Why Saving Is Important!

While I continue to work on Part 2 of the Financial Fast, I thought I add a little side note and some additional tidbits of information. There is so much pertinent information out there that I want you guys to be as equipped as possible not only for a “financial fast,” but for the unexpectedness of life that can burden you financially. I am here to provide you with the tools, it is up to you to use those tools to be successful. So before I give you Part 2, let’s detour just a minute. There is going to be a lot of redundancy throughout this series because you’ve got to get it, you’ve got to get it, you’ve got to get it! You have to know what is out there to make your fast successful. Information is key in all that you do, Winston Churchill once said, “Information rules the world.” As I said before, what you do with the information is up to you. If you’re like me, you investigate, you do your homework, you learn; even if it means teaching yourself. For instance, I watch the markets. I am not a big investor and most of what I know I learned on my own or from my father in law – who could probably teach a stock market class. He is not a big talker, but you want him to get down in a conversation; talk about racing, football, and the stock market. Most adults and even any teenager that has taken an Economics class knows that the market fluctuates daily and those fluctuations affect our economy. Too big of a dive for too long can lead to recession. We currently have Economists warning of an impending recession. Why should you worry about that you may ask? Well a recession is a period when there is a temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity is reduced. That means we are not building and shipping from our country and goods and services are reduced from other countries we normally do business with. If it goes on for too long, we see loss of jobs, increases in the prices of goods and services domestically and globally which is passed to consumers; US! That is why it is important to be prepared financially for anything – even economic instability. Why is saving so important? The risk of a recession is just one of the reasons. However, before you can achieve any of your financial goals you must learn to save effectively. What is effective saving? It means learning to differentiate your needs from your wants and putting what is important first. How you spend your money and what you spend your money on matters. Budgeting your finances now become an important factor in your effective saving process. We are budgeting now and it has opened our eyes and made us realize that there are things we spend money on that are unnecessary. We went through several apps before we found the one that has worked the best for our needs. I am not pushing this particular app, but “EveryDollar” has helped us best budget and monitor our spending. We input our total monthly income and account for every dollar that goes out, from bills, groceries and even and quick trip to the corner store. It is a simple app to use because there are general categories and you can add categories to it that may not be on there. I can add to it as well as my husband and it syncs so that we both can see any changes made.

I would also encourage you to find way to save money throughout the month to be able to add additional cash to your savings and emergency funds. Here are some of the things to consider and measures we’ve taken to help save a little money here and there.

1. Cancel subscriptions and memberships.

Get rid of any thing you do not use on a regular basis and go for the less expensive or free option! For example, we hardly watch our satellite tv which equates to $126/month and $1512/year. It’s time to let go because that money can go to our savings or emergency fund. If you maintain a gym membership and only go once a month…give it up. There are free options for working out that can help you achieve the same goals, some without even leaving home. YouTube has workout videos and some of the streaming services have free workout videos that include cardio, weights, yoga, Pilates and host of other training options.

2. Set your bank account to send money to your savings.

You may want to start with 5% of your direct deposit and work your way up to 10%. Growing your savings is a goal, so seriously think about this. If 5% is too much to start, begin at 3%.

3. If you are lucky enough to receive a tax refund, I would suggest you take that money and save it or spend it wisely. People have asked us over the years why do you send your child to private school? We believe she has received a better education. How can you afford it, especially now being a one income household? We have never been the type of couple to just “blow money” and we always take our refund, place it in a special account and it goes for tuition. Not that it is anyone’s business, but that has been our sacrifice. We take that money every year and use it wisely. Some of you may also get a bonus check or an incentive check from your job quarterly or yearly depending on where you work. Consider skipping that extra vacation and saving that money or making a sound investment; something that will appreciate. There is always your savings account and emergency funds.

4. Bring your lunch to work and skip eating out.

If you’ve already read Part 1 of Financial Fast, I broke down the average cost of eating out on 5-6 day work week for the entire month. Bringing your lunch is not only a cheaper option, it can also be a healthier option as well.

5. Grocery shop alone!

Make a list and stick to that list! If your family is like mine, they like to throw things in the basket when my back is turned on when I send them to go and get an item. My kids are notorious for this. My husband has a tendency to do so as well, so when they are with me I’m constantly on guard. As I said, just go by yourself.

Saving, budgeting and following a few tips for saving money can add some coins to your account; maybe even a significant amount. Evaluate where your money is going and see if you are wasting money, if there are areas of saving and if you are willing to try some of the tips I gave you. I really hope you do because we all deserve financial freedom and to not have to worry about finances. Parts 2 & 3 coming soon and the financial fast officially begins September 1 – will you be joining?

60 Day Financial Fast Pt. 1

The purpose of a financial fast is to not spend any unnecessary money – PERIOD! We all need to develop financial habits that matter and that will benefit us for the present and the future. So, during a fast; the only money you should spend is on food, housing, and anything essential to your survival. The goal is to make make do with the essentials to show yourself that you may possibly be living above and beyond your means.

We all have a goal to save money, right? I mean our goal is to not live like we’re rich and we are actually broke. Well, maybe not broke, but not as stable as we should or could be. Some of us may be living Friday to Friday and waiting for that next direct deposit to hit the bank. I’m no financial guru – by any means so you don’t have to listen to a word I say, but believe me when I tell you that the information I provide you with over the course of this series will open your eyes as it has for my husband and myself. It started with my husband. He started to watch Dave Ramsey on YouTube and he started sending me links for me to watch as well. Dave is straight, no chaser…he doesn’t sugarcoat and baby you about your spending habits because he’s been broke before. As I listened to his Podcasts and watched his videos I became wiser about my spending habits and thought, “this guy has a great financial mind.” I’ve been invited on two very exciting trips over the next 14 months and instead of me saying, “Charge It,” I realized that I have other financial obligations that exceed a good time on an exotic island that is on my bucket list!

As I said, Dave doesn’t sugarcoat and his steps may seem drastic at first; but beneficial to anyone willing to take those baby steps. This fast I would love for you to take part in may help you get a little closer to financial freedom and also help you start with Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps to Take Control of Your Money.” I’m going to ease you into the baby steps and not overwhelm you all at once. So we’ll start with the first step.

1. Save $1,000 for an emergency fund. This is a step you want to do as quickly as possible. Emergencies come up – unexpectedly, having a fund such as this will keep you from stressing about how am I going to pay for this or that. During the 60 days in which we plan to fast financially I want you to imagine all of the money you spend on eating out, going out, or shopping when you get the “itch.” For example, let’s say that the average working person eats out three meals a day on average 6 days a week with the average meal costing $10. 3×6=18×10=$180 x 4 weeks in a month = $720. This is just me averaging about what it would cost to eat out for ONE PERSON! Now, add in a family of 3 or 4, the number would be staggering. Saving on eating out would have your emergency fund saved and then some within the 60 days…is your mind blown yet? I challenge you to cook, bring your lunch to work, check out Pinterest for meal ideas to save on what you spend on meals. Now what I want you to do is take that money and stick it in an envelope, put it in a safe place and leave it alone. If you think you’ll be tempted, place it in your safe or your savings account – if you don’t touch it. Stop digging a financial grave. The deeper in that hole you go, the harder it will be to get out of it.

2. Pay off ALL Debt (Except Mortgage) Using the Debt Snowball. Here you are going to make a list of your creditors: credit cards, cars, student loans; any outstanding debt with the exception of your mortgage, if you have one. Once you have your list, you start with the smallest amount on the list and work your way up to the biggest amount – paying them off one at a time. This may take some time depending on the amount of debt you have, but you have to start. You can have a plan all day long, but if you fail to work the plan…you fail.

I know you are thinking – WOW, that is only 2 of 7 and I’m reconsidering this whole thing. I know everyone cannot do it, but for those who can; it’s a wake up call. For those who think they can’t; start smaller because every little bit helps. We are working the baby steps and we are mid-way through step 2. The burden that I no longer have to pay x, y, z is AWESOME. The thing that will help most is a budget. Find an app or a create a spreadsheet; there are several sample ones online you can use. This will help you know what comes in, goes out, where it’s going, and what’s left at the end of the month. If you consistently see a deficit in your budget, it’s time to reevaluate your spending and financial well-being. If you are looking to improve your spending habits and live a life debt-free, independent of a wallet full of credit cards, or worried that you need to fix your car and don’t know where the money is going to come from, or concerned about how you’ll pay for an entire new set of tires…STAY TUNED.

I Like To Move It, Move It!

Today was the day I felt it. That desire, the need, the absolute want to workout. Once I started I didn’t realize that I had missed it so much. I’ve been having these cluster migraines and a very painful leg from a previous break, so my activity level went from about 100 percent down to 50. I realized that not only is working out healthy for me but it is good for my mental health as well. This is the time that I get to be alone in the garage – music blaring or watching a show on the iPad as I walk on the treadmill. I can listen to an audiobook or be alone with my thoughts without interruption…most of the time. It is summer and the kids are home from school so I do experience a few more interruptions than normal. I just realized today that although I was in some discomfort, my body still craved to move, my heart needed to pump harder and faster, and I needed a good cleansing sweat to detoxify my body of impurities. I am normally the person who likes to workout early in the morning while everyone is either asleep or away, but there were other things that needed my attention. Plus my garage gets the evening sun and with those doors closed or cracked in the summer time and a fan going it still gets pretty intense heat. Even still, I braved the blazing heat and humidity of a Southeast Texas summer garage and I completed a mile and a half and decided that was enough. I should not push myself too hard on the first day back, especially with the intentions on doing a 20 minute HITT workout too. I took a seat to cool off and finish off an episode of Deadwood – I’m re-watching because they made a movie and well it’s been a while since the show ended and I MUST see the movie. If you don’t like Timothy Olyphant I’m not sure if we can be friends. I mean, Justified, Hitman, Scream 2, Live Free or Die Hard just to name some of his work. After the cool down and the end of the episode I felt as though I had another mile in me, so I got back on the horse/treadmill. I walked out another mile on the treadmill just as smallpox was rearing its nasty little puss filled head in the town of Deadwood and completed my HITT workout. I felt like I was in training getting back in the groove today and I really needed that. I felt mentally clearer, physically stronger and like I could have gone a bit further, but I didn’t want to push things. I want to be able to get back on the horse again tomorrow and not have to limp to make it there. I also realized my unwavering desire to stay in the groove could be attributed to the copious amounts of caffeine I had consumed throughout the day, as I said; things were rather busy. Today went something like this: water, coffee, water, coffee, water, Bang, water, water, water! When I wasn’t busy or working out I was in the bathroom. I say all this to say, take time for yourself, you need it and you deserve it. Whether it’s an hour in a hot garage sweating it out or if it’s a time out on the patio reading a good book – do whatever makes you happy and keeps your sanity in check. I say this to everyone, but especially to the wives, women and mothers because we give and give until we are oftentimes completely empty. I’m not sure who said it first, but you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Post workout, post shower, headed to my little office in the playroom to work. You see I even share my workspace.💋

Mommin’ Ain’t Easy or For the Weak

Picture this, a mom – dressed in her finest, all her children are well-behaved and listening to her every command, leaving the house on time, and everyone is still clean.   Now, wake up because you are obviously DREAMING!  This has certainly been my dream for the past week, but all I have encountered is vomit, fever, endless germs, a sick and cranky toddler, a cranky teenager complaining about all the homework she has, and no one asking mom, are you ok?  I have slept an average of 3 hours a night this week, I may have combed my hair maybe 3 times this week, but I have brushed my teeth and showered daily.  This week has been one for the books – literally.  My next chapter may have already written itself.  For those of you who may not know, I am a SAHM with a 15-year-old and a 4-year-old.  They are both Geminis and if you hang around them long enough you would be able to guess their astrological sign because they are definitely SPLIT. 

Let’s back up maybe a week.  I am married 13 years in April to the love of my life.  We have been together since I was 17, so I have been with him for half of my life plus at this point.  He is a shift worker at an oil refinery and their union contract with the company was coming up.  This is always a stressful time for our family because it is a time of uncertainty.  We never know if the company is going to play hard ball or if they are going to agree to the wishes of the union and its members, etc.  I have been going through this with him the entire time he has had this job…every 3 years and he is in his 16th year on the job.  Well, it came down to the last second almost literally before an agreement was reached and that crisis was averted.  No cessation in a paycheck, insurance will continue to be active, and bills will continue to be paid without mom having to go back to work and leave her kids wondering how they will get back and forth to school and home.  That is why we choose for me to stay at home.  My husband works a crazy up and down schedule and beside him and myself, there is no one that we can actively depend on to make sure our children are cared for in our absence except for my mom, but she doesn’t drive.

Time jump back to last Saturday, February 2.  My son had a cough all week long, but I thought none too much of it.  They were playing outside everyday at school and I just felt he was running, playing, and taking in cool winter air that caused a little cough.  He has a habit when his dad works nights, he comes to sleep with me…like I need the company or something.  We slept real peacefully until the coughing began around 4am right before dad came home.  The coughing didn’t stop and then he began gagging. I knew what was next, I just took both of my hands and cupped them under his mouth.  Around that time my husband was walking into the bedroom and all I could say was get me a towel.  From that point on it was chaos on a full-scale emergency level. That was the point of his sickness beginning and not ending until around Thursday…when the caretaker(me) got the nastiness. 

Have you ever seen a child that doesn’t like taking medication? Well take that, and multiply by 100 and that would be my child.  When it takes 3 adults to hold down a 4-year-old to get medicine in him and you still only get maybe half of the dosage in…that is a serious problem.  I’m the mom that is totally freaking out at this point because I have a child that doesn’t want to take the medicine, he has another ear infection, he’s running fever, he’s vomiting, he doesn’t want to eat, he doesn’t drink juice because it tastes like medicine – his words, not mine. I’m pumping him with water, but that isn’t helping with the electrolytes he’s losing. Gatorade and Pedialyte or out of the question because again, it tastes like medicine.  By the grace of God and a praying mom, we made it through a very stressful week. Now, I am on day 3 of my illness with fever, chills, body aches, nausea…the whole kit and caboodle as they say.  Is it the flu? I’m not sure, but even though I feel like crap I am functional because I must be.  I have a home, children, and a husband to care for.  There is laundry to be done, food to be cooked, and a house to be cleaned.  While I may not be doing all these things effectively at the moment.  No one has died, everyone is fed (fish and dog) included, house is somewhat clean, there are enough clean clothes for everyone in the home, and everything else can wait.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and convalesce, drink plenty of fluids, stay warm and read and write.  One more thing, I said no one died, but while cleaning the fish tank last week it was damaged, and we had to put both the betas together temporarily. Well, temporarily was a little too long because Angel ate Killer.  This post is dedicated to memory of Killer.  Our rescue Beta from 18 months ago post Hurricane Harvey, it was left in our rental property and we took care of it until its dying day.  My daughter said it was Karma because when we rescued Killer it was in the same tank with another Beta that had one fin and we affectionately called it Nemo.  Killer killed Nemo – cue “Circle of Life.”

The Heart of It All

It’s February, the month of love! Everywhere you go there are hearts and candy and sweet valentine cards for that special someone in your life. While all of this is sweet and romantic, did you know that February is American Heart Health Month?  Heart disease is the leading cause among men and women in the United States causing 1 in 4 deaths annually.  The good news is, you can work to prevent heart disease.  It does not have to be a death sentence for you or someone that you love.  Maintaining an active lifestyle by moving 30-60 minutes per day can get your blood pumping and circulating like it needs to through all the vital organs and arteries in the body.  Both of my grandmothers suffered from heart disease – having two of the main causes: high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  While blood pressure can and most likely will exhibit warning signs, you will not know about your cholesterol unless you visit your primary care physician for your annual physical and blood work.  Checking in with your physician at least twice a year is very important to see where your numbers are.  Not just for your blood pressure and cholesterol, but for your a1c levels – which determine where your glucose levels lie, cardiac enzymes if you are at risk for heart disease, and a complete blood count which checks for a plethora of anomalies within your blood and organ operations.

Some of the contributing factors to heart disease can be considered hereditary.  So, the importance of knowing your family history is well…IMPORTANT!  As we are already ¼ of the way through the month of February, I implore you to evaluate and think about what you have done to improve your heart health and to prevent any cardiac events in the future.  Have you stared exercising and becoming more active?  Are you avoiding trans fats?  Have you reduced your sodium intake?  There is a thing called:” Life Simple 7’s,” which include core health behaviors such as smoking, physical activity, diet and weight.   On the flip side of the coin, you have the health factors which include cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose control.  All these factors combined or on their own and collectively can contribute to your overall cardiovascular health. 

My challenge to you – in honor of my two wonderful grandmothers who are no longer with us is to be heart smart this month and every month.  Don’t just take the month of February to meet the challenge, but from now and beyond.  I challenged all my followers on social media to strive to take 8,000 steps or more each day throughout the month of February, but DON’T stop there…keep going in 2019.  Heart disease can happen to anyone.  It can be the result of another medical condition because all our body systems work together.  Walking is a simple task that requires no additional equipment.  I have turned the space between my living room and my playroom into a walking track this week because my son was sick and I couldn’t go in the garage on the treadmill and I couldn’t go walk the neighborhood and although I may have looked foolish doing laps around the sofa and the maze of toys, I got my steps in! I encourage you this month, GET UP, EAT BETTER, MOVE MORE, CHECK YOUR OVERALL HEALTH, and most importantly, BE HEART SMART!

                 Follow me on IG @jerrica_and _jerome or @wife_woman_mother_magazine_ to be a part of this month’s challenge. You have time to catch up and send in your monthly step numbers to enter in the contest for a special surprise.  I want to see everyone making strides this month…literally.

January…Trial Month

January, the first month of the year, the month of renewal for most because of the New Year and resolutions, and the month of my birth. In 2018, that first month of the year seemed to go on FOREVER, there seemed to be around 77 days in that one month. It was so long, everyone in the social media universe realized it and memes ran rampant throughout the Twitterverse,  Facebook, and Instagram. However, this year it rode a G5 from the 1st to now. Time has passed so fast until I haven’t had time to organize my thoughts or even complete a sentence it seems because the month has basically said, “No Ma’am!”.  I have come to the conclusion that I may be suffering from the “holiday flu.”

What is the holiday flu you ask? It’s that hangover you got in college that took days to go away except this is not an ailment from drinking, but from all the family and friends, holiday parties, cooking, taking the kids to their functions, my husband being on vacation the last 3 weeks of December and the first 2 weeks of January, not enough sleep type of ailment. I had big plans for January but I had to call in sick for the entire month! I’ve only successfully managed to keep the kids alive, feed them, get them to school daily, keep them clean, manage the household, take them to orthodontist and doctor appointments and spend a great deal of time on the phone passionately discussing with insurance about things that were already being done…but hey, it’s a new year and a new deductible!  A proper date night has yet to be arranged with my husband, I haven’t set monthly goals, hell – my tree is still up and fully decorated.

So, January you were my trial month to see if 2019 would be a successful year and as rough and rocky as our relationship started – I see big things happening from here on out. In short, 2019 I have decided to stay and not skip ahead to 2020…as if I had a choice. CONTINUITY is the word for the year and it means the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time. There will be a continuous flow of progression throughout this year and beyond, but for now I’m just trying to survive January.

Stepping out on Faith!

20150510_135641So, I’ve decided I’m starting a magazine. I’m meditating and praying for guidance.   This is not only for me, but it’s for my family and many other families out there looking for guidance, information, and a little entertainment. I’m hoping to have a Oct. / Nov. Issue at the latest…we’ll see where the Lord is leading me. Faith is how I roll, and I’m channeling my God like faith and putting my faith where my mouth is.  This is something my pastor recently preached on and it’s sticking with me for a reason.  I’m stepping out on faith to do what’s best for me and my family.

Is there something holding me back?

Life is a brief intermission between birth and death, enjoy it.

I have experienced a lot of loss this past 7 months and each situation I have handled in a different way.

The death that hit me the hardest was the death of my father. We knew he was sick, but we didn’t know the extent of the situation until he stopped talking, developed that far away stare,and stopped eating. I received the call around 6 am January 11th and although I wasn’t expecting it, I knew it would come.  I cried that moment, but I didn’t cry again about it,  I haven’t been to the cemetery since the day of the funeral, I haven’t cried about it since that day, and I feel like something is wrong with me because I haven’t mourned him like I should. Is is because I knew he was suffering and my prayer had been that once he began to suffer, I asked God to take his suffering – even if that meant taking him too. I didn’t want to see him suffer, knowing that my mom was his primary caretaker and it was taking a toll on her as well. Hopefully soon I will get the nerve to visit his resting place and actually get that cleansing cry that I need, but I know that it will be something that I have to do alone.

Left:Daddy with his great-nieces and his granddaughter

Insomnia

Here I sit, headphones on, Sade telling me I know her better than that…she’ll be there by my side. Well Sade, I’m here alone with no one but myself because unlike everyone else I’m awake! That is not your fault Sade, but you make being awake a little more bearable.  I’m resting in the good ole’ recliner because I am in my 5th week of a 12 week non-weight bearing tibial plateau fracture which sucks. I was supposed to be days away from a beautiful beach vacation with my wonderful husband, my two beautiful children, and my lovely mother who has been great with staying with us cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children. Unfortunately accidents happen and they keep you from taking those precious moments to frolic in  the ocean and pack on unexpected bills that currently sit neatly on the table beside me. It’s been an adventure that’s for sure. I had a surgery that I wouldn’t be able to recall but I can see the scars. I think I have taken so much powerful medicine that the insomnia medicine doesn’t even work anymore! I know this much, I cannot wait until I have two good legs to walk on and I can enjoy my family.