Simple Inspiration Interview featuring Shimeka from Design the Life You Want

Shimeka

Do you feel stuck in a job you don’t like or feel you can not get ahead in life?  Well this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview may just help you change those feelings.  This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Shimeka from Design the Life You Want.  We all have a vision of the life we want to have but many times that vision does not always become reality.

Design The Life You Want is about reclaiming your power as a creator. You have the power to produce the results in your life that you want. Design The Life You Want offers are bi-weekly podcast episodes which interview entrepreneurs and experts who address the common challenges that people face when they want to transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Let’s hear how Shimeka has simplified her finances as well as how she has designed the life she wanted:

What event lead you to decide you were not living the life you envisioned?

I was introduced to a network marketing company in my mid-twenties and realized that being an employee was never going to get me where I wanted to be in life.

How long did it take you to realize that?

It probably took a few years to figure it out. I graduated from college thinking that I was going to climb the corporate ladder. I ended up taking a job in a call center, desperate to get a job before my student loan payments kicked in. I later went to work for a “a good company” in the area and still had hopes building some sort of career. However, the negative interactions from the customer service interactions began to take its toll. I HATED my job and the area where I live didn’t really offer corporate career opportunities. I live in the call center capital of the world, or at least it feels like it. I realized that I had been living a life that required me to put my destiny in someone else’s hands.

What steps did you need to take to change it?

I just quit one day with no plan. I didn’t take the steps that I should have. I had the discretionary income to pay off or pay down my debts, but I was an “in the box” thinker at the time. I should have created a financial plan to address the debt and minimize the risk associated with quitting my job.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came making that change?

My biggest roadblock was me. I decided to buy into this pipe dream of network marketing success, but did not have the action to produce successful results. I was paralyzed with fear and refused to step outside of my comfort zone. As a result, I spent my 401k, maxed out my credit cards and messed up my credit. I do not regret leaving the job, I just regret the poor financial decisions that I made afterwards.

How did you feel once you made the change?

I felt liberated, but I was delusional at the same time. I kept this charade up for a year before I decided to look for another job. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Why did you start Design The Life You Want?

I realized that there are a lot of people who want to quit their jobs in order to pursue their dreams. When I asked what was holding them back, there were a few common themes, including finances. I wanted to create a platform to help people overcome those challenges and empower people to live by design and not by default.

What type of feedback have you received since it started?

The feedback has been very positive. I am pleasantly surprised and how receptive my audience has been to me. I started a podcast because I wanted my personality to show and I had not figured out a way to do that with my writing.

What are your current financial goals?

My primary financial goal is to improve my money management and pay off my credit cards. Now, that I am in a better place financially, I find it easier to lose track of what I spend. My biggest variable expense is food and that will be the first project from a money management stand point. I will use the savings to apply to my credit card payments. I other financial goal is to increase my income. I have been using my discretionary income to pay for the cost associated with launching my business. By increasing my income, I will be able to use the business revenue to cover business expenses. This will free up even more discretionary income to pay off debts.

What tools do you currently use to manage your finances?

Online banking is my favorite tool. It’s quick, easy and cost effective. At the same time, it can be more of a challenge to keep up with expenses. I have always balanced my accounts mentally, even when I wrote checks. However, with some items being drafted out of my account, it is hard to keep track of those types of expenses.
What one thing have you done to enable you to live your current lifestyle?
I have never tried to keep up with the Jones’. I get this from my parents, who live very frugal lives. I will also be the first to admit that I do splurge on technology. I treat myself to the things that I really want and that is it. We still have a big square 32inch television in our living room. It would be nice to have a big flat screen tv, but we really don’t need it. I rarely spend money on clothes, shoes or home decor.

What three things do recommend in order to simplify your finances?

– Use online banking. You can manage your accounts, set up notifications and pay your bills.
– Opt for electronic bill notification. This cuts down on the amount of paper mail that you receive.
– Make some of the money that you are saving harder to access. Instead of using your regular bank, find another one located across town. This makes it accessing the money more of a hassle, unless you really need it. It may not be simple from an implementation standpoint, but it is a simple way to leave the money alone once you put it there.

What’s your best savings tip?

I like to save large sums of money versus small systematic sums of money. For example, we save the majority of our income tax refunds every year. The reason why I like this approach is because it is extra money. You don’t need it to pay for any necessities. In my early twenties, I would get a performance bonus every year. I would get few thousand dollars in extra cash and blow it. I don’t remember much of anything I spent that money on, except when I bought a Yorkie. I promised myself that I would never let large sums of money slip through my hands like that ever again. I have been saving my bonus money for eventual maternity leave (whenever I do have kids), because I want the option to stay home even after my paid leave is over.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

I am a big fan of Gen Y Finance guy. I was really impressed with his approach to reaching his financial goals and even interviewed him on my podcast. He offers a detailed look into his personal finances and tells great stories at the same time.

What advice or thoughts you would like to share with others who are looking to change their life?

You have the power to change your life, right from where you are. The first step is to believe that you can and the next step is to start working on an idea. Start listening to podcasts related to your area of interest. You will begin to learn strategies that you can implement in your own life.

Thanks Shimeka for sharing your story with my readers. As I mentioned earlier I am sure many can relate to your story.   You provided some great advice to help those who want to simplify.

If you would like to learn more about Shimeka, check out her blog and podcast which is Design The Life You Want.  She also offers one on one coaching for those who want to break free from the employee mindset and take their businesses to the next level.  She is also working on her first book so keep an eye out for it. You can also follow them on twitter @shimekism.

To read previous interviews in the series click below


If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

 

If You Don’t Do This You Will Probably Not Gain Control of Your Personal Finances

Financial Assessment

Have you ever wondered how you can gain control of your finances?

Have you ever wondered whether or not you will ever find the time to manage your finances?

I have seen many individuals who make a good income and struggle with managing their finances.

It’s unfortunate when a few small changes can help them save time and get their finances under control.

I know you want to have control of your finances so you can have a financial peace of mind as quickly as possible.

And that’s why I am going to show you what you must do first to begin gaining control of your finances so you can have the financial peace of mind you desire.

In fact it’s the same place everyone who wants to achieve financial peace must begin.

This one simple thing is:

Understand where you currently stand financially

The fastest and easiest place to start helping you get your financials under control is to know where you currently stand financially.  To gain control of your finances you need to only look at your current financial situation. It will help you know what changes need to be made.

The best way to do this is to perform a financial assessment.  It’s the first step in your journey to simplify and to have an understanding of your current finances. Doing a financial assessment answers the questions you need to ask in order to simplify your finances.

To begin your financial assessment take a few minutes to think about what your current financial situation looks and then write it down. Your entire financial picture can be seen on your monthly statements. To help you have better picture of what your current finances looks like gather all of your bank statements, debt statements (credit cards, mortgage, student loans, or other debt),and investment accounts (retirement and non-retirement).

Also gathering the statement will show you how many accounts you have and what is paperless and what is not paperless.

Now that you have gathered your statements write down your thoughts on what your finances look like. Many times we believe our finances are better than or worse than we thought but the only way to determine this is to actually take a look at them instead of just guessing. I have assumed things were better than they were but once I took a look at the situation it was worse than I thought so the best way to do this is to look for yourself.

Additionally while you have all of your statements in front of you why not construction a personal financial to determine your current net worth. Is it positive or negative? There you go. You have seen just one of the 9 steps to simplify your finances so you can begin to have the financial peace of mind you desire.

So the secret is to know where you stand first.

I have created a cheat sheet and checklist to help you begin to simplify your finances within 30 days.

To gain access to the checklist and cheat sheet click below to get your hands on this which can help you get control of your finances within the next month.

Til next time, remember to take one step at a time to simplify.

Simple Inspiration Interview featuring the Debt Free Guys

Debt Free Guys

 

Thanks for checking out this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview.  Today I have the pleasure of interviewing not one but two individuals this week.  This week we have an opportunity to hear from the Debt Free Guys.  I am sure many of you can relate to John and David’s financial struggles.  They offer some great advice on how they were able to overcome their financial struggles and begin to live a debt free life.

Let’s hear how John and David have simplified their finances and began to live a debt free life:

What event lead you to realize you needed to eliminate debt and improve your financial life?

About ten years ago we found ourselves as two thirty-something professionals living in a friend’s basement apartment and had two beat up cars. Our peers were passing us by and we wondered why. It didn’t take long to realize it was because we had $51,000 worth of credit card debt. We were borrowing from our future and had nothing to show for it.

What area of your finances needed the most improvement outside of eliminating your debt?

We had no budget. We spent unconsciously. If we wanted it, we got it. It didn’t matter if we spent cash or credit. Eventually everything was on credit and we were living paycheck to paycheck.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock to improve your financial lives?

Our biggest challenge was realizing that we didn’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. Once we realized that we could have a good quality of life within and even below our means, things changed for us financially.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

This took a lot of self-reflection and open dialogue between the two of us. We ultimately realized that we both had two primary goals in life. The first is to travel extensively. The second is to save for retirement. Once we realized those were the areas we want to spend our money, it was easier to get our spending in order.

What steps did you take to change your financial lives?

Initially, we eliminated all non-essential spending and travel. We did this until we paid off all our credit cards. This helped us embrace budgeting. When we were finally able to loosen the purse strings, we did so on a budget and have done so ever since.

How long did it take you to get your finances in order?

We quickly came up with a budget and payment plan to pay off our debt once we realized what we most wanted in life. It took us about two and a half years to pay off our credit card debt. It took us another year or so to feel more comfortable financially. It was at this point that we moved out of the basement apartment into our own condo.

How did you feel once you had your finances in order and eliminated your debt?

Amazing! We occasionally think about how we felt when we were mired in debt and how good we feel now. We have less stress. We’re happier. We can do the things we want. We own what we have. It’s just an all-around good feeling. We want others to have the same feeling.

What financial habits have you developed so you continue to improve your finances?

We’re what we call “money conscious”. We know how much we truly make. We know where every dollar will go before we receive it. We save aggressively for retirement. We have accounts for home improvements. We have an account we’re funding because we’ll need a new car in two years. We have these accounts because we want to spend cash and not credit on the things we want and need.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Our advice is to just simplify your financial life. All the spending, all the shopping and all the stuff makes our lives more complicated than they need to be. Figure out what it is you truly want financially and work for those financial goals. Just because something is important to your neighbor, sibling or coworker doesn’t mean it’s important for you.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to improve on?

Yes. We love to dine out on good food and wine. We don’t go into debt because of it, but we’d do better if we cooked at home more often and drank cheaper wine.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to eliminate debt or improve their finances?

We documented our experience and what we learned in our book 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life. In 4, we break down what it takes to quickly pay off credit card and other debt and have a good time.

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount need to fund it?

We do have an emergency savings account. We have three month’s worth of living expenses in a credit union account that has no check writing or debit cards privileges. We have not had to use it, but it’s a great feeling know that it’s there.

What percentage of your income are you saving?

Among our retirement, saving for a new car and other financial goals, we’re currently saving about 25 percent of our income. We’re currently making a lot of changes to Debt Free Guys, LLC, too, and that’s taking some of our income.

What’s your best savings tip?

It’s almost too simple, but we still use the envelope method. We have a budget for groceries, gas, social spending, etc. Every other payday, we withdraw the money we need for each category and that’s all the money we get to spend in each category until another two paydays.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

If money wasn’t a concern, we would go on a world tour. We’d travel to everywhere in the world we want to go and see everything we want to see.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with others who are looking to simplify?

We think living simply is really a mental shift. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the hectic, fast paced, always on our phone lives and have the insatiable need for more, more, more. Once we make a shift in thinking, everything else falls into place.

Thanks John and David for sharing your story with my readers. As I mentioned earlier I am sure many can relate to your story and are looking for ways to improve their finances.  You provide some great advice to help them turn their financial lives around.

If you can related to their story want to learn more about John and David, check out their new and improved blog  www.DebtFreeGuys.com.  They use their blog, video and podcasts to help others with their personal finances. Whether it’s getting out of debt, investing for retirement or creating a budget, www.DebtFreeGuys.com has the answers.  You can also follow them on twitter @debtfreeguys or friend on facebook.

To read previous interviews in the series click below


If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

Simple Inspiration Interview with Stephen from How to Save Money.ca

How to Save Money

 

Are you looking to save money?  I have the person for you.  Stephen from How to Save Money.  His blog HowToSaveMoney.ca shows people from all walks of life how to save money on everything they buy and does it without cutting back. It’s all about getting exactly what you want for as little money as possible.  Then, the leftover money you have can be spent however you choose: savings, investments, entertainment, travel, clothes, cars, jewelry … it’s up to you.  He does not try and tell people what to spend their money on, just how to spend less of it.

Let’s learn a little more from Stephen in this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview:

What event lead you to start How to Save Money?

Beginning to earn and spend my own money in my college years really got me thinking about how much things cost. I used to think the price on the shelf was the price you paid, but then I noticed that every store had a different price for the same product.
That realization led me to do a lot of research on saving money on the things I bought which in turn led me to be active on money saving forums. I found a goldmine of information there that was inaccessible to the general public so I decided to make it easier to read and more accessible through HowToSaveMoney.ca.

What is the biggest financial challenge you see from readers of How to Save Money?

The site is more geared to teaching people to maximize the value of their dollars no matter their status in life so there is no one financial challenge that really sticks out.

How have you simplified your personal finances?

My finances are far from simplified because often the best money saving deals involve a little bit of extra work and complexity. You can earn thousands of dollars opening new accounts and trying new products and services.
Lately I have simplified some by cutting down on my accounts, always sticking with no fee banking from the start, and not worrying too much about budgeting. I find that being money conscious and trying to save on every purchase is enough to not over spend.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

It’s really the generous sign up offers and rewards available from having multiple accounts that makes it difficult.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I try to balance the upfront reward with the extra time involved to make sure it is worth the effort because there is nothing I value more than my time.

How has simplifying changed your life?

The more I simplify, the more I’m able to focus on the things I enjoy in life. Again, it’s a balance, but I’m definitely open to more simplification in the future.

How long did it take you to simplify?

It’s a work in progress that will probably never be done =)

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

Most of my finances are automated at this point. The one thing I never automate is my credit card bills which I prefer to pay manually twice a month. That way I can review all the charges and ensure they are correct.

What do you automate?

All my bills really: internet, cell phone, water & sewer, home and auto insurance, ETF investing, etc. I do pay my life insurance bills to save money on their automation fees once a year.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Simplification is good but make sure you aren’t over simplifying. You could be missing out on some big rewards if you never try something new or re-evaluate your finances. If you put it on auto pilot, make sure you check it every now and then to ensure it isn’t steering you into an iceberg!

What’s your best savings tip?

My site is overflowing with tips on how to save money, but my best one single tip is to plan ahead when it comes to everything. A little planning will both save you and earn you a ton of money!

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

My favorite personal finance blogs other than my own are My Own Advisor, Boomer & Echo, and Million Dollar Journey.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My favorite things to do are spend time with my family, travel, and play video games so I would probably do more of all than that!

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

I have lots of funds that can be accessed in case of an emergency, but none of them are designated as an emergency fund. I don’t believe an emergency fund is always necessary because there are lots of ways to get funds in an emergency.

Thanks Stephen for sharing your story.  As well as offering some great tips to help simplify your finances.

If you would like to read more from Stephen check out his site HowToSaveMoney.ca I am sure you will find at least one tip to help you save.  You can also  follow him on twitter via @howtosave

To read previous interviews in the series click below


If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.