A few years ago I worked as a Career Coach/Advisor and in my sessions with clients I would do goal setting activities. Their goals always had to be realistic, attainable and measurable. I have followed this rule of thumb for myself as well especially in my decision to focus on becoming debt free. Every year I would say, I am going to pay off several credit cards and make a dent in my student loans but would suddenly have a closet full of new clothes and items I truly did not need. I was more broke than I was the previous year. I was not being realistic. I would be overly ambitious and not consider my current situation. How one spends money is very connected to emotions and their understanding of how money works. If you’ve decided that you cannot control how money comes in and out of your account that same mindset will determine how you save and prioritize your money.
Taking control of your spending is the first step. I just read an article on Facebook that told the story of 5 women that paid off a half million in debt(total). Some were able to do it in as little as 1 year and as much as 9 years. What I loved about their stories were that each had different approaches to tackling their debt that fit their lifestyle and personalities. I think in order to work towards paying off debt you have to be realistic about your current situation. Are you ready to make the sacrifices necessary to get you of debt? What can you pay off given your current financial situation? How much time are you willing to dedicate to the process and the journey? Do you need outside assistance such as a financial coach, credit counseling, budgeting tools or apps, etc.?
Setting a deadline and writing it down for when you expect to get out of deb is crucial. Mine is three years. For me, its just enough time so that I am laser focused and I am not dragging my feet in the process. If it takes three years for me to get to a place where my money is not only going towards debt than it is all the more worth it.
Also, announce your goal to others. Tell your family members, friends or even put it out on social media(if you are comfortable). Accountability does help. If I know that someone is going to check in with me and ask what I have done to reach my goal, I am more likely to make an effort towards completing it. I don’t like to disappoint others or myself. This also helps to keep you on track.
So hopefully this helps you to start your journey on managing your finances. Here’s to being debt free in three years!
Link to article on women that paid off debt. http://www.refinery29.com/daily-worth/38#page-4
So I have had some major changes take place in my life since my last post May 9, 2012. Life got so crazy that I forgot to blog. Well maybe not forget I just did not put in the effort like I use to. To be honest I missed it. It was my sister who suggested I start blogging again. So much had happened that I needed to document it. So far it has been great capturing my last year and half.
July 2012 rolls around and my life changes. I was offered a position I had wanted for so long at a boarding school. It required me moving out of my hometown of Providence and make a new life for myself and my daughter in Massachusetts. No family close by. Just me and her. I was faced with both excitement and fear. Adrianna had grown up in the same house I did since she was born. She would miss having breakfast being made by grandma or her auntie and uncle picking her up from school and taking her out to eat. I would leave a place that I called home for the majority of my life to build a new one outside of what I was most comfortable with. As always I took the challenge and I ran with it. I gave my two weeks notice to my previous employer, packed everything I owned(well not everything) and made the move that would impact my life in ways I never dreamed of. I was now officially on my own.
I did however have to make a decision that was difficult but beneficial to both Adrianna and I. I decided to let my daughter stay with my parents my first 5 months while I adjusted to my new job, new home and new responsibilities. I did not think it was fair to have Adrianna go through the stress of the adjustments I was going to have to make. Probably one of the best decisions I made. While Adrianna remained in Providence I was able to figure what school to enroll her in once she arrived, I got to set up her new bedroom, create a comfortable schedule that would allow us more mommy and daughter time, not to mention I got to learn my job, and develop relationships with the faculty and staff who would also be instrumental in Adrianna’s life.
The other reason I decided to let Adrianna stay with my parents was that I was finishing up my last year of grad school. I had two semesters left and did not want to put it on hold. My goal was to graduate May 2013 and I had to make it happen. I almost quit twice. I was starting a new job, finishing up two courses one completely online as well as making it to as many classroom sessions as possible. The drive at times would take me an hour and half with traffic. Did I mention I had to complete my first draft of my thesis. Can you say crazy busy. Not only did I complete the draft, I also made frequent visits to see Adrianna and had a very successful first half at my job. I was doing it all. By God’s grace, support from my family, grad school advisors, friends and new colleagues I got it done. I received my Masters in Education from the University of RI May 2013.
That is my mom proudly photo bombing us in the back.
Dressed up and heading to a recruitment fair as part of my new job. I thought I was too cute!
When Adrianna arrived to live with me in Mass, which was January 2013, she was so excited for her new bed and her own room. This would be the first time she had both. Where we lived previously we shared a bed and a room. She even had her own bathroom at our new apt. So spoiled.
One of her many visits to my office. She enjoys posing for the camera as you can see.
Adrianna playing in the snow in front of our apt. last year(Jan 2013). She really enjoyed playing in the snow. Me on the other hand, not so much. She actually begged for me to take her out.
So it has been a long time since I have posted to my blog. Lots have happen but I am glad to say in all I have seen all my challenges through. Another year of grad school down, my daughter is close to completing Pre-K, and I have embarked on a 90 Day Weight-loss Challenge that has been life changing. Back in February I wrote about this year being the year for me to seek a healthy lifestyle, well I am doing it. Each day that I inch closer to my goal, I am proud how far I have come. Here are some photos showing what a difference a year makes.
This was me May 15, 2011 at a convention. I was around 236 lbs.
March 19, 2012. Day before I started my 90 Day Challenge 208lbs.
Me April 26, 2012. I feel great!
So 2012 has started and this is the time for New Year’s resolutions. If you are like me your resolution is only good for a few months. I have decided I am going to do something different. Every month I will set out to accomplish a goal whether it be large or small. It has to be Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and involved a Timeline for accomplishing it. I will be using the SMARTER Goal Setting strategy that I use with my clients when they are career planning. Each month I will document the goal and the progress I have made. So for the month of February I am committed to losing 10 pounds. This will get me closer to my goal weight of 165lbs which I hope to reach by April 2012. I will post pics to show my progress. Wish me luck!
So finally we got to celebrate Adrianna’s 5th birthday. It was not easy planning the event nor was it easy coordinating all the guest and making sure all the details were covered in the midst of my finals week at school along with major projects that needed to be completed at work. But the party was a success! Adrianna had a wonderful time with her friends and family. I cannot believe how much time has passed but I am very grateful for all the blessings that I received since having her. Mommy loves you and will always pray that you become the best you can be.
One of my grad school classes is a Foundations of Research course for my Adult Education program. By the end of the class I would have produced a research proposal which could probably become my Master Thesis if I want it to. I was so thrilled to have selected a topic that I personally am impacted by( as well as several of my friends) but also one I would like to learn more about. I would consider myself as part of the middle class and what I have found is access to programs for moms in my income bracket are very few, well at least in my state. I remember when I was making in the low 30s and being told my income was too high to receive help with my daughter’s health insurance. Let me provide some background information. At the time, it was a year of me being a single mom, I was working for a non-profit, Adrianna was 1 and half years old. In order to add her to my insurance through my job I would have had to pay 600 dollars a month. Now, how was I going to afford that with all my other expenses only making in the low 30s. Adrianna went two years without health coverage. Whenever she would get sick I would hope and pray that it would not get worse so I would not have to rush her to the hospital where the visit would cost between 200-300 dollars. This was not including any medications she needed. I would stare at the bills as they would pile up hoping that by me staring, they would suddenly disappear like I had some magically powers. I am sure many parents face this obstacle of paying for health insurance for their families especially if their employer does not provide it. But what happens to those families that do not meet the cut off or assistance based on their income. They are not at the poverty line but still need support. How do they get a little help when they are only working on one source of income. It has been quoted that in order to own a home in the state of Rhode Island you will need a combined income of 70,000 or more. Now let’s get real who do you know on average making that salary, especially single parents.
Please do not misunderstand as I do not have anything against two parent homes or even those receiving help from the state due to their financial standing. What I do take issue with is this assumption help is not needed by the single moms or dads in the middle. We all could use a little support especially during those times when the other parent fails to uphold their end of their financial responsibility. I am not saying pay our daycare bill or even gives us free healthcare(unless everyone is getting it) but give us a discount at least or how about allow us the ability to provide simple things for our kids as financial support for attending private schools when our school districts have failed to provide viable options(that is another topic for another day).
Because I am solution oriented I am thinking of ways this issue can be addressed. Well first put a spotlight on the issue. What issues are single parents in the middle class facing and how they are combating the issues? One of the ways I am eliminating my barriers is by embarking on a entrepreneurial journey. Generating a second income stream so that I am able to make up for where my full time job is not able to. Having even an additional 200 dollars coming in a month could help. Hey it would have helped pay my daughter’s medical expenses, bills, gas, etc when I was making less. We all need to be doing something “on the side” because our full time jobs cannot support our many needs, especially single parents in one income homes. My dream is to create a support network for those single parents that provides resources, networks, support systems that will eliminate some of the barriers faced. Giving them tools to start a business if their heart desires. Creating opportunities that lighten the load a little. I know I won’t save the world but if I can make things easier for one single parent, including myself, that it will be worth it.
I am so excited to introduce this Savvy Mom, a good friend of mine. Her name is Dana Lee Jones. She is a wife, stay at home to two beautiful little girls and owner of Dana Lee Jones Photography. She actually took the beautiful photo of Adrianna and I(featured in the last post on this page). She is what I like to call a Extreme Couponer Extraordinaire. She has been couponing for some time. I am impressed by how much she saves on her grocery bills. She has estimated a savings of $10,000 dollars since she has started. Amazing! I have posted the audio of her explaining the steps. What I learned from her is that it takes organization, diligence and flexibility. If you are willing to do all those things and more, you will be saving money in no time. Please enjoy the tips. Any questions, feel free to comment below and Dana will respond. Happy couponing!