Month: February 2020

  • No Spend Month Challenge Tips & Printables

    In many personal finance and debt free communities online you will encounter the idea of doing a no spend month in order to save money more quickly. Many people use no spend month challenges to save money quickly in order to pay off debt or save for a financial goal.

    If you are new to a no spend month challenge and wondering if it might be for you, then keep reading! In this post I’ll cover what a no spend month is, how to set up a no spend month challenge, tips for completing your no spend challenge, and lots of printable options to keep you motivated during your no spend challenge.

    no spend month challenge tips and tricks

    What Is A No Spend Month?

    So what exactly is a no spend month? How do you do it? What are the rules for a no spend month?

    At it’s most basic, a no spend month is simply a challenge to not spend any extra money during a month long period. You cut out all luxuries and extra spending and only allow the most basic expenses during the month.

    This allows you to save a lot of money during a typical month since you won’t be spending like normal.

    Most people have a strong WHY behind doing a no spend challenge. Many people do no spend challenges for great financial reasons like the following:

    • To put more money toward paying off debt
    • To quickly save up to pay for a big upcoming expense
    • To reset your spending habits after a period of overspending
    • To build up an emergency fund
    • To build up a savings buffer to get ahead on expenses so you can live on last month’s income
    • To pay off the mortgage faster with a lump sum payment
    • To finally become debt free entirely

    These are all great reasons people do no spend challenges. You may be doing it for one of these reasons or one completely unique to your situation!

    Setting Up A No Spend Month Challenge

    Once you learn about a no spend challenge and decide to do one, you’ll need to set up your own no spend rules and guidelines for your challenge.

    Depending on where you look online you’ll find different sets of no spend challenge rules. This is because there is not one set of rules and guidelines. The best way to set up a no spend month challenge is to set your own rules, guidelines, and exemptions.

    The only real rules of a no spend challenge are:

    1. Set your own no spend challenge rules.
    2. Follow the rules you set for the entire time.

    That’s it! As you can see from my no spend month setup, I set my own rules regarding our spending.

    For my no spend challenge I decided to leave our grocery budget alone but slashed out eating out money, my personal money, and all extra luxuries. It was as bare bones as I could go without also adding in a grocery challenge/pantry challenge. For us that was a big enough challenge!

    If you are feeling like you have no idea where to start, try one of the following ideas. These are just no spend challenge ideas and you should pick ones that will work for you!

    • Cut all eating out. Plan all of your meals to bring lunch to work and not eat out at all for any meals.
    • Cut out all discretionary spending. If it’s not planned or in your grocery budget, write it down and wait a month.
    • Cut all of your personal spending. If you get any allowance monthly, cut it out entirely.
    • Cut out any entertainment spending. If it’s an event or concert already planned make it an exemption for the month but don’t add anything new.
    • Cut your normal grocery budget in half from what it normally is. Get creative with items you already have an things on sale.
    • Cut your food budget entirely. If you are able to eat out of your pantry and freezer for a month, consider cutting out all food spending. You could make an exemption for a small amount each week for fresh produce.
    • Cut something out in your own budget once you’ve looked through for things that could be eliminated.

    Typical things cut during a no spend challenge:

    • shopping
    • vacations
    • fast food
    • restaurants
    • coffee shops
    • clothing
    • entertainment
    • extra activities

    Typical allowed spending during a no spend challenge:

    • rent or mortgage
    • paying bills
    • contributing to retirement
    • gas for vehicles
    • groceries in a budgeted amount

    These are just a few different ideas and ways other people do their own no spend challenges. As always you have to pick what will work for your family. It should be enough to make a difference in savings and really be felt by the family, but not so extreme that you can’t accomplish it and give up on day 2.

    No Spend Month Tips

    If you are thinking of giving a no spend month a try, you are likely looking for tips on how to achieve a full no spend month.

    Below are my best tips for completing a no spend month. I used many of these myself and found others while researching how to do a no spend month before I started.

    • Take an inventory before you begin the month.
    • Plan your meals. Look into ways to use the items you already have.
    • Find free fun activities in your area.
    • Make a list of free things to do that you can do during your no spend challenge.
    • Get creative in the kitchen with leftovers and pantry items.
    • Play around with ways to increase your income with side hustles without spending money.
    • Tell other people about your no spend month for extra accountability.
    • Learn frugal living habits that help people live well without spending money.
    • Make sure the whole family is on board with the plan and why behind why you are doing a no spend month.

    My No Spend Month Recap

    In January I decided to do my first no spend month challenge. I set my own rules, exemptions, and guidelines based on what I thought would work best for our life that month but also giving up enough to make sure it would save money.

    During my no spend month I realized that despite all the cutting back I’ve done in my regular spending, there was plenty of room for improvement. I found lots of little daily expenses that weren’t expensive but definitely occurred without much thought. I learned several lessons from my no spend challenge.

    1. No spend challenges are very effective. Regardless of whether you like them or not, they work. Not spending on multiple categories though the month helped us save money.
    2. No spend challenges are useful for short term goals. These challenges work best for short term goals to save up money very quickly. I don’t think they are a way of life most people can sustain long term.
    3. Cutting spending is effective but you can only cut so much. You can only cut so much spending out before you are left with nothing else to cut. While spending challenges are effective, they can only be so effective due to the nature of cutting expenses.
    4. I’m happier increasing income than cutting expenses. Due to my personality, I like earning money and creating more than working to minimize expenses. That is why I’m planning to work on increasing income with side hustles more than cutting expenses. I still plan to be mindful of spending but due to my personality I’d rather spend time earning more money.

    No Spend Month Printables

    When I was doing my no spend month during January, I used my free time to create printables that made the process more fun for me. Without shopping or eating out during the no spend month I had a lot of time to get creative and think about how different worksheets and techniques could help me get the most out of a no spend month.

    Printables have been the easiest way for me to get organized in order to accomplish my goals during a challenge like a no spend month.

    When I started the no spend month month I had just the basics – a no spend month tracker with the rules and exemptions and guidelines.

    And I also had a no spend month recap page that would be waiting for me to fill out at the end of the no spend month.

    During the month of my no spend challenge I really thought about the things I was trying to accomplish during my no spend month and how I could create tools to help myself and others achieve it.

    My goals for the month were to cut back on spending of course but to also reset my spending habits. That meant working on finding free things to do and ways to make it more fun.

    I made myself lists of no spend activities, no spend bingo cards to fill out, and lists to make things more fun.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF - Pennies Not Perfection

    Because I’m very visually motivated and love having encouragement where I can see it, I also made a couple printable wall art sheets with motivational quotes. I printed these and kept them in my office so I’d be motivated to keep going during the month.

    no spend printables free activity ideas

    These printables were very helpful during my no spend month. I’ll admit that not spending for an entire month was more of a challenge than I expected, so having these sheets to keep me motivated and on track really helped.

    I also created a couple printables in order to work on my spending mindset during the month.

    The impulse spending list is designed to let me write down things I wanted to buy on impulse but said no to instead in order to stick to the challenge and not spend money.

    The post spending list allowed me to think through the spending I didn’t miss during the month and the spending I needed to resume once my no spend month was done.

    Free No Spend Month Printables

    You know I love free stuff, so I wanted to also share some of the best free no spend printables out there! All of these printables are ones that I found on various websites online so I’ve linked to each one for your convenience.

    While I went further in my no spend printable bundle and made extra sheets designed around the mental aspect of impulse spending and motivation, there are lots of basic no spend month trackers out there for free!

    Here are some of my favorite free no spend printables that can get you started with your challenge:

    No Spend Month Template from Don’t Pay Full

    No Spend Month Printable from Lively Lotus

    No Spend Printable from Debt and Cupcakes

    There are tons of free no spend printables out there so there is no reason to no jump into a no spend month prepared and ready to go!!

    Whether you use my no spend month printables, free no spend month trackers, make up own, or just skip writing stuff down altogether – it may be worth giving a no spend month challenge a try! You likely won’t know if a no spend month will work for you or not until you try it. Since there is no downside – it’s worth giving it a try!

    Other No Spend Challenge Ideas

    If you are thinking of doing a no spend challenge but aren’t sure which one to do, consider them all! Most no spend challenges differ in the length of time you commit to not spending. Below are the most popular no spend challenge lengths.

    No spend weekend – A quick weekend with no spending is a great way to dip your toes into the process and free up money for a quick small goal. This type of challenge needs the least amount of planning, so it is the easiest to setup and do quickly.

    No spend week – If you’ve committed to a no spend week challenge you will have to change up your daily routine and pay more attention to your choices. It’s more challenging than a weekend and requires a bit more planning.

    No spend paycheck period – For most people this two week period of no spending is the best option to reset some spending habits and force a look at your daily spending habits. Two weeks is long enough to hurt and force you to take a real look at daily habits. This requires more planning but is not too much of a burden. I recommend this period for most people to try and found it the most beneficial personally.

    No spend month – A no spend challenge that lasts for a month requires lifestyle changes and a shift in mindset to overcome spending habits. A no-spend month is a great way to reset spending habits and force you to look more deeply at the what you really need and want out of life. You definitely have to do a lot of planning to fully complete a no spend month. While it requires more work and planning ti also is the best period to show you how you can live on less!

    No spend year – Spending no money on extra things for a year long period is a true test of frugality. A no spend year is a huge commitment and you have to truly cut out lots of spending and habits that encourage spending. A no spend year won’t just adjust your spending habits but it will adjust your entire outlook on life.

    No matter which no spend challenge you decide to do, your spending habits will never be the same!

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  • Starting Dividend Investing on Robinhood | Penny Portfolio

    I love watching investing videos on YouTube about dividend stock investing, but I’ve put off doing it myself for almost two years. But no more, dear friends, because I’ve got a goal and taking action toward that goal is more important than fear.

    Dividend Investing on Robinhood

    Why Start Dividend Stock Investing Now?

    I’ve put off investing in dividend stocks for a long time because it’s not a main financial goal for us and I also felt overwhelmed by the concept of research “the best stocks”.

    I didn’t want to dedicate lots of time to learning and analyzing stocks one by one, but I also knew that dividend stocks could provide a huge income once you have a portfolio of a certain size.

    Because I’ve seen many videos about the power of dividend stocks when you reinvest the dividends, so I wanted to find a way where I could start small and invest without risking much.

    I like easing in to things that are new to me as I learn about them and get more comfortable. Investing in single stocks is something that I’m not comfortable with since I’ve always been an index fund investor in my retirement accounts.

    Because of that I’m dipping my toes into stock market investing with a specific goal – building a dividend portfolio that eventually helps provide for my daughter in the future.

    Why Invest In Dividend Stocks?

    So why invest in dividend stocks over other investments? Why not invest in something else?

    I chose building a dividend stock portfolio for this purpose because I want to play with investing in single stocks that build a larger portfolio that provides dividends and growth.

    Since I only invest in index funds in my regular retirement investments, I want to build an asset that provides either dividend income so I can later use that money for a monthly allowance or something I can sell to pay for my daughter’s education if the 529 plan isn’t enough.

    Another reasons is simply because I needed to take action on something I’ve been interested in doing. I’ve literally been watching dividend investing videos for over a year and a half and talking myself out of doing anything with it. I’ve watched over a year of possible investing opportunities slip out of my hands.

    I could easily tell myself its not the right time because the market is too high or I don’t have extra money for it, but I realized that if I keep doing this it will be another five years later and I still didn’t do anything. I could easily talk myself out of ever investing at all. Too much risk. Too much unknown. Too many other financial goals.

    However, action towards a goal is always better than nothing. Even if it’s a small action, movement toward a goal is better than just thinking about doing something. We all know small consistent actions add up to success.

    Also, I’ve realized that because the WHY behind everything I’m doing here on this channel and blog is FREEDOM, this is yet another way to eventually build freedom.

    Dividend stock investing eventually leads to an income that is not tied to selling your hours of labor. That income not tied to a job means freedom and that will be amazing for me and for Penny and everyone else in our family.

    Where To Invest In Dividend Stocks

    Once I decided I wanted to finally jump in to investing in single dividend stocks and building a dividend portfolio I had to decide where I wanted to invest in dividend stocks.

    I looked at several options but my Robinhood account I owned years ago – and ignored for literally 3 or 4 years – finally emailed me to say I was open to fractional shares and that made the decision for me: I’m building a dividend stock portfolio inside of Robinhood.

    Fractional shares just means that instead of having to purchase a full stock at the full price – like a $750 investment in one share of Tesla, I could instead invest a smaller amount of money – even just $5 or $10 – and buy a fraction of a share. This ability to buy a fraction of shares opened up many most possibilities for a small beginning dividend stock investor.

    This sounded perfect for how I planned to use the account, so I decided to go for it and buy my first dividend stock inside of my Robinhood portfolio. I realized I also am very comfortable with Robinhood because I watch dozens of investing YouTube channels that all use Robinhood and have portfolios there. 

    How I’m Investing In Dividend Stocks

    My plan for investing in dividend stocks in my “Penny Portfolio” is a little bit different than the normal way most people invest. I will be investing a small amount monthly, but I mostly plan to use this as another impulse spending tool. I plan to fund this account irregularly in a couple different ways.

    First way I will invest in these dividend stocks, whenever I want to impulse buy something my daughter doesn’t need like cute clothes, I will instead invest in her account. She has enough clothes to last til she goes to kindergarten so I don’t need to buy them, I just want to. Instead I plan to buy a stock share with that money and continue to create an asset that will last for decades instead of a piece of clothing she will outgrow in a few months.

    Second way I will invest in dividend stocks is whenever I sell something of hers that is currently not being used I will invest that amount of money. I have a pile of toys that need to be out of my house soon, so when I declutter I will contribute that amount earned into the Penny Portfolio.

    The final way I will invest in dividend stocks in this portfolio, is to contribute $10 a month in our normal budget. As you guys know, I like having small amounts like this in our budget just as a reminder of our bigger goals. While it may not be a focus, those little amounts add up in the background as we are doing other things with the majority of our money. Plus, $10 isn’t much and doesn’t hurt out budget since we’ve cut so many regular expenses and focus on free fun activities!

    Finally, you guys who watch my videos and read my blog will probably help build this portfolio of stocks. I’m going to be including my referral link in the description box for Robinhood. If you sign up, you will get 1 free stock and I will get 1 free stock as well. So if you use my link you will be contributing to the Penny Portfolio and we will all be building this up to provide an amazing future to the cutest kid I know.

    Why I’m Talking About Dividend Stock Investing

    I wanted to share this little dividend stock portfolio project I started in order to let you know why there was a $10 Robinhood line item in our budget for those who were curious.

    February 2020 was the first month for this account and we currently have a balance of $23 all invested in Disney. We invested the money so far in fractional shares of Diseny because I’m going to invest in companies I know, understand, and use.

    This is the perfect time for a reminder that I am not an expert at all and this is just me sharing my personal experience. This is not financial advice, this is just entertainment and me sharing my experience. My stock picks are personal and never a suggestion that you should pick the same. Do your own research!

    So that’s it! I’m excited about complimenting my debt payoff and side hustle strategies with also building assets that will provide income. There are so many ways to achieve financial success and this is just another one of them. I’m dipping my toes in the dividend stock investing world and I couldn’t me more excited about it!

    Want to join me in building a dividend stock portfolio? Learn about how to start with dividend stock investing!

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  • January 2020 Online Income Report – $1,931.00

    Welcome to my monthly online income report! And to the biggest income report so far! January 2020 was my best online income month yet. This little creative side project has turned into a side hustle with real legs.

    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.

    I know that earning more online income could stop me from working 45 hours each week so I’ve tried to squeeze as much work into online income generating activities as possible. Because I’m back to working full time hours for a season I’m unable to put more than a few hours each week into my online income activities, but the income this month has me hopeful that I can continue growing the income by being extremely helpful and reaching more people.

    Growing my online income is so important to my current financial goals and that focus matters so much to my family right now! It also means that as my income grows, I’m helping more people.

    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 $1,000 a month now when I was only earning $300-500 last year when I started tracking my online income. That might not seem huge since it’s small numbers but that means I have doubled my monthly online income!

    It’s amazing to think that I have earned over $1,000 a month with Pennies Not Perfection and other online activities these past few months.

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

    January 2020 Online Income Report

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

    Advertising Income – $$774.05

    • YouTube Advertising Channel 1 – $652.84
    • YouTube Advertising Channel 2 – $103.21
    • Adsense & Sponsored – $18.00

    Affiliate Marketing Income – $695.50

    • Amazon – $108.06
    • Awin – $101.07
    • Impact Radius – $60.00
    • Shareasale – $1.37
    • Rakuten – $25.00
    • Capital One – $400.00

    Product Sales Income – $461.45

    • Etsy Products – $461.45

    Total Income: $1,931.00

    This is the amount earned in January 2020 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 continue to stay above the $1,000 mark in income earned!

    This makes me hopeful since the income has been consistent month after month being over $1,000 a month. Of course I know that this could change at any moment but I’m grateful for the continued earnings!

    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’ve been making videos for over 2 years now and not a single one has gone viral.

    What I Worked On In January 2020

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

    Made for videos for my YouTube channel.

    I continued to make and post videos at least three times a week in January. A few of my videos did well because of all the people trying to get their finances in order in January. I was happy to see some take off!

    My revenue for ads in January was higher than I expected, due to that increase in people watching. Typically January revenue is bad for YouTubers but I think it is a bit flipped for financial channels.

    Made affiliate marketing improvements.

    I continued with my implementation of tweaks I learned from taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. Some of the older posts and videos I made focused on affiliate marketing are doing well even now, so I’m reaping the benefits of past work.

    I also continued 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.

    I signed on to two new programs I want to promote as well. I was also contacted to join a third which I did but then I felt a bit of hesitation about signing up for their product so ultimately decided not to promote that company.

    Added products to my Etsy shop.

    I continued to add more products to my Etsy shop and increased the amount of higher priced products. Having multiple items listed at $8.50 has increased my overall order amount. It also works well for people purchasing because my printables are priced competitively and much less than many alternatives.

    While I have a clean aesthetic for my budgeting printables and trackers, I also decided to offer colors and fun versions! This came about from wanting a colorful version for myself in February and I’m thrilled to also sell them!

    January 2020 Online Income Wins

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

    Income over $1,900.

    My first big goal with online income was to get to earning at least $600 a month to help pay for daycare and debt payments. More recently I challenged myself to start hitting $1,000 a month. I managed to do that for several months in a row and then last month I earned over $1,900!

    That number blew my mind. So much so that I had to count up everything multiple times and recount my numbers. It was incredibly exciting to see that I earned so much during the month.

    This is the best side hustle by far of any I’ve ever done! It definitely took a lot of work to learn the skills needed and it’s take a long time to ramp up to this level of income, but 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 which is all the things I want to be in life.

    Etsy revenue over $450.

    Etsy was amazing in the month on January! I couldn’t even believe the amount that I sold because it was triple the amount sold in January.

    Triple. Yes, triple the amount. That also blew my mind. That seems to be the theme for the income earned in January.

    I’m thrilled that people are connecting and using and loving something I’ve made. I didn’t realize how awesome selling something could be. Before I started my Etsy shop I only felt fear over selling – what if no one bought anything? what if people hated it? what if I only got 1 star reviews? Now I realize that the upside of creating and selling is amazing. Not only do I receive an income but I help other people.

    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 plan to create more items and also promote what is already there. I have a big goal of eventually getting to 100 items listed in 2020 so I’m hoping I can continue to add products and grow the amount of listing and sales.

    It’s a huge goal and I have a long way to go but I want to at least add 4 new products in February. I have a list of over a hundred new items I’d like to make, but time considerations make it a little bit hard. Aiming for 1 per week is a good compromise that moves me closer to the goal.

    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. Since I’ve determined I will never recommend things I won’t use myself, I’m happy to do affiliate based videos. I’ve turned down more lucrative offers because they felt sketchy and instead I’m focusing on things I use and love. This strategy might not be the fastest way to wealth, but it feels the best to me.

    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.

    Popular YouTube videos on my channel:

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

    Read More

  • 11 Money-Saving Tips For College Students

    I’ve spent years paying off debt accumulated during my college experience so these days I spend a lot of time trying to help young people not make the same mistakes. Student loan debt has surpassed the trillion dollar mark and student graduating with student loan debt have to delay purchases like buying a home or spending more on things they love.

    It’s important for college students to prevent crippling student loan debt by saving money while they are in college. This can be done by saving money on school expenses and by adjusting lifestyles to save money as well.

    Here are a few of the many tips for college student to budget and save money in order to graduate without massive amounts of student loans.

    1. Choose the Right School

    Unless you’ve always had the dream of going to a specific school, it can be beneficial to find a university with a lower price tag for your education.

    In-state tuition and public schools often offer much lower tuition than private or out-of-state schools. Generally you won’t see much return on investment for a middle of the road school and employers rarely ask where you went to school after you get the first job.

    You can also consider an online education in your respective field such as an online social work degree, a business degree, or an information technology degree. However, make sure to see if these schools have the proper accreditation, otherwise many employers won’t recognize them.

    2. Get a Part-Time Job

    Many students use their student loans to pay for their everyday expenditures such as food, rent, and entertainment during their college years. It’s possible to use student loans to cover all living expenses during school but it’s not the best path you can take since doing this can cause you to incur much more debt than necessary.

    Instead to help offset living costs, you can find a part-time job to earn money to pay for your normal expenses. You can preferably find a job in something geared towards your field which will further help your future career earnings.

    Getting a part time job doesn’t usually hurt your grades and employers will recognize your initiative and work ethic. It’s a smart way to save money in college.

    3. Live Frugally

    There isn’t a class at most schools on how to create your first budget but you should seek out sources that teach you how to budget and live more frugally.

    Basic living expenses are generally cheap but can be problematic for many college students who want to spend more than they earn so they can have the latest gadgets, top fashions, or a swanky residence. Living frugally should be your goal in college – not to have the best things among your classmates.

    Luckily, being a “broke” college student isn’t that unusual if you are in the right circles. Cutting living expenditures can help you save tons of money in the long run. Consider cost cutting alternatives, such as public transportation instead of keeping a car on campus, living with parents to save on rent, pregaming alcohol instead of buying drinks out, and shopping at thrift stores for your clothes.

    4. Make a List of Income & Expenses

    Many times it isn’t good enough to simply make a budget in your head. If you only track spending based on what you remember then you will likely end up spending more than you need to spend.

    In order to save money you must list you expenses and track your spending in order to make sure you stay below the income you are bringing in each paycheck.

    Writing down your income and expenses can help you track your spending and make sure that you aren’t spending more money than you should be. There are tons of options to help you do this, such as the online site Mint.com, budgeting printables, excel spreadsheets, and other budgeting tools.

    5. Make Budgeted Spring Break Plans

    You are in college so spring break is a given. It’s perfectly alright to make plans for travel over spring and summer breaks, but don’t overdo it.

    Transportation, hotels, and entertainment can add up to a pricey break, especially if you haven’t planned for it. Instead of going to Mexico or the Caribbean, consider going to a cheaper stateside beach, renting an air B&B at a lake, or even going home to see old friends. You’ll save a lot of money that way if you make plans to do something you know will cost less.

    You can also switch off which breaks you use for travel. Maybe you do spring break one year so you don’t travel over the summer. Or you skip spring break and plan more small trips over the summer. Check to see which options will save you the most while still giving you the travel and social aspects.

    6. Avoid Credit Cards and Loans

    When money is tight, you might think of turning to credit cards and signature loans as a way to get by. However, most of these loans have such a high interest rate that you may be able to not pay them off for an extended period of time. If you do get a credit card, have discipline and use it only in an emergency.

    Though it can be difficult at times, budgeting for college students is crucial not only for the present, but for life in adulthood. Developing good habits will help you save money now, and enable you to budget in the future for expenditures such as a house, car, and student loans.

    7. Get a To-Go Cup

    One of the easiest ways you can save money as a college student? Get a to-go cup for your drinks!

    Eliminate those expensive coffee shop visits with a to go cup. Either make your own coffee or use your cup at the cafeteria but any way you look at it, to-go cups are less expensive than coffee-house coffee.

    As an added bonus, you’ll be saving the environment by not using disposable cups. You also can get extra savings at places that give you a discount for bringing your own cup.

    8. Pay Your Bills On Time

    It’s easy to forget about bills if it is your first time paying them on your own. However, you need to make sure you are paying all of your bills on time. This will save you money and a lot of headaches as well.

    While avoiding those annoying creditor calls is one reason you’ll want to pay your bills on time, it also costs you less money. Late fees on bills can be expensive and they add up if you pay your bills late over and over.

    You probably know that many companies assess late fees and interest charges if a bill is not paid on time, but it can also affect your credit. If your credit score takes a tumble because of late payments, you won’t be eligible for the lowest interest rates on things like car loans and mortgages. What seems like only a few extra dollars now could end up costing you thousands down the line.

    9. Split Your In-Class Time

    Online courses are generally less expensive and more flexible than traditional on-campus classes. Online courses are a great way to stretch your tuition dollars.

    If you’re one who has to work full time or has an extremely busy schedule, splitting up your in-class time will be a huge factor in getting your degree. For example, if you’re going to school for nursing, it can be an incredibly stressful profession, and nurses tend to work long hours that span through weekends and holidays. Thankfully, online nursing programs offer flexible schedules that allow students to cultivate their various abilities. This way you can split your time between volunteering with hands on programs and getting your degree via online simultaneously.

    Using online classes to knock out some of your pre-requisite classes will help lower your overall bill and you won’t miss out on much of the college experience.

    10. Use Your Library Card

    Did you know that your library card is the key to savings in multiple ways? Libraries might not be your favorite place but they can offer savings and knowledge you need to take advantage of while in college.

    The library has more than just books and your metropolitan library is a great place to check out music and videos for free. Just make sure you return them on time. You don’t need late fees.

    You can also often get free online courses and access to many paid platforms just by having a library card. Check with your library to see what your library card gives your access to.

    11. Use Your Abilities

    In addition to being more careful with your money, there are also ways to earn some extra money while you are in college.

    Since finding a traditional job and scheduling classes around it poses difficulties for the average student, using your talents and creating your own side business on the Internet is a great way to earn a little extra money. If you’re good with the Internet, help people sell things through an online auction site like ebay. If crafts are more your thing, sell your designs on Etsy. If you’re in computer science or design, market your skills as a web designer.

    As a student you’ll make less than an established professional in the field but that’s a selling point for many small businesses.

    Saving While In College

    Being a student is a time for frugality. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean giving up on pleasures entirely, it just means finding creative ways to do them.

    Being a student can be an expensive time of your life. With minimal money coming in, it’s more important than ever to watch the money going out. That’s why every student needs ways to save money. I hope you enjoyed these quick and easy money-saving hacks!

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  • How To Set Up A Debt Snowball

    There are many reasons to pay off debt and there are almost as many ways to successfully create a debt payoff plan. The debt snowball plan of paying off debts is a great system front-loaded with rewards and positive psychological wins that has helped millions of people pay off debt.

    With the debt snowball you attack debt by tackling the smallest obligation first. You then roll that payment amount into tackling the next largest debt. You continue this process knocking off bigger and bigger debts with a larger payment amount, just like a snowball rolling down a hill.

    Why the debt snowball works

    The debt snowball is derided by many as the worst way to repay debt because it doesn’t take interest rates into account. This means for many people it is not the best mathematical choice. So why does the debt snowball method work so well for people paying off debt?

    The debt snowball method works well because the small victories people achieve up front when paying off debt. For many people seeing those small debts paid off quickly helps keep them engaged and ready to tackle bigger challenges.

    The debt snowball might not be the best way financially to pay off debt compared to a technique like the debt avalanche strategy, but it uses psychological strategies that work for many people.

    how to set up a debt snowball method plan

    How to set up a debt snowball

    Setting up a debt snowball is actually very straightforward. There’s only 5 steps to setting up and completing a debt snowball.

    Step 1: To start you will list all of your debts from smallest balance to largest balance regardless of interest rate.
    Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest debt balance.
    Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt balance until it is completely paid off.
    Step 4: Take the minimum payment from the previous loan and all your extra income and apply it to the next largest debt balance.
    Step 5: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.

    There are many examples online of setting up a debt snowball to repay debts.

    When we starting paying off debt together my husband and I set up our debt snowball as follows:

    • Loan 1: $1,043.99
    • Loan 2: $5,400.05
    • Loan 3: $5,792.96
    • Loan 4: $31,129.13

    Total debt: $43,366.13

    You can see how we worked through the debt snowball with our debt snowball playlist where we adding videos showing our progress working through the debt snowball.

    The debt snowball method worked well for me when I paid off $22,000 in student loans and $5,000 in credit card debt in my early 20s so I knew that the method would work well for me again. While the interest rates of our newer debt snowball meant the lowest interest rate debt would be paid last, I knew the method was effective.

    If you want to see how long it will take you to pay off your debt using the debt snowball method, you can use a debt snowball calculator is a great way to see how quickly a debt snowball can get you out of debt.

    Using the debt snowball method

    Using the debt snowball to pay off debt is very simple in practice and works well for many people.

    The first step is to make sure you are covering the minimum monthly payments on all of your debts. You should not stop paying your debts unless you are unable to cover you basic living needs like rent or food.

    After you’ve covered all the minimum payments on your debts, you work on attacking your debts in the order of the debt snowball list you’ve created. You will send all your extra money toward that first smallest debt.

    Every single month you will put all your extra money budgeted for debt payoff toward your smallest debt. You do this even if you are paying more interest on a different one due to interest rate. Once you’ve paid off the smallest debt you then take that entire amount and send it to the next smallest debt.

    Rinse and repeat by knocking off debts from your list and then sending all the freed up money toward the next debt in line.

    In practice the debt snowball might look like this: you have a dental bill for $1,000 that you are paying interest-free, and two credit card bills for $5,000 (at 22.9% interest) and $1,500 (at 15.9%), and a student loan at $26,000 (at 6%). With the debt snowball you’d pay the dental bill first. Once you completed that loan you’d move on to the $1,500 credit card and then the second credit card and finally the student loan.

    With the debt snowball you may end up paying off interest-free loans before you tackle the bigger interest debts.

    If the debt snowball method makes you crazy because of the interest rates, you may want to consider the debt avalanche method or a debt consolidation loan.

    How to make the debt snowball work for you

    Once you’ve got your debt snowball set up you can set about the business of making the debt snowball even more effective.

    First, make your budget and see how much extra money you have to put towards the debt each month above the minimum payments. That extra money is how you will eliminate the debt that you are tackling.

    Next, find ways to free up even more money for your debt snowball. You can do this one of two ways: increasing income or decreasing expenses. You can decrease expenses by eliminating bills or living frugally or giving yourself less spending money each month. You can increase income by doing a side hustle or by increasing your income at your regular 9 to 5 job.

    Your debt snowball will be most effective when you are able to find even more money to throw at the debt each month. The more money you put toward your debts, the more you will progress in the snowball and the faster it will go.

    My favorite way to increase the effectiveness of a debt snowball is to use these spots of found money to make debt snowflake payments. The small daily savings and “found” money that you can add to the debt repayment in terms of debt snowflakes can truly add up and make a difference.

    Is a debt snowball right for you?

    When choosing your debt repayment method you have to select the right method for you, whether that is the debt snowball or the debt avalanche or another method.

    Using a debt snowball calculator will let you compare the different options and decide which method is the best for paying off your debts.

    It can be tempting to go with the debt avalanche plan for paying off debt but you have to think about more than just the numbers. You know yourself and how you handle money and what motivates you. The best debt payoff plan is the one that you will stick with. A debt payoff plan does you know good if it is mathematically the best choice but you abandon it. That’s why the less financially effective method of the debt snowball might be the best one for you – because it includes motivational wins that help you stick with it.

    For me, I like breaking down larger goals into smaller ones. Having more frequent milestones and payments is motivating to me. (It’s also why I combine the Weekly Transfer Method with the Debt Snowball.)

    Breaking down large goals into smaller subgoals can help you stick with an overall plan. This is especially helpful if you think it will take years to pay off all your debt.

    If you think the debt snowball method will motivate you to pay off debt, then that is the method you should choose.

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