Black Women Making an Impact in Corporate America

black women

I love seeing people’s reactions when I tell them that there is a real job that allows people to distribute money to help do good in the world. Their remarks range from disbelief to total astonishment. Yes, in a world filled with challenges and endemic social ills, it’s refreshing to know that there are corporations that care deeply about local communities.

These corporations hire people with skills and knowledge to lead this function. These people are typically referred to as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) officers.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to note that bringing awareness to the growing number of black women leading corporate and private foundations, is important for the third sector.

If you want to have a career in corporate social responsibility, you must possess great communications skills and knowledge on subject matter related to the company. A growing number of people employed in this role are black women. They possess the required set of skills for the position but more importantly, they bring an awareness of the issues impacting underserved communities. This will have a positive impact on the company’s reputation and brand but more importantly, it will help strengthen the connection to the local community and ultimately, improve the bottom line.

Black women have not earned much recognition for leading the charge on many major social impact issues. However, there are some who are motivating their corporations to address some pretty stubborn issues.

These stubborn issues take on many forms—ranging from what’s required to lead an effective nonprofit organization to financial literacy. There is a growing trend among corporations to identify ways to amplify the work that impact leaders are doing. This approach is known as capacity building for nonprofits. This approach answers a very important need that often goes unaddressed, particularly with organizations led by people of color.

“For News Corp., supporting philanthropy is about producing tangibly positive outcomes for underserved communities. Our approach has been to seek out innovative philanthropic organization partners’ approaches focused on root causes. We want to be a part of the ecosystem that actually eliminates—not just mitigates—the lack of access to critical resources that impoverished communities experience,” stated Keisha Smith-Jeremie, chief human resource officer for the media company.

Smith-Jeremie’s work is transformational in that most foundations lack the ability to focus on capacity-building, which is one of the greatest needs for startup organizations.

These women are tasked with more than just writing checks for galas and luncheons. Their most important task is to help bring about meaningful change. According to Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of TIAA Institute, “It’s important for financial institutions to invest in communities because their expertise is sorely needed and can make a significant difference: the Personal Financial Index, a survey conducted by TIAA Institute and George Washington University, found that one-fifth of the adults surveyed have a relatively low level of personal financial knowledge.”

This is an excellent example of a company utilizing their platform to impact a social issue directly connected to their business focus. The benefit of a Bell-Rose to financial literacy is that she has the ability to provide crucial data points from research done by the institute. This is critical in mapping a strategy around how to reach those most in need of the training and resources.

Smith-Jeremie and Bell-Rose are not alone but they represent a very small group. LaJune Montgomery Tabron leads the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and works with communities across the country to create conditions that will support vulnerable children. To learn more, please visit www.wkkf.org.

Tonya Allen leads Skillman Foundation based in Detroit. The foundation is focused on supporting quality education and economic opportunities for children. To learn more, please visit www.skillman.org.

Sherece West-Scantlebury is the President and CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private independent foundation based in Arkansas whose mission is to improve the lives of Arkansans. To learn more, please visit www.wrfoundation.org.

 

 


This article was written by Christal M. Jackson, Founder, Head and Heart Philanthropy, a social impact agency focused on solving social issues impacting communities of color and supporting investors and entrepreneurs of color.

Ladies, Get Your 20% Back: 3 Tips for Salary Negotiation to Close the Wage Gap

salary negotiation

It’s 2017, and women in the job market still make 20% less than men in most industries. (And, according to recent research, black women make even less—60 cents to the dollar.) Though the solutions start with managers and CEOs taking action to level the playing field, there are ways you can take back your power, and the key is in your salary negotiation mojo.

Sherry Sims, an experienced corporate recruitment professional who has worked to review and hire candidates for jobs at top companies including CVS and AT&T, knows the inside scoop on what to do when it’s time to negotiate.

“It’s best to talk salary and benefits when the employer extends an offer,” Sims says. “The more you speak up, the more confident you’ll become with negotiating.”

Read below as Sims, also the founder and CEO of the Black Career Women’s Network, shares three creative and smart ways to close the pay gap, one woman at a time:

 

Start with the right questions.

 

When a prospective employer starts talking benefits, speak up, or forever hold your peace. “Ask them, ‘Do you have an incentive compensation plan? If so, what is the criteria?’” Sims advises. “Inquire about their tuition reimbursement or an allocated budget for professional development programs. Ask about perks that promote work-life balance such as flex vacation or working from home. These are all valid questions and equal more dollars in your pocket as well as chances to avoid being overworked or getting burned out.”

 

If a promotion or raise is what you desire, be prepared with real “receipts.”

 

Sims advises gathering your documentation or notes of achievement for what you have accomplished or implemented. “How have you saved the company money, increased profits, or boosted the client base? Explain how you’ve added value within the last year. Share client testimonies,” she says. “You can start the conversation with, ‘Here are the reports to show [that] within the last 12 months I’ve been able to…’ and go from there. Your strategy should be to show what you’ve done and also, how to continue to keep adding value, saving money, and being profitable—your strongest skill sets.” Don’t be shy about this. Trust, the men in your office aren’t.

Also, use smart nuances when broaching the conversation. You can be bold and authoritative without being combative or seeming entitled.

 

Arm yourself against a case of low-balling.

 

“Here’s a corporate recruiter secret: They will start with the low or midpoint salary range, so if you reject the offer there is room to negotiate,” Sims says. “I know, because I was a corporate recruiter for over a decade.”

Sims advises women to conduct market research and gain knowledge of your professional value so you can ask for what you want. Base this on factors such as the average pay for that position in your location, your educational and training background, your work experience and your network. “It’s all about career empowerment, so why not start with getting paid what you are worth?”

A Single Woman’s Guide to Buying Her First Home

home

There was once a point in time when a single woman buying a home was unthinkable, and women sometimes would even face discrimination if they showed up at an open house without a mate. Today’s first-time homebuyer challenges for single women include uphill battles to prove credit-worthiness after a divorce or getting the same deal as a single male who, because of widespread pay inequalities, is paid more, thus opening him up to access to better loans.

Despite these challenges, today’s single woman is empowered and investing in her own slice of the American dream. A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors reflects that single women comprised more of the homebuyers’ group in 2016 than in recent years. According to the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Seller Survey findings, married couples still make up a large share, however, single females represented 17% of total purchases of homes, the highest rate since 2011.

If you’re hoping to buy a home and have decided not to wait for marriage, here are three steps to get you started on the right track:

 

1. Get to know your options and what you can feasibly afford. 

 

This is usually done in the pre-qualification process. According to Realtor.com’s Craig Donofrio, pre-qualification gives you a sense of “how much house you can afford,” and it’s a conversation you have with a loan officer about your current financial picture. Don’t be afraid to explore this. You won’t know what’s feasible if you don’t actually take the step to talk to someone. Don’t let hang-ups about being single stop you from exploring what it will take to buy a home. Also, if you’re not yet in the position to buy, you can create a plan, based on information from your conversation, to become ready to buy.

 

2. Invest time in courses, first-time buyer programs, and support groups.

 

Many financial institutions, nonprofits, and local government offices offer free resources for prospective homebuyers to learn more about the process, prep themselves for being attractive candidates for loans, or help them through the process with moral and informational support. It can be as simple as conducting a Google search for “homeownership classes,” and you’ll find many local resources based on your location. Also, if you’re already banking with an institution, tap into their free resources by meeting with a representative to find out about local events and panels on the subject. Oftentimes there are grants, down-payment assistance, and other tailored resources specific to first-time homebuyers who complete courses and programs.

 

3. Save, save, and save some more. 

 

As a single woman applying for loans or seeking ways to finance your home, it can be challenging when there’s only one income and one person’s assets to consider. Experts have touted the benefits of having more money to put toward a down payment, from easier approval experience to lower interest rates, and even if you decide not to use that full “Dream Home Fund” for the down payment, you’ll definitely be glad to have funds to cover expenses such as mortgage insurance, home inspections, cash reserves (which some lenders require), and moving expenses. Be deliberate in saving up as much as you can.

5 Smart Saving Tips for Single Women to Build Wealth

saving tips

All my single ladies, hands up—don’t be shy! It’s your time to not only to enjoy adventures and the freedom of being unattached but to also get your finances in order for your future—whether it includes a beau not.

In fact, the numbers are in your favor: more women are outliving men, snubbing social stigmas by buying homes without a spouse. Likewise, more women are waiting longer to marry, especially in the higher-earning groups. Being single is a great time to make investments and tap into the extra income you may have, before it’s time to buy diapers, pay school fees, or split extra bills with a mate. Or, if you are a single mother, it’s a great time to think about ways to enhance your financial outlook to ensure the future of your family.

“When you’re single, you have to fend for yourself financially at all times, versus having a spouse that can help contribute to the household bills. So, for single women, it’s even more critical to ensure that you have a healthy savings account, in the event of an emergency,” says Dominique Broadway, personal finance expert and founder of Finances De•mys•ti•fied.

Below, Broadway offers five more savings tips for single women to take charge of their financial freedom, one step at a time:

 

1. Determine a realistic savings goal based on your current financial picture.

 

“You want to sit down, look at all of your income and expenses, and determine how much you can actually afford to save every month,” Broadway says. “You can start with saving 10% of your income as an initial goal, however, once you do your budget, you will be able to determine if you can save more or less than that.”

 

2. Be clear on exactly why you’re saving and draft a plan.

 

“For example, if you want to create an emergency fund, you can set a goal of saving three to six months of your monthly expenses,” Broadway says. “Set the date of when you want to reach this goal, break the goal down into monthly or even bi-weekly amounts, start saving the amount automatically, and watch your savings grow. You can do this same strategy if you are saving for a house, trip, or whatever your heart desires.”

 

3. Find something or someone to keep you accountable.

 

“Apps like Dobot are a great tools that help you set a goal and plan to save toward it,” Broadway says. “Digit is great as well for enhancing your monthly savings by automatically saving small amounts for you, so you won’t even miss it. If you need more accountability, working one-on-one with a financial coach can ensure you don’t stray away from your goals.”

 

4. Create balance in terms of your savings goals and your social or dating life.

 

“Dating and your social life can hurt your finances if you let it,” she says. “It’s great to hang out and have a good time, just make sure that fancy brunch on Saturday doesn’t have you eating Ramen noodles for the next two weeks. Set a ‘Going Out’ budget that can keep you happy and entertained.”

 

5. If you get off track with your savings or hit a financial road bump, take action to change course immediately. 

 

“It’s important to identify what threw you off track so you can be alert if that issue rises again,” Broadway says. “Don’t beat yourself up about it, but make a conscious effort to get back in the game and reach your goals.”

5 Smart Saving Tips for Single Women to Build Wealth

saving tips

All my single ladies, hands up—don’t be shy! It’s your time to not only to enjoy adventures and the freedom of being unattached but to also get your finances in order for your future—whether it includes a beau not.

In fact, the numbers are in your favor: more women are outliving men, snubbing social stigmas by buying homes without a spouse. Likewise, more women are waiting longer to marry, especially in the higher-earning groups. Being single is a great time to make investments and tap into the extra income you may have, before it’s time to buy diapers, pay school fees, or split extra bills with a mate. Or, if you are a single mother, it’s a great time to think about ways to enhance your financial outlook to ensure the future of your family.

“When you’re single, you have to fend for yourself financially at all times, versus having a spouse that can help contribute to the household bills. So, for single women, it’s even more critical to ensure that you have a healthy savings account, in the event of an emergency,” says Dominique Broadway, personal finance expert and founder of Finances De•mys•ti•fied.

Below, Broadway offers five more savings tips for single women to take charge of their financial freedom, one step at a time:

 

1. Determine a realistic savings goal based on your current financial picture.

 

“You want to sit down, look at all of your income and expenses, and determine how much you can actually afford to save every month,” Broadway says. “You can start with saving 10% of your income as an initial goal, however, once you do your budget, you will be able to determine if you can save more or less than that.”

 

2. Be clear on exactly why you’re saving and draft a plan.

 

“For example, if you want to create an emergency fund, you can set a goal of saving three to six months of your monthly expenses,” Broadway says. “Set the date of when you want to reach this goal, break the goal down into monthly or even bi-weekly amounts, start saving the amount automatically, and watch your savings grow. You can do this same strategy if you are saving for a house, trip, or whatever your heart desires.”

 

3. Find something or someone to keep you accountable.

 

“Apps like Dobot are a great tools that help you set a goal and plan to save toward it,” Broadway says. “Digit is great as well for enhancing your monthly savings by automatically saving small amounts for you, so you won’t even miss it. If you need more accountability, working one-on-one with a financial coach can ensure you don’t stray away from your goals.”

 

4. Create balance in terms of your savings goals and your social or dating life.

 

“Dating and your social life can hurt your finances if you let it,” she says. “It’s great to hang out and have a good time, just make sure that fancy brunch on Saturday doesn’t have you eating Ramen noodles for the next two weeks. Set a ‘Going Out’ budget that can keep you happy and entertained.”

 

5. If you get off track with your savings or hit a financial road bump, take action to change course immediately. 

 

“It’s important to identify what threw you off track so you can be alert if that issue rises again,” Broadway says. “Don’t beat yourself up about it, but make a conscious effort to get back in the game and reach your goals.”

Lucinda Cross Knows What It Takes to Be a Queen Boss

Lucinda Cross

 

Lucinda Cross is the queen of all bosses. A contributing writer for Huffington Post and author of bestselling books like The Road to Redemption, Corporate Mom Drop Outs, The Art of Activation, and Activate Your Vision,  her work teaches readers how to build a foundation for living an extraordinary life, even when the odds seem as if they are working against you.

Through her journey as an author, TEDx speaker, media personality, and founder of Activate WorldWide, Inc., Cross thoroughly understands that “you have to pay the cost, to be the boss.” She herself has done so effortlessly by putting in the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, to obtain this level of success with such grace, charisma, and class, all while impacting women across the globe.

In describing Cross’ personal journey to success, perhaps Langston Hughes put it best, in his poem Mother to Son, when he says, “It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor—Bare.” Such a life is something Cross can relate to because there “ain’t been no crystal stair” in her climb to the top. At the tender age of 18, while a freshman in college, Cross made one life altering choice that changed the next five years of her life; a decision landed her in the federal pen for four-and-a-half years, with five years on federal probation.

To the average young adult, this would have completely changed the trajectory of their entire life; they would have allowed their circumstances to stop them from reaching their full potential. However, this was not the case with Cross. Now, she teaches women how to learn from their experiences and discover their gifts, so that they can reach greatness.

She’s making an international impact, featured on several media outlets, including The Today Show; AriseTV; S Moda-International Spain MagazineThe New York PostMarried to Medicine, which airs on Bravo; Queen BOSS on Centric/BET; Dr. OZThe New York Times; Essence magazine; Ebony magazine; and ABC’s Money Matters, as well as numerous online publications, and over 100 online radio shows. Cross was also a recipient of the 40-Under-40 Rising Stars of Westchester and Putnam County award.

With relentless determination and tenacity, Cross pushed past her pain and found her passion. She went from “transporting dope to transporting hope,” encouraging and uplifting women.

 

 

BLACK ENTERPRISE had an opportunity to catch up with Cross, to get the inside scoop on her journey, which has led to her status as “the queen boss”:

BLACK ENTERPRISE: Your quote that you went from “transporting dope to transporting hope” is genius. How has doing this changed the trajectory of not only your life, but also those around you, who look to you for inspiration?

CROSS: A lot of people feel defeated when life knocks them down, and take a downfall as shameful and embarrassing. I found a way to use my mishap as a pivotal moment in my life. I am the woman that I am today, because of my mistakes, errors, and shameful decisions. The professional women I support and coach can soar and take risks, because I teach them how to give themselves permission to be great against the odds.

BE: Let’s talk about your vision board parties, which you host across the country. What inspired you to not only create your own vision board, writing your own vision and making it plain, but to also help others in the process?

CROSS: It is easy for someone to host a vision board party, but the real shift in manifesting that vision comes from accountability, clarity, and action. The way I structure my process starts by celebrating your ideas—that’s the easy part, along with the cutting, pasting, and sharing. The real work begins when it is time to write down the plan of action, and then mind mapping the next steps.

The first vision board party I have ever attended was my own. I did not see anyone doing them in 2006, when I started. I decided to host them for $7 at the time, to bring others in who also wanted to go through the mastermind process of creative visualization. This is a process that has supported me in building a sustainable business, marry the man of my dreams, and ultimately live a life of fire, fun, and freedom. I visualized it all first, and then I took action. My mission is to help millions take more action with less talk in 2017.

BE: What was your experience pitching on the TV show, Queen Boss? What have you learned from the process?

CROSS: My experience was amazing. I learned so much from just being on the show, and more so behind-the-scenes with the judges. This was my first time pitching a product. I am from the service-based industry, so positioning a product for retail is a whole new ball game and lots of work. Although I had been in business for 10 years, my only tangible products were my books. (I must thank Squeaky Moore, who supported me in tightening my pitch for the show.)

I hesitated on my numbers, because I did not want to hear the criticism of my pricing, based on my manufacturing in the U.S. versus overseas. I learned that it is important to not be afraid of your numbers.

Additionally, I learned that you always share the key benefits and value first. My vision board kits come with access to a community membership app that buyers will get to beta test for free, before it launches.  [The app provides] access to accountability partners and more.

BE: The fifth annual Activate Experience will be in Florida this year, on September 19 and 20. Since this will be your final conference, (which we are truly sad about, by the way), what can we expect from this phenomenal conference this year?

CROSS: The experience is going to be loaded with the support one would need to build a powerful branding platform, product development, media access, and building a financial portfolio. This year is all about collaboration and bridging the gap with the millennial influencers and Hispanic women in the business network.

BE: What can all your raving fans expect from the queen next?

CROSS: This year will be loaded with greatness. We are going to be announcing our partnership with a major retail chain, the opening of our first halfway house for young women, and I’m working on my own TV show pilot.

 

Today, Lucinda Cross-Otiti resides in Westchester, NY, with her husband Bayo Otiti and her three children. To learn more about Lucinda Cross and stay connected, follow her on social media:

Instagram: @LucindaCross
Twitter: @LucindaCross
Facebook: Click Here

 

 

Lucinda Cross Knows What It Takes to Be a Queen Boss

Lucinda Cross

 

Lucinda Cross is the queen of all bosses. A contributing writer for Huffington Post and author of bestselling books like The Road to Redemption, Corporate Mom Drop Outs, The Art of Activation, and Activate Your Vision,  her work teaches readers how to build a foundation for living an extraordinary life, even when the odds seem as if they are working against you.

Through her journey as an author, TEDx speaker, media personality, and founder of Activate WorldWide, Inc., Cross thoroughly understands that “you have to pay the cost, to be the boss.” She herself has done so effortlessly by putting in the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, to obtain this level of success with such grace, charisma, and class, all while impacting women across the globe.

In describing Cross’ personal journey to success, perhaps Langston Hughes put it best, in his poem Mother to Son, when he says, “It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor—Bare.” Such a life is something Cross can relate to because there “ain’t been no crystal stair” in her climb to the top. At the tender age of 18, while a freshman in college, Cross made one life altering choice that changed the next five years of her life; a decision landed her in the federal pen for four-and-a-half years, with five years on federal probation.

To the average young adult, this would have completely changed the trajectory of their entire life; they would have allowed their circumstances to stop them from reaching their full potential. However, this was not the case with Cross. Now, she teaches women how to learn from their experiences and discover their gifts, so that they can reach greatness.

She’s making an international impact, featured on several media outlets, including The Today Show; AriseTV; S Moda-International Spain MagazineThe New York PostMarried to Medicine, which airs on Bravo; Queen BOSS on Centric/BET; Dr. OZThe New York Times; Essence magazine; Ebony magazine; and ABC’s Money Matters, as well as numerous online publications, and over 100 online radio shows. Cross was also a recipient of the 40-Under-40 Rising Stars of Westchester and Putnam County award.

With relentless determination and tenacity, Cross pushed past her pain and found her passion. She went from “transporting dope to transporting hope,” encouraging and uplifting women.

 

 

BLACK ENTERPRISE had an opportunity to catch up with Cross, to get the inside scoop on her journey, which has led to her status as “the queen boss”:

BLACK ENTERPRISE: Your quote that you went from “transporting dope to transporting hope” is genius. How has doing this changed the trajectory of not only your life, but also those around you, who look to you for inspiration?

CROSS: A lot of people feel defeated when life knocks them down, and take a downfall as shameful and embarrassing. I found a way to use my mishap as a pivotal moment in my life. I am the woman that I am today, because of my mistakes, errors, and shameful decisions. The professional women I support and coach can soar and take risks, because I teach them how to give themselves permission to be great against the odds.

BE: Let’s talk about your vision board parties, which you host across the country. What inspired you to not only create your own vision board, writing your own vision and making it plain, but to also help others in the process?

CROSS: It is easy for someone to host a vision board party, but the real shift in manifesting that vision comes from accountability, clarity, and action. The way I structure my process starts by celebrating your ideas—that’s the easy part, along with the cutting, pasting, and sharing. The real work begins when it is time to write down the plan of action, and then mind mapping the next steps.

The first vision board party I have ever attended was my own. I did not see anyone doing them in 2006, when I started. I decided to host them for $7 at the time, to bring others in who also wanted to go through the mastermind process of creative visualization. This is a process that has supported me in building a sustainable business, marry the man of my dreams, and ultimately live a life of fire, fun, and freedom. I visualized it all first, and then I took action. My mission is to help millions take more action with less talk in 2017.

BE: What was your experience pitching on the TV show, Queen Boss? What have you learned from the process?

CROSS: My experience was amazing. I learned so much from just being on the show, and more so behind-the-scenes with the judges. This was my first time pitching a product. I am from the service-based industry, so positioning a product for retail is a whole new ball game and lots of work. Although I had been in business for 10 years, my only tangible products were my books. (I must thank Squeaky Moore, who supported me in tightening my pitch for the show.)

I hesitated on my numbers, because I did not want to hear the criticism of my pricing, based on my manufacturing in the U.S. versus overseas. I learned that it is important to not be afraid of your numbers.

Additionally, I learned that you always share the key benefits and value first. My vision board kits come with access to a community membership app that buyers will get to beta test for free, before it launches.  [The app provides] access to accountability partners and more.

BE: The fifth annual Activate Experience will be in Florida this year, on September 19 and 20. Since this will be your final conference, (which we are truly sad about, by the way), what can we expect from this phenomenal conference this year?

CROSS: The experience is going to be loaded with the support one would need to build a powerful branding platform, product development, media access, and building a financial portfolio. This year is all about collaboration and bridging the gap with the millennial influencers and Hispanic women in the business network.

BE: What can all your raving fans expect from the queen next?

CROSS: This year will be loaded with greatness. We are going to be announcing our partnership with a major retail chain, the opening of our first halfway house for young women, and I’m working on my own TV show pilot.

 

Today, Lucinda Cross-Otiti resides in Westchester, NY, with her husband Bayo Otiti and her three children. To learn more about Lucinda Cross and stay connected, follow her on social media:

Instagram: @LucindaCross
Twitter: @LucindaCross
Facebook: Click Here

 

 

5 Ways to Begin Saving for Your Dream Vacation

Vacation

You want to take your dream vacation, but you have no idea how you’ll ever save enough to go. The trip seems amazing, the online pictures look great, but the price tag is overwhelming. No need to make excuses. If that’s where you’ve been dreaming of going, now’s the time to plan for it.

Here are five helpful ways for you to financially plan your dream vacation.

1. Pick the Location

We often spend so much time focusing on why we can’t go, when we should be focusing on where exactly we want to go. Take a second, and think. If someone were to write you a check, and tell you that the money can only be spent on one trip, where would you go? Decide your first location, big or small, and commit to it.

2. Visualize the Destination                           

Financially planning a vacation is simple, but it’s not easy. Therefore, we need constant motivation. Find two amazing pictures of your destination, and add the photos to your vision board. Make sure that each photo inspires you. Twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night, for a minimum of 30 seconds each, stare at the two pictures. Imagine yourself at this location. Imagine what you’re wearing, and who you’re with. It may sound crazy, but reshaping your mind about the things you want has a direct correlation to your willingness to financially obtain it.

3. Research the Destination

Looking at your vision board will help get you one step closer, however you must have the trip’s specifics ready. Start to build your agenda. Outline anything and everything you want to see and decide on every restaurant you want to visit. This part will take time, but it’s worth it. You’ll learn so much, and you will be able to get a price for everything you want to experience.

Utilize places like Viator and Lonely Planet to help give you ideas. In addition to surfing the Web, Instagram is a great tool as well. Start searching through different hashtags. Hashtag the country you want to visit, the hotels, the attractions, and so much more. By going through different hashtags, viewing everyone’s pictures, and clicking on the locations highlighted on the photos, you are able to find new places and explore new options.

4. Open a Separate Savings Account

Now is the time to not only plan but to also take action! Open a new savings account. Make sure it’s an account that is NOT connected to your checking account. Most times, if your savings account is directly connected to your checking, you will touch it. Every financial goal you set for yourself should have a different account number. Your vacation fund should not be mixed with your emergency fund. Your bills account should not be mixed with your vacation fund. Online accounts are the best accounts to use when it comes to training your mind to save.  Goldman Sachs and Capital 360 Savings have great online platforms that will allow you to automatically save. Once the account is opened, title your account something inspiring like, “My Dream Vacation Fund” or “My Dream Destination Fund.” Finally, set up a bi-weekly savings plan. These online accounts will help you automatically save, while you focus on generating more income.

5. Open a Digit Savings Account

In addition to saving in your new online account, be sure to open a Digit account. Digit is another amazing tool that will allow you to save without putting in any hard work. Digit automatically saves for you, and they will never transfer more than you can afford.  Once you have this account set up, be sure to turn off the text notifications. Your money is safe, but the more you see your account balance, the more tempted you’ll be to touch your money.  Remember, this account is for YOUR dream vacation, not your bills.

Despite your current financial state, traveling is most important for your growth as a person.  We all have one life, so let’s be sure to live it.  It is alright to dream, but you’ve got to open your eyes and see. If you haven’t traveled at all, or even if you feel like you don’t travel enough, always remember that you can. Push yourself to be great and to automatically save your money, no matter how long it takes. It is always important to do something small, as opposed to doing nothing at all.

By Ashley M. Fox

Financial Architect & Founder, Empify

 


Ashley M. Fox is a former Wall Street analyst who is an expert in her field as a Financial Architect dedicated to helping both the youth and adults build wealth from the ground up. She is the founder of Empify (merging of the words EMPower and modIFY), an education- based organization that develops life-altering curricula, informative digital content and interactive workshops curated to teach the basics of financial literacy. She has educated over 5,000 students in over 40 different schools throughout the country.  Ashley is a highly-sought after speaker, and she has been featured on empowerment tours, college campuses, and keynote speaking platforms.  She has been featured on Jim Cramer’s “The Street”, Yahoo Finance, AOL, Philly.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour Magazine.

Connect with Ashley on Twitter: @_ashleymfox

Tired of Living Paycheck to Paycheck? Escape Now

paycheck

Do you sometimes feel like you are robbing Peter to pay Paul?  Have you ever felt like there was more month than money? You are probably tired of spinning your wheels, falling behind on bills, and feeling like it is almost impossible for you to save money because you are living paycheck to paycheck.

If you are frustrated with being frustrated and are looking for ways to break the cycle, here are some ideas:

Give Your Money a Job

 

You work hard for your money, right? Most people do. Doesn’t it make sense to have your money ALWAYS working for you too? It’s time to start knowing where your money is going at all times and give your money a job.

One of the most commonly untracked expenses is food. Each month, set a limit on how much you will spend on food. If your food allowance for the month is $300, then stick to it. Do not look to your checking account balance for approval on going out to eat; just because there’s money in your account, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend it. Refer to your $300 monthly food allocation, and see if there’s enough to go out that evening.

One of the easiest ways to manage your food expenses is to withdraw a set amount of cash from the ATM each paycheck, based on your spending plan.  Get a nice envelope to store your cash and keep it in your wallet. Every time you purchase some sort of food or beverage, only use the cash that you set aside. You may find that three days before your next paycheck, there’s only $10 in your envelope, but that just means it’s time to look in the refrigerator and get creative for the next few days.

Prioritize Your Spending

 

As you begin assigning jobs for your money, you will find that some transactions do not align with your monthly spending plan. You may find yourself spending money just because you can see it or even out of boredom. Well, now’s the time to cut back on the unnecessary spending.

You can cut back on your expenses for shopping at stores like Target or Walmart. It’s perfectly fine to grab that one item you need, but oftentimes, we also end up buying eight or nine additional items that were not on your original list. Ask yourself, “If my income was cut in half this month, would this be something I would still need to purchase now, or can this wait until later?”

Other expenses that you can cut back on when you “only” spend $15 per day on lunch at work or during happy hour; “only” is really just a word we psychologically use to justify our bad spending habits. So, only spending $15 per day for more than half the week, causes you to spend almost $3,000 per a year. It’s only $3,000 that you probably didn’t need, right?

Oftentimes, what we buy are items that do not align with our long-term and short-term goals. Focusing on the goal is the only way we’ll score in life. Remind yourself of what’s important and prioritize what is a need, versus what is a want.

Bring in Some Extra Income

 

Finally, start looking to generate more cash flow. However, you should not begin focusing on making more money, until you are able to maintain the money you already have. Make sure that each dollar you bring in has a job assigned to it, before you turn your attention to bringing in additional income.

Once you’ve properly assigned roles for your money, understand that you cannot rely on just your paycheck to give you the life you want and deserve. Yes, a job may start the race, but it definitely won’t finish it.  Begin developing unique ways to make additional income.

One way to create additional income is by selling your old clothes and shoes. Everyone has old clothes that they barely wear or old shoes that they no longer want. Start reselling your clothes on places like Poshmark, Ebay, The RealReal, or, for men, Grailed.  This will help generate more income, without causing you to work tremendously hard for it.

Change Your Way of Thinking

 

You are going to feel like life is tight, and you may even feel like you’re giving up too much. You will get frustrated, and you will ultimately realize that managing your money, at first, isn’t fun. If this is truly how you feel, then you are on the RIGHT track. Change that negative outlook and realize that this temporary pain is setting you up for future prosperity.

Using your entire paycheck before it gets here isn’t fun. Not being able to take your dream vacation isn’t fun. Not being prepared for emergencies isn’t fun. If you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you must change your habits. Ask yourself, “What matters more—spending all my money now, or becoming financially secure forever?” Whenever you find yourself wanting to give in, remind yourself of why you started.

Always remember that there are people making six figures who have financial issues. There are also people making $30,000 per year who are doing just fine financially. Most times, living paycheck to paycheck has more to do with one’s mindset around money versus their actual money. You do not have to continue living paycheck, unless you choose to. It is a lifestyle choice—it’s up to you to decide how long you are going to accept it.

Ashley M. Fox is a former Wall Street analyst, a Howard University grad is now an expert in her field as a Financial Architect. She is the founder of Empify (merging of the words EMPower and modIFY), an education- based organization created to help working professionals, small business owners and the youth build wealth from the ground up. Ashley focuses on the creation of life-altering curricula, informative digital content and interactive events curated to teach the basics of financial literacy. Ashley is a highly-sought after speaker, and she has been featured on empowerment tours, college campuses, and keynote speaking platforms. She has been featured on Jim Cramer’s “The Street”, Yahoo Finance, AOL, Philly.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour Magazine.

Twitter: @_Ashleymfox   Facebook: Ashley M. Fox

Has a Recent Career Decision Left You Feeling Stuck?

stuck

My eyes widened with fear as the train approached the crowded platform in Beijing. I had never seen so many people packed into a train car before, and being slightly agoraphobic, I began to panic. China has one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world; passengers kung fu fight their way on, stuffing themselves inside. It’s a spectacle to watch.

My friends were trying to convince me that if I didn’t experience this while here, I would regret it. The thought of being trapped in this metal car sent waves of fear throughout my entire body. “There’s no more room!” I yelled to my friends, as the train came screeching in. They were laughing hysterically, as I tried to turn and run. Yvonne and Kristen grabbed me on both sides. Stacey pushed me from behind, and next thing I knew, I was on the train, packed like a sardine. I was stuck.

Have you ever found yourself pushed into a situation that left you feeling stuck?

 

This is what happened to Yvonne Bryant, who is a senior brand marketing manager at a global pharmaceutical company. Yvonne graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and from the University of Delaware with an MBA. Aside from being focused and accomplished, I know Yvonne to be a fun and bubbly spirit. She is totally the type of friend to push you on a crowded train in Beijing, while laughing hysterically.

She’s a cupcake-baking, loving mom of two beautiful kids, and her husband of 10 years is always whisking her away on wonderful travels. If anyone is creating the life of their dreams, it’s Yvonne. So when I reached out recently to catch up, I was shocked by her admission.

Yvonne shared, “I’m at a great company with limitless opportunities and supportive management. I’ve been identified as key talent within this organization full of amazing people. Despite the positive aspects of this job, the two-hour commute is a weighing on me. I am not home enough to support my husband and children, I am working constantly, and I feel overwhelmed. I feel torn and stuck.”

Yvonne Bryant enjoying family Yvonne Bryant and family

 

So how does one overcome feeling stuck in a situation they have created for themselves?

 

“I overcome these feelings of being stuck by taking control in those moments,” says Yvonne. “I take control of my thoughts about work, the commute, and my guilt of not being a good enough mom. I stop and recognize that I am doing the best that I can.”

“Instead of feeling down and upset, I decide to do something!  I listen to uplifting music, podcasts, or call a friend on the long commute. At work, I may take a walk during lunch to clear my head. Sometimes, I leave work early to enjoy dinner with my family. The reason we feel stuck is because we stop believing that we have any control over our circumstances. We think there is no way out. That’s simply not true.”

Yvonne’s Tips for Getting Unstuck:

 

1.) Make a plan to help you through the situation.

2.) Identify tool(s) that will help you remain positive, like a scripture verse, motto, book, song, or a word. Keep it nearby, as a reminder. I chose a word, “BALANCE.” I have it on a bracelet, wrote it on a book, and put it on a post-it on my desk, as my reminder to keep balance between work and home.

3.) Don’t be afraid to make a change and step out on faith to change whatever has you stuck.

You can overcome anything!

Elisha_White_Shirt_Profile+Elisha Lowe is a registered nurse, business strategist, writer, entrepreneur and inspirational speaker with two decades of experience in health care. She works with top healthcare organizations to grow novel products that support better patient outcomes in hospitals while engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits. You can follow her on Twitter @ElishaLoweRN or learn more at www.elishalowe.com