Category Archives: Making Money

How to score a little extra cash on the side

Pay off that credit card . . . for good!

Problem:  Credit card debt sucks.  Even worse, it takes a long time to get out of credit card debt when you’re not paying your bill in full and you have a 15-22% interest rate on your balance.  Each month your minimum goes up a little bit, but you don’t really get anywhere into paying your debt.


  1. STOP CHARGING TO YOUR CREDIT CARD.  From this point on, you will NOT put anything on your credit card if it has a monthly balance of anything but $0.  If you can pay it off IN FULL each month, continue using it only if you’re getting some sort of rewards from it (I fly a lot so I use my Southwest Credit Card for the free miles).
  2. Transfer your balance to a credit card with a promotional 0% interest rate and work on paying it off during that promotional period.  That way, the payments you make go toward lowering your balance instead of paying interest.

Note: If you have one credit card and you’re financially able to put a lot of focus on it, you can get your card paid off in no time.  If you have multiple, high balance cards, you may have to do several balance transfers or work on one at a time to pay them off.  For more information and advice on paying off several credit cards, visit,

The myth: Transferring balances lowers your credit score.

The truth: Since we’re all on a “get out of debt quick” plan, we’re not going to jump from credit card to credit card for several years to pay off one debt.  Most promotional periods are 12-15 months.  That’s a good chunk of time to try and pay off your card.  If you need to jump cards once, that won’t hurt your credit score significantly, if at all.

Credit Card Pic1

Credit Card Pic2


Credit Card Pic3

Since credit cards are debts that typically have the highest interest rate, you want to go after these ones first.  Any extra money you have, throw it at your cards.

Credit Card Pic4

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Plato’s Closet

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Tell us how you have paid off your credit cards!

Your “Salary”

It would be great to take home every cent you earn, right?!  Unfortunately, we have to pay taxes which changes our income quite a bit.  Sure, we get some back after taxes (and sometimes you have to pay—scary), but overall a significant amount of money is being taken out of our paychecks each month.

The Problem: When I first started working, I made the mistake of subtracting my estimated living expenses from my “salary” which meant I had x amount to put towards debt each month (so I thought).  Month after month I would get so frustrated when I didn’t have my predetermined amount to put towards debt (especially since Dave Ramsey says, “Your budget tells your money where to go instead of wondering where it went).  I had my precious budget that I was following to a “T” but didn’t have my calculated leftovers.  What was going on?

The Light Bulb: I eventually realized that I had to figure out how much was actually getting taken out of my check each month.  Pay stubs list this information for you, so it should have been easy for me to calculate, but I was working per billable hour at the time so my paychecks weren’t consistent.  I finally estimated how much I would make each pay period and used the chart below to come up with my actual “take home pay”.

Chart 1

Click chart to enlarge

The Solution: According to this chart from, if you are single and make between $36,251 and $87,850 per year, 25% of your income is taken out of your paycheck for federal taxes.  Therefore, if you make $40,000 per year (the average household income is $50,000), your take home is actually $30,000.  This is important when calculating how much debt you can pay off each month.  When you are sticking to your budget and calculate your take home pay, you’re able to accurately calculate how much money you’re realistically able to put into savings or pay towards debt each month.

The Accomplishment: It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment to set a goal (put away “x” amount of dollars each month) and meet it continually.  This is a great way to feel successful and maintain motivation.

Chart 2

Click chart to enlarge

Resources: Check out to see how much you make per year.  The calculator allows you to indicate your home state which includes your state tax deductions per year.  This tool helps you calculate your take-home pay if you’re salaried or paid hourly.

Tell us what has been working for you or what you’ve learned throughout your financial struggles or successes.


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