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lifestyle

How I Paid Off $27,000 Of Debt in One Year 💰

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I am living proof that you can pay off a large amount of debt in short period of time without winning the lottery or being born into a wealthy family. Truth be told, it isn’t rocket science, it just takes laser focus intention, a well constructed habit loop, a little know-how, and a strong desire to be debt free. The five key tips for getting out of debt are Mentality, Income, Budget, Automate, and Mentors. In the video below I go into detail about each word and share a bit about my journey to debt freedom in the process.

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How To Start Managing Money

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HOW TO START MANAGING YOUR MONEY NOW

Growing up, money wasn’t exactly a positive topic of discussion. I heard many sayings like “Money is the Root of all Evil”, which eventually turned to “LOVE of money is the Root of all Evil. Also sayings like, “Don’t count the money in my pocket” whenever I wanted my mother to buy something that seemed easy to purchase. There were also notions that the wealthy somehow weren’t as noble or God fearing because they had money. Not all of these ideas came from home, many came from hearsay on television and in politics. In contrast, I witnessed the wealthy give openly to the public as well as to my family. Needless to say, not only was I very confused about money, I believed my life would probably always be one of poverty.

I’ve racked up debt like many other people I know, and almost none of it was “irresponsible” spending. Things like, student loan debt, a car loan, credit card debt from an emergency purchase of a laptop, and basic living expenses from my move to Los Angeles. I could go more in depth, but you get the picture, I was “normal”.

I’ve always been intrigued by the world of personal finance and have since dedicated the last two years to reading as much as I could on the topic. It wasn’t until three months ago that I got on a true real-numbers based budget and began to attack my debt using Dave Ramsey’s, Debt Snowball method. My advice for getting started is to assess your situation, then take action.

6 STEPS TO SUCCESS

1. Get your Credit Score and look at your Credit Report to see where you stand with the government and how you look to lenders during a credit analysis.

2. Pull out your bank statements and write down (in exact numbers) how much debt you owe. Numbers don’t lie and sometimes we have to get face to face with the truth before we can make an effective plan.

3. Get yourself on a BUDGET!  None of this working with estimates stuff. What are your REAL numbers? What is your exact dollar amount of income and what bills and expenses do you have? Create a budget at the top of every month so that you can direct your dollars where to go.  Why every month? Because expenses and income fluctuate. Cash gifts happen, doctors appointments get planned, and major life events happen that can change everything. Being prepared ahead of time, keeps you responsible and out of debt.

4. Quickly save $1,000 cash for emergencies. Stuff happens, I know. That’s how I ended up in debt. This eliminates the urge to charge a credit card or take out a loan for an emergency. For example, if you get in a car accident, most car insurance deductibles aren’t above $1,000. With the money saved, you can pay off the debt without charging a credit card. If your fund gets depleted, build it up again.

5. List your debts from smallest to largest and start paying off your debt one by one. Begin with the minimum payments on all of them and use excess money to pay down the smallest debt. When that debt is paid, take the minimum payment and the excess income and apply it to the next debt. This creates the debt snowball affect.

OR

5b. List your debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest, and pay your debt down that way. This one makes financial sense, but may be harder psychologically because your highest interest rate may be your largest debt. Therefore, it may be easy to lose steam because of the time it takes to build momentum.

6. Keep at it. Don’t give up! I’m currently on Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step Two and paying off my debt. It’s challenging, but I keep myself motivated with books, seminars, and podcasts. I’ll leave my favorite motivators below this video.

BOOKS TO GET YOU STARTED MANAGING YOUR MONEY

PODCASTS I LOVE

SO THERE IT IS

My first personal finance blog post! I hope my advice and suggestions help start you on your road to financial freedom. Happy debt destroying!

Is Sex The Admission Price For Love?

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THE WAIT

I recently had the pleasure of attending a book signing for The Wait.  It tells the story of Devon Franklin and Meagan Good’s journey to finding love (and each other) by putting God first and choosing to be celibate before marriage.  Here are some clips that give a sneak peak into their story.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE BOOK

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ve began reading their book and I love the approach they have taken. It offers insight on why they chose to wait as well as guidance for those who are attempting to find love and are tired of hitting the same road blocks.  Whether you are thinking of becoming celibate, are already waiting, or want some insight on a different approach, I think it’s worth reading.

To learn more about the book visit their website, here.

How To Organize Your Closet

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OKAY, LET'S FACE IT.

That run down button-down shirt with the “small” stain and the button missing at the bottom, has got to go! Oh, and just because it was your favorite pair of overalls in the 9th grade doesn’t mean you have to hold onto it. Take a photo of it and stick it in your scrapbook to save some space. That way you still keep the memory of it, but it won’t continue to clutter your closet.

I know it can be difficult. Back in the day, I was the top hoarder of all my friends. I kept old graded school papers, clothing, shoes, three-year-old receipts, old makeup, Christmas cards, you name it. I had shoeboxes full of junk and the only time I purged was when I moved. Thankfully I have moved often. I can’t imagine how much clutter might be hiding in my closets and storage areas had I not.

My point is, you’re not alone. So what’s next? Let me share some tips that I’ve curated along the way that have helped me clear out my closet and keep me on track.

TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING

1. Get rid of old stuff.

If you haven’t worn it in three consecutive Fall, Summer, Spring, or Winter seasons, and it’s not your wedding dress, you don’t need it. We must make room for something new and fabulous! Just like letting go of bad thoughts and toxic people, we must get rid of the things we aren’t using to make room for better things we actually like

Make three piles: Donate, Trash, and Keep. My favorite pile is always the donate pile because I literally hate throwing away perfectly good clothes just because I can’t fit them or I’ve out worn it. I like the thought that it may travel to a new home and someone else can make better use of it. After you’ve gotten rid of the donate and trash piles, you’re now left with a lot more space.

2. Store out of season garments.

If it’s summer, put your winter clothes away in plastic bins to save space. I do this twice a year right before winter and summer. If you live in a really warm or cold region, see if you can do this with your extra light and heavy outwear.

3.  Organize it.

I like to fold my pants, shorts, and t-shirts and hang my dressier shirts, sweaters, and dresses. I typically move from left to right: Outerwear, Blazers and cardigans, long-sleeve button-downs, quarter length sleeves, short sleeves (dressy to casual), and lastly dresses and skirts. I typically hang my outerwear and dresses in areas of the closet that have more vertical space.

Some people like to organize by color or short sleeve to long sleeve. I’ve done both and they all work, it just depends on what’s appealing to your eye and will shorten the time it takes to get ready for your day.

If you need to, take a trip to your local Target, Homegoods, Marshalls, Ross, IKEA, or furniture store to get sturdy storage furniture. I prefer cubicle-style bookcases, traditional bookcases are currently popular for shoes, and self-installed shelving. I typically use my larger suitcases to store out of season clothing and shoes. When it’s time to travel, I just dump it out into bags. A neater way to store would be to get those big heavy duty plastic bins. They come in handy, especially if you’re storing in an area that might get damp.

4. Shop smart.

This is the fun part. Now you’ve got enough space to get garments you will actually wear. Now here’s a few simple ground rules to help keep your closet clutter-free.

1. Access your closet and take a mental note of the pieces you still need to complete your wardrobe. You can write a list or use an app that stores your closet pieces to keep you on track.

2. Shop for your current size. If you have an ideal size you’d like to be, get there first before shopping. If you need motivation, buy one inexpensive item you can use to gauge how close you are to your goals. But please don’t buy a closet full of clothing four times too small in hopes that it will motivate you. If there is no way to safely reach that size in three months, leave it on the rack until you’re ready.

3. Only buy things you will wear within two weeks. No more buying things for that special occasion that never comes.

4. Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale, buy it because you absolutely love it–sale or no sale. Always try it on in the dressing room. That will more than likely be the deciding factor. Look at it from all angles and imagine or view the other pieces in your wardrobe you can pair it with on your app. Don’t worry if you can’t make up your mind. Leave it there for a day or two and If you still love it, take it home.

5. Buy quality over quantity.

I know. If you’re anything like me, it can be difficult to spend anything more than $20 on a pair of jeans. Instead of thinking solely about pricing, think about durability. Can this item last three winters or more? In the long run, buying quality things save you money becuase you wont have to keep replacing cheaply made things.

Disclaimer. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t worth buying and expensive doesn’t automatically make it quality. If you are finding a hard time telling the difference, spend a few shopping trips browsing, touching, and studying stitching of items in Barneys or Bloomingdales. Huge difference in quality from lower end stores, trust me.  If you’re like me and still building your wardrobe, focus on staple pieces that will pull together any basic outfit. My current rule of thumb is to buy quality staple items and spend less on trendier pieces.

To build my wardrobe I’ve been going to stores that sell higher end quality items at a discounted price. Some of my favorite stores are DSW, Marshall’s, and Nordstrom Rack. TopShop and Zara are my favorite stores to frequent when I want on-trend pieces that will hold up over time.

I recently paid a visit to Nordstrom to check out some limited edition Optical lens from Warby Parker and made a day of shopping out of it. If you’d like, check out my video to get some shopping ideas for college or the end of summer.

LaToya Codner youtube

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Do you have any tips for organizing your closet or shopping for quality pieces online of in stores? please share. I love new ideas and tactics!

How To Decide Which Clothes to Throw Away

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BUILDING A BETTER WARDROBE: WHAT TO PURGE

There comes a time when we all need a little wardrobe upgrading in our lives.  With so many clothes staring back at us in our closets, which ones do we keep and which ones get tossed?

When I was growing up, I used to give all of my inanimate objects feelings and personalities. I imagined they said things like, “pick me, wear me!” and I’d choose accordingly.  As I got older, that mentality fell away, but it was replaced with an attachment to my clothing. Almost like a fragrance, each item reminded me of a time and place that was either adored or abhorred. Either way, as a result, my closets always remained overcrowded with items I no longer wore or liked.

6 Quick Tips

Ive already outlined the 6 reasons you’re afraid to throw away old clothes, but now it’s time to get to it. The good news is, it’s simpler to choose than you may have thought.

You don’t feel confident in it. This is number one above all else. We all have different taste in style and one thing I may deem as something to throw away may be a clothing item that makes you feel like a million bucks. Listen to your heart, but don’t B.S. yourself either. There’s no sense in owning something that doesn’t accentuate the diva/divo inside.

It doesn’t fit. This another time to be honest with yourself. I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s drive the point home, shall we? When you wear things that are too big or small, it can make you look out of shape. Your body size doesn’t matter, by the way.  If an outfit is too big, you risk looking sloppy and unorganized. If an outfit is too small, it pushes into the skin causing areas on your body to bulge out and create body “rolls” where they might otherwise not exist. So try every questionable garment on, face the mirror, and tell yourself the truth.  Worst case scenario, more shopping is in the future 🙂

You’ve outgrown the style.  I don’t think this needs much explanation. We’ve all had things we simply don’t like anymore, but somehow stay in our closets. When you spot it, toss it or give it away.

If It’s in bad shape, it’s time to free your closet of it. There’s no sense in walking around with stains you’re trying to hide or safety pinning missing buttons (unless your you enjoy it). If you’re having trouble, “in bad shape” basically means items that are torn, tattered, missing buttons, pilled up, or stained.

You haven’t worn it In a long time. This can be the hardest item(s) to get rid of because most people have such hope for an item and will continuously hold onto it until they get a chance to wear it. I get it, if it’s beautiful and makes you happy, you should wear it. Here’s a suggestion, give yourself a short timeline. If it’s a really cute top or accessory, wear it by the end of the week. If it’s something a bit more dressy, get together with some friends and have an outing so you can all get dressed up and spend some quality time together. It kills two birds with one stone!

If an item has bad memories attached, it should be the first to go. Keeping a top from your cheating ex in some way makes you relive that relationship every time you see it. Sometimes throwing those items away can be therapeutic. Give it a try and see how much better you’ll feel. It may take some time, but it eventually always feels good to get rid of the baggage and toxic memories.

If you want a glimpse into how my own purging is coming along, check out my latest Youtube video, Wardrobe Purge | Pants & Skirts.

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Now that you have a good idea of the kinds of things to throw away, get to it! This is the next step in creating that perfect wardrobe you envision. Come back and let me know how it went 😉

6 reasons you're afraid to throw away old clothes

6 Reasons You’re Afraid to Throw Away Old Clothes

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BUILDING A BETTER WARDROBE: THE MENTALITY

If you’ve read my previous post How To Organize Your Closet, you know that clearing my closet of unnecessary things has been at the forefront of my mind for the last few weeks.  I know you’ve heard it time and time again, “You have to purge your closet in order to make room for new things”.  It’s old news and, quite frankly, very annoying when throwing out your precious possessions is the last thing you want to hear.

I get it. It took me years to get to the mindset I have today and I still struggle at times.  It’s hard to let go of your stuff—even for celebrities like Kim Kardashian who cried when her husband, Kanye, got rid of 98% of the things in her closet before he replaced them with new things. You see, it doesn’t matter how easily a person can replace old things because it’s not aways about the money. It’s an emotional attachment.

However, the truth is most of us don’t have a mansion with rooms that can hold hundreds of shoes and clothing. Most of us have modest spaces that can only fit a certain amount of clothing before our closets start to feel overwhelmingly cramped. You may have some amazing pieces in your closet, but with all of the “stuff” in the way, you can’t find it. Then you end up rushing out of the house looking subpar to your preference, and another day rolls by of you not living out the vision you have of how you want to look.  It’s kind of sad, right?

We’ve got to break this cycle, today! You know what you have to do, but you first have to change your mentality.

Here are some reasons I’ve pinpointed that may be holding you back from letting things go. Healing begins with recognition. Cliché, but I had to say it.

1.  I PAID TOO MUCH FOR THIS. 

Whether you paid $40 or $400, it all adds up. Everyone’s budget is just as unique as their style, so a number that represents “too much” cannot be named, but the sentiment is the same. When you’ve spent your hard earned money on something, it’s hard to let it go. Especially if the brand holds weight in the fashion industry. Here’s the deal, Hoarding it in your closet isn’t going to magically make it work for you. It either does or doesn’t.

Solution: Sell it. Make some of that money back and invest it in something else that you’ll wear and love.

2.   IT WILL EVENTUALLY FIT.

This is a touchy subject because I’d never want to recommend you give up on your fitness goals.  Instead I’ll jump to the…

Solution: Give yourself a fitness goal. If you can’t fit into X by X date, toss it.  A good time frame is 3 months. That way you’ll have an extra push to get fit and fit into your favorite dress again.  One plea, though. Be realistic about your fitness goals. If you can’t drop the weight healthily in a 3 month period,  and aren’t really giving it your all, you may want to reconsider keeping that item.

3.  IT’S SENTIMENTAL.

In no way would I ever tell you to throw away your Great Great Grandmother’s wedding dress that has been passed down for generations. However, that outfit you wore on your very first date with that guy who is now happily married should probably go.

Solution: Take a photo of it and stash it in a digital folder somewhere on an external hard drive. When you’re ready to let it go, delete it. Wash your hands of the baggage.

4.  THE PERFECT OCCASION THAT NEVER CAME.

My mother is notorious for this one. I can’t count how many things I’ve bought her that she won’t wear because she’s waiting for the perfect moment.  I’ve got news, today is the day. You’re alive and breathing-that’s a miracle! Have a little fun and be a fashionista on a Tuesday.

Solution: If deep down you know you won’t wear it, donate it. Give it to someone who’s perfect occasion happens to be tomorrow.

5.  THE FEAR OF NEVER GETTING MORE OR BETTER.

This was huge for me. I didn’t have much growing up, so I clung to everything I had. This made me a hoarder of old things and it was a very hard habit to break. I guess deep down I was afraid I may never have enough financially to treat myself to more.  I always had this voice in my head telling me that I better hold on to that old item “just in case”. Over the years I accumulated so many worn and dusty items that I habitually skipped over in my closet. I’ve wasted so much time putting on outfits and realizing, “oh, this shirt is the one with the missing button”. Never again.

Solution: Have faith in yourself. We can never repaint the past but most of us have control of our future.  We CAN dictate our finances. If you have a job that doesn’t pay you enough, find a new one. If you always buy cheap clothes you end up throwing away, start saving for what you really want. We may not all be able to buy the wardrobe of our dreams in one day, but we can all make small adjustments each shopping trip that help us achieve our style goals.

6.  LAZINESS. 

I don’t have to explain this one.

Solution:  Just do it. Now. My biggest motivation was imagining all of the space I’d have to get more clothes. If that doesn’t work, imagine cutting your morning routine time in half. Get rid of the excess and find what you really want to wear faster.

I’m on this journey with you and in the next few weeks I’ll be cleaning out my closet and showing you all on my Youtube channel. So tune in next Thursday to watch me purge my unwanted tops.

It’s time we bring the vision of our best selves to life.  Why not let our beautiful personalities shine through our clothing as well? It’s time to show yourself (and the world) what you’ve got!

If you know someone who prefers video format and you want to share my tips, share this video:

P.S. No maxing out credit cards today. Baby steps, baby steps 🙂

CHECK OUT MY VEGAS VLOG

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I’m on this journey with you and in the next few weeks I’ll be cleaning out my closet and showing you all on my Youtube channel. So tune in next Thursday to watch me purge my unwanted tops.

It’s time we bring the vision of our best selves to life.  Why not let our beautiful personalities shine through our clothing as well? It’s time to show yourself (and the world) what you’ve got!

If this resonated with you, share it with your girlfriends. Comment below and tell us what your tips are. Leave your website link for us to check out too!

Green Protein Smoothie

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GREEN PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. When you are just beginning or getting back in your groove, workouts SUCK. But beyond working out, keeping track of what I consume sucks even more. I know the benefits and I always feel better, but refusing that delicious piece of cheesecake hurts almost every time.

Okay, I got off track. Before or after my “glorious” workouts, I drink protein smoothies. Why? Long story short, they fill you up fast and help build muscle. Sexy.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups spinach
1 banana
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup of lite vanilla greek yogurt
2 cups frozen berry mix (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)
2 tablespoons almond butter

First, put the coconut milk and spinach in the blender. Blend. Blending greens first helps blend them smoother getting rid of any gritty texture.  Next, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add Ice if your berries aren’t frozen.

ANOTHER EASY PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

TRY THEM

If you try any of these or have any other smoothie ideas, please comment down below and share. I’m also always game for more eating habits tips.