Financial Fast Day 11 of 21: Misplaced Entitlement is Keeping You in Debt

Entitlement in itself is not bad or negative. But when misplaced it can lead to poor decisions and bad habits. We are all entitled to fairness, happiness, freedom, etc. The belief you are entitled to many material items will and does lead to debt. Where do we go wrong with entitlement? There are various reasons. I will only discuss a few of the most common reasons we feel entitled. First we compare ourselves to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, athletes, entertainers, etc. Many times measuring ourselves to these people cause us to make bad financial decisions. Secondly, we see money in the bank or have a high salary, so I obviously MUST buy this.  Thirdly, I was deprived of this as a child so I or my kids deserve it. Not having something as a child doesn’t mean you should have it as an adult. Forth, I work hard so I deserve this. Lastly, I’m already $150,000 in debt so what is another $5,000. If I’m already in a bad place, it won’t get better if I pass up something that will make it worse.

Entitlement is tied directly to your emotions. It is key to reflect on your feelings when purchasing physical items and services. Ask yourself these questions. Do I truly need this service or item? What purpose will it serve to you and your family? Will I be able to grow and learn from it? Can I positively impact the lives of others with this item or service? Anything with true value allows you to do just that.

You are really entitled to prosper! How does letting these negative thoughts of entitlement lead you into prosperity? How do your actions of entitlement lead you to prosper? How have the things and places you have been made you prosper? When you answer these questions be open and honest. Take action to change your thoughts of negative entitlement to reach real prosperity.

Financial Fast Day 9 of 21: Is Saving a Priority for You?

Managed Money Has PurposeDo you struggle to save money? How do you make saving a priority over frivolous spending? How many brand new toothbrushes did you forget you bought, have you eaten half of the food in your cabinets/pantry you bought 3 months ago?

First, begin tracking everything you spend money on from bus fare, a soda from the vending machine, a new pair of sneakers or dental floss. It all adds up quickly if you aren’t careful. Keep a pen and pad with you or keep receipts that accumulate daily. Record each expense and add up every cent you spent that day. At the end of every week, record your weekly expenditures. Do this for 2 to 4 weeks. Notice where you spend the most money and why. Are you not preparing for meals away from home? Are you snacking during the workday via the office vending machine? Is the local trendy coffee shop with free Wi-Fi costing more than internet at home?

Next, take inventories of items in each room of your house. Grab a pen and pad or use Evernote to record how many old toothbrushes you have or hair combs. Keep a tally of each item. If it is not something you will be using in the next 6 months, has been used for its purpose or it has expired, simply throw it out or recycle it.  Example: Go through your bedroom closet and count then number of black slacks you have. Do you really need all of those black slacks? Try each pair on? If they don’t fit, place them into the donation pile. Do this same exercise for your tops, dresses and shoes as well. You now know what items NOT to purchase because you have a plethora of them in your home.

For excessive food, you can either donate half of the item.  Now create a tasty menu for the week or even month. You can have Velveeta cheese, shells and frozen broccoli. With the cans of tuna, you can make tuna muffins. The cans of beans can be made into soups, chili and dips.  Take some time to create build a menu with the food items.

From now on when you go out shopping for non-essential items, don’t buy an item you like or want at that very moment. Instead walk away and wait 24 hours. If you are constantly thinking about the item, then go back to purchase it but only use CASH. When you are purchasing shoes and clothes, ALWAYS try them on before purchasing them. Many people wait until they get home and when it doesn’t fit they fail to return it. Money wasted! If you don’t buy it, put the cash you would have spent in a savings account, a jar or under your mattress.

Financial Fast Day 7 of 21: How do you feel about the changes & Progress you made thus far?

WOOT WOOT! I’ve completed a third of the fast!  How do I feel? Relieved, shameful, encouraged, doubtful, accomplished, focused, driven, forgiving, more thoughtful, open… I have been through all of these emotions and then some.

First I feel RELIEVED. I feel relieved because I know I have more money available to reach other no financial goals. I feel relieved that I will be better prepared for emergencies. I’ve learned that I have more room to learn about my shopping habits.

Next I felt like a FAILURE! How could I not be more in control of my money? I mean I’ve listened to Suze Orman, Gail Vaz Oxlade and Dave Ramsey. I’ve done Financial Peace University. I’ve read several of Suze and David Bach’s books.  I’ve followed Gail on television and Facebook. I even use Gail’s budget for the most part. Yet I still was not as focused as I could be with my money. What did I do WRONG?

Then I reflected and felt ACCOMPLISHED. I am DEBT FREE! YAY! I purchased individual stocks this year which have been a long time goal of mine. I’ve ridded myself of a house I didn’t live in. It was just an expensive storage space. I have accomplished so much in starting my debt free journey so I didn’t be harsh on myself.

From there, I refocused. I am refocused on remaining debt free. If I don’t have the cash for something then it is not purchases. I am refocused building my own business. Being the daughter of a mompreneur I know business ownership has its up and downs but they will be all mine.

Now I am DETERMINED. I am DETERMINED to make a difference in this world because “to whom much is given” much is expected. Most importantly is sharing my story with others to inspire them. If I can do this, then anyone can. If you believe in yourself then I surely will believe in you. Even if you don’t believe in yourself I still believe in you.

Lastly, I am beginning to feel renewed…

Align Your Dreams

Financial Fast Day 5 of 21: What has been the most difficult habit to overcome so far?

As I entered Day 5 of the fast, I started to lose steam. I wanted to return to my old habits. I didn’t realize I would feel this way so I hadn’t planned any way to combat what I now call my “spending” addiction.”

The financial fast was making me be more purposeful with my actions. As I reflected, I realized I let my emotions be the driver behind many of my purchases. For instance, if I “felt” tired I simple bought convenience food.  When I was bored I would go to Target or some other store to have something to do.

Now I was using my budget so I didn’t spend money that wasn’t allocated to cleaning supplies, food, clothing, etc. But I wasn’t making fully consciences decisions with my money. My emotions were in control of the money I spent more than my mind was.

Anytime I wanted to go shopping or out to get food, I reminded myself I was on a financial fast. I also began to note when I would generally needed a shopping fix. I started becoming more focused on my financial goals. I started reviewing my goals DAILY! This aided in keeping me on track.

IMPULSE shipping is not your friend. You will end up with less cash and mostly items that decrease in value. I looked around my home and decided it was time to DECLUTTER all these items I didn’t use. I had items to be donated that included: wall art, clothing, irons, drapes, small kitchen, picture frames and so much more. This was stuff I bought, didn’t use or had duplicates of because of impulse buying.

I can now see CLEARLY! I must reign in my emotions to be a better steward of my money.  While I still feel the “need” to buy, I now have a few methods to counteract the feeling. PROGRESS!ManagedMoneyHasPurpose

Financial Fast Day 4 of 21: Having financial goals?

Do you have financial goals? Have you written down your financial goals? Are your goals measurable? These are questions which drove me to participate in a financial fast. I have financial goals to be financially healthy, financially wise and financially prepared.

I am a goal oriented person. For me, goals help me stay in alignment with my future aspirations. Don’t get me wrong, I do stray but without my goals I believe I would just end up lost in a forest called life. So I started doing a goal pyramid which I implemented as part of my financial fast.

Basic Format of a Financial Goal Pyramid
Basic Format of a Financial Goal Pyramid

I began with a long term or annual goal (12 months or longer to achieve). My goal was to save $5000. Why $5000? It seemed like a reasonably emergency fund to have. You never know when you will have an emergency.

From the annual goal, I developed monthly goals. These monthly goals were changes to be made in less than 12 months. My monthly goals were actions I could take a month at a time. For instance, I would pay off or down one of three debts I had remaining. Once paid off I would “snowball” that payment amount into paying off another bill. Example 1: Payoff $800 credit card bill by October 1, 2015. Example 2: Reduce my grocery bill by 60% by May 31, 2015.

My weekly goals were more planning. I utilized my meal plans to not only keep me on track but to reduce my fuel costs. One method for a great gas saving tip was only going to the grocery store once a week or every two weeks. Using the Gasbuddy app to find the most affordable fuel was critical too saving me money too. I only did laundry on the weekends late at night when rates were cheaper. I also ran my dishwasher late at night for the same reason. I participated in a 52 weeks savings challenge wherein I saved my change.

My daily goals were actions I could take today. First goal was cutting off my cable, downgrading my gym membership and not dining out. The cable would save me $55 per month. My gym membership downgrade was $10 per month savings. While the not dining out was $250 per month savings. I would be able to achieve my long term in less than 18 months. Turning off lights in rooms I was not in and turning down my thermostat. Lastly, funneling all my savings to my online savings account was one of the most important goals I achieved.

As you can see the daily goals roll up into the weekly goals. The weekly goals roll up into the monthly goals and the monthly goals roll up into my annual goal. Making small incremental changes to your finances will create a better financial future for you. Do make small changes that give a long lasting impact to reaching your financial goals.

Financial Fast Day 3 of 21: Not Being Wasteful

As I was progressing throughout the fast, I was cutting back go grocery shopping. I needed to find ways to using or preserve my fresh fruits and vegetables. I found great methods that were easy and cheap. I also wanted to find new recipes for my food.

I did some research online and found a few websites wherein I could list the food items to make and meal. The sites would give me a recipe or a few. I mean I would have it making meals from some of my mismatched food items. It weirded me out at first but then the recipes seemed really tasty. The websites I liked the best include: Myfridgefood.com, Pinterest.com, allrecipes.com and recipes.com

I found a few methods to maintain or preserve my fruits and vegetables. I froze grapes and ate them frozen. A nice cool treat to have in the summer heat. I also froze ripe bananas to make into ice cream. A “diamond” Pinterest recipe I found. I chopped onions and peppers, placed them into freezer bags then froze them. They are best if used in baked dishes because they are soggy if thawed. This is a lesson learned.

I would wash my berries in apple cider vinegar. I bought apples because they last a very long time compared to other fruits. I made apple sage chicken sausages for a breakfast protein. I then made a dessert with brown sugar, apples and sweet potatoes. These are not typical food combinations for me but I truly enjoyed them.

I learned to infuse my water with fruit. I started adding berries, oranges and lemons. I then tried cucumber which I have never done before. I had to be a bit adventurous right? Besides it was either try this or the cucumbers were going to spoil.

I wasn’t as successful with my herbs. I found ways to maintain them like chop them up and place them in ice trays with olive oil. That didn’t seem too appetizing to me for some of the recipes I use my herbs.

I found great options for cauliflower. I now make my own cauliflower rice. It makes a great fried rice meal. I even have a mashed cauliflower with zucchini and cheese dish I enjoy. The cauliflower poppers are next on my list of foods to make at home.

Let’s talk about my experience with zucchini. I didn’t find a way to remain fresh longer so I tried making zucchini bread. I have tried several recipes and I have yet to bake a loaf I enjoyed. So I found a stuffed zucchini recipe. These come out very well and I truly enjoy eating them.

I consider this a WIN today. I learned how to make my fresh fruits and veggies last longer. For many of the items that I didn’t find a preservation hack, I found recipes to utilize them. So I pat myself on the back because I had a problem and looked for solutions.

Financial Fast Day 2 of 21: Did I fail to LAUNCH?

Uhm…well I didn’t fail to plan but did I fail to LAUNCH?  Better yet, how did my plan to SUCCEED go? Did I fail on my second day of the financial fast? These are all very valid questions for me to address. Many times we have what seem like SOLID PLANS with focus and details, yet nothing happens.

Well on day 2 of the financial fast I was still holding STRONG. Well as strongly as you can for the second day of the fast. I was packing a cooler full of food for work. I had a quiche for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch and salmon for dinner with various fruits, veggies and potatoes as snacks and sides. I drank mostly water throughout the day.

For evening entertainment, I had a variety of activities. I did Pilates for an hour. I called family and friends for a few hours to catch up. I posted on Facebook and Twitter with various articles and quotes. I read articles and some pages of my e-book. I was CHANGING! I didn’t find the need to go to the store to fill avoid from being bored.

Not only had I LAUNCHED, I was beginning to GROW. Was it comfortable making the changes? Uhm…no! But this only meant what I suspected; I was not completely in control of the money I was spending. While I never ran a credit card up to its limit or spent my rent money on a 55” flat screen, it meant I was not being the best steward of my money. I had room for improvement and the next 19 days would definitely show me where this improvement would be.

I was easily stacking “coins” from not dining out. I was saving money by not running into Target for this or that. I wasn’t going to the drive-thru when I had cupboards and refrigerator packed with nutritious food. I found myself enjoying more of my own cooking and feeling great about it. I didn’t lose time from cooking my meals because I would have one day of meal preparation. This consisted of me making 5-6 meals for the week along with any sides. I was happy to see leftovers on long days of work. In all, I was treating myself better by controlling my food, money and body. LAUNCH SUCCESSFUL…now let’s see me orbit.

Financial Fast Day 1 of 21: How did I prepare for the fast?

Once I read the guidelines for the financial fast, I knew I need to preplan. I couldn’t be sporadic about my meals or go into emotional spending. I couldn’t do emotional eating either. So I actually laid out a plan to be successful during the fast.

I reviewed my schedule for any special events, business trips or holidays.  I would have to take. There was only one business trip I would have to book using my corporate credit card during the fast.  I was determined it will be the ONLY instance a credit card would be used.

Special Events – One of my nieces had a birthday party during the financial fast. Luckily for me, I had purchased a comforter on clearance a couple of months prior. Originally, this was going to be a Christmas gift but oh well. I was hoping my niece wouldn’t ask for me to take her to Longhorn a birthday dinner. She didn’t so DISASTER averted.

Meals – I developed a meal plan. First I took inventory of the food I already had at home. I then made a simple and easy to follow meal plan:

Entrée Side/Snack
Salmon Shrimp Stir Fry Kale, Bananas Celery, Tomatoes
Meatloaf Chicken Soup Blueberry Tart Blueberries
Tuna Muffins Chili Cauliflower Rice Carrots, Pineapple
Stuffed Zucchini Chicken & Apple Sausage Zucchini Bread Cauliflower, Spinach
Chicken Salad Tacos Cheesy Zucchini Rice Sweet Potatoes
Hard boiled Eggs Omelet Muffin Coconut Cupcake Garlic, White Potatoes
Hamburgers Chicken Fajita Soup One Ingredient Ice Cream Cheese, Cucumbers
Quiche w/ Grd Turkey Salisbury Steak Sunflower Seeds Oranges, Watermelon
Pork chops Sweet Potato Pancakes Grapes,  Brussel Sprouts Almonds, Walnuts

I utilized Pinterest to find new recipes with items I had on hand. Example is the one ingredient ice cream. It is just a frozen banana put into a food processor or blender until it reaches a smooth ice cream like texture. I added frozen fruit, flavored egg whites and whey protein powder to create different flavors.

Entertainment – the internet has great FREE entertainment and of course CBS has the Young and the Restless available online. I as have Hulu and Amazon Prime along with read books and the gym to occupy my time. I did some self-development activities and started building my own blog.

Boredom – I did have a couple of ideas of how to cure my boredom. My boredom activities included cleaning, organizing, blogging, looking for a mastermind group and driving around my new neighborhood.

Most of the planned activities worked for me during the financial fast.

Your Clarity leads to Cashflow

What Is A Financial Fast & Why I did it for 21 Days?

In my quest to be DEBT FREE, I was introduced to the Financial Fast. The one I was introduced to was based on Michelle Singletary’s book, “The 21 Day Financial Fast.” While it is a Christian based fast, you can do the fast with eliminating the Christian focus. But do the fast as you see fit for you and your faith. However, stay within the basic frame work I have identified later in the blog.

Why do a financial fast? I wanted to see where I could save MORE money that I had already identified in my budget. I knew I was staying in budget and that I could be saving MORE money. The financial fast limited my ability to spend money,  so that I could see the ABUNDANCE I had in my home and to use what I already had instead of spending more money.

During the 21-day Financial Fast, I was supposed to essentially go “Cold Turkey” on all nonessential purchases. I will let you know over the next 21 days how it went for me.

During the fast:

  • I could not use Credit Cards/Debit Cards. This is a “Cash Only Fast”. I was supposed to take out a certain amount of cash at the start. The rule of thumb is $200. However, this cash is to ONLY BE USED ON NECESSITIES.
  • No restaurant meals. No fast food meals. No purchasing breakfast or lunch at work. No stopping for coffee. I prepared all of our meals, including lunch. I found a huge portion of my savings in this very area.
  • No Mall Shopping, retail stores, online shopping. Window shopping is off-limits. When you window shop, you’re more likely to run out and make impulse purchases at the conclusion of the fast. This is discouraged. The goal is to try to institute a total lifestyle change.
  • No spending on entertainment. Don’t go to the movie, or do anything which will result in your spending money. Find things to do that are free of charge.
  • Bills are still permitted to be paid electronically online, however, this is an opportunity to use the budget provided to the group to determine which expenses could be cut out and saved.
  • Gift cards couldn’t be used to buy items that I don’t need.

Does this seem difficult? Any type of change is! For a better financial future, I was willing to do this fast for ONLY 21 days. I was happy and astounded by the findings. Follow me for the next 21 days as I discuss the challenges, failures and SUCCESSES of my 21 day Financial Fast.

Growth Comes when you step out of your comfort zone