Tag Archives: Debt Repayment

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

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:

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!

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 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!


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

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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

How to Boost Your Credit Score Quickly

How to boost your credit score quickly

Whether you like it or not, your credit score affects your daily life. Everything from getting approved for a loan to getting a job can be dependent upon having a good credit score. This is why it’s important to learn how to boost your credit score and keep it there.

If you are a fan of Dave Ramsey, you know his stance on credit scores. If you’re not, I’ll sum it up quickly: essentially, Dave thinks you should pay for everything in cash. When you do this, your credit score will disappear, since you no longer have any accounts for it to base your “credit worthiness” off of.

While Dave Ramsey doesn’t approve of worrying about a credit score, there are still a lot of reasons to do so. Unless you can pay cash for everything – and I mean everything, like a house – you’re going to need to have a good credit score.

Until you can pay for everything in cash, it’s important to know your credit score and pay attention to it. Having a good credit score can also help you save money in the long run as well.

Credit scores are also important in determining your interest rates on loans, mortgages, cars and credit cards. If your credit score is horrible, you will not be able to get a low interest rate. Which in turn means that you’ll be paying more for the same products as people with great credit scores.

Having a great credit score means saving money in the long run. Here are the most important tips to learn how to boost your credit score.

Not sure why credit scores matter? Want to know how to boost your credit score? Learn the key factors in boosting your credit score quickly now! #credit #creditscore #finance

Why Do I Need a Good Credit Score?

Having a good credit score is unfortunately important in today’s world, whether we (and Dave Ramsey) like it or not. Just look at all the items throughout your life that your credit score can affect:

  • Your ability to get a job since employers now check credit scores
  • You ability to get a loan
  • Your ability to get a good interest rate on that loan
  • Where you buy a house, your mortgage rate and how big of a house you can buy
  • Your relationships
  • If you can rent or lease an apartment or car
  • The cost of your car or home insurance
  • If you have to put down a deposit when opening utility accounts
  • Starting a business

How to Get Your Credit Score

Luckily, you can get your credit score for free at Credit Sesame. Just answer some basic questions, create an account and login to check your score.

Credit Sesame also helps you to analyze your credit score and tells you how you can improve it. I like it because it’s feedback that’s tailored to your specific situation, which takes out a lot of the guesswork. They also provide additional services, like credit monitoring to make sure that there’s nothing fishy going on with your credit.

Another good monitoring option is Credit Karma. While I haven’t tried it myself, I’ve heard good things.

Easy ways to improve credit

Everyone wants to know the fastest way to fix a credit score, so let’s dig in, shall we? There are several factors that make up your credit score:

  • Payment History (35% of credit score)
  • Credit Usage (or, Credit Utilization Ratio) (30% of credit score)
  • Credit Age (15% of credit score)
  • Account Mix (10% of credit score)
  • Credit Inquiries (10% of credit score)

I’ll go into detail about each so that you understand how each affects your credit score, and how heavily it weighs on determining your score. But first, grab a copy of your credit report and credit score and we’ll get into how to boost your credit score.  

Start by Reviewing Your Credit Report for Mistakes

Begin by getting a free copy of your credit report at Annual Credit Report. You can do this once a year for free. It will not give your credit score, but you can review it for discrepancies in your credit history.

If you find any accounts that you didn’t open or that are incorrect, you need to address them immediately. Start by contacting the credit bureau that’s showing the account and asked to have it removed.

I suggest sending a letter via certified mail with copies of the credit report and any documentation showing proof of inconsistencies. Ask them to investigate the account in question. They have 30 days from receiving the letter to review the issue, and then remove it.

Contact Creditors About Recent Late Fees

If you have recent late fees, you can kindly call and ask your creditor for a pass. See if you can get them to drop the late fee. If so, it should remove the late payment on your credit report. Otherwise, those late payment notifications will stay until the loan is paid off and closed for good.

Payment history makes up a whopping 35% of your credit score. Set reminders to pay your bills on time. Print and mark up a calendar. Whatever it takes, make sure that you’re paying those bills on time every month.

Want to know how to increase credit score immediately? Start with on-time payments. Current on-time payments will impact your score more than old late payments. Get on a schedule and pay those bills first.

Not only will this up your credit score, but you’ll sleep better at night knowing those payments are taken care of.

If you aren’t making enough to cover your bills, check out this article on 11 simple ways to save money on a tight budget.

Steps on How to Boost Your Credit Score

Pay Down Your Credit Cards or Loans

One large factor in your credit score is your credit utilization. It makes up 30% of your credit score.

This means that if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, and a $5,000 balance, you’re at a 50% credit utilization rate. Which is not good.

The lower your credit utilization rate, the better. You want it below 30%, but lower than 10% will get you the best rates from lenders.

Do not go out and open additional credit cards to create a smaller credit utilization percentage. Chances are you’ll end up using the card and gaining more debt, and also end up lowering your credit score.

The best way to drop your credit utilization score is – you guessed it – make a payment on your credit card. Knock off anything you can in order to get that percentage to drop. This will have a much bigger impact on your credit score than getting a late payment mark removed.

Consider picking up a temporary side hustle to make some extra cash to get those credit cards paid down. If you need some inspiration, here’s a list of online side hustles you can start this weekend.

Mix Your Accounts Up

Creditors and lenders want to see a variety of accounts, including credit cards, home loans, student loans, car loans, and other types of loans. Having a mix can be beneficial to your credit score.

Luckily, this only makes up 10% of your overall credit score, so don’t run out and grab an unnecessary loan just to give yourself variety. It’s not enough to bump your credit quite that much, so don’t worry about it if you don’t have a variety in your account types.

Keep Your Accounts Open

I know this sound contradictory, but you want old accounts. If you pay off a credit card, keep it open. The older, the better.

Credit age is based on an average age of your accounts. You want to try and have an average over five years if possible. So keep those accounts open – but cut up those cards!

Credit age makes up 15% of your credit score, and it’s a relatively easy task to accomplish. It doesn’t hurt if you choose to close a very recently opened card, but definitely keep any of the older accounts open.

Having 12 credit cards isn’t going to help either. Lenders want to see a variety, not quantity. This is my lowest rating on Credit Sesame, since I only have a couple of credit cards and a mortgage. And I’m totally fine with that! It’s worth it to drop the student loan and car payments we had earlier this year.

Keep the Number of Credit Inquiries Down

Every time you apply for a new loan, credit card, or mortgage, it’s a credit inquiry. You want to keep it down to only two per year, if possible.

Credit inquiries have a 10% impact on your credit score, so don’t apply for every store credit card you’re offered just to save 30% on your purchase that day.

This also means that if you don’t have a lot of credit accounts open, don’t open too many too rapidly. Spacing them out and opening only what you really need will boost your credit score much more. Opening too many at once will lower your score and it’ll take a year to fall off your report.

How long does it take for your credit score to update?

Depending upon the changes you make and how much they affect your score, you can start to see improvement in your score within 30 days. Lenders generally report to the credit bureaus once a month, so any changes will appear monthly.

Remember, fixing your credit is going to take a little time. So the sooner you start, the better!

How fast can you raise your credit score?

The burning question on everyone’s mind: how fast can you raise your credit score? Your specific situation and the changes you’ve made will dictate how fast you can raise your score.

But weary of any companies that promise fast results. Often, they can backfire and actually cause a lower score.

If you want tips to boost credit score quickly, your best bets are paying on time and lowering your credit utilization. Those items will give you the most bang for your buck. The others might take a bit, since they are based on time.

Remember, the key to boosting your credit is consistency. Being consistent with on-time payments, your credit utilization ratio, and keeping older accounts open will be the fastest way to fix your credit score.

Having a great credit score affects so much more than being able to get a loan at a low interest rate. It can affect everything from finding a job to how you raise your kids.

It’s important to not only check your credit score through a service like Credit Sesame, but to also keep checking it. You’ll want to pay attention to any changes that appear and address them as soon as possible to keep your credit score up.

Will Being Debt Free Affect Your Credit Score?

A debt free credit score could possibly be higher because your credit utilization will be zero. However, if you don’t have a good mix of types of credit, haven’t had the accounts open long, or have opened too many too recently, your score could possibly be lower than someone with debt.

While you’re not going to find Dave Ramsey free credit score services any time soon, understanding the factors that build a credit score are important. Once you’re debt free and are able to pay cash for literally everything in your life, that score will matter whether you like it or not.

Have you done any adjustments to raise your credit score? How long did it take to see a change? Let me know in the comments!

Want to know how to boost your credit score? Learn the key factors in how to get a higher credit score quickly now! #credit #creditscore #finance

The 9 Best Personal Finance Books that will Change Your Life

These are the 9 best personal finance books that will change your life (and aren't Dave Ramsey)

From Suze Orman to Dave Ramsey – and every finance guru in between – everyone claims to have the best personal finance books. But how do you find the one that fits your personal finance approach?

Whether you love him or loathe him, Dave Ramsey is one of the most talked about financial gurus out there. He’s got several books, a course you can take, even a money wallet to sort your budget envelopes.

Suze Orman is right up there too. She had a great show on MSNBC every Saturday night, as well as books and even a course she sells on HSN.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: it’s ok if you don’t eat up Dave’s approach with a spoon. Or Suze’s. Or anyone else’s. I promise, no harm will come to you (though, I’m totally expecting to get hate mail from some Dave fans…you know who you are! 😉 )

Covers of various personal finance books, including Rich Dad, Poor Dad; Meet the Frugalwoods; Debt-Free Forever; and more

I’m not dissing Dave or Suze. But there are tons – and I mean tons! – of great personal finance books out there. I’ve pulled together some of my absolute favorite. These great finance books have really changed my perspective on finances, work and living my absolute best life.

You won’t find any shady books like the “Free Money to Change Your Life” book, but you will find proven personal finance books that are reliable with solid advice. Each book has actionable steps that you can incorporate into your finances to help you make the leap to warp speed and fast track you for retirement or savings.

1. Debt Free Forever: Take Control of Your Money and Your Life

I’ve been a huge fan of Canadian financial expert Gail Vaz Oxlade for a long time, and have seen just about every episode of “Til Debt Do Us Part” on the MSNBC personal finance lineup (check it out, it’s a great show!).

She tends to not get much attention in the US due to being geared more towards Canadians. However, she’s got a great personality and is very to the point. She doesn’t sugar coat things, and has no trouble laying it out to someone in financial denial.

But don’t let that turn you off – it just means her book is no nonsense, straight forward, and one of the best debt free books I’ve read to help set you straight.

Debt Free Forever is also one of the best books for budgeting and finance and great for people who are starting out with tackling finances. If you’re behind on bills, or can’t get your finances organized, Gail lays out a step-by-step process to help you get your ship righted.

Her no nonsense style is great for those who are sick and tired of financial struggles, and are ready to get some relief.

Debt Free Forever will help you to create a financial plan, from figuring out what you owe, to creating a plan to become debt free in less than 3 years, to setting aside money for emergencies and building sinking funds.

2. Pogue’s Basics: Money: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) About Beating the System

David Pogue has written several books that are essentially life hacks in different genres, such as money, technology, and so on.

In Pogue’s Basics: Money, there are a ton of great tips to show you shortcuts on how to save money. If you were to put every tip into play, you’d save almost $62,000 a year!

While not every tip is going to apply to your situation, there are plenty that are actionable and easy to put into motion.

The tips included aren’t your run of the mill, frugal living stuff that you can find on any website. I’ve read a ton of the best personal finance websites and books, and yet I still found a ton of money saving shortcuts that I’ve never thought or heard of.

Some of the suggestions will take additional time and research to put into place, but the savings is exponentially bigger.

For example, in the House and Home chapter, there’s a tip on using solar panels. I’ve never considered purchasing them, but Pogue points out that you can either purchase them or rent them. If you rent them, there are several companies that will buy the panels, install them, deal with all the permits, design, upgrades and maintenance for free.

The companies are getting the incentives for installation, but you’re getting power at a fraction of the cost. You pay for the electric you use, and it’s a ton cheaper than traditional electric companies charge.

It turns out to be a win-win because you’re helping out the environment, getting cheap energy, and aren’t responsible for the hefty cost of installation and maintenance of solar panels.

Pogue’s Basics: Money is perfect for anyone who’s looking for non-obvious ways to save more cash. It’s for anyone who’s read through all the frugal savings sites and is ready to take it a step further.

3. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

You are a Badass is a series by Jen Sincero, and is about adjusting your mindset.

While I’ll say I’m not a fan all of her ideas on how to create money in your life, there are some great methods and tactics to help you stop with the negative thinking.

It’s so easy to fall into a victim mentality, especially with finances. When I would get hit with an unexpected bill, or an accident happened, I would think – why me? And then proceed to feel sorry for myself and grumble about how we’re never going to get ahead.

With this book, I’ve learned to realign my thinking and it’s actually brought financial abundance to our lives. It sounds nuts, I know, but it really taught me to change my perspective on money.

When I worked on a more positive mindset, I was able to be more proactive. This meant I found ways to find “money leaks” in our budget, find side hustles to make extra income, and stop overspending. I also finally realized that my financial worth was more than just a number.

You are a Badass at Making Money is for anyone who finds themselves in a mental money rut and is struggling to get out.

4. Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Fully Revised and Updated for 2018

Your Money or Your Life is a bit like getting slapped in the face with some serious reality. Some people love it, and some hate it.

The premise of this financial planning book is basically that you can choose making money or living your life. If you do what is expected – go to college, graduate, get a job, house and get married – then you’re going to be “stuck” working til you’re 65 trying to keep that lifestyle going.

I love the idea of questioning your choices with money, consumerism and work. This book promotes the “FI” lifestyle (as in, financial independence). It’s purpose is to persuade you to pursue a sustainable mindset, rather than a consumerism one.

It does a great job of making you question your choices and think about your values. Retiring early and simplifying my life? Sign me up!

Your Money or Your Life has a concrete plan with nine solid steps to take to get yourself there. If you’re a fan of shooting from the hip and no sugar coating of your financial advice, this is book is a great choice.

5. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love

Holly and Greg Johnson run Club Thrifty, a blog that focuses on becoming debt free and traveling the world. Sounds great, right? Count me in!

The pictures of their vacations are just absolutely drool worthy. It’s hard not to look at and think about following in their footsteps!

They started out in the mortuary business, and saw the financial struggles that many families faced on a daily basis. Seeing families struggle to pay for funeral services drove them to face their own $50,000 debt and pay it down using a zero sum budget.

Now, they travel the world with their two daughters and are debt free! So inspiring.

Zero Down Your Debt focuses on a zero sum budget, which basically means that your budget should equal zero at the end of the month. Each dollar should have a place to be in your budget, so that you’re not just wasting your cash and wondering where it went.

Holly and Greg walk you through financial goal setting, budgeting, and saving. This book is one of the best finance books for beginners. It’s perfect if you want to try a different budget method and are looking for financial balance between debt repayment and savings.

6. Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living

If you’re a fan of the best personal finance websites out there, chances are you’ve heard of the Frugalwoods  and their inspiring story. Blogger Elizabeth and her husband were young urban professionals who had a change of heart and learned to embrace frugality.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the story of how they made the transition from young professionals to modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont with a young daughter.

They were able to not only change the course of their lives, but they reached their financial independence goals at the young age of 32! They did so by saving over 70% of their take home pay and learning to live a frugal life.

Not only does this book cover their journey, but it provides tips and advice on how you can make similar changes in your life. The perfect book for anyone looking to get off the beaten financial path!

7. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

Cait Flanders is an amazing woman who has embarked on some serious personal changes. She paid off over $30,000 in consumer debt, only to end up back in the hole again.

She decided to set a very serious and impressive goal for herself: no shopping for an entire year.

The only items that she purchased during this time were consumables – meaning food, gas, groceries, toiletries, etc. Talk about some dedication!

Not only did she stop shopping, she also got rid of stuff. And the more that she cleared out, the better she felt. She also learned to make do with what she had. If it was broken, she learned how to fix it rather than throw it away.

The part that I can relate to most were the struggles she faced during this no-spend year. Normally, she turned to shopping, alcohol or food when things got tough. With her new challenge, she had to find new ways to cope. Not only is this really difficult, but so very inspiring to hear how she did it.

The Year of Less is a great way to look at what our shopping habits are doing to us. It really made me stop and think about my purchases and why I’m buying something. If you’re looking for direction on starting a no-spend period in your life, this book is truly inspirational.

8. The Millionaire Next Door

This book created an amazing financial mindshift for me, and I tell everyone about it when we’re talking finances. It is truly one of the best personal finance books I’ve read.

The authors interviewed people with a net worth of over one million. You’d expect it to be filled with the likes of the famous athletes, rock stars, and the Kardashins of the world, right?


The people with the highest net worth are those that didn’t go to college, but own a business; folks that make $90,000 a year – not millions; and people who buy used cars that average around $25,000, not brand new sports cars.

These folks have a higher net worth, because they’re frugal and they live below their means. It made me realize that a “normal” earner like me could be very successful financially.

If I made the right choices.

The Millionaire Next Door suggests seven rules of personal finance, from living below your means to what you should consider when you are choosing an occupation.

This is a great read if you’re into chart, stats, and data. It’s easy to read and has a ton of research to back the rules in the book.

9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad

I’ll admit that I have not personally read this one (yet!), but everyone raves about it and it’s one of the most popular finance books. It is on my must read list though!

This book very much follows the ideas of The Millionaire Next Door. It questions the concepts of common money beliefs and the myths surrounding being rich. It helps to question and push your money mindset into a new way of thinking.

The author, Robert Kiyosaki, grew up in Hawaii. In his story, he discusses his real dad, whom he refers to as “poor dad”. He’s an educated man with a job, but has struggled financially his entire life.

His best friend’s dad, or his “rich dad”, did not have a formal education but was able to build a business that blossomed and helped him to become one of the wealthiest men in Hawaii.

In Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert compares the two mens’ methods and money mindsets to show us how to question our thought process when it comes to money, investing, and employment.

There you have it, the 9 best personal finance books that aren’t Dave Ramsey. Don’t forget you can pick up free personal finance books at the library as well. Did your favorite make the list? If not, throw me a comment below on which ones I’ve missed that should be added!

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Need help finding the best personal finance books for your money personality? Start here - these books have really changed my perspective on finances, work and living my absolute best life! #financialfreedom #debt #debtfree #finance

There are tons - and I mean tons! - of gurus claiming to have the best personal finance books. I’ve pulled together some of my absolute favorite that changed my perspective on finances, work and living my absolute best life. #finances #financialfreedom #debt #debtfreeHow do you find the best personal finance books for your money personality? Start here - these books have really changed my perspective on finances, work and living my absolute best life #financialfreedom #debt #debtfree #finance

How to Fight and Conquer Discrepancies in Medical Bills

Medical bills are unfortunately a part of our life, no matter your plan, coverage or deductible. Whether you’ve just had a checkup, a baby – or something in between – chances are you’re going to end up with a medical bill. But what do you do if those services are incorrectly billed and processed? Here’s some tips on how to get your bill settled correctly and make the most of it financially.

When our second daughter was born via c-section, we hit our $6,000 deductible really quickly. We’d paid various other medical items throughout the year, helping us to hit our deductible before the end of the calendar year. However, thanks to discrepancies between the hospital, our insurance, and my husband’s company’s third party benefits firm, we were being billed an additional $3k out of pocket.

You can only imagine my frustration and need to knock some heads together at the run around I got from the hospital, insurance, and third party benefits company. Thankfully I’d kept good records of what bills I’d paid and when, knowing that this calendar year would be an expensive one for medical bills.

Not to mention, his old company switched insurance like some people switch spouses – it was a yearly event to a brand new insurance company, coverage plan, and possibly third party benefits manager. Talk about having to reinvent the wheel every year (and learn to navigate through all the ins and outs again and again!).

I learned a lot of tips and tricks with my dealings with two births, tons of medical bills, and multiple insurance companies. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fight medical bills when they’ve been billed incorrectly:

Medical bills are unfortunately a part of our life, no matter your plan, coverage or deductible. But what do you do if those services are incorrectly billed and processed? Here’s some tips on how to get your bill settled correctly and make the most of it financially. #debt #debtfree

Gather all of your medical bills and insurance paperwork.

You’ll need all of your medical bills and additional paperwork so that you can easily review and compare all of the information on the bills to your coverage. Paperwork needed will include:

  • All bills from doctor’s office/hospital
  • All insurance EOBs (explanation of benefits, also called claims)
  • Review all checking accounts and credit cards that you’ve made any medical payments with. Make a list of these payments on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Any other letters, emails or correspondence from the insurance, doctor’s office/hospital, or third party benefits company (if applicable)

Review your insurance coverage and numbers.

If you don’t already know or understand your insurance coverage and how it works, now’s the time to jump on it. Check your insurance’s website or HealthCare.gov to learn the terminology.

You need to know and understand how much your deductible is, what percentage your coninsurance coverage is, and what’s considered in or out of network for your plan, just to name some of the broader pieces.

Also make sure that if you have an HSA (health savings account) or HRA (health reimbursement account) through your employer, that you understand the rules and restrictions. How to file for reimbursements, what the restrictions are on claims or services, and amounts available are going to vary based on the plan  your company offers.

It can be difficult and frustrating to sort through. If you don’t understand your coverage or have questions, make sure to call and ask your insurance or third party benefits provider. Keep calling until you understand exactly what’s covered and what you owe. No question is too dumb! If you don’t understand your coverage, it’s up to you to find someone who can explain it in a way that is easy to understand.

Go over your medical bills with a fine toothed comb. Twice.

Next, you’ll want to review each and every bill for errors. Check to make sure that:

  • The charges are for services actually rendered
  • There’s nothing questionable listed on the bill
  • That the claim was submitted to your insurance AND processed by them. This is important! If it hasn’t been processed yet, you shouldn’t be paying it.

Occasionally – and frustratingly – you’ll receive a bill before it’s been properly processed through your insurance company. This was the case with my second c-section. I received a bill for the ultrasound and paid it on time, like a financially responsible adult.

Turns out it wasn’t processed correctly through the third party benefits provider, so they had no record of it. When we pinpointed the missing payment, the provider said – well, you shouldn’t pay a bill that hasn’t been processed! Seriously?

Lesson learned: Always keep track of what medical bills you’ve paid throughout the year, along with the paperwork. You never know when you’ll have to go back and dig them up to dispute something!

Compare what you’re being billed to the insurance claims.

Make sure that the numbers match up. To do so, review the EOBs/claims. You should have a claim for each bill you receive. Match them up by service date and provider so you know you’re looking at the correct items.

On the EOB/claim, there’s always a column that says, “What your provider may bill you”, or something to that effect. Make sure that the number matches what you’re being billed on the actual bill. If it doesn’t match, or is higher – that’s a red flag that you’ve been billed prior to the office filing the claim with the insurance, or that there’s a discrepancy somewhere between the insurance and doctor’s office.

What do I do if the medical claim doesn’t match the medical bill I received?

If you find a discrepancy between your medical bill and the EOB/claim, there are several points of contact you can follow through with in order to straighten it out:

  1. Start by contacting the doctor’s office. Talk to them about the numbers on your claim versus what’s being billed. You can ask them to reprocess the claim with the insurance company, or give them your insurance company’s contact information and ask them to speak with them directly.
  2. Next, try the insurance company. If you can’t get a decent resolution with the doctor’s office, contact the insurance company and explain the situation. Give them the doctor’s number or fax and ask them to reach out on your behalf.
  3. Contact your third party benefits provider (if you have one). They are the middleman between your company and insurance. Generally, they’ll be the ones that deal with your HRA and HSA. If there’s a discrepancy on HSA/HRA payment, this will be the place to reach out to.
  4. Talk to your company’s HR. In our case, as a last ditch effort, I reached out to my husband’s company’s HR manager. She was able to bridge the gap between the insurance and third party benefits provider in order to clear up the discrepancies in billing and HSA.

It will take several calls and some time to straighten this out, so be patient. Also, there’s a chance that it might take a bit of time, and the bill could get sent to collections. If so, call and explain the situation, and ask them to put in a request to pull the bill from collections. While it might only be a two week reprieve, it’s better than having to deal with yet another company in the process!

Also, make sure to keep meticulous notes on all of your phone conversations concerning the bills. Write down who you talked to, what was discussed, the date, and what the next steps are. You’ll be thankful to have those notes all in one spot to whip out if needed!

What if i can’t pay my hospital bill?

Now that the dust has settled and everything’s sorted out, you have a final bill sitting in front of you. But what happens if you can’t pay your hospital bill?

There are several options you can try to help with getting medical bills paid or forgiven:

  1. Ask to for a discount. Some medical facilities will give you a discount if you pay it all at once, or with cash.
  2. Ask for a payment plan. If you couldn’t possibly scrap together the entire bill, ask for a payment plan. Often they’d rather get $50 a month than nothing, and it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  3. Ask if they have a sliding scale on bills. Some hospitals and doctor’s offices have a sliding scale they can use to base what you owe of of the income you make. You have to fill out forms and send in paycheck stubs proving what you make and what your debt is, but it’s worth it if it means getting some of the debt removed.
  4. Ask for debt forgiveness. Try writing a letter to the hospital asking for debt forgiveness. Like the sliding scale, if you can prove a hardship, it’s worth asking for forgiveness on the debt. Some facilities have charity programs that help out with these types of requests.

How to Get Medical Bills Forgiven

If you just can’t pay the mounting medical bills, there are additional resources out there that can help you with medical bill debt forgiveness. Besides trying to negotiate with the hospital or medical facility, you can also reach out to your insurance company. While it might be a long shot, it’s worth a try.

There are also charities available that can help with medical debt forgiveness. There are several out there that you can find via Google, but be very cautious and make sure they’re legit before pursuing any involvement with them. Some that I’ve found are:

  • RIP Medical Debt
  • The HealthWell Foundation
  • CancerCare

You can also check with the hospital, your church, or community see what other charities they know of that can help you out.

One last option is to try crowdfunding, such as starting a GoFundMe fundraiser. This is one way to ask family and friends for help. You can explain your situation, and even if they can’t make a donation, they can easily share your fundraiser on social media for others to see.

Bonus Tip!

Don’t forget to keep track of all of your medical payments in a calendar year. If the amount paid out (including mileage to and from appointments) and greater than 7.5% of your net income, you can write off those expenses if you do itemized deductions. This has come in handy for us the years that we had our daughters, and every little bit helps!

Medical bill discrepancies can be a pain, but they’re not completely unmanageable. With the right paperwork, knowledge and ability to follow through, you can fight and conquer your medical debt.

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Do you know what to do if medical bills are incorrectly billed and processed? Here’s some tips on how to get your medical bill settled correctly and make the most of it financially. #debt #debtfree

Student Loan Debt: How to get rid of them quickly and painlessly

Anyone with student loan debt will tell you just how tiring, worrisome and stressful it can be. It’s easy to panic or avoid them altogether. But really, the best (and only) way to deal with them is like ripping a band-aid off – you just have to get a firm grip and face them head on.

Student loan statistics are sobering: the average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400, not to mention that we owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt among about 44 million borrowers*. Those numbers are dizzying at best.

We’re not even talking about other debts, like credit card debt, medical bills, or mortgages. Talk about having a rough start out of the gate!

Besides having a budget, it’s important to have a plan of attack to get rid of student loan debt. Use these tips to find the best way to tackle those student loans once and for all.

Anyone with student loan debt will tell you just how tiring, worrisome and stressful it can be. It’s easy to panic or avoid them altogether. But really, the best (and only) way to deal with them is like ripping a band-aid off - you just have to get a firm grip and face them head on. Besides having a budget, it’s important to have a plan of attack. Use these tips to find the best way to tackle those student loans once and for all! #studentloandebt #studentloans #debt #debtpayoff

How to Get Out of Student Loan Debt Quickly

There are a couple of ways to get rid of student loan debt. You either have to make more money, or spend less of what you already make.

Then, you have to put everything you can against your student loans and hustle to get them paid off as quickly as possible. While there are tips and tricks to help trim the amount you pay towards interest, it’s going to take some elbow grease to get rid of your student loan debt.

These steps will show you how to get debt free from student loans by organizing your information, figuring out what you owe, and creating a plan of attack:

1. Know what you owe on your student loan debt.

You can’t create a plan of attack without knowing what you owe. Create a spreadsheet that lists:

  • The number of loans
  • Which provider they’re with
  • The interest rates on each
  • Minimum monthly payments
  • Type of loan
  • Contact information for each provider
  • Login information

Having everything pulled together makes it easier if/when you have to call the student loan provider in order to discuss payment schedules or how to apply extra payments.

2. Prioritize your student loans and focus on paying off the smallest first.

By prioritizing the smallest loan first, you’re using Dave Ramsey’s snowball methodology. Psychologically, you want to create easy wins to keep you motivated. Focusing on paying off that loan first will help you to create motivation and focus during your repayment process.

3. Automate your minimum payments (or more).

When I signed up for automatic payments, my student loan company offered me a 0.25% discount as long as I kept the auto payment going. Ask your loan company if they’ll give you a similar offer. If nothing else, you know that by signing up, that you don’t have to worry about missing payments.

4. Pay beyond the monthly minimums.

The fastest way to get rid of student loan debt is to pay more than the monthly minimum. The average monthly student loan payment is $351*. We all know that the only way you’re going to get these student loans paid off anytime this century is to pay more than what’s due every month. The important thing is to make sure it’s being applied correctly.

It bears repeating:

The best way to get rid of student loan debt is to make sure that your extra payments are being applied correctly.

So what does this mean? That you want the extra payments to be applied to the principle, not the interest. Student loan interest does accrue daily, so that will always get paid first. But, when you make an extra payment, you can choose to apply it to the principle, OR you can choose to “pre-pay” the interest that’s coming up (not the daily interest that’s already accrued).

Of course you want to pay the principle first. When you do that, you have less of a lump, which means the interest you’re paying will drop.

Some student loan providers are sneaky and ridiculous with this. When you make a payment, if you aren’t given the option of how it’s applied, you’ll need to call and stay on them to make sure that they apply it correctly.

5. Make bi-weekly payments.

This is a well known trick for paying off mortgages faster. Instead of making a single monthly payment, do half of the owed payment every 2 weeks. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, you end up with an extra payment being made, as well as less interest accruing.

While I haven’t personally done this, you would would pre-pay half of March’s payment on Feb 15th, and then the rest on March 1st. That way you’re not late with payments, but also paying less interest overall.

6. Consider consolidation or refinancing your student loan debt.

Only consider consolidation or refinancing if it makes sense. Look at all of the options and compare them before taking the leap. I was able to hit the timing just right to consolidate my student loans at a crazy 1.75%, which is unheard of today. Make sure to do your research and know what you’re signing up for before making the commitment. There are some great articles that can help you make the decision, such as the calculators on Student Loan Hero.

7. Look into student loan forgiveness.

Student loan forgiveness is generally based on your occupation. You’ll need to make sure you work for the correct type of company and job, and apply ASAP. It takes 10 years to achieve loan forgiveness, so you want to get the clock ticking as soon as you can. Also, don’t forget you’ll have to pay taxes on whatever amount is forgiven, so prepare yourself for that as well. For more info on student loan forgiveness, check out the Federal Student Loan website.

Also, make sure to beware companies that say they’ll help you get your loans forgiven. Often they’re scams. While student loan forgiveness is very enticing, make sure to be on the lookout for companies and deals that are too good to be true.

8. Ask your employer for help.

Check and see if your company offers any Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs). This is a newer benefit that some companies are offering to help gain and retain employees. If you’re current company doesn’t offer a LRAP, maybe it’s time to research companies that do and consider a career move.

Also, some employers offer help with financial services as a benefit. Take advantage and talk to a financial adviser to figure out what your options are to get these loans paid off quickly.

9. Set smaller milestones and goals.

By creating smaller milestones, you can use this to keep you motivated and ensure you keep on track. Break up your goals by percentage amounts or by individual loans. Every time you reach a milestone, make sure to celebrate in some way. It’s a great way to help you keep going, and recognize your progress!

10. Have a visual reminder.

Use a debt repayment tracker printout to help you keep a visual reminder. Put it in a place where you’ll see it often and it’ll remind you of your goals. It’s a great way to keep your motivation up and watch your debt shrink. You can download one here:

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11. Hustle your way to student loan freedom.

Find a side hustle that fits your schedule and use it to earn extra money. You can do anything from online surveys to DoorDash to picking up extra overtime at your current job. For more ideas on side hustles, check out:

12. Review how you budget and use your money.

Chances are there are chunks of your budget that could use trimming down, and the extra thrown on those student loans. The easiest way to find extra money is to dig into what you already have and repurpose it. Here are some easy wins to get you started:

Use your credit card (responsibly).

Believe it or not, there are credit cards that allow you to use your earned reward points to pay off the principle on your student loan. Sounds amazing, right? As long as you pay off your card in full every month so that you’re not paying interest on that, this could be a win-win. For more info, check out bankrate.com ‘s article here.

Update your thinking about how you spend.

Use the money that you’re making wisely. The more you save, the more you can apply towards that student loan debt. Consider the following to help you trim your savings:

  • Consider buying used vs. new
  • Use Trim to cut your phone, cable and other bills. Or, drop cable altogether!
  • Switch to Straight Talk to save even more on your phone bill
  • Switch to a cheaper grocery store
  • Start couponing
  • Carpool, bike or use public transit to work
  • Review and adjust insurance coverage
  • Reconsider what’s a need versus a want
  • Find other ways to cut your expenses

Meal plan to cut your grocery budget.

For us, the biggest piece of our budget that was the easiest to cut was our food budget. Having an extra $400 a month to throw towards student loan debt was priceless, and we did it by using the Grocery Budget Makeover. Erin Chase is the creator of $5 Dinners, MyFreezEasy, and Grocery Budget Makeover, so she definitely knows what she’s talking about!

With the Grocery Budget Makeover, you learn a lot of key ideas about organizing, budgeting, and shopping:
Include your family in the process
Set up your shopping list,
how to stockpile,
how to best use coupons (only if you want to!)
time saving kitchen hacks.

Learn more about the Grocery Budget Makeover course here.

Consider pausing retirement/savings.

Pausing retirement or savings is a very personal choice and is going to vary based on your specific situation. If you have an employer matching 401k contributions, I would not stop that contribution because it’s free money.

On the other hand, if you have a high interest rate loan, such as credit cards or student loans, it makes sense to pause other retirement contributions or low interest savings until you have those loans paid off. Make sure to do your research and figure out the savings/earning in the long run to figure out what’s best for you specifically.

Put any extra money towards your student loans.

Think of all the extra money that comes your way every year: raises, bonuses, gifts, tax refunds, overtime…the list goes on. Vow to use 100% of those extra earnings towards your student loans to knock those balances down much faster. You’ll be happy you used it on your student loans instead of a fancy dinner or extra stuff you don’t even need lying around the house.

You don’t need a student debt freedom company to crush your student loans. Apply these steps to help you figure out how to get rid of student loan debt quickly and you’ll be free in no time!



Student loan debt can be draining on your finances, not to mention your motivation. Here's a step-by-step guide to crush your student loan debt #debt #studentloans #student #debtfree

Are you struggling with student loan debt? Check out this student loan payment plan that will help you crush your student loans once and for all! #studentloans #debt #debtfree #student

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Quickly

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

The average APR on credit cards is 15%. If you take a year to pay off $7,000 at 15%, that’s $581 in interest. That could be a vacation, a jumpstart to our investment portfolio, or a nice dinner out every month.

While the huge majority of us want to credit card debt relief, we’ve just come to accept it as a painful but necessary part of life. Everyone we know has it, but we generally don’t talk about it.

But what if you didn’t have to have credit card debt in your day-to-day life? It might seem like a strange idea by today’s standards, but there are many people out there who either don’t use credit cards or pay them off every month to avoid interest and fees.

How to Pay Down Credit Card Debt

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.

The only way to pay off credit card debt fast is to get organized and 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.

The smartest way to pay off credit cards is to learn how to stop overpsending and put a budget into place. You’ll be able to stop using credit cards to survive day-to-day and will be able to chip away at getting out of debt. Use these tips and tricks to learn the best way to pay off credit cards.

Looking to pay off your student loans? Learn how to organize and tackle those student loans once and for all!

Wondering how to stop racking up expenses on your credit cards? Use these tips and tricks to pay off your credit card debt quickly! #debt #creditcarddebt #debtpayoff #finance #debtfree #creditcard

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 (yes, I’ve had to do this more than once!). Or cut them up so you’re not tempted. Whatever it takes to keep you on track.

Make sure to remove the temptation to use them by removing them from your daily life. That means clearing out your saved card numbers on your favorite shopping sites as well.

By taking away the ease of online shopping, we’re banking on the laziness factor to throw an automatic pause on shopping. No one wants to get up and dig through their wallet for their card (or chip it out of the ice block if you froze it!). This extra step takes your mind off auto pilot and can help you to stop and think about purchases before making them.

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.

Learn more about how we started saving $700 a month by cutting some basics from our budget here.

3. Set bi-weekly and monthly goals.

Set a SMART goal to get rid of 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.

By setting goals, it creates a challenge and an end point in eliminating debt. This is a great way to stay motivated, especially when you know it’s not forever. It’s just for right now, and it’s for a manageable amount of time, making it easier to reduce debt fast.

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.

And who knows? You might be motivating them in return to reduce credit card debt or stop paying everything with credit cards. It’s a win-win!

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.

Remember the scenario above where I mentioned $7,000 in credit card debt at 15% APR, paid off over a year? A drop of just 2% of interest would save about $80 over the year. While it might not seem like much, that’s $80 less dollars that you have to earn, scrape together, or save in order to get out of credit card debt.

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. Point out that you’ve always paid on time and over the minimum balance (if that applies). Reminding them that you’re a great customer might help grease the wheels.

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, the transfer fee could potentially negate any savings you would have made on not having to pay interest. Make sure to read the fine print on any offers!

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.

Make sure that the transfer rate is less than what you’d pay in interest over your payment time period. Check out this pay off credit card calculator to see how much you’d end up paying in interest with your current card.

While I’m not a big fan of shuffling debt around, if you’re responsible and can handle it without charging more, it could be key to the fastest way to pay off credit card.

Disclaimer: if you go this route, you absolutely must:

  1. Pay off the new card before that 0% interest kicks in.
  2. Put both cards in the safe, a block of ice, or even better – the shredder. Don’t take on any new debt!

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, and again, make sure to put those credit cards away so that you avoid the temptation to spend on them again.

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. The best way to eliminate debt is to throw more money at it!

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.

My favorite is to do a no spend challenge. You choose a week or month to stop spending so that you can save up to eliminate debt. Think of it as a fast or cleanse, but for your finances. It’s a great way to jump start your debt payoff!

Pick up a side hustle to make extra cash.

There’s nothing short of a billion different side hustles you can do – from DoorDash to selling on Etsy and everything in between, you can find a side hustle that will fit your needs and availability. Learn more about side hustles here:

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 cards quickly, 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!

Looking for more ways to squeeze a tight budget? Read up on 11 simple ways to save money on a tight budget.


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

Not sure how to pay off credit card quickly? Here's the scoop on how to conquer your debt and get those credit cards paid off for good! #debt #finance #debtfree
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

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How to Stop Overspending Immediately with One Easy Trick

How to stop overspending with one easy trick

I love to shop. It might not be for clothes, expensive purses, or jewelry, but I love to buy home decor. And daydream about herringbone backsplashes and kitchen remodels. Oh, and don’t forget about the hours I could spend in any craft or home improvement store within a 50 mile radius!

The cold, hard truth is that shopping is a necessity, just like eating and drinking (lots of) coffee. Even if you try not to shop for non-necessities, you still need groceries, toiletries, and other household items.

Consumers are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages A DAY according to the American Marketing Association*. Emails, billboards, and tv ads – oh my! There’s no avoiding marketing ploys even if you think you are. We’re subjected to them everywhere – even while buying groceries or picking up toiletries at CVS.

So are we all doomed to overspend at the sight of a online sale, girls’ day out, or those thousands of ads we’re subjected to daily? Thankfully, the answer is no. I have one great trick to help you wrangle your spending and cut down on buying things that you don’t really need.

Stop overspending with one easy trick! I have one great trick to help you wrangle your overspending immediately and cut down on buying things that you don’t really need. #overspending #finances #budgeting #frugal

How to Stop Overspending

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned little tricks here and there to help me curb my spending. Whether it’s to put one thing back before checking out, wrapping a note around my credit card as a reminder, or switching to an all cash system, I’ve tried just about everything.

But the one trick that worked the best and that was immediately very effective may sound a little too crazy easy. Trust me though – it works!

Are you ready? Are you on pins and needles? Alright, here you go:

Calculator, coffee mug and person's hands writing on notepad

I figured out what my hourly pay rate was.

By figuring out what my hourly rate is, I had a comparison point to work off of. For example, let’s say you make $20 an hour. A dinner out with your spouse, complete with drinks, apps and dessert, could easily be $80, right? Are you willing to work 4 hours for that one hour dinner? If so, great! Enjoy! If not, you’ll find yourself adjusting your definition of what’s worth one hour of work. Pretty tricky, right?

Why Does this Trick work to Slow Down Spending?

This trick worked the best for me because it gave me a real-life, solid perspective point to work from. Previously, I would weigh buying a fancy candle holder today against my retirement. Eh, not really effective. It’s too blurry of a comparison and waaaay too easy to talk myself into, especially when retirement always felt so far away (which it’s not!).

But compare that same fancy candle holder against 4 solid hours of work? Whoa. Let’s face it – the hours most people spend at work are…less than the best time of their life, right? When you compare buying a candle holder against 4 more hours of extra meetings and crazy coworkers, it’s a no-brainer, right?

How to Calculate Your Hourly Rate

Say you make $60,000 a year, and work about a 40 hour work week.

40 hours a week x 52 weeks a year = 2080 hours worked a year

Take your salary and divide it by 2080 hours.

$60,000 / 2080 = $28.85 an hour


How to Use this Simple Trick to Curb Overspending

Now you have your approximate hourly rate. Next time you want to buy something, think about how many hours of work that equals out to.

A $60 dinner? That’s a little over 2 hours of work.

A new $400 purse? That’s almost 14 hours of work, or, 1.75 days!

Really puts things into perspective, right? While this isn’t anything groundbreaking by any means, when you figure out what you actually make an hour, it really makes you stop and rethink your purchases. You might actually be shocked at how little your hourly rate works out to be. And we’re not even talking about after taxes, healthcare, or anything else!

When I did this, I took the lower of our salaries between my husband and I to figure out an hourly rate for us. Using that lower number really drove it home and made both of us realize just how much one of us had to work in order to afford that dinner, movie tickets, or gym membership.

Next time you’re on a night out, or just doing some mindless shopping for fun, stop and remember your hourly rate. Write it on a post-it and wrap it around your credit card. Make it a habit to stop and think about what you’re doing. The only way to change a habit is through consistent actions. Try stopping that behavior with a visual cue, like your hourly rate on a post-it. You’ll be surprised at how well it works!

Let me know if you try this and what the results were! Leave a comment below!


Looking for additional tips on how to change your spending habits? Check out How to Reset Your Money Mindset here!

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One easy trick to stop overspending #overspending #finances #budgeting #frugal

4 Reasons Why You’re Failing at Becoming Debt Free And How to Fix It!

4 Reasons Why You’re Failing at Becoming Debt Free – And how to fix it!

Becoming debt free is no easy task to tackle. It took time to get into debt, which means it’ll take time to get back out. Frustrating, but true.

If you’re like me, I wanted instant gratification and results NOW. I had trouble giving it time to work. Which meant, I found myself straying from the debt repayment path and losing focus. A lot.

So how do you recover and keep yourself on task? To start, it’s more important to ask yourself why you’re straying and what can you do to fix it. Below I’ve listed the top four reasons why you’re failing at becoming debt free, and how to fix it.

Woman holding head, frustrated with budget

You don’t have a specific enough reason “why”.

We all want to be debt free. That’s why we’re pouring over apps and excel spreadsheets and reading blogs like this one, right? What if I told you that’s not enough of a motivator to actually become debt free?

Motivation is a huge factor in achieving any goal. A generic goal of “hey, I wanna be debt free!” isn’t enough. You need to stop and think about why you’re doing all this work.

Is it because you want to travel with your kids? Because you want to pay for their college? Because you want to be able to tell Sallie Mae to suck it? Or because you want to retire at 45?

You need to discover what drives you, and figure out your “why”. Once you know your “why”, you’ll find that the goal feels more tangible and is easier to focus on.

Maybe you have more than one goal. Great! Write them all down and keep them someplace that you’ll see them daily, so that you’ll be reminded as to why you’re working so hard. A constant reminder is great to help you remain motivated.

You’re not surrounding yourself with like-minded people and lack support.

Money talk amongst family can be the worst. It’s awkward and difficult. They probably won’t get why you are choosing to become (and remain) debt free. A lot of people think being debt free isn’t “normal”. If that’s the case, that’s ok. To each their own, right?

If you can’t find support through friends or family, find private personal finance groups on Facebook. Incorporate debt free boards into your Pinterest feeds. Follow a financial guru on Twitter. Whatever it takes to surround yourself with a tribe of folks who get you, and get your journey.

I’m a member of several private financial-based Facebook groups, and I love contributing and learning from everyone on there. Having these folks are great. They can act as sounding boards when you’re not sure of next steps, or you can learn from the situations they discuss. They’re great at being open-minded and cheering you on as you meet each of your goals!

You’re not using positive thinking.

Most people struggle with negative thinking more than they realize. Have you ever caught yourself saying things internally (or even out loud), such as:

We’ll never get out of debt.


We’ll never be rich.

If you talk to yourself this way, then yes, of course you won’t!

I found myself doing this a lot, and wondering why we weren’t making progress. Then I watched an amazing webinar where I was told that I’m just as capable of succeeding financially as anyone else. So simple, yet, it finally clicked! It took watching a stranger talking about basic investing strategies for me to realize that the one of the major things holding us back was MY mindset.

Not our bills or our income. Or our eating out (well, maybe a little!).

It was me and my thinking.

I know, some people can be weirded out by the idea of positive thinking. But it doesn’t cost anything to try, and heck – you might actually change your outlook!

Start by finding a mantra that you’re comfortable with. I like ones like, “I am worthy of financial success”, or “I attract money.” Repeat it every time you brush your teeth or eat a meal. It’ll put you in a good mindset to focus on your goals and will help you to realize that you can achieve them.

You’ve overwhelmed yourself by being too focused on the big picture.

Trust me, I get it. I get easily overwhelmed and panicky when I see a HUGE mountain of a task in front of me, like paying off our debt or a huge work project. All I can think is – how the heck am I gonna get that done??

The best way I’ve found to make any progress on these large goals is to break it down. I write down the next 3 – 5 tasks that I need to accomplish to start the climb up the mountain.

By chunking the work down into small tasks, it’s easier to digest and takes away any feelings of complete overwhelm.

Decide what works best for you. Is it to focus on the next 3 tasks? Just focus on your actions for today? Or plan what pieces to tackle just this week? Whichever works for you, embrace it and use that to break that mountain down into more manageable pieces.

You know you’ve got the skills to meet your goals, it’s just a matter of fine tuning them. If you make sure to truly know what you’re working for, change your mindset and your support system, you’ll be debt free in no time. Now get to it!

Have other tips or tricks to keep your debt repayment journey on track? Add them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

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