NoSpendVer Check In!

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Hey guys! I hope you had a great weekend! I spent the weekend studying, taking myself out to dinner and making sure to enjoy dessert and running a 5K for my friend with cancer who I work with! We made a team of 20 people to show support. Go big or go home, right?

It’s time to do a NoSpendVer challenge check in! After being motivated by everyone else’s shopping ban around the pf blogosphere, a few other bloggers and I decided to do one together. It’s more effective in groups, no? ūüėČ Please check out Sophia and Janine’s blogs when you get a chance to check out their updates and NoSpendVer goals.

I posted about this project on my other blog but basically, the ground rules were simple. No excess spending on anything stupid, not needed or not in the budget. We were allowed a $20 allowance to hang out with friends and not go stir crazy because two months is a loooonnggg time. But, I was feeling motivated and I earmarked two big goals for myself. Goal one was to save $1,200 for my new apartment and goal two was to save $400 towards my retainer since my braces are coming off. As of right now, I am about $700 towards my goals! Things of note?

1. My braces are finally paid off!¬†That’s a $5,120 debt paid off in 20 months!I made my very last braces payment last month so this paycheck I had $210 that I normally didn’t have left over after payday! I won’t have this $210 once I move into my new apartment since I am adding about $500 or so to living costs, but I am happy I do now and I put it aside instead of spending it. Speaking of spending it….

2. I have been monitoring my spending like a hawk. Well, with the exception of the last five days.¬†The only spending I have done is grocery shopping for all of my meals, things I absolutely need at Target, gas and my $20 allowance. Well, until about five days ago anyways. I will be totally honest and admit that I am starting to crash and burn with my schedule during the week. We only have three weeks left in the semester but I am exhausted by the time Friday rolls around and have had a few episodes of crying from stress and wondering when on Earth I was going to get everything done. Some days, I leave the house at 7:30am and don’t get home until 9:30pm, which results in a 14 hour day. And in an effort to save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and dinners. I was really diligent too about this until a few days again when my food went bad and I had to eat out.

Since my food went bad, I haven’t been able to pack my dinners and as a result, have been stopping by Panera Bread on my way to school for a bowl of soup before class and to study when my roommate was having friends over. At $8 a pop for soup, a cookie and a soda, it’s not cost effective and I know I am wasting money. But, I am trying to cut myself some slack this week and give myself a hug.

3. I need to remember I get my energy from others and to leave the house once in awhile.

Between my NoSpendVer and nonstop homework, I’ve pretty much been a hermit. Like, people ask me what’s wrong when they hear I am spending the fifth weekend in a row at home because it’s unheard of and I used to cry and throw pity parties because I couldn’t go out. Now, I’m so content staying at home with my stack of books from the library, Netflix and my sweatpants. By the end of the week I’m just so exhausted, all I want to do is sleep. But, as much as it’s been doing my wallet good, my depression and energy levels have been through the roof.

I get my energy from other people because I’m an extrovert. I am who I am and although I don’t necessarily need to spend tons of money hanging with others, I still need to be observant and remind myself to get out of my house every so often, put real clothes on and interact with actual people. So far, I’ve been making an effort to go to happy hour again with friends since it fits in my budget and hanging out with others for board game nights. We usually do pot luck style so a $5 pie for dessert can usually be snuck in and enjoyed while I try to kick people’s butts in Trivial Pursuit.

All in all, I am feeling really good about my money lately. How have you guys been? Anyone else currently on a shopping ban?

 

My Financial Goals For The Next Five Years

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I know for some it’s really hard to think long term, myself included! A lot can happen in five years. In less than five years, I’ve moved several times, including a different state, graduated school and re-enrolled to continue on with my education at another. I’ve had three different jobs and now make the most money I ever have in my life which is a good thing. But, at the same time, without a vision, you don’t know what to do or even what to work. Telling yourself to “save money’ is good but it’s not¬†good enough.¬†In a further blog post, we’ll be talking about how to set financial plans for yourself but for now, I’d like to take the time to discuss what I would like to accomplish for myself. Perhaps you can get a new idea or consider things outside your comfort zone!

  1. Goal Number One- Graduate with my bachelors in Criminology from ASU.¬†This may even be considered an educational goal as well, but bachelor degrees anywhere in the country as super expensive since student loans flow like wine. I’m not complaining since I’m one of those drinking the student loan wine and without being eligible for student loans and taking them, I wouldn’t have went to school in the first place or have my current position helping disadvantaged youth. I’ll be looking to finish my degree after three more semesters and then continuing the public service loan forgiveness program.
  2. Goal Number Two- Move into my very own apartment.¬†I’ve never lived alone (eep!) in all of my life, I’ve always lived with family, roommates or a significant other. I know I’m not alone, especially those from metropolitan cities such as NYC where it’s extremely hard to live alone. Although I do enjoy living with my roommate, her boyfriend will be moving in soon and I’d like to be out by that time to give them their privacy. I was really tempted just to get another roommate but I decided to get my own apartment while I could somewhat afford it on my own with ease. Everyday I want to move into a different apartment but hopefully I can narrow it down to one I like and can live in until I graduate school.
  3. Goal Three- Establish an emergency fund of $5,000 and then $10,000.¬†I currently have a baby e-fund that has served me well and I’ve worked hard to keep current but I’d like to have more in the bank. I’ll go into detail about why I need a larger one but it comes down to having not great health and not a lot of family support. I don’t feel that $1,000 is enough to get me through everything so I’d like to increase it.
  4. Goal Four- Start regularly contributing to retirement.¬†I haven’t contributed regularly into any retirement accounts for almost two years and I’d like to start again, especially since I don’t want to eat cat food well into my old age.
  5. Goal Five- Enroll and make progress in the public service loan forgiveness program.¬†Since my current career goal is to continue to move up the ladder in the non-profit sector, and eventually being an executive director of one, it would be a great idea to enroll in the public forgiveness program. I think it’s great that the government is acknowledging the low pay but great work the public sector is both known for and I also think it’s great now teachers, public sector workers AND non-profit professionals can benefit from this program!
  6. Goal Six- Get a pet.¬†People don’t usually consider this a financial goal BUT smart savvy latinas and other millennials should! Pets are expensive and not only that, but a huge responsibility. I plan on getting a cat myself since I travel a lot and that is a possible 16 year commitment right there. Since I’ll be living in an apartment, a cat is a wonderful pet option and it would be wonderful to have someone to come home to since I’ll be living by myself. I just hope I get lucky and get a cat who likes to cuddle!
  7. Goal Seven- Save up a moving fund and move OR start saving up for a ranch home.¬†After I graduate with my bachelors, I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I currently LOVE my current position at my non-profit and I love my company so I’m currently not looking for anything else at the moment. I have a great benefits package ( 10 weeks paid PTO? I’ll take it!) and my company is very flexible with my current full time school schedule so it would definitely be silly to. But I would like to earn more and move up once I graduate school and I’m really interested in moving to the east coast to see what opportunities I could find, mainly in NYC, for my criminology degree I’d have. My current boyfriend lives in New Jersey and it would be nice to live by him as well. For some reason though, if I decide to stay in Phoenix afterwards, I’d like to start looking into real estate, specifically ranch homes. I love older ranch homes and my new apartment I’m considering will be in the same area I’d be looking to buy if I stay. If I fall in love with the neighborhood, I’d like to be able to put a down deposit on a home to start building equity in my net worth. Either decision I make would require at least a decent amount in savings, so this is something I’ll be starting to save up for with my tax return.

Now that I’ve share all of my financial goals for the next five years, I’d love to hear some of yours! What are you most excited for? Trying to accomplish? Dreaming about?

 

Budget Basics: Needs vs Wants

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After you’ve decided to venture into the world of budgeting, you be asking yourself, how do I determine one? What needs to be in my budget anyways? Are there some sort of categories I need to be following? Although these are all great questions, and have great and beneficial answers, the one question we’ll be answering is what needs to be in your budget, through the example of needs vs wants.

What’s a Need? What’s a Want?¬†

In life, there are needs and wants. A need could easily be classified as something simply as, what do you need in order to survive? For you to be a functioning member of society, and a capable adult, what are some of the basics that you need? For most of us, our needs can be categorized for easily:

  • Shelter ( You need a place to sleep.)
  • Food ( You need food to work, sleep and I don’t know, live?)
  • Transportation ( You need to be able to get to and from work and school)
  • Clothing/ Hygiene ( You need protection from the elements and it’s illegal to walk around naked. ūüôā )
  • Utilities ( You need to have running water,electricity to cook and see at night and gas to perhaps heat your living space or cook as well.)
  • Prescriptions ( You need to be able to maintain your health and take medications as prescribed to you for ailments and health issues.)

You need other things as well, such as love and happiness, a sense of belonging, etc, but for now we’ll just focus on these things in our budget. Now, what’s a want?

  • Entertainment
  • Smartphones
  • Internet
  • Excessive shopping for fun ( extra clothes, accessories, shoes)
  • Household items that are non-essential ( throw pillows, candles, etc)
  • Alcohol
  • Eating out
  • Take out coffee
  • Electronics
  • Makeup
  • Travel
  • Anything else NOT ESSENTIAL to your survival.

Now, we are not saying that wants do not belong in your budget. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I always make sure there is plenty of room in my budget for wants, most specifically, travel and entertainment. But wants should definitely not take up more than 25% of your budget, nor should they stop you from making financial goals for yourself and making progress on them.

Needs should also not stop you from making financial headway on your goals either. You need shelter, but you don’t need to live in the fanciest place with no roommates either. You need food, but you do not need to eat out everyday. And you need to be able to get to and from work, but you most certainly do not need a fancy SUV with rims.

What are some of your needs? What are some of your wants?

 

 

 

 

 

Latinas, you need a budget

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The first piece of financial advice I give anyone in passing is about budgets. Specifically, how YOU need one. ¬†Still not sure why you exactly need a budget? Let’s go over all the reasons you need one, stat! After I convince why you need a budget, which is basically a plan addressing every dollar of your hard earned income to work for you, we can go into the next steps of how to make one.

  • You need to be able to see where your money is going. Better yet, you can tell your money where to go.¬†Are you one of the millions of people who doesn’t know where your money goes day in and day out? I used to be like and sometimes, I still am like that. But after years of tracking my finances, I can easily tell you where my money goes now, Starbucks and Target! But without having a budget, or tracking my finances, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that. And I bet you five dollars you are probably spending way too much on fast food.
  • You can finally set and reach those financial goals you’ve been dreaming about.¬†Dream about going back to school, buying a new home or owning a new car? A budget can help you track your spending AND saving. You can save for numerous things and buy them in cash, which leads to number three.
  • A budget helps create a life without debt.¬†Not only will you be able to see how much money you can save and spend, budgets allow you to see where you can cut your spending to get out of debt in a hurry. You can also save towards items you might have put on your credit card before and now purchase them, debt free!
  • Not only can you save for retirement, you can save for¬†emergencies¬†too.¬†After establishing a monthly budget, you can regularly contribute to accounts with money your now saving for retirement and emergencies. If you have a budget established and have decided¬†that you still can’t comfortably save for either, it’s time to see what we can cut out or how we can make more money. I’m a personal fan of both but you can always make more money.

These are only some, but not all, of the reasons why you need a budget. Next week, we’ll dive more into budgeting in our new series called, “Budget Basics.”

Do you have a budget? Why or why not?

 

Welcome!

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Hello and welcome to Money Smart Latina! My name is Athena and I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and my new site, Money Smart Latina, where Latinas and finance meet.

Although I’ve been consistently blogging since 2007, I didn’t dip into personal finances until I was a broke college student in 2009, trying to live off of $900 a month. I had been on my own since being orphaned when I was 15 only to be going down mayday in college. I was struggling to put together money for that semester and keep my head above water.

Flash forward to 2014, and I am currently working on my second degree in Criminology at Arizona State University. My part-time job at a nationally non-profit has helped establish a career I love and I can now bring over 11 years of non-profit experiences even though I’m not 30 yet. And not only did I just pay off braces that have cost me well over $6,000, thousands of medical debt paid off and a car that was paid for in cash. Did I also mention I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college with an associates in Criminal Justice?

Even though hard work and persistence has helped me succeed, I was always left wanting more. I came from a household that wasn’t financially savvy and becoming orphaned at such a young age meant I had to learn a lot about being a grown up the hard way, aka, lots of debt and hard financial lessons. And even though there was a lot of personal finance bloggers out there and still is, there is definitely not enough about personal finance for Latinas such as myself, which has been proven to me by working with youth in generational poverty that look and sound just like me. I want to change that.

And so, without further ado, the idea for Money Smart Latina was born. I want to help not only young adults and millennials learn about money but I want to make sure the Latinas have a resource too. On this site, we’ll be covering everything you need to know from college and career, saving and debt, retirement and investing, and budget living, with a sprinkle of sass and memoirs thrown in. I couldn’t blog about it if I haven’t lived and boy have I lived it.

Welcome to Money Smart Latina, where Latinas and finance meet!