One of the main reasons I started Dear Debt was to inspire people to get out of debt — to create a community of like-minded people, who shared their struggles with debt, as well as their dreams about what life is like after it’s all paid off.
I’ve been “lucky” in that my only debt is from student loans. Heck, I didn’t even get my first credit card until two years ago! But I know many of you out there are struggling with sky-high interest rates and are buried in credit card debt.
I can only imagine how frustrating it is — especially with interest rates that can be around 20 percent or more.
A year ago, I would have told you to hunker down and limit your spending and hustle like crazy to pay down your credit card debt. That part is still true.
But there’s an extra layer that I think can make the process a whole lot easier: the Payoff Loan™.
The Payoff Loan™ may help borrowers with credit card debt simplify their payments and pay much less in interest. So instead of paying multiple credit cards and paying exorbitant interest rates, you’d pay one loan at a (potentially) better rate.
Borrowers can get a Payoff Loan™ from $5,000 to $25,000 at fixed rates between 8 and 22 percent APR with a repayment term of 2-5 years (your choice). If you can get a better rate with Payoff than your credit card, this makes financial sense.
Currently, the Payoff Loan™ is not yet available in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
To be eligible, candidates need to have a FICO score of 660 or higher with a debt-to-income ratio less than or equal to 50 percent.
Aside from making financial sense, I’ve worked closely with the people at Payoff, and they are legit.
They are real deal people (Yes! You can talk to real people from their awesome member experience team!) who care about getting people out of debt, because they realize that life is so much more than a debt payment.
What I like about them is their transparency. They clearly state there are no application fees, no prepayment penalties, no late fees, no annual fees, and more.
You can fill out a quick application to check out your potential rate, with no impact on your credit score. If you find something you like, you choose an offer and receive the money in the bank.
Pay off those pesky cards, save money on interest, and simplify your bills.
So, who do I think this is right for? People struggling with credit card debt who are ready to dump that debt.
However, here’s the crucial part. You have to be ready and understand the root cause of why you got into debt in the first place. No consolidation or refinancing plan will work if you keep borrowing as a band-aid.
So, if you have treated the root cause of being in debt (living beyond means, not making enough, not having an emergency fund, etc.), I think this can potentially be a great option.
As I mentioned, I don’t have credit card debt, so don’t have firsthand experience with the loan, but I do know that I trust Payoff and they are good people. They get what it’s all about and want to see people succeed.
So, if you are in credit card debt, Payoff is another option to look into. As always, do your research, understand the terms, and do what is best for your situation. Remember, I’m not a financial expert 😉
But I do want to share cool products and services, knowing that they could potentially help someone.
I’m an affiliate of Payoff, so if you use my link, I’ll get a bonus to help Dear Debt keep going. As always, I only write about things I’m truly passionate about — because let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that!
Hey party people! I’m enjoying a nice weekend with my parents in town, so thought I’d share some weekend reading to keep your brain satiated.
Favs around the web:
Why I Fear Being Wealthy via The Financial Diet — a thought-provoking piece on money and attitude.
How Much Is Your Time Worth? via The Broke and Beautiful Life — a timely piece, as I have outgrown many of my side hustles.
How to get “back on track” with a goal when you’re backsliding, hard. via Alexandra Franzen, who is pretty much my favorite writer and ultimate girl crush.
Some of my posts around the web:
How To Save for a House While Paying Off Student Loan Debt in 3 Simple Steps via Student Loan Hero
Are Your Extra Student Loan Payments Being Applied Correctly? Follow These Steps to Make Sure You’re Maximizing Savings on Interest via Student Loan Hero
I remember it like it was yesterday. Walking out of the office, for the last time with all my stuff. I wasn’t coming back.
A year ago, I jumped ship at my old job to give this freelance thing a try. It was a scary, bold move, but it felt absolutely right.
A year later, I am so happy I quit. I have had no regrets at all. No moments of wanting to go back. That’s not to say it has all been easy. Far from it.
What I’ve realized about being your own boss, is that it takes an incredible amount of effort to build something. But it’s worth it, because eventually you’ll see the fruits of your labor. I love that I’ve been able to think of new ideas and implement them through events and articles. I enjoy that I get to try new things and every day is something new. I am so grateful that I’m in a place where work is coming to me, rather than me being on the pitch merry-go-round.
I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. I haven’t failed. I didn’t give up (even when I wanted to). All of my worst fears didn’t come true.
The unknown path ahead was something that contained opportunities I never saw coming.
Most of all, I’m glad I had the faith in myself to jump and actually quit. I remember speaking to my mom when I made my decision. She was nervous for me, but knew that I had made my choice. She has seen how I have blossomed and is my number one supporter. I love her for that.
I hardly ever use the word faith in my personal life, but I can’t think of a better word for what I felt when I quit. I believed it would work out before I could see it. I knew there was something bigger — and I was ready to search for it.
I didn’t have every step figured out. I didn’t have a year’s worth of expenses saved up. I didn’t have my debt all paid off.
There were so many things telling me “no,” but I still said “yes.”
Sometimes faith is about doing something that you know people don’t agree with and doing it anyway.
Faith is also about leaving your comfort zone and knowing that it will work out. What most people don’t know about my journey into freelancing is that when I quit, I had lined up a 20-hour per week remote writing gig. Because of this gig, I felt comfortable quitting and knew I would at least make what I did at my old job.
Quickly I realized the work was mind-numbingly boring. It was taxing, repetitive work and I was getting paid pennies per word. I was a content machine and felt depleted every day.
After a month and a half, I knew I couldn’t do the gig anymore. But it was my safeguard. It was the reason I felt comfortable quitting. How would I bridge the gap and make up for a loss of 20 hours of work per week?
I was scared and didn’t have all the answers, but knew I was unhappy. I didn’t leave my old job to be unhappy and creatively unfulfilled. So, I left and I hustled.
Luckily, it was right near the start of FinCon and after that I was booked up again. I got better paying work. More creatively fulfilling work. I made some great connections with companies that I’m partnered with today.
Something I said on Michelle’s podcast the other day rings so true. You have to let go of bad clients, bad relationships, and unfulfilling work. How can you ever let the right things come to you, when you are devoting all your time and energy to the wrong things?
You need to carve out a space to be open to new, better things. You will stand alone for a while and wonder for a second if you made the right decision. You may even be tempted to crawl back to your old clients, begging for some work.
But it’s better — every single time — to focus on better opportunities.
My freelance journey has been a roller coaster, sprinkled with a lot of surprises and successes, as well as a good dose of anxiety and a huge learning curve.
There’s one thing I know, though, I haven’t done this alone. So, thank you. I am so grateful for you (yes, you).
Hey debt fighters! I have another great, yet heart-wrenching dear debt letter for you today. Today’s letter comes from a new blogger, so I encourage you to stop by, say hello, and encourage him! We all remember being the new guy/gal, right? Drop a line and say hello. You can find Ryan at dadindebt.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter @dadindebt
The water is cold. Yes, my gas is cut off.
So let me paint the bigger picture. I’m the husband of one beautiful wife, and the father of two wonderful kids; aged 22 and 16. Both the kids live at home (although the 22 year old wishes like hell he didn’t). We live in a big fancy house in the big fancy country club. We have three cars. I have a great job and my wife hasn’t worked in years.
While I make well over six figures, we have exactly $0 in our savings account and we have exactly $23.19 in our checking account. Today is the 13th and I don’t get paid again until the 15th. Oh, did I mention our gas is cut off? I forgot to pay the bill last month and we were out of town the first half of this month when the notice came in the mail. It’s been off since the 9th. It’ll be turned back on again on the 15th so until then, cold showers.
Why is this happening?
Well, in a nutshell, debt. We are drowning in debt. I have over $50,000 in consumer credit card debt, $48,000 in my son’s student loan debt, $21,000 in auto loan debt, and $530,000 in home debt (keep in mind our house according to Zillow is now worth about $466,000). Yep, it’s pretty bad.
The good news is I’m fed up. I’m turning from mild mannered well paid consultant, husband, and father, in to a middle-aged debt destroyer! The decisions will be tough. The measures may be austere. But enough is enough.
Hey debt fighters! We have another great dear debt letter to motivate you to conquer your debt. Today’s letter comes from Tre. Tre is a freelance writer who is passionate about personal finance. You can follow her journey out of debt on her blog House of Tre or on Twitter.
We haven’t really spoken for a while, but we need to talk. We’ve been together for a long time. A very long time.
You’ve been with me for some of the most important events in my adult life. You were here when Tiny Tre was born. You were here when we bought our first house. You were here the day I received my MBA (no offense, but you were pretty fat at that time).
You’ve also been with me during my darkest times. Do you remember that time we were almost homeless? Yeah, that was a rough time. No one expects to finish grad school and almost end up living on the streets, but you were there with me the whole time. Reminding me of your needs. Making them seem more important than anything else.
Debt, for a couple of years I tried to forget about you. But you wouldn’t let me. You always popped up and made sure your needs were met. You made yourself a priority in my life.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been giving you a lot of attention. In fact, I’ve paid you more attention this year than I ever have in the past. Were you flattered? Did you think “Oh, she’s finally remembered me?”
Don’t get too excited. You see old friend, I could never forget about you. You wouldn’t let me. You were always there. Looming over every decision I made.
Debt, this really isn’t working for me anymore. I have some new goals and you just don’t fit in with them. To be honest, you’re a bit of a control freak and I’m getting tired.
I’m tired of you ruling my life.
I’m tired of you deciding where I work.
I’m tired of you deciding how I spend my money.
I’m tired of you deciding if I get to take a vacation.
Most of all, I’m tired of making sacrifices to please you.
Debt, my old friend, it’s over. I’ve made a plan. I have it all worked out. I know exactly how many more days we have together. You’ll be surprised how short our time together is.
Don’t worry; you’ll be getting a lot of attention until then. In fact, you’ll be getting more attention than you ever have before. Enjoy it! This time it’s really over. I’m breaking up with you for good.
This post is a part of the Get Paid to Write for Blogs Course Launch! Get Paid to Write for Blogs is a brand new course created by Cat Alford of Budget Blonde. Cat makes a full-time income from writing for blogs, and this course will teach you how to do the same.
If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you may know that I started my blog at a particularly low place in my life. I was deep in debt and struggling to find work. I felt everything that I worked so hard for vanish underneath my feet. To make it worse, I was hit with a wave of depression that was hard to get out of.
After more than a year of sulking in my own misery, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and my life and do something about it.
In January 2013, Dear Debt was born. It was a way to keep myself accountable in the debt payoff process. It was an outlet to channel all that pent up energy and turn a negative into a positive.
I quickly fell in love with the personal finance community and all that it offered. I never expected my blog to be anything but a diary of sorts, sharing the ins and outs of getting out of debt and struggling to find work.
I would have never, ever, in a million years dreamed that my blog would lead to my career as a writer, not even two years later.
For the first year of my blog, I was still trying to find my voice and figure everything out. But one thing really stood out to me. There were people making money online and working as writers for other blogs.
I thought that would be a cool thing to do, but quickly dismissed it. How can I write online? That’s not for me. But as I kept reading more and more blogs and hearing more and more stories about people making a living as a full-time writer, I was intrigued.
“How can I do this?,” I thought.
I started by stalking people’s blogs and emailing people for advice. I did a few guest posts to get my name out there. Yet, there was still so much I didn’t know.
How do you even find gigs? How do you pitch people? How do you know what to write about? How do you know what to charge?
I was filled with questions and not many answers. Through trial and error and my network of friends, I started to find answers.
Although on the outside it may seem like the process happened very quickly, I was fumbling and trying to make something happen (to no avail) for almost a year. Then, last year I had built up my writing work so much that I did the unthinkable and quit my job.
It’s been a wild ride, but I’ve not regretted it one bit. I’m actually making MORE money than I was.
And here’s a little secret. You can do the same thing as I did. There’s no secret formula or special treatment. It’s just about taking the right steps and knowing the right people.
Which is why I’m so glad to share Cat Alford’s new course Get Paid to Write For Blogs. Instead of fumbling along for a year, you can take this amazing course with one of the veterans in our community. Cat has worked online for several years and her name is splashed all over the web. Essentially, you can learn from the best and skip some of the growing pains I had.
The course has 29 videos, with 8 different modules to help you every single step of the way.
The best part? There is a 7 day money back guarantee. If it’s ultimately not your thing, you can get your money back.
I know that this course is valuable for anyone looking to build a career as a freelance writer. It’s totally worth the money and you can easily make back your investment in a few short months.
The course is currently priced at $497. Yes, not chump change, but a totally doable amount if you want to invest in your career. The best part is that using my link, you can get 15 percent off the purchase price, bringing it down to $422.45.
If you want to become a full-time writer, learn from the best. I truly believe Cat is one of the best freelance writers in the personal finance niche and she offers so much value in everything she does. I am grateful to not only call her a colleague, but a true friend. She is so generous and truly a gem in this community.
Yes! I want to get paid to write for blogs!
I am an affiliate for this course, so will receive a small bonus if you sign up using my link. As always, I only share products I believe in and think would benefit my community.
Have you ever had a hard time saving? Maybe you just weren’t into it very much, or you felt like you had no money to spare.
Or, if like me, you feel like you have competing priorities. Everything is trying to capture the attention of your last remaining dollars.
But there is one simple trick to help motivate you to start saving:
Think of it as being in debt to your future self.
In actuality, you are in debt to your future self. Your future wants to be taken care of and better than your present, so it behooves you to start saving today.
Every day that you don’t save, you are losing out on interest. You are cheating your money from the beauty of time — the power of compound interest.
How many times have you gotten yourself in a situation, where you wished you had more money saved? (raises hand). Yeah.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but this is a message from your future self. SAVE MORE. Yes, you. Even more than you thought.
Why? Because life isn’t perfect. Life doesn’t go as planned. Things happen. You want to be prepared for anything life throws at you, instead of panicking at the situation at hand, ON TOP of then worrying about how you have no money, riddled with the fact you may have to take on debt.
Why This Trick Works
For the past few months, I’ve been insanely passionate about getting out of debt. I’m paying over $2,000 per month so that I can be debt-free in a year. I am so inspired and ready to be done! Yet, this sort of fervor isn’t commonly displayed for saving.
Saving seems boring and like a chore. This trick works because it shifts your money mindset — saving is no longer something you “should” do, but it’s something you have to do.
You don’t want to default on your future self, do you? You don’t want to deal with creditors Worry, Panic, and Distress, right?
I didn’t think so.
So get started today and save more. Make your savings rate just a little uncomfortable. It’s good for you, I promise. Comfort zones are where progress goes to die.
You better believe I don’t feel comfortable throwing so much money at debt, but at the end of the day, it also gives me a subversive thrill.
I know that I’m doing something that most people won’t do. In some cases, can’t do. And you can do the same, with your savings.
The thing about saving is that the money is still there. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just stashed away and ready for you, but it’s not actually lost.
I feel like many people feel anxious about saving money because it feels like letting go of something tangible. But it’s still there! And it will be yours, if you need it.
So, if you want to start saving, think about how much debt you are in to your future self. Think of all the years you owe someone else, working on their time just to make a dime.
Think of the precious moments of your life that are taken away because of financial worry.
THERE IS A BETTER WAY. And it starts with a commitment to save and to save more than you think you need. Your future self will thank you.
The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Portland! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.
If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years, it is that mastering your money is a journey.
You are never quite in the same place you used to be, usually not quite where you want to be.
For a long time, when I was younger, I never really thought of the importance of money. I wanted to believe that I was a creative type that could be beyond this thing called money.
In my mind, money meant greed, capitalism, power, and class. It meant difference. In some ways, it still means those things to me, but I realized the power money had as I got older. And that it wasn’t all evil.
My Journey Into Debt
As soon as I became an adult, I took on student loans to go to college. I didn’t think twice about it, because it’s what I had to do. I worked all throughout college, but spent nearly all of my money because I was so young and had “forever” to save.
Now I find myself in even more student loan debt than I was back then, with practically no retirement savings at the age of 30. Sometimes I’m scared shitless about this.
But the one thing that keeps me going is seeing my progress on this journey. I can now look behind me and see how far I’ve come. I’m close to the finish line. In less than one year, I will be debt free.
At that time, I plan to use the $2,000 I am putting towards debt each month and really invest in my future. I was scared of investing before, but now I am excited. I’m excited to have my money work for me. I’m excited to pursue this idea of financial independence — a term I had never heard before I entered the personal finance community — and hope to have enough money where I can quite literally do whatever I want.
Journey to Financial Wellness
My relationship to money has completely changed and in large part, it’s because my mindset has changed too. I take responsibility for my mistakes and I have a clear vision of what I want.
I want travel, adventure, and creativity. I want to work on things I love, not because I need to get paid. Most importantly, I want to give. No, really. I want to give back and help others get out of debt. I want to give back to underserved communities, now that I no longer work with them face-to-face.
My journey to financial wellness has taken a lot of twists and turns. It hasn’t been perfect (and no one’s journey is), but I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve learned about the importance of saving, investing, paying off debt, and having a clear goal for what you want. Without a clear goal, those other things don’t mean a damn thing.
Today, I would like to encourage you to continue on your road to financial wellness. Take one step forward. Start by saving five more dollars. Open a brokerage account. Pay $10 more to debt. Read a book about money. Start a conversation with your partner about money. Take one little step towards financial wellness.
What does financial wellness and empowerment mean to you?
p.s. The lovely folks at Payoff are the national sponsor for #TheRoad to Financial Wellness. They have this super rad Financial Personality quiz. Try it out!
p.p.s If you are in the Portland area, we are meeting at TaborSpace in SE at 9am today! Come join us. If you are in Corvallis, join the meetup here.
If you’re like me, you’re spending a lot of time online. But what if you could get paid doing stuff you’d probably do anyway, like search the internet? That’s where Swagbucks comes in.
I’ve already talked about how Swagbucks is one of my favorite things. But I just briefly touched on it, so today I thought I’d talk about how exactly you can make money with Swagbucks.
I know that Swagbucks saved me a few months ago when I was in Las Vegas — I was getting bombarded with insane prices, so was relieved that I had enough Swag Bucks to get a Starbucks card and get a free breakfast. Score!
If you want in on the fun, here are some simple ways you can start earning today.
Answer the Daily Poll
Want a quick (swag) buck? Answer their daily poll, which guarantees one Swag Buck. Every single day there is a new question and sometimes they are just funny or silly. You can also see the results of the poll, which is always very interesting.
To get started, simply go to your Swagbucks dashboard, go to Answer and then click on Daily Polls.
Search the Internet
As a freelance writer, I am always looking up sources, spelling for certain words, and quick grammar tips. Using the Swagbucks search engine, you can get paid to search the internet. Now, you don’t get paid every time you search. I would venture to say you earn Swag Bucks for every ten searches or so. Usually the amount you earn is between 6-12 Swag Bucks.
Look, I just earned some more just looking for frugal recipes!
They use the Yahoo search engine, so if you are spoiled by Google you might need some time to adjust. I’ll admit, if I get weird search results, I will go to Google, but in general, I have very few issues with the Swagbucks search engine, especially for casual browsing of the internet.
Follow them on Social Media
Are you on social media? Then follow Swagbucks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They often have time-sensitive Swag Codes, that are only good for a few hours. You never know when they will post them, but if you are a regular social media user, you are bound to see them once in a while.
Here’s an example of a Swag Code alert on Instagram:
Once you get your Swag Code, enter it here:
The Swag Code box is on the right hand side of your dashboard, next to your inbox. Simply input your Swag Code and then enter Redeem Swag Code. Be sure that you enter the Swag Code carefully, as one typo can throw it off.
Now, I’m not one to buy something just to earn points, miles, bucks, whatever. That would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it? But, there are occasions when you know you are going to buy something and it makes sense to check through Swagbucks first, to see if you can get points.
A few months ago, my favorite restaurant was on Groupon. I knew I had to get the deal. I checked with Swagbucks and was pleasantly surprised that Groupon was on there, so I could get a deal AND earn more Swag Bucks.
They have name brand retailers like Walmart, Old Navy, Groupon, Living Social, Amazon, Expedia and more. Like I said, don’t go spend money just to earn Swag Bucks. But if you are making a purchase, check with Swagbucks first!
What Can You Buy with Swag Bucks?
Swag Bucks are typically worth a penny. Yeah, nobody’s getting rich here, but it all adds up. I have made over $20 in just a few months.
Using Swag Bucks, you can buy a variety of things in their Rewards Store. You can get Starbucks cards, Amazon cards, and even money via PayPal! Also, Chipotle. Mmmm burritos. You’d be hard pressed to find nothing you like — and if you really don’t want a gift card, use it for cash via PayPal.
So, I think Swagbucks is a pretty cool way to earn and also have a little fun. There are so many other ways to earn too, these are just the ways I use Swagbucks to earn gift cards.
If you aren’t signed up, sign up for Swagbucks and start earning. The cool thing is that I can offer readers a $5 signup bonus, if you earn 2500 Swag Bucks in sixty days, which you can totally do.
Oh YES I want to earn Swagbucks!
I am an affiliate of Swagbucks, which means if you signup using my link, I’ll get a little bonus, too. As always, I only write about things I’m passionate about or personally use myself.
Last month I declared my big, crazy, audacious goal for all to see. I was fearful of pressing publish as so much can happen in a year. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. But I knew that I wanted to keep myself accountable to paying off debt.
Even if I “fail”, I promise to always be honest and forthright with where I am at and what is going on.
I know I am not alone struggling with debt. Many of us are fighting tooth and nail just to survive and reclaim our money, time, and financial lives.
It’s hard and it’s a journey full of ups and downs. Now, with this goal, I find myself on another journey.
In my last debt update, I said starting June 1 I was going on a cash budget and giving myself $100 in fun money each month.
I am proud to say that I’ve stayed within my budget, but at some points it has not been easy. This past weekend, it was so nice out and my boyfriend and I just hung out at a park. We were driving back and I asked him, “Should we be bad and go to happy hour right now?” (a summertime favorite of ours).
Luckily, he had the strength to tell me “no.” While I felt frustrated at first, the urge to go out waned as we settled back at home and relaxed.
Making any big change is all about knowing your spending triggers. I constantly want to go out on nice days. In Portland, it’s gloomy so much of the year, my inner party-animal just wants to release.
But I’m learning to channel that energy in other ways with walks, and bike rides, and wine from the grocery store (lol). I am also trying out new recipes and making sure I always have food in the house. Half of the time when I want to go out, it’s because there is no food in the house and I’m too lazy to go to the store. Now, I start monitoring the food situation, so I can anticipate when I need to go to the store and be proactive, rather than reactive.
This past month, I am also happy to say I have met my goal and put $2,000 to debt. I am actually hoping to put another couple hundred, but am waiting on some payments.
My current debt total:
Undergrad loan: $5,331.64
Graduate loan: $21,530.92
I love how close my graduate loans are to being in the teens! The good thing about paying this amount is that I actually see the progress I’m making. Even when I was paying $1,000 per month, it felt like the debt was not going down that much. Then again, at the height of my student loans, I was paying around $300 in interest per month.
Things are moving along and I am working hard to just take it month by month, day by day. I don’t want to overwhelm myself, but I also don’t want to lose sight of my goal.
I am so ready to be done with this debt.
How are you doing with your financial goals?