Personal Finances and COVID-19 (1 of 2)

Coronavirus has changed everything for everybody. There is no doubt about it. Everyone’s personal finances are or will (or should be) be impacted  – whether you keep your job, lose your job or never had one to begin with (already unemployed, retired, etc.) SAVING AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU CAN IS PARAMOUNT. Beyond, that simple imperative, my strategy is simple and two-fold: cash is KING and bring RECEIPTS.


Today I will tackle the first statement: CASH IS KING:

  • Spend little, very little. Re-evaluate everything based on your current situation or what may become your situation. If you are paying for subscriptions and are in a financial situation where spending $9.99 a month can make or break you, cancel it asap. (I told you before that I hate paying for subscriptions… NO RECURRING BILLS!).
  • Budgeting / expense tracking goes without saying but, I recently read a new way to categorize and keep track of EACH AND EVERY purchase you make. The new categories are: Fixed, Discretionary, Reduceable, or Forbearance Eligible. (Frugal Woods) I am definitely doing this!
  • Here’s the deal… I am delaying everything I can, even it if means a large lump sum payment at the end of the forbearance period. Why? Because we don’t know what we don’t know – this is true for income, expenses and what the federal, state or local government may or may not due over the next 6-9 months. If you are already financially responsible, making a payment equaling to x number of months you are in forbearance for your mortgage should not scare you (required with the new bill – READ!!!) If you are not financially astute or able to save large sums of money and can afford to pay your mortgage each month, continue to pay. If you cannot pay and need to prioritize eating over paying your mortgage, I think you know what to do – just be sure call your mortgage company (or landlord) and ask for help. More likely than not, they will oblige.
  • As it relates to (government) student loans, we all get 6-months no payments / no interest / no lump sum due at the end. I will not be paying my normal $200 month during this automatic forebarance period. What I AM going to do is pay my loan completely off on September 29th (the day the forbearance period is up) – pending no drastic changes in my financial position. There is no financial gain or benefit or negative impact to me paying today vs 6 months from now, except that my CASH will continue to sit in my savings account, earning a very small amount of interest; but, I will take that thank you very much! The beautiful thing is that I was planning to pay my student loans off this year anyway and my payment will go 100% towards my principle. WIN!
  • I also refinanced our mortgage at exactly the right time. Saves $250/month AND because it’s a new loan, we get to skip 2 months of our mortgage payments (just like when you initially close on a house). WIN!
  • I have been an avid user of my rewards credit cards, most recently the Delta American Express since I already have Lifetime Titanium status with Marriott. Last week I switched from using my AMEX (reward credit card) to my debit card. Why? First, ain’t nobody going anywhere anytime soon and Secondly, I know that I will evaluate expenses much more carefully when I use my debit card. I changed the default payment method on my normal accounts such as Target. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
  • Finally, I organized my pantry. Going out for groceries is essential; but, not it you have things at home you can eat. Seeing all of your items helps greatly and can reduce your spending! Check out my recent post on how I did this – now, it’s true I didn’t have to buy those baskets, especially in this uncertain time; but, I did. And I will continue to check daily for price reductions for the items I purchased to try and save a few more coins by asking for a price match (over the phone).

I am reading a lot more these days – mostly online – because there is a lot I don’t know. Things are constantly changing. Blogs, news, you name it! READ THE FINE PRINT to make sure you understand EXACTLY what is or is not. None of our opinions matter, only the facts. And certainly not #FAKENEWS. Treat what people tell you about your finances just like you do sayings for the bible – READ IT FOR YOURSELF FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCE, not a third party! Context is almost always required. There is no single answer / approach that can or should be applied to your unique circumstance.

Now, my last question is how much cash do you actually have? As in assets? Can you prove it? We will discuss in my next post, stay tuned!

Bri Alys

RWA Series – Subscriptions

Vector subscription business model concept in flat style – pricing plan for app or website service

A few weeks ago I started an adulting series called RWA (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic). The first post focused on Writing using a technique called Bullet Journaling. Today’s post is the second in that series, focused on Arithmetic and Subscriptions.

Subscriptions are those things you sign up and are automatically billed for each month. You don’t even have to think about renewing the service because the company automatically does it for you (by way of an invoice or more frequently an automatic payment from your bank account or credit card). Items that fit this category are: Spotify (music), Netflix (movies), Audible (books), iCloud Storage and the recently popular subscription boxes (wine clubs, book of the month, beauty products). Just about every company has a Subscription model these days and why not, it’s easy cash for them!

The subscription model is a booming field. In recent years, this market has grown by more than 100% a year, increasing from $57 million in sales in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. This is from a recent article in Stanford Business Journal that also predicts that, “Everything you purchase — from transportation to entertainment to groceries — will soon come with a monthly plan.”

Sure, the costs are nominal; but, this discussion is not about being able to afford the service or not. I’m sure most people reading this could sign up for 10 or more of these monthly services and still be ok financially. I say JustSayNo because once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out. Gym membership anyone? 🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️

Do you remember that infomercial from back in the day about a popular cooking device that had the popular slogan, “Set it and Forget It.” That’s EXACTLY how I think about subscriptions. Often times we sign up for products/services and either use it VERY SPARINGLY or completely forget about it altogether!

When it comes to expenses, they can of course be need vs want; but, the actual payments themselves can also be PUSH vs PULL. When expenses are PUSHED, you consciously send your money somewhere for something you decide you want. For example, I saw Michelle Obama on the Today Show and decided I would like to read her new book, Becoming. As are result of that conscious decision, I purchased her book. Under this scenario, I have just given my money to someone for a product I chose.  Conversely, when expenses are PULLED you unconsciously send money to someone for something you may or may not want to experience/enjoy or chose. Sure, the monthly charge appears small (i.e. $9.99/month for Spotify); but, the real question is are you using the service and getting value from it or do you keep it around as a nice-to-have or because of a “just-in-case” philosophy.  As in, just in case there’s a new movie, book or album I want to partake in this month…

For needs (rent/mortgage, long term disability insurance, student loans, car insurance), I’m completely ok with the PULL technique – it saves me time and energy on things I know I have to pay anyway; however, when it comes to wants (entertainment, luxuries) I prefer to PUSH at intervals I consciously choose.

Didn’t there used to be a time when people wanted to decide where their money went and for what? Now, we’re ok letting complete strangers decide for us?? 🤔 Are they smarter or more in tune with our actual needs, wants and desires than we are? A popular finance blog, MoneyCrashers lists the cons of popular product-based subscription boxes this way:

  • Overbuying – While a subscription box usually costs less than buying all the items in it separately, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy all those items if they didn’t come in your box.
  • Unclear value – You get a different assortment of products every month, and you don’t even know what they’re going to be.
  • Problems With Returns – Sometimes companies won’t return/exchange items you don’t use. Most often people just don’t bother.
  • Difficulty of Quitting – As long as the fee is low enough to make it seem like a good deal, it won’t seem worthwhile to cancel the service.

There is a such thing as a subscription hoarder. According to GQ magazine, people spend more than twice as much on subscriptions as they think they do. The average initial estimate was $79.74 per month. The actual average was a whopping $237.33 per month. When companies uncouple your payment from your enjoyment of their product, it’s easy to forget you ever paid.

I currently have one monthly subscription- Netflix – and that’s because we actually use it. On everything else, I consciously choose to pass. Don’t get me wrong, all subscriptions are not bad; however, the adulting tip of the day in this RWA series is that when it comes to subscriptions, choose wisely!!!

What are you paying for every month?

PayPal me

How do you transfer money to family and friends? If you’re lucky (and smart) you wouldn’t engage in those type of activities. My mom always says, “Don’t loan and don’t borrow.” #agree! But, in some cases you don’t have a choice. Maybe someone buys a concert ticket for you so you can sit together or maybe you pay someone to watch your child.

brialysPayPal just launched a new way to pay called and you can claim your site name (i.e. NOW by visiting this link. The service works similarly to Square Cash, which we’ve discussed before. You get a personal link people can use to pay you money. The downside? You will have to log in to your PayPal account and manually transfer the funds to your desired account and this transfer could take 2-3 days, depending on your bank. As a Chase customer, the reason I prefer Square Cash is that there is no “delay”, at least in seeing the + or – activity in my account – it shows up immediately. But this could vary depending on your bank. Also, both parties are required to have a PayPal account. #fail IMHO Square Cash is still much better.


square-cashTHE best way to send/receive money to/from friends, for free on iOS and Android, is Square Cash! No account is required to receive money – you can send using a cell phone number or email address and all the recipient has to do is enter their debit card number and click one button. The transaction will appear in your account right away – no waiting! Also Square Cash will give you and each person you invite $5 for free, which is automatically added to your bank account when you make your first transfer (account required). This service is MUCH easier than PayPal and FASTER! Check out the video below.