Years ago I used to have a motto, 'Don't wake up unless you're going to make money.' On top of weekly auditions and staying in class, I had three jobs and I hustled. Owing thousands and thousands of dollars to credit cards and paying high rent and bills in New York City, I prided myself on the fact that I paid all my credit card minimums and I managed to pay my rent by the 10th of every month to avoid a late fee. Pride on a minimum and a 9 days late rent bill!? I thought I was managing just fine. I had no idea that I was barely keeping my head above water and that I was stuck.
I have two wise and very dear friends, a couple that is meticulous with all things money - spending, saving, financial goals, etc. - Scott and Chad. These wizards sat me down and said, "Lisa, you work harder than anyone we know, and yet, you have nothing to show for it. You are carrying a lot of debt that you're making no progress in paying off. We think you're worth more than that." They gave me Suze Orman's revolutionary book The 9 Steps To Financial Freedom and insisted I make changes in my life. I got the book and in under a year I managed to pay off $13,500.
Suze is one tough cookie, but she believes in positive thought, so I knew I could handle whatever she threw at me. That's been the number one tool in my box to combat anything. Replace each thought of powerlessness with a powerful thought, a thought that says I CAN and move away from the old thought. Think about something else. Replace powerless thoughts with powerful ones again and again. You're not pushing the problem away, you're meeting it in a new way - head on - with the strength of positive thinking.
Suze changed my relationship to money, and work, and spending habits. I honestly don't know that the book worked any specific magic; it was more declaring to the universe I was ready for change and to honor my own worth. I also think it was being loved enough by friends who wanted better for me and them waking me up from bad patterns.
Notes from Suze that I've held on to all these years that apply to all parts of life, not just finances:
Language and money:
- "I know I should." Anything you should be doing is clearly something you're not doing. Any sentence that contains the word should is not even close to a statement of intent.
- "It's only money." There is nothing ONLY about money. Money matters. Don't be apathetic.
- "I need a new..." Do you really need it? Elevating desires to needs is destructive - to ourselves, and to those around us. The truth might be that someday you'd like to own that thing. That's great, but keep need out of it.
- "Never" cuts off tomorrow and tomorrow holds the possibility of always. "I'll never be rich." "I'll always be rich." One word makes a world of difference.
- "I could start investing if... when I get a raise, things will be different." "If and when" take us away from "here and now," to a place that only exists conditionally.
- "Poor Bill" invokes the thought that he is bankrupt; financially, spiritually, and emotionally, that he's pitiful or weak. You may have sympathetic intentions. You mean no harm, it's just a mindless descriptive. But you're reinforcing whatever his notsogreat situation is just by labeling him as poor. Bill does not need your sympathy, he needs positive reinforcement. We all do.
- When you under value what you do, the world will under value who you are.
- The art of asking is a rich act, a powerful act, an expansive act. By asking, you are opening yourself up to receive more. People who expect more, get more.
- If you hold on to what you have for longer than you should, you're using yesterday's space to hold tomorrow's offerings. Clean out the obstacles and you will find your money and your money will find you.
- Wander through your house and find 25 items to throw away - worn out things, duplicates, broken things. THROW THEM AWAY.
- If we valued money more than we valued things we would not part with it so freely, nor would we think of parting with money we didn't have in order to buy something on credit.
- Change your money to things ratio. NO DEBT = NO DOUBT that you can pay your bills and buy what you want.
- Don't allow doubt to cause you to abandon your intention but to maintain an unwavering awareness by affirming your goal with confidence and conviction. (Read that one again. It's a good one.)
- If you proceed with your financial life the way it is now, you are settling. You are doing absolutely nothing to change your situation. In order to live a life free of bondage and burden of debt, summon every ounce of courage and put the process of getting out of debt in motion,
I'm a late bloomer when it comes to being smarter with my money. But it's never too late to make positive changes. Since I've been debt free, I save and invest my money which seems like the most unbelievable thing ever. Granted, I'm not married, I have no children, I'm not making student loan, house, or car payments - I'm sure my life looks very different than the lives of many of you reading. I'm here to say that every single little penny adds up.
Most of us have a change jar, right? I do too, I empty out my pockets of coins when I come in the door and when the jar is full I cash it in. It feels great to have a small little sum accumulated. Last year I started a virtual 'change jar' with ACORNS. It's an online app that rounds up my change from every purchase and then invests it. In my settings I have a certain amount taken out of my bank account each month as well as I have my round-ups multiplied by 10. It's aggressive, but you can set any amount that is right for you.
I know, who needs one more app on their phone? It sounds silly, but if I told you how much I saved, invested, and made last year on this little account, you'd be amazed! I check my ACORNS account like I check Instagram and Facebook, but with 100% positive results. It is so empowering and inspiring to see my money grow. They are running an incentive right now for the rest of January, for every 10 friends of mine that sign up, they will add $1,000 to my account. If we miss this January deadline, that's ok. They give us each $5 whenever anyone signs up with my invite code at any time AND they'll plant an oak tree for every new friend that joins. Click on my code. https://acorns.com/invite/DM5NRC Whatever you decide, know that I believe in you and your worth!
Just last week a friend (that I actually met thorough Scott and Chad) posted on Facebook: "Anyone have any good budget/money saving secrets they want to share? For example, we grocery shop on Tuesdays because our local store (which is grocery/gas) gives triple points on that day for gas. Got anything good?"
I was so excited to see what Scott and Chad would post. They came up with a stellar list for our friend that I'm sharing with all of you.
- Whenever I make meals for the family, I always make 2 and freeze the other one. It barely costs any more - nothing goes to waste or gets thrown out, and a few weeks later when I’m ready to eat it again, we have a home cooked meal with zero effort. Perfect for lasagnas, soups, or chicken curry, etc.
- When things are on sale I buy a ton and stock up - things that don’t go bad or can freeze, of course. Like saline, etc. If it’s too much for you alone - split it with someone else. Instead of individual packages of stuff - buy a big Greek yogurt and just mix it with different toppings - jams, chocolate chips, toasted coconut- soooo much cheaper.
- Try one of these at a restaurant: Drink water. Don’t get an appetizer or dessert. Split an entree. Eat your big meal at breakfast or lunch. But always tip generously.
- Don’t go to the store with a menu in mind - see what’s on sale and build around it.
- I keep track of all my cash out on a paper on the back of the front door so when I’m locking it I remember to write it down. Amazing what cash can add up to. The act of writing it discourages spending it frivolously.
- Always, always, always ask for a discount. Anywhere. They will give it to you. I got a deal for buying funnel cakes at Kings Island. Yes - At a freaking amusement park! But be super nice about asking, never be a jerk. Flirt.
- Plan activities with friends instead of meals. Meet in a park. Or have people over for drinks instead of a bar.
- Cut all subscriptions and see if you miss them.
- Never agree to have an automatic payment on your credit card. You will forget about it and keep paying long after you stopped using the service or reading the magazine.
- Every couple of years cut everything and start over. Cable. Netflix. Amazon Prime. If you leave one cable company when they raise the price - the other one will want you, agree for the discounted trial period a year or whatever and then reevaluate. Switch to Fios. etc.
- Always pay off the credit card every month. Always max out your IRA. Always spend less than you make.
- Hanging out with likeminded people will help too. When you have other people onboard it can be fun! And when you don’t, it sabotages everything.
Little things add up to big things! So many practical tips up there. I added my own two cents on the post:
- "If you eat eggs you can save every extra little bit of herb or onion, vegetable, (bacon and meat too if you eat those) tiny ends of cheese and then put all those perfectly good scraps into omelettes, quiches, breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, etc. And THEN take every carrot top, onion skin, celery end, parsley stem, potato skin, any unused part of vegetables - put them in a big ziplock bag and toss it in the freezer. When it’s full - make stock, a big pot of water, salt, pepper corns, a glug of olive oil and all those frozen scraps. I save my rotisserie chicken carcasses to do the same thing and make chicken stock. And then I freeze it. Nothing is wasted. Nothing. So then you’re actually stretching the dollars you do spend on groceries. Soups are easier and tastier with your homemade stock on hand. Boil your rice in it, your quinoa or any other grain. I wrote about it a while ago with the specific recipe in Waste Not, Want Not.
- I also buy the store brand of nearly everything. I shave off so much and come home with the exact same thing - just not name brand. I also feel like I’m being more supportive of my local store. Hellman’s and Ziplock don’t need my support as much as my neighborhood business owners do. I'm saving my clients money too!
- Breakfast: Oats are some of the cheapest things you can buy. Filling and good for you. Make Overnight Oats and you’re saving time and money, plus they’re easy to grab and eat cold or hot as you’re out the door if you put them in individual containers.
Thank you for staying with me through this long post. I felt like it was all useful information, so I left it all in. I'm sharing one last thing with you. I came up with another recipe using inexpensive oats for Stoneridge Orchards. It's a pretty forgiving recipe, you can skip all the added in nut/seed things or you can add in ingredients that you know you and your family will enjoy more. These are great to grab in the morning, to pack in lunches, to bring as a snack for after school activities, or to keep in your desk at work. And they freeze well! Make a bunch!
BAKED OATMEAL CUPS WITH DRIED CHERRIES
- 3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 Tbsp hemp seed
- 3/4 Stoneridge Orchards dried cherries
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cup soy milk (or whatever milk you drink)
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Line a muffin tin with 16 paper muffin liners
- Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and peanut butter until smooth
- Slowly mix milk into egg mixture
- Pour liquid ingredients into dry and stir well
- Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until dry and slightly browned
- Cook completely before serving