5 Ways to Save $500

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Making money is virtually everyone’s favorite pastime. However, sometimes saving money is so much more satisfying than simply making money.  Just relax for a moment, and imagine what you could do with an extra $500 dollars every month. If you chose to save it, you could be on your way to a vacation in paradise. Or maybe, the extra $500 can be used towards getting out of debt. Sometimes, it can even be used to do fun activities with your family. Because lets face it, what’s life without a little fun? If you’re interested in saving a little cash each month, here are five ways to cut your spending, and increase your savings.

Avoid The Grocery Store

I know, this sounds completely insane, but it isn’t as crazy as you’d think! For one week every month, forgo your trip to the grocery store. Your family members probably think they’re going to starve, but with a little creativity, that just isn’t possible! Use this week to fully use any items you have leftover in your pantry or freezer. Make meals with the leftover pasta, those frozen fruits and veggies, and all of those soup mixes you swear you’d make (but never did). Find fun recipes online to put your old items to good use, it will be so much easier to get through the week if your meals are yummy! At the end of the week, your savings should be anywhere from $60-$100 depending on the size of your family.

DIY IT! 

Summer is here, and a pedicure may be hard to scrimp on. This can be an expensive luxury, especially if you’re getting multiple a month! Instead of spending upwards of $25 on your next pedicure, try doing it at home! Pick a fun polish, and have a girls day with your daughters or friends! Don’t worry if your painting skills aren’t quite up to par, you’ll be a pro in no time! Hair cuts are another source of monthly expenses, especially if you’re adding hair coloring into the mix! Instead of dropping $150 at the salon, consider making an appointment at a hair school instead. The students are professional, and always have supervision. You can get a cut and color for under $50. Seriously, and all for a cut exactly like the one from your salon!

5 Ways to Save $500

Sell Something

Bring a little more money into your home by selling something you don’t use much anymore. This could be things like clothes, furniture, or old electronics. You know that old iPod that is sitting in the drawer, broken, because it was dropped in some water? Most times, many parts are salvageable, even if it does have water damage. You can sell old Macbooks (that are broken) for $475. What an easy way to make some money! Not only does selling these items help cushion your bank account, but because many of the parts are being used in other models, you’re recycling and cutting down on contributing these items to landfills.

Prorate Utilities

If you notice that your utility bill seems to spike during certain months or seasons, it may be time to prorate your service. When you prorate your service, you are able to predict your monthly utility bills. This allows you to budget more effectively, and gives you a heads up when there is a spike in your bill. Depending on the time of year, you could save hundreds with this method.

Cell Phone 

Don’t worry, we aren’t telling you to completely ditch your cell phone. We are telling you to ditch the expensive phone plans! It sounds like a headache, but it could really be worth your while. Downgrade to a lower plan that could save you between $10-$20 every month. This is perfect if you find that you aren’t using all of your monthly data, why pay for an expensive plan if you don’t even use all that is allowed? There are tons of plans out there that cost $30 per month for a basic phone plan and data limit. Also, don’t upgrade your phone every two years. While this seems like a killer deal, there are tons of hidden fees!

5 Ways to Save $5002

Saving $500 a month has never been so easy with these tips. What are some other ways you save money every month?

5 Ways to Make Money Snapchatting

 

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Use your phone camera to make some extra money! Seriously, even if you don’t have any idea what Snapchat is, it’s easy to learn and you can make a lot of extra money while doing it! If you love sharing your life with your friends and family, this could be just the gig for you. Really, it is completely possible to make money Snapchatting all day! Here is a comprehensive list of companies looking for photography and video gurus to run their company owned Snapchats.

According to a representative, you can make $40,000 working for FabFitFun as a Snapchat coordinator. FabFitFun is a  company based around the health and beauty needs of women. Users can subscribe to a monthly box filled with makeup, nail polish, hair products, and more fun items. Some experience is needed, as this company is looking for someone who has at least a year of experience managing social media accounts for businesses. Job responsibilities include maintaining a content calendar, and of course, Snapchatting.

PopSugar is looking to hire a Snapchatting guru with at least a few years of hands-on video experience. Workers will make between $40,000- $50,000 every year, and be responsible for creating “stunning” video content that is posted daily. Those interested can apply here.

Of course, you could always work for the company in charge of the madness! Work for Snapchat as a Story Editor, and make a whopping $60,000 every year. A college degree is required, and they are looking for an extremely visual thinker to help manage content for the company’s account. Apply here!

 

If you are based in Los Angeles, and have always dreamed of working for Time, apply for this gig.  Time is looking for a content producer to make and create short form videos for various social media outlets (like Tumblr). The estimated salary is between $40,000-$60,000 yearly. The job will be centered in the people and entertainment categories, and there will be a lot of celebrity news.  The company promises room for growth, so this could be perfect for anyone!

Fashion lovers rejoice! If you love fashion and the icons behind the designs, this job working for Hearst (Cosmopolitan) would be perfect for you. Employees would be expecting to create diverse, unique, and fashionable content for it’s Snapchat discover channel. Seriously, how cool would it be to say that you worked for Hearst magazines?

If you want to make money online, there are a million ways to earn a living on the internet.  Here are a few related posts that can help you decide which direction is right for you!

How to Start a Blog

How to Make Money Blogging

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs

20 Ways to Turn Crafts into Profits

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet

Blogging Basics- Starting From Scratch

Blogging has gone from a hobby, to a 6-figure income for me, in less than a year.  It has allowed me to pay off student loans, pay down our mortgage (and hopefully pay off!), travel with my family, quit a miserable job, and be my own boss.  It has far surpassed my wildest imagination, and because  of that, I want to share what I have learned.

When I started, I was at the very bottom.  I had no knowledge about how to do this and I was starting from scratch.  I would say that one of my strengths is that I have persevered and spent hours and hours researching, testing and learning new things.  This is the reason that I have been successful.  I literally googled “What is hosting” when I wanted to start a blog.  The reason I tell you this, is to give you the hope you need to get started.  I am no genius.  I do not have a background in web development and I am not a web coder or master marketer.  Everything I have learned, I have googled, researched, tested, tried, read and learned on my own.  So, if I can do it, you can do it.

Let’s start at the beginning.

You want to start a blog.  You have no idea where to start.  You have read blogs and you enjoy blogs, but you don’t know how to start a blog.  Let’s start with some simple vocabulary.

You need a domain name.  This is what your website is called, or your URL.  Mine, is FlippingPennies.com.  When choosing a domain name, pick something easy to remember.  Avoid hyphens, misspellings and anything that is hard to tell people.  You will be hopefully saying it often, and telling your friends, so make sure you like it:)

Bluehost is giving my readers a FREE domain right now, if you sign up for hosting!  This is at least a $15 value, and they have been soooo easy to work with.  If you are considering starting a blog, this is a great deal!  You can also read more about starting a blog and walking through the process step-by-step on my previous post, How to Start a Blog.

First, if you ever want to make money on your blog, you need to be self-hosted.  This means, that you must purchase a hosting package.  PLEASE resist the urge to use free platforms, such as Blogger.  Every blogger I know that started there, has had to go through the laborious process of switching to a self-hosted WordPress blog.  You do not have the freedom with advertisements on a free blog that you do on a self-hosted blog.

Hosting: This is a little piece of the internet.  You are literally buying space on a server to store the data from your site, so that your website can be accessible via the internet.  Your hosting service stores a database with your website files and keeps it online at all times, so that your website is accessible online.  These plans start out at anywhere on the low end ($7-$8 a month) but right now, Bluehost is giving my readers a special price of $3.49 a month and a FREE domain.  This is only available through my link so act now if you are interested.  This is a super low price and probably won’t last for very long.

Next, you need to install WordPress.  There is a reason that most bloggers use WordPress.  It is the most user-friendly platform out there.  It is free to download through your Bluehost hosting plan.

What is WordPress?

This is the platform in which you will make your posts, add the pictures to your site, etc.  It is the software you use for your blog.  As I mentioned before, it is free and very user-friendly.

Once you have your domain registered and hosting package, you can download WordPress.  It is super easy to do and I walk you through it step by step in my post, How to Start a Blog.

Once you login to your website through WordPress, you are ready to start blogging!  First things first, I would choose a theme.  “What is a theme?” you ask?  It is a template that determines what your site looks like and how it is laid out.  Do you have a sidebar on the right?  on the left?  both?  How are your menus set up?  Is there a large slider at the top?  What does it look like?  Now, keep in mind, that even when you choose a theme, there are still quite a few options within each theme that will help you organize your blog the way you want to.

WordPress offers many themes for free.  There are a lot of other paid themes as well.  Genesis Theme is a pretty popular theme and it has a lot of options.  I have also used free themes and have been very happy with them.

Next, on the right side of your WordPress interface, you will see “Posts.”  This is where you will write and publish your blog posts.  It is very intuitive and easy to figure out.  There are options such as bold, italics, bullets, etc., just as you would see in a Microsoft Word document.  You can add links by highlighting words in your post and clicking on the link on the menu above and pasting the URL in which you want to link to.  You can choose headings, numbered lists and so much more.  I would recommend getting familiar with this page and all of your options.

When you are ready to publish your post, you can find the “publish” button on the right of the screen.  Be sure that as you write your post, you “update” or “save” it all along the way.  I have had plenty of situations where I am halfway done with the post and the power goes out or a toddler turns off the computer.  NO!!  So, now I am trained to save them as I go.  There is a backup save on WordPress, but it is easier to just be sure that your post is saved as you go along.

Now that you know a few basics, you are ready to go!  If you are interested in starting from scratch and want to start blogging, get step-by-step instructions on my post How to Start a Blog!  I hope this changes your life like it has changed mine.  Also, if you have any questions along the way, feel free to contact me or email me and I will help in any way that I can.

What other “Starting From Scratch” questions do you have?  Fee free to post them and I will do an update and answer all of your blogging questions!

To learn more about How to Start a Blog, read my step by step tutorial to get you started.

Here are a few other good reads to help in your blogging adventures:

How to Make Money Blogging

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet

How to Get Freelance Writing Gigs

7 Easy Ways to Make Money Blogging

10 Personal Finance Tips That Could Change Your Life

I get it; changing habits can be hard, especially when it comes to financial ones. No one changes overnight, but there are some things that you can start doing today that will change your life in the long run!

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Some people advise against this, but I think it’s a good idea to get a credit card…but to use it wisely! Credit cards help you build up your credit, plus you get access to lots of perks and benefits that normal cash, checks, or debit cards don’t get you. However, don’t max out your card every month or forget to pay it off. Get a credit card, but use it wisely.

Start now to save consistently. You could put away $10 every week, $100 every month, or something else. How much you put away isn’t as important as just getting in the habit of saving money. In a few months or years, you’ll have a great emergency savings fund to rely on.

If you have a few debts you’re trying to pay off, do the snowball method. Simply put, you throw all your extra money at the smallest debt until it’s gone. Then you move on to the next biggest one. This eliminates the amount of interest payments you have to pay, which is why it’s called the snowball.

10 Personal Finance Tips That Could Change Your Life4

Sit down right now with whoever you share money with and make a budget. Plan out how you’re going to spend your money this month and project it out for the year. This will help you stay on course with what you spend, giving you more control of your finances.

Do your best to live within your means. If you really want a $30,000 car but can’t afford it, then don’t buy it. Instead, get the one that fits your budget. Living within your means still gives you plenty of ways to be happy and fulfilled without loading yourself with debt.

Whenever you go out or decide to buy something, ask yourself “Why am I buying this?” or “Do I really need this?” Believe it or not, stopping to ask yourself this question (and really pondering on the answer) can save you from spending money on things you don’t need.

10 Personal Finance Tips That Could Change Your Life7

Another good way to curb your purchases is by waiting 30 days before making any unnecessary purchases. You may want that new ottoman in the moment, but 30 days from now it won’t seem like such a big deal. And if it still is, then consider getting it!

When you go to make big purchases, make sure you’ve done your research first. It may not be very fun, but doing your research will allow you to make the smartest decision, giving you the best quality for the cheapest price.

With the leftover money you have, consider investing some of it in stocks or other financial options. Investing can be a tricky business, so talk to a friend who’s in the know or do some research to make sure you’re making smart financial investments that will give you good returns.

If you’re really serious about making some changes to your financial life, then get a money buddy. This is just someone that you will be responsible to for all your financial choices; by making you accountable to someone else, you’ll think twice before you buy anything you don’t really need. You and your money buddy can help each other be smarter spenders.

8 Survey Sites You Can Use to Make Extra Money

Making a little extra money is nice, but sometimes it’s hard to find a legitimate source that pays well. If you want to work from home on your own schedule, then try some of these survey sites. They each work a bit differently, so find one (or more than one) that you like, and get signed up!

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Swagbucks

This is the survey site that I’ve heard the most about. I’m not saying it’s the best, just the most widely dispersed. A cool thing about Swagbucks is that it offers more than just surveys; you can get points for just surfing the web!

Pro Opinion

This is a relatively new company, so they’re looking for as many new users as possible. They want you to take surveys based on your professional expertise and opinion (hence the name), so keep that in mind. Also, this site doesn’t pay in cash, it does gift cards, but usually that’s not a big issue.

American Consumer Opinion

This is your classic survey website. It pays you for each survey you take, and the surveys have a wide range of topics. If you’re looking for something simple and straight forward, then this is your site!

VIP Voice

My favorite thing about this website is that it has a tiered system in place. That means that the more surveys you take, the more points you earn for each one. You can also use your points to enter website specific sweepstakes, which can give you big rewards!

Nielsen Digital Voice

This website has lots of different functions, so you can do more than just take surveys in order to make money. Through this site, you can even just browse the web to make money!

Pinecone Research

Lot of people say that they really like this website; it’s user-friendly, pays well, and isn’t too pushy with their information. Every now and then, the website also sends you free products to do reviews on, which is always nice!

Inbox Dollars

The name of this survey site pretty much explains what it’s all about. J Other than websites, you can also play games, do online shopping, and search the web in order to earn points and money! It can’t get much better than that!

Harris Poll Online

This website has a feature that I really like that the other ones don’t have. You get points for all the surveys you take, but if the site recommends a survey for you but you don’t qualify for it, then you can still get points for the untaken survey! That’s like free money.

If surveys aren’t your thing, here are other great ways to make money from home:

How to Make Money Blogging

How to Quit Your Job and Make Money on Instagram

5 Ways to Make Money Snapchatting

50 Great Ways to Make Money on the Side

54 Side Hustles to Earn Extra Cash from Home

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet

8 Reasons You Should Get out of Debt Right Now!

Debt is something that all of us have dealt with at least once in our life. Whether it’s college tuition, car loans, mortgage, or something else, we’ve all been in debt before. While debt is a part of life, it’s not one that has to stick with us forever. Here are eight great reasons why to get out of debt as soon as possible.

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When you’re in debt, all of your other financial investments are less impactful. Even if you’re making good money off of stocks, some (or maybe even all) of that money is going towards paying off your debts. When you get out of debt, any extra money you make on your investments goes straight to you.

Debt is stressful. The more you have and the longer you have it, the more stressed you’ll become. Managing debt for a few years may be manageable, but it can really affect your health and stress-levels if it becomes a life-long burden.

When you’re in debt, you’re not working for yourself. You’re not working for your own vacations, home improvements, or anything else. Instead, you’re working to pay your debtors; they’re making all the money off your hard work! Getting out of debt will make you feel great because you’re only working for yourself!

8 Reasons You Should Get out of Debt Right Now!4

When you get out of debt, you’ll be a lot more stable—financially as well as in other areas of your life. Any unforeseen accidents or problems won’t cause you to stumble and fall financially like they would if you had debts to worry about.

Believe it or not, your familial relationships will improve (especially with your spouse) when you don’t have debts to worry about. Most arguments in the family are caused (or somehow affected) by money; so when you have more money coming in and less money going out, it’ll make things at home better.

Once you manage to get out of debt, your credit score will steadily improve. And, when your credit score is better, every other area of your financial life improves, too! Interest rates are lower and you’re array of financial options increases.

Prepare for the future by getting out of debt now. Once you don’t have any more money going towards debts, you can start putting money in a retirement plan, your children’s college funds, or other things. By getting out of debt today, your future will be much better.

One of the best reasons for getting out of debt is that it gives you control over your life! You won’t be subject to interest rates, late fees, loan sharks, angry bankers, etc. When you’re free from debt, you’ll feel so much more free an in control of your life.

6 Critical Financial Discussions You Should Be Having

 

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Financial issues are one of the main reasons for divorce these days, and one of the biggest causes of stress in our lives. Whether you have already tied the knot, or are planning to soon, there are some critical financial discussions that you need to have to try and prevent financial issues from becoming a bigger problem than they need to be. It is a good idea to continue these conversations and more throughout your marriage or relationship. Financial issues need to be a team effort, and the more you sweep them under the rug…the worse they get.

1. Where You are at Financially Right Now

Let your partner know what loans you have, what debts you still need to pay off, investments you may have, savings money (discuss what it’s for). You have to know where you are starting out to make a plan for the future.

2. Financial Goals 

Discuss both short term and long term goals such as…goals for paying off debts (when and how much you will pay each month), how much you want to save from each paycheck, goals for buying a house, retirement plans, health care, education goals, plans for future jobs (especially when kids come in to the picture). It will make such a difference to discuss these things a head of time and get on the same page.

 

**If you are interested in making more money to help in your financial goals, here are some great side jobs to help bring in some extra cash:

How to Make Money Blogging

How to Start a Blog

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

Top 54 Side Hustles to Make Extra Money

50 Ways to Earn Extra Money on the Side

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet

 

3. Monthly Budget Plans

Is one of you a spender and one a saver? Do you like to eat out multiple times a week? Is buying expensive clothes, makeup, or home decor important to you? These are good questions to answer not only for yourself, but for your significant other. You need to be on the same page with where expenses are going, and how much. This will avoid trying to hide purchases, and creating tension. Go over each of your expenses from the past month and see where you spend most of your money. I am sure there are places that both of you can improve on to get to a better place budget wise. Planning a budget together is also the “how” of your short term, and long term financial goals. By creating a budget that you both agree on you will be planning your route to achieve those goals together!

Other Related Posts:

How to Budget When You Don’t Make Enough Money

20 Things You are Forgetting to Budget

15 Money Mistakes to Stop Right Now!

15 Mistakes People Make When Paying Off Debt

 

4. What Expenses Need to be Decided Together

Do you need to discuss an expense any time you swipe the card? Or just large expenses? This isn’t something we thing about discussing very often, but it is a good thing to be on the same page about. You don’t want to cause a fight each time you come home and one of you has bought something. So figure out what works best for each of you. Will you include a certain amount of “extra” money for each of you every month? Do you just trust the other person and not worry about expenses they are making? Do you make every purchase a combined decision? There isn’t a right or wrong way, but there will be a way that works best for you so figure out what that is!

5. Bank Accounts and Bills

Discuss whether or not you will have joint banking accounts, or separate. Also know who will be in charge of bills, you should both know what monthly bills and expenses are coming in each month, but knowing who pays what (or signing up for auto pay) will avoid missed payments and blaming one another for late fees.

6. Financial Weaknesses

Admitting our weaknesses is really a sign of strength. If you and your partner can openly discuss each of your weaknesses financially then it will be easier to help each other through those in the future and work through them as a team.

 

 

Top 7 Shopping Rebate Programs to Save You Money on Your Purchases

 

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It’s pretty well known that no one ever turns down a chance to save a few bucks. . Luckily for all of the money saving lovers, the surge of internet and mobile technologies has made it extremely easy to access rebates, coupons, and killer deals! Not everyone knows this, but there are actually tons of apps and online programs out there that will help you save tons of money on your everyday purchases. Here’s a list of seven of some of the best shopping rebate programs you can get involved with!

  1. One of the most famous and popular rebate programs has got to be Ibotta. It’s so widely-used because it’s straight-forward and pretty user-friendly. Instead of having to scour the Internet and advertisements for rebates on your products, this one severely cuts the process down! Pretty much, you download the app, take a picture of your receipt, confirm your purchases, and then get money back! The app gives you access to all sorts of rebates that are available without you having to go out and find each one individually. Once you’ve reached the $10 minimum, you can get the amount on a gift card or deposited into a participating account. Simple and so easy to use! There’s also a group feature on this app, so you can save money with friends and family!
  2. Another pretty popular rebate program is Ebates. While this is only limited to online purchases, it’s still a very preferred program because of the vast amount of rebates it offers. Ebates is affiliated with 1,700 online stores, so you’ll definitely find a few that offers products you already buy. Not only that, but it claims to have given out $325 million dollars back to all of its users since it began in 1998; that’s pretty impressive! Signing up is really easy—just create an account, go shopping, and then the rebates are applied to your account. Every site is different, so make sure you do a little looking around to secure the best deal. Because it’s so easy and pain free, there’s really no reason to get some cash back from all your online shopping.
  3. Checkout51 is a recent program that has actually been gaining quite a bit of traction lately. A really handy feature of this app is that it doesn’t base it’s rebates off the store but off the product. That way, even if you live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have any big brand stores, you can still get money back from the included products in Checkout51’s database. Another nice feature of this app is that it’s updated on a weekly basis. So if there’s something that you want to buy this week but doesn’t have a rebate, it could very well be on there the next week!
  4. You’ve all probably heard of (and used) Groupon, but did you know they have a rebate program too? It’s called Snap by Groupon, and if it’s anything like its parent company, then I’m sure it has great deals and money saving opportunities. This works much like the other rebate apps we’ve talked about so far, but I’m sure it’s got a database with a few different offers than the others. Something nice about Snap is that it has highlighted weekly offers, so right away you can know what products will give you the most money back. This app is said to have higher payouts than most other apps and also has multiple to unlimited redemptions on certain products.
  5. This next app has the most honest name I’ve seen so far: Rather Be Shopping. Isn’t that great! The awesome thing about this app is that it combines online coupons with in-store coupons so, no matter how you like to shop, there’s something on this app for you! The creator of this add suggests doing research before you go out and shop and use this app. First, decide where you want to go shopping and then find coupons that that store is offering. Make sure they’re downloaded or up on the phone so that, when you do go to check out, you don’t have to be fumbling around on your phone, but they’ll be right there.
  6. Saving Star is a unique take to the whole rebate game and offers a few perks that the other apps don’t (at least not yet). The most unique thing about the Saving Star app is that you can link it to your store loyalty cards. This makes using the app and keeping track of your money back and rebates way easier than other programs! If you are doing online shopping with this, then you have to make the purchases through the Saving Stars website and the appropriate rebate will be applied. The amount of cashback ranges from 1.5% to up to 5%, depending on the retailer and the product.
  7. Shopium is another rebate program that is a little different than the rest of them. It follows the same overall process (buy items, scan receipt, get money back, repeat), but it’s offers are solely exclusive to the users. That means it has rebates and offers that other programs and apps don’t have, which is always a plus! Shopium is a great complement to the other apps and can be used together to make your savings even bigger!

See Other Great Ways You Can Make Money on the Side:

How to Make Money Blogging

8 Legit Ways to Make Money from Home

15 Legit Ways to Make an Extra $1500 a Month

35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money

How to Clean up Your Credit and Turn Things Around- Useful Tips for a New Start

 

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We all make mistakes, and often times, those mistakes can be reflected in our credit score. While there’s no way to completely erase your credit history and start over (wouldn’t that be nice), there are a few ways to clean up your credit.  Here are just a few useful tips to help you get a new start on your credit!

  1. First off, you need to make sure your credit score accurately represents your use of credit. Believe it or not, it’s very possible for your credit score to have some negative data that simply isn’t true. Now, this isn’t because someone’s out to get you, but credit record keepers are humans. Yes, they sometimes make mistakes in the data that’s inputted into your credit score. So, if your score is lower than what you’d like, go through and check all the records. A recent study actually showed that one in five credit reports have material errors in them. That means it’s very possible that your bad credit isn’t your fault but simply a recording error!
  2. It’s really easy to approach your credit score and get lost in all the legal jargon and details that seems to surround it. However, there are a few laws that are important to understand when it comes to improving your credit score. You don’t need to be an attorney to understand these laws, either; they’re pretty straightforward. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the credit bureaus to provide a free credit report to you each year if you ask for it. You shouldn’t have to pay any fees or charges just to know what your credit score is. The Fair Credit Billing Act means that—if any company or vendor charges you for something you didn’t buy, the incorrect amount, or some other unfair bill—you can both contest those charges and demand that they take charge in getting it cleared off your credit score.
  3. In order for negative information to be applied to your credit score, the company that reported it must have evidence to back that data. So, if you think the company incorrectly charged you or is lowering your credit score without sufficient evidence, then you can fight it. They have the burden of evidence and, if it can’t be produced, then you have the legal right to demand they remove the negative information. This can be especially effective if there was something in the distant past that is lowering your credit score. Because companies go out of business, merge, lose data, etc. over time, it will be harder for them to provide evidence of your bad credit. So, if you feel like some dark splotch has been on your credit report for too long, then go ahead and challenge it. The company is legally obligated to show evidence, which may not even exist!
  4. Another aspect of negative information on your credit score is that is has to be complete. These simply means that it has to accurately represent the whole situation, not just the bad part. For example, if you were billed something twice, but already paid it once, and the company reports the missed second payment as a negative, then that’s simply not fair. While just seeing that you missed a payment may look back, when the full picture is taken into account it’s obvious that it’s not your fault. There are actually lots of situations like this that get put onto credit reports and unfairly lower your credit score.
  5. You should also be aware that, for most negative data on your credit score, it can only be on your report for seven years. However, credit bureaus are notorious for not removing those spots from your score when they should be. So, go through your credit score and make sure it’s up to date. However, remember that bankruptcies stay on for 10 years and any unpaid judgments last 7 years or until the statute of limitations expires—whichever comes last.
  6. If you’ve looked over your credit report and think that there is information that is either inaccurate or should be removed, then make sure you have the sufficient documents to prove it. While the burden of evidence is heavier on the vendor or company to prove that the data is correct, you still need to have at least a small paper trail to speed up the process. Bills, credit reports, bank statements, etc. can all help you prove you point and get your credit score back up. Send the information to both the creditor that’s reported your bad credit and the credit bureau. Hopefully it will stick with at least one of them. Many credit experts suggest that you do this whole process via snail mail because it guarantees your right to see the vendor’s evidence that backs up the negative data. If you contest the information over the phone or on the Internet, then you may lose some of those rights.
  7. While all of this advice is great for improving your credit score after it’s been dealt a bad blow, I always like to say that it’s better to be prevent something bad from happening than having to fix it later. So, instead of letting your credit score fall low, stay on top of it so it never gets low! You can do this by periodically ordering your credit score and analyzing it, or enrolling in a free monitoring service that gives you monthly updates. Program like Credit Karma not only give you access to your credit score, but they also update you when changes occur to your score or other important things happen.

Your credit score and credit history will affect you throughout your entire life.  It is worth the time and energy it requires to check your credit regularly, to be sure that it reflects accurate information.  Also, do what you can to fix your credit score by either paying off bad debts/liens, contacting creditors to fix an error, or to simply start anew.  Be sure you are making payments regularly and don’t get behind on loans or credit cards.  Be sure medical bills are paid before they are sent to collections.  Also, if you don’t have any credit accounts, this can negatively affect your credit score.  Apply for a credit card and use it regularly.  Don’t carry a balance that is close to the credit limit.  It is recommended that you stay below 50% of your credit limit in order to maintain the highest credit score you can.  Don’t be late on any credit card payments.  If you apply for a loan, pay the loan regularly as required, but be sure not to pay it off within 6 months so that it is recorded on your credit history.  When possible, be sure your name is on loans that you are involved in and be diligent in paying them by the due date.

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15 Mistakes People Make When Paying Off Debt

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Paying off debt is going to be unique for each person and situation, there isn’t one right method that will work for everyone. However there are definitely some universal methods that will help anyone get out of debt, if followed.  Avoid these 15 mistakes when trying to pay off your debt, and you’ll be debt free before you know it!

1. Not creating an accurate monthly budget.

We all know and have heard how crucial a monthly budget is when wanting to pay off debt (and it is), but we often make the mistake of creating an inaccurate budget. Figure out what you are actually spending and go from there.  Decide what you should be spending or what you want to be spending.  Creating a budget isn’t necessarily just writing down what you spend each month, although that is a great place to start.  You need to make sure that you have a very realistic budget, and have a plan for the money that is planned to be left over each month.  If you don’t have a plan to “save” or invest it, or to use it to pay off other debts, often it will just get sucked into the abyss of extra spending to never be heard from again.  Be sure to budget for life.  This means that budget for birthday gifts, car repairs that might happen, etc.  If you never allow for anything extra, you will continually get frustrated when those expenses come up. Remember, those “unexpected” expenses, are actually “Expected” in life.

2. Not Using a Debt Snowball

A debt snowball is when you take your smallest debt and pay as much as possible to that debt, while still making minimum payments on other debts, until it is paid off. Then once that debt is paid off, you take the amount you were spending on it each month and add it to the payment of your next debt. This will give you the confidence of getting rid of your debts one at a time, and help you to pay more than the minimum payment.  This is tried and true and works for many reasons.  First, it gives you momentum and takes the “guess” work out of figuring out how much to pay on each thing.  It will also reduce the amount of interest you spend overall, because the sooner each debt is paid off, the sooner you are no longer paying interest on that card.

3. Using your Debit Card For Everything

I know that debit cards are much better to use than credit cards, but there have been studies that show that we almost always overspend when we use a card vs cash. This doesn’t mean you need to cut up your debit card and never use it, but find those areas of your budget where you tend to overspend and create a cash envelope. Groceries are usually at the top of the overspending list. If you take a cash envelope with your allotted grocery budget to the store, then you can’t go over what you have planned.  If every time I wanted to go out to eat, I brought cash, I would probably order differently.  Truth.

4. Paying the Payment

It’s easy to set up automatic bill pay, and pretend like those debts aren’t there. If we only pay minimum payments, with interest accruing, it will take years to pay off even the smallest of debts.  Find ways to pay more than just the minimum amount.  Work a side job or make money online from home to allow yourself some extra money to knock out the loans or debts.  Minimum payments are what make credit card companies rich.

5. Losing Momentum.

This happens to everyone.  Getting out of debt is hard and it can take time.  Sometimes, we lose momentum and the motivation to stay on top of it.  I know for my husband and I, when we were paying off our debt, we had to still allow time and money for some dinner dates and a few other extras or we started to get crazy.  We also found that after a really long “financial fast” we would binge-buy something unnecessary.  It was an emotional response to feeling trapped.  What you need to remember is that debt is the trap and you are actually working toward freedom.  Track your progress, write down your goals, and consistently talk about your goals and work toward each milestone. Consider creating a debt sheet, and cross off the payments made, or the accounts that are paid off. The debt snowball is another way to stay motivated as you see your debts disappear one by one. Find something that works for you.

6. Forgetting to cut lifestyle expenses.

Budgeting is more than just knowing the amount of money you are spending in each area of your life. We actually have to cut back on our expenses, if we want to meet our debt goals.  Stop eating out, go on free dates, create a limit on birthday and Christmas gifts, etc. That extra money to pay off debt is not going to come from thin air…you have to create it by spending less.  If you have to go out to eat, consider sharing a meal (this works at some places, not others) and order water.  There are ways to cut back on expenses without being miserable.  Find a balance.

7. Wasting food.

This may seem silly, but grocery bills add up quickly. If you are smart with meal planning and buying, you can save so much money! Be smart with that food you buy…don’t buy too much of things that will go bad, freeze what you can, EAT LEFTOVERS!! Any time you throw away food, you are throwing away money.  There are a lot of recipe websites that will give you new ideas for leftovers, which are pretty cool!  Use up your extras by making it into new things.  Use the rest of your roast and make beef tacos the next day, etc.  This takes a little bit of planning, but once you are in the habit of it, it makes dinner easier, because half of the work is done!

8. Adding to your debt.

This is an easy mistake to make. We are excited to put extra money on the credit card and we pay all of our bills and are left with… not enough money to live on the rest of the month.  Enter: credit card.  Don’t do this!  If we are trying to get out of debt, don’t even use your credit cards.  It is a slippery slope and a dangerous habit. Don’t leave yourself without the money that you need each month, or you will find yourself charging things again to pay for your basic needs.

9. Not Setting Goals

I am in love with goals. Without goals, I would be nowhere.  I set goals and make task lists and it is what keeps me going.  If you don’t have goals, you don’t know where you are headed.  IF you don’t know your destination, you won’t know what path to take.  It is simple, but life-changing.  Set debt goals.  Maybe you want 2 store credit cards paid off by the end of the year.  Maybe you want to pay off your car by your birthday.  Set clear, specific, realistic but uncomfortable goals and lay out a path to get there.  If “I want to pay off my car by my birthday.  In order to do that, I need to pay ($fill in the blank$) amount each month until then.  I don’t have that much extra money each month, so I need a side gig to make some extra cash.” We need to think about our long term goals and plans, so we know where we are headed and we can track our progress along the way.  This is extremely motivating and will keep you on the right path.

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10. Paying bills late.

Be sure that you are still paying minimum payments on time as you pay off your debts.  Don’t focus so much on one debt that you forget about the due dates on the other ones.  Late payments create late fees and increased interest rates.  Whenever possible try and set up automatic bill pay to ensure that you are always on time.

11. Taking the saving too far.

Now I mentioned earlier about “really cutting back” but I also want to give a word of caution about this. Yes, cut back but be realistic as well. If you cut back too much then it won’t take long for an explosion to happen. It’s like when someone goes on an extreme diet, and they do good for awhile, but pretty soon they can’t take it and they splurge on an entire chocolate cake. Instead it’s better to live in moderation.

12. Forgetting that this is a team effort.

If you are married, or in a relationship where your finances affect each other, then you cannot do this alone. You need someone to support you and keep you accountable to your goals. You also want to be there to encourage each other and get excited about your progress.  You also need to be on the same page with how much you are spending and where. So talk together and figure out a plan of attack that you are both okay with.

13. Having a good reason to be debt free.

This comes back to goals.  Why are you getting out of debt?  Is it to live life more freely?  Is it to prepare for retirement?  Is it to reach your next set of financial goals?  We all know that being debt free is good, and that we should do everything we can to pay off debt. You have to find YOUR motivation for being debt free. What motivates you? When it becomes a big desire that you have and not just “what you should do” that’s when the real changes are going to happen.

14. Not using extra money.

Chances are you’ll eventually get a tax return, a raise, birthday money, etc. So, you can go out and spend the money, or apply it to your debt and pay it off that much faster! The choice is yours.  No judging here 🙂

15. Forgetting to enjoy the journey.

Finances are stressful… and they can be really stressful. It is so important to be smart about your money and budget, and pay off debt……but you still need to live.  Find joy in the journey and be happy.   You can find joy in life even when you’re in debt believe it or not! So be creative with your saving and frugal living and make it enjoyable!

Here are a few other related posts to getting out of debt:

12 Expenses You Should Never Put on a Credit Card

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

10 Bad Credit Card Habits and How to Avoid Them

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet