Summer Reading for Your Finances & Your Soul (2015)

Summer reading

The Fourth of July usually marks the midpoint of the traditional summer season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), even though it feels as if summer is just starting to ramp up! For whatever reason, I also ramp up my ‘fun” reading during the summer months–which I think reminds me of my “summer reading” and “DAR program” days.

There is nothing like curling up with a good book! Here’s what I’m loving so far this summer. (To see what I read for Summer 2014, click here.)

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What Comes Next..After You’ve Mastered the Money Basics

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There comes a point in everyone’s life when you realize you’ve moved beyond the money basics. (My post on 30 financial milestones under 30 is a great place to start!) I’ve got a solid budgeting method, emergency fund, I’m out of credit card debt, and I’ve even bought a house. The first post in the series talked about what inspires me to be financially empowered and to ensure I have financial stability in my life. Now we’re going to talk about what that means and how I’d like to continue being financially stable in the future. As part of my latest collaboration with Prudential, I wanted to detail a few of the financial goals and priorities I want to focus on as I prepare to enter the next decade of my life.

Get Rid of Even More Debt

I was lucky enough to not have student loans (thanks Mom and Dad,) and I recently got rid of all my credit card debt because it’s the most expensive kind of debt. This doesn’t mean I’m completely debt-free. I still owe about $12,000 on the car I bought in November, and I have my mortgage. While mortgages are typically viewed as good debt, I’d love to pay down enough to get to 20% equity in my mortgage so I can stop paying PMI every month and reduce the monthly amount I owe. Given that I have tenants who rent rooms from me, I should be contributing that money to my mortgage to pay it off even faster, but I don’t because I’m currently using tenant income to smooth out the cash flow issues when waiting on checks from clients.

Start Hyper Saving for Retirement

As I wrote in this post, based on saving the “recommended” 6% of my annual income since I entered the workforce at 23, I should be on track to save $87k by the time I’m 35. Except I’m nowhere near that, not even close. In that same post I calculated needing around $14k by the end of 2014 and I didn’t get there either. Purchasing a home in my mid-twenties definitely put me behind on retirement savings. Given that I write and read about money every day, I know more than most how important it is to save for retirement, and how much further your retirement dollars go when you contribute in your 20’s as opposed to your 30’s, so this is definitely an area where I’d like to improve and make one of my highest priorities. Click here to find out how much you need to save for retirement.  

Planning For the Future

I know plenty of women saving for a wedding or their hypothetical children’s college funds. I hope one day I get there too, but for now when I say “plan for the future,” I’m talking about planning for the success of my business.

Since I just started working for myself full time, my finances have shifted. I’m no longer paid bi-weekly, and I’m investing a lot of capital back into growing and scaling what I do so I can take on more and more clients. Ideally I’d like to loop in more insurance – disability for me, and more insurance on my home now that I have staff coming to work with me from my home office. I’d also like to start a small savings account exclusively for my business that isn’t tied to my personal emergency fund for me and my home.

What are your aspirations and inspirations? Share your vision by joining the growing community of women inspired in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #womeninspired. Also–With your long-term goals in mind, do you have any financial challenges that you want to tackle?

6 Summer Productivity Hacks for Small Business Owners & Solopreneurs

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In my most recent newsletter I wrote about the productivity issues I’m battling now that summer is here and the pool is calling my name. As such, it’s a perfect time to share some of my favorite productivity hacks in collaboration with the Office Depot. This is part of a sponsored post series I’m doing with Socialstars.

Want to join in the fun? Use the hashtag #GearLove. 

If there is one thing I’d do over about my leap to full time self employment it;s that I wish I’d made the transition during the colder months. I mean, look at what I was able to do by keeping my head down and staying indoors working extra hours (I paid off $8k in 90 days..#humblebrag) this past winter. I can’t help but think that same wintertime focus would serve me well now that I’m a solopreneur and small business owner.

Instead, my newfound freedom came at a time when the weather couldn’t be more gorgeous and all I want to do is go outside. Outside. Or stay inside during the heat of the day and  take cool naps while drinking iced tea and binge watching Friends on Netflix.

Productivity is something all self-employed folks struggle with, but I bet money  it gets worse for everyone during the summer. Here are six tips I’m loving right now that help keep me on track.  (more…)

Energy Drains & About L. Bee (June 2015)

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Another month, another edition of “About L. Bee.” I swear, life leapt into warp speed the minute I started doing these monthly recaps of what is going on in my personal life, but I like having the monthly wrap ups. They’re great for reflecting and benchmarking my progress/the events of my life, and sometimes it is nice to take a break from finance content.

So…June! Here’s where I soared this month, as well as where I crashed and burned. (more…)

The Financial Costs of a DUI -Awkward Money Chat Season 2 Finale:

I’ve always wondered how much it actually cost someone to get a DUI. Honestly, they’ve happened so frequently to the people I know I they seemed cheap or commonplace.

But DUI’s are actually a big deal–whether someone gets hurt in the accident/arrest or not–which is why everyone should exercise caution and never drive while under the influence.

Thankfully, my VERY BRAVE friend G. came on the site to talk about his mistakes and how much it cost him. Even though we make light, he’s very embarrassed by his story but wanted to share in the hopes that talking about financial costs would help someone think twice before driving drunk.

Clearly, even if you think you can’t afford a cab, you definitely can’t afford the reported $13k G. spent on his arrests.

Also in this video we have a lot of fun playing flip cup, which was a silly way to end a great second season.

As I say, until next time!

Credit Curious…My Time on the Budgeting Panel with Experian for I <3 Radio

While at FinCon14 in New Orleans last year I had the pleasure of meeting the amazing crew at Experian, including Becky Frost and Ellen Sirull. Making those important connections at the conference led to a guest spot on Experian’s popular podcast, Credit Curious.

While this podcast was many months in the making, I’m finally glad to announce that it is here!

In the beginnings of this blog I used to write a lot about budgeting and money management best practices. Now that I’ve mastered the money basics and am aging into topics around growing money, it did feel nice to get back to the basics and discuss with the other panelists: Becky Frost, Experian Brand Ambassador Extraordinaire and Bobby Lee of 2minutefinance.com. As a fellow video blogger, I appreciate his quick and informative videos. You should check them out!

The discussion was moderated by Experian’s Social Media Director, Will Chamberlain.

On the podcast we discuss ways to get started budgeting, how to budget for big expenses and large goals, common obstacles to budgeting, the envelope budgeting method, how I make budgeting easier on myself and the important moment when I realized budgets are necessary.

Even though my budget has evolved as I’ve increased my income, bought a home, and diversified my income streams, I still firmly believe everyone needs a budget. Click below to listen to the podcast.

 

The 9-Step Complete Investing Guide for Beginners

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I know, I know. No one really wants to talk about investing. It’s confusing. And confusing isn’t sexy.

Do you know what is sexy, though? Making money.

What else? Not eating cat food and having to live like a college student when you’re elderly.

And trust me–I’m not perfect. I get too busy to manage my accounts, and there is always something I’d rather do with my extra money (like renovate the bathroom) than contribute to my Roth IRA. Still, I think the way summer slows down lends itself well to all of us spending a moment or two thinking about our retirement.

This is meant to be a guide for novices and those who have accounts set up but are looking to get better with them. So, here goes, the complete beginner’s investing guide!

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Talking About Money With the People You Love – Awkward Money Chat 2. 07

Oof. If there was ever a time for an #AwkwardMoneyChat, it’s when we start discussing finances with those we love most.

Fortunately, I have personal finance expert Patrice Washington on this week’s “Awkward Money Chat.” She’s a bestselling author of the Real Money Answers book series, and many know her face and voice from her segment on the Steve Harvey Saturday Show. I met Patrice at FinCon two years ago and was immediately captivated by her calm, warm demeanor. Something about Patrice makes you feel like everything is going to be alright, and that feeling flows through her writing and advice.

In the video we talk about how to navigate those awkward money conversations with loved ones and how enabling friends and family through money sets us back financially. My favorite quote from the video:

“If you don’t learn how to say no to people who think their lack of planning is your emergency, it is always going to put you behind financially.”

To help with navigating money conversations with loved ones Patrice recommends:

1) Get clear on your own financial goals.

2) Learn how to SAY NO. (I struggle with this all the time, not with money but with time, bandwidth, etc.)

3) Investigate how your own emotions are affecting the way you treat your money.

Click below to watch the video!

Handling Your Finances as a Solopreneur

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I’ve been successfully working for myself for two months now, and it has been a complete and happy blur. Whenever I run into someone I haven’t seen since I went FT with Beehive, everyone says, “you look so happy,” and “I love seeing your Facebook because of the positive statuses. It seems like you’re doing well.”

One former colleague asked (playfully) if it was just a carefully crafted PR stunt about how well things have been going lately. It isn’t, and sometimes I take it as karmic retribution for the seriously suck-tastic 2014 I endured.

In fact, sometimes I downplay it because I don’t want to brag.

Working for yourself completely rocks and everyone should hustle their asses off for a few years so they can live like this.

I feel like I could take on the world every day and the confidence spills over into every aspect of my life, not just in my business.

That isn’t to say there aren’t tricky areas. An area that has become incredibly blurry for me in the last eight weeks are my finances, which is what I want to talk about today. Given that this blog provides such an in-depth look at my money, I wanted to walk through the good, the bag, and the ugly (for me) when it comes to managing my finances as a solopreneur.  (more…)

Financial Empowerment and Viewing Money as a Lifelong Journey

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The following blog post is part of the The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Atlanta! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

I’ve been on a kick lately detailing my financial journey. (See this post I did with Prudential last week!) I’ve also been making the rounds of a number of financial podcasts sharing my story of credit card debt- to NYC- to financial blogger- to self-employed solopreneur. I love telling my story, because it makes me feel all warm and tingly on the inside because I know just how far I’ve come.

I didn’t become a finance blogger and then decide to take control of my finances. Quite the opposite actually. Two years before I started blogging, I was in NYC working a terrible desk job when I decided to never let my bad financial decisions affect what I could and could not do in life. (I talked about it in Farnoosh’s SO MONEY podcast if you’re interested in hearing the whole thing. Listen here!)

Over the last five years it’s been a long and winding journey full of successes: I’ve changed careers, increased my income, bought a home, and “failures” like my runaway renovation, failing to save for retirement, and going back into credit card debt again. But to me, being financially empowered simply means that you sit up and pay attention to your finances. 

Since dealing with the stress of buying my home and going back into credit card debt, I’ve especially learned that it is impossible to be perfect with your money 100% of the time. As I tell everyone: money is a lifelong process.

Think about that.

From the age of 18 to when you die you’re going to be dealing with money (yours, your spouses, your parents, your children’s all at different points in the journey) for the REST of your life. And you don’t know what is going to happen.

You could have a medical emergency. Even if you have an emergency fund and savings and prepare, you could end up in debt again. You could unexpectedly lose your job. Or unexpectedly win the lottery and start spending like crazy and go bankrupt. You never know what is going to happen. Emotions get in the way of money all the time.

Life changes, you’ll change. So inevitably, your money will change. So what can we do?

We can make smart choices. We can prepare for the hard times, but also enjoy our money too.

Simply by sitting up and paying attention to my finances, by taking responsibility for the credit card debt that forced me to forgo acting for a desk job, by saying that I’m going to make it on my own and pay my bills on time, I became financially empowered.

Some things I’m able to do because I pay attention to my money? I work for myself now as a freelance marketing copywriter. I make continual improvements to my (now) beautiful home. I get to take trips and see friends and loved ones and go out to eat and do fun things. I’m financially free of my parents and I don’t have to rely on the help of a man or significant other to get by.

That’s financial success  and what financial empowerment means to me.

Now, to help celebrate #TheRoad, what does being financially empowered mean to you?

 

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