Get in a #DebtFree Mindset | @DebtFreeBlkGrl

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“It was super easy for me to accumulate a rack of student loan debt. It was super easy to operate out of denial for years. It was easy for me to say, ‘eff Sallie Mae,’ and duck and dodge phone calls and mail. But, you want to know something else that came easy? Making the decision to do better, and to want more for me. To grow up and finally accept my responsibilities.” – Kristin Sutton, Debt Free Black Girl

Whether you want to get out of debt, or simply save for the future, it requires you to transform your mindset. Within transforming your mindset, that means laying everything out on the table (opening that mail you’ve been avoiding, taking those phone calls, and looking at your spending) and making a plan to get rid of it.

Kristin Sutton, also known as “Debt Free Black Girl,” specializes in coaching and consulting programs to help those who are stuck financially discover ways to regain control, confidence, and create a plan to reach their money goals and start building a solid financial foundation. Her financial calling started after finding herself on the verge of homelessness when she moved to Atlanta. Like most of us, she experienced a period where she was living way beyond her means – shopping excessively, treating friends, and eating out way too much – and it caught up to her. Instead of shrinking into denial, she made a decision to change her life. In 10 months, she paid off $10,000 in student debt on a limited income, and now she helps other change their financial situations around. One thing I love about Kristin is that she comes up with strategies where you can figure out how to reach your goals without sacrificing everything you love (plus, if you look at her style, you’ll see she isn’t your typical financial advisor).

Everyone can get out of debt, and everyone can save. It just takes you making the decision. The following steps will help put you on the path to change your financial situation (or just prepare you for the future):

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USE YOUR PAYCHECKS TO TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR CURRENT LIFESTYLE

Determine how much your extra activities cost, by listing out all of your upcoming plans (trips, movies, brunches, etc.). From there, using your paycheck, list out all of your plans and upcoming bills to see how much you are spending. From your check, make sure you focus on yourself first and put aside at least ten percent for your personal saving and any other giving you do.

LIST OUT ALL YOUR EXPENSES

“The biggest thing I have found is that people always forget something when they list out their expenses. Make sure you include every little thing.” – Kristin

Within listing your expenses include debt pay off, daily living expenses, entertainment, and savings.

DON’T FORGET YOUR SAVINGS AND EMERGENCY FUND

Make it a point to save at least $1,000 to start, and then work your way up ideally six to twelve months’ worth of expenses. This is your emergency fund. The difference between an emergency fund and savings is that your emergency fund is strictly for an emergency (car breaking down, getting fired, etc.), while your savings is something to keep building on and eventually invest to build more for your retirement.

It’s also beneficial to have more than one savings account: one for travel, one for a home, and/or one for a new car.

FIGURE OUT YOUR NEEDS FROM YOUR WANTS

Take inventory of your checking account, and really see what you’re spending your money on and how you can cut back.  Figure out your wants from your needs.

Determine if something is truly a need, or if it’s something you want. If you are serious about getting out of debt and your future, then you are going to have to make some sacrifices. For example, once a month for brunch, limiting clothing shopping for once a season, and cutting your cable off.

Even if you are living check to check, remember you can still save and build, but you may need to get creative. Outside of cutting back, try to get a side hustle to bring some extra income in. It all boils down to discipline and how serious you are about accomplishing your goals.

IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE STICKING TO A BUDGET

Figure out what it is that causes you to get off your budget and come up with a plan to fix it. Have a plan and be prepared. Some tips include avoiding shopping without a list, and only taking out a certain amount for weekend activities.

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KRISTIN’S TOP FIVE STEPS TO CHANGE YOUR FINANCES:

  1. Focus on your goals

  2. Figure out why your financial goals are important

  3. Change your mindset

  4. Figure out your wants/needs

  5. Make sure you include EVERYTHING on your budget

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