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How to Set A Budget (And Stick to It)

July 9th, 2020

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Setting a budget and sticking with it is hard, especially when money is tight. With bills coming in and only so much income to pay for them, it can be a challenge to set long-term financial goals that are actually attainable.

Fortunately, there are several tried-and-true strategies that can help you create a budget, and more importantly— stick to it. Here are a few ways to get started coming up with a budget plan that works for you and your family.

Keep track of your money

It’s impossible to know what you can afford without keeping track of your money. This means tracking what’s coming in and what’s going out. If you have one job, the first part is easier— just note your monthly income. If you have multiple jobs and side gigs, this is where having some sort of spreadsheet or tracking system can help. At the end of every week, take a minute to note what you earned.

You’ll also want to note down all your essential bills. This includes things like rent, groceries, health insurance, anything you can’t live without. Seeing these numbers on paper (or on a screen) will help you determine what’s left, and what can be put towards your savings goals or used as extra spending money. By prioritizing your must-haves first, you’ll also guarantee that you never come up short for those important items.

Set goals

Now that you know a bit more about your monthly earnings and spendings, it’s time to set some long-term financial goals. Although it’s a great aspiration, not all of us can afford the recommended annual retirement savings. But the most important thing when it comes to retirement, is to start saving. Pick a goal that makes sense for you financially, and get in the habit of putting that money aside every month. Organize your savings into emergency and long-term savings accounts, and pick an amount to save every month that you can actually afford. Maybe your goals are lower than you’d like them to be at first. But the point isn’t so much about the money, as it is about getting into good financial habits. Once savings becomes a normal part of your financial routine, it will feel easier— and become a lifelong practice.

Trim your expenses

Nobody likes to go without their favorite things, but sometimes trimming your expenses is an important part of coming up with that extra income needed to pay bills or contribute to savings. Take an honest look at your budget and decide how much you can afford in monthly spending money. This will be the money you can use for extras like eating out, shopping, or even just grabbing your favorite iced coffee. Knowing in advance what you can afford will help you stick to an amount, and prioritize what you truly want to buy that month. It also guarantees that your money goes towards all the important things (like bills and savings) before splurging on the other stuff— and you’ll enjoy that extra spending more knowing you can actually afford it.

Remove temptation

One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to remove temptations. Maybe that means unsubscribing from your favorite store’s emails or catalogs, or taking a different road home that doesn’t take you past your go-to takeout spot. It might also mean skipping trips to the mall and avoiding the places you know you’ll want to spend money. Whatever you can do to remove temptation from going over budget, do it. By stepping back from these tempting environments for a while, you’ll be able to hold onto more of your money— which will help you solidify your budget and stick to it in the long term.

Keep your eye on the prize

In all of your budgeting practice, be sure to set some long term goals for yourself. Maybe your goal is to become a homeowner, or to pay off your credit card debts. Whatever it is, having this goal will help you keep your eye on the prize— especially when the temptation to go over-budget arises. By having a long-term financial goal, it becomes easier to say no to other types of spending and stick to your budget. After all, owning a home or becoming debt free will bring a lot more happiness than some overpriced coffee.

Psst…

Are you interested in completing your college degree? We’re now accepting applications for the Fall 2020 semester from single parents living in Metro Atlanta (especially those in Gwinnet)!

Take a look at our eligibility requirements to start your application today. 

Questions? Get in touch with us here.

 

What did you hate most about running 5K’s before?

June 19th, 2020

Was it the early call time or the far locations that kept you from participating in local 5K events before?

Well, we’re excited to announce that the Deon Lewis Memorial HOPE Run (Neon Deon Run) is going virtual this year! That’s right, you can participate from anywhere in the world, at any time, anywhere you want during the dates of our event.

But virtual doesn’t have to mean without interaction. You’ll still feel the great energy that our 5K is known for. We’ll have live pre-workout videos every day of the race, a little comic relief, and a live award ceremony to top it off. Here’s a little video explaining how it all works. https://youtu.be/OaR7EY3rcSw

What I love most about this event is that many of our out of state friends can finally run and walk with us and it only costs $10!  Click this link to pre-register to ensure that you get your face mask and hand sanitizer with registration.

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. Run or walk with us anytime from September 21, 2020, at 8 am through October 7, 2020, at 11 pm for our Neon Deon Run to support low-income single parents while fighting the invisible enemy, Coron
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There is a real fear

June 4th, 2020


If you’re connected at all to any form of communicative device, you are aware of the worldwide protest going on right now due to the countless and senseless murders of

young black men (and at times young black women) at the hands of law enforcement. For years, young black men have been murdered simply due to stereotypes, racism, and fear.

You may ask yourself, why is this something that we would address through our nonprofit’s platform. The answer is simple because 90% of the participants we have supported in our ten-year life span have been African-American. Even further, I am a young black mother, with a black husband, and four black sons. And there is a real fear. 

Just recently, my son was pulled over after work for speeding trying to pass the car in front of him, and I was SCARED. My first thought was, “NO, NOT NOW!” Because protest had been going on for a couple of days and I didn’t know if he was going to encounter an agitated cop. I prayed that he would remember to use the techniques I taught him about how to engage with a police officer if pulled over…to place his hands on the dashboard at all times, be polite and not argumentive, don’t reach for anything unless asked (and even then announce what he is grabbing), keep everything in one place so that he is not reaching in different places for the documents he needs, and lastly, if you are arrested don’t resist and don’t say a word. I’d hoped he would make it home alive and safe because I’ve seen videos of young black men murdered during a routine traffic stop even when compliant. And for what? Fear. 

Much of why we do the work we do at H.O.P.E, Inc. is to break barriers and defy stereotypes. I didn’t want to be a statistic, and neither do our single parents. They work hard to fight the double standards of society that pre-judge their ability, professionalism, intelligence, and even their worth because of the color of their skin. We support education with hopes that they can be taken seriously and earn a liveable wage to avoid a life of poverty. This movement helped birth H.O.P.E, inc. before it was named because it is a fight that African-Americans have had to fight since we were brought to this country.

We are blessed to know that we are supported by a diverse group of people that help us break barriers every day. They see the passion of our single parents and they care, but do they care enough to stand? It is imperative that their voice is heard just as much as ours so that we can live out the dreams of civil rights icons like Martin Luther King, Jr. that fought for equality.

There is a real fear and African-Americans are tired. We’re tired of dying, and I hope if you are not African-American that you are tired of reading about it and are moved enough to protest, talk to people you know that have the wrong view of what’s happening today and support your black and brown brothers and sisters. This is humanities fight, not just ours.

 

 

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

We’re hoping it does!

June 3rd, 2020

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but does it? Is there really hope on the other side of this pandemic? We certainly believe there is hope. We see it every week through the actions of our donors. Here’s a video telling you just how much they’ve supported single-parent families that need them right now! We also slid in a little update about how we’re doing as an organization overall. I hope you enjoy it!

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. Don’t forget about our Redirect HOPE giving campaign! The only way to keep helping the single-parent families in our program is through the donations you give. The SBA loans and other COVID19 relief efforts can’t be used to provide direct program services. We need you to keep HOPE going another ten years. Click here to donate the gas, restaurant, hair cut, coffee, or nail money you saved and make a difference. 

Had you found the same?

May 7th, 2020

 

I received a call from a monthly donor a few weeks ago stating that she was doing her monthly budget when she realized she had more income than in previous months due to a decrease in expenses from being quarantined. She immediately called to see if she could increase her monthly donation.

Since her call, we have had several monthly donors do the same without having to ask them, and even other supporters were looking for more ways to help.

I’ve noticed myself that my household has saved hundreds in gas,   and hundreds more in cosmetics such as hair, nails, pedicures,   massages, entertainment, and even auto insurance.

 What about you? 

Are you noticing that you have more money available these   months and are you looking for ways to help people during   COVID19?

 If your answer is yes, we have a great opportunity for you! Why   not give the $35 you would have spent on nails this month, or the   $200 you saved on gas, to single-parent families that need your       help?

We’ve had 50% of our active participants affected by this disease with either the virus itself, job loss, or reduced hours. Like other nonprofits, we are fundraising vigorously to support our single-parent families. That’s why we have started a COVID Relief fund to meet their needs.

If you would like to give to that fund between now and June 30th, please click here and impact lives when they need you most!

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. Want to help people impacted by COVID19? Donate to our COVID Relief Fund and give hope to single parents in need. 

The Fight is Not Over!

May 4th, 2020

Hey HOPE Family, 

We will not allow the coronavirus to stop our commitment to single parents.

Why? Because despite the challenges this virus has created, we still have single-parent

families who depend on us. They cannot wait until “normalcy” returns. Therefore, we will not rest while they wait for government stimulus checks and unemployment, and we hope you will not wait, either.

That’s why on May 5th, we are participating in #GivingTuesdayNow. This global day of giving and unity was created as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

On this special day, please consider making a gift to help our community when it’s needed most. Your donation is tax-deductible, and your gift will be used to serve our single-parent families when they need our support the most.

Our work does not stop because of a crisis. That is why your support is appreciated now more than ever. Thank you in advance for joining us on this remarkable day of giving and unity, and for continuing to be a partner we can count on.

With gratitude,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. On May 5th continue to make a difference in the lives of those that need you! The fight isn’t over for our single parents, but you’re keeping their HOPE alive. 

Did you really help? Yes, you did!

April 29th, 2020

 

Hi There,

We try to never leave you hanging when you support our single-parent families and our mission. It is my hope that you always feel informed and know where your dollars are going. Below, I have created a video (don’t worry it’s brief and fun) that will update you on how you have supported COVID19 victims and how we’re surviving.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO and Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

H.O.P.E. is now global!

March 26th, 2020

 

Thank you once again for contributing to our GlobalGiving campaign! You’ve truly helped our single parents and our organization in our time of need!

Because of your

generosity, we not only met our fundraising goal, but we surpassed it, generating $5,557. What made our victory even sweeter is that it happened on my newborn, RJ’s one month birthday (pictured on the right)!

Your support promoted HOPE to partner status on this global fundraising platform, which will allow us to share our mission with people from all over the world.

Please be assured that, thanks to your gift and those of your fellow supporters, we are continuing to do all we can to assist our single parents through this health pandemic. We will continue to provide emergency support to our families in crisis and keep you updated on how you are making a difference.
With my very best wishes to you and the people close to you,

 

Kenita Smith
H.O.P.E. Founder and CEO

The race is on to make a difference!

March 19th, 2020

As a loyal H.O.P.E. Neon Deon 5K participant, we thank you for all of your past support and look forward to—perhaps now more than ever—when we will see you again this fall at our annual event. Today, however, we are asking you to support a very special project.

 

As more and more states across the country respond to the world’s current health crisis by implementing shutdowns and social distancing, we at H.O.P.E. are continuing to provide rent and childcare assistance to single parents enrolled in college, while also providing emergency assistance to address food, utilities, and other needs. Sadly, COVID-19 has impacted our H.O.P.E. family personally, as one of our participants is currently afflicted with the corona virus.  She needs us, and her children need us to help her, today!

 

Can we count on you to help support her family through this scary situation? Please give $10, $25, or more today at https://goto.gg/45056. The race is on to raise $5,000 by March 25th, ensuring H.O.P.E. becomes a permanent partner on the GlobalGiving network, which will allow us to expand the services we offer to families in our community.

 

Thank you for thinking of others during what is a difficult time for all of us. It speaks volumes of your kindness and generous spirit. I am confident we will all get through this crisis, together.

Warmest regards,

 

Kenita Smith
H.O.P.E. founder & CEO

P.S.  I put together the following video, explaining how your donation means so much during our GlobalGiving campaign https://youtu.be/X2PuytLChMQ.  This is a great information tool for sharing with your friends and family who may be new to H.O.P.E.

Help HOPE Provide Emergency Services During Current Health Crisis

March 18th, 2020

 

As more and more states across the country respond to the world’s current health crisis by implementing shutdowns and social distancing, we at H.O.P.E. are continuing to provide rent and childcare assistance to single parents enrolled in college, while also providing emergency assistance to address food, utilities, and other needs. Sadly, COVID-19 has impacted our H.O.P.E. family personally, as one of our participants is currently afflicted with the corona virus. She needs us, and her children need us to help her, now more than ever!

Can we count on you to help support her family through this scary situation? Please give $10, $25, or more today and make your donation go even further with today’s GlobalGiving Bonus Day incentives at https://goto.gg/45056.

Thank you for thinking of others during what is a difficult time for all of us. It speaks volumes of your kindness and generous spirit. I am confident we will all get through this crisis, together.

Warmest regards,

Kenita Smith

H.O.P.E. founder & CEO

P.S.  I put together the following video, explaining how your donation means so much during our GlobalGiving campaign https://youtu.be/X2PuytLChMQ.  This is a great information tool for sharing with your friends and family who may be new to H.O.P.E.