Debt Free Journey Reports

2018 Mid-Year Update

Disclaimer: This mid-year update is almost a full month late, but I am finally getting it together to write this post! My Story! If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey! My name is Elyse. I am 23, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt freeeee. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). For that month of December, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. Towards the end of the month, I was cleaning off a bookshelf, getting ready to move (again), and found The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. This $15 book completely changed my life path at the time. Dave describes being debt free as such…

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Budget Tips

15 of the Best Summer Money Saving Hacks

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year! The warm weather, my fun tank tops, playing in the water, and eating ice cream.  The days get longer and my tan gets darker. I love being outside and just enjoying the “American” summer favorites. Throughout middle school, I spent almost every single day at the waterpark in my small Nebraska town. I was surrounded by friends and we could swim from open until close every day of the week! Summer is also by far the easiest time to completely blow my budget. I get a little careless with “enjoying life” and focus less on staying on budget. During the winter, it feels so much easier to just stay inside and not spend any money. With the cold weather, you may just want to go home and stay at home all evening, but in the Summer you want to get out and enjoy all of the nice weather and fun activities! Summer can make it easy to let loose on the budget. But staying on budget in the summer is just as important! How to Save Money in the Summer:  Food and Drinks: Grocery Store Ice Cream ​​Instead of going out for ice cream, pick up some ice cream bars at the grocery store. Even an expensive box of ice cream is cheaper than 2-3 ice cream treats at a fast food restaurant. The other day I went to Dairy Queen and got a small blizzard. $3.30. I could have gotten a small pint of ice cream at the store! Getting your great summer treats from the grocery store can save you a pretty penny instead of trying to get it at a restaurant! If you are feeling extra creative, try searching for ways to make your own ice cream at home! I have done some of the Ziplock bag ice creams and they are always so much fun! Fire Up Your Own Grill Instead of going out for steaks and burgers, grill them up yourself. Creating your own masterpieces at home can be a ton of fun and can…

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Christian, Money

5 Things I Learned From David and Goliath about my Debt Free Journey

The story of David and Goliath has been used to tell many lessons, but here are just a few of the things I learned while I was reading it and applying it to my Debt Free Journey. #davidandgoliath #debtfreejourney #lessonslearned #godonmyside #godlydebtfreejourney #withgodanythingispossible

David and Goliath is a bible story that has been used many, many times over to make a point about winning battles when God is on your side. It is the story of a young boy who steps up to battle to fight Goliath, a well trained warrior.  They are representing their lands, but David is just a small shepherd who’s job was to tend to his father’s sheep. He wasn’t a fighter. David stood up to fight against Goliath. While David was scared, he was confident that God was on his side. God would protect him, and he did. Most of us have heard the story about David and Goliath. If you have been to church even once or twice, you probably have a good idea of the story. I remember growing up and watching the Veggie Tales story of David and Goliath as well. If your childhood wasn’t filled with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, then you seriously missed out! If you don’t have your own bible to read the story, I strongly recommend checking out the “She Reads Truth” Bible. The story of David and Goliath came up in the devotional that I have been doing. It really made me think about David and Goliath in a day to day aspect. Sometimes it seems like such a kid story because I was told the story probably a million times while growing up in bible studies and Sunday School. But David and Goliath isn’t just talking about a young boy defeating a giant. It is told as a reminder that overcoming obstacles isn’t impossible. It is about reminding you that you can do anything. Here are 5 things that I learned about my Debt Free Journey from the story of David and Goliath. 1) Your opponent may seem huge. “He was nine feet, nine inches tall and wore a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed on hundred twenty-five pounds.”  (1st Samuel 17:4) Goliath was huge and he was well trained, but in the end, David still wins. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what your “opponent” may be.…

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Budget Tips, Food, No Spend Month Tips

How This Single, Millennial Spends Less than $200 a Month on Groceries!

Saving money on food can be one of the hardest things sometimes! I mean, you need it to survive, right? I have done good about keeping my grocery budget under $150 a month! Here are a few of my tips on how to keep your grocery budget low!

I recently posted a picture of my budget on Instagram and I have been talking about my No Spend Month Budget a lot lately. My grocery budget for the month is usually about $150-200 a month! A ton of people have asked me how it is possible. During my No Spend Months, I often cut it down to $100. I will start by saying that I do not fall into “organic” traps. I don’t have any special dietary needs and I haven’t cut any major food groups out of my diet. While I think there is a healthy balance of proteins, fats, and carbs, I also think that life is far too short to deny yourself of anything you want. Your body is also designed to run off of all three macros. That being said, I am not a nutritionist, so you don’t have to listen to what I am saying about food! People are asking, so I am sharing the raw truth of how I eat so cheap so I can pay off more debt. In 2017, I paid of more than $15,000 in 12 months and I have continued to pick up the momentum with every month so far in 2018. Here is how I keep my grocery budget under $200. I work in a restaurant I could write a whole post about how working in a restaurant has cut my grocery budget! This is probably my number one reason my budget is so incredibly low. I spend 40+ hours in the restaurant most weeks. At least one day a week, I am there from open to close, which usually means that I eat 2-3 “meals” at the restaurant. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know there is usually “dead”/extra or messed up food that is up for grabs. There are nights of eating wings that were tossed in the wrong sauce or extra fried chicken that was never used. I am definitely not saying it is the healthiest, but it works and it’s free. I always make sure that the food is extra before…

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Budget Tips, Christian

Tithing During My Debt Free Journey

Tithing has been on my mind and heart an awful lot lately. I have started a new bible study over Proverbs and it talks a little about it. Tithing is the act of giving your first 10% of your income to God. I have often thought about it as I do my monthly budget. God has always had a line in my budget, but I am now thinking about increasing it. The Bible talks about it in Leviticus 27:30, “Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD. It is holy to the LORD.” Leviticus is talking about produce and fruit because that was a valuable currency, but it is now translated into the money that we make. 10% seems like a lot when you start doing the math. I have always thought that I was a generous person, until I started this Bible study. Last week, I was talking with a friend who is also trying to pay off her debt. She was telling me how she just sold some clothes for $17. While it was very little, she brought it up that she was excited to tithe the $1.70. Her message to me really stood out. “It’s important to me to tithe 10% of anything I make. Regardless of the amount. Showing God my heart, you know?” No. I actually didn’t. I was so speechless about her message that I actually just sat there staring at it for a minute or two. Sure, on the weeks that I went to church, I would throw a $10 or $20 in the basket as it came around. I had seen my parents do that for YEARS. Actually, I remember being really small sitting on my dad’s lap in church. When the offering plate would come around, he would hand me the folded up check and I would get to put it in there.  I remember being so incredibly excited about dropping it in there. But it is easy to give when the check is coming out of someone else’s bank account.…

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Budget Tips, Food, Money, Uncategorized

13 Daily Habit Changes that Will Change Your Bank Account

Recently I read the quote “You aren’t going to change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Ouch. That hit hard. I wanted the success. I wanted to work from home. But, when I was tired after working two jobs for other people. The last thing I wanted to do was work on my own blog and my own dreams. I knew that I had to reconsider what I was doing daily and if it matched up with my goals. Shocker, it didn’t. I was working every single day and paying off debt, but I wasn’t getting anywhere on any of my other goals. Bartending is not my calling and I don’t want to be there the rest of my life. I needed to make a change. Remember that your daily habits aren’t going to change overnight. They are small intentional things that will take a little bit of time to change. If you haven’t read S. J. Scott’s Book, Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness, I STRONGLY recommend this book! I also began applying this to my finances. What things do I do daily that match up/ don’t match up with my financial goals. There were a ton of things that I do daily, but thinking of how they affected my financial goals was eye opening. I started implementing SMALL daily changes. I started with one or two of these habits and have worked up to doing more of them as time progresses. 13 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Bank Account 1) Making coffee at home or at the office It is no secret that coffee is crazy over priced. If you can get into a habit of making your coffee at home daily instead of swinging buy Starbucks to get it every day, your wallet will thank you big time. Any coffee shop usually charges $3-6 for a cup of coffee. Even McDonald’s “McCafe” drinks are $3+! At one point I figured out the math that with the purchase…

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Budget Tips, Making Money, Money

Financial Apps You Must Have When Trying To Pay Off Debt!

Do you ever feel like you have a million apps on your phone but you are still searching for the best one? I have been working hard at pay off all of my debt and in the mean time, I have been compiling a list of my favorite tools. There are so many financial tools out there to use that it can be hard to know which tools to use and which ones overlap to do the same things! I have spent a ton of time looking and trying different apps for my phone to get cover all of my needs. Here are a list of my favorite financial apps that have helped me on my debt free journey! Ibotta It is no secret that I love Ibotta. I have shared this multiple times on Instagram. Ibotta is a grocery rebate app. I am all about saving money on groceries. Instead of saving money up front like with coupons, it is a receipt scanning app. The app will pay you for scanning your receipt when you purchase certain items. I love Ibotta because there are a ton of different things on there. Alcohol, produce, meat, frozen foods, and household items can all be found with rebates. Checking it regularly can mean getting cash back on things that you are already getting! When you sign up for Ibotta, you will get a $10 welcome bonus when you redeem your first rebate! (Who can beat free $10!) Acorns Acorns one is pretty new to me, but I have been checking it out lately and I am totally in love so far! It is an investing app for dummies. I have set up my debit cards to round up the purchase so money goes into my investing account when I make a purchase. Acorns also allows you to set up recurring payments. It takes all of the guess work out of what to invest in, because you can just choose your risk level. The app does the rest for you! I have figured out that if I started investing $600 a month (which…

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Budget Tips, Money

The Ultimate Guide To The Cash Envelope System

  Cash Envelopes are the best way to curve your spending because it has been proven that cash is mentally harder to spend than swiping your card!  This system is nothing new to the budgeting world. In fact, this is probably how your great-great grandma carried her budget! If it worked for her, it could definitely work for you! Cash Envelopes are exactly what they sound like. Envelopes or Clips to hold cash that is specifically allocated for a certain category. Things like eating out, groceries, and misc/personal spending are usually the most popular categories for your envelopes, but they can be so many more than that. Cash envelopes allow you to assign a certain amount of money to a category. Once the money in that envelope is gone, there is nothing left for you to spend! They take a few months to get the hang of, but soon you will be rocking and rolling your way to spending less! How to Set up Cash Envelopes? Gather all of your materials To get started you will need envelopes, a pen, a small notebook (small enough for a piece of paper to fit inside of the envelope), clips, and a place to put them! I also use sticky notes to label each clip. I use an old recipe box to keep all of my envelopes organized. The old, decorated milk jug is my coin jar where I put all of my loose change. It actually adds up pretty quick and it is a nice extra $50 every other month. I have seen people use all different kinds of envelopes as well. There are plastic envelopes (which will hold up a little bit longer), or paper envelopes with a ledger if it makes it easier for you to track. Or you can decorate your own. I started with basic office envelopes, but I have been thinking about upgrading! Make a list of budget categories that cash spending would help with These can be all different kinds of things based on your budget and your family. Because I am a waitress, I have…

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Millennial Stuff, Money

Refinance Student Loans: Why I Did It and Is it Right For You?

The refinance on my student loans went through! Having student loan debt has probably been one of the most complicated things for me to figure out on my debt free journey. When I started my journey, I had about $7,500 in debt in my own name, but I also had student loans in my dad’s name. They were “parent plus” loans, which ultimately means that my dad was technically responsible for the payments on them. I had attempted to go through the original loan company to get myself added to the account, but they continually told me that because they were parent plus loans, it was not my account and I was not responsible for them. However, I knew when I took them out, that I was ultimately responsible for making the payments on them. When I started looking into my student loans more, I realized my interest rate was high. I was paying over 7% interest on $25,000+. It ended up calculating out to $8 a DAY in interest since 2014.  I don’t regret taking out my student loans, even though I don’t have my degree yet, but I didn’t want to continually pay on them over and over again in interest. I finally decided to refinance my student loans through SoFi, (Social Finance).  Why did I refinance my student loans? 1) They were in my dad’s name. Because I have been throwing all of my money at them, I have paid off about $3,000 in interest off in the last year. When it comes to taxes this year, it will all go to my dad’s name instead of my own. Ultimately, it is fine, but that tax break would have went right back towards my debts. 2) My credit score had gone up 120+ points since I had originally took out student loans. This helps because when I took out loans, I had almost no credit. I didn’t get approved for very much, but my dad did. Now that my credit went up, I can actually get approved for the amount that my education costs. 3) 7.4% interest…

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Money, No Spend Month Tips

5 Ways to Avoid Derailing Your Progress From Your No Spend Month

Many of you have been following my No Spend Month Challenge. I have done three no spend months and plan for many more in the future! They are great for the budget and awesome for a financial detox! No spend months have helped me learn a ton about my friendships and my spending habits! If you have been participating in a no spend month, you may already be planning your first purchase as the month is coming to an end. I don’t want you to think of the end of a no spend month as permission to go crazy. When you give yourself permission to spend, I hope that you remain intentional about your spending. During my last no spend month, I was able to put $2,450 towards my student loans because I simply avoided purchasing anything. I only spend $84 on groceries for the month and $104 on fuel for my vehicle. Throughout the month, I did spend about $70 on eating out. That is far less than I normally spend. I didn’t spend any money on clothing, home decor, or entertainment. A no spend month requires a lot of discipline, will power, and motivation. It sets you up for a great detox of your budget and allows you to take a step back and see where else you could cut spending in your budget. After putting that much focus on not spending, it can be hard to transition into intentional spending again. It can be hard not to completely blow your whole month’s budget in the first few days of the month because you may feed deprived after a no spend month. Here are 5 things to help you avoid derailing your progress that you made during your no spend month. 1) Plan for one reward. Do it. When I talked about preparing for your no spend month, I suggested that you create a reward for the end of the month. It should be something that you can look forward to during the month. Maybe it is a small home purchase or a dinner out, but I suggested…

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