Make Manage And Multiply With Pastor Andy Ragland

Beginning this month, I am spotlighting those in the African American community who are working to close the wealth gap. Read about Pastor Andy Ragland and what he is doing to help close the wealth gap in the African American community
Pastor Andy Ragland

 

I’ve been holding this post just for this month, Black History Month, in order to spotlight those in the African-American community that are doing their part to close the wealth gap. If you haven’t read my post about the wealth gap and how we can close it, then I invite you to go here and do so.

Today, I want to spotlight a gentleman who is doing his part to help close the wealth gap in the African-American community. Pastor Andy Ragland.

Last month, I had the privilege to attend a personal finance conference here in my city. The conference was entitled Money Matters: Put Some Muscles In Your Money. This seminar was conducted by local pastor, Pastor Andy Ragland of Christian Fellowship Church. In this seminar, Pastor Ragland teaches personal finance from a Biblical perspective.

About Pastor Ragland

Pastor Ragland has been teaching personal finance since 2003. He’s has spoken all over the United States, teaching Biblical principles to personal finance. He also offers personal finance coaching where since 2003 he has taught over 200 people how to escape financial bondage and be good stewards over that which God has given them. Out of the people, Pastor Ragland has taught, he boasts a 50% ratio of those remaining consistent in their money management and remaining debt-free. 

I had a chance to sit and talk to Pastor Ragland after the seminar and here is what he had to say.

Tracie Threadford: What is the biggest thing we, as a community, can do to close the wealth gap?

Pastor Ragland: Continue to enlighten through teaching. We must create the dialogue, we have to talk about it. Talking is essential because when we talk about it we create buzz. Once we create buzz, it becomes a fad. Just as the #metoo became a fad, we in the personal finance realm have to make personal finance a fad. We have to continue to talk until we have the attention of those who need our help the most. 

TT: I noticed the number of people that you invited to the seminar, versus the number of people who actually showed up. Does that disappoint you and what makes you go on in spite of?

PR: No it doesn’t disappoint me, it used to but not anymore. Not in the sense of, oh I am sad but it does disappoint me because I know my people need this education. I also know that those that want change will come and they will stick with the program, and that keeps me encouraged and makes me get up and continue to do the work that I was created to do.

TT: One of the things I feel we can do to close this wealth gap is teach financial literacy in school. What is your view on that?

PR: Absolutely. That goes back to creating the dialogue. If you teach in school or at home that one needs to go to school, get an education, then go on to get a good job; you certainly should teach me how to manage the finances that you want me to be able to make. My motto is Make, Manage and Multiply.

Conference Takeaways

Know your limitations

Having a budget/spending plan teaches you self-control. Self-control and discipline are crucial when handling your finances. Pastor Ragland went on to say, ” The problem is you really like you! You convince yourself you deserve this or that because you work hard.” I know I have said that same thing a million times. In his analogy of you liking you too much, he drives home the fact that your money is a direct representation of how much control you have. “You know what to do but you don’t do it.”

Time is money

“Rich is a status, wealth is a lifestyle. Oftentimes, we spend too much time with people who are not trying to accomplish what we are.” Your time is valuable. You spend eight hours a day or more, working to gain income, but what you do with that income shows you don’t value your time. Pastor Ragland said that the reason he wears nice watches is that he values his time. Trust me, if you ever see him, he really does wear extremely nice watches. In the finance game, you don’t have time or money to waste. If you aren’t already taking the necessary steps for retirement and legacy, you still have time and the time to start is now. Remain focused, set a plan in motion and work the plan. 

Establish a savings plan

My question to you reading this is what can you do right now to earn extra and cut costs? Here’s a little bit of what I do. I do makeup to earn extra money. That money has a purpose, I save the money until I get enough to open a CD, or invest it in some way. For more on saving and earning extra income be sure to revisit a couple of my articles on saving and earning extra income.

Your money is a business

“You are the CEO of your finances, your money is a business and you should treat it as such. You don’t have to support every cause that is presented to you. If someone asks you to buy a ticket from their child or brings one of those candy fliers to you, it is ok to say no and not feel bad about it. I tell people that the corporation has made all of its charitable contributions for the year, but we will put you on the calendar for consideration for next year. This is how the big corporations do it, they have all of their charitable giving on the calendar at the beginning of the year and distribute it as necessary.” 

This is one that I personally will be using, because it was funny and because he was correct. I am the CEO of my money and my money is my business. We all have been present with will you support my child in such and such. I know that I have a niece that is a cheerleader and grandchildren who are school age who sell things all the time. Heck, I am selling Girl Scout cookies right now. Do I intend to give, of course, I do, but Pastor Ragland opened my eyes to the fact that it is ok not to if I don’t want to. I will still support others in their endeavors but from an allotted spending amount that my husband and I will set at the beginning of each year. Once that money has been used then the answer will be, “The corporation, W&T Threadford LLC, has made all of their charitable contributions for the year, but we will be happy to put you on the calendar for consideration next year.” This not only liberates me but by using the word consideration, it lets that person know I will think about this cause and see if it is something that aligns with my charitable giving goals. It does not guarantee that they will receive that contribution it just lets them know they are on my radar and it is a possibility that I will buy that raffle ticket next year.

It is a process

You don’t become financially free overnight because you didn’t get in the financial situation you are in overnight. It is a process. You have to walk in the season you are in right now. If your finances don’t allow you to go shopping and ball till you fall, then don’t do it. “If you want to see something different, you have to do something different. Your job is just your income, not your increase. ” Pastor Ragland was preaching then!.

Again, I agree. There was a time when I could not enjoy the creature comforts that I enjoy now because I just didn’t have the money. I was ashamed and I was hurt I wanted to do all the things I saw the proverbial “Joneses” did and I couldn’t. You know why I couldn’t? I was broke and knew that I didn’t want to be broke. I knew I wanted more out of life for myself and my children.

One day I was going to be a grandmother and I would want to give those grandbabies everything and I could and leave my children and grandchildren a legacy. Begin the process today to get your finances in order. If you are in debt, then write down everyone you owe, including any family or friends.

Stop using credit, because with credit you are spending money now that you will earn in the future. “You must block your money from going out. When your money does not have a purpose you flounder around in the financial world. When the purpose is unknown, destruction is sure.” He said a mouthful then because I used to be in that same situation. You have to have a game plan, you have to prepare. Pastor Ragland gave five ingredients to prepare and if you know me then you know I am going to share them. I want to see everyone succeed in the game of finance.

Wellness not only pertains to your body and your health. Wellness pertains to your finances as well. Ae we close out this January, take a moment and do a financial wellness checkup

Ingredients To Prepare

1. Assessment- Preparation begins with knowing what to prepare for. Write down everyone you owe. Determine where you are and where you are headed. Examine what the conditions will be along the way. Determine what price you are willing to pay to get to where you want to be.

2. Alignment- Although you know where you are going, you still won’t make it unless you line up right. Good alignment makes success possible. Bad alignment makes success impossible. You can’t just work hard, you have to do the right work.

3. Attitude- Your attitude determines your altitude. Lazy people rarely prepare, but diligent people do prepare. Don’t be fooled, however, even the diligent get tripped up by the neglect of their attitude. You must have a positive attitude about yourself, your spouse (if you are married) and your situation.

4. Action- Ultimately you have to take action. It means being ready for the first step when the time comes. Without action, preparation has no purpose.

 Here are some final words from Pastor Ragland. ” Courage is going forward in the face of fear. Become a process thinker, getting ready requires thinking ahead. By thinking ahead you recognize now what you will need later. Do more research, people in just about every profession or situation use some kind of research to improve themselves. Learn from mistakes. The greatest prep tool can often be a personas own experience. Be willing to remain faithful and stay the course until the end.

While Pastor Ragland not only teaches personal finance, he is an example of his own teaching by keeping his expenses low and his income high. He is doing his part to close the wealth gap in the African-American community by Making, Managing, Multiplying and putting some muscle in his money and he wants to show you how to do the same.

For more information about his program please feel free to contact him at Andyrag69@gmail.com

We here at traciebthreadford.com salute you, Pastor Ragland, and all you do to close the wealth gap in the African-American community. If you know of someone who is working to close the wealth gap in the African-American community, I want to know about them. You can nominate them by sending me an email at Tracie@traciebthreadford.com telling me what they do and how they do it and I will feature them on my blog. This will now be a monthly feature on the blog and I am ready to hear from you. 

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Closing The Wealth Gap In The African American Community

An often over looked subject, the wealth gap is real in the African-American community. What can we do to close this gap? Is public policy the answer? I think not, because the ones creating the policy don't look like me and don't have my best interests at heart. Here are a few suggestions we as African-American individuals can close the gap for ourselves.

 

Often overlooked, there are serious disparities in the African-American community when it comes to amassing wealth. While this may be a topic that people want to sweep under the rug, it is a topic that needs attention. Why is there such a vast gap between African-Americans and other ethnicities when it comes to amassing wealth? Wealth is defined as being the value of homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, money, and investments.

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) in 2011 the average Caucasian household had $114,000 wealth holdings, compared to $8348 average for Latino households and just $7113 average for African American households.

The study also found that 73% of Caucasians own their own home compared to 47% of Latinos and 43% of African Americans. Furthermore, African Americans saw less of a return in wealth on their investment of homeownership than Caucasians.

Historically, wealth that African-Americans have managed to amass, has been taken from us by way of force. Don’t believe me? Take, for instance, Seneca VIllage. Seneca Village once stood where part of the famous Central Park stands today.

For those of you who don’t know about or never heard of Seneca Village read on. It was a settlement of mostly African-American landowners in the borough of Manhatten in New York City. It was founded in 1825 by free African-American people and was the first such community of its kind in the city. African-Americans were not the only minorities there, others included Irish and German immigrants and quite possibly some Native Americans.

This community, comprised of about five acres stood where 82nd and 89th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues would be now if Central Park had not been built. It was home to at least 350 people, three churches, two schools, and two cemeteries. It existed until 1857 when due to eminent domain, it was torn down to build Central Park. Basically, it was taken by the government.

That wasn’t enough for you, how about Greenwood a neighborhood in Tulsa, OK also known as Black Wall Street. It was one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States in the 20th century. Popularly known as “Black Wall Street”, until the Tulsa riot of 1921. During this riot, instituted by the Oklahoma state government and Caucasian residents, hundreds of African-Americans were slaughtered and the community burned and pillaged in hours. Once again, our enterprise was taken.

While those are two instances, I am sure if time permitted I could give you more. My question is what happened to us as a people after these two instances? Did we just give up on creating our own enterprises? Why has there been such a disparity in African-Americans creating wealth since the 1930’s? Have we become complacent in that we are used to our land and our ideas being taken from us that we just don’t even try to build wealth anymore? While I can’t answer those questions for anyone but myself, I would like to offer some suggestions that we as African-Americans can do to close this wealth gap.

  1. Begin to save. Find way’s to boost your savings for things such as what some experts call an emergency fund, which I like to call a capability fund. I know many are living paycheck to paycheck. However, finding a way to save 10% of your take-home pay each payday will make you more prepared in case a situation arises that needs financial attention. Boost your retirement savings. If you need help or ideas to boost retirement read 10 Tip’s To Boost Your Retirement Savings.
  2. Become financially literate. In the information age, financial literacy materials are not hard to find. For example, this blog has a wealth of information to aid you in increasing your financial literacy. Your local library has a wealth of materials (no pun intended) to help you along on your financial journey. Commit to learning something new each month that will improve your financial situation.
  3. Pursue Entrepreneurship. Take that hobby or craft that you are passionate about and turn it into a business. This will help you earn extra income to pay off debt, put in your savings account or invest in your retirement account. Extra income is always a plus and can be used in many way’s to aid you in creating wealth.
  4. Invest windfalls.  I have heard tax time referred to as “black folks Christmas” because African-Americans tend to use their income tax to afford items otherwise unaffordable throughout the year. I know, because I have been there. When I learned better I began to do better. Take windfalls and fund your IRA, your mutual funds, or invest in stock options. Let that money work for you over time.
  5. Live within your means.  I know this may be easier said than done for some as it was for me at one point. However, once I learned the difference between a need versus a want it became a way of life. While my husband and I make a considerable salary at our jobs, we still live off the money we made at our last lowest paying jobs. Mine was $12.88 an hour and his was $16.00 an hour for a total of $28.88 an hour. We have learned to keep our expenses low and our income high. This has afforded us to pay off debt, purchase income producing properties, and live a life designed by our core values. We value quality over quantity. Yes, we have nice things, but we learned how to save and pay cash for them rather than creating debt to obtain them. We practice delayed gratification in this microwave society.

Financial literacy and wealth creation don’t happen overnight. With determination, the right mindset, discipline and the development of a spending plan, it can be done. It may not be easy. It may take trial and error to find the right balance, but it sure will be worth it all in the long run.

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Couples And Money: Pillow Talk With Big Daddy

Couples and money. See what this couple had to say about money management.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, my husband agreed to let me share some of our private money conversations, as long as I don’t go too far. Big Daddy is the nickname I have for my husband, but for those of you who don’t know, his name is Willliam. Now because of our busy schedules, most of our talking is done late at night. Get your mind out of the gutter, hence the title Pillow Talk. When we decided to write this blog post, it took many different directions. I wanted to vlog but he didn’t, so my blogging coach Javacia, suggested an interview style post. With his approval that is what we went with. So here are the musing of late night chatter between me and Big Daddy. I call it interview with a Vampire lol just kidding.

TBT: Do you remember when we were broke and could barely keep a roof over our heads?

BD: How could I forget? You won’t let me. Every time I get ready to spend money you always remind me of those lean years.

TBT. I remind you cause one of us has to have sense when it comes to the money.

BD: I do have sense girl quit playing. I am not going to do anything to drive us back to the poor house.

TBT: You better not, cause you will be on that drive by yourself, think it’s a game.

BD: Remember you said for richer or for poorer till death do us part.

TBT: Yeah I remember, so what color would you like to be buried in. You can always ride to the poor house in a hearse.

TBT: What would you advise couples who find themselves in the same situation?

BD: Well, I would tell them what I heard you say while we climbed out of our situation and that was, ” This won’t last forever, we have just got to stick with the plan.” (Y’all, I can’t believe he remembers that he doesn’t remember what I want from the store most of the time)

BD: A couple has to have a plan, but before they can begin to plan they must have a goal. Goal setting is important in finance. Our goal was to get out of debt, start saving money, stick to a budget and plan for legacy. I can remember sitting down with you trying to figure out where all the money was going. I won’t point fingers but what I will say is that both parties have to acknowledge their part in getting into the situation they are in.

TBT:  Yes, all of that is true. We both came from backgrounds that caused us to spend for different reasons. Mine was because I was used to having the best of everything and you well you weren’t. Both need to sit down and figure out what is important and what they want their financial life to look like.

TBT: If you had to advise a young couple on how to achieve what we have achieved what would you tell them.

BD: Girl you not sleepy yet? Ok I know you just want to see if I was paying attention all these years. Here are my tips

  1. Be open about your spending habits before you say I do. I think if we both had really known how the other one viewed and spent money we would have avoided some of our problems. Also, couples need to make each other aware of any debts they are bringing to the marriage. Don’t be afraid to tell the other person if you do or don’t know how to manage money.
  2. Be clear on who will pay what. If one earns significantly more than the other divide the bills accordingly. I remember we were in so deep that you wouldn’t let me touch any money until all of our living expenses were paid. Then we had to work on my debts and then if there was anything left we divided it. We did this until all of my debts were paid because you took the easy way out and filed bankruptcy.
  3. Set financial goals together. Know what you value that way you can spend or not spend accordingly. You and I value the same thing, family and leaving a legacy so it was a no-brainer on how to set our finances to do just that.
  4. Set a budget. I swear if I go one cent over budget I know you will be angry. It may take some time to figure out a budget that works for you but you have to keep at it until it works. Don’t give up!
  5. Make financial decisions together. If there is a purchase to be made, discuss it. I remember when we used to decide how much we were going to spend at the grocery store. You would have that darn list, all those sale papers, and coupons. I would hate going to the store with you, but it was fun watching you save on the grocery bill. I used to think it was dumb that we talked about every purchase, but when I look back it was one of the best things ever.

TBT: I think those are great tips Big Daddy. We both learned some very important lessons back then that have served us well over the years.

BD: Yeah we have girl now can I go to sleep?

TBT: Yeah boy go to sleep.

BD: Give me some lip and turn off that light so I can get some shut-eye old crazy girl.

Well there you have it, I always give my tips but on this Valentine’s Day, I let Big Daddy give his. I hope you couples out there enjoyed his rare appearance on the blog. Happy Valentine’s day from The Threadfords!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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The Ultimate Guide To Saving On Spring Break Activities

Spring break can be affordable, if you make the right moves. This ultimate guide will help you plan the perfect spring break on a budget.

Spring break is right around the corner. What will you do with your children for this much needed week of relaxation? Whatever you decide to do whether travel or take a staycation and visit local sites, it doesn’t have to leave you penniless when it’s over. Today I will tell you how to make the most of your spring break on a budget.

I have grandchildren around the same age as my nieces and nephews, so they enjoy doing some of the same things. My sisters and I have a fun spring break planned for the children. That brings me to how we are doing spring break this year and how you can do it without going to the poor house.

1) Plan ahead

Do you and your friends or siblings have children around the same age that like to do the same things? If so then consider pooling your resources. Last summer, my sisters and I sat down and planned the children’s spring break. We decided this year we will stay in our great state of Alabama, a staycation of sorts.

2) Pool your resources

Since we have seven youngsters between us to entertain we all pitched in and rented a room at a local hotel that has an indoor swimming pool. We rented it for the weekend using my FREE AARP discount. My husband qualifies for AARP and I get the privilege of a free spousal membership, even though I am still a tenderoni.  What discounts can you use to save on fun activities? Does your city or state have an entertainment book with coupons? Are you a military family? Does grandma or grandpa have any discounts they can use for you?

3) Find free or low-cost activities

While our state parks aren’t exactly free, the one we are visiting is only $5 a carload. My sister drives a suburban and we can all fit. Let’s see $5.00/3 adults is roughly $1.67 each. Then we all pitched in to rent a cabin for two day’s, so the children can go hiking on one of the beautiful nature trails. We are all pitching in to buy groceries so we can cook in the cabin and make smores around a campfire.

4) Set a budget

Mind you I have four grandchildren that I will be spending spring break with. So before the pooling resources activities begin, I still have to do things with them for four days. I get them the weekend before spring break so that weekend we will stay in and watch movies. Did I mention those movies will be on Netflix which is only $12 a month. Watch away little grandbabies watch away. The Monday and Tuesday of spring break, we will visit the Birmingham Museum of Art where admission is free. We will also visit some notable landmarks here in our city that are free. My budget for those four day’s is $100. We will eat breakfast at home, and pack a fun lunch to have while out and about.

For those of you who opt to go out of town, check resort or theme park websites for discounts. You never know what great deals you might find. Also, if you are going out of town try and visit somewhere you have family that you can stay with. Make sure to offer a token of thanks in the form of cash for the stay.

Don’t have any family where you are visiting? Not a problem. If the place you are visiting is a vacation/destinations hotspot, try booking your room at an adjoining town. Some of them are just as beautiful as their popular neighbors and could prove to be more affordable.

Whatever you do for spring break, have fun, be safe and don’t break the bank.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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10 Tips To Help You Boost Your Retirement Savings

Retirement may be far off for some while closer for others like me. No matter when it is for you, you should begin saving for it as soon as possible. These to tips will help get you started

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until the day I retire. Whether you plan to retire early or work a few more years like me, it’s never too late to boost your retirement savings. Whether you just started working or you’re nearly done, you can still potentially grow your nest egg.

When planning for retirement, the truth is that the earlier you start saving and investing, the better off you will be, thanks to the power of compound interest. Even if you began saving late or have yet to begin, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are steps you can take to increase your retirement savings. It’s never too late to get started.

Consider the following tips, which can help you boost your savings, no matter what your current stage of life and pursue the retirement you envision.

1. Focus on starting today

Especially if you’re just beginning to put money away for retirement, start saving and investing as much as you can now, and let compound interest have an opportunity to work in your favor. Compounding is the ability of your assets to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate their own earnings. The more you can invest when you’re young, the better off you’ll be.

2. Contribute to your 401(k)

If your employer offers a traditional 401(k) plan, it allows you to contribute pre-tax money. This can be a significant advantage. Say you’re in the 15% tax bracket and plan to contribute $100 per pay period. Since that money comes out of your paycheck before taxes are taken, your take-home pay will drop by only $85. This means you can invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.

If your employer offers a Roth 401(k), yes a Roth 401(k) not Roth Ira, which uses income after taxes rather than pre-tax fund, you should consider what your income tax bracket will be in retirement to help you decide whether this is the right choice for you.

3. Meet your employers match

If your employer offers to match your 401(k) plan, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match. For example, an employer may offer to match 50% of employee contributions up to 5% of your salary. That means if you earn $50,000 a year and contribute $2,500 to your retirement plan, your employer would kick in another $1,250. It’s essentially free money. You better get that money, don’t leave it on the table.

4. Open an IRA

Consider establishing an individual retirement account (IRA) to help build your nest egg. You have two options, the Traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. A Traditional IRA may be right for you depending on your income and whether you and/or your spouse have a workplace retirement plan. Contributions to a Traditional IRA may be tax-deductible and the investment earnings have the opportunity to grow tax-deferred until you make withdrawals during retirement.

If you meet the income eligibility requirements, Roth IRA may be a good choice for you. They are funded with after-tax contributions, so once you have turned age 59½, qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are federal-tax-free (and may be state-tax-free) if you’ve held the account for at least five years.

5. Take advantage of catch-up contributions if you are 50 or older

One of the reasons it’s important to start saving early if you can is that yearly contributions to IRAs and 401(k) plans are limited. There is good news though.  Once you reach age 50, you’re eligible to go beyond the normal limits with catch-up contributions to IRAs and 401(k)s. So if over the years, you haven’t been able to save as much as you would have liked, catch-up contributions can help boost your retirement savings.

6. Automate your savings

You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first.” Make your retirement contributions automatic each month and you’ll have the opportunity to potentially grow your nest egg without having to think about it. Make automated regular contributions to your IRA. Here is a little more information on how to automate your savings

7. Rein in your spending

Examine your budget. You might negotiate a lower rate on your car insurance or save by bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it. Determine where your money is going by tracking your spending. Find places to reduce spending so you have more to save or invest.

8. Set a retirement goal

Knowing how much you’ll need not only makes the process of saving and investing easier but also can make it more rewarding. Set benchmarks along the way, and gain satisfaction as you pursue your retirement goal.

9. Stash extra funds

Extra money? Don’t just spend it. Every time you receive a raise, increase your contribution percentage. Dedicate at least half of the new money to your retirement plan. I know  it may be tempting to take that tax refund or salary bonus and splurge on a new designer purse or a vacation, don’t treat those extra funds as found money. Treat yourself to something small and use the rest to help make big leaps toward your retirement goal.

10. Consider delaying Social Security as you get closer to retirement

This is a big one! Did you know that for every year you can delay receiving Social Security before age 70, you can increase the amount you receive in the future? Age 62 is the earliest you can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits, but for each year you wait (up until age 70), your monthly benefits will increase.

The additional income adds up quickly. Pushing your retirement back even one year could significantly boost your Social Security income during retirement.

Recognizing the need to put money back for retirement is the first step. Understand how much you want to put away for retirement, and find creative way’s to increase your contributions. Making the effort now will help make your retirement something to look forward to and help you not to worry about retirement.

 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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Personal Finance Love

Loving personal finance is probably the last thing on your mind, especially if your finances are in a shamble. I'm here to tell you there was a time when I didn't love my financial situation. When I worked through my obstacles, I developed a love of saving, budgeting, and investing. In this article, I tell you just how you can develop a love of personal finance too.

We have made it to the big “Love” month. The most notable holiday this month is, of course, Valentine’s Day. This is also Black History Month, where we celebrate and observe the most notable African Americans and moments in history. Finally, the last week of this month is America Saves Week.

I know you are probably wondering why I am talking about Black History Month in a personal finance blog. Well, just flow with me, because all of this ties together. From Black History Month all the way to America Saves Week. As an African American, I am troubled by the financial state of my people. That is part of why I blog. There are not a lot of people who look like me, that don’t have the financial knowledge I do. I want to do my part to close the wealth gap in my community. This month, I will feature other African Americans who are doing their part to close this gap as well. We are part of what will one day be history, and it is important to me that I share these resources not only with my African American readers but to all of my readers.

Later on this month, I will write a post dedicated to the wealth gap and giving my ideas on how we can close that gap. See, I told you Black History Month has to do with personal finance.

In all communities, talking about personal finance is taboo. No one wants to have those conversations, but they are much needed. This month, I want us all to begin to love personal finance. I love everything about personal finance and I want my readers to begin to have a love for it too. Let’s create that dialogue.

With Valentine’s Day being this month, why not develop a love of saving, budgeting, and investing. See how I tied all that into this one month? A while back, my husband told me that I never include him in my “lil” blog (his words not mine). This month, he agreed to sit down with me and write a post about couples and money. We are still working on it and I don’t want to give any of it away but know that it will be great.

Finally, America Saves Week is February 26 – March 3. By now, you should know that I love to save in every area that I can. From groceries to utility bills, I always find ways to save.

America Saves, seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior. America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

So, as you can see everything involved with this month has to do with personal finance. Let the love flow and begin loving your personal finance.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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Financial Wellness Checklist

Wellness not only pertains to your body and your health. Wellness pertains to your finances as well. Ae we close out this January, take a moment and do a financial wellness checkup

 

The first of a new year is a great time to think about how to manage your personal finances. Developing a straightforward money management system (or breathing new life into an old one) can help you make smart decisions about budgeting, saving, borrowing, and investing.

Here are six tips to help you organize your financial strategy this year.

1. Track your spending.

The most basic money management strategy is to track your spending and use that to help you develop a budget. To get started, use a simple spreadsheet or a personal finance app to calculate what you spend in basic categories, such as groceries, shopping, eating out, and entertainment. Keep your receipts so you can track cash purchases, and be sure to include your online spending as well.

Reviewing your spending not only tells you where most of your money is going, it can also help you catch mistakes in your bills. Dedicated budgeters say they catch hundreds of dollars’ worth of mistakes every year. Take a minute to review your spending first thing in the morning, right before you go to bed, or every Saturday morning—just make sure you do it regularly.

2. Set financial goals.

Establishing financial goals will help you stick to your budget because you will know what you are saving for and why. You are likely to have a mix of short-term goals, such as buying a new laptop; mid-term goals, such as taking a vacation; and long-term goals, such as saving for retirement.

Set a plan for your goals, but be sure that your plan is realistic and flexible. It’s better to progress slowly than to get frustrated and stop saving. You may want to set a monthly dollar amount and put that money aside before you start spending. For some people, it also helps to put that money in a different bank account—one not connected to online banking, for example—so that it’s not easily accessible.

3. Talk about your budget.

Talking about your budget and goals with a spouse, partner, friend, or financial advisor is essential to get organized, stay motivated, and keep your spending under control.

Budget discussions will differ depending on your financial situation and the number of people involved. For example, a single person may only need to meet with his or her financial advisor once a month, whereas a couple with two children may need to discuss expenses and bills every week.

Whenever it is, make sure you are consistent and thorough. You should come prepared with your transactions accounted for and your bills ready to be paid. You should also review your money goals, your progress, and how long it will be before you’ll meet your goal.

4. Make a money calendar.

An important part of money management is paying your bills on time every month. Late payments can lead to extra fines and can also impact your credit score. A money calendar is a tool that is both simple and effective, and it can help you keep track of your bills. Create a calendar with every due date, and then set an alarm to notify you to pay on that date. If you use automatic deductions, make sure to note those items on the calendar as well.

5. Check your credit score.

Your credit score is an important aspect of money management because it helps determine if you can qualify for new credit and at what interest rate. Your interest rate directly impacts the affordability of your loan, with higher interest rates making a loan less affordable.

You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) through AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can also purchase your credit report and credit score directly from Equifax or another CRA. Order your credit report and review it. If you see any negative information, such as late payments or overdue accounts, make a plan to settle those debts as soon as possible.

As you pay down those debts, try working with your creditors. For example, if you have a credit card with a high-interest rate, consider calling your credit card company and negotiating a lower rate. You should also tell your lender if you need help paying your debt because the lender may offer you better repayment terms if you communicate about financial hardships.

6. Identify your spending triggers.

Discretionary spending should be built into your budget so that you feel free to spend occasionally. In order to stay within your limit,  consider what causes you to spend more. The reasons may be social, environmental, or emotional. Anticipate your spending triggers, and identify something enjoyable that you can do when the triggers arise. For example, if you always stop at the local coffee shop at 9:30 AM, consider bringing a thermos of coffee with you from home instead. It may take some time and preparation, but knowing your habits will help you avoid impulse buys.

While successful money management won’t boost your income, it may enable you to stretch your dollars further and keep your financial wellness plan right on track. Now that you’ve gotten started, what are some other ways you’re keeping yourself financially on track throughout 2018?

Disease Called Debt
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Getting Started With Buying Stock

Buying your first share(s) of stock can be scary, I know, I've been there. Before you get started check out some things you need to know right here.

Let’s talk about how you, the investor, can go about purchasing stock. Stocks are the most basic product you can purchase on an exchange. Stocks are a type of security that represents ownership in shares issued by a publicly traded corporation. Stocks are unique among security types in terms of the rights that they give you. Owning shares of stock gives you…

  • the right to vote in shareholder meetings.
  • the right to receive dividends (which are the company’s profits) if and when they are distributed.
  • the right to sell your shares to somebody else.

Additionally, if you own a majority of shares, your voting power increases so that you can indirectly control the direction of a company by appointing its board of directors. The stock market is sometimes called the equity market because when you buy stock, you are buying equity (ownership) in the company.

How do I buy stock?

I thought you would never ask! In order to buy stocks, you can either use an online broker or seek the assistance of a stockbroker who is licensed to purchase securities on your behalf.

Online brokers

Most people these days use online brokerages rather than traditional human stockbrokers. If you do use an online brokerage, the cost is usually based on a per transaction or per share basis. This allows you to open an account with relatively little money. If you want to learn to invest on a shoestring budget, consider taking my FREE 5-day investing course.

Some of the most popular online brokers include TD Ameritrade, my boy Charles Schwab, E*Trade and Optionshouse. They are easy to use. All you do is go to the company’s website, sign up for an online account and transfer funds into it. See, easy peasy, just like opening a bank account. The only difference is that you are opening your investor account online versus walking into a brokerage office.

Once your account has funds in it, you can place your order. You can either pick the stocks you know you want to use or use the search feature to filter stocks by criteria.

Full-service brokers

Full-service brokers are the traditional stockbrokers of the old days. They take the time to sit down with you and get to know you personally and financially. They look at factors such as marital status, lifestyle, personality, risk tolerance, age (time horizon0), income, assets, debts and more. Full-service brokers will then work with you to develop a financial plan best suited to you and your investment goals and objective.

They can also do things such as assist with estate planning, tax advice, retirement planning, budgeting and any other type of financial advice. Hence the term, full-service. Then can help you manage all of your financial needs now and for the rest of your life until you transition on to glory. Now you already know, full-service broker fees are typically much higher than online broker fees.

 

Disease Called Debt
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5 Clever Inexpensive Gifts For Valentines Day

Valentine's day is right around the corner, here are 3 clever inexpensive Valentine's day gifts that are sure to put a smile on your special someones face

Ahhhh love is in the air, Valentines Day is right around the corner. Now love doesn’t have to break the bank. I mean it is not about how much the gift costs, but the thought behind it right? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go broke trying to show my husband how much I love him and how much he means to me. Here are five clever inexpensive gifts you can give your honey for Valentines Day. I know the picture below says Christmas, but I love this pic of me and my funny valentine.

  1. The What I Love About You Journal- This is a cute little journal. Although I purchased it, I will not be giving it to my husband just yet. I was looking for something sweet and intimate to present to him on our 25th wedding anniversary in October of this year. This gift is economical and is perfect for a sweet token for Valentines Day. You can find it at KnockKnockstuff.com  for $10.00. It even includes simple prompts to make it easy for you. 5 clever inexpensive gifts for valentines day
  2. Personalized Collar Stays- Now this is the gift I am giving William for Valentines Day! He is a sharp dresser and I love to make sure that he has his signature style, with a pop of extra pizazz. These are sure to be a favorite for him. You have these bad boy’s inscribed with whatever you like. His say I love you. W&T 25 and Big Daddy (that’s what I call him). This set of 3 comes from Personalizationmall.com  hurry while they are on sale for $22.49 regularly $29.99. 5 clever inexpensive valentines day gifts
  3. Affordable Romantic Getaway- Groupon is my jam when it comes to quick getaways. Why not book a romantic getaway through Groupon? Whether the trip is right here in the states or abroad, Groupon has some great deals I’m sure your Valentine will love!
    image for Waterfront Inn in Pacific Northwest
  4. Romantic dinner for two- In my opinion, there is nothing like a homecooked meal. We rarely eat out as it is. This year, it is his turn to cook. I’m sure he will make something scrumptious, as William is an excellent cook. Besides, there’s no line or a long wait at home and reservations are always available.5 clever inexpensive gifts for valentines day
  5. Redbox movie- One of my favorite things to do is just spend quality time with my husband and watch a good movie. This Valentine’s day hit up your local Redbox, rent a romantic movie and enjoy each other. 

I hope this guide gave you some ideas on how you can show your Valentine a little love without breaking the bank. For more savings ideas, be sure to visit 10 Ways To Save On Valentine’s day and Unexpected Ways To Save On Valentine’s Day. What do you plan to give your significant other for Valentine’s day this year? Drop it in the comments below. Besides dinner, I wonder what he got for me, I can’t wait to see. I know one thing, he better not have gone over our gift giving budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disease Called Debt
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Give The Gift Of Stock For Valentines Day

Gift giving season is upon us gain, Valentines Day is right around the corner. Want to wow your valentine like Kanye wowed Kim? Give him or her the gift of stock this Valentines Day. It's unique and will serve your valentine for years to come.

Kanye West had the right idea when he gave Kim Kardashian West the gift of stock for Christmas. He took stocking stuffer to a whole new level. While it is not a conventional gift, it rivals any diamond around. As a matter of fact, I would rather have stock than a diamond. There are a few way’s to give stock as a gift, let’s talk about a few.

How to give stock as a gift with no RESTRICTIONS

If you want to give stock as a gift where the person you are giving it to can do whatever they like with no strings attached. You can give stock by re-titling your existing stock holdings, setting up a direct stock purchase plan or a dividend reinvestment plan in the name of the recipient.

 Re-Titling Your Existing Stock Holdings

If you already hold the shares you want to gift in a brokerage account or dividend reinvestment plan of your own, you can contact the institution and fill out forms to re-title some of your holdings in the name of the person to whom you want to gift the stock. You can even set up regular gifts at predetermined intervals, such as the 1st of every month, or the third Tuesday of each quarter.

Here’s an example: Say you have a brokerage account with Charles Schwab. Well Charles, and yes I called him by his first name, has a form that is called a Letter of Authorization for Movement of Funds. This form allows clients to create schedules transfers of shares to third parties. Let’s say after much successful investing you have built up a large portion of Amazon stock. Once all information has been verified, you could simply say, “Hey Charles, I want to gift 100 shares of Amazon to my granddaughter every month by taking it out of my account and putting it into her brokerage account.”

Now if said person does not have a brokerage account with old Charles, then Charles could send the said person a certificate of stock or just have the shares registered in said person name through the direct registration system. (fees may apply)

Set Up a Direct Stock Purchase Plan or Dividend Reinvestment Program Account in Their Name

This is by far the easiest way to give stock. All you do is fill out a form and a check and mail it in. The person receives a statement showing the number of shares they own, and they can even purchase more by mailing in additional checks, having automatic withdrawals set up from their bank accounts, or by reinvesting any dividends their stock may pay.

If by chance you want to purchase more shares for them, most plans will allow you to write another check and send it in yourself or write a check directly to the person you are gifting the stock to, that is if you trust them to do the right thing with it.

Although stock certificates are becoming rare, you can check with services like Oneshare.com. They can title stock in the name of the gift recipient, then you might be able to use that share to set up the DRIP.

How I give the gift of stock

The way I give the gift of stock to my grandchildren is through their parents. I just cashapp them the money and they pick the stocks they want for their children and boom there it is. See easy peasy. I do this because I want their parents to invest in what they want for their children. I do, however, offer suggestions as to what stocks I would like to see them purchase, but again, the final decision is up to the parents.

Now, I know that some may want to give stocks with restrictions so here are a couple of ideas for that,

For Minors, Setup a Brokerage Account or Direct Stock Purchase Plan Registered Under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act of Your State (UTMA)

What I love about these accounts is that they are unique in that they allow you to name a custodian. The custodian has the duty to manage the money for the welfare of the child. The actual stock belongs to the child as gifts to the UTMA are irrevocable.

Depending on the state in which you live, you can decide at the time when the account is established whether you want the minor to have the right to take possession of the assets at the age of 21 or some other age. Some states allow you to defer possession until the child reaches the age of 25, while other states allow the child to take possession as young as 18.

Establish a Trust Fund and Transfer Shares of Stock To It

This option can be used for a minor or an adult and it is the ultimate option in terms of flexibility. You can write a trust declaration that splits the legal title of the stock between the trustee and the beneficiary. The trustee has the fiduciary duty to manage the trust fund with the utmost of care, while the economic beneficiary gets to enjoy the property in the way that you specify.

I hope this helps you give the gift of stock to your sweetheart for Valentines Day.

 

Disease Called Debt
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