7 Steps to Financially Prepare for 2019

How to make money resolutions

New year, new me.

2019 is finna be MY YEAR!

Have you ever passionately declared your financial intentions only to fizzle out? You’re not alone. Yup, it’s that time of the year where we make declarations and oaths. Today we’re talking all about resolutions, specifically money resolutions, and how to make and keep them as a married couple. Financial resolutions rank second, behind health goals, that we tend to declare once that clock strikes 12. We set intentions, even visualizing how we want to feel WHEN we accomplish them. But the problem is that we just don’t know WHAT to plan for. All we know is that we want “to be better with money”, pero what does that even mean?! Here lies the potential potential challenge: having wishes, without purpose, accountability and direction. As a result, we work hard, not smart. We tirelessly work at this goal that is only fueled by emotions and fumes. Not to worry, let me help guide you so that you avoid overwhelm, burn out and defeat. I’m sharing seven ways to prepare to make this new year, and EVERY year, your best financial year ever.

Pray

Starting something new, or making necessary adjustments, can be intimidating. The resilience it takes to stay consistent and commitment in the midst of delayed gratification is hard HARD. It is so easy to find ourselves overwhelmed and tempted to quit, or worse, actually throwing in the towel. Let me help you avoid defeat and discouragement by reminding you to pray! Ask God for financial direction. Ask God for the discipline needed to push through. Ask God for joy amidst what may seem like a long and grueling journey. Ask God for encouragement along the way. Ask God for strategy. Ask God for His plan for you this season. By now, I’m sure you get it: pray! Do not go at this alone, because you are not!                        

Tired of creating money resolutions that you don’t stick to. Try these seven money moves to and finally have your best financial year ever!

Decide

Most people do not hit or accomplish their financial goals because they haven’t made a decision to do so. Sounds simple right. Get to a place where you collectively have had enough and then make a decision to make choices that will align with your financial dreams. Meet as a couple and give that goal a name. Saying things like “we have to be better with money”, is not descriptive or enticing enough to light a fire under you for meaningful actionable steps. Decide as a couple on a measurable goal, with a meaningful outcome, and then make it happen. I want to save $1000, eh, that’s cool or whatever. $1000 saved so that a car repair doesn’t send me into a financial emergency and eating Instant Ramen noodles for a week will light a fire underneath you to execute and stick to.

Celebrate your financial wins

If you’re like me, you unfortunately beat yourself up and FORGET to celebrate areas of excellence and progress. So let me remind you to go over what transpired financially last year that actually worked. In what areas did you guys kill it? Did you guys save money by sticking to a meal plan and budgeting once a month for date night out? Celebrate those areas where you developed a discipline muscle.


What Needs To Change

Before you can aim towards a goal, set yourself up for success by accessing areas that need improvement or full-on eradication. What is your financial kryptonite? When and where are you most likely to overspend? Did you spend way too much on dining out? Do you need a 17 million gig data plan when you use WIFI while at work and home? Did uncle Uber see more of your income than your savings account? Are you buying too much groceries only to have it spoil? What are your spending triggers? There are so many luxuries, not necessities, that we can elimiate or reduce from our lifestyles. When you are aware you are of your financial temptations, you become empowered and vigiliant over financial leaks.

Make an Audacious Money Goal

Allow the momentum of knowing you guys killed it in certain areas, to motivate you to set an audacious money goal! Now is not the time to retreat and strraegize “safe money goals”, out of fear of failing you stick to comfortable goals. You’ve heard the phrase “strike while the iron is hot”. Don’t get complacent! Double down on what worked! Did you Guys pay every bill on time? Perhaps put them on auto-pay and see if each company would cut you a deal for doing so. Did you comfortably pay the minimum of your debts? How about pay 10% more? Debt free and want to max out retirement contributions? How about giving more to The Kingdom? There are so many audacious goals you can make. Have the conversation as a team.

The Plan To Execute

Knowing what to do and having a strategy in place, are TWO 👏🏾different 👏🏾 things. We walk ambitiously, and arguably, naively into our resolutions without a plan in place. What I have come to realize is that we need to establish HOW shall we’re to accomplish our financial goals. What can we uncomfortably, but with God’s grace and support from others, cut back? Do you want to cut back on mindless spending? First look through your accounts and monitor your expenses. You can not eliminate/reduce what you are unaware of. Do you have a swiping problem in certain store? Perhaps allocate cash and carry envelops with you when you go there. Do you have a spending plan in place? How about a debt repayment plan? 


Call in the Reinforcements

Have a plan,  for  your  plan, to be successful. What needs to be put in place to ensure you stick to your new or enhanced money goals. Do you need to enlist an accountability partner? Do you need to set alerts in your phone to schedule budget meetings together? Do you tend to overspend while out shopping? Carry cash and walk with a list. Once your cash is done, you’re out that door!

Being a steward for God is a marathon, where progression is the goal. Release the ever fleeing perfection and learn to shower yourselves in grace. That’s only possible to The Lord. Do not take on more than you can realistically commit to. Have open, consistent money talks to encourage one another to stay the course and abreast to what’s going on. And lastly, may God give you both a measure of hope to believe that you are more than empowered and capable of creating the financial future of your dreams.

what financial goal you have on your 2019 list?

How Not To Go Broke for Black Friday While On A Budget

How To Save During Black Friday

December is not even upon us, but according to retailers like Starbucks and Target, chestnuts should be roasting on an open fire and six geese should be laying:

FIVE. GOLDEN.RINGS.

It feels like we fell asleep Halloween night and when awakened Holiday decor slid up in these stores like an unsolicited DM from someone on Instagram.  Black Friday, as we know it, received its moniker in the 1960s after Philadelphia police officers and bus drivers griped of congested streets from Holiday shoppers. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, in 2017 the average shopper spent an average of $335.47 during the five-day period. Depending on your household, spending $335.47may seem insignificant or way out of your league. Let’s play a short game of “How far does $335.47 go”:

1. Towards a car payment. According to Experian, the average used car payment in 2014 was $352.

2. Towards a student loan payment. The average monthly payment is $280.

3. Towards a credit card payment. The average US household owes $16,000, counting only those households carrying debt. 

4. Towards an emergency fund: the average American has little or NO SAVINGS! This is not to shame or condemn you. We must know and do better, so that we are not out in these cyber streets spending money, when we cannot even save ourselves from financial inconveniences and emergencies.

Listen, I want you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, however not at the expense of making unwise, irresponsible short-term decisions that affect your long-term plans. Trust me, I have my eye on a cute pair of this and a cute pair of that. Here is a quick guide to navigate the holidays deals while dumping debt and spending without control.

JUST DON’T SHOP

: G A S P :

“Did she just say not to go shopping?”

“She is taking this too far”

“You’re gonna die owing somebody. Might as well enjoy life”

I mean you may do as you please, however, understand every non-essential purchase, when you’re in debt is quite honestly a step away from your financial goals. Got an enticing offer in your inbox, don’t click the link. Don’t even tempt yourself. Is that 42in TV is working just fine at home? Then don’t worry ‘bout Target selling a 50in for $199 (Totally made up that price. Don’t go there looking for a $199 TV and get mad at me). Pay the price now of self-denial. There will come a day, when the word “no” to yourself won’t seem so prevalent in your vocabulary.

“Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else”- Dave Ramsey

SET A BUDGET

I am a realist and I know some of y'all will still hit the ground running towards the gates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you must shop, STICK TO A BUDGET. If you must indulge, puh-lease make sure you’ve paid your bills. Duh right?!

Create a list of your recipients, even if it’s just you, not judging.

Grab every coupon code none to man, then spend within the confines of those parameters. Remember, every unplanned expense pushes you further from your financial goals. Don’t have a budget? Click here to grab mine for FREE99.

USE CASH

As a consumer, you will typically spend 12-18% more than if you carry cash. Scott Rick, Ph.D says “credit helps to anesthetize the pain of paying”. What does this mean? There is a disconnect while swiping a card (even if it is a debit card) as opposed to handing over the cashier PHYSICAL CASH. So with the being said, I recommend literally withdrawing cash from your bank’s ATM, according to your pre-determined, budgeted gift amount. Yea, just like grandma did when she carried it around in an envelope. Ancient, perhaps. Effective, absolutely. Once the cash is gone, SO ARE YOU! Do not open up a credit card, and stay away from those in-store “offers”.

Consumerism unfortunately has a grip on American holidays. Don’t be its potential victim.  Ask God for the wisdom, contentment, and self-control NEEDED to spend and give wisely. Also consider this: is it truly a gift to someone, at the expense of your own financial irresponsibility. Is it really a gift to the recipient, if received out of obligation. Gifts are truly gifts when you do not compromise your financial matters. Remember what The Word says in regards to God’s blessings: “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it”-Proverbs 10:22.

Get focused.

Keep your eye on the prize. (Cue the Rocky theme song)

Stay the course.

Effective Conflict Resolution Tips for Couples

How To Resolve Conflicts In Marriage

Conflicts are inevitable in our marriages, so it is imperative for us to learn and refine how we resolve them. If you’re like me, you were never really taught or even witnessed conflict resolution that honored God. You see, I can tell you how NOT to resolve conflicts. I can tell you how to be unforgiving. I can show you how to withdraw. I can show you how to become resentful and callous. Effective conflict resolution is not easy, but God is very intentional with reminding us of the importance of pursuing peace with one another. I believe that strong finances are the direct correlation of strong marriages. So the better equipped we are at resolving and working through our marital discords, the better we to talk, plan and win with money. Let’s look to God’s Word and seek His face and make things right when it comes to sinning against our spouses. Navigating, Biblically, through our conflicts is not easy what so ever. These tips I have learned through the fire and hope they encourage and challenge you to solve your conflicts quickly, from the perspectives of the offended and offender, for the glory of God.

Scriptures

  • “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men”-Romans 12:18

  • “Be angry, and yet do not sin”-Ephesians 4:26

  • “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.”-Psalm 51:4

  • “For I will be merciful towards their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more”- Hebrews 8:12

  • “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”-Colossians 3:13.

  • “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered”-1 Corinthians 13:5

Navigating conflicts from the offended perspective

I want to use this part of the post to empower you to move through your challenges.

  1. Don’t create stories in you head: Let’s keep it real here folks. If you’re like me, you tend to assume the worst about your spouse when an offense occurs. You may say to yourself “they SHOULD know better. They did this on purpose”. We judge and condemn our spouses without just cause. You present all the facts, against your spouse in your head, leaving your spouse to defend themselves. They are guilty until proven innocent. This is just not right.

  2. Choose your reaction: You have your pain but you are never validated in responding to your spouse in way that dishonors God. Just because you are offended/disappointed/disrespected, you are not entitled to retaliate. What does this look like, you ask? Well, raising your voice, using sarcasm, speaking in absolutes, using profanity, walking off, being dismissive and passive aggressive, etc. Listen, I know this is hard, but this requires self-control and self-awareness. You have so much power, even when your spouse sins against you. You get to CHOOSE how to respond. You even, with practice, get to choose to not even be offended by their behavior. It’s also wise to control your negative reaction becuase it will usually “cause” your spouse to respond disrespectfully. Now we are in a full on foolish party that could have been avoided had one person executed self-control. Let’s not escalate fires!

  3. Stay on the topic at hand: According to 1 Corinthians 13:5, we should resist the urge to bring up random topics. Do not bring up past offenses. Why? Besides the fact, the Word encourages us not to, but it is just not fruitful to progress. A disagreement from start to resolution could take 10 minutes, but when you throw in offenses from weeks and days ago, you will be there for hours. If your mission is to restore what happened before the disturbance, forget what happened before and stick to the topic at hand. Besides, let’s follow God’s example as exemplified in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful towards their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more”.

  4. Use your words: Stating directly to your spouse of their offense to you should be good enough, however if you can, USE YOUR WORDS and describe how their behavior affected you. Help you spouse to know how their words/actions negatively affected you. Use phrases like “I feel or I felt”. For example, you can say, “when you did BLANK, it “made me feel” disregarded. “When you said BLANK, it made me feel BLANK. Our spouses do not wake up and say, “thank you Lord for this day. What are some ways I can aggravate my spouse today”. Our spouses love us and when they are aware of the magnitude of their offense, that helps them to not repeat those behaviors.

  5. Forgive: Confession: forgiveness is not one of my strengths. Let me know if you can relate: forgiveness to me looks like giving the silent treatment, responding short, disconnecting and cutting you off. #youredeadtome. I know, so not Christlike, but I have to be honest. But then I’m reminded of scriptures like “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”-Colossians 3:13. It takes me some time to move forward, but I’m learning to be open to the journey and process of reconciliation. Give yourself grace for the time it may take you to heal. Remember “trust takes years to build and seconds to break, and forever to repair”.

  6. Bring your pain to God: This post was to help you work through those challenges or serve as a refresher to your resolution. However, unfortunately there may come a time when the apology you want NEVER happens. Or perhaps you feel that you’re not fully understood. Or even that they resolution is just not good enough. So what do you do then? Bring your pain to the Lord! Pray and ask God to intervene. Ask God to protect your heart against bitterness, unforgiveness and resentment that may attempted to take up residence in your heart. He is more sovereignly more qualified to fix the situation.

Navigating conflicts from the offender perspective

  1. Mind your body language: Listen your body language will give you away ev ve ree time. Turn off the television. Shut down the laptop. Put the phone down. No scrolling on the ‘gram or the web. Give eye contact. No crossed arms. It’s not about your wounded spouse trying to control you. It’s about understanding what your disengaged body language communicates to your spouse. It communicates, whether you intended, that your spouse’s frustration or anger is not important. It communicates, this matter is not worth keeping your attention. Give your spouse the respect of an open body language that signals you are present and want to reconcile the conflict.

  2. Active listening: Show up for your spouse when they confront you of the pain or frustration you have caused by actively listening. You are given your undivided attention, out of respect, but more importantly, it allows you to fully grasp what your spouse is saying. Active listening allows you to paraphrase so that you can ensure you truly understand how your spouse feels. You can use phrases like “correct me if I’m wrong.” Or “if I’m hearing you correctly”. You’re basically repeating what you heard so that you have the clarity you need to repair your wounded spouse.

  3. Validate their pain: Validating your spouse’s pain comes as a direct result of active listening and your developed empathy, if it is not a natural emotional intelligence skill. “I understand that my behavior made you feel BLANK and I am sorry” or “You don’t deserve to feel BLANK as a result of my words. I am sorry”. If empathy does not naturally occur for you, the good news is that you can ask God to help you.

  4. The solution: It is important to apologize, take ownership and help rebuild the trust that may have been broken as a result of your words or actions. This is where you come together and create a “how can we move forward” process. This is a collaborative effort, where you communicate with your spouse to uncover what would help restore what was damaged. Your job is to be willing to change and verbalize your action plan that will help reassure your commitment to unintentionally upsetting them again, in that area, to the best of your human ability. I love how Dr. Gary Chapman puts it: “trust is rebuilt when when a person consistently changes their behavior and ceases to violate another’s trust…Others trusting you will follow in time”.

News flash: conflicts will occur in your life and especially in your marriage. You will disappoint your spouse and you will also be on the receiving end of pain. What matters most, is how we move forward after a breach of trust occurs. What do we do once we have been angered. How do we move forward once we are disrespected. It’s not about walking on egg shells and avoiding fights and challenges. It’s about allowing God to work in us maturity, peacemaking, unconditional love, mercy. It’s about giving our spouse the opportunity to right what was wrong. Les Parrot says “in marriage, conflict is the price you pay for a deeper level of intimacy”. Conflicts and how we move forward are a constant reminder of how much sanctification work we have to do, RIGHT?! Thankfully, in Christian marriages, we are apart of a covenant WITH God. Through the power of prayer, and The Holy Spirit ,we have all we need to be peacemakers and givers of peace within our marriage. Lord help us to be agents of mercy and grace just as your lavishly shower us!

How do you reconcile conflicts in your marriage? What ways have not worked so much?