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April 2018

6 Tips for 20-Somethings on a Debt Free Journey
Money Management

6 Tips for 20-Somethings on a Debt Free Journey

6 Tips for 20-Somethings on a Debt Free Journey

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

It can be hard being in your 20-somethings and on a debt free journey. Basically every time you get on social media someone is jet setting somewhere new, everyone is trying Orangetheory and SoulCycle, and you’ll find everyone at brunch on Sunday. It’s tough, especially when you’re trying to dig yourself out of debt. But, don’t give up, you can enjoy your 20s and still be on a debt free journey. Here are some frugal tips to follow for all 20-somethings.

Tip #1: Acknowledge your Sacrifices

Always, always, always acknowledge the sacrifices you are making for your debt free journey, especially if you’re a 20-something. You’re doing a lot to get yourself out of debt, so acknowledge that! You’re getting your financial life together very early on, and that’s something to celebrate. Being on a debt free journey is all about sacrifices now for a better future, but that doesn’t mean you need to live under a rock and do nothing. Remind yourself of the things you are giving up to help yourself out of debt. For me, that’s reminding myself that I’m living with my parents instead of in an apartment in a fun city.

Tip #2: Budget for Fun

It’s important to budget for the fun things you enjoy in your life. You might think if you’re on a debt free journey then you can’t budget for any fun, absolutely not!! You’re going to drive yourself crazy and probably end up spending money you don’t have, if you don’t budget for fun things. The important thing about getting out of debt is not adding any new debt. If you don’t plan for fun, then you’re more likely to put it on a card and spend money you don’t have. If it’s in the budget, then it’s okay! Plan for fun money so you don’t drive yourself crazy on this journey.

Tip #3 Sinking Funds

If you haven’t heard of sinking funds, you need to get on the band wagon ASAP. Sinking funds have been a total game changer for me and have allowed me to still enjoy my twenties while paying off my massive debt. Sinking funds are when you have a set amount you are saving for something in the future so you have the cash when you need it. This is how I was able to go to Punta Cana, San Francisco, and Florida during my debt free journey. I knew I wanted to go on these trips, so I started saving for them months in advance. When it came time for the trip, I had the cash ready and it didn’t take away from my snowball.

Tip #4 Happy Hour

Happy hour has become my best friend on this journey. Happy hour allows you to still go out and enjoy time with friends, but at a much lower price. This goes back to tip number two, make sure you budget for these types of things, if they bring you joy. For me, I enjoy attending happy hour on Fridays with my coworkers. It’s a great time to unwind and have fun outside of work and I probably wouldn’t be as sane without all the laughs.

Tip #5 Cut Spending for Necessities

Unfortunately things like toilet paper, shampoo, soap, and groceries have to be bought and there really is no way to get rid of these expenses. But there are ways to get creative and cut spending in this area. For me, I have moved to a more vegetarian lifestyle to lower my grocery budget, used coupons, used loyalty cards, and switched to generic brands. These switches aren’t going to make me rich, but they have all lowered my spending each month, which means I have more money at the end of the month to go to debt. Look at what you buy each month and see if there are ways to make switches to save money. One of the biggest ones for me was switching to baby wipes from make up removing wipes.

Tip # 6 Plan your Debt Free Journey

Make sure to plan for your journey and have a set date you want to be debt free. This can be tricky, but once you sit down and create a plan for yourself, it will be easier to stay on track throughout the process. My recommendation is to use undebt.it to create a plan for yourself. They make it super easy to put in all of your debts and choose the plan that works best for you. This way you will be able to see when you’re going to be debt free and this will keep you motivated when you’re tempted to go off budget.

The important part of being on a debt free journey is to not go into new debt and focusing on creating a better financial future for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely miss out on your twenties while you get yourself together. Make sure to plan, budget and keep enjoying your twenties, and then you can really enjoy your thirties! 🙂 What tips do you have for 20-somethings on a debt free journey?

Finding Time to Side Hustle
Money Management

Finding Time to Side Hustle

Finding Time to Side Hustle

Side hustling is a wonderful, wonderful thing, especially if you have some serious financial goals. A side hustle can completely change your life, if taken advantage of. When I first started teaching, I was so overwhelmed with my career that I never thought I’d be able to side hustle on top of my teaching. After a lot of effort and creative thinking, I have found time to side hustle enough that I live on that money and use my salary from teaching to pay off my debt. I never would have thought that I would be able to do this, so I put together my tips to find time to side hustle.

Choosing a Side Hustle

This is probably the most important step when finding time to side hustle. You need to find a side hustle that at least brings you some joy. If you’re somebody that doesn’t think they have any time to side hustle, you’re not going to want to find time for something you hate. Make your life a little easier and pick something you see yourself enjoying. Also, this makes it a lot easier to work your side hustle when you’re tired or stressed from your main job.

Find Your Free Time

You might look at your schedule originally and think there is absolutely no time for you to possibly make extra money. But, you do. Think of all the time you spend binging Netflix, I know cutting down on this a week freed up countless hours for me each week. Be realistic with yourself in the beginning. Look at your schedule and see when you are willing to sacrifice your time. Are you only willing to work during the week? Can you work before you begin your day at your day job? Can you only work evenings? In the beginning, I strictly worked Monday-Thursday and I only took on 1 family to tutor for. Then, I added some after school tutoring at school. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself at first and become too stressed for my teaching. See what you can realistically do and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to work a ton of hours in the beginning.

Schedule Your Side Hustle

Once you have found your free time, schedule your side hustle time and stick to it. Depending on your side hustle, this time might be scheduled for you. For example, I babysit and tutor for my side hustles, so these are decided between the parents and myself, my employer, or my school. Now that I have figured out what I can handle, I have a lot of different means of bringing in extra money. It is incredibly important to have a schedule and stick with it. If you are doing a side hustle that doesn’t have a schedule, it is even more important to have a schedule. For example, I recently started focusing more on my blog. This requires me to schedule time each week to work on it, or I simply won’t do it. It’s amazing how much more time you have when you actually schedule it out.

To Do List

This might sound silly to some people, but there is something truly amazing about to do lists. If you’re someone that uses to do lists, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I make a to do list every Sunday for the things I want to get done that day. Sundays are my prep day for the week and my day to get ahead of things. When I don’t use a list, my day completely escapes me and nothing gets done other then a lot of binge watching New Girl or Friends. Once I have a list that I tell myself I have to finish that day, I am so much more organized and focused in my day. I do the same thing on Monday mornings when I get to work, but I create one for the week. A list creates more time because we are more efficient in our tasks that we need to complete, which then opens up more time for side hustles.

Adjust and Add More Side Hustles

As I got more comfortable with my career and my side hustles I started adding more to my week. Now I’ve created a great, busy schedule that works really well for me and allows me to bring in enough money in side hustles that I can live off it and then some. This didn’t happen right away and it’s important to not overwork yourself, that just leads to more problems. You need to figure out what it realistic for you and add more side hustle as you see fit. For me, I found that I can go to work earlier in the morning so that I can do more side hustles in the afternoon. Get creative about your schedule and see where you can make changes to make your time work for you.

It requires some creativity and definitely some sacrifices, but finding time to side hustle is totally realistic, if it’s something you want to do. For me, I am motivated by how much more I can pay down my debt with my side hustle income. This makes it so much easier for me to say, “Yes!” whenever I am texted or emailed to babysit or tutor. Also, I know I won’t be working these crazy hours forever, and that definitely makes it easier too. How do you find time to side hustle?

How I Save Money on Contacts
Money Management

How I Save Money on Contacts

How I Save Money on Contacts

When I was in grad school I started doing a lot of research on personal finance, budgeting, debt payoff, and all the other fun stuff that comes with personal finance. I wanted to create better spending habits, not just a quick fix to my situation. So, I decided to focus on different areas of my life one at a time. This way I hoped to make these habits last. I started with my grocery budget and how I was going to keep eating organic while cutting my spending. It was tough, but it was doable once I got creative. Then, I went on to my toiletries, and once again I found some creative solutions to save money in this area. The one area that I figured was easy was to save money on contacts, boy was I wrong. This took some research and definitely some poor choices in regards to my eye health.

My Original Plan to Save Money on Contacts

When I first started focusing on my budget and trying to trim it I was using monthly contact lenses because they were the cheapest when I originally started using contacts when I was in 8th grade. Yes, I kept doing the same thing for 12 years simply because that was what I was used to. My senior year on high school I ended up being allergic to the proteins in my eye, so I needed to start using hydrogen peroxide solution. This was obviously more expensive then basic lens cleaner. When I started on my debt free journey, one way I saved money was switching to the generic brand of the solution, it helped, but not enough.

I started getting frustrated by how much my contacts were for the monthly lenses plus my little science experiment I needed to complete each night to properly clean them. So, I made an extremely poor choice and started wearing my lenses for as long as possible. I’m talking like months wearing the same lenses, just cleaning them with the hydrogen peroxide each night. I figured I could still see with them, they weren’t ripped, so why throw them out? I did this for about 3 years and made a year supply of contacts last me those 3 years, talk about savings right!? It is true, I did save money, but what I didn’t know is that I was practically suffocating my eyes because the contacts break down at that monthly mark and no longer allow your eye to breath. I also was setting myself up for a greater risk for eye infections.

My New Plan to Save Money on Contacts

After 3 years of doing this I realized I needed to take better care of my eyes. I started researching and found a much better solution for myself. One of the most frustrating things about wearing monthlies is that no matter what, at that month mark, I had to throw them out. Even if I only wore them 15 days that month. I felt like I was throwing away money some months if I didn’t wear my contacts much. I finally realized that my best bet would be to switch to dailies and wear my glasses more. Even though the yearly cost is more than monthlies, I can stretch out my year supply and its still healthy for my eyes. For example, no matter what my monthly contacts are the same price for a year supply because I have to throw them out. Now that I have dailies, I can stretch my yearly supply by wearing my glasses. It’s also a great idea to check for rebates on contacts, you can basically find a rebate for any of them by doing a quick search. How do you save money on contacts?

Why I Switched to Income Based Repayment
Student Loans

Why I Switched to Income Based Repayment

Why I Switched to Income Based Repayment

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

When I created my debt free plan in 2015 when I had just started my journey, it took me awhile to figure out just what I was going to do with all of my different loans. Even though I was generally following Dave Ramsey’s principles, I was definitely going about it in my own way that made the most sense for my situation. It’s important to remember that your specific situation may not allow for following a specific way of doing things. The important thing to do is focusing on creating the plan that works best for you and sticking to that plan. For me, I knew I needed to switch to income based repayment for my federal loans and it might be a good strategy for you to use as well.

Switching to Income Based Repayment: Choosing a Strategy

It’s important to pick a strategy that works best for you when you are first beginning your journey. If you need help with this, check out my post of how to go about choosing a strategy. The reason why this is so critical is because switching to an income based repayment plan might not make a difference in your payoff. I chose to go with the avalanche method because my private loans were mostly very large with large interest rates. If you need help figuring that out, this tool is wonderful to see the different ways you could pay off your loans.

Switching to Income Based Repayment: Prioritizing Private Loans

For me, I knew I wanted to prioritize my private student loans over my federal loans. This is a personal choice I made based on many different reasons. For one, my federal loans came with some protections in the event I couldn’t pay them, something my private loans did not come with. Also, my parents cosigned my private loans and I didn’t want them to be hit with the burden of my student loans if I couldn’t pay them, which includes my death (YES, my private loans would still need to be repaid if I died, how terrible is that! Luckily, they have changed this policy in the last year or so). This meant that I wanted to put as much of my money to my private loans as possible, making a lower payment on my federal loans ideal.

For these reasons, I knew switching to an income based repayment plan was the better choice for me. This has allowed me to put more money towards my private, higher interest loans each month. It is important to know that no matter what my payment is technically (one year it was $30.85!) I always make sure to pay off my interest every month. It’s important to do this because the loan company will capitalize your interest at the end of the year and add it to your principal. Have you switched to income based repayment?