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The Ultimate List of Legit Side Hustles Idea for 2019

The ultimate list of legit side hustle ideas for 2019!

The easiest way to pay off debt is by finding the best side hustles that fit your schedule. There are a billion great side hustles out there, everything from proofreading to delivering pizzas. Some involve learning a new skillset, while many others have costly start-up fees to get going.

The key to finding side hustles that work are to focus on ones that fit into your life. If you have a 9 to 5, or do shift work, you’re most likely to find success with finding somewhat unusual ways to make money. Finding an MLM isn’t likely to work, seeing as how their success rates are stastically dismal at best.

Low Start-Up Cost Legitimate Side Hustles (that aren’t MLMs)

MLMs (multi-level marketing) are side hustle jobs that are dependent upon your commission from sales, but also on getting others to sign up underneath you, so you’re earning a bit of their profits as well. They usually involve some sort of in-home or online party where a friend hosts it to make money towards their purchases. It usually involves products from leggings to face creams to kitchen products to kids books to food. You know what I’m talking about, right? There’s one for just about any type of product you can imagine.

While I’m not personally against MLMs (as I’ve said before), they work for such a small percentage of people. Why? Because not everyone’s built to be a salesperson. If you don’t have the right skillset or personality (or an insanely HUGE friend/family group to sell to), it’s almost impossible to make back the start-up money that you invested. Not only have you lost our on your time and energy, but you’ve lost out on even more money than if you’d done nothing at all.

On top of that, we’ve recently run into a rash of bizarre and ridiculous news stories in which women (typically) are being pushed into buying more product to sell, even when sales are down. When they try to step away from the business, they end up stuck with a ton of merchandise they can’t offload and no way to recoup that cost.

While I believe that you have to invest money to make money, starting the best side hustle for you shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. It also shouldn’t be a steep learning curve to getting yourself up to snuff in order to make money. When choosing the best side hustle to make money, you need to think about your return on investment. If you’re looking for a part time businesses to supplement your income, and just need to make quick money, remember to keep things simple. There are plenty of ways to make money with little to no money to get started.

I’ve gathered a list of easy and low cost side hustles that aren’t MLMs to get you started quickly on your path to debt repayment!

Can't find a great side hustle that's legit? Use these side hustle ideas to find one that fits your schedule and pays you well! #sidehustle #sidegig #financialfreedom #debt #debtrepayment

Work from Home and Online Side Hustles

I love finding online jobs for extra income – they tend to be easier side hustles and can be done while watching TV in the evenings. There are a ton of side jobs from home out there, but unfortunately a lot of them can be scams. Be careful with anything that sounds too good to be true!

  • Create printables on Etsy/Crafty (if you already have the software and skills)
  • Get paid to test websites at Usertesting.com (this is my go-to side hustle when I need easy ways to make money!)
  • Tutor through VIPKids
  • Do affiliate marketing. You don’t need a website, you can do this through Pinterest or landing pages at ConvertKit
  • Edit videos with software
  • Digital bills/paperwork organization
  • Offer budgeting services and help others organize their bills and get started on their debt snowball
  • Plan vacations/seek out vacation deals for others
  • Find deals for others on particular items, get paid a percentage of the savings
  • Write blog posts for other bloggers
  • Proofreading / editing
  • Do jobs on Fiverr
  • Do surveys on Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Springboard America, etc.
  • Participate in in-home testing of products through companies like Swagbucks
  • Become a VA (Virtual Assistant)
  • Become a Social Media Manager
  • Be a coach or consultant in something you’re passionate about
  • Publish an ebook
  • Sell your photos on stock photography sites
  • Trade in old gift cards
  • Become a voiceover actor
  • Become a video game / app tester
  • Get paid to do research
  • Review and edit resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles
  • Provide translation services
  • Become a personal assistant
  • Data entry services
  • Become a customer service rep (there are many opportunities to be your own boss and work from home here!)
  • Sell items you no longer want online through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, LetGo, or Craiglist
  • Help family members or friends sell their household items online and earn a percentage of the sale
  • Start a blog
  • Create and sell crafts online through Etsy
  • Offer personal styling coaching
  • Become a brand ambassador for your favorite products

Physical and Outdoor Side Hustle Ideas

A lot of these easy hustles for cash are things that some people can’t do anymore themselves. Look for opportunities in your neighborhood, church or with family friends. They’re great, creative ideas to make money outside of your normal work hours as well:

  • Dog/house sitter
  • Dog walker
  • Start a paper route
  • Shovel snow
  • Drive for Uber / Lyft
  • Delivery work
  • Wash cars or windows
  • Offer power washing services
  • Sell vegetables, flowers, or bulbs from your garden
  • Do laundry for those without access to washers/dryers
  • Flip furniture
  • Run errands for others
  • Clean carpets
  • Read to people who are physically unable to
  • Haul things for others
  • Pick up/trade in scrap metal
  • Help people move
  • Meal planning for busy parents and families
  • Offer latch key hours for kids in the neighborhood until their parents get home
  • Bartend / Waiter / Waitress
  • Seasonal work with USPS, FedEx or UPS
  • Provide elder care so that family members can run errands or get a break
  • Set up and take down outdoor holiday decorations
  • Batch cook food and sell the meals
  • Sell holiday baked goods at church, work or elsewhere
  • Groom pets, clip nails (assuming you already have experience)
  • Provide chauffer services to those that can’t drive
  • Offer grocery buying services
  • Offer gift wrapping services
  • Help with seasonal work around the house (changing furnance filters, winterizing, covering A/C, etc.)

Turn Your Current Job into an Easy Side Hustle

Don’t forget to look to your current job for additional easy ideas to make money. It can be easier to land one of these because you’ve already established yourself as a reliable worker and you’re already on the payroll:

  • Ask for a raise
  • Ask for additional duties at your main job for additional compensation
  • Pick up a better paying shift and/or holiday hours
  • Pick up extra shifts/hours
  • Figure out how to do your current job in a freelance capacity
  • Look around for your position at another company – get paid more for the same work!
  • See where you can earn referral fees for networking you already do
  • Teach classes about your skillset online or in person
  • Create a course online that focuses on the skills used in your current job
  • Set up a coffee cart or snack bar at work to sell goodies
  • Sell your craft items at work
  • Pick up an after hours job cleaning at your workplace

Remember, you already have the skillset, so your learning curve would be minimal as well as your financial investment. Going with a job that you already currently do – but in a different capacity – is one of the best side jobs for extra money out there.

Start a Small, Part-Time Business to Earn Extra Income from Home

If you’re looking for a bit more than side gig ideas, consider creating your own business. It doesn’t have to be formal and difficult, just find ways to make money on the side that involve having a clientele base you want to grow:

  • Small engine repair (if you already have the know-how and tools)
  • Landscaping / mow lawns
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Handyman
  • Starting a cleaning service
  • Repair computers
  • Hauling services to the dump
  • Digitize and organize documents for people and businesses
  • Teach music, art or computer lessons
  • Teach others the ins and outs of your favorite hobbies
  • Do nails (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
  • Cut hair (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
  • Clean pools
  • Start a painting service
  • Start an organization service to help people with clutter and cleaning out their homes
  • Become an event planner
  • Rent a room to do massage therapy (assuming you are a licensed massage therapist already)
  • Babysit or start an in-home daycare
  • Become a sleep training guru for toddlers (I would have handed over my retirement funds for this one, seriously!)
  • Create and sell crafts at craft shows or through a friend’s storefront. Anything you can possibly make can be sold, including:
    • Soaps, lotions, scrubs, and candles
    • Knitted, crocheted and sewn items
    • Painted signs, furniture, and picture frames
    • T-shirts, signs, or mugs with Cricut vinyl sayings ironed on
    • Embroidery or needlework, or printed and framed graphics
    • Birdhouses, work carvings
    • Scrapbooks, handmade cards, bullet journals or planners
    • Drawings, paintings, or graphics files
    • Hair bows, headbands, tutus, or toys for kids
    • Wreaths, swags, floral arrangements, and table arrangements
    • Home decor or holiday decor
  • Offer professional photography services at family/friend events
  • DJ for parties and weddings (without all the crazy equipment)
  • Become a wedding organizer that helps the couple arrange details, complete tasks, and ensures the day runs smoothly
  • Help with organizing tax paperwork or help file taxes (if you know how)
  • Tailor / seamstress services
  • Bake and sell treats and cakes for parties and special occasions
  • Buy flowers wholesale, then create and sell flower arrangements
  • Tutor kids with reading, math or other classes
  • Provide coaching for job interviews

Turn a Side Hustle into Passive Income

One of the absolute best ways to make money is through passive income, hands down. Passive income is money that you make while sleeping. Ok, not really – but I got your attention, right? 😉

Active income is money that you earn by doing an active job, such as your 9 – 5 office job. Passive income is income that’s created by investing either time or money into an income stream, and then reaping the benefits further down the line, once all of your work is done.

There are a ton of great passive income ideas to explore – but here are a few just to get you started:

  • Rent out a room
  • Use your home for AirBnB
  • Rent out your car
  • Rent out your possesions, such as tools, movies or books
  • Wrap your car in advertising
  • Start a blog
  • Design and sell t-shirts, mugs and signs through Amazon or CafePress
  • Dropship on Amazon
  • Create a YouTube channel and earn money off of the ads
  • Write an ebook
  • Sell stock photos
  • Earn referral fees for products you use, such as Ibotta or Ebates.

If you’re interested in learning more about other passive income ideas, check out The Best Passive Income Ideas to Boost Your Income.

How Do You Figure Out the Best Side Hustle?

The best advice I can give is to find side hustles that match your skillset. By picking jobs that you already know how to do, you’ll feel more confident when applying for them, and will be able to have a larger return on your investment by shortening your start-up costs and time.

Making money on the side doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. It’s about finding different hustles that fit your needs. When you figure out what you need, and take a look, you’ll find tons of great ways to make extra money.

Speeding up the debt repayment process doesn’t have to be difficult, costly or overly time consuming. What it really takes is figuring out your “why” and putting yourself out there. If you’re willing to work harder and smarter, you’ll find yourself debt free in no time!

Have you figured out the best side hustle for you that fits with your schedule and family? Or do you have more to add? Post them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

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The ultimate list of best side hustles that arent MLMs #debt #sidehustle #debtpayoff

It can be tricky to find the best side hustles that don't have huge startup fees. Here's the complete list of the best side hustles that aren't MLMs #sidehustle #debt #financialfreedom

How to Get Out of Debt: We Paid Off $26,619 in 17 Months

How to get out of debt

Racking up debt can happen for a variety of reasons: overspending, medical issues, a car accident, a layoff.

Often it can take just one or two unplanned instances to end up neck deep and struggling – especially if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck.

Millions of Americans are one paycheck away from accuring more debt, or worse – bankruptcy.

My family has been there. We’ve struggled with worrying about going negative every month and using the last small bit of savings we had to stay afloat. Forget figuring out how to eliminate credit card debt on top of that.

We didn’t spend lavishly or have fancy cars and clothes. But we did spend foolishly, by not keeping track of what we had coming in versus going out.

Not to mention we were so disorganized and constantly playing catch up in all aspects of life, including our money.

It doesn’t matter why you have debt – what’s important is that you’re ready to learn how to get out of debt and have the tools you need to finally become debt free.

In this article I’ll outline step-by-step how we officially, finally became debt free (hooray!) and the tools and tricks we used to get there.

Struggling to pay off your debt is no way to live. Why not make this year the year you finally drop the burden of debt once and for all?

5/01/18 Update: We’ve now paid off $26,619 of debt in just 17 months and raised our net worth by $57,952!

Our Steps to Being Debt Free

My husband and I had accrued various types of debt for almost 20 years. We were struggling to figure out how to get out of debt and stay there. While we weren’t necessarily drowning in debt, we weren’t killing it in savings and investments either. Just a lot of living for the day and never setting any financial goals.

My husband and I, on our debt payoff journey and honeymoonMost of our debt was from life in general. Student loans, two costly births, a car wreck, credit cards, home improvements. Having a house on the market for almost a year after moving to a new state certainly didn’t help.

We finally sold our house when we had $700 left in savings to cover the next month’s expenses. The term “living beyond our means” couldn’t have more accurate.

All these decisions we had made stacked, and stacked, and stacked – until I realized just how dangerously everything was teetering.

It was like a bunch of wobbly teacups stacked in angles on top of each other, just waiting for a tiny push to topple them over. I began to realize just how one tiny thing, like a job loss, could topple everything and break us financially.

We needed help getting out of debt, and fast. Continue reading

The 18 Best Cash Back Apps that will Save You Thousands

The 18 best cash back apps that will save you thousands!

Everybody I know loves to bring home the spoils of a great sale, if only to brag about how much they saved on their score. And with the holidays quickly approaching, the sales are really ramping up. So now is the time to double down on those bragging rights and start using cash back apps to sweeten the savings!

There are a ton of cash back and rebate sites out there. Sifting through them to find the best cash back apps is time consuming at best. Luckily, I’ve taken the time to pull together a comprehensive list of the absolute best.

There are a ton of cash back and rebate sites out there. Sifting through them to find the best cash back apps is time consuming at best. Luckily, I've taken the time to pull together a comprehensive list of the absolute best. #cashback #frugal #savings #savingmoney #cashback #savemoney

How to Make Money from Your Receipts

There are two options to maximize savings while shopping:

  • Cash back apps
  • Rebate websites

Cash back apps have a list of items that they provide cash back on. Then, once you purchase them, you scan the receipt and depending on the app, the barcode of the product. Your earned cashback sits in an account until you hit a certain thershold (generally $20), and then you can request for the account to be paid out via Paypal, check, or directly to your bank account.

Examples of cash back apps are: Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Shopkick, or Receipt Hog.

Rebate websites involve clicking through that website to the retailer you want to buy from. Not only do these sites offer cash back, but they often have some great coupons to help stack your savings. Sites like Ebates pay out quarterly, no matter how much is in your account.

Examples of rebate sites are: Ebates, Topcashback.

Whether it’s an app or a site, it’s really easy to submit your receipts or click through a link and claim your money. Once you get into the habit of looking at these spots for savings first, you’ll not only save cash but your time as well.

Next, I’ll cover which apps work best for shopping, groceries, gas, and other items.

The Best cash back apps for shopping

These are the best cash back apps for shopping that you can use to save your money. Stack these with sales and you’ll be golden:

Ebates

Ebates is easily one of my top cash back apps to save money when I shop online. They have cash back for over 2500 stores online, and they’ve recently added cash back in stores as well!

There are three ways to save with Ebates:

  • Go through the Ebates website and click through their link to your favorite retailers
  • Install an extension on your Chrome browser that alerts you every time you visit a retailer that Ebates offers cash back at (my favorite way!)
  • Download their cash back app for Android or iOS

As an added bonus, Ebates offer coupons that you can’t get elsewhere. Ebates also gives double cash back offers that rotate through various stores as well, so your chances of finding additional savings are great.

Ebates offers payouts via Paypal or check, and pays out quarterly. Cash back categories include vacation and travel, health and beauty, electronics, clothing, accessories, gifts, flowers, baby, home, office, auto, and much, much more.

Sign up for Ebates now >


TopCashBack

TopCashBack is a direct competitor to Ebates and is giving them a run for their money. You can get cash back at over 4,000 retailers and they have 17 different payout options! If you choose to take your payout via a gift card, some of the gift cards offer additional bonuses up to 5%.

TopCashback also offers cash back guarantee. They’ll match other cash back site amounts (with a few terms and conditions). They also offer coupons and promotions, and sign up bonuses as well.

Once your earnings clear, you can request a payout at any time, for any amount. TopCashBack offers savings in travel, home and garden, electronics, fashion, health and beauty, gift cards, and more!

Sign up for TopCashBack now >


Paribus

I love using Paribus because I’m often super busy and don’t always have time or the inclination to scan receipts. With Paribus, I don’t even have to click through any links. I just shop like I normally would online, and Paribus tracks confirmation emails and watches for price changes.

Paribus instantly scores you money back if the price drops on something you’ve bought from any of the 25+ major retailers that they partner with.

If your shipment is late, Paribus negotiates on your behalf with the retailer and gets a reimbursement without you having to lift a finger.

Think that once you finally book your hotel room, you’re locked into that price? Nope!

Paribus also can help you save when you book hotels rooms. If they price drops on a room, they’ll find the drop and help you get the difference back. Paribus works with hotel rooms booked through: Expedia, Hotels.com, Hilton, Booking.com, Priceline, and Marriott.

Sign up for Paribus now >


Swagbucks

Most people know Swagbucks for getting paid to do surveys, watch videos, play games, and more.

But did you know that Swagbucks offers cash back, just like Ebates and TopCashBack?

Just by shopping through Swagbucks, you can earn cash back at over 1500 major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target. You’ll also get exclusive deals and coupons!

Swagbucks payouts are done through Paypal or gift cards. Often times different gift cards will be discounted so you can stretch your points even further.

Once you’ve hit your minimum you can request a payout at any time, and they usually take a day or so to show up in your email.

Sign up for Swagbucks now >


Shopkick

While Shopkick isn’t exactly a cash back app, it’s worth mentioning. Shopkick is a rewards app that rewards you with “kicks” (or points) for shopping online or in-store.

When in-store, you can use Shopkick to scan select products to earn kicks. Or, you can earn kicks just for making purchases.

Online, you can visit their partner retailer websites and view offers or purchase items to get kicks.

There are a total of eight different ways that you can earn kicks:

  • Walk into a store – without even purchasing anything!
  • Scan barcodes on select products
  • Make a purchase with a linked card
  • Purchase and submit a receipt
  • Visit online stores
  • View online products
  • Make online purchases
  • Watch videos

Cash your kicks out for digital gift cards to popular places, like Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and Groupon to name a few!

Sign up for Shopkick now >


The Best Cash Back Apps for Groceries

There are a ton of great cashback apps where you can submit receipts for money. These are the best grocery rebate apps out there:

Ibotta

Ibotta is a game changer for grocery shopping – and it’s so easy! Rebates are organized by store so they’re very easy to find. Just select the items you want to redeem, scan your receipt, and scan the barcodes on the items you bought as you’re prompted.

You cash shows up within 48 hours (usually much, much faster!) and boom – you’re done! Ibotta also offers tons of great bonuses that change every month, which adds an extra bit of fun to the challenge of redeeming your rebates.

As of the typing of this post, I’ve personally saved over $456 through Ibotta. There’s nothing easier than getting paid to upload receipts!

Ibotta also allows your to link your loyalty card for certain retailers to redeem your rebates that way. No scanning involved!

Recently they’ve branched out to include mobile in-app purchases, which makes a great app even better. With over 290 supported stores, it’s easy to rack up the savings.

The Ibotta app pays out with Paypal, venmo, or gift cards. You can also earn bonuses as well as earn more by hooking up your Facebook so that you create a team of earners.Last, you can get a $5 referral fee for anyone that uses your referral link to sign up!

Sign up for Ibotta now >


Checkout 51

If you’re looking for an Ibotta alternative, take Checkout 51 for a spin. With Checkout 51 you also scan receipts for money back, but it’s not limited to which store you shop at.

The updated offer list comes out every Thursday. Just add your favorites to your shopping list, make your purchase, and scan your receipt. It’s as easy as that!

Offers are available in limited quanities, so double check they’re still available before you hit the store and make sure to upload your receipt as soon as you’re done shopping.

Checkout 51 has a $20 minimum, and pays out via check.

Sign up for Checkout 51 now >


BerryCart

BerryCart is the crunchy Ibotta alternative. Every offer that you can snag a rebate for is either:

  • All-natural
  • Organic
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Or vegetarian

Their claim to fame is that you won’t find any items that have high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals. That’s definitely a win-win, right?

Stack that with the coupons and deals available through the app, and you’re not only saving cash but helping your family stay healthy.

BerryCart works at any store that gives you a printed receipt, meaning that it’s good for over 100,000 locations in the US. Payouts are through Paypal or select gift cards available through the app.

Sign up for BerryCart now >


Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is another hugely popular cash back apps like Ibotta. However, the twist here is that you don’t have to buy certain items to get rebates.

Instead, you shop anywhere, scan your receipt, and you’re given chances to play Hog Slots, take paid surveys, win free shopping trips, and more.

Once you’ve earned enough coins, you trade them in for Amazon gift cards, magazines, or cash via Paypal.

Sign up for Receipt Hog here >


SavingStar

Another cash back app for receipts that I really like to use is SavingStar. This Ibotta competitor has very similar offers, but they’re redeemed a bit differently.

First, you add stores to your account so you can redeem rebates there. If you have a loyalty card, you can link the store automatically and be able to skip the receipt scanning. if not, you’ll just scan the receipt like on other apps.

Next, you’ll activate your offers, shop, and redeem your offers. Once you’ve hit the $20, threshold, you can select from Paypal, a bank deposit, gift cards, or choose to donate your earnings to American Forests.

This grocery receipt cash back app can be used at over 100,000 stores in over 1000 different retails chains, so there’s bound to be a grocery store you can use it at.

Sign up for SavingStar now >


Fetch Rewards

With Fetch Rewards, you can earn points with ANY grocery receipt. There’s no shopping at specific stores, clipping any coupons, or redeeming offers before shopping.

Fetch Rewards matches items on your receipt and credits you for every item you buy from their list of 250+ participating brands. You then cash out your points to purchase gift cards from hundreds of retailers.

Whether you shop at a local mom and pop store or a Sam’s Club, your printed receipt will be accepted up to 14 days after purchase. Also included are convience stores, club stores, drugstores, liquor stores, and of course, grocery stores.

Sign up for Fetch Rewards now >


Cash Back Apps for Gas

While cash back apps specifically for gas are mostly non-existent, there is one app that will accept gas station and convenience store receipts:

ReceiptPal

The Receipt Pal app is one of the few apps that let you just scan receipts for money back, making it one of the few apps like Receipt Hog.

You don’t have to buy any particular products or shop at certain stores. Just scan those receipts to earn cash back. Simple, right?

This app is unique in that it accepts any receipt – from gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, car dealerships, online retailers, convenience stores, travel and entertainment, and more. The receipt must include the merchant name, purchase date, total amount spent and phone number or zip code of the store. That’s it!

ReceiptPal also has weekly sweepstakes to give you a chance to win a cash bonus (cha-ching!). Your earned points can then be cashed out to purchase gift cards.

Sign up for ReceiptPal now >


Don’t Forget Specific Store Apps

Several mass merchandisers have created their own apps to help you save when you shop there.

The Target App

With the Target app, I’ve been able to save over $562 by stacking cartwheel offers, in-store digital coupons, sales, and my 5% redcard discount!

Saving with the Target app is easy. As you shop, scan the barcodes of the products to see if there’s a discount or manufacturer coupon that applies. When you checkout, scan the barcode in the wallet section to apply your savings, and that’s it!

The Target app also has additional coupons available in the wallet section, such as $10 off of a $50 food and beverage purchase. Plus, you can choose to store your redcard info in the app so that you just scan the barcode to pay.

It’s almost like they’re making it toooo easy to spend money there…

Get started with the Target app >


Walmart Pay

Walmart has replaced the Walmart Savings Catcher with Walmart Pay, but it essentially does the same thing.

When you pay with Walmart Pay, your digital receipt is automatically checked for lower prices at competitors. If a lower price is found, you get the difference! That cash back difference is loaded onto an egift card, which can be used with – you guessed it – Walmart Pay.

Learn more about Walmart Pay now >


Other Savings Apps

While these aren’t necessarily cash back apps, they are another way to save some cash:

Acorns

Acorns is a great app that rounds up your purchases and invests them for you. By setting up an IRA through Acorns, you can save for retirement without even thinking about it.

Besides investing your spare change, you can also schedule reccuring investments so that you can grow your investments quicker.

It’s an easy way to dip your toe into investing without too much stress over if you’re doing it “right”.

As an added bonus, if you shop at any of Acorns’ 250+ retail partners, they’ll automatically invest in your Acorns account!

Sign up for Acorns now >


Hopster

Hopster provides unique coupons for natural products. The more you do on Hopster.com, the more points you earn. And the more points you earn, the more coupon savings you get.

Not only can you print coupons on natural products, but you can also upload your receipts to earn points as well.

Learn more about Hopster now >


Mobee

Ever wanted to be a secret shopper? Now you can with the Mobee app!

Start by finding a mission near you at popular stores and retailers. Next, answer questions once you’re at the location and submit it for review. You’ll earn points for every mission completed, which can be cashed in for gift cards and prizes.

You can also unlock achievements to earn more points as well, helping you level up to earning those gift cards quicker.

Earn additional points by referring friends as well, and cash them n for the gift cards to Dunkin’ Donut, Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy, MasterCard prepaid gift cards, and more!

Learn more about Mobee now >


Punchcard

My wallet used to be full of half-punched loyalty cards from a bunch of different restaurants and coffee shops that I loved. With Punchcard, you no longer have to carry these around and can still earn rewards.

This app works at a ton of major retailers and restaurants, including: Target, Subway, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, McDonald’s, CVS, 7-Eleven, Chili’s, Vons, Chipotle, Safeway, Best Buy, Banana Republic, Chevron, and more!

Punch, spin and win points with every purchase, then use them to get gift cards, contest entries or give them away as a charitable donation.

Some businesses that participate in Punchcard see that you’re a loyal customer and offer rewards, coupons, or offers directly to you as well!

Learn about Punchcard now >


Whether you’re at the store or shopping from the comfort of your home, there’s an app or website to help you save money.

While not every app fits everyone, make sure to give each one a try for at least a couple of weeks before you throw in the towel. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save with apps like Ibotta and Shopkick!

Have you used any of the cash back apps or rebate sites to help save cash? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Billionaire Blog Club Review: Is It Worth It?

Is the Billionaire Blog Club Worth the Investment?

Updates to the Billionaire Blog Club (11/13/18)

This is the last week you can buy a lifetime membership to absolutely everything in DTC (Courses, Journeys, secret Scrivscasts, etc) for $447.

On Monday (11/19), the price will jump  $102 to $549. By then there will be a new Journey started (Your First 1,000 Subscribers) and two new courses starting to trickle out (Affiliate Marketing and Sales Funnels).

Slide in at the $447 price before the price goes up or you have to buy the courses individually. Doors to BBC/DTC are officially open again!

Update on 10/5/18: The Billionaire Blog Club (BBC) has now officially become Dare to Conquer (DTC)!

So what in the world is DTC?

Dare to Conquer is a new, holistic approach to not only building a blog, but creating an online business from the ground up. Rather than focusing on individual chunks (like SEO or Pinterest), DTC will help you to create a strong business foundation to build up on.

Currently, Paul Scrivens is updating the courses in chunks and spurts to reflect all the changes that have been going on. So far, the Pinterest course has been completed and SEO is partly updated.

Looking through the Pinterest course, I see a lot of new content. No more Boardbooster (RIP), but there’s an entire module dedicated to Tailwind – pinning strategies, statistics, and tribes, as well as more.

Paul also has plans to create a brand new, online business from scratch and let us watch how it’s done. This is from his latest email:

You ever notice that Facebook Groups have a weird panic trickle down effect? If one person sees something going wrong then that must mean everyone is seeing something going wrong.

It’s why I never say “this is the exact way or the only way to do something”. I show you and tell you what I’ve experienced through my own work on my own sites. That’s why I’m comfortable teaching what I teach but I also know that things change. It’s why you always get lifetime access to my courses. It’s why I always experiment.

I don’t want you to be a cynic about everything that you read, but I do want you to question things until you understand why they are happening. Way too many of you take things at face value right away and it’s why you are scared to experiment. This whole business thing is YOUR JOURNEY and that means YOU HAVE TO DO THE LEARNING.

The reality is that almost nobody expects you to succeed because the outside world doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do. That means you’re playing with house money. This Monday (don’t worry you’ll get an email) I’m going to start my path to a 7-figure business.

The journey is going to be a winding road that loops around. It won’t be a straight line because things change and evolve. Some of you won’t like it because it’s not a user manual for every single exact step you need to take to do this business thing. I don’t think those truly exist.

Slide in at the $447 price before the price goes up or you have to buy the courses individually. Doors to BBC/DTC are officially open again!

 

Update 7/24/18: If you are interested in signing up for the Billionaire Blog Club, it’s undergoing a huge change next month. Paul sent this in an email today:

The soul of BBC isn’t disappearing, it’s just moving to a new domain because the word “blog” is too limiting. It limits your mindset. It limits your strategy. It limits your revenue.

You’ll be able to buy courses on an individual basis with the idea being that the basics to help you get started (Pinterest, SEO, etc) are more affordable than the more advanced courses (branding, product creation, sales funnels) that will take you to the next level. Essentially, as your revenue grows, you can continue to scale up the Momo course list.

Purchasing now also gets you lifetime access to the Slack community which is the gem of the Internet. You’ll also be able to purchase access to the community without purchasing a course but you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Courses that will be inside of Momo when it officially launches:

  • Pinterest
  • SEO
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Building Your Tribe / Growing Your List
  • Niche Selection
  • Building a Brand You Love
  • Creating Sales Funnels
  • Product Creation & Launch
  • Running a Service-Based Business
  • Using Facebook Ads
  • Ultimate Webinars
  • Amazon Kindle Publishing Success
  • Killer Content Creation
  • Google Analytics

Hopefully you understand why buying everything will cost you over $2,999 now. Every single course is being built from the ground up.

This doesn’t even go into the other features that are going into DTC. My goal is to help you get closer to your dream every single day so when the time is right you can jump into the DTC ecosystem.

 

Bloggers are often seeking out the next best course or ebook to boost their blogging game. Every blogging Facebook group has members asking for advice, reviews and feedback about different courses. Often found at the top of this list is request for a Billionaire Blog Club review and feedback.

I joined the Billionaire Blog Club, or the BBC as members refer to it, in December 2017. I was looking for a new Pinterest strategy to help boost my pageviews.

The BBC is run by a man named Paul Scrivens, who successfully runs a multitude of blogs in different niches. His blog topics include health and wellness, personal finance, beauty/fashion, and motherhood, just to name a few.

After reviewing several ebooks and courses, I decided to opt for the BBC due to the variety of content that was available. I liked that one price got me a lifetime membership to multiple courses and the Slack community, unlike the singular courses and ebooks that I knew I would not be likely to go back to. This would be a resource I could use daily.

I began by signing up for the free 12 day bootcamp email series to see if I liked the format, the way information was presented, and if I liked Paul’s personality and approach.

Want to know if the Billionaire Blog Club lives up to the hype? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #review

The 12 Day Blogging Bootcamp Email Series

I’m annoyingly tight with my money, so I wasn’t just going to cough up my hard earned cash by reading a couple of sales pages. I decided to start my journey by signing up for the free 12 day bootcamp series.

My blog has been up and running since July 2017, so I was past the majority of the information provided in the email series. A lot of it deals with the initial steps needed to get a blog up and running.

I was able to pull some new tidbits, tips and tricks from the emails that I hadn’t run into before. But what I liked even more was Paul’s bluntness in his emails.

He began, in the very first email, admitting that his goal was to convert me from a subscriber to a customer. And I appreciate that. He says that he doesn’t sugarcoat things, and that’s absolutely true.

What I’ve come to find is that blogging is a business. You can find people who are “yes men” and take your money, all the while agreeing with everything all the time.

Or you can find those rare folks that know it’s not about agreeing or pacifying others; it’s about being honest, treating your blog as a business, and doing what it takes to set it on the right path to succeed.

This refreshing perspective found in the email series drove me to eventually sign on for the full Billionaire Blog Club membership. While honesty can sometimes ding your pride just a bit, I feel it’s worth it in the long run to build a successful blog and business.

What is Billionaire Blog Club?

The Billionaire Blog Club is refreshingly different from any other courses, ebooks, or Facebook groups I’ve had the privilege to partake in. This is what makes it so unique:

First and foremost, it’s a community.

The BBC has a Slack community tied to it. If you’ve never used Slack, think of an IM app or chatroom that has categories. Members can post questions in the various threads (SEO, Pinterest, General, etc.) and other members can answer.

What makes this a unique feature is that Paul is generally in there all the time. If you need to ask him directly, you can reference him in your message and he’ll answer quickly.

I’ve used this to not only ask him questions directly, but to bounce ideas off of the other members. Bloggers from all levels of experience and backgrounds are present, making it an amazingly diverse and knowledgeable group.

The BBC is a resource center.

Think of a giant library of all of your blogging resources. Then triple it, and you’ll have the BBC’s resources. At the time of this writing, there are 123 lessons spread over 9 courses:

  • SEO
  • Boardbooster Masterclass
  • Niche Selection
  • Pinterest
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Intro to Email Marketing
  • Google Analytics
  • WordPress
  • Content Creation

Each of these courses are comprised of lessons with videos. You are able to not only understand the content behind them, but you get real life examples in different blogging niches to help you apply them.

It’s an all-in-one strategic blogging resource.

Not only is the course content well thought out, it’s also easy to use to build a strategy.

For example, you learn how to find content ideas that will appeal to your audience. Then you learn how to search for keywords to use in your content, and build your SEO. Once the post is written, you apply design tactics to your Pinterest graphics, and strategically pin them to get the most traffic possible.

All of this creates a cohesive blogging strategy, helping you to build each article into a traffic magnet, creating a snowball effect.

Rather than just writing any old article idea that comes to mind, you learn to strategically pick topics that you know will build traffic, build readership, and ultimately build monetization.



What Makes Billionaire Blog Club Unique from other Courses

There are several pieces that make the BBC unique to any other blogging resources that can be found online:

Blogging Challenges:

For the month of February, Paul posted four challenges that we could choose to participate in:

  • Launching your blog and getting 10k pageviews
  • How to Reach $1,000 in revenue and beyond
  • How to gain your first 1000 subscribers
  • Creating your first paid product

Each of these challenges has a daily video with a blogging task associated it with. It’s a great way to break down big goals into smaller, more manageable bite sized chunks. Not to mention it’s a great motivator to reach for the next goal!

Community:

As I mentioned, the Slack community beats any blogging Facebook group, hands down. A large majority of members participate in discussions, and having access directly to Paul is worth its weight in gold.

Other BBC community perks include:

  • An exchange section where members can help each other with specific blogging tasks for community points.
  • A directory of all the members so you can message someone directly with questions.
  • A Pinterest Group Boards area where members can see open group boards owned by other members.

Paul’s experience in different niches.

One final piece that makes the BBC truly unique is Paul’s blogging experience and ability to analyze data. Rather than becoming a one-off blogger that specializes in one niche, Paul’s built successful blogs in multiple niches.

He’s also created a list of the niches that are most likely to make you money. Obviously some are easier to monetize than others, and he’s able to tell you what’s worked for him in specific instances, rather than in just one niche.

This gives him real world experience in the majority of niches and can tell you what’s really worked for him in that particular niche, rather than a blanket statement that might not apply to all niches. And he tells you what the best type of blog to start or best blog subjects that make money in because he wants you to succeed.



What I Love about the BBC

Videos. Lots and lots of videos.

I am a visual person. You tell me about something, I might be able to do it. You physically show me it? I’ve got it down pat.

I hate the lack of interaction with ebooks and some courses. With the BBC, I can see a descriptive video of Paul’s Pinterest or SEO strategy and apply it.

Slack and how easy it is to reach Paul.

I love the ability to ask questions and get direct responses from Scrivs. I can also email him directly and he answers quickly. The personalized response is awesome and I love that I know it’s specific to my situation, because he actually reads and responds to my specific situation.

I like mastermind groups.

I am a big fan of mastermind groups. The Slack community is similar to a mastermind group without the weekly structure of calls. If you want accountability, the members will volunteer to give it to you. If you want support, you’ve got it. You need tough love? They’re in. You need a more experience blogger to give you feedback? They’re there and participating.

It’s all encompassing, unlike one-off courses.

I truly have been able to understand and create a strategy for my blog. Previously, I was just writing about whatever topic I could think of every week. Now, I have a strategy for the long game.

What I Dislike about The Billionaire Blog Club

I’m not going to be one of those bloggers that just blow smoke and hope you’ll go with it. There are pieces of the BBC that I find difficult to keep up with. In keeping honest, these are the pieces of the BBC that I struggle with:

I don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with Slack.

Just like with Facebook groups, I check into Slack when I have a spare ten minutes every couple of days with the app on my phone. I just don’t have the bandwidth to read all the comments, all day long. And that’s ok.

I know that if I need to find something, I can use the search function to see if anyone’s discussed the question I have previously, or if I should ask again.

This does mean that I miss out on some of the comradery of Slack. I’m also an introvert, so putting myself out there on Slack can be a little difficult as well, but I’ve gotten over it.

While I’m not in on the daily banter, I do pop in on occasion to either catch up or post a question. Luckily Slack notifies me if I’ve been tagged in a comment.

All of the courses, challenges and community can be information overload.

With so many courses and so much information, it can be overwhelming at first, not knowing where to start.

A large majority of the courses almost intertwine, so it’s not super clear which to start first. Obviously, it’s going to depend on your particular situation. There are general path suggestions in the course instructions, and you can always adjust as you need to.

The amount of information can be overwhelming, but it’s really just up to you as a blogger to figure out what your weak spots are and prioritize them, so you can get them knocked out.

How the BBC has helped my blog game

I finally have a strategy and an overarching game plan.

I know what I need to do, I have a direction, and I have the tools to do it. Now it’s just a matter of me following through, and doing those steps over and over with each post I create.

I know which blogging activities that are worth my time, effort and energy.

Previously, I did so many blogging activities that just weren’t moving the ball forward. They weren’t increasing traffic or income, and they were sucking up so much time. Now that I have a better understanding of what really drives traffic and creates revenue, I have a better understanding of what tasks are going to get me there. And where to spend my time, effort, and energy.

I know how to apply this data to my specific niche.

Other courses and ebooks are generally written by bloggers that major in one particular niche. What works for one niche might not work for another. Rather than risk disappointment, I know that the methods tried by Paul apply to my niche specifically. And if not, I know how to test new ideas out to see if they will work or not for my niche as well.

If I can’t figure something out, I know who to ask.

Rather than posting in a blogging Facebook group and risking tons of random answers, I know I can go right to the source. If I don’t want to ask Paul specifically, I know which other BBC members are in my niche or have more experience than me and can provide feedback.

I’ve learned SEO, upped my Pinterest game, and know how to analyze my Google Analytics to see what’s causing traffic spikes or drops.

I’ve learned to get the hang of my data and utilize it to figure out what’s working – and what’s not – for my blog. I’ve not only picked up things like how to search for keywords, but I understand how to apply them and what makes a good keyword for my blog specifically.

I’ve learned patience.

Maybe it’s just getting more experience under my belt, but I’m learning to have more patience when it comes to blogging. I am understanding that traffic ebbs and flows, and there are seasons to Pinterest. I’ve learned to give new practices some time, and only then, to try and adjust them so that I can make the most of my time and effort.



My verdict on Billionaire Blog Club

Would I sign up for BBC again? Absolutely. The Billionaire Blog Club not only gives me all the knowledge I need to achieve my goals, but Paul is constantly updating the information and videos.

Unlike a singular course, it’s constantly being updated to reflect new information, and I’m able to access data that entails every aspect of blogging that any blogger needs from start to finish. No matter where you’re at on the blogging path, it’s clear that the Billionaire Blog Club is a great and inexpensive way to boost your blogging game.

Interested in joining the Billionaire Blog Club? Join here or sign up for the 12 day blogging bootcamp here.



Want to know if the Billionaire Blog Club community is worth the cost? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #review #bbcreview

Want to know if the Billionaire Blog Club lives up to the hype? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #review

Super Easy Money Saving Challenge With Free Printables

Super easy money saving challenge + free printable

Beginning a money saving challenge is a great way to kickstart any of your financial goals. Whether your emergency fund needs pumped up, it’s vacation time, or one of the kids needs braces, having a padded savings fund is key to avoiding any new debt.

Can you imagine coming back from a weeklong vacation in Maui? Now, can you imagine coming back from a weeklong vacation in Maui…without credit card debt?

Have you ever been able to take a vacation without having to throw it all on a credit card? If not, do you have any idea how much you’ve paid in interest for that vacation, long after your tan (or burn, if you’re me) is gone?

This is why it’s important to set money savings goals. Without them, we’d be paying for those vacations (or braces, or emergencies) ten times over before everthing’s said and done. Having savings goals means never having to say, “Charge it!”

The best thing you can do is learn how to save money the right way, so that you can break the cycle of debt once and for all. Next, I’ll cover four types of money saving challenges and how each can help you acheive your financial goals.

Not sure how to find the best way to save money? Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks with these free, printable worksheets! #money #savings #savingmoney #personalfinance

The Four Major Types of Money Savings Challenges

In my research, I’ve found that there are four major types of money saving challenges. Some are more passive ways to save that will slowly build up and that change will be less likely to be miss.

Others are much more aggressive savings strategies that require being very proactive with your money. While these are more difficult, they also reap a much bigger reward.

Money Savings Challenge #1: Save by Type of Cash or a Percentage of Your Income

These types of challenges are smaller and tend to be easier. A popular one is to put aside 10% of your income every paycheck, prior to paying your bills. This is often referred to as “paying yourself first”.

If you use and spend cash, there are a lot that involve saving different types of currency, such as saving all your $5 bills for the year. Keeping all your dimes. These savings methods are easy to do and the outcome can vary wildly depending upon what type of change you receive throughout the year.

Some additional examples include:

  • Save any $5 bills received
  • Save all of your dimes in a two liter soda bottle, which equals approximately $700
  • A year long penny challenge, in which you save one penny on day one, two pennies on day two, etc. You’ll have saved $667.95 at the end of the year.
  • Automatically move 10% of every paycheck into savings before you pay any bills

And so on. You get the drift. There’s a ton of different money saving challenges on Pinterest for easy, small money challenges such as these. Check out 37 Easy Money Challenges to Help Smash your Financial Goals for even more ideas.

Money Savings Challenge #2: Save by Using a Financial App

There are several great financial apps that can help you round up your spare change on purchases to put money aside. Heck, even some credit card companies offer these services as well.

The key is that once again you’re passively saving by pushing very small amounts into an account without realizing they’re gone. You’re not feeling the sting, since it’s always less then 5 or 6 dollars.

Acorns is a very well known and trusted financial app that can help you easily shuffle your extra cash around. Spare change can be rounded up from purchases and recurring investments set up. You can easily set up an IRA and Acorns handles all the investing and rebalancing of your funds.

Even better, you can earn as you shop. Acorns has partnered with over 200 Found Money partners that will automatically invest in your Acorns account every time you shop there. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! Learn more about the Acorns investing app here.

Money Savings Challenge #3: Do a No Spend Challenge

Here’s where the challenges stop being passive, and start to become very hands on. A no spend challenge is a period of time – say a week, two or a month – in which you proactively decide not to spend money.

For your no spend challenge, you set up rules and exceptions, such as you can purchase gas, but not groceries and much use this time to clean out the fridge and pantry.

At the end of the challenge, all of the money you would have spent goes into your savings. It’s another quick way to jumpstart your savings or create breathing room when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

For more no spend challenge ideas, check out:

Money Savings Challenge #4: Creating an Intentional Money Savings Challenge

What do I mean by an intentional money savings challenge? I mean that you set specifics and define a goal.

Do you want to do a 30 day money saving challenge? Is it biweekly? Is your goal to save $5,000 or $10,000 in 52 weeks? Or is that too long, and you prefer a save $5,000 in 26 weeks?

Whether you want to save $10 or $10,000, you need to set solid, achievable goals. Without details like an end date or an amount to strive for, that money can easily blow away and get spent on small, throw away items that aren’t helping you reach the next step.

This money saving challenge is the most aggressive of the four. But with the hard work and sweat of pushing yourself, you earn the greatest reward.

Money Saving Challenge Printables

I’ve created some free money saving challenge printables to help you not only plan your savings challenge, but to help you execute it.

While these money saving challenge printables are geared towards helping you save $1,000 in 12 weeks, it can easily be changed to match any time period or amount of savings. Some other popular money saving challenges are:

  • 52 week money saving challenge, saving anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000
  • 26 week money saving challenge, usually geared towards saving $5,000
  • 90 day / 3 month / 12 weeks savings challenge to save $1,000 – $3,000

Once again, this is all dependent on what your needs are and what your timeline is like. Download your free money saving challenge printables here:

Download Your Savings Worksheet Now!

Build your $1000 savings in just 12 weeks!

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A Step-By-Step Walkthrough of a 3 Month / $1,000 Money Saving Challenge

The first step to breaking the debt cycle is to build up a $1000 emergency fund. It’s also very important to learn to cash flow, or save for, other expenses such as vacations, medical costs, or car repairs before you need it.

While your personal money saving goals will vary, we’ll be using a 12 week, $1,000 saving example to walk through setting up your challenge.

Why You Need to Have at Least $1,000 Savings

We can plan all we want, but there are always unexpected expenses that pop up. Whether it’s medical, a wedding we’ve been invited to, or car issues, you can bet they’re going to show up at the worst times.

It’s not a matter of IF financial roadbumps come up, it’s a matter of WHEN.

The easiest way to stay out of debt when these roadblocks hit is to have some savings in place. I suggest having a $1000 emergency fund. $1000 is enough to cover your deductible for house issues as well as most medical issues.

Getting Started Saving Money

Now that you have your printables to help you learn how to save money, it’s time to get started saving!

Step 1: Find your motivation to Save.

It’s important to know your motivations for saving. Is your ultimate goal to be debt free, but you’re lacking an emergency fund? Do you want to take your family on vacation this year? Are you expecting a baby, or think you’ll need dental work?

No matter what the reason, take the time to figure out why you’re doing this. It’ll help you to stay motivated when things get tough.

Visual reminders are great as well – so make sure to use the saving tracker, as well as pictures of what you’re working toward to help with motivation.

Without figuring out why you’re doing the challenge, you’re much more likely to fall off the financial wagon and whip out that credit card at the next big sale you walk past.

Having a specific goal, amount and timeline really help to motivate and create drive. Which in turns makes it much, much more likely that you hit your financial target!

Step 2: Set Your SMART Goal.

As you decide on what you’d like your goal to be, remember to use the SMART method:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Action Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

To build a $1000 savings in 12 weeks, you’ll need to save $83 a week. That’s just shy of $12 a day.

Let’s create an example goal. Rather than, I want to save $1000, let’s make it SMART:

I want to create a $1000 emergency fund by saving $83 a week for the next 12 weeks.

This goal is very specific: it has a measurement of time and debt amount, it includes an action, and it’s realistic and has a time limit.

You’re much more likely to be successful at saving $1000 if you break your goals down into smaller sprints, such as one or two weeks chunks, or even a month.

Decide how you want to break your savings up and write it down on your worksheet.

Step 3: Track Your Current Spending.

In order to get started saving you need to know where your money is currently going.

I know – a lot of people think tracking spending is a bore and a snore. I get it. But unless you can see where the money is most likely to leak out of your account (I’m looking at you, coffeeshops!), then you can stop the flow.

Saving money is going to take identifying needs and wants, and seeing where you can trim back.

If you don’t already use an expenses tracking software like ynab.com or mint.com, now’s a great time to start. It can help you look back over the past 2 – 3 months and gauge your spending.

Step 4: Create a budget.

Now that you see where your money is going, you need to make some decisions on where to make cuts. This is where a budget comes in handy. It’s an easy way to play with the numbers and see where it makes the most sense to trim your spending.

I can recommend this zero based budget that we’ve used to pay off more than $26,619+ in the past 19 months!

You want to trim your spending so that you’re able to hit that SMART goal that you created in the previous step. Next, I’ll give you some ideas on how to do just that.

The Best Ways to save Money

Now that you have your goal and budget in hand, this is where you need to get creative! There are only two ways to find money:

Spend less or earn more.

Sounds simple, I know, but it’s not always easy to keep consistent with it.  I’ve written a lot of in-depth articles about each. I prefer to do a little of both, so that I don’t feel like I’m being deprived by cutting too much, and I’m still able to meet my SMART financial goals.

How to Trim Expenses:

How to Earn More Money:

What to Do with Your Savings

Now that you’ve started your savings, how do you keep from accidentally spending it?

The best approach is to create a separate savings account. This new account can be linked to your regular accounts, but I really suggest keeping them in a place where it’s not as easy to access.

I also highly recommend automating the transfers to the savings account, so that you don’t forget and spend it.

For example, we have a savings account for my quarterly tax payments. Our checking is with a local bank, and this particular savings account is with CapitalOne. The monthly payments are automated so that they get taken out of checking at the beginning of every month.

If I need to access that money, it takes a couple of days to transfer back to my checking. It’s easy to set it and forget it – which means there’s no chance of accidentally spending it!

I highly recommend setting up your budget at the beginning of the month and immediately moving whatever extra you have into savings. If you don’t pay yourself first by putting your savings into a separate account, it will get bites taken out of it until it’s half of what it should be.

I’ve Hit my Savings Goal – Now What?

Saving for 12 weeks is long enough to have created a new “normal” for yourself and for your spending. You’ve adjusted to the new budget, and you’ve hit your goal. Now what?

The absolute best idea is to keep riding your momentum and continue your money saving challenge! Either keep saving, or begin paying off your debt, depending on where you’re at on the path to financial freedom.

Saving up $1000 is pretty easy if you have a plan and break it into manageable chunks. These tips to save money and printable worksheets will help to get your savings on schedule. Once you’re on track, you’ll find it easier every day to keep going until you hit your goal!

Bonus: When Should I use my Emergency Fund?

One of the biggest questions I get is “what’s the difference between an emergency fund and sinking funds?” (Don’t worry – I had no idea what sinking funds were a couple of years ago!)

Knowing the difference between sinking funds and an emergency fund will help you to understand when it’s actually a legit reason to break into your emergency fund.

The short explanation is that an emergency fund is for actual emergencies, like medical issues or an unscheduled car issue. Basically, anything you can’t really plan ahead for.

Sinking funds are a savings account that’s for those irregular expenses that you know are coming: yearly HOA fees, quarterly tax payments, or your car registration. Items that don’t happen monthly, but you know they’re coming.

Once you’ve saved up your emergency fund, begin to save your sinking funds next so you aren’t spending your emergency fund by accident. Learn more about emergency funds versus sinking funds, and why you need both.

What amount and length of time are you thinking of using for your money saving challenge? Are you going big and tackling a 52 week money challenge, or starting out a bit smaller? Let me know in the comments below!

Download Your Savings Worksheet Now!

Build your $1000 savings in just 12 weeks!

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Not sure how to find the best way to save money? Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks with these free, printable worksheets! #money #savings #savingmoney #personalfinance

Struggling to save money? Try a money saving challenge and grab these free money savings challenge printables. Get your $1000 savings built in just 12 weeks! #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney #moneysavingchallenge
Can't seem to figure out how to save money? Use these free printable savings worksheets to get you on the right track! Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks. #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney
Even if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can still save your $1000 emergency fund in just 12 weeks. Use these free printable savings worksheets to get started! #debt #money #emergencyfund

How to Make Money Online: 50+ Brilliant Ways to Make Money Before Christmas

How to Make Money Online: 50+ Brilliant Ways to Make Money Before Christmas

Everywhere you turn, there’s a million articles showing us how to make money online as well as working from home. But a large majority of them are either scams, involve an insane amount of dedication to earn pennies, or you have to pay start-up fees.

Yeah, no thanks.

As we’re nearing the end of paying off our debt, we’ve trimmed back our budget as much as possible. Since we can’t find additional places to save, we have to figure out how to earn more in order to keep the debt snowball growing.

Which is all fine and dandy, but we both have full-time jobs. And two kids. And a household to run, activities to shuttle kids to, and – gasp! – want two seconds to sit on our duffs and relax. Crazy, I know.

Whether you're looking to make money before Christmas or pay off your debt, here’s the ultimate list of how to m ake money online. #christmas #money #sidehustle

I’ve freelanced and done side hustles since I graduated college in 1998. Maybe it’s the introvert in me (of course it is!), but the idea of going out and picking up a second job at Tim Horton’s or Macy’s or anything involving customer service makes me cringe. (Plus, I’d spend my paycheck on donuts and coffee, no question.)

I much prefer to earn extra money online, rather than picking up a second job at a store or office. This means that I usually end up doing freelance work as a web designer or developer, along with several other easier options listed below.

But what if you don’t have those skillsets, or the time to learn them? There are still plenty of legit ways to make money online, and still have time to relax in the evenings.

Whether you’re looking to make money before Christmas or pay off your debt, here’s the ultimate list of how to make money online. These make money at home jobs are grouped from easiest to most time consuming:

How to Make Money Online Fast

You can make money online fast with these. Though, one note to remember is that the easier something is, the less you’re make at it.

Survey Sites and Rewards Programs

Survey sites usually fall into one of two categories: either you just do surveys, or there are a variety of activities you can do to earn cash. The latter usually includes anything from watching videos, taking surveys, filling out forms, clicking through links in emails sent, to playing games. These are the best company to check out those make money at home surveys:

  • Swagbucks is a great way to grab some extra cash while watching TV in the evenings or during some down time. It pays you for a variety of activities, including surveys, watching videos and signing up for different offers. I’ve done some in-home surveys through here that turned out to be pretty fun!
  • InboxDollars is very similar to Swagbucks as far as the activities involved. I felt like I made more on Swagbucks, but this is a nice alternative to try out as well.
  • Springboard America emails you when there are surveys available that match your profile. I really liked using this to earn gift cards, because it cuts down the possibility of not qualifying for the surveys, so you’re wasting less of your time. I like that it pays out both via gift card and Paypal.
  • Survey Junkie is very similar to Springboard America. You can pre-qualify for surveys as well as dig through a large inventory of them available. Points that are earned can be redeemed for gift cards as well as Paypal.
  • Vindale Research is different in that it has high paying surveys, which other survey sites generally don’t. You earn cash, not points with them, and can redeem by check or Paypal. Survey topics include sports, new technology, travel, shopping, health & beauty, restaurants, and home improvement, to name a few.
  • Survey Club is a fun site where you can sign up to be matched with available studies in your area. The studies include surveys, focus groups, phone interviews, and even daily polls. There’s an opportunity for a lot of variety here, and having done focus groups, I can say they’re actually fun. Earnings are paid out via PayPal, Amazon gift cards, or check.
  • MyPoints is a rewards site where you can earn points by shopping online, taking surveys, watching videos, reading email, and more.
  • Pinecone Research primarily involves doing online surveys, though they occasionally do in-home product testing and panels as well. Points can be cashed out through Paypal, check, a prepaid VISA, or you can use them to shop for products.

Sell unused gift cards to a site like Raise.com.

Raise.com is an awesome website where users can sell their old gift cards at the price that they set. They can be discounted up to 30% by the seller. On top of that, Raise.com runs specials that discount some cards even further. Amazing, right?

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking – used gift cards, yikes! But before you jump ship, hear me out. The great part is that Raise.com has a 1 year guarantee for any card purchased. If it doesn’t show up (physical card), has less available than expected, or any other problem, you just contact them within a year of purchase and they’ll replace it. Easy peasy!

More importantly, there are no fees, sales tax, processing or shipping fees ever. So the price you see is the price you pay, period.

Use Ebates, Swagbucks, and TopCashBack on purchases.

  • Ibotta is an app that gives rebates for everything from groceries to alcohol to booking a hotel room. They’ve recently overhauled the app and have expanded the stores you can submit receipts from, including some online! To use ibotta, you just unlock the rebates you want after purchasing them, scan their barcodes, and submit images of your receipt. It’s that easy! Get $10 for just for signing up!
  • Ebates is a great cashback program for online purchases. There’s even a browser plugin so that every time you visit a site that gives cashback through Ebates, it alerts you to both rebates as well as discount codes for that site. Ebates offer rebates on a large variety of stores, and has recently included the ability to register your credit card so that your purchases in certain offline stores count as well!
  • TopCashback is very similar to Ebates and works well. It does take a little longer to get your rebates back, but they offer some great rebates. I usually check both sites to see which I can get the higher rebate back from before I make any online purchases.

Install Apps on Your Phone to Earn Money

  • Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel will pay you $50 to install an app on your iPhone. Just install it and that’s it! The app measures your activity on your phone, tablet or other mobile device. The app won’t affect performance or battery life, and rewards include sweepstakes entries and cash, depending on how long you stay with them.
  • Google Screenwise Panel helps Google to understand trends in mobile and web usage. They then use that data to improve their products. You get paid per week that you have the extension installed on your browser, and can cash out your earnings for e-gift cards.

Side Hustles with a Qualification Process

These ways to make money online involved more than just creating an login; you have to go through an actual entry process. However, they might be a bit more work in the beginning, but they also pay more without a ton of commitment. 

Website Testing

  • Usertesting.com is a great way to earn money testing websites. You can easily complete the majority of tests in 15 minutes, and get paid $10 a test. You must submit a test review in order to get approved, but once you complete this, you’ll get emails when tests are available. Earnings are paid out exactly 1 week from when you uploaded your test. You’ll need a microphone in order to complete tests, as it records your voice and screen.
  • Whatusersdo is another website testing company that pays $5 a test. Again, you’ll need a microphone and to download their screen recorder. Upon submitting a test recording and getting approved, you can start earning. Earnings are paid out once a month on the 25th.
  • Enroll is unique in that it’s test are quick, such as deciding which logo you like better or clarifying content. You can take tests from any device, and will get paid through Paypal.
  • UserFeel lets you earn $10 for each test which lasts about 10 – 20 minutes. You’ll need to submit a qualification test to get approved. Payments are made through Paypal or Payoneer.
  • TryMyUI pays $10 for each approximately 20 minute test. Payments are sent out every Friday once tests are reviewed and cleared by their graders. 

Online Juror

If you’re a big fan of crime shows, you’ll love this. You can get paid to review legal cases from your home and provide feedback via an online questionnaire. You’ll be a mock juror and will help attorneys figure out how to try their cases. Online Verdict is one of several online juror websites that you can try out!

Data Entry

There are a ton of data entry work from home jobs available. Upwork is a great site for finding data entry, along with a ton of other freelance positions.

Sell Your Photography to Stock Photography Sites

Whether or not you’re a professional photographer, there are a lot of opportunities to sell your photos online to make some money. Payment is usually based per purchase/download of your photo. Some of my favorite stock photography sites are: iStockPhoto.com, Fotolia, and Deposit Photos.

Resume & Cover Letter Writing

I cannot describe how much I hate editing resume and writing cover letters. I’ve done this so many times in my life, and yet, I can’t seem to make my resume flashy enough, no matter how hard I try. I know I’d pay for a service like this, not to mention millions of other people!

Amazon MTurk

Amazon MTurk is a site where you get paid for performing simple micro-tasks. You do things like process images, data verification and clean-up, information gathering and data processing. The tasks are listed, and you choose which you want to complete. The longer the task, the greater the payout.

Sell Your Own T-Shirts (or Bags, or Mugs)

Merch by Amazon allows you to sell your own designs without any upfront costs. You create and upload your design, set your price, and Amazon handles the printing and shipping of what you sell. You earn monthly royalties based on your sales, and all without having to invest in product! Another similar alternative site is teespring.com.

Creating an Online Business

If you’re going to invest the time into earning money at home with these side gigs, chances are you could look into making them a full-time career eventually.

Transcription, Translation, and Captioning Services

Rev.com offers a variety of services, including transcription, translation and captioning. You can choose your own schedule, projects, and get paid weekly. You’re considered a freelancer, but work with a team to grow your skillset. Pay varies based on abilities and role:

  • Transcriptionist: $0.40 – $0.65 per audio minute
  • Captioner: $0.40 – $0.75 per video minute
  • Translator: $0.05 – $0.07 per word

Search Engine Evaluator / Internet Analyst

Leapforce offers a variety of freelance positions, including search engine evaluator and Internet analyst. They required more work hours than other side gigs, but also pay a bit more per hour. You have to go through a qualification process, and knowing additional languages is a plus. There are no set hours, and their positions are flexible so you’re able to work around your personal life.

Proofreading & Copy Writing

If you’re a writer-at-heart, there’s lot of copy that needs written or proofing. You can work for anyone from bloggers to large companies all from the comfort of your couch.

Become a Blogger

I do not suggest this lightly. At all. Blogging is a ton of hard work, but once you start hitting your goals, it’s amazing. Check out my resources page to see what programs and blogging tools I recommend.

Pinterest VA

Both bloggers and companies often hire virtual assistants to help with their Pinterest accounts. Being a Pinterest VA does require some online courses, but the pay is worthwhile. You can easily build a business out of spending your day on Pinterest for several clients!

Social Media Manager

Like a Pinterest VA, companies pay to have someone handle their social media accounts. Often, being a social media manager means writing content, setting goals, SEO and developing brand awareness.

Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is selling someone else’s product and receiving a fraction of the sale. There are several different ways you can do affiliate marketing, but the easiest is through Pinterest or your own website/blog. With Pinterest, you can create a pin that links directly to the offer. There’s a lot of ins and outs, but also a ton of affiliate programs out there. Start by promoting products you love to make it even easier.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant does anything from scheduling appointments and meetings to answering emails to creating presentations. The job duties, hours and pay vary greatly depending on each position, but at least you know it wouldn’t be boring!

Website Design & Development

With the evolution of HTML, CSS, and CMS setups, website design and development is becoming easier and easier. CMS systems such as WordPress allows you to launch a website in hours, complete with the bells and whistles. Even with minimal knowledge, you can easily get paid to set up websites for others.

Etsy Seller

Etsy provides a great platform for designers, crafters and the like to sell their products through their online store platform. If you already create products, but are struggling to reach the right audience, Etsy might be the perfect platform for you!

Bookkeeping

Companies big and small need bookkeepers. If you already know how to run books, you’ll have no trouble finding work. A lot of the positions online are looking for hourly freelancers with experience working in Quicken or Quickbooks.

Start a YouTube Channel or Podcast

It is impressive how many people are creating their own income by running a YouTube channel or podcast. If you’re not shy about being in front of a camera or microphone, creating a videos or a podcast can lead to some big earnings.

Become an Online Teacher

VIPKid is a company that provides international learning to Chinese children. It is one-on-one language and content classes, done from the comfort of your home to theirs. The qualification process can be tough, and a large majority of applicants don’t get approved. But if you make it past the enrollment process, the pay is great and hours are flexible.

Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA is a fulfillment service that you can use when you sell your products through their site. You send your products to Amazon, which they store at their fulfillment centers. When one of your listings sells, they pick, pack and ship the product for you, cutting out the extra work for you.

Some entrepreneurs are able to “flip” products by finding them discounted or on closeout, and then resell them through Amazon FBA. Learn more about Amazon FBA here.

Online Customer Service Rep

There are a ton of customer service jobs online, everything from answering inbound calls to online chats. Often the hours are flexible and the pay scale can vary, based on each company’s requirements.

Websites to Find Online Side Hustles

These are the best website to find work at home jobs:

No matter what your commitment length or skillset, there’s a way for you to make money online. You just have to figure out what works best with your schedule, and how much time and how big of a learning curve you want to commit to.

I suggest mixing it up between two or three methods, so that if one dries up, you’re still able to make side money in another way. Plus, it’s a great way to keep from getting bored! Remember, every little bit of income helps with debt repayment!

Love this? Check out these articles on  Shortcuts to Finding the Perfect Side Hustle Fast or The Ultimate List of Best Side Hustles that Aren’t MLMs!

Do you have a suggestion on how to make money online that I haven’t mentioned? Adds yours in the comments below!

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Unique & Cheap Christmas Gifts Everyone Will Love

Unique and cheap Christmas gifts everyone will love

Giving cheap Christmas gifts doesn’t mean buying ugly, junky presents. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

via GIPHY

It just takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts that fit into your budget and the gift receiver will love. With some budgeting and planning, you can easily stick within your budget and still get that gift list checked off!

Why You Should Focus Your Gift List Around Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas

Everyone’s had that New Year’s hangover – I’m not just talking too much food and drinks, but too much holiday spending as well. You get caught up in the spirit of the holidays, end up buying waaaaay more than you intended, and come January’s credit card bill, your bank account is officially “hungover”.

Then the buyer’s remorse and belt tightening settle in, making for a painful start to the new year.

If you’re not convinced yet, here’s some gut-wrenching statistics out there on holiday overspending:

  1. 56% of Americans will take on new debt to pay for holiday gifts1
  2. 16% will take longer than 6 months to pay it off1
  3. 34% of parents will spend an average of $500 per child!1

The worst statistic I’ve read? 25% of parents are taking extreme measures such as withdrawing from 401ks, using emergency funds, or using payday loans to buy holiday gifts1.

When did it get like this? And how do we stop it?

It’s pretty clear we need to stop it before it starts by trimming down our spending for the holiday season.

Why not choose to start January off with financial peace rather than regret, worry and a HUGE credit card statement?

It takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts that fit into your budget. With some planning you can easily find something they'll love! #christmas #gifts #frugal #budgeting

How to be smart about what you spend on Christmas Gifts

We all love to celebrate and show our appreciation for one another through gifts. It’s an tradition as old as the first caveman dragging home extra loin cloths made especially for his cave family, right?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving Christmas gifts. However, it shouldn’t cause you panic or wrack up a huge amount of credit card debt that you pay a ton of interest on.

Start by listing out everyone you need to buy for. Don’t forget non-family members, like teachers, coaches, neighbors, coworkers, and your boss, to name a few.

Got your list? Great. Next, decide how much you want to spend on each person. Once you add that up, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed.

See if you can either trim your list or group people on your list into subcategories. That way you think of creating or buying gifts that apply to multiple people.

For example, instead of buying individual gifts for coworkers, why not bring in one gift to share, like a dessert tray? Everyone’s covered, it’ll be cheaper, and it’s less stress and work for you. Done and done!

While the average American family spends approximately $1,000 on Christmas, there are a lot of great cheap gift ideas that you can give that can help keep you from burning a hole in your credit card.

Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas Don’t have to mean…Being Cheap

Now it’s time to get creative. Just because you’re looking to trim your gift giving costs doesn’t mean you’re going to give everyone a stale fruitcake or some plastic cheap Christmas stuff.

Think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy creating, and what you know your loved ones (or boss) will enjoy.

The trick is to find something that you know they’ll appreciate and enjoy – whether it cost $1,000 or $10.

The Best Cheap Unique Gift Ideas

Spoiler Alert! Anyone and everyone would rather spend time with you and your loved ones than to get yet another trinket. The gift of time is so much more precious than we realize. However, that being said, here are some other cheap holiday gift ideas to consider as well if you still feel like you want to give a physical gift:

 

Give the gift of a homemade meal.

I know, food sounds too easy, but bear with me. The average American is so incredibly busy balancing work, kids and home duties that we all struggle to get a meal on the table. Especially a warm, yummy homemade one on a cold winter night, right?

Give the gift of a family dinner. Prepare their favorite meal in a freezer safe dish with instructions on how to heat it, and add bread and a dessert to make it a meal.

While you’re at it, double the recipe and throw one in the freezer for your family as well. It’s a total win-win for those crazy busy holiday nights when you don’t want to cook, right?

Don’t forget that everyone loves to receive cookies, breads and cakes as well. If you love to bake, now’s your chance to give them something made with love in a beautiful container.

Give the gift of free fun.

Invite your neighbors or friends with kids to meet up at the best sledding hill in the city. Host a cookie exchange, or better yet, use your kitchen as cookie baking central and let all your friends’ kids work on frosting skills.

My absolute favorite free holiday activity? Having a sleepover under the Christmas tree with my kids.

While none of us get much sleep, it feels very magical to be surrounded by all the beautiful lights and the excitement of the tree. Every year, my daughter tells me it’s her favorite and asks if we can do it again!

Give the gift of memories.

One of my favorite money saving ideas for the holidays is to give experiences. Think back to when you were a kid during the holidays. What sticks out to you the most? Was it stuff? Or was it specific memories of times you spend with grandparents, parents, siblings and extended family?

While I can remember some of our gifts, I mostly remember very specific outings with family members. Now that some of those family members are gone, those times are truly cherished memories.

This year, we’re treating my in-laws to a train ride instead of giving gifts. My father-in-law is a huge train buff, so I know they’ll love it. There’s an awesome Chinese lantern festival here in Columbus that we’re taking my parents to. We’ll also be able to take them to see the holiday lights at the zoo for free with our zoo pass.

It’s a win-win because we’re able to give these experiences as their gifts, and they’re also getting time with their grandkids.

Check out local websites to see what free or cheap holiday activities are available in your area and plan around them.

Some frugal outing ideas include:

  • Driving through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights
  • Caroling
  • Snowball fights
  • Sledding
  • Cookie Crawls (where businesses hand out cookies in an certain area, and you visit each one)
  • Take advantage of free activities at school, like visiting Santa
  • Look into your memberships for discounted activities, like seeing the Zoo Lights

Give them the gift of time.

We can all use a helping hand, but some of us are better at asking than others. Think about what your loved ones need most and make them an offer they cannot refuse!

Here’s the perfect unique Christmas gift idea: offer to do something they hate, so you can free up their time. Clean their gutters, help them with opening the pool next summer, or even babysit for free for date night. Trust me, they’ll love you for it!

Heck, even go so far as to make those funny coupons that they can cash in to make it official. Some other services to offer gift certificates for are:

  • Wash and detail their car
  • Pet sitting
  • Yardwork
  • Handyman services
  • Oil change
  • Run an errand for them that they hate to do

Give the gift of creativity and fun.

For all you DIY junkies who are itching to make something, now’s your chance to make unique fun gifts for cheap!

Scented bath salts, lotions and bath bombs are amazingly easy to make. Whip up a big batch, buy some beautiful reusable containers, and hand them out everyone on your list. Finding something that you can buy and produce in bulk can help save money as well as time.

Use your artistic talents (or whatever talents you may have) to make something you enjoy creating and they enjoy receiving. You can even get your kids in on the action by having them help create keepsake gifts such as ornaments. There are a ton of cute and creative ideas out on Pinterest using kid’s handprints.

Other great diy ideas for christmas gifts include:

  • Family photos in beautiful frames
  • Personalized mugs with coffee samples
  • Hand painted ornaments or home decor
  • Holiday cookies, cakes, or breads in pretty, reusable packaging
  • Hair bows, jewelry or keychains
  • Re-pot plant clippings from your garden
  • Sew clothes, towels, pot holders, or bags
  • Make bath items like bath bombs, body scrub, or soap
  • Create keepsakes with supplies and craft machines that you already have

Maybe you’re not that creative? Etsy has some cute and fun thank you printables for teachers, coaches, babysitters, and anyone else you can think of! They have cute little sayings that match up with a gift, like lip balm or a Hershey’s bar.

Once you make the purchase on Etsy, you’ll receive a PDF to download. Just add some nice stock paper to the printer, print it, cut it out, and attach to the gift. Easy, beautiful, and creative!

Also, don’t forget to check out Pinterest for homemade Christmas gift ideas.

Give the gift of a night with friends.

Looking for gifts ideas for friends? Host a holiday potluck and movie night with everyone in their best ugly Christmas sweaters. Make it BYOB and play your favorite fun Christmas movies. A great party for friends or family doesn’t have to be expensive and everyone can contribute.

Some other great frugal fun Christmas party ideas include:

  • Hallmark Movie night (Everyone loves those, right?)
  • Potluck
  • Cookie Exchange (or bake cookies together)
  • Decorate gingerbread houses
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Spend time together while wrapping presents
  • Host a Christmas scavenger hunt through your neighborhood
  • Play “Minute to Win It” style games that are holiday themed
  • Decorate ornaments together
  • Do Christmas crafts or make presents

Give the gift of cash (kind of!).

If you must give gift cards, go to Raise.com to purchase discounted gift cards for up to 20% off! They’re 100% guaranteed for a year with purchase protection and refunds, so you don’t have to worry about anything weird with the cards after purchase. Buy these discounted cards for stores you know you’ll shop at for the holidays to save money as well!

Another idea is to cash in those credit card points for gift cards. We use ours for gift cards to gas stations for so we can travel to see family. I’ve also cashed out those points to get gift cards for family members to their favorite restaurants.

You can also earn gift cards through sites like Swagbucks. Fill out surveys, watch videos, and do small tasks to earn points towards gift cards (or cash!). It’s easy enough to do while you’re watching TV to earn some cash every evening.

Give the gift of charity.

While this isn’t necessarily a gift to family or friends, we often find that the holidays are a great reminder to give to those who are less fortunate. However, sometimes we find ourselves struggling to donate the money we’d like to.

There are several ways you can still give without breaking the bank. It’s a perfect time of year to go through your clothes, toys and other household items to see what can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Winter items that kids have out grown but are still of good use would make a kid in need so happy, not to mention gently used toys as well.

Charities need people to physically help as well. Sign up to ring a bell in front of a store or serve up hot meals to the homeless. A coworker of mine would take his kids every Thanksgiving to work at a soup kitchen. I was awed at not only his devotion to helping others, but his ability to teach his kids what’s truly important during the holidays.

Additional Ways to Save on Christmas Gifts

Let’s say your’e not crafty or don’t have the time to bust our your art supplies. You can still find ways to cut costs when shopping for unique Christmas gifts.

Just remember to use these guidelines when holiday shopping to help you from overspending:

  1. Consider shopping with cash or a pre-paid card to stop yourself from overspending.
  2. Stack your savings by:
    1. Purchasing items on sale
    2. Using coupons or Ibotta for rebates
    3. Paying for purchased with discounted gift cards
    4. If shopping online, go through through Ebates or TopCashBack.com
  3. Keep the ads for anything you purchase. If you see it cheaper elsewhere, take the ad back in with your receipt and get a price match.

Learn more couponing tips and tricks here to get the best deal possible!

Use these unique and cheap holiday gift ideas to make your holidays better this year. You don’t have to be a painful financial statistic or go overboard in gift giving to show you care. Truly, what anyone really wants is time with you and your family. And maybe a pony. But we’ll settle for time together instead. 😉

Have other unique and cheap holiday gifts ideas? Share them below, I’d love to hear them!

1https://www.fool.com/retirement/2016/12/01/heres-what-the-average-american-spends-on-holiday.aspx


Check out these frugal and fun gift guides for more gift ideas!

The 15 best farmhouse decor gift ideas for fixer upper fans
The 15 best frugal gifts for coffee lovers
The 15 best frugal gift ideas for woodworkers
10 literary gifts for book lovers under $25
10 frugal gift ideas for plant lovers
The best financial gifts for college students
The best frugal and fun gifts for your favorite teacher
The 10 best frugal gifts for massage therapists

How to Quickly Save More Money: 10 Simple Rules for a No Spend Challenge

10 simple rules for a no spend challenge

One question I get asked a lot as a personal finance fanatic (say that three times fast!) is what the rules of a no spend challenge are. While there are plenty of very specific no spend challenges you can take, it’s a very personal choice as to which one to embark on.

The key takeaway of a no spend challenge is to reduce your outgoing money by cutting out non-essentials. Yes, you’re already doing that with a budget, but during a no spend challenge you’re amping it up and cutting even more.

So what’s the difference between a budget and a no spend challenge? And why should you start one?

Need to save more money quickly? Try a no-spend challenge! Here are 10 simple steps to crush a no-spend challenge. #nospend #nospendchallenge #nospendrules

What is a No Spend Challenge?

A no spend challenge is choosing a period of time, say a weekend, week or even a month, to not spend any money. Some people choose to have allowances, like groceries and gas.

The purpose of the no spend challenge is to help you reset after a holiday, vacation, or to get back on track from an emergency or spending slip up. It can also be a great way to kickstart your savings or debt repayment on things like student loans with the chunk of money you save from the challenge.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the rules of no spend challenges, download this free worksheet and calendar to help you personalize the rules and goals for your challenge:

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Now that you’ve grabbed your free worksheets, read through the rules below, grab a pen, and get to planning your own personal no spend challenge!

Picking a timeframe for a No Spend Challenge

There are three suggested time periods you can choose:

  • No Spend Weekend Challenge: This focuses on finding free activities with family or friends. It’s perfect for anyone who finds themselves spending too much on activities, especially with kids.
  • No Spend Week Challenge: This challenge entails making changes to your daily habits – whether it’s getting a coffee from Starbucks or grabbing lunch with coworkers.
  • No Spend Month Challenge: This challenge can be a doozy, but the rewards are greater. This is about starting to make a permanent lifestyle change for good, rather than just for a week. It’s about stopping habits like shopping and replacing them long term with other cheaper (or free) activities.

How a No Spend Challenge Works

No spend challenges work by setting rules for spending and then locking away those credit and debit cards. The rules can vary depending upon your needs, but primarily there’s no shopping for wants, just needs.

Some people chose to do a bit of stocking up on groceries, pet supplies and personal needs prior to their challenge.

Allowed spending on the challenge includes items such as:

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Internet/Phone
  • Groceries, if you’re not stocking up prior
  • Gas for your vehicle

Suggested items to cut during a no spend challenge:

  • Activities
  • Eating out, coffee, drinks
  • Clothes
  • Shopping
  • Ubers/Lyft
  • Hair/Nail Services
  • Anything else that’s not a need (vs. a want)

How to Get Started on Your No Spend Challenge

There are some key steps you need to do in order to ensure that your spending challenge is a success. They’re all about setting rules and making sure everyone is on the same page so there’s no miscommunication and “accidental” (ahem, side eyeing you, donuts and coffee!) spending during the challenge.

1. Figure out why you’re doing it.

Create a goal so you have something to focus on, especially if things get tough. Do you want to boost your debt repayment? Are you saving for a vacation? Figure out your long term goal. If you have that in mind, it makes it easier to focus on not spending when a large mocha is staring you in the face.

2. Decide how long you want to do the challenge for.

The point is to challenge yourself and see how far you can stretch! A month can be really difficult, but the longer the challenge, the greater the reward. If you’re worried about how difficult it might be, start off easier with a no spend weekend or week.

3. Set your rules.

Write them down and post them as a reminder. Are there exceptions, such as purchasing fresh groceries like dairy & produce? Are you setting up cash envelopes for groceries and gas? Make a list of what’s an acceptable purchase and what’s not and hang them on the fridge.

4. Review rules with your spouse/family.

Make sure everyone’s on the same page, otherwise it’s useless. It’s important that your spouse and family understand and agree to the goals, so that they’ll be much more likely to play along.

5. Use this period to eat the stock of items in the pantry/freezer.

It’s the perfect time to use up all those items that get pushed to the back of the pantry every week. Often, a no spend challenge can be used to rotate out your pantry’s stock and use up items before they expire. It’s the perfect time to get creative with your meals.

6. Research free entertainment for the kids/family.

Since having kids, I’ve found out just how expensive it can be to do anything – from eating out to an event, it can put a big dent in your cash flow. Use Google to find sites with free events in your city, have a family game night, or hit the park.

7. Put away the credit/debit cards to avoid temptation.

Just do it, as the saying goes. Don’t keep them on you. It’s just too easy to whip out a credit card and use it. Consider creating cash envelopes to help monitor and control spending as needed for things like groceries and gas.

8. Need a distraction? Use this time to get stuff done!

If you’re used to cruising sites for the latest deals, this is the perfect time to distract yourself with household activities. Clean out garage and basement, declutter and organize. Donate, throw away, and sell stuff. It’s the perfect time to pick up a side hustle selling your gently used stuff and get it out of your house at the same time!

9. Still want to buy something?

Write it down in a list and keep it. Promise yourself that if you can wait until the end of the spending period, you can purchase it. Chances are, after you’ve made it through your no spend challenge, you won’t want it anymore. It’s a great way to break yourself of those impulse purchases!

Another idea is to take the money you would have spent on that item and move it into savings. By the end of the challenge, you’ll see how much you would have spent on impulse purchases, which can be a real eye opener!

10. Move your money.

Put it into a separate savings account so that at the end of the month, you can apply it towards your goal. Don’t let it float away into the ether of checking account limbo.

No matter how you chose to do your no spend challenge, what’s important is that you are making an effort to change your spending habits. It can be really hard at first, but it’s a great way to reset your mindset and focus more on long term goals versus instant gratification.

How to Spend No Money for a Month

Spending no money for a month is a lofty goal but definitely doable. To spend no money for a month, you will need to have a budget in place where you’ve planned ahead for that month’s costs.

One of the biggest keys to success is thinking ahead. If you know you’ll be participating in kid’s events or extra curricular activities, plan ahead and pack snacks or food.

If you know you’ll be meeting up with friends, suggest get togethers that aren’t at a restaurant or cost money. If you’re looking for ideas, check out 50 free things to do on a no-spend weekend.

If you have a freebie, no spend weekends are the perfect time to cash them in. Keep an eye on your emails from retailers to see what kind of freebies you can cash in on.

Just this past week, I was able to grab an entire 12oz bag of coffee from World Market, just for being a rewards member. There’s nothing like the taste of free coffee in the morning!

Lastly, if you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out The No Spend Year: How You Can Spend Less and Live More by Michelle McGagh.  In it, she details how she set a goal for herself to just pay bills with a minimal budget for groceries. The rest she saved while she learned how to socialize and travel for free for an entire year!

Have you ever done a no spend challenge? How’d it go? What tips would you recommend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Ready to start budgeting or want to hear more about ours? Click here to learn how we’ve paid off $26,619 of Debt in 17 Months! Or, if you’re on a tight budget, here are 11 easy ways to save money on a tight budget.

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!

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How to quickly save more money with a no spend challenge. Here I cover the basics and what rules apply during a no spend challenge. #nospend #nospendchallenge #nospendrules

Need to quickly save more money? Try a no spend challenge! Here I cover the basics and what rules apply during a no spend challenge. #nospend #nospendchallenge #nospendrulesNeed to quickly save more money? Try a no spend challenge! While there are plenty of very specific no spend challenges you can take, it’s a very personal choice as to which one to embark on. Here I cover the basics and what rules apply during a no spend challenge. #nospend #nospendchallenge #nospendrules

The Beginner’s Guide to Sinking Funds & Emergency Funds
(& Why You Need Both)

The differences between a sinking fund and emergency and why you need both

As you’ve started diving into sorting out your finances, you’ve probably heard that you need a starter emergency fund of $1,000. You may have also heard some talk about building a sinking fund or two.

But what exactly is the difference between an emergency fund and a sinking fund? And why do you need more than one account?

Lastly, if you’re drowning in debt, isn’t everything an emergency at this point?

It’s important to not only understand the different between emergency and sinking funds, but why you need each, even this early in the debt repayment game. Especially this early in the game. Without understanding these funds and how to set them up, everything will always be an emergency. And personally, that is not how I want to live – it’s just way too stressful!

By learning about the differences between these types of accounts, where and how to set each up, you’ll be able to face any upcoming expenses – whether planned for or not – without batting an eye. Sounds amazing, right?

Most people don't know what a sinking fund is, or how it differs from an emergency fund. Here's where you'll find the differences in funds, and why you need to be putting money into both savings accounts. #emergency #sinkingfunds #finance

What an Emergency Fund Is (And Isn’t)

An emergency fund is for true emergencies. These are expenses that are unexpected and unplanned. Think of things like a job layoff, an accident, big health issues – basically anything that keeps you up at night.

Sadly, it’s not funds for when you’re too tired to cook, there’s a big sale on shoes, or when you’re forgotten that you need a haircut before a wedding.

For example, our roof was recently damaged during a storm. Since this was an unexpected expense, we took the $1,000 deductible out of our emergency fund at Capital One to pay it off, rather than putting it on our recently paid off credit card. Then we’ll use the next 2 to 3 months to build that emergency fund back up.

Emergency Fund Categories

  • Layoffs
  • Accidents
  • Emergency health bills
  • Unexpected car issues
  • Items that are both unexcepted and unknown

The general rule of emergency funds is that $1,000 is a good starting point while you’re still paying debt. Once all debt has been paid off, then the suggested amount is 3 to 6 months of expenses (or even more!). Note that I said expenses, not income. It’s about covering your bills if you lose your job or get hurt, not matching your missing income. There’s a big distinction between the two!

Emergency fund money is earmarked for after something happens. It’s those things in life that you can only plan so much for and generally show up at the worst times.

If you’re wondering if an expense qualifies, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it an unexpected expense or was it known about it prior (like a yearly bill)?
  • Is it a want or a need? If it’s a want, it’s not truly an emergency, no matter how good that sale is!
  • Is it urgent, or can it be saved for?

A great example that’s come up in our house recently is the dishwasher. It’s original to the house, and is on its last leg. Sometimes it works ok, sometimes not. We can live without a dishwasher (in theory!). Replacing the dishwasher is a known expense at this point. It’s a want, not a need, and it’s not urgent. Based off these questions, replacing the dishwasher is definitely not an emergency.

What is a Sinking Fund Used For?

A sinking fund is money that you’ve saved up before something happens, so you’re thinking ahead and planning for expenses you know are going to pop up. Some examples are bills that aren’t paid monthly, car maintenance, and vacations.

The sinking fund method is recommended by financial guru Dave Ramsey to avoid using credit cards or going further into debt. Since it’s something you know you need, you can plan ahead and save up to cover it.

Back to the dishwasher example from before – if it dies, we’ve agreed to save up to buy a new one rather than put the cost on a credit card. That is a sinking fund. Even better, we could start saving for it now before it dies. This way we’re thinking ahead about our money, rather than starting saving after it dies, which could take several months.

Sinking Fund Categories

  • Bills that are not monthly, like water, sewer, garbage, etc.
  • Expected car costs, like tires, oil changes, tags, etc.
  • Christmas
  • Birthdays
  • Vacations
  • Home maintenance
  • New appliances/furniture
  • Quarterly self employment taxes
  • Property taxes
  • Insurance (if not paid monthly)
  • New (to you) cars
  • School clothes/fees/supplies
  • Weddings
  • Copays for healthcare

Wondering How Much to Put in a Sinking Fund?

Sinking fund amounts will vary based on several factors, including how much time you have and how much money you need in total for each purchase. I use this sinking fund formula to figure out each individual monthly savings amount:

  1. Write down all expected expenses for the rest of the year that aren’t part of your normal budget
  2. Do your best to estimate how much each will cost (reference an average of last year’s cost if possible)
  3. Add up the total, then divide by how many paychecks you have left for the year
  4. Open a separate checking/savings account and keep the money there

One thing to note is that you won’t have all the sinking funds you need immediately. The best way to handle this is to prioritize the expenses you plan to cover with the sinking fund. Arrange them by due date as well as by urgency. This way, the most important sinking fund expenses will be covered first, and you’ll have time to save up for the rest.

Once you’ve prioritized your sinking funds, add the sinking fund budget line items to your monthly budget. This way you’ll be sure to pay them first and you’ll stay on track with your savings. If you make your sinking fund contribution first, right after getting paid, you’ll find that you are much less likely for that money to go missing by the end of the month.

For example, we are going on vacation with our family and owe my parents $500 for our lodging. Since it’s not until next summer, we’re able to divide those payments up into 12. I’ve created a separate savings account just for this sinking fund and we’ll be able to save up for it easily in $50 monthly increments. That means it won’t sneak up on us and “surprise” us next summer – and no scrambling to scrap up our part of the bill!

How to Keep Track of Sinking Funds

I highly recommend opening an account with Capital One to set this money aside. You can open a sinking fund account there, and then you’ll be able to create up to 25 sub-accounts with no additional paperwork. This is extremely handy when you want to earmark money for certain funds. It also links to your regular bank, so it’ll take a couple of days to move back and forth, but it’s a great way to keep that money for its original purpose.

This way you have can separate accounts for Christmas, car maintenance, vacations – whatever your heart desires, up to 25 of them!

A big mistake that I’ve made in the past is to keep my sinking funds money in my savings account (which also housed my emergency fund and quarterly tax payments, yikes!). As you can guess, I’d dip into it without realizing I was, and next thing I knew…we’d be short and struggling to replace that money come tax time.

I finally realized that the best thing we could do is that every time we get paid, I put those different chunks of money into those separate accounts. That way, we don’t spend what we don’t have, and every quarter, I can easily just transfer the tax money back to my checking account and write a check to pay it. I don’t even have to think or worry about it – easy peasy!

A Quick Review of Emergency & Sinking Fund Examples

Emergency Funds Sinking Funds
Used reactively for the unexpected Used proactively for bills you know you’ll need to pay
Used AFTER something unexpected happens Saved BEFORE something expected happens
Examples: Job layoff, accident, big health issues, emergency car repairs Examples: Christmas gifts, vacations, home maintenance, big purchases, remodeling, extra curricular activities, anniversary or birthday presents and parties
Recommended amount is $1000 until debt is paid off; then 3-6 months of expenses Recommended amount is variable, based on known upcoming expenses

What Types of Sinking Funds Do You Need?

This will vary based on each family, but we have one for Christmas, vacation, anniversary, house updates, and taxes (I know – all the important stuff, right?). This way we can take a vacation without feeling guilty. And we can plan ahead of the kids’ extra circular activities without worrying how we’ll cover it, since they are insanely expensive.

Not everyone will have the same categories for sinking funds, or even emergencies, which is fine. What’s important is that you’ve sat down and mapped out possible expenses, and have decided to face them head on.

When Should I Start Creating Sinking Funds?

This really depends on what your debts are and how quickly (or desperately) you need money set aside for a sinking fund. We chose to wait until we were debt free to start our various sinking funds.

There are some instances where you know you’ll need the sinking funds before you can become debt free, like paying property taxes or your water bill.

There are some things that are just going to happen either way – like Christmas. Why not start a sinking fund for presents, so that in January you’re not afraid to open your credit card statement?

Having a set amount to use for presents will also curb your spending and help you keep within a budget. I’ve found that it can help me to really focus on finding creative and meaningful gifts since I’m spending less.

I also start earlier in the year to look for presents, so that I’m not last minute buying whatever ugly Christmas sweater that’s on sale (though, that is a thing now, isn’t it?). By creating a sinking fund at the beginning of the year, I have some money set aside every month that I can use to buy presents as I find them without using our credit card.

Burying your head in the sand and hoping extra expenses will go away if you ignore them isn’t making your money work for you. It’s making you chase your money, and work harder than you need to in order to get ahead. Creating emergency and sinking funds will only lead to making your finances a success, and will reduce your stress if (and when) something happens!

Ready to start budgeting or want to hear more about ours? Click here to learn how we’ve paid off $26,619 in debt in 17 months!

You can also learn more about how to use sinking funds to get ahead of your finances here.

Do you have sinking funds and an emergency fund set up? What categories do you include in your sinking funds? Comment below and let me know how you’ve made these types of funds work for you and your money!

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Why you need both emergency funds and sinking funds

How to Get Out of Debt: The Exact Steps We Took to Pay Off $26,619 in 17 Months

How to get out of debt: the exact steps we took to pay off $26,619 in 17 months

If you’re wondering how to get out of debt, look no further. Using the following get out of debt plan, we paid off over $26,619 in debt in 17 months and raised our net worth by almost $50,000. These debt repayment steps will help you to organize your finances and learn how to get out of debt.

I am a stickler for details and always want to know someone’s exact process. I’m sharing our exact steps that we used to get out of debt and stay there in the hopes that it can help someone else on their journey.

Learn how to get out of debt by following in our footsteps. We paid off over $26,000 by doing these exact debt pay off steps. #debt #finances #financialfreedom

Our Debt Payoff Journey

Our debt payoff journey started almost 2 years ago, after we had our second child. We cash flowed our health care deductible for that year, and we were tired of the struggle with the additional debt we’d been carrying for what seemed like forever.

Here we were, late 30s (me) and early 40s (my husband), and it still felt like we hadn’t hit that turning point in adulthood where you aren’t constantly playing financial catch up.

It was frustrating, and now that we had two kids to take care of, we’d had enough of struggling with getting out of debt.

We sat down and read financial books, blogs, and listened to podcasts. Our debt free journey was not a straight line in the least, but every extra payment helped us to get there eventually. We struggled through job loss and roof damage, fighting the urge to buy more, and saying no to purchases that weren’t an absolute need.

The steps to being debt free weren’t easy, but they all paid off in the end. We’re now debt free and working on fully funding our retirement funds, we have cash for some home improvement, and we’re starting investing.

So if you’re looking for tips on how to get out of debt, look no further. I break down the exact steps we took to get out of debt and stay out of debt!

How to Get Out of Debt

The biggest pieces to getting out of debt are mental. It’s about being dedicated, being able to figure out the difference between needs and want, using some tough love, and last, having a positive mindset.

Once you build up these strengths, you’ll be unstoppable. While you’re working on those, start going through our steps to get out of debt:

We added up all of our debts to see where we were starting.

While difficult, we had to face up to exactly where we were financially. Owning up to our situation was hard.

As much as I hated it, we owed up to the damage we did and decided it was time to accept responsibility for our actions and work on changing them.

Our first step in getting out of debt was to create a spreadsheet with all of our debt. Without knowing an exact amount we needed to pay off, we had no clue what we were aiming for.

We wrote down all the pertinent information on each loan, credit card, and debt owed. The spreadsheet included information such as:

  • Total amount owed
  • Monthly payment due
  • Interest rate
  • Contact information for the company
  • Due date

Having a solid starting point took the fear out of our situation. Most of our fear stemmed from the unknown – not knowing exactly how deep we were in debt. Creating our spreadsheet to pay off debt helped us to face the unknown and take the first step in our debt repayment process.

We got mad at our debt.

One thing that Dave Ramsey has 100% right about debt repayment is that you have to get mad at your debt. If you’re not angry with it, you’ll never take it seriously.

The next step in our debt payoff plans was to get mad at our debt. And we sure did. We got mad at it for everything it prevented us from doing, and everything we were missing out on.

Our love for travel had to be put aside. Education contributions for our daughters’ college funds had to be paused. We weren’t putting as much towards retirement as we’d have liked.

It killed me that we were just handing money to several companies whenever we paid interest. That’s money that we could have been using to travel, save for our kids’ futures, or to do the house updates we’d been waiting on.

It took getting mad and becoming clear in our intentions to keep us on the right path to pay off our debt.

We also treated our debt like an emergency. Unless you prioritize it and make it into a big deal, you’ll never full get out from under it and you’ll just end up in the debt cycle over and over again. By making it our family’s priority, we were all on the same page and working towards the same debt free goal.

We admitted our weaknesses.

One of the best ways to get rid of debt is to avoid debt in the first place. My husband and I realized that we couldn’t seem to stem the bleeding when it came to credit cards. So we sucked it up and put our credit cards in the freezer and vowed not to take on any more debt.

It’s impossible to climb a mountain when it keeps growing. So we decided to put the cards away so that we could stop creating extra work for ourselves.

It was a hard habit to break, but it was the only way we were ever going to stop our debts from growing and conquer them.

If you truly cannot avoid taking on additional debt then find ways to save money on your purchases. Whether it’s buying items discounted or used, do everything you can to avoid taking on extra debt you don’t need.

We prioritized our debts.

We looked at our debts and chose to prioritize them by focusing on the smallest debt first. Our family decided to take this route because we needed the psychological boost that came from crossing off those small debts quickly.

We also focused on making sure that any zero percent interest credit cards were paid off one month prior to their introductory rate’s expiration. We wanted to make sure that we would never paid that accrued interest.

While it didn’t take priority for extra payments, they did take priority in making sure we were paying enough on them every month to completely pay them off prior to the introductory period.

You can also choose to prioritize your debt by paying on the highest interest rate first. Some people feel that the savings in interest payments is greater than the psychological boost of knocking out the smallest loans first.

Last, don’t forget to consider the type of loan. If you’ve borrowed from a family member, it can be good to pay them back first, especially to avoid tension or family drama.

There’s no right or wrong way to choose how to prioritize your debts. Just take the time to make a game plan of how you want to tackle them, and stick with it.

We created a budget and game plan.

Creating a budget was our next step so that we knew how much we had each month to put towards debt. We used this exact budget workbook to figure out how to balance our bills with debt repayment.

This budget sheet to pay off debt helped us to see our progress every month. It also helped me to realize that what’s budgeted for one month isn’t going to work for another. That we needed to create a new budget every month, depending upon upcoming events and expenses.

We have failed previously with budgeting because I did a monthly budget once, and thought it should automatically work for each month after. When it didn’t, I got frustrated.

It was only after having this new budget worksheet that I realized that I needed to do things differently.

Create a budget for your family and give yourself time to get it ironed out right. Remember that it’s a living document that will change and adjust as your family’s needs do.

We printed out charts to visually mark our progress.

Now that we had a debt amount, budget and game plan, we created a debt payoff schedule. We were able to predict how soon we could pay off our debt by creating the schedule.

In order to keep ourselves motivated, we used a pay down debt worksheet. By having a printed visual to hang up and color in, it worked as a daily reminder of our goals and helped us stay on track.

Here’s a free pay off debt printable worksheet that I created that you can download to use to track your progress as well:

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!

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We created a mini emergency fund.

Something always comes up that you forget or can’t budget for. Until you can work on creating sinking funds, an mini emergency fund is important.

First we built up a mini emergency fund of $1,000 first before we started to tackle our debt. We made sure it was enough to cover a chunk of our family medical deductible or small car repairs or a couple of new tires. I didn’t want to tie up more than that when we were paying so much in interest.

After we paid off our debt we started to save our full emergency fund, which is 3 – 6 months of our expenses.

We also started creating sinking funds for unavoidable items that we knew would irregularly pop up in our budget occasionally. It was better to have that extra cash instead of creating more debt by putting it on a credit card.

We cut the budget where we could.

One of the best ways to get out of debt is to either make more money or cut your expenses. Preferably, it’d be quickest to do both.

First, we started by cutting our budget. Anything unnecessary was cut. We got rid of cable, switched to StraightTalk for our cell phones, and made a lot of other cuts to trim our budget down as much as possible.

Start by working on trimming one bill a week so you don’t get overwhelmed. Also, use services like Trim to help you trim your expenses while saving you time and the extra work. You can read about how we were able to save $240 in about 5 minutes of work with Trim here.

Also review your insurance coverage, health care deductibles, and even daycare expenses. We were able to negotiate our daycare costs so that we saved $25 a month. While it’s not much, it’s better than nothing.

We also used the Grocery Budget Makeover to help us to trim our grocery costs and eat at home more to save money.

You can read more about 13 expenses that we cut in order to save over $700 a month here.

We picked up extra jobs.

The other half of the getting out of debt quick equation is to make more money. It’s the perfect time to reassess your earnings and see where you can step it up.

Luckily, I am a website designer during the day, so I was able to pick up freelance jobs to help earn additional income. Look at ways to pick up freelance in your current industry first. It’s the easiest and quickest way to score a side gig and make extra money without too much of a learning curve.

Also, don’t forget to look for opportunities to pick up extra shifts, holiday hours, extra work, or ask for a raise. You already work there, so it makes sense to start there when looking for extra income.

There are tons of ways to make extra income to eliminate your debts. You can start by reviewing these ways to pick up extra work without too much hassle:

We learned to say no, even if we didn’t want to.

One of the hardest ways to get out of debt was to turn down plans with friends or family or pass on  opportunities to purchase items we really wanted.

It sucked and felt so awkward to talk to our family out about situation and how it affected our ability to give presents at Christmas. While we felt like we didn’t have much to give, they didn’t care. What really mattered to them was that we were together and and got to spend the holidays at their house.

It really does show that what matters is you, not the gifts you give. If you choose to follow this route, talk to them ahead of time about what the expectations are for the holidays and gift giving. Chances are you could even be providing them with a much needed financial break as well.

Or, if you choose to skip this step, make sure to plan ahead and start budgeting for the holidays months ahead, so you’re not scrambling to put gifts on your credit card. You know it’s coming so there’s really no excuse for not planning ahead for it.

Also learn how to triple stack your savings when you make purchases by doing a little research. It’s worth the time and effort to be able to save a lot on those Christmas presents!

We put every extra penny towards our debt.

Getting out of debt quick isn’t easy, so we put everything we had into it. Every extra tax refund, bonus, raise or extra cash that came our way went to our debt.

We even took some savings we had set aside for specific events and put it towards our debt. Even though it was a difficult decision to make, it helped us to realize just how serious we were to get out of debt quickly and for the last time.

We celebrated each win, no matter how small.

Every extra payment we made, every small debt we paid off were milestones worth celebrating. That doesn’t mean we went out to a crazy expensive dinner and movie every time we hit a milestone, but we found small ways to celebrate our financial accomplishments.

We did things like buying a bottle of wine or renting a movie we really wanted to see. Once we started to see progress on our debt repayment, it was hard to put money towards anything other than our debt. So we compromised by remembering to celebrate, but doing so in a way that didn’t sidetrack us from our goals.

We didn’t let setbacks stop us.

Setbacks are going to happen no matter what. No journey is ever a straight line. No matter how hard that is to hear, it was important to take everything one step at a time and deal with whatever comes up.

My husband lost his job four months into our debt repayment journey. Talk about crap timing. But we didn’t let it stop us though – he filed for unemployment, we busted our butts to temporarily cut costs even more.

We found ways to not only make ends meet, but to thrive as well.

We also had roof damage from a bad storm later that summer. Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, we just accepted it and got several estimates. We used our emergency fund and rather than get upset or frustrated, we used it as motivation to find new ways to pull in extra cash by selling stuff around the house and having yard sales.

Remember that any setbacks are temporary and don’t seal your financial fate. Big wig financial gurus like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have figuratively hit rock bottom when it came to finances – and look at them now! Remember that a setback is as good or bad as your perspective.

My husband losing his job turned out to be the best thing ever. He was miserable and hated his work. Getting laid off freed him up to find something he’s truly passionate about and he’s naturally excelling at his new workplace because he enjoys being there.

We surrounded ourselves with like-minded people to support and motivate us.

Learning how to get out of debt meant finding resources that gave us new and fresh ideas on how to approach our debt repayment. I love the support and friendship I’ve found in Facebook groups and with other personal finance bloggers. It’s so nice to have someone to bounce financial ideas off of and to discuss tactics with.

Most people don’t “get” the debt free mentality and why you’d want to live that lifestyle. That’s their loss. Ignore the side-eye from them, keep doing your thing, and work on finding your tribe.

I also find that it’s important to fill your social media feeds with like minded people as well as a reminder. It’s a great way to remember your goals and where you want to be.

Make sure to follow bloggers, read personal finance books, and listen to podcasts on personal finance to keep your fire for debt repayment burning at full force.

Learning how to get out of debt isn’t hard but it’s important to be consistent. Just like building muscle, it’s about those daily steps you take that really matter. Break it up into smaller pieces to focus on so that it’s not overwhelming.

Just like no one becomes Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight, no one becomes debt free in a week. Keep focusing on these small steps and you’ll be debt free sooner than you realize.

Have you started your debt free journey? If not, why not? What’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments below!

Learn how to get out of debt by following in our footsteps. We paid off over $26,000 by doing these exact debt pay off steps. #debt #finances #financialfreedom