You should have a savings account- LIKE YESTERDAY!

You should have a savings account- LIKE YESTERDAY!

You need to start saving now !!!!!

Do you have a piggy bank

As I was researching for this post, I got into a rabbit hole reading about payday loans. I did not think these were legal in the United States. We have the system of chimbadzo in Zimbabwe (very high interest -short term loans- APR over 30%). It turns out in the U.S. similar loans are legal, and they are a money pit. For example, if you are in a bind and borrow $100, they will want between $100 and $130 in a week the interest will double each week you are unable to pay. One guy borrowed $2400 in a few months he owed $4000. It is crazy!

don’t get scammed

What struck is me is that we often assume that people needing these loans are the working poor, low financial literacy, irresponsible, etc. but that is not necessarily true. I read a lot of horror stories on reddit. Reddit is like the craigslist of knowledge for savvy millennials. It was, after all, founded by Serena William’s husband. If educated people with somewhat stable jobs are struggling financially to the extent of needing these predatory loans, it means the working class, the poor and honestly all of us are at risk of ending up in these money pits.

Money is an uncomfortable subject, and yet it is so important. I finally submitted the revisions to my article on money in politics – even politicians do not want to talk about how much they are spending to get elected. It is an uncomfortable subject- I get it. Dear friend, let us find ways to plan so that we can be prepared for the various challenges ahead.

Saving is a lifestyle habit that should start very early on. However, it is never too late to learn new tricks. You’ve got this!

I am going to discuss some strategies that I have learned or read about to get me on the path to saving.

Whatever stage you are in life, you need a healthy savings account. I know the thought of saving can be scary. Everyone, IS  talking about a 6-month emergency saving when you are just trying to have $150 saved. SCARY! Baby steps!

Stage 0: No savings account

  1. Start very small. Challenge yourself to set aside just $20 a month for three months then double that to $40. As an undergrad, I saved $50-$100 from my small paycheck every month. By the time graduation came, I had enough saved to invite family to my graduation and cover three months of rent ($500/month) in DC for my unpaid internship.
  2. Open a high yield savings account
    1. These accounts will give you at least 2% interest. In South Africa, these accounts would give you about 7% interest but no point getting jealous hahaha. If you are in SA, please tell me you have taken advantage of these generous rates. 2-3% is quite common in most developed countries. Banks are stingy- it irks me that they will charge you 14% for a loan and give 0% for your savings.
    2. Which ones- I hate to endorse any products, but I can say look for accounts that do not require a minimum balance even a $100 minimum balance. No Fees! Banks are already making money from your money – they do not need to charge you a fee for this. I am looking at you Bank of America. I use American Express but I am pretty sure there are better options online these days.
  3. Direct deposit: The best way to save is to do it when you still have money
    1. You can ask HR to split your paycheck into multiple payments to your checking and savings. You can tell them how much to put in each account. Nearly every HR department will do this.
    2. Solo Set up auto savings from your checking to savings – as I mentioned before I used to transfer $27 each week from my checking to savings. This is my fun money now. It also saved me this month because I forgot that faculty housing you pay rent at the end of the month not in advance like most rental situations. I had a rude awakening- thanks to this fun fund we did not have to deep into a savings account.
  4. Essential steps towards financial health that I think about
    1. Create a budget and stick to it
    2. Write down your financial goals -even lofty ones
    3. Save at least $1,000 for an emergency fund
    4. Pay off debt (ALL DEBT-) except your mortgage –
    5. Invest

 

 

Should  I RENT OR BUY?????

Should I RENT OR BUY?????

 

Let me start by saying the cheesiest thing- the choice comes down to what do you need and what can you afford?

My husband and I get asked a lot if we have bought a house and the answer- which also applies to many frequented questions is NO. Although we have been married five years and we have been officially out of school for a while, we have not yet bought a home. Several factors influence our decision-making process. Hopefully, this post will help you if you are debating similar issues.

One of the things people say a lot is that renting is wasting money. It is not – you get a place to live in. You can waste money in either situation; if you rent or buy a home that is way beyond your means or bigger than you need (McMansion ALERT). Having a place to stay that is within your budget and financial goals is not wasting money-it is a blessing.

Some questions to ponder before you make a decision

  1. How much can I afford to pay for my living situation? If you can only afford to spend $500 a month for the roof over your head, then you may not be ready to purchase a home.
  2. Do I have consumer and or student debt? If you have a lot of debt, you may not want to buy a house and add a mortgage to your debt bill –
  3. Do I have a solid emergency fund? The experts suggest 4-6 month’s worth of living expenses saved in an easy to access high yield savings account before making major investments. Fellow millennials and baby cousins in Generation Z- please trust me when I say emergencies happen. You need an emergency FUND.
  4. If I were to buy a home, could I afford a decent down payment to avoid paying PMI and other protections? You can probably take advantage of many first-time buyer deals and put just 5% down, but some financial experts say it is always better to have at least 10-20% down payment saved. If you don’t use it all for the downpayment you may need it for closing costs and moving expenses.
  5. Do I have money set aside for home ownership related expenses that can occur as soon as I move in? These can include flooding basement, failing AC or heating system, leaking roof, etc. Things happen. Unless you are getting a brand new home chances are that it will have some issues.
  6. Could I comfortably pay my mortgage if I lost my job? This is important.
  7. Do I plan to live in this home for at least five years? If you are still moving jobs buying a home may be risky – if you are unable to find a renter, you may find yourself paying a mortgage for an empty house. If you find a terrible renter, you may still pay your mortgage plus rent at your new place.
  8. The cost of buying a home is more than the cost of a mortgage and down payment. You will need to pay taxes, homeowners insurance, fix things, mow your lawn, keep up with neighbors and their gardens – heating a home is also kinda expensive.
  9. Owning a home is also fantastic – you can paint the house fun colors, and you do not need permission to drill the walls.
  10. A home purchase can be a worthwhile long-term investment, especially if it is in an area where home values appreciate.

At the end of the day, do not feel pressured to rent or own a house. Your bank account will tell you what you can afford. The heart might lead you astray.

 

P.S. I am not a certified financial advisor this is just my fun blog

 

 

Do your friends make more money than you?

Do your friends make more money than you?

The answer is probably yes. Those of us in our early 30s or -whatever age you are – are starting to see our lives take different paths from our friends. For a while, we were all poor college OR grad students. Now that school is behind us (is it ever) we are going on to career paths that will present a shift in our income. Our finance and maybe engineer friends likely started at six figures while those of us in social sciences and humanities might be making a just little over what we made in graduate school. If you are honest though you will see that we are pursuing our passion, our skill and the jobs that we are uniquely designed to do well at.

What does it mean that our friends are making more money than we do? It means whatever you want it to mean. A month or so ago, some friends and I were discussing why it is so easy to drool over people’s picture-perfect vacations or homes. It is only natural to feel a little bit of jealousy when we think others are far ahead of us and nothing is more likely to make us question our worth than money or the ideas of what money can buy.

Having friends who are richer than you can be stressful. You might feel pressured to spend to their level. Just don’t. This applies to every stage of life. In college, if you can’t afford to eat out at the “cheap” taco place, be honest and tell your friends, you can’t afford it. I liked hanging with my friends but could not always afford meals etc. so I joined people at house parties and or hosted potlucks at our apartment a lot. In graduate school, my bestie and I loved hanging out with other girlfriends after church – Sunday lunch. We really could not to spend $20, so we always split our meals. Have you seen the portions in the South? We never missed out on Sunday lunch, and we often got to try out new fun places. At first, our friends looked at us with confusion re meal-sharing but after a while they accepted it.

We can’t control the things people ask of us – but we can control how we respond to those asks. If you want to join your friends for dinner but can’t afford to split a huge check, let them know. Use your words and say I will need to order separately. Telling the waiter in advance will not only make their job easier, but you won’t stress.

Be honest with yourself. Are you willing to do whatever job your rich friend is doing to earn the same? Is it possible to increase your income, doing something that you love? A friend and I talk openly about money. I know that she will be rich – this makes me happy because she gives great gifts hahaha, but I also know she works hard in a tough industry. I work hard but in a different environment that brings me immense joy and loads of flexibility. My job allows me to do an hour of yoga EVERYDAY if I want.

Try not to loan each other money \ (read more here)– it gets tricky. I hate paying off my credit card because I feel like I am wasting money-paying back loans can also feel this way. If you do borrow money -pay back on time. You should not be asked. If you loan money to friends be firm in asking for it back-set boundaries and don’t be passive aggressive just ask for the money.

If your friendship is struggling because of who makes more money that friendship probably isn’t worth it. Friendship should be enjoyable and supportive. If you are a rich friend and can afford to share your gifts, do so from a place of humility, love, and generosity. If you’re not money rich share love in time and other nonmonetary ways.

Shout out to my college friends who always made me feel like a part of the group even when I was just a poor kid from Zim.

 

DO NOT ASK YOUR ENTREPRENEUR OR SMALL BUSINESS OWNER FRIENDS/FAMILY FOR DISCOUNTS

DO NOT ASK YOUR ENTREPRENEUR OR SMALL BUSINESS OWNER FRIENDS/FAMILY FOR DISCOUNTS

DO NOT ASK YOUR ENTREPRENEUR OR SMALL BUSINESS OWNER FRIENDS/FAMILY FOR DISCOUNTS

 

There are a lot of friends and family money-related discussions going on –they all matter. I wanted to point another angle we don’t often think about-FRIEND DISCOUNTS.

A lot of us millennials are dabbling in entrepreneurship to supplement our income or because we prefer to create employment. Entrepreneurship and or owning a business sounds sexy, but the reality is not that cool- there is a lot of work and debt involved in building an enterprise. Many small business owners operate in the red for the first few years of owning a business.

I am the queen of discounts and coupons. I pride myself in getting good deals. I  will happily spend hours on the phone with our service providers because research has shown that we can cut our utility bills by about 20% if we are committed. My husband is not, and he dreads going shopping with me, haha but I know he loves that whenever we go to the apple store, I can save him at least 10%. This disclaimer is important because I do not want you to feel judged for seeking out ways to save money. Use retailmenotto get discounts to bath and body – the company can afford your discount.

 

However, I want to emphasize that seeking savings on the hard work of our friends or family is not cool. My parents were small business owners and worked informally, so I know how important it is for entrepreneurs to maximize their income. Asking our friends for a discount might signal that we do not respect their hustle, or we do not care about their work. If you can pay full price for a friend’s yoga class, please do it because contrary to popular belief yoga teachers, photographers and website builders do not make a lot of money. When your friend’s business takes off, and they become a multimillion-dollar conglomerate, they will not forget the support that you gave them.

Instead of asking for a discount help your friend or family member, you can support their work by advertising their business and encouraging your circle of friends to use their services. I love seeing the way payments for services offered by friends can empower them. If I can afford it, I always pay full price or a little extra for my friend’s services.

 

Both of my businesses can now  AFFORD to give friend discounts because our friends and family supported us 100% when we were still starting up.

 

Please use code: welcome10 for your next order from www.zimtuckshop.com if you are in Harare and want to buy a special treat from Trendy inbox our facebook page or WhatsApp +263772951139 for a discount.

How Often Should You Check your Account Balances$$

How Often Should You Check your Account Balances$$

You Should Check Your Balances $ Regularly

How often do you check your account balances (credit card, checking, and savings)? For most people, the truth is never because checking the balance can be anxiety wrecking. One of my friends told me that she gets the same sinking feeling in her tummy when she logs into her account as when she goes to the dentist. It can be scary, but like going to a dentist checking our account balances is important.

It can feel like so

How often should you check your balances? Ideally, at least twice a week but as with everything take baby steps until you feel comfortable and maybe you will check your accounts daily. You should also floss daily, but you know…

Advantages of checking your account balances on the regular

  1. Confirm that all transactions are correct. It is possible to get overcharged because service providers are human and make mistakes too.
  2. Catch ERRORS!- AT&T is notorious for small charges like $13.99 that can go one for years. Look over your accounts and make sure you are not paying for a service you are not getting. The good news is that if you report the charge, you may even get a refund
  3. Avoid overdrafts or spending more than you can pay off on your credit card. Most people probably go over their budget because they innocently assume that they have enough funds. Overdrafts are costly, so avoid them.
  4. Catch FRAUD– You want to know if Joe Stealmoney in Georgia charged $300 for new the Michael Kors bag on your account. If you don’t know the story go to twitter and search #michaelkors
  5. Stay on top of your balance– Know how much money you have in your account. Know how much you have spent on your credit card

Log on to your BANK or Mobile Balance NOW-

This is the goal

Vacation without breaking the bank

Vacation without breaking the bank

It’s SUMMERTIME SO!!!!

Nothing sucks like coming back home to an empty bank account – because YOLO- when in fact you have bills to pay.

A newish survey from Bankrate found that about 60% of people living in the US will not be able to take a vacation because funds are tight. Holidays are not a need, but it is fun to let loose and travel. On social media, I have had enjoyed following conversations on vacations but not listening to my friends pinning for trips they feel they can’t take. Can we agree that many of us would love to travel? It doesn’t matter if you are going a couple of hours from home or a few thousand miles – you will have more fun if you budget for your trip.

Vacation is expensive. Are you planning a trip? Think about how much you think you will spend – now double or triple that number. I am a planner, and I was shocked by how much we spent on our recent trip to Paris. I am glad I had budgeted, but we certainly underestimated the small costs associated with international travel.

STEPS TOWARDS A $$ STRESS-FREE VACATION

  1. Three to Six months out– Set a realistic savings goal
    1. Get realistic about the cost of flights to your destination. Use google flights and cross check that number with a few airlines. You can fly to Capetown for just under $1,500 if you book today – Just saying JWrite down the number $$$
    2. Get a realistic cost for housing – I suggest Airbnb or some other house share for a trip longer than three days & hotels for a shorter trip. Airbnb is probably better if you are going as a group. Write down the number $$$

Some airbnb’s and hotels can be trash too so do your research

  1. Get a realistic cost of local transportation – if you plan on renting a car then use your favorite car rental website to compare deals

STOP HERE – If there is no way you can manage steps 1.1 to 1.3 without dipping into your credit card and incurring debt, then you are not ready for this trip. Instead of going to Capetown consider something close to home

  1. Set a realistic goal for dining: When we went to Paris, I completely underestimated how expensive Europe is. Use yelp to get a sense of what people are spending per night – how much you pay depends on your taste and how much work you do. This confession will not make me look good, but in the spirit of transparency (truth is overrated), we once spent $150 for a simple dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in New York City because we had no idea where to go for reasonably priced -or regular black person- Jamaican meal in NYC. Strangely enough, I never spend a lot on meals in London because the drinks are cheap, hahaha. In Harare, Capetown, Nairobi, Lagos, etc. you can eat for cheap or spend a lot – the point is to get a sense of the average cost of meals, multiply that by 3 to get a daily rate and by the total number of days to get an estimated bill.

You will likely spend between $50 and $100 per person per day in most places around the world.

  1. Set a realistic goal for local transportation – in Europe use public transit. For five days, you are looking at about $60/week. Most major African cities have uber, but the rates are quite high so that local taxes might be a good option. Seek local advice and stay safe.
  2. Set a realistic budget for all your sight-seeing adventures: I assume you are going on vacation to have some fun
    1. Pre-purchase any tickets for museums or anything that has an entry fee. Do not use third-party websites if you can avoid them- pre-purchasing will not only keep you within budget, but you avoid exchange rate dilemmas
    2. Research the other things you won’t get to up to- swimming with dolphins will cost between $50 and USD 100 in Zanzibar, entering the Vic Falls is between $2 and $45 depending on your citizenship (You do not want to die without ever having visited the Falls)…

You can watch the video of him bungee jumping – it was awesome. I have also done a few crazy things in Vics like walking with lions – I know – why are you judging me

  • Remember, most things are free- visiting the Eiffel Tower is free you only pay if you want to go to the top (est. $30).

    I took this loopy looking pic

  1. Start saving for the trip
    1. Divide the totals from step 1 by the total number of paychecks before your trip. That is how much you should be setting aside each month.
    2. Set up direct deposit into your savings account for your trip – DO THIS
  2. Pay for most expenses before you leave home
    1. Purchase your ticket on your credit card and pay it off
    2. Book your hotel (set aside the money and be ready to pay it off when you check in.)
    3. Buy your museums passes etc. and pay off the balance
  3. Get travel insurance: protect all your purchases because things happen
  4. Set aside an emergency or over budget fund – about 20% of your expenses (excluding fixed things like flight and hotel)
  5. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET AND HAVE FUN