How to Pay Debt, Cut Back & Save Without Losing Your Soul (+Giveaway)

 

“If it doesn’t make you happy, its not worth doing.”

If you hadn’t noticed by now, I’m all about saving money, living richly and happily and paying down debt. Just about all the posts on this blog have to do with one of those topics – give or take a few about my love for zumba, pole dance and volunteering. What you won’t see, however, are posts dedicated to cutting back until nothing is left. Yes, learning to save is essential to gaining financial freedom but it isn’t essential to living a happy life. Yet, that doesn’t stop people from fawning over those blog posts in which the blogger pours out details of how they went extreme minimalist to achieve financial freedom. You know the posts I’m talking about.

They’re the ones in a which a stay-at-home mom proclaims her decision to ditch all forms of television and entertainment in favor of getting rid of medical bills.

Or the engaged couple who gave up their monthly date nights to rid themselves of student loans lighting fast.

What about the blog post in which the single mom who eliminated all free time to pick up extra jobs to work 80 hours a week for that extra cash to be applied to debt.

Or the one in which a family of three willingly sold their house to live in a cardboard box so they could pay off $100,00 of debt in two months.

That last one is a little extreme but, you get the picture. While I admire the determination of these bloggers who do all that was necessary to rid themselves of debt, I am certainly not envious.   It takes a very special person to make such huge sacrifices to make that kind of speedy headway with finances. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not that special person. I thought I was at one time, but I’m not. You see, if I made that kind of sacrifice to pay off debt, I’d be miserable. Sure the weight of my student loans would be lifted of my shoulders, but I’d be unhappy, unbearable to be around and unmotivated. And I’ve found that since dealing with debt can be so unpleasant at times, the most important thing I can do for myself during the repayment journey is to remain as pleasant as possible throughout the process. It’s hard to stay motivated enough to make financial progress when you are miserable. Yet, it’s almost impossible to make progress without making some spending changes and sacrifices. I’m by no means an expert, but below are the things I did to find a balance between maintaining a happy life  and sacrificing enough to pay debt.

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Nothing to Give? Show Your Heart

“All you need is one love and one heart to make a difference”

allyouneedislove

 

I’m a bit late on this, but better late than never. If you’re looking for a way to help a cause consider this one. Help put a stop to suicide with the help of Instagram. From now until September 19th,  $1.00 will be donated to the Dr. Brandt Foundation for every image of a heart posted on Instagram with the hashtag #oneloveoneheart. The Dr. Brandt Foundation is taking a big step to fund research for suicide prevention.

Time to fill those Instagram profiles with lots of love and hearts. Ready, set, GO!

How to Save Money Without Falling for the Catch

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“That’s a good deal, but what’s the catch?” How many times has that thought crossed your mind whenever seeing an ad in the paper, email blast in your inbox or even a promotion for cash back rewards in the Ibotta app?  I know that question is always in the corner of my mind when scouting out good deals.  And if you ask those who are pushing the promotion, they’ll most likely tell you there is no catch; it’s just a great way to save money. However, I’m here to tell you their response shouldn’t put your mind at ease because they’re lying! There is definitely a catch. The catch is to lure you in for one thing while persuading you to purchase other items that you don’t need. Judging by the comments on some of my posts, many of you have caught on. But don’t let the existence of the “catch” stop you from taking advantage of a great deal. Follow my tips and you”ll never fall prey to the catch again.

That sale is probably followed by a catch, but that doesn't mean you have to fall for it.

That sale is probably followed by a catch, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall for it.

  1. Set up a separate email address for promotional emails.

I am the queen of promotional emails and coupon codes. As I write this, I have over 1,000 emails in my inbox with once in a lifetime offers, limited time sales, and get-it-free taglines. I’m not gonna lie; when you’re a bargain hunter like me seeing email subject lines like those are pretty hard to resist. It takes a lot of will power for me to not jump out of my seat and snag whatever deal the retailer is promoting. That’s why I decided it was best to create a separate email account just for store newsletters. Rather than being tempted to jump on every sale that enters my account, I can now practice self control by venturing to my “newsletter only” email address to scour deals when it’s time to purchase . That means less chance of impulse shopping. Out of site; out of mind. And if you are worried about missing a great way to save money, don’t be. In my experience good deals usually strike my inbox more than once.

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13 Posts that Will Inspire Your Journey to Financial Independence

I am capable of living richer than I have been.

If these stories don't inspire to gain financial independence ,nothing will.

If these stories don’t inspire to gain financial independence ,nothing will.

I know Independence Day was over a week ago. And judging by the title you’re probably thinking that I’m behind the curve with this post. But give me a break. Posting blogs a week later than you planned is acceptable when you give birth to a baby three weeks earlier than expected.  Luckily, our pursuit of financial independence doesn’t depend on a national holiday. To aid your efforts in dependence from debt, I scoured the web to provide you a round up of the top 13 blog posts to motivate you towards a life of financial independence. Hopefully, the below will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

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15 More Reasons You’re Not as Broke as You Think You Are

I am capable of finding the riches in life. 

A few weeks ago I published the post, 19 Reasons You’re Not As Broke As You Think You Are, to encourage, uplift and remind everyone that you are making financial progress regardless of how many bills you have yet to pay.  However, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t come back with an even cornier post about the not-so-obvious,  non-monetary reasons you aren’t as broke as you think you are. Sure, having money can help break you away from the broke category but it’s not the only thing. So here it is my completely corny, hopefully uplifting and totally smile worthy list of 14 reasons why you aren’t that broke.

Think you're broke? Think again

Think you’re broke? Think again

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I’m Becoming a Points Traveler Without a Credit Card

I have so much to offer the world. I’d be doing such a disservice if I didn’t share it.

I absolutely love traveling and love learning about culture. Whether it’s international, the other side of the country, or the next town over, exploring and being worldly has always been a big part of my life. Unfortunately, once I vowed to make student debt payoff a priority, travel and exploration has had to take a back seat to save money. However, that hasn’t stopped me from constantly daydreaming about where my next adventure could be, especially when inspired by points travelers around me.

I’d like to blame some of my favorite travel bloggers for not allowing me to let my travel dreams go. There’s no way I can constantly read about budget trips to Iceland on the Thought Card, amazing vacations to Dubai on Angelina Travels, or exploring Madrid on the Blog Abroad and not have the travel bug gently but persistently whispering in your ear. It’s just not possible. So of course, I’m faced with the issue of how I’m gonna fulfill my worldly travel dreams like these fantastic bloggers all while paying off debt – not to mention taking care of a newborn once he’s born this July. So of course, the question comes in. “How can I afford to travel when I already have so much on my plate?”

Others may say you need to have a credit card to be a points traveler. I'm trying to avoid the plastic completely. Join me...

Others may say you need to have a credit card to be a points traveler. I’m trying to avoid the plastic completely. Join me…

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I Refuse to Create A College Fund for my Children

I love my parents dearly. My parents gave me a lot of things throughout my years that I could never thank them for enough.  They gave me a memorable childhood.  They’ve provided me with a love of dance, a strong sense of self, the ability to love and the courage to chase my dreams. They also equipped me with a thick skin and strong morales. All things I find are beneficial to a bright a future.

One thing they did not give me was a college fund. As a result, I found myself taking out loans on top of loans for a school I really couldn’t afford. And of course, I had to deal with the poor financial planning upon graduation. That meant adjusting my lifestyle tremendously to make on time payments, deal with harassing phone calls from student debt collectors, live with my parents much longer and worry about ever moving up. My parents weren’t rich by any means and still managed to provide a full life for my brother and I so I don’t fault them at all for my struggles.

Thankfully, I have since learned how to better manage money and have a great plan in place to be completely debt free in 3 years. The stress hasn’t completely gone away and I’ve still had to adjust my lifestyle but it’s great motivation for reaching my goal. I know it won’t be like this ever. It’s just what I need to do right now.

Despite the stress, struggles and sleepless nights I’ve encountered from drowning in student loan debt, I refuse to have a college fund for my unborn son. And it’s not because I have the mentality that, “I struggled so you should to.” It’s because I don’t believe in what college funds represent.

Even though I'm struggling with student loans, I won't be creating a college fund for my kids - and maybe you shouldn't either. They might do more harm than good.

Even though I’m struggling with student loans, I won’t be creating a college fund for my kids – and maybe you shouldn’t either. They might do more harm than good.

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How to Go From Just Anything to Something Special

“It’s time I realize I have something special to offer the world” 

It was Tuesday night and I was at yet another work event with my husband. Being that he works for so many teams filming their sports events, we get invited to banquets with delicious food almost every week for two months straight. And while they’re always very interesting. It can get very tiring. I’m usually attached to my husband’s side as he works the room barely saying a word. Basically, I’m like his trophy wife at that moment. While it may bother some women, I’m fine with it. Those banquets are my husband’s moment to shine and I’m just happy to be invited along to get some of those left over rays. No one barely speaks to me and if they do it’s very brief. It usually goes something like this.

Random person at banquet: “Hi, I don’t believe we’ve met before. Do you work for the team too?”

Me: “No, I’m just the videographer’s wife.”

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We are deserving of something more special than we realize.

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5 Things to Sell If You Have Nothing of Value

I can sell anything to anyone as long as I believe in the product. 

Is it me or does it seem like everyone is always trying to sell something? I log onto Facebook and a new friend is selling Mary Kay or It Works products. I open an app and there’s an ad selling another app. I walk to my car and there’s a flyer for a photographer selling his or her services. Or I go to the gas station and I see the cutest Girl Scout selling some delectable cookies. (That last one isn’t so annoying but you get the point). Bottom line – it seems like every aspect of your life has become some sort of sales pitch and everyone is making a profit but you. There’s always someone who paid for their last vacation by selling their baked goods at church, dug out of debt by selling unwanted items on Ebay or Facebook, or covered their monthly cell phone bill by trading their gold. Even I’ve made great progress paying off student debt by selling items on Facebook yard sale sites.

Mean while, you are sitting there stumped wondering how you can get in on the action. Yes, having multiple streams of income seems to be the “in” thing right now. And selling items seems to be the easiest way to do it. But what happens if you don’t have anything of value to sell? Considering we are at the top of spring, many of you may have already purged all the unneeded items that would have been in sellable condition. However, that doesn’t mean you have nothing of value to sell.

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48 Crazy Things Anyone Can Do to Pay off Debt At Warp speed

When I first told people my plan is to be debt free by age 30, I always get a few different reactions. People are either really impressed with my drive or they give a sarcastic smile and blatantly tell me I’m crazy because debt is just a part of life we need to accept.  Though my decision seemed crazy and limiting to some, I knew that its much better than being normal. Frankly, other than deciding on my career and marrying my husband it was one of the easiest decisions I could ever make. And I’m guessing it wouldn’t be hard for you either, if you had to deal with things that I do.

I was sick of my heart dropping every time SallieMae called and coming up with excuses to avoid them.

I was sick of seeing a majority of my paychecks being spent on debt for a school that made me miserable.

I was sick of having to take student loan payments into consideration before every financial decision I made.

I was sick of feeling like I was dealt a life sentence for getting an education.

I was sick of putting my lofty travel plans on the back burner to hundred of dollars of student loan payments each month.

I was sick of feeling ashamed that I didn’t do my research before college and therefore found myself in a hole of debt on top of debt that far exceeds my income.

I was sick of the realization that I’m unlikely to be able to ever afford a house because I my student loan balance is already almost identical to a mortgage.

I was sick of watching my credit score drop because of difficulty making payments and a burdening debt to income ratio. 

The normal thing is to do is be in debt. The crazy thing to do is get and stay out of it. Let me teach you my crazy ways.

The normal thing is to do is be in debt. The crazy thing to do is get and stay out of it. Let me teach you my crazy ways.

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