Ask @TalkMoneyWithTonya:

Hi Tanya! I will soon be recieving my tax refund & bonus :) How should I budget to spend this money? I want to save some but also pay off some debts. How do I find the right balance?

Hello!
As I always say, financial situations and recommendations aren't one size fits all. Usage of your tax refund and bonus are largely dependent on your overall financial picture. For example if your emergency savings account is looking a little skimpy, your should use this money to get a jumpstart on your emergency savings. If you have outstanding debt that needs to be settled, settle it and get it out of the way.
I am huge fan of opening an investment account to grow your refund, even if you start with just $500.
Lastly, I don't believe in deprivation. If you can spare it, set aside 10% of your tax return to do something nice for yourself or purchase something you have long wanted (within the price range).
Take this as an opportunity to knock your financial goals out.

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I'm not sure that I want to get a credit card but I'm told that I NEED one to increase m credit score, showing that I can handle debt. Can I get a secured credit card and have the same results increasing my credit score?

Olivia Denton
Hey Olivia! Yep, that's true, you need open lines of credit to increase your credit score. Ideally a healthy mix of revolving and installment debt. If you have student loans that covers your installment debt. But for revolving I strongly suggest the Capital One Secured Card. I suggest them because they report your payment history to the bureaus. All secured cards don't do this and that is the single most important thing to look for when planning to build credit using a secured card.
But yes, you will have the same results but not all the risk. And remember, keep your balance below 30% of the card limit. So if you put $300 on the card, never let the balance get higher than $100. How much debt you allow to accumulate on your card is just as important as your payment habits.

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HI! I'd like to start investing. I'm not sure if this is within your wheelhouse but where should I start? Should I save a certain amount of money or read a recommended book? Any info is appreciated :-)

Olivia Denton
Hey Olivia,
I just answered this question for another reader.
Here are a few resources.
Apps: There are so may apps that you can use to get started including Accorn and Betterment and they start you off slow.
Non-Profits: There are also several local non-profits that have investing for beginner classes that will actually match your funds, for example on here in Brooklyn requires you to have $750 and will match your $750.
Book: Girl Make Your Money Grow. It's easy to understand and breaks down investing in an easy to read manner. And here's a great post written for my blog by a guest blogger- http://myfabfinance.com/guest-post-investing-for-beginners/

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I'm an entrepreneur and I'd like the begin investing. How much should I save up to start and where should I go for resources?

Thats exciting! Here are a few options:
Apps: There are so may apps that you can use to get started including Accorn and Betterment and they start you off slow.
Non-Profits: There are also several local non-profits that have investing for beginner classes that will actually match your funds, for example on here in Brooklyn requires you to have $750 and will match your $750.
Freelancer's Union: Lastly, if you are an entrepreneur, look into joining the Freelancer's Union, they have retirement plans specifically set up for independent workers.
Happy saving and congrats on thinking about this important aspect of your financial journey.

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I am 20 years old I'm tired of wasting my money, not having a correct budget, and always being broke! Don't get me wrong, my needs are met after borrowing from family and friends! It has to stop. Can you suggest tips or MUST-DO's when creating and sticking to a grown woman budget. THANK YOU!

You are not alone AT ALL. In fact my mother realized that I had finally turned over a new leaf when I stopped asking to borrow money to cover my bills and that was at age 26! A lot of people make the mistake of complicating their budget and not truly setting parameters.
I suggest giving yourself a cash allowance and challenging yourself to limit your purchases to that allowance. Carrying Cash will make you a more mindful spender. For example take out $100 per paycheck for non-needs. I happen to love Dave Ramseys Envelope system which is explained here: http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/envelope-system-explained and encourages you to spend cash on everything within reason.
A few other actions I suggest are staying out of the stores and unsubscribing from e-mail newsletters. Create shopping list for your shopping trips and don't go without one. It can seem challenging, but if you don't go in stores you most likely wont spend money. If you go into a store, get what you came to get and LEAVE. Don't Lolly gag.
Cut back on brunch and dinners out with friends. These can really addd up so I limit myself to one per pay periods or opt for cheap meet-ups like tea or Happy Hour. Girls nights in are also a great way to cut back on dining out costs.
And lastly, here's a great way to get started on making a painless budget:
Create a list of all of the things you would buy in a month. That includes rent, phone bills, manicures, groceries, brunches, cigarettes, subscription, and entertainment.
Everything. No item is too small. Once you've completed that list, write down how much you spent each item last month. If you need a reminder going through your online banking transactions is a great (and painful) way to do this.
Separate the needs from the wants. Needs are items that are essential to your daily operation such rent, utilities, transportation, etc. I consider wants to be items I could live without. Circle your needs. Put an x by your wants.
Now ask yourself, can you spend less on your wants? Do you feel guilty about how much you've spent? Determine what a reasonable amount is for each want and if you can omit it from your budget do so :) Create a budget for this and use the envelope system to keep yourself in check.
I hope this helps!

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