Free Budgeting in Cyberspace
- Created on 22 July 2014
Are you looking for useful tools to help create a budget and manage your spending? Never fear, the Internet is here. We've looked at a number of useful options and boiled it down to three. Our criteria was simple: FREE and EASY. Depending on your needs, there's a tool for you. Keep reading to the end, we definitely saved the best for last.
Does Credit Monitoring Make Good Cent$?
- Created on 10 July 2014
Credit monitoring services cost between $10-$30/month. The companies tout a bevy of services, including:
Student Loan Changes, Help or Hurt?
- Created on 02 July 2014
Are the new changes to student loan repayment options as clear as mud? Let’s wipe away the muck and determine how the changes help or hurt. Hurt? Unfortunately everything that glitters ain’t gold.
In June, the president signed an executive order giving 5 million more student loan borrowers access to the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) income based repayment program. All borrowers with loans prior to October 2007 are now eligible. This program will be available beginning December 2015.
The high points include:
Spent The Movie - Solutions for Change
- Created on 19 June 2014
American Express has sponsored an interesting documentary which takes a look at a large group of people in this country which don't or can't (for a myriad of reasons) use mainstream banking institutions to manage their personal finances. A new label is floating around, "financially under-served".
I'll admit, when I first learned about Spent: Looking for Change - a film about personal finances sponsored by a credit card company - I was skeptical. However, I do appreciate whoever decides to shine a light on a problem that impacts 1 in 4 households in this country. As the film illustrates, there is a poverty profit sector of business that takes advantage of the less educated, those in financial distress, or those who just refuse to do better. Again, there are a myriad of reasons people find themselves in the cycle of using payday loans, rapid refund, or pawn shops. From the movie, I have had to adjust my understanding of the types of people who use these services on a regular basis.
I hesitate to lay all blame on the individual or on the poverty profit businesses for seizing an opportunity. It seems more useful to find solutions. How can 70 million financially under-served Americans be helped or help themselves out of these vicious cycles? Should we even try to work up to a solution for an instant gratification society who has options and may just choose not to employ the better options at hand? I'm asking provocative questions because I'm generally interested and want to hear from you. Please watch the video and let's continue the great conversation that started on our Facebook page below.
- Created on 12 June 2014
Many blogs on this site are ripped from the headlines of my personal experiences. After all, I’m an expert on me and my experiences are fairly common. Just the other day, I’m speaking with a friend about plans, issues, and future goals. She makes an interesting comment, “I’m over this ownership thing.” Growing up, ownership was always drilled into my psyche. Ownership, ownership, ownership. It seems ownership makes the best sense only when you are prepared: mentally and financially.
My own husband made an emphatic declaration recently – “… our next move is back to a condo!” He didn’t care where or how, but absolutely no house. Let’s assume frustration with a leaky water heater and the prospect of an air conditioner malfunction as the summer heats up were talking. Two months after moving in, that’s enough to drive anyone bonkers. Which is better – rent or buy?
- Created on 04 June 2014
In my other life beyond the Debt Free Divas, I run a community Laundromat with my wonderful husband. The experience has been filled with trials, triumphs and tests of wills. We’ve bounced back from stolen power lines, questionable employees, and general fatigue common with keeping a struggling business a float. After 10 years, we’ve hit a snag that might be a game changer.
We are well aware that most small businesses fail. However, I think like most entrepreneurs, we pushed forward with an optimism that in some ways is part delusional. We invested a massive amount of time and treasurer into the endeavor because we believed that we could overcome the obstacles. This effort was not just a business, we also saw it as a mission field. What better way to build relationships with people in a community than to spend time with them while washing. That was our plan.
- Created on 16 May 2014
Are you familiar with a mastermind? As a budding online entrepreneur, I immerse myself in business how-to’s, best practices, and successful tips and tactics of those doing what I strive to accomplish. I’ve been running into this topic, mastermind, for some time. Essentially, a mastermind is an accountability group. Members meet regularly (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) and help one another with advice, share strategies, or provide connections to help each other reach stated goals. The idea is simple – there is strength in numbers.
Are You Really Helping?
- Created on 09 May 2014
A recent exchange with a Team Debt Free member raised an interesting point. Is giving money the best way to help family and/or friends in need? Here’s my perfectly noncommittal take again – it depends. I will say, an automatic response to help with funds (even when you have them) is not ever the best approach. Many have family and/or friends in need of assistance. Some more than others. Heck, we’ve probably been that person in need at some point. However, helping with cash should be evaluated carefully based on each situation.
If you are a giver, especially one who has received a helping hand in the past, you may lean towards swooping in with financial relief at the first sign of discomfort. The closer the relationship, the more sensitive your giving trigger finger may be. Consider these points before finalizing your next gift transaction:
Lunch and Learn
- Created on 01 May 2014
Heather Katsonga-Woodward is a former investment banker turned natural hair products entrepreneur. She's from Malawi, lives in London, and sales mostly to customers in the United States. She epitomizes the global marketplace! Heather's leading our next MISSION POSSIBLE session; sharing her strategies to build a savings safety net. This topic is so vital that we've decided to open it everyone for a very special Lunch & Learn.
Bring your lunch and join us Tuesday, May 6 @ 12 pm CST / 1 pm ET. Register below.
3 Steps to Phenomenal-ness
- Created on 01 May 2014
We recently shared that one is 33% more likely to accomplish goals when they are written, shared with a friend, and reviewed weekly. Either because of said research or coincidentally or both, my money buddy and I have been doing just that. Thanks Brown Suga Sho’Nuff! It’s too soon to really measure our productivity improvement. However, I feel like things are definitely trending in the right direction. Our process is simple enough:
1. Make written to-do lists. I’ve found doing this either first thing in the morning, or the last thing before wrapping up for the evening helps me think clearly. We’ve also experienced a noticeable drop in productivity when this step is neglected.