one of our biggest goals for 2018 is to get out of all of our debt. including car payments. we are tired of working really hard on all of our projects & still not having enough money to live the life we would like to be able to live. we make plenty of money to live on, but due to our debts [& medical bills] we haven't been able to save as well as we would like to. we have had to put things that matter to us on hold for a few months to save up because we have to make our debt payments. we're ready to be done with those payments for forever. we've done a bit of research & we are so excited to share how we plan on managing our money in 2018 in order to pay off all of our debts in 2018 & still buy groceries & live.
STEP 1: ADD UP ALL YOUR DEBTS & FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU'LL NEED TO PAY EACH MONTH
in november, we added up all our debts & figured out how much we would have to pay each month in order to pay off our debts. the number is pretty eye opening, but we are ready for the challenge.
STEP 2: FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU CURRENTLY MAKE PER MONTH
parker we both have a very predictable income each month. but our side-hustle income, on the other hand, is very inconsistent. so our monthly income fluctuates a lot. if we are only making our current paychecks, we won't be able to live + pay off all of our debt in 2018. so we've both committed to trying to make a little extra per month to live off of.
STEP 3: SET UP AUTOMATIC BILL PAY + SCHEDULED TRANSFERS
parker & i bank with mountain america credit union & have set up automatic bill pay & automatic transfers for each of our paychecks. this way, all of our bills are paid on time so we can avoid late fees. our scheduled transfers tell the rest of our money where to go so it's not sitting in our checking account or being frivolously spent on fast food.
STEP 4: MANAGE SUBSCRIPTIONS/MONTHLY PAYMENTS & USE CREDIT CARD REWARDS
parker & i really enjoy using credit cards. they are easy to use, help build credit (obviously), & you can get rewards! however, credit cards can be dangerous if you're not careful-- frivolous spending or fraud (we've had experiences with both scenarios.) so we decided to make a few changes. we have a lot of subscriptions & monthly payments-- netflix, lightroom, hulu, honeybook, website hosting, etsy & shopify shop fees, internet & cable, car payments, insurance, to name a few. we have two credit cards-- a visa card from macu & the citi bank card for costco. we decided to put all of our recurring monthly payments onto one card & lock it up (aka, not carry it with us) and then use the other card for every day purchases (which we are trying to keep to a minimum) like gas, groceries, tithes & offerings (we believe in giving 10% of our income to God & are firm believers in giving to those less fortunate than us.), and medical bills. this way, we are still using & paying off both cards each month AND still getting the rewards from both of them.
STEP 5: FIND WAYS TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY
we're not about the whole idea of "get rich quick" but we do think there are lots of ways to make extra cash each month. sometimes it takes a bit of creativity, but it can be done. i've made a list of 50 ways you can make extra money in 2018 to throw at our debts & savings. we also wrote down a list of our own skills & talents that could be used to make extra cash. if you weren't aware, we've already started a few different businesses (sadie banks photography & little loves shop), so one of our goals for 2018 is to work extra hard on those businesses to be able to bring in more income in 2018. we also would like to make a few short-term investments + long-term investments in 2018 to help supplement our income.
STEP 6: FIND WAYS TO SAVE EVEN MORE MONEY
although extra income is great, if you're not saving your money or being aware of where it is going, you'll spend the extra income before it even hits your bank account. (trust me, i know from experience) in november of 2017, we had "no spend november" there were a few purchases that we made exceptions for, but other than those purchases, we didn't make any purchases for the entire month of november. it was a really eye opening experience.
for 2018, this is how we plan to save even more money:
do another "no spend" month as well as a one week spending freeze each month.
meal planning & having friends over for dinner to save on our grocery bills/avoid eating out (can you say save at least $11 dollars a day?!?)
outsource where we can to help manage our time better
pay attention to free activities & date opportunities in the community
use gift cards when possible (the company we work for gives us lots of opportunities to earn gift cards, so we get them pretty often)
keep ourselves + mackie healthy so we don't have to pay any extra bills for doctor/vet visits
STEP 7: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ACCOUNTS & MANAGE YOUR MONEY
hopefully you don't have problems with this but we've had problems in the past with fraud on our credit cards. so we've made a goal to check our accounts weekly, if not daily.
i once heard that the wealthiest people in the world spend more time managing their money (deciding where it should go) every week than they do actually spending their money. (and they have a lot more money to manage than we do...) so we are taking a page out of the wealthiest people in the worlds' books & are going to spend more time managing our money than spending it. "if you don't tell your money where to go, you'll wonder where it went." -- dave ramsey.
STEP 8: GIVE, GIVE, GIVE
when you give, you are blessed. we know this principle is true, so we want to give more in 2018.
STEP 9: KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN & STAY IN YOUR LANE
this one is particularly hard for me. i find myself thinking of new ideas & wanting to jump in with two feet right away. but this year, to help our finances, i have decided to be patient & work hard at trying not to "keep up with the joneses" which i understand is so, so hard. but i know that as we keep our heads down & focus on our own family this year, we will be able to get out of debt & build our savings & grow our family.
"if you'll live like most people won't, you'll be able to live like most people can't."
STEP 10: DO A HAPPY DANCE WHEN YOU'RE DEBT FREE
i don't think i need to explain this one.