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!

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!

Give Them a Gift That Keeps Giving After the Graduation

It's such an exciting time for so many teens as they prepare to graduate from high school. While diplomas are being prepared, you might be wondering what makes a good gift for the graduating senior. Cash is often a "go-to" gift but instead of cash, I invite you to consider a gift that will provide them a financial benefit for a much longer period of time. It's alarming to know that the average student loan debt is over $23,000 so it's important to help our children get off to a good financial start. This is why I recommend the Graduate's Survival Guide or the Graduate and Go Bundle, both available from www.daveramsey.com to help your teens prepare for life after high school. In addition to this gift, here are a few other thoughts to consider as you get ready to celebrate their big day (or even prepare for a graduating teen a year or more from now!):

1. Make scholarships a priority. Not all scholarships are academically based so look for scholarships of all kinds and in all amounts. They all add up to help relieve the financial burden that a college education can bring.

2. It's ok for kids to work! Encouraging your children to work a few hours a week in high school not only gives them a little money to spend (and save for college!) but it also teaches them valuable life skills like responsibility, discipline, and time management.

3. Start an emergency fund now. It's never too early to start an emergency fund. Get them started now and teach them what constitutes an emergency (not a craving for pizza at 2am before an exam!) and they'll be prepared when the inevitable happens.

Share these tips with your proud teens along with the advice they'll get from the Graduate's Survival Guide and you'll be giving them a gift that keeps on giving after the celebration has faded.

What are you waiting for?

Last week, my mother, sister and I went to New York City to celebrate my sister’s birthday.  It had been 8 years since we did anything like that.  The three of us painted the town!  We went to a Broadway musical, Wicked (amazing!).  We toured the Apollo Theatre.  We took the ferry to see the Statute of Liberty and caught jaw dropping views of the entire city from the Empire State Building.  We even sat in the audience of talk shows taped in NY and excitedly participated in the Today Show outdoor fan experience.  This was a trip of a lifetime!  We all got along.  We paid our own way.  We even laughed hysterically when things didn’t quite go as planned. This trip made me wonder how many people don’t get to live out their dreams because of debt or other financial obligations.  Is life passing you by because you haven’t gotten control of your finances?  Do you feel like you can’t breathe let alone take your family on a vacation someday?

This also reminded me of when I cut my hair a few months ago.  Yes… it’s short!  For the last few years I thought I’d wait until I was 40 to cut my hair.  As if 40 was some magical year when everything “grown up” should occur.  Then I thought, why does 40 get all the fun?  I’m cutting my hair now!  Then, if I like it I can enjoy the style for longer and or maybe find another one by the time 40 rolls around.

I ask you now.  What are you waiting for? What thoughts, beliefs, patterns of behavior, etc are holding you back from living the life you truly desire to live?  Don’t wait until you retire to take the trip of a lifetime.  Go now while you can enjoy it!  Don’t wait until you lose all the weight you want to go shopping for something new.  Do it now so you don’t look like a bum while you are getting smaller.  Don’t wait for some magical time to live your life.  Live it now!  If your finances present challenges for living out your dreams, then get about moving those mountains out of the way with a good debt-free strategy.  I can help you with that.  Schedule a Debt-Free Strategy Session here.

Now is the time to live.  You’ve heard it said “Life is too short”.  Well no matter how long I have, I purpose to use each moment to its fullest.  Will you join me?

Are you a slacker?

Please tell me I’m not alone…  You have your list of todos or you know what needs to happen during the week on Monday.  Tuesday you have already said I will do it tomorrow 3 times.  By Thursday you are sure it must get done tomorrow or you are out of luck.  On Saturday you wake up and wonder what happened that this task didn’t get accomplished?  I call that slacking off.  Do you do it too? I’ve been there.  I’m there right now.  I love staying in touch with YOU , my newsletter subscribers!  And my goal is to communicate with you every month.  Unfortunately, the above scenario happens all too often and my messaging doesn’t get out regularly.

But, on Friday I held myself accountable to a coaching buddy and everything changed!  I scheduled what needed to happen.  Then I showed up at the scheduled time.  I thought of ideas and formulated what I wanted to say and… poof!  It got done!

Everyone procrastinates at some time or another.  However, chronic procrastination occurs by about 20% of us and results in missed opportunities, frustration, and a sense that we aren’t getting anywhere.

Let me give you some tips for reducing or eliminating procrastination once and for all.

  1. Get some accountability!  When you hold yourself accountable to someone else who will jerk your chain or otherwise make sure the task gets done you have turned procrastination on its head!
  2. Schedule it! Put reminders in your phone or on your calendar that will force you to see what needs to happen.
  3. Take inventory!  Assess what the most important tasks are before you even get started.  If you work on the most impactful items so you see immediate results quickly.
  4. Create a “Done it” list instead of a todo list.  We always focus on what we need to do and rarely look at what we already accomplished.  Why not end your day on a high note by recording what really happened?  That could be just the motivation you need to complete even more tomorrow.
  5. Get help!  Most of the time we can’t do it all on our own.  We need someone to give us insight, direction, and inspiration.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But you must admit it and seek the help you need.
  6. Let go of perfectionism!  Sometimes we stop ourselves from beginning a task because we are afraid of messing up.  Well you will mess up!  We all do!  But should that rob you of the results you want to achieve?  Finish your task even if it isn’t perfect.  Moving forward imperfectly is better than standing perfectly still.
  7. Outsource!  Can you take something off your plate and give it to someone else to do?  We can overload ourselves with tasks that maybe others do better.  Giving up the task affords you the time for more important work.

Don't be a slacker!  Don’t allow procrastination to stunt your growth, rob your future or keep you from being absolutely amazing!  Pick one of the above strategies and take charge of the tasks that have been weighing you down.

If there are financial tasks like budgeting, getting out of debt, or planning for your future that you have been putting off now is the time to get it done.  From now until the end of the year I will hold 30 minute 2014 Financial Strategy Sessions for anyone who is interested.  During these 30 minutes we will discuss what exactly has been holding you back from succeeding financially, what you can do about it, and we will uncover the one thing you can do right now to make a lasting impact in 2014.  Just click here to end your procrastination today!

Are you open?

Have you ever read the best-selling book “Who Moved My Cheese?” I re-read it on Sunday and loved it all over again!“Who Moved My Cheese?” is about 2 mice and two little people who run through a maze to find cheese. Once they found the cheese they enjoyed it, but it didn’t last long. One day the cheese was not in its usual corner of the maze. The book describes the thought process and eventual journey these mice and little people go through to get more cheese. It would seem timely that I read this book now because my family and I moved across the country just 14 months ago. However, I didn’t think it would reveal so much about what I’m going through right now.

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What I took away from the book this time is to be open to all new possibilities. When my cheese (my home, my business, and my way of life) moved I tried to find a recipe and cook up my own cheese in my same comfortable place. I wanted much of my life to stay the same. I wanted to do business the way I’ve always done it. Over the past year God has brought new and different opportunities my way but I didn’t see he was getting me used to change. I needed to see that different can be good. When your journey takes a on a new direction, move with it. Don’t complain because things have changed. Embrace change so you and those around you can grow. Be open to the idea that life can be better after your life has shifted. Be open to new ways of doing things because you just might like it! Often my clients are afraid of change. They don’t understand why they must get out and seek new cheese (job, way of managing their money, etc). They want life to remain the same but available debt has run out, the kids are growing older, and retirement looming is around the corner. Some clients are reluctant to get help. Some are uneasy about divulging information. And still others are afraid of what they will find if they do seek out a new financial path. It seems easier to just sit still, mope, and blame someone else for where you are right now. Here’s the deal. If you don’t get up and do something about your situation right now, your cheese will smell. It will rot and no one will want to be around that not even you!

So I ask the question… Are you open to new ideas in your finances? Is it possible that a budget and debt reduction plan will show you exactly what needs to change so you can finally get free? Is it possible that a coach will help you avoid the pitfalls of creating these plans and keep you moving forward faster than you would have on your own? Can you imagine life without financial worries and stress? Are you open to the many ways that it can happen?

I have a challenge for you… If you haven’t read the book, you absolutely must! For every person who reads the book and schedules a Debt-Free Strategy Session with me I will discount my coaching services by 20%! It is time for change and you must be open to it. Are you jumping in with me?

 

From Scarcity to Abundance!

Let me open a window in my life right now.  8 Years ago my husband and I got out of nearly $100,000 in debt.  I have worked with over 200 people to do similar feats.  I have spoken to numerous audiences about money, finances, and debt-reduction.  But here is my dark little secret… Get ready because this is hard for me to say… I don’t have it all together!  I’m still a work in progress!  I have my own money issues just like you do.  How? Why? You ask… Well I have had a scarcity mentality.  Or, I have been happy to live in the land of just enough.  Playing small so I don’t have to stand out from the crowd was safe space.  Feeling guilty if I had “too much” was a regular occurrence.  I never wanted to show off or make others feel bad when I could make financial moves they could not.  I learned to make any amount of money work for both my family and others.  When there wasn’t “enough” we cut back.  When there is more than enough we use wisdom about what to do with the extra.  My husband has taught me how to have fun with money because that didn’t come naturally to me.  But I am just finding out that I’ve been holding myself back by not striving for more.

God desires you to “have life and that more abundantly”.  But, for some reason I am just now coming to the conclusion that it directly applies to me.  God wants me to play a bigger game so that I can have abundance, give abundantly, and help others do the same.

The scarcity mentality holds you back and therefore will hold others back because of your playing small.  The abundance mentality reveals that there is always more than enough for everyone and your participating spreads the wealth around.

My question to you is where on this spectrum do you live?  Are you playing small by not fully utilizing your gifts?  Are you settling for what you have right now and not striving to go the next level?  Can you dream beyond getting out of debt or making ends meet?

I challenge you to step back and evaluate where you are on the abundance spectrum.

Poverty                Scarcity                 Just Enough            More Than Enough          Abundance

Think about this in terms of your thought life and your reality.  Can you envision yourself moving through these phases to your own next level?  If not, what is stopping you?  The answers to these questions will help you get free! It did for me! Set up a 30 minute Abundant and FREE Session today if you want your answers now!

You Have Options!

You have options! Are you stuck in a financial rut and feel like there is no way out? Do you wonder how everyone else is making it? Here’s the deal. I know you make good money. You work hard. You have what you need and most of what you want but you are not getting ahead financially. What is the problem here?

For many people, seeing no way out holds them back from ever getting where they want to be. When I sit down and talk with my potential clients for the 1st time during our Debt-Free Breakthrough Session “I see OPTIONS!” And many times you have more options than you think. Here are a few for you to ponder…

1. Increasing your income with a side business or a part-time job. Yes I know this is uncomfortable and a time commitment but in the end it helps you get where you need to be faster. 2. Selling something. We all have more stuff than we need. Someone always needs something we have and now is the time to make that connection. Use craigslist.com, ebay.com, or just have a garage sale! More money in your pocket leads to more peace. 3. Does someone owe you money? The government is included in this question. If someone owes you money can you change the terms and increase their payments? Can you adjust your withholdings so you get more in your paycheck if you always get a refund? Why give the government a loan when you need the money right now? 4. Do you have a car payment? I know you are grumbling about this right now but car payments suck our futures away. When you are looking for ways to increase you income and decrease your outgo this is the perfect place. Sell your car and get one that you can pay cash for or have a payment for less than 1 year. This is a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. 5. Can you barter services to get things you need without paying financially? This concept is huge because you can get exactly what you want and need without it affecting your budget.

These are just a few of the options that I see regularly. You may not want to do any of them because they are painful, but I never said they were attractive. I just said they were options. Options prove that there is more than one way to get to your end goal. Now you must choose which one you will commit to and get to work. If you aren’t willing to CHOOSE then I would question… “How bad do you want it?”

If you would like me to consider your personal options book your complimentary Debt-Free Breakthrough Session NOW!

Training Requires Repetition

Ok so I’m going to tell on my family today. :) A few years ago, I confided in a friend of mine that my daughter was not obeying me immediately when I asked her to do something. Time and time again, I’d tell her something and she’d not take it seriously or conveniently “forget.” For those of you who know my girls don’t try to figure out which one it was because they have both behaved like this at some point. The point is that we all have. I truly believe that the bible is the divinely inspired word of God and it says “train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” So when my friend told me that training requires you to repeat the process over and over again I sank in frustration. I mean who really wants to repeat themselves 5,000 times before a kid gets the point?! I just wanted to tell my daughters what to do and then have them actually do it right then. What is so hard about that? Nothing really if you’ve been trained! Here’s the definition of train: to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction

My daughters are in the middle of being trained to do what we ask, learn personal responsibility, and eventually initiate good behaviors on their own. So to expect them to get it right on the 1st try is unrealistic. Training takes time, repetition and discipline. Here’s the thing. We all need training in an area or two. My clients come to me because they need training in tracking their spending, creating and living by a budget, as well as learning how to get out of debt. It takes repetition to make anything a habit you do without thinking. Budgeting is no different. If managing your money has been hard for you until now here’s what I want you to do. Breathe… and try again. Maybe you need a coach on your team to help you avoid pitfalls and hold you accountable. Maybe you need to take a class that will give you the instruction you need to finally be successful. Or maybe you simply need to decide that 2013 is the year you will commit to being consistent.

If this has resonated with you and you are ready to make some things happen in 2013. I want to hear from you! Email me today. I also want you to take action.

Next Thursday January 31st, 2013 at 7pm EST I am having an Encore call for "The 10 Reasons You “Don’t Have Enough” and the Key Ingredients to “Having More Than Enough.”

I received such a great response that I am doing it again! I will also be offering a special gift for those on the call… so register today. If you registered for it already I have you on my list and you will receive the call-in info. “See” you on the call!

I’m Moving!!!

Yes I said it!  We are headed back to the Midwest next month.  My husband, Chris has always been in sales and now God has blessed him with an opportunity to manage and lead people as a District Sales Manager at Mylan Specialty.  This new opportunity takes us to Indianapolis!  We are excited about this journey and our next chapter!  We will be driving distance to many relatives which is something we’ve desired for a long time.
Chris and I have been in Arizona since August 19th 1998.  We packed up immediately after our August 8th wedding and honeymoon to begin our new marriage in Phoenix.  And it has been amazing!!  I worked for Motorola for 7 years and began my financial coaching business in 2005 after my husband and I were free from our debt.
I’m so grateful for being able to do this business and help so many people through coaching, this newsletter, workshops, etc. And yes I will continue these efforts in our new location. Tailor-Made Budgets is only changing location.
Truly, I’m not going anywhere!
What does this mean for you?  Of course, this is bittersweet (I'm leaving many friends and family behind in Arizona), but it definitely is not the end.  It is just a new beginning for me and my family!  Of course, I will continue my online newsletter and will continue to support you, as always.  Know that all of you, my faithful newsletter readers, have helped me to become who I am today.  I am thankful for your role in my life and pray that God will continue to bless you as he has done with me and my family.
To your financial success!
Ericka

Refund or Not?

It’s tax season! You have 1 week to complete your taxes if you haven’t done so already.  Some people love tax season because they know a refund is in their future.  Others are dreading it because they always owe.  The best way to successfully maneuver through tax time is to have a plan.  Here are some suggestions whether you face either scenario. Let’s talk worst case scenario first.  If you owe the government here are some things you can do to recover well…

  • If you don’t have all of the money right now, the government does take payments.  So don’t be afraid to file if that is the case.  Just be honest about what your budget says you can afford and do your best to pay it off by April of 2013.  We don’t want this to linger very long.
  • Estimate your withholdings with the “withholding calculator” at www.irs.gov. Then go to your payroll department and change your exemptions so enough money is getting taken out of each check.  It is best to plan ahead than find out you will owe again!
  • Review your budget.  Make adjustments to your budget because now you need to live on less.  Find out what is unnecessary and reduce it or cut it out entirely.  Be sure your budget balances with the change in exemptions and/or your monthly payment to Uncle Sam.

If you always get a refund here are some suggestions to make the most of your money…

  • Put some money in savings!  If you don’t have $1,000 in savings then you need to make that 1st on your list of to dos.
  • Pay off some debt!  List your debts smallest balance to largest balance and see how many you can pay off within your refund amount.
  • Set aside money for any upcoming expenses (car repairs, non-monthly bills, etc).
  • Have some fun!  Yes I said it!  Go out to dinner, take your kids to the museum, or buy something pretty for your home.  Of course, I don’t want you to spend all of the refund on fun but a little fun makes you feel like you got something extra.
  • The best way to handle a refund though is to actually get it in your paycheck throughout the year.  If you received $2,400 from the government, I think it is better to get $200 more each month instead.  Go to www.irs.gov and estimate your withholdings with the “withholding calculator”. Then change your exemptions with your payroll department so you just break even.  Imagine having more money each month to pay down debt, save, or simply have fun!

Whether you have a refund or not I hope these tips will help you to be a better steward over your taxes this season.  Making smart decisions with your taxes can have a positive impact on your future.

Are our Finances Healing? Experts Give Advice...

We are finally beginning to see a turn in our unemployment rates and some experts think we’ve bottomed out in the housing market. So maybe, just maybe, we are heading in the direction of a recovery. But if our nation is finally healing… are your finances healing too? It would be nice to think that all will be well in the world if everyone who wanted a job got one and could get “back to normal”. But what is normal? And do we really want that? For years, Americans have overspent therefore, creating obscene amounts of personal debt. For the last several years we have had no choice but to tighten belts and spend less. Now that many people are back to work and/or getting raises, have we learned our lessons? Now is the time to get out and stay out of debt! Now is the time to save money for your future. Now is also the time to lay a solid foundation for your finances. You can do it if you keep that belt tightened just a little longer… Read more in a recent AZ Republic article Ericka Young was featured in…

To Your Success!

What are you doing with your extra day?

2012 is Leap Year!  We are always looking for more time, more hours in our day, or just one day to “catch up” on something.  Well now you have it!  What are you going to do with it? My recommendation is for you to set aside some time for an activity that you normally never seem to have time for.  Think about your goals for 2012.  Did you commit to paying off some debt?  Well February 29th is a good day to add up how much debt you have and determine how much extra you will put towards paying it off.  Is 2012 the year you decided to really commit to a budget?  Why don’t you make February 29th the day you wrote out your March budget?

Personally, I have scheduled an appointment to get my business marketing back on track.  I am also spending some time watching an educational and inspiring movie with my daughters to celebrate black history month.

I know you may have to work.  I know the kids still need to go to school.  Yes I know that life must go on even though we have an extra day.  But this is 24 extra hours in our year!  What you do with it may change the course of your year dramatically!  Let’s use it wisely!

ABC 15 News Segment

Helping a valley family get back on their feet and sharing financial advice is what I do best and that is what landed me on ABC 15 News along with advice being shared by Suze Orman. Kim's family is over $20,000 in debt. She reached out to ABC15 after ABC 15 News put a post on their Facebook page looking for families struggling to make ends meet. My advice to Kim, "You've had an income decrease of about 50 percent," Ericka Young explained. She's a certified financial coach of Tailor Made Budgets and is helping Kim and her family get back on their feet. "Make sure that you're tracking your spending for all of your categories that you have on your budget," Young urged Kim. "So we'll be working on that as well."

I look forward to working with Kim and her family. You can read the full story here and watch the video of the news segment.

Change is Good!

Let’s face it.  We are reluctant to change.   We see change as intrusive, bothersome, and annoying.  We want to continue doing what we have always done because it is comfortable, easy, and well-known by us.  Change involves movement, which in turn requires effort.  But… everything was created to move.  Don’t believe me?  Trees move with the wind.  Rivers, streams, and ponds are active.  Think about it.  To breathe is to move.  Your chest expands because your lungs are taking in oxygen.  The rest of your body is dependent on that simple movement.  Anything that is stagnant becomes stale.  Water when stagnant produces scum, mold, and a foul smell.  People when stagnant lose their ability to move their limbs.  Life when stagnant simply dies.  Change, therefore, is GOOD. The benefits of change are numerous.  Let me tell you why...

  • It proves you are alive.
  • Nothing stays the same or gets boring.
  • You are improving, growing, and learning.
  • Others benefit when you change.
  • Change reminds us that anything is possible.

2012 can be full of great opportunities if you will embrace change.  Many times we set goals, make New Year’s resolutions, or create ultimatums for ourselves when the New Year arrives.  Being so drastic can be disastrous.  What I’d like to propose is that you simply embrace change because only then will you actually achieve your goals or resolutions.  Open yourself up to new possibilities and be willing to create them for yourself.  Where it concerns your finances think about (and write down!) the transformation your budget will undertake when you are totally free of debt!  Then make the necessary changes to your budget now to get there.

See change can be good!  Think about what it will feel like to pay cash for a car!  If you have never done that before then it requires a change in behavior.  The New Year brings hope, excitement, and fresh look at what is possible.  This year commit to changing your outlook and you will in turn change your LIFE!

Check that Book

Personal finance is just that… personal. In this day and age no one wants to admit to having trouble in the area of their money. We are responsible right? We know what to do right? No problems here… Well take a look at the housing market right now and see for yourself if we really know what we’re doing. We as American’s have not made good decisions with our money and now many of us are paying the price.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your financial life is Check that Book! Many people come to me because they are dealing with overdraft fees and bounced checks. We’ve all done it, but there is a lot of shame, guilt, remorse, and stress over making this particular mistake. I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, this is the reason that I am doing this business. Making smart decisions with your finances begins with tracking where all your money is going. Miscalculations quickly lead to overdrawn accounts. How do we end this cycle? There are several things you can do to get on the right track if this has happened to you.

1. Start with today’s bank balance for your account. Write it in the checkbook immediately.

2. Write everything down!!! All of your ATM debits, checks, debit card purchases, withdrawals, automatic payments, service charges, dividends, and of course all deposits must be written in the checkbook. Many people forget about the automatic payments or checks that were written several weeks prior. If you authorized it, it will hit your account soon. Review the transactions the bank already took out. Insert any transactions that haven’t yet hit your account in addition to outstanding checks you’ve written.

3. On an ongoing basis it is imperative that you write down all transactions as soon as they occur. If you are utilizing a software tool for your checkbook like Money or Quicken then you must keep all receipts in a convenient place so you can record everything as soon as you can get to your computer.

4. Bring the balance down! If you don’t subtract or add your last transaction and know the balance remaining then a checkbook is worthless. The whole point is for you to know exactly how much money you have currently in your account.

5. Accuracy is key. Never round up or down to make it look like more or less is in your account. All that says is that you don’t want face the truth. This whole process is about facing the truth. Your checkbook balance may be just the reality check you need.

6. Remember that using your debit card can also post as a credit card purchase. If you use your pin number during the transaction it posts to your account immediately. If you sign without using your pin number then it is run as a credit purchase and could take several days to show up. Do not allow this to be a checkbook catastrophe. Just because it doesn’t come through today doesn’t mean it is never coming through. Record it in your checkbook just as if it debited your account immediately.

7. Balance it. Be sure to check each transaction with your bank at the end of each month with your bank statement. I check off each transaction when it comes in. This way I know what is still outstanding. OK my engineering background is about to come out… Remember this equation.

Bank Balance = Confirmed Bank Transactions – Outstanding Transactions

You want to make sure not to forget any checks that are more than a month old. Sometimes it takes people a while to cash checks. At least this way you can give them a reminder call to let them know the check needs to be cashed. Otherwise you might feel that you have more money available than you truly do.

You can face the checkbook giant. Actually, conquering this beast will bring freedom and control. Knowing exactly what you have in your account at any given moment helps you to make sound decisions with you money all the time. Even if there isn’t much in the account at least you know. If there is a lot in the account… at least you know. Ignorance in this area is certainly not bliss and could lead to financial stress and countless fees. Make it a point to begin utilizing your checkbook.

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds”

Proverbs 27:23

What is procrastination costing YOU?

Procrastination is an evil that can cost you dearly. Sometimes we don’t realize the power it has over our lives until we literally add it up.

  • Have you ever checked out a book at the library and forgot to get it back on time having fees assessed daily?
  • Have you rented a DVD and ended up paying double for a lousy movie because you missed the 9pm deadline?
  • Have you walked in a store the day after a sale ended?
  • Have you failed to call a potential client when you said you would and lost business because of it?
  • I really hate is missing out on financial opportunities that truly could have been mine. I love a good deal, saving money, and getting the most for the least amount of money. I detest it when I could have saved money or ended up paying too much for something.

    Just last month I missed a sale at Dillard’s by one day and for the 2 dresses I bought could have saved an additional $47!! I forgot to go to the library and pick up a book that was on hold so a fine of $1 was assessed. I also paid an extra $50 for plane tickets just because I didn’t purchase them when they were on sale! All of this happened because I wasn’t paying attention to the details and taking action when I knew that I could. This may not sound like a lot of money today but if I continued to do this in various areas of my life for a year I might have squandered over $2000! Ridiculous!

    Maybe you procrastinate in other ways. We also procrastinate when we think we have more time. Here’s the definition:

    the act or habit of putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

    Do you put off or delay financial matters that require immediate attention? Are you constantly backtracking because you failed to do something in a reasonable time period? Have you waited to start a budget or debt reduction plan? Now is the time to regroup. Think about the financial priorities you have in life. Think about what it would feel like to accomplish them. Then take action to make sure that no time is wasted.

    I purpose to slow down, do my research, and pay attention. We can get so busy that we miss out on financial opportunities and goals. I am not missing out on anything that saves me money from now on. I won’t wait to do something I can do right now. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t wait to start a budget or understand your debt position. If you have more time you can accomplish your goals sooner. Don’t allow procrastination to rob you of saving money or getting truly free.

    Never, Never, Never Give Up!

    A close girlfriend of mine used to have a message on her voice mail that said “Success is achieved through perseverance so never, never, never give up!” Every time I called her I knew that if we talked she would encourage me in some way and if she isn’t available at the time I’ll still be encouraged with her message. What a wonderful way to greet all who desire to speak with you. Today I encourage you with the same words.

    “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” - Galatians 6:9

    We are entering the last quarter of 2011 soon. Have you made plans to stay on a budget, save a certain amount of money, or purchase a large item? How are you doing on your financial goals for 2011? It is easy to set our goals, but what do we do once they are written? Let’s not hide them in the office drawer. Pull them out and read them at least weekly. Make sure you are showing progress regularly. Show them to someone who really cares about you. It takes at least a few weeks of repetition before the new behavior becomes a habit. If you haven’t achieved your goals for 2011 yet, there still is time. Don’t give up before what you are striving for really becomes a part of who you are. Whatever it is that you are destined to accomplish this year is worth the effort required. And… you are more than worth the rewards that achievement will bring. Never, never, never give up!

    Do You Have What It Takes? Yes, You Do!

    Sometimes I wonder what my problem is. I say I want to grow, learn, increase and succeed in areas of my life, but my actions tell a different story. Sometimes I sabotage my own success by repeating behaviors that keep me bound. Sometimes I interfere with progress by entertaining a detour that leads me to a not so good path. And still other times I prepare, plan, focus, and strategize to succeed and when success arrives I don’t even recognize it! What is my problem? Am I crazy or something? No, I am just human… Are you? Success lies in your mental ability to overcome whatever challenge you face. Yes it is the battlefield of the mind. When you think you can, you can. When you think you can’t, you won’t. I am here to tell you that whatever you truly believe you can do with your financial life you will do. If you believe you can’t, you won’t try at all.

    This cycle is what I call a self–defeating behavior. Entertaining thoughts of FEAR, DOUBT, SHAME, etc will keep you from ever facing and subsequently conquering your financial giants. It is time to release negative thoughts and embrace behaviors that serve the financial future you desire.

    Think about what you want in 5 years and make plans today to get there right now. Sure you will face obstacles, but getting clear on the goal is essential. Do your research on what changes need to be made today. Attach yourself to people who are where you desire to be.

    Conquer your self-defeating behaviors once and for all. Draw the line in the sand that represents where you are today and where you want to be. Learn more at Saturday’s Woman to Woman Brunch! I will give you specific tips that will lead you to your financial promised land! Register today!

    You've Got the Power

    I speak to people everyday who are looking to improve their financial lives.  Each day with my family, friends, clients, and anyone else who will listen I advise and encourage them to be their personal best.  That is why I enjoy the work I do.  I can look at a situation from a different set of eyes and see possibilities that others have been unable to recognize.  This brings me great joy and fulfillment to share unique ideas or solutions with enthusiasm.   Maybe you’ve had a major financial setback, or you never really learned how to manage your money properly, or the weight of all the economic troubles going on right now have forced you to take a closer look at your financial plan.  No matter how you got to where you are today, you are there.  Now is the time to find a way out!  If creditors are calling you everyday, your judgment is altered.  They make you think that their bill is the most important one to pay right now.  They make you think you have no other choices other than what they are telling you to do right now.  They also make you think they have the power.  What you need to know is that YOU have the power and absolutely no one else!  You have the power because your income earning potential lies solely in your hands.  Your boss can lay you off, but the skills, abilities, and know-how you’ve attained are easily transferable to another position.  Your creativity, determination, and strength are priceless and cannot be taken from you.  Your creditors can threaten you but the money you earn goes into your bank account not theirs.  The power is yours because you determine who gets paid what and when.  Never allow anyone to take that from you!

    So what do you need to know when facing creditors who are demanding money from you that you may not have right now?  Knowledge truly is power so remember these few things:

    1. You do not have to speak to them if they are being rude, mean or obnoxious.  Let them know that if they call to swear at you or threaten you, you will hang up.
    2. Talk to them no more than every 2 weeks.  Tell them that when they call more, you will always hang up on them. Collectors try to call you at breakfast or dinner time, since you tend to be more emotional then (more tired, dealing with kids, stressed, etc). Don't get emotional. If you have talked to them within the last 2 weeks, tell them so and hang up.
    3. Collectors can't call you at work.  If they do, tell the collector that you are officially telling them not to call you at work. Then send the credit card company a certified letter, return receipt requested, saying that you have told them not to call you at work.
    4. Collectors go over the top and try to scare you into paying them before buying food or paying the light bill. Tell them that your necessities (food, shelter, transportation, etc) are more important.  You pay them after your necessities.
    5. Never give a collector electronic access to your checking account or send them post-dated checks. If you do, they will clean out your account because you legitimately owe them the money.

    When we are vulnerable and emotional we do and say things that later on we will regret.  Never allow that to come into play with creditors that you owe.  Your family, personal well-being, and ability to make money are worthy of being protected.  Take care of those first and deal with your creditors with a plan.  God is the one who gave you the power and a gift from God is worthy of holding onto tightly. 

    "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  –NKJV