Staying Cash-Flow Positive

Staying Cash-Flow Positive

Ayanna Goring is serious about managing her money. She has her grandparents, who told her stories of frugal and resourceful living during the Depression, to thank for that. Goring says the stories her grandparents shared with her gave her financial grounding. “They instilled in me the importance of saving, paying yourself first, supporting your community, and being cognizant of how you spend,” says the 31-year-old human resource generalist in Alameda, California. Because Goring took her grandparents’ teachings to heart, it was easy for her to commit to Declaration of Financial Empowerment Principle No. 6: to be proactive and knowledgeable about investing, money management, and consumer issues.

Goring grew up in the San Francisco Bay area with a large extended family. She began showing her business savvy in the seventh grade. When kids were trying to keep up with the latest fashions, Goring was thinking of ways she could pay for college. The budding entrepreneur decided to package surplus food from her family’s catering business and sell it as boxed lunches to students who didn’t want cafeteria food. She earned up to $100 a week. She also worked part-time jobs at the catering business and her father’s mortuary to earn money. Everything she earned was put into a savings account, and by the time she left for college in 1991, she had saved more than $5,000.

An avid saver, Goring saves about 16% of her $65,000 salary. So far, she has about $30,000 saved for retirement. She had more, but from 2002 to 2004, she used some of it to establish a customized gift basket business and a human resources consulting service. She returned to full-time employment at the end of 2004, her two business ventures having brought in about $4,000, which she saved.

Goring’s goal over the next year is to save 20% of her annual salary. She opened an individual brokerage account to help reach that goal. Goring doesn’t exactly call herself a sophisticated investor, but she does have an investment strategy that works for her. “I tend to buy the stocks of companies whose products or services I use, like Southwest Airlines. I fly Southwest, and I like what I’ve read and heard about the company culture,” she explains. She also believes in buying the stocks of companies that may have temporary challenges, but a positive long-term outlook. For example, she bought Ford Motor Co. stock after the share price dropped because its Explorer SUV was having tire problems.

Goring has a consumer strategy as well. She uses an Excel spreadsheet to track her spending and updates it weekly, making adjustments as needed. She has also developed a keen eye for deals, successfully lowering her telephone, cable, Internet, and insurance costs. “My rule is, unless I really feel like I can’t live without it, I don’t buy anything that’s not on sale. And I mean anything, from clothing to travel to whatever,” says Goring, who shops in grocery outlets, travels off season, and prefers hotels with special programs that entitle her