5 Ways to Invest in Yourself Now

invest in yourselfInvesting in yourself is something that everyone should do. In this blog, I will outline 5 ways that you can invest in yourself now, because why wait?  Education and growth doesn’t end once you cross that stage indicating that high school or college graduation took place. Sure, it does feel good to have completed school requirements and not having to go to school but investing in yourself doesn’t end there.  Investing in yourself is pretty much required for you to grow as an individual, professional or in a business setting. The good news is that you are in the driver seat to pick the way or ways to investment. There are many ways to invest in yourself and the costs can range from free to thousands of dollars. The good news about investing in yourself is that you will almost be guaranteed a positive return on investment (ROI). After all, you are betting on yourself!

There are so many ways to invest in yourself so there really isn’t a reason to not jump at this opportunity right now. Truly successfully people are always learning, reading, growing and sharpening their skills.

5 ways to invest in yourself:

1. Books

Yes, good old-fashioned books which you can purchase from the bookstore, thrift stores (my new favorite place to purchase books for cheap), borrow them out from your local library, purchase from amazon (kindle edition if you like) or even listen on audible. However, you could possibly have a book on your bookcase or kindle/iPad that you haven’t read or could re-read, so start there. Keep in mind, there really isn’t any reason to not read or listen via audible. Just reading 15-30 minutes per day will add up and put you mentally ahead of a lot of people.

According to research from Thomas Crowley, 85 percent of self-made millionaires read two or more books per month.

2. Podcasts – Podcasts are my new favorite way to learn and its free. If you have an apple product then you should have the purple colored apple “podcasts” app already installed on your phone or apple device or you can also listen via stitcher, podmatic or Spotify. Nine times out of ten there is a podcast available on a subject matter that you want to learn about or improve in. Some that come to mind are: personal finances, investing, healthy eating, fitness, career advice, business advice, etc. If you haven’t started listening to podcasts then you are truly missing out and should give it a try…like today!

3. Local Events – There are always events going on but sometimes you have to look for them. For example, the library usually has events or you can search by topic via eventbrite.com. You may find events that are free but then other events may come with a cost.

4. Online – Yes, the good ol’ internet where you find “YouTube University” and Google because Google is truly your friend. Also Instagram and Facebook. There are always free webinars, twitter chats and even live streaming opportunities available online. Yes, some of the free webinars will attempt to upsell you or require your email address but that doesn’t mean you have to buy into the offer or maybe it is truly something that you want to buy. However, definitely don’t sleep on all of the free information being spread on social media and the internet. The internet and social media is a tool, use it to your advantage.

5. Conferences – Last but not least, conferences can be very a good investment and more than likely it will cost to attend a conference. You could possibly find a free conference but it may be filled with sale pitches unless it’s being sponsored by an organization. Also, your job may require you to attend a conference and they will cover the cost but that conference may not be your true interest or passion. Therefore, don’t let having to pay for a conference hinder you from self-improvement. Whatever subject matter that you want to improve in, I can almost guarantee you that there is a conference or a workshop out there for it and you should go! Invest in yourself because so many personal interests that won’t be covered by your employer, Examples: the side hustle that you are working on, photography, fitness instructor, women’s empowerment, sorority or fraternity event, etc.

“To guarantee your lifelong success, make a decision today to invest 3 percent of your income back into yourself” – Brian Tracy

I recently read in the book “No Excuses”, by Brian Tracy that it is recommended that you should invest 3% of your income into self-improvement and the author gave evidence of when successful professionals invested in themselves by learning new skills, meeting new people, etc., how this helped to grow their income. Simply because there will be a lot of people that won’t invest in themselves after traditional school or otherwise what is required for their job. They will come up with excuses like they can’t afford it financially or they can’t take the time off work, and the excuses will go on and on. But, I honestly believe that people find ways and the money to do the things that they truly want to do. And, if you are reading this blog and want to grow your income I believe that investing in yourself should be in your budget.

The Main Excuse: “But Conferences are expensive!”

First of all, everyone’s version of expensive is different and you don’t have to start with a conference or an event that cost $300, $500 or $1000 per ticket but you have to start somewhere. If you know your budget really doesn’t have much wiggle room then I would start searching for conferences or events with Eventbrite. There are a lot of low cost events on Eventbrite and some are even free.

Also follow the people that you are interested in hearing speak at conferences on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and sign up for their mailing list. More times than not, they may offer free events, live streams or webinars. If they also have a paid event then those tickets are often announced to subscribers first.

For example, I went to an event presented by The Finance Bar where Courtney Sanders was a guest and it was FREE. Also look out for early bird tickets. You will save money by purchasing your ticket during the early bird ticket period or see if they have a deal if you buy 2 tickets (of course this only works if you plan to attend with a friend) I have seen where a conference has a discount if you buy 2 tickets. Other discounts that come to mind are student discounts and group discounts.

Plan ahead

So, you can’t go to the conference or join the exclusive program being offered because you just don’t have the money. I understand and I have been there before. One simple action will get you there next year, PLANNING. Yes, start planning now even if the conference is a year away. Calculate what it will cost to make sure you can attend or join next year. Be sure to consider: ticket price, hotel room, hotel parking, gas and meals that you will be responsible for.

Be quick but not too quick!

Think carefully about which event that you want to attend because there are conferences going on ALL.THE. TIME, All year long. At one time this year, I had 4 conferences that I was choosing from, 3 in driving distance and 1 that would require a flight. Think about it in detail which one would really give you the most impact and also consider your budget because you don’t want to come back home with a bill or financial regret.

Make it happen!

Lastly, If and when you decide on a conference, cash flowed It and ready to go – it’s time to enjoy! Soak up all of the gems and lessons you can learn to make yourself a better person. Meet new people, network and then come back home and get to work with implementing what you have learned. The implementation part is going to be when you are doing the work from what you learned and next will be the Return on Investment.  After all, you can’t lose when you invest in yourself.

Conclusion

Yes, I went on a tangent about conferences but I believe that a good conference can make a great impact on you. However, attending a conference isn’t the only avenue. Keep in mind, I listed 4 more options to invest in yourself that range from being free to $100 or less: reading a book, listening to podcasts, attending local events and taking advantage of online content.

So, let me know in the comments, do you have a book that you already have or have in mind that can be used to invest in yourself or what’s a conference or webinar that you would like to invest in?

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15 Free or Affordable Ideas for Summer Fun

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15 Free or Affordable Ideas for Summer Fun!

In Columbia, SC I could have sworn that summer started about 2 weeks ago with the temperatures that we have been experiencing but today marks the official start!

Here’s a round up of 15 things to possibly fill your summer calendar:

Free

1. Movies in the Park

Almost every city that I have lived in has a Movies in the Park series. Check your local community calendar or website for activities. (Google: local activities or movies in the park in ___________ (city).

2. Concerts in the Park

Same as the Movies in the park – check your local community calendar or website for location details.

3. Be a tourist in your own town.

This is something that we truly enjoy doing because most residents don’t explore their cities landmarks and historical markings. For example, at our Statehouse there are great spots to take pictures and landmarks/memorials to see. So, get out there and learn some history about your city or go to the next big city or capital and check theirs out.

4. Beach/Lake

The beach/lake is essentially free, you will just need to possibly budget additional for gas and of course food- but we always take our own lunch, snacks and drinks.

5. Local Park

Depending on which park you go to, it could be free or a small admission fee but we always enjoy visiting the state parks (possible fee). Pack a picnic basket and have lunch there, take a kite or Frisbee for some fun too! This is a great opportunity to unplug and just enjoy the outdoors. Sites to check out: NPS and State Parks

6. Visit your local library

I always include a trip to the library because there is so much knowledge just waiting to be soaked up and the books are free! (Just return them on time) Also, libraries have various events that you may be interested in, such as Summer Game Night, story time for kids, Book club for adults and more…so don’t forget about your local library.

7. Have a Cookout or gathering at home

If you are an extrovert like me and like to have a party from time to time…Let your friends know you are providing the place and the grill, but they need to bring a dish 😊  I am sure they are looking for something low cost and fun to do also.

Use what you have:

I am sure you have something that you have paid for and haven’t used yet. Or is that just me? A few things that come to mind are:

8. Netflix – Catch up on your favorite series, or watch some new documentaries. Ask a friend for a recommendation and you might discover a new show that you haven’t heard of.

9. Bookshelf- Raid your own bookshelf or EReader and read one of those books you purchased but never read.

10. E-Courses- I am sure we have all signed up and maybe even paid for an e-course but never did the work. So do the work because the summer is a good time to sharpen your skills or improve in an area.

Paid activities:

11. The Zoo and the aquarium-

I always love a trip to the zoo or the aquarium, unfortunately these usually aren’t free but you can always check groupon for a discount or even your job to see if they offer a discount. Also, ask about discount days or maybe if you go a lot, it could be worth it to get a membership.

12. The Museum-

Visit your local museum and check out a new exhibit. (This could be free because I know of one big bank that offers free admission on a specific weekend out of the month) Before paying, I would check for discounts just to be sure.

13. Waterpark

Who doesn’t love a trip to the waterpark? I will take a trip to the water park over a roller coaster anytime! Also, its so hot so cooling off at the water park is ideal this time of year.

14. Learn a new skill

Have you been wanting to learn photography, blogging, cooking, etc. Then find a class or an instructor and go for it. I enjoy searching for classes on udemy but If you don’t want to pay for this, then there is always youtube university.

15. Fill the Tank and Go!

When all else fails, take a road trip. Maybe go visit a friend or family member that you haven’t seen in a while. If there has been a destination on your mind that you can’t seem to forget, then get in the car and go. The world is out there waiting for you to explore and why not do it this summer! I recommend checking trip advisor for suggestions and recommendations of things to do/eat and see.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

Bonus Tip: Get on the mailing list/IG/Facebook events page for the places you want to be in the loop about.

I hope you take these ideas and create a summer bucket list of things you want to do this summer. I will post mine soon!

Comment below and let me know your plans for Summer18.

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Permission Granted

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If you are waiting for someone to give you permission to take control of your finances or any area in your life, well here you go! Ok, That’s a big statement to claim but follow along and see where this ends up.

I wrestled with starting this blog and the funny thing is that I wanted to start a blog since 2012 and actually did start one via Blogger or some other platform. Guess what it was going to be about? Travel and food, two of my favorite things! I was obsessed with food blogs at the time and my husband and I was in the process of moving to Richmond, VA. We figured it would be a great way to document our new life in Virginia, places we ate at, places we visited, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t keep up with that at all.

Then the idea of creating Sugar and Money to me because of my love for personal finance and I figured it would be nice to sprinkle in a little lifestyle (Sugar). It was still hard to bite the bullet but then I read, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I will admit that the book started off a little slow to me and the more I read it, I thought that maybe this book really wasn’t for me. The subtitle is, “Creative Living Beyond Fear” and the more I read it seemed geared towards artists, writers, basically creatives and I don’t consider myself a creative. But, I guess I am now a Blogger so does that make me a creative?

The chapter which struck a cord with me was, “Permission”. That chapter was so good that I just about highlighted the whole chapter. No, really I did. It was that good! A few things seemed especially for me because I have a little fear around putting my personal actions as it relates to my financial life out on display for the interwebs. However, the lifestyle part should be fun.

The chapter titled, “Permission” reminded me of a few things: First, that we should be curious of things. Just like I am curious as to where this blogging adventure will go. Curiosity can be a good thing. Worst case, I will document my journey to becoming debt free and no one would read this blog. But, I will end up debt free so that really isn’t a bad ending, is it? However, I hope my bravery will encourage someone to take a close look at their finances and make changes that sweeten their life. It could be debt payoff, investing, proper insurance coverage, retirement savings, legacy planning, etc.

Then the following excerpts really spoke directly to me:

“If you’re supporting yourself financially and you’re not bothering anyone else, then you are free to do whatever you want with your life”

Can I get an AMEN? I support myself financially, purchased this domain, hosting, etc so I can do what I want with this blog and my life, correct? Yes, Thank you.

“Let people have their opinions. More than that – Let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your creative work. And always remember that people’s judgment about you are none of your business. Lastly, remember what W.C Fields had to say on this point: ‘It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.”

Now if that isn’t some encouragement to live your own life, make your own decisions and be curious about where your actions will take you, I don’t know what is. Just think, this is only a couple snippets out of, “Big Magic” and even though it started out slow, it ended very well and my favorite section was “Permission”. I know I will reference this book again and again when I need some encouragement.

With Sugar and Money, I hope all my readers will see that they have permission to create and live their own life and with sweet finances. If you need a little encouragement to push past fear, I recommend reading, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Comment below if you have read it or if you plan to pick it up.

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Welcome to Sugar & Money!

A blog about sweet life sweet finances.Welcome to Sugar and Money!

First off, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, Sugar and Money. There are so many blogs out there to read and we all seem to have a mile long list of things to do these days… Or is that just me? Either way, Thank you so much for spending your time here.

So, what is this blog about? Who is behind Sugar and Money? What is the Sugar part? Why do you want to talk about your money of all things? Isn’t talking about money taboo and distasteful? Everyone has debt right? Credit cards, car loans and student loans are all totally normal. So again, what is this blog about and why did you start it?

Sugar:

Well honestly, I came up with the name Sugar and Money because first off, I love Sugar. Ha-Ha. I know that isn’t the best item to have in your diet but all things in moderation right? I love all types of desserts: cupcakes, cakes, pies, baked cobblers, banana pudding, donuts, you name it!  However, Sugar on this blog will mainly represent a sweet life, meaning still enjoying treats in life like a weekend getaway, a planned out and cash flowed vacation, ordering a decadent dessert, purchasing a fancy aromatic perfume that is sure to turn heads, shopping or simply enjoying a nice self care day without worrying if your debit card or credit card will be approved. I am all about planning for purchases and cashing flowing items by not creating additional debt due to comparison to others or the “I deserve” mentality that has been ingrained into many of us. Therefore, Sugar is the lifestyle and fun part of the blog = Sweet Life.

Money:

The money part comes into play because money is such an important part of life – and not just my life – but I dare to say everyone’s life. Money or someone’s wealth determines: where you live, what you drive, what clothing brands you wear, how you dress, what school(s) you attend, what extracurricular activities you and/or your kids participate in, what foods you fill your shopping cart with, what you buy, how you support others, what causes you are able to give to, what type of lifestyle you lead, how you can invest in yourself, financial support for others, leaving a legacy behind, and the list goes on and on. The money part will be heavily focused on the decisions I made that caused me to get into $100,000 in debt (when tallied in 2009) and why $100,000 was so alarming to me! SIX-FIGURES in debt (non-mortgage)!

Then what actions I took to pay off $50,000 and now documenting paying off the remaining $50,000 in debt, totaled April 2018. I will also discuss things I am still doing while in debt, for example, I still contribute to my employers 401K, somebody may have let out a gasp! (That’s why its called personal finance, because it’s personal and I sleep better at night, knowing I am contributing to my future because I am not getting any younger) Lastly and most importantly, why I want to get out of debt,  then post debt plans. Who-hoo!

The Purpose:

This blog isn’t all about me. I am sharing my journey so you can see that debt doesn’t have to be normal and really shouldn’t be normal, how you can get out of debt, stay out debt and create your personal version of sweet finances. While you will see that I am saying, “No” to some things now, later I will be able to say “Hell Yes” to a lot of things.

My hope is that you will continue to follow along with my journey and be encouraged along the way. Maybe I will cause you to challenge some of your thoughts and beliefs around money. Or maybe you have some considerations for me to think about. Either way, I am already envisioning the land of debt freedom to be a magical place where I am free to do whatever I want with my time and eat as many decadent desserts that I want without gaining an ounce! Now, if that doesn’t sound like magic, I don’t know what does!

Thanks Again, stay a while and follow along on this journey of mine.

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