As Boyz II Men once famously said, ladies, we've come to the end of the road. It's almost time to say goodbye to 2021 and hello to a new year. Though there's only less than a week until we all ring in 2022, you can still get started right now on your end-of-year money checklist. Get those finances in order or at least set a up a plan for next year in order to get yourself on the right track.
Start with these six steps to build the plan to reach your financial fitness goals:
1.Create (or review) your budget.
This might sound redundant but some of you needed the reminder. If you've never even looked at your bank statement, are afraid to face your money issues, or just don't want to feel like your life is being stifled by financial boundaries, you definitely need a budget. At best, it's just a great way to be fully informed about where your money is going. At worst, it is the tough love you needed to finally stop living check to check, or working multiple jobs.
And if you've had any major changes such as a new job or job loss, marriage or major move, or a new addition to your family, you definitely want to review your budget now to be sure that you're adjusting if needed. It's always good to get ahead of any issues that might come along and have a plan for addressing them. (Here is a great resource, for example, if your finances have been drastically affected by COVID-19.)
Experts at WalletHub, a leading personal finance website, say a budget can be "as simple or complex as you want it to be," but it must at least keep track of inflows and outflows of money, including your income and expenses. (Check out our guide on how to start a budget as well as more on other women who have tried versions of budgeting like this and this.)
2.Think about places you're leaving money on the table—or worst, wasting.
Even on the heels of the world reopening after the pandemic lockdown of 2020, a recent survey found that people spent $765 more per month this year than they did last year. Another survey found that 99% of business owners are leaving "significant wealth on the table." And in a bit of more-telling research, women still make 82 cents on the dollar, and Black women, in particular, make even less.
That being said, there are clearly a few places where we're either ignoring extra money or savings or we're totally throwing it away. Ask yourself a few questions here. Are there money-back advantages to any of the credit cards you use? Are you getting the best rates on your loans or other accounts? Could you be missing discounts and savings offered to you as an employee of your company or as a student? Does the management company of your apartment complex offer incentives or other gifts throughout the year for doing things like referring new tenants or writing a good online review?
What about that side hustle you never followed through on? Is it time to finally advocate for yourself and ask for that raise or to get a new job where you've negotiated for better benefits? Is it time to utilize that HSA or those pre-tax benefit add-ons?
Are there subscriptions or memberships that just no longer serve you or that you don't even fully use? What about the extra fees for ATM usage or add-on purchases that are not necessary or are excessive? (It's like the $50 difference between a "deluxe" pedicure with gel varnish versus a "basic" one with the old-school regular polish. Are your feet really that crusty three times a month?) We're not telling you to get rid of the salted caramel foam in your Starbucks order, but really put things in perspective.
3.Look at that credit report.
You can request credit reports for free at least once per year, but you can also track your credit scores more frequently via various platforms or via your bank. Even with "good" credit, you want to at least have a sense of what's on there and whether everything listed is accurate and up to date.
And if you're in debt and dread even the thought of sifting through those reports, you can at least put your heart at ease by ripping the Band-aid off to find out what exactly you owe and to whom. Sometimes, we're still holding on to the shame of years ago when we were denied a car loan or Bloomingdale's card and found out our score was less than perfect. In reality, maybe your score is higher today or there are easy corrections, adjustments, or payments that can be made to boost the score. You won't know until you know.
4.Prepare for filing taxes.
Again, a great way to approach this is to look at it from a half-full mentality versus the "what if I owe" terror. With all the legislation tied to COVID-19 relief, there might be tax breaks that you're still eligible for that could put money back in your pocket (or at least lower what you have to pay Uncle Sam.) If you're an entrepreneur or self-employed and you haven't gathered your receipts for filing expenses or at least talked with a tax preparer or trusted financial adviser, now might be the perfect time to get on their books. Go digital to make this year's filing much more seamless and less frustrating, and either read up on or ask about ways you might save this year. Get to those calculations early so that you'll get a sense of what you might potentially owe (Try a tax calculator like this one or this one).
This year's deadline for filing taxes is April 15, so go ahead, and if the last quarter of 2021 taught you one thing, that should be time waits for no one and it sure does fly.
5.Invest in technology and use it to your financial advantage.
Life can be a lot easier with tech (as long as you know how to use it and it serves your needs.) If you have a hard time keeping up with your spending, tracking savings goals, or knowing where your money is going, there are apps for all three of those problems.
Automatic savings apps like Acorns and Chime will round up your purchases and put the extra money in your savings account. Online browser extensions like Honey and Capital One Shopping are add-ons that auto-generate coupons and discounts when you shop. (Your laptop might even already have this included, like Microsoft Edge Shopping, for example.)
Another great idea, especially for saving, is opening an account at an online-only bank. Many have awesome rates, are covered by the FDIC, and offer less fees especially when using your cards internationally. Having a web-based account will also provide just the barrier you need for the temptation to make frivolous withdrawals. (While you can indeed access your money, it's not the one-step process of just going to the ATM or visiting your local teller. For most, you have to transfer money or have direct deposit set up in order to add to these accounts, or you'll have to search for retail or bank locations that actually allow withdrawals).
Experts say to use these accounts to start that emergency or travel fund that you need to set and forget. (True story: I had a web-based account that I forgot about. Years later, I tried to open a whole new account with the same bank and found out that I not only had a dormant account, but the account had a couple thousand dollars just sitting in there. God works in mysterious ways because that money came right in handy at the time!)
Bonus tip: Set up alarms or calendar alerts that remind you of your goals, money promises, or inspiration that will keep you pumped and motivated. It can work wonders!
In the same way that you'd go to a hairstylist, makeup artist, or personal trainer to get your look together, go get the help you need for managing your finances. Many financial advisers actually offer free consultations, and there are also resources right under your nose at your own bank. If the idea of taxes overwhelms you or you're missing out on tax breaks every year, let the experts handle it and stop using those DIY online platforms.
There are even money coaches, financial therapists, and portfolio managers who can help you get to the bag, especially when you have a specific goal in mind like early retirement, property ownership, estate planning, or business expansion.
Come on, ladies! We're thinking big and doing big things in 2022, so you'll need that all-star team behind you to ensure you can not only obtain wealth but maintain it.
Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy