Month: October 2019

  • Are Low Down Payment Mortgages Worth It?

    When we purchased our first home we went with an FHA mortgage loan that allowed us to put down just 3.5% of the home price. This low down payment mortgage option allowed us to buy our first home without saving up much money, but was it worth it?

    Today I’m looking over the pros and cons of choosing a mortgage that allows a low downpayment option. Determining the right mortgage for your situation should be down with a professional and a lot of personal research.

    What are low down payment mortgage loans?

    A low downpayment or low deposit mortgage is a type of mortgage that requires you to pay a very small amount of money into the loan initially. These are often used by first time home buyers who are unable to save up the full recommended 20% down payment. Certain loans allow you to purchase a home with less than 20% down and even as low as 3.5% down.

    With conventional mortgage loans you can generally go as low as 10% down or occasionally some even allow 5% down payments. Traditional financing may require you to pay 20 percent or more as the down payment depending on the market you are in and your credit score.

    Depending on your market and the economy you may or may not be able to use a low down payment mortgage loan to purchase a home. After recessions these loans are harder to secure, but if you are a first time home buyer they can help you achieve home ownership more quickly so your money is going toward equity rather than rent.

    If you are considering a low deposit mortgage then you need to consider the pros and cons associated with this type of mortgage. Depending on your situation and long term plans a low down payment mortgage could be a useful tool or one of the common first time home buyer mistakes.

    you may only need to pay five percent of the sales price or less as your deposit. Traditional financing may require you to pay 20 percent or more as the down payment. While the availability of low deposit mortgages has been constrained for the past few years, things are starting to improve. When you are thinking about whether you want to pursue a low deposit mortgage for your real estate buying plans or not, consider a few pros and cons associated with these mortgages.

    Pro: Getting Into Properties Faster

    The number one pro of a low down payment is that you are able to purchase a property faster. This is especially useful when you do not own any properties at all and are purchasing your first residence.

    The existence of low down payment mortgages is there to help out first time home buyers and it’s one of the many ways that first time buyers are able make their first home purchase. You’ll notice that mortgages for rental properties are not generally eligible for low down payment loans and usually requires a higher down payment.

    Low downpayment mortgage options let people get into a property faster because they don’t have to wait the extra months or years in order to save up a full 20% down payment. For some markets being able to use a smaller down payment then you could get into a property years faster.

    Pro: Increased Availability of Assets

    One important consideration is the availability of assets. One of the main differences between low deposit mortgages and a traditional mortgage can seem useful to some home buyers: you have more money in your bank account.

    If the deposit on a traditional mortgage may empty out your bank account entirely, then a low deposit mortgage may be a better option for you. Having more money in the bank after your home purchase

    Homeownership has many expenses associated with it, such as the need to purchase new furnishings for the home, unexpected repair costs, regular maintenance costs, increased utility bills if you are buying a larger home and more. Many homeowners will enjoy greater financial security over the long run if they keep some of their financial assets liquid and easily accessible in a bank account. When an emergency comes along you are going to appreciate having a larger emergency fund.

    Con: The Interest Rate

    One of the most significant drawbacks associated with applying for a low downpayment mortgage relates to the interest rate of the loan.

    Unfortunately lower down payment loans often come with higher interest rates. When you shop around today and compare different loans, you may notice that the interest rate on low deposit mortgages is considerably higher than the rate on mortgages with a more traditional or higher deposit requirement.

    The interest rate on your mortgage can ultimately affect your monthly payment as well as your ability to repay the outstanding balance. The higher your interest rate the more you will pay for your house in the long run.

    Con: Higher Monthly Payment

    When you are trying to decide what type of mortgage to get, you need to consider the fact that the low downpayment mortgage generally will have a higher monthly payment. This higher amount of monthly spending will need to be factored into your decision.

    With a lower down payment, the monthly payment for your mortgage will be higher because it is based on the total amount borrowed, the interest rate and the loan term. Both the total amount borrowed and the interest rate are generally higher with the low downpayment option, and because of this, the monthly payment may be significantly higher.

    While it may be easier to afford a low deposit mortgage’s deposit requirement initially, you should consider how the higher monthly payments will affect your budget for years to come. You’ll want to run a new budget based on different monthly mortgage payments and see which will work best for your life.

    Is A Low Downpayment Mortgage Right For You?

    If you have been thinking about applying for a mortgage and are debating between a low down payment mortgage and a mortgage with a higher deposit requirement, each of these points should be considered carefully. Depending on your financial situation, you may find that one option is more suitable for your needs than others.

    The real question you need to ask after considering the pros and cons: is a low down payment mortgage the right choice for you? Only you can answer that question because it will depend on your personal situation, income, and risk tolerance.

    If you are interested in this approach then you should definitely do your research and run the numbers first. It’s a path that can pay off but is financially risky!

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  • 12 Frugal Beauty Tips | Beauty On A Budget

    Do you love beauty products and makeup but don’t want it to destroy your budget? Welcome to the beauty on a budget club! Today I’m sharing my frugal beauty tips and my own personal favorite budget beauty products as a collaboration with Cents and Purpose and Kate Kaden!

    Makeup and beauty is one area where I don’t spend much honestly and get very, very frugal. That’s honestly because this is not an area where I put a lot of my focus or care much about it. Most days I don’t even wear makeup, but I do love to have a quick easy makeup look and get dolled up for events.

    Favorite Frugal Beauty Products

    Below I’ve listed some of my favorite budget beauty products and my personal favorite makeup splurge item!

    Frugal Beauty Products I Love:

    Splurge Beauty Products I Love:

    Frugal Beauty Tips

    Some of these frugal beauty tips you have probably heard and others may be new. Take what you can use from this list and leave the rest. Finding what works for you and your preferences is the beauty of frugality and personal finance.

    You can find ways to be frugal and cut costs in areas that don’t matter as much so you can spend in other areas.

    My favorite frugal beauty tips:

    1. Drink lots of water. Drinking a lot of water will lead to better looking skin. You look better when you are well hydrated, I promise. The better you take care of your body overall with drinking water and eating healthy foods, the better your skin looks.
    2. Use a makeup primer! It makes your makeup look so much better in most cases and is a frugal way to make the makeup you do actually use look better. 
    3. Figure out what works for you and stick with it. You don’t have to try every new trend and product that comes out. People overspend and waste the most when constantly buying new products that end up not working for them. When you find a product you like, you can find ways to get it on sale.
    4. Shop sales and deals and use drugstore reward points. Makeup is always going on sale and many brands offer coupons. Only buy things when it’s a good price.
    5. Choose one splurge item, instead of spending heavy on everything. Pick one thing that is most important to you and buy the higher end item. For me this is a higher end foundation that works well with my skin type.
    6. Find ways to use one item in multiple ways. Can you also use a shimmer item for cheeks, lips and eyes? Can you use a brown eyeshadow for your eyeshadow and you’re eyebrows?  
    7. Always take care of your skin! Most of the basic skincare stuff doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to make it a habit. Use a moisturizer during the day. Use retinol for anti aging at night. Again, give your skin what it needs. Always remove your makeup at night.
    8. Spend time improving your technique instead of buying more stuff. If you don’t know how to apply makeup well then the expensive items you buy still won’t look as good as the drugstore makeup another girl uses who has worked on applying it perfectly. 
    9. Remove advertising for beauty items where you can. Unfollow brands and send those newsletters to the trash or unsubscribe.
    10. Set a budget for your beauty spending. Figure out what your beauty budget includes: makeup, hair products, skin care and set a budget. This make be a separate category or it may be within your personal spending money like mine, but set a limit for yourself.
    11. Create a beauty sinking fund. You know I love sinking funds and for good reason – there is no guilt when spending on items it you have saved up for them. If you want that fancy foundation, start a beauty sinking fund and save up over a couple months and then buy it.
    12. Find bonus money to spend on beauty. Finding extra money for your budget makes things like beauty feel less budget busting. In my description box I share things like Rakuten, which sends me checks that I can use on beauty items outside of my budget! I also always use gift cards from birthdays or bonuses from work on beauty items! ➝  Try Rakuten for earning cash back on purchases to spend and get a $10 bonus.  

    Those are just some of my favorite ways to be frugal with makeup and beauty products! There are tons of other ways as well!

    Frugal Beauty Strategies To Save Money

    There are many other strategies for saving money on your beauty routines and skincare regime. Some of the strategies actually involve your mindset and approve to beauty.

    Take care of your whole body.

    Beauty begins with things that don’t cost any money at all and that’s taking care of your whole body. This includes doing things like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating healthy foods. These things make your skin look better and your overall beauty will shine!

    Spend where it matters.

    For an example: have the mindset to prioritize what matters. Decide what you really care about most in your beauty routine and splurge there. Then choose to spend less in other areas or cut them out all together.

    Use less product.

    If you want to get very frugal, you can water down things like shampoo or otherwise dilute beauty items to make them go further. This makes items last longer and gives you much more bang for your buck. Another option to use less is to actually use less products. You likely don’t need as many items as you think.

    Find ways to do it yourself.

    You might not be able to DIY every beauty or personal care item in your budget but there are many ways to diy personal care expenses to save money. Take a look at what you currently spend and decide where you might be able to DIY: could you do your nails at home? could you trim your own hair instead of going to the salon? could you make beauty products at home with less ingredients for less money?

    Learn what makes you feel beautiful.

    Sometimes what makes us feel beautiful matters more than anything we spend money on. Find the things that make you feel beautiful, whether that is fake eyelashes or facials or simply a lovely outfit that fits well. Prioritize those in your budget and day because when you feel beautiful you will also look beautiful!

    If you enjoy being frugal, check out some of these other posts about living a frugal life:

    Being beautiful and living a full life is possible while being frugal and staying on a budget.

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  • How I’m Investing For The Future + Tips For Investing Beginners

    Investing can be intimidating so a lot of people put it off until too late. If you’re not investing, especially if you are a woman, then you could be losing ground financially. 

    Today we are going to talk about our personal investments, tips for newbie investors, and why the amount of time your money is invested matters more than picking the perfect stocks, because I know perfection is not required to win at money.

    I generally do not share our investments on this channel because as a family we decided not to share that information. However, I get a lot of questions about investing. Every time I publish a budget video people ask if I’m investing or not. I finally realized not discussing investing our money is doing y’all a disservice. So if you have always been a little curious about what we are doing for investments, settle in because today I am sharing all about where we invest and why.

    Remember that this is what we are doing for our own wealth building. I will share a few basic investing beginner tips, but I’m not a financial advisor and this is just my own personal experience. Please remember this is for inspiration and motivation to get started – not expert financial advice.  

    How I’m Investing For The Future

    I actually have been investing since the age 21 when I opened up my very first investment account – a Roth IRA. I was in college and had very little idea what I was doing, I just knew investing and compound interest would help my money work for me. I researched online and found that a lot of people suggested opening accounts at Vanguard so that’s what I did! 

    Fast forward over a decade later and as of today, we actually have 6 different investment accounts. SIX! So I’m going to walk you through them and the purpose for each.

    Roth IRA – I started a Roth IRA when I was 21 before I graduated college. I participated in a gameshow at my school and answered an easy investing question wrong because I was nervous on stage due to a fear of public speaking. I felt soo dumb so the next day I decided to do something to prove I was actually smart with money.  I opened up a Roth IRA at Vanguard with $1,000 I’d earned from working and I contributed yearly since then. This turned out to be a good decision because most of my jobs did not offer any retirement investing plans so getting started on my own saved me years of lost returns. The account actually took a nosedive when I graduated into a recession but I kept contributing and it grew in the last few years of great stock market returns. The majority of this account is in mutual funds and target date funds. 

    Mary’s 401K – I opened my first 401k 3 years ago when I started working at my current job. Until then I didn’t have access to one at any of the places I had previously worked. Since my company has a 4% match I’ve contributed up to the match every month since I’ve been eligible. Apparently I was one of only a few who contributed at all despite the match and I was bugging my HR person the instant I knew I was eligible. I still contribute to my 401k to get the match and will not stop as long as I have the option, debt or no debt. Our company uses Guideline for our 401k and I have a “Young Professionals” portfolio that is majority invested in the stock market in broad funds covering the S&P 500. 

    Jason’s 401K – My husband has a 401k that he also contributes to every single paycheck. His company also provides a match. His company matches less than my company does but there is no reason not to take it. He also had a 401k from his previous job. His 401k is invested in Vanguard mutual funds within the company’s 401k program.

    SEP IRA – I have a SEP IRA with Vanguard as well. The long name is Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement and this is just a type of account that allows self-employed people to provide retirement benefits to themselves and employees. I started this account when I was freelancing and started earning online income. I’ve sporadically contributed part of my profits in order to save for retirement and reduce my taxable income. I would like to contribute more consistently to this account, especially after I’ve tackled the debt we are paying off. Since I currently use my business income to pay off debt and reinvest in the business I do not contribute much to this account. 

    Penny’s 529 – Each month we invest into a 529 plan account with our state in order to save for our daughter’s college education. A 529 plan is a college savings plan that offers tax and financial aid benefits. We currently save $25 a month into this account which doesn’t seem like a lot but we do also have family contributing each month as well and plan to add more in the future. Since she is a toddler and our state offers free community college we feel like we are in a good place with this investment. 

    Ellevest Account – This is the most recent investment account I opened. I started this account in October 2019 after meeting some of the Ellevest team at FinCon. I had been looking for a place to invest some for medium term range goals like buying a new house when Penny needs a better school district. Ellevest seemed like the perfect fit for my situation because they help you invest based on the goals you want to achieve. I opened this account with a minimal amount since they allow you to open accounts for just $1. 

    Side note: This post is not sponsored but I do have a relationship with Ellevest and if you become a client of theirs through my affiliate links, I will be compensated.

    And that is it! 

    Those are all the accounts we have currently and why we use them for our investing! It seems like a lot but basically I try to take advantage of all the options available to me for investing because I know that investing my money is the key to financial security in the future.

    I knew early on I would have to be responsible for my financial future. When I learned not all jobs had 401ks or pensions, I knew I had to invest more. Of course, I knew nothing about what that actually meant and had to teach myself the whole process. I read a ton of blogs and learned how I could easily start investing with Vanguard and it has grown from that very first investment over 10 years ago. I still watch a lot of videos about investment options and the investments other people are making. 

    Unfortunately most of the investment bloggers and YouTubers I watch are men and we women don’t share much about our investments or stock picks. I don’t share much about my investments like these channels because my investment style is not exciting. I pick mutual funds and contribute over and over with each paycheck. I only check my balances quarterly and rebalance things then if needed. There isn’t much action but I am investing every month because I know that it matters to my future. 

    Tips For Investing Beginners

     So now let’s talk about a few tips I have for you if you are new to investing. Especially if you feel overwhelmed and hearing that I have 6 investment accounts already has you wanting to watch another video. 

    TIP: Get started now!  

    How do you start investing and when do you start? The simple answer is as early as you can! Once you are ready, don’t procrastinate or try to learn everything. It’s just too vast and you’ll never learn everything you possibly can before investing. Make the decision to invest, choose a well known company, and just invest some of your money. The best antidote to fear and overwhelm is action. Just get started! 

    You’ll learn more as you go along but the most common problem I see is people delaying their investment start date because they feel overwhelmed or are scared to make the right decision. Let this go, make the first decision, and implement it even if it’s just with a small amount like $10 a month or even $1,000 dollars to start an account. Perfection is not required to get started. You will learn and grow just by the action of sending money to an investment account. 

    TIP: Pay off high interest rate debt before investing.

    Side note: some people don’t invest while they are in debt and some do. This decision really matters most on what works for your personal situation and timeline. Personally we have slowed our investments down but still take advantage of our 401ks at work to get our matched amounts from our employer. 

    If you decide to wait to invest and tackle debt first make sure your debt payoff plan is fast and furious and won;t stretch out for a decade. If you’re on the fence, a good rule is to pay off all high interest debt before you invest. Any credit cards or loans above 10% interest rates need to be a priority to eliminate asap. 

    TIP: Learn as you go.

    The great thing about investing is that these accounts are not locked in stone, so you can learn as you go and make changes when you are better educated. There are many great ways to learn about investing, from watching videos here on youtube to reading financial websites to meeting with a financial advisor. 

    When you are getting started, pick an investing platform like Vanguard or Ellevest to use and then just go with it. Learn about it and how to use it. If you don’t like it then you can always pull it out and change it to another company.

    One great way to learn is just buy experience with investing. For example, I learned not to pull out investments when the markets tank. It’s easy to hear this often repeated phrase, but the experience of going through it with my accounts and watching the money “disappear” then come back strong when the economy recovered was a great education. You can also watch many people invest right here on YouTube and see how they are doing with their portfolios since they show exactly what they are invested in and the ups and downs of investing.  

    TIP: Change your mindset.

    What is the least amount of money you can invest? At Ellevest, it’s a penny. Seriously, there are companies out there now that are super approachable because they know traditional platforms have turned off people that don’t have piles of cash to invest. 

    I’m happy I got started investing at a younger age but I’m amazed at how so many of the barriers that existed then are gone. I have to wait til I had $1,000 saved up to invest and today you can start with $1. Investing shouldn’t feel scary when you are starting small and learning as you go. 

    This is HUGE because the biggest problem I see with women and investing is being scared to start or not wanting to make the wrong choice. In the back of our minds we run through all the messages we’ve received from society and likely our own upbringing about how “we’re not good at math” “were not good at money” “were not good at investing” “were not good at taking risks”, but that’s not really true. It’s just the messaging sent to us.

    If you have those mental roadblocks to investing, think of it as “this is an opportunity” not a “risk. Think of it as a way to create a sense of abundance in your life and create wealth to help your family, not a potential way to lose money. Changing your mindset can be very hard but it’s essential to continued growth and building wealth.

    Now that I’ve spilled the behind the scenes of my investing life, I’d like to know, do you invest? What are you investing for? What would you like to know about investing? 

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  • 50 Things To Do Instead of Spending Money

    When you’re trying to live on a budget and save or pay down debt then it’s essential to cut spending in certain areas. Unfortunately cutting expenses generally gets a bad rap of not being fun.

    Since I still like to enjoy life and have fun, I’m created a list of 50 fun things to do instead of spending money.

    It’s great to have a list you can refer to when feeling bored, so you have something fun to do instead of thinking there is “nothing to do” without spending money.

    Today I’m sharing this list of things to do instead of spending money so those of you looking to cut down on spending can do the same.

    There are tons of fun things to do without spending money!

    Things To Do Instead of Spending Money

    1. Invite friends over. The best way to spend time and not money? Invite friends over just to hang out and talk with each other! It’s great to catch up with friends and chat about your lives, futures, and fun topics too.
    2. Attend a free event. If you live in a major city or near a college there are probably free events happening all the time. Look online for community calendars and check at the local library for listings of free events. Check the local blogs or newspapers in your area for listings of free things to do during the weekends.
    3. Write a letter to a friend. Getting real mail is rare these days so it has become extra special because it is so rare. Make someone’s day by writing and mailing a letter. Sure the stamp will cost a minimal amount of money but writing the letter is a fun, free activity.
    4. Call your mom. No matter how old you are your mom (or other special person in your life) will always love to hear from you. Give her a call and tell her about your life or reminisce about good times. Just remember to say I love you!
    5. Write a letter to your representative. Ok so this might not be the most “fun” item on the list, but making a difference in the world makes you feel good. We all have causes we care about. Take the time to write a letter to your representative to voice your opinion on an issue. Plus it’s election time so this stuff matters!
    6. Read a blog. Want tons of free entertainment? Browse new posts and dig through the archives of a good blog for a few hours. There are thousands of blogs online with archives of free content on any topic you could possible imagine. Go find one you like and read through posts for a while.
    7. Write a blog post. Creating content can be fun! Write something for your own blog or another existing blog about a topic you are passionate about. You likely have something you can share about a topic that other people need to hear! Don’t have a blog yet? Start a blog NOW.
    8. Organize your things.  Go through a room and organize the items in it. Throw away old things you don’t need, straighten up things that are staying, and make things look nice and tidy.
    9. Organize your photos. Spend a little bit of time looking through your digital photos! Go through your iphoto library and organize everything. You probably have some photos you need to delete. You can take the opportunity to select photos for ordering prints the next time you are spending money.
    10. De-clutter your house. Work room through to get rid of extra clutter and errant items. Decluttering might sound like a chore, but a clean space can be life-changing and the process can be fun too.
    11. Sell your stuff on Craigslist. All that stuff you found during organizing and decluttering? Put it up on Craigslist for sale! This is a great free activity because it will actually earn you money that you can use for doing things later!
    12. Host a yard sale. Anything that doesn’t sell on Craigslist or is too small to be sold there can be offered up in a yard sale. You can advertise for free on sites like Craigslist and Facebook neighborhood groups. You can get rid of clutter and potentially make a few hundred dollars on the venture.
    13. Find free stuff. If you happen to need items rather than getting rid of them, sign up for curb alert groups and browse Craigslist and Freecycle for free items. You can also check Facebook neighborhood groups where people are trying to get rid of things and doing curb alerts of items they want to give away.
    14. Rearrange your furniture. Change up your living room by moving furniture around and trying new furniture configurations. Try something new in your space and see if you like it. This can be super fun and invigorating.
    15. Clean your house. Cleaning your house can make your environment better and save you money. Scrub the bathroom, floors, windows, everything. Make the house the cleanest it’s ever been, or at least in a while.
    16. Clean your car. Clean out all the junk that accumulates in a car and give it a nice wash inside and out. Make it look like a million bucks and you’ll feel like you have a brand new car without spending any money.
    17. Do some yard work. Getting outside can improve your mood and doing yard work can make your home more appealing. Cut your grass, trim the shrubs, rake the leaves. Manual labor is free and productive. You’ll be able to enjoy the landscaping for many months or years after!
    18. Make a to-do list. Making lists is free and useful! Make a list of all the things you need to do and have been putting off or make a list of all the things you want to do in the future. The things you want to do might cost money but making the list doesn’t!
    19. Tackle a nagging task. Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) suggests this super tip for happiness. Tackle one of the pesky lingering tasks always on your to-do list and cross it off forever. Doing something you’ve been avoiding might sound boring or painful but it will lead to a boost in happiness.
    20. Go for a walk or run. Explore your neighborhood or a new part of town by foot. See things from a new perspective and get exercise. Running in different cities can be a fun and free way to see a new place.
    21. Go for a bike ride. Check out the trails or popular bike routes in your city. Ride your bike in a new area of along your favorite route for some exercise and fresh air.
    22. Go for a hike. Explore the nature near you by hiking in the woods. Hiking is a fun, free activity and every area has hiking trails even if it’s relatively flat. Look at your nearby parks and national forests for hiking locations.
    23. Try an at home exercise challenge. Look up an exercise challenge on Pinterest or another site and get to moving! Do the 100 pushups or 100 situps challenge. Or try to do a ton of burpees in a row. It’s free, fun, and challenging!
    24. Test out a new gym for free. Almost every gym out there offers a free trial period where you can go to the gym without spending any money or signing up for a contract. Test out a new gym and change up your work-out for the week. There are also lots of free workouts available in most communities that you can find and join in.
    25. Enjoy the sun. One of the nicest things to do on a sunny day is to spend time outside walking or laying out and enjoying the sun. Be sure to use sunscreen while you gloriously bask in the sun for free. This free activity will boost your vitamin D levels and improve your mood and health.
    26. Gaze at the stars. This free night time activity involves a blanket, no lights, and your eyes. Go for a drive out in the country away from city lights and find a secluded place where you can just lay down and watch the big beautiful universe spin by you.
    27. Take a nap. Relax for a bit and let your body rest and recover from the daily grind it goes through. Naps as an adult can be glorious! They are also a free activity that your body likely needs as much as anything you could buy.
    28. Take a bath. Sure water isn’t truly 100% free, but you have to get clean anyway! Take a relaxing warm bath at home, play some music and enjoy the little luxuries.
    29. Try a new hairstyle. Create a list of hairstyles you would like to try out and attempt one. You can create a Pinterest board of ideas you’d like to try recreating and then test one out for free. It might take a few tries to get right so your time will be well spent creating a new look for yourself.
    30. Try a new outfit. Chances are you only wear a percentage of your closet and even that is worn in the same way. Try out some new looks with the clothes you already in your close. Take what you have and try new combinations and accessories for a different look. Shop your closet for free!
    31. Mend your clothes. You most likely have a pile of clothes to mend or hem that you’ll get to “sometime” in the future or things that don’t fit perfectly. Tackle the clothes that need a little TLC and restore your wardrobe to it’s glory days without going out and buying new things.
    32. Host a clothing swap. Host a party where friends come over and bring items they want to give up to get other items. You’ll all walk away with new clothes and accessories without spending any money. You all save money and get free new items to wear. It’s also super fun to try on new clothes with friends!
    33. Read a book. Curl up with a good book and you’ll have a free adventure that lasts for hour or days. Hit up your library or Amazon’s free ebooks list. Here’s the top 100 free ebooks on Amazon, and there are plenty of free ebooks out there that you can spend hours enjoying for free.
    34. Write something. Writing can be fun, creative, cathartic, and best of all it is free. Use your imagination and create a story or draft a blog post or jot down old memories. If you don’t like to write things other people can see, just journal!
    35. Write a list of reasons not to spend money. Write a list of reasons why you want to save rather and spend and put your future goals in writing. It will motivate you to do all the things on this list rather than spend money!
    36. Babysit. Sure teens use babysitting as a way to make money, but it’s also a nice gift you can give new parents. If you have a couple in your life with kids, offer to watch their kids for free as a sweet thing to do. It’s a great gift, kind thing to do, and also can be very fun!
    37. Make a card. Get crafty and use the materials around your house to make a card for an upcoming holiday or just because. You can even stockpile these and use them throughout the year and have a collection of handmade cards to give away during the holidays.
    38. Make gifts. Christmas is coming and birthdays go year round so there is almost always an occasion for gift giving. Check out easy DIY gift guides for ideas and use what you already have to make cute gifts for friends and family.
    39. Make a Pinterest pin. Most of us have a Pinterest account with hundreds of pinned ideas on it. Take the time to make one of those pins with the supplies you already own. You can search Pinterest based on things you already have so you don’t have to spend money.
    40. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. Take your camera or just your phone and complete a photo scavenger hunt around your area. You can make up your own list of items to find or borrow one from an existing website.
    41. Take a pantry recipe challenge. Challenge yourself to use what is in your pantry to create a new and exciting dinner for your family. There are many ways to use the items in your pantry that you might not have considered before.
    42. Create a meal plan. Write out your meals for the next week or month. Getting organized is free and will also save you money on groceries and eating out in the long run. Consider combining the meal plan with your pantry recipe challenge.
    43. Host a potluck. Make that new pantry dish or another that you have ingredients for and have others come over to provide the rest of the meal. Potlucks are always a fun and inexpensive way to get together with people.
    44. Watch a new show. You can check out the free shows on Hulu or most network channel websites. There are even shows and movies on YouTube you can watch as well. Pick a show and watch a new episode or two.
    45. Host a TV or movie marathon. Invite friends over and collectively pull together a marathon based on shows and movies you already own. Try to base it around a theme or genre for a more cohesive evening.
    46. Check your finances. Take a few hours and do a thorough review of your finances. Look at your spending levels, adjust your budget, and review your investment choices. Use Personal Capital or to get an overview of your finances and make adjustments as necessary.
    47. Write out your future goals. Nothing is more motivating than dreaming. Take some time to dream about your life and write down the major things you want to achieve. Give yourself the free time to decide what you really want out of life. Figuring out your life goals might just inspire you to make a big change.
    48. Write a gratitude list. One thing I love to do when I’m feeling restless and wanting to spend/buy/consume is to make a list of what I already have. Listing out what you have and what you are grateful for reminds you that life is wonderful and you already have a lot. It also gives you something to do without spending money!
    49. Volunteer. Volunteering is free except for your time and it’s extremely rewarding. You can find volunteer positions online and select a nonprofit you really want to support in the long term.
    50. Leave positivity where you go. It’s free to offer a smile or leave a positive note in a library book. It’s free to help someone complete a task or get something they need. Look for ways during your day to impart kindness and happiness among those your cross.

    That’s a long list of free things to do instead of spending money!

    If you’re ever wondering what you can do with your time for free, then make sure you refer back to this list! Life is not all about the money and this list proves there are plenty of things you can do without spending any money.

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  • Should You Go on Vacation While Paying Off Debt?

    Should you take vacations while you are paying off debt? If you are super focused on getting out of debt then is it worth it to take a vacation?

    I recently took a vacation with my mom, but I haven’t forgotten about paying off debt! I’m sharing my reasons why we took this vacation, ways to make it cheaper and ways to make it work while paying off debt.

    I plan on taking vacations and enjoying them where I can but I also know that keeping things on a budget and staying on the frugal side of traveling helps make it possible while you are still paying off debt.

    In the video I share a few of the ways we were able to take thing vacation while paying off debt thanks to some budget tips and tricks for traveling.

    Why I Think You Should Take Vacations When In Debt

    Personally, I think you should still travel even if you are paying off debt.

    Some money experts recommend skipping vacations while you are paying off debt. Personally I’ve struggled with that concept and always traveled in the past when paying off debt. I still plan on traveling and taking vacations while paying off debt because it’s important to me to enjoy life and find the balance between enjoyment and smart personal finance moves.

    Life doesn’t end just because you are trying to get out of debt.

    Reasons why you should take vacations while in debt:

    1. You’ll have the chance to relax and refocus on your goals.
    2. You will be even more motivated to attack your debt after the trip.
    3. You can still take a trip without delaying debt payoff too long.
    4. You are not promised a future so you need to live in the moment too.
    5. Vacations can be done on the cheap and still be fun.
    6. People value experiences like vacations more than things.

    Those are just a few of the reasons I personally found my recent beach vacation was worth it to us. This is definitely one area where I disagree with Dave Ramsey. I still think you can go on vacations while you are in debt.

    If you want to take a vacation while you are still paying off debt there are ways to make it work!

    How To Decide On Taking A Trip

    If you’re on the fence about taking a vacation during your debt payoff season, there are a few ways to decide if the trip is worth it for you or not.

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are trying to decide if you should travel when you are in debt:

    • How much longer will you be paying off the debt if you take the vacation?
    • How many months will it take you to save up for the trip?
    • Can you save for the trip and not use credit for it?
    • Will you stick to your vacation budget while traveling?
    • Is it a once in a lifetime opportunity like a family wedding?
    • Is your debt high interest or are you already drowning in payments?

    Those are a few of the questions you should ask and answer for yourself before deciding to take a vacation.

    Tips For Traveling When In Debt

    If you are in debt but still want to travel, know that it is possible! You may have to go about it a different way by lowering the cost of your trip in a variety of ways, but you can still get away and enjoy some relaxation. Paying off debt doesn’t have to mean no travel and no fun!

    Split expenses with family. If you split the overall costs of the vacation between multiple family members or friends then you will spend less overall. Splitting an AirBnB or adding multiple people to a hotel room is an easy way to cut expenses while traveling.

    Stay in a less expensive area. When you take a trip stay in a less expensive area of the city instead of staying downtown in a nice hotel. Find ways to make it cheaper by adding some commute from your hotel to the fun destinations.

    Go for a shorter time period. Maybe you can’t take a week or two week long vacation with your budget and debt payoff situation. But you could shorten the time span of the trip for a less expensive vacation which makes it more doable.

    Make a budget for the trip. It is very easy to overspend while traveling so make sure you make a budget for the trip and track your spending while you travel. Having a plan for your money while traveling will make you feel more in control.

    Save up the money you need before you go. You should never, ever go into more debt in order to travel. While traveling is wonderful, it is not worth more debt, especially if you are using credit cards to fund the trip. If you are going to take a vacation then you should save up the amount you need to spend before you actually go.

    Start a side hustle to pay for the trip. Pick up extra work to earn money outside of your regular budget and debt payoff plan in order to pay for a vacation. There are tons of side hustle ideas out there from driving for Uber to selling on Etsy to walking dogs and beyond. If you need money outside your budget to travel – start hustling to earn it!

    Plan for cheaper meals at your hotel or rental. While part of traveling is all about eating new things and trying new restaurants, make sure you plan for cheaper meals at your hotel too! If food isn’t important to you then this is easier and you could even plan to get groceries and make all your meals at your hotel.

    Find free things to do on your trip. There are free things to do in every city including the one you are traveling to for vacation. Look into local city guides and blogs to find out what locals are doing for free or if there are any fun events to check out while you are in town.

    Try a staycation instead. If you don’t actually want to spend all the money on traveling then try out a staycation! Don’t tell anyone you are staying home and avoid any obligations on your calendar. Instead explore your city and do new things, relax at home, and don’t do anything like chores.

    There are many ways to keep trips on the cheaper side which lets you still get the rest and relaxation you need during debt payoff without breaking the bank.

    The Argument For Not Going On Vacation When In Debt

    Of course, as a personal finance blogger I still have to make the argument for when you should not go on a vacation.

    Travel can be very expensive and many people tend to slip on vacation budgets and spend more than they planned. It’s very easy to incur additional costs when you are traveling that were not planned.

    If you are already in debt, especially credit card debt, then you probably don’t need the temptation to spend while on a vacation. If you have high interest debt like credit cards then you should tackle that like it’s an emergency before considering a vacation.

    ‘Regardless of the type of debt you have, remember that additional expenses like a vacation and additional debt will make achieving debt freedom even more difficult. It will take longer and depending on the amount spent or debt incurred while on vacation, it could make your debt payoff situation much worse.

    If any of these fit your situation then you probably should avoid vacations and any type of travel until your high interest credit card debt is gone.

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  • 10 Best Reasons To Get Out Of Debt

    Debt hangs over people. Sometimes it even destroys lives. For most of us though, debt controls our decisions and limits our choices.

    For most of us we can push it to the back of our minds, but it rarely leaves us untouched mentally.

    We still feel the stress and anxiety of having debt lurking around in the background. We weigh our decisions in our careers and with our families based on our ability to pay the debt payments we’ve agreed to.

    Getting out of debt offers freedom from the burden and stress debt brings into our lives.

    Reducing your debt and paying it off completely opens up choices and freedom to do what you want most in life. It makes managing your money less stressful and it gives you the chance to do more with your life.

    Paying off debt has a ton of other benefits so today I’m sharing 10 reasons you should get out of debt.

    1. Reduced Stress

    Living with debt is stressful. End of story, we could probably stop here, right? Most people that find me online tell me that debt stresses them and causes anxiety.

    You worry about paying the bills and what will happen if you lose your job or if you should feel guilty about spending money. The constant pressure of needing to work to support debt payments can cause massive amounts of stress.

    Those with high debt levels have stress levels 12% higher than the average person ( and getting into debt beyond your ability to pay is one of the top five most stressful life events according to the Society of Occupational Medicine. These levels of stress are not healthy for your body and could literally shorten your life.

    Becoming debt-free can help you save your life by reducing stress and preventing the serious health consequences that come from constant stress. Getting rid of debt lets you feel less trapped and that feeling along with fewer bills reduces stress.

    This stress relief from the removal of debt can make your life happier and longer.

    2. Better Mental Health

    Unfortunately debt is linked to worse mental health. I shared my own family experiences with the links between debt and depression so I know this story all too well. Even if debt doesn’t make you depressed, it can worsen depression symptoms.

    A Northwestern study found people with a lot of debt were 13% more likely to have depression symptoms. Other studies have found similar results especially when the debt is higher.

    Even worse, for some people like my half-sister, large debt loads that feel overwhelming can lead to suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately some people act on these thoughts and end their lives due to the crippling effects of debt. While that isn’t a good solution for the problem of debt, it does sometimes happen.

    Thankfully getting rid of debt leads to better mental health. Improving your mental health can also help you tackle the debt you need to repay. These go hand in hand and are worth working on.

    When you are debt free you are less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. People report being happier with their life as a whole when they are debt free.

    The feeling of knowing you own your car and house and don’t have any payments can be a huge boost to your mental health and happiness.

    3. More Free Income

    Beyond the psychological factors of reduced stress and better mental health, getting out debt just gives you more money to play with! This can make your life more fun!

    When you have debt payments you are sending money to lenders instead of being able to spend it on things that you love. Getting rid of the debt might be hard in the short term but long term you free up more money to live the lifestyle that makes you happiest.

    When you pay off debt early and get out of debt you’ll have more money each month in your budget. If you don’t have to pay $350 toward a student loan payment every month, wouldn’t you be able to spend that money in a way that improves your life?

    If we weren’t paying a $1,200 mortgage payment each month we would have over $14,000 more in our budget each year to spend. That would buy us a lot of awesome things or multiple amazing vacations each year.

    4. Less Risk

    When you are in debt, you are taking risks with your money. You are betting on your ability to pay back the debt you’ve taken on. That involves risk.

    It might not feel that way since debt is so normal in our society, but if you are in debt and don’t have savings you are one emergency away from disaster. And if you are unable to meet payments on your debt you could end up in collections or bankruptcy or lose your house or car. There is a lot of risk involved when you owe someone money.

    Reaching debt freedom removes these risks. A lender can’t come after you for non-payment. A mortgage company can’t foreclose on your house if you don’t have a mortgage. It gives you less risks of financial ruin when you don’t have debts.

    5. Better Future For Kids

    Your kids will have a better future if you are out of debt. If you are a parent like I am then this is a huge motivator to get out of debt.

    There are multiple ways getting rid of debt improves the lives of your children. First, there will be the freed up income that you can spend on your kids and their needs. Also, you can also better save for their actual future by putting more money into a college savings fund or funding accounts for things like their first house or their first car.

    Getting rid of debt also makes you a better parents because it improves your emotional state and mental health. Bettering these things makes you a better person and a better parent.

    Debt freedom reduces stress so you’re going to be a more pleasant person and your kids will benefit from that as well. They also benefit from a parent that can teach them about money and show them how to do it the right way and avoid massive debt.

    Giving my daughter a better financial start and a better life overall is a huge reason why I want to get out of debt.

    6. Stronger Marriage

    Marriages struggle under debt and money problems. Money fights are common among couples that get divorced and the strain of not being on the same page financial can add unnecessary stress to a marriage.

    The stress caused by the effects of debt can cause couples to be irritable and zap the loving feelings right out of the relationship. Fight about money can lead to tension and even divorce when the debt isn’t addressed.

    Getting on the same page financially and getting out of debt removes one area of potential conflict from your marriage. The more areas of conflict you can work through or eliminate, the better your chances of a happy marriage.

    Working through the process of getting rid of debt also creates a stronger marriage because you’ve worked on a big problem together and succeeded. Tackling a shared enemy like debt can create a strong bond between you as partners.

    Paying off debt and working as a team with my husband to pay off our debt has helped us better communicate and has strengthened our marriage.

    7. Ability to Retire

    If you’re in debtm then chances are you aren’t saving enough for retirement because you’re busy paying off debt. Debt can often slow down or prevent people from saving as much for retirement as they should be saving.

    Getting rid of the debt means you have more money freed up to save for retirement by investing. Even if you’d rather not work until you die, you should be saving for your golden years to give yourself more choices. There is nothing worse than being 70 or 75 and being forced to work when you’d rather not.

    The faster you get rid of debt, the faster you will be able to save more for retirement. Without debt holding you back you could even try to retire early instead of working well into old age. Personally I’d love to be able to retire from work I don’t love so getting out of debt is part of my plan to achieve that.

    8. Ability to Help Others

    Getting rid of debt gives you the opportunity to help others more often.

    My favorite thing about Dave Ramsey’s show is that he paints the picture of getting out of debt and building wealth so that you can not only enjoy it for yourself but use it to help others in life.

    Getting rid of debt makes it possible for you to help other people when they needs it most. You can help friends and family get through a tough period financially and you can donate more to the charities that matter to you most.

    Research has shown that spending money to help others is a very rewarding experience. Often people find giving money just as rewarding as they would spending it.

    I love knowing my money is helping change lives and make the world a better place – I want to do more of that when I’m debt free!

    9. Guilt Free Spending

    Let’s be honest, even when you have a budget and plan for expenses you still feel a little guilty spending money on things when you are in debt. There is the angel on your shoulder telling you that your spending money could be sent to debt.

    I sometimes feel guilty even when I’ve saved for something and I see the benefits of what I’m buying. It’s hard to fully 100% enjoy spending money without guilt when you are paying off debt.

    But getting rid of debt gets rid of all that guilt and mental baggage around spending. Having no debt frees you up to spend what you want on whatever you want!

    When you are in debt you might not even have the money to spend, guilty feelings or not. This can lead to spending on credit leading to more debt and a vicious cycle. Getting rid of debt for good takes you out of the cycle and you can use your money for guilt free spending on the things you enjoy.

    10. Freedom

    Reason #10 to get out of debt? Freedom.

    Not having debt obligations gives you a huge amount of freedom and confidence. When you don’t have to work your butt off at a job you hate to pay debt, you’ve truly achieved a level of freedom most people don’t reach.

    This is a huge personal reason to get out of debt for me. I want to be free from owing anyone anything. I want to be free to make my career choices not based on how I’ll be able to service debt payments but instead on how it affects the rest of my life.

    Getting rid of debt gives you much more freedom in your life. It opens up more possibilities because you’re reduced expenses means you can change jobs or move or for some people even stop working.

    Getting rid of debt gives you freedom. That’s what I want. That’s why I’m getting out of debt and that’s why I’ll never take on more debt outside of mortgages.

    Why Get Out Of Debt

    This video and post about reasons to get out of debt was a collaboration with two of my favorite YouTubers: Kate Kaden and Well Behaved Wallet!

    These ladies also created videos about why to get out of debt. You can watch their videos below to learn their reasons why to get out of debt and follow their channels for great frugal tips and personal finance advice.

    Clearly we have overlapping and different reasons to get out of debt!

    Regardless of the specific reasons, it’s clear that eliminating debt is a worthwhile pursuit. That’s why I’m using the debt snowball to get out of debt in order to do things like invest money and purchase real estate!

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