Getting Out of Debt: Step-by-Step

It started off as one missed payment. Soon your debt spiraled away from you, with one late fee leading to another slip-up, and before you know it, suddenly you’re behind on your student loans, credit cards, and car payments.

If this sounds at all familiar, you probably know firsthand how overwhelming debt can be. The constant harassment from debt collectors in warning letters and phone calls might make it difficult for you to breathe, and if you can’t pay for your utilities, it might seem as though you’re waiting on pins and needles for the moment they eventually shut your power off.

Fortunately, there’s hope. Even when it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s possible to get yourself out of debt and regain your financial freedom. Here’s how.

  1. Assess the Damage

When you’re living beyond your means, this part is never fun. It requires you to take a cold hard look at how large your debt has grown due to purchases on new clothes, spa services, vacations, and so forth.

Even if you don’t owe your debt to a life of luxury, you might not be aware of how badly the interest has racked up, which accounts are in delinquency, and so on. It’s time to gather every piece of mail boasting an ominous “Past Due” stamp that you’ve tossed aside to see where your debt is at, so you can then learn how to fix it.

Use this template to organize your outstanding creditors, the amount owed, the interest penalty, and the date due. Once you have a clear picture laid out before you, you can work on your plan of attack.

  1. Can You Consolidate?

Now that you have your debt organized, you can see if there’s possible room for consolidation. When you consolidate your debt, you combine different loans with varying interest rates into one debt with one interest rate. Instead of working with multiple lenders, you work directly with one. This not only reduces your stress (and the amount of debt collector calls), but you may also get access to lower interest rates and lower monthly payments.

  1. Switch Repayment Methods

Debt consolidation is just one out of a few ways you can reorganize your finances to clear up debt. Another successful strategy is to switch up your repayment methods by either increasing your monthly payment, or by making smaller payments every two weeks. Either option will help you pay off your loan faster, but make sure that your new payment strategy doesn’t dig too deeply into your monthly budget.

  1. Budget or Bust

Speaking of the “B” word, a budget will be your best friend when it comes to getting yourself out of debt. It’s true that budgeting is neither fun nor easy; it will require a lot of will power and determination, but the closer you stick to it, the faster you can go back to making independent purchases!

If you don’t have one already, be sure to create a meticulous budget that breaks down how much you can spend per day and per week. Creating a budget will look something like this:

  • Start with your net income (the residual amount of earnings after all deductions have been taken from gross pay)
  • Subtract your cost of living expenses (rent, utilities, gas, etc.)
  • Subtract your outstanding financial obligations (bills such as student loans, car payment, etc.)

The amount you have left over is what’s available to spend on miscellaneous purchases. When you’re in debt, always opt for the more affordable option, such as cooking dinner instead of going out, or streaming a movie versus heading to the theaters.

  1. Go to the Government

If you carefully follow the first four steps and see no difference in your debt, it might mean that you’re heading into insolvency. Declaring personal bankruptcy is usually reserved for worst-case scenarios, but there are a few signs that may indicate bankruptcy could solve your debt.

If you’re in the U.S. and have canceled, forgiven, or discharged debt for less than the amount you pay—either through bankruptcy or other means—remember to file a 1099 C Cancellation of Debt. Otherwise, you might incur penalties and/or fees that set you back once again.

It’s definitely possible to get yourself out of debt while you’re young, you just have to start taking the right steps now before it’s too late!

December 14, 2018 at 7:54 PM Leave a comment

Make Your Journey To Financial Independence Your Own

Although you will find common themes among those who have reached financial independence you will also find many differences. Millionaires come from all walks of life. You will find men and women both single and married. Some will focus on advancing their education to the highest level while others will drop out of college or never attempt it in the first place. Career choices vary greatly as well. Doctors, lawyers, bankers and software engineers may be common but so are entrepreneurs and those who take the less traveled paths in life.

Some millionaires were guided by their wealthy parents, while others are the first in their family to make more than minimum wage. Some are born savers who can delay instant gratification in favor of long term goals. Others earn enough to live for today while still putting a whole lot of money away for tomorrow. There are those who focus on spending as little as possible and those who believe in the power of earning more.

The truth is: Every journey to financial independence is unique.

When you begin your quest for financial enlightenment you may search for mentors and gurus to guide you. The first time you read about the power of compounding interest or how to save half of your income you may become giddy with excitement. You may dream of saving with no goal in mind or immediately envision leaving a job you hate. Perhaps neither of these are your focus. Maybe you simply want to enrich your life and soul in a way that seems incompatible with a 9-to-5 job. Thanks to the power of the Internet you will search for voices and words that echo your excitement and encourage you to reach your goals.

When I started this blog I was twenty-eight years old and already well on my way to becoming a millionaire; I just didn’t know it. At the time I didn’t calculate the value of my primary home in my net worth calculations. I wanted to be a millionaire in bank figures only. Although in theory I knew the value of saving money and watching it grow I suppose I wasn’t convinced it would really happen for me. I may have run the calculations but a large part of me didn’t believe the numbers would grow so large or so quickly.

When I was scrounging to save money and build my career I hung on to the words of other personal finance bloggers. I would read a post and think “that’s brilliant”, “that’s amazing”, “that’s such a good idea”, but in reality I didn’t often change my course. At the end of the day I stuck to my own beliefs about money.

This strict adherence to my beliefs has often been a source of contention for my husband and I. He believes primarily in earning power. Coming from less wealthy parents and watching my mom spend very little on herself or our home I stuck to my beliefs about frugality. While my career grew and my salary quadrupled I still focused on clipping coupons and saving small amounts of money. Through some very hard life lessons I have landed in the middle of these two ideas.

At forty years old I now realize the weight of our decisions are less about money and more about time. Do I want to waste time in a job I don’t enjoy or waste it standing in line to save $1? The truth is: I don’t want to do either. I hope that the money in my bank account ultimately ensures I can make better life decisions. Better decisions about my time and my money.

A recurring theme keeps popping up in my head as I read personal finance blogs. Rather than seeing the similarities in stories I am beginning to discover just how personal every story is. Your fortune will be earned in a completely different way than my own. While I can provide guidance on how I achieved wealth it is not very likely that you will reach it through the same means.

Maybe you receive a nice “early-retirement” package from work. Perhaps you invest in real estate, own a small business or sell your blog for a hefty chunk of change. The odds that we will reach FI in the same way are very unlikely to be one and the same.

So what does all of this mean. It means that you should follow your instincts to the best of your ability. You should focus on earning money and trying to save. But the nitty-gritty details of how to accomplish those tasks should be all your own.

Do you want to create fifteen bank accounts each with a separate financial goal or can you plow all of your money into one account and divvy it out when needed? Do you want to use the cash envelope system or do you trust yourself with a credit card that earns rewards? Do you need to save 50% of your income and work a miserable job or can you find enjoyment in working fewer hours at your day job while simultaneously starting a successful side-gig? Do you need to clip coupons and watch over every penny or can you spend wisely and thoughtfully? Only you can answer those questions.

From today’s vantage point I can view many things that I could not see clearly in my youth. Not everyone will become a millionaire, but with focus, determination and a fair amount of earning power you can build yourself a solid nest egg. Take the advice you read with a grain a salt. Pick and choose the pieces that make sense to you and leave the rest behind.

Your story is unique. Your journey is your own. Figure out what works for you and your family. If you love to watch sports then don’t cut your cable. If you love to travel then cut spending elsewhere so you can afford your airfare free and clear. If you are tempted to shop then stay out of stores and unsubscribe from emails. What works for you may not work for someone else. That’s fine. Take hold of your destiny. Do what makes the most sense to you.

Start your journey, choose your path and heck change it half-way down the road. Very few things in life are set in stone and it’s okay to let the winds sway you into different directions from time to time, but stay true to your beliefs and values and look for those who are walking down similar paths to your own.

When I began saving I knew little to nothing about financial independence.” I saved for the future, for the unknown, for the possibilities that money might afford me. Perhaps you need a different approach. If it helps to narrow your focus to a more specific goal then do so.

As you travel along in your quest keep in mind that money is important but it isn’t all that matters. The greatest gift of financial independence is the recognition that time, energy and enjoyment are just as important as dollars and cents. Of course, that clarity is easier to see once you reach FI. If you haven’t reached that point yet you’ll have to trust me.

December 10, 2018 at 9:00 AM 2 comments

Earn Big Cash Back on your Christmas Shopping

As we quickly approach Christmas, Swagbucks knows you still have lots of shopping to do, and they’re offering big cash back for shopping online at several of your favorite retailers right now! Just go to this page to see all of the deals available and get the jump on your holiday shopping.


In order to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you’re all set! Your cash back comes in the form of SB points, which you can redeem for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, or get PayPal cash!

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before January 1st! This site’s a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

December 7, 2018 at 2:07 PM Leave a comment

Earn BIG with Coupons!

We’re all looking for ways to save big at the register. Well, I’ve found a way to make every coupon I use at my local grocery store worth an extra 25¢!

How you ask? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1) Sign up at Swagbucks.com
2) Head over to the Grocery Coupons page and start clipping coupons for your upcoming shopping trip 
3) Use the coupons the next time you shop at your local grocery store. You’ll earn 25 points (25¢) for every coupon you use. 
That’s it! 

But, that’s not all… Today through Monday, December 12th, you can earn 2 points (2¢) for every coupon you print, up to 50 prints per day. That’s an extra dollar every day just for printing coupons that will save you a ton on your next grocery store haul!

December 7, 2018 at 2:04 PM Leave a comment

Buying Your First Used Car

Between now and 2022, the global used car market is expected to post a continuous annual growth rate of approximately 7%, based on market research by Technavio. People buy used cars because they’re cheaper than new ones, and are a much affordable option when you need a convenient way to go to work, school or run business errands. To make the most out of a used car, you need to select the one that fits your requirements. Considering additional costs like car insurance is vital when buying a used vehicle. Taking your time and knowing what’s right for you is the key to making the right car buying decision.

Consider Your Budget

Before deciding on the type of vehicle to buy, know the amount you’re willing to spend. As you determine the mode of financing .e.g. through a bank loan, car dealership or personal savings, it’s advisable to include consideration for additional expenses on top of the car price to cover for unexpected repairs or possible inspections. You need to remember that the car will require regular maintenance from time to time. Insurance and fuel cost will depend on the type and power of the engine. It’s a good idea for you to factor in all the above costs.

Evaluate the Car History Report

Getting the vehicle history report is essential when buying a pre-owned car. To get the full history report, you can use the license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN). The report shows the correct odometer reading and insurance history. It also reveals the cars excise duty band and year of manufacture. Evaluating the car history report gives you a general idea of what to expect before buying the used car. Upon concluding with the checks, request for a test drive.

Conduct a Test Drive

Taking the car for a test drive is the final stage in the buying process. It’s your chance to confirm whether the vehicle is in an excellent working condition. As a driver, you get the first-hand feeling of how the car runs. Inquire on whether the test drive can be done on the streets, highway, and roads where turning will be required. After conducting the test drive, you can make the ultimate decision on whether or not to buy the used car.

The process of buying a second-hand car involves taking a particular risk on your part. However, if you choose to adopt the advice discussed in the guide above, the pitfalls significantly reduce, and you buy a bargain car that fits your needs and requirements.

December 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit San Francisco

San Francisco is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, diverse culinary scene, amazing monuments, and a whole lot more. Basically, it’s a booming city that tourists love because it has something for everyone. Often called as the City by the Bay, San Francisco is also known for its perfectly foggy weather, cable cars, countless hills, and Victorian houses. The city and its people have a unique and quirky personality that is openly celebrated and can be witnessed on its streets. Excited yet? Here are 10 wonderful reasons why you should book a ticket to San Francisco for your next vacation.

Magnificent Views:

Adjacent to the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean, enjoy the scenic beauty City by the Bay through its cityscape and the nature that surrounds it. A walk through the streets of San Francisco will reveal the beauty of the city. Whether it is hiking on the hills, surfing in Ocean Beach, enjoying beautiful sunsets in Embarcadero, or the stunning Presidio view of the Golden Gate Bridge, there are no shortage of picture-worthy places in this city.


https://pixabay.com/en/golden-gate-bridge-california-bridge-1081782/

Tourist Attractions:

There are a lot of activities to take part in and attractions to see. If you’re a nature lover, head over to the Muir Woods National Monument or the San Francisco Botanical Garden. If you love Victorian-era history, take a tour of the Haas-Lilienthal House. Love gorgeous views? Don’t miss the golden gate bridge and golden gate park. Do you appreciate art? Watch art everywhere from Avant Garde museums to street art graffiti. An adventure junkie? Have fun hang gliding at Fort Funston or go hiking at Mount Diablo. Whatever your passion, you can bet that San Francisco will deliver.

Alcatraz Prison:

Alcatraz Island is not just any tourist attraction. Some of the best San Francisco tours feature Alcatraz on their itinerary. This notorious former federal prison was once home to some of the most dangerous criminals in the US like Al Capone and Alvin Karpis. The stories of Alcatraz are legendary and the experience of seeing “the rock” first-hand is surreal. Paying a visit to this infamous prison is a must for anyone coming to San Francisco.


https://pixabay.com/en/alcatraz-san-francisco-california-640356/

Festivals:

There are many street fair, carnivals, and festivals you can attend. Many of them are free of cost and the market streets remain crowded on these days. Each festival has its own quirky identity and almost all of them offer great music, local art, delicious food, and delightful entertainment. Some must-visit festivals are Union Street Festival, How Weird Street Fair, Carnival San Francisco and Fillmore Jazz Festival. 

Culinary Adventure:

Whether you are a foodie or not, you haven’t really seen San Francisco if you haven’t enjoyed the distinctive culinary scene. With Michelin star restaurants, street food, and everything in-between, San Francisco prides itself over the various kinds of dishes from various cultures that can be found in the city. This city is home to the oldest Chinatown in America where it still retains its own cultural identity and traditions; it is a testament of San Francisco’s openness to cultural diversity. As a tourist, you get to relish authentic dishes from different cultures in one city like Mexican burritos, Chinese dim sum, New England clam chowder, French pastries, and American BBQ Ribs!


https://unsplash.com/photos/q66grqqHpDQ

Dynamic Culture:

The reason for such an amazing culinary landscape is directly the result of its diverse and dynamic culture. San Francisco attracts various people from different backgrounds and these people bring pieces of their culture, making it a city with a global community. This beautiful blend of culture heavily influences San Francisco’s vibrant art, fashion, food, and music scenes.

Shopping Streets:

San Francisco is an underrated shopping destination as it boasts of a number of shopping districts. You can find branded outlets in Union Square. There are also many niche stores, boutiques, vintage shops, and family-owned specialty stores throughout the city. Some shopping districts worth visiting are Fillmore Street, Hayes Valley, Sacramento Street, and Embarcadero District. Take your time to soak up the sights and explore through the streets to satisfy your shopaholic impulses and find the best bargains.


https://pixabay.com/en/apparel-boutique-colors-design-1850804/

Sports:

Sports fans are sure to appreciate this one. San Francisco is the home of many sports stadiums and teams like the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, and the San Francisco 49ers. No matter what month you travel to this city, you will be able to enjoy a game. So, buy some tickets, join the energetic atmosphere, sip on craft beer, munch on hot dogs, and cheer on your home team.

Easy to Explore:

There is a reason why it’s often said that the City by the Bay is best discovered by foot. San Francisco is a blossoming city that is fortunately big on attractions and amenities despite being smaller in area. So, it’s quite easy to explore the whole city within a few days. If you don’t feel like walking, there are amenities for bike riders like bike lanes and bike parking area. You can also avail the services of rideshare apps and public transport for hassle-free transportation.

The Electrifying Nightlife:

San Francisco’s nightlife is always spirited and alive. You can choose multiple spots ranging from dive bars to high-end nightclubs. If you want something more unique, you can always check out some of the quirkiest spots that offer some of the best nightlife experiences. Some bucket list-worthy places to have a good time are Madrone Art Bar, The EndUp, Starlight Room, and Audio Discotech.


https://pixabay.com/en/dark-dj-turntable-hand-music-1850120/

San Francisco is a bustling city with a lot to offer. The city is a melting pot of diverse people and their cultural heritage, making the City by the Bay charming and richer. Only in San Francisco can you visit a notorious prison, relish authentic dishes from different cultures, go for a hike, watch a game, enjoy a romantic sunset, and end the day by jamming to a DJ set while appreciating art – all within the span of one day. San Francisco is truly a tourist’s paradise.

December 2, 2018 at 11:22 PM Leave a comment

10 Tips and Tricks for A Successful Wedding Party

Planning a wedding can be quite hectic, but also very interesting and fun if you always have a handle on things. There are things that are good to know, and then there are those that you must know if you are to have a smooth time planning. Considering everything that needs to be done, it’s very possible to get the feeling that you have missed something.

You can choose to incorporate customs when planning for your wedding. One the wedding traditions is using a wedding lasso rosary as a symbol of unity. The planning tips and tricks below will help you ensure that all your wedding plans are running smoothly, and that you will not get any last-minute surprises.

  • Your Guests Come First

Before you even settle on a venue, you should know the approximate number of guests you will be inviting. This will help you get a place with enough space for your guests, tables, waiters, band, dance floor, and other crew members. Ideally, 25-30 square feet per guest should be enough.

  • Understand the Weather

Nature is not a respecter of persons, and can throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. It therefore helps a lot to understand the weather patterns so you can avoid potential annoyances. Your best source of this information is the weatherman. Doing this will save you from cancellations because of hot summer weather or extremely cold winter days. Bugs can also be a nuisance in some places during certain times of the year. If your wedding coincides with such a period, making plans for bug repellent will save you from disappointment and embarrassment.

  • Be Organized and Focused

Being focused and keeping tabs about every aspect of your wedding planning will make sure that you remain on top of every situation that arises. The best way of doing this is getting a binder where you compile all correspondences, notes from meetings, and photos you think your vendors should see. It is also a great idea to create an email address specially dedicated to your wedding planning, and do not forget to save your vendor phone numbers in your phone. You can also download a wedding planner app to your smartphone to help you keep tabs on everything in an easy to access place.

  • Have Some Small Emergency Fund

You may have a well-planned budget with miscellaneous funds set aside, but nothing is ever guaranteed. To avoid last minute emergencies, you would be better placed if you had an extra amount for any surprise expenses that may pop up. 5 to 10 percent of your total wedding budget should be enough. This is not about expecting surprises, it’s about ensuring that even if something happens, you will be well prepared. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have a little extra pocket money for your honeymoon, so there is really no loss.

  • There is No Shame in Asking

When in doubt, ask. When you need recommendations, ask. The best people to go to or quality advice and recommendations – even more than friends and family – are your vendors. Do not be afraid of asking whether something you would like can be done, even if it’s out of the norm. It is your special day and you’ll have to live with the memory. You should therefore have honest conversations with them, and get their thoughts on what can and cannot work based on your wedding budget.

  • Have a Kids Policy in Place

When planning a wedding, it’s important to know what you want to do with the kids. If you want some peace and quiet during the ceremony, your best option would be to hire a child care service to take care at the children at the reception event, a hotel, or a friend’s home. This will avoid any hurt feeling too. Alternatively, you could choose to welcome the kids with open arms, or only allow immediate family.

  • Use Tiered Guest Lists

Using a tiered guest list could come in quite helpful in the event that you need to make some cuts to who you are going to invite. Top on the list should be your immediate family, bridal party, and your closest friends. Next should be relatives: cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. Under that, you can have colleagues, neighbors, your parent’s friends, friends of friends, and so on. This will make things absolutely easy for you if for some reason you need to make some cuts. Just begin from the bottom moving up, till you get to your ideal number.

  • Take One Step at a Time

The fastest way of crashing and burning when planning a wedding is trying to do everything at once. Do not make time an excuse. Even if your selected date is fast approaching, prepare a schedule and do things one at a time, beginning with the most important as you move to the least important. Also, make sure you’ve confirmed your date before hiring vendors, choose your space before booking a band, and settle for flowers before thinking about the cake. These will help you have things flowing and avoid going back and forth.

  • Give Driving Directions to Your Venue

Even if you choose a pretty central place, never assume that all your guests will know how to get there. To avoid anyone getting lost, wasted time, or last-minute cancellations, provide a simple map to the venue. You can create an online map or print them at the back of your invitation cards. It would also help if you can test out different routes to find one that will get them to the venue fastest. Not every short route is the fastest.

  • Keep a Communication ‘Paper’ Trail

Keeping a record of all communication between you and your vendors may come in quite handy. Even if it’s a small change to the time agreed, make sure you follow up with a short email confirming it. An example would be “Hello, just confirming that you’ll provide an extra person to help with…” Never settle for word of mouth agreements and assume that everything is set.

Bonus Tips and Tricks

Bonus 1: Schedule the Setup

Whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of time to set everything up.If you are getting outside help, ask when they can come in to begin setting things up. To be on the safe side, try getting most of the setup done a day before the wedding, and the final touches done early on the day of the event.

Bonus 2: Go Over the Ground Rules

Whatever space you are using, there must be some rules in place, and making sure you know what these are will save you lots of trouble afterwards. Ask the manager what you can or cannot do, so you can keep that in mind when planning. For example, if wedding outdoors, you may not be allowed to plant stakes, so you’ll have to think of an alternative.

This is by no means a conclusive list, but it covers all the stuff that gives most people a hard time. Using this as a guide will ensure that you have a smooth sail and that your day will be a great success.

November 21, 2018 at 2:03 PM Leave a comment

Earn Big Cash Back this week leading up to Black Friday

As a pre-Black Friday warm up, Swagbucks is offering big cash back for shopping online at several of your favorite retailers right now! Just go to this page to see all of the deals available and get the jump on your holiday shopping.

In order to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you’re all set! Your cash back comes in the form of SB points, which you can redeem for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, or get PayPal cash!

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before December 1st! This site’s a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

November 19, 2018 at 10:35 PM Leave a comment

Why Do You Tell Your Story?

A lot of non-bloggers, and bloggers for that matter, question the motivation of those who write blogs. And these days with the invention of Google ads and affiliate marketing it’s easy to see why. If a PF (personal finance) or FI (financial independence) blogger encourages readers to save 50% of their income than why are they simultaneously inundating those same readers with affiliate marketing offers that cost hundreds of dollars?

The same can be said of bargain blogs with names like “Money Saving” or “Save Your Dough” that “help” readers spend less of their hard earned money by providing affiliate links for incredible deals. It’s great to spend less on Christmas gifts and children’s toys, but these same posts may lead readers to buy more than they ever intended. Oh a deal just popped up on Legos maybe I should buy those for my son’s birthday. Oh, I see cookware is on sale it’s time to buy new pans. Remember that you aren’t saving money if you are spending it.

I unsubscribed from bargain blogs because I was tired of spending money on things that I really didn’t need. As a result of unsubscribing my spending on toys and clothing dropped dramatically. How can it be a deal if I didn’t really need the object I found myself buying?

Every time a reader clicks on one of those links or buys one of those “bargains” the blogger is compensated. Are bloggers profiting too much from these “deals”? Is it hard to swallow the ideas being spouted when you know that the creators of these blogs are being compensated for their posts and words? Would it make you feel better if these types of posts including links without kick-backs? It was certainly hard for me to read posts encouraging readers to save in between posts that linked to hundreds of stores.

I think it’s natural for a PF or FI blogger to monetize their blog. For the most part those who are interested in saving and/or financial independence will search for ways to earn more money. Heck, these days I read more posts about earning from side hustles than actually working hard in a primary career. Why? For one reason, it can be a whole lot easier to spout a bunch of stuff on the Internet then it is to figure out ways to make your work environment better or to ladder up in your career. Blogging can feel like an easy way to put money in your pocket without a whole lot of effort. But the truth is quality content is hard to come by and those who have a knack for telling their story will succeed where tons of posts with affiliate links will fail.

So why do you tell your story? Does the intention of the blogger matter?

This blog was originally called One Lucky Girl. I started it in 2006 after a major medical crisis left me stuck at home on short term disability. I faced a near death crisis and I was “lucky” to find medical help and survive. I was in my mid-twenties, home alone, frightened and insecure. I wanted a way to tell my story, which at the time, had absolutely nothing to do with money.

As the months progressed I wrote more about my personal finances, because I’ve always focused a lot on earning and saving. Back then I didn’t actually intend for anyone to read my words and I certainly didn’t plan to make any money off my blog. I just loved to write and was trying my best to get my mind off my worries.

Over time I found like-minded readers and bloggers whose mindsets were similar to my own. I wanted to connect with others who were searching for ways to build their bank accounts and manage their careers. I also found insight from those bloggers who wanted to downsize their lives and leave smaller footprints on the world.

When I first started blogging I thought of money in a completely different way than I do now. I thought about all of the properties I could own and all of the stability money would afford me. As the months progressed into years I began to view money as a key to financial independence, as a way to break away from the pieces of our lives that we don’t love.

If you can write quality content that inspires me to think in different ways or to consider options I’ve never considered before then it shouldn’t matter if you make money off your blog. After all, if you wrote a book you would certainly be compensated for your words.

But I do think it’s important for bloggers to ask why they write and for readers to question a blogger’s intentions. Why are bloggers telling their stories?

Is it strange for bloggers to believe in the importance of saving and reaching long term goals while simultaneously providing links to products they don’t believe in? Do the blogs you read add links to irrelevant posts and keep sponsored posts off of their blogs or at least out of their RSS feed like I do?

Like everything else on the Internet it’s tough to know what to trust. In my experience there is so much free information out there that it is rarely worth paying money to learn more. Keep that in mind when you click on links and pay for online programs. Remember a key step to financial independence is weighing your purchases and deciding when NOT to spend your money.

November 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM 4 comments

To Retire Early You Must Work Hard Now

Do you feel like you live in a get rich quick kind of world where people want to earn the most money for the least amount of effort? Do you listen to friends who dream of winning the lottery? Do your coworkers inundate you with multi-level marketing scams? Do you know someone who wants to start a blog, cram it full of affiliate links and wait for buckets of coins to fill her bank account?

If you are reading this blog you probably aren’t trying to do any of those things, but just in case you have wandered here from the other side of the Internet I have a secret for you: If you want to earn a million dollars you’ll need to work hard.

Most of us will achieve financial independence the old fashioned way with a 9-to-5 job. Yup, sorry to break the news to you, but it’s true. Give up a decade or two of your time in exchange for a paycheck. Save as much of that money as you can and wah-lah you too can become a millionaire.

Here’s the truth. The majority of us will reach FI through steady paychecks. It may sound awful and boring. You may think, holy heck I have to slave away five days a week for ten to twenty years before my pockets are overflowing with cash? The answer is yes, yes you will.

So if you have to work every day stop dragging your feet about it. Make the most of your career and figure out how to be good at what you do. You don’t need to be better than everyone else, but you need to convince the people around you that you put in your best effort every chance you get.

When you are young, (without a spouse and kids), you can throw yourself into your work. Remember you have a goal to save money, so now is the time to put in the gas to get you there. You have energy and passion that’s hard to muster after you start a family. Especially when your beautiful newborn baby wakes you up at one, three and five o’clock in the morning.

Whether you are just starting out or have been working for a decade your job is to look around your workspace and ask your coworkers how can we make this better? If you want to get noticed start asking “What can I do for you?” Stop complaining about work and start listening to the people around you.

You may find out that your coworkers need better training, your business partner thinks no one cares about deadlines, your project manager is running on fumes and your boss is inundated by a workforce that lacks needed skills. You may think you are too young or inexperienced to help, but try your best to think outside the box. Figure out ways to increase the communication between team members. Get the right people in the room to make decisions and help your boss see the problems without complaining about them. With a fair amount of effort you can create a satisfying work environment. When you put in the time to make the situation better it will get better and if it doesn’t start looking for a new job.

You may not want to work that hard. If you just graduated from college you may want to hit every happy hour and go out with your friends every other night of the week. Guess what, I don’t think you should do that.

If you want to reach financial independence early you need to adjust your expectations. You need to search for friends who want to spend a quiet evening with a home cooked meal and a glass of wine. You want to walk, jog and rock climb. You can meet up at the gym for kick-boxing, but make sure it’s the least expensive facility you can find in your area.

Does that sound like a bummer? Does that sound like something old thirty and forty somethings do? Probably, but if you want to reach a large savings goal you have to adjust your lifestyle. If you want to rest on your laurels you’ll have to wait a decade or two to do so.

At the end of the day we trade our life energy for cash and if you must go to work then learn to be good at what you do. Learn to be successful. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish that task search for mentors that can guide you.

For years I worked beside a coworker who came to work, put his feet up on the desk and read the newspaper. Can you be happy with yourself if you put in the minimal amount of effort each day? How can you feed your soul when you are unproductive and unhelpful to those who work alongside you?

Find a way to be competent. Search high and low for ways to be helpful. When your teammates are happy you will inevitably be happier too. Remember that your job might not feel like work if you find the work that’s right for you.

If you want to succeed at FI you can’t expect to take it easy. Hard work will lead to raises and promotions and ultimately to a more satisfying existence. Do you want to put your feet up and read the newspaper or do you want to put in your best effort to achieve a greater goal? If you want to watch your bank account grow you’ll need to do the latter.

Put in the effort to achieve financial independence while searching for satisfaction in the work you do.

November 15, 2018 at 3:19 PM 2 comments

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