I Didn't Get a Raise. Now What?

no raiseIt's that time of year again...annual reviews, raises, bonuses, etc. What happens when the increase you were expecting wasn't as much as you thought it was going to be or maybe it didn't come at all? You become responsible for giving yourself a raise! Say what?! Yep, you read it correctly. You're now responsible for giving yourself a raise. Here's how: Spend less + Saving more = INCREASE!

No-brainer right? But seriously, that's exactly how you'll end up with more...by spending less. It may not be what you want to hear, but it's what you'll need to get you through this season. If you're doing a budget regularly, which you should be, you will know where all of your money is going. If you're not doing a budget, you need to start doing one, pronto! Now, take a good look at all of the businesses you've helped fund over the last year (you won't be able to do this without completing your budget *hint, hint*). Whether you spent money on personal grooming, eating out, entertainment, electronics, etc...are funding those businesses more important than taking care of your "home" business? I guarantee you that if you call any one of their corporate offices and let them know that you've been a faithful customer, they will not write you a check to pay off your debt or to help pay any of your bills. They'll simply say thank you, and find another way to get you back into their store. You have to think about your purchases differently. They aren't just transactions, you're helping someone worth millions increase their bank account while watching your own decline. The question I have for you is, is it worth it? That restaurant doesn't need your money, you do. That new pair of shoes isn't going to increase your savings account, it's robbing it. What are you going to do about it? For the basic necessities that you have to fulfill like going the grocery store, gas station, buying basic clothing,etc., monitor sales, use coupons, and shop around.Whatever you have to do to reduce your spending.

It's a new year, and it's time for a new you. I don't buy into the whole new year's resolution thing, I'm merely suggesting a lifestyle change. You can only control that which is under your control, and that's you. Whether you get a raise or not, you're responsible for maximizing the dollars that you do have. Spend them wisely. Invest them wisely. Most importantly, take care of home first. So, who will be first on your "I'm sorry, but I'm temporarily out of cash list?" Tell them you'll be back once you get out of debt, but in the meantime you have your own household business to take care of. Let's start the new year off right. Taking care of you should be your first priority!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Making Dollars out of Sense

dollars and senseSome of you may not have grown up in a household where you saw your mom or dad doing a budget, saving may not have been a priority, tithing and investing may have been unheard of, and that's OK. You don't know, what you don't know; but that doesn't mean that you have to stay in the dark. Growing up, I was always familiar with saving, I started investing in 401(k) not long after I graduated, I didn't really use credit cards, and I thought I had a pretty good sense about money. However, I was overwhelmed with student loans, car payments and repairs, medical bills, and trying to meet basic needs. I wasn't doing a budget, barely had any money in savings, and I was struggling. Once I  finally got tired of being in the position I was in, I started praying for a way out. My relief came through reading and research. I started studying the lives of millionaires. After all, they were much better off than I was financially, so there had to be something that I was missing. The books that I read are as follows:

  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me for Women
  • The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class
  • Rich Toward God
  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
  • The Total Money Makeover

I recognized that I needed additional knowledge and wisdom to move me beyond where I was, so I committed myself to doing so. The thing is, they all had some of the same basic principles outlined:

  • Spend less than you make
  • Save
  • Give
  • Invest
  • Manage your money regularly/budget

It's not that it was rocket science, but I was lacking knowledge in those areas. Once I gained the knowledge that I needed, and actually started putting the principles into action, I saw results. My point is, don't let a lack of knowledge keep you from succeeding financially. There are so many resources available that will help move you beyond where you are. I always recommend doing cross-references to check for inconsistencies. All advice isn't good advice, so be cautious about using "free" resources that could cost you in the long run. Do your homework and find a method that will work best for you and your particular situation. In order to change your actions, you must first change your mind. In order to change your mind, you must gain knowledge in the area where you want to see change. So get to it! Freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

How to Control the Urge to Spend

1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. BOGO's, Coupons, and Sales, Oh My! Retail marketing sure has a way of enticing us to spend money that we don't really have on things that we don't really need. You know how it is. You've gone to the mall or some store thinking that you were just going window shopping, keeping a friend company, or picking up only a few items but came home with more than you intended. Have you ever bought something, gotten it home and said, "Now I know I didn't really need this," but ended up keeping it anyway? This is an example of the on-going battle between temporary pleasure and long-term gains. At some point, the long-term gains have to speak louder than temporary pleasures and impulses. It can happen if you modify your shopping habits.

You have got to be so committed and dedicated to getting out of debt that something as little as a sale sign won't completely derail your plan. If it's on sale and you weren't planning on buying it, it's simply not a good deal! It's only a good deal for the store that now has your money instead of you being a payment closer to debt freedom. I know, I know, it would be a sin to let that 40% off coupon go to waste. After all it's like throwing away free money right? Wrong! The retailer wins and you lose. Now, I will say this...if you already had money allocated in your monthly budget to purchase a particular item and you just happen to get a coupon for it, then by all means take the deal. However, impulse buys are not good buys and can quickly diminish your progress towards debt freedom. It's just not worth it.

How can you control the urge to spend?

  1. Learn to say no. You will be OK if you don't buy that thing right this second or participate in every social outing.
  2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Before you spend the money, ask yourself if it's worth it. How will the purchase impact your progress?
  3. Allocate "play" money in your budget. You can still treat yourself while you're getting out of debt, just do it in moderation. Once the money is gone, it's gone.
  4. Use cash. It's very easy to overspend by swiping a debit card. Using cash will give you the reality check that you need when making buying decisions.
  5. Ignore marketing tactics. If you don't need it, no coupon or sale can change that. Your favorite store wants your money, but when's the last time they sent you a check?

Remember, the goal each month is to have as much money as possible left over to apply towards debts. Even if it's only $5 or $10, the impact on interest could be significant. Be intentional and smart about your purchases. Talk it over with yourself first. I may have eliminated my consumer debt, but I have a long way to go in the wealth building area. Every dollar matters as much today as it did when I was paying off my last student loan, and it will continue to matter until I have no need for money. As marketers chase after consumers' dollars every day, you be the one that gets away. Debt freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Maintenance

I know that it's a while since my last post, but I was really struggling with the fact that no sooner than I became debt free, I was knocked right back down to ground zero. It was like running across the finish line only to run right into a concrete wall...OUCH! Here I was, thinking that I was scot-free to finally start building my finances, only to have to come up with thousands of dollars to replace an entire A/C unit. I had cut up credit credits, had money tied up in a CD, what was I going to do? I had kept tithing through it all...but really God? Is that my reward for my obedience? It certainly can't be. And so, for the last 4 weeks  I've just been praying and seeking God for answers. Finally, the revelation hit me. In my last two posts I talked about how debt weeds choke our financial harvests, and that we have to continue to sow while we pay off debts simultaneously in order to protect and prepare for our harvests. I had been doing all of those things, so why did this happen? God showed me today, that it's not that I've done anything wrong, and I'm not being punished, but rather I'm in the maintenance phase of growing my financial garden. Now that I've killed off all of the weeds, I have to commit to rebuilding a healthy harvest. I feel like God told me to keeping sowing, keep tithing, keep saving, and the harvest will come. I can't expect my seeds to blossom overnight. They have to germinate first, and with time I will see the fruits of my labor. So now, instead of being in a state of confusion and discontent, I'm in a state of comfort and confidence.This maintenance phase will pay off in due time.  As long as I continue to do my part, God will work this out, somehow, someway.

The victory isn't crystal clear as of right now, but I do know that since debt is no longer an option, that I have to make some sacrifices in the meantime. And trust me, it's not pretty, but this box fan will just have to do for now. I keep telling people that I'm losing weight in my sleep from sweating at night! In any event, I truly believe that God is going to honor my commitment to Him of living a debt free life. People have suggested using credit cards, taking out a loan, etc., but those are no longer options for me. It might seem stubborn or foolish, but I simply trust God and his provision.

For anyone that may be in a similar situation, be it your A/C, medical bills, car repair, etc.,  I encourage you to keep working. Keep sowing, saving, and giving. If you've given up, put your gloves back on and get back to work. Know that God can and will provide, period.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

A Debt Freedom Prayer

Lord, today I choose to live debt free. I will no longer manage money the world's way. Free me from the hands of my lenders. Although I have borrowed in the past, I will borrow no more. Lord, I believe that you are my source; not credit cards or loans. From this day forward, I will be a pipeline for Kingdom wealth. I will give, save, and invest like never before. Today, I receive the prosperous, debt free life that you have prepared for me. Renew my heart and my mind so that I may live the life of the rich and glorious. It's in Jesus' name that I pray, Amen.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Uncertified Accountant

Newsflash! You don't need an accounting degree in order to be an accountant. In fact, you should have a clear understanding of your own cash flow before hiring someone to handle your accounts for you. You should know off the top of your head how much money you have coming in each month, where it's coming from, how much you have going out, and where it's going. To me, those are pretty basic functions of accounting. One of the things that separates the rich from everyone else is that they make it a point to spend time managing their money. Your money is your business!

Here are a few tips on how to become your own accountant:

  • Check your bank account everyday - With the number of identity thefts that occur each day, it is imperative that you verify your account activity.
  • Set aside at least an hour a week to review cash flow - The rich spend hours reviewing their accounts and budgeting each week. You can develop that habit right where you are.
  • Balance your checkbook - If you still write checks as I do, balance your checkbook to avoid overspending in the event that your checks don't clear within a day or two.
  • Total all of your receipts each week - Keep track of how much you're spending outside of regular bills. It will help you plan and develop realistic budgets.
  • Sign up with a free money management account - This will simply take a lot of the manual work off your hands. Just log on and the calculations will automatically update for you.
  • Set a budget - Every business operates with a budget. You need to set a budget in order to measure your progress, as well as keep you on track.
  • Compare monthly bills to catch potential errors - Mistakes happen. Make sure your bills are accurate each month to avoid overcharges, misapplied payments, etc.
  • Review your credit reports each year - Again, mistakes happen and identities are stolen every day. Don't wait until you actually need to provide a credit report to check for inaccuracies, as it may take a couple of weeks before corrections are updated.
  • Review your pay stubs each pay period - Check to make sure your deductions, hours worked, salary amount, etc. are accurate, especially if you've made changes recently.

Those are just a few ideas. The bottom line: handle your business! If you don't know or care about what your money is doing, then who will? Be proactive and take initiative. The sooner you detect any issues, the sooner you can resolve them. Don't rely solely on someone else to manage your money. Anyone other than yourself should be your assistant or an adviser. You don't know what you don't know, and you should definitely know your money!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Tell Me Something Good!

As we continue on our journey towards debt freedom, we must begin to speak positively into our finances. Thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions become habits. Instead of using negative phrases such as "I can't afford" or "I'm broke," add some positive flare and say "I'm saving up for" or "I'm temporarily out of cash!"  Whether or not your money habits will help or hurt your progress towards financial freedom all depends on your initial thoughts. This is why I love to start the day off saying "Today, I choose to be wealthy!" It brings my financial goals to my conscious, and I'm more sensitive to the purchases that I make throughout the day. If you continue to do that on a consistent basis you will start to notice an "increase" in your finances. The money was there all along, but now you're in control over your impulses to spend, and creating better money management habits. Here are a few other quotes that you can use that I've adapted from the book "Secrets of a Millionaire Mind" by T. Harv Eker:

  • "I have a millionaire mind!"
  • "I focus on building my net worth!"
  • "I am an excellent money manager!"
  • "I commit to being rich!"
  • "I create the exact level of my financial success!"
  • "I choose to adapt new ways of thinking that support my happiness and success."

Now, you have to truly believe in the above statements. No matter how many times you say something positive, if a negative thought follows, they'll cancel each other out. You'll need to repeat the positive phrase again so that the positive action will follow. It may take some getting used to at first since we're attempting to change behavior, but keep at it and your actions will eventually follow.

Whether you choose one of the phrases above or come up with your own, pick something that will encourage you. For the next 21 days repeat it aloud at least once a day. Put it on a post-it note at home or at work, or set an appointment on your cell phone if you have to. Observe the actions that follow the words that you say. Did you save more, spend less, open a savings account, set new goals, stay on or below budget, etc? So go ahead and pick your money mantra, and speak your way into financial freedom!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Weekender

It's finally here! It's the weekend and you're ready to unwind, relax, get in some "me time" right? Have some fun, just don't lose sight of your goals! Hopefully you've been making a conscious effort all week to change your spending habits. Each day before you've left the house, you've said "Today, I choose to be wealthy!" Maybe you've thought about how you're going to S.I.N.G your way to debt freedom or started using your money razor. Whichever methods you've chosen, keep the momentum going. Hopefully you've already started to lose debt weight, so don't let your hard work go to waste.

Now, just because you're getting out of debt that doesn't mean that you have to become a caveman/woman. In fact, I think that's a bit extreme and unrealistic. Instead, find out if some of the activities or places that you frequent offer reduced prices/rates during off peak hours like the movies or bowling.You can still have fun, you just have to find more budget friendly ways to do it. Once you're out of debt, then you'll be free to expand your activities list. For now, free events, matinees, 2 for 1 meal deals, Redbox, and day trips will be your best friends.

If you already had plans for this weekend, enjoy them, and then start planning and budgeting for next weekend. You'll be more likely to spend less if you already have a plan in place than if you just try to wing it. So enjoy your weekends, just don't lose your focus!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

 

It's Not about the Money...

Wait, how is it possible that getting rich isn't about money? Simply because getting rich is about freedom, which has no monetary value. The money is just a by-product of your success. Whether you are making 5, 6, or 7 figures, if you're in debt, you're not living free.The Bible says that "the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). Most, if not all of us are repaying our debts under someone else's terms. They tell us when to pay, the amount to pay, how long to pay, and add on an interest rate to top it all off! Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in financial slavery? I know I don't; I'm way too controlling for that! Imagine if someone tried to buy your salvation from you. There isn't enough money in the world that could pay for it. Treat your financial freedom the same way. Don't let the media, your friends, name brands, or society buy that from you. Hence the reason why getting out of debt is our first step to freedom. Then, we continue to increase our net worth, pursue our dreams, and change lives. Having Kingdom wealth allows us to operate according to God's terms (abundantly) and not the world's (sparingly).

As you continue to prepare your budgets and set goals, focus on living free, even right now. Imagine what your world would look like if you paid for everything free and clear, no loans, and no interests rates. If you focus on the freedom, the money will come. Just look at our friends in Hollywood. I guarantee you, the ones that went bankrupt were focused on the money, and the ones that get richer by the day are focused on not only their freedom, but the freedom of generations to come. If you haven't done so already, shift your focus and remember, it's not about the money!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Take the Money and...S.I.N.G.!

You may have heard phrases like "take the money and run" or "laugh all the way to the bank," but I want you to S.I.N.G your way to Kingdom wealth!

Save - Why do you need to save? Simply because life happens. Unexpected car repairs, medical bills, major appliance breakdowns, you name it, we've all been there. However, the impact is greater for people that aren't prepared. If you're already in debt, with no emergency fund, the last thing you need is an unexpected expense. They say, when it rains it pours...how big is your umbrella? Will you be able to s.i.n.g. in the rain, or will you get drenched? Pay yourself first and save at least 10% of your income so that you can be protected from the storms of life.

Invest - Don't just spend what you have, make more of it. Investments are things that have the potential of bringing a return. If your employer has 401(k) matching you should be contributing the maximum match amount at a minimum. That's "free" money earned with each paycheck. Investments can also come by way of obtaining a skill that will make you money on a part-time basis. Whatever you choose, let your money work for you and not against you.

Name your Number - You must set financial goals. They are your road map to financial freedom. Imagine riding around in your car with no set destination. What a waste of time, money, and energy that would be. The same principle applies to your finances. If you don't set a financial destination, your money will aimlessly wander and you will have made no progress. Take the time to set savings, investing, and spending goals, and go after them.

Give - Give and you shall receive. Whatever you sow you shall reap. Pick your scripture of choice and just do it. Not only does God require us to give, but generous people live happier lives. Why? Because there is freedom in giving. I find great security and pleasure knowing that I have enough to take care of myself and someone else. Giving is about your heart and not about the size of the gift. In God's eyes, no gift is too small. Start where you are, and you'll start your journey towards freedom.

Your journey towards financial freedom doesn't have to be gloomy. After all, you're on your way to building Kingdom wealth! That's definitely something to S.I.N.G. about!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne