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Discipline can be defined in one phrase self-control.

As I speak about often in my blogs, and I will do so in this one, anything you want to achieve for yourself requires you to create a routine. Once you create that routine it will become a part of your subconscious behavior. It starts with wanting it first and then requires much discipline.

Financial affirmations to speak over your life right now!

-I can use money to create a better life.

-I have the power to be a financially successful person.

-I have the power to improve my relationship with money.

We are now in April, which in previous years represented "Tax Season". But because of the ongoing pandemic this period has been extended through May 17th, as of now this is the last day to file taxes without penalty or interest. This time last year when things were much worse, the date was extended through July. It was mostly so that citizens had time to safely prepare their taxes with pre-booked appointments and because the IRS was forced to lay off many employees and did not have updated software, due to the 2020 COVID lockdown.

When I think about taxes, like many people, I think about the tax refund. Typically I wonder if I am going to receive one, and the next thought is how will I spend it? Whenever you are expecting money, regardless if it is your regular paycheck, a lumpsum, settlement, refund, etc. It is always best to create a budget. Obviously we need to survive, so there are many necessities that need to be accounted for, but then there are things such as debt, luxuries, and other commodities that we immediately think about when we are expecting or are about to receive money.

Regardless of what the amount of money you are brining in and where it's actually coming from, you must develop a healthier relationship with money. Start creating a routine of being discipline with your spending, the best way to do this is to budget and also DO NOT COUNT YOUR MONEY UNTIL YOU HAVE IT! In regards to money beyond your normal paycheck, my best advice would be: Do not add it into your budget until you actually receive it! This is something my dad used to tell me constantly, and still does today. Because things like tax refunds and the stimulus checks are not always guaranteed, there are many factors that can determine whether or not you will be receiving either one of these.

The following information is directly from the IRS website, I am not a certified accountant. Should you have more info be sure to visit, for tax prep questions and assistance.

Here's 5 things to know about taxes/refunds.

  1. Check you refund by going to Where's My Refund?

  2. You can file your own taxes.

  3. If you haven't filed in years do not feel discouraged do something about it. The longer you wait, the worse it will be.

  4. Do not always expect a refund.

  5. If you are receiving a refund, create a budget for it!

I sat down with my good, good girlfriend who is an expert in budgets and she gave me lots of great tips on budgeting and how to be more discipline with your money, especially during this time where we are getting refunds and relief checks.

Introduce yourself and the services you offer in regards to finances.

Hello Coffee and Mascara family! I am Stephany Henderson, an accountant for the federal government. Although my background is in auditing, I have extensive knowledge of budgets and finances through my studies at Towson University and part time jobs at various accounting firms. My experience has given me the tools to offer people of all backgrounds budgeting and forecasting services.

So what does going on a budget look like?

Going on a budget doesn’t mean giving up your lifestyle, just merely adjusting it so you can attain the lifestyle you want. Everyone should have some sort of budget. Creating a budget allows you to determine in advance whether you will have enough money to do the things you need or would like to do. One way to begin a simple budget is to list out your income and expenses. I regularly update mine to reflect changes in my finances. Once you’ve listed your expenses, figure out which ones are fixed (that cannot or will not change month to month) and variable expenses (opposite of fixed). You can begin to trim expenses from your variable expenses to budget for things that you want in the future. For example, you can cut back on the eating out (variable expenses) to budget for that trip next year. Remember, a little goes a long way!

How can those that are not financially “comfortable” still create a budget?

As I stated before, everyone needs to create a budget. It doesn’t matter if you bring in $20k or $200k. A budget is necessary at all levels of income; however, it can be particularly harder if you are already struggling to make ends meet. First, be realistic about your financial situation and assess it. You can request an extension of payment to avoid late payment fees and penalties. Keep track of spending and cutback (if possible). If not, is it feasible to obtain a second job? Never be ashamed to apply for financial assistance in your area. Lastly, a budget can be a reality check. You have to be realistic about your finances and if that means you cannot vacation right now or buy that new gadget, then it will have to wait until some other time.

So with filing taxes comes the refunds, well for some of us. What is your suggestion for integrating the refund into your budget?

First, one should understand that a tax “refund” is really a tax “rebate”. This means the money you get during tax time is a payment to you when you pay more taxes than you owe. With that being said, it is your money and you should spend or save it as such. The simplest thing to do is to use that money to pay down existing debt so you can have financial freedom. Paying down debt in a large lump some will free up monthly cash. If you’re in a position where you’re debt free, saving for a rainy day is the way to go.

What’s does a healthy budget look like?

As with many things, budgets are unique to the individual based on his or her needs; however, it should almost, always be based on one’s income. A good rule of of thumb is the 50-30-20 breakdown. You should start with your after-tax income. 50% should go to your needs (food, housing, etc.), 30% to your wants (entertainment, vacations, etc.), and 20% to saving and paying off debt (credit cards, loans, etc.). Again, this is a generic rule of thumb and may not apply in all situations. You should consult a financial adviser or trusted budget specialist for your specific needs.

How can we achieve a “healthy budget”?

Achieving a healthy budget is easier than most people think. What’s not easy is being realistic about your financial situation. You cannot worry about what the next person has; you have to worry about yourself. Determine your income and expenses and calculate the difference. If there is a positive difference, consider saving. If there is a negative difference, consider how you can increase your income or decrease your expenses. In either case, make it a habit until you are comfortable with your financial situation. Understandably, some people are able to save more or afford more than others. No matter the situation, a poor steward over one’s finances will show itself whether you are making $20k or $200k. It’s only a matter of time. A healthy budget is needed at all levels of income.

Are there any tools those reading can use to start budgeting?

There are a number of apps out there to help you start budgeting. A couple examples are TrueBill and Digit. Also, don’t be afraid to coupon or sign up for rewards (especially if you enjoy eating out). This is a great way to cutback spending.

What are 3 quick tips for those trying to go on a budget?

Three quick tips to budgeting are: Organize- organize bills, loans, miscellaneous expenses into one document. Create an easy-to-read document so you can get a clear view of your finances. Collect data- know what your spending habits are and track all your expenses for about a month. Then, sort your purchases in a way that makes sense to you. Make a plan- what are you goals? Take the data you’ve collected to create a plan that satisfies your wants and needs. Create a budget with your goals in mind!

Lastly how can those reach out to you for your assistance?

I can be reached via email at for additional questions or assistance. Best of luck in your budgeting endeavors!

Check out the XOXO, Aeb Collection and the new Self-Care Planner!

As always stay safe & stay sane! Stay tuned to next week's blog where I will be speaking on investing your money wisely! -Xoxo, Aeb!

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