If it takes you longer than 10 months because your situation is different than mine, don’t sweat it!
Progress forward with intentional action gets results far faster than sitting around complaining that it will take forever.
These 5 tips will help you pay off debt in an accelerated plan. If you prefer to watch rather than read- the video below cover similar content.
5 Tips To Paying Off Debt (Quickly) - YouTube
Tip 1: Know your Debt Numbers
Do you ever watch Shark Tank? You see entrepreneurs wide-eyed and scared shitless go in front of successful angel investors and have their idea ripped apart and (hopefully) receive investment to feed growth.
If you watch this show, you might have picked up on a common reason people lose investments- they don’t know their numbers.
Don’t know your numbers? Then you will be the entrepreneur getting torn apart and life, well, life is the shark.
Luckily, knowing your numbers is easy. Painful. But easy.
Start by getting a better look at your current financial situation.
List out all the debts you have, the balances you currently owe, minimum monthly payments, due dates, and the interest rates.
Do not try to start paying off debt until you do the basic steps listed above.
I LOVE the debt snowball. The debt snowball is basically a really good way to pay down debt quickly.
So let’s talk through the details here.
Start with the smallest balance debt, ignore interest rates. Then once you have that lined up, pay the minimum payment on ALL debts except for the smallest balance debt.
The smallest balance debt will receive any and all extra payments you were planning on making.
This is key. There is power in focus and what gets attention gets results. Once that smallest debt is gone, pretend you still have that previous minimum monthly payment and put the entire debt payment towards the next smallest debt.
Whenever you get any extra money put all of that money towards the smallest debt. Which leads us perfectly into the next big tip…
Tip 3: Side Hustle
Side hustles are the booooomb! They help you pay off debt so fast and if you choose an appropriate side hustle can really help you expand your skillsets.
When I paid off debt, my side hustle was working nights and weekends as a nail tech. I was an accountant by day and did manicures and pedicures to help me pay off debt. My side hustle was 100% commission, but supported me through undergrad, so I continued to live on that allowing me to put my entire accounting income towards my debt.
If you’re trying to find “easy” side hustles, I highly recommend:
Uber or Uber Eats
Seasonal retail work
Flipping cell phones
Picking up overtime at your current job
It doesn’t matter what you do- as long as you are working towards paying off the debt.
Sprinting is a concept from that came from software development, but can be applied to any area of your life.
Start by setting a clear goal and objective of what you need to accomplish. If you are working on a $3,000 credit card, set an ambitious goal of 1-2 months for paying it off. That will more than likely require you to hustle, pick up an extra job, cut some monthly expenses out and sell stuff around the house to reach this goal.
That period of intense focus is a sprint. Now, you can get real nerdy and say “that’s not technically a sprint Whitney,” and you wouldn’t be wrong from the true Sprint methodology, but this is my version of a sprint.
During your sprint, the only focus you have is paying off that $3,000 card. You become fixated on that goal with a healthy level of obsession. That my friend- will get you results.
I’ve tested it in business, finance, and health and it works like a champ!
Tip 5: Reduce Monthly Expenses
This is equally as important as side hustling. Most people look at their budget and think, “yep, there’s not any room for improvement.” But frankly, it’s bullshit. I have never seen a budget that doesn’t have some area for improvement. It might be a small monthly savings, but little things add up to big things over the long run.
Hopefully you are creating and living on a budget. (You are right?) That’s the best place to find areas to cut. Additionally, look through your bank statement with a fine tooth comb and figure out where your money leaks are.
You have some areas you can cut back. I have some areas I can cut back. It’s totally normal.
You do need to temporarily reduce expenses if you are on an accelerated debt payoff plan.
Do a quick search for strategies to paying off debt and you’ll find the possibilities are limitless and it seems that everybody and their dog has an opinion.
But if you do some digging, what you’ll find is that all the strategies typically come down to three primary methods.
Each strategy is slightly different.
The four strategies we will be discussing today are: debt snowball, debt avalanche,cash flow method and equal distribution.
To illustrate how each of these examples work, let’s look at Jennifer’s current situation.
Jennifer works a 9-5 job as a marketing consultant and occasionally picks up weekend shifts as a server at a local restaurant. She went to college and currently has $37,000 in student debt with a 6.8% average interest rate.
All through college Jennifer did what she thought was best, took the advice of her parents, friends, and teachers and opened a credit card to help her build credit. She didn’t have an “Oh Sh*t Fund” so when her car broke down, she was desperate and put the repairs on her credit card. As her life grew, she turned to credit cards to help her fund some purchases promising she would pay them back as soon as she could.
On top of that her beater car eventually broke down. Stressed out, she financed a new to her car that was 2 years old, reliable, and even had the little luxuries like heated seats. Total cost of the car? $15,000 with a 4.5% interest rate.
Life happens, right? Even though Jennifer’s story is totally made up, it’s not far from the truth for most people who have debt. We have great intentions, but stuff comes up.
Now Jennifer is ready to make some progress on paying off her debt. (Thank baby Jesus!)
Between Jennifer’s two jobs, she has $500 a month extra she can put towards debt.
So which strategy should Jennifer use?
First, we need to understand how the debt strategies all work.
The debt snowball is probably one strategy you are most familiar with due to the popularity and love of financial guru Dave Ramsey. And for good reason too. You’ll find that as people call into Dave’s radio show and share their incredible debt free stories one thing become apparent– it works!
The concept of snowballing your debt isn’t new. But it is quite effective.
How it works
With the debt snowball method, you pay the minimum on all your debts and put all the extra money towards the smallest debt (balance) first. We are not even taking interest rates into consideration here.
So for Jennifer’s situation, she would be putting the extra $500 she has per month towards Credit Card 2 (the one with $500 balance). She will have CC2 paid off in one month.
Then when that debt is paid off she will then start to focus on the second smallest balance debt– Credit Card 1 ($5,000).
But remember, we paid off CC2, so we now have that normal minimum monthly payment of $15 we can put towards CC1. Instead of paying $500 towards our next smallest debt, we are putting $515 per month towards CC1.
Once that debt is gone, we do the same thing again with the car loan, this time putting $550 ($500+$15+$35) towards the car. Rinse and repeat until all debt is gone.
Advantages of This Method
This method is killer for people who need to see progress (sooo, everyone?). The reason it is so effective is because we are able to A) focus on one debt at a time and B) see progress fairly quickly giving us the “quick wins.”
Quick wins and seeing results fast means you are more likely to stick to your debt payoff plan.
We will call this is psychological approach.
The debt avalanche is perhaps one of the more logical and mathematically approached strategies. With the debt avalanche, you are still paying the minimum monthly payments on your debt, but instead of focusing on the smallest balance like we did with the snowball, we will instead focus on the highest interest rate debt.
Aka the debt that is costing you the most.
How it works
Once you have your debts listed out, we will then rank them from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate.
Here’s what Jennifer’s debt priority order will look like while using the avalanche.
♥ FOCUS 4: Car Loan- $15,000, 4.5%, $250 minimum payment
It’s not drastically different until you see that the car loan comes last when paying it off because the interest rate is the lowest. But, going through this example, Jennifer will be paying the minimum on all debts except for CC1; she’ll be putting the extra $500 directly towards CC1. Once that debt is gone, she will then focus on CC2 now putting $535 (normal extra payment + $35 minimum from before) towards the second card.
Repeat the process. As you can see, just from a very simple math perspective, she will have CC1 paid off in 10 months.
Advantages of This Method
This method saves you the most money from an interest standpoint. Mathematically, it makes the most sense. If you are trying to save money and the thought of paying extra towards interest stresses you out, you might want to implement this method.
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Cash Flow Method
This is a newer method to me, but one that can make a lot of sense in some scenarios. I first heard about a variation of this from a podcast interview and really liked it. For someone who is skimping by every month and barely making ends meet, cash flow matters and this approach, in a sense, helps you increase your income every month.
How it works
The Cash Flow Method takes into consideration your most expensive monthly payment. Whatever debt is taking away from your immediate cash flow every month, hurts the most from a financial perspective and should be paid off ASAP.
To follow this approach, you need rank all your debts by the minimum monthly payment each month and focus on the highest minimum payment. You are still paying only the minimum on all debts while you go through this process.
So for Jennifer to implement this, her order of debt payoffs would look like this:
Jennifer would need to put the entire $500 towards the student loans every month. Again, paying the minimum on all other debts. Once she has paid off the student loan, approximately 6 years, she will have more $270 more each month that she could then put towards her car.
And to be fair, after 6 years of paying off debt, the car and CC2 will likely be gone.
If cash flow is a concern for you or somewhat restricted, this method will help you feel like you are getting a raise every month. For some people, this method is awesome! From a cash flow standpoint alone, this is the best strategy.
I feel like this is the method 98% of people begin with. And it makes sense too. You are trying to do the right thing by putting extra towards all your debts. Hell, I’m pretty sure 5 years ago, I would have said this is a good way to go as well.
How it Works
Using the Equal Distribution method, you are paying a little extra towards each of the debt every month. If Grandma gives you $100 for your birthday, and you have 4 debts, you put $25 extra towards each debt, dust off your hands, high five yourself, and go back to business as usual.
Super common strategy.
For Jennifer’s situation, that $500 extra monthly payment would be divided up between her 4 debts. So there is no real focus order per-say. She would just be putting $125 towards each of her debts until they are all gone.
I mean… be honest. Was this the strategy you used for a long time too? (me = desperately pleading that I’m not alone.)
Using this approach CC2 will be paid off in 4 months.
You are putting extra towards all debts and starting to decrease each of the balances simultaneously. You feel good about yourself because you are actively working towards your financial goals and seeing each of the balances go down.
Which Strategy is Best?
Ah, yes. The million dollar question. Which strategy should you be using?
Well, the shitty but true answer is… it depends. It depends mostly on your personality, your preference, and your level of focus and commitment.
If you are the type of person who has a hell of a time sticking to a plan without seeing resutls quickly, the debt snowball is probably the right plan for you.
If you are the type of person who despises paying more interest than you should, the debt avalanche might be for you.
If cash flow is a big time struggle and it’s not going to take you a 5+ years to pay down the debt, the cash flow method might be a solid choice.
All in All
Frankly, everyone’s situation is so freakin’ different that saying one way is the right way and all others are bad is really not my forte.
But if I’m forced into a corner and must generalize, my preference is the debt snowball. I think most people need quick wins and the more results we can get more quickly, the more likely we are to stick to our debt payoff plan.
Ultimately, the debt payoff plan that works best, is the one you will stick with.
Once you have the materials from Step 1 prepared, we’re ready go officially roll up our sleeves and get nerdy.
Let’s start with the basics. I’ll be using the “Monthly Budget” template to walk you through how to budget.
In the Budget Template, right at the top, type in your estimated take home income for the month you are budgeting for. (See image below). Remember, this is an example for a monthly budget, so the income is being estimated for the entire month.
Not sure what your income might be? Look through the past few months of your bank statement and jot down your lowest month’s income as your new estimate. It’s always better to be a little conservative on your estimated income.
Once you’ve estimated your income, you’ll then need to go through and making a list of exactly how much your expenses are each month and their due dates.
This can take a bit of time, but it’s super important that, as much as possible, you write down the exact amount and not estimate.
On the budget template, it will look something like the image above. Be as specific as you can and use the expenses that you currently pay for. Try not to get too carried away with all the “I should probably put money aside for this expense too” unless you already pay for it.
As an effort to save you time, the expense section of the template automatically populates with expenses and amounts as you type in your categories in the section like the picture above. (You’ll see what I mean when you start using it.)
Step 3: Go through the Bank Statement Exercise
Most people have no idea how much they spend on groceries, eating out, coffee, entertainment, or those random Target trips. That’s where the bank statement exercise comes into play.
If you’ve been following my shiz for any period of time, you probably know that this is my go-to exercise because it freakin’ works.
What you do
♥ Print off the last 30 days of transactions for your checking account AND/OR your credit card statement if you use both.
♥ Grab a 3 different colored highlighters, a pen, and a calculator.
♥ Write down 3 categories you tend to overspend on or aren’t sure how much you spend on and assign a color to the category. (For most people this is eating out, coffee, Target, Amazon, or any other random purchases you make)
♥ Then line by line highlight every single transaction that fits each category. Add it all up and voila’. You know how much money you’re spending on an average month for random/misc. stuff.
Legit, this works suuuuper well! Every person I’ve ever done this exercise with immediately walks away with more clarity of where their money is going.
Once you have theses numbers, then plug them into your budget template. I highly recommend leaving your expense as is for the first month of budgeting. It’s stressful enough, don’t add the extra anxiety of reducing your expenses… yet!
Ready to go through this exercise and find more money in 15 minutes? Watch this video. (no email opt-in required!)
Step 4: Set Money Dates
If you stop at creating a budget you probably think budgets don’t work. But the creation- while it can be stressful and intimidating, is only 1/2 of the process. The other half is checking in with yourself- through money dates.
A money date is a dedicated weekly appointment with yourself. This is the selfish time where you have my full permission to buy your fancy latte, sit in your favorite coffee shop, and check in with your financial life.
If coffee shops aren’t really your thing, then light a candle, grab a glass of wine, play some relaxing music (don’t worry- we aren’t getting kinky here) and check in with your financial life.
You’re probably nodding your head saying “sign me up!” but might not be entirely sure of what you’re supposed to be doing during this time, so here’s your money date checklist.
Money Date Checklist
♥ Schedule a weekly recurring appointment titled “Money Date” on your GCalendar. The secret to money dates is keeping them predictable and consistent. Schedule them for the exact same time every single week to ensure you build up a habit.
♥ Review and visualize your bigger picture financial goals
♥ Update your budget. Look through your transactions for the past week and update the “actual” column of your budget template with your spending to date.*
♥ Look at your calendar for the next week. Do you have any events that you are attending? If so, you might need to get creative with meal prep and bring your coffee to work so you don’t blow your budget. Preparation and forecasting are key to ensuring you stick to your budget!
*Tip For Updating Your Budget
In excel use the formula function so you can automatically add up each transaction together and see where you left off. Hypothetically speaking, if you went grocery shopping over the past week and spent $30.55 on one trip and $15 on the second trip, you would type the formula in excel exactly as it looks below. The formula will tell you how much you have remaining in your budgeted amount.
Step 5: Get accountability
Money dates are super critical, but so is knowing your personality. If you are the type of person who is a beast with sticking to a plan and needs very little support and guidance- I admire you! I’m not that type of person at all. I need some form of accountability to help me stay focused and encouraged. That’s why I have accountability partners for every area of my life.
I have a podcast mastermind group that meets monthly, a blogger GF hangout, and I meet with a good friend of mine every other week to set business goals and make sure we are pushing each other.
Most of my coaching clients hire me for accountability. They know what they should be doing or know they could figure it out, but they can’t seem to get themselves to stick to their money plan. So my job is to educate, guide and be a polite ass kicker making sure they are achieving their financial goals.
If you follow these steps exactly and give yourself a lot of patience and self-love, you will be a rock star budgeter! It takes roughly 2 months before you start to feel in control and empowered to take on your finances, but it’s well worth it.
Don’t buy into the excuse that you aren’t a numbers person, or that you just aren’t a great budgeter- you can be. It’s a skill that is learned through practice and repetition.
The average student loan debt in 2016 was $37,172 (roughly $351 per month). People are saving less and less for retirement and when I see an average student loan payment of $351 per month, I immediately see part of the reason why people are struggling with investing.
From a macro perspective, this stuff gets worse. As a whole, we’re looking at $1.4 trillion in student debt. WTF?! About 2/3 of our nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) are reliant on consumer spending and new house purchases. When people have less disposable income to spend, this directly hurts the economy.
It’s a huge mess. But it doesn’t have to be your huge mess. You have options and you do not have to keep student loans around.
Tip 1: Don’t let student debt climb in bed with you
Most people let student loans become such a part of their life that it become just another bill to pay. The sooner you get pissed off about your student loans, the more drastic you’ll become with your plan, and ultimately, the faster you will get results.
A lot of people think that student debt isn’t a big deal because the interest rate is so low. It’s not necessarily about the interest rate being low, it’s about the opportunity cost of what you could do with that monthly payment instead.
Tip 2: Put your tax return directly towards your student loans
This is a great tip that came from Chad Methner in my money community. Chad’s spot on. Any extra money you receive should go directly towards the debt- especially your tax refunds. The average tax refund in the US was $2,763 in 2017, which equates to a nice chunk of change working towards paying off your debt.
Tip 3: Know your numbers
You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with. Write down the exact list of how much you owe for each student loan, what the interest rate is per loan, and the minimum payment.
Another money community member, Joe Koss, encourages us to “calculate the number of months and the amount needed per month to get the budget set as a minimum. Build in rewards throughout to keep yourself motivated for the process.”
I couldn’t agree more with Joe. Knowing your numbers and building in rewards are the key to getting results.
Tip 4: Use that 6 month “grace period” to your advantage
For most people, that grace period where you don’t have to make a payment for 6 months is a really big deal. This essentially gives you a “get out of jail free” car for a short period of time. Subsidized loans haven’t officially started accruing interest yet, meaning a bigger portion of your payments will go towards the balance you borrowed and not towards the interest.
Most people use that 6 months time of no payments to help them live life or further defer the debt off process, but if you are wise, and I know you are, you’ll start making payments the minute your graduate even though it’s not required. This helps your money go so much further.
Tip 5: Go all in on your debt payoff plan
You already have a debt free date! As stands, it will happen. So let’s try to get you there a bit more quickly. It’s important to know what type of personality you have. Are you one of those people who can stay focused for a long period of time, or are you one of the people who gets side tracked and loses motivation fairly quickly.
I personally, lose my motivation quickly. When I was looking at my debt payoff plan, I knew I couldn’t extend this past a year or I would lose motivation. I also know that I wanted that debt gone ASAP! So I was willing to work two jobs, not eat out once, and forgo the extra “goodies” at the grocery store to reduce my bills. In exchange this let me pay off debt in less than one year.
Tip 6: Stop saving you deserve to treat yourself
What you really deserve is a better financial life. There is a season for treating yourself and a season for cleaning up the debt messes. If you take step 5 seriously, you may only be in a season of cleaning up for a short period of time.
Don’t get me wrong- treating yourself isn’t a bad thing, but when you are trying to get rid of student loans quickly, it’s important to find cheap or inexpensive ways of treating yourself that don’t sabotage your plan. For example, if your version of treating yourself entails buying coffee and going for a walk, you might instead bring a thermos full of coffee from home and and take the walk. You’re receiving the same psychological benefit, without spending money that could have went to your debt.
Tip 7: Put spending barriers in place
I’ll never forget the time I was working during tax season, exhausted, didn’t have a day off in 3 months and convinced myself I work hard, so damnit, I deserve a $3 Americano. When I got into my car, I opened my wallet and saw my budget taped to my debit card. That was enough of a reminder that I created a plan to pay off debt and coffee didn’t fit into that plan. Taping my budget to my debit card was a way for me stay focused on my goal and put a barrier in the way from me spending.
I had to remove my budget every time I wanted to swipe my card. (Which was a pain)
Every time I pulled my card out, I had to look at my budget and be reminded of my goal.
Do whatever you need to do to stop yourself from spending on stuff outside of your debt payoff plan. Some people like to use gift-cards to help them stay accountable, others like the cash envelope system. Just find a way that works best for you.
Tip 8: Sign up for auto payment + go paperless
Stephanie Ellis, another money community member, mentioned that we should “find out if they offer any incentives for lowering your interest rate. I got my interest rate lowered for setting up monthly auto payments and paperless statements.”
The federal government loans will offer a .25% discount for signing up for auto payments and going paperless. This isn’t a ton of savings, but every little bit helps.
Tip 9: Get a part-time job or pick up overtime hours
This is the least sexy thing to say, I know, but it freakin’ matters. When you are trying to pay off debt quickly, you’ve got to do two things:
When you begin to increase your income through part-time work, you’ll find results much faster. I’m a big fan of flipping items of eBay, driving for Uber (if your car is too old, like mine, try Uber Eats), working as a server, doing contract work, delivering pizzas, housesitting or nannying. Whatever you need to do to earn extra money.
If your job allows you to pick up overtime hours, do that! But keep that focus on earning extra money and putting every single dime of that extra money towards your student loans.
Tip 10: Keep living like a college student
If you are just now graduating from college and unsure of what to do next. Some of the best advice I can give to you is to keep your lifestyle the same. Don’t get the fancy apartment yet. Maybe stick around your parent’s basement a bit longer. Don’t buy that new car. Don’t take a vacation to reward yourself for graduating college. Keep your lifestyle minimal.
Then when you get your first “big kid” job out of college, put all of that money towards your student loans.
With these tips, you should be on your way to paying off student loans in no time. Stay focused and keep working towards your goals. In time, you will get great results.
They have become so engrained in my life that I listen to them when I’m cooking breakfast, getting ready for the day, and during the commute to work. On average, I consume about 6-10 hours per week soaking in information.
Why I Listen To Podcasts
A lot of people wonder why I would spend the equivalent of a part-time job listening to podcasts every week, and fairly so. For me, podcasts fill downtime that I would normally be “wasting” and I am a big advocate of brainwashing myself to change behavioral habits and psychological beliefs.
The best way to change your life is to reprogram your mind.
Podcasts are a great way for me to focus in on a specific area, really obsess about the results I am working towards and start to slowly change or expand my mindset. The best part? Podcasts are FREE.
How to listen to podcasts
Ever since starting my own podcast, I’ve learned that not everyone knows how to listen in to a podcast. Ignorantly, I just assumed everyone did until my family and friends told me they didn’t know how to listen to them. Oops! So let’s start there.
If you have an iPhone:
Go to your app “Podcast.” It’s a little purple app and comes standard on your iPhone. If you click on that app you can search for the podcasts you want to listen to.
If you are using another phone, you can try Google Play or even an app called Overcast.
You can also listen to the podcast directly on the website of each of the podcasts.
The number one reason people report not eating healthy or not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
But you’re not one of those people. That’s because you’ve already showed how you can practice long-term planning, patience, and seeking value when it comes to optimizing your financial health. It turns out that these same skills carry over quite nicely to seeking nutrient-dense foods and pinching pennies when you’re grocery shopping.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.
And saving money doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck eating nutrient-poor foods. Here are six healthy shopping strategies that will help you save at least $40 per week on your grocery bill while prioritizing healthy foods.
Buy Store Brand
Sure, name-brand items will be brightly colored and more recognizable when you peruse the grocery store aisles, but their neighboring, store-brand counterparts are likely identical down to the single ingredient. And what these options lack in color and pizazz in terms of marketing, they also lack in price, which, in this case, is a good thing. You can expect store-brand foods such as cereal, breads, wraps, canned produce, and an array of package goods to be at least 25 percent cheaper (if not more) than their name-brand neighbor.
Think about how these savings could apply across your entire bill…
This may be your most valuable cost-cutting tool. And it’s only the first one I’ve mentioned! You’ll also be happy to know that you’re not losing out on a single nutritious perk between name brand and store brand items, too.
My favorite store-brand items include canned vegetables, canned beans, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1 – 2: $15 – $25
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3 – 5: $25 – $40
Buy Canned Food
Canned food is misunderstood.
Many mistake canned food for sodium-laden yuck when in reality canned products contain foods picked at peak ripeness that are instantly canned to preserve nutrition and enable consumers to enjoy beyond the next three to five days of peak freshness. Plus, you can buy your favorite items at a fraction of the costs! In fact, just yesterday, I bought three 15.9-ounce cans of beans for $2.67 each. I could’ve bought a bag of beans (which need to be soaked and cooked) with the same amount for $5.89.
Yes, canning uses a lot more sodium than you may prefer to preserve the food, however, you’ll be happy to know that unless your physician has specifically instructed you to limit your sodium intake, there’s no reason to because your body is more than capable of removing what it needs. To cut back on the sodium content, though, look for reduced-sodium canned goods or rinse your canned beans, corn, or vegetables under water to remove some of the salt.
The recommendation to make a list may be the most reused budget-friendly, healthy eating tip out there. But it’s so valuable that it’s worth repeating. From a money-saving standpoint, having a precise list of your essentials will help you save tens of dollars. While making your list, make sure you double check the pantry, fridge, and freezer to avoid double buying or over buying.
From a nutrition standpoint, making a list ahead of time helps you to prioritize nutrient-dense food offerings, but also helps you to maintain willpower while shopping in the store. If you enter the store without a list, you’ll waste significant amounts of willpower (mental energy) trying to make a decision with an overwhelming amount of choices in front of you. By the time you get done with your shopping that Butterfinger that keeps making eye contact with you in the check-out lane is bound to end up in your cart…
If you have a precise list, however, you’ll be much more likely to stay strong and will even increase store-time efficiency.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1 – 2: $4 – $10
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3 – 5: $11 – $15
Skip Organic Produce
Although seeing the word “organic” next to your favorite produce may lead you to think of this product as a healthier, more nutrient-dense option, it’s really just a code tag for “pay more money for me!” Environmental beliefs aside, organic produce offers no nutritional benefit compared to non-organic produce. Organic produce does, however, offer a higher price tag – sometimes as much as 150 percent compared to its non-organic neighbor!
If cutting your grocery trip costs is important to you, skip the organic section. You can enjoy the same nutrient-dense product for a fraction of the cost!
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $5 – $8
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $9 – $15
Buy In-Season Produce And Freeze To Enjoy Year Round
When specific fruits and vegetables are in season, supply is overwhelming, thus companies can afford to offer such produce at a fraction of its off-season price. To cut costs and set yourself up for year-round enjoyment of strawberries (or any other produce), I recommend you buy your favorite produce in bulk when it’s in season. You can expect to find multiple BOGO deals and prices discounted at least 50 percent compared to off-season prices.
When handling frozen fruit in the off-season, I recommend using in place of ice cubes to make nutrient-dense smoothies, adding to a pitcher of water to make delicious fruit-infused water, or thawing overnight and adding to a warm bowl of cinnamon oatmeal.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $5 – $8
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $9 – $12
Shop Early In The Morning
Your usual grocery store trip may fall on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but most grocery stores open as early as 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.! Rather than scrolling through your social media feed in bed for the first 20 (or more) minutes to start each day, get out of bed and go save some money!
To help recoup potential losses on perishable products, specifically meat and seafood, most grocery stores will mark these items down exponentially in the morning hours. You may be able to save up to 75 percent on ground beef, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, salmon, or local white fish simply by shopping first thing in the morning.
Be aware, however, that these items will need to be cooked within 24 hours – I recommend cooking later that night or making yourself a fresh breakfast – before they spoil.
Yes, not quite a nutrition tip, but a health tip, nonetheless! Getting up early and getting a head start on the day typically leads to enhanced productivity, effectiveness, and success in many facets of your life and may have a positive impact on your physical health and your financial health.
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 1- 2: $8 – $12
Average Cost Savings Per Week For 3- 5: $13 – $21
With these tips you’ll be on your way to cost savings that helps you stay focused on your health and financial goals.
About The Author
Paul Salter is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutrition Consultant. The past few years, Paul has worked 1:1 with more than 800 people and has helped them to transform their lives while helping them collectively lose thousands of pounds of body fat and build hundreds of pounds of muscle. Paul currently prioritizes 1:1 coaching and nutrition education via articles, videos, and courses. He’s the founder of Paul Salter Coaching and Fit In Your Dressand currently serves as a Sports Nutrition Consultant for Renaissance Periodization. Salter previously served as the Nutrition Editor for Bodybuilding.com and continues to write for the site.
January was a crazy month with some pretty nice milestones in there. But despite hitting some really impressive milestones, I have to be honest- it didn’t make me feel more successful or happier. It was a good reminder that the journey is what matters most and if you aren’t enjoying the process, the milestones won’t make you happy.
Small wins I’m celebrating:
Blog traffic hit an all-time high at 26,000 page views per month. The only thing I can think of that caused a huge spike in traffic during the month is New Years Resolutioners. This makes sense too, because if you think about Jan 1. we are all trying to get the perfect body, bank account and look for the most incredible destinations for exploring. So, that makes a lot of sense to me.
The Money Nerds Podcast officially expanded to a second episode a week called 5 Tip Friday. This has been a big hit so far! I’ve received a ton of positive response to the second episode that are short and to the point. The podcast also celebrated record number of downloads sitting right around 10,000.
I was also nominated and accepted to be part of Facebook’s Small Business Council. I’m one of 14 people from across the nation to come to an all expenses paid trip to tour Facebook’s headquarters, meet other entrepreneurs, and enjoy some happy hour and learn about more Facebook features.
I feel like I need a disclaimer here. I recently revamped my strategy for goal setting only selecting and focusing on 3 main projects per quarter. Once I identify the project I set 4 milestones I need to hit for the project. Each milestone has 4-5 actionable tasks to support the milestone achievement and ultimately, project completion. So I wanted to share with you my bigger picture Q1 3 Projects:
Because I started focusing on these projects, I immediately gained a bit more clarity around how much work each project takes if I give it the attention it deserves. Achievement of these goals has been hard for me because it requires me to work as the CEO of my business instead of working in the business as a graphic designer, editor, writer, content creator, etc.
1. Book all my yearly medical appointments (Booked and completed!)
2. Get my butt to the dentist ($500+ later for a redo on my root canal, two cavities and a cleaning… I’d say it was a success! Not completed, but hey, it’s a work in process.)
3. Hit the gym 5 days a week. (I failed. I only averaged around 3-4 per week.)
4. Stick to my $50 per month coffee and eating out budget (I was at $35 spent after 1.5 weeks into January, but reeled it in and ended up spending $43.57. The secret: bringing my coffee to work everyday.)
One thing that has been kinda sucky about my new car is the lack of an aux cord input. I usually listen to my podcasts first thing in the morning while on my commute to the office and without the aux cord, my commute has been podcast less.
I still averaged 105. hours in the past week putting me at about 44 hours consumed in the past month.
Here are a few I’m loving right now:
Up and Vanished was recommended to me by one of my favorite coaching clients. We are both super into true crime and serial killer podcasts, so I’ve been loving this one! Don’t Keep Your Day Job is a really inspirational take on artists and creatives that are making a lot of money and chasing their dreams without buying into the starving artist mentality, and The Influencer Podcast is one of my new favorites as well where the host interviews influencers and gets tips and tricks into how we can increase our own social influence to reach more people.
Okay, I’ve been clearly sucking at my fitness goals lately. I initially said 5 days a week no excuses. And then the excuses came in. I averaged 3-4 times a week for my gym time and found myself slacking on my water intake again. I have been walking on my treadmill in my home office at night as a way to clear my mind. That has been great, because I get a little visualization and meditation on my goals while I’m walking.
Here’s the crazy thing- my website traffic and podcast downloads are both at a peak high, BUT my revenue has not followed that. So here’s my theory. People know they need help with money, but they are opting for free resources instead of paid because they are broke from the holiday and also riding a peak high of “New Year New Me!” Because of that- my coaching and course sales has been low.
Let’s break down each of these areas and see if I can explain why things are working well right now:
My retargeting ad for offer coaching is still running and generating some inquiries. Right now, it’s been nice to has a handful of coaching applications every week to go through instead of the usual 8-10. Coaching clients are getting amazing results and progress is happening! Which is the most exciting thing in the world to me.
Website traffic grew to just shy of 26,000 views during January.
We are still implementing the Pinterest Avalanche Traffic strategies and started partnering with other business owners to introduce their products or services to you guys. Here’s the cool thing- I don’t teach side hustle stuff enough, but if you guys learn how to make extra money, you’ll be able to pay off debt so much more quickly. So for January, I partnered with Kayla Sloan to help my audience gain advice and strategies on how they can make $10,000 per month as a virtual assistant.
I took a good hard look at my cold subscribers (people that have opted in to my email list and been on there for at least 30 days but haven’t opened or clicked an email in 90 days). I created a re-engagement campaign and gave people another chance to stay on my email list and then after 1 week, I deleted 700 cold subscribers. This is something I will now do as part of my quarterly checklist.
You might be wondering why you would actually do this. A) You pay an email service provider for the amount of people on your email list B) It increases your engagement and open rates to be a bit more of a true reflection
The podcast has been killing it. I’m super proud of the progress we’ve made there. The downloads hit right around 10,000 for January. A couple of things I attribute the growth success to:
A) Launch of the second episode (5TF- 5 tip Friday)
B) Running a short Facebook/Instagram ad to the podcast
C) Getting very comfortable promoting the show more on social channels
What if we acted as if we weren’t afraid? What would life look like then? Would you travel more? Work a couple jobs to pay off debt? For me, I would be chasing my business growth much more, showing up in bigger ways. reaching out for more partnerships, and not stressing about trying to get it all done.
WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?
I’ve got some fun Facebook Live sessions planned in the Facebook Group. I have been polling my audience in there to see what they want to learn. one of the things they want to learn more about is budgeting. So all of February will be focused on budgeting in the group.
The Facebook group, Manage Your Money Like A Boss will be having more free educational workshops and talks hosted in there starting inFebruary. So you definitely want to join in the group before then.
2010 was a great year; I graduated college, I got my first “big kid” job at a public accounting firm and life was looking promising.
There was only one problem. I had almost $30,000 in debt staring me in the face. Yikes!
For some, that is okay, student loans are normal.
I didn’t want to be normal. I wanted to be successful.
I wanted to make my own choices instead of having debt make choices for me. Intuitively I knew that $30k was a crap ton of debt.
The debt was making decisions for me, instead of me making my own decisions. I couldn’t take a job at a non-profit (paid too little) and I couldn’t start my own business, because I had debt to pay for.
My paycheck was officially owned before I even got my hands on it.
Most of us know that debt takes away our freedom.
It’s easy to say c’est la vie to a job that you can’t stand when you don’t have to worry about paying for the bills.
I talked to a lot of people and what I found was disgustingly shocking.
People had students loans well into their 40’s and 50’s.
That is craziness. Your student loans are not your BFF.
Treating them like they are a necessary part of your life will cost you.
What are the costs, you ask? Well…
Thousands of dollars in interest
Hours of lost sleep
Stress levels that not even wine can cure and the most costly…
I’m glad you are reading this.
Clearly you are much smarter than I was. It took me years to figure out that debt was stifling my growth.
I didn’t even know I had problem until it hit me in the face – rather abruptly too. Okay, let’s get down to business.
Now, you want to know how I paid off $30k in 10 months.
I will tell you exactly what I did.
In order to tackle the Goliath of a debt, I needed a plan. Something that was actionable, measurable, and ambitious. I also needed a shovel.
I dug a pretty deep hole. Therefore, I needed a pretty big shovel to fill that hole.
I’ve always been a big believer in the saying…
“If people aren’t laughing at your goals, you aren’t dreaming big enough.”
My first goal was to pay off my debt in 12 months, 1 year. When I shared this goal, I not only got some strange looks, laughs, and smirky smiles, I was told I set my bar too high.
This is normal. Anytime you go about trying to achieve a massive and audacious goal, people will try to put your dreams down.
Don’t let them.
People project their version of the world onto you. If they don’t think it’s possible for them to personally accomplish the goal, they will tell you it won’t be possible for you to do it either.
On October 10, 2010 I wrote in a notebook:
Pay off $30,000 by October 2011.
Due to the power of setting goals correctly, I actually beat my goal by 2 months. In August of 2011, I made my final student loan payment.
That night, I slept like a baby.
“Great results come at great sacrifice.”
It’s virtually impossible to accomplish cool things in your life without making some tough choices.
Trust me when I say, you will not be able to please everyone and your decisions will often hurt someone in the process.
I have always been good at working my butt off. Part of my plan of paying off my debt was knowing that I had to make some really, really big changes.
Cutting out buying coffee twice a week was not going to cut it.
To get drastic results, I had to make drastic changes.
Here was my pre-debt freedom situation:
Owned my own home
No car payments (thank baby Jesus!)
No credit card debt
Was in a serious relationship
$30,000 in debt
Great part-time job at a spa with extremely flexible hours
Landed a Staff Accountant position with a flexible schedule
Great! I was in a pretty solid starting position.
Here were the sacrifices I made:
Rented my home out for $100 per month more than my house payment & moved in with my partner (allowing me to pay lower rent)
Sold all my awesome furniture (this was a bummer dude moment for me- but gave me a nice chunk of cash to start my debt free process)
Worked two jobs, 70-80 hours per week
Didn’t have a day off for 3 months
Didn’t buy coffee for 10 months (I almost forgot what the inside of Starbucks looked like)
Packed a lunch every single day (to this day, I still bring a lunch every day)
and probably the most important sacrifice…
My lifestyle choice.
I knew I could survive on less than $25,000 a year. Heck, I knew with my house rented out I could survive on $15,000 a year.
I lived in true “college student spirit” a little while longer. Let me introduce you to my massive shovels.
Shovel 1 (Spa Job):
This was my job that put me through college. I lived on a solely commission-based income for 4 years and knew I could continue living off of it.
Working part time at the salon meant that my income would decrease to around $25,000 a year.
I worked from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00- 8:00 p.m. on Fridays, and from 9:00-6:00 p.m. on Saturdays. 26 hours a week. 100% commission.
Shovel 2 (Accounting Job):
Accounting is very cyclical business. I was deeply needed for audits and preparing tax returns.
I worked at the accounting firm Monday, Wednesday, and Sundays from 7:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. 49 hours.
I was paid once a month at this job.
This check went ENTIRELY to paying for my debt.
Have you ever been so busy that you literally couldn’t even make it to the bank, let alone go shopping?
That was my life. Being so busy was a huge blessing in disguise. I didn’t even have time to spend money if I wanted to. My sacrifices were drastic.
I wanted unreal results, and I got them.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t discuss the tools I used to make this happen. These financial tools were the real reason I was able to accomplish this goal.
A plan isn’t enough. Working two jobs isn’t enough. Sacrificing isn’t enough.
You need to have the right tools under your belt.
Let me repeat that….
Tools. You must have the right tools! Paying off debt is not an easy task.
“Most debts are fun while you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
I learned firsthand the importance of creating an effective budget. Creating a budget is nice, easy to do even..
…but creating an effective budget- that’s a different story. What was in my toolkit?
Ridiculously easy, step-by-step formula to accomplishing cool shit
This is an art and a science. There are proven research based ways to make your goals more attainable and increase your odds of achieving them ten- fold. There are actually 7 areas you should be setting goals in. Isn’t that crazy?! Within minutes of talking to you and hearing your goals I can immediately determine the likelihood of you achieving them.
I want you to succeed! So be sure you are setting goals in these 7 areas:
Financial (pay off debt, build up your savings account)
Family (send a birthday card for all your siblings birthdays)
Social (coffee with friends once a week)
Career (get promoted to leadership role, start a business)
Health (weigh a certain weight, run for 20 minutes straight)
Personal (always wanted to learn to play guitar- this could be a personal goal)
Spiritual (including meditation, going to church, working towards inner peace)
Learning how to create an effective budget is critical. Fortunately, I learned some extremely valuable tips to creating a budget that works. Effective budgeting makes your money start working for you. It takes into consideration paying off debt, building up an “oh sh*t fund,” saving for retirement, and even sneaky expenses like holidays and birthdays. If you set-up your budget correctly it will be a truly effective one.
Tricks to saving hundreds on student loan interest
One trick to paying off debt faster is by paying principle only. Your payment is composed of two main pieces:
Principle & Interest
When you make a payment, the amount paid is divided into interest and principle. Paying principle only means that your money is going toward the amount borrowed only- not to the banks pockets.
But did you know you can’t pay principal only on student loans?
Don’t worry; I learned a secret workaround for this. This secret literally saved me hundreds of dollars. And i even put my finding in this handy cheat sheet and added a couple more tips in the cheat sheet as well. It’s free, so download it, print it off and keep it handy as you go through your paying off student debt process.
Tips to staying motivated while getting out of debt
Getting out of debt isn’t easy. There are a ton of different tips and tricks I learned while paying off my debt.
You’ve got to consistently go back to your “why.” Why are you getting out of debt? What are the feelings you felt that led to you wanting to make this change? Are you embarrassed? Did you overdraft your checking account? Did you not have enough money in your account and couldn’t buy groceries? Going back to your why will keep you motivated throughout this process.
Perks of Livin’ The Debt Free Life
Do you know how nice it is to have the freedom to travel whenever you want, spend $500 on a shopping trip guilt-free, and purchase luxury items?
It’s not out of your reach.
You can do it.
In May 2014 I went to Kauai. Kauai is a beautiful, beautiful island.
I hiked along the Napli Coast, some of the most rugged and gorgeous terrain, snorkeled with tropical fish and turtles, watched endangered monk seals snooze, rode in a helicopter around the island, drank Mai Tais, relaxed while reading on the beach, and my favorite- got caught hiking in a tropical rainstorm.
But the best part of livin’ the debt free life…
When I return home, I have only the memories with me- not the credit card bill.
Imagine what you can do when you no longer have to worry about debt.
Best of all, I’m able to start my own business without the financial stresses that go with it. As an entrepreneur, living a very low risk life is important to me and keeping my monthly expenses to a minimum makes a huge difference in business growth vs. business flop.
I really hope this post has helped you gain some insights around what I did to pay off my debt. I am a very normal, average, person. If I can do, anyone can do it.