All Posts By

Diana

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?

 

Student Loans Impacted my Credit
Student Loans

How Student Loans Impacted my Credit

Student Loans Impacted my Credit

When I graduated grad school in 2015 I had a plan in place to pay off my $200k in student loans. I had a teaching job lined up and planned to find some extra tutoring jobs to increase my income. I had just started really looking at my personal finance in the months leading up to graduation, started budgeting, created my plan, and started looking at my credit score. I always thought my credit score was my lifeline to doing anything in my future and I only assumed that with my crippling debt that my score would be horrendous. Boy was I wrong, my student loans impacted my credit, but in a way I never imagined.

Of course, my student loans did impact my score, they obviously come up, but they didn’t impact it the way I had thought they would. My assumption was that my credit score showed how much debt I had, so my score would be terrible. How could it not be terrible when I was 22 years old and had accumulated $200k in student loans? What I didn’t realize was that your credit score simply shows how good you are at managing all the debt you have accumulated, the amount you have doesn’t necessarily matter. For example, if you keep your credit usage under a certain percentage, you have a good score because it shows you are good at managing your debt. If you always make your payments on time, you have a good score because you are good at managing your debt. My score at 22 years old fell in the “good” range, which excited me because I assumed I could get it to excellent quickly and refinance my student loans.

Again, I was very wrong about my credit score and how it is used. Within one year my score fell within the excellent range, I was so excited to refinance my student loans with a lower interest rate. The time didn’t matter to me, I wanted the lower interest rate to apply more money to the principal each month. With my excellent score set I did the paperwork to apply to refinance my student loans. Originally I was “pre-qualified” for a wonderful interest rate of 5%, a HUGE improvement from my 8% loans I was dealing with. This was simply based on a soft credit pull, meaning it doesn’t impact my credit score, but they get my credit score number. So, based on my lovely “excellent” score, I was viewed as a “safe” borrower and was rewarded by a great interest rate. That is until they did the final hard credit pull to determine my definitive refinanced loan. I was quickly denied because my debt to income was too high. So even though I had an excellent credit score, partially due to making 100% on time payments, I was denied because I had too much debt.

This was a part of my debt free journey that I didn’t expect. I was making huge payments every month, well over the minimum and had my nice “excellent” credit score, but still couldn’t help myself pay off my debt quicker because I had too much of it. This is where the credit score doesn’t make sense. I stuck to my plan and have now paid off 4 of those private student loans and every time an account closes, my score drops briefly. So, as I’m lowering my debt, lowering my debt to income ratio, my score drops initially, followed by an increase. Do you check your credit score regularly? How has it impacted your debt free journey?

 

Debt Snowball or Avalanche
Student Loans

Debt Snowball or Avalanche?

Debt Snowball or Avalanche

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

This is something I really struggled with when I began my journey to financial freedom. When I first began I was really into Dave Ramsey and using his baby steps. It’s what started this whole thing for me. As I did more research and learned more about personal finance, I was stuck with trying to decide which method I should use to tackle my debt. There are pros and cons to each and you ultimately need to decide what is the best method for you. But, I hope this can help make your decision a little bit easier. There is also a wonderful tool you can use to figure out what the best method is for you and your debt free date, you can read a review about it here.

Debt Snowball

This is the method that Dave Ramsey always recommends, and it is a great method for tackling debt. This strategy involves listing your debts from smallest to largest amount. You focus on your smallest debt first throwing all of your extra money at that debt, the rest of your debts get just the minimum. This allows you to make traction on one account. Once you have paid off the first debt, then all the money you were putting to it goes to your next smallest debt. This continues until all debts are paid off. This allows you to experience quick wins in the beginning and motivates you to keep going once you get to the larger debts. If you are someone with consumer debt, I would definitely recommend this method because it will help you when you are first changing your habits. This is also beneficial if you don’t have a lot of debt because if you can get out of debt in 2 years or less, interest won’t really make a huge difference in the big picture of your debt payoff. The negative of this strategy is that if you have large debts with high interest rates that will take you a long time to pay off, then you will lose a lot to interest.

Debt Avalanche

The other strategy is the debt avalanche, which is very similar and follows the same system of the snowball method. The difference is that instead of listing your debt smallest to largest by amount, you list them largest to smallest by interest rate. Once you have your list, you focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first and everything else gets the minimum payment. When the first debt is paid off, you move onto the next highest interest rate. This is good for people that only have student loans and don’t necessarily need the motivation of paying off debts in the beginning. The biggest positive of this strategy is that you save money in the long run and is good for people that are going to need multiple years to pay off their debt. This allows you to save the most possible money during your debt payoff. The negative of this method is that you might not experience any debts being paid off for a little while if your biggest interest rate is your largest debt.

I personally use the debt avalanche method, which took me awhile to decide on. Ultimately, I knew it was going to take me many years to pay off my student loans of $201k and my sole motivator was paying them off fast and saving the most money in the process. Which debt payoff strategy do you use?

How to Get Out of Debt Fast
Student Loans

How to Get Out of Debt Fast

How to Get Out of Debt Fast

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

I know I’m not debt free yet, but I have paid off a hefty amount of debt in a very short amount of time. In my first two years, I have paid off $70,000 of my student loans. So even though I haven’t completely paid them off, I have clearly created a solid plan to get out of debt fast. This didn’t happen over night, it takes time and clear planning to create a strategy that works for you. Follow my steps to get yourself out of debt fast!

How to Get Out of Debt Fast Step 1: List Your Debts

The very first thing you need to do is figure out just how much debt you actually have. Create a list of all of your debts, including the total amount and interest rates and total them all up. This is going to be a tough step, it was for me at least. It was a total reality check and made me realize just how much debt I actually had. When I first started, I had about $201,000 in student loan debt. Don’t get discouraged by your number, get angry and motivated!

How to Get Out of Debt Fast Step 2: Track Your Spending and Income

You need to figure out how much money you have coming in and how much is going out each month. This is going to help you create a budget. I created a Mint account for myself that allows me to track all of my spending and create budgets within the app. Once I figured out how much money I had coming in and going out each month I was able to see how much I would need to budget for each month.

How to Get Out of Debt Fast Step 3: Create a Budget and Stick To It!

This is one of the most important steps in this process. After you’ve tracked your spending for a month you can see exactly where your money is going. This made me realize how frivolous I was being and quickly made me look for ways to cut my budget in certain areas to get more money towards my loans each month. Once your budget is made you need to stick with it and do whatever you can to find ways to come in under budget each month. In the beginning my budget was changing every month, that’s okay! I got super creative and found unique ways to cut my spending more than I originally did when I first created my budget. Your budget can be changed at any time, but I don’t suggest adding more to your budgets because that is just enabling you to spend more and put less towards your debt. This will also let you know how much you can put towards your debt realistically.

How to Get Out Of Debt Fast Step 4: Create a Payoff Plan

This was the most exciting part for me. You need to figure out what strategy you want to use. My suggestion is to use a website like undebt.it to create a plan for you. This way you can pick the type of plan you want, snowball, avalanche, combination, and see your debt payoff date. Also, you will be able to see how much adding more money to your snowball will change your payoff date. This continues to be incredibly motivating for me because when I make a large extra payment, I see my debt free date get closer immediately. Once your plan is created, you just need to make sure you follow it each month.

How to Get Out of Debt Fast Step 5: Create More Income

Now that you have a plan and a budget, it’s time to find ways to make more money. I have my teaching job, but I spend about 10-15 hours each work working my side hustles of tutoring and occasionally babysitting. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can comfortable live on my side income each month on my current budget. My entire paycheck, plus some of my side income, goes straight to my debt now. This absolutely took time, about a year and a half to be exact, but it was a wonderful day when it finally happened.

How to Get Out of Debt Fast Step 6: Live and Adjust

Now that you have a plan in place for your spending, income, and payoff, you need to stick to the plan, reflect, and adjust. At the end of every month I look over my budgets, income, spending, and debt payoff and I reflect on the month. If I notice that over a few months I was under budget in a certain category I change that budget to free up more money to go to my debt. My budget has changed drastically in the last two years, mostly because I’m constantly thinking of ways to save more money each month to put more money to my debt. In order to really pay off debt fast, you will need to constantly be doing this step each month to find more ways to make your money work for you.

Once you have your plan in place, this crazy debt free journey doesn’t seem so daunting. I know for me, once I created my plan I felt a huge weight off my shoulders because I finally saw that I could do this sooner then the 20 years that my loan provider said. It is possible and you can do it, as long as you create a plan and stick to it. What is your plan to get out of debt fast?

Why I Use Credit Cards During my Debt Free Journey
Money Management

Why I Use Credit Cards During my Debt Free Journey

Why I Use Credit Cards During my Debt Free Journey

Now, I know this probably sounds totally crazy. This girl is in massive student loan debt, $127k right now to be exact, and she’s going into more debt?! And I know, I am a Dave Ramsey follower, and I do follow the baby steps that he outlines, I’m currently on baby step 2. But even those, I don’t follow exactly because I can’t give up the compounding interest I’ll benefit from by starting my investments now, even if they are small. So no, I don’t use the envelope system he preaches, and maybe that doesn’t make me a true DR follower, but when I tell you my reasons, I think it is more than justified.

Why I Use Credit Cards During my Debt Free Journey

Of course, I follow a very strict budget each month, one of which includes paying my credit cards in full each month. This is the only time using a credit card is beneficial. If you ever pay any interest on your cards, you’re losing money. No matter how great your rewards are, if you pay interest, it’s not worth it. The habit you are developing of not paying your card in full is much worse in the long run. Set it to auto pay in full and never turn back. When you don’t pay interest on your cards and only reap the benefits of a rewards credit card, it is totally worth it to use them instead of an envelope system. Currently I use my rewards strictly as cash back that goes directly to my student loans. I earn FREE money just for using the card because I am paying my card in full each month. Just using this strategy alone, I’ve applied $400 in cash back to my student loans in the last two years. I’d say that’s worth it, but I also never even think about carrying a balance.

Why I Don’t Recommend This to Everyone

This strategy will absolutely not work for everyone and I don’t recommend this if you are working to pay off credit card debt. My only debt I have is student loans and I’ve never had credit card debt, except the amount I pay each month. If you are someone that is working your way out of or have had credit card debt in the past, then I absolutely don’t agree with you using any type of credit. If you know you have had issues with credit cards in the past, it is a horrible rabbit hole to fall down again. You definitely don’t want to open yourself up to potentially getting back into debt or increase your current debt.

This won’t work for everyone, and of course it is not recommended for people that strictly follow the Dave Ramsey model. But, this works for me and has been a great tool to pay off a chunk of my debt. So, where do you stand on using credit cards?

Debt_Free_Journey_Update
Student Loans

Debt Free Journey Update: $70,733.11 Paid Off

Debt_Free_Journey_Update

I graduated from graduate school in August 2015 with about $200k in student loans from undergrad and grad school.  My private loans went into repayment on November 2nd, 2015 and my private loans in March 2016. My debt free journey has been going on for two years now. I truly can’t believe it’s already been two years and I think it’s super important to reflect on my last two years of repayment to see ways I can improve my current plan.

Total Principal Paid Off to Date: $70,733.11

Current Payoff Date: October 2021

Debt Free Journey: How I Paid $70,733.11 towards my Student Loans in Two Years

  1. Sacrifices. As a twenty something who recently graduated from grad school, the first thing I always wanted to do was rent my first apartment and start my teaching career. However, I knew that wasn’t the best choice for my current financial situation. Instead I found a teaching job 20 minutes from my parents house and moved back in with them. This was the biggest way I have been able to pay off so much in two years.
  2. Budgeting. These past two years I have really cracked down on my budget and tried to be very strict with it. This has helped me immensely to pay down my debt.
  3. Side Income. This was huge for me in the last two years. Throughout the year I managed to add 4 different streams of side income through 2 different after school programs, private tutoring, and babysitting. At this point, I can completely cover my monthly expenses through my side income with some left over, my entire salary and some of my side income go straight to my loans. Find out how I make on average $1,200 per month in side income.
  4. Debt Avalanche. Since I have such high interest rates, I have chosen the avalanche method. This allows me to focus on my highest interest, largest accounts first and then apply that payment to my next account. This continues until all accounts are paid off. This has been working out wonderfully for me. I paid off three accounts in two years and was able to apply those payments to my next account making that payment even larger. This has helped my loans get paid off even faster.

Debt Free Journey: My Plan to Make Even Larger Payments

  1. Selling Items. Recently I have started purging my belongings that I don’t use anymore, like clothes and purses. It is crazy how much stuff we accumulate and don’t even realize it. In the next year I am planning to get more serious about selling my items I don’t use anymore to apply that money to my debt.
  2. Side Income. In the last year I have added many new students to tutor, it is now getting hard to schedule new clients because my schedule is so booked. I’m now going to focus more on creating income streams from my computer. I plan to find new ways to make money from home, since I have reached my maximum amount of babysitting and tutoring I can realistically schedule.

I’m very proud of myself for being able to make my money work for me and pay off so much of my student loans in two years of repayment. My goal was to finish paying off these loans by my 31st birthday, which would be April 29th, 2023, since I have clearly met that goal, my new goal is do everything I can to pay these off before my 29th birthday, which is April 29th, 2021. I’m so excited to improve my strategy and plan to pay off even more in the next year to pay off my debt even earlier! How much were you able to pay off in two years of repayment? What was your strategy?

Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget
Money Management

Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget

I began my debt free journey in November of 2015. It truly became a reality that I was in over $200k of student loan debt while I was completing my graduate studies. During grad school I completely changed my life to save as much money as possible. I started meal planning and got my grocery budget down to under $150/month. I was proud to get my groceries this low, but I also was dealing with my chronic sinusitis and migraines at the time. Eventually those two things wore me out, especially the migraines. I had sinus surgery in 2012 and was taking so much preventative medicine, only to still feel congested, always have headaches and averaged 1 migraine every week, sometimes up to 5 per week. I was over it.

Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget

Around this time my coworker mentioned to me that her daughter’s doctor recommended they cut out dairy from their diet when they had chronic sinus problems. She also suggested I do some research to find out what else caused inflammation in the sinuses. So, I went home and did my research. The two major things I knew I could quickly change was dairy and switching to organic. But, I knew my budget was going to suffer drastically from the organic. Desperation to get rid of my migraines pushed me to ultimately try the new diet.

Yes, my budget jumped to being under $200/month once I switched to organic. I expected at least this, but a lot happened that I didn’t expect. After about a month, I no longer needed my migraine medicine or my allergy medicine (I wasn’t even allergic to anything, my doctor told me I was sensitive to everything), this saved me about $50/month. And look at that, I just made up my grocery budget going up 🙂 Eventually, I stopped seeing my ENT all together, I was no longer getting sinus infections, and it was very rare that I got sick. I went from seeing doctors more than once a month, to seeing them once a year for a physical.

I used to have a medical sinking fund, that’s how much money I used to spend consistently on my medical expenses. Between the co-pays and medicines I consistently took, it was a ton of money. I no longer save any money for medical expenses because I’m no longer needing to do any of the things I used to do daily just to still feel awful.

Some people might argue that it isn’t frugal of me to be spending so much money on my food, or spending money on my at home work outs. Everyone has a different definition of frugality and mine has definitely changed over the last few years. What I realized was that even though I was spending an incredibly small amount for preventative health (nutrition, exercise, etc.), I was spending a ton of money on my reactive health, medicines, doctors appointments, surgeries, etc. In the long run, I feel that this is going to save me the most money, so that’s why I made the change.

Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget

I shared my reasons why I switched to a healthy lifestyle and how it has changed my budget. If you’re interested in even more tips, follow this link and I’ll happily add you to my private Facebook group 🙂

Using Gift Cards to Get Through the Hard Months
Money Management

Using Gift Cards to Get Through the Hard Months

When I began this debt payoff journey I was $200k in student loan debt, just starting my first year teaching, moving back home with my parents, and had no idea how I was going to manage this whole thing. I had a plan, I had a job, and I was starting to create some great side income streams. Then, the summer started. This should be the best time for a teacher, right? Wrong. No paycheck for 2 months when you have a $1,400 minimum loan payment to make each month is stressful. Of course, I had saved money throughout the school year for those two months in order to make at least my minimum. And of course I had some side hustles going on to bring in some income, but it was no where near my salary. That’s when I discovered using gift cards to get through the hard months.

Using Gift Cards to Get Through the Hard Months

When you don’t have your income like you’re used to, but you know it’s going to happen, it’s great, solely because you can plan for it. I was able to save enough money each month to cover my bills in the summer and start thinking creatively about my money. That’s the crazy thing about being in crippling debt, you start to think super creatively in order to get more money in your pocket.

About the same time I started to panic about not having my paycheck, I was also doing a huge purge of my things. I was hoping to sell some things to make some extra money. In the process, I found a TON of unused gift cards. That’s embarrassing to admit HA! I literally stashed them probably years ago and totally forgot about them. But, that got me thinking, why don’t I use these to help me in the summer?

So I survived my first summer without my salary and knew what I needed to do for the following summer. I saved each month for the summer so I could pay my bills and I hoarded every single gift card I received. Now, to clarify, if it was a restaurant one, or clothing, I didn’t necessarily keep it. The ones I kept were the ones that could be used anywhere, like Visa or Mastercard gift cards. And I absolutely kept Target gift cards because this teacher loves that place for back to school! So, what are the creative ways you have come up with to make ends meet when your pay isn’t consistent?