Debt Free Journey Reports, Money

2017 Debt Free Journey Report

In 2017, I paid off over $15,000 in credit card payments, car payments, and student loans with just my income. I worked many hours and put about 50% of my income to my debts. Here is a summary of 2017 on my financial peace journey!

I didn’t do a specific December Debt Free Journey Report, but instead I am just summing up the whole year into one post. What an absolutely crazy year for 2017. I have been sharing my story and working extremely hard to meet my goals. In case you missed any of my other debt free reports or my story, you can find them under my Debt Free Journey Reports. At the beginning of 2017, I said that I wanted to be debt free by December 31st, 2017. Ha. Little did I know, I didn’t actually make enough money for that to happen. I would have had to live in my parent’s basement and not spend a single penny on anything, and then I would have still been off on my income. Needless to say, I didn’t make my goal of being completely debt free. But I did accomplish a lot. In fact, I am not dwelling on the fact that I didn’t make my goal. Instead, celebrating all that I did. In 2017, I.. Paid off $15,000 in debt Debt January 1, 2017 December 31, 2017 Amazon Card $10.99 PAID JAN 17 Mary Kay Card $275.00 PAID JAN 17 Bank Credit Card $675.88 PAID JAN 17 Student Loan #1 $2,087.41 PAID APRIL 17 Jeep $2,500.00 PAID JULY 17 Student Loan #2 $3,550.00 PAID OCT 17 Student Loan #3 (PARENT PLUS) $11,634.62 $7,633 Student Loan #4 (PARENT PLUS) $13,218.78 $12,890 Completely Paid off my Jeep (2 1/2 years early). Paid off all of the student loans in my name Put a decent dent in the parent plus loans that are in my dad’s name. Paid off 40% of total beginning debt. Completed 2 No Spend Months. Maintained a “Pantry Challenge” or an “empty fridge challenge” mindset for eating the groceries I already have. Made 244 months of minimum payments. (Equals over 17 years of payments in 12 months) Got a new temporary job working full time for the Nebraska National Guard Moved into an apartment with my best friend. Worked a billion hours (exaggeration, but it felt that way)   Without accuring any interest,…

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Budget Tips, Money, No Spend Month Tips

5 Things To Prepare for a No Spend Challenge

Preparing for a no spend challenge is extremely important.

      One thing that has helped me tremendously with paying off $15,000 on a $30,000 income was No Spend Months! They may seem a little crazy, but you can accomplish anything in 30 days if you set your mind to it! No Spend Months are great for resetting your finances after a splurge or really just focusing in on what you already have. I wrote a whole post covering “What is a No Spend Months”, but basically I only spend money on gas, groceries, and pre-budgeted items. Every month is going to have a reason why you can’t do a no spend month. Every month is going to have a holiday, a birthday, a baby shower, or an excuse not to try to stick to your budget. I always sit down at the beginning of the month to decide what items are budgeted for throughout the month. Whether your goal is to not spend for one week, a month, or even a whole year, you have to be realistic about your goals. Everyone has to set their own rules for a no spend month. The best thing you can do for your goals is to prepare for obstacles that might come up throughout your no spend time. Here are 5 things to do to prepare for a No Spend Challenge: 1. Set your goal. When setting your goal, really think about why you want to do this challenge. Is it because you know you have been spending too much? Or maybe you have too much stuff in the house already and you are going to focus on getting rid of stuff and not bringing more in. Another great goal is to pay off the rest of a debt. If you are super close on one of your snowball accounts, maybe the whole point is to really focus on getting that student loan/credit card/car loan gone! When preparing for your no spend month, make a list of the things that you hope to get out of this month. I don’t recommend your goal being much more than half of your take…

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Budget Tips, Holidays

8 Ways To Change Your Christmas Budget

Does Christmas have you feeling stressed? Are you trying to squeeze in every Christmas tradition into 25 days, that are already filled with commitments? Here are 8 ways to change your Christmas Budget!

  Just like every year, Christmas is on December 25th. Even though we know that, it seems like it just “sneaks up on us” before we even get to plan anything. This year, instead of waiting until December 24th to start figuring out how to pay for the holidays, think about checking out these tips to making sure that you don’t regret all of Christmas once your January credit card statement hits. Christmas always comes up so quickly. I don’t know about you, but I am beaming with excitement. I can’t wait for Hall-o-ween to be over with so I can start decorating my apartment! The holidays are always my favorite time of the year with the sugar cookies, the Christmas trees and lights, and actually being able to spend time with my family. I can already hear the Christmas music in my head.I know it will come up faster than we expect, because it always does. This year, don’t let your budget be surprised by the Christmas holiday! 1) Set a budget before the holidays get here! Figure out exactly how much you think you are going to need. When I made my Christmas budget of $1000, it includes dinners with friends, decorations for my apartment, presents for everyone on my list, and any holiday festivities that may happen. I very carefully figured out what I thought was necessary for all of the different categories, but that still seems like too much for a holiday budget. I tried to think about last year to figure out what I spent, but I truthfully have no clue. In 2017, I way over did Christmas and ended up spending a ton of money on gifts!  For 2018, I am aiming to do a little better. I am unsure of what I will do for gifts for my family this year, but I am aiming for smaller and more meaningful. I realize that they don’t really need anything big! 2) Start buying or saving early Some people start buying things when they see them on sale. If you have the storage/hiding space, this…

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Debt Free Journey Reports, Money

October’s Debt Free Journey Report

October is so great for fall activities and some of the best foods on the planet. It was also a FANTASTIC month for my debt free journey. I did a NO Spend Month and made sure that I was only spending money on groceries, gas, and prebudgeted things. See here how I paid off $2000+ in one month on a SINGLE income.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This is one way that bloggers make money, but it is at absolutely no extra cost to you if you choose to make a purchase based on my suggestions! If you would like to read more about how this works, check out my Disclosure Policy! My Story If you have been following my story at all, you probably know that 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 22, 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. 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 the 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. 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 a rewarding and achievable thing. In his book, he says it will take work and it will be hard, but it will be worth it. He has been right.…

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Budget Tips, Money

14 Things that Waste Money, but I Refuse to Eliminate from my Budget

The biggest financial advice I have seen is what items that you should never pay for once you start your debt free journey. Maybe I just don't fit in, but I don't see eye to eye on all of the items that are a "waste" of money. I believe that if it brings ease or joy to your life, why eliminate it! Check out my list of 14 things that I waste my money on!

Lately, I have seen a ton of articles that focus on things you shouldn’t waste money on in your debt free journey. According to these, you should just go cold turkey on everything that is a “waste” of money. There are a ton of things that could be considered a waste of money to one person, but not another. I am all about ways that I can save money. This month, I am in the middle of my #SavvySagittariusNoSpend Challenge. When I am not spending money on anything, it makes it easier to see what I really do waste money on. This isn’t how I am doing my debt free journey at all. There are still quite a few things that I purchase that are on most of these lists. I am always looking for ways to save money, but there are a few things that I am just not willing to stop “wasting” money on. Because I won’t give them up, I have found a few ways to save some money on these things. Your debt free journey doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Continue to enjoy the life you have, but do so responsibly.

Budget Tips, Money

Sinking Funds: What are they and why you NEED them RIGHT NOW

Sinking funds is a term that can be a little confusing. Here is a complete guide to making sure you know what you are doing and help you really get your budget together!

Have you ever known that you have a big expense coming up, but decided to figure it out when you get there? Does Christmas “surprise” you ever year, even though it is ALWAYS on December 25th? Do your January credit card bills make you a little bit of a scrooge? I have been posting on Instagram about my sinking funds lately and a lot of people have questioned what I mean when I use that term. I think the name came from Dave Ramsey, but let’s face it, our grandparents and great grandparents really invented the wheel when it comes to no debt finances. Grandma knew what it meant to save her money for a rainy day. I started my debt free journey on January 1st, 2017 and I have not had to pull money out of my emergency fund once because I have my sinking funds. They are a little confusing, but hopefully this guide will help you get started. Here are the most commonly asked questions I get about my sinking funds: How does it work? A sinking fund is a type of savings for irregular or yearly expenses. For example, you pay $600 every 6 months for car insurance. Instead of ignoring it and waiting until the time comes up to pay for it, a sinking fund sets aside a portion of the payment every single month. In this case, it would be $100 a month. It may feel like you are putting away a lot every month, but I promise that it will save you tons in the long run! When you start getting the hang of looking at sinking funds as an expense, it becomes a lot easier to put money away every single month!

Budget Tips, Money

How To Use The Debt Snowball to Get Out of Debt Quick!

  Imagine yourself looking at the money in your bank account. You have no monthly housing payment. No student loan payment. Your car is paid off. All you pay for monthly is your phone, utilities, food, investments/savings, and your “want” list. You must think that I am crazy. But this is my goal by 25. Debt paid off. House paid for without a mortgage. Money in the bank. Many people love the idea of being debt free, but once they start looking at their bills, they have no idea where to even start. Or, they are so overwhelmed with just the monthly payments that they can’t even imagine paying more on any of the debts. Whatever your case is, if you want to be debt free, you will find a way to do it! I am on a one person income and slowly but surely working my way to being debt free! If you are a Dave Ramsey follower, then you have heard of the Debt Snowball. Some people have heard of it other places as well. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to keep the motivation to get debt free! The snowball isn’t directly Dave Ramsey’s, but it is the system that he uses in his Financial Peace University. The other day I read a Dave Ramsey quote on Instagram about the “Debt Snowball” that said “It isn’t about the math, it is about the momentum.” If it were about the math, you wouldn’t be paying 25% on credit cards to get the 2% cash back points.  This is such a good thing to keep in mind when starting out. Don’t get caught up in the fear of paying a little more interest of some of your bigger debts when you could completely pay off some of your smaller ones. The whole purpose of the snowball is to clear smaller debts to give you more money towards your bigger ones, like a snowball rolling downhill. There are definitely other methods to paying off debt, so do your research and do what is best for you.…

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Food, Money

13 Things to Do to Avoid Fast Food

Fast food is the hardest part of almost every budget. It is usually where I go over every month. Most of that is due to poor planning. Here are 13 Things that I do that make it easier to say no to fast food!

Fast food has become the meal plan where homemade meals once stood. Many families who once ate at the dinner table for every meal are finding themselves sitting in a fast food drive thru between school and soccer practice. Or maybe it is midnight and you still haven’t eaten anything, so the answer is to get food on the way home from work! I constantly struggle between not having enough time to cook and not having enough money to eat fast food every day. I refuse to eat out often, especially since I am trying to become a healthier me in the midst of My Debt Free Journey.  While trying to live a rice, beans, and ramen lifestyle, I am also trying to lose weight and get my butt back into shape. It hasn’t been easy, let me tell you. Throughout my journey, I have found myself working out more (because it is something free to do). When I workout, I don’t want to eat fast food all of the time because it doesn’t make me feel great. I fuel my body with better foods when I can. One of the best things I have done is cut down on fast food. The drive thru very rarely means anything healthy and it usually adds up fast. Every time I talk to someone who is struggling with their budget, it usually boils down to spending too much money eating out, when money should be going elsewhere. If you spend even $5 a day on miscellaneous food, you could unknowingly be spending over $1,800 a year on it. That isn’t including the actual times when you eat out for special occasions or with other people. According to Reference.com, Americans as a whole spend 384 million dollars a year on fast food alone. That seems absolutely outrageous! Here are 13 Tips to Start Avoiding Fast Food Like the Plague. Make the choice not to eat it Being intentional about anything can help you reach any goal whether it is physical, financial, or mental. Deciding that you just aren’t going to eat fast food is…

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Budget Tips, Money

7 Steps I Took to Pay off $7000 in 7 Months

If you have followed me at all, you have heard all about my debt free journey. Maybe reading about my story has made you curious. Didyou stumbled upon my post about Why You Should NOT Start Your Debt Free Journey and it inspired you, or at least got you thinking. Maybe you have no clue what I am talking about when I say “My Debt Free Journey.”  Or you simply want to know how I have paid off $7,250 since the beginning of the year. It is crazy that this has been my life for 7 1/2 months because I feel like it was just yesterday that I started this journey. But some days it feels like I have been at this forever. I have poured my whole life into doing everything I possibly can to speed up the steps. I read some great inspiring stories about how people trade in their brand new car for a 10 year old car and they are able to pay off debt super easy.I am so happy for them, but that isn’t my story at all. All of my debt is student loans and I live in an apartment, so nothing big to sell here. There is no acquired money from relatives, just from working a lot.  I am not married, so I don’t have anyone else’s income to live off, just my own. This year has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned that I have a lot more determination than I originally thought. I can also go days without getting more than 5-6 hours of sleep. This year has been a long one, but I am taking it step by step. I am 22, not married, and no kids. Here are my 7 steps to start paying off your debt: 1) Read Total Money Makeover You can start your journey without this step. I actually tried it a few times before without actually reading the book. But let me tell you, once I read the entire book in just a few days, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough…

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Blogging, Money

Why You Should NOT Start Your Debt Free Journey

I have read every big debt free journey blog out there. Maybe not every single one, but I have read a lot. I spend countless hours every week going through Pinterest finance pins to schedule on my Tailwind! I spend so much of my very little free time on other blogs reading their stories. Using their lives to encourage myself to keep going. I get up early (some mornings) and work on my blog. Days that I have a longer break in between the two jobs are spent looking through Pinterest. I get off after 12 hour days and focus on knocking out content for my own blog. They all tell you how great it feels to be debt free! Even write about things they do because they are debt free. They list a million reasons why you need to start your debt free journey right that moment. I talk about how absolutely great it is to be able to pay off $1,500 of debt in one month. Because it is, it feels amazing. They tell you that you just need to give up these 5 certain items and you will be debt free in no time. Heck. I’m a blogger. I do this. But we all know that isn’t how it works. I started my debt free journey in January of 2017 and blogging about it at about the same time. I knew if I put my goals out there, there would be no reason for me not to complete them. But there are soo many things bloggers don’t talk about. What the bloggers don’t tell you is that while on your debt free journey, you will miss doing cool things with your friends and family sometimes. You will sit in the office with your “sad” lunch while you watch everyone else leaving together to go grab some great food. You may end up working through your lunch because you are the only one left in the office. Because you probably have two jobs now, you may eat more meals in your car or at your desk than you…

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