MAKING MONEY is not something easily done when essentially rebooting your career or coming out of a private, liberal arts college with over $40,000 in debt. Though, since going into my first career as an English teacher, I decided that I wanted to be more contentious about my spending. That idea was great and all, but completely impossible since I lived paycheck to paycheck (and actually lost money from the job). Since then — and a whole career change later — I have rebooted my plans to pay off my now remaining $31,000 loan in 2.5 years.
How will I do this?
SAVING IS ALL IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
I READ BLOGS like it’s nobody’s business. One of the key financial tropes out there is to understand how money is being spent. To understand my habits, I downloaded Mint maybe four years ago to better understand my distribution of money. I love Mint because it shows me exactly how my money is being spent and tells me when I am going over my budget for the month. By making my habits more transparent, savings was easy to come by. For example, I noticed I was going to the coffeeshop 3–4 times a week — not anymore.
I also stay up-to-date with financial blogs that inspire me to continue on my quest for payoff. I read some of the following blogs:
- The Penny Hoarder // I LOVE this site.
- Making Sense of Cents // She is so inspiring.
- Greatist // Overall lifestyle zeitgeist.
MAKING THE PLAN
MY PLAN is really quite simple — sticking to the budget and whatever is left goes towards my student loans. The first of my two loans that I want to pay off (Federal Loan), I have about $21,000 remaining in my balance. I’ve calculated that I have a potential of $400 in savings a month. That, along with my $210 of student loan payment, adds to $610 a month (potential). The problem is if I keep only paying $610/mo., it will take me 2.8 years just to pay this loan off — and that’s a problem.
This is where crafty earning comes into place. I need to bring my net earnings closer to $1,000 a month without sacrificing absolute essentials. After reading countless blogs and videos, I have these to aide in making more money a month (use referral codes for extra goodies):
- Capital One Credit Card // It may not be the “best rewards card” out there but, for me, it’s a winner. I’ve had a Capital One 360 bank account since going to college. The fact that both of these accounts (credit card and bank) are connected is easy to manage and maintain. With 1.5% interest on everything I use my card for, I can easily pick up extra cash. For example, if I spend $1,600/mo. just for ordinary expenses, I could easily earn $16.00 every month just for using my credit card.
- ShopKick // I love to shop, and it’s no surprise that I really like to window shop. However, since I took on this “need to save literally everything” mentality, my shopping habits have come to a standstill. Though, I still make money. ShopKick is super cool because I just have to walk into (or really close to the entrance) to earn points (Kicks) — 25-100 on average/store. After 2,500, I can redeem that for real cash (usually Target).
- Target RedCard // Grocery shopping is a nightmare on a budget. I’m always looking for the best deal out there. But with 5% savings on my entire purchase, shopping at Target for groceries is the best (and cheapest) route to take. Plus I get ShopKick points for going in — and, if I have rewards from ShopKick, I can redeem them at Target. Talk about savings.
- Ibotta (referral code: nhajbgt) and Snap // Recently new to my collection of crafty earning, Ibotta and Snap are both rebate apps. Basically I find products that I need to buy anyway and I can get some money back for the purchase — around $0.25-$1.00. Albeit small savings, it’s money I didn’t make before.
- Receipt Hog // I even make money from my receipts. Again, not much, but each receipt from a supported store earns me points towards actual cash.
There are so many easy ways that I make money without really trying (well kind of trying but you get it). There are some other ways, though, that I’m bringing up my bottom line:
PART TIME JOB // I work at William Sonoma during the holiday season to pick up an extra $300 a week. That’s been a real winner for me when it comes to paying off my loans quickly. Picking up a part time job, albeit taxing, is a really great strategy.
FITNESS APP CASH // My employer has a fitness program called Virgin Pulse and, instead of waiving fees off of gym membership, the program just gives you the cash to spend it anyway you like. So, the more steps I take, the more money I receive. It’s super simple, but does require some dedication and motivation. I could easily make $150 every quarter just for making my goals.
USER TESTING // Relatively new to my repertoire, UserTesting.com pays you money to review websites and apps. All you have to do is speak into your phone or computer for give or take 15–20 minutes and you are paid $10. That’s right — $10/review. It’s absolutely incredible and I love doing it.
IS THE PLAN WORKING
Yes — according to my tracker, I am on track to pay off my Federal loan by August of 2017. The best part about this fact is that it is based off of my current financial position. I am expecting to be either promoted or given a raise at work and that would greatly help expedite the process even more.
Do you have great tips for saving and making money? Write in the comments below how you do that. Thanks for reading.