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Household Debt is Rising Again and it’s Not Okay

Yes, you heard it right, my friends. Household debt is rising again, with total household debt reaching $12.58 trillion dollars at the end of 2016. Debt totals jumped by $460 billion this year alone, the highest jump in nearly ten years. Our previous “record” for household debt in America was $12.68 trillion. But for some reason, the experts don’t think this is too terribly bad. Read more

4 Ways to Make Money Blogging

Hey friends! Since I’ve been talking a bit about the side hustle money I’m making doing this blogging thing (over $15k last year alone!) I thought I’d get more specific and share the details of what I’m doing and why I think it’s working. Making money by blogging isn’t always a fast process, but it can be. More than likely, though, you’ll need to be patient. But while you’re patiently growing your blog you can do the things that help to maximize monetization. Just follow these tips…… Read more

How to Pay Off Debt Without Living Under a Rock

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links.

For some people, paying off their debt is pretty cut and dry. They make a plan, stop spending and get the job done. For us, it hasn’t been so cut and dry. We started with a boat load of debt. We realized that there were many emotional reasons we were spending beyond our means and had to work to uncover and heal them. And we had to figure out ways to help pay off debt that worked for our individual personalities and for our family. Read more

The Power of Freedom: Andrew’s Story

Yes, it’s another powerful story of debt payoff to motivate us all to follow suit. Today, Andrew from Family Money Plan shares his amazing story. 

 How much debt did you start our with and what kind of debt was it?

 When we topped out we were over $320,000 in mortgage debt. We decided to build our dream home and I remember moving into the house and thinking. “YES!!! This dream home is a reality.”
That thought disappeared when I realized that my mortgage was a 30 year debt (read: death) sentence. It’s a bitter sweet feeling owning a house. There is so much pride in home ownership but at the same time you only own a small part of that house. It’s really the bank that owns it in the beginning.

 What was the “eureka” moment when you knew things had to change?

 When we were in our new place with all this debt, the number 30 kept rattling around my head. I realized that my newborn son would be my age and I still wouldn’t have paid off my house.
I knew that a mortgage was “normal”. It was what everyone around us had. As I played with the idea I would talk to other people about extra mortgage payments and all I got back was blank stares. That tipped me off to there might be something there.

Recommended Reading: How to Own Your Home Years Sooner – without making extra interest payments

The saying that floated around in my head was: “If you do what everyone else does, you will get what everyone else has.” Everyone else has a lot of debt. I wanted to be mortgage free.
The eureka moment that sticks out for me was when we were doing some landscaping in the yard. Instead of hiring someone to plant these trees (we are talking 8 to 10 foot trees), I cheaped out. All because I didn’t want to pay $75 a tree to have them planted, and I did them myself.
I spent a full weekend digging giant holes in my yard and planting trees. It may not sound like a big deal but if you knew me you would know this wasn’t my kind of thing.
By the end of that weekend, I had spent over 20 hours thinking about money and my future. You tend to think better when there is nothing else to distract you like a phone or TV screen.
I realized that if I wanted to be financially free I would need to have this house paid off. I remember scaring myself into it by realizing that if I were to die planting these trees, (which I thought could happen at one point) my young family wouldn’t have much to fall back on.
So I decided that it would be best to pay of our house and get our financial house in order. Getting debt free was a big part of that.

 How long did it take you to pay off the debt?

6 years. It was a long time, but we had a young family and we knew we were in the sweet spot as far as kids go. They were young enough to only need the basics and we wanted to lay a good family foundation with our kids. It meant staying at home… a lot…. and enjoying what you have. Looking back on it I’m happy we had the opportunity to make this choice.
The early days of being a parent can be crazy. If you are a new parent, you realize everything in your life starts to change. So we embraced that change and started to enjoy a simpler life.
In some ways we took advantage of the time of life we were in and used all the chaos to set up some good money habits.

What are the top five things you did to get the debt paid off and how did those five things help you to make permanent changes and stick with your plan?

The first important thing we did was find a money system that worked for us. We tried a lot of different budgets and tactics, and none of them worked for us. Or we would use them at first and then give up on them for a multitude of reasons (one of them being a lack of discipline).
When we found the system that worked for us, we automated it and worked that system. It’s made all the difference with the success of our system, we have started to teach it to others.
We made sure to take full advantage of all our mortgage options for prepayment whenever we could. The biggest being the matched payment every chance we could. That meant saving a lot of money and figuring out where we could get the extra money every two weeks. Most of our money came from cost cutting things that we didn’t really need.
We also made sure we could give ourselves a way out should we ever need that money in an emergency. This was a big one for us because we set up a HELOC but didn’t touch it. We knew it was there in case of emergency which was great but we didn’t want to access it, it was for peace of mind. I’m not sure we would have done it without having a “safety net” to access the money should we need it in an emergency.

Recommended Reading: One Bed, One Bank Account: Better Conversations on Money and Marriage

We kept our goal right in front of us. When our friends would go on trips or buy new cars, we reminded ourselves “Mortgage free in our thirties.” Those 5 words we repeated to each other so many times it’s unbelievable and it was very important to our success. We had to remind ourselves all the time why we were doing this and what it meant for us.
I’ve got a long list of things we gave up to become mortgage free on our site but I’ll give you some of the ones that stand out.
  • We didn’t have a smartphone, we shared the classic flip phone and we couldn’t even text. We looked ancient compared to everyone’s smartphones.
  • We didn’t eat out and learned to cook good meals. Part of this was out of necessity with our family developing allergies. But it ended up helping our budget quite a bit.
  • We didn’t travel at all. This was one of the harder things to do. My wife and I love to travel and to stay put was more of a challenge than we thought it would be.
  • We cut costs wherever we could. We stocked up on groceries when they were cheap, always hunted for good deals and often when without.
Overall,we questioned every expense. From Netflix, to car washes, to groceries and everything else you can think of. The question was always: “Do we need this right now or can we wait?” You will be amazed at the amount of things you can pass up on when you don’t really need it.
Delaying gratification also played a huge part. Even today I think about any significant purchase for months, I have found waiting for things makes me either want it more or lose interest. Either way it’s a win.

How is life different now that you’re debt free compared to when you were drowning in debt, both from an emotional standpoint and a financial standpoint?

Life is completely different, and utterly the same all at once.
There’s two parts of being debt free. The actual debt free part means life is a lot better. The looming mortgage payment is no longer part of my reality and that is a great feeling. That feeling of needing to make a payment every two weeks (plus the extra match payment) isn’t there anymore. The stress of money has gone down a lot. Once you get to debt freedom you realize that you don’t need as much money. This is partially through the habits of becoming debt free, and partially through no longer having the debt itself.
At the same time, life isn’t any different. We aren’t financially free so our day to day routine is the same as it was before. Wake up, kids, work, kids, eat, sleep, and repeat. So it’s a strange beast in a lot of ways. Financially it’s great, but day to day not a lot is different. Which I have to say is a little bit of a let down, but we are talking less than 1% let down and 99% awesome!
That said, anytime things are a little rough or the day is feeling long I remind myself we are debt free and it always puts a smile on my face.

What are some of the pivotal things you’ve been able to do now without debt that you could have never done while in debt?

We are able to save like it’s going out of style. Which it never will, because saving money is cool. Tell your friends!
Pivotal things…hmmm…. we are able to travel more now. We are hitting our stride with that, the kids are at the best age for travelling. We have just come up with our travel plans for the next 5 years and I’m really looking forward to all the trips.
Another nice thing, while not pivotal, is we are able to live on less. We trained ourselves for a long time to make the extra mortgage payments, and now that we are debt free, there isn’t a need for spending more.
One of the biggest pivotal things is that we now are able to think about what’s important. We value family time and experiences above things. I find myself walking the malls (because it’s ridiculously cold here and I love walking) some evenings and seeing everything and thinking “Don’t need it” and “Don’t see the value in it” which is weird, because when I was going without for those 6 years I wanted everything at first. Now I am able to buy more stuff I find I question the item a lot and if I don’t have a great reason for buying it then I pass on it.

What message or words of encouragement do you have for those still struggling with debt who are overwhelmed/in denial regarding their situation?

 If you are reading this and wondering if you can do it yourself, the answer is yes, you can become debt free. You don’t have to buy into minimum payments and 30 year mortgages. Take some small steps in the beginning and see how it feels. Take control of your situation. You can do it!
I’m an average person and was able to do it. It takes times and effort. So focus on the long game. Every time you put extra down on your debt you are giving your future self a raise. It won’t feel like much at first but if you keep at it you will start to see results.
That’s my advice, figure out why you want to be debt free, start small, and keep at it until it’s done. One last bit
If you are wanting to learn more about getting mortgage free faster I have a free book for you called “How to Hack Your Mortgage and Save Thousands” Click here to check it out: familymoneyplan.com/frugal-farmer.

How to Pay off Debt : Beating the Broke Mindset

As we began weaving through the process of figuring out how we got into debt and how to pay off debt, it occurred to me that we really had no control over our emotions during that time.  As I’ve mentioned before, our debt load didn’t come from big purchases – we literally nickeled and dimed our way into debt.  Rick had been laid off in 2010, and had subsequently, after 7 months, taken a job at 80% of his former salary.

Read more

7 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Garden This Year

 

Gardening is not just a fun hobby – it can be a powerful, money-saving, life-saving skill. Back in the pioneer days, if you wanted to eat, you grew a garden. There weren’t mega stores in every town, filled with lush, 3-week-old fresh greens to fill your tummy. No, if you wanted food, you had to grow it yourself or work for someone who did. The thing about gardening though, is that learning to do it well doesn’t happen overnight. The blessed skill of gardening, once a must-have skill for every person, is now mostly a lost art. Most people don’t know how to garden – or to preserve the food that grows in the garden. Never fear, though, because today we’re going to share with you how you can get the most out of your garden, even if you’re a beginner gardener. Read more

The Power of Freedom: MSM’s Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 10 Best Prepping and Survival Books

If you’ve read our “About” page, you know we’re huge advocates of education through reading. Part of the reason we’ve so heavily adapted the habit of reading non-fiction books is that 88% of millionaires read at least thirty minutes of non-fiction a day. Education through reading is a powerful tool for reaching your goals and becoming what you want to be. And if you’re interested in prepping, you’ll want to know about what I think are some of the best prepping and survival books on the market. Read more

5 Financial Moves for Millennials to Make Before 30

Hey, frugal friends! Enjoy this guest post by our friend and fellow PF blogger, Josh from Money Buffalo. The big 3-0.  It’s a number dreaded by most young adults because it means they are now officially old by pop culture standards.  It is probably safe to say that the priorities of most thirty-year-olds are more in tune with their parents than their younger Millennial peers.  Read more