Debt Free in 2016

Many of us have our sights on making 2016 the year we take control of our finances. The year, we conquer debt once and for all. The year we establish financial security in our home and STOP stressing over bills.

Have you decided “enough is enough”? Have you told yourself “I work too hard to be living paycheck to paycheck?” or perhaps “We make too good of money to be in this financial situation.”

Will 2016 be Your Year?

Will it be the year you draw the line in the sand. When you say “no more” to financial stress, living paycheck to paycheck, the never ending cycle of debt payments. Will 2016 be the year you claim DEBT FREEDOM?

There has been a dramatic increase in people checking out the Calculate Your Debt Free Date post as well as the STOP Living Paycheck to Paycheck,and  Paying Off Debt While Living Paycheck to Paycheck posts in the last few weeks. So, to say the least YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are many of us who have had enough and are ready to get our finances on track.

Are YOU ready to shout at the top of our lungs “TODAY is the DAY! I am saying “NO” to living like “normal” broke people. TODAY is the day I am starting my financial journey. TODAY is the first day of a much brighter financial future for my family!

Debt Free in 2016

My husband and I started our financial journey 4 years ago with a pile of debt that amounted to over $170,000!!! Now we are looking at 2016 being OUR YEAR! Our year we claim DEBT FREEDOM once and for all!

After four years of budgeting, sacrificing and putting in the hard work to eliminate our debt. It is finally going to happen! That light at the end of the tunnel is bright, so BRIGHT! I can visualize us reaching debt freedom in the near future!

Standing her today, being so close to debt freedom, I am shouting to you in the tunnel that seems so dark at times. I am shouting words of hope and inspiration. Debt is NOT forever. Keep striving, keep budgeting, keep paying off those debts one dollar and one day at a time. You WILL reach this glorious feeling that overwhelms you with gratitude. The feeling of freedom, hope, and peace that debt freedom brings to your life!

I have anticipated the moment we can scream FREEDOM from the mountain tops so many times over the past few years. How good it is going to feel to owe absolutely NO ONE anything but love and respect. To have the peace of mind to know our financial future is promising with plenty of opportunities of outrageous generosity. The opportunity to raise our son in a lifestyle free from financial burdens. Debt freedom is within our reach with only $16,000 left to pay on our mortgage and we are inspired, motivated, and determined to break the chains of debt once and for all.

Debt Free in 2016

DEBT FREE in 2016!

 

Where do I Start?

You may be saying “Good for you Nichole, but I am not 4 years into my journey. I am taking my first steps to commit to a better financial future. Where do I start?”

 

 

Will an Extra $20, $50 or $100 Really Make a Difference?


Do you have a difficult time believing an extra $20, $50, or $100 created by following a plan and busting your tail will make a difference in your finances. Well, here are some numbers that may just change your mind.

Example:

Carla has $2,650 in credit card debt. She desperately wants to pay off these debts in 2016. Her minimum payment is $74.97 each month, with an interest rate of 15.9%.  

  • Minimum Payment – If she continued to pay minimum payments without incurring another charge on her credit cards. It would take her 4 YEARS to pay off her credit cards.
  • Extra $20/month – A measly 20 extra dollars per month. That is one less night of ordering pizza or spending $5/week less on groceries. Or babysitting for a couple hours each month. An extra $20… eliminates an ENTIRE YEAR!!! Her credit cards would be paid off in 3 years.
  • Extra $50/month – That is going from premium cable to basic cable, one less restaurant meal for the family, or working an hour of over-time each week. This $50/month cuts her credit card debt payments nearly in HALF!!! It would take her 26 months to pay off her credit cards.
  • Carla’s goal is to Pay Off the credit cards in 2016. Is it going to take $200 or $300 extra each month to pay them off??? 
    Let’s try an extra $170/month – That is cutting cable tv and eliminating a couple restaurant meals. If she made the two sacrifices. She would be credit card DEBT FREE in ONE YEAR!!! She would reach her 2016 financial goal!!! I know this may seem “impossible” at the moment.

    However, once you have your monthly budget in front of you. See if you can eliminate or reduce a few expenses and try to create a little extra income. An extra $10-$20 here and there can make a HUGE difference in your monthly debt pay-off!

 

Ready to change your finances in 2016?
Why not commit to The $1,000,000 Challenge?

The $1,000,000 Challenge is a group of individuals who are determined to get our finances on track in 2016. We are all at different points in our financial journey. Some of us just beginning to take control of our finances and others who have been on this journey for five or more years!

We all have one common goal. A goal to pay off debt, save, and invest a combined ONE MILLION DOLLARS by the end of 2016!!!

This group will inspire you, encourage you, answer your financial questions, provide money saving tips, and hold you accountable to your financial goals! Join The $1,000,000 Challenge TODAY!!!

 

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Find Inspiration when Your Finances are Discouraging

Finding inspiration (1)

There have been moments in our three and half year financial journey that have been downright discouraging. There have been moments where I have been tired of counting pennies and in exhausted from our frugal living habits. Absolute frustration from unexpected car and house repairs that totals in the thousands.

There have been numerous days when I have wanted to quit striving for debt freedom and financial independence. I have wanted to give up on our dreams of financial security and just settle for being “normal”… you know, the mountain of debt from all of our “stuff” normal.

All of our financial journeys will have obstacles. Whether it is a broken down car, a leaking roof, or an emergency medical bill that sends our budget and financial plans into a tail spin. These hiccups will be there, it is part of life.

These obstacles can be discouraging and may cause self-defeating thoughts. But after we are done whining and pouting, we need to “get back on the horse.”

It is always easier said than done. Right? How do we find motivation and inspiration to push us forward and out of this financial rut where we have found ourselves? Well, today I am sharing five techniques that have helped me find inspiration when our finances have been discouraging.

5 Techniques to Find Inspiration when Your Finances are Discouraging

Reflect on Your Progress

Get the old debt statements and bank statements out and reflect on how far you have come in your journey. Think about where you would be if you had not started this challenging, but very rewarding journey.

Lately I have been discouraged about our mortgage and possible debt free date. We PCS (military move) next summer and of course we need to save for this move. This savings will decrease our debt payments, which will impact our 100% debt free date by six months or so. I know it may seem silly. But when we are this close to the finish line, things like this can be discouraging.

Instead, I need to be completely amazed by our progress. Our current mortgage is $33,995 but do you know that if we had stuck with minimum payments. Our mortgage would still be $115,950. We would have only paid $8050 off the principal of the mortgage… after FOUR YEARS of payments!!! YIKES! So you see. We are in a much, MUCH better financial position than if we had just kept our heads in the sand.

Read Financial Success Stories

Reading about others who are winning with money, who have overcame obstacles to tackle debt once and for all is extremely inspiring. Stories of people who are like you, who have overcame debt can encourage and make you believe you can do it too.

One of my favorite things to do is to read about people who are winning with money. I have a collection of debt free stories on my Pinterest board: “Debt Free Stories.” Be sure to read a few and follow the board, so you will be the first to know when I come across a new, inspiring debt free story.

Listen to the Dave Ramsey Radio Show

You all know I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan. He definitely “keeps it real” but is also very motivating and encouraging. He features people from all walks of life, in all different financial situations on his radio show. I am sure you will be able to relate to some callers and find inspiration from others.

You can listen to the Dave Ramsey Show on the iheartradio app, or the Dave Ramsey Show app in the audio archives, or on your computer, or the old fashion radio (find your local station).

My favorite callers are the debt free callers and the “Average Joe Millionaire” callers. Just yesterday, I came across this clip of one call on the Dave Ramsey Show app. The caller was 51 years old and had a net worth of 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS!!! Get this, he served in the military for 26 years and had an average income of $70,000. It is calls like this, that reaffirm that my husband and I can definitely retire comfortably someday.

Treat Yourself

Living on a strict budget, living on beans and rice and feeling like you are “poor” or “broke” all the time can be extremely discouraging. Remember to take a step back from your situation and celebrate small achievements.

You have been paying off debt intensely. You have eliminated a debt or two because of your extreme focus and intensity regarding your financial goals. Remember to slightly let off the gas from time to time to enjoy your accomplishments. Reward yourself with a coffee date or a special dinner at home. Treating yourself occasionally, after paying off a debt or reaching a goal, will help prevent burnout and discouragement on your financial journey.

Give Back

Often times we struggle with discouragement in our financial journeys because we struggle with contentment. In today’s world, many of us keep in contact with our many friends and family members through social media. Well, out of our hundreds of “friends” on social media. You can easily bet someone will always be sharing pictures of their vacation. or their new house, or new car, or new boat or whatever the case may be. Today’s world makes it extra challenging to find contentment.

One of the best ways I have found contentment and has also readjusted my perspective was to give to the less fortunate. Whether you give your time or money or you simply spread acts of kindness and generosity. Your perspective will be realigned and it will be easier to find contentment during your financial journey

What Do You Think:

How Do You Find Inspiration?
What Do You Currently Find Discouraging about Your Finances?

 

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How Investing Small Amounts of Cash can Pay Off Big in Retirement

Optimized-How Investing (2) How Investing Small Amounts of Cash can Pay Off in Retirement

In light of Military Saves Week, let’s talk about saving for a bit. Yes, I more often than not talk about debt eradication. However, today let’s turn the tables and talk about compound interest working in our favor!

On Friday, I shared this article, “How a 1% Savings Boost Could Sweeten Your Retirement” on Facebook. This article demonstrates how investing just 1% of your income can make a difference in your retirement. It provides examples of different ages and incomes. Check it out.

Investing Small Amounts of Cash

What Does 1% Accomplish for the Median American Household?

Let’s consider the median income of an American household, which was $53,891 (2014). One percent of this income is just $49/month. Most of us could think of a few ways we could trim back our budgets or make a little extra money in order to “find” an extra $49/month.

Let us assume this person is 30 years old and will retire at 65 years old. Just $49 extra dollars per month will add $104,985 (assuming 8% returns) to his or her retirement! Less than $50/month and you end up with over $100,000! Isn’t compound interest AMAZING! I love when it is working for us and not against us!

This extra $104,985 will provide an extra $745/month in retirement (assuming expectant life expectancy of 100 years). Considering a 3% inflation rate, this is equivalent to $265/month in today’s dollar. This is not a huge amount, but it is plenty to keep groceries on the table or keep your utilities paid or make special trips to see your grandchildren. By sacrificing less than $50/month today, you could possibly ensure a “comfortable” retirement.

Where Can We Find $49/month?

  • Call insurance competitors and make sure you are getting the best rates possible.
  • Use one less tank of gasoline per month. Carpool, walk when possible and combine shopping trips.
  • Avoid your favorite stores. When not careful we mindlessly spend $50 without even thinking about it.
  • Eat 1-2 less meals at a restaurant each month.
  • Switch your phone plans to a less expensive plan.
  • Downgrade to basic cable or cut cable completely.
  • Spend ~$10/week less at the grocery store by meal planning, couponing, stockpiling, buying generic brands, meatless meals, and not buying convenience foods
  • Cut back on a “bad habit”: one less bottle of wine per week, 2 less packs of cigarettes in a week, less junk food, less gambling/lottery tickets, 2-3 less mochas each week, or whatever your “bad habit” might include.

 

Not Ready to Boost Your Retirement Investments?

You may be working hard to pay off your debt or saving up an emergency fund and are not ready to boost your retirement investments at this point. What would a “measly” $49 do to your debt? Let’s take a look!

The “Average” American household debt looks something like this (2010. last census performed):

  • Revolving Debt (credit cards): $7630
  • Student Loans: $11,244
  • Auto Loans: $8163
  • Mortgage: $70,322

What would that $49 do to this debt when applied in a debt snowball method. Only paying equivalent to minimum payments in addition to the $49…

The “Average” American could SAVE $28,367.81 in interest alone! Not only that, but they would be debt free 16 YEARS earlier!!! SIXTEEN YEARS and nearly $30,000 SAVED… with less than an extra $50/month!!!

 

Do you think you could find that “extra” $50 somewhere???

Where could YOU find $50 in your budget? Where are you going to apply it, savings or debt?

Use the debt calculator or retirement calculator to determine the impact of your 1% to your finances.

 

*Interest charges were calculated based on average rates from Bankrate.com on 2/23/15.

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The Best Method to Pay Off Debt

You are sick and tired of debt. You want it GONE and the sooner, the better. However you wonder, “what is the best method for paying off your debt?”

Perhaps you have heard of a bunch of “snow” themed terms when it comes to paying off debt but have no idea the difference between the Snowball and Avalanche methods, and what in the world is Snow-flaking? Where do you start and which method is best for you?

Debt Snowball Method

Dave Ramsey has made the snowball method in paying off debt “popular.” With this method you simply pay off your debts from smallest to largest balance. You simply do not care about interest rates or monthly payments, you only worry about the balances. The idea is that you will be able to pay off a few small debts rather quickly, which will give you momentum and motivation to keep going.

You pay the minimum payments on all debts except for the smallest debt. The smallest debt you put any and all extra money towards paying off this smallest debt as quickly as possible. Once the smallest debt is paid off, then you move on to the second smallest debt. You pay all the minimum payments on your larger debts. But this second smallest debt gets it’s minimum payment, plus the minimum payment of the first smallest debt (which has already been paid off), plus any and all extra money you have in your budget. You continue paying off your debts in this fashion. The idea is that with each debt that is paid off your payment or “snowball” becomes bigger to pay off the next debt.

When to Use the Snowball Method?

  • You have small debts that can be quickly paid off in a short amount of time
  • Interest rates are relatively similar
  • You need a couple of small “wins” as motivation to keep pushing forward on your debt free journey

When NOT to Use the Snowball Method?

Some people will argue that you should NOT use the snowball method. Their reasoning will typically argue that you will pay more interest by using the snowball method. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not so much.

This method may take you slightly longer to accomplish debt freedom. However, this typically is not the case because after individuals get a few quick debt pay-offs there is nothing more, that they want, than to pay off the next debt. The motivation and desire created by using the debt snowball actually encourages these individuals to pay-off the debt even faster.

Example of When to Use the Debt Snowball:

Car 1                     6.5%        $4000

Car 2                    2.9%        $6000

Student Loan     6.9%       $38,000

 

This was our exact debt situation when we started our debt pay-off journey. If we would have started with the highest interest rate (student loans) it would have taken us most likely a year or more to finally pay it off. We would have lost motivation by then. By using the debt snowball method, we were able to pay off both cars in the first three months. This gave us a huge motivational push to tackle the “monster” of a student loan.

Debt Avalanche Method

The debt avalanche is another popular method to paying off debt. Debts are paid off by largest interest rate to smallest interest rate. It is the same idea, where you pay only the minimum payments on your other debts but you put every and all extra money to the debt with the largest interest rate. Once your first debt is paid off, then you put all extra money towards your debt that had the 2nd largest interest rate, and so forth.

When to Use the Debt Avalanche Method?

  • You have debts with outrageously high interest rates
  • You will be able to pay off your highest interest rate debt within the first 6 months
  • You are motivated by numbers and paying the very least amount of interest possible
  • You do not “need” a quick win to remain motivated

When NOT to Use the Debt Avlanche Method?

If it is going to take you more than 6 months to pay off your debt with the largest interest rate. It may be a good idea to use a different method, because you may get discouraged and lose your debt payoff intensity.

Example of When to Use the Debt Avalanche:

Master Card           13.5%           $2250

Home Depot          16.5%           $1500

Macy’s                     19.9%           $750

Student Loans        6.8%           $35,000

Car                            2.0%           $12,000

 

With this example, use the Debt Avalanche. Pay the debt with the highest interest rate first. You will get three fairly quick “wins” by paying off the high interest rate credit cards. I would then move onto the student loans. Yes, it is going to take longer than if you moved to the car, but the 2.0% interest rate is next to nothing on the car.

Things to Consider When Determining the Best Method

  • Debt Balances
  • Debt Interest Rates
  • Debt Payments
  • How Quickly Will You Pay Off Your First Debt
  • Compare Pay-Off Dates and Total Interest Paid using these Debt Calculators

What Is Snow-flaking?

Since we are talking about “snow” terms and debt you may be wondering what in the world is “snow-flaking.” It is simply a term to describe the method of using all “extra” money you save or earn to pay off your debt. For example, if you use a $5 coupon at the grocery store, you would then “snowflake” that $5 to your debt payment. If you sell an item you no longer need for $50, then you would “snowflake” that $50 to your debt repayment.

Best Method to Pay Off Debt

Personal finance, is well… personal and so the “best” method for YOU is going to be different than what is best for ME or best for your friend, brother, or the lady at the grocery store.

Are there other debt pay-off strategies? Of course, and you could always use a mixture of the two. The best practice is to keep your debt pay off method as simple as possible. Implement the method that is going to work best for YOU and your debt situation and then most importantly STICK WITH IT! Let’s get rid of this debt once and for all!  If you need extra accountability to paying off your debt we would LOVE for you to join The $1,000,000 Challenge! 🙂

Which Method are You Using or Will Use to Pay-Off Your Debt?

The Best Method to Pay Off Debt The Best Method to Pay Off Debt

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