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    Annihilating Credit Card Debt Once and for All, Just Like the Death Star

    GUEST POST BY: Josh Wilson, author of www.familyfaithfinance.com

    If you want to annihilate credit card debt, you are not alone. In fact, I was once in your position, and I just could not wait for that debt to disappear. If you have a lot of credit card debt, then you already know that you are paying a ton in interest. If you don’t shape up, then you are basically throwing your money away.

    If you maxed out your credit cards, then you can quickly see your statement balance grow, but you never have any available funds either. Just like the Death Star, I wanted to annihilate my debt and say goodbye to it once and for all. As Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “Use the Force, Luke”, but in my case, it would be “Use the Force, Josh.” Okay, so you have credit card debt. How much do you have? When I first attempted to tackle mine, I had $1,500 racked up on a credit card which was all accumulated before I met my wife after college. I was ashamed of it, but at the time, I was proud to have that plastic in my hand and it showed. Whether you have the same amount of debt, a smaller amount, or a larger amount, I will explain to you below just how I eliminated my credit card debt once and for all and how I got my finance in check.

    A Balance Transfer Was My Friend

    “May the Force Be with You!” This is definitely how I felt when I learned about balance transfers and their benefits. Okay, so I know they would work for you too, but you need to make sure it is in your best interest before you do it. If you make a balance transfer and the new credit card has a higher APR, then you will likely find yourself deeper in
    debt.

    I found and was approved for a card that had an introductory rate of 0%. I had plans to pay off this $1,500 balance by the end of the year, so a one-year intro rate was enough for me. I made the balance transfer, so I virtually removed the interest rate that I was paying on that balance. Phew. That saved me some serious cash because I would have paid about half that in interest over the span of the pay off.

    I would only suggest doing a balance transfer if you can get a good introductory offer and can pay the amount off within the time frame. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the same position and still stuck with debt.

    Use Side Hustles to Pay Down the Balance
    I’ll always advocate side hustles, and that is because I believe in them and they have helped me pay off my credit card debt. The trick with your side hustle is it must be something that you enjoy doing, so it will not feel like work and you need to have the discipline to send the money to your credit card provider to pay off your balance.

    The very first time I completed a side hustle, it was nice to hold that money. I can tell you that I wanted to keep it and buy myself some new shoes and accessories, but I knew I couldn’t. I was able to put my future first and apply the money towards my $1,500 credit card balance. I am now glad I did that because I am able to enjoy a life free from credit card debt. If you are wondering what my side hustles were, they included selling baked goods at community events, mowing lawns, selling things on eBay, and freelancing in IT. I still do some of these side hustles to help supplement my income month to month.

    How I Keep My Credit Card Balance Low
    The hardest part about paying off your credit card balance is making sure that you do not get back into the position where you have a bunch of it again. This was difficult at first, especially since I was so used to using that credit card and I counted on it. Once I was used to the card being unavailable, I was able to sustain myself and now I do not even think about it.

    If I do need to use the credit card, I never make a purchase that I cannot afford, and I always make sure to pay off my credit card balance when the bill comes. I know that you can pay off your credit card debt too. Remember, balance transfers are your friend when you can find a 0% introductory offer, and side hustles can help you quickly pay down the balance.

    Keep in mind however, I’m using the Death Star as a reference here. If you know about Star Wars, then that should tell you something. The Death Star came back! It was a recurring problem in a sense. This applies to credit card debt. You can end up doing the dirty work and setting yourself free from the repression of the Empire (debt, metaphorically speaking), but a few years later you could find yourself back where you started if you’re unlucky.

    About the author:  Josh Wilson is a Millennial working to become his generation’s personal finance thought leader. Check out his blog at FamilyFaithFinance.com

    6 Business Side Hustles to Get You Started

    GUEST POST BY: Emily, contributor at www.hellcopters.com

    You never know when those few extra bucks may come handy. A growing number of people are looking out for opportunities that would give them that extra financial edge. There are many small businesses that can make a huge difference to your financial situation. The ‘hustle business’ is one of them. This is also a happening thing among the millennial generation that looks for financial independence at a very early age.

    The hustle business is a great idea. In other words, it is a second business that would add a few bucks to your earnings. But for a lot of people finding the right business is a challenge. Here are some options that would help you start small with minimal investment.

    1. Online Teaching
    The growing demand for quality English teachers and the dearth of the same is becoming a great opportunity for those who have an inclination towards teaching. There are various online teaching opportunities such as teaching English online to those living no English-speaking countries. A few hours a day could earn you a decent fee.

    Apart from English, there is also a wide demand for another subject. Online tuitions are quite popular and a dearth of quality teachers is a great opportunity for those who are well versed in their area of specialization.

    2. Start an Online Business
    Online business opportunity keeps evolving by the day. If you are keen and enterprising, you can find opportunities that not only give you the few extra bucks but can also bring you fortunes. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp are just a few examples of successful online endeavors. Instagram marketing or an e-commerce portal are just among the few other online businesses that are quite happening. One of the easiest ways to make money online is to start a blog. A good blog can fetch you money in terms of online ads. However, understanding what the internet audience is looking for and being able to deliver the information in an interesting manner can make your blog stand out from the rest.

    The extra buck is always welcome. Selling unique products online can be a great way to do it. Say, for example, checkout quadcopters or any other unique product that is gaining popularity and are in demand either online or in your specific region.

    3. Cab Services
    With cab services like UBER, OLA, Lfyt, around, you can use your driving skills to increase the earning in your wallet. These companies offer some flexible work options for those have a few hours to spare. Start your own private services in your area. You could make your services available during free time. Tying up with local established tourist agencies may propel your business opportunity and give you a wider customer base.

    4. Take A Culinary Route
    If you are confident with your culinary skills then there is not a perfect way than to hustle yourself in. You can cook for a couple of hours a day or even take up orders for parties and events. Another way to use your cooking talent is to make baked products such as cookies or goodies and sell them to the local supermarket or so. This is a profitable business if managed sensibly and priced strategically.

    5. Rent Out Extra Space
    Get more organized with your living spaces. Let the extra space to get you that extra cash. Depending on the size of the space you have you can rent it out as an office or even as a service apartment. Homestays are another good option.

    6. Go Green
    With the world desperately turning back to green, put your gardening skills together to make green space where you can grow vegetables that are organic and are pesticide free. Look for vegetables that can be easily grown.

    A few tips in mind before choosing your options could make your tryst with hustle business a successful endeavor. Choose a business option that is hassle free. If you are a novice in this area, it is always good to start small. Always look for opportunities where your monetary input would be minimal. In this way, even if things do not turn out you will not feel the pinch. Look for options that do not require much of your time.

    A successful hustle business requires one to be open minded and a willingness to learn from glitches and challenges that come across.

    About the author: Emily is contributor at HellCopters and looks forward to bringing information that is relevant and usable by the readers.

    8 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

    GUEST POST BY: David, author of www.carunderstanding.com

    Many of us cannot afford the luxury of the purchase of a brand new car. The solution to the problem is to purchase a second-hand vehicle that is reliable. There are many things to consider when purchasing a new car especially since you don’t want to spend as much as a new one. If you think it would be easier to get a brand new one than go through the hassle, think again. Opting for a used car is not as bad as you think.          

    I would like to share some guidelines to help you shop for a used car. I assure you that if you avoid these mistakes, you’ll make sure to get the best bargain. Here are some mistakes to avoid when buying a used car for yourself or your family:

    Mistake # 1: Not Doing Your Homework      

    “What am I looking for?” That should be the first question in your mind.

    Make a list of your preferred car models. From this list, think of the specifications and the accessories that you need. After coming up with a list, try comparing the models on Cars.com or check pricing and specifications at Edmunds.com. This list will help you narrow down your choices. 

    When you have trimmed down your options, check for nearby dealers or classified ads for used car sales. Compare the advertised pricing against brand new cars.

    Mistake # 2: Going Over Your Budget
        

    How much are you willing to shell out? The main reason why you are opting for a used car is low budget. Set a limit to how much you are willing to spend. Most car owners advertise the ceiling price but are willing to negotiate. Consider the overall price of the car: gas expenses, maintenance expenses, insurance, and taxes. Don’t focus on the monthly payments because they are just a fraction of the expenditures. Keep in mind that used cars may need additional maintenance than brand new cars, so make sure you have a realistic budget.

    Mistake # 3: Choosing a Car for the Wrong Reasons          

    “Why do I need a car?”

    Think of what you need the car for. Do you need it to bring your family to out-of-town trips? If so, a classy sports car would not be put to good use. Pick a car that suits you and your family’s needs. Of course, you can also choose a car that suits your personality, but that should come in second. Purchase a car because it is a necessity not just an added luxury.

    Mistake # 4: Not Worrying About the Paperwork      

    Never forget the paperwork. Make sure to obtain a transfer certificate; you don’t want to be accused of stealing the car. Service history receipts and warranty helps you keep track of the maintenance and parts. This paper trail will save you from added expenses in case of repairs. Don’t forget car insurance, too! Car insurance protects you and other people from liabilities due to accidents.

    Mistake # 5: Failing to Check Vehicle’s History      

    How reliable and safe is the car? As soon as you have a vehicle that you plan to purchase, get the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number. The VIN is useful detail in car inspection. You can check for the service history, ownership, and traffic violations (if any). You don’t want to purchase a car that hasn’t been well-taken care of or has been involved in numerous accidents or violations, do you?

    Mistake # 6: Failing to Communicate with the Seller

    Communicate with the seller if you want to get valuable information about the car and get a good bargain. If the seller does not trust you, he or she may not allow a car inspection. Establishing a good relationship with the seller helps you and the seller trust each other. Once you make a deal, there is no turning back. A good relationship with the dealer helps you communicate even after the car has been sold in case problems arise. It also helps you find out about the vehicle’s history and why it’s put up for sale.

    When bargaining with the seller, don’t be too stingy. The car may have practical extras that are worth purchasing. The car may also have been well maintained and is an excellent bargain.

    Mistake # 7: Falling in Love with the Car     

    Make a thorough car inspection before driving away. Don’t make the deal just because you love the color or the flashy mag wheels. Check the interior if it has been kept clean. Inspect the paint job and underneath the car. Look under the hood and check the engine. Watch out for signs of rust and corrosion. If you’re not sure of what to look for, bring a trusted mechanic or a car expert to go with you.

    Don’t choose the car just because of the added extras. You should decide if the accessories are necessary for you and worth buying.

    Mistake # 8: Not Doing a Test Drive

    How comfy is the car and how easy is it to drive? Remember, you will be the new owner of the car. You can’t give it back just because you feel uncomfortable driving it. Test driving the car is a subtle way to do a car inspection. A test drive will help you check the air conditioning and sound system. It also gives you a feel of the engine and how smooth it will be. Well-maintained cars run smoothly and don’t have any problems starting up even when they haven’t been used for a long time.  

    A test drive will also allow you to look at the mileage. Don’t be afraid of purchasing high mileage cars. The good thing about it is that they have been tried and tested. A test drive will also help you get a feel of the fuel consumption.

    Conclusion

    Purchasing a car can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience depending on how well you prepare for it.  There are many factors to consider such as specifications and costs. Avoiding the mistakes mentioned above will serve as a guide so you can get the best value for your money and avoid any regrets. You don’t want to end up with more headaches, right?

    What do you think? Do you have additional tips for car buyers? I hope that you have learned a lot from the article. You may also share your experiences with us. We’d also appreciate any feedback and suggestions from you. Don’t forget to share this article! You never know who needs help in purchasing a car.

    About the author: David has 11 years of experience as an auto mechanic; everything he shares is based on his extensive knowledge. Please visit his blog here

    What I Didn’t Learn About Debt in School: 3 Lessons You Can Learn from Someone Who Used to Be Drowning In It

    GUEST POST BY: Jacob Evans, author of www.dollardiligence.com

    As a new college graduate, I thought that I had the world on a string — until my first student
    loan statement arrived in the mail. I was $25,000 debt and about to start my first job as a high
    school math teacher, with a starting salary that didn’t seem like it possibly could stretch to cover
    the minimum monthly payments. How could I overcome this hurdle?

    I was stunned to realize that despite my first-class education, nobody had ever really taught me
    about finances or debt. Sure, I learned the basics of checking accounts and how to pay bills,
    but when it came to how to handle money responsibly and how to pay off debt, I was clueless.
    Overwhelmed by debt and stressed by the thought of being burdened by these loans for the
    next ten to twenty years, I decided to develop a strategy for paying off my loans.

    What Did I Do?
    It wasn’t easy, but ultimately I paid off my $25,000 in student loans in just 15 months. How did I
    do it? I started by learning as much as I could about my loans from people like Dave Ramsey:
    who I owed money to, what the loan terms were, and what the interest rate on each loan was.
    Then I applied to refinance my loans, obtaining a lower interest rate and a shorter repayment
    term so that I could save thousands of dollars in interest.

    Next, I cut costs by moving in with my aunt and uncle, and significantly curtailed my spending
    habits. No more going out to eat or to bars, or unnecessary spending. If I wanted to pay off my
    student loans, I had to get serious about my budget. Finally, I picked up some side gigs. In
    addition to my full-time career as a teacher, I started working as a freelance writer and
    photographer. I funneled all of my extra money towards my student loans, and before I knew it,
    I was debt-free — and relieved of the major financial and psychological burden of those student
    loans.

    Along the way, I learned some major lessons about how to deal with debt. From coming up with
    a game plan to deciding how to handle daily living on a budget, I found out that if you’re going to
    be successful financially, you have to start with some basic knowledge. Read on to learn more.

    Make a Plan
    When it comes to anything that is scary or overwhelming, it is easy to be an ostrich. But
    ignoring your debt won’t solve the problem, and may actually make it worse. The first step that I
    took in getting control of my debt was the most crucial: coming up with a strategy for how I was
    going to get rid of it. Once I knew exactly what kind of debt I was in, I had a better idea of what
    it would take to get out of debt. Then I could start figuring out how I could work towards paying
    it down, bit by bit.

    Budgeting Is Crucial
    Having a budget isn’t fun, and it isn’t sexy. But if you don’t know where your money is going
    each month, you won’t be able to trim costs and come up with extra money to put towards your
    student loans. The only way to get out of debt is to get a firm grip on your finances, and that
    starts with a a budget. Sit down, and write down exactly how much is coming in each month
    from your job (and any side gigs), and then subtract your necessary expenses. Track all of your
    expenditures, and see what can be eliminated. From there, figure out how much extra money can be put towards your student loans each month. Even an extra $50 or $100 can help you
    pay off your loans more quickly — and move you out of debt.

    Interest Matters
    When you first take out your loans, you probably only think about the principal — the base
    amount that you are borrowing. But the part that makes student loans most challenging to pay
    off is not the principal, but the interest — the amount that you pay to borrow the money. This
    gets added to the principal every month, and will often make it seem like you’re barely making a
    dent in the total amount owed. Pay attention to your interest rate, and consider refinancing if
    you have a high interest rate or a variable interest rate on your loans.

    About the author: Jacob Evans paid down $25,000 in student loan debt in just 15 months. He chronicles his journey to financial independence over at Dollar Diligence. You can learn more @DollarDiligence.

    7 Ways splitting money habits can help millennial couples

    GUEST POST BY: Andy Masaki, author of www.PennyLessDad.com

    “Marriages are made in the heaven”. The line is very popular, but when it comes to dealing with money after the marriage, that heavenly feeling disappear. Poor money management habits often sour many marriages. Why?

    Being a single, the charge of money was completely upon you. Now since you got married, you are committed to manage your finances with your spouse. The problem is, there are no proper rules to manage a couple’s money. Money habits vary from person to person. It depends on the ways the person grew up and learned values about money.

    It is expected that the ways you and your partner handle finances are different

    However, millennials are exceptional. They are not hesitant to talk about money with the spouse. These days, many millennial couples are considering splitting money habits to ensure good financial health in their relationship.

    In 2016, TD Bank’s conducted a survey on Love and Money. The report revealed that 37% of millennials (aged 18-34) who are in a relationship combine all their finances. 32% of them combine some of their money. The survey also reported that 74% of millennials (aged 18-34) discuss money once in a week or even more, as compared to 54% of persons aged 55 or older.

    Initiating money talk with partner is important

    Millennials are doing great when it comes to dealing with marriage and money. It is advisable to discuss your money matters with your spouse. Thus, you will be able to decide how to manage your finances. Having an agreement on finance also helps to build family wealth and strengthen the marriage.

    Money experts also suggest couples for splitting their finances. It is nothing but to decide who is supposed to pay for what and how to figure out debts in a relationship. What will be the right amount for monthly groceries? What amount should save for financial security?

    Though most of the millennials are on the right track regarding their marriage and money, yet they should understand how to split finances in the right way. Because, for many couples, the subject is overwhelming; especially for newly married or who are wondering to take the plunge.

    Here are 7 ways splitting money habits help you to deal with your marriage and money together.

    1. Knowing your partner’s spending habit

    Before splitting money in a marriage, it is important to know your partner’s spending habit. If your partner loves to spend money, and you are a frugal minded person, then it can be a little difficult to split the finance. But proper discussion and dividing the cost can balance it. For example, you can split the rent, restaurant bills with your partner. Or you can ask your spouse to share household chores. Thus, your spender partner will learn financial responsibility.

    2. Having separate credit cards

    Having separate credit account doesn’t hamper your marital relationship. On the contrary, it is better to have separate credit cards as it can help you qualify for loans in the future; one spouse can take out a loan even if the other one experiences credit problems.

    3. Deciding about joint or separate savings accounts

    Are you one of those who think that having joint accounts is the secret of a happy married life? Though this is not wrong, yet there are many couples who’re happy with separate bank accounts. So, it entirely depends on you how well you can manage separate or joint accounts. The better you can manage your accounts, the easier it’ll be for you to handle your finances.

    4. Helping one another to pay off outstanding debts

    If one spouse has credit card debts to pay off, both the spouses should work together to become debt free. Both of you can plan a budget together that would help you to save a substantial monthly amount, which you can utilize to pay off the credit card balances.

    5. Saving for retirement separately

    Financial experts advice on saving separately for retirement. Each of you should have an individual or an employer-based retirement plan. If one spouse needs to withdraw from his/her retirement fund, then the other spouse can continue with the retirement benefits. So, when couples have separate retirement accounts, they don’t fight over issues like withdrawing money from them if required.

    6. Deciding about your dreams and goals

    It is quite important to realize each other’s financial dreams and goals – both short-term and long-term financial goals. It is not necessary to have those common. Similarly, your investing styles may also vary; one may be a bit conservative while the other spouse may be comfortable with taking risks. If required, you may take help of a financial advisor to decide about your investment portfolio.

    7. Fixing the debt dilemma

    “Should I marry first or settle my debts”? This is one of the most crucial decisions to make before tying the knot.

    Almost every millennial have some type of debts, it can be a student loan debt or credit card debt or a car loan. The answer should be if you have a lot of debts and even your would-be spouse has a lot of dues, then it is important to pay off the debts first. However, you should discuss the matter with your spouse before making the final decision. If the debt burden is not heavy, you can marry first and then deal with it.

    Money woes are strenuous for your personal relationship. So, don’t hide your debt story from your partner; it can create a major problem later.

    Lastly, the married couples often fail to save for future as well as emergencies. Thus, many marriages run a financial risk, which creates financial stress. It is advisable that you save a certain amount to secure your financial future. Also saving an amount equivalent to your 3-6 months’ salary if important to fight with the emergencies. It will help you to avoid incurring debt in an emergency (job loss, sudden illness, accident). Because bad thing often happens. So, you can combat with it without building up debt using your credit cards.

    About the author: Andy Masaki is a blogger at Penny Less Dad and financial writer associated with the Oak View Law Group. He is a debt expert and a member of several online forums where he shares his advice as well as tips to lead a financially independent life.

    Keeping Your Utilities in Check

    GUEST POST BY: Cyndi Lobejon , author of Life By Cyndi

    Ahh…utilities. These are things that are so essential to our modern lives as we know it, but often fade into the background of our minds as we sit in our toasty, well-lit homes, enjoying our roast dinners. We may hear about energy consumption on a daily basis through various media campaigns or advertisements, but how often do we actually stop to give it some thought in the context of our own homes? What if I told you that in your bid to master your finances, it’s well worth the time to do so? Here are a few ways to think about your own individual situation and assess how energy smart you’re being.

    • Especially if, like me, you pay for your utilities via automated direct debits, it’s easy to ignore the bills that pop intermittently into your inbox, or worse yet, logging into your online account and having a peek. A good habit to develop, however, is taking a look at your costs each payment period (whether this is monthly or quarterly) and keeping track of how these change in each billing cycle. Of course, how much energy you use up during any given time period will depend on many factor, not least of which are the season or weather. Nevertheless, if you spot your bills not just inching up according to the season you’re in, but actually making sizeable leaps, it’s time to cry “Whoa Nelly” and get to looking at the breakdown.
    • I’m convinced that in the past utility companies made understanding bills and one’s usage as difficult as they possibly could on purpose! However, times are changing and these companies now have to be more transparent. That being said, although it seems a most daunting challenge, it’s very important that you do take the time to understand how your bills are calculated and what they say about your usage. Pay special attention to things like per kWh prices, tariffs and standing charge. These are important points of reference that you will need when looking at the rates of competitors. The good thing is that normally your energy provider will provide an explanation of these terms either on their website or on your bill. There are also useful independent sites that give advice on this, like https://www.consumersenergy.com/, https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ and https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/.

    • Know which type of tariff you’re on. Suppliers’ ‘standard tariffs’ are usually the most expensive ones and are the defaults for when you don’t specify the tariff you wish to be on. On the other hand, ‘fixed tariffs or ‘capped tariffs‘ are normally their cheapest tariffs and are excellent aids in budgeting, since they mean you don’t have to worry about your supplier suddenly increasing the rates at which they charge you for however much energy you use. If you’re on a special tariff that claims to give you variable rates based on peak and off-peak energy use times, then it’s key that you find out what these hours are, which typically depends on your specific energy supplier or your particular area. The off-peak times that these tariffs refer to (for example Economy 7 or 9 tariffs) tend to be roughly somewhere between 11pm and 8:00am. So if you’re on one of these tariffs, but the bulk of your energy consumption isn’t at these times, you might want to check out whether another tariff type would suit you better. At the very least, you could program some of your appliances like your washers to come on at these times.

    • Speaking of programming your appliances, many of the modern machines now allow you to set the time you want it to come on (which, when I first learned about, was like pure magic!). It’s recommended that you run your big appliances like your washing machines and dish washing machines at times when public energy consumption is lower, which means in most cases, late at night, and before 3pm and after 7pm on weekdays. Do bear in mind that these time brackets will differ depending on your area, supplier and season, so you will need to look up what these are in your neighborhood. In relation to boilers, even if you your specific make doesn’t have a timer in built, you can purchase a boiler timer separately (retails for around $30-$50) which will allow you to have full control over the times at which your central heating homes on, and make sure that it’s not constantly blasting out heat that goes wasted when you’re not home.

    Tip: Be sure to make sure your radiators aren’t cranked all the way up, and only turn on the ones in the areas people are in your home.

    • If you think you’re still paying too much for your utilities, based on tracking it over time, and on household factors like how many people are there at any given time, don’t be afraid to ring up your current supplier and have a chat about this. You might be surprised over helpful they may be in checking if you could switch to a cheaper tariff (always find out if there are any exit fees and beware of tariffs with high exit fees), installing a different type of meter, or even installing a meter when there was none there before in the property. The last point resonates strongly with me, because we’ve just moved into a property, and when I found at about the estimated monthly payments we’d be making for our water (much higher than at our previous property), I rang up the water company and they informed me that this was because we were in an unmetered property and, based on the house’s characteristics and our household profile, we would be saving roughly half that amount if we had a meter installed! Best part? There’s no installation charge. Ahmm…yes, please!
    • Finally, even if your current supplier offers you a cheaper tariff, it’s always good for you to do a little price comparison yourself. Thankfully, there are lots of energy price comparison sites that make this super easy. All you need to have are your prices per unit, average annual or monthly usage in hand and you’re off! Sites like https://www.electricchoice.com/, https://www.electricrate.com/, http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/, http://www.gocompare.com/, or https://www.uswitch.com/ might be good starting points for you, depending on where you live.

    Tip: Before making a move, be aware of any exit fees your current supplier may charge you if you decide to switch either tariffs or suppliers.

    Hopefully all or at least some of the above suggestions will give you the courage to go out there and conquer your utilities, one step at a time.

    About the author: Cyndi Lobejon is the writer of the blog Life By Cyndi where she discusses things she’s passionate about and has found useful in her own journey of self-fulfillment and joyful living. Her main interests are individual well-being, a healthy lifestyle, personal finance and anything else that brings happiness to daily living. Check out her blog at lifebycyndi.com.

    Birthday Freebies 2017!

    Today I turn the big 2-9! And in celebration of this special day I am sharing some of my favorite birthday freebies! Want to eat free on your birthday too?

    Check out these tasty offers:

    Einstein Bros Bagels– Free egg sandwich with purchase 
    Denny’s
    – Free birthday breakfast
    Ihop– Free rooty tooty fresh ‘n fruity pancakes
    Waffle House– Free waffle
    Firehouse Subs– Free medium sub
    Buffalo Wild Wings– Free order of snack size wings
    Fudruckers– Free burger with purchase
    Which Wich– Free sandwich
    Papa John’s– 10 free papa points which must be used during your birthday month
    Red Robin– Free birthday burger
    Spaghetti Warehouse– Free birthday entree
    Wingstop– Free large fresh cut seasoned fries
    Chili’s– Free birthday dessert
    La Madeleine– Free pastry
    Nothing Bundt Cakes–  Free bundtlet
    Amy’s Ice Cream– Free ice cream
    Starbucks – Free handcrafted beverage
    Amy’s Ice Cream– Free ice cream
    Ben & Jerry’s– Free scoop plus $3 off an ice cream cake
    Dairy Queen– Buy 1, get 1 free blizzard
    Sprinkles– Free birthday cupcake

    Be sure to sign up early to receive your coupons before your birthday!!

    May the funds be with you!

    Four Ways to Prepare and Survive a Job Loss

    Let me start off by saying, I am a huge Dave Ramsey supporter. But I am also stubborn and like to do things my way. Dave suggests an emergency fund of $1,000 as baby step #1. This seems like a reasonable amount for flat tires and unexpected car trouble but what about life’s bigger challenges? What about a job loss?

    I started my financial journey in January 2017 with gazelle intensity! I was knocking out debts left and right. It’s incredible the kind of traction you can get once old habits are released. Living within your means is possible and it’s exciting! Everything was smooth sailing, until last month. I began to notice a decline in my service industry. I decided to put a halt on my debt payoff plan and continue building my emergency fund instead. A thousand dollars didn’t seem like it would be enough to support me in the event of a job loss. I had a feeling my company would be reducing hours and I wanted to be prepared. This of course, was pure intuition but I put a lot of value in my intuitiveness. Sure enough, my boss came into my office sharing the news of multiple layoffs throughout the company. Me being one of them.

    I had never experienced being let go before. There was some disappointment but no need for panic. I kept thinking about was how grateful I was to have a large emergency fund. Had I not stalled my extra debt payments I would have been a complete mess! We never know what sort of challenges life will deliver… but I strongly believe in being prepared.

    Here are my top 4 ways to prepare and survive a job loss:

    1. Create passive income streams. Just as we must diversify our investments it is wise to create multiple streams of income. This could be as simple as a few side hustles a month or starting your own business. These ventures require much effort but they can be quite rewarding, especially if your side business is doing something you love. I started a clothing company last year because I wanted to offer ethical clothing made in the USA from sustainable materials. Most people do not know where their clothing is from or who made it. I want to help promote positive working conditions and high quality products. To be honest Lettuce Amor feels like a passion project more than a job. It’s fun, it provides an additional income source and it brings me joy to know I am living my values. As for side hustles, mine tend to change monthly. I am always looking for new ways to earn money and try new things. I recently joined a yoga studio part time to pursue my goal of becoming a certified teacher. Sometimes my life feels all over the place. I have many interests and I feel lucky to be able to explore them. RELATED: Check out my post, “4 ways to make easy money.”
    2. Increase your emergency fund. Being gazelle intense is extremely motivating but it leaves you with very little support in a true emergency. I personally prefer having 3-6 months expenses set aside before moving onto Baby Step #2. Depending on your total debt amount I would suggest at least saving three months worth of rent/mortgage payment. Aside from having food on the table, having a roof over your head is crucial. I grew up in multiple apartments and experienced our electricity and water being turned off more than once. My mom is my hero. She somehow managed to support three daughters as a single mother. I want to always be prepared enough to avoid uncomfortable housing situations. My question to you is, have you ever encountered a emergency that outweighed your one thousand dollar fund? Please share in the comments below.
    3. Stop spending. This goes without saying. If you’re currently on your financial journey I hope you’ve already eliminated all unnecessary spending. There are so many ways we can reduce our monthly expenses by cancelling gym memberships and shopping for deals on car insurance. But the real challenge is saying goodbye to weekend trips to the mall and going out to eat when we’re too tired to cook at home. Like everything else, these are learned behaviors and can be reversed. Practice being okay with owning less. For me, Minimalism has been incredibly inspirational. I see my personal belongings in a new light and no longer desire trendy clothing or possessions. It’s like Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so later you can live and give like no one else.”
    4. Be open to new opportunities. It’s important to keep growing your network regularly. Stay open to meeting new people and learning additional skills. I enjoy local meet ups and online forums to stay connected with others in my line of work. Change is inevitable. We must be proactive in educating ourselves with new technologies and marketing growth. Update your resume frequently and engage in communities online and in person.

    All in all, I feel this job change is a blessing in disguise. It is empowering me to level up and fulfill my deepest dreams. What would you do if money were not an issue?? I hope these tips provide a little comfort in knowing you have a cushion to fall back on. In times of loss it’s critical we stay positive. When we come from a place of scarcity, we attract lack. Instead, set yourself up to come from a place of abundance and gratitude! Keep your head up! Whatever it is life is throwing your way, you can and will overcome it.

    This article was originally published on KimGaleta.com.

    Thank You, Debt Free Community!

    I have to admit, when I started my financial journey I was gazelle intense! I was paying every extra penny towards my debt. Nothing could stand in my way! It’s funny how quickly things can change. I was recently let go from my job and I literally felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet. It’s taken me a few weeks to get up the nerve to write this post. At first I was embarrassed. Then I felt lost. But today is different, today I feel BRAVE.

    Losing a job can be extremely difficult. Not just financially, but mentally too. Because I have struggled with accepting my current financial situation this was a huge blow to my self-esteem. I announced the news on my instagram account and couldn’t believe the amount of support I received from the debt free community.

    • eyeletcreative It’s always for the best! Put your heart and time into your business now!
    • veefrugalfox You’re going to be ok. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you’ll find your way. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
    • christinathenurse First let me say this: I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine the negative feelings that are going on in your world right now. Now let me say this: I was perusing Christine Caine’s IG page last night and saw this message and it just spoke to my heart. Perhaps your heart needs it today as well. Your next adventure is waiting just around the corner! Here’s what she said: “Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to MOVE forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!!” @christinecaine
    • new2budget @christinathenurse this is a true statement. I strongly believe when I was laid off from my job, it was God’s way of moving me because otherwise I would’ve never moved.
    • new2budget I am a testament that GOD WILL PROVIDE. I was laid off after being with my employer for 18 years in 2015. God has provided me with employment since then. I am currently working temporary but I am able to meet my financial obligations with God as my source providing a resource. Keep HIM first and I promise HE WILL MAKE A WAY! @thebudgetawakens
    • eatpraybudget I am so sorry @thebudgetawakens !! Your #debtfreecommunity is here to support you!!
    • kristylea_80 Oh @thebudgetawakens I’ve been there! Honestly, as awful as it was, I had not been happy at that job anyway and I ended up at a job I truly did enjoy. Dust off that resume, start applying and do some soul searching in meantime. Do your four walls, the rest can wait. ((Hugs!))
    • getrichquickish Best of luck!
    • the_soulful_savers Try to find clips of #daveramsey giving advice for someone in this situation I believe it will help. He makes it a positive thing! Best of luck! 🙏🏼😻🤓
    • minimisewithme I’m sure this is just the start of a new journey 😊
    • mariandaniells New step, new adventure. You got this!!!

    I mean, WOW!! If you haven’t joined our instagram community, I strongly suggest you visit some of the accounts listed above. Their words of encouragement helped me get back on my feet and continue moving forward. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and this job change will bring me closer to more fulfilling work.

    Be sure to leave your instagram username in the comments below so we can be friends!