Sinking Funds: Save Your Budget and Save For Fun (Free Printable Tracker)

THIS POST BREAKS DOWN HOW TO CALCULATE SINKING FUNDS TO PAY FOR FUTURE EXPENSES. KEEP READING TO DOWNLOAD A FREE PRINTABLE TRACKER.

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

Let’s talk about that time a sinking fund saved my life. 

Picture it: North Carolina. April 2016 A.D. 

I opened my bill for the 6-month car insurance premium and got hella sticker shock. ✉️😱

This is the testimony about sinking funds I shared in a Facebook group on April 30, 2016.

I thought, “Lawd, not another thing. I really don’t wanna touch my opportunity fund (read: emergency fund) for this. Guess I’ll do some more freelance writing gigs.”

Then it dawned on me that I had already saved this money. I smooth forgot that I started saving about $40 each payday in an online account (completely separate from my regular checking account) months ago. I went from PANIC to PEACE in about 5 minutes. 😩➡️😊

This was one of my very first sinking funds, but I didn’t even know what to call it then. 

I was living paycheck-to-paycheck. A large bill—unexpected or expected—would have caused a panic attack and definitely another dip in debt. I probably would’ve put that bill on a credit card had it not been for the sinking fund. Who knows how long it would’ve taken me to pay off. 

I want you to experience the same peace I did in April 2016. So let’s set up your sinking funds!

What is a sinking fund?

A sinking fund is a fund made for saving small amounts of money over time to cover an expense, often large and expected, in the future. A sinking fund allows you to save to spend. It’s what I created for my car insurance premium. I set up a Capital One 360 account and put about $40 in it each pay period until I had the full payment. 

Isn’t this the same as an emergency fund? Not really.

Click to get the FREE savings tracker & more!

How to Negotiate Salary: 4 Expert Tips For Women (Video)

If you’re like me, then you were never taught how to negotiate salary by your teachers or parents. Negotiating or asking for a raise evokes a host of emotions. For months, it made me cringe. 

But I read an awesome book (get your copy here), talked to other teachers and got the nerve to ask for a raise from a private tutoring client. 

I’m learning so much from this process. You probably could, too.

I asked Dorianne St. Fleur of YourCareerGirl.com to grade my approach and give tips on how us, ladies, can negotiate salaries. Dorianne is an executive coach for ambitious women of color ready to become powerhouse leaders and experts in their industries without losing themselves in the process. She is a wife, mom and veteran HR professional who’s been regularly making six figures.

Dorianne has helped herself and dozens of clients land their dream jobs and increase their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars. In 2017, she helped me decide between three teaching positions here in China. The position I chose boosted my income and quality of life, and accelerated my debt payoff.

Get into the video to catch these gems! 

How to Negotiate Your Salary or Pay Raise

Negotiation Tip No. 1: Get your mind right. 

“There’s this mindset shift that needs to happen even before the conversation about negotiation,” Dorianne says.

There are certainly issues with pay inequality that stem from large, systematic problems, she says. A white woman gets paid 77 cents to every white man’s dollar, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black women earn 61 cents and Latinas just 53 cents. But women can also perpetuate the wage gap by doubting themselves and failing to negotiate their salaries, Dorianne says. 

“Get your mind in the right spot,” the career coach suggests. “If you don’t own your value, if you don’t truly believe that you’re worth the money, why would your employer believe it?

Click to read the other 3 negotiation tips.

The Anti-Budget: The Easiest Budget to Follow (Free Printable Budget Planner)

The anti-budget is the perfect solution for someone looking to simplify their budget and stick to it. This post breaks down how to make an anti-budget tailored to your goals and needs. Keep reading to find the free printable budget planner.

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

Confession, fam. I hate budgets!

Well, budgeting itself is cool. It’s the key to hitting my saving and debt payoff goals. I just hate cookie-cutter budgets: the 80/20 budget, the 50/30/20 budget, the traditional budget that lists 50 budget categories. Who’s going to track expenses for 50 budget categories?! “Not I,” said this debt-slaying woman. 

I just wanna know that my bills are paid on time, I’m saving and I’m crushing debt. Budgets that are tailored to our specific needs and personality work best. When I gave up trying to fit my goals into a traditional budget, the stress went away. 

The anti-budget works for me. Maybe it can do the same for you.

What is an anti-budget? 

The anti-budget is a spending plan that doesn’t focus on what you’re spending, but rather on meeting your savings goals, debt payoff goals and essential spending needs up top. Then the rest of the money is for guilt-free spending. Hey, latte! Hey, avocado toast! 

Who is the anti-budget for?

  1. People who hate budgets (think budgeting is too hard or can’t stick to a budget).
  2. Folks who appreciate budgets, but hate lots of categories.
  3. People who don’t like tracking every discretionary expense manually.
  4. Those who subscribe to “Pay yourself first” for saving.
  5. People who want to spend on fun stuff guilt-free.

Does this sound like you? Great! Keep reading. 

The anti-budget simplifies your spending plan so you can satisfy your needs and goals, and know exactly how much money you have for fun stuff. Download the free printable budget planner to make your anti-budget.

Click here to learn how to make an anti-budget.

10 Steps to Paying Off Balance Transfer Cards Early

It seems simple, right? To pay off balance transfer cards—or any debt— you spend less than you earn and send the leftover money to the lender. That’s true, but there’s a lot more to it. You have to get your mind right and set up systems that support your debt-payoff goals.

I’ve successfully and unsuccessfully used balance transfer cards to pay off debt quicker. I don’t recommend them unless you’re disciplined and follow these tips. I nearly maxed out the latest balance transfer card and was determined to pay it off before the 0% interest rate expired in December 2018. In this post, I’ll break down each step I took to pay off a balance transfer card 5 months early.

Balance Transfer Card Debt Breakdown
Here’s the timeline:
  • August 2017: I got approved for the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard, a 0% interest balance transfer card with a $0 balance transfer fee. Yep! I transferred my debts for free! I transferred two credit card balances and a grad school loan onto the balance transfer card (Bank of America Visa $2,194 + Old Navy Visa $1,943.87 + Grad School Loan $2,809.87 = Total $6,947.74).
  • December 2017:  I paid off the two credit card balances. Those interest rates were 19.40% and 25.24%, respectively.
  • July 2018: I paid off the balance transfer card in full.
  • December 2018: The date in which interest would have started accruing on the remaining balance if it were not paid in full.

10 Steps to Paying Off Balance Transfer Cards 2 Early 1

Click here get the 10 steps to paying off a balance transfer card early.

Create a Goals List in Canva for Free

It’s important to keep your goals front and center to stay on track and keep a positive mindset on this journey. That’s why I love sharing my intentions on Instagram every month. Canva.com is the place I go to design everything.

Canva is an incredible tool for all of your design needs. Instagram posts, blog headers, ebooks—it can all be done in Canva. I’m not sponsored by them. I’m just saying.

You can create a goals list like this on Canva.com with a free account in a few minutes.

Goals list created by Canva's free account

The list only consists of 5 elements:

  • yellow paintbrush stroke
  • heading or title i.e. “August Goals”
  • checkboxes
  • body text i.e. individual goals
  • watermark i.e. WISE WOMAN WALLET

When you want to check off an item, you can return to Canva and add check marks.

HERE’S HOW TO CREATE A GOALS LIST IN CANVA FOR FREE

Click here get step-by-step directions with images.

Which Debt Do I Pay Off First? Here are 4 Methods (Free Worksheet)

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

If you’re new to the debt-free journey, you might be lost in the sauce. You don’t know where to start in this debt-payoff process. “Which debt do I pay off first?!,” you shout. I feel you.

When I started to become financially literate, I didn’t know anyone personally who was paying off debt. I had to educate myself.

The first things I learned were YOU MUST PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM and ATTACK ONE DEBT AT A TIME. Don’t spread out your extra cash across two or three bills. 

Why? Studies show that when you focus on one debt at a time, you knock out debt considerably faster than those who spread the wealth over multiple accounts. Your brain likes to focus on one thing at a time. Go with it. 

  • Put extra money (“the debt eliminator” according to Patrice C. Washington) toward one debt.
  • Make minimum payments on the rest of your accounts until you pay off the first debt. 
  • Then roll over the extra money into the next debts until you’re DEBT-FREE! YAY!

Mathematically, the rollover method makes sense too. Look at the simplified example below.
Rollover versus Even Spread Payments

Rolling over shaves off 2 months! Putting all of your extra money toward one debt leads to a closer debt-free date. That’s what you want. Attack one debt at a time.

So which debt do you pay off first?

There are a few ways to prioritize debts. One of the first personal finance books I read was The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. He introduced me to the Debt Snowball. I read more and discovered the Debt Avalanche. Then I started making my own methods up. Let’s go through these four methods to prioritize which debt to pay off first. Then download the free worksheet or Excel spreadsheet to pick your favorite repayment strategy.

Click here to see the four debt repayment strategies.

2018 Mid-Year Reflections: Crushing goals and learning lessons

Wow, guys! We’ve made it halfway through another year. HOW SWAY?!? It was just winter yesterday!

Check out what I’ve accomplished so far and read the BIG NEWS about what’s coming up in the fall. Please share your wins and opportunities for improvement in the comments.

How have I done with my 2018 goals so far?

The goals include:

  1. Reduce debt balance by $18,000.
  2. Become a certified teacher in Florida through an online program.
  3. Pay cash only for all certification costs.
  4. Pay off Barclay balance transfer card by June 30.
  5. Climb the Great Wall of China.
  6. Create passive income stream(s).

Through dedication and the universe working in my favor, I’ve checked off 2.5 goals so far. I’ll explain the .5 in a bit.

  1. Reduce debt balance by $18,000. This was a goal I made before deciding to pursue my educator certification. If it weren’t for paying nearly $6,000 for the program, I would have kept up with my debt snowball and been on track to accomplish this goal. Instead, my debt balance has only been reduced by $3.074 from January to June. Womp womp! Maybe I should have amended this goal after I enrolled in the certification course so it would be more realistic and attainable. I could have reduced more debt if I hadn’t traveled and overspent in other areas. But I wouldn’t trade my trips to Beijing, the U.S. and Hong Kong for anything. Bonding with family and friends worked wonders for my soul.
  2. Become a certified teacher in Florida through an online program. ALMOST DONE! Here’s the aforementioned .5. From January to mid-June, I managed to complete all of the lessons, pass three Florida Teaching Certification Exams (on the first try!) and turn in all of the paperwork to complete the TeacherReady program. What a relief! The Florida Department of Education has to evaluate my certification application to finish the process. I’ll be certified by the fall, God-willing.
  3. Pay cash only for all certification costs. DONE! Each lesson cost $600. Thank goodness I could pay I as I went, so each month I sent home cash. Some months, I finished a lesson before I sent home money, so I used a credit card and paid off the balance in full each month. No long-term debt was accumulated to get this certification.
  4. Pay off Barclay balance transfer card by June 30. I’ll miss this goal by 2 weeks. Paying off the teacher certification course and traveling took priority over paying off the balance transfer card. It’s not a big deal considering that the card won’t charge interest until December. As soon I get my paycheck on July 10, I will be sending money home to pay this bad boy in full ($1,670).
  5. Climb the Great Wall of China. DONE! I honestly think just putting this goal out in the universe help it manifest. While a friend was styling my hair, she mentioned that she was going to Beijing to sell her candles at a new business expo. My ears perked up. She hadn’t gone to the Great Wall either. My wheels started turning. In less than a few weeks, I was on the plane with two friends and we were doing the Electric Slide on the Great Wall on Easter Sunday. EPIC! One of the best weekends of my life!
  6. Create passive income stream(s). The second half of 2018 will be dedicated to this goal. I’m a knowledge whore. I read, read, research and read some more, but I have yet to really plan and act. Having multiple streams of income is paramount to getting out of debt quicker, pursuing financial freedom and giving myself the opportunity to work and travel at will—not out of necessity.

AND THERE’S MORE!

2018 mid-year reflections Wise Woman Wallet_2

Find out what else happened.

How to Form Rich Habits in 30 Days or Less

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

“Most people don’t struggle with money. They struggle with habits.”— Anthony Coleman, Financial Lituation

Let that marinate. “Most people don’t struggle with money. They struggle with habits.” What we do day in and day out weighs heavily on our lives a year from now, five years from now and so on. If we want to be financially independent, then we have to create good, daily habits that support that goal.

Tom Corley studied the habits of the rich and poor for five years. That’s when he realized that the majority of the rich share certain habits. The poor have their own mindset and habits, too. Corley’s book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, outlines 21 wealthy habits anyone could follow to help them attract money.

“Our habits, good or bad, determine the financial circumstances of our lives.” — Tom Corley

Here’s the thing. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you want to be rich, then do what the rich do.

6 Rich Habits You Could Form in 30 Days or Less

Here are a few Rich Habits you could form in under three weeks, Corley says.

  1. Do aerobic exercise 15-20 minutes a day for at least 18 days. This promotes brain and body health. 76% of the wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week, according to Corley’s research. 23% of the poor do this.
  2. Eat healthy every day for at least 18 days. This promotes brain and body health. 70% of the wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.
  3. Read to learn 15-20 minutes a day for at least 18 days. This a personal and professional growth activity. 88% of wealthy people read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor people.
  4. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts during your commute or some other time during the day for self- or career development. 63% of wealthy do this. 55 of the poor.
  5. Write a to-do list every day to keep you focused on accomplishing your goals—big or small. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of the poor.
  6. Limit television time to less than 1 hour per day. Yep! A whole hour! 67% of wealthy maintain skip TV vs. 23% of the poor. Guess who watches the most reality TV! 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of the poor. Wow!

Forming these habits could take 18 days or fewer! Not bad, right?! Brian Tracy considers these habits to be of medium complexity (can be formed in 14-21 days). If you get these habits down, then you could build discipline and form more habits based on the ones you’ve already mastered.

Click here read more and get your free worksheets.

How to Get Out of Debt with Sheri Riley’s P.O.W.E.R. Process

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

Getting out of debt is quite simple. There are three steps:

  1. Spend less.
  2. Earn more.
  3. Pay off debt with the difference.

Simple, but not easy. Debt slayers are acutely aware of this. If it were all about the  numbers, then everyone would be debt-free in a heartbeat. But the debt-free journey also calls on you to fix your mindset and find strength, courage and creativity you probably didn’t think you had.

Sheri Riley’s awesome book Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are lays out a solid process for setting yourself up to achieve any monumental task. She calls on you to live in your P.O.W.E.R.

  1. P – PerspectiveAdopt a point of view that empowers you.
  2. O – OwnershipOwn what is important to you.
  3. W – WisdomIdentify your one or two next basic steps.
  4. E – EngagementCommit to the implementation of those steps.
  5. R – RewardStay consistently engaged with the process in order to experience the positive outcomes.

Let me explain how to use your P.O.W.E.R. to slay debt.

P – Perspective – Adopt a point of view that empowers you.

If you want to make a change in your life or respond effectively to a challenge, the way you look at the situation—your perspective—is critical.

Sheri writes that if you see the situation as an opportunity or chance to elevate your game instead of a crushing blow or bad luck, then you’re halfway to a positive resolution. I believe her.

On a podcast, a journalist who eliminated over $100,000 of debt in two years said he stopped thinking of his debts as burdens. Instead, they became targets. Then he set his sights on getting rid of the first one on his list. And then the next one. And then the next one. I had started using that tactic, too. Each line in my debt snowball has a name, for example, Operation: I’m So Over Undergrad Loans and Operation: Old Navy is Old News (a credit card). Those names make me feel empowered. It’s like I’m a soldier on a mission, no longer the prey.

How do you view your debt and your current circumstances? It’s easy to feel down on yourself. Being $40,00, $50,000 or $100,000 in debt is no fun at all. But if your perspective is “I’ll always have debt,” well, chances are you’ll always have debt.

Forgive yourself for your past money mistakes. Shed limiting beliefs—yours and those you’ve adopted from family, friends and society. And instead of spewing negativity into the universe, speak positively about where you want to be and how you’ll get there. Say “I’m going to be debt-free. Wealth is mine!” That’s the self-fulfilling prophecy you want to manifest.

Get Out of Debt with the POWER Process

Click to read more about the P.O.W.E.R. process.

9 Reasons Why Your Budget Sucks + How to Fix It

Budgets are bae! There is no way I could crush debt without them. Once I tossed out the negative connotation of a budget and actually put one in place, my debt payoff kicked into high gear. Through practice, I’ve learned that you can’t just slap numbers on a spreadsheet and go on about your day. You have to craft each month’s budget with care. If you can’t stick to your budget, see if any of these pain points hit home and try out the solutions to relieve the stress.

1. It’s not tailor-made for you.

Ladies, think of how you feel wearing that dress that fits every curve the right way. That dress that makes your ass look fabulous. Yeah, that one! You never get tired of it.

Well, that’s how your budget should feel. It should fit just right for you—not Suze Orman, not your mama, not that boss lady you follow on Instagram. These folks may offer you great tips and tools, but you have to use this budget, so make sure it’s your own.

Solution: Find a style that fits you and include budget lines you’d actually track.

There’s a variety of budgeting styles:

  • the anti-budget
  • the zero-sum budget
  • the 50-30-20 budget

The budgets that look like spreadsheets on steroids give me the hives. I’m not gonna use a line item for “hair accessories.” That’s too granular, and I hate being micro-managed.

I like the anti-budget because you simply subtract savings, giving and essential expenses from your take-home pay. What’s leftover, a.k.a. the monthly nut, is yours to spend on whatever you want (hair accessories). And you don’t have to track every penny because you know bills, savings and giving are already taking care of. When that leftover money runs out, it just runs out. But that’s too loosey-goosy for me. I need a few more categories to track my spending.

I use a hybrid that allows me to track the details I want to track and nothing more. A line-item like “hair accessories” just goes into a bucket called “Entertainment and Everything Else.” It works for me. Find what works for you.

2. It’s not aligned with your values and goals.

Heck! You may not even have values and goals. We probably all have budgets we created a few years ago that never quite stuck. Why didn’t it work out? Maybe it’s because you didn’t have a strong enough reason or vision to stick to the plan. Start with your values and the rest will fall into place.

Solution: Find your why and budget according to your goals.

For example,

  • Values: Independence and giving to others.
  • Goal: Slay credit card debt of $5,000 by December 1, 2018.
  • Budget: Allot $100 more than my minimum payment for my debt snowball each month.

Values. Goals. Budget. I can’t be independent and generous if I’m constantly giving my money to a credit card company. Therefore, my immediate goal is to eliminate credit card debt. I make sure that’s reflected in my budget each month so that money doesn’t go to shoes or restaurants—things I don’t really value. I can stick to a budget when I see the bigger picture. I can stick to it when I keep my values in mind and see, feel and smell what it will be like to live those values out loud.

“Without values, goals are rarely accomplished,” said The Automatic Millionaire author David Bach. “Values are key. When you understand them correctly, they will pull you toward your dreams—which is a lot better than having to push yourself.”

9 Reasons Your Budget Sucks and How to Fix It

Learn how to fix 7 other budget problems.