Financial Resolutions for Reaching Travel Goals in 2016

Financial Resolutions 2016

It’s that time of year when people start doing all their planning for the new year. Goals and resolutions abound. It seems like everyone has some type of financial goal, health goal and fun goals like travel on their lists. I know I have all of the above. We can’t get away as much as we’d like, but travel is always a big part of our yearly planning since it requires so much preparation.

In 2016 I hope to do a bit of traveling. Nothing crazy, just a few trips: 

  • January – Vegas for CES, Type A and Affiliate Summit
  • June – DC for Blogging Conference
  • Summer – Family Cruise
  • Fall – Couples Trip and NYC

On our family calendar we also have some dates held for tentative travel depending on whether I’ll be speaking/sponsored. We decided that since 2015 was a transitional year with the new home purchase, and the change in income (for now :)) that we’d keep 2016 the least ‘spendy’ we could…without sacrificing too much.

dani and john at ship

So many people put off traveling due to financial reasons. I rather not put my travel on cards that I can’t immediately pay off, so we save up for it. In order to make travel happen, we’ve created some financial resolutions (goals and to-dos really) to ensure we get there:

Fully monetize all areas of my business

This is a common sense one, and one that’s long overdue. Now that I’m home and able to do a bit more, monetizing my business in a more intentional way is going to be key to making travel goals happen. This year I made more than last year, but not as much as I planned to. Better monetization of my biz means more income coming our way. More income means more money to save for travel (and other expenses.)

All surplus money to travel savings account

I’m a saver by nature. I told you before I have miser in my blood. But we don’t just have one savings account. We have our personal savings, the house/joint savings, and specific buckets like our travel savings account. We allocate a certain percent of the monthly savings to travel normally. This year for the first time, we’re putting all unexpected income and unplanned cash flow to the travel savings account to help pad it up for our getaways. If you don’t have a separate savings account check out the 360 Savings accounts from Capital One. No fees, no minimums and you get interest.

money jar

Use our rewards cards as much as possible

Cards like the Capital One Venture Card, other miles cards, gas cards, cash back cards, points…. I’m obsessed. We…ok, I… strategize on what card we use at which retailers to ensure we’re getting the most bang for our buck. Luckily, John plays along with me when he sees the benefits of my card games. With a little pre-planning you can really make out like a bandit with avoiding fees, and earning money toward travel, gas and other purchases you’d normally come out of pocket for anyway.

Conversations before big buys

John and I really have to act as a team now more than ever. With the house and all the new monthly bills that come with it, and using his income to fund it, we have to talk about all big purchases together. I know this is a common practice among other couples, but we rarely did this before. We’d just shop and come home like “look what I got!” and ooh and ahh over it together. Not anymore. We talk about the big ticket items we need, and we both hunt around to find the best deal on it before buying.

Use all the apps, and rebate tools for regular purchases

I told you (HERE) about how to save money online purchasing just about anything. I’m really big into all the cash back apps there are out there now. You can buy your normal items, and scan receipts when you get home to earn money, and get rebates or gift cards. I’m such a junkie for these apps that as soon as I load up the trunk I sit in the car and scan my receipts immediately so I don’t forget to collect my moolah. More cash back = more money to put into that travel savings account!

It’s my hope that I’m able to do more travel than what’s listed at the top of this post. I’d love for John and I to head to Vegas in the fall/winter, and I’d like to do lots of weekend trips around Florida as well, both as a couple and as a family. Financial planning is really the key to ensuring we get to live the kickass life we envision.

What are your Financial Resolutions for 2016?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Money Lessons Learned #Nablopomo

money lessons learned

I was talking to John the other day, after writing this post about my first world problem as a kid. I always get choked up when I talk about how far my family has come in such a short time. My mom’s toilet in Jamaica was outside the damn house. My dad’s floor on the farm down south was like made of dirt. My childhood issue was lack of cable. If that’s not a come up, I don’t know what is.

moving on up

Cable was a completely un necessary expense. It was early 90s so it wasn’t like it came with the internet and phone bundle like it did today, so my parents said F it. We didn’t need it. I learned a lot about living within my means, and below my means from my parents.

Today’s prompt for #Nablopomo is:

What is the most important lesson you learned as a child, and who taught it to you?

When I read it, immediately thought, money honey! I have learned so many amazing life lessons along this 34 year old journey I’ve been on, but the money lessons pop into my mind first. They make an appearance in every day life.

Live below your means –

Learned this from my parents and actually from all of my maternal family members. I actually enjoy budgeting (you can judge me if ya wanna!) and ensure there’s a padding between what we bring in and what has to go out.

Pay yourself first –

My mom drilled this into me. So I treat my savings as my most important bill. It gets paid out on the first just like the mortgage. (And biweekly on pay dayswhen I was working 9-5) ALWAYS save a portion of your income to an account you do. no. touch.

Never get a raise –

This advice was from my mom and I used it for a very long time. She said, whenever you get a raise, or a new, higher paying job…pretend you didn’t. So, if your paycheck was 2000 at your old job, and is now 2500, immediately have that 500 go direct deposit to a savings account so you never see it, and you continue living life at that 2000 level, while your money silently stacks up on the side.

Think beyond the money –

I never followed this advice, but now that I have children I see the value in it. When taking a new job, don’t just focus on the salary. Take into account the benefits and distance and ease, and responsibility, etc.  My thinking when I entered the work world was, OK well I’m just gunna find something with the salary I want AND the benefits/distance/ease/responsibility/perks that I want LOL (and I usually did!)

The Jones’ are broke –

We all hear the advice to not keep up with the Jones’ (I really wanna type Joneses hehe). This basically means stay in your lane and live your life within your means, but my dad wouldn’t tell me not to keep up with the Jones’. He told me they were broke. The Jones’ put their fancy new stuff on their credit card and they’re broke AF in debt up to their eyes.  LMAO  (The lesson stuck, tho!)

Save for it / Avoid debt –

That leads to the lesson of saving up for everything you really want, and avoid debt as much as you can. I worked to put myself through college (and halfway thru grad school) to avoid Sallie Mae’s greedy ass. I save up usually for what I want because I’m terrified of debt. I don’t like owing people. This is the first time in my life that I actually have debts. (Now mind you, I don’t pay cash, I just make sure I have the cash on hand to pay off immediately, I use credit to keep my credit score great, and get points points points!!!)

Always have your own money –

My gram, from when I was very little, and boys still had cooties, always told me: “make sure you always have your own money, separate bank account, never rely on a man!” and it stuck. I have my separate account(s) and have 2 separate accounts for the kids as well.

I’m grateful my family wanted me to learn from their mistakes.

I recognize now that the money lessons I learned as a kid were all about keeping me “safe” financially.  Nothing was told to me as a kid to help me learn how to build wealth, create generational wealth, invest in something larger than myself. (Except for buying a house. All of my relatives owned and drilled that into my head “own property, own land”)

I learned later on my own through reading personal development books and talking to some of my former bosses (White male CFOs and CEOs who led lovely charmed, struggle-free American Jewish or Anglo lives and had the opportunity to offer a different viewpoint) about how to have my money make me money. About how a little risk is something a great thing for a large reward. It was truly eye opening.

Nowadays my dad is up with his coffee and in front of his computer for the morning bell with his stocks, daytrading and letting his money make him money (despite that lovely dt pension he’s got ::side eye:: I see you, pops.) My mom invests as well  now.

My plan for the children is to teach them early on all the money lessons I learned that kept me “safe” financially, as well as the lessons I learned later in life that will help them grow and thrive financially. I’ll also teach them more intricate lessons I learned later in life about tax “trickery” and using credit cards slyly to earn money. John and I are on plan to build wealth that will last past Ro and Kai’s kids, and create mindsets in those two lil monsters blessings that get them on plan to do the same for their kids, grands, great grands etc…

make it rain

I also intend to keep them in an abundant mindset so they won’t have money issues to overcome. I never say “we can’t afford it” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” or say anything that equates to wealthy people being “bad” people.  I personally had to (and still have to, it’s cyclic) overcome money issues with regard to those types of sayings. (Something that really helped me was this book rite chea) And I don’t want my kids to have a slow financial start due to that kind of negative programming.

When Ro asks for yet another bloody toy when we’re out shopping, I tell him “we’re using our money a different way today” and that’s that.

I’m grateful for the money lessons I learned when I was younger. It kept me out of debt and gave me a more independent viewpoint and less of a “follow fashion” mentality.

What money lessons did you learn as a kid? 

What other lessons did you learn as a kid that shaped you?


Saving for College on 529 Day!

Huge thanks to the Florida Prepaid College Board and Bloggin’ Mamas for including me in this sponsored post series!

Kaya, Is your college education going to cost mommy a billion dollars??


You know… I struggle with imposter syndrome a bit. I am very interested in personal finance (saving, budgeting, side hustling, investing)  but only post a little bit about it here because I’m not a “pro.” I was actually a bit nervous about how my tips for househunting would be received. So I’m glad to get the positive feedback from you guys. Thanks!!

So, when I purchased my home I started 529s for Kaya and Rohan. I figured, I’m doing a whole mess of financial stuff right now, might as well knock this one off the to do list at the same time.

I am (almost) prouder of their education accounts than I am of the house.

With the amount I’m putting aside each month, I’ll have a nice little chunk for them in 18 years. Now, since they’re both getting full rides to Harvard, I’ll still be able to use it on their books, and graduate education at Princeton. 😉 Hopefully there will be some left for Kaya’s PhD and Rohan’s MD education.

So I say all that to say…..Today’s National 529 Day! Florida Prepaid College Board wants you to start saving for you children’s education, whether you’re a Florida resident or not. (You don’t have to be to participate in Florida’s 529 program.)  

unnamed (7)

Sidebar: I urge you to be sure you’re contributing to your retirement account first #Imjustsaying.  I worked to put myself through college, your kids can do the same, push come to shove. Give em the gift of not having to take care of you later…. BUT…. give them the gift of a fully or partially funded education as well!!

I’m really excited to spring the 529 on Rohan and Kaya after they’ve been accepted to college. I am going to keep up the ruse of “I worked to put myself through college and so will you” both as a scare tactic for them to get great grades throughout high school in hopes of a scholarship, and also to get them in the working (for themselves or others) mindset. Then SURPRIIIISE!!! You’re all taken care of. You’re welcome!

Rohan, are you surprised?!


That will be a really satisfying moment.

The money you invest in the 529 can go toward tuition of course, but also to books, room & board, and grad school. If your child gets a free ride, you can switch that money over to another family member, or get your money returned to you!

You can even have family members or friends contribute to the account in lieu of giving cash as gifts to your kids.

THIS LINK has tons of info and FAQs about the program.

I URGE you to begin contributing today. Don’t feel overwhelmed or like you need a whole gang of money to begin this investment. With the Florida Prepaid College Board’s 529 program, you can start with $25 a month. (Now, I KNOW you can swing that!)

Do you have college savings in place for your kids?

This post was sponsored by Florida Prepaid College Board and facilitated by Bloggin Mamas. You already know everything you just read is real talk, straight from Dani. 

4 Apps That Save You Money

4 apps that save you money


Giiiirls listen. These apps are great, my cousin got me hooked! The apps below either save you money, give you rebates/cash back, or give you gift cards for your normal purchases.

Here’s how my phone is making me money this year:



You MUST go sign up for Ibotta (Use my link please?! HERE!)

So, you shop as you normally do, and the things you buy that are on their app you get cash back for. Easy.

But wait… there’s more! You scan your receipts and get more cash. And your friends that are on Ibotta are your teammates and with their shopping combined with your own, you all earn cash bonuses without having to actually do anything.



This app is awesome. You just scan your receipts after purchase and you earn points that turn into cash or gift cards. Easy! When you scan food receipts you earn more, but when you scan store receipts like macys or whoever, you get spins on a wheel that earns you more points. I love this app because I can scan my online purchases too since I do mostly online shopping. This one is just easy, no extra stuff, just scan your receipt and let your coins add up. It translates to $$$ back in your pocket later.



This one is cool and the points lead to gift cards or products. The points add up quickly too. You get points for shopping and scanning your receipts, you get rebates and cash back for certain items, and you get points (called KICKS) for even just entering the store…even if you purchase nothing.  (my cousin and I may or may not have driven to best buy’s parking lot just for our kicks….*avoids eye contact*) When in store, if you’re so inclined, you can scan certain items for more points (Kicks)

Now, I’m lazy… I don’t think I’ll be going to go to stores just for kicks…(see what I did there?) …but when I do go to stores, I’ll be Kickin!

cartwheel app

Target’s Cartwheel!

First of all, if you don’t have a target card, go get one. You get 5% off every purchase and if you buy online you get free shipping with no minimum purchase required. OK, that said, when you download the cartwheel app you will receive additional savings. TONS of products are on additional sale on top of your 5% off with card, and on top of any coupons/deals/rebates.


Please don’t buy stuff just to get points! If you don’t normally buy something, don’t go stocking up just because you can get a coupon and then points, and then kicks, etc. etc. “Something you don’t need at 25% off, is a 75% waste of money.” <— I forget where I heard that, but it sticks with me whenever I’m oohing and aahing over something I don’t need on the clearance rack.


You can double (or triple, or quadruple) dip!! So, you make a purchase and can scan your receipts for all three apps to get the goodies all over. This makes some items free, or close to free if you stack em with paper or online coupons too.

And DON’T FORGET the websites I told you about before:

You get rebates from 1% to 20% off of your online purchases if you click through their website:

Mr. Rebates – You can get a check each month!

Ebates – popular one, you get a check each quarter, they also give double rebates sometimes.

Extrabux – I like this one as well, and it’s good because you can go back and get your rebate if you forget 🙂

Be sure to check all 3 sites for how much of a rebate they give for whatever store you’re shopping at. Sometimes one is offering a higher rebate amount.

For rebates on groceries try: Checkout 51 and Jingit – I don’t like them as much as the ones above, but I still use them because even though they’re limited, i’m ALWAYS going to buy groceries so it’ll end up adding up to some good cash back.

OK so there you have it. 4 Apps… and a few sites and bonus apps that can really put some money back in your pocket when you’re shopping.

What money saving apps do you use?

How I’m Saving Early For My Kids’ College Tuition

how to save for tuition

I worked my way through college.

I hustled hard.

I took night classes and worked in offices as a receptionist or admin some semesters, and I took day classes and worked in nightlife some semesters. I’d do my homework and reading on the subway or at work when I could.

I remember working as a photographer at a club, visiting John wherever he was bouncing after I was done, and getting home to nap for an hour, shower and head to Saturday morning classes all bleary-eyed and half dead.

I saved my little pennies and made my tuition payments (on a payment plan at that) so I could make it through school with no debt. It was tough, but it’s what needed to be done to get my degree. Debt free. ::dusts shoulders off::

But yeah….I’m not having my kids go out like that.


Yes, it was a hard won lesson. Yes, it taught me fortitude, money management, independence, time management, the value of caffeine, and how to survive on little sleep…

But for Roey and Kaya… No sireee.

nope beyonce

I’ll let them learn those lessons a different way.

I’m saving for their college education from now. Yes, I know they’re only 2 and 8 months…but now is the time to start! I want the peace of mind knowing that they will have a bit more of a head start than I did.

Here’s how I’m saving for Harvard, Princeton, Yale….or Nowheresville Community College:

  • Direct deposit into their respective accounts each week – Beachbody pays weekly on Thursdays, so on Fridays there’s an automatic withdrawal that goes into the kids’ savings accounts. Having the savings on an automatic plan makes it easy for me.
  • All gifts go to their savings accounts – I ask for money when my family requests gift lists at birthdays and holidays. I remote deposit checks on the spot. And when given something that has to be returned, if I get cash versus store credit, I just put it straight into their account.
  • 529 account – My fake grampa (long story, I’ll tell you later) gave my dad some money for Roey and Kai and forced me to open a 529. I’m glad he did because I was half-steppin’ on this really useful account. Now I’ll ask for the financial gifts to go there instead.
  • Coins – don’t laugh – I used to fill up our coin banks throughout the year and then put it toward either Christmas gifts or the travel fund. Now, when those piggy banks get full I put it straight into the kids’ accounts.

college savings

College tuition is a gift I look forward to giving my kids…though hopefully they rack up some scholarships. I’m not telling them I’ve got one red cent for them.

It’s important to me that they get their education so I’m glad I’ll be able to assist them financially. Starting early allows me to save more over time. Not to mention the power of compound interest working to help me grow their savings accounts even more. This gives me the peace of mind knowing that my kids won’t have to work their way through college unless for some crazy reason they wanted to.

If you’re looking to set up accounts for your children’s college funds Capital One 360 Checking and 360 Savings are fee-free and earn interest. They also have the handy remote deposit capture with Capital One 360’s CheckMate tool and make savings easier with the Automatic Savings Plan. Check out the Capital One 360 Black Friday Sale for bonuses.

How are you saving for your children’s college costs?


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.