How to Create a Holiday Spending Plan

How to Create a Holiday Spending Plan

The Holiday season has official begun and the shopping season is right around the corner. My family and I are already planning our meals, decorations, gifts, and travel. This, of course, costs money so I have to make a holiday spending plan and decide how much I want to budget.

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Years ago it freaked me out to think about all the money that was flying out of my bank account. These days I feel calmer because I know that giving (spending) only means I’ll be receiving that much more in return. That is a mindset shift I hope to share more with you in the coming year. But back to the holiday spending plan.

Decide How Much to Save for Christmas Shopping

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The first thing to do is decide how much you want or have saved to spend for the holidays. If you were smart you opened a holiday savings account at the beginning of the year. I honestly didn’t do that but I will next year.

You can follow my lead if you didn’t do it but opening a free savings account with Ally bank or Capital One. Both are online and you can move you money in and out quite easily. You can also set up automatic drafts so the money comes out of your paycheck and it’s out of your mind so you don’t miss it. What a surprise it will be when you check the account in November and see all that money sitting there.

Decide How You Will Spend the Money (Make a List)

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Now that you know how much you want to spend you can list all the categories you will be using the money for. Will you be cooking meals, decorating your home, buying gifts for anyone other than the kids, or traveling? List all the activities and then move on to the next step, dividing the money.

How much you choose to spend for each category is completely up to you. You might decide to do an even split across the categories. You may decide to use 50% of the money for the gifts then split the rest across the other categories. You have options.

Look for Savings and Discounts

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For food you could use coupons and shop the sales to keep costs low. You may only have to buy a few ingredients because you are going to eat with family and only need to bring one dish. There will be sales all during the month of November and December so head over to your top three favorite stores’ website and look at the flyers and/or download their app.

For decoration you can use what you had last year and simply add a few items that rounds out the look you are going for. Making decorations with the kids is a fun activity. You can make snowflakes, ornaments, and garland with material you have on hand. You can also make decorated gifts to give to teachers, grandparents, and friends. The kids would absolutely love and feel they are a big part of the gift giving process. It doesn’t have to cost much but the value of a handmade gift is priceless!

If you are planning to travel be sure to check out travel deals on Groupon Travel, Expedia, or your favorite airline website. If you are traveling by car map out your trip using AAA’s travel planner or simply download the Waze app from the App Store or Play Store to get you to your destination. With the Waze app you can add stops and look for gas stations and food options along the way. It is my favorite GPS app. You should look me up and friend me on it.

Finalize Your Holiday Spending Plan

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Now that you have a budget, have set your categories, and know how to look for savings you can finalize your holiday spending plan. It does not have to be a long process but it does require you to be decisive so you remain in control of your purse strings. You can face the Holiday with confidence know you will not be in debt repayment mode for the new year.

If you need additional help creating a budget you can use the budget calculator below. Just enter your numbers and click the calculate button at the end.

I wish you a very happy holiday season and many blessings in the new year!


Credit Repair After Divorce Chat with Mandy Walker

Credit Repair After Divorce Chat with Mandy Walker

I recently had a chat with Mandy Walker about Credit Repair After Divorce on her Blog Talk Radio show. We had a great time getting to know each other but more importantly, talking about how to get your credit repair journey started. Separating or divorcing a partner after a few years means you have financial ties to your ex including credit. It can get messy and usually someone ends up with the short end of the stick. You get screwed and your credit score crashes along with the relationships.

In this chat, I share my credit repair strategies to help you protect your credit or recover from a crash. If you are facing any of the following challenges you should listen in:

  • Low credit score
  • Bankruptcy (I share my own story)
  • Budgeting challenges
  • Foreclosure
  • Making ends meet

At the end of the chat, I share my Budget Sanity Saver Worksheet, which is great for anyone who needs help getting started with their budget. Click here to download your copy (you will need Microsoft Word to use it).

Are you dealing with credit challenges? budget challenges? What steps are you taking to fix the issues and recover from a bad financial breakup?

[Video] – Single Parenting on a Budget Experian #CreditChat

[Video] – Single Parenting on a Budget Experian #CreditChat

Single Parenting on a Budget Advice

Are you struggling to create or manage a budget? If so click the button above to watch the video of the #CreditChat conversation I had with the Experian team.

We discussed everything from creating a stable financial future, establishing budgeting best practices, staying on top of your credit, starting an emergency fund, and choosing the right insurance.

You can download the Budget Sanity Saver worksheet to get a head start with creating your budget automatically. You need Microsoft Word to use it.

Chat Q & A

Here are the questions that were asked during the conversation and my answers:

Q1: What are the first steps a single parent should take when creating a stable financial future for his/her family?
Access where you are, decide where you want to be and create a written plan. Ask for help. check out Financial Planning Days for free financial planning in your area.

Q2: How should a newly single parent establish a budget? What are best practices? Write all current expenses like rent, food, car, etc. Subtract those expense amounts from your income. Best practices: Live below your means. Budget each paycheck before you spend. Pay yourself first.

Q3: What steps should single parents take to ensure they are staying on top of their credit? check your credit report regularly. Your bank may offer free monitoring. Get your annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Spend only what you can repay immediately. Pay your bills on time or at least make arrangements to pay.

Q4: What financial documents should newly single parents review when creating a financial plan? Review your bank statements to see the history of your spending.

Q5: Are there any tax credits or deductions that can help reduce the amount of taxes single parents pay? earned income credit. child care credit. Student loan credit.

Q6: What are best practices for establishing an emergency fund? Pay yourself first in each paycheck. Add most or at least half of your tax refund. Sell items you don’t really need and put it in the fund.

Q7: What insurance considerations should single parents take? Term life seems to be a good policy to have since it covers you for a specific period of time while your children are still in your home.

Q8: What should single parents know about creating an estate plan? Talk with a financial planner who has information and/or an attorney. Get your will made so your family and the state knows what to do with your property and your children in case of your death

Q9: What advice do you have for a single parent who is struggling financially? If it feels like you are drowning stop the leaks. Take a deep breath. Remember it is temporary. Create an action plan to slow your spending, increase your income, focus on what you have instead of what you do not have.

Q10: Do you have any final financial tips for single parents? You have the power to become financially free. Learn all you can about money management. Focus on increasing your income rather than cutting everything from your life. Get the kids involved and teach them the value of money but more importantly the value of life and family.

Resources mentioned in the video:

Financial Planning Days – Free financial planning in select cities

Alison – Free financial literacy course online

Practical Money Skills – Financial Literacy website

Prism – Budgeting & Bill Organization App

Garage Sale apps – YardSailr, Let Go, OfferUp, Varage Sale

Create a Will or Plan Your Funeral

National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) – Credit and Debt Advice

Ignore Deadbeat Daddies and Bid Farewell to Child Support Dependence

Ignore Deadbeat Daddies and Bid Farewell to Child Support Dependence

The following article is in response to a popular message board trend about complaining about dead beat daddies and child support dependence. Feel free to reply with your reactions and watch the video too.

5 Reasons You Should Ignore Your Deadbeat Baby Daddy and Bid Farewell to Child Support Dependence

Ever dream of finding the right way to forget about your deadbeat baby daddy, stop depending on unreliable child support, and start changing your life? Many single moms have actually done that. Most, however, never work through the daydream stage. Many lacked the desire to research, learn, and put a plan in motion, so all they do is dream, whine, and complain about how he’s a deadbeat.

So what is the positive impact of letting go? The negatives were covered all right, but why not consider the positives? Before we let the negatives rule, the positives deserve a fair hearing.

Let’s examine 5 positive reasons in favor of attempting to forget about your deadbeat baby daddy and inadequate child support to see those that ring true.

1. He’s proven he doesn’t want to be a part of the life of you and your child. 

I completely understand your rationale in thinking you had something special at one time, after all you had a baby together. I agree that that’s a rather valid objection, but please consider, if he hasn’t paid one red cent (or barely $100 a year) since the day the baby was born, he’s not interested in being a part of your lives. And moreover, you will need to consider you might be better off without him.

2. He’s probably more interested in the next conquest than raising a child with you. 

The leading reason behind that is he’s too immature to want to be a parent. And also afraid of any type of real responsibility.

3. Your anger and constant nagging about his inability to be a real man keep him running away from you and his responsibility.

Plus perhaps your habit of broadcasting his failures to your girlfriends and the rest of the world.!

4. You are giving him control of your life every second you remain angry at him.

Anger is a fuel for controlling people. The more you allow your anger towards him to boil in your heart the more you give up control of your life.

5. You can create a better life for you and your child.

When you take the focus off of him and make plans for financial security because of your own efforts you can create an amazing life for your family. You have so much more power when you are focused on the possibilities instead of the problems

What will you do now?

After you have had a chance to go over the reasons and think about them, you’ll find that a top notch case can be made in favor of forgetting about your deadbeat baby daddy and moving on with your life.

Just think about it. Perhaps you really, in all seriousness, should forget fighting tooth and nail for him to be a father and sending money to help support your child.

As soon as you examine each of the reasons and evaluate them, you will have to admit that a very compelling case can be made for starting to consider how you can forget about your deadbeat baby daddy and create drama-free life with all the trimmings.

So maybe, just maybe, you really should forget about depending on child support from a man who’s proven he doesn’t want to be responsible for taking care of his child.

This is just my two cents worth. It’s heartbreaking to see so many single mom struggle with this issue. The bottom line is it’s time to take control of our lives and destiny.

Begin by finishing school if you haven’t, upgrading your skills for a better position, start a business to make extra money, and most importantly release the pain of rejection and low self-esteem.

Feel free to talk more about it below. No flaming, please.

11 Awesome Tips for Making Ends Meet

11 Awesome Tips for Making Ends Meet

Do you need money on the side? Well getting your hands on a little bit more can be easy if you are willing to try new things and be a little industrious. Take a look at these great tips on how to do so.

Transcribe

If you type fast and have experience with transcribing audio, you’re probably able to make some cash on the side working for companies which provide transcriptions for hearing impaired people. There are many online job sites such as Elance and Odesk where you can find a variety of transcription job offers. If you want to get repeat work, you’ll need to write quickly and accurately, with proper spelling and grammar.

Do Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing consists basically of promoting a third party’s services or products. You could post YouTube videos with links to products, or incorporate their promotional material in your blog, website or page. If you have a blog or page that has great content and constant traffic, you should check out websites such as Commission Junction for services and products which will allow you to connect.

Sell Music

If you have a small band with some sort of local following, you can expand your audience and make some cash on the side by recording an album and selling it online. You can use social media to get more people interested in your music and your act. This will probably easier and more successful than attempting to score a major label deal, particularly if your music isn’t particularly commercial or is not in one of the most popular genres.

Write An eBook

Are you talented or very knowledgeable in a certain niche? Do you have an inspiring or fascinating life story, or perhaps a story of overcoming adversity? Do you have a secret for doing a certain thing that many people could benefit from? If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe you should write an eBook, and try your luck selling it at online retailers such as Amazon. You don’t need a publisher or literary agent – all you need is a compelling idea which people will want to read about.

Haven’t yet found an idea that suits your personality or skills? Keep reading for other online money-making tips which will help you make ends meet.

Start An Online Store

If you market or make a unique product, it can be a great idea to sell them online, directly to customers. This is an excellent route for niche products, such as personalized pet accessories. You’ll need a website which looks professional and is set up to receive orders and then invest a bit of cash for the website and merchandise. If the store becomes particularly successful, you’ll be able to rent space to other retailers that have products to sell – that’s how Amazon started out. You can check out 3dcart.com for more info on selling things online.

Online Cash Loans

What better way to get your hands on some money quickly than through internet loans. Once taken with a strong understanding of the terms and paid back within the right period, online cash loans can be a great way to fund purchases when they are needed quickly and as a necessity.

Sell Products At Online Retailers

If you can sell a product but don’t feel ready to start an online business, you can reach out to one of the many websites which does the hard work of placing the items you sell in front of people who are willing to buy them. If you want to sell collectibles such as jewelry or handmade art, check out Zibbet, Etsy or ArtFire. Etsy is the biggest of them, excellent for vintage or handcrafted items, so you’ll definitely get an audience there.

Sell Your Photography

If you’re a skilled photographer with a large portfolio, you could make it work for you by licensing photos to microstock agencies such as Dreamstime and Shutterstock. There are many blogs and websites who are looking for art to accompany articles, so if you have the sort of photos they’re looking for, you could definitely make good money off it.

Flip Domains

The term ‘flipping’ refers to the practice of buying domain names and selling them at a profit. You’ll need a bit of ingenuity, a lot of research and some luck, but you can make a nice sum from time to time. The idea is to check out Google Adwords constantly and be aware of trending keywords, then predict which domain names will soon be in demand. This is not that easy of a task since the simple, clever and/or obvious names are usually taken.

If you come up with a name you might want to purchase, go to a domain name registrar and run it. If it hasn’t been taken yet, all you’ll need to do is pay a purchase fee, and maybe a setup fee, plus the yearly renewal fees. Many companies such as GoDaddy specialize in registering domains. While this can be time-consuming, the payoff can be big – valuable domain names will often sell for over $100,000.

Don’t give up yet – we’ve got a lot more tips which will help you put your skills to pay rent online.

Do Freelance Work

If you’re out of a job in publishing, marketing or web design, and your attempts to find a steady job have failed, it might be a good idea to start a freelancing career. Web sites such as Guru, Textbroker, and Elance allow potential employees to bid for the jobs requested by potential employers.

When we checked, new jobs at Elance ranged to $10 an hour for graphic designers to $1,000-$5,000 for iOS or web developers. Be ready to present your skills and case in a short proposal which states the reasons why you’re the perfect candidate for an assignment. Keep in mind that you’ll need to apply for a variety of jobs before getting one.

Find Quick Odd jobs

When you have some free time and are looking to do certain jobs quickly, you can check out Gigwalk, a free app where companies advertise short assignments they need completed, such as going to a business and writing a Yelp review for it for $20. If you’re good at running errands or assembling furniture, you can sign up at TaskRabbit, where people and business who need some temporary help try to find workers. You’ll need to go through a video interview and a background check, but you can definitely pick up some cash there between jobs.

How to Get Off the Child Support #Struggletrain

How to Get Off the Child Support #Struggletrain

Admit it. Getting your baby’s daddy to pay child support can be like pulling your eyelashes out one by one. Why can’t he understand that you both made this child so he needs to help support this child? All the excuses are getting old and tired.

The bills need to be paid.

The baby needs shoes? Food. Uniforms. Doctor visits. Clothes. All the things that make survival possible.

So how can you get him to pay up or get off the #struggletrain? Stick with me and I’ll share a few practical ideas you can start using today to make the struggle less stressful. Hopefully, the following tips will also prepare you to go into the battle with a better strategy.

My ultimate goal is to inspire you to seek a different path to financial freedom.

Reality Check: Honestly, unless you are a baller ex-wife, boo, or side chick, was married to a CEO or a business owner; it will be hard to make a living, much less a life off of child support. You will be more successful taking action on the tips I share in the second half of this article.

A 7-Step (Mostly) Conflict-Free Process for Getting Child Support

child support conflict agreement

Step 1 – Decide How Much You Need

What will it take to raise your child and meet all his needs? Check your food, clothing, utilities, and all the things your child uses and needs. When you have a number divide it in half. This is how much you need from your ex to raise your children. Be realistic about his ability to pay. Next access his finances.

Step 2 – Assess His Finances

How much does your Ex make? You may not know the exact amount but you can research his job position and the average pay for that position. Be realistic about how much he gets paid when you are considering your child’s needs and his income. There may be a huge gap.

Step 3 – Communicate Your Demands

The next step is to say what you need to care for your child. There is a difference between demanding money because you think he owes you something and asking for money because raising a child requires money. I suggest you go as far as itemizing the cost of everything your child will need for the year. Write it on a piece of paper and give it to your child’s father. Wait for a response then go to the next step. Negotiation.

Step 4 – Come to an Agreement

In this step,  talk about the list and decide, together, what he can realistically do. Sometimes it’s just not as cut and dry or black and white as you think. He honestly may not be able to give you everything but can do something. Ask him if it’s truly the best he can do. Keep at it until you both feel this is something you can live with for at least three months, six months, or a year.

Request a review after agreed time limit has passed to see if he’s in a better position to do more. Men need facts to make decisions. They do not rely entirely on their feelings. If you make it about feelings and drama you will get less than you think you deserve and he will make it harder to get it even at the risk of going to jail, back taxes, or anything to keep you from winning.

Step 5 – File the Paperwork

When you have an agreement put it in writing and you both sign it. This is now your contract to keep or file with the courts if that is part of the agreement. If it is part of a child support order, send it to your attorney or complete the forms yourself. The point is to have a record of the agreement and preferably a witness.

Step 6 – Communicate Regularly

Decide how you will communicate and what you will communicate with your Ex. Keep everything brief and business-like so you stay focused on what matters; your child. Keep your emotions in check and do not allow him to bait you into a conversation about your past relationship, your current relationship with someone else, and all the things you or he did wrong. The less you talk about unresolved personal issues when discussing child support the better off you will be.

Decide if you want to tell him about any special purchases you needed to make because of school needs, medical needs, or other needs outside of the usual food, clothing, and shelter he is contributing to with the child support payments. Make a communication schedule that you can agree on and stay within those guidelines.

Depending on how volatile your relationship is you may decide to only use text messaging, only email, and rarely a phone call. You may use a combination of it all. It is up to you. Whatever you decide to do, be consistent.

Step 7 – Wait for the Check/ Deposit

Now you wait for the child support check to arrive. It may feel stressful because you are not sure if it will come. If it doesn’t communicate with him and ask when you can expect it. If it does come send a quick text saying you got it and say thanks the first few times. The more you appreciate his effort and integrity in sending it the more goodwill you create.

How to Get Off the Child Support Struggle Train in 7 Steps

Now that you have tried the tactics to get child support I’d like you to assess how much you can actually survive off that money. Is it enough to pay the rent, car note, buy food, clothing, school project materials, take a vacation? Can you live off that amount combined with what you make at your job? Are you still struggling to make ends meet? Are you willing to think about the reason you are still struggling?

It’s likely that even after all the tactics and strategy, the child support is still not enough or nonexistent because he barely keeping up with the payments or not making payments at all. You can’t even depend on a steady payment every month. The struggle is truly real. So how do you get off the child support struggle train?

I’m glad you asked!

Getting off the #struggletrain won’t be easy but it is worth it if you want emotional and financial freedom.

Step 1 – Create a budget that does not include child support

Save your sanity and simply plan your spending around the money you bring in. You will introduce financial stability into your life and step away from the emotional struggle of depending on a child support check that may or may not come.

Step 2 – Create an Income Increase Plan

Now that you see your budget you are probably thinking to yourself, “This won’t cover all my expenses and it still feels like I’m struggling!”. I get it which is why your next step is to come up with an Income Increase plan. This means you think about ways you can increase your income.

Can you create a side gig? Can you take an online certification course to get a better paying job? Can you sell toys on Ebay? Create a long and short term income increase plan and start on it immediately.

Step 3 – Deal with Your Child’s Father Differently

Clear the negative energy you feel for your ex. Do it by any means necessary because as long as you feel anger, resentment, depression, fear, or hostility toward him, the more he is in control. You are better than that and can control yourself, your life, and your destiny. Anytime we hold negative emotions about someone we give them control over our lives.

Step 4 – Focus on Creating a Life You Love

Focus on what you want. Nothing else. When you learn how to focus only on what you want you get it. All distractions pull you back into a dysfunctional life and none of your dreams can come true. Focus on the goals you had before your relationship went sour, or before you had kids, or before your divorce.

Create a list of your top three goals and add a date you want to reach that goal. Keep the list in a place where you can see it daily. Your bathroom mirror, your bedroom door, or your phone lock screen are good places to keep your three goals visible.

Next Steps to Getting off the Child Support Struggle Train7 Strategies to turn Child support conflict and struggle into a happier conflict-free ending. RichSingleMomma.com

Step 5 – Ask for help

Find someone who has been where you are but is happy and successful. Ask them to mentor you and keep you accountable to your goals. This kind of support will do wonders for your life. The biggest challenge with this is trusting someone enough to open up about your struggles. Pray for the right person to come into your life.

Step 6 – Join or create a support group 

Find a group of women who are positive and want the same thing you want. It should be a group of women dedicated to problem-solving, not problem re-hashing. Whiners and complainers are not interested in forward progress and rarely get past the navel-gazing phase. Skip those kinds of people. Fine solution-oriented groups.

Step 6 – Trust your intuition

In your heart of hearts, you know the right answers for you. Trust yourself to make good decisions and you will. Do the research, ask people questions who have the answers, pray for wisdom, and know you can always start over if you make the wrong decision.

What’s Your Next Move?

There are two schools of thought on how to get the child support you need. Rely on the child’s father, who may or may not come through or rely on yourself, who will always come through. Some say he owes you but I say an unhealthy dependence on child support puts him in a position to emotionally and financially OWN you. I was put on this planet to empower single moms, through my own experiences and through practical solutions.

I’ve shared what I think are two solutions that may satisfy both schools of thought. You can pursue child support actively using the methods I shared in part one. You can even pursue it passively by simply filing paperwork with the state. But I think the second part of this article is feasible and definitely more satisfying. Of course, it’s up to you to choose the best course of action.