7 ways to increase your net worth

I posted back in May with our first 6 month check in on our net worth, and I cant believe another 6 months has passed since that first post I made on this topic. Here we are though, so you know I had to do some reflecting on our progress. I knew that we had made a lot of money moves, but I was like damn girl..go on with your bad self. 💃🏻 I was very happy with seeing a 58% increase since this time last year, and wanted to help others with ideas on how you can do the same!

So, how did we do it?!

1. Goal Crushing-Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve a goal JUST BY WRITING IT DOWN?? This is one of the easiest ways to increase your net worth, or really a way to change anything in your life, even outside of finances. You’ve heard me talk about always having 2-3 goals and then a few “micro goals” to help you break it down and make a plan to get to those bigger goals. Go ahead..go get your paper and pen..I will wait. 📝

2. Becoming Debt Free-It’s always nice to increase those assets, but make sure you are decreasing those liabilities first. See number 1 if you aren’t sure how to become debt free and also do some research on debt snowball vs debt avalanche. While we are on this topic, please promise yourself that you will stop adding new liabilities. 🙅‍♀️

3. Investing in myself-Two years ago, I only read two books the whole year, and I used social media as a rabbit hole of memes and scrolling through pictures of people that I didn’t even talk to in high school, binge watching Netflix, drinking several nights a week and I listened to a ton of murder podcasts and rap music. This past year, I have read almost 40 books, created a community of sharing and encouraging others changing their lives through financial literacy, stopped drinking, started exercising more consistently, and I still listen to murder podcasts and rap music, but sprinkle in podcasts about financial independence and real estate investing also. 📚😎

4. Buying real estate-Did you know that 90% of self made millionaires grew their wealth through real estate? Refer to numbers 1,2, and 3 above or refer to my previous posts on real estate if you’re not sure where to start.

5. Investing in our 401k’s and other tax advantaged accounts-If there is a match and/or tax advantages, that’s a good indicator you should be maxing these out. If maxing all of your options out seems like a lofty goal that makes you want to stop reading anything I ever write again, then please start with the employer match, then next open a Roth, then contribute to your HSA. You can choose your contribution amount, sometimes as little as $50, and even pause contributions if needed. Always remember that something is better than nothing.

6. Lifestyle Design-Read my previous post on lifestyle design vs lifestyle creep. Inflating your expenses to match your income is a silent wealth deflater. It’s easy to let your WANTS slip into your NEEDS category. Trust me..I know because I was guilty at one point myself. 🙋‍♀️ Once I got real real honest with myself, we were able to cut out unnecessary expenses that weren’t in line with our values, got back to basics and are now sitting at a 66% savings rate. 🙌🏼

7. Increasing self worth-Not only should you focus on increasing net worth, you should focus on increasing self worth. I promise you the two go hand in hand. Leave behind those limiting beliefs that are holding you back already-bye Felicia. 👋 You ARE amazing and you CAN blaze your own damn trail and you CAN become whatever you want to be..yes you!

What are you waiting for?? Go get you some worth. 😉

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The Debt Epidemic

🚨Keepin it real rant ahead🚨

This is us..this is America..scary huh? What if I told you that we are all responsible for this culture of debt and living above our means and we all have to contribute to putting an end to this. It’s hurting us, our kids, our health, our planet, it’s an epidemic and I wish more people were feeling terrified about the topic. It just keeps getting worse each year, small credit card purchases, car payments, student loans, slowly adding up to over $13 trillion. 💳

Who’s ready to break the cycle?? And I don’t mean just pay off the minimums and maybe a little extra to continue to be a slave to debt for the rest of your life. I don’t mean to just do a debt consolidation or home equity loan or line of credit to pay off..because debt is still debt..whether it’s paying ten different people or paying one. And now that you’ve consolidated, guess what, you’re probably just going to add MORE debt now that you’ve freed up those credit cards. 🤷‍♀️

Your past will continue to haunt you if you aren’t ready to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that YOU created this mess, and YOU have to do the hard work to not only get out of it, but STAY out of it. You have to STOP talking about how you don’t make enough money, you’re just barely scraping by and don’t have any extra to pay, maybe once you pay off the car or once you get that tax return you will, or once you get a raise you will, you are lying to yourself. STOP playing the victim and STOP making excuses for your spending habits. You’re only hurting yourself.

Also, those student loans, yeah those suck just as bad as the credit cards, but you CHOSE to go to school and you took them out, so guess what? You owe it..so PAY that shit back already!

YOUR kids SEE you living that lifestyle, and they HEAR you fighting about money, and they FEEL your stress at the end of the month when there’s not enough paycheck to go around. They see you treating yourself “because you earned it”, and they are learning that shopping makes everything better..new stuff will take away that rough week..only it wont.

Harsh words, but let me ask again..who’s ready to break the cycle??

Seven FREE Apps to help you become stress free

Ok..so my title may be a little misleading..since becoming stress free is likely impossible. But I needed to get your attention and it sounded catchier than seven free ways to reduce stress. 🤷‍♀️

You guys..it’s 2019 and we KNOW that we are all living with a more demanding schedule causing a more stressful life AND it has been proven to have an impact on our health. Some studies say that as many as 80% of people are feeling both physical and psychological effects of stress, such as fatigue, headache, stomachache, muscle tension, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and sleep disturbances, just to name a few. Do you currently feel stressed?

I keep talking about minimizing the demands on your time and that as a society we need to stop glorifying “being busy” as a status symbol of success, but are you listening?! We also need to start ditching unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drugs, cigarettes, over or under eating, alcohol and my personal favorite..the art of ignoring your stressors until you have a nervous breakdown.

You guys..can we please try to be proactive instead of reactive already?! I’m not begging you, but pretty damn close, because this is that important!! I’m even going to make it easy and convenient and FREE for you, so that takes away all of your excuses. Here are seven tools and/or apps to keep in your back pocket, and you should be at minimum doing 2-3 of these things in your day to day, and holding on to the rest for those extra stressful days.

1. Headspace-this app reminds me of Notorious BIG and the song Hypnotize. 🎶 sometimes your words just hypnotize me 🎶 This app has helped to hypnotize me both to get to sleep at bedtime, and then back to sleep middle of the night when my brain was ready to party. 🧠

2. YouTube yoga videos-there are SO many videos that it’s likely you could watch a new video each day for the rest of your life. Depending on you and your unique coping, you may need either a restorative gentle video or an intense vinyasa flow. Or maybe you fall in the middle..but just don’t fall in the group that doesn’t take advantage of the free yoga available and go get you some zen! 🧘‍♀️

3. Journaling-Daylio, Jour and Reflectly seem like good journaling apps, or if you’re like me, you can always just grab one of those random notebooks around your house and write it out (don’t act like you don’t have a hundred of them).

4. Music-ok so my AppleMusic isn’t free, but the radio is, or YouTube music videos, or Spotify or Pandora. Make yourself a few playlists..one for high stress and needing some good vibes and high energy, and another for relaxing music to calm your soul.

5. Walking/Running-no app required..just the outdoors or a treadmill. But if you’re looking for coaching, the C25K app or the Nike Run Club are both apps I love and use!! Bonus points for grabbing a dog to take with you, they get stressed to you know.

6. Daily affirmations-I have an app called affirmations, and it’s one of the first things I look at on my phone after I’m up and moving in the morning. I get a new one everyday, and it’s just that daily reminder that you are a bad ass and can handle any of life’s stresses today, so bring it.

7. Reading-I use the Libby app., which syncs with my library card and gets me free ebooks and audiobooks. Nothing like feeling stressed and taking a moment to forget it all and get lost in a good book.

These are all ways to ditch stress and get back to being awesome.

How do you manage stress?

No Spend Year Update

Brief recap of the one decision that I made back in January that has literally changed my life. It has created a snowball effect and has really helped me reset, basically like a “financial cleanse”. I made the decision to not buy certain things for the entire year of 2019, including clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup and also gave up hair dye, products and haircuts.

I was doing REALLY REALLY good with it and staying strong and not missing anything and in fact finding myself in the process. (mainly by avoiding stores and unsubscribing to all the emails) Lately though, I have definitely been struggling to stay motivated and the consumeritis can sometimes feel contagious. 😷

I know I justified and bought sunglasses a few months back when mine broke, and if we’re being real honest, I could have worn one of the random cheapo pairs lying about my house, like the ones I got at a conference with built in bottle openers on the sides..lol. I also caught myself borderline begging my husband to tell me it’s ok to buy some used earbuds from a neighbors garage sale. 😂 Then there was this past weekend at Target where I was getting a few toiletries and a new nail polish jumped into my cart. 💅🏻

See below..they are both cute and will last me for years to come. 🤷‍♀️

It’s not about the $14 collective dollars that I’ve spent this year that if you want to get all technical..are totally on my banned items list. It’s more about me losing my way and my why in the process.

Life has been throwing a bit of a difficult season my way, and it’s easy to fall back into old ways and “things” to make me feel better. But I still ultimately know it’s only a temporary feeling and it’s a VERY slippery slope. The long term mindset shift is more important to me than the temporary gratification followed quickly by buyers remorse. So I’m committed to getting back on track, especially knowing that we are entering into the biggest spending season. Since it’s my first one on my new path, wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get through it without buying all the things. 🤔

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

Garage Sale Season

With end of summer upon us, I start thinking about all of the garages full of stuff that is no longer used, too small or has been upgraded. I have memories of being a kid and getting up early every weekend to go to garage sales. (bribed with donuts and the hopes of a new toy of course) 🍩 🧸

Nobody asked me about my opinion on garage sales, but I’ve decided to tell you anyway. I can say that I had one several years back and made around $800 when I was on maternity leave. I also did one for a work fundraiser and made around $500 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling team. For mine, I sold a bunch of maternity stuff and baby stuff we weren’t using and all of Kylie’s clothes we had saved from NB-4T, after picking out the gender neutral stuff for Caleb of course. 😉

Looking back..I definitely think people with babies up to 4 years have the best luck. Also, people in a high traffic area or neighborhood having a lot of sales the same day can also be successful. But I also think we can avoid the need for a garage sale by sticking to the bare minimums and borrowing stuff that we will only need for a short period of time. Babies seem to be a reason to buy everything, and baby registry’s make it easy to add a bazillion things you will likely be too exhausted to figure out how to use once parenting shows you it’s true colors. Then it will end up in your pile for the sale, likely priced at half what it costs, just to have someone ask you if you’d take five dollars for it. (I know because I’m a garage sale hardcore negotiator) 😂

If your sale includes clothes, shoes, and household items, and you still have a closet full after outing for the sale, then it might be time to just stop and reflect on your stuff strategy. Not only did that clutter used to be money, but that money used to be your time.

I will say if I’ve finally persuaded you to join my minimalist lifestyle and you are simplifying your life and need a fresh start, one big sale may be a good idea. But only if it ends there, and you don’t just go out and accumulate more stuff to replace what you sold. Also, think about the time and energy that goes into one. If setting up, pricing, getting nasty warm lemonade for the kids to sell and dealing with them badgering your customers for 5 hours on your Saturday morning with extreme temperature variations like smoldering heat or pouring rain and going back and forth with hardcore negotiators like me sounds like a good time to you..well start borrowing those tables my friends. 🤷‍♀️

If that sounds comparable to a root canal, then selling things in “lots” on Facebook Marketplace is a great alternative. Or let’s be honest, we all know that person that’s selling clothes that are so loved they should be donated. Just saying..don’t be that friend..also don’t be the friend that sells hand me downs you got from a friend. (Totally did that on accident and still getting shit for it two years later) 😂

When it comes to shopping at garage sales, this can be a double edged sword. I remember finding a rocking chair with foot rest at a garage sale for $15 that I used with both kids. I negotiated it from the $30 it was marked at and was so proud. But I’ve also lost all common sense and self control at a sale and just bought the whole damn table of baby clothes I didn’t need. So be careful when you shop..they can be sneaky and fill your trunk up before you realize you only needed a few things. 🤷‍♀️

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. 😊

Teach Them Instead

I always hear people and have even said myself that “I want to give my kids everything I didn’t have” or “they deserve the world” and obviously that doesn’t mean buying a bunch of crap and “spoiling” them. But let’s be honest..it kind of starts to look like that no matter how much you try not to spoil them.

We make sure they have all of the latest and greatest name brand clothes, hot toys or electronics “because their friends have them” or “because we just couldn’t resist the clothes sale and went a little overboard”. We make sure they are attending all of the activities and getting them top of the line sports gear and paying a little extra for that personal pitching coach (or whatever your sport is). We’ve all been there, and even though they are persuasive, I don’t think they really care about any of those “things” they get.

I decided to change the game this year while I still have the chance. Instead of spending money on them, I’m more interested in spending time with them. My kids both still want to hang out with me, and the older one could change her mind tomorrow (she’s turning ten soon and really into herself and her friends these days, so my window is getting narrower by the day).

So why wouldn’t I use this opportunity to spend as much time with them as I can and start teaching them the things I wished I would have known instead of buying them what I didn’t have? We had both kids help with painting and cleaning up at our rental house, and we explained all the details and why we bought it. I also recently read The Latte Factor with my oldest and we talked about it as we went along, and how the little things add up financially. We’ve also been doing a lot of walks and pool time and there’s so many options that don’t cost money.

So why not save that money you were going to spend on junk, invest it in some real estate or other retirement account and instead invest your time with your kids. I have a feeling the kids will hold on to the memories with you for a lifetime and forget all about that new outfit or toy before they even outgrow it.