Eliminating Debt by the Snowball Effect – Part 2

If you weren’t able to read Part 1, it’s a must! Check it out here

As stated in Part 1, the steps here are not optional; they are a NEED for getting out of debt. I hope you did your necessary homework (again, check out Part 1 to know if you are up to speed!). This is an abbreviated version from Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover which is simply awesome (must read for all who are in debt and want to get out!)!

So without further ado, here are the rest of the steps to eliminate debt using the Snowball Effect:

5. Once the smallest debt is paid off, take everything you were using to pay off the first debt and start attacking the next smallest debt, continuing to pay the minimum on the other debts. 

6. Refuse to get into any more debt (this is why you should build up your $1,000 in emergency funds before you start on attacking your debt…because things will come up!). If you don’t have it, don’t spend it!

7. Sacrifice. If it means eating a lot of beans and rice for dinner, so be it. If your friends think you’re crazy, you’re probably on the right track. If getting out of debt were easy, fewer people would have debt, and more people would have savings! Did you know that according to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts? It takes some discipline, but you can absolutely beat the norm! Sell anything and everything you can do without. (In Dave Ramsey’s words, your kids should be worried that they are next! Now that is serious!) 

8. Stay focused. Imagine yourself in a life without car payments, without student loan debt, without medical bills, without credit card debts, and without debt collectors calling. It will not be easy. Maybe you wandered your way into debt; you certainly can’t wander out of it. Get gazelle-intense and don’t let up until that last debt is paid off!

Here’s the thing – if you will take the necessary steps to make it to this point, you will absolutely not regret it! Life becomes so much more enjoyable when you are debt free. Take heart; it’s possible to live debt free, and if you stay focused and intense, it’s in the bag! 

I’d love to hear some of your debt- elimination success stories; feel free to share in the comments! 

Eliminating Debt by the Snowball Effect – Part 1

Did you know that an estimated 38 million households in the U.S. live hand to mouth, meaning they spend every penny of their paychecks. Surprisingly, two-thirds of them earn a median income of $41,000, which puts them well above the federal poverty level.

Why is that? My guess is that between paying off debts and failure to budget, people think they are destined to go through life paycheck to paycheck. 

Want to get rid of your debt or help someone who’s in debt but don’t know where to start? The steps here are not optional; they are a MUST for getting out of debt. Here we go! 

1. Start with a budget. Tell your money where to go. Again, not optional. You can’t expect to pay off your debt if you don’t know what’s coming and going. If you need more guidance on starting a budget, check this out. 

2. List your debts from smallest to largest. List everything. The $50 you owe your parents, the past due $150 insurance bill, up to the largest. Disregard the interest rates and only look at what’s still owed. 

3. Begin attacking the smallest debt. Just like you are prone to quit a diet if you don’t lose weight the first week, you need the emotional and psychological help that comes from paying off that smallest debt. You need to know that you can do this (because you absolutely can!).

4. Make minimum payments on all other debts while you are throwing every spare dollar at the smallest debt. 

If you’re like many other indebted Americans, you may have some homework to do now. Don’t forget to make sure your budget is in current, working order. We will pick up with Part 2 next week. Until then!  

4 Reasons I Love Lavender Oil…and How to Use it

Have you ever smelled pure lavender oil? Not the plant, not the stuff that’s in commercial products, and not even cheap lavender oil. Pure therapeutic grade lavender is simply unbeatable.

Of all the essential oils, I think lavender is my favorite right now. It’s helped me immensely in so many different ways – ways I never would’ve imagined before I started using oils. Just know that essential oils work differently for everybody; what works perfectly for one might not work for another, and still for another person, it might only work partially. But hey, there’s no side affects, so try away!
And just a side note to the frugal readers, one bottle of good quality essential oil might look pricey, but 1. essential oils are powerful, so even one drop can do a lot of good! and 2. essential oils can easily replace several other products in your home (some ideas are below) and 3. your health is worth it! I’ve had a 15mL bottle of peppermint for over 6 months, and I have been very generous with it, diffusing it, rubbing it on aches and pains, using it in gifts, letting friends use it for allergies daily, etc., and I still have 25-30% of the bottle left! So a little really does go a long way, and it’s worth the price, I promise!

Here are just a few ways I’ve learned to use lavender:
Burn relief – We went to the beaches of the Dominican Republic last summer and lathered up on sunscreen OFTEN but still got burned. When I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the burn, I put on a few drops of lavender oil, and the burning sensation went away in minutes (or less). No joke. It also worked for my burned, skeptical husband. If I had taken coconut oil with us on the trip, I would’ve mixed the lavender and coconut oil so that it would rub on better. So why do we waste our time with store-bought Aloe Vera gel? (Note: somehow when I burn my hand in the kitchen, lavender doesn’t seem to work the same way. It helps – don’t get me wrong! But it doesn’t seem to take the burn completely away as it does with our sunburns. Maybe because of the location, the lavender gets washed off more easily or maybe the degree of burn is greater…? Just a disclaimer, but again, oils work differently for everyone.)

Sleep relief – Lavender helps my semi-insomniac husband. Once he started letting me put the oil on him instead of just diffusing it, it stared working for him a lot better!

Allergy relief – Lavender, in a blend with peppermint and lemon, is probably the most common way to knock out allergy problems. We had a friend over who couldn’t stop coughing due to allergies; I got out the diffuser with peppermint and lavender (I was out of lemon), and poof! He went from coughing incessantly to stopping almost instantaneously! His conclusion: it’s totally worth it!

Stress relief – General relaxation and reduced stress can absolutely be enjoyed by using lavender. Sometimes I smell it midday, and the peacefulness that comes over me is unreal. Seriously.

Of course, I’ve heard of calming babies with it. I don’t have children, so I can’t vouch for that, nor do I know of the safety tips of using oils on infants. (I do know that we use random unknown chemicals from baby lotions and shampoos and don’t think a thing about it, but somehow the natural stuff gets questioned. I’ll save that for another time.) I think it’s safe to say that if you put some lavender on your chest and hold a crying baby, you won’t regret it!

And please be sure to use 100% pure, therapeutic grade oils!

Now what about you? Have you ever used pure lavender oil before? Have you found lavender to be a nice stress reliever? Do you have some awesome uses for lavender that you don’t mind to share?

7 Killer Tips for Getting out of Debt 

Regardless of the size of your debt or how you accumulated it, it has to go. If you’ve never been debt free before, you can’t imagine the emotional feeling of freedom you will experience! If you chose that reason alone to motivate you to get out of debt, it would be worth it. At any rate, I believe this post will be both inspirational and practical.

How can you begin to tackle that $5,000 medical bill and stay on top of your already tight budget? Or will you ever be able to afford making extra payments on your $50K student loan debt? It’s all possible, my friend! And here are some great tips to start tackling that debt today!

  1. Get serious. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Get gazelle-intense!” Half heartedness will not help you get out of debt any faster. If you are determined, the battle is yours!
  2. Control yourself. Yes, you need to control your spending, but usually it comes down to controlling yourself. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. Plain and simple.
  3. Devise a plan. Planning and thinking are some of the hardest tasks there are, which is probably why so few engage in them. Create a working budget and figure out how you can live under your means while you pay off this debt.
  4. Save $1,000 for emergencies…before you start trying to pay off your debts! It might sound crazy, but you NEED this $1K for inevitable emergencies. You should NOT go in to more debt trying to pay off your new set of tires, your new engine, or whatever it is that breaks while you’re knocking out your debt. And saving $1,000 feels pretty good, too! Just don’t touch it for anything other than emergencies.
  5. Throw every spare penny at your debt – every chance you get! This is probably where I get a little too crazy. I can bundle up with 5 layers of clothing to avoid running the heat, and I can wear my shoes to a pulp, and the list goes on. But when you’re trying to live a debt-free life, you will absolutely have to make some changes to your spending (if you didn’t have to make changes, you would probably already be out of debt, right?).
  6. Start with your smallest debt and only work on paying off that one debt. Dave Ramsey explains it so much better than I, hence why I included tip #7. You will gain so much momentum from paying off one single debt at a time and then working on each debt – one at a time, from smallest to largest – until they are all gone.
  7. Read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. I can’t say enough about this book. I know it has helped so many people get out of debt, including me and my husband. While some of the topics are long-term, it will help you get a great perspective on what financial stages you should be working on and in what order.

“The borrower is servant to the lender,” according to the Bible. Not only do I want to be a good steward of what God has given, but I don’t want to spend my life trying to pay people back, constantly trying to catch up.

Again, no matter your amount of debt, start today with baby steps like these so that you can be on your way to financial freedom!

Best, easiest, cheapest natural deodorant!!  

Here it is, folks!! The end-all answer to natural deodorant that works and doesn’t break the bank (or even come remotely close to breaking the bank)!! It’s super easy too!!

So have you heard of my journey to detox? Check it out here if you haven’t! This deodorant is part of my journey to detox because it doesn’t have aluminum in it (known link to Alzheimers and other mental disorders), among other harmful chemicals. Even the National Cancer Society admits that aluminum in deodorant could contribute to cancer cells – yikes!

This has worked for my husband who was quite skeptical of natural deodorant. This recipe lasted through a half of a warm day (in which he stood in the parking lot in a suit for a while) and the other half was spent at the beach, running around and playing frisbee. It passed the test for a deodorant AND an antiperspirant!

It also worked for me on a strenuous 10-mile hike with no hint of the need to reapply! (And yes, the sun was out; I was sweating… The Bridge to Nowhere hike is no joke!)

Disclaimer: now that I’ve experienced other deodorants that PROMISE to work and haven’t, I have to say – everyone is different, including how the toxins inside you stink – or don’t – when they come out in the form of sweat. (I tried this roll-on recipe that sounded amazing; it didn’t make the cut. But I totally believe the girl who posted it and promised its magic! We’re just all different. I will say that I’ve had friends use this recipe below and have only heard positive feedback!)

Note: I did not make a natural version of this recipe as I just needed to use what I already had on hand, but with these ingredients below, you can absolutely make it 100% natural. Thank you, mommypotamus, for your wonderful recipe!!!

Are you ready for it?

Basic recipe:

1 part baking soda 

1 part arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Coconut oil to soften

This past time I made it, I tried to get a little more exact with my measurements, so here’s the recipe I used and what you’ll need:

1/2 cup baking soda 

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup coconut oil at room temperature

A few drop of 100% pure, therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil (here’s where I get mine)

1 glass container, preferably 8 oz or so

Measuring cups

Spoon or other mixing utensil

For those who are sensitive to alkaline, the option for making this deodorant less alkaline is simply to use less baking soda and more cornstarch. How simple is that?

The only part about this recipe that is slightly odd is the application. It goes on with a couple of fingers right to the armpits. (So I think that means it would be more appropriately called “pit paste.”)

I tried to calculate the cost of what one batch costs; I would guess something like:

1/2 cup baking soda (thank you, Costco) = $.10

1/2 cup cornstarch = $.15

1/4 cup coconut oil (again, Costco) = $.40

Total per batch = $.65

I added a few drops of 100% pure, therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil, making mine closer to $.90 per batch.

So the amazing cost, the easiness in making it, and the lack of crazy ingredients or chemicals already make it totally worth it. But I have to mention that this one batch has lasted 2 adults for longer than a month (we are still going, so I can’t really give you a better time frame than that). Oh, and we have fewer sweat stains in our clothes. It’s a win ALL THE WAY AROUND!

There it is! Super easy, super cheap, works-like-a-charm antiperspirant/deodorant that is SO MUCH BETTER for you than store bought and CAN be all natural. Why not go whip up a batch right now?

How to Keep Track of Your Budget

Recently we’ve been talking about how to create a budget and why a budget is so important. If you missed those posts, please go here and here before you go any further!

As a short review, budgets are about 10% math, 80% discipline, and 10% repetition. I apologize in advance, but this post has a little more about discipline than anything else. Here are some practical tips on keeping track of your budget.

  1. Look at your account daily. When you were creating your budget, you may have forgotten about that $10/month subscription that automatically comes out each month. You’ll need to adjust accordingly for that. Looking at your account daily will also help you stay current with everything. For those who live in the United States, we have opportunities CONSTANTLY to spend money. Even if you have the money budgeted, you should still know what’s coming out and when. If you’re looking at your account daily, it will help you see how quickly it all disappears and will help you keep your eye on the prize: saving money!
  2. Look at your budget daily. If you added savings to your budget as a line item – as you should have – it does so much good to remind yourself of that regularly. Seeing that $300 line item that is coming right to you at the end of the month can be such an encouragement to stick to it. (And looking at your budget may help you remember that you and your friend shouldn’t go out to lunch tomorrow but should instead eat at your place or meet for a $1 coffee.)
  3. Set a time weekly to go over your budget and account (if applicable, with your spouse). This helps ensure that both parties are on board, keeps you striving for the same goals, and aware of your finances. A unified team has so much underestimated power. If everyone on your “team” is aligned with your mission for budgeting, saving, etc., you can all arrive to your goal happier, healthier, closer, and faster.

If you create a habit of doing these simple tasks every day, it will soon become as normal and habitual as brushing your teeth every day. And your finances will show you the reward of your discipline. Happy budgeting!

Budgeting Basics

Last week’s post was on why it’s so important to have a budget. If you missed it, stop reading this post and click over to here so that you can be fully in the know on that. It will definitely help this post make more sense. Promise. Go now.

In an attempt to be thorough, this post became a little longer than most of my posts. Grab the popcorn before you start!
The word budget can be daunting for many, though it certainly doesn’t need to be! On the other hand, the word discipline – what you need in order to stick to your budget – can be quite the unpleasant word. At least for me. But thankfully this post is mostly about creating a budget, not about discipline. Just keep in mind that a budget is about 10% math, 80% discipline, and 10% ritual. Once your math is complete, you need the discipline to stick to your budget, and you’ll need to create a ritual of looking at your account regularly – even daily – and tracking your expenses, month after month. But it will add up to a healthy financial state, making the math, discipline, and repetition totally worth it! 

Gathering items to get started: 

1. Your most current bank and credit card statements (log of expenses of the last month) 

2. A pen and paper (we’ll talk about non-paper budgets another time) 

Tip: start with paper for now to get yourself going with keeping a budget. A digital budget will speed things up later, but for now it’s probably overwhelming if you don’t already have a budget, due to all the possibilities! 

3. Your calendar of the next month or so

Putting together your budget:

1. Know your income and outgo from last month.

2. Take your entire month’s spending and start categorizing each item: your Geico insurance payment would go under auto; your Chick-fil-A expense would go under restaurants, etc. (Some are not as obvious so use your discretion on those.) 

3. After you categorize your expenses, begin adding up how much you spent in the last month for each category. 

4. Compare your expenses with your income. 

5. Determine your priorities and how much you want to save and/or how much you need to throw at your debt each month.

6. Determine what needs to be cut. If your outgo is more than your income (and it likely is!), you must make cuts; otherwise, you will go into debt (or more debt). Also if there’s no room for you to save any money, you definitely must make cuts.

Note: you might have to play with the numbers a bit! If you’re not accustomed to sticking to a budget, you may find yourself having to make some cuts that you never thought about before (like cable…or even Netflix! Yeah, I said it), but for the sake of meeting your savings or debt elimination goals, make the cuts! 

7. Begin building out your budget by category. Here are some basic budget categories to get started with (this is only a basic starting point; be sure to include all your own expenses):

  1. Housing (basics like mortgage and utilities) 
  2. Groceries
  3. Debt elimination 
  4. Savings
  5. Transportation (gas, insurance, registration)
  6. Clothing (not talking about wants but needs)
  7. Discretionary (entertainment, travel, gifts, date night, restaurants, general wants)

8. Take a look at your calendar to see if there are any upcoming events that will require extra money. (If it’s a special friend’s birthday, you may need to budget extra into your gifting category; if your car registration is almost up, budget extra money into auto, etc.)

9. For the items that are discretionary and/or fluctuate, assign those items a realistic amount to be spent. 

10. Input your finalized, budgeted amounts into their appropriate categories. 

When you’re done with this process, you should be able to look at your paper to see where all your money is going. Next week we will talk about how to keep up with your money, but for now, you can rest easy, knowing that you are in control of where your money is going.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden