Recession. National debt. Fiscal cliff. Tax increases.
We have become all but too familiar with these and other financial terms as an impending doom looms over the country…or so the media reports. I’m not a financial expert and beyond the basic supply and demand type principles of economics, I don’t have any background. But I do know that as individuals, we have an obligation to take care of our own personal finances.
One way to manage your finances is to monitor your credit. Whether you make 4 figures or 7 figures a year, you need to see what’s going on with your profile. It will help you catch anything that seems fraudulent and regular review will allow you to realistically see how your credit is affected when you take certain actions.
We’re all on a budget these days, so here are some free sites that you can use to monitor your credit score and credit report. And, yes, I use all three! They’re free and all cover different aspects. Keep in mind that the basic services are free and you don’t have to supply payment info but you can always upgrade to include paid services.
Annual Credit Report – www.annualcreditreport.com
This site is one that will give you an absolutely free copy of your credit report. You can get one report from each of three reporting agencies each year. I saw a tip last year to use only one agency every 4 months so you can spread it out over the entire year.
Credit Karma – www.creditkarma.com
This is a free site that I’ve been using for over 2 years. You can monitor your credit score monthly for free. You can see the items that changed over the past month, which will allow you to see how paying on time (or late) affects you. They also give suggestions of how you can improve your score, as you view the ‘credit report card’. You also get a reminder if it’s been around 40 days or so since you last updated your score.
Credit Sesame – www.creditsesame.com
I’ve just learned about this site about 4 months ago and have been using it to monitor my credit score along with Credit Karma. It’s similar to Credit Karma in that you can see your progress over the past several months but they use different reporting agencies. Also, Credit Sesame gives the option to automatically update your score, and you get an emailed notification that your profile has been updated. The monitoring feature lets you set criteria to get notified if certain things happen on your credit profile, like hard inquiries or if your score drops.
It’s a new year, so take even more initiative in taking charge of your personal finances. Listen to the reports but don’t be bound by them. Start by making use of the free services available.
Until next time, do something today that you only talked about doing yesterday!
Deuces & Smoochez! ~ Diva
“If we are not becoming an advocate for someone else, then our works are not enough. It’s not the works that reward you, but the sacrifice for someone else is what will keep you successful.”
– Keesha Rivers
I have to start at the beginning, so bear with me…or skip down a few paragraphs to read all about Fla’Vore. Of course, if you skip down, you’ll miss the journey!
This past August, as I was going through one of the lowest points of my life, my BFF, Selina reminded me to go to a plus size model call at our favorite store, Ashley Stewart. I had it in my mind to just stop by and see what it would be like, having never been to a model call before. Little did I know that a door was opening for me to walk through to become a part of…an affiliate of…a family member within the Fla’Vore Family.
Upon being urged by our fav associate, Nikki, I went to the car and grabbed my high heels. I was super nervous, especially after the model trainer, Ayana, ripped the runway and told me to emulate her. I did my nervous laugh…but I got through it. I was so happy that I had done that seemingly small thing. A few days later when I got a call back, I went from my low place to being on cloud nine! I couldn’t believe it! At that point, it was still my choice whether I would participate as a model or not. After learning more about the organization, it was a no-brainer. I was happy to become a part of this family that has lived up to my expectations and beyond by helping me better myself, and by being an amazing community advocate.
Fla’Vore is an organization comprised of individuals who want to rise and who want to help others in the community rise as well. The activities and events are always with some type of outreach in mind, whether it be something for the youth, helping families, or building individuals. Although I came in with a mind to build my own confidence through being a plus size model, I have gained so much more, both tangible and intangible, from Fla’Vore!
The founder/CEO, Ms. Keesha Rivers, is the epitome of moving forward and going higher, all while being a great help and advocate for others. I have no idea how she does it all, but she pulls it off making it look effortless…and stays fly while doing so! I have met some of the most beautiful spirits within the Fla’Vore Family in the past several months and I am so blessed to have connected with them along my path. This Diva is totally proud to state #IAmFla’Vore!
Until next time, be happy for what you have…don’t stress over what you don’t have!
Deuces n Smoochez! ~ DIVA ~
This is a post dedicated to all the parents out there. I’d like to first give you a shout out for having to deal with crying, whining, begging, nose-wiping, boo-boo bandaging, clothes washing and homework helping 365 days, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Of course, I know there are also smiles, moments of hysterical laughter and bear hugs that make you feel special too.
Then you have the cost of caring for children…I don’t even have to say anything else about that! Well today I wanted to let all parents who have children that need to wear uniforms to school that Old Navy has some great options that are super affordable. Of course, my babies are girls (and I’m a girlie Diva) so I’ve highlighted some of the items for girls in this blog.
At the time of this entry, most of these items are on sale starting at only $5. So if you can, you should get a jump on school uniform shopping and save a ton of money. You’ll need that kick-back to get the quadratic equation calculator, hair ribbons and rolls of paper towels that are on the required items to bring in during the first week of school.
Until next time, happy parenting!
Deuces & Smooches ~ Diva
“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.”
The above is an excerpt from the hit song “The Greatest Love of All” sang by Whitney Houston, written by Linda Creed and Michael Masser. This is a beautiful song and everyone knew it. Being a young child when this song was released, I learned all of the words but they didn’t have a whole lot of meaning. I knew it was a special song and Whitney could really blow, but I didn’t fully get it.
Now that I’m grown (don’t tell my momma I said I’m grown), I understand the importance of pouring positivity into and showing support to young people. The words of our aforementioned song state that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. If we don’t build our youth up, teach them respect and show them that they are worth it, how can we expect them to love themselves or show love to others?
Okay, let me get off my soapbox and move along to some young Black individuals who are making a difference in the lives of young people in Central Florida. They all have awesome spirits and are outstanding at developing new and innovate solutions. They exemplify one of my favorite sayings: don’t speak about it; be about it! I’m blessed to call them friends and I wanted to take a moment and give them some virtual applause for a job well done. Keep in mind, this is presented from my POV and there is much more to their stories…
Brooke Brown is the visionary and CEO of Miss Mini Mogul Association. M3 focuses on developing productive young ladies. Discussions about real topics like respecting yourself, etiquette coaching, music lessons and mother-daughter events are only a few of the activities that M3 can boast about. Brooke is a great role model who is stylish (sorry, I had to say it) and true to her word. Basketball ex-wives & girlfriends should take note. I’ve had the honor of seeing the young ladies interact with Brooke and all I can see is a pure love from them to Brooke, which speaks more than any words I could say. M3 of FACEBOOK
Whitney Brown (no relation to Brooke) is the CEO of OH BOY Corp. OH BOY is an acronym for An Organization Helping to Build Our Youth. This entity focuses on putting the FUN in fundraising in order to raise money that goes 100% into helping local youth. Fundraising via fashion shows, casino nights and auctioning dates with local poets have helped to pay for college tours, school supply give-aways and begin to build scholarship funds. Whitney is a bubbly, free-spirited individual who does it big if she’s going to do it. She doesn’t overwhelm herself with doing it by the book because she prefers to write her own chapters, which make the book even more valuable. At the time of this post, OH BOY is accepting donations for the upcoming Back to School Drive. OH BOY on FACEBOOK
Michael Scott is currently a promising candidate for the District 5 School Board District in Orange County, Florida. Mike spends much of his time being a mentor and counselor to at-risk young men. He particularly enjoys being a positive role model to those who most of us might write off- Mike and his affiliates actively reach out to young men who are juveniles in the adult penile system of Orange County. That’s just the tip of the iceberg! You’ll have to visit his site to see all of his involvement. What I admire about Mike is that he is a man of his word and he shows each young man love as if he was his own son. MIKE SCOTT on FACEBOOK
I’m glad that there are people like Brooke, Whitney and Mike who count it a privilege to invest in our youth. If you’d like to get involved (volunteer, donate, fundraise, etc.), you can contact them via FaceBook or let me know and I’ll get you in contact with them.
Until next time…Deuces & Smooches! ~ DIVA ~
So, I won’t even act like I was overly excited to try a cupcake that incorporated bacon but since I have known the owner of SweetCakes, Etc., I’ve experienced some of the best unconventional “sweet cakes” I’d never imagined.
Sweet Cakes are cupcakes on steroids, but not the illegal steroids that can make you have to renounce your gold medal…but the kind of steroids that make your taste buds float on air. After enjoying one of my favorite combinations, peanut butter & jelly, in a sweet cake, that put me a little more at ease to try the French toast & bacon sweet cake.
At first, I was like “ok, it’s probably not real bacon”, but boy was I wrong! For my first bite, I tasted the cake/frosting portion (no bacon) and it definitely tasted like French toast. So, for my second bite, I included a piece of bacon. All I can say is that I could eat this “breakfast” at least 5 days a week! I finished off my sweet cake in just a couple of minutes, not leaving one bit of bacon behind.
Deuces n Smoochez to SweetCakes, Etc.!
I’m always looking for great deals…any time I can get more for less constitutes a great deal to me. But when I get something FREE…that’s an outstanding deal!
CVS has a great offer for Father’s Day that cost me a whopping $2.12 with tax. Buy a folded 5×7 card and get a FREE 8×10 collage. Note: I opted to pick up from the store to save on shipping costs and they’re ready in an hour.
CLICK THE PHOTO BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE CVS PHOTO PAGE
Keep in mind, for a “Buy-Get” deal to truly be outstanding, you must be able to make use of the thing that you actually have to pay for and the free item. So with CVS’s deal, my dad gets a custom Father’s Day card for with my pic on it (only $2) and I will get a great collage of pics of me and my babies!
One of my favorite brands, New York & Company, is currently offering a steal of a deal with 40% off everything! That includes online and in-store purchases. There are some stipulations like no clearance, can’t combine offers and the like. But taking almost half off of their modestly-priced, high quality items is a shopping gal’s dream!
Here are some of my favorite looks for this season from their LookBooks.
|Perfect White Suit from the I’ll Take Manhattan LookBook|
|“Suited for Spring” from the Maximum Work Chic LookBook|
|“Short Cut” from the New Hues Modern Mix LookBook|
Fashion to Figure has some super hot dresses that will turn heads in any setting. All of these styles are less than $50 so you can get your dress and have a few bucks left to pick up a cute clutch to go along with your dress.
|Winner’s Circle Chiffon Tie Dress $38|
|Metallic V-neck Dress $34|
|Petal to the Metal Strapless Dress $40|
This is perfect for people like me who don’t really like to get up and cook breakfast but want something healthy. And you can grab the free sub for lunch while you’re there picking up breakfast. You can’t beat getting two convenient and fresh meals for under $5!
I have a feeling the folks at Subway will be seing Ms. Deuces & Smooches several times during the month of April.
Until next time, remember to set a goal every day…and reach for it. Even if you don’t acheive it, you’re closer to reaching it anyway!
Deuces & Smooches! ~ Diva