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March 2017 Savings Update

Nearly two years ago, I began a debt repayment journey. I was $23,983 in debt and desperate to get out of the town I live in. I began the start-stop-pause-rest-run-sleep-repeat journey of getting out of debt.Β Last month I finally paid off my 16.82% interest credit card (PRAISE HANDS EMOJI!!!). I still owe a gross amount on my car, but I announced in my last debt repayment recap that I was going to pause the debt repayments and start saving money – for my upcoming summer in Nashville and something that was on the horizon. A wedding. Nailed it.

Until Justen and I get married, my monthly financial check-ins are going to be Savings Updates.

March Savings update // stephanieorefice.net

For March, I decided I wanted to save $1,000. Here’s how I did:

March
Starting: $0
Goal: $1,000
Saved: $1,250
Total Saved: $1,250
125% of my monthly goal completed / 25% of my overall goal completed

From here on out, I want to save $750/month so that by September 1, I have $5,000 to be used for our wedding. I’ll use the format I used above to show where I started, what my goal was, how much I saved, the running total, and the % of my goal(s) completed. I freaking love those percentages, you guys.

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February 2017 Debt Repayment Recap

I’ve been waiting for this day for awhile.
Let’s just start and then we can talk, okay?

January 30, 2017
Car: $16,894.50
Credit Card: $699.16
Total: $17,593.66

February 28, 2017
Car Loan: $16,702 (-1.13%)
Credit Card: $0000.00000000000 (-100%)
Total: $16,702 (-5.06%)

ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS OWED ON MY CREDIT CARD. Praise hands emoji times infinity.

I’ve had this idea in my head that once I paid off my credit card, I was going to quit one of my part time jobs so I could have more space to focus on some creative ventures like this blog and helping others with social media stuff and this new world of re-selling clothing I’ve discovered and made a few hundred dollars from so far. So I did that. I quit one of my part time jobs.

I’m still a few-days-a-week nanny, but here’s what I’ve been realizing:

When I work for someone else, my earning potential is limited. It doesn’t matter how hard I work, I get paid the same amount of dollars per hour until/unless we discuss a raise. If I work for myself, I step into a limitless earning potential. The sky is the limit, and I have flexibility, which is something I love. It’s almost like all of the small little decisions of my life had led me to this place that I’m so excited about.

Instead of aggressively paying off my car, I’m pausing the debt snowball for two reasons. First, I’m going to be driving to and spending the summer in Nashville, watching Lucy and Layla. Best summer ever, and this is the first time I’m saying anything about it publicly. So you’re the first to know πŸ˜‰ . I want to have money saved up for the trip there and back so I don’t have the temptation of putting it back on my credit card. Second, I’ve made a goal of saving up $5,000 for something that’s on the horizon. I’m in a cash flow right now.

I’m switching my Debt Repayment to a Savings Update for right now, and then after the summer and the $5,000 savings goal, we’ll get back to the Debt Repayment to pay off my car ASAP. Jamie from Earnest.com sent me my personalized 2017 Financial Goal infographic. I told him my goals and areas I needed help budgeting/spending less, and he created this for me! I love that it’s broken down into small, realistic goals. I’m all about that. Anyway. Thanks for being on this journey with me, everyone. <3

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An Introduction to Dave Ramsey

It amazes me how many people don’t know who Dave Ramsey is or what he’s really about. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard of him for awhile, but I thought he was kind of a no-brainer in terms of household name personalities.

Two years ago I started my Β journey to get out of debt. I knew a few things about Dave Ramsey and his “methods,” but I wasn’t serious or committed to them. Then I discovered the Dave Ramsey Show podcast and started listening to it whenever I could. I’m definitely not a Dave Ramsey know-it-all, but I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of what he’s all about. Since realizing that not everyone knows about Uncle Dave (my new name for him), I figured I should share with you guys the information he’s handing out for free if you spend the hours listening to and reading his material.

an introduction to Dave Ramsey // stephanieorefice.net

Dave Ramsey was a millionaire once, but it all hung on borrowed money. When his accounts got shifted to a new creditor who took a harder look at his borrowing habits, they gave him 90 days to pay $1.2 million worth of short-term notes. He filed for bankruptcy. That’s when he began living what is now called the “Total Money Makeover.”

The Total Money Makeover is a 7-step process that harnesses the power of focus by giving you what they call Baby Steps. The idea is that most people have so many financial goals: they’re trying to pay off credit cards, cars, and student loans. They’re trying to save for big life events, they’re trying to buy a house and save for retirement. When you try to do 50 things at once, you do 50 things really poorly. Instead, the baby steps force you to focus ALL of your energy on tackling one baby step at a Β time.

The 7 baby steps to financial freedom (aka The Total Money Makeover) are as follows:

  1. Have $1,000 in a small emergency fund
    Not more, not less. A survey released last fall said that out of 7000 Americans polled, 69% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Do WHATEVER you can to get $1,000 fast. If you have more than $1,000 you’re going to drop that down (you’ll find out what to do with it in step 2). If you have less than $1,000 you need to work extra jobs, sell things, eat every can of food in your house before going to the grocery store. Get $1,000 FAST.
  2. Pay off all debt using the debt snowball
    List all of your debts based on balance from smallest to largest, with no concern of interest rates. You are going to pay the minimum payment on all of them except the one that’s on the top. Then you’re going to attack that one like it stole your puppy. Extra jobs, selling things, over time, a scaled-back lifestyle. Whatever you can to get extra money, you throw it at the smallest one. Once that one is paid off you take the minimum balance on that one PLUS all of that extra money you’re earning and add that to the second smallest. Get the snowball idea?Β My friend Brittany wrote a post about it, so you can read more about it here.
  3. Fully funded emergency fund
    Having only $1,000 between you and disaster should scare you into destroying your debt. Once you’ve paid off debt, it’s time to start throwing all of that money into a real emergency fund that has 3-6 months expenses.
  4. Invest 15% of income into retirement
    Dave says to PAUSE all of your retirement investing prior to this step. Some people will say you can get rich on $20 here or there, but your greatest wealth building tool is your income and you need to free it up to build wealth before you really can. Having $120,000 in retirement funds that you can’t touch without penalties does you no good when someone loses their job and it takes 2 months to find a new one. Your emergency fund is what will save you, not a huge nest egg.
  5. College funds for kids
    4, 5 and 6 happen all at once because your income is yours, remember? You’re not sending someone else your money to take care of things you did before you could afford it. Start setting up college funds for your children.
  6. Pay off the home early
    Most people who commit to the Total Money Makeover pay off their house in SEVEN YEARS. We live in a society where debt is SO NORMAL and SO ACCEPTED that nobody even thinks of a mortgage as debt, but imagine if you have LITERALLY NO PAYMENTS. You don’t owe ANYTHING to ANYONE. That is the beginning of wealth, which is step 7.
  7. Become outrageously wealthy and generous
    The tagline of this whole thing is “live like no one else now so that later you can live – and give – like no one else.” The idea of the Total Money Makeover isn’t so you can sit and pat yourself on the back with how much money you have. When you have wealth, you are set up to give in ways that are unfathomable. You make sure your money is divided into three categories: enjoy, save and give. There’s really nothing else to do with money at this point. You’ve changed your family tree and can be a huge blessing to other people.

This is the foundation of all of Dave’s advice he gives on The Dave Ramsey Show and it’s a quick glance at what he writes in depth about in The Total Money Makeover. If you’re interested in the idea but think it might be a boring read, check out his daughter Rachel Cruze’s book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, which is a different spin on the Total Money Makeover.

PHEW! If you’ve made it to the end, I congratulate you! AND I want to know what your story is! Where are you at with your finances? I’m no Dave Ramsey, but do you have any questions?

ps never forget:

Me and Dave Ramsey // stephanieorefice.net

 


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January 2017 Debt Repayment Recap

Happy first DRR of 2017! I was kinda sad about this month, because I’d been all fired up about paying off everything in the world, but then life happened. Life I probably should have prepared for last month instead of throwing my entire accident settlement at my debt, but whatever. Here’s something interesting. I compared these numbers to my January 2016 debt repayment recap, and I’ve dropped my car loan by 4.21%, my credit card by 60.67% and my overall debt by 9.38%. The general trend is down.

December 30, 2016
Car Loan: $17,205.22
Credit Card Debt: $320.64
Total: $17,525.86

January 30, 2017
Car Loan: $16,894.50 (-1.8%)
Credit Card Debt: $699.16(+118.05%)
Total: 17,593.66 (+.38%)

My credit card debt went up, and here’s why. Just like last year, when my credit card debt mysteriously shot up in the month of January, I made an impulsive decision to visit Nashville. I’d assumed I’d be able to pay it off quickly, but then we had an unexpected winter storm and I was snowed in, unable to work, for a week. It hurt me, bad.

Unlike last year, though, I’m not going to let this deter me in the long run. Last year I got discouraged by the detour and kind of threw in the towel on the whole thing. Not this year.

You know what was cool, while I was in Nashville, Ernie took me to THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW. and GUESS WHO I MET!!!!

Me and Dave Ramsey // stephanieorefice.net

Y’all, it was SO COOL. They have a cafe where they GIVE AWAY FREE MOCHAS. and COOKIES! It was awesome. This is the show we were there for:

I did feel ULTRA guilty that I was there because of a credit card, though. Next time that won’t be the case… and maybe the time after that, I can do a debt free scream πŸ˜€

For February I’m doing the cash-only system, so I’m hoping that’s going to help free up a bunch of money to get that credit card problem taken care of!

How did y’all do with your financial goals during January?

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December Debt Repayment Recap

December Debt Repayment Recap // stephanieorefice.net

November 28th, 2016

Car Loan: $17,259.55
Credit Card Debt: $2,258.58

Total: $19,518.13 {-6.24%}

December 30th, 2016

Car Loan: $17,205.22 {-.43%}
Credit Card Debt: $320.64 {-85.80%}

Total: $17,525.86 {-10.20%}

 

I feel like I just want to let these numbers speak for themselves but I really can't. A few months ago, I sat and figured out how much I made and how much I owed on things and I felt like I was NEVER GOING TO GET OUT. So I called and cancelled some things (JustFab & Julep) and decided I just needed to work my butt off. and I wish I could say that this was COMPLETELY because of my hard work, but honestly I reached a settlement with my car accident and put that money towards my credit card. I debated whether or not I should save some and spend it on myself but guess what. I spent it on MY FUTURE. 

My car loan didn't go down much because I'd paid half of it in November, so I only had to pay half of it. 

Can I just say that listening to Dave Ramsey is serious motivation. I listen to people scream about being debt free and hear him answer questions and rant about things and it is so encouraging. I'm in the middle of The Total Money Makeover, which I am so excited about finishing because Justen got me the new Rachel Cruze book, Love Your Life Not Theirs for Christmas and I'm excited to read THAT, too. 

I'm just so excited to pay off my credit card. Like… I want to have a no more credit card party. 

I also have been so excited to get paid not so I could have money to spend but so I could have money to pay off more of my credit card and see that number go down. I'm one of those people now, I guess πŸ˜€

Cannot wait for 2017 and what it will bring for my financial peace journey! Do you have any financial goals for the year?

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How to save (and earn!) money while Christmas shopping

If you’re anything like me you’re stuck between a rock called Everyone I Love Deserves the World and a hard place called I Literally Have Very Little Money. Insert all the eye rolls here.

This year I’ve been very diligent about my Christmas shopping. I decided who I would get gifts for and then started listening to what they say they wanted/needed, and have stuck with that list. If I had the money, my mom would be getting a MacBook and my boyfriend would be getting a pair of Danner boots and my dad would be getting airfare and tickets to see the Raiders play. But I don’t have that kind of money.

I’ve been trying to be very careful about when/where I spend money and how I can save (or earn!) a few extra dollars during my Christmas shopping. Here are some ways to save and earn money while you finish up your Christmas shopping this year.

How to save and earn money on Christmas shopping // stephanieorefice.net

ONE // Shop online

Seriously, shop online. Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist, says that the longer we touch something the more likely we are to buy it. Put your blinders on, get signed on to Amazon, and search only for what you need to buy. If you’re anything like me, Target is home to the $34 creamer because you go in ONLY for creamer and walk out with shampoo, a new pair of socks, a coffee mug, pretzels on sale and maybe creamer if you’re lucky. Target.com doesn’t have the same effect though it houses the same (and more!) products.

TWO // REDcard

Speaking of Target, if you don’t have a Target REDcard (ONLY the debit one, please!) you are MISSING OUT. You get 5% off of all of your Target purchases, PLUS you get free shipping on Target.com. It’s completely free, and I LOVE that they have a debit card option so you don’t have to open a credit card to take advantage of the savings. Sometimes people will say “I don’t go to Target enough for it to pay off,” but it doesn’t matter. When you go to Target, you’ll save 5%. PLEASE. Get yourself a REDcard.

THREE // Cartwheel

Okay last thing about Target. They have an app called Cartwheel that you also need to be using. Like any coupon/money saving app, it will only save you money if you save money on something you were going to buy anyway. 40% off of a purchase you weren’t planning on making isn’t a good deal, it’s still a waste of money. The feature I love the best is searching by barcode. I’ll just search everything in my cart. Sometimes there will be offers on similar products (usually on the Target brand version of what I’m buying) and so I’ll switch out what I’m getting to save the money. So far, I’ve saved over $170 simply by using Cartwheel.

FOUR // Only spend money you have

This one should be basic. It’s a no brainer in my mind, but it’s not. The other day I was talking to someone who was telling me a story of when she put something on her credit card and she said “it wasn’t a huge deal, it wasn’t my money.” and I had to clench my teeth from letting my jaw drop. It’s NOT her money, but she has to pay it back at $.15 per dollar. A credit card IS NOT YOUR MONEY. If you can’t pay for it with real money you have earned, do. not. buy. it. Start saving for Christmas early next year so that you don’t have to pay back Christmas until June PLUS with interest.

FIVE // Use Ebates

Mattie’s been posting about Ebates for awhile now, but a few weeks ago I finally decided to try it out myself and YOU GUYS. SIGN UP FOR EBATES ASAP. You get cash back for online shopping (and some in-store shopping with a linked card… debit, please). I installed the Safari plugin and when I’m on a site about ready to check out, I click the E and it activates the cash back rebate. I had a few gift cards that I used online, and activated Ebates… which means I’ll essentially have made money for using gift cards. Yes please and thank you. Sign up with my link and you’ll get $10.

SIX // Honey

I recently discovered Honey. It’s an extension/plugin that will search the web for coupons and promo codes when you’re on an online shopping site. Even BETTER (and I’m still figuring this part out, so this is just hypotetical) – in addition to saving you money, when you make a purchase you have the chance to claim some bonus points that will be added to your account 60 days after your purchase. I had $10 in Walgreens Balance Rewards points and went online to buy something and Honey found me a code that saved me 25% on my purchase! Jump on board the Honey Train πŸ™‚

SEVEN // Ibotta

By now we should all hopefully know about Ibotta – the app where you unlock rebates, scan the barcode of your purchase and then upload a receipt to get your rebate. But did you know this also applies to bigger purchases at places like Cost Plus World Market, H&M, Groupon, and American Eagle, among others? This app that is normally used just for grocery shopping can also earn you money back for your Christmas shopping, too! Don’t forget – if you join with my Ibotta link, you’ll earn an extra $10 after you redeem your first rebate!

EIGHT // Shopkick

I LOVE SHOPKICK! You guys, Justen and I each redeemed $10 Starbucks gift cards to use at Disneyland, and we got them just by walking into places and scanning stuff. BUT! You also earn points for linked cards. 1 point for every $2 spent at Target, Walmart, and more. 1 point for every $1 spent at Yankee Candle, American Eagle, and Aerie. These points can be redeemed for gift cards… which could be given away as gifts! Helllloooo free Christmas presents!

 

I hope these eight ways to save and earn money help you not just during the Christmas season but throughout the year as well! Are there any ways you save/earn money that I missed? I’m always excited to discover new tips and tricks to share with my friends and readers! Drop me a comment below.

 

 

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