Minimalism: Fad or Solid Debt Payoff Tool?

Minimalism

When I moved from my hometown in Ohio to New York City, I became sort of an accidental minimalist. By no means did I believe I had too many things in Ohio, but there was no way to transport it all to the tiny half bedroom that was my first place in New York. I still remember separating everything I owned into three piles: store, take with me, give away. Once the entire contents of my room were displayed on the floor (practically burying my friends in the process), I was completely shocked to see how much I really had.

After all was said and done, I filled two suitcases to take with me. I wasn’t sure how I would get by with so little, but even that ended up feeling like too much after a plane ride, a subway ride, and a six flight walk up the stairs to my new apartment.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to begin accumulating more things again…but I had to be mindful of what I bought. Most often a new item meant getting rid of an old one lest I end up with a closet that remained permanently open and overflowing. But as much as I hated playing closet tetris anytime I needed something new, I grew accustomed to having less stuff over time. And eventually I actually started to like it.

There’s something truly freeing about not being encumbered by so much stuff.

As life was forcing me to learn to love minimalism, the very idea of it was becoming a movement across America. People were vowing to reduce their belongings to the bare minimum in an effort to find peace and happiness. And now people are taking it to the next level to improve their finances. But the question is, can living a life of minimalism actually help you pay off debt?

How to Shift Your Mindset Toward Saving When You Have a Spending Problem

Flower portrait

A few weekends ago, as I awoke to a day that was blissfully void of deadlines to meet and projects to produce, my first thought was what I needed to buy and what stores I could visit to fill my time. Given the newfound breathing room in my budget, this would be relatively okay — except I had acted on that thought the previous three weekends in a row. (Or maybe four. Okay, possibly five.)

In the wake of work pressure and moving stress, I had somehow shifted from a shopping only when necessary type of a person to shopping when induced by any type of uncomfortable emotion type of person.

And that, as many of us know, can quickly spiral out of control – without any of those feel-good endorphins you hope to experience when you whip out your credit card and purchase the latest _______ (enter your vice here).

So, I’ve been working on returning to a mindset where saving takes center stage and spending takes a seat in the back row. Here’s how I’m making it happen.

9 Actions that Can Help You Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Actions to pay off student loans faster

Student loans have a tendency to follow people around for a long time. In fact, new studies show that people are now retiring… and hauling their student loan payments along with their golf clubs and cruise tickets.

While new measures have been put in place to forgive people of their student loan debt after a certain number of years, the fact is, you don’t want to hold onto the loans that helped you pay for college. You’re better off using that money for your future, such as to help save for a down payment on a home, start a family, or anything else that you’re looking to do.

So how can you get rid of your student loans faster? Here are 9 actions to help you do just that.

How Overdraft Lines of Credit Work

Bank overdraft line of credit

When you have insufficient funds in your bank account for a transaction, you are usually either denied at the cash register, or you find your account overdrawn, and a fee as high as $45 is deducted from your balance as well.

Each of these situations is painful in its own way. But one way to avoid these issues is to make use of an overdraft line of credit.

How to Deal with Feeling Unworthy or Unsatisfactory

Clouds landscape

One thing I know is true: my own inner dialogue when I fall short of where I feel I should be is far worse than any criticism I’ve ever received from any outside party. And the truth is, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

This internal battle we wage against ourselves when we don’t achieve what we set out to do, or when we falter in any other way, can quickly take us down the path of feeling incapable and unworthy. Once those feelings ruminate for a while, it can be incredibly tough to gather up the energy, motivation, or positive mindset to keep moving forward.

So what can you do when these feelings start circulating? Here are a few tips.

How I Could Have Paid My $28,000 of Student Loans Off Faster

Trees landscape

This is a guest post by Zina Kumok

ZinaRecently I finished paying off $28,000 worth of student loans (over the course of three years) while making about $30,000 a year. Paying of my loans so quickly required a lot of sacrifices, but not as many as you’d expect. I didn’t live with strangers, I didn’t get a second job, and for the most part, I saw my friends as often as I wanted.

Even though I accomplished my goal, there were ways I could have paid the debt off faster. Why does that matter? Because every month that I paid my loans, I also paid 6.55% interest (or sometimes higher). Here are some easy ways I’ve realized in retrospect could have helped me pay off my loans sooner:

How to Figure Out the Amount You Can Afford to Pay Toward Debt Each Month

Road landscape

“Debt.” It’s a financial four-letter word that you’d rather not talk about. But you know it’s time to face the music and get real with your money. That means doing something about your debt.

Hey, I get it. Life is expensive and stuff happens. Sometimes that stuff requires more money than you have on hand.

Maybe you needed to take out some student loans to get through college and earn your degree. Or you had to hastily pull out the credit card when you were hit with an unexpected (and big) bill. Or you kept swiping away assuming just paying the minimums on your card balances would be enough for now — until you actually looked at what you owe and realized how awful interest really is when it’s accruing on money you owe.

Regardless of how you found your way into debt, it’s time to get out. And as you may already realize, making the minimum payments isn’t going to provide a real solution.

As Mr. Money Mustache puts it, your debt is an emergency. That means doing everything you can to solve this financial problem and get yourself out of the red.

If you’re ready to start your journey to debt freedom but have never paid more than the minimums on your balances, let’s walk through how to figure out what is the maximum amount you can afford to pay toward debt each month.

Affordable Winter Vacation Ideas

Snow winter vacation

Summer might scream “vacation” for most people, but winter’s frigid temps and long list of holiday obligations might offer an even better reason to pack up and get out of town – or at least take a break from the day-to-day.

Whether your budget has room to spare or it’s already stretched thin, there are plenty of ways you can rest, relax, and recharge your batteries for the potentially cold, grey months ahead.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

9 Money Mistakes I’ll Never Make Again

Money mistakes ill never make again

I make mistakes. A lot. I always have the best of intentions – but we all know where that can lead…

When I realize I’ve made a mistake, the only way I can even remotely make myself feel better is to learn from the situation. I want to figure out exactly what I have to do to make sure I never make that mistake again. I figure, if I can’t learn from it, then what’s the point? I’ll just continue to make the same mistake over and over again.

Unfortunately life isn’t always so clear cut – which means there are plenty of mistakes that I do make more than once. In those cases, it either takes a really hard lesson to get me back on course or a decision to develop new habits. It also helps to keep a list of the top mistakes I’ve made to remind myself of what I don’t want to do.

Read on to find out the top mistakes I’m vowing to never make again. Some of them are doozies and some are creepers that perniciously eat away at my money. It’s not easy to share the things I’ve done wrong but hopefully some of these will help you (and you can help hold me accountable in the comments!).

How The Long Road to Building Self-Confidence Got (and Kept) Me Out of Debt

Clouds

This is a guest post by Jon Dulin

Back in college, and a few years afterwards, I got myself into debt. In total, it was a little more than $10,000 worth. While I was indeed overspending, that wasn’t the real problem I had. The real problem was much deeper than that, as I’ll explain below. My guess is that for most others that have dug out of debt and stayed out of debt ever since, they probably had to do some digging like I did. If you find yourself on the opposite end, where you get out of debt just to find yourself right back in the same place a few years (or months) later, my story will show you why you need to start digging too, because I was in your shoes at one point. Here is my story and how I overcame my debt.