Rewards How a DIY Spirit Can Make Every Day a Success Story

by the editorial team at Citi | March 13, 2020

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Brought to you by the Citi Rewards+® Card.

Tiarra Hamlett’s life is in flux. She and her husband, Mike, who’s also her business partner, are in the middle of tackling a gut renovation of their home, largely on their own. (The occasional online how-to video helps out.) Meanwhile, they’re raising their 2-year-old daughter, Penelope, a perpetual early riser. Meanwhile, they’re running a community-minded local business, launched in 2015, which today includes its own storefront boutique and a print magazine. Yet all the while, Tiarra is the picture of calm.

It’s not just that she’s unfazed by all the stuff going on; she appears to thrive on it. “I love doing,” Tiarra says proudly.

To catch up with – and snag some tips from – this multitalented (and multitasking) mom, small-business owner and all-around creative type, Life and Money by Citi recently spent a day with Tiarra in and around her home. And that meant paying a visit to the Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City, where Tiarra grew up and where her business, The Bronx Brand, is helping to support and raise awareness of the growing artistic energy of the area.

Tiarra left a career as a marketing director to launch her own business. “To be fully reliant on it less than five years later I think is a great accomplishment,” she says. “And we’re raising a beautiful, smart little girl at the same time. And I don't want to compromise either one. I think you can do them both.”

How does Tiarra make the most of every day? Check out the video above, and then read on to get five of this self-described do-it-yourselfer’s best tips for remaining positive and productive when work, life and everything else happen all at once.

5 DIY-style tips for everyday productivity

  1. Make reasonable to-do lists. “A hack to manage the day-to-day,” Tiarra offers, “is to set realistic expectations and a to-do list that’s not overly ambitious.” Each day, she says, she establishes what needs to get done and what, in a perfect world, she could get done. And she’s all about giving herself deadlines to meet those goals.
     
  2. Little accomplishments add up. “We feel that if we don't make [the home renovation] a priority it just might never get done – because our life is busy,” Tiarra says of her and husband Mike. “So every day we push ourselves to do at least something… it could be simple like installing our door knobs, our vent covers, painting, caulking… I try to be very intentional to block out time to do something, no matter how small, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Because it’s all going to add up at the end of the day… progress is progress.”
     
  3. Work to your strengths. “We work well together,” Tiarra says of her and Mike, “because we play off of each other’s strengths. Things that he excels at maybe are not my skill sets and vice versa. So…we play into what we're good at. And then we also remember that business is business and family is family. So business decisions that we make – we don't take them personal. If I have to veto him, or he has to veto me, you know, that’s business.”
     
  4. Get more out of everyday purchases. The home renovation project has led to a lot of small daily purchases, from hardware-store runs to takeout lunches. Last year, Tiarra became a Citi Rewards+® Card member, and it quickly became her “default” credit card, she says. “We use it everywhere… What I love about the Citi Rewards+® Card is that my points automatically round up with every purchase,” says Tiarra, referring to how the Citi ThankYou® Rewards Points that every purchase with the card earns are rounded up to the nearest 10 points. (A $2 cup of coffee earns not two but 10 points.) “Having these reward points stockpiling makes it very exciting.” ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for gift cards and travel, and used to shop at some online stores.
     
  5. Take time to unwind. “I’m a big advocate for self-care,” Tiarra says. “We make sure we always have dinner as a family – that’s really, really important to us. After Penelope goes to sleep, we’ve dedicated that time to us. And we try not to do work at night. We try not to be on our phones to the wee hours. We try to really unwind and disconnect.” How? Board game nights, reading, true-crime podcasts. “We're super nerdy in that way.”

With each day, the rewards of Tiarra’s hustle seem more tangible. It’s reflected in her home, her business and her community. When it comes to daughter Penelope, Tiarra sees her hard work as having an even more powerful impact.

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What I love about the Citi Rewards+® Card is that my points automatically round up with every purchase.
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“Whereas before being a parent,” she says, “legacy wasn't something that really crossed my mind. But now I'm very conscious of, what can I give Penelope? What can she inherit from me in the future? And not just tangibly; I want her to see character and see work ethic. And those are things I really, really want to instill in her. So it motivates me even more. Give 100%, because your daughter's watching you.”