Monday, April 27, 2015

The Emergency Fund

Welcome back!

I am glad you returned. For those of you who don’t know last week I kicked off a series called Financial Freedom. This series is a three part series in which I will discuss the culture of consumers in America, debt, and practical ways we can overcome this epidemic called financial crisis.
Last week I painted a picture for you all. I gave you all a sense of what most of our lives look like… a financial crisis. I left you all with two questions. “Are you tired of being a victim of your bank account?” and “Are you tired of being controlled by your money?” Today I ask you “are you ready to do something about it?” If not, that’s fine. We all have our moments where we say enough is enough…maybe you need to fall a little harder before you decide it’s time for a change. But, if you are ready to do something about it then you have come to the right place.

Disclosure: This is not one of my “feel good” posts. You most likely will not walk away from this post with goosebumps.  Nevertheless, it is a post that can radically change your life. Let’s start with asking ourselves this question? “If I were in a situation could I pay my way out of it?” You may be asking “what does she mean?” I am talking about if you had an emergency. Car breaks, down, medical emergency (with no insurance), fire happens, something that can alter your life or alter your week at least. Something that would have to be addressed right then and there. Would you have sufficient funds to take care of the mess? If you say no then don’t worry. I am right there with you. The cool thing about this series is that I will be doing the work with you! You are not alone my friend.

A few months back I had built my emergency fund to a total of $ 3,000.00. A situation arose that caused me to move out of the home I was in and into a new one. So now, I am back to square one. It’s important to have an emergency fund. You are important. Your family is important. What I am about to say may take you by surprise. But, you are number one. That debt collector can wait, that party can wait, and the lifestyle can wait. You need to have insurance. That is what an emergency fund is. It’s insurance. If something goes wrong then there is money to fix it.
What is NOT an emergency fund? An emergency fund is NOT a fund you dig into to buy that flat screen TV. It is not a fund to dig into when you don’t have enough to pay the restaurant bill. I say this with love if you can’t pay the restaurant bill you shouldn't be going out to eat. An emergency fund is for emergencies! It’s to fix a problem. It’s insurance. Now, don’t get me wrong. If you have to pay rent then pay it! Don’t go telling your landlord that you can’t pay your rent because you’re building your emergency fund.  The point is to put the things that are not so necessary on hold so that you can build your emergency account. You need to survive and the emergency fund can help you do that when the poop hits the fan!

Ok, now that we got that covered your next step is to actually build this fund. I took a course called Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. If you can get a hold of the materials he offers online I would say that is definitely worth spending your money on.  Dave Ramsey has such a gift in the area of finances. His classes are funny, he is real, and he will give you practical ways to start your path to financial freedom or as he calls it financial peace. Anyway, so I took his course…twice. What Dave recommends is that you save 15% of your income. Now, he states that if you make less than $15, 00.00 a year then you should have at least $500.00 in your emergency fund for emergencies. If you’re making over $15,000.00/year then you need to be saving 15% of your income. You can always adjust the number to your needs. But, no matter what you need to have an emergency fund! I just started mine again. I won’t tell you how much I make (hehe) But, I will say this. I have already put aside 15% of my pay check into an emergency fund. Yay!

Today’s takeaway: Build your emergency fund. Go home, do the math, and start to put aside some money. If you cannot put aside 15% of your income then start with 500.00 dollars. There also are other ways to build your fund. Get creative. Whatever skills you possess put it to work. Sell old books and clothes on amazon…do whatever you need to do to build this emergency fund. Note: This is something you build quickly.

I hope this message was something that blessed you. If so, please put in the work towards financial freedom. And please feel free to share this post on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  For social media info please visit the contact me tab. Have a rockin Monday! Meet me here next Monday for getting a post on Getting out of Debt. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Salvation is Here

Hey lovely people!

I wanted to write today to share something with you all. This thing I want to share is so dear to me. In fact I am so excited about it that I am jumping up and down! Usually I do not put up post like these. However, I feel compelled to do so today.

If you have been following my blog for a while then you know that the topic of God and grace overwhelm me. You would know that I grew up in an abusive and oppressive church and that I have a hard time with accepting that I am loved by God. In fact I have a hard time with accepting that God is a good God and that He has good things for me. Well, recently I decided that I was going to put aside my beliefs that I have adopted through this past church of mine and that I would begin to seek God and believe that He is good after all. I decided that I would trust that in seeking Him I would find solace, grace, and the reassurance I seek. Today as I was reading the Bible I couldn't help but realize that His promises are true and that the reassurance I desired was right there for me!
Have you all ever heard of “doubting Thomas?”  I have. Thomas was one of the disciples who doubted Jesus’ resurrection. After Mary and a few had seen Jesus, resurrected they went to tell the others. Let’s just say Thomas replied with “unless I see it for myself I won’t believe it”. Oh man. I so relate to Thomas. I doubt and fear and wonder if all of God’s promises are true. I doubt and fear and wonder if He is good and I doubt and fear and wonder that I am His. But, today through reading the Bible I was reminded once again that HE IS SO GOOD!

See, salvation is in His word and according to His word it’s not something we have to earn. That’s good to know huh?

 Reading 1 Peter chapter 1 I noticed a few things about Peter’s letter. See Peter, a follower of Christ writes to some people who have been exiled to Asia. The purpose of his letter is to simply encourage these people. He writes to them and says that their exile happened so that their faith would be tested. I don’t know about you but, I would be like “seriously?” “My faith is being TESTED?” I would be probably be mixed with emotions. Angry, sad, frustrated, confused, and curious. Curious as to why I need to be tested. Nevertheless, God has a plan and Peter can tell them about this plan.

He goes on to say that their faith will not let them down. He continues to say that just as gold is proved to be pure through fire that their faith would prove to be genuine at the end because they will see that after all they have been through they still trust and believe God. Peter tells them that their faith will be like a trophy showing all that it was their faith that saved them and their faith that brings God victory.

This is jam packed with heart felt info. God himself is basically using Peter to tell them this great news! Their faith is being tried, yet because they will stick to believing no matter the circumstances, they will see that due to their genuine faith…it will get them through! This will be something to boast about. Something God himself will be so very proud. See faith is powerful. Believing can attract anything. Believing you are not enough will attract fear, shame, mistakes, and the like. Just as believing that you are everything will attract confidence, effectiveness, and favor.

We are able to choose. This “faith” that they possess will save them from eternal judgment and it will bring upon them life eternal. But, the eternal life starts now. And it’s a fresh start. Isn't that great?
I feel like most of us go through life waiting for the day that we will get what we've been hoping for. 
We see ourselves as victims of our circumstances and we wait in anticipation for the day we no longer have to suffer or work hard for what we desire. But, Peter challenges the exiles in this view of hopelessness as he tells them that they have freedom now! For the exiles, this must have sounded absurd. I mean they have been kicked out of their own country. Yet, Peter recognizes that they can CHOOSE to have a mindset of freedom. I once heard someone say “they can take away everything from you but, they can’t take away your mind” Your mindset is everything in life. We have been given the opportunity to live a life as if it was a brand new one. We have the opportunity to say "you know what I won’t be the victim anymore!" "I will start to think like the victor!" And guess what? In this life of sowing and reaping when you sow a thought of victory you will only reap as a victor! This totally excites me! This means I can be free of my insecurities and negative thoughts and so can you!
Still, Peter advises us to be careful and live with much thought and passion. He reminds us that our life is a journey and he adds that because we are free then we should live in such a way that honors God.  What news we have huh? Join me in this dance of victory!

If you liked what you read and want to connect. Please visit me at my Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter account. See Contact Me for more info. Also, if you would like to share this with a friend who can benefit from this post please feel free to do so.  Can’t wait to hear from you. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Financial Freedom | Week One

Money. This is a subject that overwhelms a lot of people. Think about it. This topic is an emotional topic. Every day we have to face the facts as we pay our bills, buy our food, pay our rent, put gas in our cars…etc. The amount we have in our bank accounts reflect what we can afford and what we cannot afford. It reminds us of what we have or what we do not have. Most of us are tight when it comes to our funds. We count every penny making sure ends will meet.  For many of us this brings anxiety to our lives. It also triggers our depression and prevents us from living the life we truly desire. This is a problem.

Sit with me a while and try to imagine yourself in this scene: 

You get a call from a friend whom you haven’t seen in a while. She calls you because she is wondering where you've been hiding all this time. She asks you how you’re doing and you two begin to catch up on lost time. Suddenly she reminds you that Susie a mutual friend, is turning 30 and she’s having a big birthday party at Sal’s (the upscale Italian restaurant downtown). Your friend tells you it will be a hit and everyone will be there. You regretfully turn your friend down and inform her that you will have to call Susie and wish her a happy birthday from home. You have no money for Susie’s expensive birthday bash nor can you afford a gift for Susie. So, you call Susie on her birthday and you wish her a happy birthday as you sit in front of the TV watching The Good Wife while eating left over Chinese food from the night before. This is your life. Missing out on bonding with those you cherish and settling for soaps which you vicariously live your life through. Does this sound like you? It sounds like me for sure.

Recently I had dinner with a friend at a cute and cozy restaurant a few miles away from my home. We had a great night. We spoke about work, love, relationships, life, and our aspirations. We laughed a lot and we sat in awe of one another’s courage and persistence. We admired the way one another saw our or situation and the slight skills we possessed to overcome the things that are holding us back. As the night ended I walked my friend over to her car and I noticed her beautiful, bright red Lexus. Immediately it was like I had forgotten the great night we had and my focus shifted to what I lacked again.

Now, I want you to understand something. I am not the girl who needs to carry around a Louis Vuitton purse nor am I the girl who thinks that money can buy love and happiness. However, I am the girl who recognizes that money can solve a deal of our problems. Having sufficient funds in our account can lead us to afford that surgery we need in order to be well. It can lead us to vacations that will save us from a nervous breakdown. We work hard don’t’ we? Believe it or not these things affect us. We are meant for abundant living. We are meant to be whole and sometimes things like vacations, facials, gym memberships, and heck even a real nice car can make us feel better about ourselves and in turn can lead us to a freer way of living.

Eight months ago I sat down with an amazing woman. We had sandwiches by the mansions near Viscaya. We talked and dreamed about financial peace. I met this wonderful girl at a gardening party and well we kind of hit it off! Anyway, I told my friend that my finances were something I wanted to get in order. I shared with her my financial goals and she shared with me her story. I won’t be able to tell her story as good as she does but, from what I understood this gal was in the same situation that a lot of us are in. She went to school for the reason most of us do…to follow her dreams. While she was in college she racked up a ton of debt from student loans. After college she moved back to good ol’ Miami and met her current boyfriend. However, as they began to plan a life together they noticed that money was getting in their way. Well, that did not stop her! She knew she had a debt to pay off. But, she also knew that she was worth the fight. She didn't settle to pay of the minim and struggle her way through life with her guy. No. She decided to take action and to be proactive with her situation. She took on a side hustle. She worked extra jobs and soon was able to pay off her debt in its entirety. Now, my friend is ready to buy a home and has met most of her financial goals. She worked hard. She did what she had to do and she put aside her ego so she can make the extra buck to live the life she wanted.

Are you tired of being a victim of your bank account? Are you tired of letting money control you? If so, then I welcome you to join me over the next few weeks. I will be meeting here for the next three Mondays to talk about practical steps we can take towards financial freedom. I hope to see you here! Until then, have a great week!

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