s also much less stressful. You may notice that you feel guilty after most purchases. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t be making those purchases. Without a happiness allocation you have no idea what you can be spending in each area of your life while still reaching your goals. No wonder we feel guilty! That’s one of the freedoms of creating a happiness allocation. Once you decide where your money is going, you can spend your money according to plan completely guilt-free. Insert sigh of relief! Aaaaaahhh…

Now it’s time to see how your numbers stack up. You might think budgeting requires some complicated equation but all you need to know is the golden rule of personal finance. Inflows minus outflows equals what we have leftover to allocate to our goals. That’s it!

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That’s really all there is to it. You can apply this equation to any goal you have with your happiness allocation. If you want to save $10,000 this year for an emergency fund and fantastic vacation, you would calculate your total inflows for the year (annual after-tax income) minus your total outflows for the year (your expenses) and you’d want that to equal $10,000. If you are switching careers and are taking a big salary cut and just want to live within your means, you would calculate your total income after-tax for the year, minus your total expenses for the year and you’d want that to be greater than $0. You can look at this on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. You can slice and dice it however you want!

With the information from your money journal, populate this equation. When you take your income minus your expenses, what’s leftover for your most coveted goals? If you are in the red, this probably means you would be taking on expensive credit card debt or using your year-end bonus or tax return to fund your lifestyle. Do not fret if this equation doesn’t look how you had hoped. You can’t do anything about it until you know what it is. And this information will give us all we need to move on to the next step.

Cute puppies make happiness allocations even happier!

Cute puppies make happiness allocations even happier!

Start a Business ‘On a Budget’

I’m loving the ‘on a budget’ theme of this month because it helps us spend our money in ways that maximize our happiness. We can only spend each dollar once. We might as well get as much bang for our buck as possible! This is what being fabulously frugal is all about. Who says frugal means no fun? When you are being fabulously frugal, your lifestyle looks just as fabulous or even more fabulous but for a lower cost! I can get used to that!

The fabulously frugal concept can be applied to absolutely anything.

I know so many talented and amazing people and they come up with brilliant ideas for businesses and products all the time. Starting a business can feel like a lofty. It can take a lot of time, risk and of course, money. Why not take the fabulously frugal  concept and apply it to starting a business? How can you get the ball rolling and get the money rolling in without a significant investment?

Work Out of Your Home

When you were dreaming about being an entrepreneur, you might not have imagined yourself working from the your corner office in your studio apartment… but when you are getting started, saving on office space is a HUGE money saver. I personally LOVE working from my home office. Not only do I save on office space, but I get to skip the commute, eat all my meals at home and can wear whatever I want. It’s a huge money and time saver. If you are working with a team, you can work remotely more the majority of your time and plan regular meetings for everyone to get together.

Make Your Own Website

Most businesses need a good website and for many it’s an absolutely necessity. If you’ve done any research you might have noticed that websites are EXPENSIVE. This is a major start-up cost for many businesses. Lucky for you, there are now many sites that help you create your own website without using ANY coding. That’s right, they are drag and drop. You can create a professional website in minutes for very little cost. I’m probably the opposite of a tech guru and I was able to figure these sites with no problem! Wix.com has a great easy to use platform that allows you to create your own website using beautiful templates.

Trade Services

If you need someone’s help for your new business, there may be the opportunity to trade services. Maybe you’d love to hire your friend who is a graphic designer and she really needs your social media expertise. You help her build her social media presence and she makes you some awesome graphics. It’s a win-win and you don’t have to spend your precious cash early on.

Hire the Up and Coming

If you can’t find a way to trade for services, seek out the up-and-coming experts in their field. When you invest in someone who’s working to build their business and customer base, you will probably get a better price and incredible service because it’s really important to them that they do an amazing job for you so that you recommend them to your friends in the future!

Get in the Habit of Cost-Benefit Analysis

You can only spend each dollar once. Every time you make an investment for your business, no matter how small, run through a quick cost benefit analysis. What are you getting from this new purchase? Will it directly increase revenue? Will it save you time that you can now focus on the operations of your business? Is there a way you can get it for less? These are all great questions to ask yourself before you make the decision to buy something.

Decorating will be my first project after the wedding. Would love any and all fun ideas for this space! :)

Decorating will be my first project after the wedding. Would love any and all fun ideas for this space! :)

How to Set Up Your Very Own Happiness Allocation

As you know, this year I am out to demystify the world of money and personal finance for you! Each month I’ll be demystifying a new personal finance topic. With the start of a new year, for me January is all about goals, planning and vision. We are looking forward and deciding what we want to experience, achieve and live in the coming year. All goals are financial goals. Money is always involved in our goals in one way or another but we often overlook the money part. Interesting!

That’s where creating a happiness allocation comes in. Happiness allocation is my word for budget. It’s my re-frame of the word the entire world hates. You probably hate the word budget. You might even have a physical reaction when you hear it.  Do you cringe? Does your body tense up? We associate budgeting with restriction, scarcity and lack. Happiness allocations are all about power, happiness and choice. It’s a tool that helps us figure out what’s coming in and what’s going out so we can use our money in the ways that make us truly the happiest. Happiness allocations help us save for exotic vacations, our dream weddings, new ventures, get us out of debt and establish our financial security. Sounds pretty useful right?

This month I’m going to take you through the steps to create a happiness allocation of your own so you can get what you really want this year and in the years to come.

The first step is actually facing the numbers. We have to take a realistic look at where our money is going so we can know where we stand.  How many of you hear yourself or your friends say “where is all my money going?” WAY too many of us!

It’s your turn to play detective. Keep a money journal to find out where your money is actually going once and for all. Writing down everything you spend on paper or in your phone will give you the information you need to create your own happiness allocation. It’s time to take off the blindfold and see the truth! It might sound all too scary but you will actually feel a huge weight lift off your shoulders just from knowing this powerful information.  You can’t do anything about it until you know what it is.

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Meet Amanda Perna: Incredible Designer & Savvy Entrepreneur

I’m so excited to be introducing you to my new friend, extremely talented designer and savvy entrepreneur, Amanda Perna. She is making me a dress for my wedding and I really could not be more excited to pick it up in a few short weeks (stay tuned for pictures!). Not only is Amanda’s work absolutely gorgeous and fun, she also all about creating long-term customer relationships. She gets her customers what they want at an extremely high quality for a very fair price. While I don’t know much about fashion, she was able to walk me through all design decisions and I really feel part of her incredible team!

I hope you enjoy this interview with Amanda! If you want more, I found a great Q&A sesh and fun videos from her time on Project Runway.House of Perna_Meet Amanda Perna_2_Money Coach_the Fiscal Femme_01.16.15

What’s your #1 Frugal Joy? Frugal joys are things that are free or inexpensive that make you really happy!
My #1 frugal joy is hanging out with family and friends. Just sitting at my or a loved ones home and hanging out.

Do You have a ‘Money Motto?’
My money motto is to only buy things I need or love. When shopping, if I just LIKE something but don’t LOVE it I don’t buy it. If I don’t love it I don’t need it.

Best money advice you ever got?
The best money advice I ever got is to set priorities with how you spend your money. You want to be able to live and have fun but also be able to save for your dream home, vacation, etc. Still to this day I give myself an allowance that I can spend on fun things and save for the big things.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
The challenge of owning my own business is I often work nights and weekends at my studio too, which I don’t mind because I love it. If I’m not working in my studio on a sat night, I am cooking for family and friends or hanging out at a local restaurant or the beach.

What are you most excited about right now?
I am the most excited about the expansion of my business! We have an incredible team behind me making the grand grow. We are now starting a line of Bridal and bridesmaids dresses.

How can people connect with you?
You can check out our website (thehouseofperna.com) which has been revamped and will be live by the end of Jan. You can also connect with us on social media @thehouseofperna or me personally @theamandaperna

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Snag the Job of Your Dreams – Strikes Again

I know you loved meeting Jill Ozovek and Danielle Mercurio through the Fiscal Femme interviews the past few weeks. They are amazing! I’m so lucky to be working with them on a workshop series – Snag the Job of your Dreams… and be happy, healthy & financially savvy in the process. Our first event this week sold out (woot!) for a beautiful Levo League crowd and we had SO much fun. The energy was buzzing, the wine was flowing and the questions kept coming.

Snagging your dream job is serious business.

Snagging your dream job is serious business.

If you missed out on the fun, do not fret. We are going to be at Wix Lounge on Thursday January 22nd for another round of fun. No matter where you are in your career, this workshop will help! Whether you know you want to do something else but have no idea what, know exactly what you want to do but feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect of a change, or are about to take the leap and just need some last minute advice, we have you covered! Get tickets here.

The beautiful women of Levo League snagging their dream job!

The beautiful women of Levo League snagging their dream job!

Take the first step toward financial wellness!

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Marie knew her stuff! The first step is always the most difficult. Once you take even the smallest, itty bitty step, momentum takes over and you are on well on your way to financial wellness. What areas of your money life have you been planning on making strides in this year? What is one very small step you can commit to taking today to get you on your way? How great would it feel to actually achieve your financial goals for 2015?

I’d love to hear what step you plan to take to get you on the road to financial wellness. And I’m here to help! Remember, no step is too small. It’s not the size of the step that important… it’s the fact that you are doing something, making progress and moving forward.

Maybe your first step is to research brokerage accounts if your goal is to start investing. Maybe it’s to update your resume if you are looking to Snag the Job of Your Dreams. Whatever it is, schedule 10-15 minutes in your calendar and do something! I’m excited to see where this first step takes you.

Why I love ‘Wine on a Budget!’

Our ‘Wine on a Budget’ event with sommelier extraordinaire, Hillary Zio was absolutely fabulous. Great wine, great food and great people… what could be better? Hillary took the event up a notch with some healthy competition. She gave us a list of 5 white and 5 red grape varietals and we had to guess new world vs. old world as well as vote on the grape varietal for each wine we tasted. The winner won a bottle of their favorite wine. It was a VERY humbling competition for me!

There were also some great raffle prizes. Lucky winners received a free wine class at NY Vintners and entry into the March 30 Day Money Cleanse. Ya!

As you can tell, I’m kind of obsessed with this whole ‘On a Budget’ event theme. Why? They either save you money or make your life more fabulous. Participants would either save money by knowing how to find great quality wine for a great price or will increase their lifestyle by drinking higher quality wine! It’s all about being fabulously frugal. We can only spend each dollar we have once, so we might as well spend it in a way that maximizes our happiness.

Stay tuned for more ‘On a Budget’ events coming in the next few months.There is a ‘Flowers on a Budget’ event in the works where an expert will teach us to make an amazing bouquet on our own that won’t break the bank. She’ll share which flowers last the longest and which will wilt in a day or two. I also have a ‘Cheese on a Budget’ in the works because who doesn’t love cheese?

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

We have 31 days left until our wedding weekend – project ‘Get Abs & Save Money‘ is going strong and getting stronger! If you’ve been following my journey, you know that it actually has been strangely painless to change my eating and exercise habits for the better. It has taken a lot commitment but feels pretty darn amazing! I went in with a great plan and accountability from my incredible nutritionist, Samantha Lynch and I’ve been really loving doing all the great workout classes on ClassPass.

Like with any goal, it’s important to check in along the way to see if you are on track to achieve it by your specified time frame. This is especially important as you get close to the finish line! If you have the goal of saving up for a trip to Europe this summer and want to be able to book flight and hotels by March to get the best prices, you will have to check in to see if you are where you need to be to reach that savings goal by that specific date. Buying the tickets is essential to taking that trip you want so much!

If you reassess and realize you need to save more than planned in the last couple of months, it’s not the end of the world, you just have to take your saving up a notch to meet your goal. It’s time to recommit. You then can figure out a plan and make it happen!

Last week I wrote about the importance of building your ‘dream team.’ When Ariel (my sister) and I quit sugar, I realized I needed to set up my dream team to save myself the pain of Justin putting his delicious donuts, cookies and pies in my face to offer me a bite. Especially when you are starting something new and might actually just forget what you are up to, it’s great to have your loved ones on your side supporting you! The January 30 Day Money Cleanse is in full swing and a lot of the participants have committed to using cash for the next week. The habit of using a credit card is often so automatic for us that many of them have gone into autopilot and swiped their card over the last few days. Build these habits and getting conscious about our spending takes time but can happen faster and easier if the people around us knew to remind us and support us.

30 days out is a great time for me to take my goal up a notch too. I definitely see major improvements but haven’t yet reached my ultimate goal! Luckily, everything I’m committed to doing this last 30 days won’t cost me more money.

To take my goal to the next level I am -

- Continuing to eat 100 grams of protein a day while limiting carbs to 140 grams (works with current budget)
- Continuing to eliminate all items with sugar on the ingredient list from my diet (works with current budget)
- Increasing my workouts to 5-6x a week (no extra cost with ClassPass!)
- Drinking 10 glasses of water a day (water is free!)
- Decreasing my sodium to 50% of my DV (works with current budget – will reassess in 2 weeks)
- No alcohol, except for wine in 2oz tasting increments (probably some cost savings!)

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Afternoon snack!