Budgeting Tips

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Quickly

Credit card debt. The huge majority of Americans have it, and have learned to live with it, like an annoying family member that always ribs you. But what if you didn’t have to have credit card debt in your day-to-day life (or that awkward uncle)? Learn how to pay off credit card debt quickly and how to stop using credit cards to survive day-to-day.

The average American has over $7,000 just in credit card debt. Ouch. Add to that student loans, car loans and mortgages, and you’ve got a ton of stress and quite possibly a less than stellar credit score.

No matter your income level, you need to get out from under that credit card debt, fast. The high interest rates and high credit-to-debt ratio will not only put a dent in your bank account, but it can hurt your credit score as well.

First, you need to start with a plan of attack. Without clearly set goals, a good budget, and an overall idea of where you want to be, you’ll just end up in a credit card spiral again. Use these tips and tricks to learn how to pay off credit card debt once and for all!

Wondering how to pay off credit card debt quickly? Use these tips and tricks to not only get your credit card debt paid off, but creative ways to do it quickly! #debt #creditcarddebt #debtpayoff


Build a Credit Card payoff Plan

The best way to avoid the credit card spiral is to build a great credit card payoff plan. These are steps to put into place to ensure that you can not only get those cards paid off, but keep them that way.

1. Put down the card. Seriously.

Lock it up, throw away the key. If you don’t change your behavior, how can you possibly be able to stay out of credit card debt?

I’ve frozen mine before or tucked them away in our safe. If you have the numbers memorized (ahem, me), call and report them lost so you get a new one issued and tuck it away. Or cut them up so you’re not tempted. Whatever it takes to keep you on track.

2. Budget and cut costs.

Even if you don’t want to hear it, budgeting is the key to successfully keeping control over your money. Without one, you’ll never know how much you have to put towards debt or anything else.

Now that you have a budget, you can easily see the top categories that you’re overspending in. I suggest starting with your top 3 categories where overspending occurs and seeing where you can trim to save additional costs.

Do you need to live bare bones? No, unless you want to. But figure out what’s important – and what’s not – and cut where it makes sense. There are a ton of easy places to cut costs: cell phone bill, insurance, groceries, and more.

3. Set bi-weekly and monthly goals.

Set a SMART goal for paying off your credit card debt. Then, break that bigger goal into smaller ones. Two week mini goals are long enough to see progress without losing sight of your big goal – or worse, your motivation.

4. Find an accountability partner.

Nothing forces you to stay on course like having an accountability partner. The awkwardness of admitting that I didn’t follow through on something is truly more than I can bear. Having an accountability partner really forces you to not only be honest with them, but with yourself as well. You’re forced to set goals and actually follow through.

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Faster

In order to stop the financial hemorrhaging, you need to staunch the flow as quickly as possible, right? One of the best ways to do this, besides locking up your cards, is to minimize any additional costs such as fees and interest:

1. Automate your payments.

Don’t be a sucker and end up paying late fees because you forgot to schedule your monthly payment. Create an automated payment that is at the very least your minimize payment due. Then you can create additional payments for any excess income you have in your budget.

2. Call for a lower interest rate.

You have about a 50/50 chance of this working, but it can save you a ton. Give it a shot, it’s worth the 20 minutes of your time.

3. Ask for yearly fees to be waived.

If you can’t get them to drop your interest rate, ask for any yearly fees to be waived. Try to be creative and find ways to cut the bill as much as possible.

4. Can’t get a lower APR or drop fees? Try switching cards.

Credit card companies have multiple cards. Ask your credit card company if they have a different card available that has lower rates and fees that better fits your situation.

5. Consider transferring your debt.

I don’t suggest this option lightly. I would only recommend doing this if you have a great credit score. Otherwise, it’d be a waste.

Consider moving your credit card debt to new zero percent interest card. Remember that these cards generally have a transfer rate associated with them, usually around 3-5%. And, if you don’t pay off the amount in time, you’ll end up paying back all of that interest.

You can also try a personal loan. Some have insanely low rates, but you have to do your research and consider any fees and additional expenses. Choose wisely if you decide to go this route!

Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt

Now that you’ve created a plan and you’ve slowed your roll (as the kids say) on additional costs, it’s time to get creative. Wondering how to pay off credit card debt faster? There are tons of creative ways to pay off credit card debt outside of picking up a side hustle or working additional hours.

Use those credit card points.

It’s time to cash in those credit card points. Rather than cash, opt for gift cards that you can use for groceries to trim your grocery budget. Then take that excess and pay off credit card debt.

Use awesome apps like Trim to cut costs.

I have a full review on Trim here, but here’s the quick synopsis. Trim is an app that helps you:

  • Keep an eye on your money by sending you texts about transactions in your account.
  • Automatically find the best deals on your existing services like cell phones, cable and internet.
  • Flag subscriptions that you’re paying for to make sure you’re aware of them.

Trim’s a great way to catch any excess cash that’s leaking out of your account, whether it be through overpaying for services or continuing to pay on a forgotten membership. You can read all about how we saved $240 in just five minutes by using Trim.

Use Paribus to catch better deals on items already purchased.

Paribus is great for monitoring your purchases and making sure that you’re getting the best deal. A totally free service that keeps track of your purchases, and if it finds it at a better price, it automatically submits a claim to the store on your behalf to get the refund.

If you’re making purchases anyway, this is an easy way to get the best price without all the hassle. Take that extra savings and use it to make additional payments towards your credit card.

Sell your unwanted stuff.

We all have stuff laying around the house that we need to get rid of. It’s the perfect way to make some extra cash to pay towards your credit card as well as clean out your clutter. There are tons of great sites and apps to use, including:

  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Decluttr
  • LetGo
  • eBay

Don’t forget yard sales, consignment shops, and local consignment events. There are a ton of places to get rid of stuff, it’s just finding the best platform for your the type of stuff you have. For example, kids clothes sell really well in lots on eBay or local consignment events.

Join Fiverr to earn cash with your skills.

Fiverr is a job site where you can use your skills to make some extra cash. You set the pricing for yourself and decide what types of jobs you’ll accept. Fiverr has over 100 job categories, so it’s sure to have some way for you to make extra income to pay off your credit cards.

Some examples include: voiceover work, web design and development, graphic design, music and writing. The best part? There’s no billing a client afterwards, waiting around for them to pay. You are paid by Fiverr immediately after the job is done, so no wasting time chasing down delinquent clients to try and get them to pay.

Use survey sites like Swagbucks in your spare time.

You’re not going to become a millionaire working your way through online surveys, but Swagbucks is a great way to pick up extra cash if you don’t have enough time or resources to pick up a side gig.

Swagbucks includes different activities besides surveys. You can watch videos, play games, and get cash back on purchases as well. It’s perfect for when you’re binging some Netflix after work or have some spare time waiting to pick up your kids.

Try a savings challenge to kick start your debt payoff.

Here’s a list of 37 different savings challenges to shake things up and start off your debt repayment right. There are a wide variety of challenges, including weekly cash savings challenges to having a free family weekend.

Use Raise.com to save cash on purchases.

Raise.com offers gift cards that are discounted by up to 30%! 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.

Now that you know how to pay off credit card debt, it’s important to be consistent and find ways to remind yourself of your goals so that you stay on track. Figure out what methods work best for you, and get to it!


Wondering how to pay off credit card debt quickly? Use these tips and tricks to not only get your credit card debt paid off, but do it quickly! #debt #creditcarddebt #debtpayoff

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Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest? Practical Tips to Decide

It’s the age-old question about which comes first. (No, not the chicken or the egg. Well, maybe – it IS about your nest egg, anyway.) Should you pay off your mortgage or invest first?

While both are very tempting options, there are some major considerations to think over before making this decision. You don’t want to lose precious time building compound earnings on your retirement, right? At the same time, the feeling of being debt free – once and for all – is just too enticing to pass up.

It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? This is the point where most of us tend to freeze up for fear of making the wrong decision.

However, remember that everyone’s situation is different, and only you can make the right decision for yourself and your finances.

Take the time to weigh these several important factors first when deciding whether to pay off your mortgage early or invest:

Trying to figure out if you should pay off your mortgage or invest? Use these practical tips to help you decide your next steps! #debt #debtrepayment #debtfree #retirement

Consider interest rates on debt vs. the percentage of investment earnings.

Any investment guru will tell you that the market averages out at an 8% return on investments over time. But what’s the interest rate on your mortgage, credit cards, personal loans or student loans?

If the interest rate on any of your debt is 8% or higher it makes sense, in the very least, to pay off those specific debts first.

After that, take a look at what’s left. Is it a loan where the interest is a tax write-off, like your mortgage or student loans? Continuing to have that tax write-off could be beneficial, especially if the interest rate is much lower than 8%. In that case, switching to retirement savings could be the answer at this point. Not having those tax write-offs could be a disadvantage of paying off your mortgage early.

Calculate how long debt repayment will take.

Once you’ve created your budget and added up your debt, figure out how long it’s going to take you to pay off the debt in full. Are we talking about 8 months or 8 years? A rule of thumb is that if it takes longer than 2 years to pay off your debt, you’re likely to lose your motivation because it’s just too long of a repayment period.

I am a person who likes having a goal and a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to know how long something will take, and once I do, and I’ll focus on it with everything I have.

We’ve calculated our debt payoff to happen in April 2018 (pending no job eliminations). For us, that’s a short enough amount of time that it’s worth the tradeoff of stopping our retirement contributions for about a year to pay off this $26,619 in debt.

If it’s going to take you longer, say 8 years – that’s a lot of compound interest to miss out on in your retirement funds. Choosing to payoff debt and save at the same time will stretch out the repayment timeline a lot longer though, right? No necessarily. With a bit of creativity and hard work, you can find a side hustle you can do to pay off your debts quicker.

Your age (Yup, I went there.)

Your financial decisions as a twenty-something are going to be very different than your financial decisions at sixty-something. Or at least, I hope so! If you’re young and have 20, 30 or even 40 years left to invest, you’ll have plenty of time to earn that compound interest.

If you’re in your late 40s, 50s, or early 60s, it makes more sense to focus on your retirement. Time is unfortunately running a bit tighter to get all the pieces into place for you to enjoy your margaritas at your villa on the beach. Plus, you can use part of your retirement income to finish up those debts if you haven’t already done so.

This is a great time to look at an investment calculator to see if you’re on track and what adjustments you might need to make in order to hit your target.

Figure out your motivation. Or, what’s keeping you up at night?

To me, this is the biggest factor of all. Motivation. When you have it, it’s amazing and you can literally achieve anything. And when you lack it, even the most basic of tasks becomes a huge chore.

I’ve been dreaming of being debt free for a while now and it’s my driving passion (or some people call it obsession, but whatever). Allow your passion to help drive your decisions. Don’t dismiss your dreams and goals just because you don’t think that a financial planner would agree.

Motivation, or even fear, can be fantastic catalysts in helping you to achieve your goals. Seeing some positive change take shape helps your motivation to grow by leaps and bounds and you’ll meet your goals much quicker.

If you have the motivation and drive to knock that debt our once and for all, include that as part of your assessment of your financial situation. Or, if your dream is to retire and open a tiki bar on a tropical island (are you sensing a theme here?), then allow those goals to weigh in as well. Figuring out your “why” of becoming financially independent is key to deciding your next financial steps.

Bonus: You have access to an Employer match on a 401k.

At the very least, if you have access to a 401k with an employer match, you should always invest at least enough to get you the match. That is free money that you would be leaving on the table.

Plus, you’re putting money into the 401k pre-tax so that it’s saving money for you on your yearly taxes as well. If nothing else, if you determine to tackle debt first, then you at least have this employer match to start the compound interest ball rolling.

Remember that your decision whether to pay off your mortgage or invest is a personal one. It also doesn’t have to be all or nothing, black or white. You can mix and match what makes sense to you. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, you must do what’s best for you and your financial situation.

Have you decided between retirement and debt repayment? Which path did you take and why? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your “why”!

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Trying to figure out if you should pay off your mortgage or invest? Use these practical tips to help you decide your next steps! #debt #debtrepayment #debtfree #retirement

Trying to figure out if you should pay off your mortgage or invest? Use these practical tips to help you decide your next steps! #debt #debtrepayment #debtfree #retirement

Amazingly Simple Cleaning Tips that’ll Save You Tons of Money

Every spring I feel the need for a refresh. There’s just something about the fresh air and sunshine that makes me want to review our budget, get rid of clutter, and do a deep spring clean. So why not bust open the windows and start your spring with my favorite cleaning tips that’ll help you save a ton of money?

I hate spending a ton on cleaning supplies, especially when they just end up going down the drain. (Bad joke, I know.) Even more annoying is how bad they smell, and who knows what chemicals we’re even exposing ourselves to.

I shouldn’t have to worry about sucking fumes when I’m just trying to get a clean bathtub, ya know?

Here are my absolute favorite money-saving cleaning hacks. Not only are you saving cash, you’re avoiding those horrible chemicals as well. I consider that a win-win!

Every spring I feel the need for a refresh. There’s just something about the fresh air and sunshine that makes me want to review our budget, get rid of clutter, and do a deep spring clean. So why not bust open the windows and start your spring with my favorite cleaning tips that’ll help you save a ton of money? #cleaningtips #springcleaning #frugal

Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar has proven antimicrobial properties, and though it’s still a bit stinky, it works wonders when it comes to helping clean your house!

Some of my favorite uses of vinegar for cleaning are:

  1. Bathtub cleaner. Mix 1 cup of liquid dishsoap, 1 cup of vinegar, and 1 cup of hot water in a spray bottle. Spray it on your tub and tile, give it 5 minutes, and all traces of soap residue are gone without having to scrub hard at all. We switched to this years ago and haven’t looked back!
  2. Freshen your drains. Sink a little stinky? Pour about a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by about a cup of vinegar. Let it still for about 20 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Great for garbage disposals or just kitchen sinks where food particles make it down the drain.
  3. Give sheets and towels a refresh. Add equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar to your next laundry load, along with the soap. It’s a great way to refresh those towels after your teen leaves them laying on their bedroom floor for a week.
  4. Use it as a disinfectant. Vinegar works as a great cleaner in humidifiers and coffee makers. Just run a mix of vinegar and water through, then make sure to run pure water through afterwards to rinse it thoroughly. Otherwise, your cream will curdle when you add it to your coffee. (Don’t ask me how I know this one!)

Other Great Homemade Cleaning Products & Hacks

There are tons of other great cleaning tips and tricks, but these are my absolute favorite because they’re so easy and so cheap!

Homemade Garbage Disposal Cleaner

We often end up with lemons that are past the point of being edible, and I love to find other uses for them. My favorite is to chop them up and freeze them with water in ice cube trays. Every week, I throw a couple in the garbage disposal and let it run. It not only makes it smell great, the ice is perfect for sharpening the blades of the disposal.

Fels Naptha for Stains

If you’re never had the joy of using Fels Naptha, you need to check it out. It’s just a simple bar of soap, but holy smokes – it’s great for getting stains out of clothes. A lot of recipes for homemade laundry soap often use Fels Naptha chopped up as a main ingredient.

I just wet the stained area of clothing and the bar of soap, then use a scrub brush or the actual bar to get the stain out. Sometimes I’ll let it sit for a bit before washing, but it’s a very low maintenance and easy way to get stains out.

Remove Clogs without Chemicals

If you’ve ever had long hair or lived with someone with long hair, you inevitably have ended up standing in ankle deep water while showering due to hair clogging the drain. It’s disgusting, I know.

In my experience, chemical drain cleaner is a joke. In order for it to even think about working, you have to use it several times and I’m always terrified I’m going to accidentally splash it in my eyes or on my skin.

We have two daughters with long hair, as well as myself – so you can imagine just how often the tub gets clogged. Thankfully, on a whim I picked up one of these crazy plastic drain cleaning tools and haven’t looked back since!

Who would have thought an inexpensive strip of plastic could be so amazing? Just push it down the drain, and pull it back out. The teeth grab the hair and make it super easy to get everything out. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you pull out the biggest hairball you’ve ever seen!

Cheap (But Effective!) Magic Erasers

Magic erasers are nothing short of amazing. They get anything of your walls, tub, or floors – including the finish if you’re not careful!

I went to pick some up the other day and saw that a three pack of the brand name where $8 at my favorite discount store. You have GOT to be kidding me.

Magic erasers are made from melamine sponge, which you can buy in sheets on Amazon. You can also find the generic version as well. For example, I found a 48 count of a generic brand for $12!

When All Else Fails, Try Vodka.

Believe it or not, vodka can be a great cleaning agent (and I’m not just talking your stomach lining).

Vodka is perfect for cleaning microfiber furniture. Just throw some in a spray bottle, hit the fabric, then use a scrub brush to work out the dirt. Wipe up with a damp, white cloth.

Got something that won’t fit in the washer? Use vodka to remove the smell. It kills odors and is perfect for spraying in shoes, on mattresses, and upholstery. Don’t water it down, and don’t soak the fabric. Keep it at a light mist, let the item dry completely, and reward yourself with a cocktail for all your hard work!

I just wet the stained area of clothing and the bar of soap, then use a scrub brush or the actual bar to get the stain out. Sometimes I’ll let it sit for a bit before washing, but it’s a very low maintenance and easy way to get stains out.

Additional Cleaning Hacks to Help Save Money

On my frugal path to debt freedom, I’ve run into a ton of tips and tricks to save money when cleaning. Some of the more useful ones include:

  • Wash/dry during off hours when electricity is cheaper (usually late in the evening and at night).
  • Consider using a clothesline instead of a dryer in the winter.
  • Use coupons combined with sales at drugstores to buy laundry soap in the smaller containers at the cheapest price.
  • Use socks in place of Swiffer cleaning cloths.
  • Add baking soda to your cat boxes to help cut any smells.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to remove ink and marker stains.
  • Cut down on paper towels by substituting reusable cloths where appropriate.

These tips will help you easily save money on cleaning supplies. Use these to get a jumpstart on your finding extra savings in your budget and get your spring cleaning off to a great start!

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!


Use these free debt & savings tracking printables to help you track and achieve all of your financial goals!

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Every spring I feel the need for a refresh. There’s just something about the fresh air and sunshine that makes me want to review our budget, get rid of clutter, and do a deep spring clean. So why not bust open the windows and start your spring with my favorite cleaning tips that’ll help you save a ton of money? #cleaningtips #springcleaning #frugal

Every spring I feel the need for a refresh. There’s just something about the fresh air and sunshine that makes me want to review our budget, get rid of clutter, and do a deep spring clean. So why not bust open the windows and start your spring with my favorite cleaning hacks that’ll help you save a ton of money? #cleaningtips #springcleaning #frugal

How to Jumpstart Your Finances Quickly with Sinking Funds

Are you struggling with budgeting and trying to stay ahead? Wondering where in the world you’re going to find money for upcoming expenses outside of your budget, yet again? The best way to break out of this cycle is to create and use sinking funds.

Sinking funds are the best way to make sure that you don’t end up stealing money from your emergency fund. They’re a great way to ensure that you are planning ahead and that you’re saving for the expenses you know are eventually going to come knocking at your door.

If you’re not sure what the difference is between a sinking fund and an emergency fund, you’ll want to read this article.

In this post, we’re focusing on discuss sinking funds, including what are sinking funds, how do they work, and how do you save up for them?

Struggling with budgeting and trying to stay ahead? Learn how sinking funds can save your budget and jumpstart your finances #finances #debt #sinkingfunds

What are sinking funds?

Everyone has budget items that aren’t monthly, but are items you know you’ll eventually have to pay for. Some sinking fund categories include:

  • 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

These are items that you need to include in your budget, but don’t happen every month. Usually they’re seasonal, quarterly, or once a year.

What is the purpose of a sinking fund?

The purpose of a sinking fund is to avoid either dipping into your emergency fund – or even worse – putting those expenses on a credit card.

When you’re trying to pay off debt, the last thing you want to do is dip into your emergency fund. It’s a guarantee that you’ll get caught without any backup and something big will hit.

Secondly, adding more onto credit cards is a slippery slope. It’s just too easy to keep using it, and not get ahead on your debt.

Having a sinking fund means you’re able to pay for things like oil changes, copays, and vacations without having to pay interest to a credit card company.

When to start using sinking funds

There are a couple of thoughts on when to start using sinking funds. You can start planning for and using sinking funds while you’re in debt repayment mode.

If you choose to do this, it’ll slow your debt repayment progress. However, you know you won’t end up having to put anything on a credit card.

If you wait until you are debt free, you risk having to put these expenses on a credit card, or dipping into your emergency fund. That means you’re betting against the odds that you’re able to pay it off relatively quickly from your credit card.

As much as I want to tackle our debt as quickly as possible, we’re choosing to set aside money every month for items that fall into our sinking funds. It just makes everything a lot less stressful, and it’s nice knowing we have the money to cover things like new tires and Christmas.

How to Determine How Much You Need In Your Sinking Funds

There are several ways that you can choose to determine the amount you’ll need to save. Start by writing down all expected expenses for the year that aren’t part of your normal budget. Do your best to estimate costs based on previous years. Next, select how you want to determine how much to save every paycheck:

Method 1: Saving Same Amount Every Paycheck

Once you have this total, divide this amount by the number of paychecks you receive for the year. Each paycheck, put that amount into your sinking funds account.

Sinking Fund Example: When our second child was born, I knew I’d have to get a c-section, and that our deductible was $6,000. We decided to dedicate $500 each month to medical expenses so that we would have her birth paid off by the end of the year. As medical bills came in throughout the year, I pulled money from that savings account to cover them.

Pros: There are no surprises or guesswork on how much to save from each paycheck.

Cons: There were a couple of months when the medical bills exceeded what we had saved to that point. I just contacted the provider and paid the bill in chunks until I had enough in savings to finish it.

Method 2: Prioritizing Sinking Fund Categories

Pick your top 3-4 most important sinking fund categories, based on their priority. Then save money from each paycheck for those specific items.

Sinking Fund Example: Say that you know that your HOA fees are due in February, your yearly trash bill is due in March, and your spring break vacation is early April. The rest of your sinking funds are further out in the calendar year. Total the cost of these three expenses, and divide by the number of paychecks that you’ll be receiving between now and when the last item (the vacation) is due to happen (April).

Once you’ve hit the savings needed for the first sinking fund category, you can reassess and add another to your list, so that you’re still only focusing on three or so at a time.

Pros: Creating a priority to your sinking funds helps you earmark funds for specific costs, so that they don’t end up in a mixed up mess where you’re not sure what’s due when. Or worse, not having enough saved for specific bills when they come due.

Cons: Different parts of the year could be more expensive than others, making it harder to save. Unlike method #1, what you save from one paycheck to another could vary greatly depending upon what’s due when.

The Best Way to Keep Your Sinking Funds Organized

You could lump your sinking funds into your savings and call it a day, but that’s a setup for disaster. Without having them earmarked for specific costs, you’ll likely forget how much you spent and on what items.

To solve this problem, we opened a savings account with Capital One 360. It’s 100% online, and has a better interest rate than most savings accounts. The best part? It easily links to our local bank accounts, and we can create up to 25 sub-accounts without any additional paperwork!

I have one account set up for quarterly tax payments, another for Christmas, and so on. No more worrying about overspending or figuring out how much we used for one thing or another.

Click here to learn more about the savings account available at Capital One 360.

Now that you know how to stop the cycle of financial stress, use this info to start planning ahead. Figure out what you need to save for, and start building your separate sinking fund accounts. By knowing what you need to save for the year, you’ll avoid the last minute rush to find funds. And, you’ll be able to keep your emergency fund just for emergencies.

Looking to learn more about budgeting? Click here to see the budget we’ve used to pay off over $16,000!

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!


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Struggling with budgeting and trying to stay ahead? Learn how sinking funds can save your budget and jumpstart your finances #finances #debt #sinkingfunds

Struggling with budgeting and trying to stay ahead? Learn how sinking funds can save your budget and jumpstart your finances #finances #debt #sinkingfunds

How to Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have

Another payday hits, and you’ve already got the itch to go shopping. Next thing you know, your paycheck is spent before the weekend is over. Unfortunately, it’s another 2 week stretch to keep yourself afloat until the next payday. You know you need to stop spending money you don’t have, but how?

If this sounds like a familiar struggle in your household, don’t fret – we’ve all been there at one time or another. You might often buy things you don’t need, or spend too much on food or clothes or other unnecessarily items.

The key to stop spending money you don’t have, or overspending, is to readjust your habits.

Struggling to not blow your paycheck in one weekend? Learn about the best hacks to stop spending money you don't have! #debt #stopspendingmoney #finance #money

Why do i keep spending money?

Sometimes we overspend to feel included, or try to find happiness. Maybe you hop online to shop when you’re bored or even angry at your spouse. (No judgement – I’ve done tons of rage shopping in my day!)

There can be a ton of triggers that cause us to overspend, each one a unique as the person it affects.

It’s important for you to figure out what your triggers are, because they are unique. Maybe you like to use shopping as a way to connect with family or friends. Or maybe you’re lonely and it’s a perfect way to fill your time.

No matter what the reasons, once you’ve pinpointed your overspending triggers, it’s time to move on to figuring out how to avoid them.

How to stop spending money on unnecessary things

Now that you know why you spend, you need to figure out the best ways to help you stop spending.

Here’s a great list of tips and tricks to help you avoid continuing to spend money you don’t have:

Use cash envelopes or pre-paid cards.

Assuming you already have a budget in place, switch to cash only or pre-paid cards. Create individual envelopes or cards for each budget category. Once the money is gone, it’s gone. There’s no way to overspend when you don’t have the cash on you!

Unsubscribe from store emails.

Just because something’s on sale, doesn’t mean that you need it. Remove yourself from any email lists that are just too tempting, and keep any that are only for necessities (like groceries). Without the temptation in your inbox every day, you’ll avoid drooling over sales and spending what you don’t have.

Avoid your favorite stores.

If a particular store is your downfall (I’m side-eyeing you, Target!), then make it a goal to avoid that store. Try just setting a goal of not going for 2 months. Once you start to see how it positively affects your bank account, you’ll be able to more easily avoid it in the future or at least be able to cap your spending there.

Limit your social media use.

I know, I know. That’s like asking you not to breathe (or maybe that’s just me?). But it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the pictures and stories of other people’s great new purchases and vacations. And it’s even harder not to be jealous and to be spurned into buying something yourself because you think you deserve it. Stack on top of that, all the companies that advertise via social media? It’s a black hole of overspending. Try to limit your time, or at the very least make the conscious effort to be aware of the marketing going on around you.

Update your budget often.

When I suggest updating your budget often, I mean daily or every other day, at first. Why? Because you’re hyper aware of where you money is going, and how much you have left in each category. It’s hard to purposely overspend when you know you don’t have the budget for it, and can see it in black and white on paper (or computer screen).

Figure out your hourly wage.

As discussed in this overspending blog post, knowing your hourly wage creates a checkpoint when spending. If you know you make $20 an hour, and that purse costs $400, the idea of working 20 hours to pay for it should make you cringe. Your time is the same as money – and looking at it that way can put some perspective on your purchases!

Substitute another free or cheap activity for shopping.

Shopping can be a great way to pass the time or alleviate boredom. I get it, I do it too. But is it worth going into more debt? Why not spend that time going for a walk, cleaning out your garage, or making money instead?

Find other ways to spend time with friends or family.

Why not find another way to have fun together that isn’t as costly? Maybe it’s a $5 coffee and a walk, playing board games, or binge watching the latest season of The Great British Baking Show (I like to fancy myself a non-practicing amateur baker). What’s important is spending time with them, not buying stuff. Talk to them and be honest about your struggle and why you want to change. Chances are, they’d love to support you and could probably use a break from spending money as well!

Stick to a list.

Make sure that before you go shopping, you create a list of what you need. Make it a point to only purchase what’s on that list, and anything else can wait.

Shop alone.

Parents, you have my full support in leaving the kiddos at home with your spouse or a babysitter to shop in peace. Er, I mean…to avoid overspending. Kids are notorious for wearing you down til they get what they want, so do yourself a favor and avoid the situation at all costs! Your wallet will thank you, and grocery shopping while feel a bit like a vacation. Win-win!

Leave your cards at home.

Avoid temptation altogether by leaving your credit cards at home. If you don’t have them, it’s easier to avoid spending money you don’t have (since that is essentially what they’re for!). Even better – if need be, freeze them, lock them in a safe, or – if you’re feeling really brave – cut them up!

Kick it all off with a spending freeze or savings challenge.

A no-spend challenge is a great way to get started with changing how you use your money. They can be a fun way to pause your current spending habits and work on incorporating new ones. I have a list of 37 creative and fun challenges here to help you get started!

The biggest steps you can take to stop spending money you don’t have is to look at your behavior. Figure out why you’re doing it and what triggers it. Once you pinpoint that, remove yourself from those situations as much as possible. Changing your money mindset will go a long way to changing your financial situation.

Just remember that if you do mess up and overspend, it’s not an excuse to chuck it all and go nuts. Stop, take a breath, and get back on track as quickly as possible. We all stumble, it’s just how quickly we can recover that matters!

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Running out of cash much too quick? Check out these 12 easy hacks to help you stop spending money you don't have! #debt #money #moneyhacks #spending

Struggling to make ends meet because you're not sure where all your cash goes? Here are THE best ways to stop spending money you don't have. #money #debt #finances

How to Save Money: Build $1000 in Savings in 12 Weeks

We all know it’s important to have financial goals. Without them, we’re destined to remain in debt and struggling to live paycheck to paycheck forever. 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.

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.

With some planning and organization, you can easily save $1,000 in 12 weeks. Use these printable savings tracker and worksheet to help you start on your journey to learning how to save money:

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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

Why You Need to Have 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.

Step 2: Set Your SMART Goal.

When you decide to set a goal, 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. 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 $19,000+ in the past 14 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:

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’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! 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.

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Struggling to save money? Learn the best way to save money quickly, complete with free printable savings worksheets. Get your $1000 savings built in just 12 weeks! #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney

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

The Best Money Saving App: How we saved $240 in minutes with Trim

How we saved $240 in minutes with the Trim app (so far!)

I like to think that I’m pretty savvy when it comes to saving money. I feel like I’ve learned all the tricks to cut costs and find extra dollars in my budget.

Boy, was I wrong.

By signing up for one service, and spending about 5 minutes to sync our accounts and submit our internet provider, we saved a whooping $240 a year. Did I mention it only took five minutes? If only every five minutes of my day could do the same!

By far the best money saving app I’ve tried, Trim is fantastic when it comes to cutting bills without a lot of hassle.Trim not only saved us money, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers. Trim is the best money saving app out there! #budget #savemoney #app

How We Saved $240 in 5 Minutes

We were able to save $240 a year in 5 minutes with the Trim app. I’d skimmed a couple of Trim app reviews before, but never really checked into it, though I’m definitely regretting that now.

I do have to admit that a while back I did I sign up and add one account, and then promptly blew it off. I strangely thought it’d be too much work and I assumed they’d never find any savings for us.

Silly, I know.

This time I decided to seriously try it out, even though I was oh so sure that I already was getting the best deals on all of our accounts.

We’re already cut everything possible, and haggled on everything from car insurance to daycare. My husband had even previously haggled with our internet provider to get the best deal, so how could they possibly get us a better one?

How Does Trim Work?

Trim does a lot more than I realized, or expected. I thought it was just a bill negotiator, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it does so much more. Trim works in three areas: it analyzes your spending, it alerts you about any subscriptions, and it does bill negotiations on your behalf, making it the best money saving app around!

How Trim Helps With Spending

I was not able to hook up our Barclay card, because it doesn’t support linking with Trim yet, but I did link our checking accounts Trim could check out our transactions. Trim texts you to let you know different notifications, such as:

  • If it’s payday
  • Any overdraft fees
  • Any late fees
  • Balance updates
  • Credit card usage
  • Large transactions (over $100)
  • Minimum balance (below $100)

You can turn any of these on or off to cater to what you want to be reminded about. Trim notifies you via your choice of text or Facebook Messenger to make sure that you’re on top of your accounts.

This way, you’re always know what’s happening with your accounts without having to login every day. You know what’s coming in, what’s going out, and when you’re close to running into problems, whether it’s overdrawing your account or if someone puts a big charge on your credit card.

Even better? You can ask Trim how much you’ve spent on particular services this month. For example, let’s say you’re a Target addict (oh, not me – just asking for a friend. Heh.)

If you’re brave, and want to face your Target demons, just ask Trim how much you’ve spent at Target by texting “Spend Target”. Then weep when you see the fallout. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How Trim Helps with Subscriptions

I love that Trim can recognize recurring charges and let you know about them. Plus, you can cancel those subscriptions directly from Trim, which is awesome. Less work for me? Hells yes!

Just text “Subs” to Trim, and it will list all of your subscriptions. Then you can easily ask Trim to cancel them for you via text or messenger, saving you money in a snap!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking – oh, I don’t have any subscriptions (like I did). Even though we’ve only been signed up with Trim for about 2 weeks, they’ve found 4 subscriptions for us.

Subscriptions aren’t always things like Graze or Blue Apron or Stitch Fix. For us, they were recurring bills, such as: daycare payments, life insurance payments, my student loan payment, and our car insurance.

Even though these aren’t items we can completely cancel, it’s still a great reminder to make you stop and think about what you’re paying for every month.

For example, we pay car insurance every month. We could pay it once a year instead and save some money that way. I would have never thought about that without Trim reminding me that of that automated payment that showed up in subscriptions. Trim helped me to look at each transaction and think about how I could do differently.

How Trim Helps with Bill Negotiations

Screenshot of savings from Trim appThis is where we were able to save $240 a year on our internet service. Trim doesn’t negotiate any of your bills without you specifically asking it to, which is great. It also does not alter your terms of service in order to save you money. For example, we have the exact same speed and package for our internet, which we were paying $69.99 for each month. Through Trim, we are now paying $49.99 for the exact same speed and service!

Trim currently works on lowering your bills for your cable/internet provider or your cell phone services only. Soon, car insurance negotiation will be available as well, and you can bet I’m hopping on that as soon as it’s available!

To use Trim to lower your bills, you select your provider and connect your account. For example, I provided our Time Warner/Spectrum login credentials to Trim. Once it’s able to connect, they next ask you for your credit card information (I’ll explain why next). Then, you just wait.

I submitted our Internet info on a Thursday and promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I received a text a week later letting me know that Trim was able to negotiate our bill and save us $240 a year!

What Happens if Trim Doesn’t Work with Your Service Provider?

Next, I moved on to our cell phone provider, which is Straight Talk. Unfortunately, they’re not listed as a provider that Trim works with. However, they do have a section where you can upload your latest bill in PDF format, or you can email your latest bill to them to see what they can do.

I decided to log into Straight Talk, print my payments in PDF format (they don’t provide a monthly bill), and submit it to Trim to see what happens.

As of the time of this post, I have not received word yet what they can do for us, but in all fairness, I just submitted it this morning. I will make sure to update the post when I hear back!

Is Trim Safe?

The biggest concern with any app where we connect our personal accounts is always wondering just how safe it is. Luckily Trim has security covered and then some:

  • They use 256-bit SSL encryption (similar to websites with a secure online shopping cart)
  • Two-factor authentication (like having to provide two types of ID)
  • Read-only access (meaning they can’t write to your accounts and change anything)
  • Trim never stores your account credentials on their servers (they just pass the info along without saving it)

They use a set-up called Plaid that connects to your bank. When they ask for your login, they pass the info to Plaid, which passes it to your bank or credit card company. Then Plaid sends back an encrypted token. This is what’s saved by Trim, rather than your login credentials, and prevents them from having your info laying around.

How Does Trim Make Money? Is Trim Free?

Obviously, Trim doesn’t do all this for free. Well, if you don’t use the bill negotiation section, then yes, it is free. However, if you decide to ask Trim to negotiate your bills, they keep 25% of whatever yearly savings they find for you.

Remember how they asked for a credit card when I submitted our internet info? That’s why the ask for it, in order to charge you the 25% of your savings. In our case, they charged us $60 of our $240 savings.

Does it seem steep? A little. But really, we’re still saving $180 a year. Which equates to a lot of clothes for our kids. Or a night in a really nice hotel. Or tickets to an awesome show.

It’s totally worth it in the end. Trim turned out to be not only the best money saving app we’ve tried, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers.

Why not give Trim a try? You just might be surprised at the savings they find for you!

Want another quick way to save money? Read more about 10 Simple Rules for a Successful No Spend Challenge!

Have you tried Trim yet? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!


Use these free debt & savings tracking printables to help you track and achieve all of your financial goals!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Trim is the best money saving app out there! Trim not only saved us $240 in about 5 minutes, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers. #budget #savemoney #app

We were able to save $240 a year in 5 minutes with the Trim app. I’d skimmed a couple of Trim app reviews before, but never really checked into it, though I’m definitely regretting that now.  #budget #savingmoney #trimapp

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? Continue reading

13 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money that Freed Up $700 a Month!

13 quick and easy ways to save money every month!

During the past year of budgeting, we’ve found a lot of ways to save money. There’s no lack of money saving ideas out there. That’s the easy part.

The hard part about budgeting is really about making the mental adjustment to changing your spending.

On the surface, it can feel like being deprived. But when you stop and really think about why you’re doing it, you’ll realize that it’s just about deciding what’s really important to you. Is it owning a house? Getting a maid to come once a week? Or having a cushy emergency fund just in case your employer’s check doesn’t deposit on time?
Continue reading

10 Surprising Lessons from our First Year of Budgeting

We’ve officially been budgeting for an entire year, which means…it’s our one year budget-versary! I wonder what you give each other for a gift? If it’s paper (like a real one year wedding anniversary), I’ll make sure to frame the first copy of our budget! 😉

In one year, we’ve dealt with job loss, storm damage, and unexpected FSA bills. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it was hard. We hit some points where we wanted to just scrap the budget and run for the hills.

But we hung in there, and persevered. Not only have we paid off over $14,000 in one year, but we’ve made some lasting changes to our lifestyle.
In the scheme of things, who can ever say they’ve had a smooth financial year? There’s always something that comes up, but it’s how you deal with it that really counts. Continue reading