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If I can do it, you can too!

Dearest YOU (yes, you!),

I started my company because I knew absolutely nothing about money and personal finance. I saw my bank account balance depleting and I knew I had to do something about it. You might be thinking, “how could a finance major in a finance job know nothing about personal finance?” It’s just not something I ever learned!

I declared a money emergency and proceeded to read 20 personal finance books. I decided to write about my money journey because what I experienced was truly life-changing and liberating. I wanted to share what I discovered with others. I was petrified to put myself out there but I did it anyway. This was bigger than me and my fears – I wanted to help!

People reached out to me with questions and websites like GoGirl Finance asked me to write for them. My company was born. Fast forward a few years and I’m a money guru!

happiness, money coach

Why am I sharing this?

I’m not special, genius or even good at math. Just a few years ago I was clueless, scared and let’s face it, a financial mess. Given the right tools, knowledge and mindset my life as I know it was completely transformed.

If I can do it, so can you! And I’m not just talking about part of it. You can have all of it! You can take complete control of your money and live in a truly powerful way.

money coach, financial wellness, financial bliss

What your credit score could mean for your love life

A recent study released by the Federal Reserve Board says that our credit scores are correlated to our love lives. You can read the full study here. Why am I so excited about this? If love isn’t a reason to get your credit score up, I don’t know what is!

Our credit score is often a reflection of our overall financial wellness so when you start saving, consistently pay down your debt and get your finances in shape, your score will start rising. Often how we do one thing is how we do everything. People who are reliable and dependable in their finances are often the same way in other areas of their lives, including relationships.

Here are some fun stats from the study.

A 105 increase in credit score implies a 32% less likelihood of separating. This is great news for people who have credit scores that are less than stellar. Increasing your score, decreases the chance you’ll separate!

Individuals whose score is 109 points higher have a 14% higher likelihood of forming a relationship in the next year.  Single and looking? This is great news! Increase your score if you want to enter into a committed relationship within the next year.

Those with the lowest credit scores are about 30% less likely to form a committed relationship. On average, millennials have the lowest credit scores of any age group. This makes sense because 15% of our credit score is determined by our credit history. If you’re younger, you’ve had less time to develop a credit history.  People are also settling down in committed relationships later in life. Regardless, the overall theme stands. If you want to get into a committed relationship get your score up!  

I’d love to hear what you think! From your experience, does your credit score correlate with how reliable and dependable you are in other areas of your life?

Here’s my clip on Fox & Friends talking about the study.

fox & friends, money coach, credit score, love and money

Why Tidying Up will Save You Money

I have always struggled with being messy. It’s not that I don’t like having a clean room or apartment, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t seem to keep my place tidy. There was always a trail of stuff in my wake. You could almost follow where I was and what I did throughout the day by the messes I left behind. As someone who works from home this became more and more frustrating. It’s so much easier to concentrate and be productive in a space that’s tidy but I couldn’t keep any room neat for the life of me.

Then… something magical happened. A friend recommended the book the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I read this book and did everything the author and tidy-master, Marie said. I started with my clothes, then books, then komono (miscellany). I always had an inkling that my stuff was controlling me instead of vice versa but the book gave me permission to let a lot of it go in a methodical way. I’m very excited to say that miraculously I am now somehow tidy and truly enjoy my space. An unexpected bonus – I also save time and money.

save money, tidying up, lifechanging magic of tidying up

I can’t ignore the link between budgeting and tidying up. It became crystal clear to me as I was reading. Marie recommends discarding or donating any items that don’t bring you joy. This creates more space, a clutter-free environment and you end up only surrounded by things that spark joy. The best part about her theory is that you don’t actually miss anything that you discard. You may have been holding on to some items because you felt guilty or wasteful getting rid of them, thought you might use them someday or even totally forgot you had them. Once you discard them you just feel lighter and free. You don’t miss them because they didn’t bring you joy in the first place.

I believe this is exactly how we should budget. People view budgeting as an act of restriction or deprivation but that just doesn’t work! There are so many things in our life that we spend money on just because we are in the habit of it, our friends do it or we’re not even aware that we are doing it. If we take an honest, item-by-item look and truly assess what spending sparks joy, we can strip out the rest without feeling any sense of deprivation or lack. You won’t even miss it! All the while, you’re creating space in your budget for more things or experiences that truly bring you joy. We can make room for saving, investing and paying down debt while maintaining a truly fabulous lifestyle. How abundant!

I recommend taking a look at each item you spend and asking yourself if it sparks joy. If you do this, you’ll be surprised by how much you can start saving without having to eliminate the things that you love the most.

Fiscal Femme Fridays – the Roundup – October 23rd

The New & Improved Fiscal Femme_04.11.15

Happy Fiscal Femme Friday! We’re 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 around money.

5 MINUTE FINANCIAL BLISS TIP: Invest in yourself! We don’t learn about money in school and rarely talk about it. It’s no wonder we find the topic confusing. Instead of avoiding it all together, commit to investing in your financial wellness. Choose an article, book or course about a money topic and learn. Take 5 minutes to peruse your options and then choose. How will you invest in your financial wellness?

fearless friday, knowing your worth, the fiscal femme, money coach

FRUGAL JOY: Garlic shrimp with zucchini noodles! This takes under 10 minutes, looks impressive and costs very little. All you need to do is heat up some olive oil and garlic in a pan, add the shrimp, spiralize some zucchini noodles and add them at the very end to let them heat up. Bon apetit!

frugal joys, the fiscal femme, money coach, nyc

LESSON LEARNED: If you have spoken with me in the last week or two, you’ll know that I’m reading a new book and am completely obsessed. A friend recommended the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and just as the title suggests, it has absolutely changed my life! I’m going to be writing more about how our tidiness is linked with our money and how this messy girl (ya, me!) was able to tidy up her apartment and life using the KonMari method. It feels so good!

MONEY INSPIRATION: I have some new fabulous members on my team this fall and I’m so excited to introduce you! Aury is a sophomore at the College of New Jersey and has been helping me spread money inspiration via partnerships with inspiring brands. I hope you enjoy our interview and stay tuned for some blog posts from Aury.

Aury Cifuentes, Knowing Your Worth, Team, Fiscal Femme

What’s your #1 frugal joy?
I really love using coupons and finding scannable discounts on my phone. I’m not a hardcore coupon girl yet but my biggest feat was saving $25 at the grocery store at once.

Do You have a ‘Money Motto?
“Save and stash” is my motto because a stash doesn’t necessarily have to be under your mattress. A stash is savings for a rainy day, an unexpected expense or even having a little luxury moment :)
Best money advice you ever got?
The best advice I ever got about money was “record your money flow anywhere because the key is to not lose track.” I used to forget to update my budget spreadsheet and my money was nowhere to be found.
Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
On a Saturday night if I’m not at a potluck with my friends then I’ll be hitting the gym and planning my week.
What are you most excited about right now?
I am super excited to be working with Ashley until December. We’ll be helping women everywhere know their worth!!
How can people connect with you?
I love email (aury@knowingyourworth.com) and Facebook!

DON’T MISS: If you missed it, check out Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on why she makes less than her male co-stars. She is hysterical and courageous and it’s an extremely important conversation. What are you not negotiating?

Cooking with the Fiscal Femme – Easy Salmon & Potatoes

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting two amazing people who traveled all the way from Dallas and Chicago. I met Haley, our chef for the evening when she did the 30 Day Money Cleanse in January and we’ve kept in touch ever since. When I heard she was visiting NYC with her best friend Taylor, I was so excited to get together and do something fun and fabulously frugal. We decided to cook one of Haley’s favorite recipes and spend the evening chatting, cooking, videoing and drinking delicious wine.

Believe me when I tell you this is on the easiest and most delicious recipes I have ever had. I love salmon and am newly obsessed with rainbow carrots. They are so beautiful and delicious! This is a meal you can have any night of the week or on more special occasions when you are entertaining friends and family. $5.42 per person for a dinner party is not too shabby! Hope you enjoy our creation and don’t miss Haley’s video talking about her experience doing the Money Cleanse below. Thank you Taylor for videoing both videos!

Total cost of $21.68 for 4 people – $5.42 per person with leftovers.

– 2 Russet potatoes ($0,42)
– 2 Sweet potatoes ($1.79)
– A few small red potatoes ($0.99)
– Rainbow carrots ($2.49)
– Salmon ($15.99 for 1.5 lbs)
– Balsamic glaze
– Rosemary
– Olive oil
– Salt & pepper

– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
– Chop up the potatoes and carrots and mix them with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper
– Bake for 40 minutes
– Cover salmon with balsamic glaze
– Bake 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked all the way through
– That’s it!

Make Your Dreams Fabulously Frugal with These 5 Steps

I have the travel bug. I day dream about far away (and nearby) places, drool over friends’ travel photos and create itineraries for fictitious trips. While this might sound like an expensive bug, pairing travel with being fabulously frugal means more travel for less cost. Why take one trip when you can take two equally fabulous trips for the same amount of money?

fabulously frugal, travel, money coach, knowing your worth, the fiscal femme

Many of the things we dream about are pretty darn pricey. The pricier the dream, the longer it will take for us to save up to pay for it. Getting creative affords us the opportunity to live our dreams faster. That doesn’t mean the dream is any less fabulous, it just means we figured out a way to get it cheaper.

So how do you do it?

  1. Start with the dream. List out some of the things you dream about. One of my dreams is to live in another country each year.
  2. Then, get to the bottom of why it’s important. I want to explore the world and learn about different cultures. I had never traveled longer than a couple of weeks before our honeymoon. There was something so magical about stepping out of your day-to-day and immersing yourself in another way of living. I came back inspired and motivated.
  3. Now it’s time to get creative. You want to honor what’s most important about your dream and let go of what’s not important so that you can bring down the cost. Living in another country for a month each year would honor what’s most important about my dream. There are sites that do house swaps where someone comes to live in your home while you live in theirs. If you are able to find a good match, this actually erases the entire cost of hotels. You continue paying your rent or mortgage while you’re away. The only additional cost would be the flight to your new home. Not bad!
  4. Test it out. Once you have a list of creative solutions, test them out. Think them through and see which one gets you the most excited. Does a solution like this exist? For me, I’d want to do some research into how realistic it is to do a house swap. Would I feel comfortable? How does it work?
  5. Share it. Sharing the dream with those in your life is really important. First, you will want to get those who are part of the dream to buy in. When I first shared my travel dream with Justin, I could see his blood pressure rise. He said, “wow, that’s an expensive dream!” Once he heard me out, he realized that the only additional cost would be the flight and maybe some vacation time on his end. Now he’s on board! Sharing your dream also puts it out there. You are enlisting a team of friends and family to support you and hold you accountable for making your dream come true.

That’s all there is to making your dreams fabulously frugal so that you can live them sooner! Dream, create and share. I’d love to hear what you are dreaming about. Send me an email or comment below. I’m here to help make your dreams come true!

fabulously frugal, travel, fiscal femme, knowing your worth

The Fabulously Frugal Challenge

Money is about living our best life now and in the long-term. How do we maximize each dollar we spend and use so that we can achieve all of our goals and dreams by a certain period of time? One of my favorite ways to do that is by being fabulously frugal. Being fabulously frugal is about increasing the fabulous in our life while decreasing the cost.

Frugality means caring about value. Being frugal is about making choices to maximize the value, enjoyment and happiness you get for your money.

Let’s all take on the challenge of being fabulously frugal this month. Look for ways to save money while living more fabulously in each area of your life. For some areas of your life, this will seem really easy. For others, it might take some creativity and brainstorming with friends.

You’ll know when you’ve come up with something good because it will feel like a win-win. You’ll  be saving money but also would actually prefer this way of doing things even if money weren’t in the equation. This is really personal and will be different for everyone. Don’t forget to take a look at your savings on an annual basis. A $5 savings per day might not feel like it’s having a big impact but when you look at that annually, that’s $1,825 you’ve freed up to use elsewhere or save.

Here are some ideas for being fabulously frugal. ‘d love to hear what you find. Send me an email at ashley@knowingyourworth.com or comment below with your fab frugal ideas!

FITNESS: I’m a huge fan of ClassPass. It’s so fabulously frugal because you get to go to amazing studios around the city for a flat rate that pays for itself in 4 classes. I hate the idea of my fitness bill increasing the more I work out. They also have an easy booking system so that you can book whatever studios you want, wherever you want in the city. I run to whatever class I’m going to in order to get more cardio and save on the subway swipe to and from the studio. While the weather is still nice, I love to workout outside. Justin, Simi and I ran through Central Park over the weekend and I was in awe of the view. I want to enjoy every last bit of good weather before the cold starts rolling in!

fabulously frugal, knowing your worth, the fiscal femme, money coach

BEAUTY: There are so many ways to decrease the price of your beauty bill while increasing your fabulousness. One of which is to go to a hair stylist in training at a fancy salon. You get the same level of service as if you were a full paying customer but it does take a bit more time because your cut/color will be checked over by an experienced stylist. I also love Lifebooker for getting great deals around the city on anything beauty related. I would use this site even if it weren’t for the deals because it makes it so easy to book appointments whenever and wherever you want. One investment I made for our wedding has paid off in dividends – my clip in extensions. I can look and feel fabulous without getting my hair blown out which is a ~$45 savings each time. Not only can I wear them whenever I want, they save me the time of travel to and from the salon and more than paid for themselves by the 5th blowout I skipped.

TRAVEL: I learned a lot about being a fabulously frugal traveler when Justin and I traveled for our honeymoon this summer. Sometimes we were fabulously frugal and other times it was more of a learning experience but I share my best tips in 10 Ways to Save Big While Traveling.

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HOME DECOR: I’m newly obsessed with a company called Homepolish which offers interior design services by the hour. Advice from the experts can save us time, help us create a space we love to spend time in and save us lots of money. They can also help you plan your wedding registry so you only get things you will use and love for your home. Stay tuned for more! I’m going to sit down with one of their designers in November for an interview. I also love fun DIY projects. PopSugar has tons of DIY decor ideas for you to go through that will make you proud.

knowing your worth, money coach, homepolish, fabulously frugal

A Homepolish living room.

FASHION: I have found that planning is the best way to be fabulously frugal when it comes to shopping. When you know what you want, you can wait for the sample sale or for the item to go on sale. When you are in a rush, you are at the mercy of the store and whatever they are offering. I watch the sales in my area via Racked.com. I learned so much from working with Rachel Levin (our interview here). Stay tuned for a post on my simplified, high quality wardrobe – complements of Rachel!

FOOD: I love cooking healthy, easy, delicious and cheap recipes (here’s one for pickles!)! If you have some favorites, please send them my way. I also love having friends over for dinner. When I want to host a dinner party but am not in the mood to cook, I use Kitchensurfing. Kitchensurfing offers a very affordable service where a chef comes in, cooks for you and your guests and cleans up. Very fabulously frugal! A potluck is another great idea. Have everyone bring a dish and you can even get creative with fun dinner party themes.

DRINK: My new favorite toy, the Coravin, saves me money and increases the fabulousness of my life because I get to taste wine without opening the bottle! Sharing a bottle of wine with friends at the park or in your home is much cheaper than going out (2.5-3x as cheap). It’s also often quieter and cozier which makes it easier to enjoy the amazing company.

I also love making infused water which tastes amazing, keeps me hydrated and costs very little. Here are 8 delicious infused water recipes from Shape.com.

The Often Overlooked Way to Be Fabulously Frugal

Being fabulously frugal is one of my favorite games in life and also one of my favorite concepts. Save money, live a better life. Who doesn’t want to do more of that?

Sometimes, being fabulously frugal means spending money up front, to save money later. It might sound counterintuitive but we are faced with decisions to do this all of the time. Grocery shopping is a great example. In one trip, you spend a lot more than you would on a regular meal, but then you don’t have to spend money on meals the rest of the week (even two weeks).

A less common example is my new Coravin. For those of you who haven’t heard the news, a Coravin is a genius machine that lets you take tastes, even glasses out of a wine bottle without removing the cork or affecting the aging process. As a wine lover who enjoys tasting a bunch of wines, this is a very exciting innovation. I can try everything in our cellar without evening opening a bottle. This will end up saving me so much money and definitely increases the fabulousness in my life! When I launched my Savvy Investor course last week, Justin and I celebrated by tasting a very old and delicious Italian wine. Best part is, we can do that a bunch more times and see how it changes with age or decide to open the bottle later.

The Overlooked Way of Being Fabulously Frugal

When you make the decision to spend more now to save later, it’s important to honestly evaluate the purchase. Will this plan actually work when I put it into practice? Will this make my life more fabulous? Will this actually save me money? For example, if you pay for a yearly membership all up front in order to save, it’s important that you actually use the membership to make it worth while.

How have you invested up front to save money over the long run? How did it work out? I’d love to hear about it!

5 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make with Their Finances

Originally posted on Be Sage Wedding Pros.

Being an entrepreneur is an extremely fulfilling career where you get to live your passion, challenge yourself daily and experience great freedom. While you may love running your business and focusing on your expertise, other aspects, especially the finance side may feel overwhelming. While you may way to avoid the finances of your business altogether, financial decisions can magnify your success in the short and long run.

Having a handle on the financial side of your business is incredibly important. An understanding of the numbers can maximize what you earn, protect you and your family and even keep you in business. Dedicate some time to your finances each month and I promise it will improve your business, reduce stress and save you unnecessary heartache. Here are five mistakes small business owners make with their finances and most importantly, how you can avoid them.

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  1. They combine their business and personal finances.

As a small business owner it can be really tempting to lump your personal finances in with your business finances. Many of your personal expenses are also business expenses and it might seem simpler to look at them both together. I highly recommend keeping your personal finances separate from your business finances for multiple reasons. If your personal and business expenses aren’t separate it makes it very difficult to see how your business is actually doing. Large personal expenses can make business earnings look smaller than they actually are and vice versa. It will also add a lot of unnecessary work at tax time!

  1. They don’t pay themselves first.

Paying ourselves is another area where entrepreneurs struggle because often so much of what we make gets invested back into the business. At the end of the day, running a business is a job that you are doing so that you can make money. If you don’t pay yourself first and protect your financial future, no one else will do it for you. Take the time to set up the correct retirement options for you and your employees. Depending on your company structure you can set up a SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement), 401-K, Simple IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or defined benefit plan. Once you choose the correct structure for you, put it to work. Set up automatic contributions so that you are paying yourself each month. If it seems overwhelming, start small. You can contribute as little as 1% of your income and slowly work up from there. Some plans will increase your contributions automatically by whatever you choose over a specified period of time. If you increase you contribution percentage every month by 1%, you’ll be contributing 12% by the end of the first year and may hardly notice a change!

  1. They don’t get started investing. 

One of the most important ways you can reach your financial goals, retirement or otherwise, is to invest. Investing is a way to grow your savings so that you reach your goals more quickly while doing less work. While the wide world of investing can seem very daunting, it’s much more important to get started than to be perfect. We learn by doing, so no matter how much you read and research, nothing will compare with actually going through the process. Set aside a small amount of money to practice and you won’t regret it!

If you are ready to start investing, but aren’t sure where to start, check out the Savvy Investor course that starts on Tuesday. I’ll have you investing confidently and competently in 3 months, guaranteed.

  1. They wing it when it comes to financial projections.

As an entrepreneur, you will want to create projections into the next year and even the next few years. What do you expect your company to earn in the coming months given what you know about your current business and potential new revenue? What can you expect to spend each month based on recurring bills, when annual expenses fall and new investments you will make in your business? Breaking down how many new customers you will need to achieve your revenue goals will help you put together a plan to make it happen. Also, if you know you have a large expense coming up, you can plan for it accordingly by saving cash for a certain period of time, creating a payment plan or getting access to financing. If the large expense comes up and you didn’t plan for it, you will have to scrape the means together quickly and may have to take on unfavorable and expensive financing terms.

  1. They don’t have a monthly finance routine.

Bookkeeping is a very important practice for entrepreneurs. If you have the resources, this is something that you can also hire someone to do for a very reasonable fee. Bookkeeping just means keeping track of your income and expenses in an easy to reference way. There are various types of software available to help you do it, making it easy to see how much money you made and spent in a given month and even in a given category. You can track growth or decline in specific areas and revenue streams, however you prefer to look at your business. Also, you’d be surprised how much revenue companies lose by forgetting to collect on an invoice or by not following up with customers who have not yet paid. Losing money you’ve already earned is definitely something we all want to avoid!

Set aside time to focus on the money side of your business and you will be setting you and your business up for a bright future. While avoiding your finances altogether may feel easier at times, facing the numbers will help you create a plan for a successful business while also reducing your stress. The good news is that you don’t have to go at it alone. You have the option to hire wonderful professionals to help you make the right choices for you and your company. Don’t be afraid to use the resources available to you!

4 Investing Myths Debunked

The Savvy Investor course starts tonight and I could not be more excited to demystify the world of investing with this amazing group! I thought today would  be a perfect day to debunk some of the most common investing myths I hear. Think about what’s holding you back from getting started. Wouldn’t it be crazy if it were only a myth?! Here are 4 common investing myths, debunked.

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1- Investing is only for Wall Street and millionaires.

With all the information, jargon and people who lose a ton of money, investing can seem far out of reach and maybe even a bad idea for you and me. Fortunately, this could not be further from the truth. People like us can greatly benefit from investing our money for the long-term and most of us will not be able to reach our savings and retirement goals without doing so!

2 – You need a lot of money to start investing. 

To start to practice investing, you need very little money. You can buy a share of an index fund that mimics the S&P 500 and own a share of the largest 500 companies in the U.S. for under $200. Not too shabby! That being said, investing is for money that you don’t plan to use in the near future. You will want to have your emergency fund and any short-term savings in some form of cash such as a high yield savings account.

3 – Investing is very risky.

Investing can be very risky but doesn’t have to be very risky. For example, if you invest the money you plan to use for your vacation next year, there is a chance that you won’t have that money available when you need it. The market fluctuates and we don’t know where it will be day-to-day or even year-to-year. When you invest for the long-term (i.e. invest money you don’t need to touch for a long time), you take a lot of the risk out of investing because you can afford to wait out down cycles in the market. On average, the market has increased over the past 20 years, even the past 100 years so if you have the time to wait, you will be in much better shape than if you didn’t invest.

4 – Investing is difficult. 

This is another sometimes but not always scenario. Investing can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. There are entire firms dedicated to beating the market. They use algorithms, computer programs and market experts to decide where and how to invest. Others of us are happy investing in the market itself. You don’t have to beat the market in order to do well with investing! The market has done pretty darn well over the long run and you can invest in the market by investing in an index fund.

If you are interested in learning more, sign up for my Savvy Investor course that launches tonight. Over the course of 3 months I’ll teach you everything you need to know to be investing confidently and competently, guaranteed. I start with the very basics so you don’t need to know anything about investing or personal finance to join. It’s time to have your money start working for you! Send me a note if you have any questions.

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