Monday, January 24, 2022

Ohana means Family - ALOHA!

This vacation was so very special for me. First, I was able to take my mom to the beautiful island of O’ahu in Honolulu, Hawaii and my husband was also able to join us. In addition, my brother and sister-n-law flew in a day before us. Although all of our siblings were not able to make it, we made the best of this birthday trip for my mom (she's spoiled 😊). I visited Honolulu in April of 2021 and I knew they both needed to see and experience the most peaceful and beautiful island I’ve seen. Hawaii feels like an international vacation with American freedom. I am so glad it’s a US state and if I had the option I’d visit every year!


Our flights were booked in October of 2021 when Southwest advertised a sale on flights to Hawaii. The total price of the flight was $325. Fortunately, D’Andre and I had flight credits available to cover the cost of ours. So grateful! I love Southwest for so many reasons and they are my preferred travel airline.

Thanks to a friend of mine, I was encouraged to apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and I did! This card allows me to earn points on purchases. This year I’ve been able to book 3 round trip flight off my points alone! Southwest currently has a Limited-time offer with any Southwest Rapid Rewards personal Credit Card. Earn up to 100,000 bonus points with any Southwest Rapid Rewards personal Credit Card. Business owners can earn up to 80,000 bonus points with Southwest Rapid Rewards business Credit Cards. I can be rewarded too, learn more:


We used Travelzoo to book our hotel stay at White SandsHotel, but Expedia is just as good and commonly used by me! Travelzoo won this race simply because you have to pay resort fees at hotels in Hawaii, similar to those you pay at hotels in Vegas. The Travelzoo deal we received waived all resort fees! You all know by now that I love a good sale! This was good!

White Sands Hotel offered great nightly rates, a vintage walk-up with the personality of urban island culture, two and a half blocks from Waikiki beach, and steps to world-class shopping, dining, and nightlife. This was a perfect location to access everything! We literally walked everywhere, even to dinner. Every room at the White Sands Hotel features a private balcony with pool or city views. All rooms are nonsmoking and feature a 37-inch flat-screen LCD TV, a microwave and a small refrigerator. It also has an outdoor pool surrounded by a garden and is home to the most beautiful restaurant with the cutest cocktails. Although our resort fees were waived, we were able to access it’s inclusions and make use of their free pool deck amenities: chaise lounge covers, sunscreen, aloe, portable power bank, GoPro camera, beach gear including beach chairs and boogie boards, Wi-Fi and more.

Things to Do:

1. Each day the Sunrise and Sunset times are shown on a board at the front desk. Check out beach chairs and towels and spend at least one morning watching the sunrise. It is so beautiful and you’re joined by many on the beach as well so please, don’t be afraid to go out early. The sunset is just as beautiful and a great way to conclude your last evening in the city before dinner.

2. The North Shore and more: to avoid a day long tour by a tour guide whose stops are only 15-20 minutes each, you can rent a car on Turo for a day and drive around yourselves but you definitely want to start early. Here are the stops I suggest:

  1. Diamond Head Halona Blowhole lookout/ Scenic point
  2. Laniakea Beach - Turtle Beach
  3. Waimea Bay Beach Park
  4. Macadamia Nut Farm
  5. Fumi’s shrimp truck
  6. The Dole Plantation (closed on Wednesday)
  7. Matsumoto Shaved Ice

This will give you a full ride around the island. Download the Route4Me app and you can put in each location and it will arrange your route to make the drive efficient. This will allow you the ability to enjoy each stop at your own pace. Most spots close between 5:00-6:30pm which is why I suggest getting out early. We left around 1pm and was just making it for everything so leaving at 11am should be perfect.

3. Waikiki Beach: It’s so beautiful as mentioned before and feels like walking the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. So many shops and great places to dine. My recommendations are below:

  1. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”
  2. ShoreFyre - Saturday & Sunday brunch in the International Marketplace. $5 Mimosas starting at 10am (Get the 50/50 Loco brunch dish it’s so fye!)
  3. Roys Waikiki for Dinner

 You can walk to each of these from your hotel.

4. I’d also suggest going on Groupon to book a Luau. They are a beautiful experience, but the food isn’t the best (banquet food). I did it once and didn’t need to go again, but it is nice to experience and learn about the culture. 

5. SHOP!!! All the luxury stores are cheaper and taxes are 4%. On Sundays the luxury stores have 10% off!

This trip not only gave me clarity, but joy! My mom basked in the peace and joy of Hawaii and even after a lengthy flight there and back, she can’t wait to return! As for Dre, which is most surprising, he too, cannot wait to return! We had the time of our lives!

Monday, January 3, 2022

2 is always more than 1

$2 is always more than $1

The title of this post came from an old boss. After my engagement she and I spoke often about the success of her marriage and the things that contributed to it. One of the biggest was how her and her husband managed their finances. Her counsel to me was, “Establish a joint account, combine your income and watch your marriage flourish.” Of course I was reluctant. I’ve never given anyone access or authority over my income. This for sure would be a challenge. 

D’Andre and I discussed the idea of a joint account leading up to our wedding day and decided, at least for the first year, to remain separate and pay off all of our individual debt. Cool! Done! As 2021 approached we both knew it was time. No lie, the rush of emotions and anxiety I went through was indescribable. It was the first time in my life that I felt safe and secure enough to discuss and give someone else access to my finances. But I did, and I ain’t die doing it lol. No, for real, it’s been one of the best decision I’ve made for my marriage. We set seven (7) total Financial Goals for 2021 that I will detail below.

1. Save $50,000 this year and every year thereafter.

The first goal was set. Save $50,000 annually and every year thereafter. But how? You can’t just save $50K from nothing. You have to be able to afford to do so. This is where I give my advice: Our goal was $50K, yours doesn’t have to be! Everyone's financial situation is unique. Do what makes sense for you and your marriage. I said “Your Marriage” on purpose because listen, don’t ever do this shit while dating. I don’t care how much you love them and see a future with them. Even in a marriage this could go left, but it goes back to trust and security in your partner. Partner as in husband or wife, again…not your boyfriend or girlfriend.

 2. Live off one (1) income.

 3. Spend smart, who you stunting for?

 Alright, on to the how. Our “how” was established in Goal #2: Live off 1 income. This is a challenge in itself, but it’s doable. Dre was not convinced of this at all. How the hell would we live off one income? The only way I made sense of it was by replaying when we moved to our first apartment. We paid more in rent than we do mortgage now, we had 2 car notes, no properties for extra income and we both made 1/2 of what we do now! That’s how! We tend to spend more money the more we make. Like every human has done this. It’s normal, but discipline can put an end to this. It made sense to him once I broke it down that way and he was game. That is exactly how Goal #3 was established. In order for us to successfully live off of one income and save $50K it wasn’t an option - we HAD TO spend smart, cut out out unnecessary spending and commit to this plan. 

4. Open Joint Account

The next goals became actionable items to maintaining and achieving the first 3. Goal #4: Open a Joint Account. Now this method was also given to me by my old manager, but was slightly modified to fit our goals. We both already had individual checking and saving accounts. With opening the joint checking account, one income would be deposited to that account. I know I know, you want to know about the other income. I’m coming, hold on. 

After establishing the joint account we had to review our bills. You need to be certain that the one income can cover all of the bills and leave extra for an allowance. We wrote out every bill, totaled it, and then subtracted that amount from the monthly total income. The remainder is what we had to work from when establishing an allowance. 


Monthly Income: $500
Total bills: $300

$500 - $300 = $200 (This is what you have left to split for allowance. Each of you could get a max of $100 allowance monthly)  

Next, we needed to determine an individual allowance. This is based on our individual monthly spend on ourselves. Not bills! All bills, mortgages, car notes, etc. would be paid out of the joint account. The allowances were for hair salon visits, nail salon visits, brunch, lunch money, waxes, etc. all the other “stuff”. We decided that in fairness we would get the same amount of money in allowance bi-weekly. Although I just really feel like because he cuts his own bald head I should get that extra, but I let him have it lol. Once the allowance was set, the direct deposit was set up. On payday, each of our individual accounts would get a deposit with our allowance amount and the full remaining balance would go in the joint account to cover the bills. 

5. Automate Bills

This is where we then hit Goal #5: Automate Bills. You just wrote out your bills, tallied them up, etc. so you know your incoming and your outgoing - why not forget the hassle of logging in to pay your bills monthly. Save yourself the stress and headache and automate. This legit has been a contributor to my self care. Oh, I don’t have to remember a password to 5 different log ins to hit "pay now"? Aw girl we cooking with gas now! 

We then setup an online savings account for the other income. The online account benefit was that it wasn’t easily accessible. There’s more but that was the biggest for me. We decided on Discover Bank. Reason being is because I met an older guy at work who would come in daily and give me updates on the interest rates for different savings accounts, but he held all his money in Discover. At the time, Discover had the highest yielding interest rate, known as APY (Annual Percentage Yield) for a savings account. As you know, interest rates fluctuate. I’ve seen Discover be at 1.10% and now it’s sitting at 0.40%. This is due to the pandemic which is cool. It beats 0.01% that most of the other “big” banks give on their savings accounts. Below is a chart comparing some other online savings accounts. As you can see, some accounts require monthly fees and have minimum opening deposit amounts. Go with what works for you! 



6. Practice not checking the checking account (you know your spend).

The last 2 goals were simply reminders. As for Goal #6, I never check my bank account, but Dre never misses checking his. If you know you have $100 to spend monthly and your nails were just $50, what are you going to see? But honestly, I’m eliminating this one in 2022. Not checking my account has led to me missing all kinds of extra charges or fraud charges. I was wrong! Check your account. The scammers are scammin’ and the math ain't always mathin’. 

7. Extra is savings. Can be used for trips or random spend, but with permission from partner. 

The last Goal, #7, gives many people anxiety. Extra can be used with permission? Yes, out of respect for your partner if you need to overspend or dip into whatever is left in the joint account your partner should know and agree upon it. My old manager told me she struggled with not spending all of her allowance/over spending when they began and when she went to ask her husband to pull from the extra, he said no! Instead, he would give her some of his allowance! Look at LOVE 😍

That’s all this boils down to, LOVE! 🖤 Black Love is beautiful and powerful when you have 2 willing and able individuals committed to a common goal. This financial plan will also allow us to achieve an even bigger goal we have! It’s our 5 year plan and once we achieve it, I’ll be back to update you all. 

I just want to thank each and every one of you for reading this, for encouraging me to write/talk about this and for simply having an interest in the things I talk about. I don’t always know how many people I reach, but it’s reminders like this one below that let me know I can’t stop! I literally told my friend about this plan over dinner very briefly and I’m excited to see how it shifts her marriage spiritually and positively. Remember, $2 will always be more than $1! 🌹