Designing Your Money

Piggybacking on my last blog entry about how you compartmentalize your money…how do you design your money to work FOR you? There are so many ways you can get the most out of your dollar. I don’t mean to sound like a penny pincher, but how you use your money and where you place it can have a big impact in the long-term on whether it makes money for you or whether it stays the same amount. Think about it: do you really want to continue to trade your time for money for your whole life? Or do you want to put your money to work while you work, or while you’re on vacation, or while you’re at your kids’ baseball game, etc.? I like making money while I sleep. Soooo….that begs the question…how do you do that? There are a multitude of ways!

Banks have designed a system that really works for them. They loan you money or give you credit to use, and you get the assistance you need to pay whatever bill it is that you owe with that money, whether it’s groceries, school loans, you name it. They also must fund their own business, so they make it work for them by giving you the money in return for extra money on top, aka interest. If you’re able to pay your bill back in a super timely manner, the interest you pay would be lower than if you take a long time to pay back the money. Now that’s a smart transaction for them. You get something from them, and they get something from you. They’re making money in their sleep. They’re not spending time working for the interest, but they’re making money regardless. You can use that model, too. You can, in a way, be your own bank! It’s called peer to peer lending.

I had no idea about peer to peer lending until about a year ago. There are many platforms that you can choose from, but the two most popular ones are Lending Club and Prosper. As an investor with peer to peer lending you can log on to the platform and search through the available loans. They are graded in slightly different fashions on each site, but mostly some form of A,B,C,D,E, and HR, with A being the lowest interest rates but the customers with the best concoction of information (credit score, income, percentage of credit used, rating, etc.) and HR being the highest interest, but considered the more risky loans to invest in. In my next blog I will go into more detail about how this process works and what strategy (so far) has worked for me.

This is what I consider designing your money. Instead of simply earning it, you’re creating a system in which your earnings make you more earnings without trading your time. It’s a gradual process, but it’s interesting. I highly encourage you to think about how YOU think about your money, and how you utilize it to its full value. Keep following my blog for more information weekly, and enjoy your day!

Ciao for now, and as always, please consult a certified financial professional for all of your big financial decisions. I’m simply here to enlighten and help, but I’m not a financial advisor.

Who Owns Your Money?

I get excited every time I go to deposit money in the bank. That may sound a little too much, and maybe it is, but it’s the truth. I like seeing the numbers go up. For a moment I forget that very soon those numbers will go dooooooowwwwnnnn. Rent, health insurance, credit card bills, medical bills, school bills, voice lessons, acting classes, they all take so much money. It can be very overwhelming sometimes. There’s a sense of pride when we see the numbers going up in our accounts, and rightfully so! We’ve worked hard! You know, this is kind of an uncomfortable thought, though…if you think about it, that money’s not really ours. It may be for just a moment (and enjoy it), but in the end, it’s not ours to own. It comes and goes. It’s frightening at the end of the day once you realize that the actual amount of that money that you’ll get to enjoy for YOU is very minimal. Money, in some part, can be compartmentalized in our lives. I’ll explain.

I have struggled with money for a long time. It seems that my bills are always higher than what I make. I decided to try an experiment recently. I dedicated every shift at my job to paying off specific bills. Rent came first, then school loans, etc. I began to think of the money that I was making as not my money, but the landlords’ money, the loan organizations’ money, and so on and so forth. It was a harsh way to think about it, but it really opened my eyes to just how much was MY money. Compartmentalizing my money helped me take care of the essentials first, and then I could see how much I had left for anything else. Someday I hope to not have to do that, but in reality I’ve come to realize that money is very much based on a mindset: how we think about it has a lot to do with how we handle it. How do you think about the money you make? Is it yours? How do you compartmentalize? I’m very curious and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Happy reading!

Let’s Talk About Financial Interest…

Oh, I know, sounds boring right? I used to think so, too…and then I started paying more of my own bills. YEP, it’s NOT SO BORING NOW, right? True. For those of you who are new to my blog, my last post was about how to start the process of improving your credit score. As a disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser, and these are simply my musings about what has worked for my own situation. Each individual financial setup is different, so for your own changes I recommend that you meet with a banker or someone in that field. I would simply like to share my knowledge with you. Along the way I hope to present this to you in a personable and slightly more fun way than your traditional financial sources. We’ll see if I’m successful! Feel free to comment below and ask any questions you might have.

Last time I left off while writing about throwing money down the toilet, right? Interest. Interest is how banks make money on top of the money they’ve loaned you. They wouldn’t be able to do it without interest. They need to fund their establishment, too, and interest is one of the ways that they do that. Interest can come in all sizes. And it is worth it to understand how interest will effect you in five, ten, or however many years in the future.

When you apply for a credit card you will see that banks are going to entice you into applying for their products. Side note: be careful how many credit cards you apply for. Applying for too many credit cards negatively effects your credit score. The bank will promote their company by advertising APR’s. APR’s (annual percentage rates) can start as low as 0.00% when a credit company is trying to gain your business. This is great! It means that for however long that offer is valid you will not be charged interest on the balance of your account! AWESOME! But…be careful. There’s a catch. After that introductory period ends you will be responsible for the interest that starts to accrue on the balance that you have borrowed. That money does not go toward the original amount that you borrowed. It goes directly to the bank for having gained your business. Soooo…you are paying the bank for having given you a loan and then paying that loan back in full afterwards. Interest rates can tack on quite a large amount to the bill you already owe. Several years ago, I took a good, long look at my credit statements…and I was SHOCKED to find out that I was paying the bank $40 per month that went into their pockets and less was going toward actually paying down my loan balance. As you can see, interest can become quite a hefty bill…but there is a way to avoid it!

The first thing to realize is that the bank can not charge you interest if there is nothing to charge interest to. This is possible if you make sure to pay your balance in full every single month. It sounds very simple, but it can take self discipline to stick to this. If, like me, you’ve not always had the best financial habits, there are ways to improve your situation….

Now enters the next option for those of us already down the rabbit hole…APR transfers! For now I will leave you to digest the information about credit that I’ve written about, but very shortly I will communicate about APR transfers and what good they can do for those of us already down the rabbit hole of paying off our credit burden.

So…I hope that today you have learned something helpful and not the hard way, like I have. I’m sure it was quite a comical scene when I figured out (in public) just how credit card interest really works. Ciao for now and here’s to awesome financial habits!

Let’s Talk About Finances…

I can hear the collective groan now…do we, as artists really have to think about finances? Well, first of all, we’re still people, too, so the answer is: yup (unfortunately). I know that money and art don’t necessarily go hand in hand (I’m there with ya). I would like to share some information and tips that I have learned in the last year or more to help my fellow artists (and anyone who’d like assistance) to better their lives by improving their financial portfolio. Now, I am not a financial advisor or a guru of some sort, so please get professional help if need be and look at your finances with an advisor. These are simply the musings of an artist trying to get by!

About two years ago I was financially flailing. My credit score was about 1-200 points lower than it is now, and I came to the realization that a low credit score was really harming my ability to pay off a credit card that I’d gotten when I was young (and how that debt got there: that’s another story filled with me having no idea about the repercussions, aka interest, of my actions when I was younger). This debt has followed me around for years. Since I had such a high interest rate that was forcing me to throw money down the toilet every month, I decided that I needed to start working on improving my credit so that I could better my situation gradually. I also knew that I’d be moving out on my own at some point and that my credit would need to be elevated. Ah, being an adult. IT WAS DAUNTING. So…I started researching ways to slowly incorporate better financial strategy in my life.

The first step…is the hardest one: grabbing the bull by the horns and combing through your statements to see where you can begin to curb your spending. For me it’s been my Starbucks habit (I now only go once a week and I’ve cut my spending down from about $200+ to $50-$60 per month, at most). So yay! I get a special date with myself once a week and I get to keep more money, too! I know, it’s painful, but you can do it, as well! Think about it this way: for me that’s about $1,680 in savings per year…that could definitely pay a few monthly bills! What do you do that slowly demolishes your pay? The second step: still pretty daunting, but very liberating once you face it.

The 2nd step is to find out if you’re eligible for a credit card. I recommend applying for a secured credit card if you’re ready because they are designed to help those of us who are re-building our credit health. The way they accomplish this is by only having a very small credit limit (mine with Capital One was $200) so you don’t go overboard with your spending. It’s a great way to practice changing your habits while having a safer system than a regular credit card. There are lots of offers out there, but I recommend using Capital One because it comes with an easy to use set of tracking tools. The app allows you to see exactly how much credit you have and have used. It also informs you about your financial health by consistently showing you your credit score, providing information about the factors effecting your credit, and giving you tips on how to improve your score. By following the steps suggested, you can start to build your confidence in your financial setup. I have come to find out through my own experience how important and beneficial this is. In the last two years I have grown financially and I’ve realized many things, but one of the most important things I came to realize is that it is very expensive to not have money. Having a great credit score means that you will be offered better deals on financial products, especially interest rates. Interest rates are where the bank gets your money. With high interest rates you end up paying the bank more money in the long run because you have a low credit score. With a higher credit score the bank gives you a lower interest rate, and you end up paying less money in the long run than you would have otherwise. Weird, right? It seems backwards, but I hope to inspire you to think outside the box and turn the cycle back in your favor as I am trying to do on my end as well.

These ideas are just scratching the surface and there is more to come. Stay tuned and have a great day!

 

Disclaimer: please do what is best for you financially. My tips and ideas have worked well for me, but each situation is different. For personal advice please go to a financial advisor and find out your options.

Who Owns Your Money?

I get excited every time I go to deposit money in the bank. That may sound a little too much, and maybe it is, but it’s the truth. I like seeing the numbers go up. For a moment I forget that very soon those numbers will go dooooooowwwwnnnn. Rent, health insurance, credit card bills, medical bills, school bills, voice lessons, acting classes, they all take so much money. It can be very overwhelming sometimes. There’s a sense of pride when we see the numbers going up in our accounts, and rightfully so! We’ve worked hard! You know, this is kind of an uncomfortable thought, though…if you think about it, that money’s not really ours. It may be for just a moment (and enjoy it), but in the end, it’s not ours to own. It comes and goes. It’s frightening at the end of the day once you realize that the actual amount of that money that you’ll get to enjoy for YOU is very minimal. Money, in some part, can be compartmentalized in our lives. I’ll explain.

I have struggled with money for a long time. It seems that my bills are always higher than what I make. I decided to try an experiment recently. I dedicated every shift at my job to paying off specific bills. Rent came first, then school loans, etc. I began to think of the money that I was making as not my money, but the landlords’ money, the loan organizations’ money, and so on and so forth. It was a harsh way to think about it, but it really opened my eyes to just how much was MY money. Compartmentalizing my money helped me take care of the essentials first, and then I could see how much I had left for anything else. Someday I hope to not have to do that, but in reality I’ve come to realize that money is very much based on a mindset: how we think about it has a lot to do with how we handle it. How do you think about the money you make? Is it yours? How do you compartmentalize? I’m very curious and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Happy reading!

Good Financial Cents…Get It?

Hello! Welcome back to the blog. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’ve been off on my own financial and life adventures, and I hope you have, too! Now, where were we? Yes, collective groaning about finances and talking about improving credit scores…and continuing on with some info about the current state of Balance Transfers. Well, ready to dive in? Okay!

APR financing stands for annual percentage rate of charge, and although that sounds like a very odd concept to many, it’s one that is really important to understand. I’m sure many of you get emails and snail mail that advertise 0%APR financing for 12 months, 15 months, and so on and so forth…well…that’s great! What that means is that when you sign up with said credit card company you will pay 0% interest on your total balance each month for that many months. No fees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wahoo!!!!! It’s fabulous…and it feels that way, but don’t get caught not paying attention to where you are in the cycle. It’s easy to forget when your introductory period is going to be over…and then watch out…the interest is going to accumulate. You will need to make sure that you are keeping a low balance or no balance when the time is up, because you will certainly notice a big difference in the fees that you owe at the end of the month…and they add up fast. So…I’m here to tell you that with a  little bit of self-discipline (not spending money you don’t actually already have…I’m right there with you on that one, trust me) and knowledge of how the system works…you can create better financial health. Here are several of the top offers on the market for the moment…happy researching!

Although there are currently a range of options when it comes to how long each companies introductory offer, creditkarma.com states that the top 3 credit offers OVERALL (including rate of cash back and other benefits), are as follows:

  1. Chase Freedom Unlimited (heck yes 15mos. 0% APR and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases+$150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases during the first 3 months of your offer). Yay! Oh, I forgot to tell you…some cards even offer sign-up bonuses. Yep, you get money (if you’re approved and you follow the rules, of course).
  2. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card                                                               This is a great offer, and I can say that from personal experience. This is actually one of the cards that I currently have. I have been very impressed with Capital Ones’ customer service and their quality. I love the fact that I can choose a variety of ways that I want to cash out my rewards…even by buying gift cards! I can also rack up my cash rewards without them EVER expiring! The technical deets are: 0%APR for 15 months, unlimited 1.5% cash back, and no annual fee either…YEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. Wells Fargo Platinum Card                                                                                                           This one offers something unique on top of the introductory 0% APR for 18 months offer (wow)! You are eligible for a maximum amount of $600 protection…on your phone…when you follow all of their requirements (always…ALWAYS…follow the requirements, otherwise you will be denied the offers and lose out on money you could have benefited from). That’s worth looking into! They also offer zero liability protection for charges that are reported within a certain amount of time…also seriously worth looking into…Even I might have to look into this…There are a myriad of other benefits as well…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Well…wow that was informational for me as well! As you can see, offers are constantly changing, so keep an eye out for the next best thing, and the next best tip…I know I will be! Keep tuned here for more information, always, and tips to think about on your journey. As always, this information has worked for me, but it doesn’t mean it will work for you and your finances. Although I have found successes, each financial story is different and it really is best to speak to a professional adviser when it comes to the big money choices in life. Please leave comments and questions below, and I will answer asap!  Until we chat again, ciao, and enjoy your next big adventures!

 

Let’s Talk About Financial Interest…

Oh, I know, sounds boring right? I used to think so, too…and then I started paying more of my own bills. YEP, it’s NOT SO BORING NOW, right? True. For those of you who are new to my blog, my last post was about how to start the process of improving your credit score. As a disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser, and these are simply my musings about what has worked for my own situation. Each individual financial setup is different, so for your own changes I recommend that you meet with a banker or someone in that field. I would simply like to share my knowledge with you. Along the way I hope to present this to you in a personable and slightly more fun way than your traditional financial sources. We’ll see if I’m successful! Feel free to comment below and ask any questions you might have.

Last time I left off while writing about throwing money down the toilet, right? Interest. Interest is how banks make money on top of the money they’ve loaned you. They wouldn’t be able to do it without interest. They need to fund their establishment, too, and interest is one of the ways that they do that. Interest can come in all sizes. And it is worth it to understand how interest will effect you in five, ten, or however many years in the future.

When you apply for a credit card you will see that banks are going to entice you into applying for their products. Side note: be careful how many credit cards you apply for. Applying for too many credit cards negatively effects your credit score. The bank will promote their company by advertising APR’s. APR’s (annual percentage rates) can start as low as 0.00% when a credit company is trying to gain your business. This is great! It means that for however long that offer is valid you will not be charged interest on the balance of your account! AWESOME! But…be careful. There’s a catch. After that introductory period ends you will be responsible for the interest that starts to accrue on the balance that you have borrowed. That money does not go toward the original amount that you borrowed. It goes directly to the bank for having gained your business. Soooo…you are paying the bank for having given you a loan and then paying that loan back in full afterwards. Interest rates can tack on quite a large amount to the bill you already owe. Several years ago, I took a good, long look at my credit statements…and I was SHOCKED to find out that I was paying the bank $40 per month that went into their pockets and less was going toward actually paying down my loan balance. As you can see, interest can become quite a hefty bill…but there is a way to avoid it!

The first thing to realize is that the bank can not charge you interest if there is nothing to charge interest to. This is possible if you make sure to pay your balance in full every single month. It sounds very simple, but it can take self discipline to stick to this. If, like me, you’ve not always had the best financial habits, there are ways to improve your situation….

Now enters the next option for those of us already down the rabbit hole…APR transfers! For now I will leave you to digest the information about credit that I’ve written about, but very shortly I will communicate about APR transfers and what good they can do for those of us already down the rabbit hole of paying off our credit burden.

So…I hope that today you have learned something helpful and not the hard way, like I have. I’m sure it was quite a comical scene when I figured out (in public) just how credit card interest really works. Ciao for now and here’s to awesome financial habits!

Let’s Talk About Finances…

I can hear the collective groan now…do we, as artists really have to think about finances? Well, first of all, we’re still people, too, so the answer is: yup (unfortunately). I know that money and art don’t necessarily go hand in hand (I’m there with ya). I would like to share some information and tips that I have learned in the last year or more to help my fellow artists (and anyone who’d like assistance) to better their lives by improving their financial portfolio. Now, I am not a financial advisor or a guru of some sort, so please get professional help if need be and look at your finances with an advisor. These are simply the musings of an artist trying to get by!

About two years ago I was financially flailing. My credit score was about 1-200 points lower than it is now, and I came to the realization that a low credit score was really harming my ability to pay off a credit card that I’d gotten when I was young (and how that debt got there: that’s another story filled with me having no idea about the repercussions, aka interest, of my actions when I was younger). This debt has followed me around for years. Since I had such a high interest rate that was forcing me to throw money down the toilet every month, I decided that I needed to start working on improving my credit so that I could better my situation gradually. I also knew that I’d be moving out on my own at some point and that my credit would need to be elevated. Ah, being an adult. IT WAS DAUNTING. So…I started researching ways to slowly incorporate better financial strategy in my life.

The first step…is the hardest one: grabbing the bull by the horns and combing through your statements to see where you can begin to curb your spending. For me it’s been my Starbucks habit (I now only go once a week and I’ve cut my spending down from about $200+ to $50-$60 per month, at most). So yay! I get a special date with myself once a week and I get to keep more money, too! I know, it’s painful, but you can do it, as well! Think about it this way: for me that’s about $1,680 in savings per year…that could definitely pay a few monthly bills! What do you do that slowly demolishes your pay? The second step: still pretty daunting, but very liberating once you face it.

The 2nd step is to find out if you’re eligible for a credit card. I recommend applying for a secured credit card if you’re ready because they are designed to help those of us who are re-building our credit health. The way they accomplish this is by only having a very small credit limit (mine with Capital One was $200) so you don’t go overboard with your spending. It’s a great way to practice changing your habits while having a safer system than a regular credit card. There are lots of offers out there, but I recommend using Capital One because it comes with an easy to use set of tracking tools. The app allows you to see exactly how much credit you have and have used. It also informs you about your financial health by consistently showing you your credit score, providing information about the factors effecting your credit, and giving you tips on how to improve your score. By following the steps suggested, you can start to build your confidence in your financial setup. I have come to find out through my own experience how important and beneficial this is. In the last two years I have grown financially and I’ve realized many things, but one of the most important things I came to realize is that it is very expensive to not have money. Having a great credit score means that you will be offered better deals on financial products, especially interest rates. Interest rates are where the bank gets your money. With high interest rates you end up paying the bank more money in the long run because you have a low credit score. With a higher credit score the bank gives you a lower interest rate, and you end up paying less money in the long run than you would have otherwise. Weird, right? It seems backwards, but I hope to inspire you to think outside the box and turn the cycle back in your favor as I am trying to do on my end as well.

These ideas are just scratching the surface and there is more to come. Stay tuned and have a great day!

 

Disclaimer: please do what is best for you financially. My tips and ideas have worked well for me, but each situation is different. For personal advice please go to a financial advisor and find out your options.