How do you erase your debt?

Let’s face it.  Being in debt isn’t fun.  Actually… it sucks!  No one enjoys creditors calling at all hours of the day or night.  Who wants to find new ways to juggle expenses just to make ends meet?  And the simple task of just paying the bills can take hours when there are tons of payments to stay on top of.

 

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Believe it or not.  There is a way out.  You can get free of the overwhelming debt once and for all.  Here are a few tips that will get you back on track.

1.      Save some money – You always need to have a little bit of cash on hand in case of an emergency.  Before you begin to knock out your debt, keep all spending to a minimum including debt payments and save as much as you can, preferably $1000.  You don’t want to go back into debt simply because you didn’t have money stashed away for those inevitable emergencies.

2.      Quit borrowing money – Yes, this should go without saying but it is an important step.  You may need to cut up your credit cards.  It is probably a good idea to at least get them out of your wallet.  When I was in debt, my husband and I put our credit cards on ice.  We literally put them in a bowl of water and froze them!  No matter how you structure your discipline, make sure to stop using credit in any way.  It will defeat your efforts if you don’t stop the bleeding.

3.      Budget – I know! Everyone hates this word.  But adding up your income vs. your expenses is the best way to find money!  Review 30 days of spending in your bank account.  Find out where all of your money is going.  Then create a plan before the next month begins which details out where you spend your money.  If you don’t gain control in this way your money will find a home of its own.  For me, uncontrolled money is spent on unplanned dining out or clothing. 😊

4.      Use CASH! – Your grandma used to do it and she probably didn’t have any debt.  Take a play from her book and try to use cold hard cash for 30 days.  It doesn’t have to be forever.  Just try the idea and see how your spending changes.  You just might find that you don’t need to spend as much on certain things.  Then more money can go to towards your debt reduction efforts.

5.      Sell something – There could be tons of things around your home that are collecting dust or not serving you well. Give it another home by allowing someone else to buy it from you.  There are neighborhood sites, eBay, garage sales, etc. where you can sell items you no longer need or use.  Make it a game and see how much you can earn by selling things.

6.      Get a part-time job, do overtime, start a business – Think about how much extra time you have and put it to good use.  There are plenty of ways to use your gifts and talents to earn a little extra income.  Just $500 per month more might be the difference in paying off your debt in months rather than years.  Calculate the difference some extra money would make in your budget.  That just might be the extra incentive you need to finally get free of your debt.

No matter where you are in your journey, any one of the steps above can make a difference in your finances immediately. Don’t strive for perfection.  That is a goal no one can achieve.  Instead focus on progress.  Just one step towards your goals is progress in the right direction.

 

Need some help with your strategy? Set up a Debt-Free Strategy Session with me to get more clarity on your personal next steps or t. simply get unstuck.  Click here to set up a time.

Why Financial Wellness Matters – and It Should to You and Everyone

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In 2003, the United States Senate designated April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. It ended up being designated National Financial Literacy Month to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

 Don't you want more for you life than what you have today?  Many people want to travel, debt out of debt, put their children through college, or just enjoy a nice dinner out without guilt or bank overdrafts.  Living free of financial hardships is impossible. However, with discipline and planning you can life your best life no matter where you are right now.  Just get started.  Making an effort to tackle your finances one step at a time is the best place to start.  Your personal goals are why financial health should matter to you!

In honor of such an important month of the year, I'd like to give you a few ideas to improve your financial outlook.

 

Having a challenge sticking to a budget?  Why don't you just begin with a reality check?  Review one month of expenses in your bank accounts.  Add up transactions by category like groceries, dining out, clothing, gas, etc.  Then make small changes to categories that are negatively impacting the progress towards your goals.

 

Looking for extra money each month?  Cancel unused subscriptions like the gym.  Shop your auto and home insurance to see if you are getting the best deal.  Review your utilities like cable to ensure you aren’t overpaying.  Check into Netflix and Hulu.  Clip coupons for groceries.

 

Concerned about sending your kids to college? Gather information about 529 plans in your state.  Talk to other families with college-age students to understand what to expect.  Task your high schooler with researching local scholarships and/or programs that help with college funding.

 

Not sure you are going to be ready for retirement?  Look into your potential social security benefits.  Contact your 401k plan administrator at work.  Decide on if you will invest at least up to the match to get your free money.  Talk to a financial planner about your options for improving your retirement outlook.

 

No matter where you are in your financial journey there are always steps you can take to improve.  Commit to change at least 1 habit that will help you go further faster. 

 

Now may also be a good time to take my online email course, “21 Day of Healthy Habits.”  To learn more click here.

 

If you need help determining your best next steps contact me to schedule a 30-minute debt-free strategy session here.

Tax Season is HERE!

Are you ready for it?

Are you ready for it?

You officially have five weeks to file your 2018 taxes.  Are you dreading or anticipating April 15th?

Most of us fall into one of these two buckets.  It is a stressful season because you must gather so much information and you be accurate in the numbers you report.  Sometimes getting a professional to do the work makes it easier.  And sometimes you just have to buckle down and do it yourself.  I’ve got tips for both sides of the fence…

For those of you who are dreading the deadline, I imagine you are expecting to owe taxes and don't like the sound of that.  It is understandable.  No one wants to owe the government money.

You do have options though…

·        Adjust for future years.  The best way to avoid owing taxes on April 15th each year is to either reduce your exemptions at work and/or pay quarterly estimated taxes.  Keep this in mind as you prepare this year's taxes.  If you owe $1800 for 2018, change your exemptions so that an additional $150 comes out of your monthly paycheck, so you at least break-even next year.

·        Make installment payments.  If you owe taxes for 2018 and you can’t come up with the money within the next 30 days, the government does take installments.  You could apply for an installment agreement and pay over time.  There will be a $120 fee and interest over time, but it is better than trying to hide from the IRS and not filing on time.  Face the facts and create a plan that fits into your budget.

·        Buy some time.  Let's say you have some of the money to give the government that you owe, but you don't have all of it.  Could you come up with the balance by May 15th?  If so, file your taxes by April 15th and send in the amount you have right now.  You will probably get a notice in the mail within 30 days saying you owe a balance.  Then send in the remaining amount without penalties and interest. 

If you are anticipating a refund, then you are probably excited about filing your taxes.  Be careful as you decide what to do with those funds.  Use this as an opportunity to improve your financial situation and don’t blow it all in one place.

Here are a few tips:

·        Put some money in savings.  Unexpected things happen, and you want to be prepared with at least $1000 in savings if you are trying to get out of debt.  You may have expenses coming up like a car repair, summer camps, or non-monthly bills coming up that you could save for as well.  Think forward, so you have a plan AND some money.

·        Pay down debt.  You had to know I want going to encourage you to use some of your windfalls for debt reduction, right?!  This is the perfect time to get rid of some smaller debts or finish off the one you've been working on.  Think about how good it will feel for that payment to be gone!

·        Have a little fun.  Yes, I said it!  Enjoy some of your money.  Go out to dinner, buy a new outfit, or go on a little staycation at a local hotel.  No matter where you are on your financial journey remember that it is ok and encouraged to have a little fun along the way.  If you don't get a chance to relax you could easily give up altogether.

Whether you are dreading or anticipating April 15th, it is coming ready or not!  Use this time to put yourself in the best spot financially, and you won't regret later.

I don't do taxes… Thank God!  However, I can help you figure out a strategy for handling your taxes and help you decide what works best for your budget.  Feel free to schedule a Debt-Free Strategy session with me by clicking here.

 

I didn’t spend any money on Black Friday!

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I didn’t spend any money on Black Friday!

 

Blasphemy!

She’s lying!

How did she do that?

 

These are all possible responses from you my devoted newsletter subscribers.  Yep I did it.  But honestly not entirely by choice.  Let me tell you why and how it happened.

A year ago, my husband and I discussed creating a slush fund for Black Friday all by itself.  We came to this line of thinking for many reasons.  First of all, there are so many deals and we wanted to take advantage of them without putting a burden on our budget in 1 month on 1 day. We could get all of our Christmas shopping done in 1 weekend. We might actually have gifts under the tree before Dec. 23rd. The list of pros goes on and on.  Not to mention the idea that both he and I could find deals for ourselves.  It’s possible we’d save money, but it is also entirely possible that we’d spend more than necessary.

How many of you can relate to going Black Friday shopping and buying 1 Christmas gift for a loved one and 2 sweaters for yourself?  It happens to all of us!  During this season we simply buy more than is truly necessary just because the price is right.  And what does that do to all of the other areas of our finances?  It could wreak havoc especially without a plan!

Here’s the real reason I didn’t participate in the shopping madness… I simply cannot control myself!  😊 There I said it!  If I walk into a store with a good deal, I will want to buy something.  This year we had many unexpected and costly home improvements and repairs to make both to our personal residence and our rental home.  These events drained our savings and our sanity.  But we set a goal to replenish our savings to a respectable level and I didn’t want to jeopardize our efforts with overspending.  Simple as that!  I literally had to stay out of the stores and off the websites to control myself.

But what does it really take to be successful sticking to your financial goals?  Here are the necessary ingredients for financial success…

FOCUS + DETERMINATION + BUDGET = FINANCIAL SUCCESS

If you don’t have a goal or a reason to say no to temptation you will give in.  The goal or focus on a specific greater desire is the most important ingredient to financial success.  But without determination you may not stick to this goal.  It takes stamina or staying power to say no when you see others are indulging.  And finally, a budget will show you where your priorities lie.  Keeping your goal in the budget and sticking with the plan you have set is what gets you to the finish line of financial success however you define it. 

I won’t say it was easy to keep my debit card in my pocket this past weekend but it sure was worth it.  My savings account is still full and I’m proud of myself for exercising self-restraint.

Let’s be clear, we will be buying gifts this year, but it will be done with a detailed list of who we are buying for and how much we are spending without all of the pressure and temptation of buying extra things for myself... 😊

This is my 1st step in avoiding a holiday hangover this Christmas season.  If you’d like to learn more about how to walk into 2019 confident, prepared, and still have money in the bank then I’d like you to join me for a Facebook LIVE on Wed. Dec. 5th at 8pm EST. You will learn all of the tips and tricks to have an enjoyable holiday season without the guilt and worry over your money in the New Year.  Just head over to my business page HERE and tune in Wed. 12/5 at 8pm EST.  See you then!

The scariest time of year?

Happy Halloween! 

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Today marks the beginning of the time of year where so many of our spending habits AND eating habits change dramatically.  As a result, it can be scary to look in your bank account and on the scale!  Just yesterday I went out of my way (25 minutes to be exact) to visit a local apple orchard.  I walked out with not 1 but 3 bottles of syrup: Pumpkin Spice, Apple Butter, and Peach Cobbler!  So what if I love my protein pancakes! Don’t judge me!  This purchase made my day or hopefully my entire winter season if I plan it right!  Yes, I did come out with some delicious apples too, but let’s be clear I came for that syrup!

Our finances are another part of our lives that change from October 31st to January 1st.  Many people spend money on tons of candy to hand out to eager children disguised as their favorite character.  Then we begin spending money on a Thanksgiving feast that we have anticipated for approximately 364 days.  And less than 12 hours after that meal millions of shoppers begin their quest to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list and probably a few items for themselves.  This time of year is simply expensive.  And you could get caught unaware of all that is happening to your bank account if you don’t pay attention.  Stay tuned to my next newsletter for an exciting opportunity to learn how to manage this season.

In addition to the fall spending fiasco, we are making benefit choices because it is open enrollment season.  Companies across the nation are sharing health care and other benefit offerings available at work and you get to choose.  For many, the cost of health care is astronomical.  Sometimes the choice isn’t clear what you should do and why.  Here are a few guidelines as you consider what options to elect for 2019.

  • Review your health care spending for the last 12 months.  When you add up all your family had to pay out of pocket you can look at your choices with clarity.  A healthy family of 4 who doesn’t go to the doctor very often or only for preventive maintenance may be able to handle a higher deductible.  A single person with lots of medical expenses may want to look at a PPO with a higher premium because they know the out of pocket costs will be less on that plan. No matter what your situation is, having a clear total of your out of pocket spending is a great place to begin.

  • Understand if it makes sense to put funds for medical expenses in a flexible spending account or health savings account.  These funds are pre-tax dollars only to be used for health care.  But if you only spend $500/year do not put more than that in the account.  Typically, the flexible spending account funds will go away on Dec. 31st. The health savings account will continue to grow if you don’t use it.

  • If you have day care costs it might we worth your while to put pre-tax funds away for those expenses.  A family who spends $5,000 on child care could save $1,000 if their effective tax rate is 20%.

  • Calculate your need for life insurance.  You may want to max out what is available at work because it might less expensive than buying term life insurance outside of work.

  • If you are planning to have a child in 2019 it might be good to review your disability and maternity coverage with your company plan.  When I was pregnant I paid a higher premium for disability coverage, so I could have more take-home pay during maternity leave.

  • If you know you will have some expensive dental work to do next year consider the advantages of a plan that pays a higher percentage of the costs. 

  • For self-employed persons or anyone who has a high out of pocket health care premium at work (over $200 per family member) you may want to consider other options.  Medi-Share is a health care sharing community that could be a great alternative for many.  Everyone pays an annual household portion, members submit their medical bills to Medi-Share for payment, and the bills get paid by the Medi-Share community.  If you are a Christian looking for an alternative biblical solution to paying for health care you may want to check it out by clicking here.

 This time of year doesn’t have to break the bank or stress you out.  And it doesn’t have to be scary!  Make a plan and stick to it.  Slow down so you can make informed decisions. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy this season and prepare for 2019.

If you want to discuss your options with me check out my calendar to find a time that works for you.

 

I saw Dave Ramsey LIVE! other other exciting developments...

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Last month I had the awesome opportunity to attend a coach training event with 180 financial coaches.  Enrichment 2018 was held in Nashville at Dave Ramsey’s Headquarters!  Above is a photo of me on a coach’s panel sharing some of my professional experience and knowledge with my fellow coaches.  I promise you I spoke but this was the best picture I have of the entire panel... :) It was exciting to be back in beautiful Nashville and exhilarating to attend a training led by the top finance guru in the country! 

Here’s why this means so much.  Nearly 19 years ago my husband, Chris, found Dave Ramsey on the radio while driving to work.  We were deeply in debt at the time and making dumb financial decisions.  When Chris began to listen to Dave and shared what he learned with me, our eyes were opened.  We were tired of being broke people who went to work and faked it every day. Routinely I thought that I made too much money to have nothing to show for it.  Finally, we decided to host a Financial Peace University class and invited all our friends to join us.  Over the next 5 years we paid off nearly $100,000 in debt!!  Because of that experience I wanted to help other people do the same thing.  In 2005 I started Tailor-Made Budgets and went to Nashville for official training in 2006.  I travelled back in 2010 for an Enrichment training experience just like this one but I haven’t seen that beautiful green Tennessee landscape since then.

I’ve been in the trenches of coaching for 13 years and have worked with hundreds of clients, but everyone needs to refuel, enhance their skills, and sharpen iron with like-minded individuals.  That is exactly what this training did for me.  Since I’ve been in the game for a while, I was asked to be on a panel of coaches and share some best practices that have made a difference in my coaching business.  What an honor that was!  It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to be on the same stage that Dave Ramsey teaches on!  We also had some amazing sessions with Christy Wright, Chris Hogan, Donald Miller, and Dr. Henry Cloud.

There is no way I can sum up the entire training experience in one blog post, but I will share a few highlights that stood out to me while at Enrichment 2018.

  • Be intentional in everything you do.  If you think you can wander around and reach goals you are wrong.  You must prepare and then ACT.  - Dave Ramsey
  • Create goals centered around your career, social, financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, and family aspirations.  If you ignore any one of these areas it will affect another.  - Dave Ramsey
  • People are watching you so always live with integrity.  - Chris Hogan
  • Learn from your mistakes and adjust where necessary to serve people better.  Be authentic in the process.  - Chris Hogan
  • Confidence is a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.  - Christy Wright
  • Good supportive relationships are an essential component to building better boundaries.  - Dr. Henry Cloud, That is what I strive to provide in each coaching session. 
  • A coach is a guide, cheerleader, and mentor not a superhero.  It is my job as the coach to make YOU the hero of your own winning financial story.  - Donald Miller

I’m definitely attending Enrichment 2019 next year and I can’t wait to see what nuggets I will bring home then.  For now, I’d love to help you reach your fullest financial potential.  If you are interested in…

1.      Getting unstuck financially

2.      Understanding the best path to debt-freedom

3.      And avoiding money pitfalls

… reply to this email or check out my calendar here to find a 30-minute time to chat that works for you!

Are You a Good Team?

A few years ago I coined the term “Team Couple” to describe the way a couple operates together with their money.  They don’t always agree.  They will not see eye to eye 100% of the time either.  But they have each other’s best interest at heart.  They want the very best the relationship can handle where it concerns financial matters and they are willing to go the distance as a team. 

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Here are 7 dos and don'ts to becoming a team couple when it comes to finances:

Do:

  • Talk about everything.  If you don’t discuss where you want to be financially then don’t complain when you get nowhere.  You must have the hard conversations about paying the bills, buying a home, and child care expenses.
  • Share the load.  Use your gifts, talents, and interests to determine who is best suited to do the budgeting, pay the bills, or invest for your future.  Don’t force your partner to do something that is inherently challenging for them.  Figure out what you are each good at and incorporate that into your monthly financial activities.
  • Value one another. Each part of this team is needed so value what you bring to the table.  One person might be a free spirit and loves to spend money on fun activities.  The other person might get great satisfaction from saving money for the future.  Both perspectives are necessary to having a financially successful relationship.
  • Check-in.  On a regular basis check in to ensure you are making progress toward your goals and review whether or not some things need to change.

Don’t:

  • Undermine the plan.  Once you agree to how you will handle the finances don’t sabotage the plan but doing something totally different.  Stay committed to your partner and that will change how you approach your financial habits.
  • Keep secret accounts.  If you have to keep secrets more is going on.  It is perfectly fine to have more than one account and even one the your partner isn’t on.  Honesty and transparency will help you trust one another.
  • Control everything.  Give your partner something to do where the finances are concerned so they feel a part of the Team Couple that you are a part of.  Each party needs to know that their voice is heard and their opinion matters.  When you break down the walls of control then you show them you care.

Give yourself the opportunity to become a Team Couple.  Employ some of these habits and see how much closer you become to one another.  Finances are just one piece of the puzzle but a very important one.  If you get this right you are ahead of the game.

 If you and your spouse need a little extra help communicating and getting on the same page, schedule a free 30-minute discovery call with me. I'd love to help you be the best Team Couple you can be!

 

Get Out of Debt - FAST!

It can be a challenge to navigate your way out of debt.  For the most part I subscribe to the snowball method of getting out of debt.  But sometimes knowing the right place to begin and understanding how to get out of debt the fastest way possible is a frustrating obstacle to overcome.  Check out a few tips I always give my clients who are looking to finally get free in a short amount of time.

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  • Stop investing right now.  I know this seems impossible and may unwise to some but it really works for 2 reasons.  It gives you clear motivation for not remaining in debt for a long time.  You don’t want to be out of the market for long periods of time.  This also frees up some cash to put towards your debt without changing your budget.
  • Don’t give the government and interest-free loan.  So many people love getting tax refunds but what they don’t realize is that they could be using that money in their budget towards their debt every month.  Check out irs.gov and use the withholding calculator to determine your optimal exemptions so that you break even on your taxes (you don’t owe, and you don’t get a large refund).  Then make the necessary adjustments with payroll so your take-home pay is larger.  Finally, apply those extra funds toward your debt.  If you received a refund this year then put it to good use and apply it to your debt immediately.
  • Use cash.  People always ask me what I mean by this.  I mean use cold hard cash for purchases.  You will spend 12-15% less when using cash for your groceries, while dining out, and other general shopping.  Yes, it is partly psychological, but it works!
  • Use your skills.  This is a good time to go to work!  We all have gifts and talents that are not being used.  Take the time to figure out what you can do after work and on weekends to earn extra cash.  The more you make the faster your debt goes away.
  • Finally, use credit to your advantage.  If you have good credit and pay interest on your credit cards right now, you may be able to transfer balances to another card with a 0% introductory rate.  Check out creditkarma.com and they will show you cards that you could qualify for.

Getting out of debt isn’t easy but it is worth it.  Do all you can to get free as quickly as possible because then you have the freedom to do anything you want with your money!

Don't Bother Setting Goals This January

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Yes. You read that right. Don’t bother setting any goals in January.

I recently read in Forbes that over 92% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions in January don’t succeed in achieving those goals. With only an 8% chance that you’ll beat the statistics, I say don’t bother.

I know it’s blasphemy!

Why is it so hard to keep resolutions? Well, part of the reason is that the months leading up to this “new beginning” are filled with so many distractions. You have holidays, family, decorating, shopping, parties, cooking and maybe even a Hallmark movie marathon. Yep that was me…   By the time January comes around, you’re impossibly overwhelmed and tired so it’s no wonder that people don’t succeed.

But, just because you don’t set goals or make resolutions, that doesn’t mean that January is a waste. Quite the opposite in fact.  Use the month of January to reflect. Take a pause and look at the previous year.  Celebrate your successes and take note of where you could have done better.

Use the first 31 days of the year to get organized. Gather all of your receipts together. Revisit your budget and make adjustments as needed. Get your current credit score so you can see where you start out for the year and measure along the way as you make progress.

Look at your spending habits. Don’t be afraid. It’s just a number. You have to take a look at it to know what you need to change for improvement. 

Once you’ve had a chance to reflect, organize and revise, then start to set your goals for the new year. Set reasonable goals that you can achieve. Look for ways to insert milestones so that you can stay on track easier as the months tick by.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to be like everyone else who rushes into January overwhelmed and feeling like they have to lose 100 lbs and pay off $100K in 30 days. Goals and resolutions made with this kind of emotion are generally not effective. Remember to think of your year as a marathon rather than a sprint. 

 

Open Enrollment Season - Are You Ready?

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Fall is not just beautiful leaves and cooler weather. It's also the signal for open enrollment for health insurance. Whether you have insurance through your company, through the marketplace or even on Medicare, this is the season to review your coverage and consider any changes you need to make. Here are a few tips for you to remember:

1. Open enrollment season has very specific dates. In fact, the Marketplace is only open Nov. 1 - Dec. 15 this year (that's shorter by 45 days!). They're also not open every day of the week so pay attention to the hours. If you're expecting to call them on Sunday afternoon, you could be disappointed.

2. Also for you Marketplace folks, Anthem is no longer participating so if you have Anthem or were hoping for them, you need to look at other carrier options. 

3. Consider your particular healthcare needs. Review your healthcare spending last year (include premiums, copays, all out of pockets, etc.). Don't make a decision on your premium alone. Even if you have coverage through your employer, you need to review your coverage. 

4. Don't forget to take advantage of the tax savings for flexible spending accounts and HSA accounts. These can be a HUGE savings for you every year so if your employer offers any cafeteria accounts, you need to check into it.

5. Talk to someone if you are confused or overwhelmed. Don't feel like you have to do this all on your own. Healthcare coverage is so important that you need to spend the time to get the information you need to make this decision.

The bottom line is that you need to pay attention and make a decision carefully. Don't just assume you have the right coverage and make sure you do this every year.

 

Equifax Data Breach - What You Need To Know (and do)

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A lot of folks have been asking me about the recent Equifax Data Breach so I thought I would take a moment to go over a few things you should know.  

More than 143 million people are potentially impacted by this breach so chances are pretty high that you are vulnerable.

The first thing you need to do is to go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. This is the secure website set up by Equifax for you to check for potential personal impact. Once you are there, you'll be asked to enter your name and last 6 digits of your Social Security Number to verify if your data may have been part of the breach. You'll get an answer right away. For couples, one person may be impacted while the other may not be so don't just check for one of you and assume that's all you need to do.

Next, you should sign up for Equifax's TrustedID Premier. Even if you weren't impacted, you will be prompted to sign up. It's being offered to you at no cost. This program will provide you with 

*$1M in ID Theft Protection
*Credit monitoring from all 3 agencies
*Current credit report
*Equifax credit lock
*Social Security Number scanning

If you aren't comfortable using the free identity theft protection with Equifax (totally understand) then check out:

lifelock.com or zanderins.com.

You may also want to consider a credit freeze on your credit report.  It costs just a few dollars but will be able to prevent anyone including you from getting any type of credit while it is frozen.  You can unfreeze it at any time for a small fee.  This just makes for certain no accounts are opened in your name.

Privacy breaches can be a scary thing but the best thing you can do is to measure your impact early on and then take the necessary steps to get protected. Once you receive your credit report, go ahead and review it for any new accounts opened that you did not initiate or activity that does not belong to you and then report it. 

Your credit is an important piece of your financial health so make sure to take care of it!

 

My Office Facelift - On a Budget of Course!

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I recently decided that it was finally time to decorate my home office space. For the most part, until this year, I've met with clients at a separate location so I haven't spent as much time in my home office for it to really matter how it was decorated. I decided that needed to change.

But, I practice what I preach so I wasn't about to make this radical change without some planning and some saving.

First, I set myself a budget. I knew exactly what my overall budget could allow so my parameters for what I would spend for this "remodel" were very clear.

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Next, I shopped around. I wasn't clear from the beginning what I wanted but once I was, I shopped around to get the absolute best price. I was patient and waited for things to be on sale. I even looked around and took advantage of every opportunity to "join a newsletter list" to get a % off of my purchase.

To make my purchases, I used Scrips, a program where when we buy gift cards, a portion of the value of the card gets credited back to my daughter's marching band account for color guard. It's like getting PAID to shop!  

Finally, I leveraged the power of rebates. I got a rebate from my paint purchase but I took it a step further and watched for the price of my items to go down and got a rebate from that as well. That move alone got me $200 back on a desk that was already significantly cheaper than everywhere else I'd looked!

When you layer your savings like I did with patience, coupons, discounts, rebates and a budget you are able to do a lot. I decorated my office from top to bottom and wall to wall but I came in under budget and ended up with a space I love!

Home (office) improvement projects don't have to break you. Just be smart about them and you too can recreate your living spaces without going broke!