How Retirement Works

For most people, it’s like this: you reach a certain age and start thinking about spending your days on the golf course or on a beach. Then you look at your bank statement and freak out and think about taking on a second job instead. You should be doing less and less work as you are getting older. Retirement accounts let you do less work. All you have to do is start a retirement account NOW, which I’ll show you exactly how to do.

How do retirement accounts work:

Many people mistakenly think that retirement accounts are just places for you to save money until you’re 65. Actually, they offer you humungous benefits if you agree to save for a long-term horizon. Let’s compare regular (taxable) investing accounts with how retirement accounts work.

Regular Investing Accounts vs. Retirement Accounts:

Regular Investing Accounts: When you open up an account at ETrade or whatever, you’re generally opening p a regular investing account, which is also called a taxable account. This means that when you sell your stocks, you’ll pay taxes on your gains-and if you sell your stocks in less than a year, you’ll pay a huge amount (regular income-tax rates, like 15% or 30%).

Retirement Accounts: Retirement accounts, quite simply, give you huge tax/growth advantages in exchange for your promise to save and invest for the long term. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to hold the same stock for 30 years. You can buy and sell shares of almost anything as often as you want. But with a few exceptions, you have to leave the money in your account until you get near retirement age.

Here’s how retirement accounts work, and where the magical benefits kick in. In a retirement account, you get big tax benefits. While 10% or 20% may not seem like much in a year, when you compound that over 30 years, it becomes a gigantic amount. In fact, start a retirement account next week and two things will happen: (1) You will be more financially prepared than 99% of your peers, and (2) you will be rich. If you start a retirement account in your early 20’s and you fund it regularly, you will be rich.

Understanding Your 401(k):

A 401(k) is a type of retirement account. If you work for a company, chances are you already have one offered to you. Here’s how it works: You put pre-tax money into the account, meaning you haven’t paid taxes on it yet. In regular, taxable investing accounts, you pay taxes on your income and then invest it. So for every $100 you make, you might actually only be able to invest $85 of it. 15% (or whatever, depending on your tax rate) goes to the tax man. There’s an extra benefit, too: Your company might offer a 401(k) match. For example, a 1:1 match up to $2,000 means that your company will match every dollar you invest up to $2,000, therefore, investing $2,000/year really means you’re investing $4,000/year. Basically, your money goes into an investing account where a professional investing company manages it. You can choose from a bunch of different investing options, like aggressive, mixed, international, etc. Don’t worry about switching jobs; if you leave your company later, you can take your 401(k) with you. And be aggressive with how much you contribute to your 401(k) because every dollar you invest now is worth many more times that in the future. The hardest part is making the first phone call to HR to get it set up.

401(k) Restrictions:

            The 401(k) isn’t tax-free. The government has to get its tax revenue sometime, so you’ll pay ordinary income tax on the money you withdraw around retirement age. You’re currently limited to putting $19,000/year in your 401(k). You’ll be charged a big penalty of 10% if you withdraw your money before you’re 59.5 years old.

401(k) Summary:

  • $19,000 annual limit
  • Pre-tax money
  • Company matches supercharge growth even more-this is free money you must take

Understanding your Roth IRA:

            A Roth IRA is another type of retirement account. Every person in their 20’s should have a Roth IRA. It’s simply the best deal I’ve found for long-term investing. A Roth IRA is different than a 401(k). A Roth uses after-tax dollars to give you an even better deal. With a Roth, you put in already taxed income into stocks, bonds, index funds-whatever- and you don’t pay when you withdraw it. Here’s how it works: When you make money every year, you have to pay taxes on it. With a Roth, you take this after-tax money, invest it, and pay no taxes when you withdraw it. If Roth IRA’s had been around in 1970 and you’d invested $10,000 in Southwest Airlines, you’d only have had to pay taxes on the initial $10,000 income. When you withdrew the money 30 years later, you wouldn’t have had to pay any taxes on it. Oh, and by the way, your $10,000 would have turned into $10 million. You pay taxes on the initial amount, but not the earnings. And over 30 years, that’s a stunningly good deal. The maximum you can contribute into your Roth IRA is $6,000 per year.

Roth IRA Restrictions:

          You are penalized if you withdraw your earnings before you’re 59.5 years old. (Exception: You can withdraw your principal, or the amount you actually invested from your pocket, at any time, penalty free.) There are other exceptions for example, buying a home or for emergencies. There’s a maximum income of $137,000 to make full contributions to a Roth.

7 Budgeting Basics for Small Business Owners

  1. Keep your small business finances out of your personal finances
    • This one is huge! Co-mingling business and personal money may seem easier, but it can lead to complications down the road. Keep a record of your business expenses to take advantage of available tax benefits. It also can be risky to use personal money to fund your business as it increases your personal liability. Person and business finances are equally important for success and keeping them separate will help.
  2. List your expenses
    • Next, you’ll need to know exactly how much your business is going to cost to run daily and monthly. List out all your expenses, rent, employees, supplies, services, etc. Make short-term and long-term projections with your income.
  3. Budget for your wants
    • If you’re planning ways to improve your business, be sure to budget for them, and save until you can afford them. If they are not necessary for your business to run well, there’s no need for you to go into debt.
  4. Know what to expect from your business income
    • Relying on your business to provide for your family takes some planning and knowing exactly how much money to expect each month. If you have no idea how to much money will come in, then there’s no way to budget and allocate your money to certain things.
  5. Set a savings goal for expansion or security
    • Start a savings plan for your business. In order to expand, hire more people, and provide security for your family, its important for small business owners to set aside small amounts of money to have long-term financial health. Small business owners often face difficulty saving money, since many have very tight budgets when they start. Saving from the beginning will help ensure you have some cushion in tough months.
  6. Look for areas where you can cut costs
    • Efficiency and frugality will help your small business succeed. I recommend taking inventory of your expenses every month and considering areas where you can cut costs, not with cutting quality. I’m not advising cutting corners, but there are ways to save money and run your business efficiently without affecting quality of your product or service.
  7. Be realistic
    • Make sure you have realistic expectations for your income and your expenses. Do your research, and don’t expand too quickly. Budgeting is essential for your small business success. Its important to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances so that you know exactly where your money is going and are able to easily provide documentation for your business taxes.

Budgets: Foundation for a Solid Budget

Accurate Spending Categories

You need to have accurate spending categories to see where your money is going each month and where your areas of opportunity are. Some people over spend in their grocery category or their misc purchase category. These categories will be very unique to you and what your life entails. My categories range from pet medications to my daughters school fees to utilities for my home. It just depends on what you have going on.

Accurate Income Projections

This requires you to print out bank statements from at least 3 months and go through your income to get an average income to put on your budget. Some months may vary with different circumstances. If you are doing a new budget system currently but you have been laid off due to COVID-19 that would be a circumstance where you have zero control. You do however have the opportunity to pick yourself up and generate income by any means necessary.

Categories for Irregular Spending

This means a category for random things that come up each month or new subscriptions you’re paying for. Typically your budget will come in close to what you project but there will be times where you overspend at Target on clothes when your budget only called for groceries. This means you have budgeted for these things in that irregular spending category to cover times like this where you purchase many different types of things with one type of budget. Like going to Target for groceries and buying clothing at the same time.

Tracking Cash Purchases

Tracking cash purchases might not seem like a big deal but it is crucial to keeping tabs on all your purchases. If you are really trying to keep a close eye on your transactions then I would recommend getting the Microsoft Office Lens app for your phone and taking a picture of all cash receipts and then putting them in a folder on your phone or the Google Drive for safe keeping. This is great especially for self employed individuals to keep track of cash purchases and business expenses for tax purposes.

Plan for Major Purchases

You must always keep a list of ongoing goals whether they are short term or long term so you can incorporate them into your budget each month. You should have accounts called “sinking funds” for these goals.

7 Sinking Funds to Include in Your Budget:

  1. Christmas
  2. Important Birthdays/Events
  3. Car Maintenance
  4. Home Repairs
  5. Pet Expenses
  6. Travel
  7. Medical Costs

4 Rules For a Successful Budget:

  1. Give every dollar a job
    • You’re the boss. When you earn money, you prioritize how you’ll use it.
  2. Embrace your true expenses
    • Turn large, less-frequent expenses into manageable, monthly bills.
  3. Roll with the punches
    • Be flexible and address overspending as it happens. No guilt necessary.
  4. Age your money
    • Consistently spend less than your earn, and be more than prepared for the future.

Those negative feelings associated with money will subside- the stress, anxiety, confusion, and shame gets replaced with confidence, calm, and even joy and excitement as you really start to feel in control of your money and tap into the potential of what it can do in your life.

Welcome to the Jungle: A Spiritual Journey

I left for the jungle in the Dominican Republic on my 4 year wedding anniversary in search of myself. The night before, I was sobbing because I didn’t want to leave my kids or husband and my mother-in-law had just started feeling symptoms of COVID-19. I had so many reservations yet I was still committed to taking this trip in a world that wasn’t familiar anymore. This pandemic made me feel concerned, scared, and unsafe to say the least. I was fearful that my family was going to get COVID from my mother-in-law. What if I get it in the Dominican Republic. This way of thinking is toxic. I already have issues with anxiety but this level is unreal. Full disclosure, I use medical marijuana to control my thoughts at night. If I don’t I will be up all night thinking about my whole life. I was very concerned with my mental well being without weed. Even with all of these concerns, I still traveled to a different country and tried my best to be adventurous and live full out.

I hate flying. I hate taking off. I hate turbulence. I hate landing. I pretty much dislike the whole experience. Do I love getting to point B from point A in a timely fashion… of course! It’s the best way to travel. I had never traveled solo before this yoga retreat. I arrived in Los Angeles and I had to find my way to my Airbnb which wasn’t hard. I had to drag my very large over packed suitcase to the shuttle that takes you to get a ride to where ever you are heading. I didn’t have my husband there to do the heavy lifting. I had to fend for myself. By the way, this is hilarious considering what my whole experience ended up transpiring into. You’ll see in a few paragraphs. I ended up making it to this very cute little bungalow about 9 minutes from LAX. I worked for about 8 hours while I had my layover there. I am a workaholic only because I LOVE what I do. I had this upcoming program I was teaching as soon as I got back from Monterey so I had to finish a bunch of stuff before I had zero WiFi. This is one of those things I reflected on while in the jungle… you’ll see soon.

It was time for me to leave for the airport and I had this sinking feeling. I still felt off. I had traveled before but never without my husband. Him and I have a very special bond. He is my partner and I feel so off when I’m not with him. I boarded the plane and got settled. Next thing you know, I am in Miami waiting for my next flight. I actually sat there watching a movie for an hour and a half without noticing my fellow retreat travelers sitting in the next area over. I met up with them and we all got on our flight. We had to fill out some COVID papers to allow us into the country along with the typical customs paperwork. It is always scary for me when I have to go through new countries. It’s not like I’m smuggling anything into the country but you always see people getting detained for random reasons and I would die if this happened to me while traveling solo. So I get into the country and I end up catching a ride with my retreat leader and then the driver missed my hotel stop. So I ended up going to the same hotel as the rest of the group and staying with this sweet woman named Marina. She was nice enough to let me room with her overnight.

The next morning we ate breakfast and got ready to head out to Samana. The drive was long and some parts were rough. We were given a fresh coconut to try. It was warm and sort of sweet but definitely not my cup of tea. I appreciated being able to try it however. I had never tried a freshly cracked coconut before. While we were waiting at this gas station for everyone to use the restroom and try their coconuts, there was a man holding a shot gun as if he were protecting his lot. Interesting how weapons are just carried around this island like no big deal.

We arrived at Mami’s for lunch and to chill at the beach for a bit. The food was authentic and delicious. I loved the beach and the views. I felt like all I wanted to do was sit on this beach drinking Pina Coladas and reading my book the entire time. That would have been my ideal trip. I always plan trips where every minute is accounted for and I never have downtime. I didn’t plan this trip but it was no different. We left Mami’s and headed to the Dominican Tree House Village. My initial thoughts were guilt because I had to have a guy bring my luggage up to the tree house because it was so heavy then it was amazement because it was so different than anything I had ever experienced. We got to the main lobby and was greeted by Stanley. He was the nicest person. We received a welcome drink of our choice and got to hang out for a bit.

I went up to my room to change. More like hiked up to my room. Haha. My bed had a net over it which was comforting yet scary at the same time. What was the net protecting me from? How could I get WiFi up here? How can I live life like normal while in the jungle? Will creatures come into my room at night? Are the night time sounds really as loud as Hilda said they are? This is the kind of thing running through my mind while I’m standing in the middle of my room which has zero walls to protect me from jungle creatures. I was alone. I usually travel with my husband and he wasn’t there. I wanted to be with my children. I wanted my daughters to make me feel better. I was alone. It started raining and then it became really hard for me to breathe. The humidity hurt my lungs. My chest hurt. I really wanted to be there and be present and adventurous. I needed this trip for self reflection. We then went to check out the yoga area. We had to cross over a wooden bridge and I felt like I might die crossing over it. It was quite hilarious for other people watching me.

I went back down to the main lobby to meet everyone for dinner and to hang for a bit. Everyone was pretty exhausted already. Dinner was delicious. It was Tomato Soup with freshly baked bread and some other authentic foods that were very colorful and interesting. There was a purple banana-esk side dish that looked more like a sausage and that was hilarious. It didn’t really have much flavor. Seemed more like a potato to be honest. We all went to the pool to hang out and listen to the jungle sounds. The sounds at the time were very relaxing and I felt like I could fall asleep. Little did I know that these jungle creatures get ridiculously loud at night. I decided to head up to take a shower and go to bed.

I walked up to check out the hot water showers. Even though I was in 90% humidity I still wanted to burn my flesh off with a nice hot shower. I opened the door to find a huge tarantula waiting for me. I don’t know why I didn’t think there would be tarantulas in the jungle. I was SHOCKED to say the least. I am not a fan of spiders and I honestly don’t think I have ever been up close and personal with a tarantula. I was shaking and freaking out silently to myself as I hauled ass to my room. I was looking everywhere for tarantulas as if I was going to be attacked by them. I knew that tarantulas are more scared of me but in my mind at the time they were man eating spiders. I had a bathroom connected to my room that was a cold water shower.

I still needed to shower so I sucked it up and took my first ever cold water shower. I was looking around everywhere to make sure there weren’t any creatures joining me. I get out and quickly put my sports bra and underwear on because I was about to sweat to death while I slept. I sweat even in controlled temperatures. I jumped in my bed and tried reading. The sounds wouldn’t let me focus. I then forgot to take my medication so I had to get out of the net and do that plus I thought ear plugs might help with the sounds. Then I got back in bed only to realize the curtain by my door wasn’t shut all the way so there was a bit of light shining through and I can’t sleep without complete darkness. I get out of bed once again and try pulling the curtain shut and a lizard jumps off onto my floor. I was done. I jumped back in bed and stayed there for the rest of the night. I realized just how alone I was in that moment. As I was clutching my daughters blanket ever so tightly I cried myself to sleep on my first night at the Dominican Tree House Village.

I failed to capture a picture of my tarantula but my retreat leader managed to make friends with her pal in the shower so here’s a picture of Freddy.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and just scared that I may step on something while getting out of bed. I have never felt this much anxiety. (I could have used some weed at this point.) I laid in bed for what felt like hours the night before just tossing and turning and crying and asking God to give me a sign for what I should do. I really wanted to stick this out but everything in my being was telling me to run. Fight or flight was happening and my natural reaction was flight. I went down to the main lobby for breakfast and to meet up for our excursion. Marina asked how I slept and my response was, “Worst night of my life.” I was being 100% serious and I started to cry. I never cry. I hate crying. I feel weak when I cry. I always try and keep myself composed and I never need help. That’s my personality type. Basically wound super tight all the time. The fact that I was openly crying made me feel so vulnerable. I had to walk away and just cry. Why was I crying so much? I wanted my husband, my security, and my comforts. I was in a bubble of self reflection which I had never experienced before. I was alone with myself and my thoughts.

We headed out to the horseback ride to El Limon Waterfall and ATV excursion to remote beaches. I rode a horse for the first time up a mountain to then hike down to a beautiful waterfall where I swam under it which was another first for me. I was even able to hold a Macaw for the first time. While on the way up the mountain on the horse, I had a spiritual moment with nature. I looked out over the jungle and thought to myself how wonderful it is that I have the opportunity to be here right now. I felt the tears falling down my cheeks. I gained composure and proceeded to hike to the waterfall. We then rode ATVs all over a few towns and then to a secluded beach. I had gotten sand in my eyes from the beach and it felt like my eyes were on fire but I pushed through. Then we traveled to another beach where we were able to swim in the ocean. Another first for me. I get motion sickness very easily. I didn’t realize you could get motion sickness from just letting waves take you in and out. I felt like I was going to throw up plus I could barely keep my eyes open because of the burning. I was not having the time of my life how I imagined I would. I had to close my eyes because of the burning only to feel more sick because I felt like I was still in the ocean. I was miserable.

So how could I be miserable in this majestic place? I had all these sad feelings and feelings of overwhelm. Now that I have reflected on this moment I think I may have been having feelings of not being worthy of this experience. I definitely felt mom guilt but mostly I felt like I wished I was home with my family because I had missed out on so much the last couple of months. I had worked non-stop for months so that I felt I deserved this vacation. I was going to do yoga in the jungle with people I didn’t know and I was going to get out of my comfort zone. I did that in the first day. I did so many firsts and got way out of my comfort zone.

We got back to the tree house and all I wanted to do was go to my room and cry. I felt great when we were out and about but then as soon as we were heading back I got those feelings of anxiety. I was going to be alone again. I was going to hear all those scary sounds that reminded me of the movie Jamunji. I could hardly breathe because of my panic and crying, I couldn’t catch my breath in the depths of the jungle and humidity. I stood in my room covering my crying eyes asking the universe what to do. I wanted to stay but knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. I needed to be with my family. I had been absent from my home in more ways than one just because I put work as my number one priority instead of my family. I realized if I’m not living my best life in the Dominican Republic then what was I doing there instead of being with my family spending my down time building our bonds and being there for my daughters. I should have stayed home and put time into the things that actually matter. My oldest daughter hadn’t been responding very well to me working full time instead of 3 days a week. I am self employed so there is no reason I can’t tailor my schedule to what my family needs. I have that option and I am so thankful for that.

The mind is a dangerous place. I am one of those people who easily overthinks and over analyses absolutely everything. I had to really determine whether or not I was leaving because I couldn’t handle the jungle or because I was realizing whats really important to me. I think it was a little bit of both. This experienced checked me back into reality. Yes, I had this opportunity to experience new things and get out of my comfort zone but at the price of leaving my family and making them feel like they are lowest on my priority list. I left for this trip on my 4 year wedding anniversary. My husband is a very understanding person and I am so grateful. I right then asked my retreat leader to find me a way home. I didn’t want to be there for one more minute. I had guilt about leaving because I was so ready to try new things and test my limitations but I needed to leave. I needed to be with my family. The taxi service was closed at this time because it was 8pm at night. The manager of the tree house was so kind and asked her husband to take me the 3 hours away to Santo Domingo.

Along the way, it was kind of scary considering the lines on the roads are more of a guideline not a law to the drivers. We were 20 minutes away from my hotel and we got a flat tire. He got out and started trying to fix it. I began to cry. It was like the universe was testing me in every way. It took about 30 minutes for him to fix it. We had to drive about 25 mph and then we hit the military stop. The Dominican Republic is under a tight curfew of 7pm-5am due to COVID-19. The military is heavily enforced and they had us pull over. They had their guns out. They needed to see proof that I was a tourist traveling because tourists are not held under the curfew because who knows when tourists are leaving the country. He had to call the manager of the tree house so she could verify it even though he had a letter. It was so scary. I thought I was about to be detained. They were yelling and acting like I was not a tourist and I needed to show them all the proof that I was not a citizen. I showed them everything and the manager spoke with them so they finally let us go. I was on my way to the hotel. I could feel my anxiety release. I got checked in and called my husband and my mom to let them know the situation. Turns out my oldest daughter had woken up shortly before I called. She always sleeps through the night. We are very connected and this was another sign to me that I was making the right decision by leaving. At that point I felt compelled to get home by any means necessary. My flight wasn’t until Wednesday and it was about to be Monday. I was determined to get home. I called the airlines and changed my flights. I had 12 hours of traveling ahead of me the following day. I arrived home and my husband and daughters greeted me at 11pm Monday night in San Francisco. I had never felt so relieved to be home.

This experience was a way for the universe to check me. I need to be more present in my home life. I need to rebuild those bonds again and learn to adapt to a new work schedule. I have the opportunity to schedule my life in a way that makes sense to what we all need in my family. I am so thankful for flexibility. I needed to reflect on what my priorities are. The universe works in mysterious ways and I strongly believe I was being pushed into uncomfortable situations not only to test my limitations but to bring awareness to what I was doing and what is important to me. I am thankful for this experience but even more thankful for my family.

This is right where I needed to be…

7 Principles For Financial Wellness

Strive to Thrive

These are my 7 principles to live by in order to make your finances work for you. I follow these on a daily basis and it has brought so much awareness to my finances. I talk about these principles in all of my programs and educate my clients on how to implement these steps into their lives. The results of utilizing these principles is like nothing else and if you put your finances as a priority and manage your monthly system its guaranteed to work for you. This is about discipline and creating a positive money mindset to achieve your ideal lifestyle.

  1. 1. Make a plan, create a budget

This is all about how to make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific. Measurable. Assignable. Relevant. Time-based. Create a list of your income so you can see what your actual income is per month on average. Create a list of expenses and put them into categories so you can get an idea of where your money is going. Create a realistic budget based on 3 months worth of your bank statements. You will be able to see your areas of opportunity within your budget and how to refine your needs to meet your projected budget. Every household or individual budget will be unique.

2. Tackle Debt

Get into a solid money mindset so you can acknowledge what you owe and get it organized so you can start tackling your debt. Examine your bills and see what we can get rid of. Explore all of your options in regards to decreasing your interest rates on debt that you may have. Create a clear plan to eliminate your debt and set a time-based goal to do so. This is where discipline comes in. You have to be strategic with your spending and saving when it comes to paying off debt. Open another savings account to put money to pay off debt specifically so it is out of sight out of mind. Debt is scary and no one wants it but some things are out of your control. If you want to take control back follow these principles.

3. Increase Income

Increasing income is easy. Your basic hobby can be turned into a thriving business nowadays. It just depends on how much time you have to put into it and how much passion and drive you have to do so. I have many universal strategies to generate more income and I can customize those strategies based on your unique lifestyle. This is an opportunity for you to get creative and come up with different ways to increase your income. You know you and you know what you are capable of. Reach for something out of your comfort zone and don’t take “no” for an answer. Everything is negotiable, even your current salary.

4. Live Below Your Means

Living below your means doesn’t sound very sexy, I know. Being resourceful is a talent that you should acquire. It will benefit you to try and cut back on certain luxuries if you are in a tight spot money wise. For example, stretching your grocery/eating out budget so that you account for every penny. Cooking at home is definitely cheaper than eating out. I know this because I was eating out close to 5 days a week about a year ago. I didn’t have the energy or want to cook at home. I was LAZY. By the end of the day I was not trying to cook dinner AND clean up the mess so Doordash sounded great every night. Until my money was dwindling and my belly was inflating. Frugal living isn’t about being stingy; it’s about being resourceful.

5. Question Whether You Need It Or Just Want It

I always say, question whether you need it or just want it. This is huge. This is something I have burned into my brain so that whenever I go to purchase something I check in with myself to make sure I am making a good money decision. Print out a bank statement, highlight every expense that was a “want” and calculate the total so you can then set a goal to put that exact amount into your savings accounts the following month. This will show you exactly how much you spend on things you don’t really need so you can then check in with your budget and make adjustments. You are the CEO of your finances and YOU need to make this a priority.

6. Invest & Save For Retirement

Investing and saving for your future is so important. THIS is something your future self will love you for. You should at least try and save for that future relaxing time. It pains me that society has burned it into our brains that a typical 9-5 job is how life is SUPPOSED to be when you are in charge of your life. If you don’t have the skills to do a job with flexible hours or be self employed, educate yourself. It’s never too late to learn. I personally try and read AT LEAST one book per month just to continue my education. Considering American schools, we didn’t learn too much about personal finance so I am constantly trying to grow my knowledge so I can be the best at what I do and serve with excellence. Look into stocks, craft a solid plan to start saving towards an emergency fund, and think about 401(k) options and retirement plans. If you need more guidance on this topic reach out.

7. Journal About Your Spending

This topic is one of my favorites for sure for the simple fact that it gets people out of their comfort zone. Journaling about your spending and how it makes you feel will open your eyes to emotions you never knew you had. This will help you check in with your spending habits and see what your spending triggers are. Some people can’t control their spending because it makes them feel better to do an impulse buy so they can suppress their feelings in another area of their life. This is where I want you to put everything out on the table and get down and dirty with your inner self. I want you to open up about anything and everything you have been avoiding in regards to your finances. Look into how overspending affects mental & physical health, learn how overspending impacts your relationships, find out how journalling alleviates stress & boosts mood, and strategize on priority financial problems. This week provides an opportunity for positive self-talk.

Strive To Thrive

If you are like many people out there living in debt or financial trouble and just don’t know where to start, I would recommend joining in on a FREE program like the Fitness & Financial Wellness Week. I have teamed up with Fitness & Lifestyle Tranformation Coach, Lunden Souza, to bring you ways to create a home gym on a budget and get your financial life back on track by the end of the year. This program goes straight into my Financial Wellness Workshop which then leads into my 12-Week Financial Wellness Boot Camp. These programs are designed to get you back on track to a less chaotic financial life and possibly get you off the couch and into your home gym. COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s lives and this is an opportunity for you to get the positive vibes flowing physically and financially.

Debt Payoff Methods: 4 Strategies to Tackle Your Debt

Debt is a tricky thing and no one wants it but everyone has it because thats just what you have to do in order to have nice things. WRONG! First of all, we want to BE rich not LOOK rich so that mentality needs to check itself at the door. I’m a firm believer in saving for goals and paying in full. You need to have discipline in order to thrive. Saving is one way to reach for a goal and not acquire debt. Yes, saving may take a while to reach a major goal but in the end its worth it if you have zero debt. Your credit will be better and once you achieve that goal it will be so sweet. These two methods are just a couple examples of ways to tackle debt.

Snowball Method:

The snowball method is one way to pay off debt. You basically choose the loan or card with the smallest amount in debt and make the maximum payments you can. You will pay more in interest in the long run but if you thrive on accomplishing small goals then this is the method for you. This is my personal option because I am one of those people who really like crossing things off my list and when I can get the small debts out of the way first it makes me so excited. Financial stuff doesn’t have to be scary you just have to look for the positives in everything you do including your finances.

Avalanche Method:

The avalanche method is the second way to tackle debt. This is where you choose the loan or card with the highest interest rate and take that one down first. You will pay less in interest over time and its best for people who thrive on numbers over emotions. I see the benefits in using this method but like I said before, I enjoy small wins. This one definitely will make sense to a lot of people and its probably the smarter way to go if you want to pay less in the end.

Here are my 4 strategies to help you tackling debt:

  1. Make a budget and stick to it.

Creating a budget will change the game in regards to your financial wellness. A budget is an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time. A budget allows you to gain feedback on areas of opportunity. It helps you check yourself and set up goals for short and long term. This is something that must be a priority. A budget is basically your financial plan for a defined period, often a month or one year. It may also include planned trips, major purchases, sales volumes and revenues, costs and expenses, assets, liabilities, and cash flows. This is a vital tool for any person who owns a small business.

2. Set realistic financial goals. If you can’t pay cash for it then don’t buy it.

Goals are everything. When dealing with money its smart to set short term and long term goals. Something to work towards is always a great motivator. When setting goals its a crucial thing to save money. Meaning, if you don’t have the money don’t spend the money. You’ll never reach your goals if you spend all the money you bring in each month. Budgets and financial goals go hand in hand. It lays the foundation to set you up for success. You will be able to crush your financial goals with a budget.

3. If you use a credit card, pay on time and more than the minimum payment.

Global credit card debt continues to rise. Make the minimum payment on every card, every month, but throw whatever extra money you have at the one with the lowest balance. When that one is paid off, take the money you were applying to it, add it to the minimum you were paying on the second card and pay it off. Keep going until all cards are paid. According to incharge.org, the average adult who doesn’t pay off the balance on credit cards each month, owes $7,527 on their credit cards. If there are two adults at home, that’s a little more than $15,000. If there are children in that house, there is usually an urgency to do something about it.

4. Always monitor your debt and watch for a change in rates and fees and if possible contact the lender and see if you can lower your interest rates or if they would be willing to work with you.

It never hurts to ask. The worst thing is they could say no. Checking in on your financial well-being should be a priority. Finances are very uncomfortable and a lot of people don’t like looking at that student loan payment or that debt that’s in collections. For me, its the dentist. I get that sick to my stomach feeling then I start shaking because I always think the worst is going to happen. When there is something that needs to get fixed I just don’t want to talk about it or know about it. Once I fix the issue though, I always feel better.

If you are looking for a FREE program to up level your physical and financial wellness by learning how to create a home gym on a budget and the top financial wellness strategies to set up a solid plan to get out of debt & back on track by the end of the year then I have just the thing for you!

Self Love Journey

Self-love was never a priority of mine. I am a mom of two, wife of one, and an owner of a bookkeeping/tax prep/financial coaching business that is in full swing growing like crazy. Even before I was married and had my two wildlings, I never put too much thought into Self-Love. I mean don’t get me wrong I LOVE pedicures, face masks and essential oils just like the rest of all human kind but I just never thought that reading in a silent room, doing what I WANT instead of what I NEED to do, creating a morning routine, or doing yoga and meditating was a thing that would help me be the best version of myself.

I started working with a lifestyle transformation coach in July of 2019 and things just started happening. Its crazy what happens when you invest in yourself and put those good vibes into the universe. It’s like magic. I thought that hiring a lifestyle coach was just going to be about working out and nutrition, but this woman has given me the gift of sight. She has led me to the water, and I am about to drink it all. Before I jumped WAY out of my comfort zone and hired a professional, I felt like I had zero time for me, not enough hours in the day and I was just straight CRAZY. I now do more than I ever imagined. It turns out it has a lot to do with prioritizing your time. Utilizing every minute of your day while also incorporating your mindset. A positive mindset is a game changer.

Since July, I have incorporated so many new things into my already abundantly full life. I have added yoga 5 times a week, self-care Sunday, meditation, journaling, a morning routine, and reading. I even signed up for a half marathon and I am about to start training for that! Bottom line, self-care or self-love is one of the most important things to me now. I did not realize that self-love means showing up for myself everyday and putting my needs before other things that may not be worth my time worrying about. Prioritizing my self-love has made me more aware of the energy I bring to the table and how I interact with my family. If I don’t make time for myself, I’m most likely not going to be the shining glittery vibrant unicorn of a human I normally am.

Here are some tips on how to get it together so you can show up for yourself…

  1. Morning routine
  2. Calendar app for the whole family
  3. Reminders for events or tasks for the day
  4. Dare I say, a planner (High Performance Planner via Brenden Burchard)
  5. Nighttime routine
  6. Good night’s sleep

Financial Awakening

Here is how I started this whole financial wellness stuff… I am a third generation tax preparer and bookkeeper. I started in this business when I was around oh I don’t know… in the womb. I really started doing small stuff for my mom when I was maybe ten years old. She had me file all of her clients copies of their taxes because back then there weren’t hard drives to copy them to. It was torture. Once I hit 15 years old my mom had me doing payroll for some of her clients. I turned 18 and she started teaching me how to do taxes. Oh man was that scary. I was terrified. I did not know how to talk to people. I was this serious faced little girl who had major issues with opening up and trying to relate to other humans. It wasn’t working out so I ended up getting a job doing medical billing. Right? Medical billing? It paid for my bills and partying so I didn’t care. I was good at it and it was an 8-5pm job with set hours plus I didn’t have to work on the weekends so that was what sold me. I HAD to keep my weekends open so I could drink.

While I was at this job I acquired some credit card debt because I was young and dumb and thought getting a credit card was the coolest thing and it got me that much closer to being an actual real adult. I was really upset about the payments I was having to make each month so I decided to start saving to just pay the whole thing off. I have always been really goal driven. If I give myself a goal I know I’m about to conquer the shit out of it. It took me about 6 months to save all the money and then I paid it off. THAT was the greatest feeling ever and it eliminated a bill that was making it really hard for me to buy beer for my weekends. Priorities right? I mean thinking about it now, I was really smart and didn’t even realize it haha. I paid off my debt just so I could drink. This is a not-so-great reason to pay off my debt but I still accomplished saving $2,000 in 6 months with a minimum wage job. Goal driven.

After I left home for the big city, I then acquired more debt in the amount of about $20,000 for my student loan. A few months after I started school I turned 21 and I was able to receive money from a trust my grandparents set up for me. Did I use it to pay for my student loans you ask? Nope. I used it to party. By the time I had spend half of the money I realized maybe I should have paid off my debt with it. So I put the remainder of my trust money towards my student loan. See, I made good money moves and I was only 21! It has always come very naturally to me to do strategic money moves. I know what to do but that doesn’t always mean I did what I was supposed to.

I was 27 and the shift manager at Panera Bread and I was also doing taxes during tax season for extra cash when my husband asked me if this is what I really wanted to be doing. We had a baby on the way and I was making more money doing taxes on the side than I did working at Panera. I needed to reevaluate my whole life at this point. I am a very habit, routine, type A personality so I dislike change. I need everything to be in its place at all times. This was the point I began learning how to adapt to new situations. It was and still is a struggle for me. I quite my job that I had given 3 years and 150% of my heart to. It was the scariest thing I had ever done. The unknown is a scary place. I became self-employed.

I completed my first tax season and had my first baby. Life was great. I then started picking up bookkeeping clients because I can do book work in my sleep so it was easy money. I never realized the change I make in peoples lives by just handling their finances. I had quite a few clients and I was gearing up for getting certified to do taxes the following year. I was about to be official. Tax season 2018 was when I really started connecting the dots. I was seeing end goals for myself and adding on new services to my business. I was thriving. Then I got pregnant again. My hormones were next level shit plus morning sickness. I was not putting too much energy into my business at that point. I had a decent clientele base and I was totally surviving each month. My husband was a full time student so funds were limited but we were fine.

Fine started to not be okay for me anymore. I was more interested in great, amazing, thriving, rich, set up, emergency funds, stuff like that. I wanted more. I had my second daughter and I couldn’t get out of my head. My OCD was unstoppable. I was moody, hormonal, angry, not so much fun to be around. I signed up with this lifestyle transformation coach because I was at a loss for direction. I felt overwhelmed by my feelings/emotions, body image not being where I wanted to be, my business that had so much potential, my family growing, my marriage changing and growing. It was a lot. At least that’s what I thought. I never knew the possibilities that were out there. I never knew I could get to the point I am at even now. My lifestyle coach has changed my view on life, myself, my business, my family. I am forever grateful to her and the fact that I had the balls to use all my savings on that program.

Investing in yourself is what that is called. I invested the shit out of myself. I want to be the best version of myself not only for myself but for my family and the people I surround myself with. That is call a “Why” statement. It turned my way of thinking around. When ever I would have a bad day I would look at my “why” statement and get it together. It seems as though it always takes me a long time to get it together and figure things out but every time I do its freaking amazing. The universe has a plan and it only invites new and exciting things into my life when I am ready. I now do financial wellness coaching for people who need help creating a budget or figuring out where their money goes each month. I also help people create better habits and routines around their finances. Finances connect to EVERYTHING. If you are broke, no social events for you. If you are broke, no sleep for you. If you are broke, do you have motivation to do a great job at work? Everything is connected. When I feel like I have less money saved than I would like I always get this throw up feeling in my stomach like okay I need to start thinking outside the box and generate more income.

Basically, just like my marriage, this too was a long drawn out process to get me to where I am currently. I have a lot of growing and learning to do and I have even larger goals now. I started out thinking I couldn’t do it all. That I couldn’t possibly have a thriving business where I can help people and love what I do. I am here yall! I have accomplished what I set out to do and now I have more goals. More things I’m doing. I have learned how to prioritize my schedule so I can maximize my time at work or at home. Efficiency is key to a great lifestyle. Financial wellness is also key to a great lifestyle.

Serendipity

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

This is the story and the serendipitous way that my husband and I met and came to be. For this, I will need to take you back to October 1989 when my mother was giving birth to me and my husbands mom was my moms labor and delivery nurse. It’s that real. We have come to the conclusion that we had to have been around each other our whole lives and never noticed each other. From playing soccer when we were 5 years old to high school events. It’s like we just passed by each other and never actually connected. Finally, June 27, 2009 I met my future husband and didn’t even like him. He was a troll (loser in beer pong) doing push ups under a beer pong table because he was THAT guy. I had RBF (Resting Bitch Face) to the extreme back then so I hit him with that and didn’t think twice. Throughout the night and quite a few Rolling Rocks later I ended up really hitting it off with him. I honestly don’t really remember much from the rest of the evening, but I definitely remember the morning after…

I wasn’t really into dating or talking to guys at that point in my life. I was more interested in partying and having the most fun possible. I laid in bed thinking of a strategy to get out of the bed and grab my stuff without waking him up. So I did my best and ran out the door to my car only to find out that I had left my cell phone IN THE ROOM of a house I had never been to other than that night. Here I am at 6am on a Sunday walking that walk of shame back into the house and down the quiet hall to the bedroom I had just had a one night stand in. I was mortified. I reach for my phone thinking, “I’m so awesome, I’m totally going to get away with this.” Then as I turn to walk out of the bedroom door he says, “You’re not even going to give me your number?”

We ended up spending the next few months hanging out, he went off to boot camp, and eventually about 8 months later he got stationed in Italy for two years. TWO YEARS. Back then I was young and dumb. I thought he would definitely forget about me and I would never see him again. I could NEVER let him know how I truly felt about him even though we were spending almost everyday together since he had gotten back from boot camp. The night before he left for Italy he wasn’t going to come say goodbye and I took that seriously so personal. Now that I think about it, he probably just wanted to hang with his family and I was his girlfriend at the time so it’s not like we were never going to see each other again. (He came over anyway) We had planned to Skype whenever we could and talk as much as possible but in my 20 year old brain I was literally thinking of all the ways this could end… other Italian girls he could be with instead of me or how long distance relationships never work.

Fast forward two weeks, I saw pictures of him with some girls on a bridge and it looked like he was into them. I KNEW he was playing me. By the way, he was a major flirt aka man whore back then and I was a huge bitch. To everyone. I ended up sabotaging everything which I later came to find out was due to my abandonment issues stemming from childhood. That’s a whole other topic in itself. There are many other negative things that transpired from that incident and it really is something I do regret. I later found out that he really did liked me a lot and was actually just meeting those girls. We ended things in a pretty nasty way and we both went about our lives. I moved to San Francisco to attend culinary school at the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu. He was a Navy Corpsman working in an ER on base in Italy. Life was great for both of us.

I had started seeing someone who I had met on a dating site called POF (Plenty of Fish). I know… a dating site… I was new to San Francisco and dating for that matter. I had to start somewhere. I ended up being with this person for two years. During our time together in San Francisco it was amazing. I was falling in love. He went to the same culinary school as me. He was a year ahead of me so I was learning so many things from him and I definitely utilized that to advance in all my classes. I have always been very into school. My then significant other was also very into school so I pretty much had decided I had met “the one” and I was going to marry him.

My now husband, Chris, was in Italy living his best life partying, sleeping with women, playing softball, and traveling. He was seriously living his BEST LIFE. It had to have been about three months since we had stopped talking and cut each other out of our lives when I received a text from a weird random number. It was Chris. He was seeing how I was doing and what I had been up to since we split. I didn’t know at the time that this would be an ongoing pattern with us for about 5 years. We reconnected just at the time that I was really falling in love with this other guy. Great timing right? Timing was always our issue. We could never get it right. We spent the next few months Skyping and texting a lot. A LOT. I was Skyping him after I got out of class at 10pm PST which was 7am in Italy. We would talk for hours. Well, until my now boyfriend who was LIVING WITH ME got home from work around 2am PST. Chris basically became my best friend. I couldn’t wait to talk to him every night.

In September of 2011, I had decided to drop out of culinary school and move to Riverside, CA with that one guy I met in culinary school. Yeah, we stayed together. He had just graduated culinary school and convinced me that moving to his parents in Riverside would be a really great opportunity for us to save money and possibly work in a restaurant in Los Angeles. I dropped out of culinary school and became a sous chef in Los Angeles. I had the skills and I loved every minute of my time working there but something was just not right. I wasn’t fulfilled. I was really missing home. I wasn’t feeling connected to my boyfriend. I was still texting Chris every now and again to catch up. I then decided in January 2012 to move home. Well not really home, more like an hour away from home in a bigger city. I became a kitchen manager there for a really hot new sports bar. That was the beginning of a downward spiral for me.

It’s now March 2012, I had a great job, my boyfriend moved back in with me which I thought was the ultimate gesture since he was really comfortable living with his parents still. *Eye roll* I got a text from Chris saying he was coming home and he was going to be stationed at 29 Palms. Oh my god. I was so torn by this. I new Chris was the person I was going to end up with but timing was never right. Was it right this time? Was I going to break up with my boyfriend so I could try and make it work with this guy who doesn’t have his priorities straight, who parties like an animal and who had a huge appetite for all things women? I broke up with my boyfriend because I knew I wasn’t happy anymore if I was thinking about Chris this way. It was the hardest most saddest thing I ever had to do. It was basically like I was living with my best friend and being roommates instead of intimate partners. It had to be done.

Chris and I didn’t get together yet mostly because I had a new love interest soon after I had broken up with my culinary school boyfriend and Chris was again living his best life in Southern California and gearing up for deployment to Afghanistan. It was a guy I worked with at the sports bar. He was security and he had this swagger about him. The way he talked to me, the way he looked at me, the way he danced with me and he was also very into partying just like me. Dating him was the absolute worst thing I had ever decided to do and if I could turn back time I would most definitely change that. Fuck saying things like, “it was a learning experience,” or “I grew and became a different person and found myself.” I did, however, grow and find myself after spending two years with an overbearing, egotistical, narcissistic, abusive prick and then fleeing from his grasp with the help of my mom and some friends.

It is now May 2014. I officially moved home. Like home home. My moms house. If you have ever had to move home after you fucked your whole life up, you know it is the worst feeling having to move back in with your parents and start over. I had a lot of mental issues the months following the break up and I turned to drinking a lot. Chris was about to get out of the military and move home in August. In July 2014, I was arrested for a DUI. It was rock bottom. I was lost. I was thriving in my work life as a shift manager at Panera Bread. In my personal life, I was a mess. I turned everything around and figured my shit out. Got my DUI stuff taken down to a wet and reckless charge and I had completed all of the drug and alcohol classes. I was ready for a fresh start.

August 2014. Enter Christopher Durbin. We drank our lives away for about two months and one night we were showering together and I pushed him in a drunken anger and he almost fell and cracked his head on my toilet so he was done. He was really upset and the rest of the night was kind of a blur. He woke up bright and early the next day, grabbed his handle of Sailor Jerrys and he was out. I knew he was done for real. I had to make more changes and stop the drinking. I have a history of alcoholism in my family and its always been easy for me to just drink a twelve pack to myself. I had switch locations at work to my store in my hometown so I didn’t have to commute an hour for work anymore. I had stopped drinking. I had lost about 20lbs. I was living my best life.

New Years 2015. Chris texted me saying Happy New Years and I sent him a picture back of me flipping him off. It was like love at first text. I was a giddy little girl and I wanted to see him so badly. I had no idea what I was about to see. On January 5th, my great-grandmother’s birthday, he invited me over to his very small studio apartment. He was about 50lbs heavier and basically looked like shit. I knew something was wrong. I asked him what happened. He laughed. We have always had this matter of fact type relationship where we could just be ourselves. Little did I know he was dealing with PTSD from Afghanistan and he really didn’t want to live anymore. He ended up taking a whole bottle of my Xanax. (Needed the good stuff from my breakup with the prick.) He took them all, passed out in his bathtub and slept for about 18 hours.

I didn’t even know he had done that until about a year later. He now tells people I saved him. That I’m the one who brought purpose and meaning back to his life. I don’t know if I should take all the credit for his reasoning to stay in this world but I am really happy that he didn’t leave me. We became officially Facebook official *eye roll* May 19, 2015. Geez… that was a long story. It doesn’t end there though… We got engaged Dec 2015. We got married on July 2016. I quit my job and became self-employed in January 2017. I had our first baby girl on April 2017. We had our second baby girl Feb 2019. Chris is now apart of a group called the Veterans Cannabis Group. They help veterans get the medical attention they need, the medical marijuana they need, and try and get them employed. So many veterans can’t figure out how to transition back into civilian life after they had their whole life structured for them in the military. Especially if they had deployed and have PTSD. They need the proper counseling and less prescription drugs to get addicted to. Chris has a plan to get veteran retreats up and running in the next year or two so he can really help veterans get to where they need to be mentally. Time feels like it is flying by. We have had ups and downs and so many changes with both of us. Our marriage isn’t perfect but we try every day. We have had a long crazy ride getting to where we are now but I wouldn’t change any part of our journey. The universe works in mysterious ways and I really do believe we are soul mates. It took us forever to figure it out.

Letter To My Friends

I am a white mom. It is my responsibility to teach my children about race, issues of diversity, and important aspects of American life and history that are absent from the textbooks and teacher’s guides. I grew up with a grandfather who used the “N” word. He was very VERY conservative. I always felt this weird feeling in my heart whenever he used this word or talked about black people in a certain way. I never felt the same as he did. He was all about President George W. Bush and thought Clinton was an idiot. I never understood what it all meant or even who these people were. Being so young I just always brushed it off because he was just being Papa.

I reached high school and I was never the popular one or the one who played sports or the beautiful drama girl. I read, sang, and read some more. I was very into school and my education. I was in the National Honor Roll and I thought that would be my greatest achievement of my life. Little did I know, I’d have so many great achievements. Soon after I graduated I figured out how to be social and express my true self through partying. I met all types of people and became a beer pong champ! New to this whole party scene I was also new to having friends sadly. I wanted to feel apart of a group. I wanted to feel understood. I wanted to be someone. I became the token white girl in a group of culturally diverse 18 year olds. I never saw any of my friends as being a different color. I never thought people looked at me differently for hanging out with people of different races. I just knew these were my friends and I would have their backs no matter what. I felt a strong feeling of love towards my new friends. These new friends of mine accepted me. I had always wanted to be accepted.

Since then, I have lost a few of those friends but I also keep in touch with a few too. I have a very diverse collection of friends and I can’t even bare to think of the struggles that my friends of color face on a daily basis. I know the typical stuff about slaves from your basic history book but no one ever gave me a deeper understanding of racial history and ongoing racial matters. I frankly thought it was a thing of the past. I was ignorant. Too often, people are silent in the face of racist, prejudicial, biased, or stereotypical comments. I know it is uncomfortable to confront a friend. I want you to consider, however, how uncomfortable it makes my friends and their families and all other families of color to know that there are people who we have entrusted to protect and serve in our communities who think of them as less than- less important, less worthy of basic human rights, love, compassion, and our attention. Think of those conversations that have to happen at a young age for certain races. The conversations on how to speak to a police officer or person of authority the appropriate way as to not get killed.

Everyone is equal. Everyone is human. Everyone deserves the same human rights. It is my duty as an American to celebrate our nations diversity and teach my children to do the very same. It is my duty as a white mother to read, listen, reflect, ask questions and become better as a result of what I learn so I can then educate my children on anti-racism, equality, justice in society, and how to be a good, kind human. I never knew that having children came with such responsibility. That 18 year old girl who had blinders on to the segregated world that my friends were and still are living in is outraged, angry, saddened, overwhelmed, fearful and shocked. I never realized or acknowledged the fear that my friends feel on a daily basis. I was against everything Colin Kaepernick knelt for on that football field because I felt he was using the wrong platform for such an extreme issue. I was wrong. This issue needs attention. The whole world watched as George Floyd was murdered. Here we are America. I am hopeful that once my kids reach school age there will be a much more broad curriculum so we can improve as a society. We need to be the change in the world. No one is born racist. It starts with us. It starts with parents.