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. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป 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. ๐Ÿ“

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. ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ˜Ž

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. ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ 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. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

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. ๐Ÿ‘‹ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐ŸŽถ sometimes your words just hypnotize me ๐ŸŽถ 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. ๐Ÿง 

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! ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™€๏ธ

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?

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. ๐Ÿ˜œ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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?

Gifting gratitude is free

Being grateful for what we have is something we can all spend some time each day reflecting on. It’s as easy as asking yourself one question each morning before getting out of bed. What am I grateful for today? I bet there are some things you are grateful for that others may not have, such as basic needs like a warm meal or the roof over our heads.

This is one of the reasons we have all made the decision to be part of a fundraiser or donation drive. It’s always nice to stay stocked up on canned goods for a local food bank or to help get school supplies for a student in need. Monetary and food donations can make such an impact, even on a small scale.

While giving to others, we can end up gaining so much. I know the feeling I get from giving to others is indescribable, and I bet some of you feel the same way when you give.

If you aren’t in a position to give back with goods or money, there is a way to give back that doesn’t cost you anything. Time is a great thing you can give that is just as rewarding, if not more so, than money or goods.

Find something you’re passionate about and give your time..an hour a week..an hour a month..an hour a year..whatever you have. I have been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity on the family selection and services committee for almost ten years and love it. I have also been a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters for about three years and love that program also. I can always walk away knowing that I’m making an impact, which makes my heart happy.

The point is..give back..some how..some way..a little..a lot..just give..help others..be a good human. Always stay humble because you may end up on the receiving end one day.

Flirting with Fear

I remember in high school and college becoming physically sick about public speaking. To the point where I would accept lower grades just to get back to my comfort zone..which was not being in front of people. I went for perfection in the areas that I knew, and didnโ€™t feel comfortable trying anything different.

I promised myself I would NEVER get in front of crowds after graduating. I would occasionally have to speak to small groups early in my career, and every time it would cause me to lose sleep and have an upset stomach.

I got to a point in my career about five years ago, where there were new promotions I could go after, but part of that would require me to get in front of mid-sized groups. I almost stayed where I was, because it was comfortable and easy and I almost gave up on ever getting over my fear. But instead, I went for it, scared as hell of failure, very anxious and certain I wouldnโ€™t be โ€œperfectโ€ at it.

It was outside of my comfort zone, but I continued to practice, visibly shaking the first few times I had to present, lost a lot of sleep, practiced some more, but watched as the groups slowly started growing in size, so did my confidence and I found that itโ€™s something I actually enjoy.

I have also found some deep breathing and yoga routines that help get me in the right mindset if I am feeling nervous or anxious. I currently present frequently to small to mid-sized groups, and it gets easier every time I do it.

Today, 5 years after making a professional and personal development goal of getting more comfortable with one of my biggest fears, something happened. I had my largest stage and largest audience to date. And I wasnโ€™t nervous or anxious at all, but rather felt EXCITED and GRATEFUL for the opportunity. I didnโ€™t even use the notes that I made for myself.

Making a long story longer. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

I definitely think this book had some impact on my mindset shift and highly recommend reading this, along with listening to Reshma Saujaniโ€™s TedTalk. Be brave, not perfect!!

What fear do you have that youโ€™ve been able to overcome or that’s still holding you back today?