Month: November 2019

  • 20 Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

    Christmas is a wonderful holiday but the consumerism culture has taken much of the joy out of it and instead given us credit card bills, stress, and piles of junk. I’m not a fan of that so I try to give and receive meaningful and frugal gifts each year instead.

    In the video above I go through my favorite frugal gifts that I give over and over again. Many of these gifts include low waste wrapping so the whole gift is a present, which makes it even more frugal!

    If you are looking for even more frugal Christmas gift ideas, keep reading for my favorite frugal gifts!

    We all know Christmas has wrecked many budgets and it is a particularly hard time for some people to say no to spending. With emotions high and sales pressure up, many of us spend more than we planned.

    That’s why having frugal Christmas gifts on hand and ready to go is so important to keeping your Christmas budget in check!

    Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

    If you’re doing your Christmas shopping and need a list of frugal but awesome gift ideas, look no further!

    1. Baked goods. Everyone loves baked goods during the holiday season so this is a frugal gift that is also a crowd-pleaser. You can make Christmas cookies or banana bread or any number of yummy edible gifts for very little money. Consumable Christmas gifts are a huge hit and many people appreciate not being given something that will contribute to clutter. This is a great option for any minimalists you know.
    2. Scrapbook. Make a scrapbook or a photo book showing your most fond memories with someone. You can do this very cheaply with supplies you have around or can get on clearance at craft stores. Print out some photos and it’s very frugal but meaningful. Adding sweet notes of memories and inside jokes will mean more than anything you can buy.
    3. Handmade Christmas ornaments.  You can make personalized Christmas ornaments for your friends and family for next to nothing. There are tons of great ideas on YouTube and Pinterest for ways you can cheaply DIY very nice looking items. Just because the supplies came from the Dollar Tree doesn’t mean this frugal gift can’t look expensive!
    4. Regifted items. Let’s be real, regifting is a great way to do frugal Christmas gifts! If you’ve gotten duplicate gifts or items you’ll never use then there is nothing wrong with giving it away the next Christmas. Make sure you don’t regift to the same person, but otherwise it’s fair game. Just because you can’t use it doesn’t mean someone else won’t!
    5. Recipe box. You can make a beautiful recipe box or buy an affordable one and fill it with blank recipe cards along with your favorite recipes. This can be especially sentimental if you collect family recipes or go with another meaningful theme. Go the extra mile to delight the gift recipient and make one of the meals to go along with it!
    6. Photo Collage. If you’re handy with Photoshop or Canva, you can create a photo collage/montage, print it out and frame it! You could also do this the old fashioned way with scissors and glue. It’s a great way to give a creative memory that can be done for hardly any money.
    7. Framed family picture. Take a picture of your family or kiddos, frame it, and give it as a gift! We do this every year for grandparents and they love it! It’s frugal but delightful for those who want photos renewed each year. You can get nice looking frames at many stores on clearance or just stop by a thrift store for one.
    8. Coupon Books. Sure it’s a corny gift idea, but a personalized coupon book can also be super fun! You can go with classic  favorite coupons as “back rub”, “dinner” or “clean the house”. Or spice things up with adult themed coupons or go super silly with practical jokes. There are lots of options for personalization here and none of the items in the book have to cost money to do! Most people would prefer experiences and time with you anyway.
    9. Family history. Put together a family history for someone with photos, written family histories, a family tree, a video and anything else you can think of that will bring their family history alive. This is an especially great gift you can give to siblings or a whole side of a family to knock out multiple gifts.
    10. Appreciation book. Use a blank journal to create a book about how much you appreciate the person! You can fill it up with reasons why you appreciate them, gratitude over their qualities, shared memories, and photos. If you can’t fill up a book, try doing this in a letter form and list as many things as you can.
    11. Your skills. Give the gift of service by offering up your skills as a gift. It won’t cost you anything but time. You can offer to cook a meal or offer your design services or tech support. If you don’t have any specific professional skills to offer, then offer up housesitting or babysitting.
    12. Groupon experience. Groupon offers frugal experiences perfect for gift giving. You can give a certificate for an experience like a massage, painting lesson, or outdoor adventure. Keep an eye out for a huge discount deal on something that you know will make a great gift for someone on your list.
    13. Card game kit. Buy a deck of cards, and a book of card game rules for different card games. You can have hours and hours of frugal fun once you learn multiple games you can play with one deck of cards. I loved playing card games on camping trips when I was younger and still love to pull out a deck of cards for good quality family time.
    14. Book gift pack.  Look through the books on your own shelf that you’ve already read and put together a gift pack of books that you loved. You can package the books in a cute way that makes them feel like a special gift of hand selected books. Write a note about why you loved each book and why you think the recipient will love the book as well.
    15. Breakfast gift box. Put together a cute morning breakfast gift basket with some cheap basics: pancake mix, syrup, and pancake mix-ins. These items don’t cost much but they are super handy to have on hand for most people.
    16. Picnic gift basket. Grab some Dollar Tree utensils, plates, and tablecloth and then wrap the items up with a blanket inside a basket. Write a note inviting the recipient to go on a picnic lunch with you once the weather is nice. You could also pack snacks into the picnic basket as an extra gift.
    17. Memory jar. Write down favorite memories of the person receiving the gift on small pieces of paper and add them to a decorated jar with instructions to open daily. This works best when you can get lots of sweet and funny memories!
    18. DIY Coasters. You can make coasters for a very small amount of money and the personalization of using photos special to the recipient makes this a meaningful gift. DIY coasters are very easy to make, cost hardly anything, and can be a great sentimental item to give people.
    19. DIY bath and body items. You can make sugar scrubs, face masks, body butters and natural skin care products from items you already likely have in your home like sugar and coconut oil. These are cheap to make but feel luxurious when you get to use them, so they make perfect gifts! My mom loves and requests my peppermint sugar scrub as a gift each year.
    20. Change jar savings kit.  This is an especially great gift for young children who are just starting to learn about money. Give a child a change jar or cool piggy bank and some starter change already in it.  Then you can teach them about saving and spending their own money later in the year!

    No matter which frugal gift you decide to give, remember that it is the thought that truly matters with the gift. Most sentimental and meaningful gifts are not expensive ones. They instead incorporate emotions, memories, and experiences.

    Remember that spending the most doesn’t necessarily mean the most! Having a frugal Christmas is a great way to keep your financial goals on track and still please those in your life!

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  • October 2019 Online Income Report – $1,024.42

    Welcome to my monthly online income report!

    Each month here on the blog I share what I earned from online endeavors like this personal finance blogmy YouTube channel, and my Etsy shop. I like sharing real numbers to inspire myself and others.

    Since May when I realized earning more online income could keep me from going back to full time hours, I’ve tried to squeeze as much work into online income generating activities as possible. In June that didn’t necessarily pay off in income earned but it set a good foundation for coming months. I know that in the final quarter of 2019 my income can potentially jump up because of the foundation I’ve laid.

    Growing my online income is so important to my current financial goals and that focus matters so much to my family right now!

    earnning money as a blogger working from home

    Why Share An Online Income Report

    I’m sharing my online income reports as a YouTuber (my main priority these days even though I started years ago as a blogger) to show people that it is possible to make money online. Lots of people want to know how much small youtubers make and if you can make money from a small YouTube channel.

    I’m a small YouTuber that started just so I could share videos of my Alaska vacation, but it’s turned into so much more than that over the two years that I’ve been making videos on YouTube.

    Once I realized I could also earn money with the videos, I decided to set a goal of making YouTube into a side hustle. My original goal with earning income on YouTube was to earn at least $600 dollars a month to help pay for the additional daycare expenses for my daughter.

    Any amount of money would help our financial situation since we had increased expenses and I wanted to work less as well. Those two things don’t go together without added stress, so my plan was to increase my side hustle income!

    I knew that earning money online was possible because I had done it once before as a blogger on a small scale and even though I’d let that income and blog life go, I had seen hundreds of others do the same and more by reading their online income reports. If people could earn tens of thousands a month online, surely I could earn $600 a month.

    Income reports inspired me to try to work harder and do more while building my online income through my YouTube channel

    While I’m not earning a full time income online currently, I am happy to show that I’ve grown my income to hit that original online income goal and I’ve been able to help a lot of people along the way. It’s amazing that we can earn money creating and sharing content online.

    Previous Online Income Reports

    If you’re interested in past income reports, you can see all of them here:

    Online Income Reports – Pennies Not Perfection

    As you can see from past income reports, my online income in 2019 has been trending much higher than my income last year. The growth is not viral or explosive but it is moving up every single month.

    I’m consistently earning $700-$800 a month now when I was only earning $300-500 last year. That might not seem huge since it’s small numbers but that means I have doubled my monthly online income!

    My goal for a while now is to bump up to the $1,000 a month mark consistently with the income I’m generating from the online business activities. It’s amazing to think that it’s within reach and soon I could be earning $1,000 per month.

    I like sharing these numbers to show small YouTubers what is possible with a channel that isn’t huge or growing by hundreds of thousands of subscribers in a year. While that would be amazing, it is possible to still earn income as a small channel.

    Seeing these numbers in this format helps me to see the growth I’ve already had and inspires me to keep growing.

    I plan to grow a blog/website around my channel as well and hopefully these income report numbers inspire anyone looking to grow from humble beginnings online.

    October 2019 Online Income Report

    Here are the main income sources broken down by what I earned for the month of October. I’ve included referral links to each if you want to join too!

    • Advertising – $512.47
    • Affiliates – $376.55
    • Etsy Products – $135.40

    Total Income: $1,024.42

    This is the amount earned in Aguust 2019, before any fees, expenses, or taxes.

    That means I don’t keep all of it it and at least 25% will be gone for taxes before it hits my bank account. I also won’t be paid all of it in the month it is earned since each source pays out at different times.

    However, I must say with much excitement: I hit my goal two months in a row! I made $1,000 in a month! Again!

    I hit the goal of earning $1,000 in a month from mostly YouTube generated activity which is insane and exciting and worth all the work that has gone into it. I try not to think of my overall hourly rate because it definitely wouldn’t make me as excited.

    What I Worked On In October 2019

    In October I worked on a few different priorities both growing income sources I already had and creating new ones.

    Made affiliate marketing improvements.

    I continued with my implementation of tweaks I learned from taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. I feel like this has helped me save a lot of time, even if this month’s affiliate income does not reflect it!

    I am still looking for additional affiliate marketing programs for products and services I already use and love that would be a good fit for earning money because I already talk about them. I plan to pick a few different products and companies to promote and not do too many at once because quality over quantity is important.

    Adding new affiliate partners in the coming months and continuing to make tweaks on my existing ones should help increase the affiliate revenue. I’m very happy with the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course so far because it’s helped me focus into a better direction.

    Added products to my Etsy shop.

    I continued to add more products to my Etsy shop and increased the number of printables available for sale. I had the goal of continuing to add new ones and this month I did! I added several new ones and made even more sales than ever.

    The amount I earned in Etsy this month over last month is very encouraging! I literally earned 10 times more this month than last month and I didn’t do anything different: I just kept going along with my strategy of creating and adding products!

    Getting sales as a new Etsy shop is the hardest part of opening but it’s starting to snowball on itself! $100 is not life changing money but it is amazing to have made so many sales this month!

    October 2019 Online Income Wins

    Time to celebrate some things that went right with online income in the month of October!

    Income over $1,000.

    Like I’ve mentioned, my first goal was to get to earning at least $600 a month, and more recently I challenged myself to start hitting $1,000 a month.

    That felt like the next level of income and one that seemed impossible just a year ago. It seems that every month the income I’m earning from this side hustle continues to grow and I’m so blessed by this fact. I know as long as I focus on helping more people it will continue to grow.

    This is the best side hustle. I love being able to earn online income through making videos, writing blog posts, recommending and creating products that help other people. This allows me to be creative, supportive, and encouraging. All the things I want to be in life.

    What I’m Working On Next

    So what’s on tap for next month? I’ve got a few things planned:

    Grow the products in my Etsy shop. I haven’t dedicated nearly enough time to my Etsy shop and the items in it but I want to create more items and also promote what is already there. I have a big goal of eventually getting to 50 items listed in 2019 so I’m hoping I can continue to add products and grow the amount of listing and sales.

    Create more affiliate focused videos. I made a couple affiliate product focused videos and they did quite well for my channel based on the response and the income. After taking Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing I have so many ideas to implement and just need to find the time to do so. I’m planning to create more affiliate focused videos by focusing on single products and being super helpful in the content. I honestly never want to create anything that isn’t helpful to at least one person.

    I also plan to start working on the strategies I noted to prepare for December when affiliate marketing income is high.

    Popular YouTube videos on my channel:

    Thanks for reading/watching/following along with this online income journey! Stay tuned for more online income reports.

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  • 33 Money Saving Tips For A Frugal Christmas

    Having a debt-free, frugal Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays but it does mean you’ll have an enjoyable holiday without feeling broke. 

    When you’re mindful and intentional about your spending during Christmas you can have a frugal season and enjoy everything the holidays are meant to be about. 

    There are many ways you can save money during Christmas and have a very frugal season. In the video above I share my favorite frugal living tips for the holiday season and Christmas gift giving specifically.

    Here are 33 more tips for you to have a frugal Christmas. If you’re wanting to save money on the holiday season, keep reading!

    1. Make a budget for your Christmas spending. Put a limit on your total spending for all things for the holiday season and commit to sticking to that dollar amount. Promise yourself that you won’t spend over the amount you’ve assigned to the holidays.
    2. Assign dollar amounts to each type of Christmas spending. Give yourself a firm budget for all the types of spending you might do. Going to buy decor? Set a strict budget. Buying Christmas presents? Give yourself a budget for gifts.
    3. Create a Christmas sinking fund in a high yield savings account and save up each paycheck in order to pay cash for Christmas. You’ll save less per paycheck if you start early but even a few paychecks before Christmas can make a difference.
    4. Make a commitment to a cash-only Christmas using only what you’ve saved in your sinking fund or can cash flow. Promise yourself you won’t be using credit to buy more than you can afford.
    5. Let everyone know you are committed to a cash only Christmas. Be open with all of your friends and family and let them know about your decision to have a frugal Christmas.
    6. Be prepared to say “no” when needed to additional spending when it is outside of your budget. If you can’t afford another holiday season excursion or special meal out, then be prepared to say no. Offer more frugal suggestions but be firm in your decision not to overspend.
    7. Manage your kids and family expectations by sharing what your budget is for gifts. If they are old enough, let your kids know what to expect based on the budget for the year. 
    8. Choose a “shop for the kids only” rule with extended family gatherings. Buying for adults is unnecessary in most cases and children opening gifts will provide joy and savings to everyone.
    9. Do a White Elephant or Yankee Swap with friends or extended family or choose a fun game to play like the Saran Wrap game. This can be a fun experience together instead of trading expensive gifts. 
    10. Give cookies or other baked goods and food items as presents. Most people love to get cookies or other delicious treats as gifts and all this takes is a bit of time and a small amount of money.
    11. Give a service or use a talent/skill/hobby as gifts instead of buying something. Use whatever you are naturally gifted at to offer as a gift. 
    12. DIY your gifts for friends and family. There are lots of cute DIY gifts on Pinterest that are easy and delightful to receive. 
    13. DIY your Christmas decorations by using what you already have or can scavenge outdoors and at thrift stores. Again, Pinterest and YouTube videos are your friend for DIY ideas! 
    14. Use a fake Christmas Tree this year and for many years to come instead of buying a new fresh tree each holiday season. With a fake tree you only have to spend once and can get them very inexpensively with coupons and sales.
    15. Set a dollar limit on gift swaps and gift exchanges. If you’re doing a white elephant or drawing names or anything in a group then make sure to set a max dollar amount for your spending. During the price setting you can help guide the conversation to keep the price reasonable. 
    16. Use the 4 gift rule for kids where they receive 4 gifts. 1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, and 1 thing to read.
    17. Set aside a set amount of money for unplanned miscellaneous holiday expenses. Planning for the unexpected makes those unplanned expenses not strain your budget or cause any stress.
    18. Use coupons and sales to save money on your holiday meal shopping. During the holiday season many of the favorite items go on sale so use the opportunity to your advantage!
    19. Take advantage of your supermarket’s gift card promotions. You can buy gift cards at a discount or for major bonus fuel points. Combine that with a credit card cash back and Fetch rewards for even more savings and then give those cards as a gift or use them to save when buying other gifts.
    20. Use cash-back and reward apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, SavingStar and Shopkick. For everything you buy you can receive cash back which adds up and allows you to have even more money to spend on Christmas.
    21. For online shopping, use Ebates for cash back and find store discounts by using RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin, and Coupon Sherpa. Install Camel Camel Camel to track prices for things you may want to buy on Amazon to get the best price.
    22. Sign up for stores’ email lists to get a discount and download store apps to get coupons and further discounts. Most stores will offer coupons within their apps. 
    23. Give gifts that meet a need and will be used throughout the year. For your family this is easy since you likely know what they need. If people ask what you want, request something you need and would buy anyway.
    24. Take advantage of post Christmas deals. Plan to buy yourself or your kids clothing after Christmas when clothing is deeply discounted for the season. Get all of your Christmas decor and wrapping paper for next year after Christmas when it’s 70-90% off.
    25. Gift coupons for future services or experiences. Things like making a family member dinner or giving parents a night of babysitting can be a wonderful gift to be redeemed in the future.
    26. Comparison shop before you purchase items to find the best prices. Take advantage of stores that have price-matching policies or lowest price guarantees to get the absolute best price on anything you want to buy.
    27. Consider buying used where you can or regifting things that you haven’t used. Not every gift has to be something new. Team up with family that’s also trying to be frugal and swap items the other will use. 
    28. Use daily deal opportunities to get gifts at a much better prices. You can use flash sale sites like Fab.com, and Zulily and also browse Amazon’s Today’s Deals, Black Friday Deals, and Outlet Deals
    29. Plan to use coupons and follow coupon sites like Living Rich with Coupons, Money Saving Mom, and Krazy Coupon Lady to find deals throughout the season. These sites are dedicated to finding coupons that will save you money. There are tons of sites and YouTube channels you can follow to find the best deals.
    30. Sign up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial if you are not already a Prime member. You can take advantage of sales and free shipping during the holiday season. 
    31. Plan your meals outside of your holiday meal. Prepping your meals can keep your wallet and health together during the holidays and stop you from heading to an expensive restaurant. You can use a service like $5 Meal Plan to eliminate stress of meal planning.
    32. Find ways to earn extra money on the side to afford the Christmas spending you want. If you want to spend more without dipping into debt then you need to earn more money to cover the difference. You can offer skills or services like dog walking or just sell unwanted clutter around the house to earn money for Christmas.
    33. Skip gifts altogether for Christmas this year. Think about doing a special activity together as a family or volunteering instead of buying gifts to give each other.

    Remember that ultimately the holiday season is not about buying things or spending money. If you’re religious then it is one of the holy days and if you’re not then it’s a time to spend with loved ones. Find the reason for celebrating Christmas beyond consumption and you’ll be able to keep it frugal with no problem.

    Remember that usually presents for Christmas are not life changing and you likely do not remember what you received last year. Focus on spending time with your loved ones and making memories together instead of items you’ll buy that will be quickly forgotten.

    Loved these frugal tips? Sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to the YouTube channel to get more frugal tips for saving money throughout the year!

    frugal christmas money saving tips

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  • Buying Our First House – Price & Mortgage Details

    If you are nosy about real estate like me, or want to buy a house and are curious about getting a mortage, then this video today is for you!

    In this video I discuss all the details of our mortgage. I share our much house cost, the amount we paid for PMI, the fees we paid for closing, and all the nitty gritty details. All the details of our experience with getting a mortgage and closing on our first home so you can learn what to expect as a first time home buyer.

    It’s fun getting nosy in someone else’s money, isn’t it?

    Buying Our First Home

    We bought our first home two months before our wedding. We knew we wanted to start off together in a home and found a house we loved the first day we looked at houses.

    Since the market was already hot in our area, houses were flying off the market. Several we looked at in the morning had offers by the afternoon.

    We also put an offer on a house that first day! After some back and forth with the seller we settled on a purchase price. We were both thrilled and terrified that we didn’t look at that many houses. It was one of the first five houses we saw and we knew as soon as we looked that we could live there happily.

    What We Did Wrong Buying Our House

    Most financial experts recommend putting 20% down on a home but we definitely did not do that. At the time we were paying for a wedding and had other expenses so we went with a FHA loan and a 3.5% down payment. I knew I should have saved up more for the house, but ultimately did not want to wait a year or more to get the full down payment.

    Speaking of down payments, I actually wanted to put 5% down but our mortgage lender messed up the paperwork and only did 3.5%. I was too nervous by the time we got our final documents to try correcting it again because I was worried something would cause it to not work out. In retrospect that was incredibly silly and I should have stood my ground over her mistake, but after experiencing a failed house purchase I was too nervous.

    Obviously I did not like our mortgage lender after she messed up our down payment. We should have shopped around more and found more options for lending. While we got a good rate, I did not have a positive experience and it is possible another lender would have been better.

    We also made several other mistakes with our home buying process that I detail in the video below.

    I’m happy to be sharing my experience buying a house for the first time to help others, both good and bad! There are four mistakes we made during the home buying process as first time home buyers.

    What We Did Right Buying Our House

    We worked with a realtor we trusted. This makes a huge difference when you are a first time home buyer. When you know your realtor won’t push you in the wrong direction just to make a sale then you can relax and enjoy the home buying process even if you don’t understand everything that is happening.

    Our interest rate is also quite good! 3.65% interest on a mortgage loan is a great rate even if it wasn’t the absolute bottom rate. Two years later rates have gone up a full percent (or more) and it’s not worth it for us to refinance even to get rid of our PMI.

    We bought in a great neighborhood. At the time we bought houses were under $100 per sq ft and now you can’t hardly find that in one that hasn’t been remodeled. Houses are going for much higher amounts and we’ve gained $30,000 in equity at least since buying. We are in one of the countries hottest neighborhoods and that is great news for us as homeowners.

    Our house is the perfect starter home for us. It’s in a great neighborhood, we have plenty of space to grow into, but not too much space that it is overwhelming. We have a huge backyard which is great for our dogs. We have an active neighborhood association and our street has fantastic neighbors.

    Overall we are thrilled with the house that we chose and love where we live. We are also working to pay off our home early!

    We use 2 easy strategies to speed up our mortgage payoff every month. You can see how we are doing this in the video above where I also share our exact mortgage statement. You can see where the payment is going and how it is allocated each month and see our mortgage statement breakdown here.

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  • 2 Easy Ways To Pay Off A Mortgage Faster

    Paying off your mortgage faster doesn’t have to include crazy schemes or huge extra payments. In fact, it can be very simple.

    We are paying off our mortgage faster and saving thousands in interest by using two simple techniques.

    Today I’m breaking down our monthly mortgage statement to show you how much we pay per month toward our mortgage, how much we’ve paid off in the first three years of owning our home, and the 2 ways we speed up our mortgage payoff every month.

    A monthly mortgage statement provides essential information about your monthly payments and your mortgage balance. It’s the key to seeing your mortgage payoff progress.

    If you aren’t taking the time to open up your statement each month and see where the money is going, you should do that this month! Take a look at where your money is allocated and see how much is actually going toward your mortgage balance principal. If you bought your house recently then it probably isn’t much!

    Our Monthly Mortgage Statement

    In the video above I break down what exactly we pay each month toward our mortgage according to our mortgage statement.

    Our monthly payment is $1,128.36 which is broken down as:

    • Principal – $273.96
    • Interest – $426.52
    • Escrow – $427.88

    Because we round up to $1,200 for our monthly payment, we also send $71.64 to principal payments each month. This is one of the ways we are paying off our mortgage faster.

    That means each currently $273.96 + $71.64 for a total of $345.60 goes towards our mortgage principal each month.

    Escrow is the part of the mortgage payment that handles paying for mortgage-related items. These expenses are necessary with a mortgage and include things like property taxes and homeowners insurance. These things are only usually due once a year but most mortgage companies require you pay monthly installments to make the large yearly payment. It’s like a sinking fund that the mortgage holds for you in an escrow account. The mortgage lender makes sure these expenses are paid by paying them our of your escrow funds.

    2 Ways To Pay Off The Mortgage Faster

    We’re paying off our mortgage with zero extra effort or pain thanks to a couple small decisions.

    1. Rounding up our payment.

    Our mortgage payment is $1,128 a month but we made the decision to round up to $1,200 for our payment. This means each month roughly $71 is going directly to pay down the principal of the mortgage. Rounding up doesn’t hurt our budget overall but it guarantees each month we are sending extra money to pay off our mortgage.

    That doesn’t sound like much when we are throwing $71 a month at a $141,000 debt. but when you multiple that $71 by 12 months, we send $852 a year to the principal of the mortgage. That will definitely speed up the payoff process!

    Rounding up your mortgage payment to the nearest $100 dollar amount makes it an easy and painless way to quickly pay off your mortgage faster.

    2. Biweekly mortgage payments.

    We’ve set up our mortgage with biweekly payments to pay off our mortgage faster. This pays off the mortgage faster because you are actually making 26 payments a year but you only need to make 24 to cover the 12 months of mortgage payments. That means the extra 2 biweekly payments are applied to the principal as one FULL PAYMENT extra per year.

    On our biweekly schedule we have a “half payment” of $600 go fully toward principal around May and then again later in the year. This adds up to one full payment going straight to paying the mortgage down faster.

    Most mortgage servicing companies allow you to set up a biweekly payment plan where you have an extra payment per year which drastically speeds up your repayment of your mortgage.

    Those are a couple of the ways we are paying off our mortgage faster and how much we’ve paid so far!

    How Much We’ve Paid Off In 3 Years

    In the roughly 3 years since we bought our house we’ve made a lot of payments, but have we made any progress paying down our mortgage?

    Mortgages are set up so you pay more interest in the beginning so a large chunk of each mortgage payment goes toward interest. Despite this we have managed to pay off thousands from our mortgage so far.

    • Home purchase price:  $158,900.00
    • Mortgage start:  $153,596.00
    • Mortgage current:  $141,194.46
    • Mortgaged reduced:  $12,401.54

    In the video below you can see how we’ve paid off more toward our mortgage by the mortgage payoff strategies.

    Paying off a little bit extra each month moves us much further down the schedule of debt to pay. By utilizing these small mortgage payoff strategies we are drastically speeding up our mortgage payoff without feeling any pain!

    We made a few mistakes buying our first home so we are making up for it by easily paying off our house faster.

    Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster?

    Depending on which financial advisor you ask, paying off your mortgage is a good idea or a bad idea. Arguments can be made for both options.

    In reality it depends on your financial goals and your risk tolerance level. Many people find that paying off the mortgage brings a huge amount of relief and peace of mind when you don’t have a monthly mortgage payment. The security of owning a home outright can be a huge positive for many people.

    Paying off your mortgage also saves you money. You’ll save a ton in interest even with a small interest rate because the faster you pay off your mortgage the less interest you will pay on the loan.

    Having your mortgage paid off also gives you more options. You’ll have extra money each month that you could use to save toward retirement or go on vacations or build wealth and achieve financial independence! Paying off your mortgage early is an amazing way to build your wealth and gain financial independence.

    In the end, paying off your mortgage gives you more options and more freedom. Who doesn’t want that?

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  • 4 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes We Made

    We love our house but we made several big mistakes when we bought it. As first time home buyers we thought we were prepared but we unfortunately still made several mistakes.

    Today I’m sharing those 4 mistakes we made buying our first house so that you can avoid these common first time home buyer mistakes. Hopefully our home buying mistakes will lead you to have a very smooth experience!

    Buying your first home can be a very nerve wracking process but it also can be one of the best financial moves of your life! Home ownership catapults many to financial security and can set up lasting wealth for generations. Buying a home is one of the biggest and most lasting financial decisions you’ll make. It’s best to avoid mistakes!

    I’m happy to be sharing my experience buying a house for the first time to help others, both good and bad! These are the four mistakes we made during the home buying process as first time home buyers.

    Did not save up 20% down.

    One mistake we made buying our first house was not saving up 20% of the down payment. For our first home we only saved up 5% instead of doing a “full downpayment” of 20%.

    While many financial gurus don’t yell at first time home buyers for not saving up 20% on their first house, it is a great idea to aim for that larger down payment. If you can save up 20% or more for a downpayment then you should do so. It reduces the amount you owe overall, lowers your monthly payment, and prevents you from paying PMI each month.

    If you go with less than 20% down you will have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) each month. This does nothing for you and only protects the lender so it’s something you want to avoid if you can.

    Saving up a large down payment can be difficult when you don’t have a lot of extra income, but there are multiple benefits to increasing your down payment: you will pay off the home faster, you’ll save money not paying PMI, you are actually more likely to get a mortgage, you’ll have smaller monthly payments, and you are a more competitive buyer too.

    There are very few downsides to saving up a full 20% down payment!

    Did not have a full emergency fund.

    One mistake we made when buying our first house was not having a fully funded emergency fund in case something happened. This was incredibly risky and we could have ended up in a huge amount of debt when something broke or an accident occurred. We took a gamble that I wouldn’t recommend – it could have ended very poorly.

    When you buy a house it is guaranteed that something will break eventually. You need an emergency fund for when that situation arises to lower the risk face financially. We luckily avoided anything major early on but not everyone is that lucky.

    Some people drain their emergency funds to make the down payment on a home but this can be the absolute biggest mistake you can make. It leaves you incredibly vulnerable to emergencies and also unable to handle the maintenance costs that come with owning a home each year.

    Did not shop around for mortgage providers.

    When we bought out first house we were too nervous about the process to shop around for mortgages once we were pre-approved with one company. This was a huge mistake. We could have found a much better provider and deal with our loan.

    Unfortunately not shopping around meant we went with the first mortgage provider our real estate agent recommended and they were not the best fit for us. Ultimately this was probably due to the fact that the first time I tried buying a house it didn’t work out. The fear that it wouldn’t work out again made me play it so safe that we didn’t shop around which was a mistake.

    Shopping around for mortgages is a great idea when you are buying your first house because it allows you to get the best mortgage loan and rate. now that I’m past that initial fear I realize how important it is to shop around!

    Don’t let the process intimidate you. You can work with a mortgage broker or research mortgage options on your own to find the best rate and service. There are tons of online resources that make it incredibly easy to shop for and compare different mortgages.

    Did not look at enough houses.

    One mistake we made in our home buying search was not looking at enough houses. On our first day of searching for houses we looked at 5 houses and ended up buying one of those 5! While we love our house, we should have toured more houses in person to get a better idea of floor plans and different amenities homes offered.

    The reason this was a mistake is because we got the typical “house buying fever” many first time home buyers get. We saw a home we loved and we knew the hot market meant many homes were snatched up so we went with that first house very quickly!

    It is easy to forget there are many more houses and there is no reason you can’t find another house you love if one doesn’t work out. Look at houses online and in person, go to open houses, get a good idea of what is out there in your market!

    First Time Home Buying Mistakes

    We love our house but we did make some mistakes during the process!

    Luckily those mistakes educated me on what not to do when buying a hosue so others won’t make the same mistakes – and we won’t make them again.

    If you’re buying your first home check out some of my other posts about the home buying process! The more you can learn about buying a home the better you will do during the process.

    Here are some of the more helpful and popular home buying series posts:

    Remember also that a house can be a wonderful addition to your life but it’s not the end all be all. Homes are sold every day, people move all the time, accidents occur, and plans change. Your first home will likely not be your last home. Try to keep this in mind and be smart about buying your first house!

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