Money Trumps Love

There are 4 money topics every couple should talk about asap.

It’s a sad fact to acknowledge, but money and security is more important to lots of folks than love. You can be as upset with me as you like, but that’s the truth. You think your relationship isn’t like that? Let’s see one of the partners in a relationship lose their job and have no income for a year or two. Let’s have one partner that’s a super saver and one that’s a super spender under one roof and you tell me how it works out. Some of you ardent defenders of love are now say, “well, that’s a specific instance” and “those are gross exaggerations of the situation” … riiiight. We all know people in situations like these. They are more common than we want to talk about.

With all the excitement over folks getting a mate, I notice there isn’t much discussion about keeping a mate. To that end, this post is about strengthening a relationship that’s already in place. There are 4 things that every couple should talk about asap. Of course, conversations about money should be ongoing however these are topics that you cannot put off and cannot be overlooked:

Credit scores and reports

I know you’re going to be upset, but you can’t trust anyone to tell you what their credit scores are. The reason? Most people don’t know. Each of us has 3 separate scores from each of the 3 major credit agencies and those scores go up and down every month depending on our behavior. It behooves each partner to pull their credit scores and reports and sit down to talk money strategy. If you’re building a life together, you have to know where you’re starting from. It’ll cost each partner about $50 to pull all three reports with scores, but it might save you thousands of dollars over your relationship and possibly … you’re relationship too.

Money attitude

Once you have your reports you may start to ask questions. If your partner is an ardent saver with a pristine report you may want to know how they did it? Does your partner live on less than what they make because they haven’t contributed a penny to a retirement account? Do they use coupons? Do they borrow money from parents to cover shortages? It’s important to know what behaviors are contributing to their credit report. Those behaviors may class with yours.

I’ve learned the hard way that money isn’t what makes people poor or wealthy. Attitude is what makes people poor or wealthy. If someone has $100,000 in debt because they like to buy expensive things, giving them the money to pay the dent off won’t make a difference. When the debt has been paid off they will rack it up again because they have not changed their behaviors. What behaviors does your partner have?

Who’s in charge?

You will be responsible for paying the bills? Who is in charge of purchasing groceries? You will choose what retirement strategy you use? You can take turns, you can do it together or you can choose one of you to be responsible for it, but you must make a decision. There are no wrong choices. Sometimes it’s easier to play to the strengths of each partner and delegate that one partner deal with the retirement plans while the other partner pay the bills every month. Once it’s settled you both still need to sit down once every 3 months to make sure that you’re reaching your goals. If you’re not, with only 3 months of miscalculations things are pretty easily correctable.

Workarounds
No one is perfect. Each of us has shortcomings and things that annoy our partners. The best thing to do is own up to it and create a set of workarounds for each of you. For example, I know that I love to travel. I used to have all the travel deals come to my inbox every day. As a new trip to some great place showed up in my email I would start to plan my escape only to realize that it didn’t fit into my spending plan. Which made me sad for a minute. Then it made me upset. Then it made me want to eat noodles all week to be able to pay for it and not mess up my spending plan. This is a horrible cycle that would happen at least once a week until I created my own little workaround. I stopped having those travel deals sent to my inbox. You know what? I don’t even think about them any more. What easy workarounds can you figure out to help you and your partner stay on track?

When we choose partners we do it for many reasons. Very few of us will see someone walk down the street and think, “wow! look at the credit score on that one!” but many of us end potentially awesome relationships over who spends too much money or who nags about how many video games are purchased each month. If the person isn’t a good fit for you emotionally or spiritually, let them go. If they aren’t a good financial fit for you there is a possibility that person can change, and if not isn’t it better that you know from jump?

If a person tells you who they are, believe them.

PEACE

Shay on African Speak

I’m excited to be featured Saturday, July 10th on African Speak “Honoring Powerful Black Women in our Community”. As usual I’ll share some financial literacy tips, but I’ll also be talking about my journey from foster care to professional speaker and author in the personal finance arena. Along with me will be:
Jewel Carter – Community Activist / President Urban De’Version
Zekita Tucker – Author / CEO Zeniam Publications
Shanquil Merriwether – Community Activist / Milwaukee Chapter Pres. Action Network.

Join us every Saturday at 6:00pm (Central) for our Live Radio Show. We are dedicated to a rise in awareness of Afrikan people World-wide. We will cover topics that concern our Nation. Come share your views in our Chat Room with individuals of like mind. Call in your questions: (646) 381-4162 / Email your questions at AfrikanSpeak@yahoo.com or Text us at 414-379-7969 http://www.AfrikanSpeak.com

As a special treat I’ll be providing a discount code to purchase 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money and Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook. Listen in online or by phone Saturday 4pm PST and 6pm CST.

African Speak

Enter to Win

10ThingsCollegeStudentsNeedtoKnowAboutMoneyBookCover

Answer 4 questions for your chance to win one of 10 copies!

SORRY. THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Anyone that knows me, knows that July is my favorite month of the year. To that end, I’m giving away 10 copies of 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money during a month long contest starting July 1! Just take the 4 question survey for your chance to win! The giveaway will only be available from July 1 to July 31.

Winners will be notified by email Monday, August 2nd.

Click here to take the survey.

Become N.E.W.

I had a great time speaking at the financial empowerment event for Become N.E.W. yesterday and apparently they had a great time as well.

Shay, you did an excellent job. Your presentation was lively, informative, and funny! You have great energy and it comes through in your work. I would love to get a copy of your power point presentation. Please keep in touch cuz a sister gotta stay on course!

People are used to hearing professionals speak about personal finance. No offense, but speakers on money matters tend to be a little on the dry side. We talked, we laughed, we shared stories, we worked through myths to creating abundance, and I shared 7 tips to create abundance in your life. I’m glad that I’m able to share information in a way that people can hear and are motivated to put to use. Esther Joseph agrees,

Shay, you are amazing! Thank you sooo much for coming out and truly blessing us with valuable, life-altering information. You are a blessing and a gift from God. I appreciate you and look forward to working with you again in the future. Continue this walk of being a valuable resource in the lives of God’s people. …You were VERY organized and your presentation well delivered and thought out.. this is certainly only just the beginning for you.. good journey :).. God bless.
EJ

I also had the opportunity to meet comedian Barry Brewer. He did a funny set, stayed for the workshop, and added value to the conversation by asking awesome questions. Here’s what he thought about the workshop:

May Newsletter

In case you missed it, here’s the May Newsletter. So many good things are going on that I had to make a video! My second book on personal finance will be available soon, my new eBook “Guerrilla Financial Tactics’ has been downloaded almost 700 times, I’m giving they keynote at Become New’s Money & Emotion event, I’m speaking at Greater Mt. Olive’s Juneteenth event, and I’m looking forward to teaching Master Your Money: Increase Your Credit Score & Decrease Your Debt at Riverside Community College.


View the May Newsletter here.

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$15 available from Amazon.com

HBCU Digest Column – Ignorance is Bliss

This month I began writing for HBCU Digest. I’m really concerned with providing financial education to students at HBCUs. These colleges and universities graduate half of the Black professionals in the US. It makes no sense to prepare these students to get a good job and not educate them on how to handle the money they will be earning.

Every month I’ll post financial education tips, musings from my work at HBCUs, and answers to questions from students at HBCUs. The first column is titled “Ignorance is Bliss”.

Be well.

Default: The Student Loan Documentary

I’m so pleased to tell you that the makers of Default: The Student Loan Documentary have partnered with Bigger Than Your Block to include the trailer for Default in all copies of my second book, 10 Things Students Need to Know About Money.

As you know, my work educating folks about how important personal finance is includes college costs as well. Right now paying for college is one of the biggest challenges many families have. Traditionally, taking out loans has been the way many college students have bridged the gap between costs and available funds. While loans are not bad in and of themselves, many students weren’t sure of what they were getting themselves into and found themselves with a mountain of debt. Default: The Student Loan Documentary will help families better understand loan products. I’m proud that this informational documentary trailer will be available with 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money.

College and The CARD Act

There are two real changes that have taken place for college aged youth.

– You will not be sent any pre-screened offers if you are under 21.
– You will not be able to receive a credit card if you are under 21 unless you can a) prove that you have sufficient income to pay the money back or b) you have a co-signer over the age of 21.

What does that mean for college students? It means that no longer will many college students have access to easy credit. That means that students will really have to buckle down and look at the bigger picture. Before you go to your parents and beg them to co-sign on a credit card with you, think about the potential implications of you racking up bills that you might not be able to pay and your parents becoming frustrated by your inability to pay. If you have a card together and you can’t pay it falls to the co-payer to foot the bill.

Many college students don’t even need credit cards while in college. Credit cards are a tool that can be used in emergency situations, but they tend to have high interest rates. I’d think long and hard before turning to credit cards to pay for my college expenses. Think about this, before The CARD Act, the average American college student graduated with a little over $3,000 in credit card debt. The average APR was 14%**. Paying the minimum balance, let’s say $50 a month, it will take you 9 years to pay off the debt. Instead why not be proactive and figure out what you want to spend money on and then come up with a plan to bring in at least that much money. Each semester students should:

Write down all income that you anticipate.
Write down a spending plan for all expenses.
Keep an eye on your credit score so you’ll be able to get a good job after you graduate.
Monitor your checking accounts closely to make sure you’re not needlessly overspending.

Get out of college, not into debt.

PEACE

* Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)

** Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 14.31 percent, as of December 31, 2009 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, March 2010)

Phone Apps You Need

It’s important that we manage our money effectively and efficiently. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “its not how much you make, it’s how much you spend”. I’ve created a list of a few phone apps that are:

– Cheap
– Effective
– Easy to use

Take a gander at these puppies.

Budget

They say, “Budget helps you track your spending and keep to a budget. You can easily see your total income and your total expenses for a period, plus which expenses you are spending the most on and which expenses you are going over budget on.”

I say that everyone needs to have a spending plan and there’s nothing like having your personal finance information at your fingertips. Using this app is a small change that will make a huge difference in your personal finance outlook… if you use it.


Compare Me Shopping Utility

They say, “WAS FEATURED BY APPLE IN “WHAT’S HOT” Did you ever shop at Sams, Costco or online at Amazon? Then CompareMe may help you to save money! CompareMe lets you compare products in different sizes and even in different packs.”

I say it’s an easy way to help you find out which buy is the best deal. Who knows if the $2 can at 16 oz. is a better buy than the $2.30 can at the 20 oz.? The Compare Me Shopping Utility knows.


iCredit Calculator

They say, “In the 1.2 release of the iCredit Calculator, the calculated repayment results can be generated into a PDF document that you can then e-mail as an attachment from your phone.”

I say this is a must have tool. When you’re out shopping and think, “i’ll put it on my credit card” this handy dandy tool will be there to help you find the true cost of those purchases. Small purchases really add up and effect your credit.

Bank of America Mobile Banking

They say, “Mobile Banking allows you to check available balances, pay bills, transfer funds or locate ATMs and banking centers on-the-go. It’s fast, easy and convenient. It’s a free service and available to Bank of America Online Banking* customers.”

I say it’s a great way to monitor your accounts on the go. The days of sitting at home balancing your checkbook are long gone for most of us. Why not have access to your accounts 24 hours a day, so you don’t end up with overdraft fees. Be honest… you know you take your phone everywhere you go. Now, you’ll have your personal finance information as close your music playlists!

Bloomberg

They say, “Bring the power of the most trusted source for financial information to your iPhone, along with tools to help you analyze the world’s markets.”

I say it’s a great free app that helps you toy around with financial market information. If you’d like to know more about stocks and how they work why not download an app from one of the most trusted financial sites in the world. Get this, it also comes in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Ukrainian. Nice!

What apps do you use for personal finance?

Network of Empowered Women May 29th

I’m really looking forward to working with the Network of Empowered Women. Join us Saturday, May 29th at the Rita Walters Learning Complex in Los Angeles for a timely discussion about healing your relationship with money.

Order your copy of Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook before the workshop or pick up your copy on site.

The audio companion to Money Matters will be available online soon.

See you there!

Start Your Own Bank

I was just reading an article on the Huffington Post about people starting their own banks.. and I thought, “that’s awesome!”.

As more and more people become fed up with large banks and their:

– ridiculous fees for just about any/everything
– horrible customer service
– unwillingness to help people/small businesses when they need it

it becomes more and more clear to me that putting your money in a credit union is the way to go. Not only do credit unions provide more opportunity for you to build a relationship with those entrusted with managing your money, they also provide the opportunity for each customer to make decisions about the policies, fees, etc. of that financial institution. Yep, you heard me right. As a member of a credit union you are part owner of said credit union. Instead of having no voice in decisions involving your money you have an equal vote with every other shareholder (credit union member) about what goes on at that credit union.

Now, if that’s not awesome enough for you or you don’t have a credit union that’s close to you, consider this: you can start your own credit union. Credit unions are usually started by a group of people with a similar interest, say they all are the same religion, work at the same place, or engage in the same hobby. Creating a credit union can be done in 10 steps. You’ll need at least 500 people to state that they are interested, fill out some paperwork, find a CPA to help out and collect about $25 from each member.

I’m not saying that starting your own bank is an easy as snapping your fingers, but I’m saying that it might not be as complicated you might think.

Be well.

PEACE

Bring Back “Declined”

As many of you know, Bank of America made a bold choice to revamp their policy on overdrafts, again. It used to be that the bank would not allow you to withdraw money that you didn’t have. When purchasing items at the register, if you didn’t have the money, your bank card would be declined and you would not be allowed to purchase the items on that bank card. More recently banks began to allow the overdraft and would then charge the bank customer an overdraft fee. Well, now Bank of America has decided to re institute the use of that dreaded word, “declined”.

Honestly, I’m all for it! This change in policy is going to definitely do 2 things and maybe 1 more. What will happen is:

1) People will begin to monitor their available funds again because being declined in public is embarrassing.
2) Once folks start getting declined regularly they will start taking a closer look at their spending habits.

What may happen is, other banks may change their policies as well. Many people look at banks as if they are ones in control, not realizing that customers have many options and can vote with their dollars and choose to change banks. What will really blow your mind is that not only do you have the option to change banks…… you also have the option to move to a credit union.

I’m all about people making responsible decisions, however I’m not so blind that I don’t realize that institutions and options are also important in building wealth. Find a credit union in your area and go talk to a representative. I’m willing to bet that you’ll find a smaller organization that is more friendly and has better rates than where you are currently banking.

Thanks Bank of America for making a responsible decision that should have been made a while ago, maybe that decision will motivate other banks to do the same. If not … there’s always the credit unions!

PEACE

Why Women of Color MUST Master Their Money

Life is chess, not checkers. Make smart moves.

If you haven’t read the new study “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America’s Future” it’s time you do. One of the most startling discoveries of the study is

For all working-age black women 18 to 64, the financial picture is bleak. Their median household wealth is only $100. Hispanic women in that age group have a median wealth of $120.

Yes, you read that right. Though there are many reasons that these statistics exist I’d like to make mention of a few key points.

We tend to make less to begin with, so it’s vital that we manage what we earn well.

They also are more likely to be employed in jobs and industries — such as service occupations — with lower pay and less access to health insurance. And when their working days are done, they rely most heavily on Social Security because they are less likely to have personal savings, retirement accounts or company pensions. Their Social Security benefits are likely to be lower, too, because of their low earnings.

We can control our reactions to what happens to us and to do that we have to be aware of our options.

The current economic crisis has shown that a person’s wealth affects not only retirement security, but also a person’s ability to handle financial setbacks such as a job loss or a health emergency.

It’s imperative that we:
Start planning ahead
Figure out our net worth
Monitor our credit scores and understand why they matter
Show that we respect ourselves by making good money choices
Make a spending plan
Don’t use quick cash services

At the end of the day, for many reasons, it’s up to many women to make good choices for themselves and their families. We must ask the questions we don’t want to hear the answers to and make the tough choices. Educating yourself about personal finance will help put you in a position of power and you’ll be stronger for it.

Be well.

PEACE

Shay on Black Authors Network Financial Wellness and Awareness Discussion

In case you missed me on Black Authors Network’s Financial Wellness and Awareness Discussion, here it is. My portion begins at the 1.5 hour mark. I was featured for about 45 minutes.

There were two other authors, Ash Cash and Jennifer Mathews, featured on the show as well. I believe all our books can be found online at Amazon.com.

I’ll also be featured in Black Pearls Magazine in March.

Want to hear more radio shows featuring Shay? Visit Bigger Than Your Block and catch me on the Terryl Ebony Show, the Hollis Chapman Show, and the Cheap Cheetah Show (twice!).