Real Money Talk with Patrice Washington
Today is that day… the dreaded tax day. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I waited until just yesterday to file my taxes. Listen…
I procrastinated Life got crazy and taxes got put on the back burner okay? Don’t judge me. Anywho, in the spirit of sharing with other folks who may have waited until the 11th hour to file, I thought now would be a good time to share some awesome info that I’ve been dragging my feet on waiting for just the right moment to share with you. Behold:
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with personal finance columnist and best-selling author Patrice C. Washington. Patrice built her fortune, lost it all in the recession and then reinvented herself to gain it all back and her experiences have made her a wealth of REAL information and answers about money.
I chatted with Patrice about everything from finding a balance between frugal and fabulous to avoiding filing my taxes to the best way to teach our kids about money. Check out the video or read it (seriously, read it cuz I transcribed the whole thing and my fingers want to feel like they accomplished something).
Style Medic: What would be your number one tip for women to blur the lines between frugal and fabulous?
Patrice Washington: Well, my number one tip for blurring the lines between frugal and fabulous is to remember that to have financial success is not about deprivation, I think a lot of the reason that women tend to shy away from their finances or not want to buckle down and do what it takes sometimes to get out of debt or just to pay those bills off or whatever it is, is because they feel like then I’ll have to deprive myself, I won’t be able to get my nails done or my hair done and dress up and be who I really am if I want to be financially successful. It’s not about deprivation but it is about discipline. So one thing I had to learn in my own journey was one, to do everything in moderation. So yeah, I can still look good, I can still buy a pair of shoes here and there but I have to budget for them. It can’t be impulsive. That’s the thing, we see something and we have to have it now, that’s the type of mentality though that gets us into trouble as Americans. So rather than see something and feel like I have to get it now, what about when you see something and take a moment to really assess whether you already have something similar, whether you can change something up at the house… tweak it a little to make it something similar or whether you can find a better deal somewhere else. It’s about not being so impulsive and taking a step back and also looking at how does this fit in to my budget. Because you SHOULD have a budget. *laughs* your spending should be based on your budget; it shouldn’t be based on your emotions.
SM: Would you say that emotional spending was a big money hurdle for women?
PW: Absolutely. In my book 'Real Money Answers for Every Woman', one of the money myths I start out by talking about is this myth that “Oh, I work hard and I deserve it” Right. I think we’ve all gotten to that place before where we’re tired, we’re frustrated, someone at our job has gotten on our nerves, it’s payday and we’re headed to the department store. You know? We’re online clicking around and we’re going “I work hard so I deserve this”. That’s a hurdle we have to get over, it’s not that you work hard and you deserve to get something else, you work hard and you deserve to be debt free. You work hard and you deserve to be in a position to leave a legacy for your family. You work hard and you deserve to be at place where you get to work because you want to and not because you have to. So it’s all about how you shift that whole myth, you work hard, yeah you work hard and you deserve better. What you don’t deserve is to buy something that you don’t need to put you in a place that you’re tired of being in. That’s not what you deserve.
SM: So you just called me out on so many different levels.
SM: Now, it’s tax season and I’ve personally been avoiding doing my taxes like the plague. Some of us will go out and take that tax refund and go on vacations or buy a pair of loubies. How do we make the most out of our tax refund?
PW: Well, the first thing we can do is make the most out of the tax filing process. I have a site called myfreetaxes.com that allows you to file your taxes for FREE and that’s federal and state (in all 50 states and D.C.) That’s one way that you can keep more of your money in your pocket to put towards maybe some of these planned expenses that you want to do*laughs*. So, myfreetaxes is awesome because not only can you file for free but you can also get free assistance. You know, a lot of people avoid filing taxes like the plague because it’s this big to-do, you gotta gather up all the information, and make an appointment or go down to some office somewhere… that’s just simply not true anymore. The process is so much more streamlined. It’s easy and at myfreetaxes.com you follow the step by step process but if you get stuck anywhere, you also have help from IRS certified specialists, so you can email and ask for help you can call or you can even do an online chat. So that’s the #1 way to maximize the process, is to stop paying to file your taxes, especially if you don’t have anything too complicated going on. This service is available to anyone who has a household income of $60,000 or less. That’s more than half of Americans so there’s no excuse. You should be taking advantage of that if you want to keep more money in your pocket.
The other part to this is when we’re talking about wanting to maximize the refund, we’ve got to stop waiting until the refund hits the account to decide what we’re gonna do with it. Because I’m sensing, Taheera, that there can be a little emotional spending that can happen right? So what I want your audience to know is that you can’t wait until the money hits your account to decide what you’re gonna do with it. I want you to have a plan now. I want you to think about how far away are you from your savings goal? Did you set a goal this year to have $1,000 saved? Could this tax refund help you meet that goal? Do you have some debt? Some student loan debt? Some credit cards that you’ve been wanting to pay off? Then this is something that can help you do that. Then the last bucket that I don’t think enough people think about is just deferred maintenance. You, know, things that you put off getting fixed because you didn’t have the money. Well this is the time to get it fixed because that little leaky roof, can turn into a roof caving in. You don’t want to wait until it gets there; you want to patch it up now. So I say that for any home expenses or car maintenance or maybe you have dental work, that’s one people don’t think about, you know your tooth has been hurting! Go get it taken care of now. So when you think about a plan, think a third going to saving, a third going towards paying down that debt and a third going towards taking care of anything that you don’t want to turn into a big disaster later on.
SM: How can we as mothers help to instill financial confidence in our kids?
PW: Well that’s a great question and I think that we really need to be thorough when we think about this because a lot of us are in the positions that we’re in or we’ve had the experiences that we’ve had because we didn’t have the right conversations growing up. So one of the first things that you need to know is that you’re not gonna you know, kill your kids by teaching them about money management as early as possible so I like that you said start at five; I started at three. I have a seven year old daughter myself and one of the first things that I did with her when I thought about what do I want to teach her and how can I be the best example possible for her was this idea of the save spend give. What we did was we decorated together three envelopes, and I had her write on them save on one, spend on another and give on the other and every time she gets money, whether it be from birthdays or someone just giving her money for some reason; instead letting her have a full twenty dollar bill, what my husband and I have done is either given her four five dollar bills or given it to her all in ones and what we’ve taught her is that, just because you get twenty dollars in that doesn’t mean you put twenty dollars out. We’ve taught her to take a third of that and put it in the save envelope, take a third and put it in the spend envelope and a third in the give envelope. There were times at 5, 6 or 7 years old (which she is today) where she has more money than us sometimes in those envelopes than we have in our wallets! So, every time someone gives her money at 7 years old, she’s already in the habit of breaking the money down, saving some and giving some and she knows with that spend envelope, we don’t question her. We try to guide her, but we’re also teaching her how to make her own decisions. So as long as she’s put some in saving and has some in give, if she wants to spend money on a toy at checkout at target, it’s fine, we allow her to do it. If she wants to go to toys r us or use it on the book fair at school, we allow her to do that. It’s about making her responsible and that’s what we have to teach our kids and we can start as early as 3.
SM: That is AMAZING and I have so much homework to do and I’m excited about it! So, how can we keep up with you? How can readers find out more info about you and what you do and all of the awesome information you shared with me today.
PW: Well, all of the great resources I shared with you about taxes are at MyFreeTaxes.com. So for anyone who’s been avoiding filing taxes like the plague, you don’t have to anymore, there’s a great resource out there for you, it’s easy, it’s free, it’s fast and secure so definitely head to MyFreeTaxes.com.
And if you want more information about me you can always go to RealMoneyAnswers.com.
It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Patrice. Clearly I've got work to do. What juicy piece of info did you find most helpful?