Tag: cheap


Finding Beauty in Ordinary Places: May/June Update All Posts / Life / More

If you’re new here, I post an update every couple of months that details how we’re doing on our debt payoff and other goals. I also include some highlights of the months and what I’ve been reading and watching…because life is about more than just reaching goals.

As a Type A person (with debt), I easily get caught up in trying to be productive all the time. It’s important to relax once in a while 🙂

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Let’s Talk About Privilege All Posts / Frugal Living / Saving Money

As a personal finance blogger, I’ve thought a lot about the best way to help others improve their finances.  Some bloggers are very non-judgmental and say that everyone has their own unique path.

Others feel that people should follow a more rigid set of rules in order to get out of debt or build wealth.

*This post may contain affiliate links.  Read our full disclosure policy here.

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How to Stop Caring What Other People Think All Posts / Frugal Living / Saving Money

Debt has become so normalized in our culture that we no longer believe it is possible to live without it.  Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are constantly bombarded with messages about how to live a “normal” life.

These messages come from a variety of different sources – advertisements, schools, our parents, relatives, friends…our entire society promotes the idea that debt is normal.

Here’s what my original life plan looked like.

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7 Reasons Why I Drive a 17 Year Old Car All Posts / Frugal Living / Saving Money

My car is ugly.

It’s rusty, it has plenty of scratches and a few dents, and it’s 17 years old.  It’s not pretty or shiny.  The heat/AC is out half the time and it’s usually making some sort of bizarre noise.

It’s what most people would consider embarrassing.  Some people think I’m crazy for continuing to drive this vehicle, but here are seven reasons why I do it.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Read our full disclosure policy here.

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Loss, Overspending, and Dopamine: March/April Update All Posts / Life / More

If you’re new here, I post an update every couple of months that details how we’re doing on our debt payoff and other goals. I also include some highlights of the months and what I’ve been reading and watching…because life is about more than just achieving goals.

As a Type A person (with debt), I easily get caught up in trying to be productive all the time. It’s important to relax once in a while 🙂

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The Solution to The Student Loan Crisis All Posts / Saving Money / Student Loan Debt

The average college student now finishes school with nearly $40,000 in student loan debt.  Those with advanced degrees, such as master’s, doctorates, or professional fields (medicine, law) often graduate with six figure debt.

Many articles have been written about the student loan crisis, and some have predicted that student loans will be the next “bubble” to burst.  Others have argued that the student loan crisis is not a “real” crisis.

*This post may contain affiliate links.  Read our full disclosure policy here.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that my husband and I started with a combined total of $117,000 of student loan debt that we are trying to pay off as quickly as possible.  You can probably imagine how I feel when someone diminishes the struggles of millions of Americans by claiming that student loans aren’t that big of a deal.

People who think that the crisis is “exaggerated” typically say that the reason for this “exaggeration” is to encourage “free tuition” political policies.  Student loans are a hot topic and a politically charged issue.  On the far left, politicians advocate for student loan forgiveness and making college tuition free in the future.  In contrast, those on the other end of the spectrum call for personal responsibility.

I’ve read quite a few of the comments on articles about the student loan crisis.  Of course, it’s typically the people with the most extreme viewpoints who are the most vocal.  Some say college is a “right” that should be provided for free.

Others say things like “No one put a gun to your head and forced you to take on student loan debt.  You’re a f$@$#&! idiot for taking on that much debt for a useless major”.  Then, the person typically boasts about how smart and financially successful they are because they didn’t go to college and didn’t take out student loans.  Interestingly, these comments are often riddled with poor grammar and awful spelling.

Odd, right?  How is it possible that people who can’t even construct a basic sentence are somehow making smarter financial choices than brilliant students who have earned doctorate degrees?  Clearly, intelligence isn’t the issue here.  So what is the issue?  What differentiates those who succeed financially from those who end up buried in debt?

Financial Education

From my own observations, there is one factor that seems to determine, better than any other factor, whether or not someone will succeed financially.  That factor is financial education.

Those who have avoided debt or have built wealth in their twenties often have one thing in common: their parents taught them how to manage money.  It is a privilege to be raised by parents who encourage you to avoid student loans, to build an emergency fund, and to pay cash for everything.

Some parents teach their kids about money from a young age (with things such as Dave Ramsey’s class Financial Peace Junior), and these early money lessons typically stick.

For those who didn’t grow up with money-smart parents, financial education still plays an important role in determining their financial fate.  As a personal finance blogger, I’ve read hundreds of PF blogs.  For bloggers who started off in debt, the story is almost always the same.

Some type of financial education sparked an “aha” moment for them – it may have been reading PF blogs, discovering an inspiring book such as Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, taking a personal finance class, or learning from a money-savvy friend.  Whatever it may have been, there is usually some type of financial education that inspired the person to start getting out of debt and building wealth.

In our society, debt is normal, excessive consumerism is rampant, and the idea of paying cash for everything is practically taboo.  Without any kind of financial education, we often do what society expects us to do.

We listen to our parents (who didn’t have student loan debt and have no idea what it’s like) – even if they’re terrible with money.  We listen to our teachers and advisers who tell us that a four year degree is the only path to success.

We take out student loans for impractical majors.  We don’t want to flip burgers for the rest of our lives (as if that’s the only way to avoid student loans).  We do what we think is “normal”.  We believe that our “investment” will pay off when we’re “successful”.

If we want to solve the student loan crisis, we need to stop doing what we’re doing.  Relying on politicians to forgive our debt or to make college free probably won’t help.  Calling people idiots (when they’re already buried in massive debt) definitely isn’t going to help.

We need to start educating high school students about student loan debt.  Personal finance classes should be a requirement in high school.  It’s time to stop teaching students that a 4 year degree is the ONLY path to success.  For many, community college or vocational school may be a better (and more affordable) option.

We need to understand that being book smart without being money smart is a dangerous combination that often leads to mortgage-level student loan debt.  In addition to teaching kids how to be book smart, we need to teach them how to manage money and avoid debt.

What do you think is the solution to the student loan crisis?

Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps
5 Dumb Things We Did With Our Student Loans
How to Ditch Your Student Loans with the Debt Snowball
Which Debt Payoff Method is Better – The Snowball or The Avalanche?

Personal Finance Resources:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
YOLO: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug
Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
It’s Only Money and It Does Grow on Trees by Cara MacMillan

Blogging Resources:

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
365 Blog Topic Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox
Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by ProBlogger


My Winter Survival Kit All Posts / Life / More

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I live in Minnesota – the land of 10,000 lakes…and 10,000 blizzards.  Minnesota is also the. coldest. place. on. Earth.

No, really.

The Thrillist recently ranked Minnesota as the #1 worst state to live in based on how miserable its winters are.  Every year, there are at least a few days when Minnesota is LITERALLY the coldest place on Earth.  That’s right – we even beat out ANTARCTICA every once in a while.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Read our full disclosure policy here.

And sometimes we wake up to find our cars buried underneath 22 inches of snow.

My car, circa 2011.

Now that I’ve convinced everyone who hasn’t been to Minnesota to never come here (MN is great, really…just don’t visit during the winter), let’s talk about how to deal with frigid temps for those of us who have the misfortune of living in a frozen tundra.

I drive a 17 year old car, so I’m always aware of the very real possibility that my car could break down on a day when it’s 20 below zero out (with a wind chill of -40).  Luckily, my car is surprisingly reliable for its age, but it’s better safe than sorry.

Here are the items I keep in the car (or in the house) in case of a winter emergency.

Juice Box

No, I’m not talking about a little box filled with apple juice.  I’m talking about a portable charger.  Many cars have cigarette lighters that can be used with car chargers to charge cell phones, but my lighter doesn’t work (my car is 17 years old after all).

Instead, I use a juice box to charge my phone during road trips.  I always make sure my phone is fully charged every time I drive anywhere in the winter.

Ice Scraper

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory…it’s kind of important to be able to see out of your car windows when you’re driving.  It’s terrifying to drive when you can barely see out of your windows…as anyone who has ever driven during an ice storm can attest to.

I make sure to always get a sturdy ice scraper – I’ve had a couple in the past that broke when I was trying to scrape off particularly thick ice.

Windshield Covers

Once I discovered windshield covers, it made my morning routine SO much easier.  I no longer have to spend 20 minutes scraping ridiculously thick ice off of my car windows.  One time, it was so bad I had to use a hair dryer on my car to melt the ice…no joke.

Instead, I now spend a couple minutes putting my covers on, and in the morning, all I have to do is the covers off and I’m ready to go.

Sun Shields

Sun shields might seem like an odd thing to use in the winter.  My car does this fun thing where the windows freeze over on the INSIDE all the time.

Getting ice off of the inside of windows is particularly annoying because ice scrapers aren’t designed to do this.  Anyway, if I put sun shields up, this (usually) keeps the inside of the windows from freezing and I’m good to go the next day!

Mittens

When it’s -20 degrees outside, gloves just aren’t going to get the job done.  Mittens keep your fingers together which allows each finger to warm the other.  Mittens also tend to have a smaller surface area than gloves, which reduces heat loss.

If you don’t have mittens, another way to warm up your hands is to use hand warmers -little packets you put in your gloves.  These are safe, odorless, and can provide heat for several hours.

A Hat + Earmuffs

In subzero temps, my ears feel cold when I wear a hat, but the top of my head gets too cold if I wear earmuffs.  My solution?  Wear both!  I’m sure I look ridiculous, but at least I’m warm(er).

A Full Tank

On particularly cold days, it’s important to make sure your gas tank is at least halfway full.  When you don’t have much gas in the tank, it’s possible for the gas to freeze and this can lead to costly repairs.

A Warm Blanket

I always keep a warm blanket in my car during the winter in case my car breaks down.  Extreme temperatures can cause frostbite to occur within minutes – with a wind chill of -15, frostbite can occur within a half hour and when the wind chill dips below -60, frostbite is possible in just a few minutes.

Vitamin D Supplements

I recently found out that I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I started taking a daily supplement.  Vitamin D isn’t in very many foods, so we get it primarily from exposure to the sun.  It’s not surprising that vitamin D deficiencies are quite common in cold climates.

Some people show no symptoms, while others may experience depression, muscle aches, an upset stomach, and/or chronic fatigue.  A vitamin D deficiency can lead to serious health problems over time.  If you suspect your vitamin D is low, ask your doctor about it – you can get it checked with a simple, quick blood test.

Humidifier

I have chronic, year-round sinus problems.  For some people, allergies clear up in the winter…for me, my sinus issues get worse in the winter thanks to the dry air.  My humidifier is the only thing I’ve ever found that seems to help.

What items do you think are must-haves during the winter?

 

Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
How We’re Preparing Financially for a Pug Puppy
Cheap & Fun Winter Activities to Beat the Winter Blues
9 Ways to Get Free Yoga Classes

Personal Finance Resources:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
YOLO: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug
Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
It’s Only Money and It Does Grow on Trees by Cara MacMillan

Blogging Resources:

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
365 Blog Topic Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox
Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by ProBlogger



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