Things I Won’t Do to Get Out of Debt!

There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself get out of debt sooner rather than later: create a budget, cut variable expenses, try to earn more money and many others.

I have done all of these things myself. I create a monthly budget. I’ve cut down considerably on eating out, entertainment, and frivolous spending on things that are unnecessary. I even work several jobs to increase my earning potential, but there are some things I will NOT do.

I will NOT live off of ramen noodles! Along those lines, I will absolutely not go dumpster diving for food. Yes, I have cut back considerably on my monthly grocery expenses, but I will not go so far as to harm my health just to save a few more dollars. I still eat a variety of protein sources: eggs, beans, beef, pork, chicken, etc. Obviously, I do consume the ones that cost the least more often, but I will not give up eating healthily and with a variety to speed up my goal of getting out of debt.

I will NOT live without air conditioning and/or the furnace. I do play a game with myself each year to see how long I can go before turning the furnace on, last year I made it to November 1st, but again, I will not put my health at risk. I live in the Midwest, it gets well below 0 degrees F during the winter and well above 100 degrees F in the summer. There are times where people are warned not to go outside for more than 15 minutes maximum in the summer. I do still want to be comfortable in my home in the winter and summer and that means using the furnace and air conditioner as necessary. I still try to be frugal, keeping it set rather low in the winter and higher in the summer.

I will NOT become a hermit. I still set aside some “fun money” each month to use as I please. It is not much since I’m trying to pay off debt, but it’s usually enough for a couple frugal activities with friends or family. As much as I want to get out of debt, I don’t want to neglect the relationships in my life by never leaving the house. I also think blowing off some steam by having fun helps keep me on the right track with my debt.

I will NOT resort to any money saving tactics shown on TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates. I’ve watched a few episodes of that show and the way people try to save money is absolutely revolting. I will not shower with my clothes in the tub, pee in a jar, or squeeze ketchup from restaurant packets into a bottle. The savings generated by most of these actions are very, very minimal and, in my opinion, not worth the time they take or the risks involved. Some of these actions are very risky to their quality of life and their health.

As you can see, basically I’m not willing to jeopardize my health or seriously damage the quality of my life to get out debt. I have made sacrifices and changed the way I view money and the sacrifices I’ve made are enough to help me get out of debt. Saving tiny amounts of money using the ways I listed are not worth it in my opinion. Ending up in the hospital because I tried risky ways to save money will only end up increasing my debt when I have to pay medical bills.

What are you NOT willing to do to get out of debt?

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Growing Up in an Entitled Generation

1908358_10152215366357339_2045759575475029433_nMy husband has a very deluded perspective of reality but it’s really not his fault at all. He grew up in a well-educated family (and no, I don’t just mean post secondary education, life experience means just as much, if not more), a family of military roots with standards and expectations, a good balance of demanding respect but open to change and adaptation. From his family home, my husband went on to further educate himself where he is now in a profession that really, only deals with educated people. He comes home and is again, surrounded by educated family and friends. Other than the very small glimpse of ”reality” he gets at places like the grocery store, he has little to no interaction with the public.

With all this in mind, when we do go out and have mass interactions with the public he is always blown away. Maybe I’m used to it, but very few things actually surprise me anymore. The one thing that actually does continue to blow my mind is how entitled my generation is.

I don’t know what surprises me more. The fact that so many of my cohorts are so entitled or that society continues to feed this plague, ignoring the massive problems that it is, and will continue to cause. I’ve grown up in a society where everything has been given to me yet I’m convinced that I deserve to have the things I do for all of my hard work.

Growing up, it was difficult to fail in school, if not impossible given that teachers are actually encouraged to keep moving kids along to keep status quo, always figuring out ways to pass a child if they were struggling. Kids were given extra assignments or tests to help their grades. There was always room to bend the rules per se. Expectations were outlined in September only to be accommodated to the student in question come June. Thinking about my mom’s generation where teachers were actually able to discipline within their classroom and had expectations and standards. There were very few excuses that would actually be acceptable for missing school or homework and high expectations for improving.

The classroom is the first place entitlement started with my generation. Kids were entitled to move on to the second grade and there were few repercussions for doing poorly. Academic probation or dismissal certainly doesn’t exist at this level as it does in university. Can you imagine if we were able to place the same post secondary standards within our primary education system? Can you imagine the type of child we would be molding? Yeah, I live in a dream world.

My friends are always justifying purchases with how hard they’ve worked and how they deserve it. Though I have been guilty of using these terms loosely myself, I’m the first to admit that very few things can I say I’ve actually worked extra hard or truly deserve said purchase.

I was so disheartened by how much debt I had incurred during the process of getting my post secondary education that, thankfully, it was a massive reality check for me and the lifestyle I would be able to live. Since graduation I haven’t deserved anything given that I haven’t yet fully paid for the education that got me to this point. You are not entitled to any sort of lifestyle until you’ve paid for the education that got you there, it’s that simple.

If you’re living any sort of life on social assistance, you don’t deserve anything beyond food, basic shelter and aids to help you get off social assistance such as career counselling. I’m sick of my patients (many of whom are on social assistance) coming in smelling like cigarettes (at almost $12/pack here), wearing nicer clothes than I am and telling me about their impending trip to NYC. How is this OK? Why aren’t we encouraging these people to get jobs of their own to pay for all this stuff with their money, not mine? I hear it all. They deserve a new phone because theirs is five years old. They deserve a pack of cigarettes per pay because their kids stress them out. This is NOT what social assistance is for nor do you ”deserve” any of this.

My husband is always complaining about how difficult it is to find hard workers to hire and I believe him. We’re in such an entitled society, few people are willing to prove their worth which is sad.

How do you deal with living in such an entitled society?

How Much Did You Spend on Prom?

While watching the news tonight with my husband they had a segment about prom and the associated costs. With me being (almost) 30, prom wasn’t that long ago for me but I was shocked at the numbers they provided. The average prom costs for Canadian kids was approximately $850 with parents covering an average of 81% of these costs. American kids spent more with an average of almost $1,100 in 2014. Wow.

According to the article this included everything from formal wear, flowers, meals, tickets to event(s), rentals etc. Even with all this in consideration I was still blown away. When I graduated I don’t think I spent a quarter of that, even at over 10 years ago that’s a huge increase. Here are a few ways you (or your kids!) can save money on prom costs:

Borrow

I borrowed my prom dress from a friend who had graduated two years prior and it worked out perfectly. Her uncle was a seamstress and custom-made her dress which I only had to mildly alter. Because it was custom, it was a sure way to make sure no one else had my dress (not that I would have cared). If you know someone who you could borrow a dress or tux from, this would be the cheapest option.

Buy Used

The dress is usually worn once, it sort of goes without saying that checking out online classifieds might be a good idea.

Use something other than a limo

We opted to rent a large SUV at a fraction of the cost. We had a ton of fun decorating the entire thing with window paints, streamers and crazy decorations. Also, what happened to borrowing mom and dads car??

Look for deals

I found an online Groupon type coupon to have m hair and makeup done. My only tip for this would be if you’re using a service like this for an important day, check out reviews! The place I used was terrible and I ended up redoing my own makeup. Larger department stores also often offer these types of services for free or very cheap.

Volunteer

My husband and I (yes, we’re high school sweethearts) volunteered on the safe grad committee so we would get free tickets to prom and safe grad (the after party). If I remember correctly they ran $50 each. Not bad for a few hours worth of volunteering!

Prom is a fun time but spending upwards of thousands of dollars is just crazy. Just 10 years ago an expensive dress was $250, now kids are spending $500+ on a prom dress. Parents, it’s important to hold your kids to task. If they want a crazy expensive day make sure they contribute to the cost, you should be responsible for 81% of the cost, especially in these dollars!

How did you, or do you plan to save on prom or you or your kids?

Debt is a Real Issue!

As per my post last week about why students have so much debt (and how to avoid it), one common thing kept coming up, people (myself included) didn’t take their debt seriously, almost as if it doesn’t exist. 

I always knew I’d have to pay my debt back but was very nonchalant about the whole ordeal. I’d tell myself ”it wasn’t a big deal”, that ”everyone has debt” or that I’d just deal when the time came. I really didn’t care that much which is a terrible mentality but I honestly don’t think it was totally my fault.

Most people (think outside of the PF community) have a very misguided understanding of debt. They simply don’t understand it, I certainly didn’t until I went out of my way to educate myself but honestly, most people don’t have that initiative which is what is compounding this huge issue.

Students graduate from their post secondary studies and aren’t held accountable to repay their debt. I received a letter in the mail with my monthly pre-authorized payment which would have me pay off my debt in almost 10 years. There was never any information about the implications of interest rates, how or why I could and should pay it off earlier than 10 years, or how it will really affect my life while I have an outstanding balance.

Instead, I received many phone calls and letters about what to do if I couldn’t afford my monthly payment, interest relief programs and explanations on ways to extend my payment beyond the 10 year period. Not once did I ever ask for this information. It was as if they wanted me to be in debt forever. The letters are worded in such a way it’s almost as if everyone needs these programs and to please call to get assistance setting up. I mean they’re making loads of money off your interest so it is kind of in their best interest to keep you in debt now isn’t it?

My husband’s cousin recently told me she was thinking about apply for student loans (or lines of credit) upon entering her second year of university. Her friends had informed her that it was cheap money and she should apply for the money even if she didn’t need it (which she likely won’t given that she has a great paying summer job and some savings). As you can imagine I did my best to explain why she really shouldn’t do it. I’m hoping she takes my advice and thanks me on her graduation day! Her friends did such a great job at glamorizing loans she didn’t think twice about it but did think to ask me about it so for that I’m glad.

Debt, especially student debt is such a huge issue. It’s so real and tangible. I could go on forever about the need for financial literacy but I won’t preach to the choir. Last week I mentioned to a teacher patient of mine that I wish financial literacy was taught in schools, his response? ”We need to focus on straightening out the core subjects before investing in less essential subjects”. I feel like we have a long way to go so for now, I will do my best to let people know our story and for them to see how real the issue of debt is, how it affects every aspect of your life as long as you’re in it. Debt is a real issue and we can’t forget that!

Things I’ve Done To Make or Save Money

If it came down to it maybe I could sustain myself on my kids cooking?

If it came down to it, maybe I could sustain myself on my kids cooking?

I’m sure we’ve all done a few crazy things to either make or save a few bucks, myself included. Sometimes it was out of desperation, other time because I was just too cheap. Some things I’m not proud of, and were a little disingenuous, but some I think I was pretty clever. Let’s see if you agree and make sure you let me know if you’ve ever done any.

Asked for cash discounts

Every year (pre-kids) for my husbands birthday we used to get a cabin (or cabins) for a weekend where we would hang out with friends for a day or two eating and drinking too much. It was always a good time and I would often, if possible (sometimes being dictated by crowd size) ask if there was a cash discount for booking. This was something my mom used to do when we went on vacations. A lot of businesses (especially smaller, family-type) are keen to either offer a discount or something like tax free if you pay with cash. Considering our tax rate is 15% it usually equates to a pretty decent savings.

Complained about a product or service

When I was in university someone told me if you put in a formal complaint with pretty much any major company, they would either offer your cash back or product replacement. One day I decided to try. I went to a movie with my friend and after seeing the (terrible) movie I called the manager and told them I wasn’t happy with our ”movie going experience” (the movie sucked and there were two kids who wouldn’t shut up the entire time). No more questions asked, I had two movie night out passes (even though I only paid for one ticket) which include admission and snacks. I also called a diaper company a put in a (legitimate) complaint about the condition of the diapers upon opening (the elastic was missing from one side). They asked a few questions and put a coupon in the mail for me to use to replace the ones I had bought with zero restrictions on size. Even though I only bought a smaller (maybe 40) pack I capitalized on the no restriction coupon and bought the largest family size pack the store had (likely 220).

Worked like a maniac

Though the efforts I’m putting into my debt repayment now is a league of it’s own, when I was in third year university I worked two jobs in the summer, totaling 75+per week, every week. I was exhausted but desperately wanted the money (now if only I can remember where it all went…).

Sample ”theft”

I admit that I’ve taken my fair share of hotel ”samples” and drained my sample stash of shampoo/soap/toothpaste for no reason other than to avoid buying my own. I’ve never stolen a product from a store (unless you count the $0.25 plastic pig I put in my friends raincoat pocket to try and get her in trouble when we were like eight years old because I thought it was hilarious. kids). To this day I live off the toothpaste and toothbrush samples we get at work (which he pays for), though it’s no secret kept from my employer.

Been Involved in Clinical Trials

In university I signed up for a clinical trial of a vaccination. I normally wouldn’t do something like this but it was a vaccination that had already been approved and on the market via Health Canada and they were only testing the efficacy of two-vs-three doses. I had to go to maybe 6 appointments for about 15 minutes each over something like an 18 month period and they paid me $20 per appointment plus giving me the vaccination (which was one not covered under my insurance and currently ”selling” for almost $700 for the three rounds). It was a positive experience that I would do again.

DIY

We have DIY’d a ton of stuff in our house. It helps that we have a mecca of talent in the family too!

What sort of things have you done to save money?

Why Students Have So Much Debt and How to Avoid It

Students all over the world are finishing their studies and planning out their next step. In a few weeks student loan departments will be ramping up as the applications start pouring in. Unfortunately with the cost of tuition, many, if not most, students rely on some additional funding for post secondary studies. Student loans being the most common.

Student loan are given to students who need them to either fully fund a post secondary education or supplement other financial streams. The goal being you obtain the education, use it, and repay said loan. Though student loans should be the last resort, only following scholarships and personal or parental savings, they are still a massive reality for millions of students world-wide.

Unfortunately student loan debt is an increasing problem as tuition prices rise and job markets demands increase. Gone are the days when a standard undergraduate degree was a guarantee for job. There has also been a decrease in students applying for more professional programs such as engineering or finance and an increase in jobs with lower job prospects such as fine arts. Though the huge increase in tuition rates combined with pursuing less lucrative degrees may be the largest factor in how much student debt one takes on, it is far from the whole picture.

The other big, huge, reason, that there is so much student loan debt is that we simply borrow too much money. I certainly did it, as did many of you I’m sure. Especially for certain programs, loan issuers literally throw money at you. If you get into a medical or dental program in this province, walk into any bank and you’ll walk out with upwards of $250,000 in the form of a line of credit. A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. For the unexperienced budgeter that’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you get into a field with good job prospects (like myself) trust me when I say you don’t want to use every dollar that’s offered to you years working towards paying it off.

In order to avoid taking in so much debt you need to start with the basics.

Find out exactly how much you’ll need. Look at your tuition bill and figure out what it’s going to cost over and above what  you already have (which should, at the very least, be what you saved in the summer between high school and starting post secondary). If you don’t need anything (congrats) do NOT borrow the money. I know of so many situations where people had enough money but were talked into borrowing because of low interest rates or whatever, just don’t do it! You’ll thank yourself on your graduation day.

Learn to budget. It doesn’t have to be complicated but budget all your expenses for the academic year and stick to it! Plan for fun too but stay within budget. If you know you’ll be going out of town for the weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday then work it out rather than scrambling (or borrowing on credit) when the time comes. If you think a spring break trip will be in the works figure out a way to make the money.

Look for opportunities to make money throughout the school year. If you can’t hold a part-time job look for other opportunities that work around your time such as tutoring, resident assistant or weekend event opportunities. I had friends work campus events a few times per semester (think beer-hosted type party events for Halloween etc) and make a decent chunk of change. When you’re not in school, work as much as you can!

Capitalize on student discounts! There are SO many discounts out there for students from free banking, discount on groceries, travel, free public transit. If you’re unsure if a place may have a discount, ask! You may be surprised how much you can save per year.

I don’t think student debt is (always) a bad thing. Though I regret borrowing as much as I did I don’t regret taking on the loans I did to obtain the education I received. Certain circumstances required me to borrow the money (very last minute sort of thing) but I’m in a good field that allows me to now pay the loans off. Though I wish I was more informed on the process, I’d do it again.

Why do you think students have so much debt and not working towards paying it off?

The Benefits of a Self-Invested Personal Pension

If you’re looking for a personal pension plan offering more control and flexibility over where your pension money is invested, then a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) may be the one for you. As a HM Revenue & Customs registered pension scheme, a SIPP enables you and your financial advisor to enjoy far greater investment flexibility, allowing you to have full control over planning your wealth in your retirement. It is rather different to traditional bog-standard pension schemes in which your investment choice is limited to funds run by the pension company itself, or funds that are managed for you within a pooled fund. Here are just a few of the advantages that a SIPP can offer you.

Tax Savings

Benefits from the normal tax relief system are available on SIPPs too, which means that basic tax relief can be claimed on contributions into a SIPP and then be added to the fund. This means that to invest £100 it will only cost you £80 if you pay the basic rate of income tax. Meanwhile if you pay higher rate tax then you can claim the remainder back through your tax return.

Provided you’re a British resident, you can receive tax relief on contributions as high as 100% of your earnings in some cases. There is generally no limit on contributions, but if your contributions in a tax year exceed the annual allowance stated to you then you may have to pay a personal tax charge, known as an annual allowance charge. Furthermore SIPPs are set up under trust, which means that you can separate your pension fund from your other assets, enabling you to save on inheritance tax or capital gains tax.

Property Investment

A major advantage of a SIPP is that it allows you to invest directly into commercial property, which means any business premises and the rental income received from them can be put into retirement savings. There are all sorts of good reasons to put property into your pension. You can use existing pension monies to fund the purchase, and then not have to pay tax on any growth in the value of the property as long as it remains in the pension scheme.

Consolidate Your Pensions

Many people find that they accumulate more than one pension, as they switch between jobs and industries thanks to our modern working culture. A SIPP allows you to manage your funds efficiently in one place. Then when it’s time for you to retire, your drawdown pension can usually be taken from the age of 55, but SIPPs offer flexibility on taking benefits including flexible and capped drawdown.

Many Advantages

SIPPs offer a wide range of advantages for people looking to build their pension whilst retaining flexibility over their future. They are offered by a wide range of companies like James Hay, so take a look around and see what’s on offer.

How To Make Money From Your Computer

With so many people already working from the comfort of their own home, it stands to reason that there are so many ways to make the most of new technology and opportunities so that more people can make money from their computer too. If you’re looking to invest your money and reap some dividends whilst working from your home computer, there are many interesting ways for you to do this. Here are some tips about how and where to start…

Online Stocks

Online trading is a popular and simple business for anyone to get into. You can find a variety of websites like City Index that offer simple interfaces with all the information you need to get into trading quickly and easily. If you’re new to trading then you can get to grips with the technical nuances of trading with the charting tools available on most trading websites that make it easy to navigate and learn anything and everything you need to know to succeed.

If however you are an experienced trader then you will get access to an archive of technical and analysis data, with powerful interactive charting packages available that allow you to annotate charts, see price and volume data in a way that suits you, and overlay indicators and patterns at the touch of a button. You will be able to assess and analyse market patterns with ease, giving you everything you need to make money out of your investments.

Forex Trading

Also called foreign exchange or FX, forex trading is all about betting on changes in the exchange rate between currencies. It is a massive $4 trillion a day industry that presents all kinds of opportunities and attracts many different types of investors. When you trade forex you are betting that one currency will rise or fall in strength against another. So, if you buy GBP against USD when £1 is worth $1.50, and then it subsequently rises to $1.52, you have made a profit. If it falls to $1.48 meanwhile you will have made a loss. You can trade forex with a variety of companies including SpreadCo, who offer 38 different currency pairs for you to trade with.

Bitcoin Mining

For a popular open source virtual currency that is lauded by experts as secure and untraceable, bitcoin is the hot topic online today. To make money out of bitcoins all you have to do is dedicate spare CPU cycles to running a bitcoin desktop client. Your computer crunches numbers to solve encryption problems, and if it solves the problem then you get 50 bitcoins — and one bitcoin is equal to nearly $600 at the time of writing. Only just beginning to gain traction outside the tech community, bitcoins are gradually entering the public consciousness, with Expedia being one of the latest firms to accept them as a form of payment.

Making Money

There is plenty you can do to make money from home by investing just a little time and money into a project, and also the right technology.

 

Two Years Ago Today My Life Changed Forever

Time has seemingly been getting ”faster” in the last 10 or so years. When I started university I remember how fast the standard academic year felt. I’d blink and it would already be May with final exams approaching. After graduation time started speeding up even more. Before I knew it I was married and signing mortgage documents. Then I had a child and suddenly I find myself having zero grasp of time. Seasons change so fast I feel like I don’t even notice. I continue to be amazed at just how fast time really moves.

Two years ago today I was getting ready to go under the knife and deliver our baby girl. I had a scheduled section a few days away (due to a very complicated pregnancy), but the medical team decided she needed to come early after a routine ultrasound. Two years ago today my life changed in ways I could never imagine.

newborn mariaI was more than ready to become a mom. Parenthood isn’t for everyone, I get that, but for me, I wanted it more than anything. What I didn’t expect was just how much this blue-eyed beauty would teach me about myself, my husband, our families and honestly, this world.  Just how amazing this world can be, which is so easy to forget sometimes.

I thought I knew who I was before having her. I was confident in myself and my life, but in the last two years I have been shown more of this world than the previous 28 years combined.  All thanks to her.

She’s an amazing little person. So loving. Sweet. Intelligent. Silly. Confident. Beautiful.

She’s learned so much in the last 24 months I honestly can’t fathom it. The above picture is exactly 24 months ago and today she looked at me and said ” I want a purple freezie please”. A sentence… with words… that make sense…

Her compassion for others amazes me. This isn’t something that I believe can be taught. It’s within her soul to want to kiss boo-boos. Give hugs and snuggles based solely on your body language as if to say ”I need comfort”. She’s always looking to make sure the other kids (anywhere) are ok, as if in her two years experience she could help a hurting soul.

She’s a leader, but not bossy. This will take her far.

She’s ridiculously silly like her father and for that I am so thankful. He is, without a doubt, the funnest, silliest, most loyal best friend anyone could ever ask for. I see all of these qualities in her already. She will make an amazing friend and, ultimately, partner, for someone.

I am so proud to be your Momma. You have ignited my life in ways I can never explain to you.

Happy 2nd Birthday Sweetheart!

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How to Make Money with a Blog

If you are someone who is looking for a way to make money online, making money with a blog is a great way to do so. Therefore, today we will be discussing how to make money with a blog.

Buy a Domain Name & Bring in Traffic

The first step to generating an income from a blog is to get your domain name and hosting in addition to bring traffic to your blog. The following ways are ways that you can start gaining traffic:

  • Promoting the blog on social media
  • Guest posting on blogs in similar niches
  • Comments on blogs in similar niches
  • Including your blog in the signature area of forums that you are active on

Alternatively, if you have the budget you can bring traffic by paid ways such as advertising on Google or purchasing banner ads on blogs in similar niches as yours.

Provide Readers with Quality Content

Getting traffic is not the hardest part of running a blog. Instead, the hardest part is getting though visitors to turn into loyal visitors. The only way you are going to do this is if you are providing them with quality content that matches their interest. Therefore, before picking your domain name you need to know what niche you want your blog to be in. We do not suggest taking the general route because it is going to be hard to build up your following base. . If you aren’t great at writing you can hire a content writing company.

Once you have your niche figured out start writing quality content regularly. Provide readers with answers to their questions or solutions to their problems. Once you have a loyal base of readers and quality content you are ready to start monetizing your blog.

How to Monetize Your Blog

Once you have the content squared away and the loyal readership base you are ready to start monetizing your blog. This can be done in any of the following ways:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling ad or banner space
  • Selling your own products and/or services
  • Or charging a membership fee that allows readers to have access to certain perks

It is recommended that you do not try to make any money off your blog until you have a decent amount of traffic coming in and have high quality content being published on your blog regularly.

Things to Keep in Mind

When you are trying to make money blogging, you have to make sure that you keep your quality standards high, especially if affiliate marketing is one of your monetization methods. You worked hard to build up your followers and they trust that you will not steer them wrong. Therefore, when you have ads and banners running on your site, or even text links, it is important to make sure that these are legit offers that you use, or would use yourself. Once you lose your followers trust, you will not make the maximum amount of money possible. Keep in mind your followers are what makes your blog, which means they are the ones who help you make money. Without them, your blog is going to be a lost cause.