Change Your Money Story in 3 Easy Steps

Change Your Money Story in 3 Easy Steps

We all have a money back-story. You might not realize it, but what you thought about money as a child, is still affecting how you deal with money today and all of your tomorrows. Because choosing to save your money rather than spend it is very different than not feeling like you have enough to spend.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Shauna Sanders, life coach for busy professionals.

Did you hear any of these statements growing up? —

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • We can’t afford that
  • Money can’t buy happiness
  • They were born with a silver spoon in their mouth
  • I’m not made of money
  • We don’t have money to burn

A LOT of parents have said numerous versions of this to their children (and themselves) and have no idea how much it affects their relationship with money for the rest of their lives. Allow me to translate each statement to how your subconscious most likely hears it:

• Money doesn’t grow on trees (AKA- There is not enough money to go around, and it will all run out someday)
• We can’t afford that (AKA- We are broke and not able to purchase whatever it is you’re wanting or needing)
• Money can’t buy happiness (While true to a degree, this can be misinterpreted to mean- If you HAVE money, you can’t be happy)
• They were born with a silver spoon in their mouth (AKA- They are rich only because were born that way- and deeper read – Since we were NOT born rich, we can never be rich)
• I’m not made of money (AKA- More “I can’t afford it” mentality)
• We don’t have money to burn (AKA- We don’t deserve to spend money on our “wants,” rather only on our “needs”)

It’s easy to grow up thinking you can’t afford a small luxury like matching dishes or feeling like you can’t donate money to a local charity you love.

Here’s the good news- you can change your money story!

Step 1- Go back in time

Think back to when you were a child and recall what you heard about money as you grew up, from your parents, other adults, and even other kids.

Step 2- Identify Your Money Story

Think about what you heard about money and how that affected your current feelings to do with money. For example, I remember hearing “We’re not lucky when it comes to money” and “I’m not made of money.” I grew up thinking I was destined to be “not rich” and more importantly, that I didn’t deserve to have money. I took it a step further all by myself and realized I felt having money meant you weren’t a hard worker and I was almost embarrassed by anything that might be construed as “rich” or “fancy.”

Step 3 – Flip It And Reverse It

Take what you know now, your back-story, and flip it around (or reverse it- or both!) I took my shame of anything looking “rich,” and I owned it. I changed the meaning.

I always wanted someone to clean my house, but I had convinced myself I “couldn’t afford it” and admittedly it disgusted me to think of myself as “one of those people” (AKA- frivolous and lazy). And so, I changed the definition of what someone who gets house cleaning means.

The NEW definition of house cleaning recipient-> Someone who values their time and chooses to spend money to have help cleaning their home so they can have more time with family or whatever else they choose.

What money story have you been telling yourself and how can you flip it?

Where will you choose to spend, save, or share YOUR money? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Shauna Sanders is a life coach for busy professionals who feel like something is missing from their lives. Together you’ll zero in on the reasons why and make a powerful plan of action so you can finally create and sustain the fulfilling life you want. Connect with her on Facebook or visit her website ShaunaSanders.com!

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Making Money with Ultimate Bundles

Making Money with Ultimate Bundles

Ultimate Bundles is one that more and more bloggers are becoming familiar with – and for good reason! If you’ve read my post on affiliate marketing, you’re well aware that there are a number of options and routes to take when it comes to making money with affiliate marketing; that said, let me stop you right now and let you in on the one affiliate program you should join TODAY —

Ultimate Bundles Review

ultimate bundles review post

Now obviously I do want to throw a disclaimer in there that I am in fact an affiliate for them so should you sign up, I’ll earn commission, but this post was meant to be either way. They’re just that good.

(Don’t need anything more than my word? Aww, shucks, you sweet potato, you…sign up here to become an affiliate for Ultimate Bundles!)

Ultimate Bundles affiliate program - Click through to learn how to make money with affiliate marketing and Ultimate Bundles!

What is Ultimate Bundles?

Ultimate Bundles is a company that puts together HUGE bundles of e-books, courses, product discounts, and more – and they put them together in such a way that saves their customers literally THOUSANDS of dollars.

Now I first heard of Ultimate Bundles when the Genius Bloggers’ Toolkit was launched last year. This toolkit was a game changer for me and I absolutely fell in love with Ultimate Bundles. I knew I had to become an affiliate! And by the end of this post, I’m confident you’ll know you need to do the same. Why? Well…

Ultimate Bundles Payout

Affiliates for Ultimate Bundles typically earn 40% of each sale they make, with contributors earning 70%. That means that if you contribute one of your products to a bundle selling for $97, you stand to earn nearly $700 for every 10 people who purchase the bundle through your link! And that’s just ONE bundle! And even if you don’t have anything to contribute, you still stand to earn an average of about $40 per bundle you sell.

ultimate bundles proof of payment

This is only an example of potential earnings and should not be taken as typical results.

Ultimate Bundles Discounts

One of the downsides to most affiliate programs is that you can’t earn a commission on your own purchases (lookin’ at you, Amazon…) Well, I’m happy to announce this is NOT the case with Ultimate Bundles. Not only do you get an automatic 40% discount on a bundle because you’re an affiliate, but if you sell 5 of those bundles, they will refund your purchase and you get the bundle FOR FREE. Pretty nifty, eh?

The Quality

Since learning of Ultimate Bundles, I’ve purchased three bundles: Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, The Ultimate Work at Home Bundle, and A Very Merry Gift Certificate Bundle. And I can promise you that each one of them was worth WELL beyond what I actually paid for them. The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit contained programs and courses I’d been wanting to buy for months – programs and courses worth well over $3,000!! – and I got it all for $97. Then there was the Holiday Bundle – $180 worth of gift certificates for only $15 – which led to my buying all sorts of gifts (for both myself and friends/family) while only having to spend a few extra dollars on shipping. It was AMAZING.

The Variety

No matter who your target market is, chances are Ultimate Bundles has a bundle for them. And if they haven’t yet, they probably will. They’re even open to suggestions!

Past bundles include:

  • The Ultimate Work at Home Bundle
  • The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle
  • The Ultimate Photography Bundle
  • Genius Blogger’s Toolkit
  • The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle
  • Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle
  • Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle
  • Parenting Super Bundle

Affiliate Marketing Help

Ultimate Bundles doesn’t just toss an affiliate link at you and send you on your merry way, oooh no. Instead they offer up HOURS of free education for all of their affiliates.

Don’t know what sort of blog post to write to promote a bundle? They’ll walk you through it.

Don’t know how to go about e-mail marketing? They’ll walk you through it.

Don’t even know where to start with it all? Yep, that’s right…they’ll walk you through it!

And this information they give to you isn’t just applicable to Ultimate Bundle sales, but to your blog strategies overall! And again – it’s FREE!!

Ultimate Bundles affiliate program - Click through to learn how to make money with affiliate marketing and Ultimate Bundles!

The Catch

Look at you, readin’ all the way through and still not sold. 😉 Okay, okay so there is a catch…sorta. The bundles are only available at certain times throughout the year – meaning if you don’t take the time to plan out an action plan for these sales, you’ll be left scrambling and won’t make nearly as many sales as you’re capable of during the sale window. That said – see above. Ultimate Bundles is always there to help and they even have a Facebook community available should you have questions or need additional support!

So what are you waiting for?

Sign up for be an Ultimate Bundles Affiliate today!
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How to Pay Down Debt Fast

How to Pay Down Debt Fast

Paying down debt can go such a long way to living a better, healthier life. Less debt means less stress, but it also means less time spent having to find ways to make sure the bills are paid each month.

In January 2016, our household debt totaled over $200,000.

Now you might think that someone with nearly $200,000 of debt must have a serious spending problem. That or a very nice house, a fancy car, perhaps an addiction to the smell of burning money… SOMETHING, right?

Nope.

All we have to show for our debt is an 8 year old mini-van, a 130 year old fixer-upper of a home, and two college degrees that between us cost $150,000.

The Breakdown

Full disclosure, here is our debt breakdown from January 2016:

  • Lowes Credit Card: $2,800
  • Furniture Row Credit Card: $1,782
  • Private student loans: $96,646.09
  • House: $43,600
  • Car: $17,970.23
  • Federal Student Loans: $46,094.17‬

Grand total: $208,892.49

Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Our Lowes and Furniture Row bills are (were) the only credit card debt we had. We used both when we purchased our house in August of 2014 so that we could purchase some much needed appliances and furniture. Fortunately they both offered zero percent interest for a set amount of time, but still – $4,600 in credit card debt is a huge chunk of change to carry around.

Meanwhile, my husband and I both have a LOT of student loan debt. Despite both of us working while in college, we fell into the trap of taking out way more than we should have.

Rather than taking the smarter route and going to a community college first, I spent all four years at a private school that cost me about $36,000/year. My partner did go to a community college first, but was still persuaded to take out a lot of student loans to help support himself while in school.

Nearly $150,000 in student loan debt and together our jobs net us $33,000/year (after daycare is factored out…)

So how in the world have we managed to pay down over $10,000 in debt in two months?

Well, our first step was to take a look at our budget and figure out where the majority of our money was going. We were paying $1,600/month towards our debt but the overall total was only decreasing by $1,100. Once we figured out why and how that was happening, we were able to change things up to make a more significant dent in our debt.

How to Pay Down Debt Fast

how to get out of debt faster

Disclaimer: This post does contain some affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission should you click through. This is no way impacts my recommendation of any products or services.

Pay Off Your Debt Based on Interest Rates

Some financial gurus recommend you snowball your money (pay off the smallest debts first, get a “high” from paying off a bill entirely, then roll that payment towards paying off the next smallest debt).

Here’s my problem with that:

Let’s say you owe one credit card $2,000 with 0% interest for three years (such was the case with my Furniture Row card) and another credit card is owed $4,000 with 24.9% interest (the usual rate for most Lowes purchases).

You have $300 to put towards your debt each month. If you put $170 towards the first debt and only $130 towards the second, it will take you a year to pay off that first card.

Meanwhile, in that year, you’ve put $1,560 towards that second card but have only paid it down by about $500 – that’s not even a third!!

So with the snowball method, you’ve put $3,600 towards your debt but at the end of one year, you will still owe over $3,500 (that will now take you another 14 months to pay off and cost you an additional $700 dollars).

Snowball method: Pay $300 for 26 months, $6,000 of debt = $7,800

ditch the snowball method

So what if you reversed it and paid the minimum due on the zero interest and the rest towards the second card?

You’d be looking at $70 towards the first card, $230 towards the second.

In the first year, you would put $2,760 towards your second card, $2,070 of which would be towards the principal.

In the end, paying based on interest rates, you would be free of these two debts in less than two years.

Paying based on interest rates: Pay $300 for 24 months, $6,000 of debt =  $7,200

So not only would you save yourself nearly $600, but you’d also have an additional $300/month two months sooner than you would with the snowball method.

That’s $1,200 you can now throw towards another debt (like your mortgage!)

The Snowball Method

Now I will say that the snowball method has been proven to work for many people and it can be an effective way to motivate yourself to pay down those debts. But depending on your financial situation, you might be paying quite a high price for that motivation.

So for today, the first thing to do to get started towards paying down $10k like I did is to look at your budget and list out every debt you owe, the APR on it, and what you’re currently paying each month. Don’t have a budget? Read this quick and easy post to develop a budget TODAY!

Having a good grasp on your financial situation is the very first step to improving it.

Maximize Your Tax Return

When the new year begins, people are often really struggling with debt. You want to set a resolution to become debt free but you’re coming off of the holiday season with bags of presents that translate into slips of paper covered in financial regret.

It’s easy to see why you might look to tax return time with a glimmer of hope.

The problem, however, is that more often than not, tax returns are seen as a way to buy new stuff; the cheapest time to buy cars, for instance, is right before tax season, as dealers want to get rid of old stock and they know people are about to have pockets full of “discretionary” money.

I know a lot of people who get their tax returns and buy handbags, TVs, go gambling, buy an ostrich, or whatever other things suddenly become a “need” in their eyes. Now I’m not here to judge, I’m just sayin’…

Stop Seeing It As “Free Money”

That money isn’t just given to you by the government! It is money that you earned, one way or another, that the government was holding until your tax variable whosits decided you didn’t owe them anything.

If the government wasn’t taxing that money out of your check, would you just drop 15% of your paycheck each month on carnival games and gumballs?

For the 99.9% of us who aren’t Willy Wonka — of course you wouldn’t! Please stop thinking of it as free money and start realizing it should be allocated towards paying down your debt.

There’s no doubt that there’s a psychological high to getting a big windfall dumped in your lap, but if you truly have a good grasp on your financial situation, you know that “windfall” could translate into so much more.

By allocating my $5,500 tax refund towards my debt, I saved myself nearly $1,300 that I would have otherwise paid out in interest over the next year.

Was it tempting to spend that money on a vacation or some nifty new cleaning supplies? Yes absolutely. I totally believe in treating yourself once in a while, but I also know it’s better to front load your life and pay down debt now versus having it stick to you for decades.

How to Make the Most of Your Tax Return

If you’ve already received your tax refund, I want you to take a genuinely honest look at how you allocated that money. Did you spend it wisely? Or did you spend it in a way that’s going to cost you so much more in the long run? How can you do better next year?

Seriously make note of this and then I want you to hop over to FutureMe – a website in which you can write an e-mail and schedule it to be sent to your future self. Write a quick e-mail and motivate your future self to do better next year. Schedule it to be sent on January 2nd of next year so you don’t forget to do better!

If you haven’t yet received your tax refund, I want you to open up your list on debts and figure out how you can best allocate that money. Is there a bill you can pay off entirely? Or would it be better to divvy it up among a few of them? Figure out a plan and FOLLOW THROUGH with it! Budget your estimated tax return towards your debts, not towards a trip or new frivolous purchase.

Evaluate Your Tax Situation

And for those of you who don’t get returns (or worse – have to pay!) now is a good time to re-evaluate that situation. Chances are good that you have less being taken out in taxes with each paycheck than the rest of us. That’s great provided you’re spending it wisely. But if you don’t yet have a strong hold on your financial situation, then maybe you should talk to your employer about changing up your W-4. While I don’t necessarily advocate asking the government to save your money for you – there are ways to trick yourself into saving otherwise – it’s not a bad thing if you then allocate your return towards debt.

Develop Additional Income Streams

Or rather, that should say: “Develop Additional Income Streams And ONLY Use The Money To Pay Off Debt” but that’s a bit of a mouth…err…eye-full?

Anyway, as it sounds, developing additional income streams is key to getting your debt paid down faster, which I’ve already talked about, but it bears repeating.

I hope by now you’ve developed your own budget and I hope you’ve done so based only on your primary income. Please don’t ever use possible or imaginary money when it comes to planning out your financial future!

With that said, including only your primary income in your budget means that any extra money that comes your way can (and should) go directly towards your debt.

Consider this: for most people, one extra mortgage payment per year will pay their house off seven years sooner. That’s one extra payment for seven years of debt freedom. What are those seven years worth to you?

There are a lot of ways to earn some extra money (that don’t involve the removal of clothing or the selling of body parts). A part time job, though not necessarily glamorous, will generate reliable extra income that you can have direct deposited into an account that automatically makes a payment to a bill each month. It’s a great way to not even be tempted to spend that extra money.

Don’t have the time to work an additional job outside the home? That’s okay, neither did I!

My Favorite Ways to Make Extra Cash

If you can write, Textbroker.com should be your go-to site to generate extra money quickly and easily. You provide a short writing sample, they evaluate it and rate it 1-5 stars, and you earn money based on your star rating. I’m at 4 stars and I earn about 1.4 cents/word. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you enjoy writing and can do so quickly, it adds up fast. I’ve made close to $800 since the beginning of the year. That’s a tremendous amount of money for something I do over my lunch hour a couple days a week.

Do you like to talk instead of write? UserTesting.com has recently become one of my favorite ways to earn extra income. I keep the site open whenever I’m online and if I hear the “ping” telling me a job is available, I jump on it! 15 minutes later and I’m $10 richer!

Upwork.com is another site where you can apply for freelance jobs online. Writing, design, coding, virtual assistant work – all of these and so much more! You can pick up a variety of jobs fairly easily, with little hassle plus you are in charge of the price. The better you are, the higher you can charge, and there’s thousands of offers on the site all the time. I’ve made $150 from them so far this year and the majority of that is actually from companies approaching ME. It’s great!

Lastly, check out InboxDollars! And be sure to read on how to make the most money on InboxDollars.

As I mentioned, I’ve gone over a few of these and then some in another post, but these are a few of my favorites. Just from working from home, I’ve managed to make nearly $3,000 this year.

 

proof of payment from SurveySavvy

My latest check from SurveySavvy!

Put Credit to Work For You!

If you knew me in college, you would have never thought I’d be someone you’d want to take financial advice from. When I turned 18 and was able to sign up for credit cards – WATCH OUT!

I remember sitting in my dorm room one night with a friend of mine and we were talking about money; she asked how I could sleep at night, knowing I had SO much credit card debt hanging over my head. I shrugged it off at the time, figuring I’d be in debt forever, have terrible credit, and who cares, right? At least I got that sweet PS2 so we could play DDR! (#collegelife amiright?)

In the years since then, I have paid for that silly gaming system many, many times over. Fortunately I’m happy to say I’m in a good place now with my credit and let me tell you – having good credit makes a world of difference in so many ways, especially when it comes to making credit work FOR you instead of AGAINST you.

Provided you’re like me now and not like 18 year old me, having a credit card can be a great thing. Personally, I have a Discover IT card because I’ll get DOUBLE all the cash back I earn in the first year but I definitely encourage you to shop around and find a card that best suits your needs. If you’re a hardcore Amazon shopper like I am, the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card might be a better option for you (both offer a $50 sign-up bonus if you sign up via my referral link!)

Once you’ve got a great card that provides cash back, charge every bill that you can and then pay the card off IMMEDIATELY.

Do NOT adjust your budget. NO passing go. DON’T CHARGE ANYTHING YOU CANNOT PAY OFF THAT SAME MONTH!

Please.

Provided you use your card wisely, you’ll see a great amount of money back in your pocket.

cashback statement from Discover card

Most cards are 1-2% back on everything, and then somewhere between 3% and 5% back on random specific things, like gas or groceries. Make sure it’s unlimited to some respect, even if it’s just the 1% back that’s unlimited.

Let’s say you have an Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card and you use it each month to pay for the following bills and purchases:

  • Pet food/supplies, diapers, toilet paper, dry groceries – all Amazon purchases: $200
  • Gas/Transportation: $100
  • Trash Collection: $20
  • Electric: $100
  • Groceries in-store: $400
  • Car insurance: $70
  • TV (hopefully just Netflix/Hulu and not cable!): $15

Provided these are all in your budget as they should be, you will earn nearly $20 on expenses you had to pay anyway! So in this example, you’re basically getting trash service for FREE this month!

Depending on how you use it, you could be looking at hundreds of dollars back in your pocket for the year!

AND if you use it in conjunction with online shopping discount relays like Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates!), you can earn even MORE money back.

All told, you might end up with as much as 10% or more back on expenses you would have had to pay anyway.

Between cycling balances on my card and cashback from purchases made through Rakuten, I have earned about $400 so far this year, which then went directly to paying down debt.

Insiders Tip with a rebate site like Rakuten : Use it whenever you can! Many stores now offer in-store pick-up. Save yourself time and money by shopping through Rakuten for your purchases as often as possible. This will also help eliminate impulse spending if you go nowhere in the store but the service counter. (Click here to read more on how I’ve earned thousands from Ebates!)

How to get started…

Go through your budget and highlight in yellow everything you can pay for using a cashback rewards card. Calculate what you would earn back in a month if you used a card to pay for said expenses.

Then have an honest conversation with yourself about whether or not you can limit yourself to ONLY using your credit card for things already in your budget. If you can, then I highly encourage you to apply for one (as I mentioned, I like Discover or Amazon, but again – find one that works for YOU!)

If you have any doubt about using your card wisely, please don’t do it. Don’t put yourself in a situation that might lead to more debt instead of less.

And if you’re already using a cashback card, I do hope you’re using what you earn to pay down other debts and not to pay down your card’s balance.

Identify Why You Buy!

Why do we take such great pleasure in buying things? Why does having “more” bring so many such comfort?

Maybe it provides a primal level of mental security, knowing you won’t go without. Or maybe, for some, it’s more of an ego-related feeling – “I’m wonderful and people will know that when they see I have these wonderful things!”

Perhaps it’s because you had nothing growing up and having “more” means staying away from those icky feelings from the past.

Here are some questions to help you pinpoint why you buy:

  • Do you feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses”?
  • Does your brand loyalty hurt your budget?
  • Are you distracting yourself from inner dissatisfaction with new, shiny play things?
  • Do you think brand name guarantees high quality?
  • Are you addicted to luxury?

If you cannot identify “why you buy” then you will be unable to say “no” when the desire for more arises. By allowing yourself to constantly want, want, want, you are forcing yourself out of the present and living for what might be, for what you might acquire.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t live for the future. As you know, I’m all about developing long-term plans in order to kick debt to curb. However, you should focus on what will be, not what could be.

As is the case with budgeting your life overall, a long view of your purchases can help with this – a new shirt at full price might be $50 now, but that same $50 taken off of a credit card balance with 22% interest can end up being $60 or more.

Being able to view a purchase in terms of how much it will cost later on versus the immediate need to fulfill a desire will help immensely in avoiding impulse purchases. Like the adage “nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels,” no unnecessary purchase can bring you the peace of mind and reduce your stress like obtaining financial freedom.

Likewise, living in the past isn’t always a bad thing either. Think about where you were a couple years ago and what your household income was. Now think about what your expenses were. Are you spending more because you make more?

If you are in debt, you should not be upping your lifestyle to fit your current salary!

I know so many people who made $40,000/year, got a raise or better job, and instead of putting that additional income towards debt, they have now somehow incurred $10,000 more in expenses (often without realizing it!)

So how do you break these habits and learn to be happy with less?

Well, one of my favorite things to do is to keep a gratitude journal. I recommend against notebooks, simply because the covers are often flimsy, and you want to be able to carry this around with you. Any time you’re feeling down or you’re tempted by an extravagant purchase, pull out your journal and write down five things you’re grateful for.

Doing this will make you happier overall. I guarantee it.

Another thing to help you on your road to satisfaction with less is to consider where less already makes you happy.

For example, less clutter can equal MORE money and that almost certainly helps improve your mood, no? From the humble beginnings of trying to clear out stuff when we moved a couple years ago, to now where I almost constantly have stuff up on Facebook garage sale/resale groups, I’m averaging around $500 per garage sale and nearly $100/month on Facebook. Since November 2015 alone, I’ve made nearly $750 from selling things we no longer need (and this includes kids clothes that I actually got for FREE!)

I recently read a great book called The Brain That Changes Itself and one part that really stuck with me was that the more you practice saying no, the easier it’ll become.

How to get started:

Practice saying NO. Not just to others, but to yourself. Not only will this go a long way in helping your financial state, but it’ll actually re-wire your brain and lead to a healthier, better life overall. How cool is that?

(Re)Define Your Budget!

It’s not enough to make broad goals like “I want to lose weight” or “I will be financially independent”. It’s great to use these as a part of your affirmations but as goals? No.

You must be specific, B-E specific!

How to develop a budget you can actually stick to!

You should create and define clear goals that will build towards that momentous success of living a better life on a budget.

Instead of “I will stop using my credit card and pay it off!” Come up with a plan to pay off that card in X number of months. Figure out exactly what’s causing you to use the card now and how you’re going to stop those behaviors.

If physically cutting up the card gives you anxiety, consider freezing it – literally. Put it in a bowl of water and stick it in the freezer. It won’t eliminate your access to it but it’ll certainly give you time to think about whether or not you really need it to make that purchase.

Once you’ve set your goals, take a look at your budget and figure out your plan of action. I recommend starting by immediately cutting your budget by 5%.

Impossible, you say?

When I started this journey in January, I was able to take our $2,500/month income and trim it up by an additional 8%. I too thought it impossible at first until I took the time to develop an action plan.

After evaluating your financial budget, take an honest look at how you’re spending your time. Just as small purchases add up – a $3 cup of coffee doesn’t seem so bad…until you realize a canister of coffee at home would only cost you $10 for at least two weeks of coffee… – so do the “time sucks.”

Sure, maybe you only spend an hour watching TV each night but what if in that hour you could be earning $20? That’s over $7,000/year (nearly $9,000 if that $7k is on an unpaid credit card with 22% APR!)

I’m not suggesting you use every minute of every day to work towards paying down your debt. You must take the time for self-care in more than one way and if that means watching a bit of TV, then go for it! The important part is making sure you’re not wasting hours now that you may not have later.

So there you have it!

In two months, I was able to pay down my debt by over $10,000 by:

  • Paying based on interest rates
  • Putting my tax return to use
  • Developing additional income streams
  • Making credit work for me instead of against me
  • Identifying and breaking the habits that lead to wanting more
  • Redefining the way I budget my life

Our debt, while still quite high, now looks like this:

  • Lowes Credit Card: $0
  • Furniture Row Credit Card: $0
  • Student Loans: 138,116.82
  • House: $42,800
  • Car: $17,816

Total: $198,303.82

Difference of $10,588.67

I can’t say this has been an easy road, nor will it get any easier any time soon, but there is not a doubt in my mind that this is the best path towards a better, healthier, happier life.

I know this is a long post (and probably a bit overwhelming) but if you take it one step at a time, you too can pay down a significant amount of debt in a short amount of time!

Ten Quick Steps to Finally Change Your Finances

Ten Quick Steps to Finally Change Your Finances

If you’re cursed with indecision and you’re having trouble starting, sometimes a concise list of important steps on the journey can be all you need.

When I was thinking about quitting my job to become a WAHM (and run a blog full-time), one of my priorities became paying down debt and getting an even stronger hold on our finance – you may remember my series on how we paid off $10,000 in debt in two months (while only netting $40k/year from our office jobs!)

Consider this blog post a quick cheatsheet for improving your finances in the long run so no matter your goal – working from home, getting out of debt, having extra spending cash each month – you can get there sooner rather than later.

Start a Budget

Knowing how much money you have right now, what your expenses are, and what’s most important is the foundation of getting financially fit. If you don’t yet have a budget (or you have one you don’t follow) then PLEASE develop one! I know it can seem overwhelming at first but you have no idea how much stress you’re carrying around by NOT having one. Read more about how to start a budget here!

Identify Your Debts, Highest Interest to Lowest

A lot of advice you’ll see about finances suggests paying off your lowest debt first and then applying that payment to others, but I’m not a fan of this sort of expensive motivation. Instead, aggressively pay from highest to lowest interest rates. This way you’re saving money that would normally wrack up over the year. A 22% interest rate $1,000 loan is $220 a year – that’s an INSANE amount of extra money paid!

Get a Cash Back Credit Card

Whether you have great credit, terrible credit, or no credit, having a cash back card is a great way to always save money (but ONLY if you can use it wisely!) Most cards offer up to 5% cash back (with a limit usually) on certain times and then 1-2% back unlimited on everything else. This is key because the economy right now isn’t offering a ton of savings account rates even approaching 1 or 2%. With the wealth of credit companies out there, most people can get a small line of credit with has cash back. Personally, I recommend the Discover Card – they give you an automatic $50 just for signing up if you click through this link!

 

Advice on how to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom

$250 in six months – money lost without Discover!

Put Your Card and Budget Together

Take a look at your budget and highlight the things that you pay on a regular basis – gas, electric, garbage, groceries…. Seems silly not to try and save as much as possible on those, right? So why not make it a set-in-stone priority to charge recurring bills to the credit card and then immediately pay it off each month. As long as you never charge up more than you intend to pay off and NEVER carry a balance, you’re literally getting paid by the credit card company to buy stuff you would anyway. Pretty amazing, no?

Find a Side Gig/Hustle/Part-Time Job

Budget in the money you get from your primary income source and stay on top of it, then make a plan to pay off even more. No matter how much time you have left in your day, there are ALWAYS ways to make extra money each month to apply towards debts.

Check out these articles on the best ways to make extra cash online:

Make $2,200 Just Using Your Phone!

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10 Ways to Make Money as a Stay-at-Home Parent

Get Paid to Lose Weight!

Declutter

Almost everyone has a basement/closet/garage full of stuff that’s literally doing nothing but collecting dust and taking up space. Not only can you easily sell this stuff, but having clutter around can impact your mental health, too. Check out this post on how/why to declutter today!

Make the Most of Your Cash

There comes a time in your life when you realize that what you think is important really isn’t, and one of those things is name-brand anything. Aldi is my favorite grocery store, but even if you don’t have one in your area, there are always options to save money outside your big box store (like Walmart…ick…) Shop online, visit your local farmer’s markets, and reduce your grocery budget as often as possible! Be sure to use Ibotta to save even more (because seriously, it’s free…you like free money, don’t you?)

Make money online with these ten amazing money-making apps!

Be More Mindful

This goes hand-in-hand with reevaluating your dedication to name brands, but consider everything you buy as a chance to exercise free will. Every minor purchase – a coffee in the morning on your way to work, for instance – can and does add up over the course of a year. A grande drip from Starbucks, for instance, is $1.94 around here, and if you get one even 3 times a week, you’re looking at about $300/year, just in coffee. If you take that $6 and buy grounds that make 30 cups of coffee, and invest in a modest coffee maker at home, you’ll save AT LEAST $200/year!

The problem is, however, that the saving are small and need to compound to see the difference and that’s where mindfulness comes into play. Being aware of your money makes you less apt to waste it. Try thinking of going out to eat in terms of how many hours you have to spend at your job to pay for it, and you’ll see what I mean.

Establish Goals and Timelines

Set a goal and your project will grow to meet that goal. Yes, I said grow. While I’m all about setting realistic goals, don’t give yourself so much space that you procrastinate on getting control of your finances. Make a clear goal (pay off X credit cards this year, save $1000 for a down payment on a home, etc) and stick to it. If you’re a visual person, grab some markers and poster board from your local dollar store and create a chart. Or if you’re more of a internal motivator, plug shorter term goals and reminders into your digital calendar. Whatever your route, make it one that stays in front of you constantly.

Stack Your Money (in Your Favor)

If you’re already using your cash back card, websites like Ebates are a great way to establish multiple streams of discount/monetary rewards for buying things you already planned on buying. You can read more about how I make $1,000+/year with Ebates in this article here. Again – it’s FREE MONEY! No reason to procrastinate on this any longer!

Make money online with these ten amazing money-making apps!

And don’t forget about discounted gift cards! Shop through a company like Raise.com and buy discounted gift cards for things you’re already spending money on anyway – gas, groceries, clothing, the options are limitless! Click through this link to get $5 off your first $25+ purchase!

It’s time to get your finances under control and you can start TODAY. Kick the excuses to the curb and recognize that you do in fact have the power to get through this and find the financial freedom you’re so eager for.

So how about it? Are you ready to get started?

Comment below and let me know what your first step will be!10 Quick Tips to Get out of debt fast

How to Create an Emergency Fund

How to Create an Emergency Fund

Creating a savings is difficult, especially if you’re already struggling to pay all your bills. You may believe that if you have access to a significant amount of open credit, you don’t really need to build up a savings or emergency fund. But if disaster should hit and you’re forced to put thousands of dollars on a credit card, you could find yourself struggling financially for years.

Creating an emergency savings shouldn’t be overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks to putting a little bit of cash aside so you can begin developing the emergency savings you need.

Why a Credit Card is NOT a Savings

A credit card can be great for emergency situations. If your car breaks down and you need a quick way to pay an unexpected few hundred dollars, having open credit on a credit card can really save the day.

But this situation is only reliable if you see a payment for that credit card bill in your near future. Whether you have the cash tucked away in the bank or you have the freedom to pull it out of a paycheck, the only time a credit card is a reliable option for an emergency is if you absolutely have a way to pay it off.

The problem with people using a credit card as a way to get themselves out of an emergency is when they can’t afford to pay off their credit card bill. For particularly expensive emergencies, that bill could sit on the credit card for months, or even years, before it is paid away.

Another issue with only relying a credit card is that you’re likely to spend much more to cover the emergency on a credit card than you would if you have the ability to pay with cash. The interest on credit cards can be high, and as you continue to go months and months without paying your debt off, the interest will only continue to grow. If you can’t afford the emergency in the first place, you definitely can’t afford to pay more in interest than you expected.

Continuously avoiding credit card debt will negatively impact your credit. If your credit score gets too low, you will have a difficult time getting new credit cards, purchasing property like cars or houses, or taking out loans for things like education or a mortgage. Emergencies are usually unavoidable, but you don’t want one to ruin the rest of your life financially.

What is an Emergency Savings

An emergency savings is just how it sounds – a savings of funds to be used in the event of an emergency. These emergencies can range everywhere from losing your job, crashing your car, or an unexpected accident that leaves you with expensive medical bills.

It is impossible to be ready for any emergency that comes your way, but one of the best things you can do for yourself and your credit is create an emergency fund to bail you out of any unforgiving financial situations.

How to Grow an Emergency Savings

If you’re already living frugally, you may think you don’t have enough cash to set aside for an emergency fund. But the reality is that any little bit of money adds up and helps in some way. You may be unable to grow your emergency savings large enough to completely cover the cost of any emergency, but if you can reduce the cost put on credit, you’re helping yourself out in some way.

A general rule of thumb on how much money to keep in your emergency fund is around 6 months of living expenses. This includes rent or mortgage payments, car payments, groceries, and any other bill you would absolutely have to pay in those six months. This is your goal amount to always have within this fund, but at the moment it probably seems incredibly far away. Remember, you don’t need to reach this amount overnight, but the sooner you start saving, the better.

Begin saving by making a small goal, maybe one month of rent or mortgage payments. Set aside as much of your paycheck as you think you can do without, even if it is only a few dollars. You can also spend a bit of time each week earning some extra cash and automatically put that aside for savings. As you continue to set aside little bits, you will slowly but surely reach the goal you have made for yourself.

I encourage you to check out this additional posts on how to make “extra cash” in your spare time:

How to Earn $2,200 This Month in Your Spare Time!

How to Make $1,000/month with Affiliate Marketing

Earn Money Writing for Textbroker

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It is also important for you not to view the money you set aside as a typical savings account. Only take money from this particular bank account in the event of a real emergency, which doesn’t include new clothes or a new car. Keep it limited to emergencies only and you’ll have some cash there when a true emergency hits.

For many people without much disposable income, an emergency fund seems like something completely out of reach. While it may take a bit of cutting back and restructuring your budget, you’ll be happy to have a fund of extra cash if you ever find yourself in a tight spot financially. Setting aside just a few dollars a week can get you on track to a decent emergency fund and keep you from making a bad emergency even worse!

Do you have an emergency fund set up yet? Comment below and let me know!