Debt

Debt Free Journey – Month 30

It's been a few months since the last update. 

It's 30 months now into our debt free journey and we have:

  • $16,000 left in student loans
  • $8,144 left for a family loan

 There are a lot of talks now in the government about student loan forgiveness. 

I don't know about you, but I plan to wait and see if they push any forgiveness during this time. There's talks of $10,000 or $50,000 forgiveness. 

From all the articles I've been reading, it seems as if it'll be leaning more towards $10,000 of forgiveness. 

If you also hold federal student loans, you may also have the option of having the loans in forbearance, which extends any payment due till November of 2021. 

I plan on holding off on any payments towards my loans until then. 

That money can go towards more important things like savings, running this site, and more. 

What about you? 

Are you taking advantage of forbearance? 

If you are, then you should have some money freed up each month. 

Use that money that would've gone towards your student loans and save it for an Emergency Fund, if you don't have one. 

Or, you can use it to start chipping away at your debt. 

As far as our debt progress goes, it's pretty much going to be a standstill until November. 

Hopefully, we'll all get some student loan debt relief by then! 

I'll keep you updated with any further news, thanks for following!

​Read More
Debt Free Journey - Update $102,085 Paid in 26 Months- November 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Payoff Journey – Paid $102,085 in 26 Months – November 2020

This is the 26th month into our debt free journey. We’ve paid $102,085 so far with $25,144 remaining. It still boggles my mind that we’ve managed to pay off over $100,000 in just 2 years, crazy!

Debt Free Journey - Paid $102,085 in 26 months - My Financial Hill

Also can’t believe that it’s November already, what a year 2020 has been.

Really hope everyone reading this is staying safe out there.

The holidays this year definitely won’t be the same but as long as everyone is careful, that’s the most important part.

Holidays

With all the COVID cases out there, I’m sure many families are not going all out this year. If that’s you then make the most out of it by saving money. We all know how expensive it can get hosting Thanksgiving dinners and parties.

Hopefully by this time next year, things will settle down and resort to going back to normal once again.

If you like to plan holiday dinners and parties then definitely start saving money now so you can do it big next year. You don’t have to save much each month.

For example, create a fund for your ‘Holiday party / dinner’. You can set aside $50 a month starting this month and by next year you’ll have $600 left to spend to host something very nice during the holidays. That way, you’ll be financially prepared for holiday events next year.

Student Loans

This month I’ve paid $1,000 towards my student loan bringing the balance down to $17,000. I plan on continuing to apply payments to bring the balance down to $10,000 then I’ll hold off until there’s additional news on what the Biden administration plans to do for federally held student loans.

If you hold federal student loans, currently there should be a pause on your payments. The government may also prolong this pause for a while, it’s just a waiting game for now.

If you don’t have any savings, now is a good time to stack up some savings while you can.

Technically, you don’t have to make any payments towards student loans. With the extra money you may have, you can either use it towards paying down other debt or savings. Keep in mind that it’s important to save some money for student loan payments if the pause doesn’t end up getting extended.

For now, there’s high hopes that $10,000 of student loan debt will be wiped out for everyone. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Free Thanksgiving Dinner From Ibotta

Did you know Ibotta is giving away a free Thanksgiving dinner from Walmart?

This offer lasts until November 25th 2020.

What you can do is:

  • Get the Ibotta app
  • Redeem the free offers pictured above
  • Scan your receipt
  • Get full cash back for those items

I use Ibotta when I shop for groceries on the regular. It’s super easy to get cash back for food items. First I would add grocery items to my list on Ibotta, purchase the items, scan my receipt, and get cash back right away.

If you do a lot of grocery shopping, Ibotta’s going to save you a lot of money over time.



Sign up to Ibotta using code YDIGCFJ and get your $20 welcome bonus



Takeaway

The holidays sure aren’t the same this year. Hopefully you all still had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving with your closest loved ones.

Start preparing to save some money each month for next year’s holidays. Even if it’s $20 a month, that’s still something that can add up for you to spend towards holiday dinner’s and parties in 2021.

Let’s all keep an eye out on what’s going to happen with student loan payment pause and debt elimination, time will only tell. Hope we can all get $10,000 or more knocked off our federal student loans, how great is that going to be?!

Lastly, keep your cash back at the grocery store going with Ibotta. You can eventually make enough back for a free week’s worth of groceries or more.

​Read More
Debt Free Journey - Update $101,059 Paid in 25 Months- October 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Payoff Journey – Paid $101,059 in 25 Months – October 2020

It’s now month 25 into our debt free journey and still can’t believe we’ve paid off $101,059 so far. Here’s a chart to get a good look at our progress so far.

101059 Debt Paid So Far My Financial Hill

Just goes to show you that paying off debt happens over time.

Little by little, day by day, any small progress will get you closer to your goal.

At the end of each month, if you get any money left over from budgeting or found money from saving, throw it at debt. That’s how you can make progress towards knocking out debt.

If you’re looking to get a kick start for your own debt journey start off by grabbing a debt thermometer and enroll in the free 5-day Debt Free Bootcamp below.

Have Fun During Your Debt Payoff Journey

Covid-19 has really put a damper on travel this year.

Safety is a real concern and there’s no way we wanted to travel outside the country while this pandemic was going around.

Before this year is up we still wanted to do some fun things while staying safe.

Last month, we went to Six Flags and were pleasantly surprised how they kept up with social distancing allowing people to have fun safely.

This month we decided to go back for a nice little weekend getaway again.

If you’re starting your own debt free journey, make sure that you’re still setting some room for fun. It’s important to do that because you don’t want to sacrifice the things you love to do while getting out of debt.

Becoming debt free doesn’t have to be a miserable process full of giving up on the things you love to do.

Squeeze in some fun here and there without having to break the bank doing so.

Let’s find some ways for you to have fun and pay off debt at the same time.

Use Travel Reward Cards

Did you know that credit cards will reward you with bonus points that can cover your travel and trips?

There’s a lot of credit cards out there that are currently offering mega points for using their cards.

This is how my husband and I travel for free during out debt free journey.

This doesn’t mean going out and applying for tons of travel cards, you’ve got to figure out how to best get the most out of these cards without going further into debt.

We’ve learned the hard way when it came to credit cards. Before our debt free journey, we had 8 credit cards with over $33,000 on them.

We knocked it all out and now use 1 single travel rewards credit card at a time, paying off the balance in full each month.

What I’m suggesting is, use only 1 single travel rewards card and use it for all your monthly expenses. Pay off the balance in full every month. This will help your credit score and allow you to get those promotional bonus points.

At the same time, if you have other credit cards, pay minimum payments on the rest and work your way towards knocking them out of your life as you move forward in your own debt journey.

This method has helped us tremendously with finally learning to use credit cards properly and reaping all the benefits credit cards has to offer.

Use Rakuten & Orbitz

Before you book any trip, always check Rakuten first to see if there’s any cash back offers before booking.

Rakuten is one of my fav sites when it comes to getting cash back online.

It works very simply like this:

  • Join Rakuten
  • Find your online retailer (Macy’s, Amazon, Walmart, Orbitz, Travelocity, thousands more)
  • See if there’s any cashback deals
  • Click on the store link where it sends you directly to the online retailer
  • Or simply download the Rakuten Chrome Extension which will easily show you right away how much money you can get back when shopping online
  • On the backend, Rakuten will get you money back for your purchase
  • Once you reach $5, get your money via PayPal or a check mailed to you
Rakuten Screen Shot - My Financial Hill

So far I’ve made $51.46 + another $50 on my other Rakuten account that gives me a total of $101.46. Over $100 in cash back from shopping online, money that would’ve been lost if I didn’t use Rakuten.

It’s definitely worth checking out so you don’t miss out on any cash back from shopping online.

Sign up is free and my special link here will get you $40 for free when you spend $40 (It’s like getting $40 for free!) Rakuten won’t disappoint, check them out.

This is a limited promotion Rakuten is offering, get it before they take it way!

Orbitz

Orbitz is one of my go-to travel sites. They always seem to have the best prices when it comes to travel + hotels.

Another thing I like about Orbitz is that they give cash back in the form of something called Orbucks.

Say for instance you booked a hotel through Orbitz at $100, you’ll earn 4% back which gives you $4. With the Orbucks, you can apply it towards your next booking with Orbitz.

Don’t knock these cash back offers guys, it may not seem like a lot but over time they definitely add up. Next thing you know, you can have enough to pay for your next trip.

For this recent trip to Six Flags, I received $6.23 cash back from Rakuten and $5.34 from Orbitz, which gives me a total of $11.57.

I love getting money back don’t you? Try Rakuten and Orbitz out before you book your next travel.

Earn Free Money Playing Games

Did you know you could actually get paid to play games on your phone / ipad?

That’s how I earn a bit of side money whenever I get some free time at night watching TV.

Swagbucks is where you want to go to get paid to play games on your phone or ipad. Swagbucks also rewards you for surveys, polls, questionnaires, trying apps, watching videos, shopping online, submitting receipts, and more.

However, I mostly use Swagbucks to pay me to play video games which is so easy and awesome.

How to get paid playing games with Swagbucks:

  • Sign up for Swagbucks
  • Find a game listed you would like to try
  • Get the downloadable link to the game via your e-mail
  • Make sure to fulfill the Swagbucks rules to redeem your points (example: reach level 15)
  • Play the game and get rewarded with Swagbucks

It’s super simple and legit guys!

So far I’ve received 14,010 SB points which is $140.10 mainly from playing games on my phone.

Swagbucks My Financial Hill

During your spare time, earn some side money playing games, trying apps, filling out surveys and more on Swagbucks.

Sign up for free with Swagbucks and get your $10 welcome bonus to start make some side money.

Should You Still Make Payments Towards Student Loans?

So, I currently have only 2 remaining debts. 1 is my student loan and the other is a personal loan from family.

At the moment federal student loan payments should be suspended for everyone and there’s no interest accruing, which is awesome for now.

This is totally up to you whether or not you would like to continue making payments.

I am still making payments towards my student loans for 2 reasons.

First reason is that any payments made during this time goes STRAIGHT to principle. This basically means that your money goes a lot further to knock out this debt.

If there was interest involved, any payment you make will get split going towards interest and principle which ultimately slightly weakens how far your money goes towards knocking out this debt.

Second reason I’m still making payments is that my current balance is slightly over $17K. I’m aiming to get it down to at least $10K.

As you all may have heard, there’s a lot of talk about student loan forgiveness. I’ve been following closely on this issue and it’s looking like President-elect Biden may want to forgive $10,000 all across the board for everyone who holds federal loans.

If you have federal student loans $10K and under, it may not be a bad idea to hold off on making payments until this process goes through.

Since student loan payments are on hold, this may also be a good time to build your savings if you need to.

Nothing is written in stone yet so we’ll have to wait a few months before we see any promise upheld. Just make sure to save some money to cover student loan payments if they don’t extend the pause on payments or if loan forgiveness doesn’t ever go through.

Takeaway

So remember guys, it’s important to set some time to have fun in your life even though you’re in the process of paying off debt. Also, keep in mind that you can find ways to travel for free and get the most bang out of your buck by using the right travel rewards, Rakuten, and Orbitz.

Let’s also hope that $10,000 worth of federal student loans will be wiped out, fingers crossed!

See you all next month!

By the way.. If you haven’t started your own debt free journey, start today! Try out my free 5-day Debt Free Bootcamp that’ll give you some awesome tips to help you take control of your money and get debt free!

​Read More
Debt Free Journey - Update $100,479 Paid in 24 Months- September 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Payoff Journey – Paid $100,479 in 24 Months – September 2020

It’s been 24 months since we got serious about paying off our $127,229 worth of debt. We officially broke the 6 figure mark by paying off $100,479 so far!

Woot woot! *Hands in the air*

Debt payoff progress for september paid off 100,479 in 24 months - My Financial Hill

This month we decided to make a large lump sum payment towards my student loan, $10,000 to be exact.

You may be wondering where in the world did we get this money?

It was mainly from our emergency fund.

If you’re ready to start on your own debt free journey and start knocking out some debt easily then grab the free debt thermometer and enroll in the 5-day Debt Free Bootcamp.

Knowing when to take money out the emergency fund

Prior to Covid, we were paying around $1,600 diligently towards out debt. That all came to a screeching halt once the pandemic rolled around.

To be on the safe side, we were saving a lot of the money plus there was no real urgency to pay off the student loan and personal loan from family due to 0% interest.

You may also be wondering why in the world would I pay down debt when there’s 0% interest?

When a debt item has 0% interest, that means 100% of your payment goes towards knocking out the principal instead of any of it going towards interest.

Basically, your money goes a lot further when you’re paying something off with 0% interest.

Now, being more than 6 months down the road since Covid we felt it was alright to let go of a portion of the emergency fund.

Sometimes having too much in the fund doesn’t do any good for ya.

Everyone’s situation will be different.

Generally, try to stick with an emergency fund of 3-6 months and keep it in a high yield savings account. Anything more than that, you’re probably better off paying down debt or investing.

Read More: 5 Tips to Build Your Emergency Fund Fast

Put your money in a High Yield APR Savings Account from Nationwide / Axos Bank. They’re offering 1.05% of interest which is the highest around. Sign up here at Nationwide / Axos Bank to lock in that rate.

Enjoy life while paying off debt

I’m ALL for reaching your goals without being miserable.

Getting out of debt doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Forget everything you’ve heard about people who don’t go on vacations or enjoy their life while getting out of debt.

That’s not the way I want to live my life and I’m sure that’s not how you want to live either.

Why? Cause you only get 1 life, so you should enjoy it!

Yeah, you’re probably thinking we may have enjoyed ours a little too much, winding up in over $120,000 of debt. Oops!

Anyway, we’re fixing it now, that’s all that matters.

So, we’ve figured out how to travel for free.

Once we paid off our credit cards, our credit scores naturally shot up!

Mine’s at 836 now.

That meant we were able to get awesome travel reward cards.

Read More: 15 Tips to Get Your Credit Score to 800’s

If you want to travel for free, apply for reward cards once your credit is good (generally 700 and up), check what your credit score is for free at Credit Karma.

Important Tip: Instead of using multiple cards, use only 1 for all your bills, that way you won’t rack up too much debt. Also, apply for 1 reward card at a time so you don’t spread yourself thin with all these cards.

This month we went on a small trip to Six Flags, and stayed at a Marriott for 2 nights (free with our Capital One Venture Card).

We love the Capital One Venture Card, we nearly racked up 160,056 worth of points which is simply equal to $1,606.

Travel rewards credit with capital one venture card - My Financial Hill

How did we get so many points?

My husband applied for one when they offered a promotion of 70,000 points then after we redeemed all those points, I signed up for one and received 50,000 bonus points. The rest of the points came from regular purchases.

One thing to keep in mind when getting these reward cards is that they will offer huge bonus points but only if you spend a certain amount.

For instance, with Capital One Venture, they offer 50,000 if you spend $3,000 within 3 months or 100,000 points if you spend $20,000 in 12 months.

It’s easy to meet that spending requirement if you put all your bills and expenses on 1 single card. That’s what we do.

Check to see if you qualify for the Capital One Venture Card to get free travel.

We went from having 8 credit cards with over $30,000 in credit card debt and now we use only 1 for all expenses and pay it off in full each month.

That’s the key to improving your credit and to have credit cards work for you instead of against you.

Getting out of debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is one of the most important things my husband and I did. It freed up so much of our money, our credit scores improved, and we received up to 520,000 = $5,200 worth of rewards bonus points.

Turn things around, make the credit card companies earn your business, get out of debt while traveling and having fun too.

Read More:

How to Get Out of Debt with these 5 Tips

Las Vegas Trip on a Budget with Free Flights

How to Get a Free Cruise

How to Spend only $200 on a 5 Night Cruise to Mexico

Use Rakuten to Book Travel

Prior to any booking of a trip, I always check out Rakuten to see if there’s any cash back offers.

Rakuten cash back for booking hotel through orbitz - My Financial Hill

Luckily, they were offering 3.5% cash back for our Marriott stay. I should expect to see around $6 back from going through Rakuten on to Orbitz.

Another bonus is when you book with Orbitz, you’ll get something called Orbucks which is their own cash back program. We’re getting back $5.34 for our stay at Marriott.

So in total, we got the Marriott stay for $196.37 for free with the Capital One Venture Card, also we’re getting back $6 from Rakuten and $5.34 from Orbitz.

It may not be much but it’s still something, we’ll have $11 more bucks to claim instead of losing out on free money.

Sign up is free and my special link here will get you a $10 welcome bonus + $30 cash back when you spend $30 (It’s like getting $30 for free!) Rakuten won’t disappoint, check them out.

Still using cash back apps

I don’t know about you but I looove getting free money.

I’m still using cash back apps to make every hard earned dollar work for me. What’s even better is I don’t have to put in too much effort to get some extra cash back.

Last month I told you guys that I’m using Ibotta, Fetchrewards, Receiptpal, Rakuten, and Honey. This month I’ve used Groupon and Getupside in addition to those other cashback tools.

Find the best deals on services with Groupon

I use Groupon to get the best deals for local businesses. This month I found a great deal for an oil change on Groupon.

There’s a lot of oil change places around me but a lot of them charge over $30 just for my small car. So instead of settling for the $30, I went on Groupon and found an oil change place less than 5 minutes away and paid only $21 with taxes and everything.

cash savings with oil change using Groupon - My Financial Hill

Groupon is so easy to use. First you can go on their website and type in whatever service you’re looking for.

They have any local business you can think of from oil changes, beauty, spa, tickets to events, laser hair removal, and so much more. When you find the perfect deal, you’ll purchase it through Groupon and print out your voucher. Then you can bring the voucher to the store/shop and have them scan it, get your service done, and you’re out. Easy Peasy.

If you can find the service you’re looking to get for much cheaper on Groupon, why not take advantage of the savings?

Sign up for free here and start to save that money $$

Get money back at the pump with Getupside

Getupside is another app I started using. It gives you cash back when you get gas or get food.

You can get up to .15 cents back for each gallon or up to 15% off food.

Let’s say you pumped about 16 gallons worth of gas, you can get back $2.40 cash back with .15 cents back per gallon. All you have to do is choose the gas station you’re planning to pump at and scan your receipt. It’s super easy to use.

Getting cash back with Getupside for gas - My financial Hill

Once you reach $10 then you can get a free gift card. There’s nothing better then getting money back for something you’d normally be buying anyway.

Get your .15 cents off per gallon and up to 15% off food with this link for Getupside

Making some money by playing games on Swagbucks

When I wind down for the night, I watch TV for a couple of hours in the evening with the hubby. I’ll take my phone out and start playing some games through Swagbucks. They offer good amount of points just for playing games.

Recently I earned 500 swagbucks = $5 just for playing one of their games. Currently, I’m in the process of playing 2 of their other games.

Getting points with Swagbucks for playing games - My Financial Hill

Now, I’ve reached over 2134 swagbucks which is equal to $21.34. I could probably cash that in to get a full tank of gas but I want to wait till it builds a lot more. But hey, that ain’t bad for doing something solely while I’m bumming around watching TV.

Sign up for Swagbucks to start earning some cash / gift cards and get your $10 welcome bonus

Automate your savings with Honey

Remember when I told you that I always look for cash back opportunities when I shop online via Rakuten or Swagbucks? Well, what do you do when those sites don’t offer any cash back?

For instance, this month I bought an adjustable bed frame on Amazon. I checked Rakuten and Swagbucks to see if there were any cash back offers for the bed frame. Unfortunately, this month they didn’t have any deals. I decided to buy the bed frame anyway. As I was checking out, my Honey chrome extension kicked on and found a coupon code for me for $20 off. I was happy about that!

The best part was, I didn’t have to do any searching to get the deal on the bed frame from Amazon, it was all automatic. I highly recommend signing up for Honey to get automated coupons applied for your online purchases. Honey also gets you something called Honey Gold which is a cash back bonus program.

You could earn as much as 1%-20% cash back when you shop online or 300 – 300000 Honey Gold back.

All you need to do is download the Honey chrome extension for free and it does all the savings for you automatically, you don’t need to go fishing around for deals online.

Sign up for free here and get the cheapest prices for all your online purchases instantly and hassle free

Earn cash simply by uploading receipts

If you’ve been following my other debt free journey reports, I mentioned that I earn points which convert to cash or gift cards simply by uploading receipts.

Receiptpal

This month, I earned enough points on Receiptpal to earn a $5 gift card, which is awesome. Why was it awesome you ask? Cause it was free money! That’s enough to get myself a free $5 Amazon gift card. All I did was scan some receipts, that’s all.

Getting free gift cards with Receiptpal - My Financial Hill

Try it out, instead of throwing your receipts in the trash, save them and scan it for points. Those points will get you free Amazon gift cards.

I literally uploaded any receipt I get, from store receipts, restaurant receipts, gas receipts, oil change receipts, and more.

Sign up for free here and start getting money back for your receipts

Fetch Rewards

With the same receipts I used for Receiptpal, it can also be used for Fetch Rewards. Double whammy!

The only thing is, for Fetch Rewards you’ll probably get a lot more points for grocery receipts. You’ll also get tons of points for buying products with the brands listed on their app.

For instance, when I upload a grocery receipt I can earn anywhere from 75 points up to 200 depending on what items and brands I purchased. For gas and other store receipts, I can earn anywhere from 5 to 25 points. Overall, it all adds up.

Earning points by scanning receipts with Fetch Rewards - My Financial Hill

Once you reach over 5,000 points, you can get free yearly magazine subscriptions or gift cards.

Use the code 7JKFH when you sign up to Fetch Rewards and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.

Ibotta

So far, I built up $67 using Ibotta which is a cash back app that gives you money for uploading your grocery or store receipts. I also don’t really have a huge grocery shopping list since it’s just me, hubby, and 2 doggies.

If you’re shopping for an entire family, imagine all the cash back money you can get.

Sign up for free at Ibotta and use the code YDIGCFJ to get your $20 welcome bonus

Basically, I could redeem the $67 for cash via PayPal or get giftcards which is great! It’s enough to get a week’s worth of free groceries!

Earning cash back with Ibotta - My Financial Hill

All you pretty much have to do is go into Ibotta, pick the store you plan to shop at, and start adding grocery items to your list. Once you’re done shopping, upload your receipt and you’ll get cash back for all the items on your list. Some items may require you to scan the product bar code which is not a big deal.

Savings Hack: Use Ibotta to get cash back on your other online shopping like Ulta, Amazon, Groupon, Macy’s, JCPenny, and so many more other stores. For Groupon, you’ll get 10% cash back going through Ibotta.

Saving money by cutting the cable without missing out

If you missed my last few posts, I talked about how I decided to cut the cable and went with Philo.

Philo is a streaming service where I pay $20 a month but we’re able to stream live cable network channels.

We mainly watch shows on TLC, MTV, AMC, Discovery, and a few others. It turns out Philo had all the channels we watch on there. By cutting our cable we saved over $92 on our cable bill, that’s $1,114 a year.

So far, it’s been awesome plus the savings is even better.

If you have a streaming device like a  RokuAmazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV then you can definitely try Philo out for 7 days free before committing to cutting your cable.

It’s definitely worth considering, you could be saving A LOT of money.

Sign up for free here at Philo and try it free for 7 days. (That’s what I did before cancelling the cable)

The only downside I can think of with Philo is that you won’t get your local channels but that’s where Locast comes in. It’s a non-profit service where you can stream your local channels for free as long as you have internet.

Locast offers their service in most major cities, if they don’t have your city listed then the next alternative would be to get an antenna to receive local channels for free.

Takeaway for September 2020

Man, where’s all the time going? This month flew by! We paid off over 6 figures worth of debt so far, $100,479 to be exact. *Whew

Tip 1

So this month we were able to knock out $10,000 towards my student loan. That money came out of our emergency fund. If you also have a savings fund in place, see if you have enough in there. Remember, you don’t want to keep anything more than 6 months in a savings fund especially if you have debt or want to invest.

Tip 2

If you’re trying to get out of debt, don’t deprive yourself of having fun. All you need to do is plan it well. If you have good credit, apply for cards like Capital One Venture to get those major bonus points. Use the points to get free travel on flights, hotels, cruises, vacations, statement credit, and more.

Also, use credit wisely. Stick with 1 credit card and use only 1 for all your expenses. Maybe 2 at most but it’s better that you don’t spread yourself thin. Using 1 card and paying off the balance in full will help your credit significantly plus you’ll qualify for bonus points fast.

This month we were able to get a $197 hotel stay completely free with the Capital One Venture Card.

If you don’t qualify for bonus points then create a small saving fund for your next trip. For instance, I have a category in my budget for things like “Vacation”, “Fun Money”, “Trip to Wherever”, etc. We save money each month for those categories and the next thing you know it has enough in there for a trip.

Tip 3

When booking a trip, use Rakuten first to get cash back on your trip.

For instance, we went on Rakuten to get the cash back offer for Orbitz. From Rakuten, they send you directly to Orbitz’s site where you can book your trip as usual. You’ll get cash back on your trip from Rakuten. Also, if you use Orbitz to book the travel, you’ll get something called Orbucks which is their cash back program. You’ll get double cash back opportunities for using Rakuten and Orbitz.

Tip 4

Use cash back apps and sites when you shop online. Always check Rakuten, Groupon, and Ibotta before you make a purchase online. It can mean the difference between just plainly wasting money or getting $$$ back for what you normally would do.

Tip 5

Scan your receipts for cash back, gift cards, and magazine subscriptions with apps like Receiptpal, Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, and Getupside.

Tip 6

Earn some money to get yourself some free cash or gift cards with Swagbucks. I use it mainly to play games but there’s a lot of ways to earn points on there. They have polls, questionnaires, surveys, games, watch videos, try out apps, and so much more ways to earn points. Doing this on your free time can get you some side money.

Tip 7

Cut the cable guys! If you have internet and a streaming device then you can be saving yourself over $1,000 a year just by switching from cable to Philo. You’ll get most of your cable channels. Go on Philo’s website to see if they have the network channels that you love. You can also try it out for free 7-days to see if it’s right for you or not. So far, it’s been awesome for us. It doesn’t even feel like anything’s changed, just more money in our pockets at the end of the month.

Overall, getting out of debt doesn’t have to be hard. Celebrate the small wins and still go enjoy life. Even if you earn $5 cash back or save over $90 by switching cable, it all adds up at the end of the year. Can’t wait to share what more I can find in savings with you all next month, tune in!

Read More:

Debt Free Journey – $90,479 Paid Off in 23 Months – August 2020

Debt Free Journey – $89,979 Paid Off in 22 Months – July 2020

Debt Free Journey – $89,479 Paid Off in 21 Months – June 2020

Guys, don’t let another day go by getting further in debt. Today’s the day to get started with your own debt free journey.

​Read More
Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Free Journey – Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020

It’s been 23 months now into our debt free journey. So far, we’ve paid off $90,479 with $36,750 left to go.

We’ve been paying off $500 each month towards the last two debts. One of them is the student loan which has a balance of $28,500 and the family loan for $8,250. Paying $500 is a lot less than what we used to pay before the pandemic hit. We were attacking the debt with about $1660 each month but now we want to build the emergency fund up a bit until things settle down.

Hopefully by next month, we’ll be able to make a large payment of possibly $10,000 to knock some of that student debt, stay tuned.

Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020

The only debt we have left to tackle is our student loans and family debt.

September of 2018:

8 Credit Cards
1 Car Loan
2 Medical Loans
2 Student Loans
1 Personal Loan and 1 Personal Loan from family
Total $127,229

August 2020:

1 Student Loan $28,500
1 Personal Loan from family $8,250
Total $36,750

Want to get started on your own debt free journey? Grab this free debt thermometer to see how much you owe and get started with the free 5-day Debt Free Bootcamp to get you on your way to becoming debt free.

Emergency Fund

If you’re able to do so, it’s a great idea to build up your emergency fund if you don’t have one. In certain situations, it may be more important to have cash available in case anyone loses a job or gets injured rather than paying off debt.

Not saying you should avoid paying off debt overall but set aside some money each month to your savings account until you build one that you feel comfortable with.

Once you get your emergency fund up to an amount that you’re okay with, then focus 100% on attacking your debt.

If you don’t have an emergency fund or need some ideas on saving up for one, head to this post below.

Read More: 5 Tips to Build Your Emergency Fund Fast

If you’re here for the first time, there are some real easy steps for you to get out of debt while still enjoying life.

Becoming debt free doesn’t have to mean that you’ll need to sacrifice. There’s ways around that. You can still enjoy life by going on trips, vacations, getting the things you want but just making some tweaks to get you the results you want without losing out on what you love.

That’s something I’ve come to learn about this process and it’s the only way that’s helped my hubby and I keep going.

If you want to get started on your own debt free journey, check out some tips that can help you get there below.

Read More:

How To Get Out Of Debt With These 5 Tips

Start a Budget

Use the Snowball Method to pay off debt

Find 95 Ways to Save

Make Extra Money

Travel for free

Cutting The Cord Update

In the previous July debt free update, I mentioned that we may cut the cable.

Well.. we did!

We tried out Philo, and it’s friggin awesome.

BEFORE PHILO

Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020 Before Philo

AFTER PHILO

Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020 After Philo

Let’s do the math here, $152.49-$60.32 = $92.17. Wait.. $92.17?!

We saved over $90 by cutting the cable, how amazing is that? That’s savings of $1,106 a year.

Wish we did this sooner.

But of course we have to factor in the actual cost of Philo $20 so realistically we’re saving $72.17 or $866 a year (which is still awesome).

If you missed last month’s progress post, I mentioned this Philo service as an alternative to cable.

As long as you have internet, you can stream your favorite cable channels live, plus it comes with unlimited DVR, and fast forwarding options through commercials.

Here’s a little breakdown of Philo below.

Philo

  • They have so many mainstream networks like A&E, AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, History, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TLC, Travel Channel, VH1, and WE TV.
  • Unlimited DVR (held for 30 days)
  • Able to fast forward through commercials
  • Free 7-day trial
  • Only $20 a month

We’ve been using Philo for a few weeks now and it’s been awesome. The only downside to cutting cable is that we have to use something called Locast to watch local channels (for free).

This method using Philo and Locast is great for those who don’t watch local channels too much but tend to watch network channels more often.

If you’re wondering about Locast check out the breakdown below.

Sign up for free here at Philo and try it free for 7 days. (That’s what I did before cancelling the cable)

Locast

Locast is a non profit service that provides you with your local streaming channels for free!

You sign up at Locast.org and you get live streaming of your favorite local channels. You can stream on your phone, computer, or on your TV.

For your TV, you’ll need a streaming device like  RokuAmazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV.

The downside to Locast is every time you switch channels, you will see a short Locast commercial but it can be removed by paying Locast a small $5 a month donation.


Overall, cutting cable and switching to Philo and Locast has been awesome.

Finding Savings

Using cash back and points apps has been great and it’s very satisfying to see that your money can go a bit further.

If you read last month’s debt journey post, I mentioned apps like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Swagbucks, Rakuten, and Honey.

I’m going to add Receiptpal to that list.

I’ll go over some reasons why I use those apps and programs and you can find super easy ways to get some side cash monthly too.

Ibotta

Ibotta is mainly a cash back app that gives you real money back when you go grocery shopping by scanning your receipt.

It’s actually better than using coupons in my opinion because when you use coupons, it comes off the bill. Ibotta, on the other hand, gets you cash back when you buy certain products.

Once you reach $20, you can redeem it for cash back via Paypal or giftcards.

Also, besides only groceries, Ibotta also gets you cash back for in-store or online retailers like eBay, Kohls, ULTA, JCPenny, and 300 more.

To use Ibotta, you’ll look for the grocery store you plan to do your shopping. Look through the items that the store has and add the items to your list. Once you’re done with your shopping and get your receipt, upload it to Ibotta and it’ll match your offers. You may also need to scan barcodes for certain products just to verify the purchase.

Tip: When you add the item to your list, make sure to read the description of the item. For instance, today I see an offer for Philadelphia cream cheese giving $.50 X 5 back and there’s a note saying it’s for 7.5 oz or larger. Make sure you’re getting the right items to get the cash back offers.

Overall, it’s an awesome app to use and I get great money back from it. I love to use it since I don’t have the patience to coupon. If you’re a couponer then you’ll get even more savings with this app since it also allows you to use Manufacturer’s coupons too.

Sign up for free at Ibotta and use the code YDIGCFJ to get your $20 welcome bonus

Currently, I have $57 cash back from Ibotta which is pretty sweet if you ask me, and no clipping coupons required.

Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020 Ibotta Cash Back

Fetch Rewards

Another app I’ve been using is Fetch Rewards. I basically get points for scanning receipts from grocery shopping, gas, and food.

Once I reach a certain amount of points, I’ll get gift cards or free magazine subscriptions.

Use the code 7JKFH when you sign up to Fetch Rewards and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.

Receiptpal

Another app I’ve been using diligently is Receiptpal.

Do you ever throw away your receipts? Think twice before doing that. You could be getting cash back for them.

With Receiptpal, you can scan your receipts and get points. Once you earn enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards.

Why not turn your junk into money?

You can scan in almost any kind of receipts:

  • Gas receipt
  • Restaurant/fast food receipts
  • Shopping receipts from any store
  • Service receipts
Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020 Receiptpal points earned

For every receipt you submit, you’ll get a punch for your card. If you scan 4 receipts, you’ll get 100 points. Once you fill up 5 cards, you will get multiple entries into their sweepstakes for $250. Also, Receiptpal will give you random chances to get entries for their sweeps.

Points System:

Level 1 – 2,200 points = $5 Amazon gift card

Level 2 – 4,000 points = $10 Amazon gift card or 9,250 for a $25 Amazon gift card

Level 3 – 17,250 points = $50 Amazon gift card or 32,250 for a $100 Amazon gift card

Sign up for free here and start getting money back for your receipts

Swagbucks

I’ve been spending more time on Swagbucks and it’s been pretty awesome. I’ve gotten paid 500 swagbucks points which is equal to $5 for playing a game during my spare time in the evening.

If you ever have some free time check out Swagbucks to earn points which can be redeemed for cash via Paypal or gift cards.

Some ways to earn points are:

  • Take surveys/poll
  • Play games
  • Watch videos
  • Shop online
  • Complete daily goals
  • Enter competitions for points

Sign up for free here at Swagbucks and earn a $10 welcome bonus

Rakuten

I still use Rakuten when I’m doing any online shopping to get cash back on my purchases. It’s free money back, why not take it?

Rakuten partnered up with over 2,500 stores to get you cash back.

It’s super simple to use. Before buying anything online, go on Rakuten to see if they have your retailer on the list.

Then check to see if there’s any cash back offers. If there is, all you do is click on the retailer’s button where it will take you directly to the store you planned to shop at.

The only difference is, Rakuten will get you cash back for your purchase.

Sign up today with my special link here and get your $10 welcome bonus + $30 cash back when you spend $30 (It’s like getting $30 for free!) Rakuten won’t disappoint, check them out.

Debt Free Journey - Update $90,479 Paid in 23 Months- August 2020 Rakuten cash back

Honey

Have you heard about Honey? I just recently started using it and it’s awesome.

I downloaded the Chrome extension and when I go to purchase something online, it’ll scour through tons of coupon codes to help find the best price for the item.

It’s good for lazy couponers like me.

It’s a site that finds you all coupons available for stores. It has a chrome extension so when you go to a site and purchase something, Honey will automatically notify you if there’s a better price

Another good feature about Honey is if there’s no coupon code to be applied, it can also get you points for shopping at stores.

Once you get enough points, you can redeem it for gift cards from places like Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Sephora, Nordstrom, and more.

Sign up for free here and get the cheapest prices for all your online purchases the easy way.

Takeaway

23 months down and we’ve paid off $90,479 worth of debt. Pretty amazing stuff.

Does it feel like we’ve sacrificed a great deal, nope.

Getting out of debt doesn’t have to be hard. You may have heard people having to sell literally everything, eating rice and beans, never going on vacation, or getting nice things for themselves just to get themselves out of debt. We’re here to show you that you don’t have to go to those extremes.

All you need is a good budgeting system to help you handle money the right way to squeeze the most out of your hard earned cash, look for savings in the right places, and still enjoy life without having to go into debt to do it.

I’m currently in the process of getting a workable system in place for others to follow step by step on how I do my monthly budget. I can say that having a proper budgeting system in place can make all the difference in the world.

I’ll share it with you all very soon!

PS Stay tuned, we’re going to pay $10,000 next month towards the student loan!

Today’s the day for you to finally take back control over your money. It’s time to become debt free and embark on your own journey. I’ll show you the steps you need to get there, get started by grabbing the free debt thermometer.

​Read More
George's 65000 Debt Free Journey-My Financial Hill (1)
Debt, Debt Free Story

Debt Free Journey : George Paid Off $65,000 in 3 Years and 2 Months

I have another inspiring story for you today about George’s debt free journey. He paid off $65,000 in 3 years and 2 months living in NYC while also traveling the world.

Paying off debt doesn’t have to be a miserable process. No, you don’t have to live off rice and beans while trying to get debt free. Sure, paying off debt may not happen overnight but you can certainly get there, just like George has.

George, 34 years old, has worked in the financial industry and came to a point when he wanted to quit his job due to changes around the office.

It was then he realized he couldn’t quit. He was financially strapped with a looming $65,000 worth of debt holding him down.

It was then he decided enough’s enough, it was time to take control over his life and money. Let’s learn about what he did to get debt free all within 3 years and 2 months.

George Debt Free Journey Paid Off 65000 - My Financial Hill (1)

How much debt did you have to start with? How long did it take to pay off?

Around $65K.  It took 3 years and 2 months.  I became debt free in late May 2020.

What triggered you to start your debt payoff process?

In 2016, my employer laid off my direct manager and I did not agree with it.  I wanted to quit, but when I did the math, I realized I was living way above my means with $7,000 in an emergency fund. 

I was broke and needed to do something about it. 

In December 2016, I got an offer for a Financial Reporting position in the same company, which came with a lot of overtime.  I took it and as soon as I switched teams in April, 2017, I started paying off my debt.

What was your debt consisted of?

$26K car loan, the rest was owed on credit cards.

What was your income range throughout the debt free journey?

2017 – $83K

2018 – $84K

2019 – $66K

2020 – $45K as of 7/31/2020.

Are there any specific things or tools you did/use to help pay down debt?

One day while I was looking for debt paying strategies, I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey

There was, this Evangelical Christian guy telling me that borrowing was dumb.  I agreed. 

I used the Everydollar app for budgeting and it was enough for me.  It is easy, available for free, and it helps me track my spending.  I still use it today.

I’m drinking the Ramsey Kool-Aid because it works for getting out of debt.

Did you use any debt payoff strategies? ex: snowball, avalanche, others?

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.  $1K emergency fund first, then pay off debt using the snowball method.

How did you stay motivated throughout your debt free journey?

I kept motivated by the support I received from my girlfriend, the desire to be able to leave an employer at a moment’s notice, rewarding myself after every debt I paid off, newfound belief that consumer debt (excluding mortgage) is extremely dumb, and the Dave Ramsey’s debt free screams (that was future me), even when I realized the show is extremely repetitive. 

I rewarded myself in various ways, after each debt I paid off, I would buy something for myself, including trips abroad as long as they were paid in cash.

How has your life changed from before and after paying off debt?

My life changed when I started using cash/debit, instead of credit.  I was able to manage my money better. 

The end result was becoming debt free and being able to be more generous. 

I’m able to tip more, I have given money to friends in need without the need for them to pay it back, and I experienced a weird boost in confidence when I realized that every purchase I make, I do not owe anyone anything and I can enjoy it.

Were there any setbacks?

I did experience setbacks, where I had to use my credit cards for a car repair which was above my emergency fund. 

I handled it by paying the minimum on my credit cards while I replenished my $1k emergency fund, then I focused on paying off the debt. 

Everyone should expect setbacks. 

And if the $1K emergency fund is not enough for them, they should increase it, but no more than $3K. 

Currently, I live in NYC, where the cost of living is extremely high and I was able to manage with $1K emergency fund.

Was there anything you wish you did differently during the debt free journey?

I’m not sure.  I could have been more focused, living on rice and beans, for a year and a half, however I would have been extremely miserable.

I did it in 3 years, while having fun. I left a job I despised and I was able to take a pay cut, travel and still stay on target.  At the end, it worked out for me. 

During my debt free journey I got to travel to India, Spain, Tenerife, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and it was so much fun. 

I wanted to do more of that, which put even more determination that I want to be debt free.

How does it feel to be debt free or close to?

Amazing.  Nobody can tell me nothing.

Would you like to offer any words of encouragement to other readers?

 “Learn to live within your means.” & “The light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.” – Dave Ramsey (both).  Everyone has setbacks, stay on course.


Takeaway

We’ve all been at a point in our lives where we couldn’t stand our job but felt stuck because money just felt tight. It could be from never ending bills to living paycheck to paycheck. It doesn’t have to be that way.

George’s debt free journey shows us that we can all take control of our lives. By becoming debt free, it gives you room to finally do what you want. You can leave that job you hate because you don’t have to worry so much about paying a mountain of bills. Not having debt gives us choices in life.

We can also learn from George that starting your own debt free journey doesn’t have to be miserable. You don’t have to eat rice and beans every single day or never travel. It’s important to find the balance to be able to succeed in being debt free while enjoying life.

Thank you George for sharing your inspirational story with us, it goes to show that by using the right tools like budgeting or using the snowball method, it can help to pay off debt.

Paying off debt is a journey, it’s important to celebrate small victories along the way, treat yourself once in a while, and enjoy life.

Read More:

How to Get Out of Debt With These 5 Tips

How to Get a Free Cruise

How to Go to Las Vegas on a Budget With Free Flights

Are you ready to start your own debt free journey? Get started by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to pay off $500 worth of debt in your first month.

​Read More
Debt Free Journey _ July 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Free Journey Update July 2020

It’s been 22 months in now to our debt free journey. So far, we’ve paid off $89,979 with $37,250 left to go.

The only debt we have left to tackle is our student loans and family debt.

September of 2018:

8 Credit Cards
1 Car Loan
2 Medical Loans
2 Student Loans
1 Personal Loan and 1 Personal Loan from family
Total $127,229

July 2020:

1 Student Loan
1 Personal Loan from family
Total $37,250

We’re still playing it safe due to COVID-19 and just paid $500 towards student loans this month.

It’s actually a great time now to pay off student loans because of no interest accrual. Who knows how long that’ll last.

Also, did you know that any payment made to student loans now go straight to principle?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get some loan forgiveness? How awesome would that be? We can only wish!

So this month, we’re still saving away just like the last few months now.

It’s important to have a good savings of 3-6 months on the side just in case.

I’ll admit it’s no small feat to pay off $89,979 in under 2 years. Just to be sure you didn’t miss it, if you want to get started on paying off debt then check out my posts below.

Related: How To Get Out Of Debt With These 5 Tips

Cutting The Cord

Cutting the cord? I don’t mean having a baby.

I mean cutting the cable cord.

Do you have cable and internet? I bet you probably pay way over $100 a month. We pay about $150 for cable and internet, that’s $1,800 a year. Talk about highway robbery!

So I’ve been trying to come up with other ways to save on bills. Cable was something that I just couldn’t get rid of. I love my reality TV, Don’t judge!

I did some research to see if there were any other cable alternatives. I found a couple! One is called Locast and the other is called Philo.

So, what’s the dilemma with cutting cable? Besides your favorite shows, you’ll be losing local channels too right?

There’s alternatives to that and it’s where Locast comes in.

Locast

Locast is a non profit service that provides you with your local streaming channels for free!

You sign up at Locast.org and you get live streaming of your favorite local channels. You can stream on your phone, computer, or on your TV.

For your TV, you’ll need a streaming device like  RokuAmazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV.

The downside to Locast is every time you switch channels, you will see a short Locast commercial but it can be removed by paying Locast a small $5 a month donation.

Philo

One of the major reasons I couldn’t cut cable was cause of my favorite shows on certain networks like MTV, TLC, AMC, Discovery, HGTV, and others.

Then I found Philo. They have so many mainstream networks like A&E, AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, History, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TLC, Travel Channel, VH1, and WE TV.

Philo costs $20 a month which beats the price of cable by a landslide.

Plus Philo offers unlimited recordings of your favorite shows.

The downside to Philo is the unlimited recordings has a cutoff period of 30 days, but I think that’s enough time to watch every favorite show.

As of right now, we’re testing it out to see how it goes. Once we officially cut the cable cord, I’ll let you all know how it went.

Looking For Savings

This month I’m still using savings / cash back / and coupon sites that’s easy to use. Remember when I told you I hated clipping coupons? These sites and apps are perfect for those that don’t like couponing but can still get major savings.

Ibotta

Ibotta partnered up with over 300 stores including all your main grocery stores and others. They most likely have the grocery store you go to on their list.

Once you find your grocery store, you upload your shopping receipt and you’ll get cash back.

Currently, I have $30.90 cash back from Ibotta just for grocery shopping. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, and no clipping coupons required.

It’s an awesome app to use.

Sign up for free at Ibotta and use the code YDIGCFJ to get your $20 welcome bonus

Fetch Rewards

Another app I’ve been using is Fetch Rewards. I basically get points for scanning receipts from grocery shopping, gas, and food.

Once I reach a certain amount of points, I’ll get gift cards or free magazine subscriptions.

Use the code 7JKFH when you sign up to Fetch Rewards and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a site where you could take surveys/poll, play games, watch videos, shop online, complete daily goals, and enter competitions for points. These points convert to cash back via PayPal or gift cards.

I’ve been using Swagbucks to get cash back when I shop online.

Sign up for free here at Swagbucks and earn a $10 welcome bonus

Rakuten

I still use Rakuten when I’m doing any online shopping to get cash back on my purchases. It’s free money back, why not take it?

Sign up today with Rakuten to get $10 in a welcome bonus and be on your way to start earning cash back for online purchases. Don’t miss out on FREE MONEY!

Honey

Have you all heard about Honey? I just recently started using it and it’s awesome.

I downloaded the Chrome extension and when I go to purchase something online, it’ll scour through tons of coupon codes to help find the best price for the item.

It’s good for lazy couponers like me.

It’s a site that finds you all coupons available for stores. It has a chrome extension so when you go to a site and purchase something, Honey will notify you if there’s a better price

Sign up for free here and get the cheapest prices for all your online purchases the easy way.

Takeaway

This month has been all about looking for savings any way I can, the easy way.

22 months down and we’ve paid off $89,979 worth of debt. Pretty amazing stuff.

With the right tools and strategies in place, anyone can pay off debt.

Related: How To Get Out Of Debt With These 5 Tips

Hope you are all staying safe out there!

Are you ready to start your own debt free journey? Get started by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to pay off $500 worth of debt in your first month.

​Read More
Debt Free Journey _ June 2020-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Journey

Debt Free Journey Update June 2020

I wanted to update you guys and let you all know that I did a deep audit into my finances from when I started the debt paying process till now.

I decided to go through my bank statements and start logging in all my debt starting from September 2018 till this month. I found that we actually have a total debt of $127,229 and not $116,000.

A debt snowball app totally messed up my numbers so I decided to do something about it and start tracking everything myself.

Currently, we’ve paid off $89,479 in 21 months and have $37,750 remaining.

As you can see in the chart above, our debt payoff progress really slowed down since March 2020 due to COVID-19.

September of 2018:

8 Credit Cards
1 Car Loan
2 Medical Loans
2 Student Loans
1 Personal Loan and 1 Personal Loan from family
Total $127,229

June 2020:

1 Student Loan
1 Personal Loan from family
Total $37,750

We’re playing it safe these days and paying only $500 a month towards debt.

We do have an emergency fund but we want to be extra safe just in case the worst case scenario were to happen like both of us losing our jobs.

If you’re also paying off debt or thinking about starting, make sure to save for an emergency fund. Always have a 3-6 month emergency fund in place.

In 21 months, we got rid of $89,479 worth of debt. Do you want to start on your own journey to get debt free? Check out these tips that can help you get started like we did.

Related: How To Get Out Of Debt With These 5 Tips

Looking For Savings

Have I ever mentioned that I really don’t like couponing? I don’t have the patience to sit there and go through circulars looking for deals or clip coupons to save for later.

Don’t get me wrong, I do know how important coupons can be though. It can save you hundreds over time!

Instead of couponing, I use digital apps that give cash back.

I use programs like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to get it.

It’s so easy to use.

Ibotta

Ibotta partnered up with over 300 stores including all your main grocery stores and others. They most likely have the grocery store you go to on their list.

Once you find your grocery store, you upload your shopping receipt and you’ll get cash back.

In June, I got $21.75 cash back from Ibotta. Pretty kool huh? No need to be clipping coupons! Whew!

It’s an awesome app to use.

Sign up for free at Ibotta and use the code YDIGCFJ to get your $20 welcome bonus

Fetch Rewards

Another app I’ve been using is Fetch Rewards. I basically get points for scanning receipts from grocery shopping, gas, and food.

Once I reach a certain amount of points, I’ll get gift cards or free magazine subscriptions.

Use the code 7JKFH when you sign up to Fetch Rewards and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a site where you could take surveys/poll, play games, watch videos, shop online, complete daily goals, and enter competitions for points. These points convert to cash back via PayPal or gift cards.

I’ve been using Swagbucks to get cash back when I shop online.

Sign up for free here at Swagbucks and earn a $10 welcome bonus

Rakuten

I still use Rakuten when I’m doing any online shopping to get cash back on my purchases. It’s free money back, why not take it?

Sign up today with Rakuten to get $10 in a welcome bonus and be on your way to start earning cash back for online purchases. Don’t miss out on FREE MONEY!

Honey

Have you all heard about Honey? I just recently started using it and it’s awesome.

I downloaded the Chrome extension and when I go to purchase something online, it’ll scour through tons of coupon codes to help find the best price for the item.

It’s good for lazy couponers like me.

It’s a site that finds you all coupons available for stores. It has a chrome extension so when you go to a site and purchase something, Honey will notify you if there’s a better price

This month has been all about looking for savings any way I can, the easy way.

Takeaway

Another month during COVID-19 is really affecting our lives. I want to pay more towards debt but it’s definitely a time to be saving a lot more. You just never know what tomorrow brings.

I’ve been using a lot of cash back / coupon apps and sites to get even more savings throughout the month. If you all can find time to coupon then great, go for it! If you don’t have the patience to coupon like me, then definitely try those apps and sites out.

Every dollar saved is a dollar earned. Don’t dismiss any savings you can get.

We’ve paid off $89,479 in 21 months and have $37,750 remaining. Still can’t believe we paid that much off. Just goes to show, anything is possible.

Are you ready to start your own debt free journey? Get started by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to pay off $500 worth of debt in your first month.

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Lindsey's Debt Free Story: Paid Off Mortgage and No Debt-My Financial Hill
Debt, Debt Free Story

Debt Free Story: Paid Off Mortgage and No Debt

What is the American dream? For many people, the American dream is growing up to be successful, having your own home, raising a family and pets, and to live happily ever after. In reality, to achieve the dream, it takes money and lots of it. Most people often borrow tons of money from banks to go into debt just to live that “American dream”. What if I told you that you didn’t have to do that? What if it is possible to still fulfill your dream and live happily without going into tons of debt? Well, meet Lindsey who was able to do just that. She and her family has a paid off mortgage with no debt since she was 25 years old. Her story will inspire you!

Lindsey's Debt Free Story: Paid Off Mortgage and No Debt-My Financial Hill

Hi! My name is Lindsey. I’m in my early 30s and I live in the beautiful woods of Arkansas with my husband and three sweet children. I’m a homemaker, homeschool mom, blogger of Big House in the Woods, and freelance writer.

My husband and I have been debt-free and mortgage-free since we were 25. We had a lot of fun on our debt-free journey and we’ve had even more fun living our debt-free lifestyle since then.

What was the turning point that got you to start your debt free journey?

From the beginning of our adult lives, debt has always made us uneasy.

However, unfortunately, I had to take out student loans to go to college. I remember a friend telling me not to worry about it. She said that after college, I could just pay $25 monthly for the rest of my life and there was nothing they could do about it.

I don’t know how much truth there was to that but I was not going to let that happen. Debt weighed on me heavily.

As a couple, debt was never in our game plan. We had a no tolerance plan for debt from the very beginning of our marriage.

However, we made a small exception for a mortgage. We knew that we could actually make money if we played our cards right. (That’s an interesting story. See below.)

We never wanted to be the people who were just ok with debt. We had no plans of ever making payments on vehicles, cell phones, or anything else.

I think it’s important to have a strong mindset about debt from the very start of your adult life.

Obviously, this stance can be difficult with a house. It can be very difficult to have enough cash for a house. However, a large down payment is attainable for many Americans. We took that route and created a plan to get rid of our mortgage as quickly as possible.

As a whole, debt sounded suffocating. We had a deep desire to get away from it!

What was your debt consisted of? How long did it take to pay off? 

After college, I had student loans to pay off. I was a first grade teacher and I lived with my parents for one year so I could focus on paying the loans off. I managed to pay off all but $2,000 before my husband and I got married.

This was a huge accomplishment considering my low take-home pay! (I only taught school for 1 year.) After we got married, my husband paid off the final $2,000 of my student loans.

My husband had been saving for a house since he got his first job after college. He’s always been a saver and he’s never been tempted by “stuff.” He had a pretty big nest egg saved up by the time we got married. He had saved roughly $35,000-$40,000 in 2 years.

I quit teaching to be a homemaker once we got married so I was not contributing monetarily to our family budget.

However, I did everything I could to help us save money. I made a budget for us, cooked all of our meals from scratch using inexpensive ingredients, etc. 

A few months after we were married, the government offered a First Time Home Buyers Incentive. (This was circa 2009.) The deal was that you could get a rebate of up to $7,000 on your taxes IF you met certain qualifications.

The qualifications were pretty basic. One of them required that the home had to be your primary residence and you had to live there for at least 3 years. 

We decided 3 years was something we could commit to. We began considering buying a house instead of losing money on rent each month. We found a small, inexpensive house as our “starter house” and devised a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.

We put $30k down on a $73,000 house. We took out a mortgage for only $43,000 and we paid it off in 13 months.

What was your income range throughout the debt free journey?

13 months can seem fast but, before thinking we were insane, here is something important to note: Yes, my husband had a good paying job BUT I was and still am a homemaker.

So pay attention here… That means, I am not contributing monetarily to our family. On his own, he was making between $80k-$95k a year.  

There are many families that make that much because both the husband and wife work, so, we aren’t embellishing. We are number crunchers who are very frugal!

Are there any specific things you did to help pay down debt? Habits, programs, tools?

Budget, budget, budget. And what we call “radical money saving techniques.”

To pay debts, you must first determine where you are currently spending your money and make a plan to cut back. We created a budget and posted it on the front of the fridge. We wrote EVERY expense on that spreadsheet and evaluated it each month.  

If we got a little crazy one month and spent unnecessary money on eBay, Amazon, at the grocery store, etc., we corrected the mistake the next month. We consulted our budget daily and corrected spending mistakes.

Always remember: your budget isn’t your enemy. Consider your budget your friend. It isn’t restricting. It’s actually freeing. It’s like a written set of goals that prevents you from having to continually repeat them in your mind. With just one quick glance, you can stay on track.

Many people are in the position to save more money than they do, or pay off debt they have but aren’t willing to make the sacrifices needed. If you have big goals, then you have to make big plans.

Here is what we did:

No Paid TV Service

You read that right. No cable, no satellite, no Netflix. We have never watched much TV anyway  since we consider it a huge waste of time, but when we did, we only watched what we could get with an antenna. We received about 13 channels with an antenna, and that was more than we needed anyway.

No Eating Out

Eating at restaurants is also a great way to waste money. In the past, people have tried to convince us that since they are single or have no children, that it’s cheaper to eat out than eat at home.

I say that’s a bunch of hooey. If that were true, then restaurants wouldn’t make any money. They are still in business because they are charging you more for the food than what it’s worth. Period.

Smart Date Night 

This consisted of renting a movie from the library and watching it at home…because it was free…and fun.

No expensive phone plans

We have always looked for good but inexpensive pre-paid, no-contract cell phone plans. Over the years, we have changed providers to get the best deal. We get the same service, from the same towers, with the same data for about 25% of what other people pay for the same thing. Currently, we are using Red Pocket. We have found that they are unbeatable.

Also, we didn’t buy cheese for a YEAR! We decided that cheese, along with other types of food, was expensive and completely unnecessary. Crazy, but true.

Related: 4 Things We Did To Save Money At The Grocery Store So We Could Pay Off Our Mortgage Faster

We’ve actually saved over $180,000 (over a period of about 10 years) by doing crazy things like that.

Here’s the interesting part… We never felt deprived, left out, underprivileged, sad, or any other word you can think up because we weren’t living like every one else. In fact, we thought it was fun! 

We liked being the ones accomplishing our goals. We didn’t mind seeing people drive by in their flashy new cars with their new iPhones because: (1) We aren’t impressed by flashy new things, and (2) We felt we were headed in a direction they weren’t, and we liked our direction better.

Related: 7 Things People Waste Their Money on That Decreases Their Savings and How We’ve Saved Over $180,000 By Swimming Upstream

So, to clarify, our only “habits, programs, and tools” were: crazy self-motivation, a longing to be free, a budget posted on the front of our fridge, a heavily studied amortization schedule, and a deep desire to say “I told you so.”

How did you stay motivated throughout your debt free journey?

Our biggest motivation was the calendar. We wanted to see how fast we could pay off our debt. It was a challenge to us.

We wanted to be able to prove to ourselves (and everyone else) that we were crazy determined and we could pay it off rocket fast.

We had something to prove to ourselves. As a side benefit, it makes a great story now!

Has your life changed dramatically before and after the paid off mortgage and being debt free?

After we paid off our debt (student loans and a mortgage), we started saving for land and our dream house.

We stayed in that first little house for 3 years. After that, we sold it and bought a house that was a little bigger with the cash from house #1 and money we had saved. We paid cash for our second house.

While we were living in our second house, we were still saving for our dream house. After 3 years, we had saved enough to buy land and build our dream house WITH CASH! We sold that second house and used the cash from it plus money we saved and we built our Big House in the Woods on 5 beautiful wooded acres. 

Lindsey's Debt Free Story: Paid Off Mortgage and No Debt-My Financial Hill

As a side note, we also bought 10 acres with cash in another part of our state after we paid off our first mortgage. We thought we were going to build there but plans changed. We still own that land too.

Was there anything you wish you did differently during the debt free journey?

No. Absolutely not. I would say we did everything by the book but, actually, I think we wrote the book (is that a saying?). We have always set high standards for ourselves and we’ve never backed down.

How does it feel to be debt free?

Being debt-free is amazing. We’ve been debt-free for a total of 10 years now. Since then, we’ve built our dream home with cash, we’ve been on 10 Caribbean cruises and many other vacations, and we’ve been saving for early retirement.

What is your next big goal in life now you have a paid off mortgage and are debt free? 

Early retirement. We want the freedom to travel on a whim while we’re still young. Currently, our plan is to retire around 45. 

What advice would you like to give for those reading this to encourage them?

It can be done.

A debt-free life is not out of reach if you make a plan and stick to it. We have accomplished a lot in 10 short years and we’ve done it on one income while having 3 children along the way. 

I can’t help but shake my head when I see people with debt (mortgage, car payments, medical bills, etc.) yet they are treating themselves to manicures, concerts, brand new cars, vacations, shopping sprees, UTVs, season passes to amusement parks, etc. These are bad habits.  

If more people took debt seriously and took considerable actions to pay it off, then they wouldn’t be in a bind when unexpected things happen. They would also have financial security.

You can live your dreams AFTER you have paid off your debt and built up financial security. For example, we have been on 10 cruises, bought 15 acres, built our dream house, bought vehicles we love, bought (and sold) two campers, bought two UTVs, etc. and we owe no one for any of it.

Know that it’s good to stand out from the crowd.

Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t always mean you should. When you have a goal to pay off your debt, it’s okay to say no to things or events that will end up costing you money.

It’s okay to swim upstream

Everyone has different incomes, expenses, and situations, but saving and paying down debt should still be a priority. Based on your income and expenses, it might take you more time to pay down your debt, but in the end you still PAID. DOWN. YOUR. DEBT.

That’s a huge deal and it’s something you should be proud of no matter how long it took you. Always remember to keep your head up and your feet pointed in the right direction.

Along the way, make plans for what you want to do when you are debt-free. It’s good to dream! I wrote an article titled 5 Things We Did AFTER We Became Debt-Free. You’ll love it!

What are you doing now since being debt free and with a paid off mortgage?

We still practice many of these money saving techniques today. It’s a habit. We just can’t help it. However, we also enjoy it! We love dreaming about retirement in the near future. 

We are enjoying our Big House in the Woods and watching our three sweet babies grow. And we jump on a cruise ship anytime we get a chance. 

Something to remember…

We have the same “stuff” as everyone else.

We have a house, 2 cars, land, and a UTV.

The difference?  Ours is paid for even though our household income is about the same as a lot of people.

Because we practice all of the money-saving techniques that I have now shared with you!

Related: 14 Things We Did To Pay Off $43k On Our Mortgage in 13 Months


What an incredible debt free story by Lindsey! It goes to show that being debt free starts with a mindset. You have to decide to make changes in your life and take control of it. She and her family had a paid off mortgage and were debt free by 25 years of age, what an accomplishment!

We learned from Lindsey that in order to take control over your money and life, you need to budget! There are many budgeting tools out there that are free to use like Everydollar, Personal Capital, or Truebill. To keep track of your monthly income and expenses is such an important part of gaining control over your finances. Budgeting gives you an idea of how much money you have to work with to track your expenses, pay off debt, work towards getting a paid off mortgage, or invest.

Being in debt takes freedom away from you. The freedom to live the life you want without the constant stress of money pressure sitting on your shoulders is the ultimate goal that Lindsey and her family was able to achieve.

You can still live the “American dream” without going into debt. Lindsey showed us that it is possible to have a paid off mortgage and to be debt free just as long as you set clear goals, take control of your money, and live a frugal life while still having fun.

Stop by Lindsey’s blog Big House in the Woods to find out more useful tips about how she got out of debt and her debt free lifestyle.

Are you ready to start your own debt free journey? Get started by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to pay off $500 worth of debt in your first month.


​Read More
Debt, Debt Free Story, Lifestyle, Money

How This Couple Was Able To Retire Early In Their 40s To Travel The World

Let’s be real here, working can be very stressful at times. Following directions from superiors, managing employees, dealing with office politics, keeping up with deadlines, appeasing customers, I can go on and on. The worst part is that people often get stuck working for decades and well into their 60’s or 70’s to make ends meet. What if you didn’t have to settle for that lifestyle? Meet Eric and Katie who broke that stigma and was able to retire early in their 40’s and live a nomadic life traveling the world.

Eric-and-Kate-Retired-Early-My-Financial Hill

Meet Eric and Kate who retired April of 2019 to follow their passion-Love of Travel. They live a life full of adventure, traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. Currently, they are in Danang, Vietnam and will most likely be there for 6 months before moving on to the next new location.

Eric and Katie shares helpful tips on how they were able to retire early. Eric retired at 42 and Katie retired at 41. Truly amazing! That’s more than 2 decades worth of work they were able to shave off. They saved up $1,000,000 which they fund for their nomadic lifestyle. Eric and Kate shares how they were able to do just that. Check out Eric’s site Bonus Nachos where he documents all the countries he’s been to during his retired nomadic lifestyle.

Eric and Kate’s Early Retirement Story

Eric, 42, Retired Accountant made under $50,000 a year

Katie, 41, Retired from the Hotel Industry made around $50,000 a year

Resides: Previous residence in Silicon Valley now lives in Danang, Vietnam

Saved: $1,000,000

Retirement Age: Eric, 42 and Katie, 41

1 | Was there any specific moment that motivated you to retire early?

We had recently moved from the Midwest to California and I had to find a job during the Great Financial Crash.

While I was happy to be able to find work, the job only offered 2 weeks of paid vacation. I previously was spoiled with 5 weeks.

Work suddenly felt a lot more oppressive.

I knew that there had to be a better way. It wasn’t too long after this that I discovered popular early retirement blogger Mr. Money Mustache.

I had always thought about early retirement as an abstract concept, but until this point hadn’t realized how accessible it really was.

2 | What was your income range? Did you do any side hustles?

I never earned more than $50k/yr until I was 37 years old.

Katie always earned a little more than me, except for a couple of glorious months in 2015. 🙂

But neither of us ever made 6 figures, so our early retirement is much more a product of low spending than high earning. We never earned any other money, preferring to savor our time away from work.

3 | When did you start saving and investing?

We both started contributing to our 401k accounts immediately upon getting our first professional jobs.

This was before we had even met, so the idea was independent of one another. And from there, we would each increase our contribution percentage with every raise that we received.

Later we opened up IRAs and stashed money into a taxable account as well, but we mostly just focused on our 401k accounts until our early 30s.

4 | Did you have any debt? If so, what did it consist of?

Not really. Some minor credit card debt as young adults, but nothing much to speak of.

We were careful to avoid it. This certainly helped us get to early retirement more quickly.

5 | Were there any programs/tools that helped to achieve early retirement?

As a former accountant, I love Excel spreadsheets. I use them for everything from tracking expenses to retirement projections.

I have always preferred to track my finances manually as opposed to using automated trackers like Mint or Personal Capital.

I felt it gave me more control and allowed me to customize it to my personal situation. Which is somewhat ironic because when it comes to investing, I’m completely hands off.

I think it’s much, much more likely that an individual investor will make a mistake and suffer a setback than pick the next greatest company.

As such, I believe the best way to go is to invest solely in index funds.

To help explain why, I’d recommend two books. The first is The Bogleheads Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore. The second is The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein.

Both are excellent books that are written for the non-professional investor. They are also popular enough that they’re likely available at your local library.

6 | Were there any habits that helped you retire early?

Most of our habits were developed to spend less money.

We focused our spending on what brought us the most happiness and tried to cut out the rest.

We cooked at home almost exclusively.

We split one older car, so one of us was always commuting by public transit or by bike.

We lived in a small cheap apartment.

On the flip side, travel was something that we have always loved so we made sure to take as many vacations as work would allow.

By not living in a fancy place, driving a new car (let alone two) or eating out often, we were still able to do the things we liked best while also saving lots of money

7 | Do you think you had to sacrifice a lot in your life to retire early?

I don’t think sacrifice is the right word.

Instead, I prioritized. Not spending every dollar shouldn’t be viewed as a sacrifice.

I would actually argue the opposite, that spending all of your money is a bigger sacrifice because you’re giving up compound investment gains that only increase over time.

I like the saying “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything.”

While I may not have been buying a million dollar house or driving a luxury car like many of my neighbors, I did get my passport stamped a lot.

Prior to retirement, I had been to Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Aruba, and Mexico multiple times. There was lots of domestic travel too, including Hawaii, NYC, and many national parks. Travel has always been my priority.

8 | Did you ever receive a large sum of money that helped to propel you financially?

Well, the S&P 500 did go up over 20% in 2017 when we were already well on our way to early retirement. Does that count? But no start up windfalls, inheritances, or other things like that.

9 | What does your retired life consist of?

We now get to travel the world, experience different cultures, and eat lots of local delicacies. It’s not like our previous vacations though.

Prior to quitting, our longest stop in any one location was 10 days. So far, our shortest stop has been two weeks, but we prefer to stay longer. That really allows us to soak in the flavor of the area.

We get to frequent local markets and eat exotic produce. We swim in the ocean, explore cities and neighborhoods, visit temples and museums, and watch birds. We have nearly mastered the art of the leisurely breakfast.

I even occasionally write a blog post. And the best part is that it’s way cheaper than our previous life. We spend about half of what we did when living in Silicon Valley. I report all of our spending on the blog as well.

Things have been a little different since COVID-19 became a pandemic. However, for the moment, we’ve paused our travels as we wait to see how countries will deal with opening their borders and when/if a vaccine will be available.

We are currently waiting it out in Danang, Vietnam and will likely live here for at least 6 months. It’s a pretty nice city and there are definitely worse places that we could be. Vietnam as a whole did a great job handling the outbreak so there’s little risk of infection here.

10 | If you could offer any valuable advice to readers to retire early, what would it be?

Track your expenses. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

Once you know where all your money is going, it’s easy to figure out what spending is worthwhile and what is not providing value.

Then you can redirect that less than optimal spending towards investing. And once you get that investing ball rolling, it will pick up a lot of steam over time.

Einstein once called compound interest the most powerful force in the universe. Make sure it’s working for you.


Eric and Katie fulfilled their dream of being able to retire early. Their journey teaches us that no, you don’t have to earn a six figure income to achieve early retirement.

Compound interest is very powerful indeed and they used it to their full advantage by investing when they first started their careers.

They also focused investing primarily in index funds without the stress and hassle of handling single stocks. They read books like The Bogleheads Guide to Investing and The Four Pillars of Investing to familiarize themselves with how investing works.

Everyone dreams of the ability to retire early but often times we don’t implement the right steps to help us achieve the goal.

Eric and Katie is a prime example that it is possible simply by investing early, keeping track of your money, not comparing your life with others, set aside funds to still enjoy life, spending less money, and saving where you can.

Thank you Eric and Katie for sharing your inspiring story with us. Through your story, we see that it’s possible to retire early by implementing the right steps and having the right mindset to achieve a goal.

Don’t forget to check out Eric’s blog Bonus Nachos to see how they’re enjoying retired life traveling the world.

Are you ready to start your own debt free journey? Get started by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to pay off $500 worth of debt in your first month.

​Read More