Tips on How to Build a Savings: A Guide to Being a Financially Responsible Adult

Do you often find yourself scraping for coins or wondering where all of your money in your account has gone? Chances are it didn’t disappear- you spent it. And if you have no recollection of what that money was spent towards, then chances are you are not budgeting effectively. As most of us silently exit our twenties, we are faced with the dreaded reality that we are just not in a position to make careless decisions anymore, especially when it comes to finances. Some of us have families to support. Some of us have an overwhelming amount of bills to pay. Some of us aspire to own a home. Whatever the goal may be, it usually requires money. With the way society is currently, cost of living seems to rise in price, but no raise in our salaries to be found. This is where the benefit of savings comes into play.

I know what you’re thinking- HOW? How can you build a savings when you barely have enough to cover the bills? Honestly, it’s more attainable than you think. Here’s how:

1. Process of Elimination:

Many times we don’t realize that some of our monthly expenses are more of a luxury rather than a necessity. Make a list of your expenses and cancel those that are not necessary. For example, that Ipsy bag you invest in monthly is definitely a luxury. By cutting that you automatically have 10 extra dollars to tuck away in savings each month. Paying for a cable bill? DON’T! There are plenty of streaming services that are way cheaper or even free. I personally do not have cable. I have Hulu and Netflix, and whenever I want to watch live tv, there is a free streaming site, ustvgo.tv. You’re welcome.

2. Split Your Paychecks:

This is something I’ve started doing as of last year. I opened a new account in hopes of building a savings that is stored securely. Once I did that, I set my direct deposit to have my net pay transfer into one account (my main one that I use to pay bills) and then designated 10% of my paycheck to transfer into the new account I opened. 10% is what I decided but it can honestly be a smaller percentage as well. Determine what is doable based on your own finances. This has helped me tremendously. Since the transfer is automatic, it’s like I never see the money to begin with. You can’t miss what you do not have. It has trained me to work with the money I do have in my main account, while the money in my other account slowly builds.

3. Cash Stash:

This is similar to splitting your paychecks, just at a smaller and more tangible scale. In addition to having my paychecks split, each paycheck I withdraw $5-$10 and place it in my ‘Cash Stash.’ The money you gain from the ‘Process of Elimination’ step is also perfect for this, by the way. Often, I place this stash in a hidden place in an attempt to hide it from myself. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, it is always helpful to have easy access to cash in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

4. Acorns are NOT just for squirrels:

For those who are unfamiliar with the Acorns app, it is an app that charges you a monthly subscription and invests that money into multiple stocks within the market. You can set the monthly amount to whatever is most comfortable for your situation (I do $10 a month), and watch the investment grow. You also have the opportunity to do one time investments in addition to the monthly ones. What I like most about this app is the compounded interest and dividends added. Often, this app also has promotional partnerships where you can gain more towards your profit. For example, if you book a flight through CheapOAir through the app, a percentage of your purchase is also invested into your Acorns account. Basically free money! And this app can serve as a savings account. You have the ability to withdraw the money from your account and have it deposited into your bank account. I believe its only a 3 business day process time.

I’m not sure if you’re keeping count, but I have given you 3 different streams of savings… anyways, onto my last tip!

5. Save Your Coins!

It seems simple, right? That’s because it is. My fiancé is constantly dealing with cash and so many times he is left with a bunch of change. I always encourage him to give me the change and drop it into a piggy bank. I keep collecting the change and normally won’t cash it in until we are traveling somewhere. Granted, a fee is associated with Coinstar to convert coins into cash. I’m personally too lazy to go old school, and roll my coins to give to a bank to cash out. However, that is always an option if you don’t want to pay fees. You don’t think that the change adds up, but it really does! The minimum amount I have cashed out is $30. That might be considered a small amount, but that is extra money you did not have before.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I cannot stress enough the importance of handling your finances responsibly. How many of these steps do you think you can start practicing? Are you using any of these tips now? I would love to hear feedback! And of course, if any of you have additional suggestions, I am all ears 🙂 Happy Fri-yay everyone!

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” ―Asian Proverb

Whenever I think of France, I think of the city of Paris. Paris was the goal, initially. But you cannot want what you do not know, and all I knew of was Paris. Of course, I would love to see the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in the night sky. However, when a company you work for offers to send you to France to present a topic on one of the articles you’ve written, all expenses paid, you jump on that opportunity! So that’s exactly what I did. I had no idea what to expect, or what part of France we would be. Honestly, I didn’t care. All I knew is that I was grateful to have this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this trip taught me the art of gratitude and the beauty of disconnection. I will admit that this trip was far different than any of the other places I’ve traveled. A pleasant surprise. But more importantly, this trip taught me what it really means to step out of your comfort zone. Ironic- that was the topic I was presenting while in France. I had no idea that I would be pushed even more outside of my comfort zone than I already had prepared myself to do.

Our flight was on a Monday night at 7:45 PM. I was traveling with my manager and her husband. While waiting to board the plane, I overanalyzed my presentation and wondered if it was up to par to present in front of other people, let alone to my colleagues. I wondered if I would remain poise during the presentation. This particular topic meant the world to me because I was currently living it. My life had changed so drastically over the past year, that I am barely recognizable to myself- and it’s great! But still, I wondered if I would be considered ‘good’ enough. I am one of the youngest in the company, so it can be a bit intimidating. Finally, we boarded the plane and I prepared to settle into my seat. After 10 hours, 2 movies, and in and out of the worst sleep I’ve ever endured, we landed in Frankfurt, Germany for our layover. What seemed like a short wait, we then proceeded to board the plane to head to Toulouse, France. So I thought Toulouse would be our final destination, but it was not…in hindsight, now I know why we rented a car. We drove two hours to the small, quaint town of La Salvetat-Peyrales. Way high in the mountains, where civilization is questionable, stores are borderline non existent, with dirt roads lining miles of land, and not one sign of a street light lol. Turns out that one of the big bosses in the company bought a house in France with her husband about 5 years ago after finding it during their honeymoon. Honestly, the house is stunning and very much reminded me of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. When Belle sung about ‘this poor, provincial town’ she was talking about here. But I do not mean one ounce of disrespect. It is a very simple lifestyle filled with beauty.

The house came with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, an outdoor sitting area overlooking a pool, an upstairs lounge area placed outside of the house, and a family room. Some of us were able to stay here, while the rest of us stayed in a cottage about 15 min. walking distance down the road. I was one of the guests who did not get to stay here, but day in and day out for the next 6 days, we spent the majority of our days here presenting, strategizing, and taking trainings in an attempt to better the company and keep it growing- very cozy and family style. Which speaking of the cottage, I know the country life is not for me for the simple fact that it is way too dark and quiet for my liking. Every night while I was in France, I barely slept because I felt the place was either haunted or there would be some crazed killer out there to get me!

We arrived to the house around 5:00 PM where I met the gracious host for the first time. Between the 6 hour time difference, the long flights, and the long drive over here, I could have used some perking up. And that is when we were greeted with glasses of champagne and wine lol. One thing this trip allowed all of us to do is BOND. And I’m not talking that fake kind of bonding where you try to impress one another and hide all evidence of any flaws. Throughout the trip, we got REAL. And I realized in these moments that I DO NOT work for a conventional company- I loved every minute of it! France has a tradition called apéro which means cocktail hour, served with drinks and small appetizers. We celebrated apéro each day we were there so I ate and drank A LOT. The first night there, while enjoying the cocktail hour outside in their hosting area, I couldn’t believe my surroundings. Candles lit everywhere, a cozy fire burning, and GREAT red wine (I don’t even drink red wine like that unless it’s sweet). Total vineyard vibes.

The next few days we dived straight into work. There was not much sight seeing throughout the week, but in our off hours, we gathered together drinking more wine and champagne, and eating more food lol. This was definitely a social trip, for sure. I was worried I would be pre-judged and stereotyped (which was very possible, since I decided it was perfectly ok to wear my Poetic Justice hoodie with an enlarged picture of Tupac on the front lmao one time for the culture though!) After my experience with my last job, you could say I’m scarred but it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so authentic and encouraged one another to do so. So many jokes and laughs. But anyways, back to the food and drinks!

This is common drink in South France. It smells of black licorice and is definitely an acquired taste. Usually served with one ice cube and diluted with water because it is STRONG. But by all means, if you feeling froggy…

A lot of pork is eaten in France from various hams to salamis to bruschetta. The French also consume a lot of bread, olives, and various vegetables such as tomatoes and lentils. However, all produce has to be in season. Nothing is imported to France, so all produce is locally grown. If it is not in season, it does not exist to eat or sell.

A fig picked from a tree in the host’s backyard

We did venture out to a few restaurants where we ate authentic French food. It was definitely an adventure trying to decipher the menu and then order the items in French lol. Google was my best friend throughout this trip!

We went to a restaurant called L’oustal del Barry. As you can see the portions are much smaller than we are accustomed to in the U.S. However, these are three course meals- appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Add that with wine and bread and trust me, you’re good and full! I ordered the ravioli, lamb, and a Nutella mousse cake.

When we weren’t going to restaurants, the host was cooking at the house. One of my favorite meals while there was the duck confit. If you’ve never tried duck, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Although I have eaten duck in the U.S before, I never tasted duck so amazing than I did in France.

Duck confit with spinach salad, lentils, and bread…of course!

Another item I tried was unpasteurized cheese…and this is not sold in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe to consume raw milk cheeses. But it is the best tasting cheese you will ever taste in your life!

In France, dessert IS THE LAW. Don’t ever turn down a dessert in a restaurant. I did that once and they looked at me as if I committed a crime. An honorable dessert mention was banoffee, which is basically banana foster pie. SO DELICIOUS…

As the week wrapped up, work slowed down. It was Friday and my presentation was pushed to Saturday due to all of us running behind schedule. In addition, we had to drive two hours to the small village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we would tour the Roquefort Caves. Legend has it, that after the Combalou Mountain collapsed and parts of the mountain disintegrated into a giant, chaotic heap of rocks riddled with natural faults and caves. These caves were ingeniously adapted for the purpose of cheese-making. Yes, I said cheese making. Fleurines, which are small tunnels that run throughout the caves makes it the perfect temperature and humidity to develop Roquefort cheese, with the help of microorganisms such as penicillium roqueforti. These caves have been transformed to a cellar that now holds as many as 300,000 loaves of cheese at a time. They had samples of the cheese, in which I tried, but it was a bit too strong tasting for my preference. This cheese is for the brave.

Saturday approached and it was the big day for my presentation. I wish someone could have recorded me or taken pictures. Everyone was so wrapped up in my topic and I had their undivided attention, which is great! My presentation included thought provoking questions that helped others realize the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. I got amazing feedback and was not mentally prepared AT ALL for how emotional my presentation made everyone. It was a room full of 10 people and not one person was dry eyed. I had stirred something in them emotionally and one by one, they started confessing things they felt they have held themselves back due to staying in their own comfort zones. It became a roundtable discussion with raw and honest answers of circumstances they struggled with. Each one would start crying as they openly became vulnerable and in return, provoked me to cry as well. But it was not until one of my colleagues opened up about her desire to be married with kids. That she felt she held herself back from finding someone to share her life with. That she feels she will spend her life alone. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she feels she has failed in this area of life. And I thought to myself, “maybe she has valid points, or maybe it’s just simply not her time yet.” And in that moment, I felt the need to share a painful truth of my own- the loss of a child. I didn’t share to be pitied. Honestly, it’s been one hell of a journey and I owe it all to my baby in heaven. If it wasn’t for me going through that situation, I would have never had the courage to write again. I would have never had the courage to leave my job and fall into a better one. I would not have the courage to submit my work to a local magazine and score a guest column. I owe everything to my angel. Sometimes, it is just the timing. Sometimes, we need the time and certain situations to happen to force us to learn and grow through. So that’s exactly what I told her. That her time will come, just like it will for me when the timing is right. And then we cried some more lol. I was so raw and vulnerable and yet, somehow poised. I was authentic and I caused others to take a deep look within themselves. Everyone raved so much about my presentation that I caught the attention of the CEO, so that’s an amazing feeling! I don’t want to overkill on this particular highlight of my trip but it was the main purpose of me going to France in the first place. I am just so relieved that not only did I execute it, I connected with my colleagues in ways I could not have imagined having the power to do so. A major accomplishment in my book.

After the presentation (and after we pulled ourselves together lol), we headed into the city of Albi, France for some more sight seeing. Albi was a charming city with streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. It was a nice change to see some civilization lol. We stumbled upon the Sainte-Cecile, a gothic cathedral dating back to 1280. It is considered the largest red-brick cathedral in the world. Every inch of the interior is decorated with extravagant tiles, gold leaf, and frescoes. You can visit the church and attend an audio tour for just 5 euros. It was definitely money well spent. Make sure you click on the slideshow to see inside 🙂

We had a late lunch in the city and continued to browse around in the small shops that paved the cobblestone streets. I was able to snag a cute shot glass that resembled a miniature wine glass, which seemed so perfect coming from France. The trip into the city was short lived and we headed back to the countryside to prepare for our last dinner spent together. We would all leave in the early morning. (Side note: in France, the majority of cars are manual aka stick shift. In order to get your license, you must be able to pass driving a manual before you can even think to be able to drive an automatic).

In the city square of Albi. I couldn’t help but capture this photo of these beautiful flowers splashed with the background of charming architecture.

France was not a typical wanderlust trip for me. I spent more time eating and drinking socially, connecting with my colleagues, and re discovering the importance of being present in the moment and putting my phone down. And in the nights that I spent alone in the cottage, I re discovered the art of solitude. I discovered that I am a force to be reckoned with. That I can stand powerfully in my truth and connect with others through shared pains. I learned that I have a voice. I learned that I never have to doubt myself again. This trip was for the soul. I opened up in ways that I have never allowed myself to before, especially when it comes to coworkers. I always felt I had to keep a certain level of professionalism. To prove that I am competent enough as a minority woman in what tends to be a white privileged corporate America. But the moment I displayed that authenticity, I was applauded. And I will forever carry that beautiful feeling in my heart. You see, often we think the action of traveling is meant to learn about the places we see and yes, to a certain extent that is true. But what about the things you learn about yourself being placed in an unfamiliar environment? I think this realization was my favorite part of this trip, after all ❤

I’ve Resigned from my Job…now what?! UPDATE!

“The reward is in the risk.” ―Rachel Cohn

My blog post about resigning from my job was definitely one of the most viewed/read posts! So, I figured why not give an update for those of you who consistently read my posts, and are practically walking this journey along with me (I appreciate you all)! Resigning from my job without having another opportunity lined up was one of the bravest things I have ever done in my life. Needless to say, I am grateful for making this decision for so many reasons. You ask, what’s new? Some of you may or may not know, I am currently employed with a new company. The pic above is my bio on the company website 🙂 I’ll give you a little background about how I accepted this position, what I do in my position, and all of the exciting things I have coming up with this company!

My last day at my previous job was August 9th. I had been applying to multiple companies, have gone through many extensive interviews, but nothing seemed to be certain. I had received MANY rejections. There were three companies I’d been anticipating a response from- after surviving multiple rounds of interviews, I had a good feeling that at least one of them would stick. Midway through my shift that day, I received a job offer from Foothold America, Inc. In a nutshell, Foothold is responsible for helping overseas companies create U.S entities and then managing all of the business needs, especially when it comes to employee relations and development. It’s definitely an exciting company and offered all of the perks I ever wanted in a job: higher salary, remote work from home, growth, and a chance to travel periodically. There was only one setback…it was part-time for the first 90 days of employment. Although I anticipated being unemployed for about the same amount of time, I honestly did not want to blow through all of my savings. I politely thanked the company for the offer and asked if I could think about it over the weekend before I gave my final answer. Which, by the way, this is COMPLETELY fine to do! Don’t ever feel rushed into a position because you feel like a company will not wait around. As long as you give them a concrete deadline, they are usually very understanding and accommodating. Anyways, that is exactly what I did. I thought about all of the pros and cons in accepting the position. Yes, I would technically be getting paid less because of shorter hours. However, this was going to be temporary. And what about all of the other benefits? Especially working from home. Owning my time. I was so torn. Adding to my confusion, I received a phone call from another company I interviewed with asking if I could come in for an onsite interview. This was literally the 4th interview and I felt like I was jumping through hoops of fire to win over the company. I mean, come on, 4 interviews??? Regardless, I accepted the interview and continued to weigh out my options.

That Monday morning after talking to a few close friends of mine and hearing their input, I decided to accept the position and cancel the interview for the other job. It felt like a major risk I was taking, but if there is anything I have learned this year is the higher the risk, the higher the reward. So once again, I closed my eyes, placed all of my faith, and took a chance. Well, it has been 2 weeks and I am glad to say I am so happy I took the chance! From a financial point, it’s definitely a higher salary with better benefits…I just can’t wait to go full time to reap it all lol. It is a completely different market than I am used to, so everything feels exciting and new. I am definitely learning even more about Human Resources, especially on a more global scale. I love working from home so much. SO MUCH. I feel like I have an abundance of time to do other things I forgot I enjoyed doing, like cooking and going to the pool. Now I have the time to do it! My team, especially my manager, are beyond awesome. So progressive, personable, and understanding. Completely different from my last manager lol. They treat me as an asset to the team instead of a burden. To feel valued in a company is definitely a priority for me. I finally have my peace of mind back. My moods feel lighter and happier. I’m sleeping much better. And if that all wasn’t incredible enough, I found out that I’m being sent to France for our company’s annual strategic meeting, all expenses paid by them. I leave September 30th for a week 🙂 Looks like Toulouse, France will be coming up on the travel series, for sure!

To all of you who gave me encouraging words during this difficult transition, thank you so much! A lot of you reached out and let me know that I was not alone, or that you have been through something similar, or just overall reassuring that bigger and better would come. You all have no idea what that meant to me and it’s nice to know I have people rooting me on, especially because I am normally so hard on myself. So thank you again! I hope this little update has inspired you to take chances no matter how scary it may feel. Life is already hard without all of the overthinking and doubt. Feel confident in your choices. Know that you can overcome all of the obstacles that are thrown in your path. The crazy thing about the universe is that their is no right or wrong choices. Whatever you choose, the universe seems to bend and shape events around your decisions. It will always work out in the end. Happy Friday Eve folks! ❤

I’ve Resigned from my job…now what?!

Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive. – Anonymous

A resignation from a job could be compared to a break up in a relationship. Most times, it is because you have found something ‘better.’ Other times, it cannot be worked out and you call it quits. I am the latter. And no, I don’t have another job lined up. And yes, I am freaking out. Don’t try this at home, kids. I’m pretty sure a lot of you will think of this as irresponsible. You are probably thinking that it could not have been that bad. Oh, but it was…is. When a situation is so toxic to the point that it begins to affect your mental health and well-being, guess what? It HAS gotten that bad.

Just three days ago, after much thought, I put in my three weeks’ notice. My official last day will be August 9th. It is possibly the scariest decision I have ever made in my life but I stand firmly in my decision. I am sure I will receive a lot of backlash because of it, especially from my family. But if there is anything I have learned in this incredibly difficult year, it is that my peace of mind and happiness comes first. Never again will I allow myself to lose sleep, shed tears, or increase my anxiety over something as temporary as a job. Because let’s face it, at the end of the day, no one is ever really secure. You can be fired the next day, without reason or explanation, especially in FL which is an at-will state. This decision has been weighing heavy on my heart for the past few months. It has been a constant internal struggle, deciding to go with my heart and what has been conditioned in my brain as the ‘right’ thing to do. The past couple of weeks have gotten progressively worse. Some nights with only 2 hours of sleep and waking up with a heavy sense of dread and anxiety for the work day that lies ahead. Walking on eggshells, anticipating my next failure because I cannot seem to do anything right. My lack of confidence after so much negative feedback. Last week was a deciding factor, where I left my job feeling completely defeated and frustrated; crying hysterically in the car on the way home. In that moment, I decided I had enough. I took the next day off to clear my head. I took some time over the weekend to pray on it. Each time the voice screamed louder, my intuition led me- it’s time to pull the plug. And so I did.

Although I do not get along with my superiors, I still showed them the courtesy of respect. I requested a meeting. I decided I would give a three week notice because of how high priority my position is, that way they have time to find a proper replacement to take over the workload. I explained to them that I have not been happy here and my mental health takes precedence. I thanked them for the opportunity of growth and all of the opportunities to become more skilled. This felt important for me to do. I wanted to leave with dignity. But most importantly, I do not believe in burning bridges. I am one of those people that actually feel guilty for leaving a position, even though I am sure I’m disposable to them. My conscience is clear. During my last weeks, I will still work my hardest to ensure all loose ends are tied. Again, with dignity.

Now you’re wondering how the hell am I going to afford my bills and such? Luckily, I made this decision knowing that I have savings to cover at least a few months of my expenses. I strongly suggest for anyone in a situation similar to mine, to make sure you have gone over your finances before you make a final decision. I will be cutting off certain ‘luxuries’ in this transition. Job hunting is still in full effect. Will do side gigs to keep some kind of income coming in. The rest I place my faith in God and myself. Something will come along in my benefit. God has always come through for me and this time is no different. But in the meantime, I will focus on a much needed break. EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

I have no idea what I am going to do with all of this free time lol. I’m used to being busy and never having time to myself, so this will be a nice change. I can finally work on the loft area and finish turning it into a creative space. I will have more time to dive into my writing. More time to cook, exercise, paint, swim…clean lol. I also have my trip to Hawaii coming up, which thankfully, I have saved money separately from my savings for that. More importantly, I will be able to give myself the time, love, and attention I deserve. I have gone through a lot this year that I have not fully processed or healed from yet. In the end, I’ll be just fine. My gut tells me so.

To anyone who is miserable at a job, you owe it to yourself to find better. Don’t sacrifice your happiness for that, or for any toxic situation for that matter. Life is WAY too short, trust me. Stand in your power and know that you deserve better. I would suggest finding a job first, of course. But if you feel like you can’t hold on anymore, then make sure you come up with a plan like I have. Know that everything is going to be okay and it is temporary. Know that there is a rainbow after the end of a storm. To me, this is just another door opening to my path of happiness and self discovery. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned up to this point, for the growth. The strength. The bravery. Never would I have imagined that I would make a decision like this in my life. Fear usually paralyzes me. But after everything I have gone through this year alone, I have nothing to fear. AT ALL. I’m proud of myself for taking the necessary steps for my well being, despite the opinions of others. I am prepared to take on this next challenge. I got this. Whatever it may be, we all got this! Stay easy friends and say a prayer or two for me, please ❤