How to handle money in your 30’s

Hello Smart Money People,

Ahhhh.. the 30’s.

Welcome to this pivotal and busy season of your life! The 30’s! It is the decade of growth. There is career growth, possibly marriage, personal growth, starting a family, investing in your first home, MAKING SURE YOU HAVE an emergency fund (see THIS post on emergency fund). Deciding RIGHT NOW what you want the next 30 years to look like.

In our 30’s, although not fully intentionally, we made some smart moves. We lived below our means, we bought the least desirable house in the neighborhood and renovated it. We moved from a high cost housing market, southern Connecticut, to a lower cost housing market, North Carolina. In hindsight, had we really focused and did what I am about to tell you to consider, we would be in a different place. Don’t get me wrong, we made out better than okay, but it could have been even better had someone told us. My wish for you is that you can no longer say, after reading this article, “I wish someone would have told me.”

Consider yourself TOLD, here is what you should think about and decide on in your 30’s: Continue reading “How to handle money in your 30’s”

PODCAST: The Importance of the “Money Chat” with Jennifer Duffee featuring Yours Truly


This is very exciting news!! I was just interviewed on my very first Podcast EVER!! Last month I had the privilege of meeting the lovely and talented Jennifer Duffee. Jennifer is a Business and Lifestyle Coach based in the UK. We met last month and she is taking her business to a new level and started a Podcast! She asked me if I would come and speak to her people on the topic of, well, money. We had a lovely chat. It is HERE and I would love if you would listen and let me know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comment section!!

One more ask, if you liked it, please leave a comment and share it with friends!

You can also check out Jennifer HERE!

Have an amazing day!

When it comes to being smart about money- YOU’VE GOT THIS!!


Karen & Bill

Car payments be gone!! Pay cash for your car.

Hello Smart Money People,

Let’s talk CARS. What is a car? I googled it to see what the internet would offer as a definition and here is what I found:

  • A vehicle moving on wheels (
  • A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people (
  • An automobile (

Let’s talk money. According to an article on in 2015, 85.9% of new cars were financed through a loan. The average monthly car payment in 2017 was a whooping $479. Actually, I know a guy that has a $700 car loan. That is literally RENT, but I digress. For a car payment that is frighteningly high, Experian reports the average term of a new car loan is 68 months and the average amount financed is $30,032, see the article from HERE. Yet the average American, 57%, have less than $1,000 in savings. Read more about how Americans are saving in this article.

So, what is it with CARS, people?

Continue reading “Car payments be gone!! Pay cash for your car.”

Taming Holiday Spending with THIS Holiday Budget Worksheet Just For You

Hello Smart Money People,

Today let’s talk about taming holiday spending. It is the most wonderful time of the year AND the craziest when it comes to spending! There are deals to be had. I get it. I am a sucker for a deal. I am a sucker for a lot of things. However, so you don’t feel sucker PUNCHED come January, I encourage you to have a plan. Having a plan safeguards you from making spontaneous decisions that can possibly be NOT good decisions a few hours or weeks later. You know I am a lover of the budget, the holidays are no different. If you want to enjoy the holidays now and later, set a budget and stick to it. Continue reading “Taming Holiday Spending with THIS Holiday Budget Worksheet Just For You”

How to handle money in your 20’s

Hello Smart Money People,

I often get asked what should people focus on regarding money in their 20’s. It is a good question and more people should ask it.

It is a hard question to answer simply because everyone is different, however, as that is not helpful, we can give you suggestions and you apply what is relevant to you.

In my 20’s I focused on nothing but having a good time, buying clothes, taking vacations and EATING OUT as much as possible. I encourage you NOT to do the same. Bill on the other hand, met me in his early 20’s, I am 5 years older than he, total sidebar, but he was, and is, a natural saver. Bill began saving from his first paycheck. He was investing in and saving outside of retirement.

Spoiler Alert: The bottom line is it is all about choices. When you have money in the bank and an emergency fund and no debt, you have CHOICES. When you are tied to a car payment, a house payment, a credit card payment, a job you don’t like because of all of your payments, guess what you don’t have? Choices. Continue reading “How to handle money in your 20’s”

Newly Married! What you should know about combining your finances


Congratulations! The wedding is behind you. The centerpieces were perfect. Your weird cousin Al didn’t do anything embarrassing. THANK GOODNESS. Being a newly married couple is A-MA-ZING!

Now that marital bliss is your everyday reality, how do you combine your finances?

Let’s break it down. What you find-ah. What you feel now. What you know-ah. To be real.  Listen here to the Classic Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real. If you are not familiar with the song, it’s about being REAL. Continue reading “Newly Married! What you should know about combining your finances”

One thing you must have is an Emergency Fund


Hello Smart Money People,

One of the key elements to peace is knowing that if the ship goes sideways, you have a lifeboat and you’re covered. Enter in the Emergency Fund.

Here are some sayings you may have heard around the proverbial water cooler:

When it rains it pours.

When you thought it couldn’t get any worse?

Up a creek without a paddle.

Misery loves company.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Well, we’re here to tell you, as the famed basketball coach Bobby Knight said, “The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.” Life happens. Tires run over nails, washing machines break with full loads of laundry still in them, AC units die on the hottest day of the year. It happens. What happens next defines how long the emergency will last and if it turns into a crisis.

There aren’t any surprises around the corner on this one. Save $1000 as fast as you can and put it in a savings account that is labeled IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

Let’s define an emergency:

  1. Flat tire: Yes
  2. Power outage/ failure: Indeed
  3. Blocked toilet: a BIG YES
  4. Damaged roof: Unfortunately, yes.
  5. Locked out of house or car: Bummer and Yes
  6. Broken door or window: Ugh, what a pain, holla: Yes
  7. Gas leak: Get out of the house first, and second > Yes
  8. New outfit: No
  9. Dinner with friends: Nope
  10. New toy for the kiddo so they will be quiet in the grocery store: Unfortunately No
  11. A one-time only infomercial deal that expires at midnight (much to my chagrin): No

Continue reading “One thing you must have is an Emergency Fund”

What is your definition of SUCCESS?

When you think about money, what does success look like to you? What does living the good LIFE look like to you?

For us it was a little something like this – getting out of DEBT, owning our stuff, not owing anyone, having a budget you and your spouse both agree upon, sleeping well at night, removing the tension from your marriage. Knowing how much money you HAVE. These were our aspirations. Once we got clear on where we were and where we wanted to be, we were able to make progress.

Success means different things to different people.

Some people want a rockin’ wardrobe, some people love to eat out, some people want a BIG home, some want a small home. Not one of those is better than the other, it just matters what YOU want. When you get clear on what you want you can start sorting through how to get there.

If you wanted to lose weight, does it make sense to have a burger and fries for dinner 3 times this week? I’m not a nutritionist, nor do I play one on TV, but I will guess the answer is NO. Continue reading “What is your definition of SUCCESS?”

Own Your Budget

Be proud of your budget.

This one I can SPEAK too for sure. When Bill and I got serious about being on a budget it was hard for us. When I say “us”, I mean me. We categorically disagreed on where our money should go and how much we needed for each category. What we agreed on was what we wanted out of our life. Financial peace. Enough to live, give and leave a legacy for our kids.

Budgets have a specific intention of a goal. Here is the definition of budget:

  1. An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
  2. A quantity of material, typically that which is written or printed.

To me a budget felt suffocating, like scarcity, like a curse. BUT, listen up, we had a funny path to our budget. Bill wanted one and I didn’t. He said I was killing us one trip to Target at a time. Clearly not Target’s fault.

Continue reading “Own Your Budget”

Preparation is the key


Pour a cup of Joe. This is a bit lengthy, but worth the read for one or two nuggets of information.  “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell said it so it must be true.

Sunday- our day to prepare for the week. That means cleaning, laundry, meals, writing down activities, everything gets organized on this day to make a better – stress free week.

Let’s talk meal planning. YAY! I love meal planning because it is such a tremendous way to manage your money, and for the record, your sanity.

I met a fellow on a flight from Seattle to Atlanta and we, of course, chatted lots. He was coming from some kind of entrepreneurial workshop and heading back to college. We talked about all things “life”. I had my yogurt, fruit, almonds and water bottle. He made note as he was going to have to purchase food on the airplane. Notoriously known for healthy and fresh food selections. I said “Nate”, I think that was his name, it is all about the preparation. We prepare for business meetings, Christmas, vacations, dinner parties, birthday celebrations, you get the point. We can prepare for our meals. It is simple, just to be honest. Is it fun? Maybe not. Does it take time. That is a big YES, but you can decide that for yourself.

Here is what I do to make sure our family stays on budget and when I am crazy from a full day, I can look up at our chalk board of options and choose one for dinner. Done and done.

Continue reading “Preparation is the key”