How To Conquer Your Spending Triggers Life a Champ

Despite our budgets and best intentions, the emotions we experience, people we come across, situations we face and marketing messages we intake inadvertently contribute to our tendency to spend more than we often intend to.

It’s easy to act on our spending triggers and get caught up in perpetual overspending. Before you know it you’ve spent $100’s on hair and make up “must-haves” pushed by beauty guru’s. You breeze right over the warning signs and tuck your budget away into your back pocket.

Here are a few of the most common spending trigger laced lies we tell ourselves and reminders to help you pump your brakes before it’s too late:

Trigger: “I deserve it”

You may feel the need to be valued or appreciated if you often put others before yourself, had a long day at work or you’ve had to deal with a stressful situation.

Response: Unfortunately, Temporary purchases won't give you a permanent solution or solve the underlying issue. Click To Tweet

When you find yourself justifying purchases with the ol’ “I deserve it”, ask yourself honestly “Why do I need this?” Once you’ve identified what you hope to get from shopping, find another activity that reaps the same benefits.

Trigger: “Everyone else has one”

Most people call it “Keeping up with the Joneses” but with social media at our disposal  it can feel like we’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, Smiths, and everyone else that comes across our feed.

Response: At any given moment you can hop on the internet and see others living a lifestyle that differs from yours but the reality is, you’re only viewing a highlight reel of what they choose to put out in the world.

Use the images you see on the internet as inspiration, not an indicator of what’s really going on; the people you follow may be in more debt than they’re perceived to be.

Trigger: “I’ve reached my goals; let’s celebrate!”

It’s essential to recognize your achievements and celebrate them when you’ve reached a milestone or accomplished a goal, but it’s not ok to deter the ultimate win of financial freedom just because you want to reward yourself for all the hard work and effort you’ve put forth.

Response: When you accomplish a goal keep in mind that there will be more wins along the way and celebrating doesn’t have to be over the top or excessive. Wait a week after the win to celebrate, that way you can really celebrate what’s important: the next step in your life.

Trigger: “It’s on sale!”

Clever advertising and marketing messages play on our emotions by implicating that we’ll miss out on a great deal if we pass it up but it’s just that…a way to stir up emotions and convince you that you need their products. It’s not a sale if you can’t afford it.

Response: Cancel subscriptions to deal sites or turn off the notifications you receive so you’re less prone to react to new offers.

And remember:

There are always ways to indulge for less. No one says you have to give up the things you love; be willing and open to finding a way that works for you and your core desires.

Don’t fall victim to marketing messages. You were getting along just fine and you can live without it!

Take a deep breath, go for a 20-minute walk, listen to your favorite music, log-on to your accountability group or call a supportive friend before jumping to react with a shopping spree; it’s a lot cheaper and more effective.

Most importantly,

Acknowledge the factors that trigger spending and how they appear in your life. Click To Tweet


 Commit to change and take a proactive approach to changing your financial behavior.

Tonya and I are so passionate about this topic that we are going to host a conversation about this next week for the very first Talk Money with Tonya Live.


If you have questions, leave them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to address them on next week’s call.

We look forward to talking to you!

#FinancialPalooza Bill Pay Giveaway

You all have been so amazing during #Financialpalooza that I wanted to make the final giveaway special. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for spreading the word about the Talk Money with Tonya series and the giveaways. We finally reached 1,000 likes on Facebook, which was the goal (along with getting good stuff into your hands).

As a token of my appreciation, I’m going to pay the bill of one lucky My Fab Finance supporter!!!! The bill payment amount is up to $150! I’ve  been wanting to pay a bill for a reader. What better time than the final #financialpalooza giveaway? The payment will come directly out of my pocket so unfortunately there can only be one winner for this challenge.

How do you enter:
1. Download and print the Debt Repayment Plan from our revised and beautified Super Fab Finance Planner (Coming Soon!) Click image to download.

debt_repayment_page-page-0012. Fill in the first 3 columns of the Debt Repayment sheet with your repayment strategy for at least one of your debts.

3. Post a  picture of your completed sheet to Instagram using the #Financialpalooza hashtag. (Protect your privacy. Photos with your personal information blurred out are suggested) Tip: Make sure you spell #financialpalooza right!

And that’s it! As you can see, I don’t do complicated giveaways over here.

In order to provide adequate time for entries, this contest will conclude on Wednesday, April 29th at 12:00pm EST. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, May 1st. 


The Top 3 Reasons Your Credit Score Is Not Increasing

By Calvin O’Neal Russell Jr.

Fixing your credit can feel like a puzzle that you lost half of the pieces to. There are a lot of factors that go into play when trying to increase your credit score. Most consumers receive their knowledge about credit from family, friends, and of course, the internet. While some of this information may be true, some of it is false as well.

Lets quickly go over the top 3 things that will keep your credit score from increasing.

1. Payment History
I know, I know. You have heard this a million times. But guess what?  Some people continue to make late payments despite knowing this. But let me break it down.  1 late payment has the weight of 3 on-time payments. 1 late payment can decrease your Credit Score over 30 points or more! The higher the score, the more it will decrease it.

But what exactly is a “late payment?” FICO (Fair Issac & Company) defines a late payment as a payment that is made 30 days late or more. For example: If a consumer has a due date of 5/1/2015, pays on 5/12/2015 it WILL NOT decrease their credit score. You will most likely be charged a late fee by the lender though. Now, if a payment is due on 5/1/2015 and a payment isn’t made until 6/3/2015, it will be considered 30 days late and it will show as a 30 day late payment on the credit report.

In short, avoid making a late payments. A minimum payment is better than a missed payment. Click To Tweet

2. Utilization
Unlike payment history, this is one factor many consumers don’t know about. 30% of your credit score is determined by the “amounts owed” better known as “utilization.” Credit card utilization is calculated by dividing the balance by the limit.

For example: If your limit is $1500 and your current balance is $1300, then your utilization is 0.866 or 87%. In order to maintain a high credit score, it is ideal to keep your utilization between 5%-30%. So on an account with a credit limit of $1500, your score would benefit best by keeping the balance between $75-$500. It’s important to note that consumers with credit scores above 780 or higher, tend to keep their utilization under 7%.

3. Length Of Credit History
15 % of what makes your credit score is determined by your length of credit history. Consumers that have a FICO score of 780 or higher have an average account age of 11 years and the average oldest account was opened 25 years ago! This factor shows how long a consumer can keep an account opened with good payment history and  low utilization. Most consumers don’t know that by closing accounts, it affects your credit history by shortening the age length of accounts.

Of course, some accounts must be closed and some accounts will close automatically due to non-usage or if a loan account has been paid in full. For example, if you have an auto loan for 4 years and you have paid the vehicle off, then this account has been paid in full and will close itself. This is where the average account age of 11 years would come into play. Another example would be a consumer opening a credit card and keeping that account open for over 25 years and never closing it.

Keep in mind, just because the card account is open does not mean you have to use it Click To Tweet.

Be sure to read your full disclosure for your credit cards to find out more about it.

Of course, these are just the top 3 factors, but there are more factors that would keep your score from increasing such as: collections, public records, civil judgments, charge-offs, tax liens, bankruptcies, and more.

Calvin Russell Jr is a Certified FICO Professional and the CEO & Founder of Simply Professional Credit Consultation. SP Credit Consultation has helped hundreds of people increase their credit scores, qualify for homes, cars, and lower interest rates with their personal, Step-By- Step Action Plans. E-mail us at learn more.

Visit Simply Professional Credit Consultation Online at
Twitter: @gosimplypro 
FaceBook: Simply Professional Credit Consultation

TMWT Episode 1: Best Uses for Your Tax Return

We’ve been talking about it and talking about it. My friends the time has come to be about it.

I’m so excited to announce the first episode of Talk Money With Tonya,  a weekly mini series where I will answer your most pressing money and/or lifestyle questions. Episodes will be dropped every Tuesday.

We are practically two weeks out from the tax filing deadline so today’s episode will focus on the best uses for your income tax return. Enjoy!

If you would like to have your question answered, ask it HERE or in the comments below.

Special thanks to the following folks that helped make this happen:
Video: My amazing fiance’ Khomari Flash
Make-up by: Kayda George
Hair: Sabine Bellevue of Sabines Hallway


5 Things to Consider Before Applying for A Reward Credit Card

I feel like reward credit cards are all the rage right now. Well in my circle they are the rage anyway. I won’t lie, I felt like I had officially made the credit card clique when I got accepted for my first reward card. In retrospect my first reward card is my weakest reward card. However, I have decided against closing it the card because doing so would erase all of the positive payment history I have accumulated. I don’t want that to happen you you.

L, who doesn’t want their money working hard for them?

But seriously, it's 2015. If you are going to spend your money it should work for you. Click To TweetWell when you say it like that Tonya… sheesh, I want my money to work hard for me)

“Well when you say it like that Tonya… sheesh, I want my money to work hard for me.”

There are various reward card options available to consumers with good to excellent credit. They range from gasoline cards to airline cards and everything in between.

I am not an avid supporter of cash back cards. However I do have one in my possession because my Capital One Quicksilver card was converted into one. I prefer travel cards (shout out to Chase). I recently cashed in a few points and booked a room in Puerto Rico at the Courtyard Marriott for my trip next week for FREE.99. <<– Don’t get snippy here. I know I had to spend money to earn the points. The point is that I would have spent the money anyway.

Whether you are a pro credit card user or a you are a novice credit card user, here are five facts to consider before adding rewards cards to your credit portfolio.

#1 Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses are Invaluable. Shop Them Wisely

If you aren’t getting a receiving a sign-up bonus, you are on the short end of the stick. I do not sign up for a card that provides less than 30,000 points. If your credit is decent enough to apply for a rewards card, you become more attractive to lenders. Use this to your advantage and shop around. Sites like Nerd Wallet and The Points Guy offer awesome comparisons.

Check The Points Guy Site for Credit Card Reviews

Credit card companies use bonuses and offers during the advertisement period to lure in new card users. I also look for perks such as a free-night , early check-in, free-checked bags, etc.

#2 Find a Reward Credit Card That Fits Your Needs

If you are afraid to fly, then an airline rewards card does almost nothing for you. If you want to take advantage of reward credit cards, then you need to get a card that will suit your lifestyle, not just because someone on the internet says it’s a good card. When considering a card,  think about your lifestyle and your spending habits. Where do you spend the most? For example, if you spend more time on the road, then get a credit card that will allow you to get gasoline cheaper. When you actively use a card, the chances of earning reward points or cash back offers increase.

#3 Can You Handle a Rewards Card

Most reward cards require a hefty minimum spend to receive a bonus.  I also take note of maximum spend amounts and any additional perks when comparing cards. For example, to receive my Chase Sapphire bonus points I had to spend $3,000. If a card has a minimum spend greater than $3,000, that is not the card for me right now. I’m uncomfortable with exceeding that amount. After all, I’m a rehabilitated over-spender.

I once saw a card with a $25,000 minimum spend.

Before you apply for a card, you need to ask yourself whether or not you have the will-power to pay the monthly balance. Many people fall into credit card debt under the guise of earning “rewards points.”

#4 What’s The Annual Fee?

As someone who just had two annual credit card fee bombs dropped onto her statement I want to tell you, be aware. Be very aware.


An annual fee for your card essentially means that, even if you didn’t charge a single thing for the entire year, you are still responsible to pay an annual fee to keep the account open.

Some cards have no annual fee ever and that’s awesome! I wasn’t looking for that when I signed up for my current cards but it’s something you should keep in mind.

#5 Interest rates can neutralize those rewards perks

I saved the best for last.

Interest rates. The other cost of having the card.

Rewards credit cards have a slightly higher interest rate. Listen to me very carefully, if you have poor spending habits & carry high balances, chances are that you will pay more in interest than what you would earn in rewards.

Go zero percent interest whenever you can and keep that balance low once the promo entrance period ends.

I hope this post makes your decision that much easier. Think I left something off? Lend a helping hand and share your tip below.

[Giveaway!!!] Act Like a Success Conference

Last March I ventured to DC for my first conference ever, the Get Radical Conference. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but simply put, it was life changing. I was provided with a venue to work through my goals, hope and dreams and surround myself with other women who were on a quest to greatness. I created new friendships and adopted mantra’s that guide me to this day. I’ve seen things in my life move as a result of this conference.

For example Doreen Rainey, the conference founder and organizer had us determine our non-negotiables. Mine was writing a book, and I utilized the motivation I gathered at that event to write 7 Life Changing Money Tips .

Now I get the opportunity to pay it forward. Doreen’s company was purchased by Steve Harvey last year and the Get Radical conference has since been rebranded as the Act Like  A Success Conference. And one lucky My Fab Finance reader will win a ticket to the conference!!!

Tonya - GiveawayRead More

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Tax Refund

The tax refund that you’re about to receive may seem like found money but actually it’s your money; Uncle Sam’s just paying it back.

People often take it as a large payday, but the best way to waste it is by spending it with no clear intention or direction before it hits the bank.

Use these tips to make the most of your tax return and ensure you’ll see more of it throughout this year and the next.

Invest in your Financial Freedom

Is there a course you need to take, online challenge you can join or book you need to purchase to learn more about what it means to acquire wealth this year? Do you need to hire a financial coach (first name: Tonya, last name: Rapley), find an accountability partner or additional service to help you realize and embody your goals?

Reinvest in your education so that you can empower your entire being and take the actions you need to create the results you desire.

Rebuild your Emergency Fund or Establish One

Take a portion of your refund and put yourself first. Aim at placing three to six months of expenses in a high interest earning account at a bank that can’t be easily accessed or in an account at a bank that’s primarily online.

You accrue much interest on the account. The key is to create the fund, build on it with every opportunity you have and utilize it in the event of a real emergency.

Lighten Your Load

Making the minimum payment on your credit card may not seem like a big deal but over time, financing your debt can double or even triple the cost of every item you purchase with the plastic. Make some headway on your credit card debt and contribute more to those cards with higher interest rates.

Take Care of Your Future Self

Stash your refund in a Roth IRA, 401K or another tax deferred account and gain a tax deduction on next year’s tax return.

Before investing in any of the above mentioned accounts or tools, be sure to do your homework, use your resources to the best of their ability and compare rates based on necessity, short term and long term goals.

Be mindful of any restrictions or requirements when opening accounts and feel free to ask questions and take the actions you need to, no matter where you are on your journey to financial freedom.

Once you have explored your options, let us know what strategy you will implement to make the most of your tax return this year in the comments below!

So You’re Unemployed? What Should You Do?

This article originally appeared on University Federal Credit Union’s Blog.

I recall my first job out of college. I was young, eager, and the economy was booming.

Then the recession hit. My friends started to lose their jobs and months later I lost mine. The company I worked for declared bankruptcy. My student loans were coming out of their grace period and did not have an emergency fund. I was a recent grad and receiving unemployment.


College Grad Tonya

That was seven years ago.

Despite steady economic improvement, prospects aren’t looking up for individuals between ages 16-24, as they remain the most unemployed age group. Governments across the globe are struggling to find solutions as they battle the ongoing youth unemployment crisis.

Youth unemployment has long standing implications. The Center for American Progress reports that workers who are unemployed as young adults earn lower wages for many years following their period of unemployment due to forgone work experience and missed opportunities to develop skills. Let’s be honest, no matter how committed you are to improving your finances, you can only get so far without a steady income.

So you’re unemployed. What should YOU do?

Learn New Skills
Picking up a trade could be just what you need. During the 90s and early 2000s the population moved away from blue-collar work and towards white-collar professional positions. Workers in the trades are aging out and there are few younger workers with those skill sets to replace them. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, radiology technicians and other specialized jobs are in high demand and are paying well. There are many local and federally funded programs, such as those offered by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, that can provide you with education opportunities.

Build Your Networks
The cliché holds true…it’s not what you know, but who you know. Most jobs aren’t advertised online, but by word of mouth. I was referred for my current job after being turned down for a job with the city. I remain in contact with the person who recommended me. And if we are talking about the power of our networks, I landed the Black Enterprise opportunity because a mentor recommended me!

Participate in student associations, local groups, trade associations. Go to conferences and meet-ups in the industry you are interested in. Your newest acquaintance could be the key to a new position.

I volunteered under the AmeriCorps program and ended up being hired by the organization I volunteered for, which ultimately led me to create My Fab Finance. Volunteers are always needed. Even if I had not been hired, the position enabled me to learn valuable skills that made me more competitive than my peers. Find ways to build your skill sets while contributing to the greater good. You never know who is looking, so approach your volunteer opportunities with professionalism and integrity. If you ever need references, your volunteer coordinators are a good place to start.

Improve Your Resume
Businesses are adding technology to everything they do and that includes the way they sort through resumes and select candidates for further consideration. Did you know that several companies now use software that scans through submitted resumes for specific keywords that apply to the job vacancy? If your resume doesn’t have those keywords you are automatically out… without your resume ever being seen by human eyes!

To prevent this make sure you tailor each resume to the job you are applying too. Understand what skills and qualifications they are looking for and make sure to include them in your resume. DO NOT copy the skills and requirements verbatim and paste them onto your resume. Only add the skills you actually possess. If discovered, false information on a resume can lead to job termination and in some cases, legal implications.

  • Many cities have programs that offer free help with resume writing. Here in NYC we have the Workforce Development Centers all throughout the city that provides tons of excellent help and resources.
  • Most colleges have Career Development Offices that provide students and recent graduates with a variety of resources to improve their resume and often have job boards.
  • And don’t forget the Internet. You can find examples of resumes in different sectors, styles, and read articles, blogs, and tips from staffing professionals.

Safeguard Your Reputation
Social media is changing the way companies hire. Most hiring managers look up an applicant’s social media profiles during the application process. The information on your profile could be a deciding factor in a hiring managers final decision.  I know you slayed last night at your friend birthday celebration, but that “experience” might not be well received by potential employers, consider making your profiles private.

Be Flexible
In a perfect world everyone would land a job in their field of interest. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. Keep an open mind when searching for employment. You might have to take a job in a field that you didn’t plan on.

Final Tip?
Don’t give up. Job searching can be exhausting both emotionally and physically. It’s easy to take it personal, but don’t. There are often hundreds of candidates competing for a single position. Virtually all successful and talented people have trouble getting a job at times. Remain optimistic, keep that smile on your face, and a positive attitude in every job interview.

Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.

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