My Girl is Graduating and We’re Saving Money

imageMy Girl is graduating from high school this month. She is my second child to graduate from high school. With graduation comes lots of expenses, but we have managed to save money using the Three B’s and choosing to spend money based on our values.

Hear about the the Three B’s and other graduation tips on my Family Financial Cents segment on Sac and Co by watching the video below.

Could you use family finance tips for other parts of our life? Visit the “Family Finance and Your Future” here on my blog.

I would love to hear from you! Please reach out on onTwitter, Instagram, or Facebook!! :-)

Dear Millennial and GenZ Children…

Dear Millennial and GenZ ChildrenI read an article recently about socialism and the perks and pitfalls of living in a socialist/communist country. The case for socialism was inspired by Millennials and I am choosing to share my thoughts because I have children that are in the Millennial generation as well as GenerationZ and I want them to know what their Momma believes in and that is Free Enterprise and Working Smart as well as Working Hard! Something that is “free” from our government means that millions of tax-paying citizens have had their paycheck stripped so that the government could choose to create a “free” perk for someone/some organization. Let’s be crystal clear, something “free” from the government is NOT FREE!!  The last time I checked some of the “free” things we can experience on this planet are: sunshine, rain, God’s grace, smiles, …you get the idea.

Thanks to my Mary Kay clients, social media marketing clients, and the people who hire me to speak or who buy my courses and my book, my businesses have paid for countless perks for my sweet children’s lives, for all the people who support my businesses (Mary Kay staff/employees, UPS drivers, USPS workers, dry cleaners, etc) and for all the people I have hired along my 22+ year journey in business who have worked in my home or virtually in their own home or local coffee shop!

My children have never received an “allowance” because I don’t believe in giving my children money except on Birthdays or other special occasions just so they can “experience money” or ” gain money education” at an early age. Their financial literacy has been awarded them by doing chores because they are part of Team Cook/our family. They have been allowed to earn money by doing household “Pay Jobs” (jobs that aren’t party of daily chores) or by working for me or my husband in our business ventures. Each child has been on my payroll since they were about 7 years old as per IRS tax code which states that I can hire my children to do jobs/tasks in my business. The fact that they have been on my payroll does not mean they have been given a paycheck… that would be called welfare and I don’t believe in that for most cases either. I  don’t pay my children a paycheck unless they work and earn the money. Novel concept, isn’t it?

So many people over the years have consulted with me about hiring their own children in their businesses and one of the most common questions is, “What would I have my children do in my business?” So, I created The List. You can get The List of  “99 Things Kids Can Do to Make Money”  by clicking this link and then opting in to get the “Free Gifts” mentioned on that page. I created The List based on the tasks/jobs my kids have done over the years and I stopped at 99 things because, it’s catchier than “105 Things…” and I wanted to leave room for those reading the list to come up with their own ideas! It’s more fun that way!

I could literally talk/write for hours about the valuable benefits from teaching children to work, become self-reliant, manage the resources of this Good Earth, and share their gifts with others, but you likely wouldn’t stay that long, so feel free to come stop by my blog again and read some more.

If you liked what you found here, by all means, SHARE it with others! If you really liked what you read, implement some of the ideas and message me with how they worked for you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or via email: Sarah@SarahLCook.com

 

Finance Friday: Getting Your College Cash

If you have a college student, college-bound student or you are a student; you may have heard of he FAFSA. It is an online questionnaire/application that helps the federal government as well as colleges/universities you are interested in be able to determine how much financial aide to offer you. Take a look at some of the tips I share today on Sac and Co:

Family Financial Cents: Ways to Say, “I Love You” without Breaking the Bank

Sarah L Cook Sacramento and Company

To see a short video I did called “Giving Love to Those Who Matter Most”, click here.

To read a short post I did on examples of gifts you can make for under $6, visit Dare Whimsy.

What love language do you speak? What language do your loved ones, co-workers and clients speak? Please share your comments below and we can all learn together! :-)

If you found this video valuable, please share it with others.

Family Financial Cents: Managing Post-Holiday Costs

Sarah L Cook SacandCo Recovering from Holiday Spending

In this segment of Family Financial Cents on Sacramento and Company, you will hear ideas for how to recover financially from holiday expenses getting out of hand. You will also get valuable tips for how to prepare in advance to prevent over-spending in this new year.

Take look! :-) Comments and feedback are always welcome and if find the information helpful, I’d love to have you share it with others!

Family Financial Cents: DIY Credit Repair

Sarah L Cook, Family Financial Cents

Here are a few credit repair strategies and resources mentioned on the Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company! You can also watch the SacandCo segment on building credit.

 

Where Do You Begin in the Credit Repair Journey?

Get a copy of your FREE credit report. Order a copy from one of the agencies listed on the site. Mark your calendar for 4 months from now and order another copy from a different agency listed on the same site. Do it again with the third agency in another four months. This will give you free monitoring of your credit all year long and a snap shot of areas you need to work on in rebuilding your credit.

STOP the excess spending! There is no use paying down certain cards or debts if you are racking up debt in other places. It doesn’t sound fun, but reclaiming your financial freedom is worth every effort.

As soon as you have a handle on reducing your spending, start “winterizing” your credit card and other loan balances by using a technique called snowballing to pay down your debt quickly. If you are unfamiliar with how to snowball your debt repayment, take a look at Wikipedia or an article on the Dave Ramsey site.

What do you do it there are errors on your credit report?

Send a letter to the credit reporting agencies that contain errors to dispute the errors. Keep copies of your letters and your original receipts for your records. Be diligent with your follow-up to ensure that the letters were received and that the investigations have begun on our behalf. Be polite and persistent.

Once you’ve paid off your balances, should you close your accounts or perhaps transfer balances to one card?

Neither. Closing accounts can actually work against you. Merging outstanding balances into one large balance creates a higher balance vs. the available credit on that particular card and is looked at negatively as well.

  

What suggestions can you give to those who feel like they are in over their heads and want professional advice?

Be SUPER careful about claims from organizations that say they can fix or repair your credit. Check out the Department of Justice for a list of reputable organizations.

Did this article help you? If so click the LIKE button above and share it with your friends and family on social media!! :-) Together we can all become more financially fit!! Have a blessed day!

Family Financial Cents: Building Credit and Why You Want To


Here are a few resources mentioned on the Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company! Take a look at the article on restoring credit as well.

How does your credit report and score affect you and why is it important to build credit?

  • People can get loans faster.
  • Credit decisions are fairer.
  • Credit “mistakes” count for less.
  • More credit is available.
When should you start building credit?
Just like you should find a car before you need a car or a place to live before you move out of your parents home or the place you are currently living, you should have a good credit history built, before you need to be able to access a line of credit. If you don’t already have good credit or you have a “thin credit file”, TODAY would be the best day to begin building your credit.

 

What are some ways you can get started building credit?
First, get a job! That may sound obvious, but even with thousands of dollars in the bank, my college-age son was denied credit because he couldn’t not prove consistent income for the last six months. Next, consider finding someone to co-sign on a small loan or credit card with you. My husband, Jerry, bought my engagement ring that way over 23 years ago. His sweet Aunt Carla was willing to be his co-signer. Not only did she help him get a beautiful ring for me, she helped him build his credit too! You may also consider a secured loan. If you have an asset that is completely paid off such as a car, try going to a bank or credit union and give them the ownership paperwork to the asset and they may grant you a loan that way. Jerry and I did this with our second car when we were newly married. We gave the bank our car title and took out a loan to help purchase Mary Kay products to start my Mary Kay business. This helped both of us build our credit and provided me with items to immediately deliver to my clients as I grew my business.  There are lots of other ways!! Think outside the box on options that might be available to you with a little creative thinking!

 

How can you find out what is listed on your credit report and how often should you check your credit report?
 You can get a FREE copy of your credit report one time per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. I would suggest getting one report from each agency every 4 months so that you can monitor what is going on for the entire year. If you are married, have your spouse check their credit on 3 months that you did not check yours so that you have reports on joint credit accounts for 6 out of the 12 months of the year.
 Remember today to take actions that matter to building your credit now so that you can enjoy more choices later. 

Family Financial Cents: Water Wise Families

Sarah L Cook Water Wise Families

If you have seen the news in the last several months or driven through California’s Central Valley, you know that we are in a serious drought!

It’s easy to shake our heads and say, “Something needs to be done about the drought situation”. We can point fingers as to where all the water went and blame politicians for selling our water to other places. We can definitely pray and ask God to send us more rain.

If we want to make an impact on our water situation, TODAY, we can change our water habits and use Umbrella Budgeting to conserve water inside and outside our homes. On my most recent Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company, I shared a few ideas on how we can become water wise individuals and families.  Take a look:

To get your own Shower Coach and other helpful tools for conserving water, visit California American Water’s Resource page. For even more resources, you can call the Sacramento Conservation Hotline at (916) 568-4201.

Our family has been really focused on conserving water and have drastically changed our water habits over the past year. We been striving to conserve water when we wash our faces morning and night, prepare meals, shower, care for our plants, and more.  Take a look at our water bill from June 2013 compared to June 2014. We cut our water usage by nearly two-thirds!!! Saving 14,212 gallons in one month is awesome for a family of five! If we can do it with two teens and a tween, you can too!       (Note: Apply figurative pat on the back here. :-) )

Sarah L Cook Waterbill Water Conservation

Comment below with ways you are saving water as a family!

Bringing Home Baby: Financial Tips for Your Growing Family

Sarah L Cook Bringing Home Baby Sacramento and Company

You know it’s spring when you start getting baby announcements and wedding and graduation invites. Spring and summer are times when you see lots of family changes, and with changes often come expenses. In this Family Financial Cents segment, I discuss how expectant parents must choose to be proactive about bringing baby home and planning for the cost of a growing family. (Enjoy the video below :-) )

It’s important to take time to discuss expectations and actually set up a plan to begin living “Plus 1″. One way to do this is by putting aside money from each paycheck. Another way to save for a growing family is to begin to “invest your vices”. Consider making conscious choices to skip the daily Starbucks or latest fashion or hunting “must haves” and save that money you would have spent in a “baby savings” account.

Often, it’s the unexpected expenses that leave soon-to-be parents unprepared to bring baby home. When we began having children, we knew we had to think of the future and the potential that something might happen to me or my husband. Some expenses to consider and prepare for the unexpected are:

  • A Will and Guardianship Designation
  • Life Insurance
  • Actual Cost of Maternity Leave and How Much Time to Take Off

For every family with a new baby there  is the cost of food and diapers to consider. Working families need to think about child care options as well. I call these the Big 3 and I’ve got some great tips from my readers who are just beginning to live”Plus 1″ (whether it’s their 1st, 2nd, or 5th child):

Food – For the heath of the baby and the cost of the food, nursing as long as possible is a great option. If formula becomes the option of choice for your family, get samples from your pediatrician, definitely use coupons, and try to buy-as-you-go on supplies so you don’t end up wasting money on unused formula.

Childcare – Rather than a live-in nanny, some families chose to share a nanny with another family. Some families opted for employer-based child care. Other families found they could switch work shifts so that one parent was always or nearly always home with the baby. Some families even had one parent stay home altogether and work from home. There are lots of child care choices to consider when preparing to bring baby home.

Diapers – “Put them on the registry!!!” I heard that answer so many times from new parents I talked to before doing this segment. For those who actually had to buy diapers, they suggested  buying online or at warehouses like Costco or Sam’s. They also suggested signing up for baby clubs at the stores you frequent.

There is a lot more to pay for than the Big 3, so budgeting for everything else will take some strategy. Some things you will want to research and buy brand new after checking reviews, comparing prices, and talking with other parents. Other baby items you can get used on Craig’s List, eBay, a Just Between Friends swap meet, or even from friends who have a baby just older than yours.

No doubt about it, babies are expensive, but the love that they bring and the transformation that comes into your life when they arrive is priceless. I have no doubt you will find creative ways to live “Plus 1”, and when you do, be sure to share them below!! :-)

Family Financial Cents: I LOVE Saving!

Sarah L Cook Family Financial Cents America Saves Week

It’s been said that, “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy choices,” and choices can often create a more comfortable life. With CHOICES in mind, if I were to ask you what your heart’s desire was right now, what would you say? What choices would you truly like to be able to make if finances were not a concern? Of those choices, which ones are you willing to commit your cash to? (Scroll down for the video ;-))

For example, I have dreamed of going to Hawaii for a LONG time and yet, I never made the commitment with my dollars to actually go. I kept waiting for someone to give me “permission” to go and for my husband to say that he wanted to go for our Anniversary. This past December, my husband asked what I wanted for my Birthday and I blurted out that I wanted to go to Hawaii even if I had to go by myself. He was surprised at first and then said, “You should and you should take Clarissa”. Immediately, I got to work creating the money to go. In January I had the money for tickets, and just a few days ago I put a deposit down on the darling beach house we will be staying in. I am setting aside money from each item/book/product I sell to go towards my Hawaiian adventure and you know what? I have had an easier time saving money for this CHOICE than for anything I can think in a very long time. This trip is something I TRULY want and that I am really passionate about so it makes cutting back in other areas easier. It gives me a reason to create income by getting on the phone with clients, meeting new customers while I am out and about, and emailing my list about specials as well as new products and services.

In just a few days we will be celebrating America Saves Week (February 24 – March 1, 2014) and I encourage you to invest some time thinking about something you would be willing to save for. Really give some thought to a heart’s desire you would be willing to commit your dollars to. With America Saves Week in mind, here’s a Family Financial Cents segment I did on Sacramento and Company about some great ways for families to save and the benefits of CHOICES in the family economy: