How Going Green Can Boost Your Savings

Nearly 3 in 5 Americans make ‘green’ resolutions, according to a poll by marketing firm Tiller LLC. Also, 71 percent of consumers consider the environment when shopping — a rise of 5 percent from 2018. Besides the significant impact that adopting a sustainable lifestyle can have on the environment, being eco-friendly is also a great way to save money. With 50 percent of Americans feeling worried about their debt and 84 percent trying to save for a goal, going green may be the perfect answer to help you shave expenses. By adopting sustainable habits, you be bolster your finances in a way that pays off in the long run.

You Pay More UpFront, But Less Overall

Eco-friendly products tend to cost more than traditional alternatives. As more consumers tap into a sustainable way of living, demand for eco-friendly products is on the rise. As a result, prices are steadily rising. A great example is the cost of a reusable cup ($7.50) versus disposable one ($0.0045).

Thanks to the staggering price difference, many Americans are finding it difficult to buy green, even if the intention is there. However, over its lifetime, a reusable product such as the cup can easily repay its higher cost (if used multiple times). The same premise applies to reusable bottles, straws, and containers, in lieu of eliminating single-use plastics in the office or at home. If you are after immediate gratification, there are some sustainable habits you can adopt at home that can help you experience the cost benefits sooner rather than later.

Install Low Flow Shower Heads And Water Aerators

Water usage is a large part of the eco-friendly debate. American households waste 9,400 gallons of water annually, according to the United States of America Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, they also estimate that we can reduce our water usage by 20 percent by simply installing water-efficient fixtures such as low flow showerheads.

Showers account for around 22 percent of water usage in households and by installing an expensive water aerator or low flow showerhead, some claim you can save as much as 50 percent of both water usage and heating costs. Most low flow faucets cost $5-$10 while low flow showerheads can average $8-$50, depending on the features and model. With the average American water bill being $70.39 per month, that equates to a saving of $14 per month, using EPA’s 20 percent cost reduction estimation.

Invest In A Smart Heating System

Around 45 percent of a home’s energy goes towards heating and cooling, according to Energy Star. In financial terms, that is between $2,100 and $2,500 each year. A smart home heating system can cost as little as $40 or in some cases, cost as much as $300. However, it allows you to avoid overheating and limit it to when and where it is needed- a key feature in idle home heating. Builder Insights estimates that for every 1 degree Farenheit you reduce your home heating, you use 1 percent less energy. By installing a smart heating system you can expect to see savings of 10-30 percent, starting with your very next heating bill after installation.

Get Into Gardening

With Spring in full bloom, there is no better time to get outside and test out your gardening skills. By composting your food waste and dedicating a small portion of your garden, you can dedicate yourself to a new hobby and grow your own produce in the process- reducing your food bill. Supplies for creating a garden at home are minimal since you can use homemade compost for fertilization. Best of all, once your crops grow the reduction to your grocery bill is immediate.

While on the topic of food waste, adopt a ‘nothing goes in the trash’ attitude in the kitchen. The average household spend on groceries in America can range between $314 in Atlanta to $516 in Seattle, yet 31.9 percent of it ends up in the trash. Bulk cooking and meal prepping can help you use up all your food before they go bad while simple habits like writing and list and checking your pantry or refrigerator before heading to the supermarket can help you eliminating mindless or double buying.

While the cost-saving benefits are often seen in the long term, there are still ways you can do your part for the environment and save money now. All it takes is a bit of DIY, creativity, and commitment to the cause. Your wallet will thank you for it.

Chrissy Helders

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How To Buy A Car On Finance While Repaying Your Debt

A recent report by the New York Times showed that 44 percent of car buyers used finance to purchase their vehicles in 2019. Of that population,The Federal Reserve Bank Of New York estimates 7 million of them are three months behind on their car repayments. This is not surprising since eight in 10 consumers are currently in debt and looking for a way out – or simply a way to keep up. A car has always been a sizeable investment for any consumer; it takes up around 13.5 percent of your gross annual salary. With car loans surpassing $31,000 and rising car finance prices, buying a new car is beginning to seem out of reach for many, especially those that trying to get rid of their debt. Yet you may find yourself in a place where a new car becomes a need. In fact, 85 percent of Americans rely on their cars to get to work. If this happens, it is possible to do both successfully with a little planning and the use of clever tactics to minimize the impact of adding car finance to your debt.

Go Second Hand

One great way to reduce the financing charges of buying a new car is, of course, to reduce the purchase price. Second-hand cars cost a fraction of a new car’s price, and therefore come with lower finance payments if you purchase one on credit. In May 2019, the average cost of a new car rose to $36,718. With average interest rates at 6 percent, consumers end up paying $2,203 in interest annually. However, a used car can cost around $20,000, according to estimates from Kelly Blue Brooke, which halves your interest charges and overall monthly repayments. The reliability of the car model you do choose will play a large part in minimizing the financial impact – less reliable used car models would require more repairs and upkeep. Expert and driver ratings and reviews both have a role to play in informing you about a vehicle, and incorporating these into your decision will help you pinpoint cars with high-reliability ratings and the best resale value.

Maximize Promotional Credit Card Balance Offers

Typically, financing a car purchase using a credit card is not advised since they come with notoriously high-interest rates. However, there are also ample credit card offers out there, including 0 percent APR or on balance transfers. The key to this is being able to calculate and repay the amount before high-interest kicks in. Alternatively, you can use a credit card to pay just a part of the price and enjoy the benefit of credit card protection.

Another nifty financing option is to check out your local credit union or alternative financing institution. A little research and the use of loan comparison websites like BankRate.com and ELoan.com can help you identify interest rates in your local area and great car finance offers, like Bank of America’s interest rate discounts for current customers (2.99 APR for new car purchases or 3.49 percent APR for used car financing). Credit unions like the NASA Federal Credit Union and Connex Credit Union also match these rates with a loan term of up to 84 months.

Splurge on Your Debt Repayment And Capitalize on A Better Auto Loan

When it comes to paying a downpayment on your car or putting it towards paying down your loan, it makes sense from an interest rate point of view to pay down your debt. As you repay your debt, your debt to income ratio and credit score increases, as does your FICO Auto Score – key factors that affect your auto loan interest rate, loan term and acceptance.Building a better credit profile may also increase your chances of securing promotional offers from your dealer, such as 0 percent APR for a limited time. This essentially reduces the financing and overall cost of a new car, making it more tolerable to add to your current debt levels.

Keeping up with your debt repayments can be a precarious process for many. Add in a sizeable new purchase like the cost of a new car, and it can easily go awry. However, you can do both if you need to and still stay on track with your debt. It all comes down to having the right information and making the right financing choices. With this article, you’re halfway there.

Chrissy Helders

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Why Taking Responsibility Could Be An Important Start To Addressing Your Debt

A majority of Americans are carrying some form of debt; approximately 77 percent of them according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress study.The average debt per person has surpassed $37,000 in the last year and more people are finding it difficult to face their increasing debt. While having there are a host of debt management tools and apps available to help you on your journey, the key to resolving it begins with taking responsibility both for your past spending habits, and your future. If one is to become debt free, it takes a good amount of sacrifices, cost-cutting, and self-reflection. The sooner you accept responsibility, the earlier you can begin to make progress in your debt journey. Here are a few ways you can face your debt problems; and why it works.

Change The Narrative

The first step in conquering your outstanding bills is to change the way you view it. Debt can impact much more than your financial health; debt can affect your mental well being as well. Therefore, changing the way you approach it is important for many more reasons than simply being free of repayments or rebuilding a credit score. While it is a financial obligation and can be a source of financial stress, focusing on the end result can be much more motivating than looking at the current problems it presents. So instead of focusing on how little disposable income you currently have thanks to debt repayments, try considering what you would like to do with the cash once it is no longer pledged to repaying debt. Changing your view also means embracing responsibilities for repaying your debt.Being accountable allows you to better yourself and the decisions you make when it comes to your finances; allowing you to truly move forward and become debt free (and remain that way).

Get Comfortable With Your Means

Often, the reason that many of us end up in debt is that we purchase or spend on items that are not within our current means or income bracket. As a result, we end up using credit cards or other financing options and having high-interest charges compounds it further. Instead, get comfortable with your income without any reliance on savings, credit cards or other financing sources. Can you afford your current lifestyle on your monthly income? If not, this is a sign to examine the different aspects of your spending and get to budgeting. It can also pinpoint the problematic areas for you when it comes to debt. Knowing your triggers is a vital part of the battle against debt.

Take The Emotion Out Of It When Dealing With Money

Money worries are the number one trigger when it comes to stress in America. Being emotionally invested when making financial decisions can cloud or influence our judgment. As a result, you may end up choosing not the best option financially. One good example is cutting costs to put extra money towards repaying your debt. Often we may be hesitant to reduce money spent on items or activities simply because it has a meaning to us but it is not necessarily a need in our daily lives. Taking the emotion out of it means being objective and a great way to do this is writing everything down on paper. Focus on the numbers and your debt plan; this will help you stick to your resolve.

Chrissy Helders

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6 Steps to Ditching Your Debt

Let’s face it — debt sucks! Keeping up with the payments means less cash to do what you really want. And, the interest makes the burden grow, often faster than your payments reduce the balance due. With a solid plan and a lot of determination, you can ditch your debt and get back to having more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here are Charlie’s 6 steps to ditching your debt:

Stop the Bleeding

Unless it’s completely unavoidable (like that student loan for next semester), don’t take on any more debt. Avoid new credit cards, lock up/cut up the ones that you have, and consider freezing your credit. It’s important to take control.

Assess the Damage

Now, it’s time to see what you’re up against. Make a list of all of your debts to include who you owe, how much you owe, the minimum monthly payment, and the interest rate. Then, brace yourself and determine the grand total.  (It’s OK to have a glass of wine, a chocolate cake, or a bubble bath after this step!)

Choose Your Strategy

There are two main ways to tackle debt: the snowball method or the avalanche method. With the snowball method, you pay your debts off from smallest to largest amount owed. This is great for momentum building — you’ll feel like you’re #winning pretty quickly. With the avalanche method, you pay off your debts from highest to lowest interest rate. Ultimately, the math works out in your favor here because you’ll pay less in interest overall. If you’re paying off debt, ignore any haters, because it’s a victory regardless of how you do it!

Tighten Your Purse Strings

Trimming your budget may be painful at first, but crushing your debt will feel amazing. There are some easy places to cut spending first: eating out, shopping, travel, entertainment, etc. If there are things you can’t cut completely, find hacks to spend less. Use gift cards, skip the expensive cocktail at dinner, or shop thrift stores. If you can’t cut these categories any further, consider going more extreme. Get a roommate, sell your car, or move back home. These strategies are hard, and may not be possible for you (or you’re already doing them!), but every dollar helps.

Hustle for Extra Cash

In addition to cutting your spending, try earning some extra money specifically to go toward your debt. Look for side gigs, sell your stuff, or offer freelance services.

Track Your Progress

Ditching your debt is hard work. It takes commitment and willpower. This process could take a long time, so it’s important to track how far you’ve come to keep your motivation level high. Be sure to reward yourself (in a budget-friendly way!) as each account balance hits zero.

Remember: You’re not in this alone. Charlie can help. Just tell him ‘pay off debt’ and he’ll guide you.

Share with Charlie: What’s your favorite debt pay off story? Do you have any tips for the community?

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

 

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How Side Hustle Agency Work Can Help Pay Off Debt

Due to mounting financial pressures and student loan debt, 51% of millennials report having at least one side hustle that they rely on for income outside their primary job. Among the many pieces of advice that debt relief professionals give to individuals looking to relieve or diminish their debt is to find unique ways to put more money towards paying off your debt, and a side hustle is one of them. While this might include taking on additional hours at work, it can also include seeking other job opportunities on the side or, even better, signing up with an agency who will find you work when you need it.

Benefits of Agency Work

Aside from being a great way to expand your professional abilities and learn something new, deciding to work for an agency allows you to work pretty much as much as you like. This provides you with more flexibility, meaning you can make it work around your existing work schedule or within the hours that you need according to your lifestyle. While agencies sometimes take a portion of your pay for their services, you will often find yourself working fewer hours for better pay, which is great when you’re trying to save money in order to increase your debt payments. By working fewer hours for, generally, more pay, you will be able to make more than the minimum payment on your debt, which has actually been shown to only prolong a debt payoff strategy.

Think About What You Love

Generating income from a hobby is everybody’s dream, and it’s a dream that is easier to reach than you might think. If you are going to try and monetize a hobby or gain income from a side hustle, it’s important to first figure out what exactly you’d like to do. The work will be easier and more engaging if you are pursuing something you love to do or are already making a career out of. This is easy to do as agencies exist for pretty much every industry nowadays and can even specialize in particular areas, such as agencies that help travel nurses find the right fit or ones that will pitch you to potential employers according to your particular skill set.

Pay Off Your Debt Wisely

Assuming you have already created a budget and know how much you need to save in order to increase your debt payments, you will want to be smart about how you spend the extra savings. One strategy is to increase the frequency of your payments to weekly or bi-weekly in order to immediately put it towards debt instead of leaving it in your bank account where you might be tempted to spend it. Another strategy is to put all of your bonuses towards paying off debt, and if you are freelancing, working with an agency or earning money from any type of side hustle, it’s smart to consider this “bonus” money. Ensure you are able to meet your basic needs with your normal job’s income and use all of the additional money for debt payments.

Working Smarter Not Harder

Finding work through an agency that specializes in your career path, or even with one who will find general, temporary work for you, is a great way to increase your cash flow in order to pay off debt faster. Agency work provides you with flexibility while also ensuring you’re developing your professional skills in a way that will help you long after your debt is paid off. Be sure to budget wisely and make more than the minimum payments and you’ll find yourself progressing professionally while also reducing your debt. It’s a win-win for you and your career.

Chrissy Helders

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Money-saving Tips for the Self-employed

Gone are the days when the American dream means climbing the corporate ladder. Over the last years, the mindset of the American worker has shifted to valuing flexibility and freedom over stability. Self-employment continues to be a rising trend as employees leave their day jobs to do freelance work or start their own business.

One of the major challenges self-employed individuals face is managing cash flow. Since you do not have the regular pay that a day job provides, not to mention health insurance and tax duties, it can be challenging when all these things fall on your shoulders. Saving and budgeting can be taxing, too, as there will be months when you’ll be flushed with cash, while there will be months when you’ll need to tighten your belt a little.

Below are a few money-saving tips for the self-employed.

Set a budget.  Whether you are a business owner or a freelancer, this is very crucial. Good financial planning can determine the success of your new venture. Total all your income sources. Make sure to list down all your expenses every month. Determine all the fixed costs such as monthly bills, subscriptions, and mortgage, which takes up a huge part of your budget. You may want to consider paying off your mortgage early to get it out of the way and have more room in your budget for other things like savings and retirement fund.  After listing down the fixed costs, add the variable expenses such as payment to freelancers if you hire some, and any other expense that vary month-to-month. By doing this, you’ll know the amount of cash you need every month to live comfortably. Stick to the budget as much as you can. There are plenty of budgeting apps and tools that can assist you with this.

Set your rate. Do not undersell yourself and do not be shy to increase your rates as you gain more experience. In terms of billing, it’s better to be billed in installments rather than in lump sum at the end of a project. It would be harder to budget your money if your cash comes in once every three months rather than having them sent in monthly installments.

Build your emergency fund. And maintain it. It is important to always save for the rainy days. An emergency fund can save you from high-interest debts in times of financial stress. Make sure you have a fund, ideally a 6-month cushion – for when something unexpected happens such as a big client backing out. This 6-month cushion cannot be built right away, but you must work towards building it as soon as you begin getting paid. Set a certain percentage of your income to be allotted to this fund every month.

Know your taxes. Now that you are self-employed, you no longer have your HR department’s compensation and benefits people to look after your taxes. You must do them yourself now. Be aware of the tax bracket you are in now that you have gone solo. If you are a business owner, seek the help of a financial advisor in determining the best entity type to register your business as.

Get help. Time is money. If you think it would be best to delegate some of your tasks to freelancers in order for you to focus on more crucial tasks, hiring help could be a great idea.

This article was originally published by Uncapped Mortgage

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How to Save Money Each Month While Paying Off Debt

You have oodles of debt that you want gone. But you also have other important financial goals, like saving money, that need your attention. These competing priorities can make you feel like you’re trapped in a chicken or the egg conundrum. If you pay down your credit card debt, you’ll have more wiggle room in your budget and can save that extra cash. But, if you save more money, you won’t have to whip out your credit card next time an unplanned expense pops up. So do you pay off debt or save? The short answer is: porque no los dos?

Here’s your plan of attack to slay debt and pad your bank account:

Divide and Conquer

To work on both goals simultaneously, you’ll have to split your available resources between them. But, you need a clear plan to ensure that you allocate your dollars in the most effective way.

To get started, prioritize your debts and savings goals, keeping these things in mind:

  • High-interest debt will sink you. If you only make the minimum payments on your credit cards, you’ll be in the hole for years and pay potentially thousands extra in interest. Get rid of this debt first.
  • Lower interest debt isn’t as urgent. While you definitely want to pay off all of your obligations, “good” debt like student loans and your mortgage do less damage to your financial health.
  • Paying extra on installment loans doesn’t help your budget now. If you sock extra cash at your mortgage or student loans, you’ll reduce the total time you’re paying on them. But — it doesn’t change your required monthly payment amount.
  • An emergency fund will save you in a pinch. A cash reserve will keep you from going further in the hole when something breaks or you lose your job.
  • Start saving for time-sensitive goals ASAP. The holidays, your sister’s destination wedding, and your car registration renewal are all known events. Squirrel away a little bit here and there in the months leading up, and you’ll pay for them in cash with ease.
  • Don’t ignore retirement. It may seem like a million years away, but delaying saving for retirement will have long term negative effects. You’ll miss out on the compounding interest that actually works in your favor. If you can afford it, contribute at least enough to your retirement account to get your employer’s full match.

Choose the Right Mix

Once you’ve got your priorities in order, you need to divvy up your funds in a way that makes the most sense for you. For example, from your discretionary income, you could put 6% into retirement, 50% toward your credit card debt, and 44% toward your savings goals. As you pay off debt and your goals are completed or change, be sure to adjust your mix accordingly.

Remember: While there are some good guiding rules of thumb, how you manage your money is up to you. Personal finance is personal!

Find the Dollars

To make faster progress toward your financial goals, try freeing up more of your existing resources, increasing your cash flow, or both. Here are some steps you can take today:

  • Review your spending. Is there anything you can scale back on or nix?
  • Negotiate your bills. You may be able to get a lower rate on things like car insurance or cell phone service just by calling your provider.
  • Buy smarter. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting groceriesclothing, or shopping online, there are countless ways to get what you need and come in under budget.
  • Earn more dough. Consider picking up extra shifts at work, getting a second job, taking on freelance clients, or selling some of your unwanted stuff.

Remember: While it’s tempting, be sure to use your budget wins and side income for your debt pay off and savings goals, not for brunch and a new pair of shoes.

Final Thoughts

It can be overwhelming to juggle multiple, seemingly-competing financial goals. But if you proactively map out what you need your money to do, you can strike a balance that allows you to live your best life.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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What to Do When Summer FOMO Kicks In

 

With summer quickly approaching, many of us are indulging the fantasy of lounging on a tropical beach with yummy cocktails or taking a long-awaited road trip. As exciting as those things sound, the fantasy is often dashed when reality hits: these things cost money.

Summer is the prime season for the Fear of Missing out, also known as FOMO — when we’re tempted to join friends and family for exciting trips even though funds are low and we can’t afford to take the time off. But summer can still be a blast without jet-setting to the nearest island. Here are a few options to enjoy yourself this summer without draining your bank account.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City

It’s nice to take a vacay to an exotic location, but more often than not, we tend to overlook all the fun things to do in our own backyards. Create a list of all the things in the city that you always say you want to do, but never have the time to get around to, and make a commitment to finally try them.

Game Night/BBQ with Friends

Two of my favorite things are good food and spending time with good people. Summer is the best time to enjoy both of these! The year gets busy, but summer seems to be the time when we all would rather be outside in warm weather instead of an office.

Coordinate a summer get-together at your or a friend’s house for everyone to catch up. Have each person bring a favorite game, snack, or drink, and fire up the grill. If you really want to give the ultimate summer vibes, set up tropical-themed decorations. It’s a great way to have some laughs, delicious barbecue, and make new memories with friends — and that’s really what summer is all about, right?

Throw a Private Pool Party

Some friends of mine recently came up with the idea to rent out a fun space with a pool to celebrate summer, as well as everyone’s work accomplishments this year. If you want to indulge in a modern, luxurious atmosphere for a few hours with friends, Peerspace is a unique online marketplace that gives you the opportunity to book short-term spaces for fun events. With hourly rates for all price ranges, you and your friends can chip in to have your own private pool party for way less than the cost of a tropical vacation!

Have a Summer-Themed Photo Shoot

Whether you’re a pro with the camera or a novice, take advantage of the sunshine for a fun photo shoot. This can be done with your partner or a group of friends, or even solo.

If the photo shoot is with a group, everyone can pick out their favorite summer outfits, go to a scenic location and take turns indulging their inner supermodel. Bonus points if you get some good shots and make a little summer cash selling them to stock photo websites.

Indulge in a Getaway

If you hardly ever take trips throughout the year, all the staycations in the world won’t make up for the experience of a new destination. In that case, it probably makes sense to plan some time away to reset and refresh.

Still, the key is to have an experience that reasonably fits your budget. Unless you’ve been stashing away stacks of cash before summer rolls around, you may not be able to swing two weeks at a luxury resort in Maui.

What’s that you say? Just put it on a credit card? Not on my frugal watch! Kidding… kind of. While you should definitely enjoy life, you also don’t want to spend the next year or more paying interest on a vacation you really couldn’t afford to begin with.

Maui might be out of the question, but there are plenty of other desirable options that won’t leave you financially drained. New Orleans, Las Vegas, Austin, and Chicago are just a few places that have fairly cheap airfare year-round, and plenty of entertainment to satisfy nearly every type of traveler.

Don’t Forget

Summer is a season that comes and goes like all the others. Those tropical beaches and yummy cocktails will still be around next summer, so it’s not a done deal if you have to skip some festivities this year.

You might get hit with a wave of FOMO if you see photos on social media of your friends while you’re still at work. If it’s too much, you’re not a terrible person should you decide to mute certain threads or take a social media break for a little while. It might even be the best way to make time for all of the other cool activities you’ll be doing in the meantime!

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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Why A Clear Mind May Be The Answer To Your Debt Free Goals

Consumers that become debt free cited peace of mind as a resulting benefit they enjoy. Yet, your state of mind becomes important in your debt situation long before your debt is paid off. There is a well-documented relationship between the two: debt and your mental state. According to a Money and Mental Health survey, 49 percent of people that experience mental health issues also find themselves in debt while 25 percent of Americans admit that they worry about money all the time. For some, it is the credit card or personal loan repayments, while the younger generation finds themselves battling the repayment of increasing student loans. In the end, navigating their way out of debt can lead them to spiral, and in some cases panic. However, while proper management of finances and tools such as budgeting remain key to solving the age-old debt question, a clear mind can be just as powerful, and possibly the tool that kickstarts getting rid of debt.

Clarity Reduces Misplaced And Impulse Spending

Our state of mind and emotions play a large part in our spending habits, including impulse purchases. Many people can find themselves struggling with emotional spending triggers such as sadness or even the receipt of good news. Purchases like this can also throw a wrench into your debt repayment plan and sometimes throw it off track. By spending money intended for your debt repayment or using the extra money that could have helped you make more progress in your debt journey, you are indirectly sabotaging your debt plans.

Maintaining a clear mind means remembering your priorities and navigating events in your everyday life (and the emotions that come with it) with level-headedness. Too often we get caught up with impulse shopping on items that may appeal to us at that moment but do we really need it? Take a step back and consider whether it is money well spent and what it will be taking away from other priorities in your life. Are you able to pay cash or are you putting it on a credit card? If you do opt to fund impulse purchases with credit, there are also interest charges to contend with.

Loss Of Clarity Can Mean Loss Of Motivation

For many, the debt repayment journey can be a long and hard one. It requires sacrifices, commitment, and dedication. So it is not unusual for consumers to fumble or lose their motivation at some point on their way to becoming debt free. Having our minds clouded with negative thoughts can even lead to direr mental consequences such as depression. In fact, studies have indicated that debt levels can trigger stress in consumers while 29 percent of people with high debt stress levels experience severe anxiety, according to a study by the University of Nottingham. Luckily, there are small and simple steps you can take along the way to avoid and remedy this. Consider implementing a reward system at certain points of your debt repayment journey and visually track your progress up to this point. Seeing yourself make progress can act as a powerful motivator to keep going, especially if you see yourself overcoming preset hurdles such as debt checkpoints. For those looking to combat stress or anxiety, implementing the regular practice of mindfulness techniques in the home can help relieve tension for every family member.

Avoid Tunnel Vision By Having A Clear Mind

Finally, another reason that a clear mind is vital in our bid to clear our debt is that it allows us to see and truly consider all other options. Too often we can develop a repayment strategy in the beginning and we tend to zero in on that throughout. However, the reality is that our debt repayment methods and tools may need to be adjusted throughout; in fact, it is not unusual for a debt repayment plan to be evaluated a few times. While debt refinancing or consolidation may be a good idea in the beginning, they aren’t anymore. Being able to see all the options available to you means you are able to make the best decisions possible on the way to becoming debt free, and possibly do so earlier.

In today’s world, the repayment of debt has become a regular part of many American’s lives and commitment schedule. While much has been said about the effect that the debt journey can have on our mental state, not a lot has been mentioned about the reverse connection; the effect of our state of mind has on our debt. While money and savvy techniques remain handy in achieving the goal of a debt-free life, our minds continue to be the most powerful tool we have in our quest to be free. It is what drives our commitment, our strategies and our continuing motivation. As a result, protecting and nurturing it should be at the top of our list if we wish to achieve our debt goals.

Chrissy Helders

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How to Personalize Your New Apartment on a Budget

Moving can be exciting — but expensive. Between the first and last month’s rent, your security deposit, and other costs, your bank account may be hurting. To top it all off, your new apartment feels foreign, like it’s someone else’s home. But don’t worry — you can add homey, personal touches to your new digs without digging a larger financial hole for yourself.

Know What You Can Do

In order to be able to confidently channel your inner Joanna Gaines, you need to check with your landlord to see what you’re allowed to do with the space. Often, they’ll agree to cosmetic changes that can easily be reverted when you move out. Some landlords will let you make more substantial alterations or upgrades with their prior approval. Regardless of what your plans are, be sure to have what’s OK, what’s not, and any instructions clearly spelled out in your lease before you pick up that paintbrush or nail gun.

Pro Tip: Keep the originals of anything that you replace (unless otherwise instructed by your landlord) so that the apartment can be reset to its prior condition when you move out.

Set Up Your Space

There are lots of ways to make any space more attractive and functional. Here are a few interior design tricks to try:

  • Use large mirrors: They make small areas seem more spacious.
  • Arrange your furniture strategically: This can turn an open area into well-defined living spaces.
  • Get double duty furniture: Ottomans are for reclining and storage, tables are for dining and working, and sofa beds are for movie watching and sleeping.
  • Use curtains in different ways: In addition to beautifying your windows, try curtains as wall hangings or room dividers.
  • Experiment with lighting: Yes, place light fixtures where they make functional sense, but also use them to highlight your home’s best features, like built-in cabinets or a piece of art.
  • Throw some throw rugs around: They can be great color accents and help to establish the borders for areas.

Small Things Make a Big Difference

You don’t have to rely solely on furniture to make your apartment give off your vibe. To pepper in your personality throughout your home, try picking up small, inexpensive items like:

  • Throw pillows, picture frames, or vases: The right ones scream your style and are easy to switch up as your tastes change.
  • Plants: Real, low-maintenance plants such as succulents help to beautify your abode, give your space an oxygen boost, and simply need occasional watering.

Give Items a Facelift

With a little elbow grease, you can take what you already have and breathe new life into it. Here are some budget-friendly suggestions:

  • Paint the walls: Choose a color that puts you in a positive mood, but do yourself a favor and make sure it’s easy to paint over when your lease is up.
  • Look into removable wallpaper or tile stickers: You can apply them to anything dingy, boring, or ugly.
  • Swap out lampshades: This makes sticking to a color scheme a snap and can really modernize the look of the lamp.
  • Change door knobs or hardware on furniture and cabinetry: There are so many styles to choose from and you might be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
  • Refinish or reupholster your furniture: It will look like a brand new (and totally different) piece.
  • Get new light fixtures: Sconces or pendant lighting can add a dramatic, personalized flair.

DIY Decorations

Sure, you can buy art that’s pre-made. But if you want it to be perfectly true to you, you should make it yourself! You don’t have to be the next da Vinci to try these projects:

  • Apply paint to canvas: Find your muse and sling the color in whatever way strikes your fancy.
  • Play with clay: Whether your clay pot actually looks like a pot is irrelevant. Making your own pottery can be a great decoration and conversation starter.
  • Create a collage: Your favorite photos, magazine clippings, and other keepsakes can culminate in a lovely tribute to your past, or help you manifest your future as a vision board.

Decide Where to Shop

Depending on your budget, preferences, and what’s available, there are several places to shop for home decor:

  • Check out large retailers: Places like Walmart, Target, and HomeGoods may offer some deals on brand new items.
  • Go used: Flea markets, estate sales, auctions, and Craigslist are all tried and true avenues for finding vintage pieces that fit your theme.
  • Try an app: Technology makes it a breeze to connect with others that want to unload just what you’re looking for. Check out OfferUp and NextDoor.
  • Leverage your network: Your friends and family may have things they no longer need that you can use. The best part? Chances are, they’ll let you have them gratis!

Final Thoughts

While decorating/furnishing a place can be expensive — especially for first-time renters — there are ways to express yourself without emptying your wallet.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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