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How to Use the Debt Snowball System

There seems to be a trend on social media these days. Everyone is talking about being debt free, showing how they paid off their student loans or have paid off all of their credit cards. I am guilty of this too. The thing that gets me is most of these posts, while usually positive in nature, leave me feeling a little negative about myself. Let me explain.

I stumble across a picture of a woman who is showing her student loan debt completely paid off. She goes on to talk about how great she feels and how it has changed her life. I mean, congrats lady, really. However, I have never seen a post like this where the person lays out, step-by-step, exactly what they did to pay this debt off.

Most of the time the post will disclose what method they used. Then, it will direct you to a link to a website where you can buy their latest e-book on their secret debt repayment system. Well, that’s how they did it! They used the money from the sale of their e-book and paid off their debt. Mystery solved. This leaves me feeling defeated because if I am looking for a way to get out of debt, the last thing I want to do is pay $49 for an e-book!

There is nothing wrong with monetizing your knowledge in order to help others. However, call me old-fashioned, if you really want to help someone shouldn’t you just do it? Okay, okay, okay. Let me get off this soap box before I go off sis. My point is, I want to know exactly how to pay of a large debt (like a student loan) and I want my hand to be held the whole time. Well, I am about to break it down for you. Take my hand and let’s talk about the “snowball” method.

The Debt Snowball

Maybe you’ve heard of the Debt Snowball Method? Maybe you haven’t? Dave Ramsey explains this as”…a debt reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the money you were paying on that debt into the next smallest balance.”

Picture rolling a small snowball down a hill. As it gains momentum, the snowball gets bigger and bigger. Now picture that the snowball is your payment and the hill is your debt. Can you picture it? Okay, now let’s dive into the details. Here is how I used the debt snowball method to pay off my credit card debt.

Getting Started

First, you need to gather all the debt you are wanting to payoff. Next, download my Debt Snowball Tracker sheet and fill in the names and starting balances of each of your debts. You want to write these debts down in order from smallest to largest. On my tracking sheet there is a section where you can write in any notes. I just used that area to write down the total amount I had budgeted to go towards paying off my credit cards every month. My budget was $245 per month. This helped me make sure I was doing my calculations correctly every month.

Next, figure out what your maximum budget is for repaying these loans every month. Make sure that you include minimum payments for all of your debts. As in my example above, I have 7 credit cards. My minimum payment for each credit card is at least $25 per month. That equals to a minimum of $175 ($25 x 7 cards) every month in total. I figured I could wiggle in an additional $70 each month. This is how I arrived at my $245 monthly total. ($175 + $70)

Now, what this means is that my first debt with the smallest balance would receive an initial payment of $95 ($70 +$25 minimum payment). This single payment eliminated that debt completely. Which means the next month, I would take this $95 and apply it to the next debt in line, along with the already established $25 minimum payment. This means I paid $120 to my second debt the following month. Are you following what I’m throwing down? Stop me if I am not making sense.

I continued this process of “snowballing” the previous debts monthly payment and adding it to the next debt payment. By the time I paid off 6 of the 7 credit cards by using this method, my final payment was $230.42. I was able to cover this final payment with the entire $245 monthly budget I had already established. I was able to pay of 7 credit cards in under 6 months.

Types of Debts

The snowball method can be used to pay off any type of debt. Although it works great for credit card debt, it can be applied to virtually any financial situation. It can be used to pay off student loans, mortgages, and car loans. I’ve seen people use the snowball method to pay off other debts too like gym memberships and daycare. The possibilities are endless if you get creative enough. Also, you don’t have to use my tracking sheet for the snowball method to work. You can create your own tracking sheet if you want. Heck, a plain old notebook would work just as well. This is just something I created on my computer that worked for me and helped me stay organized. It is available to download for free in my “Free Stuff” section of my blog if you’d like to have a copy to use.

So Now What?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me “What now?” since I’ve paid off my credit card debt. “Does this mean you are debt free?” No…far from no actually. I currently have a six-figure student loan debt that I am paying off. I am using the snowball method to pay it off as well. Now, in addition to my monthly loan payment of $318, I have added the additional $245 that I had budgeted for my credit cards and applied it to my student loans. I now pay $563 every month towards my student loans. It might seem like a splinter in a snow storm to some. However, I know that chipping away at it will eventually lead to me destroying it.

Now, I have a question for you. Have you decided to use the snowball method? If so, what kind of debt are you using it to pay off? Leave your comments below. I love hearing other peoples success stories and being able to pass on words of encouragement to others. Till next time…

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Why You Don’t Need a Blogging Course

So you want to start a blog, do you? Where do you start? How can you find everything you need to know about starting a successful blog? Most bloggers today will tell you to buy an online course. “It’s the best investment I could have made!” and “I wish I would have bought this course sooner!” are the typical reviews you will see on most of these blogging courses. I would like to add that most bloggers who suggest this, would be wrong. Hear me out.

Starting a Blog

There are a ton of useful and informative courses out there for new bloggers. Heck, there are even courses out there geared towards experienced bloggers. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself “how do they know this information?” Yes, I am sure some of it is based on experience and good ole’ trial and error but I will bet my bottom dollar that they did a lot of research on their own. It also probably did not cost them a penny.

Think about it. In today’s world (I’m speaking from personal experience) when you need to find the answer to a question, where do most people turn? That’s right…Google! Google was (and is) the foundation of my “blogging tips & tricks” when I first started this blog months ago.

Do Your Research

Here are the blogging questions I asked Google during the early stages of this blog:

  • “How do I start a blog?”
  • “Web hosting, what is it?”
  • “Which blogging platform is best and why?”
  • “What is the basic structure of a blog post?”
  • “What should I blog about?”
  • “How do I promote my blog?”
  • “How do I drive traffic to my blog?”
  • “What is SEO?”
  • “How do I improve my blog’s SEO?”

Just by googling these questions, I was able to compile my own personal Word document with all the tips and tricks I felt would benefit the construction of my blog. This also took little to no time on my part. This is why I feel like most blogging courses are C.R.A.P. This means that most (if not all) useful information about starting a blog is Content Readily Available to the Public. CRAP, get it?

I feel like this is how most Bloggers compile the information they sell in their online courses. Also, have you seen the prices on some of these courses? I thought I was floored when I saw people selling their courses for $79. You should have seen my face when I saw a blogging course (geared towards beginners, mind you) for $10k! Yes, that’s right. Ten thousand dollars for a course that will virtually give you information that is already available to you…for free! Mind blown.

When a Course is Helpful

So why do these blogging courses exist if everything is free, Melissa? I hear ya. The simple answer (IMO) is time. Purchasing these blogging courses will save you time from conducting the research on your own. Now to some, this factor alone if worth the thousands of dollars these courses are going for. If this is you, then go for it. However, I know when I started this blog my budget was $1,000. Oops, sorry that was a typo. I meant to say my budget was $1. Meaning, I had no money to spend which is why I turned to Google and figured it out for myself.

I know it can be very tempting when you read descriptions for these courses. “How I Make $100,000 a Month Blogging” or “I Quit My Job and Blog Full Time Now” are very appealing headliners but I have found most of these are false. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are bloggers out there who make six figures a month with their blog. However, it is usually a combination of ads, product sales and affiliate marketing that make up this hefty sum.

I am Not a Pro

Let me be very transparent here with my blog. I do not make squat with my blog. I know I am still in the early stages of blogging but I can tell you that I have yet to make $100 a month on my blog. Currently, ads are the the only form of revenue I use on my blog. I could create a blogging course and sell it for $500. That would be a steal compared to some of the price tags I have seen for some courses. Then, I would only need 100 people to buy it a month and I could proudly exclaim “How I Make $50,000 a Month Blogging!”

See? YOU, the blogger, are the ones who are allowing these other bloggers to make upwards of six figures a month. Now, I’m not saying that all courses are a waste of money. What I am saying is that paying for information that you can get for free is an insult.

Free Courses

There are some great courses for bloggers that are free and very informative. A lot of bloggers actually have posts about every blogging topic from how to start a blog to how to monetize your blog. All you need to do is Google it. One blog post that I referenced when starting my blog was “How to Start a WordPress Blog on Bluehost” by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents blog.

Another great resource that I used is Debbie Gartner’s “Free SEO Email Course” from the blog The Flooring Girl. It an email course that you can get for free when you sign up for her newsletter. I actually created an email folder for all of the free email courses that I subscribed to. That way, they are easy to reference when I am searching for a particular topic or answer.

Conclusion

The flack I expect to receive from this post is inevitable. However, I welcome it. Finance and budgeting is a passion of mine and I don’t like when people are taken advantage of. I would gladly pay for a blogging course that provided me with truly invaluable information that I could apply to my blog and see substantial results from. If you know of one, drop it down in the comments below. I would love to check it out.

In regards to my last statement, I was thinking about doing reviews on some of these popular blogging courses. I would purchase a blogging course and use it to create a new blog. Then, I’d post about what I have learned and if I have seen substantial growth using these courses. It would be kind of a try-before-you-buy situation for you, but I would be the one footing the bill. Would something like this interest you? If so, let me know in the comments below. Also, if you recommend a blogging course for want me to review, I will feature you and your blog on my socials. This is my way of showing some love back to you. Let me know!

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Virtual Girls Night

Trust me, I get it. You’ve been grinding all week at work, the kids have been running you into the ground, the laundry is piling up and no amount of hours in the day seems to be enough for everything you need to get done! The only thing that can rectify this situation is a night out with the girls! Getting together with your closest girlfriends and unloading whatever has been weighing you down.

There’s only one problem…COVID-19. ‘Rona is a biiiish and has literally interrupted everyone’s regularly scheduled programs. Am I right? I mean, I’m not wrong. Businesses are closed or have reduced their hours, social gatherings are limited to a certain number of people and everyone is social distancing. Personally, it’s a lot for me to take in. I’ve been using these affirmations to help me with my anxiety.

Now, I am not saying that these things are unnecessary or overkill. The precautions that are in place are essential to helping our country recover from this pandemic. What I am saying is that it has really put a damper on my girls nights out and this mama is in need of a stiff drink and gossip session with her girls.

Reluctant to venture out into public to satisfy my selfish need and hesitant to give up hanging with my girls, I have found a temporary, yet sufficient alternative…virtual girls night! You may have read my blog about virtual birthday parties for all ages, if not you can check it out here. However, it got me thinking. If I can throw my kid a virtual birthday party and have 10 of his closest friends participate, why couldn’t this work for my girls nights? Short answer is, it can!

Here are a few virtual girls nights that I have put to the test along with a few more that I am looking forward to having in the coming weeks. Now, let me add this disclaimer. I cannot and will not be held responsible for anyone who takes these ideas and determines that virtual girls nights should happen every night of the week. (that actually sounds pretty amazing!) I don’t want to open my inbox to messages from distraught husbands and neglected children scolding me for their drunk mama whose been busy virtually getting lit with the girls all week long and are now hungry and out of socks. I just can’t. Let’s get into it.

The Basics

First, you need a platform. It’s important to pick a platform that is easy to use and readily accessible to all of your girls (and not to mention free). There are numerous group-calling apps available. Simply doing a Google search will bring up a ton for you to explore. Here are a few that are pretty user friendly and, in most cases, are free to use.

  • Facebook Group Video Chat – start a Facebook group video chat and invite up to six of your gal pals. This is done through Messenger. Then you can “go live” with your girls and as long as you’ve accepted the setting to allow group members to “go live” as well, you can all see and talk to each other. Now this doesn’t mean you can only have six of your best girlfriends be a part of virtual girls night. You can invite up to 50 friends who can join to listen, via voice or be on camera however you will only be able to see the first six friends.
  • Zoom – With Zoom you can host a virtual meeting. There are numerous price plans to choose from. However, there is a free plan. The free plan allows you to host up to 100 of your friends for up to 40 minutes at a time absolutely free.
  • Skype Group Video Calling – Skype video chat app allows for group calls up to 50 people for free on just about any mobile device, tablet or computer. Just download the app and get started for free.

Let’s Party!

  • Dinner and Drinks: This is just like it sounds. Grab your dinner plate and beverage of your choice, load up your Zoom call with the girls and get to gabbing. This is what my girls and I did for our first virtual girls night. It was simple, it was fun. We laughed, we cried, we drank ourselves silly.
  • Sassy Spa Day: So what we did was everyone got mimosas, face masks, nail polish, hair treatments, etc and we had a spa day together. With most salons being closed or booked-up due to limited availability, we had fun pampering ourselves while we chit chatted. Heck, I even whipped out my tweezers and plucked my eyebrows while chatting it up with my girls. Not only did we have fun but we ended the call feeling (and looking) better than when it started.
  • Book Club: I miss my weekly book club meetings. Talking about the characters in the book or how we think the plot twist will come about are all highlights of book club night. Thanks to virtual face-to-face calls I still get to enjoy book club with my girls.
  • Heads Up: Ok, I love a good game of Heads Up as much as the next gal, but virtually takes it to another level. If you’ve never heard of this game, you can download it onto your phone. The person who is holding the word up to their forehead will need to close their eyes or make sure they cannot see themselves on the virtual call. I don’t know why this was so much more fun playing virtually, but it was. Oh, maybe it was the shots we took for every wrong answer? 😉
  • Baking Fun: You guessed it! Everyone decides on a recipe to make. The catch is, there has to be a video of the recipe being made. One person will watch the video with the sound off while trying to explain to the group how to make the recipe. They can either choose to make it along with everyone or just sit back and laugh as the other girls try to follow the directions give. Once the final product is made, everyone compares their masterpiece. This can also be done with a craft project, sewing project, etc. The sky’s the limit.

At the End of the Day

It doesn’t matter what activity you do on your virtual girls night. The point is to have fun socializing with your girls. Some of our best girls nights have just been sitting on a Zoom call together, drinking some cocktails and dishing about our lives. Incorporating social distancing doesn’t need to put a damper on your social life, it just gives you an opportunity to think outside of the box.

I hope you enjoyed these virtual girls night out ideas. Let me know in the comments below if you tried any of theses ideas out and how they worked out for you and your girls. Till next time!