5 Tips to Crush Your Debt This Year

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This is a guest post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

No matter how you got there, being in debt is not pleasant. And you want to get out as soon as possible. These tips will help accelerate your debt payments, if you stay focused and motivated. They’re simple to apply and can save you time and money while you get out of debt.

Know where you stand

Do you know how much you owe exactly? How many months you have left to pay if you want to get rid of that credit card balance? Having a clear image of your financial situation is the first step to getting out of debt. So get your statements out and list all your debt.

It will look like:

  • Credit card A, $1,000, 18%
  • Credit card B, $2,500, 12%
  • Student loans, $35,000, 7%
  • Mortgage, $125,000, 4%

And so on. Don’t forget anything. Personal loans, car loans, even that overdraft on your checking account. Now you know how much you owe, and we can start crushing that debt.

Negotiate your rates

Everything is negotiable when it comes to your creditors. They would much rather drop a few points of interest than see you default on your loan. Refinancing your student loans, getting a 12% rate on that 18% credit card, etc. can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in interest.

The higher your balance, the more you will save by negotiating your rates. Have a quick look around to see what other creditors offer. Then call your provider, and tell them it has been hard lately to make the minimum payments on your loans, and you would like to know if they can help. Some might offer a repayment holiday for a month or two, but interest will keep accruing in the meanwhile, so we’re rather after a better rate. If they won’t help, take your business somewhere else.

Get a balance transfer

Getting a 0% balance transfer credit card in this example would save you $180 interest on credit card A, and $300 on credit card B. If your credit is good enough, you can apply for a 0% credit card online, in just a few clicks. That is a great hourly rate for your efforts. Careful though, not paying interest on the card doesn’t mean you should only make minimum payments. 0% balance transfers typically revert to double digit interest rates once the 0% deal is over. Say you have 12 months to repay your $3,500 balance from credit card A and B, you will have to come up with $300 every month to get rid of the balance. If that is too much of a stretch, make a note on your calendar to do another balance transfer 11 months from now before that one expires.

Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage is about as easy as the couple of steps above. You can even do it online if you are staying with the same bank. Because the life of your loan is so long, you can save thousands of dollars by refinancing to a lower rate. Even better, if you keep making the same payments every month, you will cut months or maybe even years off your mortgage term. Always look for a mortgage that allows overpayments without penalties.

There are many mortgage calculators online that will let you input the fees associated with the refinance, to tell you whether it is worth proceeding, and how much you can save. Once again, it is a day or two of compiling information and filling paperwork, for thousands in savings.

Apply the debt avalanche method

You might be familiar with the debt snowball method of repayment, that suggests you should pay off the debt with the smallest balance first, in order to gain momentum and keep paying off more debt. The debt avalanche method suggests you pay the most expensive debt first. That is the most effective way, since you will end up paying less money in interest. Now that you have negotiated your rates down, redo a list of all debts, and while you keep making minimum payments on all of your loans, put any extra money towards eliminating the highest interest debt.

Once you are done, proceed to paying off the second highest interest debt. And so on.

These tips are pretty easy to apply, and can save you a lot of money over the long term.

How will you crush your debt this year?

Blue Apron Free Week: Is Blue Apron Worth a Try?

Blue Apron Free Week
Have you seen those colorful, happy farm-to-table commercials on TV? You know the ones with cartoon-like characters, fresh and delicious-looking produce and happy faces throughout? Blue Apron is one of the most popular companies providing these farm-to-table experiences without having to head to the supermarket. In fact, the company is serving more than five million meals each week.

So, to answer the question posed in the title, yes, Blue Apron is worth the try and here’s why…

Blue Apron’s Cost

Right away I’ll tell you that Blue Apron isn’t a family-friendly meal plan. You’ll get three two-person meals a week for about $60. You can also get a Blue Apron meal plan for a family of four. For a four-person plan you’ll get two ($69) or four ($140) meals for the week (that is only a few dinners a week).

Blue Apron Free Week
That may seem like a lot of cash to shell out to only feed you and your partner (or your family) a few days out of the week (my initial thought). However, when you compare the Blue Apron quality of product and amount they are sending you you are really getting a decent deal. In fact, once I looked into it, making these dishes at home with comparable fresh ingredients would cost twice as much as Blue Apron is charging.

So, now that we’ve gotten the monetary items out of the way, what is the Blue Apron experience like?

Preparation of a Blue Apron Meal

When it comes down to it, that is exactly what Blue Apron is: an experience. You receive fresh “farm to table” produce in the mail with recipes and instructions on how to prepare the food. You’ll get to try new and exciting foods and feel accomplished because you’ve cooked it yourself.

Blue Apron Free Week
Preparing a Blue Apron meal is extremely easy too. Each delivery is accompanied with recipes for the items in the box. Each recipe card has the name of the dish and ingredients on the front. Turn the card over and you’ll see easy-to-read step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the meal (which is great if you’re learning to cook).

Delivery

Preparing the meal isn’t the only easy step either. Ordering, receiving and cancelling your Blue Apron deliveries is easy too. All you have to do to sign up for Blue Apron is register on the site. The company has also thought out their shipping process as well.

Blue Apron Free Week
You can log in to Blue Apron and change your delivery date based on your specific schedule (they’ll even deliver on Sundays). Opening and unpacking your Blue Apron order is comparable to Christmas! When it gets to your home each item is packaged individually with ice packs to keep it cool. You simply open the box and pick up layer by layer of fresh organic produce.

If you aren’t happy or need to discontinue your shipments for any reason you simply send the company an email and receive a cancellation link in return. You can also skip weeks if you don’t have the money or don’t like the upcoming recipes. It is truly hassle-free.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Blue Apron seems like a quality product for a reasonable price. You get high quality produce without having to brave the supermarket crowd (and that’s enough for me to want to continue weekly shipments). If you’re interested in giving the services a try you can sign up during Blue Apron free week or keep an eye out for promotions and then decide if you’d like to continue with their weekly deliveries.

Are you interested in Blue Apron? Get $30 off your first week using this link.

Should You Get a Rewards Credit Card?

money-256314_640A lot of consumers are now opting for rewards credit cards as they discover the benefits of rewards programs. It can actually help you stretch your budget when used properly and can also pay you when you spend money using this type of credit card.

If you are one of those people who had a bad history when it comes to credit cards and are shying away from this program, since you don’t want to go down that road again of having credit card debt, keep in mind that using a credit card is a personal decision. Not all credit cards are bad, it can be a very useful tool when managed properly.

However, there may come a time when you’d wish you have a good rewards credit card at your disposal. if you are considering on getting a rewards credit card, here’s when in life it will make a lot of sense to use one.

[Read more…]

Find Stores That Owe You Cash: A Paribus Review

Paribus Review

I, like many people, love to shop online. It is a great way to save money and avoid the crowds at the stores. What if there was a way to save even more money by shopping online?

Well, there’s an app for that! Paribus, a new app, is helping online consumers get cash back from stores that owe them money. While this sounds like a win-win situation, I had a few questions. So, I sat down to write a Paribus Review to give you all an idea about the app’s user-friendliness and usefulness.

A Paribus Review

As with any other money saving app, results may vary when it comes to Paribus and how much you’ll actually get back. In my book, it’s worth the time to sign up and give it a chance though. According to some of the app’s earliest users, there has been great success in getting cash back. Some users have even quoted $80 of savings at one time.

But how much time does it take to download and how involved do you have to be in the process?

It is Easy to Sign Up?

Everyone is busy so taking time to sign up for an app or website that may not ever save you money seems like a waste of time to some. However, according to the Paribus website, it only takes about 15 seconds to sign up (this may differ if you have slow app download times). You’ll also need to provide your credit card infomration and your email, but sign up is pretty easy.

All you have to do to sign up is link your email address that you have all your online receipts sent to. Once you’ve done that, sit back and relax. Paribus is going to take care of the rest.

How Does Paribus work?

Essentially the app scans your inbox for any online shopping receipts and helps save you money when there’s been a drop in price. These price guarantees are something that most stores offer anyway but they make you work for it. Instead of you sending the emails, making calls to save the cash, Paribus does it for you. 

  • How much does it cost? Although downloading Paribus is completely fee and you don’t technically pay for its services, Paribus does take 25% of the cash you get back. For instance, if you get $80 back from an Amazon purchase you will only receive $60. Paribus will cash in on $20 of your refund.
  • What stores does Paribus recognize? Right now Paribus is tracking about 20 of the nation’s largest retailers (this includes sites like Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart and Best Buy).

Paribus retailers

Paribus Promotional Period

Since Paribus is still a relatively new company they are having a promotional period where if you refer a friend you get 5% off their 25% fee. If you refer one friend, you will only have to paid 20% (two friends, 15%; three friends, 10% and so on). If you get in during this promotional period and refer five friends you can get Paribus completely free during the promo period.

Should You Download Paribus?

When all is said and done, downloading Paribus is a no-brainer. You don’t have to do anything but sign up and continue shopping the way you usually do. Paribus does the rest and, although they take a cut, the app still presents a great opportunity to save money (something we all need to do a little more of). 

So, what are you waiting for? Download Paribus and start saving!

Want more information about Paribus? Check out the video below. 

Photo: Lifehacker