Since I turned 19, my birthday parties are now infamous amongst my friends and family. For three consecutive years now "Alana's Birthday" is one of the parties of the year and everyone we know shows up. It really is such a blessing to have so many friends show up and want to spend their time hanging with me and celebrating at my house.
I've made so many fun and precious memories at my house parties and I think a lot of their 'success' can be attributed to this list of tips and tricks!
Throughout my journey with the Pacific Islander Festival Association and being an ambassador for them and the Pacific Islander community, I've learned more about myself and how many opportunities there are out there.
For many people, creating your own company, business, brand, or identity is something that seems like a far-fetched dream, but in all actuality it's something that anyone and everyone can do. I think the hardest part is finding what it is that you want to do.
The first step is to find something that you're passionate about. If you're like me, it's more difficult to do if you have many interests and passions, but it doesn't hurt to experiment with all of them. Take for example this website. It's a true reflection of the many passions that I have and am trying to build on. My involvement in the Pacific Islander community and interest in sociology and anthropology has led to my creation of the Sincerely, Alana videos to help spark awareness about social issues and confidence in individuals. But there's also other areas of this site that is dedicated to travelling and makeup- two things that I'm taking steps to grow a business out of. These are things that many people choose to do, so it might not be considered the most original.
The next steps are taking action. Don't be scared to ask for help to accomplish your goals. Make a list of things you need to do to grow your business and start crossing things off one by one. Always look for someone who has gone through similar obstacles, has built their own business/ brand, and who has had experience in the specific industry. It seems like there's a thousand steps out there, but do your research and start getting those steps done one by one, and the tasks will become easier over time.
In all situations, what will set you apart from others is your drive and commitment to doing something that you love to do. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone or take risks; don't compare yourself to other similar brands. By focusing too much on other brands, you start to lose your individuality and take on elements that become "basic". At the end of the day, your brand is going to grow based off of your dedication, love, uniqueness, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. It's something that will take a lot of time and patience (which is a virtue that I personally struggle a lot with) but in the end will pay off.
Something that many people have told me that they struggle with is handling money, which just so happens to be something that I'm fairly good at. So for this week's blog, I'm going to share some tips and methods to saving money and making sure you are able to pay your bills, save for the future, and have a money left over for fun activities or a rainy day.
1. Open Multiple Savings Accounts
The main two savings accounts that I recommend for anyone is a general savings (for emergency money or to save for a general goal) and a trip/ rainy day savings (for travelling, attending concerts, other fun events, and to reward yourself when you're in need of a fun reminder).
Personally I have three savings- general, trip, and college. If you're in college, I 100% recommend having an account, especially if you have student loans. Even if you add just a little amount every week, it will add up and help pay those loans back.
You can also make an account for anything that you feel you need. And if it's a smaller goal that you don't think deems necessary to open up an actual account, then keep a box or jar in your room. The key to this is depositing money in the same way that you would an account.
2. Open Retirement Accounts
Many jobs offer 401K's for their employers. This takes a small amount out of each paycheck and saves it into an account for you to use that money for retirement and potentially large life events- like buying a house. But if you're in college or just working part time jobs or jobs that don't offer 401K's you have the option to open a Roth IRA. I recommend that everyone have both a Roth and a 401K because in the end you'll end up with more money. A Roth essentially does the same thing but you can choose the amount you want to be taken out of your normal checking account monthly and set up autopay.
3. Set Up Auto-Transfers and Make Saving a Habit
I know people say this a lot, but every penny counts. Even if you only save 10% of your paycheck it all starts to add up. When you have multiple savings and retirement accounts you'll be surprised how fast your money grows. When possible, it makes it much easier to set up an autotransfer on your accounts. The less steps you have to do after setting it up, the easier and more effortless it is to save money. Like I mentioned with the box/ jar before, if you're saving cash then make sure to save just as religiously as your accounts are set up.
Now this doesn't have to be an extravagant amount of money every time you add to your savings. Put whatever amount you can. You should have an idea of how much money you can afford to put away so try to stick to that amount every paycheck/ week/ month (the consistency is totally up to you. I tend to put money away every paycheck and my Roth is set up to take money every month). But if you have a smaller paycheck then don't feel bad if you can't put in the full amount. Just put aside what you can because it stills adds up.
And if you get extra money or birthday/ holiday gift money then add a little more to that savings.
When you have multiple savings make sure to try to add to all of them consistently. Once you decide how much you can put into savings total, then split up that total into the different goals accordingly. Maybe one savings gets more than the others. That's 100% acceptable.
4. Make an Excel Sheet with All of Your Bills
Make a list of all of your monthly bills, the day of the month the bill is due, and how much the bill costs. When you start the excel sheet, the first column should be the day the bill is due, the second put the description of the bill, and then the third the price of the bill. In between the bills, add the days that you are getting paid and then the estimate of how much will be on your paycheck. Autosum the down the third column of prices and see how much you have left over at the end of the month.
Besides bills like rent, water, gas and electric, and subscriptions, you should also include an estimate of how much you spend on food every month, the amount you plan to put into savings, a buffer amount for miscellaneous expenses, and add any extra costs you know you will have to pay that month (like renewing your license, vehicle registration, a ticket for a concert you plan on attending).
When you have your monthly list made, you can copy and paste it onto different sheets that you can organize month by month. Copying and pasting makes your life easier for the following months and the more you check and update your sheet, the more control you'll have over your finances and the easier monitoring your money becomes.
This sheet helps you by seeing how much you need to have by certain dates, how much money you have and what you can afford to do as far as shopping, travelling, etc.
5. Download Saving Apps to Help Monitor and Save
The two apps that I use the most to help me in my saving is Qapital and Mint.
Mint is very helpful to monitor. Essentially this can do the same thing as the excel sheet. You can add your bills and their due date, link your checking, savings and retirement accounts, and the app will show you how much your spending and where that money is going. It also gives you tips on saving, what to avoid spending money on, and also credit card/ credit options that fit your life and spending habits.
Qapital is an app that you link to your checking account. You can make rules that helps you save into your Qapital account. I applied the round up rule which basically rounds up my purchases to the nearest dollar. This doesn't sound like a lot of money at first when you see that it's only a couple cents for each purchase, but when you keep the app going a while and don't have to pay attention to it, the money that adds up will definitely surprise you. If you want to download Qapital, use my referral link to get $5 after your first deposit via rule you set up: https://get.qapital.com/1aHRIEsKoT .
6. Building Credit with Credit Cards
Everyone needs good credit but that requires that you build it up. The fastest way I started building my credit is by getting multiple credit cards. I got one through my bank and then two retail cards for Victoria's Secret and Forever 21. A lot of people don't recommend this because it's easy to get into debt. But the key to making this work is making sure you have the money in cash or your checking account before using your credit card. What do I mean exactly? Well, when you go into a store you should be shopping because you know you have the money for it regardless. So purchase your item with your credit card. Wait until the amount posts to the card and then pay that amount off right away. You're avoiding paying interest by paying it off before the month passes and you're also building up your credit by using the card responsibly. You don't want to use a large percent of your credit limit, but if it starts getting up there and you can't pay the full amount off at once, then calculate how much you can spend monthly on the card, don't use it for any additional purposes until you clear the amount, and ensure that you pay it off little by little every month.
I use Credit Karma to check on my credit score. It's a great app to get an idea of where you're at and it also provides tips on how to build and improve your credit. However it doesn't give you an exact score so don't be too dependent on what the score is telling you. It typically only varies by a few points either higher or lower but for the most part it is a reliable resource.
These are the main tips that I live by. Be sure to take the time to play with these methods so they best fit your life and financial situation. I hope this helps and if you have any questions, you can always reach out.
Also share the money saving methods that you live by. The more we help each other, the more success that we'll all have!
2018 has been a crazy year to say the least. In all honesty, it's been a year where I've felt stuck or like I took two steps back. But even though it feels this way, there's always an absorbent amount of lessons that you can take away from any bad situation and turn it into a positive. Welp, this year was just a large roller-coaster and when I thought it was starting to go up, it started to plunge back down.
Starting this year, I was working at Umpqua Bank. I felt stable and secure in my job and felt that I had room to advance in the company. Growth in the company actually started happening and I was making my way slowly up the corporate ladder. However, over the last three months, a situation occurred where I had to walk away from the company and basically start from scratch all over again.
I was hoping that this would be an easier transition as I was ready to graduate from community college in December and I could work full time until next September when I was planning to transfer. BUT, of course something went wrong. My previous counselor misinformed me and instead of being able to graduate early, I have another full time semester that I have to complete before I can transfer. This means working part time again. As if the full semester wasn't enough, all 5 of my classes have to be taken on campus leaving two days out of the week where I can't work at all. To top it all off, I'm still waiting to hear back about my FAFSA status. I've recently sent in a dependency override form so I can actually qualify for financial aid rather than having them base the status off of my parents income when I haven't relied on them since I was 18.
It's all just been a waiting game to hear back about what I'll be able to do based off of other people's approval. I've had to pass up on many opportunities this year due to financial issues which has left me feeling disappointed, but one thing that I've learned about myself over the last 3 years is that I'm resilient as hell.
While I'm on break before the next semester starts, I'll be earning my travel agent certification so next year I can start working in the travel industry and possibly start my own at-home business. I've sent in all my college applications and I'm anxiously awaiting to see if I received any academic scholarships to help with my journey in pursuing higher education. I've decided to continue to run for pageants within the Pacific Islander community to keep trying to spread awareness about Pacific Islander social issues and create solutions. I'm back to dancing with Kaleo Onalani and even though life has been super tough lately, being back with my hula family and dancing my heart out has definitely made life a little easier.
Next year will be a BIG travel year for Alex and I and we cannot wait to see and experience new parts of the world. As I'm building my network and business with travel, Alex will be continuing to build his health and lifestyle business.
As 2018 comes to a close, it's that time of the year when you reflect on not only the year but your life up to this point. Even if you've had a bad year, always remember how far you've come and how much life you still have left to live. Anything can happen at any moment so it's important to keep your head up as your trudging through the rough part of the waters. You'll emerge better than ever.
Since I was a little girl, writing was always my go- to way of expressing myself and escaping from the rest of the world.