This article originally appeared on Radical FIRE and has been republished here with permission.
When you’re planning on moving in with your partner, there are important money conversations you need to have before moving in with your partner.
I’m planning to move in with my partner after we complete our four-month mini-retirement, where we travel to Central America together. I assume that after we’ve spent so much time together abroad, we should be fine with moving in together. Just one thing that should be discussed is our finances.
Moving in with someone requires some financial logistics to be arranged. You need to discuss who is paying which bills, who is responsible for what, and more.
You know I love having money conversations, with my friends or with my family. I love to talk about money, that’s why I write on the blog. When no one wants to hear me talk about money for the gazillionth time, I’m just writing a blog post about my money thoughts.
Now onto the money conversations that you need to have before moving in with your partner. I’ve had all these conversations over the past weekend just to know we’re on the same page. I recommend you also have them when you’re planning to move in with your partner!
Money Conversation #1: Do We Share Our Stuff?
I mean, is everything that was once mine now ours? Is everything that was once yours now ours? It’s about the tangible things that are in the house, not including money. This is something to think about before moving in together.
If you have things that your partner also has, should you bring it? Or can you use one and get rid of the other one? If there are things that you don’t have yet but you know you need? Will you buy it together or will one of you buy it?
In relation to that, we get to the next point.
Money Conversation #2: What Will We Do If … ?
You don’t go living together with your partner unless things are serious between you. You need to consider the possibility of the relationship ending sometime very far in the future (OMG!). Breakups and divorces are a possibility that needs to be considered.
If you’re sharing things, what will happen after you stop being together? This is important for things like furniture and electronics, following the previous point. Will you share everything together, yes or no?
Related read: 10 Ways Divorce can Affect your Credit
Money Conversation #3: Is The Money Going to Be Ours, Too?
It’s important to think about if you’re going to join finances or not. It’s a very personal thing to think about and it will differ for everyone depending on their situation. If your partner makes a lot less, you can decide to pay more towards the fixed monthly payments. Or vice versa.
Just keep in mind that you should do something that makes you comfortable!
For me and my partner, we will not join finances. We’re having separate financial goals at the moment. I’m working towards my goal of financial independence and keeping a savings rate of over 80% consistently until we go on our travels. Meaning we’re not on the same page concerning money goals.
That’s okay for now. He will look for a job after we return and we will decide how we will go from there.
For our expenses, we will be splitting everything equally. I currently make more than my partner. The rent will be low enough for him to comfortably be covering half. If in any given month he cannot pay his portion of the rent or there are any other difficulties that won’t allow him to pay half of the rent, I will of course help him.
Related read: How Renting Can Impact Your Credit
Money Conversation #4: How Will You Deal with Changes?
What if I lose my job? Or my partner can’t find a job after graduation? What if we need to move for work or someone can get a promotion abroad? All scenarios can happen. It’s extremely difficult to think about what you want to do when you’re not yet in the situation. It’s a good thing to discuss these matters a little in advance.
If you don’t know now how you will deal with these kinds of changes, think about how you’re both dealing with changes until now? When you’re both quite relaxed under changes, it’s unlikely that those changes will put stress on your relationship. If you’re both sensitive to changes, it might lead to stressful situations and it might be good to address those things at this moment.
Money Conversation #5: What Do You Value Spending Your Money On?
Before you’re moving in with your partner, it’s important to talk about what you value spending money on? It can significantly differ among people. One person loves to go on big holidays, the other likes to drive their dream car, wants to have a big space to live in, or likes to have the latest tech gadgets. It’s good to know what they value.
Before you’re moving in together, it’s important to understand what they value and what is important to them. The habits they have around the things they value may have an impact on your joint life together.
My partner loves playing games and spends a great deal of time playing games both online and offline. He used to spend a good amount of money on getting new games, getting new consoles, or updating his computer. Currently, he doesn’t spend too much money on those types of things, but it’s still something to keep in mind when you’re going to live together.
I used to buy a lot of clothes, but since getting on my clothing ban I haven’t bought any clothes. On the contrary, I’ve sold a lot of stuff around the house when I decided decluttering was the way I wanted to go. I won’t say I’m exactly a minimalist, but I’ve gotten rid of certain habits and I’m starting with a clean slate when I’m moving in with my partner.
When we’ve talked about this point, he also asked me to give away/throw out all of the stuff I don’t use anymore. That way, we can start fresh when we’re moving in together, instead of just moving all my stuff simply from one place to another.
It’s good to know what are the things that you might want to spend more money on, that you want to treat yourself on. For me and my partner that’s both the same thing: traveling. It’s important to know when money gets saved towards that goal and how much money will go towards that specific goal.
Money Conversation #6: Where Do You Want to Go?
It’s important to discuss where you want to go in life? I would like to know how temporary our living situation will be. Are you or your partner already planning for a different job, relocation, or promotion? Do you want to have a family? Do you want to live in your city apartment with one bedroom, or do you want a big house in the countryside with a huge garden and two dogs?
You can address many questions in order to address where you both want to go.
When we started dating, I told him I would go to the USA for five months shortly after. I am a dreamer, I love to think about what I want to do in my life and imagine where my life might be going. I already have some of my dreams about starting my own business, traveling, working abroad, and financial independence / early retirement. When I noticed our goals are compatible, even a few years down the line, that gives a huge boost to your relationship up until that point.
Relationships require a serious amount of honesty, openness, and communication. You’re a team that will figure everything out that will be thrown at you, you’re in this together.
While full-on Crayola-like green conjures less than complimentary connotations—green with envy; green around the gills; the grass is always greener—take the hue down a notch by mixing in some gray or black and the color yields a whole different experience. Deep-green hues evoke nature in a more meditative manner. Such elements feel nearly spiritual; think of jade, pines, and seaweed. Green is the color of the outdoors and it nurtures the soul. So, pull deep green-decor into your home.
One might balk at the thought of a green dresser, but Acerbis’s Storet subtly teases color out of a rich walnut. Think of it as a functional fern in the corner of your bedroom. Astreus Clarke’s Roebling lamp is a minimalist and earthy green marble alternative to a banker’s lamp with a lollipop-green glass shade. And, it looks as home in a library as on a nightstand. Sara Hayat’s Bevel sofa is a statement piece around which one builds a room; luscious green velvet upholstery is much more inviting than gray. Dive into deep green; we consider a timeless neutral.
Acerbis back in 1994, and the 150-plus-year-old Italian furniture firm recently updated the cabinet’s wood surface. That said, its defining feature is the glossy, lacquered horizontal moldings, which come in a dozen colors both serious and playful, including dark green. $19,173
Sara Hayat scoured industry sources near and far to find a fill that would give the Bevel a bit of bounce while ensuring its cushions would retain their pebble-like shape. Indeed, each velvet-upholstered seat cradles a person perfectly. As it should: It takes the team about a month to hand-stitch this low-slung belted beauty. $28,495
Minotti who passed away in August, played with the idea of balance in the Solid Steel coffee table, despite the heavy-metal inference of its moniker. Party-ready glossy and mirrored finishes belie the architectural geometry of the streamlined, staggered slabs. Even with its fashion-forward feel (or backward: the materials reference 1970s glamour), it evokes an unflinchingly Bauhaus sensibility. Price upon request
Astraeus Clarke found inspiration in N.Y.C. The Roebling table lamp takes its form, albeit loosely, from the Brooklyn Bridge and its name from the bridge’s engineers, John A. Roebling and his wife, Emma. The lamp’s deep-green marble pillars support a gable-shaped top that hides the light source. But there’s a twist: That top segment pivots 360 degrees, allowing the user to direct illumination as needed. $12,500
New Ravenna. Duo, a waterjet mosaic, features boxy, mustard-toned cross-stitches that punctuate a large, dark grid over elegant marble with green veining. The coastal Virginia–based company replicates the texture of stone that has been well-worn by salt air, ensuring your kitchen, bath, or patio looks suitably lived-in. $229 per square foot
Many believe that the policies of their landlords will cover them. Some also believe that tenant’s insurance is simply a waste of time and money.
It should be noted that a landlord’s policy will cover things like appliances, structural problems, as well as pipes. However, their policy likely won’t cover your most valuable assets, which may include money, gold, jewelry, and electronics. Damage to such items won’t be covered even in a natural disaster, such as a flood, fire, or earthquake. Your belongings will also not be covered if they’re stolen or vandalized.
The costs of displacement will also typically not be covered by your landlord’s insurance policy, nor will they be held liable if someone is injured in your apartment.
As can be seen, tenant insurance companies have many benefits that many renters are not aware of. Here are the ways tenant insurance helps keep you and your valuables safe and more reasons why it’s important for renters.
What Is Tenant Insurance?
Tenant insurance is also referred to as renter’s insurance. It intends to provide tenants with financial security if their property is destroyed or severely damaged due to an insurable event.
Examples include vandalism, theft, flooding, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.
What Does Tenant Insurance Cover?
Tenant insurance can be broken down into three distinct categories in terms of coverage. Each category provides its own set of protections against numerous perils.
Personal property coverage: covers the costs required to replace your personal belongings. Examples include home appliances, computer accessories, electronic gadgets, furniture, and jewelry.
Basic tenant insurance provides personal property coverage in the event of steam or water leakage or overflow. It’ll also provide coverage in the event of lightning, explosions, fire, aircraft damage, hail, and windstorms.
Personal liability coverage and medical expenses: you’re provided with personal liability coverage in the event that you accidentally damage or destroy something while at someone else’s home. Also, if someone accidentally slips and falls while at your apartment, their medical bills will be covered by your insurance, even if you’re deemed responsible. In sum, you’ll be protected, regardless of whether or not you’re the victim or the one responsible for the damage or injuries incurred.
Loss of use coverage: if your home is inhabitable for a prolonged period of time due to extensive water or fire damage, the costs required to stay at a hotel will be covered by your tenant insurance. However, loss of use coverage is temporary, meaning it should only be seen as a short-term solution.
Key Reasons to Have Tenant Insurance
You won’t be legally obligated to have tenant’s insurance in most rental situations, but it’s highly recommended. Some renters mistakenly assume that they will be completely covered under their landlord’s policy or too expensive.
In truth, it should be one of your top priorities while you’re looking for a new apartment. When looking for a tenant’s policy, consider the following to find one that’ll cover you in these situations.
Personal Property Coverage: under your landlord’s policy, only major appliances that came with the apartment will be covered along with the physical structure. As for tenant’s insurance, it’ll cover most, if not all, of your belongings, including clothes, furniture and electronics.
Personal Property Coverage While Traveling: if your belongings are stolen or damaged while you’re away, they’ll be covered. They’ll also be covered if you travel with them and they’re stolen or damaged.
Protection for damages that you cause to someone else’s property: if you damage someone else’s property with your car or accidentally start a fire in someone else’s apartment, you’ll be protected.
Liability Coverage: if you accidentally injure someone while they’re on your property or they injure themselves (i.e., slip and fall on your snowy driveway), then you’ll be protected. You won’t have to worry about paying for any legal and/or medical expenses that arise from injuries to others.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage: if your home is damaged in a flood or fire, then your insurance may cover food, lodging, and other expenses while you’re living in another temporary domicile.
It’s important to note that tenant insurance is usually not mandatory in most cases for those who wish to rent an apartment. However, landlords are legally obligated to obtain it from prospective tenants before an agreement is signed.
All tenant insurance policies are also not the same, so you may want to compare and contrast offers from different companies. The peace of mind and protection you’ll obtain from the ideal insurance package shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Reviewer: MacKenzie Chung Fegan, contributor Model tested: Article Nordby Sofa The details: TK TK TK
What’s the story behind the brand?
Article, a Canadian DTC furniture company that’s been around since 2013, combines a straightforward online shopping experience with well-designed, modern pieces at reasonable prices. Along with very handsome sectionals and sleeper sofas, the brand’s stylishly designed furniture and home decor options include lounge chairs, full dining sets, bedroom furnishings, and more. And unlike traditional retailers, the Canadian brand’s offerings are only available to shop online, meaning no showrooms or storefronts to assess options in-person.
Price: How much does it cost? Are there payment plans available?
At $1499, the sofa bed is in league with comparable IKEA sleeper sofas, but the online images made it look slightly more upscale—and, crucially, sturdier, like it wouldn’t wreck a house guest’s back.
What are the upholstery or customization options? Did you choose any?
The Article Nordby sofa comes in three colorways, a denim blue and two shades of gray. (I opted for the lighter Pep Gray.)
What is the lead time for customization, manufacturing, and delivery?
Each version was available for delivery to my zip code within two weeks, and payment plans are available through Affirm.
Delivery + assembly
What was the delivery process like?
Article offers free front door delivery for orders over $999, but the company has white-glove service options as well. For $119, they will place your furniture in the room of your choice, and for $199, they’ll also handle assembly. I opted for in-room delivery since the pull-out sofa was going to the top floor of our narrow Brooklyn brownstone, and Article made the process incredibly easy. This was key since, at 205 pounds, the Nordby is quite heavy—both pieces of the sofa bed have a steel frame and solid wood legs.
What was the assembly process like? How long did it take and how many people?
Assembly was similarly breezy, with the instructions fitting on one side of an index card. It took zero tools and two people to screw on the legs and maneuver the sleeper into place.
Is the sleeper sofa suitable for particular decor styles? If so, which?
Design-wise the Nordby is fairly innocuous. It doesn’t make a statement, it doesn’t elicit curious comments from visitors, it doesn’t pull focus from the rest of the room. It would be well suited to a minimalist, modern, Scandi-style household.
Is it durable / practical in a modern home?
The performance fabric seems quite durable—less luxury home decor and more office furniture—and there are no sharp angles or pokey pieces. I was able to convert it from sofa to bed by myself.
What are the dimensions (both regular and pullout)? How does it fit in your space when it’s not expanded versus when it is? Would it be better suited for a different type of home?
Closed, the sofa measures 33 inches tall by 87 inches wide by 35 inches deep, which feels a little ungenerous proportionally—particularly the seat depth (29.5 inches), since the back cushions are plump. When open, the mattress measures 54 inches by 72 inches. We actually prefer to keep it open—more on that below—so if you’re planning on doing the same, it might not be appropriate for a small room.
According to the Lost & Found survey by Pixie, nearly one in four Americans misplace their house or car keys twice a week. Having a spare key is quite handy if you find yourself locked out of your apartment.
Where do you hide a spare key when you live in an apartment?
Hiding a spare key in your car or at a house is typically pretty easy, but knowing where to hide a spare key for an apartment is trickier. After all, there aren’t as many nooks and crannies where a spare key can go. Plus, you want to make it easy to find but not obvious to anyone who might be looking for it. However, with a little creativity, there are some great spots where you can hide a spare key for your apartment.
1. Tuck it in your décor
If you routinely decorate your apartment entrance, this could provide an ideal hiding place for your spare key. For instance, you could tape it inside your door knocker or attach it to your wind chimes. If you change out your décor to reflect the season or holidays and tucked your spare key in a wreath or other item, don’t forget to move it from the old décor and place it in the new.
2. Put it in a fake rock along the walkway
Fake rocks are a great option for hiding a spare key for your apartment. However, you shouldn’t place those fake rocks just anywhere — you don’t want to set one near your doorway because it will look out of place, immediately grabbing the attention of would-be thieves. A better location is the landscaping along the walkway to your building or alongside the building. Placing it on the ground among other rocks or under shrubs will camouflage your container. The goal is to make sure it looks natural wherever you place it.
3. Slip it in a magnetic key box under a staircase
Many people often slip a spare car key into a magnetic key box and hide that box somewhere in their car. You can use this same technique by putting your spare apartment key in a magnetic box and hiding it under a metal staircase. Or, you could attach it to the back of a light along the lighted corridor. Another good spot is on the rear of a metal gutter. Essentially, any magnetic surface will work, but make sure it’s not a spot that others may access often. For instance, don’t put it near electrical boxes that may require routine maintenance.
4. Hide it among your outdoor furniture
If you have a patio that’s easily accessible from the exterior of your apartment, you could hide a spare key on the furniture. Tape it under a chair or under your storage box for cushions. Another option is taping it to the underside of your barbecue grill. If you do, check the adhesive on the tape periodically to make sure it’s still securely taped to the grill. A birdhouse is another good hiding spot. Slip your key in there for when you need it, but make sure it’s easy to get out. Just skip the obvious places like under a potted plant or doormat.
5. Stash it under a balcony or deck
For apartment buildings with balconies or decks, you can stash a key in the nooks and crannies underneath the structures. When placing a spare key, check to make sure it won’t fall out easily or get washed away when it rains. Depending on the structure, you might be able to drive a nail into one of the wood posts and hang the key on it.
6. Leave a spare key with your neighbor
If you have a neighbor you know and trust, ask them to keep a spare key to your apartment. Not only will this be handy if you actually lock yourself out of your apartment, but they can help you out if you need someone to put a delivery in your apartment or check on your pets while you’re gone.
Where not to put a spare key for your apartment
When hiding a spare key for your apartment, skip the obvious spots that a would-be burglar may check. These include under the doormat, in or under a potted plant near the door or along the door jam. Although your apartment key would be out of sight, it likely wouldn’t be out of mind for someone trying to gain access to your apartment.
Also, while a fake wall socket or fake clock with a safe can provide a great hiding place, you need to install them in the wall, meaning you’ll need to cut a hole in the wall to place it. If you want to try this option, make sure you talk to your landlord before you make permanent cuts.
The right spot for the spare key for your apartment
Figuring out where to hide a spare key to your apartment might seem difficult at first, but it might be easier than you think. Take a look around your apartment and building and see what good hiding spots you can find. From a metal staircase to a flowerbed to the lights in your hallway, you’ll be surprised at how many places you can find to hide a spare apartment key.
An experienced freelance writer, Karon Warren has covered home and real estate topics for more than 20 years for such outlets as Curbed Atlanta, Apartment Therapy, RealTrends and HotPads.com. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors.
Here’s how this social worker has paid off $28,000 of student loan debt in 15 months.
Today, I have a great debt payoff progress story to share from Taylor. Taylor is a social worker who is working on paying off $277,000 of debt and retiring early. She shares tips on how she is cutting her expenses, the ways they’ve increased their income through various side hustles, house hacking advice, and how she qualified for an $88,000 student loan award.Enjoy!
Now, don’t let the title deceive you into thinking we are debt free; we most certainly are not.
As of this writing, we still have $251,195.39 of debt (all student loans).
This is our story about the debt payoff strategies we used in paying off $28,026.02 of debt and our goals for the future!
Who are we?
My name is Taylor, and I am a 29-year-old medical social worker who finished grad school in 2018. I am also a part-time social media coordinator and with both jobs combined, I make $96,000 (gross).
I live with my husband, Bret, who I have been with for 11 years and married for 3. He is a full-time student and has been in grad school since September 2020 (he has about 2 more years left). We love to travel, try new restaurants, hang out with our friends and family, and just have a good time.
I also have a blog at Social Work to Wealth.
How did we get here?
First, I need to give you some background before we get into the nitty gritty of our debt numbers and payoff strategies.
2012: We met when both of us were in college. I was 18 and Bret was 22. Soon after we met, Bret took a few years off from school while I finished my bachelor’s. I relied entirely on student loans, and don’t remember applying to any scholarships. When Bret returned to school to finish his bachelor’s, he did receive some scholarships and worked a summer job to pay forhousing but still needed to rely on student loans to pay the bulk of his tuition.
I will speak for myself when I say I didn’t take the time to calculate how much loan money I actually needed and blindly accepted the total amount. Looking back, maybe I would have needed it all or maybe not, but I wish I would have at least done the exercise.
We have always been open with talking about our debt and money in general, but I remember us both expressing the thought that we would probably always have our student loans. We would just live our life, pay our minimum payments, and that would be that. There was never any talk about debt payoff strategies, or any money management strategies, really.
We went through many life transitions. Living apart for two years while I went to grad school, him returning to school to finish his bachelor’s, various jobs, and a post-bach program.
2019: Bret was finishing up his post-bach program and got accepted into grad school. We were newly engaged and began planning and saving for our wedding scheduled for July 11th, 2020. Such exciting stuff!
March 2020: We got the news our wedding venue was closing for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we decide to cancel our wedding. We switched gears and used the money we saved for a down payment on a new home. Then, we had a small intimate wedding featuring a hot-air balloon with 18 of our closest family members! We personally saved a ton and also had tremendous help from our family.
September 2020: I start a new job and Bret starts grad school. We are newlyweds and settling into our new home in a new city.
I wish I could talk more about 2020 because it was a HUGE year for us with buying a home, moving, getting married, Bret starting grad school and me starting a new job, but that’s a conversation for another day!
From frugal to spenders
When we were saving for our wedding, we were very frugal. Any extra money we had, we put toward our wedding savings (which again, ended up being used for the down payment on our house and a smaller wedding ceremony).
We went from frugal to swiping our cards left and right to prepare for our wedding and furnish our house. It was sooo nice to finally be able to spend the money we had been saving for so long! But this continued into 2020… and 2021…
We were mostly spending on eating out and experiences. We do like to buy “things” but we definitely value food and experiences a lot more. We even decided to put a trip to Hawaii on our credit card costing us around $5,000, along with other expenses, because why not? We deserved it!
We didn’t have much of a budget, our bills were getting paid, but the credit card bill kept increasing. Since I was the only one bringing in income, we took out some student loans to help with a portion of our living expenses. And the credit card bill continued to increase.
The “wake-up call”
The “wake-up call” is such a theme throughout many debt payoff stories. So, here’s mine.
I went to breakfast with two friends in December 2021, and one of them brought up high-yield savings accounts (HYSA). I had never heard of this type of account before and was shocked to learn that these savings accounts had a way better interest rate than a regular savings account.
How was I just hearing about this at 28 years old? My mind was blown!
I thought, what else don’t I know? So of course, that led me to deep dive into the world of personal finance. I consumed any book, video, blog, or podcast I could get my hands on. I read stories after stories of people paying off thousands of dollars’ worth of debt, leveraging credit card points for free travel, investing, and so much more!
It was so motivating. I was hooked! (And still am.)
Bret was open and willing for me to share with him what I was learning. We started realizing that for the last year and a half, we hadn’t been telling ourselves “No”. We had just been buying whatever we wanted, and we had the credit card bill and no savings to show for it.
We learned that we could pay off all our debt and it didn’t have to stay with us forever. We learned there was a way to use a credit card responsibly (we thought we were). We learned that we could even retire early. That one sounded real nice! We dreamed of having more time doing our hobbies, traveling and being with our friends and family. And if we ever had kids, we dreamed of being able to work part-time so we could be home more with them and available for school activities.
Knowing this, we started reining in our spending, trying to just be more “mindful”, but no major change was made.
We take on more debt
April 2022: People in our neighborhood were getting new fences. We started thinking, “Hey, we need a new fence, too…” In some areas it was broken, it hadn’t been stained so was rotting, and was 15 years old. We were also going to get an updated appraisal to see if we could get our primary mortgage insurance (PMI) removed after just two years of owning our home and thought a new fence might help.
A coworker told me she was using a home equity loan to buy a fence and to do some other home renovations. We investigated options and ended up opening a $20,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC) instead with about a 4% interest rate. We buy our fence which ends up being about ~10,000 and we were set on it…
The second “wake-up call”
When it was all said and done, we loved our fence. We still love our fence, it’s beautiful! (And it better be at that price!) We stained it and we believe it will last us for many years.
But we start talking again about our debt and how we probably didn’t need this fence right now. We know we didn’t need this fence right now. Our PMI was removed, and it could have maybe happened even without the fence. Who knows.
We began thinking we need to make some serious changes in the way we manage our money. We need to do more than just be “mindful” about our spending. We make a real plan. We plan to make an actual budget, stop taking on unnecessary debt, and take a break from using our credit cards for the foreseeable future.
May 2022: Beginning of our debt payoff journey
Since we were serious about our new money management changes, I documented how much debt we had so we could track our progress.
Here was the breakdown:
$260,390.25 in student loans, Bret & I’s combined – various interest rates
$10,676.24 HELOC – 4% interest rate
$5,430.76 is from credit card spending – 4% interest rate*
$449 for furniture – 0% interest rate
$775.16 for Peloton bike – 0% interest rate
*We moved our credit card debt to our HELOC since our credit card was around a 25% interest rate.
July 2023: Current debt numbers
Our current debt balance is $251,195.39, * which are all student loans.
We have paid off a total of $28,026.02 of debt!
*Our current balance will increase to ~$255,000 once Bret gets his final student loan disbursement (more on that later).
I want to also mention that we do have our mortgage, but we aren’t trying to pay that down as quickly as possible for a few reasons: we have a 3% interest rate, we don’t plan on this being our forever home, and one day we might rent it out or sell it.
Actions that helped us pay off $28,026.02 of debt in 15 months
We found a budgeting method that worked for us
We realized we could live off my income alone and not take on anymore debt, but we would have to have a somewhat rigid budget.
Finding a budgeting method that worked for us took some time. I don’t know how many times over the years I have tried to track my expenses in a budget app or an excel sheet, only to find out it was too overwhelming and that I was still overspending!
I am a visual person and learned about the envelope budgeting method, so we decided to give that a try, but use a digital variation.
So, for our entire money management system we have 4 checking accounts and 2 savings accounts (short-term and emergency fund). Our checking accounts include bills, food and miscellaneous, and two personal spending accounts.
This may seem like a lot of accounts to some, but it has worked tremendously for us. I love having a separate account for each major category in our budget so I can easily see how much money we have left in a certain category without having to add every expense into an app or Excel spreadsheet. We are joint owners on all of these accounts.
We then use the zero-based budget method to determine how much goes into each account.
We do have multiple cards to manage, but the pros VERY MUCH outweigh the cons here.
And with our own spending accounts, we have a certain amount of money allotted to us each month, so we individually have some spending freedom. We don’t have to feel guilty and know this money is set aside specifically for our personal spending.
Cut expenses and increased our income
I know some people are tired of hearing about this recommendation, but it’s something that really did help us! We reined in our spending a bit but mostly we had to increase our income. At a certain point, there wasn’t much more to cut.
We didn’t have many streaming services, started to limit our eating out, we didn’t have car payments, and we meal planned and prepped. We did (and still do) aaalll the things. We had to increase our income somehow.
Ways we increased our income
My income increase
I continued with my second job as a social media manager and then started dog sitting.
I have been dog sitting for about 5 years and have primarily used the Rover platform to list myself as a dog sitter. I like this app because it’s easy to use and I can specify various services to offer (e.g., house sitting, boarding, drop in visits, day care, or dog walking).
It also allows me to mark which days I am available and then people reach out to me if I seem like a good fit and my availability matches with their needs! Setting up my profile took some time, but now that it’s done, everything else is fairly low maintenance.
I now just have to respond to inquiries in a timely manner and set up a meet and greet if it seems like a good fit.
I currently only offer house sitting and on Rover and I charge $65/night. Rover takes a cut, so I end up pocketing $52. I also have private clients who pay me directly, and I have gotten those by referrals from past Rover clients. I charge my private clients $40/night.
I recently increased my rates on Rover and have been slow to increase my price with my private clients because they’re loyal.
I don’t make a ton of money dog sitting, but I am able to make a couple hundred dollars a month. My schedule is very limited, but there are people with better availability who make significantly more than I do!
I love animals and we don’t have any due to our sporadic work schedules, so it’s a great way for me to spend time with pets and get paid, too!
Bret’s income increase
Last year, Bret decided to take a break from grad school and soon after, he was offered a summer job in Alaska.
When we first started dating, he used to spend almost every summer there working for a family who owned a set-netting fishery. His uncle had spent many summers in Alaska working for this family and one summer brought Bret to work with him. They would catch salmon and sell it to a buying station in their area.
He went up there for about 6 summers in a row, until he got too busy with school and couldn’t go anymore.
He hadn’t been to Alaska in over 5 years, but someone who worked for the buying station remembered Bret, called him, and asked if he’d be interested in working at the buying station! Since he was already on a break from school, he said yes and worked up there for 8 weeks.
We were able to put every paycheck he earned towards our debt because we could manage all our expenses on my income alone. It was also a great way for Bret to spend part of his summer and I was finally able to visit as I never gotten the chance in previous years.
We also started house hacking! We had a spare bedroom and bathroom I would use for my office and occasionally, for guests. A friend of mine and her husband are really into the real estate space and gave us the idea to rent it out.
We weren’t comfortable with the idea of having a long-term roommate, and with both of us working in healthcare, we knew there was a need for short-term and furnished housing for travelling healthcare professionals.
For us, short-term meant renting for 1-6 months, but we were open to individuals staying longer if it worked well for everyone involved!
Some questions we had to address before renting:
Did we need a permit?
How much should we charge for the deposit, rent and pets?
What furniture and amenities are important for travelers?
Where should we list the room?
How to create a lease agreement?
In our county, we did not need a permit to rent out the room if we were renting for at least 30+ days at a time.
After researching rental prices in our area, I found rooms that were of similar caliber listed for $1,100 per month or more. We wanted to be competitive and so we initially settled on $900 per month and have steadily increased it. We have now landed on $995 per month which includes all utilities and internet.
We set the deposit at $995, with an additional $300 for a pet deposit, and no ongoing pet rent.
We wanted to upgrade the furniture in the room and IKEA was a great place for us to find affordable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing furniture. We made sure the room had a bed, large dresser, bedside table, and we kept my desk in there too.
I read it’s important for travelers to have their own TV available so they can unwind in their room. We were able to find a decently priced smart TV off Facebook Marketplace.
Furnished Finder is where we decided to list our room, which started out as a platform for traveling nurses to find furnished housing. It is now used heavily by many healthcare professionals, students, and professionals in other fields.
Travelers reach out to us through the Furnished Finder website and if the dates work out, we move forward with scheduling a video interview. It’s important for us to be able to talk to the person, even if it’s just over video, and we want them to see our faces and home in real time as well.
For the lease agreement, we used ez Landlord Forms, because they have leases for each state with specific information on what’s required to include.
We don’t ask for anything major from tenants. The most important things to us are that they are respectful of our space, don’t smoke in the house, and pay their rent on time. We also added a page at the end for tenants to add two emergency contacts in case we need to call someone on their behalf.
We have had 4 renters so far with the room being occupied for 13 out of the last 14 months. It has really helped us with our debt payoff goals and we have also met some awesome people through the process! We plan to continue renting it out for the foreseeable future.
Applied for in-state student loan help
My state offered a program called the Oregon Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program where they help minorities in the behavioral health field, or those who serve them, pay back their student loans.
This program is funded by The Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative which has the goal of recruiting and retaining behavioral health providers who, “Are people of color, tribal members, or residents of rural areas of Oregon, and can provide culturally responsive care for diverse communities.”
To apply, I had to show I was employed and actively providing behavioral health services and give them detailed documentation about my student loans. I also had to answer two essay questions related to being a part of and/or working with communities who are underserved and how my training has equipped me with supporting these communities.
I applied last year and was a recipient of an award!
As a recipient, there is a two-year service commitment which means I have to continue providing some sort of behavioral health service during that time frame (which I planned to). Over the next two years, I will be getting ~$88,000 in quarterly disbursements to put towards my student loans. So far this year, I have received ~$11,000, and it’s been life changing to say the least!
Alongside this support, I am also pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) for additional student loan relief.
Managing our mental health while paying off debt
Since I am a social worker, I often think about how money and debt affect individuals’ mental health. It’s one of the reasons why I started my blog in the first place.
I realized managing money is a universal task and many of us don’t know what we are doing because talking about money is taboo. And when you have financial stress, it can really take a toll on your mental health. So, I wanted to share our journey in hopes of helping others.
Bret and I aren’t those individuals who want to avoid eating out and fun experiences until we are debt free. And, we are also privileged to not have to take those extreme measures either. It has been important for us to make this journey sustainable and not deprive ourselves of experiences while we are going through it.
Here’s how we are making our journey sustainable:
Still going out to eat
Budgeting for personal spending money, aka fun
Setting realistic debt payoff goals
Putting aside money for travel
Not comparing and thinking other people are better than us because they’re able to pay off their debt quicker
Tracking our debt payoff progress (we use Excel). With so much debt left to pay off, being able to see our progress is really motivating
Openly talking about our debt. Avoidance is a coping mechanism for many, for us, acknowledging and addressing it has been so freeing (but it wasn’t always this way).
Talking about our dreams and reminding ourselves why we want to do this in the first place
We know that if we eliminated going out to eat, budgeting for fun, or both, we could be paying off our debt much quicker. However, that sounds miserable to us. It’s worth it to still go out to dinner, travel, or buy plants (in my case) than to deprive ourselves of the joy these things bring.
We are making great progress and we know in time, we will be debt free.
Our debt payoff journey is not linear
A few months ago, we decided to take out $6,000 of student loans. Bret currently has a full tuition scholarship, so we are tremendously lucky in that regard, but he just learned about some conferences that would be really helpful to his professional growth. We have gotten $1,500 of this loan money already which is included in our current debt balance, but we haven’t received all of it yet.
We could have pinched and saved to avoid taking on any of this debt, but that would have caused me to work more than I currently am. Again, not in line with our current goal of making this journey sustainable!
We were very intentional about how much to take out. We estimated how much he would need for a few conferences and declined the rest. We even opened a separate savings account for the money to make sure it didn’t get accidentally spent on anything.
I’m SO proud of us for that!
The goal here is progress not perfection. So cliche, I know. But we are learning how to think critically about our money, spend thoughtfully, use our money as a tool to reach our goals, and enjoy our life along the way. And right now, that meant taking on a little more debt.
We are moving in the right direction, and we know when he starts working, that will really accelerate our debt payoff journey since we have proven to ourselves we can live on my income alone.
Our plan going forward
Bret is still in school which means his loans are on deferment, so we currently have his on the back burner.
With the loan payment assistance I am receiving, it’s allowing us to put any extra money we have each month towards our savings. Our priority right now is building up a good emergency fund of about $16,000 (~4 months’ worth of expenses).
This has been difficult because of inflation and just little emergencies that keep popping up, but we are slowly making progress.
I am also prioritizing investing in my employer retirement plan, but only up to the amount that gets me my employer match which is 6% of my income.
Bret will be graduating in 2025, so at that time, we will pivot to incorporating his loans into our budget. Our goal is to be debt free by 2028.
It will take a lot of discipline and persistence, but I think we can do it. I am manifesting it!
We want to continue to learn, implement, and grow. We want to keep having transparent discussions about money and building our money foundations. And I personally want to continue sharing our journey with hopes of inspiring, encouraging and educating others. Here’s to sharing the wealth.
Do you have debt? What are you doing to pay it off?
Taylor is a social worker and personal finance blogger at Social Work to Wealth where she shares tips, resources, and lessons learned on her family’s journey to paying off $277,000 of debt and retiring early. She hopes to inspire and empower social workers with financial education so they can have a better relationship with their money. When she’s not working or blogging, you can find her traveling, gardening, trying a new restaurant, or buying too many plants.
According to the latest report by IMARC Group, titled “Japan Home Decor Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2023-2028,” provides an extensive analysis of the industry, including Japan home decor market size, share, trends, and growth opportunities. The report also covers competitor and regional analysis and the latest advancements in the market. The Japan home decor market is projected to exhibit a growth rate (CAGR) of 4% during 2023-2028.
Japan Home Decor Market Overview:
Home decor encompasses the art of enhancing the interior of a living space to create a visually pleasing and functional environment. It involves many elements, including furniture, color schemes, lighting, textiles, and decorative accessories. It reflects personal style, culture, and lifestyle preferences, transforming a house into a welcoming and comfortable home. It allows individuals to express their creativity and individuality while influencing the atmosphere and mood of each room. Whether minimalist and modern, cozy and rustic, or eclectic and vibrant, home decor plays a pivotal role in shaping the ambiance and character of living spaces, making them uniquely tailored to the needs and tastes of the inhabitants.
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Japan Home Decor Market Growth:
The market in Japan is majorly driven by the increasing importance of aesthetics and personalization in interior design. In line with this, the rising desire to create comfortable and stylish homes has become a significant driver of market growth. Furthermore, the rise of e-commerce and online interior design platforms has made home decor more accessible, allowing consumers to explore a vast range of options and styles conveniently. Besides, the changing lifestyles, such as remote work and the desire for versatile living spaces, have spurred demand for functional and adaptable home decor solutions. Moreover, sustainability is gaining prominence in the home decor industry, with eco-friendly and ethically sourced products becoming more appealing to environmentally conscious consumers. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic increased time spent at home, prompting many individuals to reevaluate and upgrade their living spaces, further boosting the market.
Explore the Full Report with Charts, Table of Contents, and List of Figures: https://www.imarcgroup.com/japan-home-decor-market
Key Market Segmentation:
Product Type Insights:
Distribution Channel Insights:
Home Decor Stores
Supermarkets and Hypermarkets
Breakup by Region:
Central/ Chubu Region
The report also examines the competitive landscape within the market and offers comprehensive profiles of major key players.
Key Highlights of the Report:
Porter’s Five Forces Analysis
Market Drivers and Success Factors
Comprehensive Mapping of the Competitive Landscape
Note: If you need specific information that is not currently within the scope of the report, we can provide it to you as a part of the customization.
IMARC Group is a leading market research company that offers management strategy and market research worldwide. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses.
IMARC’s information products include major market, scientific, economic and technological developments for business leaders in pharmaceutical, industrial, and high technology organizations. Market forecasts and industry analysis for biotechnology, advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, travel and tourism, nanotechnology and novel processing methods are at the top of the company’s expertise.
Contact Us: IMARC Group 134 N 4th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA Email: [email protected] Tel No:(D) +91 120 433 0800 Americas:- +1 631 791 1145 | Africa and Europe :- +44-702-409-7331 | Asia: +91-120-433-0800, +91-120-433-0800
The post Japan Home Decor Market Size, Share, Price, Current Trends, Growth Factors, Analysis & Forecast Report [2023-2028] appeared first on Super Market Research.
House & Hold: At House & Hold’s Labor Day sale, save up to 20% off brands like Tom Dixon and Four Hands.
IKEA: The Swedish retailer is celebrating 80 years in business with a mega anniversary sale running between now and September 5, where you can shop over a thousand deals all over the store.
Industry West: One of our favorite places for kooky modern furniture is throwing a 25% off Labor Day celebration sitewide. Just use the code “LABORDAY” to partake.
Jayson Home: On Labor Day only, clearance items at Jayson Home will be a whopping 70% off, so strike fast if you see something you like.
Joybird: Plenty of Joybird’s couches-in-a-box are marked-down up to 45% off for Labor Day, along with a rousing 35% off sitewide otherwise.
Sixpenny: Big spenders can take 20% off orders of $1,000 and up at furniture company Sixpenny (where muted linen slipcovers are the name of the game) with the code “WILDFLOWER” at checkout.
Sundays: Take up to 25% off at Sundays’ Labor Day sale, including the GQ Home Award-winning chubby dining room table, cozy boucle beds, and much more.
Wayfair: Wayfair recently dropped a massive Labor Day clearance sale, offering markdowns of up to 70% off furniture, cookware, and bedding.
West Elm: West Elm has also kicked off Labor Day with an up to 60% off sale on thousands of its modern furniture designs.
Urban Outfitters: Don’t sleep on all the furniture and home deals going on over at Urban Outfitters, including stylish velvet seating, carved-out entertainment consoles, Space Age-y shelving and more. They’re not just for teens!
S soy and beeswax candle
Lulu & Georgia
shams (set of 2)
Lulu & Georgia
Lulu & Georgia
Alabax Medium Surface Mount
ABC Carpet & Home: Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, ABC Carpet & Home’s slashing up to 40% off everything, including plenty of colorful rugs, pillow shams, throws, and more.
Food52: Food52’s having a massive Summer Sendoff event right now where you can take 20% off orders of $250 and over, or 25% off orders over $500. Just use the code “SAVEBIG” at checkout to, ahem, save big.
Jiu Jie: Jiu Jie’s Instagram-famous knot cushions will be marked-down through Labor Day starting today. Take 30% off, no code necessary.
Lumens: Save up to 50% off design-y lighting and fixtures at Lumens’ massive sitewide Labor Day sale.
Little King: One of our favorite small businesses in the upstate New York area is throwing a summer sale, where you can find markdowns on everything from Marimekko towels to tiger rugs.
Lulu & Georgia: Lulu & Georgia’s Labor Day sale has officially dropped, offering 20% off your purchase—including existing clearance deals on on rugs, storage baskets, and pillow shams.
Matches: A small selection of tasteful home goods are marked-down over at Matches’ High Summer sale, including wavy candles, ceramics, and glassware.
Rugs USA: Hunting for a specific kind of Persian or jute rug? The world is your oyster at the online emporium Rugs USA, where everything is an extra 20% off.
Think Geek Squad meets The Property Brothers. At a National Association of Realtors summit last month in Miami, innovators, investors and real estate professionals got together to chat like chatbots about PropTech. That’s the hip insider term for “property technology.”
Just as technology has changed the way we shop, get to places and communicate, it is also upending how we buy and sell houses. NAR’s director of emerging technology, Dan Weisman, agreed to tell me about the meeting’s biggest takeaways minus the geek speak:
Q: Will technology make the process of buying or selling a house less painful?
A: The role of technology in real estate is to streamline the process and reduce stress points. Most of us are familiar with DocuSign or similar technologies that offer the ability to e-sign legal documents. That has simplified what used to be a cumbersome process. Remember when submitting an offer or signing loans docs required wet-signing paper forms and sending them overnight? Now we can sign away hundreds of thousands of dollars by auto-filling our initials on our phones with our fingernail.
We’re trying to do that for other steps in the process, like the negotiations. Submitting an offer, waiting for a counter, working through two real estate agents, that is an area that needs work. Some companies have tried to create offer platforms, but none has worked out yet. That’s because we still need brokers to provide a level of control to make sure information gets passed along correctly. That said, technology is evolving that could eliminate financing delays. The fact that it often takes 45 to 60 days to close on a mortgage is an area that needs improvement.
Q: What are the downsides of the new PropTech?
A: Fraud risk. As much as we want to capitalize on technology, we have to watch for scammers. The more access they have to data, the greater the potential for fraud. These scammers can fake you into thinking they’re somebody they’re not. Deepfakes can essentially re-create a person and their voice. If you’re being asked to wire money or provide account information over the internet, pick up the phone and call the person you are dealing with and ask, “Was this you?” We’ve heard too many stories where money disappears.
Q: So how does all this AI horsepower change the way we choose a real estate agent?
A: We are still a people business. Most sellers and buyers need a real estate agent to help them navigate the process. However, today you also want an agent whose company has good IT behind it. The threshold question to ask when selecting an agent is: How are you using technology to make the process of buying or selling smoother?
Q: What was the biggest game-changer you saw at the summit?
A: Perhaps the most revolutionary change we’re seeing is AI technology that can help homebuyers see what a home could look like if they renovated. The online tool REimagine Home lets you upload a picture of a room and reimagine it. For instance, I took a picture of a bedroom and turned it into an office. You can change the furniture, flooring, wall color, light fixtures, and get a glimpse of what could be. For exterior improvements, a company called Hover allows prospective buyers to do the same.