5 Shopping Rules You Need To Consider Before You Buy!

Looking for some tried and true shopping rules before you hit the mall? Check out today’s info graphic with 5 quick rules you should follow before you hit the mall this weekend



Befriend The Budget and The 50/20/30 Rule!


A few years ago, a writer at LearnVest introduced the 50/20/30 guideline for budgeting and it’s a pretty simple yet effective concept.

50% of your income goes to fixed expenses like rent, utilities & groceries.

20% of your income goes to savings goals

30% of your income goes to lifestyle choices like shopping, vacations, brunch and drinks.

At the time I completely jumped on board with this theory and implemented it as my own budget guideline. Over time I felt that the 20 and the 30 should be flipped so I wrote more about it for Black Enterprise this past summer.

In that article I still recommended allocating 50% of your income for living expenses like rent and utilities; but instead of 30% for lifestyle choices I allocated 30% for debt payoff, savings, and investments.

Raising the percentage to 30% was to help readers understand the role debt should play in their overall financial picture. In an ideal financial world, you would owe no debt, but if your debt is 10%, 15% or 20-25% of your income there is still hope for you.

With this new 30% savings, debt and investing model it gives you the incentive no matter what percentage of your income your savings are today to keep paying down all your debts, while gradually increasing your savings contributions until they represent a full robust 30% of your budget.

One of first mental barriers that need to come down to fully embrace this mindset and develop good saving habits is start looking at your savings like another bill you have to pay monthly, a bill you pay to yourself.  This will help keep you stay committed month after month and brings some reality to the concept of paying yourself first.


After a while I even started challenging my living expenses reducing them from 50% to 35%. I kept my lifestyle choices at only 20%, debt at 10% and increased my savings to 35%.

Setting budget percentages is just a parameter, a starting point; but after you master the habit, celebrate your financial victories as your savings start to add up and debt goes down. You will  start to crave even more ways to save and challenge yourself even more.



Here’s how Trump Avoids Paying Federal Taxes, While Wesley Snipes Went To Prison


You hear a lot of groaning when it comes to paying income taxes, that is until Monday night during the Presidential debate.   Hilary Clinton suggests Trump avoids paying federal income tax to which Donald Trump responded “That makes me smart”

Of course that lit the internet ablaze and prompted a lot of gasping questions.

The level of extreme shock across the net that Trump has somehow been able to legally get away with avoiding taxes while others have been imprisoned is something I want to address today and show you that it’s pure ignorance and misinformation that keeps us at odds, rich from poor, black from white, not politics.

You know who wasn’t shocked by Trump’s, “I’m smart” statement, anyone with a business that is structured properly and a good accountant. That group of people, myself included, know that with those two things, anyone can avoid paying significant federal income tax too. Let me show you guys.

In May 2016 Trump was quoted on ABC News saying he works hard to pay “as little tax as possible”

If you had the keys wouldn’t you reduce your tax liability too?

Here’s how it works, if he’s smart.

Trump is a business man, with a BUSINESS man. He can filter a large portion of his expenses to be paid through his business revenues, there is a laundry list of allowable expenses from mortgage payments to car notes even cell phones,  and restaurant tabs are allowable. Travel, continuing education classes, certifications the list goes on and on, in some cases even gym memberships are allowable. It all depends on your business type and has to be considered customary and necessary for the business to function. So if I’m in sales and need a delivery truck it’s allowable, if I buy a Bentley or private jet and say I am using it to drive back and forth to client meetings, that too my friends is allowable.

Then all a business owner would do is take no salary draws from the business or the bare minimum if he is forced to draw something (a minimum salary draw is only suggested after the business reaches a certain revenue level). Basically spending as much from their business account as possible.

Why? Business revenues/income belong to the business not the owner and you don’t need to draw a salary, and definitely not a high one if the business is paying the majority of your expenses for you.

Is Trump an overachiever in the tax avoidance category? Probably.

In 1975 he only reported income of $76,000. $24,000 in 1976, and $118,000 in 1977. From 1991 to 1993 it was reported by Politico.com that Trump paid no federal income tax at all to which he responded, “Welcome to the real estate business”

So how exactly does a business pay your mortgage, car note, cell phone, travel etc?
Simple, first the asset needs to be purchased by you with personal funds and then put into use exclusively for the business, or purchased by the business with business funds for the business.
Want your business to pay your mortgage on your personal residence or investment property? Purchase the property as an LLC 
Want your car to be paid for through the business? Put it into exclusive business use

Then when it’s tax time complete your businesses balance sheet deduct all of your business expenses from your revenue before you pay your taxes. That’s called net income, it’s what your business has left after it pays all the bills. Then complete your schedule C or schedule K-1  for your business taxes prior to your 1040 tax return.

Sounds unfair to anyone in the working world since the government has ultimate control over your money taking its cut straight off the top of your paycheck. Then you pay your bills with whatever is left.

Plus you still have to pay property tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, and all other types of tax, Trump probably does too, but he’s dodging the federal tax bullet. I feel like there is an expectation that he should not claim all of his business expenses as allowed but instead draw a salary and face higher tax burden to pay what Hillary calls his fair share, or just voluntarily pay more taxes.

Until the government forces businesses to pay taxes on revenues instead of net income (which they will never do) this will always be a easy tax avoidance loophole for business owners, but let me ask you a question, what would you do?

Hilary Clinton said Trump is gaming the tax system. I hardly think so. This IS the tax system.

To take it a step even further, when a business has huge profits that would typically increase a person like Trump’s personal tax liability, however business owners will often still look for ways to shelter those profits from federal taxes. Even when there are losses in the business (when the business is spending more that it earned) that can still be used in an advantageous way to offset the business owners own personal tax liability.

Wish there were a loophole like that for you? For the average American, spending more than you earn is simply called debt. See how the system is gaming you?

This is all simple accounting, tax code standards and all legal on both ends.

In other words, even when you are high paid, you still aren’t PAID, you’re PAYING, unless you are a business owner. Like Jay Z said, “Til you OWN your own you can’t be free”

Now how does this compare to tax evasion cases like Lauren Hill, Wesley Snipes and Fat Joe? They didn’t go to prison for tax evasion simply because they were black you guys. They went to prison because business structure and tax rules weren’t followed.

Snipes failed to file taxes at all on over $40 million in income he received that was paid to him personally.. You cannot personally earn that kind of money in your own name then give the IRS the middle finger.

He was misinformed by his tax advisors who told him because he earned his income domestically he didn’t have to file a tax return and he believed them and didn’t file. (Which is complete BS, no wonder they both went to prison as well)

Trump doesn’t personally receive the millions he claims to be worth, his businesses do and scroll up for the reminder. Revenues received by a business belong to the business not to you.

Like Snipes, Lauren Hill failed to file a tax return as well on more than $1.8 million in income which is why she served 3 months in a Connecticut prison even after admitting to a judge she was planning to pay.

There are enough legal ways to minimize your tax burden without doing anything that can land you in the slammer and a few due diligence items that need to be handled on your part.

Do some research to learn a little about the tax rules so that a tax advisor cannot misguide you.

Snipes was just foolish for his ignorance. You are earning $40 million but didn’t take the time to learn anything about what’s required for your income level? You also didn’t take the time to figure out if you had legit tax advisors? Where was your accountant? Why wouldn’t they telling you to choose someone else because these guys were bogus?

Spend the money to set up a legit business.

The advantages far outweigh the costs

Lastly, a follower of mine on instagram said, “This may be true and great for business owners, but Trumps caviler delivery is like a slap in the face to hardworking American families who pay dearly in taxes then still have to come out of pocket for doctor visits or are under served by local schools”

I get it, trust me I do, but the moral of the story here is you don’t have to sit back and pay dearly indefinitely, you have choices. It’s ignorance that causes anger instead of the action to change something.

#youmad change something!



Do Home Improvements Add Value To Your Home?


Now that the DJ Bloc and I are living in a single family home, we’re getting a test drive on all that is involved in home ownership. Although we are currently renting our home, we are leaning how things can go wrong and what they cost.  We also daydream about what we would want in our own home when we purchase.

Home renovations are a big investment and since we still plan to remain cost conscious and frugal in pursing the purchase of a home or renovating a home we will be looking for ways to save. One way we will try to save is by taking on the easy stuff ourselves and by comparative shopping to get the best prices when we have to hire someone from the outside.

But another great way to get the most for your money when looking to renovate your home is to go for upgrades with the largest Return on Investment (ROI). If you are going to spend a lot, try to focus on projects that will get you the most in return too!

Return on Investment is essentially how much you are going to gain in addition to the amount you spend. So for example if I spend $5000 on a improvement to my house I’d want the value of the house to go up by more than $5000. (Of course this value isn’t earned or realized in dollars until you actually sell the home)  Some things you can’t collect a significant ROI on, they are just a part of the costs of being a homeowner.

Let’s look at examples of renovations that give the largest ROI. If you have been in a renovated home lately you will see that gourmet chef’s kitchens are on trend and wildly popular, along with open concept!  Research shows that kitchen remodeling and bathroom additions rank among the highest in ROI. This is hardly surprising as intuitively, these type of renovations appeal the most to potential buyers.

This topic alone reminds about my past life as a real estate development industry as a construction manager in Manhattan. Anytime I got my hands on a vacant apartment, the first thing we did was upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. They rent apartments and they sell houses too!

What about other upgrades? Like in the south a swimming pool is on so many people’s wish list, but did you know the ROI on a pool is only 30%-50%. Which basically means when it’s time to sell, you’re practically giving the pool away!

Curious to find out more about the value of other home improvements check out the infographic above courtesy of Half Price.


18 Things You’re Wasting Money On!


We all are guilty of a few money sucks.  Aisha Taylor of FNPhenomenal lays out on her Instagram her top 18 things we all need to STOP wasting money on and I’m more than happy to pass it on!


By fellow supermom and finance blogger – FNPhenomenal

The First – Unused Subscriptions.

Look at your bank statements to identify subscription services or automatic monthly expenses that you don’t use. For example, if you have a gym membership that goes unused, then cancel it. Don’t pay for things that you don’t use or need. Stay tuned for more and click the link in the profile to join the Phenomenal Moms Facebook group to join a community of single moms who want to live phenomenally, get ahead financially, and build a legacy for their children :)

Grocery Shopping Without A List or While Hungry

Before you walk into the store, survey your cabinets and determine your meals for the week. After you do this, then create the list and stick to it.

Late Fees

Late fees add up quickly. Just imagine paying a bill late every month and each late payment included a fee of $15. Over the year you would have paid $180. What could you have done with the extra money? Reevaluate how you structure your bills to ensure that you have adequate cash flow to pay your expenses on time. Also, consider setting up automatic payment to minimize the likelihood of paying bills late.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees can be as high as $35 per transaction, so if you have 3 overdrafts per month then you end up spending $105 in fees. What could you do with the extra money? You can prevent this by maintaining a cushion in your checking account to reduce the risk of over drafting the account.

Buying Items On Convenience

A bottle of water at the gas station can cost $1.50 versus about $.10 if you buy a bottle of water in bulk. The cost of water can be even less if you fill up a refillable cup. Try to minimize convenience purchases by planning in advance.

Not Maintaining Your Health

Medical costs are expensive and according to a study by Harvard University, they are also the number 1 cause of bankruptcy in the United States. To avoid high medical costs, focus on prevention by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and going to the doctor and dentist for regular check ups.

Wasting Food

According to a study by the National Resource Defense Council, the average American family wastes on about $2,200 of food per year. That’s literally throwing money away. To reduce food waste use a grocery list, buy less, keep track of when items expire, and also get creative about using all of the food before it goes to waste

Clothes That Sit In The Closet

Shopping used to be one of my biggest budget busters. I would by clothes because they were on sale or because I thought that I needed to have it to be in style. Inevitability, those clothes went unworn and wasted space in my closet because I didn’t have a plan for when I would wear them and if I really needed them.

ATM Fees

ATM fees are really harsh because the bank servicing the ATM and your bank both charge you fees to access your money. Planning in advance will help to reduce ATM fees. If you know that you will need cash, then plan in advance to get cash from your bank. Search the web to find ATMs owned by the bank where you have your checking account. Use those ATMs only. If you are in a situation where there are no bank-owned ATMs nearby, then go to a place like CVS were you can get cash back.

Buying Things Because They Are On Sale

If you find an item on sale, evaluate whether you would buy the item if it was full-price. If the answer is no, then put it back.

Dining Out

You can dine out, but be aware of how often you dine out and how much you spend. If you buy dinner 5 times a week and pay $15 each time then you will spend $3,900 over the course of a year. Even if you scaled back to 2 times per week then you will save $2,340/year. To reduce the cost of dining out, plan meals more, look for dining discounts, and try to take half of your meal home to cut the cost in half.

Forgetting That The Small Charges Add Up

Evaluate your bank statements to see where you are spending less than $10. If you use cash, then keep the receipts for 30 days and evaluate how much you spent. Becoming aware of how you spend will enable you to make better spending decisions going forward

Impulse Shopping

Impulse shopping is the urge to buy. This can destroy your budget because you will spend money without a plan and without thinking. This can result in overspending and not having enough money to pay bills.To stay on track, wait 3 days before making an unplanned purchase to take the emotion and fear of loss out of the purchase

Not Renegotiating Services

You have more power than you think because it costs more to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a new customer. Stay abreast of the deals offered to new customers and ask for your existing cable, internet, cell phone company, etc. to match those discounts.

Paying For Things You Can Do Yourself

It costs more to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a new customer. Stay abreast of the deals offered to new customers and ask for your existing cable, internet, cell phone company, etc. to match those discounts.

Buying New Instead of Used

Buying used saves a lot of money. If you have a child, then buying used will save a lot of money. As a mom, I buy as much as I can used because children outgrow clothes very fast and baby gear is expansive and you need a ton of it. I also buy my own clothes used because I can usually get better stuff for less money. The key is to avoid buying more because of the lower cost.

Not Using Online Coupons

Online coupons are easy to use. Before you complete your checkout process, do a search for the name of the company and “online coupon” to see what comes up. Look for coupon codes through sites like Retail Me Not or you can use ebates to get cash back on your purchase. I am absolutely loving the browser plug in Honey. I’m saving so much money

Cable Bills

With all of the streaming service options, it makes a lot of sense to cancel your cable. You still have to determine internet, but if you cut the cable then you can reduce your monthly costs and only pay for the services that you use. PC Mag has a great story about what your tv options are if you cut the cord.

Want more tips? Head to the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group. Aisha Taylor of FNPhenomonal is a single mom who helps other single moms create a vision for their family, craft a financial strategy, and develop the faith to believe phenomenal living is possible.

Follow FNPhenomonal on Instagram too.