Swagbucks Review: What Is It, How Does It Work And What Can You Win?

Have you heard of Swagbucks?

Many people have, but don’t know exactly what it is or how it works.

Now that Swagbucks just celebrated their tenth birthday, more and more people are learning about this reputable company (which has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau) that helps you earn free gift cards, cash and prizes.

swagbucks-600x100

swagbucks-600x100

Chances are, when you learn more about this company, you’ll become a Swagbucks enthusiast like me!

Open Your FREE Swagbucks Account Now!

Use our link to get a $5 signup bonus, and use promo code “BMONEYMATTERS” when you register you’ll get an extra 70 points called SB

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swagbucks-3

swagbucks-3

If you do nothing more than search the Internet a few times a day (and don’t we all do that?), you could easily earn 7 to 10 points called SB a day.

Earn 300 SB (which is possible in 3 to 5 weeks with minimal effort), and you could redeem your points for a $3 Amazon gift card.

In general, every 100 SB earns you a $1 toward an Amazon gift card. 300 SB for $3 Amazon gift card, or 500 SB for a $5 Amazon gift card.  However, you can earn a $25 Amazon gift card for just 2,200 SB points!

How To Sign Up For Swagbucks

Swagbucks Review - Is It A Scam?

Swagbucks Review - Is It A Scam?

Signing up for Swagbucks is simple.

Simply go to the Swagbuck’s page and either sign in with Facebook, or fill out a simple form with your e-mail address and a password that you choose for your Swagbucks account.

Open Your FREE Swagbucks Account Now!

Registration is free, and right now you’ll eligible to get a $5 bonus for signing up!

Once you are signed up, make sure you stay signed in so you can use Swagbucks to search the Internet and earn points.

How To Earn SB

There are many ways to earn SB.  If you use it to search the Internet, you will randomly earn points.  I have earned anywhere from 7 to 79 points at one time. Those points continue to accrue until you redeem them for your rewards.

Swagbucks Review

Swagbucks Review

In addition to searching the Internet, there are many other ways to earn points:

  • Watch television programming.  Like to find new recipes?  Watch the Food Network videos.  Or watch videos streamed right from Hulu as well as clips on news (regular and celebrity), tech, etc. on Swagbucks and earn SB points.  (They have many quick two to three minute shows that you can watch to earn points.)
  • Encourage your friends to join.  If your friends sign up for Swagbucks with your referral link, you will get 10% of their Swagbucks earning for life!  This can be a great way to watch your balance grow with minimal effort on your part, especially if you have several friends join.
  • Use coupons.  If you routinely print coupons off the Internet, print them from Swagbucks.  For every coupon you redeem at the grocery store, you earn 10 SB
  • Take a poll.  There are usually short, one question polls that you can answer.  This takes less than 10 seconds, and you can earn a SB point.
  • Meet your daily Swagbucks goal.  Every day, Swagbucks sets an earning goal for you.  For instance, they may set a goal of earning 30 SB.  If you’re able to do that, say for 7 days in a row, you’ll earn an additional 25 SB.
  • Play games. You can play a variety of games in the games section to earn SB.
  • Use the special offers section.  This section isn’t something I’d use just to get SB (though some people do), but it can be a great way to earn SB points on something you were already going to do.  For instance, if you were going to sign up for a Target Red Debit or Credit Card anyway, why not do it through Swagbucks and earn 215 SB points?

This section is Swagbucks highest earning vertical.  There are plenty of special offers to choose from.

These are just a few ways to earn rewards; there are many more, some more labor intensive than others.

I usually just have time for the polls and searching the Internet, and I still earned enough in a year to redeem for Amazon gift cards and get a few presents for my kids at Christmas.

Swagbucks Browser Extension

Swagbucks has a browser extension that you can install in your browser as well.

Swagbucks review browser extension

Swagbucks review browser extension

In my Chrome browser I have it installed and it will notify you when there is cash back available for a store you’re shopping at. Just click on the button that pops up to activate the cash back, and a short while after you complete your purchase the SB will be added to your account.

It also will tell you when there are coupon codes available at a certain store and apply them for you, saving you additional money!

What it comes down to is adding the extension will likely save you quite a bit of money! It takes the work out of remembering to go to a cash back site – it does it for you automatically.

Swagbucks Hack To Triple Your Savings

Her’s a hack that I have started using in order to triple my savings when shopping online. I use Swagbucks in conjunction with two other providers, Honey and Gift Card Granny.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Activate Swagbucks cash back: First, go to the shopping site where you want to save money.  Activate your Swabgucks cash back via your browser extension. It should pop up automatically if you have it installed and ask you to “activate cash back”.
  2. Use Honey to get a coupon code: After you find the item you wanted to buy, add it to your cart and begin the checkout process. On the checkout page where they have a space for coupon codes, use the Honey browser extension to search for available coupon codes, to save you more money!
  3. Buy a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny: Figure out your order’s total, and then buy a gift card at Gift Card Granny to cover the cost. You can often find gift cards for popular retailers at a big discount. For example, a $100 gift card for $85. Purchase the gift card and use it when checking out.

When you do these three things, you’ll save using Swagbucks cash back, by using a Honey coupon code, and by getting a discount on a gift card to pay for your order.  Triple the savings!

How Much Can You Earn With Swagbucks?

Once you’ve earned enough points you can redeem your SB for an Amazon gift card, but there are hundreds of other ways to also redeem your points.  Choose from a wide range of retailers—Amazon, Target, Lands End, Chili’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Walmart, Sears, and many more.

There are hundreds of prizes to choose from, and if you want to make your SB points stretch further, look for the sale category where they temporarily discount how many SB certain items can be redeemed for.

They say that nothing in life is free, but if you search the Internet using Swagbucks, utilize the cash back tools and engage on their site you will earn enough SB points to redeem for some nice free gifts.

Have you used Swagbucks?  If so, what have you earned?

If you use promo code “BMONEYMATTERS” when you register you’ll get an extra 70 SB.

Get Your Free 70 SB When You Open Swagbucks Account Now!

Similar Programs

Swagbucks Review

FREE

Swagbucks Review

Rating

9.2/10

Pros

  • Lots of reward options including PayPal
  • Great cash back options
  • Browser extension works great
  • In store cash back
  • Lots of ways to earn points

Cons

  • Some offers require a lot to get SB

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

If You’re Interested in Personal Finance Books, We Answer 3 Questions About Them Here

Much of the best personal finance advice out there is found in books, where the entire scope of a personal finance plan can be explored in depth. Your local library has a plethora of personal finance books on the shelves, covering almost any sub-topic you could want, and can request many more if you simply ask.

But among all of those books, there are questions. Which personal finance book is the best? Which one is right for me? How does the advice in a personal finance book apply in today’s world where we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences? Let’s look in-depth at some of those issues.

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In this article

1. What’s the best personal finance book?

What is the best personal finance book? There are thousands of them on Amazon and I don’t know which ones are worth reading.

– Max

It’s hard to define what “best” really means in terms of something like personal finance because people are coming to these books from such different places in their lives. A person in their 20s at the start of a great career, single and earning a good salary, is going to be looking for something much different than the type of book that would appeal to someone in their 50s who has always struggled to make money and is now very scared about retirement.

Thus, if you’re looking for the “best” personal finance book, you would want one that explains core concepts of personal finance in a way that’s meaningful and applicable to a lot of people.

[ More: More Americans Are Using Retirement Savings to Cover Expenses ]

One very good choice in that regard is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The book focuses on examining personal finance through the lens of how much of your life you’re devoting to earning money, and thus how much of your life you’re spending with each transaction, casting money-saving decisions in a very powerful light. It is an incredibly powerful argument for spending less in the modern world, and overspending is one financial challenge almost all of us face.

Aside from that, look for a personal finance book that matches your life situation. For example, if you’re young, look for a book targeting folks in their 20s and 30s, like “Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner.

2. How do I explore frugal hedonism while isolated?

I enjoyed learning about “The Art of Frugal Hedonism” and I picked it up from the library recently. Disappointed to find that it was mostly about doing things socially, which is much harder right now. How do you do frugal hedonism when you’re isolated?

– Dana

“The Art of Frugal Hedonism” is a great book that addresses saving money from an interesting perspective. It views frugality as a creative constraint, meaning that it nudges you to explore new things that you may not have done before, and those new things often expose you to pleasures that are entirely new to you.

Many of the examples given by the authors throughout the book are indeed oriented toward spending time with others, which is a difficult challenge for those practicing social distancing or socially isolated for other reasons. In our conversation with author Annie Raser-Rowland, she even directly points this out as a problem, noting that there’s no easy way around it.

So, what can a socially isolated person do to practice frugal hedonism? You can start by simply trying a wide range of low-cost solo activities and hobbies, particularly things you’ve never tried before. Try growing some vegetables in the spring, learning how to knit or learn how to cook.

[ Next: The Best Personal Finance Books ]

You can, in fact, be a frugal introvert. There are many things you can do solo that is quite inexpensive. Go through that list and pick out a few that you haven’t tried before that seem like they have at least a bit of potential to be interesting, and try them. Some will click, and that’s great. Some won’t, but then at least you’ll have an interesting story to tell.

3. What is the best Dave Ramsey book?

I have been listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio recently and I like his advice. I looked on Amazon and they have several books by him. Which one is the best or the best to read first?

– Michael

Hands down, the best Dave Ramsey book is “The Total Money Makeover.” The reason is that, among all of Dave’s books, it’s the one that leans in the strongest to his core message.

Dave Ramsey is extremely good at practical psychology. He’s very good at helping people define the personal finance problem they’re facing and have the willpower to overcome it through motivational tactics. He leans into that strength, which is great, but by doing so, he’s perhaps not so good at other areas. He chooses to offer motivational predictions rather than offer extremely accurate numbers, which is why he’ll consistently overestimate stock market returns when he delves into investments because doing so motivates people to turn toward investing.

That’s why “The Total Money Makeover” stands out amongst all of Dave’s books. It sticks with the practical psychology of debt and focuses on developing a debt repayment plan, his variant of which he calls the debt snowball, and how to motivate yourself to actually pull it off. This is the area where Dave shines, and it’s never more clear than in this book.

Do you have any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, via full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

11 Steps to Avoid Burnout When Paying off Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

The key to avoiding burnout while paying off debt is to reinvigorate your motivation. Here are 11 ways you can stay motivated and energized to avoid burnout when paying off debt.

1. Work With Purpose

The first step to any journey is identifying the destination. It’s no different in becoming debt free. But debt freedom isn’t the destination. It’s an essential stop along the way, but understanding that there’s life after debt is imperative to making it out of debt and staying there.

What’s your purpose for getting out of debt? Ours is to have career and lifestyle freedom. We want to be able to quit or be let go from our jobs and have savings to hold us over until we find something else or create our own career.

When the struggle is real it’s this purpose that will grab you from your whiney tower and pull you back down to reality.

2. Use Time Management Hacks

Do you feel like you need more hours in the day? Maybe you just need better management of those hours.

There are productivity methods you can use to be more efficient and avoid burnout. I’ve been really interested in the Pomodoro method of breaking tasks into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks. Lots of freelancers swear by it.

Start with the tasks you have, do those more efficiently and see if extra time to rest doesn’t pop up right when you need it.

3. Eliminate Tasks

Maybe with the best productivity hacks, you still can’t fit it all in. Between multiple jobs, family, friends, errands, keeping a semi-clean house, cooking, etc, etc, etc; you can’t do everything.

If your time is worth more working than doing simple tasks then you can afford to delegate rather than work less. You can hire someone to clean your house, have your groceries delivered, or buy the precut veggies.

Prioritize the tasks that get you closer to your goal and eliminate the ones that don’t.

4. Give

Giving time or money can feel like you’re connecting to the world even in your gazelle-intense bubble. We do it by volunteering and giving to our church but there’s no shortage of options for you to sacrifice a little to make a big difference in others lives.

I also think giving of your experience is helpful. It’s cathartic, reminds me what I’ve accomplished and helps others learn how to live through my story. You can do it through Facebook, Instagram, or by starting a blog.

I’m obviously an advocate for sharing stories through a blog. The number of people you can reach is huge. It’s also a way to pad your income and lay a foundation for establishing career freedom. You can read my how-to on starting and monetizing a blog here.

5. Exercise

I use exercise to break up the monotony of my day. When I was working three very inactive jobs exercising was the outlet where I could make the stank face I wanted to make all day and no one would ask me what was wrong.

And I don’t need to remind you of the physical benefits exercising has on improving energy, sleep, and motivation — but clearly I will.

I pay big bucks for Crossfit because the community and direction are invaluable to me. But there are plenty of ways to work out for free or cheap if it’s not as high on your priority list.

6. Celebrate Wins

Every time we pay off a loan we have a little celebration. Sometimes it’s as small as texting a ton of emojis back and forth and sometimes it’s having a meal out.

More than once my disdain for cooking has motivated me to put a little extra on a loan to clear it up and go out for dinner. Having fun times to look forward to keeps us motivated and has ultimately helped us get where we are quicker.

7. Stop Being a Perfectionist

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Relinquish the need to have a perfect budget, perfect income, or perfect life circumstances.

Emergencies will come up, weaknesses will win, and income may fluctuate but if you drive yourself crazy over every setback you’ll never win!

Embrace the mistakes and “Murphies” and you’ll have a much better time getting through this thing.

8. Track Progress

In our apartment we had a thermometer we’d color in when whenever we made a payment. It got lost in our recent move (RIP thermometer).

People have come up with really cool ways to visually track their debt progress. You can check them out here where I also have a downloadable thermometer pdf you can print off and color yourself!

9. Share Your Successes

I have a friend living 1200 miles away from me who texts me whenever she pays off a debt or makes a substantially good money decision. It allows me to encourage her by telling her how proud I am of her, how great she’s doing and I send lots of bitmojis.

Travis and I do this too. When we do well with money we lift each other up and encourage each other in our strengths.

Hearing from someone else that you’re doing well isn’t fishing for compliments, it’s reassurance that you’re making it! Find someone you can share with. This is really easy with a spouse but a supportive friend works just as well.

10. Keep Good Company

Having friends that are also paying off debt or are supportive of you doing it is clutch. Saying no to spending money can be isolating. Having friends who want to hang out at home or at parks instead of bars and restaurants make the weekends much easier.

Some people don’t care about their financial future right now. It doesn’t make them bad people or even irresponsible.

I repeat: It doesn’t make them bad people or irresponsible.

But you’re in a different place than they are and you need to keep company that’s on the same page or you’ll keep spending and spending because saying no every week is near impossible.

11. Be Real

Don’t be fakin it. If you’re behind on your debt snowball don’t pretend you’re doing fine.

The more you lie about your progress the more backed up you’ll feel which could lead to giving up. When you’re honest with yourself and the people around you, you’ll stay committed to the process and help more people with your story.

I hope these steps will help you avoid burnout and stay committed to this process, because it is worth every sacrifice and every no that comes out of your mouth. And I’ll be here every step of the way to see you through it.

<img data-attachment-id="1073" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/steps-avoid-burnout-paying-off-debt/1-15/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/1-e1496167199424.png?fit=400%2C707&ssl=1" data-orig-size="400,707" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="avoid burnout" data-image-description="

avoid burnout when paying off debt

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avoid burnout when paying off debt

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<img data-attachment-id="4790" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/steps-avoid-burnout-paying-off-debt/mf-11-tips-to-avoid-burnout-while-trying-to-payoff-a-ton-of-debt/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MF-11-Tips-to-Avoid-Burnout-While-Trying-to-Payoff-a-Ton-of-Debt.jpg?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="Got a ton of debt to payoff?" data-image-description="

Tips to help you payoff a ton of debt without burning out. Tips and tricks from a woman who paid off over $78,000 in under 2 years on average salaries. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoffmotivation #budgetingtips #budgetinghacks #moneytipsformillennials

” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MF-11-Tips-to-Avoid-Burnout-While-Trying-to-Payoff-a-Ton-of-Debt.jpg?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MF-11-Tips-to-Avoid-Burnout-While-Trying-to-Payoff-a-Ton-of-Debt.jpg?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” width=”400″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”Got a ton of debt to payoff?” data-pin-description=”Tips to help you payoff a ton of debt without burning out. Tips and tricks from a woman who paid off over $78,000 in under 2 years on average salaries. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoffmotivation #budgetingtips #budgetinghacks #moneytipsformillennials” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/11-steps-to-avoid-burnout-when-paying-off-debt.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4790″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/11-steps-to-avoid-burnout-when-paying-off-debt.jpg 400w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MF-11-Tips-to-Avoid-Burnout-While-Trying-to-Payoff-a-Ton-of-Debt.jpg?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MF-11-Tips-to-Avoid-Burnout-While-Trying-to-Payoff-a-Ton-of-Debt.jpg?w=735&ssl=1 735w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

Here Is What It’s Like To Drive A Car Until It Dies

Fourteen years ago, my husband and I had our first child, and just three months after he was born, we bought a minivan. A Toyota Sienna, to be exact.

We planned to own the car for a while, especially since we bought it brand new, but honestly, I never thought that 14 years and 193,000 miles later we’d still be driving that vehicle.

drive a car until it dies

drive a car until it dies

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pay if off early.

We paid it off in four years, so we’ve driven that vehicle for the last 10 years without making a single payment.  The only expenses we’ve had are routine repairs, replacements, and requisite license plate tabs.

Glamorous It’s Not

I’ll admit, now that the car is quite a bit older, it’s certainly not the envy of the neighborhood.

In fact, my kids, especially my older two who are 14 and almost 10, find it quite embarrassing.  However, it’s been a very reliable car, and we plan to keep it until it finally gives out completely.

Our van had one electric sliding door and one manual.  As is common for electric doors, ours stopped working at about year 10.  I didn’t want to pay the $1,500 plus that it would cost to fix it, so we just stopped using that door.

About two years ago, our passenger manual door outside handle became loose.  No biggie.  We just opened the driver’s side door, reached into the back, and used the inside handle to open the slide door.

Was that embarrassing?  Yes, but why spend money when the door did work, just not in a conventional way?

We’ll Never Wash The Car Again

We joke that we’ll never wash the car again, and we probably won’t.  The dirt might be the only thing holding it together at this point!

A year ago we were at a manual car wash when the outside handle that was loose completely broke off.  That, even I can admit, was embarrassing. A motorcyclist was there, and he just stared at us.

My kids were so embarrassed.

When it broke off, we could no longer open the door from the inside, either, so we had to admit defeat and pay $700 to get that door handle fixed.

Surely, that was a fluke, right, and a car wash every now and then would be fine, right?  Right?

Yeah, no.

This summer, we again tried to wash the car at a manual car wash.  After my husband hosed down the car, I heard a loud pop, much like a gun shot.

I looked all around, but didn’t see anything.  Then, I started washing the car and the passenger window on the electronic door that does not work just completely shattered.  Glass filled our entire interior.

We had heard a rock hit the car a few weeks before when we were on the highway, and I think that weakened the window before the car wash.

The Air Conditioner Gives Out

This summer, our air conditioner gave out, which isn’t a good thing in the middle of an Arizona summer when temperatures routinely reach 110 degrees daily.  The problem ended up being two-fold, and we had to pay $2,500.

I can see the day is near when we’ll need to replace this vehicle, but I’m hoping we can hold out for a few more years.

After all, even with car repairs and routine maintenance, owning this vehicle for the past 14 years has been much cheaper than owning a newer model that needs fewer repairs but requires a monthly payment.

What is the longest you have ever owned a vehicle?  What finally made you decide to take the plunge and buy a new vehicle?  Are you comfortable with driving a car that others may find embarrassing just so you can save money?

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

10 Free Activities For Couples Paying off Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

When my fiance told me he wanted to pay off his student loan debt as fast as possible, my short answer was “NO.”

The little voice inside my head kept reminding me of all the things I’d miss out on if I couldn’t spend money.

It’s not that I didn’t want to pay off my student loans. In grad school, my plan was to have them paid off before I turned 30. But somewhere along the way the compounding interest and dinners out with friends paralyzed me into thinking it simply couldn’t be done.

So when I [finally] got on board with this crazy idea that we’d pay for our wedding in cash and pay off both our loans (and a car loan I’d picked up along the way) I was terrified I’d be a friendless hermit by the end of it.

How to Pay Off Debt Without Becoming a Hermit

But it didn’t take long to see that there’s a lot more to living than tacos, coffee, and vacations. I didn’t stop spending altogether (at least all the time) I became more selective with my spending.

And being selective with my spending means I no longer waste my time on things I only kind of like and I value the things I really do enjoy so much more.

So in order to do more of the things I love that do cost money, we trade in activities like movies, theme parks, and weekend getaways for free activities. Here are some of my personal favorites that you might like too.

  1. The Library

The library is a treasure trove of fun. It’s grown from novels and encyclopedias to include eBooks, DIY books, CDs, movies, and so much more than I could’ve imagined as a kid.

I’ve discovered amazing recipes, learned macramé, and my husband, who doesn’t love reading, has even gotten in on it recently. And it’s free. You don’t even have to search high and low for what you want.

Search the library database from the comfort from your home and request a hold on any item, they’ll deliver it to the library of your choice and alert you when it’s there. Easy peasy!

It’s also an alternative to coffee shops for getting work done. There are quiet spaces and even room rentals available.

  1. Social Running Groups

We love the running group we’re a part of. You can find them at most running stores or groups and events on Facebook. For us, there’s at least one on any given side of town and usually every night of the week.

Most do a 5K(ish) run that starts and ends at a store or bar. Trust me when I say all levels of runners/ walkers/ joggers participate. And since the pack disperses pretty early on it’s easy to cut your run short and not be noticed (not like I ever do that ;))

Trav and I don’t always run together, but sometimes we do, other times I’ll run with a friend or by myself. Everyone meets back up at the end and hangs out. Some groups have raffles or free beer at the end.

  1. Yelp Events

You know about Yelp right? It’s a website/ app that you can find new places to eat, drink, and play. Each city has a Community Ambassador that hosts Yelp events, they are awesome and make for a great free night out.

We’ve been to many and have been thoroughly impressed. The ones we’ve been to have included free food from local restaurants, free (alcoholic) drinks, and lots of free Yelp swag. One even gave us an hour of unlimited gameplay at an arcade, so fun!

You have to be diligent in checking for these official Yelp events, they always fill up. When you find one RSVP on the event page then wait for a confirmation email. There are no +1’s so everyone has to RSVP and get confirmation individually to attend together.

  1. Pantry (Dinner) Party

The dinner party is an oldie but a goodie. You may have to buy some groceries for this one or you can use it as an excuse to clear out the pantry and fridge.

A side dish that goes with nothing? Vegetable about to go bad? Anything [almost] freezer burned?

Get some friends together and it’s sure to be a food match made in conglomerate heaven. And you get the bonus of spending time with good friends or building relationships with new ones!

  1. Bike Ride

Self-explanatory. We love a good bike ride. We live right off a trail and it’s another great exercise activity to do with your significant other, friends, or just by yourself.

And if you want to meet new people, many cities have biking clubs on most days of the week and ranging in speed/experience.

  1. Home Improvement Class

If you own a home or are thinking about purchasing one, this is a great one. Home Depot offers free workshops on everything from installing light fixtures and tile to water conservation hacks and a DIY dog feeder.

Even if you don’t own a home these are great tricks to have up your sleeve for when that time comes.

And it’s empowering to know that if something breaks I can fix it or if he’s at work I can install it. There’s something to be said for the confidence (and frustration) completing a home improvement project can bring.

  1. Events in the Park

We live in a city that loves to be outside and that means tons of free events, orchestra nights, movies on a big screen, fireworks, and parades to name a few. We love bringing a blanket, some chairs, and a picnic for the evening.

The trick is getting there early to find free parking and bringing your own food to avoid the temptation of all the vendors.

This is also a great activity to do in groups because a lot of these things only happen once or twice a year and everyone attends, so why not go together!? Find your city’s event calendar or downtown blog to find out what’s available.

  1. Volunteer

We volunteer at our church and at a foster group home in our area. Volunteering is an amazing way to see your partner interact with others, to grow in boldness (hi introverts) and get to do something for free that helps others and makes you feel good.

I love Habitat For Humanity (make use out of those home improvement classes!) and Big Brothers, Big Sisters (there’s a Big Couple option that’s really fun.) There are options for all time commitments.

And it’s not limited to humanitarian groups. You can volunteer at events like music and food festivals for a couple hours then enjoy those events for free!

  1. Find Water

As a couple who lives 15 minutes from the beach, it’s a wonderful place to relax and feel like you’re somewhere else for a few hours. Trav can play Frisbee with his friends while I nap under the umbrella (I’m dreaming of it right now!)

You may not be close to a beach but you’re probably near some body of water (even if it’s frozen over right now.)

Bring your own drinks and food for the day and it’s a free vacation! You may have to do some extra searching beforehand to find free parking but it’s totally worth it. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen! Even in winter!

  1. Pokemon Go

And last but not least, the phenomenon that really inspired this post several years ago, Pokemon Go. Can you believe people are stil playing this game!?

Seriously though, it’s amazing to me how addictive this game is and the fact that it’s totally free. Trav and I have been in a head to head battle to see who can catch the best Pokemon, who can level up faster, and walking/running like crazy to hatch those eggs!

Bonus: your group run can double as a Pokemon adventure. I’ve hatched many an egg that way.

And I think a little competition in any relationship is a good thing, just know when to comfort your brokenhearted husband when you catch the Pikachu first. Love it or hate it this is a fun game to play together.

<img data-attachment-id="2601" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt/10freeactivities-2/" data-orig-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="10 free activities for couples paying off debt" data-image-description="

10 free activities for couples paying off debt

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-2601 jetpack-lazy-image” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.png” alt=”These 10 free activities for couples paying off debt are great! #payoffdebt #frugalfun” width=”400″ height=”600″ data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.png 400w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?w=735&ssl=1 735w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″>

<img data-attachment-id="2601" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt/10freeactivities-2/" data-orig-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="10 free activities for couples paying off debt" data-image-description="

10 free activities for couples paying off debt

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-2601″ src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.png” alt=”These 10 free activities for couples paying off debt are great! #payoffdebt #frugalfun” width=”400″ height=”600″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.png 400w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/10freeactivities.png?w=735&ssl=1 735w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

<img data-attachment-id="4453" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt/mf-10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt-to-avoid-boredom/" data-orig-file="https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MF-10-Free-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-off-Debt-to-Avoid-Boredom.jpg?fit=700%2C1350&ssl=1" data-orig-size="700,1350" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt" data-image-description="

Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight

” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MF-10-Free-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-off-Debt-to-Avoid-Boredom.jpg?fit=156%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MF-10-Free-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-off-Debt-to-Avoid-Boredom.jpg?fit=311%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” width=”311″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4453″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/10-free-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt.jpg 311w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MF-10-Free-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-off-Debt-to-Avoid-Boredom.jpg?resize=156%2C300&ssl=1 156w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MF-10-Free-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-off-Debt-to-Avoid-Boredom.jpg?w=700&ssl=1 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 311px) 100vw, 311px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

3 Ways To Be More Grateful This Christmas

Have you ever read the Little House on the Prairie books?

One Christmas, Laura and Mary each get their own shiny tin cup (they had previously had to share an old one), two sticks of candy, a small homemade cake, and a shiny, new penny.

They were excited beyond belief.

In our modern times, such a meager Christmas is unimaginable.

Each year the retail stores seem to ratchet up the consumerism, trying to get us to buy more and more; some stores even stay open on Christmas.

Many of us have fallen for this and feel an intense pressure to spend a large amount of money on the loved ones in our lives, but such pressure often makes Christmas feel like something to get through without going thousands of dollars into debt.  Because of our own expectations and others’, Christmas feels like a burden.

That’s not what Christmas is about.

Christmas is about giving and doing for others, but not at the expense of having to work overtime to buy more gifts or having to go into credit card debt so you don’t look cheap.

Why not bring back the meaning of Christmas and enjoy the holiday more starting this year?

Ways To Be More Grateful This Christmas

Ways To Be More Grateful This Christmas

Focus On the True Reason for the Season

The real reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

This holiday season, why not find a few activities your family can do to focus on this?

Our family does many of the 30 recommended activities to keep Christ in Christmas.  Two that we do every year are to make a birthday cake for Jesus that we enjoy on Christmas Day and to decorate our tree only with purple ornaments during the Advent season.  (After Advent is over, we change out the decorations to more “fun” decorations as the kids say.)

Focus On Family Activities

Before the Christmas season arrives, consider sitting down with your children and telling them that Christmas this year will be focused more on giving than getting.

Ask them to consider some fun activities they’d like to do as a family this holiday season such as watching a holiday movie together, decorating the Christmas tree together, making holiday treats together, etc.

Also, consider asking each child to have one of their gifts be a family gift.

They could ask for a family membership to the local amusement park or a family membership to the local museum, or a small, weekend trip you could take together.

Focus On Appreciation And Gratitude

It’s easy to take family members for granted.

This holiday season, draw names from a hat, and each family member writes five to 10 things they appreciate about the person whose name they drew.  As you write the list, you’ll be more grateful for the person, and the person will feel more appreciated, as will you when you hear what someone has written about you.

In addition, decide how you’ll help others this holiday season.

You might make personal care kits filled with items like deodorant, soap, razors, etc. for the local shelter.  Or, you could pick a name off a Christmas tree at a local store or at your church and buy a gift for a child in need. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen.

Our family volunteers once a month at our church helping to make 200 sack lunches for the homeless, but in December, we’ll find some other activities to do also.

Helping others not only makes you feel good, but it also helps to make you grateful for all that you have.  That is a reminder all of us need from time to time.

I’m not saying don’t spend money this Christmas, but why not try to make Christmas more meaningful this year?

Why not focus on helping others and spending time together as a family rather than on the never-ending rat race of buying more and more and more gifts all the while feeling more frustrated and less satisfied this holiday season?

What do you do to bring the true meaning of Christmas into focus and to tune out the retailers pleas that you must spend more and more money?

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

November 2016 Budget

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

I’m on a financial high going into November. It’s my favorite time of year; the weather is crisp, people are happier, and my favorite holiday, Black Friday, is right around the corner. I’m on cloud 9.

And I have one more thing making my money-saving heart flutter (or palpitate, I can’t tell the difference lately.) My student loan is now 4 digits. I’m finally under 10 grand! I didn’t see this day coming anytime in my 20’s and it’s here. You guys, hard work and perseverance pay off! And I’m really excited to have you to share this moment with.

So in November we decided to kick it into HIGH gear to get my student loan completely paid off by the end of the year. This was our original goal but we had a setback in April that made us plan to have it paid off in January. But thanks to a lot of overtime and the fact that I get paid on Wednesdays (and there are 5 in Nov this year!) we decided to get a little crazy.

Also Read: October 2016 Budget

In October you’ll remember we budgeted $3800 for student loan payment and we ended paying $4070 (Again thanks to Travis’ overtime from volunteering to pick up shifts.) I was on a shopping ban which basically meant no impulse buys. I worked from Starbucks once a week because I had a gift card and I bought shampoo and a shirt for Halloween (because these were at Goodwill and look how cute we are!)

Volleyball Player Costumes

Volleyball Player Costumes

We did pretty good sticking to the line items but went over in restaurants this month. Fitting since I just wrote a post about how much you can make by eating out less. But we spent less in gas than we budgeted so it evened out by the end.

Our Real Budget

November 2016 Budget

November 2016 Budget

We used EveryDollar to copy October’s [revised] budget and made a few adjustments. We cut our lifestyle budget almost in half this month and all the extra money we’re making is going to our $5,000 debt payment. Yes, you read right, $5,000.

I’m doing another month of the shopping ban because I used my personal money on some blog related items in September. You have to spend money to make money, especially in a competitive space like the Internet. But so far those investments have been paying off and I’ll definitely tell you about them someday.

I also wanted to point out our “giving” category. I’ve had surprisingly mixed responses to this one. We decided at the beginning of our debt freedom journey on a consistent $500 each month. This was definitely a compromise we had to make early on and once we found a number we were both comfortable with we just stuck with it.

Some very generous people can’t see giving less than 10% even while going into debt and some people won’t give anything while they’re paying off debt.

I give now because my end goal is to be outrageously generous. Giving is a gift not only to those who receive it but to me too! I don’t feel guilty about feeling real good when I give. Ultimately though, it’s whatever helps you sleep at night.

I run half marathons and nowhere along the race do I wish I’d trained less.

Giving now is like my training to give more later. And that’s how I justify spending more right now on giving than on my lifestyle. If you’re interested in this subject I highly recommend Generous Justice by Timothy Keller. A great read on why social justice is important and how you can be generous most effectively.

Our Real Budget

Our Real Budget

<img data-attachment-id="4828" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/november-2016-budget/mf-how-we-paid-off-over-4000-of-debt-in-october/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-How-We-Paid-Off-Over-4000-of-Debt-in-October.jpg?fit=600%2C900&ssl=1" data-orig-size="600,900" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="How to pay off a chunk of debt in a short time" data-image-description="

Tips to help you pay off a chunk of your massive debt quickly. #budgetingtips #budgetinghacks #debtpayofftips #debtpayoffhacks #budgetingtricks #payingoffdebtquickly

” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-How-We-Paid-Off-Over-4000-of-Debt-in-October.jpg?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-How-We-Paid-Off-Over-4000-of-Debt-in-October.jpg?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” width=”400″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”How to pay off a chunk of debt in a short time” data-pin-description=”Tips to help you pay off a chunk of your massive debt quickly. #budgetingtips #budgetinghacks #debtpayofftips #debtpayoffhacks #budgetingtricks #payingoffdebtquickly” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/november-2016-budget-2.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4828″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/november-2016-budget-2.jpg 400w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-How-We-Paid-Off-Over-4000-of-Debt-in-October.jpg?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-How-We-Paid-Off-Over-4000-of-Debt-in-October.jpg?w=600&ssl=1 600w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

How we Paid off $78K of Debt With Average Incomes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

It’s a new year! And you’re probably reading this because you want to make a change with how you handle your money in 2020. You want to pay off your student loans, start investing, and maybe save up for a big girl vacation, like, to Europe or something.

You want to make big changes but very rarely do big things happen to move the needle. It’s the little things that sustain you when you’re trying to make big changes.

Like, pay off more money in debt than you make in a year.

My husband, Travis, and I paid off nearly $78,000 of student loan and consumer debt in 23 months. When we started, we were making less than $50,000 between the two of us. I have no clue what made us think we could do this.

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The story seems like a big deal now but it didn’t feel that way when we were in it. I remember being halfway through, tired, and hopeless because there was no light at the end of my tunnel.

It’s no wonder more people don’t pay off their student loans. According to the US Dept. of Education’s Direct Loan Portfolio by Repayment Plan, almost 3 million borrowers are in programs that offer a loan forgiveness option.

But… people’s reliance on the loan forgiveness concept is slipping. In the same report, you can see that the number enrolled in Income-Based Repayment has fallen every quarter since the end of 2016. People are realizing that the government is not going to take care of their student loan crisis.

So where do we go from here? You can’t go from drowning in debt to financially independent overnight. It’s a hard road. There’s a glamorous story to tell at the end but the process is anything but.

I’ll tell you honestly, it’s the everyday things that get you through this process.

There’s no magic bullet, there’s no personality, job, or location that makes someone better suited to pay off debt. It’s the small habits you build and perform day-in and day-out that make it possible. And there are dozens of them. But you can get started with just a few.

These are the 17 easiest and most import habits I’ve found that you can start to incorporate into your life to pay off debt and create the financial future you want. I hope you don’t think they’re trivial. Taking a small step forward is vastly more impactful than doing nothing and some days it’s all we’re capable of.

Even if you’re not getting there as fast as you think you should you’re still moving forward and it’s a better place than you were yesterday.

Daily Habits

  1. Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking 

After 8 hours (hopefully) of sleep, your body is massively dehydrated. Drinking 16 oz. of water before you do anything will potentially aid digestion and other bodily functions.

But why in the world is this a good “financial” habit?

Your body can mistake thirst for hunger when you’re dehydrated. Being well hydrated in the morning can help you avoid that starving feeling that starts when you’re on your way to work and conveniently driving past a coffee shop or bakery.

There are tons of mornings that I have my perfectly portioned breakfast ready to go but my hunger is so big it doesn’t seem like enough. But on mornings I’m not hungry I don’t even think about stopping for coffee and pastry, which costs me $6 a trip.

  1. Eat Protein in the Morning 

For most people, our days are back-loaded with protein. We eat granola and the light turkey sandwich for lunch and a big ol’ steak for dinner. It should really be the other way around.

Protein stabilizes blood sugar levels, which strengthens your concentration and reduces brain fog. It also boosts energy levels and keeps you fuller longer. All this is essential for the avid side hustler.

When I have protein throughout the day I’m more productive at work and I could go home with enough energy to work my side hustle and not crash after. If I forgot about my diet I would feel tired, worn out, and eventually get sick.

  1. Do Your Least Favorite Task First

This one could also be “do your most inconvenient task first.” I’ll never say I’m perfect at these. I am still know for putting off important tasks for weeks when they could be over in 5 minutes.

Things always come up during the day and they always seem more important (translation: easier) at the time. Calls to creditors, applying for jobs, and completing freelance work are some of the tasks I’ve had to complete first to make sure they get done before the last minute.

  1. Respond Open Endedly to Invitations

We get invited to new things everyday. Whether it’s via Facebook events or in-person requests we want to do everything but we can’t afford everything. We’re those people who respond “interested” to events and say “I’ll check my calendar” to most invites.

If it’s free we won’t hesitate to say yes but anything that’s going to cost money has to thought about before agreed to. Eventually, we got good enough to immediately suggest free alternatives to coffee dates and expensive restaurants but some invites don’t have alternatives.

We’ve had to turn down wedding invites, out-of-state birthday trips, and dinners out. They were nothing to cry about but had to be thought through instead of impulsively agreed to.

  1. Track Spending Manually

Apps like Mint are nice because they track you spending automatically. But when you’re on a budget you shouldn’t be looking back at the end of the month to see where all your money went, you should be actively managing it.

Manually tracking your spending every night helps you see where you are on your budget and helps you know whether you can say yes or no to those friendly invitations. I like EveryDollar, it’s a beautifully designed app and it’s free.

  1. Admit & Respond to Your Mistakes

When you’re avoiding sweets and you find yourself eating a cookie do you give up and say “Oh well, I’ll try again next month” and proceed to finish the box of cookies? We are so prone to give up if we make a mistake; that is a seriously limiting mindset.

When you buy something you regret, miss a day of your side hustle, or fall short of your debt payment it’s not an excuse to quit. It’s also not a time to start justifying the reasons behind all your mistakes. Call it what it is, decide how you’re going to respond better next time, and move on.

This is a daily practice because I don’t know anyone, myself included, who can make it through a perfect day while paying off debt.

  1. Celebrate Small Wins

As frequently as we call out mistakes we need to be calling out wins. Every day has something that’s worth celebrating. I prepped all my produce for the week last night, I celebrated that, I was two days late in prepping it but I got it done.

When I say celebrate I don’t mean go out or throw a party. Simply saying out loud what you accomplished or writing it down will suffice. Just identifying the good and progress everyday is what you’re going for.

Weekly Habits

  1. Make Manual Payments

In addition to automatic payments for debt payments and savings goals it’s good to make manual payments too. This allows you to actively participate in reaching your goal.

Sure you could do all your payments automatically (and you should on some) but adding additional payments manually helped us regain motivation, make bigger payments, and pay off the debt faster.

  1. Meal Plan & Prep

Setting aside an hour each week to meal plan and make a grocery list is essential to paying off debt. Honestly it’s essential for anyone who doesn’t want to blow all their money on food.

Meal planning isn’t hard and there are options for premade meal plans if you absolutely hate it, but don’t use the excuse of “not having enough time” to skip this. It’s that important.

One thing I was missing for a while was actually cooking the meals I’d planned for with the ingredients I’d bought. I was too busy (or lazy) throughout the week to go through the monotony of cooking, until I started prepping.

Now after I get home from the grocery store I meal prep produce according to all my recipes and even pre-season vegetables so during the week all I have to do is dump and cook. It’s helped me reduce food waste, which has saved even more money.

  1. Always Check For Savings Before You Buy

Dont get in the checkout line or hit “Buy Now” before you search for a coupon, cash back, or cheaper option. Here are my favorite places to check for deals.

  • Use Blink to save on prescriptions.
  • EyeBuyDirect to save on prescription eyewear.
  • Energy saving methods like low-flow showerheads to reduce our utility bill.
  • Sites like Restaurant.com for dining deals.
  • Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on activities.
  • ThredUp for nice secondhand clothing at steep discounts from retail.
  • I take advantage of free trials at gyms.
  • Shopping through Ebates when making any purchases online will get you cash-back from virtually any retailer.
  • Apps like ibotta and Checkout51 to save at grocery stores and other big box retailers.
  • Use healthcare sharing to save big time on health insurance.
  1. Help Someone

When I was a year into our debt payoff I was feeling really hopeless. The first year was so hard and we were only at the halfway point. It was like finishing a half marathon and feeling accomplished only to remember you’re running a full marathon.

What helped me regain my motivation was helping people with the knowledge and skills I now possessed. I started a blog but you don’t have to, in fact I think you can help more people without one.

Facebook groups are a place people ask questions all the time and there’s a thriving #debtfreecommunity on Instagram where people are honest in their accomplishments as well as their shortcomings. These are great places to start and it’s energizing to find others with as much zeal for being debt-free as you.

  1. Write a Thank You Note

Sometimes living on a limited budget can feel isolating. Everyone is travelling, going out, and growing closer while you sit at home. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about cultivating the relationships you do have.

Saying thanks for little things and big things in a handwritten note or on Facebook is how you forge deeper relationships in less time. When you know someone is grateful for you don’t you go out of your way more to accommodate them?

Obviously your gratitude should be sincere and not to get something in return but don’t feel like your missing out on relationships if you don’t participate in everything.

Occasional Habits

  1. Put it On Ice

Huh?

Sounds funny right? I discovered Icebox, a free Google Chrome extension, last year and found it to be an awesome idea. The idea is to minimize impulse spending by replacing the “Buy Now” button on over 500 online stores with a “Put It on Ice” button.

This button saves the product in your “Icebox” for a period of your choosing, then it becomes available to buy. The hope is that after a cool down period you’ll rethink the purchase and save your money for something better. Watch the video to see it in action:

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Impulse shopping is a monthly obstacle for most millennials, and it actually affects more males than females. I’m all about working smarter, not harder, and anything that forces me to think more about my spending is a welcomed inconvenience.

  1. Automate Everything

Its 2018 and you might think you’re automating everything but this. But somehow we can’t find the 3 minutes it takes to set up auto-pay on something and we miss deadlines. It might sound silly but it’s worth the reminder.

We recently got a new debit card for Travis, we forgot to change the card number on our cell phone bill and got hit with a late fee. Our utilities don’t allow us to automate online and I had to go during working hours to set up auto-pay. Everyone should be regularly auditing their bills to make sure cards aren’t expired, numbers are up to date, and that you’re not incurring random fees.

  1. Unfollow People on Facebook

I did this regularly while paying off debt because I had a big ol’ case of FOMO. Friends were doing things and getting stuff that I wanted and I couldn’t participate. Well, I could but my bigger goals won out.

I never unfriended people, they weren’t doing anything malicious; I just wanted to live in ignorant bliss. And it helped a lot. Instead of following friends who were living their best lives now, I started following Instagram accounts of people paying off debt and it made social media an inspiring waste of time vs. a depressing one.

  1. Look For More Money

Every opportunity we get Travis and I look for ways to make money. Whether it’s an online survey, mystery shop, or freelance gig we spend our free time productively.

Most of these side hustles are a refreshing change of pace from our 9-to-5’s so they don’t drain energy like a minimum wage hourly job would. But hey, if you like your hourly side job stick with it! But it should pay at least $10 p/h. 😉

  1. Shop Used First

One of the most deeply ingrained habits in American culture is that if you need something you go to Target or Walmart and buy it. Or if you can wait two days for it you order it on Amazon. But even though you think you’re getting a bargain, you’re probably still paying way more than you could if you got it used.

Instead of taking the easy way out check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, pawn shops, consignment, and thrift stores for your needs before buying new. It only takes a few extra steps and you will save thousands of dollars by making this a habit in your life.

We didn’t adopt all these habits overnight. It snowballed with one here, one there, until we were practicing all of them. Start with two or three and work on incorporating more healthy financial habits for the rest of your life. Paying off debt is only the start of your prosperous financial journey.

<img data-attachment-id="2547" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/9-2/" data-orig-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/9.png?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="One Couple’s Story of Paying off Debt Quickly" data-image-description="

One Couple’s Story of Paying off Debt Quickly

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/9.png?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/9.png?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” width=”400″ height=”600″ data-pin-description=”Do you want to learn how to pay off debt fast on average incomes? Here are 17 tips to implement today. #payingoffstudentloans #payingoffdebtquickly #howtogetoutofdebtfast #debtsnowball #debtpayoff” data-pin-title=”17 Things This Couple Did to Pay $78,000 of Debt on Average Incomes” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/how-we-paid-off-78k-of-debt-with-average-incomes.png” alt=”One Couple’s Story of Paying off Debt Quickly” class=”wp-image-2547″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/how-we-paid-off-78k-of-debt-with-average-incomes.png 400w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/9.png?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/9.png?w=735&ssl=1 735w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

<img data-attachment-id="4459" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/we-paid-off-78k-of-debt-on-average-incomes/mf-17-strategies-we-used-to-pay-off-78000-of-debt-without-big-incomes/" data-orig-file="https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MF-17-Strategies-We-Used-to-Pay-Off-78000-of-Debt-Without-Big-Incomes.jpg?fit=700%2C1350&ssl=1" data-orig-size="700,1350" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="How to Pay Off Debt Fast on Average Incomes" data-image-description="

17 strategies one couple used to pay off $78,000 in under 2 years on average incomes. #getoutofdebtquickly #debtpayofftips #howtogetoutofdebt #debtpayoffhacks #howtogetoutofdebtfast #howtogetoutofdebtquickly

” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MF-17-Strategies-We-Used-to-Pay-Off-78000-of-Debt-Without-Big-Incomes.jpg?fit=156%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MF-17-Strategies-We-Used-to-Pay-Off-78000-of-Debt-Without-Big-Incomes.jpg?fit=311%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-title=”How to Pay Off Debt Fast on Average Incomes” data-pin-description=”17 strategies one couple used to pay off $78,000 in under 2 years on average incomes. #getoutofdebtquickly #debtpayofftips #howtogetoutofdebt #debtpayoffhacks #howtogetoutofdebtfast #howtogetoutofdebtquickly” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/how-we-paid-off-78k-of-debt-with-average-incomes-1.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4459″ width=”276″ height=”532″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/how-we-paid-off-78k-of-debt-with-average-incomes-3.jpg 311w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MF-17-Strategies-We-Used-to-Pay-Off-78000-of-Debt-Without-Big-Incomes.jpg?resize=156%2C300&ssl=1 156w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MF-17-Strategies-We-Used-to-Pay-Off-78000-of-Debt-Without-Big-Incomes.jpg?w=700&ssl=1 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 276px) 100vw, 276px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

Credit Card Debt in the United States: Trends and Issues

  • Credit Card Debt

The average American consumer receives their first credit card aged 20. For many, it’s an exciting time, further proof they have ascended into adulthood and are ready for financial independence. 

The delinquency rate is high on these cards, but the credit is low, often between $1,500 and $2,000, and it gives the borrower a way to improve their credit score.

It also adds another cog to the massive US debt machine, one that creates more debt, more delinquencies, and more problems than any other. But why is this, why is the average credit card debt so high, and can anything be done about it?

State of American Credit Card Debt

The average US debtor has over $6,500 worth of credit card debt and in total the country owes more than $1 trillion. The average credit card APR is around 18%, and if we plug these two figures into a monthly repayment calculator and suppose that the debtor seeks to clear the balance in 5 years, then the average minimum monthly repayment is close to $120 and they’ll repay over $14,000 in total.

That’s not great, but it’s not that bad either, at least not at first glance. The problem is, it supposes that the debtor will stop using all credit card accounts, accumulate no more debt, and meet all monthly repayments. If not, their credit score will suffer, that 5-year term will almost certainly be prolonged, and there will be serious financial implications.  

How Much Credit Card Debt Does the Average American Have?

The average credit card debt is said to be $6,506. According to data published by the Federal Reserve, store cards, which tend to have the highest rates, account for $1,901 of this total, while the average per account is $1,760. This data also tells us that the average amount spent on a card with no balance is $1,154, which means even individuals who clear their cards every month are spending in excess of $1,000 on them.

55% of Americans with credit cards have balances they don’t clear every month and credit card delinquency is increasingly common, accounting for around 2% of total credit accounts. 

Which States Have the Highest Credit Card Debt?

You might expect the highest revolving credit card debt to be in New York or California, but it’s actually in Alaska. Connecticut follows closely behind. New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Hawaii are next.

It’s no coincidence that these 6 states are all ranked in the top ten for the highest household income. The cost of living is also higher than the national average. The honor of the lowest average credit card debt goes to Iowa, Wisconsin, and Mississippi, where the cost of living is around 10% less than the national average.

Which Age Groups Have the Highest Debt?

Every few years the Federal Reserve conducts a survey that looks at debt across the age groups. Generational differences seem to have been in the news a lot lately, with Millennials and Baby Boomers often occupying opposing sides. It’s true that these generations have experienced life very differently with regards to opportunities, income, and debt, but they’ll both be happy to know that they have much less debt than other generations.

In fact, the last survey conducted by the Federal Reserve found that those aged 65 to 74 ($66,000) have a similar debt to those under the age of 35 ($67,400). Adults above the age of 75 have close to half that amount Gen Xers have the highest, nearly twice as much as Millennials and Baby Boomers.

Of course, we don’t need the Federal Reserve to tell us that debt is much less likely in those aged 75 and up. They’re often retired, have paid off the mortgage and are also more likely to have been in receipt of life insurance policies and inheritances. It will come as a surprise to many, however, to know that Millennials, on average, have half the debt of the generation that came before.

US Compared to Rest of World

Americans love credit, there’s no denying that. It’s very easy to acquire large amounts of debt in this country, and it’s just as easy to find a balance transfer card, personal loan, or debt consolidation loan to help you tackle it. 

But why are things so different here when compared to the rest of the world? 

Why is this Problem Worse in the United States?

American debtors have it much worse than debtors in other countries. Debt is more common, it tends to be much higher, and it’s widespread across all demographics. 

It’s easy to understand some of the reasons behind this difference, but not all. As an example, take student loan debt, which accounts for a significant proportion of young adult debt. The average cost of education is just under $25,000 when accounting for all institutions (private schooling costs around $42,000 while public schooling is below $18,000). 

Scholarships are available and many American families save money throughout the child’s lifetime so they can cover these fees when needed. The vast majority, however, are forced to acquire student loans, which can hang over their heads for years. In many European countries, college is free, and while there are some universities that charge, the fees tend to be significantly less, and the student loan systems are also more forgiving.

It’s the same with healthcare, which is cheap or free elsewhere, but hugely expensive in the US. However, it’s a different story with credit cards, so why is America’s average credit card debt so much higher than it is in other countries?

Why Average Credit Card Debt is Higher

There are many reasons America’s average credit card debt is higher than it is elsewhere, but the main reason is actually quite simple: American credit cards are better.

And we don’t mean that in a patriotic, “U. S. A!” way. 

Take the UK as an example, as our cousins across the pond have a very similar financial system. They have balance transfer cards, reward cards, credit scores, credit reports—they even have many of the same credit card companies that we have.

But they don’t enjoy the same freedom that Americans have when it comes to choosing a credit card. Competition isn’t as high, and rewards average a mere 0.5% cashback. US credit cards, on the other hand, offer as much as 5% through introductory offers and 1% to 2% thereafter.

The average APR is also lower here in the US, clocking in at 24.7% in the UK and less than 18% in the US. What’s more, surveys in 2018 and 2019 suggest that Americans use cash for just 14% of purchases, while in the UK it’s closer to 40%, and we know that credit leads to more impulsive purchases.

Simply put, the US is more obsessed with credit and banks, card providers, and lenders are taking advantage of that. That’s why the average credit card debt is much higher. 

Household Income vs Debt

The median household income in the US is over $62,000, but if you include student loans, credit cards, and mortgages, the average debt is close to $140,000. Take mortgages out of the equation and it drops below $40,000, but only just. 

Discretionary income is over $1,700 a month on average, but once you consider interest repayments, unexpected bills, vacations, college funds, and additional living expenses, it doesn’t leave much to clear those household debts. 

The Biggest US Credit Card Companies

The average credit card user has three cards. For most, their first card and their main card is provided by the same company that they bank with. The additional cards are reward cards and store cards as well as ones acquired solely for a balance transfer.

If you’re an average credit card user, there’s a high chance you will have at least one account with one of the following companies:

Discover 

The first provider to offer a cashback scheme, Discover also has one of the best modern rewards cards. Known as the Discover It, this card rewards consumers with as much as 5% cashback.

Discover is mistakenly seen as a card that isn’t accepted in many retailer locations. However, while this may be true outside the United States, you shouldn’t have an issue using it domestically. A few years ago, a survey found that Visa and MasterCard were accepted in 9.5 million locations, while Discover was accepted in 9.3 million, just a fraction less.

American Express

American Express is one of the best providers of airmile programs and other rewards programs. It also has some of the most sought-after premium credit cards, which are offered to big spenders. 

AMEX is actually the card that is accepted the least of all major providers. The study mentioned above found just 6.9 million retailers had embraced AMEX. However, it is accepted in more international locations than Discover.

Although figures are constantly changing, the most recent estimates suggest that there are around 1 million more American Express cards than there are Discover cards in the United States.

Chase

The Chase Freedom card is the most popular credit card in the United States, offering consumers a reasonable APR as well as several perks. Chase also offers the Slate card and provides cards on behalf of several major airlines, including British Airways.

In most cases, these cards are offered only to consumers with above-average credit scores, but they are not necessarily considered premium or elite user cards.

Mastercard

Mastercard is not the most popular credit card in the United States. In fact, there are around 191 million users of this card and over 320 million users of the card in first place. However, it is a long way clear of the other providers on this list. If you combine all users of Chase, American Express, and Discover cards then the number you arrive at is only just higher than the number of Mastercard users.

These cards are accepted in locations across the United States and all over the world. It’s the second biggest in the US, but it’s also the second biggest pretty much everywhere else.

Visa

It’s probably no surprise to see that Visa is number 1, as this is the biggest provider not just in the United States, but all over the world. There are more Visa credit cards and debit cards in existence than any other type; it is accepted in more locations, and it’s a brand name that is as instantly recognizable as Coca Cola and Sony.

Pros and Cons of American Credit Cards

Pros

  • Multiple types of cards
  • Huge rewards
  • Many companies to choose from
  • Accepted in most outlets nationwide
  • Competitive rates
  • Options for no credit and poor credit

Cons

  • Can be too convenient
  • High-interest rates
  • Few options and high fees for consumers with bad credit

If you have a good debt-to-income ratio, a solid payment history, and you can meet your minimum payment obligations without issue, the US is a great place to acquire credit. Reward cards give you an incentive to spend, balance transfer cards allow you to move your debt around, and you get the feeling that every bank and lender wants your business and will trip over themselves to get it.

If you have none of those things, like so many millions of Americans, then it becomes a nightmare. There are debt counseling, debt settlement, and debt management services to help, but if you can’t meet your monthly payments, and you find yourself prioritizing debt repayments over food, clothing, and family days out, it can become depressing very quickly.

What Does the Future Hold?

Now we’ve looked at the current state of credit card debt in the US and have established that things look pretty bleak, that begs one question: How does the US government plan on approaching this issue?

The truth is, they’ll probably do very little. The only way to prevent those figures from rising is for American consumers to stop spending so much, but that hurts the economy. If you change the mentality of the average American consumer, focusing more on frugality and less on consumerism, the GDP takes a nosedive, the country’s biggest companies suffer, and America’s position on the world stage is notably weakened.

The world is moving away from cash and towards a completely digital payment structure. Cash will soon become a thing of the past and everything, from bills to bus fares and grocery shopping, will be purchased with credit, whether you’re using a credit card, a smartphone app, or some other new-fangled device. Once this happens, the issues facing credit card users become more pronounced and the country’s $14 trillion worth of consumer debt grows ever larger.

In simple terms, the situation will likely get worse for debtors and better for lenders, but if we continue down this road then maybe we’ll start seeing fewer punishments for credit card delinquencies and more options for struggling debtors.

There are over 100 million Americans crossing their fingers and hoping for just that.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com