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Debt

A Honest Review: Round Up To Zero

A Honest Review_ Round Up To Zero

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

Student loans are something that most people have to deal with directly, or know someone close to them that is dealing with them. Without a solid plan, student loans can seem daunting and overwhelming. I know I felt like I was drowning when I faced my $200k in student loans. But, with a solid plan I managed to pay off $105k in 3 years.

Luckily there are so much tools out there now that is encouraging student loan plans that allow you to get out of debt faster. One of those tools that I have recently found is Round Up To Zero, which allows you to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and then make a student loan payment with the money.

The company is pretty awesome and is made up of people that have dealt with student loans. They created this platform because they wanted to do something to help other people get out of student loan debt.

How Round Up To Zero Works

After you create your account, you’ll connect your bank accounts and student loan accounts to the platform. Basically how it works is that they will round up all of your purchases to the next dollar. That money will get added to your account and eventually be transferred to your student loan. The platform allows you to play around to see how much extra payments will impact your pay off date and interest paid.

What is really cool and unique about this platform is that they let you connect other people to your account. This allows you to pay off your loan faster. Basically what happens is that your purchases and their purchases will get rounded up. The more people you add, the more money will get rounded up and applied to your student loans.

There is a fee that comes with using this service. Right now, they are charging 0.99/month to use the platform. Also, there is a transaction fee of 4.97% of the transaction. These fees cover the banking fees that the company gets charged for completing these transactions for you. Round Up To Zero hopes to make this service free eventually.

You’re able to set limits on how much extra is applied to your debt each month, if you want. For example, if you’re someone that has a zero based budget, you can set the limit you want to go to your debt.

 

My Opinion of Round Up To Zero

Personally, I think the platform is really well designed and easy to use. The people behind the platform are incredible and have the desire to help people get out of student loan debt. I will support most companies that are trying to help people get out of student loan debt, since I am dealing with them myself.

With that being said, I’m not the biggest fan of charging the fees, but I do understand why they are there. Round Up To Zero would have to foot all the transaction charges that they get without having the fees. That just isn’t realistic. I do appreciate that their ultimate goal is to make the platform free to use eventually.

Who Round Up To Zero is for

Round Up To Zero is perfect for someone that wants to effortlessly pay extra on their debt. If you are just starting to think about applying extra to your debt, this may be a platform to look into. This platform would be great for someone that is overwhelmed by their debt, and can afford to pay a little extra each month. It also would be great for people that have family or friends that want to help you pay off your debt.

I wouldn’t recommend this for someone that is already budgeting strictly and is putting extra money to their debt. If you are doing what the platform provides already, there is no reason to use this service. Some options for you would be to utilize undebt.it to plan your payoff strategy, or consider refinancing your loans to get a better rate.

Overall, I think Round Up To Zero is a great platform for a specific group of people. I love the company’s goal of helping people get out of student loan debt and I think they have created a platform to do this. How do you plan to pay off your student loans?

Money Management

What to Prioritize: Debt Payoff or Saving?

What to Prioritize_ Debt Payoff or Saving_

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

This is a huge conversation in the personal finance world and one that really has to be personal when it comes down to it. If you’re a Dave Ramsey follower, then you know what the answer would be. But, if you’re someone that has made your own path navigating your finances, then it can take a bit more thought.

I personally come from a view of creating long term goals and then short term goals to reach those goals. I know for me, following the baby steps just won’t get me to my long term goals. Not as fast as I’d hope anyway.

My end goal is to reach FIRE, not necessarily to retire, but to have the freedom to do whatever work I want, regardless of pay. Right now I’m stuck at my job solely because of my debt and grants I received from my undergrad and grad studies.

These are the steps I followed in order to create a plan for myself in regards to paying off debt or saving.

1. Create long term goals.

Think about big picture, where do you want to be in 20 years? When do you see yourself retiring? Where do you see yourself working? Do you have any goals you want to reach that are impacted by your financial status?

Once you know your goals and have them written out, it will make it so much easier to figure out your financial plan based on those goals. Everyone has different goals, so everyone’s financial plan should look different. This is why I don’t really agree with the baby steps. Yes, his steps work, but only if you have that specific goal in life and you’re life aligns with the steps.

For me, I had $200k in student loan debt and I’m in my 20s. You’re crazy if you think I’m putting off saving and retirement for as long as it’s going to take to pay off my debt. This is why it is so important to think about your specific goals and what helps you to reach those goals.

2. Create short term goals.

Once you have your long term goals mapped out, create short term goals to reach your long term goals. For example, my long term goal is to reach FIRE. My short term goal I am working on is to pay off my private student loans and then my high interest Federal student loans. Once that is done, I will be increasing my savings and retirement contributions, while I pay off my lower interest student loans.

You have to think about what you need to do to reach your long term goals. Depending on what your goals are, everyone’s short term goals will look different. Take the time to really think about what makes the most sense for your long term goals and don’t be afraid to change them as you get closer to reaching your long term goals. For example, originally I wanted to pay off all of my debt, but then I realized that some of my debt has such a low interest rate that it would do better in a retirement account.

You just need to make sure that your short term goals are realistic to reaching your long term goals. As you move through the process, make adjustments as necessary. Life changes and things happen that we can’t expect. It’s important to make adjustments in the ever changing seasons of life.

3. Adjust your budget to reflect your goals.

Once you have your goals written out, you need to update your budget to reflect your goals. No matter where you are in your journey, you need a budget to reach your goals. Without a budget, you won’t know where your money is going or where to send it. What I mean by this is, even if you have no debt, if you don’t tell you money where to go for investment or savings goals, it will just sit in your account. If it’s just sitting in your checking account it isn’t working for you when it could be.

Create your budget to align with your goals, I would suggest zero based budgeting to make sure you are accounting for every penny. I have Google sheet templates available to purchase, if you need help with this!

Personal finance is personal and you ultimately need to decide what is best for you.

There is a one size fits all answer for this. I am definitely not saying debt is good, but depending on the interest rate and your long term goals, it may be mathematically smarter to contribute more to investing and less to debt. You need to take the time to really think about what your goals are and what you want for your life. Once you have that figured, you can create a plan that gets you there.

Money Management

How to Budget on a Variable Income

How to Budget on a Variable Income

Utilizing a budget is something that can make your everyday finances much more manageable and allows you to see exactly where your money is going. When a budget isn’t being used, money “disappears” without you knowing it. This ultimately can lead you down a path of overspending. Everyone’s situation is different, so everyone’s budget is going to look different.

When it comes to budgeting, you need to find a way that works for you. This takes time and I promise the time you spend finding a way that works is totally worth it. If you try to use a method and you despise spending time working on it, then it probably isn’t a good method for you.

Some people have extremely extensive budgets that they spend time making pretty and Instagram worthy. I’m just not that girl! I love my simple Google sheets and Mint app used together to make my finances work.

Everyone’s budget is going to look different because everyone’s situation is very different. People are paid in so many different ways and most 20-somethings no longer have one single job with a salary, but more of a variable income. The norm is switching to having more than one job with many different ways of being paid.

With that being said it can be tricky to budget when you don’t have the same amount coming in every week or every month. After having a variable income the last few years, I have found a way that works for me and have helped a few of my clients apply the same steps to their unique situations.

1. Track your expenses and your income.

It’s so important to do this first. If you are someone that has been using debit cards or credit cards, you can easily pull your transactions and categorize them that way. If you have been using cash, keep your receipts and categorize everything you spend for a month. This will allow you to see where your money is going and create a realistic budget for yourself. You’ll get a free PDF template of my expense template when you subscribe, and my budgeting template.

You also need to look back on previous months and pick up on any trends in your income. For example, for myself as a teacher, I don’t get my salary in the months of July and August, so my income is much less these months. I was able to put a sinking fund in place for this when I got to creating my budget, but I’ll get to that later! See when your income is higher, when is it lower, is that trend something that is pretty consistent annually?

2. Create your budget.

In the most basic sense, a budget tracks your income and expenses. Since you have a variable income, you need to decide what makes the most sense for you. For myself, I only budget for my salary, my guaranteed income each month. If you’re someone that doesn’t have a guaranteed amount each month, I would budget for the lowest amount you have earned in the previous years. I would also recommend having a 6 month emergency fund to help you through those lower months, if something unexpected were to happen.

Another option is to create sinking funds for all your budget categories. This way any extra money you make in a higher month, can be used during a lower month. Ultimately, you need to do some experimenting to see what works for you. What works for one person, may not work for you. That’s why personal finance is personal.

3. Execute your budget.

Since you have a variable income, it is going to be super important to track your expenses closely during your budgeting period. The reason this is important is because if you have a lower income month, you will need to have a plan in place for this. Can you simply cut some expenses during those months? Do you have a sinking fund for your budget categories for these times? Are you using your 6 month emergency fund as a buffer? Personally, I would create sinking funds for this since it’s not an emergency, unless you lose one of your income sources.

As your budgeting period progresses, it is important to update your budget with where you are at in your expenses. This will allow you to make adjustments for the rest of the budgeting period. I personally do this on Sundays, so I know if I need to make adjustments for the upcoming week. Again, you need to determine what works for you, some people balance their budget every single day. It’s all about preference.

4. Continue and make adjustments to your budget.

Your budget is a continuously changing document. It’s not a set and forget. You need to adjust it every budgeting period. Of course, some expenses will always be the same, but things will change as your goals change and income changes. Take the time to reflect on your budget and make adjustments as needed as your life changes. As you reach your goals, your budget should be changing to reflect new goals that you have.

Remember: A budget allows you to gain control over your money, how you do it is completely personal.

Budgeting takes some experimenting and figuring out what works for you and your situation. I encourage you to try new things and figure out what works best for you. It should take time to figure out a system that works and that time spent is well spent in the long run. How do you budget on a variable income?

Debt

The Habits You Should Continue to Remain Debt Free

The Habits You Should Continue to Remain Debt FreeThis is a guest post written by Good Nelly, founder of My Way Of Viewing, check her out for tips on all things personal finance.

Paid off debts? What habits should you continue to remain debt free?

It requires no mention that life without debt is what we all want to achieve. No one of us want to be in debt. There are so many things to do in life than wasting your precious time worrying about how to pay off debt.

But, what happens when you pay off all your debt… Do you go back to your old habits and routine which led you to debt? No!

On the contrary, when you have finally been successful of getting out debt, don’t leave any stone unturned to put debt away from your life.

Few debts you should always avoid are credit card debt, payday loan debt, personal loan debt, and so on. However, you can take out a mortgage or an auto loan but make sure you manage them efficiently.

Here are a few habits which you should continue or develop to keep debts at bay.

Revisit your budget and make modifications

Instead of thinking ‘budget’ a thing that existed in the past and you no longer need it, revisit your budget and make modifications. I won’t attach the line ‘if required’ because most likely, you need to make modifications from time to time and it’s not a one-time affair. Then only, you’ll be able to manage your financial life the way you want.

First of all, revisit your budget at least once in three months to be sure that everything is working in your favor. However, if you’re expecting any financial change, then I would suggest that you revisit your budget every month.

Making even minute changes can help you follow it and at the same time, help you attain your financial goals.

Carefully examine what and how much you’re spending

You were compelled to change your spending behavior to clear your debt. Continue that habit. I would say that now you should scrutinize it even more since you’ll have to get back on track and build a good financial future.

So, stop splurging your hard-earned dollars and maintain strict vigilance on what and how much you’re spending. Curb your desire for spending since you have some liquid money after a long time.

However, celebrate occasionally but not spend more. And, when you want to spend on something, think and plan it carefully.

Allocate a significant amount towards achieving your financial goals

If you look this way, you have wasted a few years struggling to pay off debt and not able to pay attention to achieve your financial goals. So, now devote time and save a significant amount to attain your short-term and long-term monetary goals.

You should deposit an amount into your retirement fund, buy a house if you don’t have one, save for your children’s education if required, and plan for your financial future.

Also, have an emergency fund if you don’t have one. It may help you avoid falling into debt in the future.

Continue checking your credit reports at regular intervals

The financial advisers always say to check your credit reports at least once a year even when you’re into debt and you know that there are negative listings in your report.

However, keep this habit as you can dispute inaccurate negative lists, if any, which can reduce your score. Pull your three major credit reports, which is usually free of cost, once a year.

Make sure the spelling of your name, your address, and other important personal details are accurate in the credit reports.

Manage your credit card accounts and don’t close them

Paying off credit card debt is a bit tough since you have to deal with relatively high-interest debts. So, when you pay off debt, make sure it doesn’t come back again.

So, what habits will you follow even after you pay off all your debts?

Do not make the mistake of closing your credit card accounts, especially the oldest one. The length of your credit history is an important component of your credit score. Another thing, when you close a credit card, your credit limit decreases, thus increasing your credit utilization ratio.

Therefore, keep the habit of managing your credit cards by paying back the outstanding balance at every billing cycle.

Above all, make a promise not to fall into debt again!

Do you know the most important habit which you should continue? Just as you promised yourself to get out of debt, now, make a promise every day not to fall into debt again.

Believe me, it will help you make the necessary decisions and maintain certain habits to achieve it.

You make certain rules to follow like:

  • Not spending above a certain amount during weekdays
  • Allot a certain amount, to spend during the weekends, beyond which you won’t spend. This will help you to enjoy but within your limit.

One important piece of information:

If you can foresee that you’re about to experience a financial hardship, inform your creditors beforehand. For example, if you guess that you can be laid off, inform your creditors instead of waiting for that to happen.

When you inform a credit card company about your situation, it can reduce the interest rate temporarily. It may also extend your payment deadline so that you have some time to make the payment.

So, maintain these habits, have faith in your decisions, and a enjoy a debt free life!

Good Nelly analyzes financial happenings and writes articles to aware and help her readers plan for their financial future. You can go through her blog My Way Of Viewing. She has been associated with Debt Consolidation Care for a long time. However, she has contributed her articles to other websites, too. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and G+.

Debt

How to Pay Off Debt on a Low Income

How to Pay Off Debt on a Low IncomeThis post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

When you search the internet for debt pay off motivation, it can be a wonderful motivator or it can quickly turn into wasted time filled with, “I’ll never be able to do that.” This was definitely me when I first started my debt free journey in 2015 with $201k in student loan debt and living on a teacher’s salary.

At first, I had plans to get my first apartment after college and find a teaching job in the area. That dream was quickly shut down when I had the harsh reality that my teaching income wouldn’t be able to support my $2,000/month minimum student loan payment and living. I figured I’d never pay that off early and just make that payment for the rest of my life basically.

That’s when I started getting really angry about my debt and realized that I’d never be able to do anything with that large of a monthly payment. I knew I needed to create some sort of plan to get out of debt and I’m sharing with you my exact steps that I took when it seemed impossible to pay off my debt on my low income.

Step #1: Create a budget.

This is crucial if you haven’t done this already. When I made my budget, I realized that my low income couldn’t support my loan payments and the cost of living in New Jersey. If I hadn’t done this, I most likely would have moved into an apartment, I couldn’t afford, because that’s what the plan was. Go to college, get a teaching job and get my first apartment.

By creating my budget, I quickly realized my expenses would be way more than my teaching income. This made me tweak my entire plan and led me to complete step #2.

Step #2: Cut your expenses.

Once you have your budget, you need to cut any expenses that you can quickly and easily. I recommend doing anything that won’t change your lifestyle first. The reason I say this is because you want to create new habits and if you try to cut everything at once, you’re going to hate this process. Once you have cut the easy expenses, start trimming down what’s left slowly. Cut your grocery budget a little bit at a time and see how low you can go. Little changes you make slowly will add up.

The quickest and sometimes easiest way to cut expenses is to find ways to cut down your spending in necessary categories. For example, rent in New Jersey is outrageous, so I moved back home with my parents. This was a quick way to cut a large expense from my budget. Yes, as a 20-something I’d love to be living in my own place, but that just wasn’t an option for me when I had so much student loan debt and a low income. Especially since I was a 10 month employee, so I’d have no income from my teaching job in the summer months.

This obviously isn’t an option for everyone, but my point is to find ways to cut those expenses that you need to make. Maybe get a roommate, downsize, or move to an area with a lower cost of living. These kinds of cuts will make major impact on your budget each month.

Step #3: Create a debt payoff plan.

There are plenty of ways to create a debt payoff plan, you can use a spreadsheet and create it yourself, or you can use a website, like undebt.it to create a plan for you. I personally used undebt.it because it does the work for me and I’m all about saving time. This website allows you to input all of your debt information and has you input any additional payments you can make. This allows you to see how much an extra payment can impact your debt pay off date and interest saved.

You need to decide what pay off plan you’re going to go with. The 2 most popular are the debt snowball and debt avalanche, but there is also one other one that I am currently using. The important part of any plan is that you are focusing on one account at a time while paying minimums on the other. If you have a lower income, I suggest you use the plan that I am currently using to free up money faster.

This step is what really motivated me to get serious about my debt pay off. When I saw how much time and money I was wasting to interest, if I didn’t make extra payments, I knew I needed to get this gone ASAP. This motivated me to keep cutting my expenses and to do step #4.

Step #4: Add side job(s) and earn cash back on required expenses.

When you have a lower income from your day job, it can feel like you’ll never pay off your debt. There just isn’t enough money left over at the end of the month, even when you cut your expenses as low as you can. By adding a side job or jobs, you can increase your income and allow that entire income to go straight to your debt. Side jobs have been a major help in me being able to pay off $105k in 3 years on my teacher salary. My salary from teaching hasn’t increased since 2016, but my side job income can increase easily if I choose to work more. Depending on how much I have going on with school, I work more or less.

I also use different apps for cash back on my groceries and toiletries. My favorite is Ibotta, this app allows you to take a picture of your receipt and earn cash back on the purchases that qualify. Using my link gets you $10 when you scan your first receipt!

Step #5: Sell everything.

I was shocked by how much stuff I had sitting around my house that I wasn’t using. I’ve held garage sales, sold on Poshmark, sold my textbooks on SellBackYourBook, and dabbled with Facebook Marketplace. All the money made can go to your debt payoff and it feels great to get rid of things you aren’t using anymore.

Remember: As long as you aren’t adding any new debt, you’re still moving forward.

Debt payoff is hard, there is no doubt about that. When you are inching forward slowly, it can seem like you’re never going to get out of debt. As long as you don’t add new debt, you are still moving forward though. That’s what is important to remember, if you aren’t adding any new debt, it is still moving forward. How have you paid off debt on a low income?

 

Money Management

How to Zero Based Budget

How to Zero Based BudgetThis post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Creating a budget can be a daunting task and I know that it prevents a lot of people from taking control of their finances. But it doesn’t have to be! I promise that creating a budget seems like a hard task to complete, but once it is done, it is easy to maintain.

From conversations that I have had, it seems to be that people are scared of implementing a zero based budget. Creating a budget is one thing, but a zero based budget is intimidating to so many more. I was terrified to implement one at first myself. What if I overdraft? What if I mess up the math? There are so many what if’s, but a zero based budget was the game changer in paying off $105k in 3 years for me. Of course, side hustles and refinancing (use my referral link to get $200 when you refinance!) helped, too.

At first, I had this crazy system for budgeting that would take me so long to do every month. It was too much. I eventually stopped using it and wasn’t really budgeting at all, just cutting my expenses and kind of tracking it in Mint.

This worked, but it wasn’t as powerful as creating a zero based budget that doesn’t involve hours of my life. I now know that I need something simple and easy to maintain, or I just won’t use it. This is the system I created for myself to easily  maintain a zero based budget.

Step #1: Create a buffer before you create a zero based budget.

This is critical to implementing a zero based budget and if you don’t do it, you will run the risk of over drafting on your account, like I did when I got a little too confident. You need to determine what you need to feel comfortable with your zero based budget, some people need a month worth of expenses to feel comfortable, some people need $500. It all depends on what you need to feel confident in your system.

It also depends on your income and if it is consistent or inconsistent. If your income is consistent every month, or part of it is, then you might feel comfortable with less of a buffer. If your income is inconsistent, then I would recommend that you have at least 1 month of expenses as a buffer, if not more.

This might seem counter productive to have money just sitting in your account, but by having the buffer, it will allow you to easily implement your zero based budget. It gives you the peace of mind to zero out your budget every single time without thinking twice. If you don’t have the buffer, you will find yourself questioning your math and your budget every single month. This allows your zero based budget to run more smoothly.

Step #2: Create your zero based budget.

This is my favorite part when I first start working with clients. Everyone’s situation is difference, but a simple template can work for everyone. At the most basic level, a budget should have a spot for you to track your income and expenses. That is the most important aspects to any budget. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will get a free budget template and expense tracker! Based on your pay periods and what works best for you, you will need to create your weekly, pay period, or monthly budget. I personally use a monthly budget.

The only difference from a budget to a zero based budget is that at the end of your budgeting period, you will have zero dollars remaining, or your income and expenses will be the same amount. The key with a zero based budget is that you are telling every penny where to go. This includes savings, paying off debt, or building sinking funds. This doesn’t mean that you are frivolously spending every penny.

Step #3: Implement your zero based budget.

Once you have created your budget, it’s time to implement it. I still use Mint to track my expenses because I use credit cards to earn cash back and other rewards. I only recommend this if you know you will pay your card off in full each month and never carry a balance, otherwise you should just stick to cash or a debit card. By tracking my expenses in Mint, it makes my zero based budget easier to maintain.

Every Sunday I quickly update my budget with my expenses from the week. This means that I subtract any expenses I had in whatever category that they are from. For example, I budget $250 for gas every month and I typically fill up once a week. On Sunday, I subtract that number from my budgeted amount to see what the difference is. This allows me to see exactly how much I have left for the rest of the month. I do this for every category that I had any expenses in for that week.

Step #4: End of the budget with a zero based budget.

At the end of every month I zero out my budget. The reason you need to do this is because you may have not spent all of your money in a certain category and you need to determine what to do with that left over money. If you don’t, that money will just sit in your account and will get “lost.”

There are many things you can do with leftover money at the end of the month, it really depends on where you are in your financial journey. If you are paying off debt, you might make an extra payment. If you know you are going to need more money in a certain category the following month, you might roll that money over. If you are saving for something specific, you might put that extra money towards your savings goal. If you are investing for your future, you might throw that money in an investment account.

The point is that you need to zero out your budget at the end of the month and determine what to do with any leftover money that you didn’t spend, if there is any. I always have money leftover because I would rather budget more and have leftover, then not budget enough and be scrambling to find the money.

Even though I am focusing on paying off my debt right now, my monthly budgeted debt payment isn’t very large because it is based on just my salary and I have other expenses. At the end of the month, I zero out my budget and determine my extra debt payment based on leftover money and money I earned from my side jobs.

Step #5: Readjust and repeat.

Once you have created your zero based budget, it can usually be re-used again and again. Of course, you need to adjust for certain things, every month is going to be slightly different. However, the overall bones of your budget you should be able to reuse. This allows you to save time once the budget is created, you just need to adjust each month and then take the steps to maintain it.

Remember: A budget isn’t made to restrict you, but to empower you.

Your budget is meant to give you the power over your money and where it goes. Determine what you value and what your financial goals are and budget your money to fulfill them. It takes time to figure out budgeting and get into the routine, but once you see your habits changing and the system working, you will feel empowered by your budget. How has a zero based budget changed your finances?

Financial Freedom

Why I’m Choosing FIRE

Why I'm Choosing FIRE

I’ve been on my debt free journey for 3 years now and honestly, it’s taking a toll on me. I’m ready to be done with it and moving on to bigger goals. I’m excited to have my debt paid off, but I’m so ready to actually keep my money!

This journey is definitely hard, seeing all of my money going to debt is rewarding, but it still kills me to see all the money that goes to interest. I can’t wait for the day when interest is something that only makes me money, not costs me it.

Seeing my debts go down and the interest lower definitely is rewarding, but what has really kept me motivated lately is what’s to come once this debt is paid off. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I can’t wait to put my plan to action.

What is FIRE?

FIRE means Financially Independent, Retire Early and it’s a movement that I totally can get behind. It basically means that you live a life of financial independence, not controlled by money. Most people that support this movement don’t actually retire early, but they do work that they enjoy because they don’t need the money that comes from the work that they do. FIRE allows people to live the life they imagine for themselves because they are not tied down by money.

Why I’m choosing FIRE.

I’m still drowning in student loan debt, $97k to be exact, but I’m also still investing and saving money every single month. It’s not a ton, but it’s something. The reason I do this is because compound interest is on my side right now as a 20-something. I also know that I want something more for myself than just going to a job I hate everyday, so I’m starting to plan for my future now.

This is exactly why I’m choosing FIRE. I don’t plan on actually retiring early, but I do plan on doing work that brings me joy and doesn’t require me to need a certain salary to live. Everything I do is leading me to achieve FIRE, so that I can live a life that I choose, instead of one that is ruled by money.

How I will reach FIRE.

This is the part that makes me so motivated to pay off my student loans. My first step to reaching FIRE is paying off all of my student loan debt. This is a long road, which is why I am investing a small amount every month still. Throughout paying off my debt, I am budgeting every month and have found the things that I truly value. By finding what I value in my budget, it has allowed me to drastically cut my unnecessary spending.

This will be key in the road to FIRE because it allows me to have low expenses each month by living an intentional life. Once my debt is paid off, I will move my focus to saving and investing my money. By doing this, I will be able to live the life I want to live, instead of one that revolves around payments.

Choosing FIRE.

In the end, it all depends on what you want from your life. I personally want a life where I can do whatever work that brings me joy, or choose to do volunteer work. With my current finances, neither is an easy option for me. By attaining FIRE, I can do the things that I choose to do. Is FIRE something you hope to reach? How do you plan on reaching it?