Money Smart Latina Reviews…It Is Only Money

All progress takes place outside the comfort zone

For years I’ve taught life skills in a low socioeconomic neighborhood. While I never imagined myself being a teacher growing up, I ended up loving it. I loved my administration, my peers who taught by my side and my students, who I was blessed to serve. When I got a promotion this summer, it was bittersweet to leave the classroom. While I had so much fun with my kiddos, I knew it was time to leave and go on in my career into administration myself.

Part of the life skills curriculum I taught were financial literacy and education. I can tell many a stories of my students realizations but one that hits home the most was the time all of my students thought everyone got food stamps. They were very confused that I had to use actual cash and then told me if I had a baby, I could get food stamps too. While shocking, I was just like these kids when I was in junior high. I knew you could buy food in cash but after my mom and dad separated, things were financially rough. My mom was disabled and we received government assistance including, but not limited to, food stamps.

Since realizing how important financial literacy is, I have a soft spot for making sure my students, despite their socioeconomic status and culture, know what a budget is. Culture and religion, along with your socioeconomic background, may influence the way you think about money and your mindset around it moving forward. That was a major reason behind starting Money Smart Latina, so I could make sure Latinas had options and knowledge.

I was happy to be given a copy of It Is Only Money- And It Grows On Trees! by Cara MacMillan to read and then review here with the rest of you. This book is a nice read about a teacher who goes into a classroom with multi-ethnicity students to learn about other’s mindsets towards money and wealth. Learning about the Jewish culture of money and wealth was especially fascinating to me. My BF happens to be Jewish and I spent last summer in Israel studying counter terrorism, so this culture and it’s people have a special place in my heart. It was fascinating to learn about their jar system and how they give so much away to help others.

Along with learning about different cultures, it was full of ideas to share with others to help with their mindset of money. For instance, do we need to spend more than what we make or even the same? Can we live below our means instead and save for a rainy day? Do we have to have the nicest of everything all of the time or can we make do? It also gave great tips and takeaways, such as looking to expand your skills and building a small business on the side. As a young single woman who lives on her own, I think having multiple streams of income is key to building your wealth and financial stability for yourself.

This book also comes with worksheets to help discuss and think further into your own mindset about money and finances. I know that lately, realizing that money wasn’t just something I should be good at but instead, realizing it was part of my security, made a big difference in my mindset. I need to feel like I am saving for something and my peace of mind knowing I am taken care of helps a lot. This also makes me realize I need to save more!

Check out It Is Only Money for a look around the world at mindset and money through the fun eyes of students and their teacher!

Goals For My 31st Year

goals for my

Two weeks ago I got to celebrate my 31st birthday. Anyone who knows me knows I make a big deal out of birthdays, including my own. Luckily, I have friends who appreciate my birthday antics and some of us decided to go see Guns N’ Roses. My boyfriend made fun of me but Axel and Slash still got it! Of course, with birthday celebrations also come birthday reflection. I like to spend time going over what I accomplished and what I should be focusing on in the next chapter of my life.

Last year, a lot of my focus went into finishing my degree. With working and going to school both full-time, I was constantly stressed. I didn’t have time or energy for a lot of things but still did the best I could with everything. I not only graduated on time on the Dean’s List at ASU, I ended up winning two national awards at work and secured a promotion into management. Now that work is wrapping up a project that required me being in two places at once, I can fully do my new role and go on to find resources for youth engaged in the system.

After wondering what I would like to focus on for the next year, I thought about what has been holding me back in other areas of my life and I decided that this year, I’d like to get back to focusing on my finances.

My finances haven’t been terrible but I’ve really lacked energy and focus since going back to school and moving into my own place. Since I was busy with 80 hour work weeks, I didn’t flinch if I needed to eat out for convenience in between work and class or an extra Starbucks to study late. I also didn’t realize how much went into getting your own place and how I had tons of stuff, it was mainly decorative items and things like keepsakes. Since I only owned a bedroom set, I spent close to $2,000 over the course of a year on furniture, kitchen items and random things, like a vacuum. .

All this spending, along with a case of YOLO, has put me behind in some financial goals and random adult things I need to get taken care of but haven’t yet. I hate to admit I had the money but chose to spend it on other things that I wish I hadn’t. So, I plan on tracking all of my spending for the next year and reporting it on the blog. With hopes of tracking my spending, I hope to not spend as much on stupid stuff, eating out or whatever else keeps me from goals. The longest streak I’ve had with actual tracking of my spending is 3 months so keeping it going for the year is going to be real eye-opening to say the least.

Along with tracking my spending in hopes of spending less, I’ll also be focusing on earning more. While I am currently happy with my clients, I’d like to earn more to help with my financial goals. I’d also like to provide links to resources, free tools and information to help you live your best life. This means sharing stories so you know I come from a place of knowledge as well as sharing financial tips.

I’m happy to have my energy go into healthy avenues of financial health instead of mindless social media surfing ( looking at you Facebook) or things like shopping, my old standby of self soothing. I can’t wait to take active steps towards things I’ve been meaning to do and move on.

Do you make birthday goals or areas of focus in your life? What are you focusing on right now?

 

Does My Spending Align With My Values?

preparation is my financial empowerment

Last month when I sat down to read my copy of Jason Vitug’s “You Only Live Once,” I was left with some questions and pondering to do. This is great because I love books that make me think, yet I wondered if some of my pondering was due to recent changes in my own life. Parting with an old friend, my beloved fur child showing me that life is delicate and my accomplishments in my career that leaves me so rewarded at the end of the day emotionally, yet financially I’m just starting to get where I want to be.

I am grateful for everything in my life, above and beyond. I always feel reflective right before my birthday because this is when I tend to reevaluate where I am in my life, personally, professionally and in between. One thing I would like to back to is putting my financial house back in order. While my first year of going back to school was financially okay, I took a huge hit this past year. I’m not proud of it, but I can admit a few months I was living paycheck to paycheck because my emergency fund seemed it just wouldn’t rebuild itself. Once it was rebuilt, it came shattering down in less than three days and I am still paying off a vet bill. Although life financially has been everywhere, it could always be worse and I am thankful I have been kept in favor. It could always be worse and it pays to remember that.

Part of getting my financial house in order has to do with my spending. When kept in check, I’m able to save all the money and pay off my debts with wiggle room in the bank. When left to my old ways, I treat myself way more than necessary and let my laziness kick in. I’m extremely lazy and will happily eat out. I also have no problem drowning my night owl sorrows in the mornings with Starbucks. But, am I really spending on my values, as Jason’s book suggest? What are my values and does my spending reflect that?

My values change from time to time, but I can narrow it down to a primary few: education, health, people and security. My BF laughed and said everyone values these things but do they really? If you value feeling secure, do you have tons of savings for a rainy day? What about health? If you say you value health, do you really if you are eating cheeseburgers through the drive through?

Education is something I grew up with and is instilled in me to be important but even when I took time off on my own to discover what really mattered, education was always on the front burner. My mother and father both valued education although they only had some community college classes under their belt and not any formal degrees. My mom took a lot of law classes in her hopes to become a paralegal before she became chronically ill but had an insane passion for reading as did my father. His classes were more of a sales and business background but he always stayed busy reading the newspaper and watching CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather. Seriously, I was the only teenager who probably thought Dateline was cool. I think my father consistently consuming the news helped develop my love of true crime which I later turned into a criminology and criminal justice degree.

Health is something that has only become important to me as of the last few years so I have to backtrack to fix mistakes, although with time it’s getting better. I’ve always had chronic asthma and fought anxiety but my late twenties came with a slew of health concerns. I discovered I had severe scoliosis which answered my lifetime questioning about why my posture was so bad and  why my back actually hurt when I tried to stand up properly. I also have battled ongoing mental health issues which I know were always there but I can no longer hide like I used to. Paying for chiropractic care and a therapist is something that is always on going in my budget and neither is cheap.

I love people and animals, even though that wasn’t always the case when I was younger. The people part, not the animal part. I’ve always been a cat lady.  One of the reasons my career in the non-profit sector has been so successful is because I sincerely love helping people better themselves and their lives. I love finding resources people need and connecting the dots, especially youth. I love my friends because I don’t have a huge family and while I have reconnected with my dad, it’s hard sometimes because he is still trying to break bad habits and thought patterns. He’s only human after all. I love people so it’s hard for me to really give up on someone. I also love meeting new people and learning about their culture which is why I love traveling so much. I like seeing how other people live and what they have experienced because I know my way is not always the right one. And my cat brings me so much joy, on a daily basis, I can only continue to provide for him the best I can.

And, although this is the value I probably spend the least time thinking about, it’s the one I should spend the most on, security. Security is probably all the not so fun stuff goes under, such as car insurance and rent but it’s what puts a roof over my head and provides with the opportunity to provide an income to pursue my other values. I honestly sleep better at night knowing there is money in my checking account and I am able to provide for myself through multiple income streams that I have set up. But, security is the one that stresses me out the most. I need to save more for retirement, save a bigger emergency fund and just save more in general for other things that I put off but need to do.

Looking this over, I can say my spending is align to my values, just not all of the time. I wonder what it would take to get to where my spending was in line with my values 100% of the time or if that is even possible. While I’m not sure it’s possible, I would love to try to find out in the upcoming year.

What do you value and how does your spending align with it?

August Goals

2019

It’s August, the most special time of the year! When I was younger, I was always Jonesing to go back to school shopping and to celebrate my birthday. My mom made a really big deal out of both since I was an only child so August was usually full of magic. Now that I’m older, I have friends who partake in birthday month shenanigans with me and this is the first year in awhile I don’t have to buy school supplies. Huzzah!

Along with H coming out for a visit, I have tons of birthday month plans. A girls night, Suicide Squad viewing with friends and a Guns & Roses concert, my birthday month is gonna be off the hook! I still have goals though gotta stay motivated and take care of business during the work week. 😉

  • Lay out a business plan for Money Smart Latina for the rest of the year. After finishing my bachelors degree, getting a promotion at work and taking some time off, I’ve decided it’s time to focus on Money Smart Latina. I have tons of great ideas that I would like to see come into fruition and I am the only one holding myself back. My goal is to really get a handle on everything by the time I attend FinCon. Anyone else attending?
  • Take care of myself. I really under estimate how much rest I need and crash out on the weekends. Along with chronic asthma and BPD which is quite exhausting, I also suffer from a chronic pain condition in my back. Along with getting rest, I need to see my primary doctor to get refills, eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, take my supplements and take time to actually decompress.
  • Finish funding my emergency fund. I’m half way to my emergency fund getting topped off before I work on some other financial goals and I really hope I can do it this month. I was a little spendy this past weekend but I need to reign it in.

That’s it. I’m being super social this month so I don’t want to put too much on my plate. Bonus goal would be to declutter half my apartment since I feel like I have too much stuff again. I haven’t done a deep cleaning since last summer so that would be nice but I will be spending a lot of time with one of my clients so we will see what I have time for.

What do you have planner for this month?

 

July Goals Recap

Pshew! Although July started off rocky, and has had it’s ups and downs, I’m pretty happy with my progress and how the month turned out. I was able to save a decent amount of money besides having some expenses and spent 75% of the month traveling when I had originally expected 50%. Not only did I get to enjoy Disney World paid for a work conference, I also got to enjoy two new to me Arizona cities, Jerome and Tucson. I’ll be spending a lot more time in Tucson as part of my role as a manager. Besides transitioning into my new work role, I also won two national awards this year for my work in my community and data. So humbled. On to the goals!

  • Enjoy time with H. (With our crazy schedules, we gotta sneak time in when we can.) PASS H and I have insane schedules so while half of the time was spent doing previous commitments, we still squeezed in a road trip complete with truck stop meals. Along with new adventures, we had a few dates included fancy dinners, massages and an outdoor movie at Grounds For Sculpture, one of my favorite places on the east coast.
  • Enjoy and meet five new people at my work conference. ( New management position + newly created program means new opportunities for me, my team and my organization.) PASS 
  • Help the transition with my old position to the new person. ( Want to set them up for success!) PASS I will say pass even though this didn’t happen, due to no fault of my own. I am currently filling in until we hire the right person which may take all month.
  • Get one more freelance client. ( With my new position, I am nolonger able to do one of my side hustles so I am working on additional income streams and growing my business.) FAIL. I exchanged emails with a person who was interested in services but nothing came of it. I didn’t seek any other opportunities but have had a possible change of heart with my time and where it’s allotted.
  • Clean out and reorganize my kitchen. ( Want to do a full declutter on my tiny apartment and I am starting here.) FAIL. I was gone the whole month so I didn’t get a chance to do this. Oops.

That’s it for July. I’ll be sharing on Wednesday my new goals for August. I’ll actually be turning 31 this year- eep!

How was your month?