tips

Still Need Student Loan Debt Assistance? There’s Help For You.

The recent announcement of federal student loan debt forgiveness has exposed strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Aside from the passionate arguments from the pro and con crowds, there are many other issues and points of discussion that have arisen in light of loan forgiveness. One of the less discussed aspects of student loan debt debacle is the balances owed even after some debt has been forgiven. Many people will still have enormous debt, even after receiving the maximum forgiveness available.

For those that will still need assistance after the forgiveness is applied, there is a webinar that may provide some guidance that is helpful. The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is sponsoring a Student Loan Debt Webinar to provide resources and strategies to assist indebted individuals. The webinar is scheduled for September 22, 2022, starting at 7:00 PM EST. The session is scheduled to last for roughly 1.5 hours, so expect lots of valuable information: don’t forget your notebooks!

NCNW is, “Washington, D.C.-based charitable organization making a difference in the lives of women, children, and families through a four-pronged strategy that emphasizes entrepreneurship, health equity, STEAM education, and social justice.” The organization does a splendid job of offering timely tips and actionable information, and I think the Student Loan Debt Webinar will be an invaluable resource to those interested. With nearly 100 years of commitment to service, the organization has a long track record of giving back and uplifting the population it serves.

If I find any other useful information for you all (regarding student loan debt or any other barriers to financial freedom), I’ll be sure to post them here!

Tracking The Good Stuff – My Results

The past several weeks may have been difficult for you (I certainly felt the energy of difficulty and frustration). Last week, I mentioned that I would be focusing on all of the good stuff that came into my life. Keeping a Goodness Log is a great idea if you need to turn your mind away from frustrating topics and to put your attention toward what you prefer to have. Given the overall negative slant of most of the information that we’ve been getting, a Goodness Log can be just what you need to get your mindset back to where you want it to be.

I noticed that I experienced SO MUCH goodness last week: actually, there were too many good things to capture them all in this post. So, I’m going to share some of my highlights. Here’s some of the goodness that came my way over the past week:

  • I had a luxurious dinner with my lovely daughter at Hondo’s
  • I saved quite a bit of money on a few of my food delivery orders
  • I received a free set of candles to review on one of my YouTube channels
  • I got some fabulous instruction regarding which direction I needed to go in my businesses
  • I had wonderful conversations with some of my dearest friends
  • I got some great resources that will help me fill the gaps within my daughter’s educational program
  • I found some information that I needed to complete a chapter in my upcoming book
  • My schedule had a lot of restorative free time (much needed)
  • I saw increased channel and blog activity

The goodness is coming in, everyone! This exercise really helped me to get back to the positive mindset that I prefer. I’m hoping that you all felt an energy shift from keeping a log, too!

Making Your Labor Count – 3 Ways To Make The Most of Work

In the United States, yesterday was Labor Day. This day observes those American works that advocated for labor law improvements that established guidelines for ethical, reasonable work and that opened the way for safer work environments, fair(er) pay and better work schedules. While the state of US labor still has much room for improvement, this holiday recognizes the workers that paved the way for better work for all.

As I reflect on Labor Day, I think of how those early advocates would be both delighted and dismayed by the current state of work here in the US. I also thought about individuals within the workforce, and how they can position themselves to make the most of their careers and the experiences afforded to them by virtue of their professions. Here are three ways that we (because I’m still an employee, too!) can make the most of our time as employees:

  • Explore and take advantage of employee benefits. Free or lowered price training, various insurances, shopping discounts, access to restricted spaces and exclusive events: find out all of the benefits available to you from your employer. Then take advantage of every program, benefit, and perk that you can. If these perks can be enjoyed on the clock, even better!
  • Network like crazy while you’re there. Wherever you work, remember that you are less than six degrees from people that can assist you with your goals. So meet as many people as you can, and add these individuals to your network. The thought that a person should only go to work and refuse to develop networks within their sphere of influence is antiquated and limiting. Many people that hold this perspective will also complain about job stagnancy and air their frustrations over how better networkers get certain promotions and advantages within the workplace. Your dream role may be just one crucial contact away from where you are right now. Learn to network so that you can tap into all of the opportunities just beyond your reach.
  • Do a skills audit so you can quantify what you learned and make moves based on your skill set. Examine the skills you’ve gained on the job, and determine which ones would qualify you for a better position (spoiler alert: ALL skills have the potential to qualify you for something better). If you struggle with identifying and enhancing your skills, you can get a skills audit done by me. I offer this audit so that, instead of feeling overwhelmed or disempowered, you can devise a plan of action that moves you confidently toward the career of your dreams! As employees, most of us are more talented, skilled, and desirable than we know. The skills we have are often downplayed by us (as an attempt to display humility) or others (part of getting us to accept less than we deserve). If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, or what you bring to the job market, contact me: I can help you pinpoint your talents and tell you how to leverage them to your advantage.

Those are my top tips for getting the most out of your current job. What are some of your tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Keeping Track Of The Good Stuff

After a few weeks of keeping tabs on the highly misinformed conversations surrounding the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA 2022), I decided that I needed something lighter, but still beneficial, to discuss over here. Now, if something big comes up with IRA 2022 that I need to discuss, then of course I’ll share it (staying informed about tax legislation is what I love to do). But for today, we’re taking a break and doing something refreshing.

Many times, as we talk about finance, money, budgets, and the like, most of the conversation centers around the tasks needed to create more cash and less stress. Conversations about money almost always come from a place of restriction, instead of abundance. Most of us to taught to focus on what we eliminate, and how much we hold on to, to measure our success with our budgets and our financial freedom journeys.

But what if, instead of only focusing on what stays in our grasps, we focus on what flows in with ease? What if we counted the non-monetary “wins” alongside the others, like when someone gives us priceless information, or when find the perfect parking space, or when the store is fully stocked with everything that you want and need to buy?

What if we kept a log of all of the good stuff that happens each day?

Well, let me tell you all: I’ve done this very exercise as part of my work with my business and lifestyle coach. And this approach has really opened the floodgates of abundance into my life.

The more we realize that everything is interconnected, the more we can see and believe that small, positive changes in one area absolutely creates positive changes (small and large) in other areas of our lives. Nothing exists in a bubble, and calibrating our minds and lifestyles for goodness creates fertile soil for welcoming even more of the things we want (like more money coming in an enjoyable way, more time to do the things we love, etc.,).

So, for a week, try keeping a Goodness Log. Write down every good thing that happens to you – whether it connects directly to money or not – and see how you feel at the end of the week when you review it. It does wonders for shifting your mindset and opening you up to more possibilities, better emotions and, yes, more abundance. I will keep a log this week, too, and share my results in a future post!

5 Reasons Why We Don’t Earn Enough Money

Hi friends! I have a little bit of a surprise coming in a couple of days, but before I can unveil that, I have to cover a topic that I know has been on a lot of minds, and that seems to be discussed more and more in public forums as the economy goes through its ups and downs.

Many of us work hard, do a good job, and yet we still don’t seem to earn enough money. This is a problem that I had personally for years, until I made some crucial changes that helped me to turn this around (more about those changes in a minute). There are at least five common reasons why we don’t earn enough money, and I’d like to discuss these with you, as well as point you in the direction of some support for turning these reasons around.

  1. We didn’t do skill audits when needed. A skill audit is a deep dive into our knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs, for those that are familiar with federal job terminology). Listing our skills then having a deep appreciation for what we’ve mastered is critical to understanding our worth in tangible measurements. Without this knowing, it’s nearly impossible to be adequately compensated for our work. After all, if we aren’t clear about our value, how can we appropriately price our labor when interacting with clients and employers?
  2. We undervalued our skills. Even when we’re crystal clear about what’s in our skill set, we can still under-price ourselves. Many of us believe that timidity, and being the “lowest bidder”, will ensure that we get the clients or the jobs that we want. And it’s true that doing this may get us jobs and clients, however . . . We often find that undervaluing our labor means that we work harder, get burned out faster, and earn less over time. Please don’t let the current conversations about the desperation in the job market discourage you: there are enough positions available at every income level to satisfy your earning desires, and you don’t have to undervalue yourself just to secure employment.
  3. We have outdated money beliefs. Once upon a time, we believed that telecommuting and virtual work environments were only available to the few lucky people that happened to stumble upon progressive employers. Then 2020 happened, and we found out that a lot of employers that previously found telework to be “infeasible” and “unsustainable” could now operate with 100% virtual teams. I mention this example to illustrate that our money beliefs should be constantly shifting because our realities are always transforming. For that reason, we have to ask ourselves honestly whether we believe that we can actually earn more, that employers and clients are willing to pay what we ask, and that there are environments that will support the kind of work we wish to do. Only after considering these things can we remove this block in our earning potential.
  4. We accepted principle over profit. This is probably the only reason that may remain even after going through the other points. Sometimes, we choose work that is underpaid but rewarding (education and farming are two fields that come to mind immediately) because we’ve decided that the emotional rewards outweigh the financial gain. It is possible to have abundant income and deeply purposeful work all wrapped in one, but if our main motivation is principle, we may not seek out more lucrative opportunities. The goal should always be adequate or abundant income, coming from meaningful work. We should never have to choose between the two and, if our financial gain means that we have to compromise our values, then the opportunity isn’t worth it.
  5. We’re paralyzed by fear. This is probably the biggest one, because it’s the only thing that requires constant monitoring and addressing issues as they arise. It’s also the only point that can’t be easily corrected by introducing objective information. Our fears can convince us of monsters in teh shadows and can keep us from taking leaps of faith. However, it’s key to note that we are always larger than our fears, and we can always choose to be brave. Our future selves require us to be courageous and take one step forward, then another, even when we don’t know exactly where it will lead us.

I’ve personally gone through each of these reasons for underearning. I didn’t understand the breadth of my skillset, I did work where I was grossly underpaid, I believed that my dream salary wasn’t possible due to XYZ (insert lots of detrimental thinking here), I engaged in meaningful work that didn’t pay much, and I’ve been so scared that I wouldn’t even apply to certain jobs. I’ve tackled each of them one by one, in order to dismantle my money blocks and earn more money than ever. Now my work is simultaneously interesting, full of purpose, and well paid. I also got to tap into one of my core values – flexibility – since I now have a position where I can choose my work schedule based on my needs.

I’m here for you all if you need help with reason #1 – identifying your current skill set. I am currently offering a skills audit package on my Services page, so you can see my approach to quantifying your KSAs. It includes a telephone/zoom conversation with me, as well as a beautifully formatted document that you can use when seeking new earning opportunities, and you can customize it as you add new skills to your toolkit. It’s perfect for helping you get clear on your depth of expertise and how to position yourself to earn what you want and deserve. The skills audit will also help you overcome any of the five reasons that may be blocking you from earning more money, as well as any skills gaps, and recommend how to address these gaps in the most affordable and efficient way.

Those are my top five reasons why we may not be earning enough money. Look out for more insights in upcoming posts! Take care.

Modern Money Keys: An Introduction

Hello friends! As we begin transitioning from the summer months to the fall season, many of you are probably looking ahead and trying to figure out what information you need to make better money choices going forward. There’s nothing quite like the change of seasons to highlight that you, individually, would like to make certain changes.

For that reason, I’m starting a Modern Money Keys series, which will be a few posts highlighting principles that can help tremendously with your financial planning and decision making. I have a lot of materials that I’ve studied in regards to what it takes to overhaul your money mindset and I’ve also experimented with a host of tools related to these materials. I’ve seen a lot that works, and even more that doesn’t work *if* you goal is to grow, save, spend and earn your money in an enjoyable way.

Most of what we’ve seen when it comes to finance is akin to drudgery, miserliness, and settling on penury to reach our goals. It’s so odd that so much of what is taught about money is so strict and miserable, because money – when handled in alignment with your values, with love and with respect – is joyful and abundant. Money can be so much fun to possess as well as to spend!

Yes, it can be managed with tedious and austere energy, if that delights you (and some people do feel more comfortable handling money in this way: if this is you, I don’t knock it!). However . . . If you want to have fun with your money but also have it grow abundantly, support the things that matter to you, and prepare for your future, then this Modern Money Keys series is for you. I’m going to discuss some larger principles related to money, and then break down the practical ways to embrace these principles, while still having a good time and feeling like this isn’t “hard work”. Because you should enjoy how you handle your money: how it comes in, how long it stays, as well as how it recirculates back into the world should ALL delight you!

Do you have any money questions that you’d like answered during this series? Please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to include it when I write future posts!

Why Recessions Are NOTHING To Fear

Last week, President Biden announced that we are not in a recession, though the data indicates that we have experienced two consecutive quarters of declining economic activity. There have been many discussions surrounding the topic of recessions, and since I’m not an economist, I won’t pretend to be an expert in this topic AT ALL. However, I will share my thoughts as someone that reads regularly, and that has lived through several decades and seen a thing or two.

Practically every decade since the 1920s has experienced recessions. For those that don’t know, the 1970s was marked by record-high stagflation, which has a combination of recession and inflation that put economists in a quandary (proposals to correct one element – either the recession or the inflation – could negatively impact the other element). People have weathered tougher economic times. Of course, not everyone survives severe financial hardship – indeed, the most vulnerable populations offer suffer the greatest – and this post isn’t designed to make light of that. It’s a warning to those that have ears to hear.

In each decade, there have been people who won BIG and set themselves and future generations up for financial ease and freedom. They had a host of varying advantages and disadvantages, but every person that has WON in previous periods of recession had one thing in common: a will to act. Staying paralyzed in fear over possible things to come is a surefire way to remain stuck or to regress.

There is absolutely nothing to fear, if you’re wise, strategic and prepared.

Be wise – Continue to live within your means and reduce extraneous expenses. Live with moderate conservation as your guiding energy: conserve energy, conserve resources, conserve time, all in a moderate way. Excess or gluttony is no one’s friend in these times. Remember to act wisely with what you have and to treat your resources with reverence, neither being indiscriminate nor anxious.

Be strategic – Plan to grow your resources: expanding your financial kingdom, adding valuable individuals to your personal network, cultivating healthy, reciprocal relationships, and positioning yourself to be in communities that are vibrant and abundant. Master multiple skills so that you offer a plethora of value to your networks. Never stop learning: your skills may open doors for you that you didn’t know were possible. Explore as much free online learning as you can. Never forget that resources go beyond cash and tangible assets: PEOPLE are resources, ENVIRONMENTS are resources, OPPORTUNITIES are resources. Expand all of your resources for the best outcome.

Be prepared – I don’t like to post alarmist content, so please take this with the reasonable grain of salt that is intended. Stockpile resources that you suspect may drastically increase in price in coming months (within reason: hoarding is dysfunctional and should be avoided!). Learn practical skills that can help you reduce expenses or that can be traded for other resources within your network. Learn the full benefits of the physical and digital tools you possess, and start leveraging those tools to your advantage. Inventory assets that you have, so that you can have a record of the items of value you possess, in case you decide to trade or sell these to purchase something of exceeding value. And it should go without saying that bug out bags, fully fueled vehicles, and maintaining a full supply of emergency items should be non-negotiable.

You have nothing to fear: you are closer to financial freedom than you know. A few good choices today can mean abundance and ease for years to come. If you aren’t sure where to shore up your defenses, I’ll be offering consultations on my Services page (I’m currently updating it, but it should be live at the time of this posting). Take care, and please let me know the ways that you have been preparing for an upcoming recession!

3 Things to Do in August for Financial Health

One of the things that my friends regularly do is ask me about what they can do to turn their money around. Most of them have lots of money coming in, but they are unclear about how to invest for growth. Or, they are living well under their means but they want more fun in their finances (less austerity, more joy). Still, some don’t have enough money but they are open to making changes that will allow them to increase their income, decrease their expenses, and start living the life they desire.

For that reason, I’m going to start sharing monthly tips to help with financial health. These are things that I’ve done, or that I’ve recommended, that have helped my friends to get more bang for their bucks, as well as created opportunities for them to grow their finances. For the month of August, I’m focusing on stopping the leaks, or reducing the unnecessary outflow of money. If you can stop costly expenses, then you can save more money and (hopefully!) create the kind of wealth that supports the lifestyle you desire. On that note, let’s look at three things you can do in August for your financial health:

  • Review your withholdings and make appropriate adjustments. If you are a W-2 employee or 1099 recipient that has withholding calculated by the payer, then review your withholdings and see if you need to adjust them. If you tend to owe taxes when you file, then consider holding out a little more money as a pre-payment toward your tax liability. However, if you tend to get a refund (especially if it’s a large refund every year), consider having less money taken out of every check, so you end up having access to more of your money as you earn it. If you want some additional clarity on how to do this, I can make a guide for your convenience (just let me know in the comments below!)
  • Request lowered interest rates on current lines of credit. You may be surprised at what your creditors will do for you, especially if you have a great payment history. Requesting lowered interest can mean more money in your pocket, so ask!
  • Eliminate one (or more!) unused or underused subscription or membership. Last week’s post mentioned one way to save money on memberships, but if you have unused or underused subscriptions or memberships that you’re paying for, the best thing you can do is cancel them and save your money. But, along with canceling those subscriptions or memberships, immediately make a plan for what you’ll do with the money saved. If you don’t, that money will likely still be wasted.

A key point that is often missed when talking about saving money is finding the best way to use those savings. Most of the time, we think we will put that money into a savings account, which may grow and eventually offer a bit of a financial cushion. But the truth is, the money that is freed up by making small adjustments is often squandered. As soon as you know how much money you will save by making small changes, you should quickly designate where that money will go, and put that money where it needs to be without haste Will you put it into a savings account that has a higher yield? Get a clear focus for what that account is for, so that you aren’t tempted to spend the money whenever you’re feeling bored or frustrated. Will you put it in an investment account? Make it an account that makes it a little difficult for you to make frivolous withdrawals. Will you use it to reduce debt? Set up or modify your auto-payment, and increase your current payment account by the amount you’re saving by trimming expenses elsewhere.

Those are three tips (and actually, a fourth tip, too, if you include the savings designation idea!) that can be done during the month, to bring you a little closer to the financial condition you desire. Have a great day, and look out for more tips in the months to come!

Take Advantage of the Summer Slowdown – Major Money Tips

Hello friends! We are roughly 6 weeks post June 15th, the most recent major IRS deadline for a large group of taxpayers. This time of year is generally among the slowest for tax professionals, and the perfect time for taking a well-earned vacation. Likewise, many business owners that have non-seasonal businesses may experience a slump in activity, as well.

Aside from going somewhere lovely for a vacay, there are a few other ways to take advantage of the summer slowdown. When enjoying this downtime, it’s easy to forget that there are things that can be done now, in order to make the remainder of the year a bit easier on you. If you’re lucky, taking action now may create some additional pockets of downtime even during the busier seasons! Here are some things both tax practitioners as well as taxpayers can do during this quiet period:

  • Start compiling the documents needed to complete the next scheduled quarterly estimated tax payment (for people that do not pay taxes through wages – the next quarterly due date is September 15, 2022)
  • Contact any clients that have filed extensions, and provide a quick checklist of documents to have before completing their returns. If they need to request missing documents, this is a perfect time to do so. If you’re not a practitioner, then reviewing IRS’s records for your most recent tax year is also a good idea: as a taxpayer, it’s helpful to know what figures and income statements IRS has, so that you can ensure that you have all of the documents reported under your tax ID number.
  • Conduct a review of 2022 business activities up to this point, and identify 1-3 areas for improvement. Come up with one small, concrete step that can be taken today, to move toward that improvement.
  • Reach out to clients to express appreciation for continued support (this applies to tax practitioners as well as individuals that have goods- or service-based businesses).
  • Start and finish reading one book related to your area of expertise. Select another book or two to read during the last 4 months of the year.
  • Digitize any paper records that have been missed, and save these documents in secure ways.
  • Find one thing to outsource either for the summer or the upcoming fall and winter seasons. Set up a payment arrangement to cover the outsourced service until the end of the year.
  • Set your remainder of the year goals (September to December goals). Get a head-start on some of those goals now.
  • Review your paper calendars (or digital calendars) for the past three months. Complete anything that was inadvertently missed.
  • Create a business vision board (I’ll be upgrading mine and sharing it in a future post).
  • Write out your business vision for 2023, and use the remainder of the summer, as well as the upcoming seasons, to arrange your affairs for a smooth transition into your vision.
  • Check on the completion status for required continuing professional education courses (CPE). Schedule and take those necessary CPEs while you have free time.
  • Review your current memberships and affiliations to see if you’re taking advantage of all of the benefits of being a member. If not, start using those perks today. If the organizations you’ve joined aren’t providing enough benefit, reconsider whether you should remain a member (cancel memberships if appropriate).

I am already scheduling most of these activities for myself, because these are tasks that I have been neglecting for a while now, and I know my life and business will improve drastically once I work on these. If you’re doing any of the things listed above, let me know about it in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your plans.