Deuces Sallie, Deuces

If you’ve read any of my blog posts since I started you’ll know that I’ve tried to be very honest about the different seasons the Lord has had me in in life. With that said, it’s no secret or even shame of mine to say that I have struggled financially the last few years like never before. I won’t go into reasons now, as I’m still waiting for the final testimonies of this long-enduring test. (And when I tell you it’s coming…oh boy, it’s coming!!!) But today, in the midst of it all I have a praise report. God saw fit to allow me to FINALLY PAY OFF MY STUDENT LOANS!!!!!!!! Yep, you read correctly. I’m officially on the outs with Sallie Mae, or Navient as she now calls herself. No more letters, no more automated phone calls, no more “pay me now” emails, no more rolling my eyes as I tore the little paper out of the payment book, no more emails to my old Hotmail account (cause that’s how long we’ve been in this love/hate relationship). Nope… nothing, nada, zilch!

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I’m thankful for my stellar education from The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. My degree, and associations rooted there have certainly served me well. I recognize that many weren’t blessed to even be able to take a loan out to pursue education. I’m also aware that many aren’t in a place yet to pay or pay off that debt. However, if someone would have told me the route to pay off my portion of that academic honor would take two decades I probably would have sold some plasma (or something), styled hair in my dorm on the side or worked five part-time jobs just to not have taken this journey. But I didn’t and that’s life.

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So yes, it took 20 years to finally pay off and the timing came when things were as financially tight as a pair of brand new Spanx, but God was faithful to me even when I wasn’t faithful to Him. And He was certainly faithful to me when I was NOT thinking about being faithful to paying that doggone bill every month. He did that!!!

All glory goes to my great God!

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@AngelaMMoore316

Make Your Holidays More About Memories Than Money

If you’ve not felt the pinch of the economy then consider yourself amongst an elite few.  Across the board people are finding themselves having to find ways to make the most out of whatever they have, no matter how much or how little. One season where we need to start thinking with the heart to outdo what’s in our hands is the Christmas season.  So many times people go out of their way and out of their minds spending money they simply do not have.  My thought, even before the changes with the economy is that a memory will outlast money any day.

Accustomed to completing my Christmas shopping by October, I began to feel overwhelmed this year because I wasn’t able to tackle my list early on like I had been in the past.  I haven’t even started. I’m used to off-season and outlet shopping that will rival any barganista. Maybe I was to take my Christmas giving to a new level by being even more frugal and even more creative in celebrating those I love as we remember the birth of Christ.

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So I decided to share some Christmas shopping secrets with you:

  1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words and Doesn’t Cost a Thousand Dollars.-Print photos from events throughout the year and present them in inexpensive, yet beautiful photo albums.
  2. Leave a Love Note.-Present your loved ones with a handwritten, heartfelt letter telling them just how much they mean to you. Kick it up a notch by placing it in a frame or rolling it in a scroll with a dainty (or masculine) ribbon.
  3. Give a Sweet Treat.-You can’t beat a sweet!  Assemble their favorite sweet (or savory) homemade or purchased snacks in a gift bag or box.  Attach with a handwritten note that your loved ones can cherish long after the sweets are gone.
  4. Food, Glorious Food.- You can’t lose with food!  Print custom-made food coupons and present to your family and friends.  Offer them a redeemable coupon to use that will allow them to receive their favorite meal, baked good or specialty prepared especially by you. Who wouldn’t want to be able to redeem a coupon for Grandma’s Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Tea and Peach Cobbler at some random time in the year?
  5. Go Coupon Crazy.-Coupons are all the rave!  Take your couponing to the next dimension by taking a cue from the above tip and creating personalized coupons from you to your family and friends.  Offer to babysit, wash a carwash,  treat to a spa, or do breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.  The good thing about this is that they can redeem it long after the Christmas season has come and gone.
  6. Give the Kitchen to Your Kin.-Organize favorite family recipes and present members with an inexpensively printed family cookbook.
  7. Share the Days.-Make an inexpensive, personalized calendar with photos and birthday reminders on sites like walmart.com to give to loved ones.

@AngelaMMoore316

Don’t Ask Me for Money

Don’t ask me for money. That’s a hard statement to make, but a necessary one indeed. At this juncture in life, an abundance of money is something that is slowly (but surely) making its way to me. It’s coming. I believe. But it appears to be on lay-away. As my moola takes the scenic route to reach me, the ability to give to others financially above the above and beyond I’m already doing for those things important to me, required of me or related to me (not in terms of family) simply doesn’t often exist.

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I’m a single woman, who works for a small non-profit, who is divorced, who had to spend her savings and a settlement during and after that divorce, who still has major financial battles related to the remaining and ongoing parts of that divorce, who is in the midst of a life/financial/stewardship make-over (Go, Jesus!), who loves to give. However in terms of coins, cash, dinero, nickels, cabbage, C-notes, cheese, guap, juice, banknotes, dough, duckies, dead pres’, paper, long greens, stacks, racks, cheddar, loot, ends and Benjamins, I simply don’t have it like I want it right now. I know the Ross Dress for Less jumpsuits, the dresses from My Sister’s Closet at the YWCA Central Alabama and my real sister’s closet in Maylene, Alabama may fool you, but that’s not through big funds. That’s favor, and often FREE. I know the presentation, posts and pictures of the fabulous life I recognize I’m blessed to live might paint a pretty picture, and believe me it is (beauty for ashes, baby, beauty for ashes), but again, my checkbook register can tell the tale of how a little looks like a whole, heckofa lot! (Go, Jesus! Go Jesus! GO!)

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No to bemoan the point of the temporary place I’m in, while I realize the reality of my skrilla right now, (Did I just say skrilla? I’m so #35211), I also realize the reality of my seed. No, I don’t have as much money as I want to have and give right now, but I do have valuable things with which I have been blessed that I am obligated to give until and after I get what I really want to give. We all have something to give no matter where life has taken us and how long we’ve been there.

So no, please don’t ask me for money because the answer can likely be “I wish I had it to give.” But I can offer my unconventional wisdom, my physical presence and support, my joy in connecting people who need to know each other, my wealth of community resources (some of them are indeed wealthy), my insight on finding and keeping a job, my expertise in events, communications, professional development, conflict resolution and getting and keeping media attention. Until my bread is ready I’ll freely share my testimony of healing, my unapologetic perspective from the Bible, my prayers, my home for football and festivities, my social calendar, my written and spoken word for motivation, my compliments, my genuine love of mankind, my family with those who are without, my hidden nuggets of found or forgotten clothing, never used wedding presents, extra furniture and fixtures, and the likes with those in want and in need. And as I wait for my wads I will cheerfully give my ever-evolving view of life with the fact that through the grace of God life gets better.

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It took a while for me to come to the view of focusing more on what I do have while longing for what I wanted, and seeing the value of giving what was in my hand until I had what’s in my heart. I now know my benevolence is not dictated by my bucks. Have you reached that point? It’s such a refreshing point of arrival, and I’m just willing to believe that it’s more valuable than a bunch of dubs, big bucks, lettuce or ducats. (I just adore the urban vernacular. I truly do.)

@AngelaMMoore316

Fashion 101: I Can’t Do it Like I Used To (But I’m Better and On a Budget)

Fashion and shopping…I enjoy them.  At times I’ve found strength, albeit temporary, from them. But I can’t do it like I used to. Way back in the 90s, an era of economic bountifulness, parental dependency and self-inflicted fiscal tomfoolery I was a shopper’s shopper. I knew the women at Casual Corner, who would call me off of my good paying TV job to stop by and see a couple of pieces they thought “would be perfect for me”. In my humble little life, and meager little wallet I could give Olivia Pope and First Lady Michelle Obama a run for their suit money back then. I love fashion. To this day, somewhere nestled away at my parent’s house are a few notebooks I kept my high school days noting everything I wore to school and when (as to not be repeated too often). Why? Because I was honing the future journalist/writer/organizer/historian in me and didn’t even know it. Plus I loved fashion.

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Not to place blame, but rather to trace roots, I must admit that I get my passion for fashion honestly. I get it from my father who is a shoe connoisseur, lining his leather, Italian or Johnston-Murphy shoes up around the wall and being able to buff polish them like nobody’s business, and who can easily outlast me at any outlet mall. I get it from my mother who should be on a first name basis with the likes of Michael Kors, Versace, Juicy and Louis Vuitton. I don’t blame either of them. They’ve worked hard, saved hard and sown even harder from everything God has granted them from my daddy growing up picking cotton, both of them living in the projects and them collectively sacrificing to get out of debt decades ago. Yes, their fashion bug has lived through some of the worst of circumstances, but for some of the best people I know. Salute.

Sometimes people comment on how nicely I dress (I’m in no way bragging, so please don’t think otherwise). I say “thank you” appreciative of the compliment, and often share where I scored my latest find. Some look at me like I’m Pinocchio when I divulge that most of my clothes are old, hand-me-overs (from my sister) or come from Ross Dress for Less, Wal-Mart, JC Penney’s and Belk. I rarely pay over $20 for anything. I place things in the back of my closet and pull them out years later. I wear items given to me by others and add my own spin. I do what I have to do because I can.

Take a look at what under $30, some savvy closet shifting, a bit of regifting, a dose of gratefulness and a dollop of self-esteem can do.

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$1.97 from JC Penney… Let that marinate in your mind for a minute.

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One of my high-end pieces… Ross’s “yellow label” Calvin Kline dress for $29. (I cringed at the register paying this much for this dress.)

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It’s Fashion’s finest frock for just $11.

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This little 2005 Newport News catalogue purchase gets to come out of the closet every now and then. I call it “Vintage”.

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Purchased from an “urban” boutique (a mall store in Atlanta) for the low price of $13.99.

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Ross Dress for Less at its $14.99 best.

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Wal-Mart all day, every day! (I have a blue and black one too.) #GeorgeRocks

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H&M for only $19. (I took a “dress” and made it a shirt.)

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$17.99 from Ross Dress for Less

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$19 semi-formal wear from Ross Dress for Less

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$14 from Ross Dress for Less (sultry wig not included)

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$16 Easter Dress from Ross Dress for Less (the $38 crutch cost more than the entire ensemble)

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One of my two most expensive purchases in 2015… A $49 gown from Belk. (The tag said $200)

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Straight from the YWCA’s My Sister’s Closet resale boutique for only $9.

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A fab deal from a little shop in the ATL for only $30-something dollars.

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Hat and Fringed sweater from the $.99 Store in Alabaster and Homewood. Sweater $14. Hat $2. Saving my hair from an initial downpour at the Magic City Classic=Priceless.

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My second most expensive purchase of 2015… A $400 hand-beaded gown from Belk for only $49.

When it comes to fashion and shopping, as mentioned, I can’t do it like I used to. I’d like to think I do it better and on a budget! I’m so grateful for the times I’ve been in allowing me to value me far more than the value of a dress, some stilettos or a handbag. I’m so grateful for the ability to whip up a Target/Ross/My Sister’s Closet ensemble and rock it like it came from Nordstrom, the real one, not Rack. I’m so grateful for the little girl at Ramsay High School who cared enough to try to carry herself like her best, always trying to put her best foot and face forward regardless of what she was facing and having to gumption to write it down for the world’s (not really the world, but indulge me) remembrance. I’m so grateful for a spirit that stays in me that says where I am is not my final stopping point and the only one who can stop me from getting there is me not being ready, head-to-heart-to-toe.

What won’t be happening is me looking like what I don’t have and missing out on what I could have. I dare you to take that stance. It’s fun and fruitful. Trust me I know!

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@AngelaMMoore316