How Becoming Debt-Free at 25 Changed My Life

I first learned about using “debt as a tool” in my job at a bank, but there were some major pot holes in my new “road to success.” I used things like credit cards and car loans to “get ahead” and establish my credit. Sounds pretty normal, right? The problem was, I didn’t do anything else. Using debt trumped the importance of saving for emergencies, budgeting my monthly expenses, investing while I was young, and spending less than I made each month. Becoming debt-free was not on my radar. How did things go for me? Well, I spent the first half of my twenties working hard with very little to show for it. I had no budget, no long-term plan, no debt-free plan, almost no savings, and a glowing credit report. I was missing some MAJOR pieces to a healthy financial foundation (basically all of them) and headed for disaster. . . . → Read More: How Becoming Debt-Free at 25 Changed My Life

How to Survive a Loss of Income

survive a loss of income

In 2012, my husband and I both worked full-time with no children. By 2014, we were a family of four living on a single income of less than $2,000 a month. It wasn’t an easy time for us, but I’m going to share with you the lessons we learned and applied to help us make it on our own two feet. By the end of this article, you will have a clearer understanding of not just how to survive a loss of income, but how to thrive afterward.

7 Ways to Survive a Loss Of Income

In the following steps, I’m going to outline what you can do today to prepare for a future income loss or how to survive a current loss. Many of the techniques my husband and I used were lessons we learned from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Whether or not you follow all of Dave’s . . . → Read More: How to Survive a Loss of Income

How I Lost 35 Pounds of Pregnancy Weight On a Budget

lose the pregnancy weight

Written by our regular writer (and now mom), Kimberly Studdard

I gained 65 pounds during my pregnancy. Sure, eight of those pounds were my daughter, but most of my weight came from Chinese food and hot fudge sundaes.

My wake up call came the day of my company’s 2015 Christmas party. I went to Target hoping to find a last minute party dress, only to find that nothing fit me. I knew I hadn’t lost all of the baby weight. In fact, I knew I had only lost about 15 pounds since giving birth to my daughter. But I wasn’t expecting to feel as sad as I did about not being able to fit in the cute clothes on the rack.

On that day I decided that I was tired of feeling bad about not being able to fit into the cute clothes I used to wear. . . . → Read More: How I Lost 35 Pounds of Pregnancy Weight On a Budget

How to Enjoy the Weekend While Battling Debt

debt can make you sick

In 2011, my newly wed husband and I decided to get out of debt. It felt counter-intuitive because it was, after all, our first year of marriage. Weren’t we supposed to be having fun and seeing the world, not battling debt in a tiny apartment and a rice and beans diet?

We didn’t understand it fully at the time, but spending our first year of marriage battling debt as a team was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Not only did it help us learn better financial habits, but it helped us change our behavior about money – and that having lots of it doesn’t directly correlate with “having fun.”

Fast forward to November 2012. At this point, my husband and I were living 100% off of his income and putting each of my paychecks toward our student loan and credit card debt. We sent our last check . . . → Read More: How to Enjoy the Weekend While Battling Debt

11 Conversation Starters to Help Your Kids Learn About Money

April was “Teach Kids to Save” month. Kids learn about money in dozens of ways. Whether or not those methods are beneficial is another story.

As parents, we must decide what we’ll do about the reality that our kids learn about money from credit card companies, advertisers, and Corporate USA very early on. We can let schools, classmates, TV shows, and Junior Achievement educators exclusively teach our kids about money OR we can start the conversations in our own home, today.

Where to begin. If you want to start talking about money with your kids but haven’t the foggiest where to begin, here are 11 conversation starters that should help get the ball rolling. Each of these is directly from another parent – many of whom run their own financial company, blog, or coaching business, and are passionate about teaching others how to raise money-smart kids.

11 Conversation Starters to . . . → Read More: 11 Conversation Starters to Help Your Kids Learn About Money

Why Traditional Budgets Don’t Work

traditional budgets don't work

I’ve never really ever stuck to a budget because I tend to rebel against them. No matter how hard I try to plan my finances down to the most minute detail, I can’t.

This is partially because I run a business so my income is different each month. It’s also probably because life doesn’t work with minute details. Life is messy.

Why Traditional Budgets Don’t Work

In fact, I personally find that the more I try to “budget” in the traditional sense – meaning I’ve allotted a fixed amount or percentage for certain things – the more I fail at it. I fail because life starts to suck and it goes against my need to feel freedom. Meanwhile, when I try other options – many of which I will mention in this blog – things tend to go smoother. It seems to me that traditional budgets don’t work for the . . . → Read More: Why Traditional Budgets Don’t Work

How to Get Back On Track After a Financial Setback

financially make someone's day

According to Money Magazine, 78% of Americans will have a major financial setback in any 10-year period. If you’re reading this, then the odds are you’ve had one. Perhaps it wasn’t major, but even a minor financial setback like an unexpected bill or an auto repair can leave us reeling.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Losing an income

Losing a job

Major car problems

IRS audit

Unexpected pregnancies

Unexpected medical bills

Unresolved poor money management

Those are ALL things I’ve experienced since living on my own, getting married, and starting a family. They’ve all taken place within the last 10 years. I call that last one my “head stuck in the sand” syndrome.

Your list will look different, but a financial setback has a universal effect on us.

It attacks our dollars. It attacks our resolve.

Losing . . . → Read More: How to Get Back On Track After a Financial Setback

How to Become an Automatic Millionaire

become an automatic millionaire

“What if I told you that in just an hour or two I could share with you a system that would slowly and surely transform you into a millionaire?”

Sounded like a bad sales pitch to me…like I was going to have to dish out $200 to a pyramid scheme before I could receive my millions. In fact, I almost took the CD out of our car stereo right then and there. Thankfully, I pressed on and let the man talk.

Liz and I were on our way back from Tennessee. It was a fantastically relaxing trip, filled with reading, hiking, and many daytime naps. We desperately needed it and were so happy we made the trip. On the way back, I decided to turn my brain on again to learn a little something about our personal finances. I popped in the book on CD, “The Automatic Millionaire” by . . . → Read More: How to Become an Automatic Millionaire

How to Spring Clean Your Budget

spring clean your budget

Spring is coming. With it comes the re-emergence of large portions of the population from their winter hibernation. Spring cleaning will commence with cars being scrubbed, closets being purged, and desks being re-organized. Who says you can’t spring clean your budget while you’re at it?

Strike while the iron of motivation is hot, I say. If financial success is on your agenda, then living within your means is the name of the game. A spending plan, less affectionately known to the world as a budget, is the strategy that will get you to the finish line.

How do you know if you should spring clean your budget?

Do you…

Try to budget regularly, but Christmas was a free for all and you’ve never really bounced back?

Come up short each month wishing you could put more toward savings?

Want to free up money to . . . → Read More: How to Spring Clean Your Budget

How to Treat Yourself When You’re On a Budget

small income emergency fund

The other day I walked into my office and the receptionist asked a question about how to go about treating yourself on a budget. The idea being that the very nature of a budget gets in the way of having fun.

Treating Yourself on a Budget

As with anything in life, finance should be a balance. Just like it’s not good to overspend, it’s also not good to be so strict that you don’t enjoy the fruits of your labor. The latter mostly causes rebellion anyway and before you know it you’re back at square one.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can maintain a budget while still treating yourself to something like a night out, a massage or some travel.

50/20/30 Budget

The 50/20/30 Budget is a popular one among enthusiasts of financial balance. The reason is because it helps you maintain a responsible budget while still allowing some . . . → Read More: How to Treat Yourself When You’re On a Budget