2016 Debt Payoff Recap

At the beginning of 2016, I set a goal of paying off $30,000 of debt.  Though my student loans totaled more than $30,000, I thought this amount was adequately ambitious while not being completely unattainable.

$30,000 represented more than half of my income for 2015.  To put this amount towards loans would mean sticking to a very strict budget throughout 2016.

As I’ve mentioned before, the majority of my debt is student loan debt.  But at the beginning of the year, I was also paying off a car loan.  I decided to follow the debt snowball method and pay off the loan with the smallest balance first, rather than the highest interest loan first.

In 2015, I was making payments towards five different student loans plus a car loan.  I’m excited to say that the car loan and four of the student loans are now paid off!  By following the debt snowball method, I’ve eliminated all but one loan.   Continue reading “2016 Debt Payoff Recap”

Organize Your Holiday Shopping to Stay Within Budget

I can’t remember where I first saw this, but I recently read about “the 4 gift rule.”  Have you heard of it?  It’s usually aimed towards parents buying gifts for their kids, but it can be applied to anyone who you tend to spend excess amounts of money on at Christmas.  For me that person is Matt!

Here’s how the rule goes – each person gets four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

How can this help your budget?

This is a great strategy to organize your holiday shopping.  Limiting the number of gifts to four sets a clear boundary for your Christmas spending.  Once you have four things to wrap for someone, you’re done.  There’s no picking up that one extra thing you find last minute.

Set a total budget for all four gifts.  That way, you’ll have some flexibility.  If the “want” gift is a little pricey, buy a less expensive item of clothing for the “wear” gift.  Or if you splurge on a nice coat as the “wear” gift, buy the paperback copy of the book for the “read” gift. Continue reading “Organize Your Holiday Shopping to Stay Within Budget”

Why I Used My Emergency Fund

I’ve been struggling to think of money-related posts lately.  Probably because nothing exciting is going on with my finances at the moment.

I hit my goal of paying off $30,000 worth of student loan debt this year shortly after the end of the third quarter.  While that was exciting, I’d already set another $$ target to continue to push myself to pay off more debt this year.

After I hit my $30,000 goal, my budget didn’t change at all.  Every spare penny was still going towards debt in hopes of hitting my new goal by the end of the year.

Then my low tire pressure light came on.

Continue reading “Why I Used My Emergency Fund”

How to find a perfect gift within your budget

Now that I’m cutting back on hours at my second job, I’ve been reevaluating my budget and looking ahead into Fall and Winter to predict upcoming expenses.  I don’t want the decreased income to affect my debt payoff plan.  Unfortunately, the last half of the year can easily be the most expensive for me.  With Matt’s birthday coming up and Christmas not long after, the last few months of the year can really hurt my wallet.

Though I save money and plan ahead for birthdays and Christmas, finding a perfect gift that is budget-friendly can still be a challenge.  I always see things for Matt that I think he’d love.  Then I look at the price tag and realize it would blow my budget.

Well, not this year.  I’m switching up how I shop for gifts and getting great deals on presents everyone will love! Continue reading “How to find a perfect gift within your budget”

More Important than Money?

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to change my availability at my second job.  I’m no longer going to work on Sundays.  I mentioned this briefly on Tuesday, but I want to discuss it from a money stand point.

Heading into the third quarter of 2016, I actually said I was going to pick up more hours at my second job.  Now I’m moving in the opposite direction and working less hours.  And getting a smaller paycheck.  Here’s why. Continue reading “More Important than Money?”

Our Vacation Budget – What Worked & What Didn’t

Before we went to Aruba, we saved money and made a budget for our vacation.  I’m pleased to say that we stayed within the budget!  But there were definitely some ups and downs with spending while we were away.  Here’s a recap of what worked and what did not work for us. Continue reading “Our Vacation Budget – What Worked & What Didn’t”

Should you use automatic bill payment?

How do you pay your bills?  Though I’m not a gambler, I’d bet that most people aren’t writing out checks and mailing them.

Most people are paying their bills online.  It’s much easier to pay your bills from your computer or your phone than it is to write a check and actually go to the post office.

And if paying bills online wasn’t already convenient enough, now most places offer automatic bill payment.  Once automatic bill payment set up, you don’t even need to do anything!  And your bills are paid!

But is automatic bill payment really as great as it sounds?

Continue reading “Should you use automatic bill payment?”

How to Save Money on Items You Already Buy!

Who doesn’t love a good deal?   When I get to the store and an item I need is on sale, I literally feel like jumping for joy!

The opposite is true too – if an item isn’t on sale, I tend to feel disappointed and rethink whether I really need to purchase it that day.

As a budgeter, I may put more effort than most into making sure that I get the best deal on every purchase.  But today I’m sharing an easy way for everyone to make sure they’re getting great deals.  The best part is: it requires almost no work! Continue reading “How to Save Money on Items You Already Buy!”