One year later

way too accurate... (via pinterest)

A year ago I put a decision into action, that action being paying off my student loans.  Although I graduated in 2011, I wasn’t in a place where I could pay off my student loans and do well with it (plus I was contemplating going for my masters, glad I didn’t).  I enrolled as a part-time student and worked three part-time jobs.  A year after graduation, I was able to quit all three and began working as a full time teacher.  The following Spring, I was finally settled (in my current apartment) and in a good place, so I finished off my classes, let go of the idea of pursuing my masters and prepared to start paying my student loans off.  This was last November (2013).

One Year Later

Fast forward to a year later and I just finished my last student loan payment for the year.  Sometimes it has been very draining, but I went in knowing that the first year would be the hardest.  Some of it was trial and error, but I’ve found what works best for me in terms of when to pay and how often.  Paying extra every month and making extra payments here and there have made a big difference.  When I total what I started off with, I’m happy to say that I’ve paid off  over $9000.  It may not seem like much to some, but considering I’m a teacher and bought a new car paid in full this year, I think that’s pretty good.  Two loans were paid off this year and I plan on paying off another small one in the next few months.  It’s going down!



Spending changes

I’ve always been frugal and my student loan debt is the only mistake I can really fault myself on.  I’ve done an excellent job tracking everything (I have the really organized binders and records to prove it) and I’ve been mindful of ways I can save money.  In the coming year, I plan on searching for a better car insurance company (well, cheaper than my current one and one who doesn’t LIE) and finding more small ways to save.


Extra money

I’ve also done a pretty good job of finding ways to earn extra money (side hustling).  Websites like bubblews, perktv, swagbucks and mypoints have helped me get things without spending money out of pocket or gone directly to my student loans.  I’ve also had a stellar online selling year, though this month things have capped off.  I was bringing in $100-300 a month, which isn’t too bad.  I’ll get an automatic raise in six months and maybe other promotions to increase my salary.

Inspirational Pillow.

November 2015

Where do I hope to be in a year as far as finances go?

  • Find more side hustles (I have a goal to earn $2000 extra next year, I met that this year!)
  • Pay off $10,000 or more on my student loans
  • Get a raise, promotion or a better paying position
  • Build up by savings
  • Contribute more to retirement


I’ll have my goal update for November up by the end of the week.  I haven’t done too bad this month, but I need to book it on some goals to finish everything!


My experience with online side hustles

Nelson Mandela

Sometimes you need something more to cover expenses or you might be like many and have debt.  I fall under the debt category because of my student loans.  I knew what I was going to deal with in college when I took out the loans and started to look into ways to make money in my own time without sacrificing time with friends, relaxation time or evne time to do other things (church, volunteer etc.)  I had part-time jobs, but I wasn’t successful in getting anything more than a couple hours a week in the summer months (and I didn’t work outside of subbing once a week during college).  Therefore, I turned to the online and babysitting world for side hustles.

My first two bouts online were with a website (no longer operational most of the time) called gather.  I discovered mypoints and swagbucks through it.  For a good four years I earned a couple hundred dollars a year writing for it (gift cards).  It provided a couple gifts and helped me buy a number of things over the years.  When it crashed over a year ago, I knew I needed to find something better because my earnings on it had crashed.  It was a good move and now I’m happy to say I’ve found more and better sources. Below are my side hustles and my experiences with them.

Side Hustle Ideas: 35+ Ways Anyone Can Earn Money on the Side


I actually just discovered this one on Sunday and installed it on my Ipad.  I’ve earned over 3,000 points by letting it run here and there already and I can cash out starting at 5,000 points.  I’ve heard some people can earn up to $120 in paypal or giftcards and that’s what I’m aiming for (provided my Ipad has power!)



I found swagbucks around 5 years ago in college and I’ve been using it since. I earn around $5-25 a month doing it regularly and it’s great!  It is harder to get points if you don’t shop online, but running videos in the background while you do other things works well.



Another one I’ve been doing for years, but since I don’t really shop online, my earnings are pretty slow on it.  I only cashout for a giftcard ($25) around twice a year.  Maybe when I have more spending money I can utilize it more and cash out more.



This one is a little slower, but there’s a daily login bonus.  I’ve cashed out through them 3-4 times in the last year and have another one coming up.  It’s great for e-giftcards and they offer coupons on things as well.



This is my biggest money maker in terms of side hustles.  I can easily make $100+ a month and it really helps.  Over the next couple of months I’m hoping to do more freelancing, especially since I’ve gotten a solid base at this point.  The only downside is the company I freelance to takes 2-3 weeks to send me my paycheck.


Online sales

They’re a bit unpredictable, but I usually make around $100+ a month in online sales.  I’ve been selling online for a few years and gotten better over time.  I flip a lot of video games that I know are worth money and I can make most of my $100 just doing that.

Take risks and chase your dreams! Live your life/dream and not anyone else's...

Side hustles of the past

Redgage -I couldn’t make anything on this error filled website.  I only made around $2 despite the work I put into it (which wasn’t for long!)

Gather -This is where I got started with my online earnings.  I did it for years, but then in the summer of 2009, the points started declining and in 2012, the website went down and never really came back.  I cashed out all my points and stopped going there.

hitpredictor  -I have a fair amount of points there from two years ago, but the rewards change so frequently/go out of stock, I’ve never been able to cash out

Sidetick  -It no longer exists, but I was able to cashout once for $30.


Those are the websites and online side hustles I’ve tried out.  There are a lot out there and it’s only growing as more people turn to the internet to make money.  Sometimes its not a lot, but when you can buy all your Christmas and birthday gifts for the year and get yourself other things, that’s something!  Oh and pay a few thousand extra on student loans, that’s a big plus too.

Do you do any online side hustles?

Ways in which I’m not frugal

When you’re paying off debts or saving up for something, frugality is a necessity (along with a budget).  Tied in with that is frugality or, by definition,  economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful (  .  I’ve been frugal since I was in college and now that I’m paying off my student loans, it’s taken even more importance (because I actually earn money, but have more bills to pay).  I’ve always been good with money, I just have student loans because well, that’s another story.

Nelson Mandela

I was browsing forums the other day and stumbled across a trend of frugal things people do that society frowns on.  Some things were gross (stealing food from strangers after they finished a meal?) and some were sad (if people have to do these things, you never realize how fortunate you are).  Some were by choice.  Reading it made me think of the things I won’t do to be frugal and there are a few.



I live in a city that is the second most expensive area in my state to live in.  Most places cost $900+ to read (some being just 1 bedroom) and those aren’t always the best places.  I got very lucky when I was searching for a place closer to work (I was commuting with a 20 year old car 45 miles both ways) and found my current place.  I got it for $800 a month (2BR, 2BA), plus a washer & dryer, an amazing landlord and it’s within ten minutes of where I work.  It’s also in a good area of town, which can be tricky to find.  Some might argue it’s expensive, but for this area and what I get, it’s worth every penny.


Not having a roommate

I’m an introvert and I need my space, sometimes more than most.  My best friend and I were roommates the last two years of college and it was awesome.  The roommate before and one of the girls I lived with afterwards were complete nightmares though.  It does save money to split the cost, but I’d fine with spending the extra $400 a month to have a place completely to myself.


Buying organic/natural foods

One thing I won’t skip out on is eating healthy.  This doesn’t mean I’m doing all my shopping at the local farmers market or Whole Foods, but I do go as organic and healthy as I can.  I’m a vegetarian too and I make all my meals from scratch, plus I do all my baking from scratch.  If I’m faced with buying generic flour from $2.50 or organic for $5, I’m going with organic (the actual organic, not the mislabeled) everytime.  Same way from produce (unless it’s inside the skin, like bananas).


Having a new car

Older readers might remember my complaints about my old car.  It was 21 years old and I ran it until the transmission went out.  Not wanting to deal with that again, I made the decision to buy a new car.  I do not for a second regret the decision. It gets good gas mileage, I can travel safely and I don’t have to worry about it breaking down once a month (which was true for the entire last year I had it).



A popular trend to save money for some is to not have internet.  With work (online and my fulltime job) I need internet and a reliable one at that.  While I don’t like Comcast, they do have a monopoly in my area, so I am forced to pay their fees for a necessity.  Maybe someday I’ll live in area with something other than Comcast.


Miss spending time with loved ones

If a friend is in need and needs help, I’m there.  If a friend wants to see a movie, I’m there.  Of course the fun things are within reason, but I’ve had friends who really need help in a tight spot and I help them out as best I can.  Loved ones mean far more than a dollar to me and I’m not going to be frugal over that.  If a friend needs gas, I’ll give them the $10, for instance.  $15 in gas to see a friend, $10 to make a friends day or money to help a family member is worth far more than my frugal code.


What are things you won’t be frugal on?


Past Money Wasted

Yu-Gi-Oh Cards Starting bid at $9.99 No reserve! Comes with four collector books.

Parttime, I sell things online through 4 different websites.  Sometimes sales are really good, sometimes sales aren’t as good.  I still average $150-200 a month and some months it’s even more than that.  However, in looking at the items I have for sale, I realize a lot are things I bought on a whim and barely used or realized after the fact were a waste of money.  I wasn’t bad with money in my youth for the most part, but once I got out of high school I engaged in less frugal practices.  Now that I’m older and wiser, I can look back and shake my head on some of the things I wasted money on.


Yu-gi-oh, Dragonballz & Pokémon cards

We all had at least one of the above probably.  I did really get into Yu-gi-oh and Pokémon, they got their use from me, but looking back now, they seem like a waste of money.  Unlike Magic the Gathering, which I’ve been playing for years, I only had maybe one or two friends who actually played with them and they generally just sat in a binder that I went through once a year and organized.  I’d hate to think of the money I wasted on them.


Ty Beanie Babies

I HATE thinking about how much my grandmother spent on these things and myself.  I don’t even want to discuss how many I have.  They’re cute and I could see still using them in the future, but not all of them.  Now they’re worth next to nothing and have been sitting in a container in my parents house for around 5 years.


Video Games I didn’t really want

I love video games and still play regularly, but I went through a weird spell 4 years ago where I bought a lot of video games that I thought I wanted to play, but realized I had no interest in.  I’ve sold off a lot of these unwanted games and now only have the ones I really want and enjoy.  Luckily with most video games, I’ve been able to flip them and sell them at a profit compared to what I bought them at.  Still, if I hadn’t bought them in the first place, I’d have that much more money(?)


Clothes that I never wore

I wasn’t super guilty of this, but there have been a few clothing items I’ve gotten rid of over the years without ever wearing or only wearing once.  Now that I’m older and wiser, I only buy things I know I’ll wear and are styles that look good on me.


Eating out…for no reason

I’m still guilty of this…I like going out to eat with friends which isn’t bad, but what is are the times I feel lazy and would rather pay $6 for one meal instead of buying the ingredients to buy the things to make it.  I have no issue eating out when it means getting together with a friend or family, but just by myself seems a bit silly…unless I have a coupon.


What are things you regret spending money on now that you’re older and wiser?

Waiting on a paycheck…from freelancing

I’ve mentioned before that I do freelance writing and have been using the same website for over a year.  Writers can cashout after $50 has been earned (we get a percentage of what the website itself earns, 40-50%).  I’ve never had any issues with cashing out or getting my check (within 3-4 days, but it’s been over a week and I haven’t gotten my paycheck.  The last one took a week and this one is at 8 days, which makes me nervous.  I emailed them asking what was going on and got an automated email.  I sent a second one and got no response.  A few other members have said that their checks took 12 days, but it still makes me uncertain.  I rely on freelancing a lot and losing out hurts, especially since it’s money I worked hard for.  Hopefully it comes soon.

This is so HILARIOUS and true. no money, no phone, no food, no gas, no life till monday. this sucks

December is a Chaotic Month for Budgeting

Pretty Blossoms Covered with Snow

Happy snow rain day.  There was a forecast for a ton of snow and ice last night, so school was closed.  We ended up just getting rain instead, but it was wonderful to have an unexpected day off.  Though, I did keep thinking it felt odd to be off today since the last time I had a day off during the week was Thanksgiving break (ok, so it wasn’t that long ago).



I got my heat/gas bill last Saturday and my heart dropped.  $51.  Ouch.  It hasn’t been that high since last February ($60) and I’d gotten used to the lower $20 payments every month.  It’s the one thing I dread about the winter months-it gets so much more expensive when it comes to my electric and gas bills.  Usually electric is around $25 a month and gas is a little less.  At least since its cold, I’ll be staying in more so I can freelance to make up for that right?


December is, itself, the most expensive time a year for many peoples budgets.  There’s Christmas, holidays, traveling, bill increases etc.  I am anticipating this to be a big spending month and I did increase my budget on a few things such as groceries and gifts.  I do still need to get a few small gifts and baking supplies to bake, but after that I should be set to go.  The good news is I’ve been slowly putting more towards my student loans since I got my tax refund and I’m getting a deposit back on my electric (not sure on water yet, but $190 extra would be awesome!)  It’s going to be a month of extra spending, but next month it’ll balance out and things can go back to normal (heat is still going to be up though).


I put this site on my favorites because it has so many money saving links.

It’s only the 10th of December and I’ve already paid $470 on the principal of my student loan this month.  I cringe when I see how much money goes towards the interest.  While it means I make more payments throughout the month to cut down on it being all at once, it hurts to see that after not making a payment in a week, I owe almost $20 in interest.  I’m working on earning some extra money over the holidays and plan on;

  • Selling more unwanted video games
  • Selling some old books to the used bookstore I go to (they give cash!)
  • Freelance work
  • Babysitting

Hopefully it means I can have some extra cash to put towards my debt.  I can’t wait to be debt free so I can start putting that money towards retirement and truly living.  I can almost taste my trip to London….in five years.

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Student loan deal faces an easy path in House -

When you hit the submit button or send off a check with a student loan payment, a feeling of accomplishment surges through you.  You eagerly sign onto your student loan website to check how much of your principal has been taken off once its cleared and you face the reality;

Interest is murder.  I still have a ways to go.


That’s how I’ve felt this past week despite making an extra two payments.  Since I freelance and sell on the side, I get money throughout the month and put it towards student loans.  Interest is getting tacked on daily, so when I do payments, I wait until I have at least $20 more than the interest that has accrued since my last payment (interest is done daily).  While I’m seeing my loans go down, I mourn for the amount that is given over just in interest.  I’m paying a decent amount over what the minimum is, so hopefully as it continues it starts to show more.


erase student loan debt? scholarship scholarship scholarship

Part of my goal until the end of the year is to have better control on my debts. I’m trying to get to the place where I’m enough ahead that the initial loan payment plan is now pushed back into the next year (aka I’ve paid 3+ months in advance) and I keep going with it.  I’ve done that with one loan so far and plan on continuing to with the remainder of my tax refund to even it out on my other two loans.  Though, it is sad that on one loan, 4-5 days after my last payment, I owed $7 in interest.  Yikes!


Mos def!

A word on benchmarks because I haven’t really mentioned them-I’ve set up a series of 20 benchmarks on my loans.  I’ll be making a longer post about it at another point and time, but basically once I’ve paid off enough to get my principal down to a certain number, I reward myself.  I have my rewards and benchmarks set up already (again, another day another post).  I have 20 set up and I’m just about at ($16 away from) my first benchmark.  Maybe paying off my loans isn’t completely backtracking?


Day of The Doctor (DVD) Final Details & Extras

I’ve done two extra big payments this week and I’m relaxing a bit this weekend.  I’m visiting my best friend and her husband (we’re doing a Doctor Who party for the 50th anniversary too. I have some Christmas money and a giftcard to my favorite bookstore where they live, so it’ll definitely be a fun weekend of shopping, nerdiness and good times.  We may go to see Catching Fire on Sunday too.  I’ve been on the fence about it, but I want to see it now with all the extra hype.


How do you keep yourself motivated when you feel like, despite being aggressive with paying off debt, you don’t seem to be making much progress?