Category Archives: Making Money

How to score a little extra cash on the side

11 Reasons to Get Out of Debt Fast

There are various schools of thought related to getting out of debt and how to go about it. As you all know, Brittany and I learned from Dave Ramsey and believe that the faster you get out of debt, the less money you’ll end up paying in the long run and the faster you’ll be able to start using the money that you earn. If you’re not already convinced to attack your debt and get rid of it as fast as you can, these 11 reasons may get you to jump on the wagon.

1. Monthly Bills. You will have one (or multiple) less payment per month. This means that you will spend less money on “living” (i.e. rent, utilities, debt) and more money on L-I-V-I-N (i.e. trips, pedicures, vacations).

2. Your money is YOUR money. Goodbye to your conscious that says, “Don’t go out to dinner with that extra money because it’s not YOUR money, it’s the government’s” and hello to your conscious that says, “Go to dinner and treat your friend because it’s YOUR money”. Living on an income that is not exactly YOURS because you owe it to debt makes me feel guilty if I’m spending money on anything other than necessities. I’m ready to be able to use my money how I want!

photo credit:

photo credit:

3. Gifts for others. You know all those weddings and birthday parties you go to and bring a $25 gift card or a homemade item because you can’t afford anything more? Once your debt is gone, you can give more meaningful gifts to friends and family.

4. Food. I don’t know about you, but I love food! I love a variety of healthy, whole foods but can’t afford ALL of the healthy food that I want all the time with my current grocery money budget. I make it work for me right now, but I could easily extend my food budget a little more to include a larger variety of whole, organic fruits and vegetables. Going out to dinner at restaurants with healthier foods is also a priority when I’m debt free. Right now, Mexican it is!

social life

5. Social Life. I’ve actually been able to sustain a pretty great social life while on a budget. Realistically, I don’t think much will change when I’m out of debt except for attending more shows, concerts, and races.

6. Work. Work seems harder when you NEED it. I show up to work everyday knowing that I NEED the money that I am making that day. One day, it will be nice to go to work knowing that I WANT it versus NEED it. Luckily, I have a job that I absolutely love, but I also NEED it.


6. Travel/Vacation. This is another area that I’ve been able to sustain while being on a budget. The downside is, when I purchase flights to various places around the country, it takes money away from my debt snowball or savings. When I’m debt free, I will be able to enjoy a separate “travel fund” which will allow me to guilt-free budget for trips without taking money away from another area of the budget.

8. Volunteer/Donations. There are so many great charities out there to donate toward or volunteer for. When you’re working your debt snowball, there’s little room for monetary donations and little time to “work for free”. It will be nice to be able to donate or volunteer for wonderful charities and organizations once I kick Sallie Mae out of my life.

treat yoself

9. Treat cho self. This is probably the most selfish and vain item on my list, but it is just so true. I want to get my nails, eyebrows, and hair done by someone other than myself and without that being my “social event” of the week! Can I say “wardrobe upgrade”?! Although these things are not the important things in life, I could use some new summer dresses and running shoes.

10. Relief. If I don’t get out of debt FAST for any other reason, THIS is the sole reason I want to get out of debt FAST. Relief. Relief of debt bills. Relief of owing someone. Relief of deciding where my money goes. Relief of visiting friends and family. Pure relief of telling my money where to go, and making sure it’s NOT going to Sallie Mae.

11. Savings. Remember that house I want to buy one day? That years worth of flights to visit friends and family I want to have? The new bed? TV? Retirement?! I can’t start saving significantly until I get out of debt…so stop procrastinating and DO IT NOW!

For more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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If I Have Cash, I’ll Spend It

When I talk to about the envelope system, most people argue that “If I have cash, I’ll spend it”. In reality, if you only have a certain amount of money in cash to spend over a specific time period, you’ll ration your money more. You have to have a plan in order for the envelope system to work.

Cash Envelope

How to use the envelope system:

  1. Use your budget to determine how much spending money you are able to give yourself per pay period.
  2. After you get paid, take out that allotted amount of money from the ATM.
  3. Put it in your envelope.
  4. Spend on whatever you want throughout the next two weeks (or until you get paid next)!

Benefits of using the envelope system:

  • It helps you prioritize. Spontaneous Chipotle visits seem less important when you only have $50 to spend for the week!
  • It allows you to spend money guilt-free on a variety of activities. I feel zero amount of stress paying for happy hour or a nice dinner knowing that I have money set aside for those occasions.
  • It keeps you from over-spending on restaurants and bars. Instead of opening a tab, mindlessly buying drinks all night, and waking up in regret, you (aka your envelope) decides how much you spend (and drink).

Cash EnvelopeFor more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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Favorite Financial Apps

Recently I’ve had a few friends ask me about the financial apps I use to keep track of my spending, saving, and due dates. While my “boring” Excel spreadsheet will always be number one in my heart, I do supplement my organization and awareness of financially relevant info with additional apps that are worthy of recognition. Here are some of my faves:

App for the Busy or Forgetful: The Bills is an extremely user friendly application that helps you keep track of and manage your bills. I love this app because it is VERY easy to learn, and I can record a bill and its due date in a matter of seconds. It is not fancy, but sometimes fancy becomes too high maintenance for me when all I really need is a little reminder that I’m going to have to fork up some money soon if I want to keep a roof over my head and keep the lights on too. The Bills is perfect for anyone who has busy life and a plethora of bills to pay throughout the month.

The Bills 1

The Bills iPhone application makes it easy to add new bills and their due dates, provides you with a list or calendar displaying upcoming bills, and alerts you to bills that are overdue. All information is presented in a format that is easy to navigate and understand.

The Bills 2

The Bills provides you with reports on your bills/expenses individually and by category. You can view your trends and expenses in the form of a pie chart, line graph, or bar graph (not pictured).

Helpful Features

  • Complete visual of “Due Bills” that fall into the categories of Overdue, Upcoming, or Next 30 Days. You can view these bills in list format or on a monthly calendar.
  • Ability to view past payments as well as upcoming payments.
  • All payments are displayed by Category or Bill Name in pie charts and bar graphs.
  • Bill trends across categories (think household expenses, utilities, etc.) are displayed on a chart as well. This is especially helpful if you would like a visual representation of bills that fluctuate, like your gas or electric bill.
  • Ability to turn on reminders for upcoming and overdue bills.

App for the Roommate: Settle Up is the perfect way to eliminate awkward and uneasy conversations about money between roommates or friends. It is objective and has an easy-to-follow process to add and distribute bills/expenses.  Simply start your “event”, add the names of all who will be paying, input the total expense, and add the dollar amount or percentage each person owes. In the final step, you are able to email the breakdown of total and individual payments to each person who contributes. Everyone is accounted for, and Settle Up does the dirty work!

Settle Up

Settle Up uses a step-by-step process that is easy to follow to add events, people that will be contributing, total expenses, and breaks down each event according to owed percentages or dollar amounts before emailing a report to each person involved.Settle Up EmailThe email sent by the Settle Up App includes all persons involved in the event that requires payment. It reports the total amount and the amount owed by each individual paying. It is brief and to the point!

Helpful Features

  • The app keeps a payment log so that previous events are easy to find.
  • Can have multiple events and groups set up
  • Total amounts can be split evenly using a percentage or unevenly using a dollar amount.
  • Can help you plan trips or parties with your friends so that nobody has to act as the monetary dictator and no mooches sneak out the back door. 

App for the Traveler: TripAdvisor doesn’t specifically help me remember when to pay my bills or pay my friends back, but it does help me save money while traveling. If you love visiting new places and exploring unfamiliar territory, download the TripAdvisor application, and consult it to find hidden gems in your soon-to-be destination. TripAdvisor provides locations, prices, and reviews for hotels, restaurants, and attractions located around the globe. You can filter your searches to narrow the options. I have had huge success using TripAdvisor to find unique and very well-priced places to stay during trips in and outside of the United States. The reviews were spot on, and the places we chose were within our budget AND greatly enhanced our experience.

Using my TripAdvisor App on my iPhone, allowed us to find these affordable places to stay in very unique areas that gave us the experience we were looking for on our vacations.

Using my TripAdvisor App on my iPhone, allowed us to find these affordable places to stay in very unique areas that gave us the experience we were looking for on our vacations. El Dolphin was on the bay in San Diego, and our bungalow in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica was nestled in the jungle, 50 yards away from the beach, and a short walk away from town.

App for the Coupon Lover: RetailMeNot is an application that alerts you to coupons and specials that are currently valid at your favorite stores and restaurants. This application makes searching for the best deals before you leave your house easy, so it has the potential to save you money and time. The potential downfall of having these deals constantly at your fingertips is that you may be tempted to spend on items you wouldn’t otherwise purchase. To fight this urge, I only look at specific stores when I already know what I want/need to purchase.

RetailMeNot lets you find and store coupons to use at your favorite retailers and restaurants. Even better, all you need to get the deal is flash the coupon or promo on your phone!

RetailMeNot lets you find and store coupons to use at your favorite retailers and restaurants. Even better, all you need to get the deal is flash the coupon or promo on your phone!

 Helpful Features

  • If a retailer requires your coupon upon purchase, you are able to present it via your phone instead of using an ad or clipped coupon.
  • You can bookmark your favorite stores and restaurants so they are easy to access from your homepage when you want to see if there are current deals.
  • Deciphers between online and in store deals
  • Is able to locate the store that is nearest to you.


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Treat Yo’self with Birthday Freebies

I am very very very very very very very lucky to have several amazing friends and family members that make me feel special and spoiled on my birthday every single year, and I am HUGELY grateful for that.  Now, you are very lucky that I had oodles of spare time this summer, and a tight budget that sent me on a bargain-googling binge and led me to the ultimate Birthday Freebie Goldmine on the Today Show’s money section. Click on the picture below to find a complete list of restaurants and retailers, the birthday freebies and deals they offer, and a quick link to sign up for them!

I found my favorites and filled out the info required during commercial breaks or TV shows that were only worthy of half my attention.

I found my favorites and filled out the info required during commercial breaks or TV shows that were only worthy of half my attention.

Happy (future) Birthday!!


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Investments 101

There are several successful ways that people “store” their money. Before I share my ideas/opinions about saving money with you, I want you to know that I don’t have any money saved past my emergency fund; therefore, I don’t have a lot of personal experience on what works and what doesn’t. What I’m about to outline for you is basically what I have planned for my money-storing future.

Step One: Emergency Fund: Minimum $1,000 (complete)

Step Two: Savings for trips, moving, gifts, etc. You can put this money in the same account as your emergency fund, just know that whatever money you have in there does not include your $1,000 EF.

The following is an EXTREMELY simplified list of pros and cons for a couple common, simple investment plans.

Savings Chart 401Savings Chart RothQ: What if you’re in debt?

A: Personally, I am not contributing to my 401(k) at this point. I have two main reasons I am not saving yet. One, I have not been at my current job for a year; therefore, they’re not matching yet. Two, I am working so hard to pay off my credit card and car payment right now that I want all of my extra money going toward that. I will be finished paying off those debts by the time my employer starts matching, so I’ll contribute then.

Q: What if you’re not in debt?

A: Increase your emergency fund to 3-6 months living expenses. Then, refer to Dave Ramsey’s baby step number 4 and beyond. I’m not there yet, so I have no idea what to advise on this. One day :-)

Like I said, I don’t have a lot of knowledge/experience with investments.  When I was having a difficult time coming up with the right words to explain different accounts, I flocked to my friend, Dave Ramsey.


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Promo Codes

I’m sorry about my late post, but this one comes just in time for the weekend!

About a month ago, my best friend Caitlin, who is a regular online shopper, told me that you can Google promo codes and find some savings for just about anything you order online. So I did. And I saved!

My best friend, Caitlin...the experienced online shopper/saver.

My best friend, Caitlin…the experienced online shopper/saver.

I recently attended a charity wine walk. It was originally supposed to cost $78, but I Googled ‘promo code for wine walk’ and was able to save $20…yes TWENTY dollars just by Google searching! Now I’ve been searching for promo codes for just about anything I buy online (running shoes, photos, concerts) and usually find a discount!

Unfortunately, I’m not able to participate in the Tough Mudder that’s coming to town soon (partly because of my budget and partly because I don’t want to get hurt before my marathon in October), but I searched promo codes for it, and found tons!

It took me about 3 seconds to find these deals!

It took me about 3 seconds to find these deals!

So there it is-short and sweet! Start Google searching a code for your next event, photo orders, or races!

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♥  Sam



Easy Ways to Increase Your Income

When you’re trying to save, whether it’s to pay off debt or put into a savings account, you always feel like you could use a little extra. Over the past year, Brittany and I have found creative ways to make some extra money without having to work 80+ hours/week.

Dog Sitting: Brittany found this amazing website called You’re able to sign up as a host to dog sit at your home, walk dogs, doggie day care, dog sit at others’ homes, and much more. You can charge whatever you want. We charged around $20/night for dog sitting and $15/half hour for dog walking. If you host 2 dogs a month for 2 nights each, that’s an easy $80 per month!

PRN or part-time job: If you have the kind of job/career that allows you to work extra hours at the same site or other sites, it’s an easy to way to make more per hour (most of the time) than working a part-time job that pays minimum wage. For example, I am a speech-language pathologist and work a PRN job at a nursing home in addition to my full time job. I worked about 10 hours per month but was able to make good money per hour because it was PRN. That usually helped me make an extra $350-$400 per month! Even if your career doesn’t have PRN jobs, try to pick up extra shifts or get a waitressing or bartending part-time job to get the most money for your time. Those tips add up!

Sell EVERYTHING: It’s so easy to acquire a lot of “useless” stuff after a while. Something you thought was important a year ago may be totally forgotten by now. Go through your clothes, junk drawers, kitchen cabinets, bathroom, etc. and look for items you haven’t used in about a year and put it in the “sell” pile. You can sell it on ebay, amazon, craigstlist, or to a consignment shop. Even if you make $50 on a gigantic pile of stuff, that’s $50 you didn’t have before and a lot less useless stuff in your house!

Use your talents: You may be great at organizing, cleaning, crafts, baking, teaching, or working out. Market yourself on facebook, craigslist, and the local paper for people to pay you for your hobbies. There are a lot of people out there looking for quality work without having to pay a professional.

Crafty Example: If you are really crafty and have a friend getting married, they may prefer to pay you to make their invitations for a fraction of what they would typically pay on wedding invitations.  They would be cute, personal, and way below a typical invitation budget!  My step-sister made some for her brother’s wedding and they look amazing!

Exercise Example: Some people just want someone that has a pretty good idea of what they’re doing to teach them and also help keep them accountable.

Cleaning Example: If you love to clean, you can charge $20-$25 per hour to clean other peoples’ houses.  A few houses per month can add up fast!

Cooking Example: If you have a smoker or make an extra delicious dish, people may want to pay you to make those things for them. I used to work with a guy that made delicious smoked meat. People would buy the meat, give it to him to smoke, and he got paid to do something he really enjoyed!

Easy Income ChartTIP: When you’re working extra hours or jobs to make a little extra or make ends meet, it can be easy to get burned out. One thing I do when I’m working extra is to keep reminding myself what my earning will get me. Sometimes it will pay off a debt, come really close to paying off a debt, or replace money spent on a flight. It’s easier for me to feel like my extra hard work is worth it when I think of it in terms of “things” (as Brittany discussed in her post Making Money Meaningful).  You’ll be able to knock MONTHS off of your credit card or car payments by acquiring this extra “easy” cash.

Tell us how you make some extra cash without breaking your back (and ruining your social life)!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to SHARE :-)

 ♥  Sam