My wife and I paid off $40K debt and saved over $70K, at the same time, in just 2.5 years. We did that on under $31,000/year salary while living near the D.C. area, which is one of the most expensive cities in the country.
Don't get me wrong. My wife and I are so happy that we paid off our debt and saved so much money in 2.5 years.
If you want to read how we were able to achieve this accomplishment, click here.
In retrospect though, we could have done a better job had we applied the financial lessons detailed below.
Knowing what I know now, we could have done a better job and definitely made a bigger impact on paying off debt and saving the same amount way too early.
Financial Lessons That Could Have Helped Us Pay Off $40K and Save $70K in A Year
My wife and I were focused on organizing our finances, which we successfully did.
That said, we were too focused that we forgot to even consider some financial lessons or products available back then that could have brought the results we needed earlier than expected.
Here are some of the financial lessons we could have put into action to make our situation better.
1. Take out a personal loan earlier.
We were afraid to take on another debt to pay another debt, which a lot of financial experts are against of.
Personal loans carry lower interest rates than those of credit cards and other debt instruments. We took out a personal loan through Upstart, which had a rate of 5.99%.
We paid off all our debts and made a single payment each month to our personal loan.
If you've got a ton of debt with high interest rates, consider taking out a loan that you can use to pay off your debts – the savings, in the long run, is in thousands (it was in our case).
Some of the well-known personal loan offerors include:
- Upstart – by far, my favorite since we had our loan with it
- Prosper – as low as 5.99%
- SoFi – No origination fees or pre-payment penalties
2. Join the “Your Money and Your Life” Facebook group by NPR.
I am part of a lot of finance-related groups on Facebook. The one that stands out is the “Your Money and Your Life” group.
I've seen a lot of uplifting stories, money tips and tricks I've never heard before, horrible financial stories that have been solved, etc. directly from people from this group.
If I were to use the financial lessons I learned from this group such as settling your debt for less (but with a big drawback on your credit), finding ways to reducing rent, etc., my wife and I could have easily slashed a good 6 to 8 months on our debt.
3. Start a blog.
How I wish I started blogging early on especially during the time when my wife and I were struggling to fix our finances.
During my first year of blogging, I made over $30K even though I only put a couple of hours each day on blogging. Had we had that side hustle money back then, our debt could have been paid way too early.
For those who are looking for another way to earn money to pay off your debts and get your finances in order, blogging is great and profitable. Now, I make over $30K/mo working for 5 hours per month.
The reward from blogging is great and the risk is at the minimum. Starting a blog costs only $2.95/mo, which is basically a cup of coffee.
I know the feeling when you're trying to start something new while trying to get your financial situation in order. I've been there and it is scary, but this feeling shouldn't deter you from doing something that could help you in the long run.
If you ever think of blogging, I will give you a package to get your blogging journey as painless and easy as possible. See the box below.
5. Pick the right survey sites to make money.
Over the past couple of years, my wife and I have tried over 100 surveys sites to make money. Yes, we've tried over 100 sites.
A lot of them were kind of scammish but there have been a couple, which are gold mine. Those gold mine ones are the ones that we've been using up to this day.
How I wish we knew these sites from the start. But of course, where's the joy of finding the right ones when you don't experience the worst ones. Hahaha
From just 5 survey sites, we've made over $3,000 and have gotten free products to try, use, and keep. Here are the five sites, which made a great impact on how much we save each month:
- Survey Club (Could earn at least $50/survey)
- Ipsos I-Say (Est. $620/mo. The survey site people are raving about, and that keeps on giving)
- MyPoints (Desktop l Mobile) (Up to $50/survey; $5 Bonus after 5 surveys)
- Vindale Research (Earn $2 bonus for signing up; I've earned more than $1,100 so far)
- MySurvey (Earn 2,000 points as a sign-up bonus; It has paid $32M+ since 2014)
5. Use Tally to manage our credit card debts.
Going through a financial struggle and trying to get out of it aren't the best things to experience.
With so many things going on in our lives, there were times that I almost forgot to pay our debt, which if we did could cost us interest, penalty, and other charges (not to mention our cards' interest rates could have shot like a rocket trajectory).
It would have been easier for us to handle our financial situation had we used Tally to manage our credit card debts.
Tally is the world's first automated debt manager that helps you save money, manages your cards, and pays down balances faster.
It analyzes your credit cards and credit history (without affecting your credit score) to ensure Tally is right for you. You'll get a Tally line of credit to be used to pay off your cards with high APR balances – potentially saving you thousands.
It'll do the hard work for you by minimizing interest costs and fees by making the right pay to the right card at the right time. Tally sounds simple to use because it is.
6. Cut our expenses further.
We tried to cut our expenses to the bare minimum by negotiating with bill collectors, discontinuing certain services, and others.
I thought we did everything we could on that department. I guess we didn't.
Almost a year ago, I discovered a financial assistant called Trim.
It analyzes our accounts and searches for ways to save us money on everyday expenses like utilities, cable/internet bills, insurances, and more.
So far, Trim has cut over $1,000 from our bills, which wouldn't even be remotely possible had we done the negotation on our own.
It is easy to use and so effective that last month alone, Trim users saved over $1,000,000 for its customers. Trim cut our on-contract Verizon phone bill by $16.75/mo. That's $201/year. (see my bill's images below).
How I wish I learned one of these financial lessons early on, that is, use Trim from the start.
7. Make a payment plan.
We were afraid, at first, to talk to creditors about making a payment arrangement in exchange for lowering our interest rates, waiving fees, and others.
How I wish we could have done it earlier.
Not only did the creditors waive most of our fees, but they also brought down our interest rates down to zero (yeah, zero from all our creditors) until we paid off our debt.
Had we made a payment plan or arrangement early on, we could have escaped all of the fees and interest payments we already made.
In short, one of the financial lessons we learned is that the worst thing creditors could say is “No. We can't negotiate your debt.”
We were too afraid of getting rejected right away when we had not tried asking for help, to begin with.
A lot of us have this mentality of going back and trying to calculate what we could have done to make a situation better. That's what I did here with the financial lessons. How I wish I did all the things I stated above from the start.
Though I can't change the past, I do know that by sharing these tips I am able to teach others what they can do now to pay off their debt fast and save money right away.
Click on each of the tips above and act now. The sooner you start, the earlier you can achieve your “pay off your debt” and “save money” goals.
What are the financial goals you want to achieve? Which ones of the financial lessons are you going to try?