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How To Reduce, Reuse, And Save More Cash

How To Reduce, Reuse, And Save More Cash

Hi, this is Michelle’s editor, Ariel! You may have seen me here before talking about taking my side hustle full-time, living in a small house, and real life frugality. When I’m not working for Michelle, you can find me spending a lot of time over at M$M, working as a staff writer and editor-in-chief. 

How To Reduce, Reuse, And Save More Cash #howtoreduce #zerowaste #savemoney

The other day I found myself asking this question in a popular FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) Facebook group:

Anyone else focusing on a zero/low waste lifestyle and merging that principal with FI?

I asked this question because, while I don’t hang around in those kinds of communities a ton, I find that what I often see is more focused on sexier topics like investing strategies and increasing your income.

Both of those are incredibly valuable tools when you’re working to improve your financial health, even if you aren’t working towards FIRE, but I was searching for advice that felt a little more relatable to my personal goals.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone.

There are a number of people who are actively making choices that are making a positive difference on the environment while helping them save money.

One of the most interesting responses to my questions was, “I just started a process of focusing on my waste… literally.” What they went on to suggest was that we are essentially buying our trash.

There was something about that comment that really hit me. I mean, if you’re working towards FI or FIRE or just trying to keep your head above water, wouldn’t it make sense to stop pay for as little waste as possible?

As I started marinating on this idea, I started thinking about accessible ways to reduce your waste while you work on improving your financial health.

5 thoughts on reducing your waste as a way to save more money


1. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and why the two Rs are the most important 

Most of us learned about the three Rs in school – reduce, reuse, recycle. The way it was taught to me is that each R had an equally positive impact.

The reality is that this isn’t the case at all. If we consider what’s happening with recycling in the U.S., it becomes pretty obvious that we need to focus more now that ever on the first two Rs.

Reduce and reuse are so important because it takes a significant amount of energy to create new products – raw materials have to be extracted from the earth, the product has to be made, and then it needs to be transported to where it will be sold.

For every item you don’t need to buy new, you’re eliminating that entire process, and the benefits can be felt environmentally and financially. 

Here are some examples of how you can reduce and reuse in your daily life:

  • Buying used clothes. A $5 pair of jeans from Goodwill is much better for your finances than a $50 new pair. And, a new pair of jeans costs the environment about 33.4kg in carbon emissions.
  • When you buy things, make sure they can be reused. You can start simple with cloth napkins and refillable water bottles. 
  • Start reusing things that you might typically throw away or recycle. You can wash and reuse Ziploc bags, use yogurt containers as Tupperware, reuse cleaning spray containers by making your own cleaning spray, turn old candle and jam jars into vases or cups, etc.


2. Kick convenience

This one is so hard to fall for when you’ve got a family, a job, a side hustle, etc.

Your time is finite and it’s really easy to say, “heck yeah, let’s hit the drive through because I don’t have time to make dinner.”

Going through the drive through doesn’t make you a bad person, but if you’re like me, you think about all of the trash you’ve just bought (I’m leaning on that comment I mentioned in the intro). There’s the fry containers, individually wrapped ketchup packages, plastic straws, etc.

In moments like this, embrace the power of a quick meal –  PB&J, scrambled eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal and a banana, tuna salad sandwiches, cheese and crackers, whatever. You’re saving cash and trash.

Paying for convenience when it comes to foods is an easy trap to fall into. Like I said, it’s hard when you’re busy and trying to shave precious moments off daily tasks like making dinner. 

The problem is that when you’re trying to save time with convenience, you’re paying a high financial and environmental price.

Here are a few examples:

  • A package of prewashed, pretorn lettuce can cost twice as much as a head of lettuce. It’s also packaged in plastic, whereas you don’t really need to put your produce in the plastic bags in the first place.
  • Paying for grocery delivery services like Instacart cost nearly $5 for every delivery.
  • Ready made meals impact the environment at a rate of 35% more than home made meals.
  • On average, it’s 5x more expensive to order out than cook at home.
  • Meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh produce more plastic waste than grocery shopping, and they’re considerably more expensive.

The one bright side with meal delivery services is that if you actually use everything in your package, they do reduce your carbon footprint because you’re reducing your food waste by only paying for exactly what you need for each meal. 

Now, if you’re able to make a meal plan and shop accordingly, it’s entirely possible that you can reduce your food waste without paying for meal deliveries. And at an average cost of delivered meals being around $10, this is actually fairly expensive when you consider that it’s pretty easy to make dinner for closer to $5 a person.

One of my favorite resources for cheap meals is Budget Bytes – this food blog has inexpensive recipes and shows the dollar cost of each.


3. Source your food locally

My family recently decided to start buying groceries from a local CSA program.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture.

The idea is that we get a weekly share of groceries that comes from within 150 miles of our house. We pay a little more for some items, like locally made bread and dairy, but it’s actually been a good financial choice for us because it’s gotten us more excited about cooking at home.

Whether it’s a CSA, shopping at a farmer’s market, or finding local foods at your grocery store, buying local has significant financial and environmental impacts:

  • Reduced CO2 emissions as local food travels an average of 100 miles, whereas produce typically travels an average of 1,500 miles.
  • Supporting local food supports your local economy – good for your home value, schools, etc.
  • Local produce is seasonal, and that can cost less than out-of-season foods.

There are some locally sourced foods that do cost more, especially if they’re organic, but it’s okay to only buy what you can when you can. It’s important for us all to remember that small changes go a long way, which brings me to my next thought… 


4. Remember, small acts are just as important

One of the things that I’ve recently seen on social media are people doing something called sustainability shaming. This is when you’re called out for not doing enough for the environment. 

An example is someone who’s reducing the amount of meat they eat, then being shamed for not reducing the amount of plastic they use. Attacks like this do more harm than good.

When you add up lots of small changes, you get something big.

The same goes with your money – and it’s why spare change investing apps are popping up left and right.

What I’m getting at here is that there are little things you can do that will help both your finances and environment:

  • Do you live in a place that you can bike to run your errands? You’re saving on the cost of fuel gas and emissions.
  • Bring your own cup when getting coffee. Your local coffee shop might give you a small discount and you’re reducing your waste.
  • Turn the lights off in your house. Reducing the amount of energy it takes to power your house saves you money. You’ll probably get a little more life out of your lightbulbs too.
  • Stop buying paper napkins and paper towels. By using cloth napkins and towels (scraps work well), you’ll save several dollars a week and reduce your waste, save some trees, reduce the impact of bleaching, etc.

No, none of these things alone will help you save up enough to retire or reverse climate change, but you’re still making a positive impact.


5. Remember why you’re doing this

When my kids were babies we used cloth diapers, and we caught a lot of side eyes and weird questions about what it’s like to clean poop out of diapers. At least one or two close family members just outright said it was ridiculous.

Those remarks are really hard to hear when you’re doing something that’s important to you, and that’s exactly why we did it.

No one wants to shake poop out of diapers because it’s fun.

Most of the stuff on this list is pretty mild in terms of how extreme you can get with your financial and environmental practices, think dumpster diving and using leftover shower water to flush the toilet

But, even the tamest choices can be hard for others to understand. And when someone feels strongly enough about a cause that they’re willing to challenge the status quo, you often wind up with a little pushback.

Remind yourself why you’re no longer buying paper towels, why you’re walking to work, and buying used clothes – your doing something that will have a positive impact on your finances and the environment. 

In the end, how easy is it to make good financial and environmental choices

We are living in a moment when it’s easier than ever to make positives choices.

There is a huge push to rectify what’s happening with our environment, and we’re also living in a time when household debt has hit all time highs.

That means more and more people are actively making the kinds of choices I’m talking about in this article. I remember just a few years ago when you felt out of place for bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store, and now we have states that have banned plastic ones.

There are bloggers like Michelle who focus on frugal living and minimalism, and while they’re not outright environmental statements, many of the tips these articles contain will help both your money and the earth.

We’re in a time when there’s more innovation and competition among companies that can help you manage your money or provide environmentally friendly resources and products.

There is so much information out there, and now it’s your turn to start embracing and implementing these ideas and see the difference.

What are you doing to reduce, reuse, and save more money?

The post How To Reduce, Reuse, And Save More Cash appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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Are Budget Airlines Worth It? Here Are 6 Of The Best Tips To Cut Your Costs

Are Budget Airlines Worth It? Here Are 6 Of The Best Tips To Cut Your Costs

Are you thinking about saving money on airfare by flying with budget airlines such as Allegiant, Frontier, or Spirit Airlines? Here are my tips to find cheap plane tickets and the best flight deals.

Recently, Wes (my husband) took a couple of last minute flights to visit family and we booked his flights on budget airlines. I had first started looking for flights like I normally do, with traditional airlines like American, Delta, and Southwest. But, everything was super expensive because we were booking last minute.

Are Budget Airlines Worth It? Here Are 6 Of The Best Tips To Cut Your Costs #budgetairlines #cheaptickets #moneysavingtipsThen, I got the idea to look at some of the budget airlines, such as Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit so that we could save some money.

I found a super affordable flight on Allegiant, AND it was direct. Whereas all of the expensive flights had multiple stops and would take all day.

My first thought was that something had to be wrong since the price was so low, so I asked around to see if these discount flights were the real deal.

I had numerous people tell me not to do it, but I had more people tell me that these cheap plane tickets were too good to pass up.

Well, I bought the Allegiant flights, and it went well. Then he flew again a few weeks later, and he used Allegiant again.

Despite my concerns, everything was fine! The flights all arrived on time, and we were able to save hundreds of dollars (not to mention he saved hours with each flight because they were all direct!).

And, you’ve probably seen this as well. You’ve probably searched for flights and have seen huge price differences. Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit tend to offer super cheap pricing, like unbelievably cheap plane tickets. A ticket on a normal airline may be $200+ each way, and the low-cost airlines may only cost $40.

Examples of random flights I found through budget airlines:

  • Austin, Texas to San Juan, Puerto Rico for $70 on Spirit Airlines.
  • Fort Lauderdale to Cincinnati for $48 on Allegiant Airlines.
  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas for $25 on Frontier Airlines.

So, what’s the catch?

There’s got to be a catch, right?

Well, there are things that you should know when it comes to flying a budget airline. Whether you travel full-time or if you’re looking for an occasional flight, you probably are looking to save money on your flight!

Related content:

As I quickly learned, budget airlines, such as Allegiant have a lot of random fees. Or, at least they felt random to me since we have only ever flown on major airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, and Southwest.

Since I am who I am (a personal finance nerd), I did as much research as I could so that there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises before Wes flew. After all, I didn’t want this flight to cost more than one with a “normal” airline that we are used to! I also didn’t want any additional hassles or confusion.

Helping you save money on airfare while also helping you avoid confusion or stress is exactly what I want to help you with today. So, I’m going to cover flying Allegiant Air tips, flying Frontier Airlines tips, advice for other budget airlines, and more. 

There are low cost airlines all around the world. Many of these tips will apply to those budget airlines as well. 

6 tips for saving the most money on airfare with a budget airline


1. Those add-ons, add up!

When booking with budget airlines, it’s key to remember that they make a lot of their money with add-ons. So, while $5 here and $10 there may not seem like a ton, it can add up easily if you are doing it for roundtrip flights and/or for a whole family.

Here are some of the most common add-ons you’ll find with cheap flights:

  • Carry-on bags (you may pay double for these if you pay the day of your flight)
  • Checked baggage fees (also sometimes double if you wait until you’re at the gate)
  • Extra leg room, or “stretch” fees
  • Selecting a “standard” seat when you book
  • Cancellation fees
  • Change fees
  • Extra charge to bring a pet
  • Unaccompanied minor fees

The best way to easily save money with low cost airlines is to know about all of the add-ons in advance. This will help you avoid any fees you don’t want to pay for.

If you accepted every add-on that they charge, you may end up paying more than a normal airline ticket.

By knowing about all of the add-ons and fees, you can keep your cheap flights super cheap and not encounter any surprises!

To keep it simple, try to think of it like this – the airfare you purchase is simply a seat on a plane that is going to the destination you want. Anything beyond just a seat will most likely come with a fee. This can include the things above, even water, your specific seat location, and more. I will go more in-depth below.


2. Watch your baggage.

Depending on which budget airline you choose, you’ll probably be charged for your baggage, even if it’s a carry-on. And, the amount that you pay can depend on whether or not you tell them and pay in advance (such as when you purchase your airfare).

With most of the bigger airlines, you’re probably used to getting a free carry-on item. But, that’s not the case with most budget airlines – many of them charge for carry-ons. Because you’ll have to pay for your carry-on item and your checked luggage with discount flights, you’ll most likely want to pack light in order to save the most money.

Here is sample pricing of what budget airlines may charge:

  • Frontier Airlines- On a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Frontier Airlines will charge $35 for a carry-on bag if you pay for it when you’re booking your flight. But, it goes up in cost after that. If you pay for your carry on at the airport kiosk, the price goes up to $55. If you wait until you’re at the airport boarding gate, the fee is $60.
  • Allegiant Airlines- On an Allegiant Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cincinnati, you will pay $20 to bring a carry-on bag if you do it when you’re booking your airfare. If you pay for your carry-on item after the booking but before you get to the airport, the price goes up to $45. If you wait until you’re at the airport boarding gate, the fee is $50.
  • Spirit Airlines- For a flight from Austin, Texas to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Spirit Airlines charges $38 for a carry-on bag if you pay for it when you’re booking your flight. If you pay for your carry-on after you have booked your flight but before you get to the airport to leave, it will cost $48. If you wait until you’re at the airport boarding gate, the fee is $65.

And, you’ll want to watch the weight on your bags. If your bags weigh more than a certain amount, you’ll be charged for that too.


3. Drinks may cost money, even water.

While you may be used to a more traditional airline offering you a free non-alcoholic beverage, that probably won’t be the case with a low cost airline.

When I was looking up flying Frontier Airlines tips and tips for other budget carriers, I learned that Frontier charges $2.99 for water. Allegiant charges $2 for water and soda, and Spirit charges $3 for each of them.

Like most traditional airlines, budget airlines have lots of drinks to choose from, and they also have lots of snacks too. On many of the budget airlines, they sell “bundles” with drinks and snacks at a discounted price.

What I recommend doing so that you can save the most money is to bring a reusable water bottle to the airport and fill it up before you get on your flight. You can also pack food from home (as long as it’s not liquid) so that you can eat food on your flight while not paying a ton for snacks.


4. Choosing your seat will cost you.

If you choose a seat for your flight, then you’ll most likely pay more for it. The fees vary and is dependent on the seat you choose. One of the flying Allegiant Air tips I found was that the fee you pay for changing your seat can change from day to day, and this is the same for many of these discount flights.

To save money, simply don’t pick a seat. You’ll be assigned one at check in. You will also save yourself some stress trying to figure out which day of the week is going to be the cheapest to pick a seat.


5. Have your boarding pass ready.

This is a helpful tip for any airline you fly, but it’s especially important if you are flying a budget airline because you may be charged a fee to print your boarding pass at the airport. This printing fee is usually around $5.

To save money, I recommend having your boarding pass ready before you head to the airport – whether that means printing it out or downloading the mobile boarding pass. 


6. Buy your airplane ticket at the airport.

Surprisingly, with budget airlines like Allegiant and Frontier, you can actually save money when you buy your plane ticket at the airport.

Yes, this means that you don’t book your flight online or by phone – you are physically going to the airline’s ticket desk and buying it at one of their ticket counters.

I learned about this in USA Today’s article Here’s how you can cut airfare for tickets on discount airlines Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit.

To quickly summarize (although, I highly recommend reading the full article), the budget airlines have a fee for booking made online or by phone, and is usually around $20.

This means that you may be able to save $40 on roundtrip flights (instead of being charged a $20 online or phone booking fee for each way). This can add up quickly if you have a big family that you are traveling with.

Now, this can take a decent amount of time to do, as you’ll have to go all the way to the airport, probably pay for parking (unless you have someone drop you off and circle around for you when you’re ready), and so on.


Despite the fees and add-ons, budget airlines can save you a lot of money.

I realize that some of the things I just told you about, like being charged $3 for water or $40 for a carry-on, might make it sound like flying with a budget airline will be a bad idea. But, that’s not the case at all!

Flying with a budget airline is a great way to save money on your travel expenses. For some people, this means they may be able to travel even more. For other people, finding some of the best flight deals with a budget airline will be a way to take trips they couldn’t afford with one of the major airlines.

These airlines look at all the extras they charge for as, well… extras! Not everyone wants or needs extra leg room, to bring multiple pieces of luggage, etc. Instead of charging everyone a little more, they only charge more to the people who want those things.

It’s like going out to eat and eating off of the a la carte menu. 

To summarize everything I talked about, here are my tips for how to make the best of a budget airline:

  • Be aware of what airport you’ll arrive at. Many of the budget airlines fly into smaller airports near the bigger ones. So, please be mindful so that you aren’t completely lost or confused when you land.
  • If you do want any extras, pay for them when you book your flight, not when you get to the airport. This will usually save you the most money.
  • Don’t pick your own seat.
  • Bring your own boarding pass.
  • The cheapest way to fly on a budget airline is to not choose any of their options and pack really, really light!

Have you flown with a low-cost airline? Why or why not? Where do you go for the best flight deals?

The post Are Budget Airlines Worth It? Here Are 6 Of The Best Tips To Cut Your Costs appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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How I Made Money Blogging In September 2019 + Best Ways To Grow A Loyal Audience

How I Made Money Blogging In September 2019 + Best Ways To Grow A Loyal Audience

Welcome to September 2019’s business report where I show you how I made money online and traveled full-time last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and see how I did.

If you’re new to Making Sense of Cents, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my business report each month.

This all started as my extra income report because, in the beginning, it was all about the money I was earning from my side jobs. In my side income reports from the beginning, I included all of the income I made except for what I made at my day job.

However, I left my day job as a financial analyst in October of 2013 and now my monthly business reports consist of the many ways I earn a living with my business.

Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly talk about what I’m working on each month. Some think I’m crazy, whereas some are glad I’m open about what I’m doing. Whatever you think, I enjoy publishing my monthly business reports and I share them publicly for three main reasons:

  1. Before I started blogging, I knew nothing about side hustling and making money online. I didn’t think side jobs were worth the effort and I thought the only way to significantly increase your income was through raises at your full-time job. If it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. There are many different ways to make money online, and I like to share my story each month to help motivate others to improve their financial situation by making more money.
  2. Secondly, I like to publish my business blogging reports because it’s a way for me to look back, learn from my mistakes and actually see what areas need improvement. I use my monthly blogging reports as a way to track how I’ve done and it helps to keep me accountable.
  3. Lastly, I like to show others that making side money is possible and that there are many legitimate ways to make money from your home.

I know I say this every month, but it’s the truth. Life is great now that I’m my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day and it’s a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every single morning.

Above are just a few of the reasons for why I enjoy publishing my monthly income reports. I like to show others that you don’t have to hate your job and hate your life. You can make changes to your life and make money in a way that allows you to truly enjoy the life you are living. I’m not saying that you have to LOVE your job, I’m just saying that your job should, at least, allow you to do what you like to do outside of work (whether that be spending time with loved ones, doing crafts, hiking, etc.).


A quick reminder on the recent announcement.

I want to repeat the announcement again because I have been asked – How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports? so that no one is confused. I’m sure I’ll receive many questions from readers who missed it.


How was business income in September of 2019?

In case you are new to this blog, the main areas I earn a living from include:

I regularly earn over $100,000 a month blogging, and I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blogging business total over the years.

Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.

September of 2019 was another great month for Making Sense of Cents and the whole blogging business. I earned a great income and I had a fun month.

I have many plans for the rest of 2019, and I have a jam-packed to-do list that I am very excited to start crossing off and accomplishing. I am wanting to grow Making Sense of Cents in many areas – income, readers, more helpful blog posts, and so on.

Some of the things that I plan on doing in order to grow Making Sense of Cents include:

  • Getting more media mentions. I’m about to take a course that will teach me how to be featured in the media more, and I’m super excited. I will share more information on this course soon.
  • Focusing on SEO. I am taking an SEO course soon from start to finish, in order to start growing Making Sense of Cents in this area. I tried a few years ago, but stopped. While I get decent traffic from SEO without much effort, I do think this area can be a great way to further grow my website.
  • Learning about Pinterest advertising and Facebook advertising. I would like to use social media advertising to grow traffic as well as to grow my email list.
  • Adding an online shop to my blog. I would like to create a shop for Making Sense of Cents, where I sell products such as worksheets and printables.
  • Creating new optins. I don’t have many optins for my email list, and haven’t added a new one in quite some time. This is currently on my to-do list so that I can reach new readers and gain more subscribers.

The month was great in many areas – blogging, course-wise, life, and everything else. The business is doing well and I’m very happy with it. My business is doing well, I have a lot of ideas for the year, and I am very excited about everything. I really love my business and I don’t know where I would be without it.

Below are some of my monthly online income reports. I publish an online income update every month but only included some of them below as it would be a very long list. If you head on over to my income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain for the first year (a $15 value) through my Bluehost referral link if you purchase, at least, 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, if you are asking yourself “can you make money blogging?” – my top tip is to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.


Blog/life news

In September, we spent the majority of our time in Utah and western Colorado. We also drove to Estes Park to attend a wedding that Wes was a groomsman in.

We explored several national parks, tons of beautiful backcountry, did lots of mountain biking, offroading, hiking, and more. It was an absolutely amazing month and I’m so glad that we were able to spend the summer in the van.

We’ve also been able to see our family a lot in the last couple of months, and that has been great. We stayed in a lot of driveways visiting family and friends in September, and it was so great to catch up with everyone before we head back to the boat. One of my favorite parts of RVing is being able to visit family and friends so easily!

In case you missed it, you can read more about our decision to spend the summer living in a van – We’re Living In A Van!

Below are several other business and blog-related updates:

  • I’m currently less than one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead. I do have several months of blog posts planned, though, I just need to finish writing them and hand them to my editor. I have so many good ideas, but now I just need more time, haha!
  • Traffic for the month was over 400,000 page views.
  • I am working on a series where I will help readers with specific financial questions, and tutorials to go along with them. Topics such as: How to build credit, How to open a bank account, How to write a check, Finding an online bank, Building and creating an investment account, etc. What other topics would you like to see me cover?
  • My community group for Making Sense of Cents is continuing to grow. This is a Facebook group in which you can seek advice from other readers on all sorts of topics such as finance, blogging, travel, running a business, and so on. There are already over 15,000 members!
  • I released my How To Start A Blog FREE Course. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, then check this out. I created this email course for those who are interested in starting a blog, but haven’t done so yet. The course is free, and over 60,000 people have already signed up. Thank you, everyone, for the kind emails about how great the course is. Glad everyone is enjoying it!
  • Due to how well my first free course went, I also created the free Master Your Money email course. It’s full of great money management lessons and financial worksheets (such as a free budget template), and I’m loving the positive response from this email course as well.
  • Other freebies I have include 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income and 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.


Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:


Featured Question: What are the best ways to connect with your audience?

I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer. 

Many of you have asked me how you can form a better relationship with your readers. This is something that I am very happy about, as I think it’s so very important when it comes to building a successful blog!

There are several emails I’ve received from readers in which they’ve told me that they feel like I’m their friend, that I care about how they’re doing, and that they feel like they’re just having a casual talk with a friend when reading my content.

I always love it when I hear this, as I feel like I’m helping.

There are many great reasons why you’d want to improve your engagement rate, such as:

  • You can grow a loyal following. By engaging with your audience, you can create a more loyal and interested following.
  • You can better help your readers. As talked about above, your readers may feel more connected with you and put what you say into action (such as paying off their debt, starting a side hustle, etc.)!
  • It can improve your social media stats. Your posts on social media will do better if you have a higher engagement rate. You’ll be able to reach more readers and help more people due to this.
  • You’re a real person. Readers like to know that they are talking to a real person. I don’t recommend automating this part of your blogging business. I have heard of people using robot-like generic answers for replies even on social media, but I don’t think that can help you connect with your audience better. Quality is better than quantity when it comes to engaging with your readers.

And more! There are so many reasons for why connecting with your audience can help you.

Here are ways to connect with your audience and build a loyal following:

  • Ask a question. Whether it’s a blog post or a social media post, asking a question at the end can improve your engagement rate as it will persuade your reader to interact with you.
  • Respond to their comments. Whether it’s on your blog or social media, you should try to respond to comments as much as you can. If a reader is taking time out of their day to leave a comment, then you can build a bond with them by replying to them.
  • Be personable. This will vary from blogger to blogger, but I always try to write my content as though I’m talking to a friend or family member. This is not only easier for me to write as I enjoy this writing style, but I have heard from countless readers that it makes personal finance more enjoyable.
  • Be active on Instagram. I believe that Instagram can be great as it can show more behind-the-scenes, which can help readers see that you are a real person and relate to you more.
  • Answer their emails. It’s a lot of work, but I answer my own emails and I enjoy it! I receive many, many each day, and while my replies may not be as long as they once were (due to not having enough time in a day to do so), I do read all reader emails and try to help them to the best of my ability.

Do you have a good relationship with your readers? Do you think it’s important?

Past featured questions:


My plans and goals for my business.

I have so many plans right now for my business that sometimes I feel like I don’t know where I want to start! But, that is a good “problem” to have.

Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person more motivated as well.

Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:

  • Complete the Facebook Ads For Bloggers course. There are two courses that I am really wanting to finish so that I can continue to grow Making Sense of Cents. Learning about Facebooks ads is so important and I think I will benefit from this course a lot.
  • Complete the Stupid Simple SEO course. This is the second course. SEO is something I just have never really spent much time on, so I know that this course will be extremely helpful! I’m hoping to finish the above course and this one by the end of October.
  • Create a freebie optin for affiliates to share for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I have been asked by several affiliates for this, and I’m glad to finally start working on it! This is a great thing to do because my affiliates can easily promote my course with this freebie optin, and then be credited for future sales. For me, as an affiliate for other products, freebie optins are usually the very first thing I promote (as well as my favorite) because it’s a great way to introduce an audience to a new product/service/company.
  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
  • Work less than 30 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 30 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I wrote about it here – My Quest To Be More Present And Enjoy Life More. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to everything that life has to offer!


Affiliate marketing results.

Affiliate income was at a normal Making Sense of Cents level in September of over $50,000.

I believe that it will be increasing in the next several months as I will be promoting a few affiliate offers to my readers. I have the rest of 2019 planned for affiliate offers, which is great. I am also currently planning and scheduling for 2020 already too.

I’m also hoping to improve my affiliate income by growing my traffic through SEO, as well as advertising on Facebook and Pinterest. The media course that I mentioned earlier should be super helpful too.

Some of the areas that I am working on to improve my affiliate income include:

  • Planning out 2019 for affiliate offers. I’m not really much of a huge planner, but I am changing that in 2019. I already have affiliate promotions planned out for all of 2019 and for the first several months of 2020. This will help to keep me organized and better prepared.
  • Learning about SEO and applying techniques to my blog. This past guest post has me super interested in starting to take SEO seriously – The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year.
  • Using Facebook ads to my affiliate marketing advantage. This past guest post also has me interested in growing in this way as well – How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
  • Creating a high-quality funnel. Funnels are something that I have never really spent any time on, but I would like to change that. I want to create a high-quality funnel where I continue to give valuable information to my readers, and keep them happy for the times when I may not have the greatest wifi.
  • Continuing to grow the reach of Making Sense of Cents. Traffic has been a little stuck lately, and I want to change that! I want to see what I can do to grow the traffic, as that will help me to reach new readers.
  • Analyzing popular affiliate blog posts to see how they can be improved for the future.
  • Seeking out new affiliate products to promote, and seeing what my audience is interested in.

And more!

Earning affiliate income is something that I’m extremely grateful for, especially lately. We have been so busy lately and I haven’t spent as much time on the business as I would normally like.

Even though I am spending less time on the business, I am still earning a great income each month and this allows me to focus on a better work-life balance.

I’m a very big fan of affiliate income, of course. It’s something that I enjoy due to how passive it can be. It makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable when I know I can bring in an income while having fun seeing new areas.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, I recommend getting the free guide 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income. With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you to rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.

I also have a course too!

In the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, several worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful and exclusive Facebook group, and more. I go through everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing, such as:

  • A quick introduction to affiliate marketing and how it works
  • The exact steps I’ve taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post
  • How to correctly pick affiliate products to promote
  • The steps to increase your conversion rate
  • 80+ affiliate program ideas for different niches
  • How to build trust with your readers (this is a MUST!)
  • The required disclosures you need to know about
  • The many different strategies to promote your affiliate links

My course is anything and everything about affiliate marketing. This course is perfect for you whether you are a new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, no matter what topic your blog is about, what country you live in, and so on.


Sponsored partnership results.

September was an average month for sponsored partnerships. I secured a couple of deals with new advertisers that I’m excited to work with, and I am beginning to line up partnerships for 2020 as well.

For some reason, sponsored blog posts and sponsored social media ads seem to scare bloggers, whether they are brand new or have been blogging for years.

What do I charge? How do I find companies who will want to work with me? What are the rules?

There are SO MANY QUESTIONS when it comes to sponsored posts.

I started Making Sense of Cents in August of 2011, at the age of 22, without any hopes of ever earning an income from it. It started as a hobby – just a way to journal my life and talk about my personal finance situation.

Then, around six months after I started my blog, a blogger friend of mine connected me with an advertiser and I earned $100 from that advertisement.

It wasn’t a lot of money, especially considering the amount of time and work I had already put towards my blog. However, it was very motivating to see that something I absolutely loved to do could actually make money. I honestly had no idea that blogs could even make money when I started mine!

After that first $100, my blogging income quickly grew.

I now charge, on average, around $5,000 per sponsored post.

You can learn more about sponsored partnerships in my free guide 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.

Are you interested in creating your own blog?

The post How I Made Money Blogging In September 2019 + Best Ways To Grow A Loyal Audience appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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18 Of The Best Ways To Make Extra Money For The Holidays

18 Of The Best Ways To Make Extra Money For The Holidays

Because the holidays are quickly approaching, meaning many people will be spending more money, I want to share some ideas for how you can make extra money for the holidays. Let’s make this holiday season as happy and stress free as possible!

18 Of The Best Ways To Make Extra Money For The Holidays #makeextramoneyfortheholidays #howtomakeextramoney #holidaysSee, for the average person, the fall and winter holidays can be very expensive.

Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and the many other holidays, the average person tends to spend around $1,000 just on gifts. 

That’s a lot of financial stress.

And, that $1,000 amount doesn’t even account for other holiday spending, such as travel costs, food, get-togethers, decorations, clothing, and more.

We don’t nearly spend as much on the holidays as we used to do. Now, we’re only buying gifts for the kids in our family and the adults draw names. While this has cut our holiday spending by a lot, I know many people who buy gifts for dozens of people.

Even if you aren’t buying gifts, there is even more pressure during the holidays to take a vacation, go out to eat, etc. If you are working to pay off your debt or trying to save money, it’s hard to find room in your budget for all of that spending.

Learning how to make extra money for the holidays can help you pay for all or the majority of the holiday expenses you’re planning on spending for.

In addition, you can keep more cash on hand for unexpected holiday spending, you can continue putting money towards savings or debt, and so on.

And, as you’ll read in this article, there are lots of part-time jobs and side gigs that become in even greater demand during the holiday seasons.

If you would like to earn around $1,000 for the holidays, that’s just around $350 a month for the next three months. And by starting early, saving for the holidays is very doable!

Related content:

Here are 18 ways to make extra money for the holidays.



1. Find a retail job to earn extra money for the holidays.

Every year, several hundred thousand holiday jobs open up, so if you are looking for a temporary job, then a seasonal holiday job may be the perfect fit for you.

A seasonal holiday job may include working at a place like a haunted house, a pumpkin patch, a Christmas tree lot, Target, UPS, and so on. The holidays are extremely busy for the majority of the businesses around the world, which means that most of them are looking for temporary holiday help to get them through their busy months.

According to CNBC, Target and UPS recently announced their plans to hire over 230,000 seasonal workers (just for those two companies alone!). Amazon is looking to hire 30,000 permanent staff, along with tens of thousands of holiday workers.

And, according to Forbes, it sounds like retailers are really in need of help so they are offering better pay and benefits. Holiday employees are in high demand!

This is one of the best ways to make extra money during the holidays for several reasons, including:

  • Obviously finding a great way to earn holiday cash
  • Receiving a discount
  • Networking
  • Making friends


2. Deliver items through Postmate.

Postmates is a service that lets people use their phones to order food, drinks, and groceries. Delivering those items is where you come in!

Because the holidays are a busy time, many people are looking to make their life easier with delivery services like Postmates. And, you can deliver for Postmates with your car, scooter, motorcycle, or bicycle.

So, how much can you make with Postmates? Postmates says that you can earn up to $25 an hour with their platform.

Click here to check out Postmates and sign up.


3. House sit during the holidays

During the holidays, many people will be hiring housesitters to watch their house while they are out of town. This may involve taking in the mail, watering plants, and just being around to make sure nothing happens.

Most house sitters stay at their client’s house, but some are asked to check in a few times a day. If you’re up for the responsibility, there are a number of websites where you can advertise your services.

Related: How We Became Professional House Sitters In Europe & Saved Over $5,000


4. Work as a dog walker or pet sitter 

For people who will be out of town for the holidays or just very busy, hiring a dog walker or pet sitter may be a necessity to get through the season. 

Another idea is dog boarding, and you may be able to make around $25+ per day by watching someone’s dog or another pet in your home. This is a great service to offer, and if you love animals (which you should if you are going to do this), then it could be fun as well!

To find dog walking, pet sitting, dog boarding jobs, and even house sitting jobs, I recommend reading this blog post: Rover – A Great Way To Make Money And Play With Animals.

Other than Rover, you may be able to find pet watching gigs through Craigslist, Facebook, and more.


5. Sell items that you have laying around your house.

One of the easiest holiday money making ideas is to find items around your home to sell.

We all have extra stuff!

The average person has a lot of extra stuff in their life. Too many clothes, old electronics that have been tossed to the side (like old cell phones), appliances that have been replaced, books that will never be read again, useless furniture, gift cards that will never be used, and more.

If you’re wanting to learn how to make extra holiday cash, I would start by looking around your house for things to sell.

Many people are hesitant to sell their stuff, and I’ve heard all of the excuses:

  • No one will pay for my junk.
  • That item isn’t worth anything.
  • It’s so much easier to just throw it away.
  • I would look stupid if a thrift store says no to everything I am trying to sell to them.
  • I don’t actually have anything to sell!

These excuses are easy to make, and many people do. However, if you want to earn extra money for the holidays, selling your stuff is definitely one of the easiest ways to do so.

Really, we all have things around the house we can sell, and there are many ways to sell your things. These include:

  • Thrift stores– Some may pay on consignment, cash on the spot, or store credit. Taking your stuff to a thrift store will probably be the fastest way to sell things as they will likely offer you cash for whatever they can sell.
  • eBay– This online auction site can be a great way to reach a larger market.
  • Craigslist– Selling on this free site can be one of the easiest ways to make money fast, but be safe and don’t fall for any Craigslist scams.
  • Garage/yard sale– This can be an easy way to sell a lot of things at once, plus you can do it all from your home. A downside is that the pay is usually lower.
  • Facebook– There are specific groups on Facebook dedicated to selling items in your area. Facebook makes it SO easy to sell things you no longer want.


6. Search for one-time gigs on Craigslist.

Don’t want to get a second job? One time gigs may be a better option for you because you can usually work them on your own schedule.

There are probably lots of one-time gigs that you can find in your town, and Craigslist is a great place to find them.

One of the best things about one-time gigs is that you usually get paid right after you complete the work, which means this is quick cash for the holidays!

To find random gigs in your area that will help you make extra money for the holidays, just go to Craigslist and find the “gigs” section.

Here are some jobs I found through a quick search:

  • Remove yard debris
  • House cleaner
  • Restroom attendant
  • Focus group help
  • Moving big plants
  • Help towing a vehicle
  • Passing out flyers and brochures
  • Motorhome hauler

Here are screenshots of some of these easy to find Craigslist gigs:

Need Some Quick Cash? 10 Ways How To Make Money Fast

Need Some Quick Cash? 10 Ways How To Make Money Fast

Need Some Quick Cash? 10 Ways How To Make Money Fast

Need Some Quick Cash? 10 Ways How To Make Money Fast

These were all extremely easy for me to find. It literally took me less than five minutes to find several different gigs that were needed for the following day.

No, you’re not going to get rich with these jobs, but if you were to spend your weekend doing gigs like these, you could save a lot of money for holiday spending.

Related read on how to make extra money for the holidays: How I Earned $655 From Random Craigslist Jobs



7. Become an Uber driver-partner or Lyft driver.

Spending your spare time driving others around can be a good way to make money, and it’s an interesting way to make money as you can meet all sorts of people as a driver. Read more about this in my post How To Become An Uber driver-partner Or Lyft Driver. Click here to sign up to become an Uber driver-partner and start making money.

Here’s a quick snippet from an interview I did with an Uber driver-partner:

“For those unfamiliar with rideshare, it’s basically a way to hail a ride with a smartphone app. There are thousands of drivers out there just like me who work full-time jobs, part-time jobs, etc. and whenever they want to drive, they can just turn their app on, and they’ll be matched with passengers in need of a ride. The entire transaction is cashless, and everything is done over your mobile app.

You can every day if you’d like or you can take an entire month off from driving.

Everything is handled by the app, and you are paid via direct deposit weekly. Some customers will tip in cash, but for the most part, the entire transaction is cashless.

As a driver, you have to pay for pretty much everything, including gas and maintenance on your car, but typically, I don’t use more than a few dollars worth of gas per hour. The big ‘hidden cost’ is probably the depreciation of your car ”

The other thing about becoming a Lyft or Uber driver-partner is that the holiday season usually means more people may need rides to and from the airport, to holiday gatherings, and so on. This means there are even more opportunities to make extra money for the holidays.


8. Rent out a room in your home.

Renting out a room in your house will not make you rich. However, I do know a few people renting out rooms in their homes, and this has helped them pay off their mortgages.

If you are interested in renting out a spare room on a short-term basis (such as for holiday vacations), I highly recommend you check out Airbnb. I know people who are making thousands of dollars a month by renting out rooms on this site!

There are many other places where you can advertise your rental. You can put a sign on your front lawn, advertise in a newspaper, or place an online ad on a website such as Craigslist.

Everyone and everything is online now, so posting your ad online will most likely be your best choice.

When you make your listing, always be honest! You should be honest about how big the room is, what rooms come with the agreement, if there is a separate entrance, and more. Also, be sure to add pictures of what is included.

Read more at A Complete Guide To Renting A Room For Extra Money.


9. Get paid to fill out online surveys.

This one won’t earn you actual cash overnight, but it’s an easy way to make a little extra cash for the holidays. With most survey companies, you’ll get your check or payment at the end of the month. That’s cash from answering surveys and testing products.

To increase your chances of making money, I recommend signing up for as many online survey companies as you can. 

I say this because individual survey companies may only send a few surveys your way each month, so the more you sign up for, the more money you may be able to make.

By joining as many sites as you can, you’ll receive the most opportunities. It’s really that simple!

The paid online surveys I recommend signing up for include:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. InboxDollars
  4. Opinion Outpost
  5. OneOpinion
  6. VIP Voice
  7. Pinecone Research
  8. Prize Rebel
  9. Product Report Card
  10. Survey Club

These survey companies are all free to join and free to use!


10. Get rewarded for being online with Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is a company where you can earn free gift cards and cash for the things you normally do online, such as shopping, searching the web, and taking surveys. 

They give out 7,000 free gift cards every day and have given out $372,921,474 in cash and free gift cards since they were created. I’ve been using Swagbucks for years and it’s great!

You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!


11. Babysit or nanny for a family.

Parents are almost always looking for good babysitters, and they are willing to pay well for a night out. Leading up to the holidays, parents often have more events and evenings out that they need sitters for, which means there are more opportunities to make extra money for the holidays.

Websites like and allow you to advertise your services, while letting you see if there is anyone in your area looking for help. This means that you may be able to find a one-time job or even a permanent babysitting gig, just by searching online.

When I was only 14, I was making $10 an hour babysitting for a neighbor. I babysat 40 hours a week, and it was a great way to make extra money! And, I found this babysitting gig by just looking at the bulletin board in my neighborhood.

If you have any special skills or can provide extra work, such as cleaning up around the house, teaching the child how to speak another language, tutoring, picking up the child from activities, and so on, you will most likely be able to charge more than $10 an hour.


12. Get paid to shop as a mystery shopper.

Mystery shopping can be one of the more fun ways to make extra holiday cash while also getting paid to eat at restaurants or to go shopping.

While you likely won’t make your money back right away, you can sign up for mystery shopping companies today and get your first mystery shop done fairly quickly.

Some don’t require you to spend money either, such as if you do a phone call mystery shop where you just have to call a store and pretend to be a customer with questions.

And, yes, I used to mystery shop in the past, and I did it quite often!

Back when I was paying off my student loan debt, I mystery shopped a lot to make extra income. I made anywhere from $150 to $200 a month mystery shopping and received free meals, makeup, and more. I only used Bestmark for mystery shopping, so I know that they are a 100% legitimate company.

There are other legitimate mystery shopping companies that exist, but you should always do your research.

Learn more at Want To Make An Extra $100 A Month? Learn How To Become A Mystery Shopper.



13. Teach English online to earn money from home.

Online teaching jobs are growing every single day.

Learning how to teach English online has become extremely popular, making it one of the best online jobs for many good reasons – it’s flexible, there’s a high need, and it pays pretty well.

Surprisingly, you don’t need to be a teacher to learn how to teach English online. You also don’t need to speak more than one language – you only need to speak English.

Those things make teaching English online a really great side hustle or online job for almost anyone.

The amount of money you can earn teaching English online will vary, but it’s typically around $14 to $22 per hour.

Because this side hustle is becoming popular, there are several great companies that allow you to teach English online. My top three picks are ones my readers have recommended and ones I have personally looked into:

  2. Qkids
  3. Education First

Learn more at Make Extra Money By Learning How To Teach English Online.


14. Find online tutoring jobs.

Are you looking for a flexible side hustle as an online tutor? This could be a great way to earn extra cash for the holidays because lots of college and high school students will need help before they take their finals.

Course Hero is a website that helps high school and college students with course-specific questions.

Using the website, students connect with Course Hero tutors on a wide range of subjects and classes, which makes this a great side hustle for people with different educational backgrounds and experience.

Tutors earn an average of $3 for each question they answer on Course Hero. Earning between $12-$20 per hour, Course Hero tutors earn an average of $300/week.

Learn more at How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero.


15. Shop with cashback websites.

This is an easy way to earn a little money back while shopping how you normally would online, especially during the holidays.

Cashback websites like Rakuten (formally called Ebates) give you a percentage back of every purchase you make when you shop through one of their partner stores. 

Here are some examples of stores and the percentage of your purchase you can earn back:

  • Amazon 5% 
  • Macy’s 6% 
  • Ulta 4%
  • Kohl’s 3%
  • Target 1%

Those are just a few, and these stores and the cashback amount changes from time to time. There are even stores who offer in-store cashback or a dollar amount back on certain purchases.

Learn more at Use Ebates For Free Cash Back And Get A Free $10 Cash Back.



16. Rent out your RV.

RVing is super popular right now, and many people are looking to rent one for their next trip.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, a growing number of households own an RV – around 10 million households now!

Many RVs sit unused in storage lots, driveways, and backyards, so why not try to make a little extra holiday cash while you’re not using your RV?

In addition to extra money, you may be able to earn enough to cover some of your RV ownership costs, such as maintenance, storage, etc.

RVshare is helping travelers save money by cutting out the middleman through renting RVs directly from owners.

Think of it as Airbnb for RVs (RV Airbnb!). My sister actually has experience doing an RV share by renting two travel trailers, and she loved it! It seems like a great side hustle to do if you already have an RV. If you’re interested in enjoying an RV rental for yourself, you can check out possible RV rentals for you and your family here.

But, if you already have an RV, you may be able to rent out your RV for extra money!

You can learn about how renting your RV works here – How To Make Extra Money By Renting Out Your RV.


17. Sell items on Amazon.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer has many, many people who sell items and earn money from home. Jessica Larrew, of The Selling Family, explains how selling on Amazon may be a possibility for you. She is a friend of mine, and I am blown away by her success!

In the first year that Jessica’s family ran their Amazon FBA business together, working less than 20 hours a week total, they made over $100,000 profit!

Jessica also has a FREE 7-day course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to start selling on Amazon. I recommend signing up for it now!

This is one of the best online jobs to work as a side hustle, and if you want more information, click on the interview link below.

In my interview with Jessica, How To Work From Home Selling On Amazon FBA, we talk about:

  • How Jessica started selling on Amazon FBA
  • What exactly Amazon FBA is
  • How to choose what to buy and sell
  • How much a person can expect to earn
  • The positives of selling on Amazon, and more


18. Start an Etsy shop

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, and it’s one of my favorite places to shop for holiday gifts. 

So, if you’re creative, selling items on Etsy can be a great way to make money this holiday season. You can sell knit hats, printables, customized mugs, prints, embroidered items, jewelry, and so much more.

How do you typically save for the holidays? What are you doing to make extra money for the holidays?

The post 18 Of The Best Ways To Make Extra Money For The Holidays appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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How I Paid Off $30,000 of Student Loans in 2 Years by Paying the Minimum Balance

How I Paid Off $30,000 of Student Loans in 2 Years by Paying the Minimum Balance

Hello! Today, I have a debt payoff story from Alyssa Hunt. Alyssa is the creator of  a blog that helps busy hustlers work towards business success and financial freedom all while managing full-time jobs. She is currently working towards a Master’s degree in English Literature and she teaches writing composition to university freshmen. 

How I Paid Off $30,000 of Student Loans in 2 Years by Paying the Minimum Balance #studentloans #manageyourmoney #studentloandebt

When I graduated college in 2014 with my undergraduate degree, I had racked up $30,000 in student loan debt. During my four years of college, I didn’t think much of taking out a loan here and there.

After all, I needed a way to pay for tuition.

Once the excitement and celebrations of graduation ended, I felt a mound of debt on my shoulders.

It was then that I decided to focus all my attention on paying off my debt as fast as I could. And by fast, I meant that I wanted to have all $30,000 paid off in exactly 2 years after receiving my first bill.

Setting my goal of 2 years felt entirely achievable to me, but to everyone else, it was crazy and impossible. I don’t believe a single person thought it could be done. So many people tried to convince me that student loan debt is “good debt” and that it’s “normal” to have debt.

While this might be true, I hated the thought of owing that much money to anyone and I wanted to get rid of that burden immediately. So, I developed “Operation Debt Payoff” and gave myself a 2-year time frame. 

Many people questioned me as to why I decided on only 2 years. The truth is, I wanted the financial freedom to travel, plan my dream wedding, get a master’s degree, start a business, and live comfortably without the burden of debt. Since I was able to pay my debt off at such a young age, I’ve been able to succeed at all the things on my list.

Within 2 years after receiving my student loan bill, I made my final payment and became debt free by the age of 23.

Related content on paying off your debt:

Here are the exact steps I took to achieve my goals!


Loan Audit and Professional Help

The truth is I set my goal of 2 years before I even knew much about my loans. All I knew was that they totaled $30,000. That meant the first thing I needed to do was conduct a loan audit to figure out all the nitty, gritty, logistics.

I learned that there are two types of student loans: federal and private. During my four years, I took out 8 federal loans. That meant that my monthly payment was over $500 and my interest rates varied from 3.4% to over 6% per loan.

This is from my FedLoan Servicing account, which shows the date that I took out the loan, the type of loan, and the status (which they are all paid in full by now).

This was extremely overwhelming.

To help me out, my parents took me to our families’ financial advisor. I came prepared with a print out of each loan so that I could be transparent with the advisor. After I told him that I would have all my debt paid off in only 2 years, he chuckled and told me that it was impossible and unrealistic.

He then told me that everyone needs a little debt in their lives because the payments help with your credit score. Maybe this is true, but I still had no interest in paying $500 a month for the next 10 years, even if that meant a tiny bump on my credit score. And besides, debt is debt and I hate owing anyone anything.

Once he saw that I was determined to stick to my plan, he told me to come back in 2 years if I succeeded. And, guess what? In 2 years, I popped into his office and announced that I was debt free.

The look on his face: Priceless!


The Method Behind my Success

This method specifically works for federal loans that are unconsolidated.

I owe my success to two major decisions:

  1. The decision not to consolidate my loans.
  2. The decision to pay only the monthly minimum.

The reason I chose not to consolidate my loans into 1 giant loan was because I chose to focus on paying off one loan at a time. 

My entire game plan was to pay off one individual loan in full at a time, starting at the loan with the highest interest rate, while still making my monthly minimum payments.

These are some screenshots of the payments I made on three of my loans with the starting principal and the interest the loan accrued.


Let me break this down for you.

I put my loans in order from the loan with the highest interest rate, which was over 6% all the way down to the lowest, which was 3.4%. Then, I focused on saving enough money to pay off an entire loan in the order of highest to the lowest interest rate.

While it was a simple and straightforward plan, it took some willpower to not jump ahead. What I mean by this is that it was tempting to pay off the loans out of order. 

For example, one loan was only $2,000 at a 3.61% interest rate while another loan was $4,500 at 4.5%. Since the $4,500 loan had a higher interest rate, I needed to pay that one off first to save me money in the long run.

The temptation came once I had $2,000 saved and sitting in the bank because I wanted to just pay off that loan. However, I stuck to paying off the loans in the order of interest rate and it absolutely worked.  I can’t stress enough how wildly successful this plan was.


Why Paying the Minimum Balance Worked So Well

While paying more than the minimum monthly balance might seem like a faster way to pay down debt, it’s important to know that your money doesn’t always go to your overall principal balance.

Part of your monthly payments goes straight toward your accumulated interest and then the money that is left over goes to the principal balance. That is why it takes approximately 10 years to pay off student loans because they are calculating in all the interest you will accumulate over the years.

By using the method of focusing on saving for one loan at a time while paying the minimum balance, you ultimately cut down on thousands of dollars of interest. Also, when you pay in full for an individual loan, you don’t have to worry about whether or not that money goes to the principal or your interest because you are completely wiping out a loan from your bill. 

Additionally, by focusing on one individual loan, it helps to break down the overwhelming idea of paying $30,000. For me, I was able to focus on a $5,500 loan, or a $3,500 loan, which felt way more doable than trying to pay off $30,000. It’s easier to see progress when money is going towards individual loans rather than putting money towards a giant principal balance and feeling like nothing is happening.

This method also allowed me to set tangible short-term savings goals. Based on the money I was making with my full-time job, I knew exactly when I would have enough to pay off an entire loan so I was able to plan accordingly.

My ultimate suggestion is to stick to the monthly minimum and save up to pay off an entire loan. Doing that is the only reason I was able to pay off my bill in 2 years.

Other debt payoff stories:


Saving Aggressively

Believe it or not, I came up with “Operation Debt Payoff” within one week of graduating college. I knew that if I was going to be successful, I only needed to do one thing: save money.

That’s exactly what I did. I started to save, and I mean aggressively.

In fact, by the time my first bill came in the mail, I had enough money set aside to pay off my 3 highest loans immediately. That meant that my $500 monthly payment dropped to $300 within the first month.

By the time I had only one loan left to pay, my minimum payment was around $30 a month. That’s a huge drop from the $500 I started out paying. Talk about success!

However, to save that much money came with a list of sacrifices.

After doing some calculations, I learned that I needed to save approximately 70% – 80% of each paycheck to meet my goal of 2 years. To save that much, it meant that I had to make some serious cuts and adjustments to how I lived.

The first big adjustment was that I moved back home after college so I could save on rent. This was such a great decision (and I loved living with my parents!). Next came all the things I needed to cut: Starbucks, eating out, manicures, getting my hair done, shopping, trips, etc. Basically, I became the most frugal 21-year-old ever.

And let me tell you, people were quick to call me prude, stingy, uptight, no-fun, and so much more. Did I care? Well, honestly, a little bit. But, did I see the bigger picture? Absolutely. And by the way, those same people who called me prude back then are now asking me how to save money so they can be debt free.

Making such a huge adjustment to how I saved money, and ultimately becoming a frugal person, ended up being something that stuck with me. While I do take trips now and spend money on the occasional luxury, I learned that giving up Starbucks and manicures for 2 years didn’t harm me at all. Those two years of aggressive saving taught me discipline, focus, and the difference between the things I wanted and the things I needed.

If you think aggressive saving sounds difficult, I assure you that it’s not. After you make the necessary adjustments, it becomes second nature. For me, once I saved up enough money to pay off a loan, I was so excited to start my saving process all over again.

By the time I paid off all $30,000, I decided to continue with my aggressive saving methods (with a little more flexibility), in order to build up a solid savings account. 


The Reality of it All

This method of paying off student loan debt takes a lot of discipline. Just because I was paying off a large amount of debt didn’t mean that the world around me stopped.

I still had bills such as car insurance, phone bill, health insurance, gas, groceries, retirement, tithing, etc. I also had emergencies come up that required me to spend money I was planning on saving. On top of all of that, I had to travel across the country to a family reunion for a week that resulted in me spending even more money.

Despite all of this, I still found as many ways possible to make my plan work given my circumstances. Here are some things I did:

  1. Started saving before my bill came. This helped make a huge dent right away.
  2. Set a budget. I listed all my bills and then worked in my 70% – 80% savings from my paycheck.
  3. I found ways to make extra money through freelance writing gigs.
  4. I didn’t upgrade any technology, like my phone, in those two years.
  5. I got hand me down clothes from friends instead of shopping.
  6. I learned how to meal prep.
  7. I worked extra hours at my job when I could.


Reactions Then vs. Now

When I first announced my goal to everyone, many people didn’t take me seriously. I was told that it couldn’t be done, that I was being foolish, that I didn’t understand how debt worked, and that I would lose my friends. But, I stuck to my plan. And guess what happened?

Everyone quickly learned that I was very determined and they eventually adapted to my new lifestyle.

Since I knew I couldn’t spend much money on socializing, I learned how to enjoy hanging out with friends without spending. I took advantage of window-shopping, I didn’t order food at restaurants, I made DIY gifts for birthdays, my friends and I had many fun nights in, and we did plenty of free outings such as the beach, farmer’s markets, and museums.

During this time I didn’t lose a single friend.

Yes, they joked and called me stingy, but the truth is, I was being stingy, and it was completely worth it.

Nowadays, the same people who told me I couldn’t do it ask me how I managed to pay off that much debt in such a short amount of time. I have even received random emails from a friend of a friend because they need help crafting their repayment plan.

Most of the time when I tell people how I succeeded, they think it’s some miracle that only I could have pulled off. That’s not true at all!

Everyone’s debt situation is unique, which means everyone needs to craft their own “Operation Debt Payoff” plan. Maybe you want to pay your debt off faster than I did, or maybe you need to take a little more time.

Whatever you decide to do, just know that regardless of what everyone says, you can absolutely do it. I believe in you! You totally got this!

What are your tips about paying off student loan debt?

The post How I Paid Off $30,000 of Student Loans in 2 Years by Paying the Minimum Balance appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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Common Phone Scams: The Best Tips To Avoid Becoming A Victim

Common Phone Scams: The Best Tips To Avoid Becoming A Victim

Nearly all of the phone calls I have recently received are phone scams. In fact, whenever my cell phone rings, I just assume it's a scammer.  If it's a number I don't recognize, I don't answer it. They can send me a text or leave me a message, it’s just that simple. #phonescams #moneymanagementNearly all of the phone calls I have recently received are phone scams. In fact, whenever my cell phone rings, I just assume it’s a scammer. 

If it’s a number I don’t recognize, I don’t answer it. They can send me a text or leave me a message, it’s just that simple.

But, after talking to others about how many scam phone calls I was receiving, it turns out that everyone I know has been getting more and more of them. I guess it’s not surprising that by the end of 2019, it’s expected that nearly half of all mobile phone calls will be phone scams

When I accidentally do answer one of these calls, I can tell that the phone scam is clearly fake, but I can see how many people fall for them. Sometimes, they do sound quite real, and if you’re unaware of what’s going on or tired when you answer the phone, then you are even more likely to fall for one.

Phone scams can range widely too. They may say that they know you, work at a company that you do business with, or they may be threatening.

While many people believe that phone scams are something they would never fall for, they exist for a reason. 

Sadly, that’s because someone is falling for them.

According to a study done by TrueCaller in 2018, nearly 1 and 10 Americans have fallen for one. What’s really shocking is that Americans lost $9 billion that same year to scam calls.

More statistics from the study include:

  • Free vacation scams are the most common.
  • Households with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000 are less likely to fall for a scam call.
  • College graduates are twice as likely to fall for a phone scam.
  • 96% of victims do take action – this was good to hear!

Rather than waiting until you’re a victim to take action, I want to help you learn how to avoid phone scams all together.

Related content:

Below are common phone scams and what to do if you encounter one.


Common phone scams.

There are lots of different phone scams out there, but they are all similar in that they are trying to get something from you. This list is the most common phone scams that keep working for scammers time and time again.

  • The iTunes gift card IRS scam. This is one of the latest phone scams and it’s when you get a phone call from someone pretending to be from the IRS. The person on the line says that you’ll be arrested unless you pay your taxes ASAP. They then ask you to go to the store and purchase tons of iTunes gift cards in exchange for payment. I know this sounds ridiculous, but sadly, many people are falling for it. Trust me, the IRS will never accept payment in the form of iTunes gift cards.
  • The free vacation scam. Many phone scammers try to trick you by saying that you’ve won a vacation. While it may seem like you’ve won something, you most likely have not. But, even if the vacation actually does exist, there are probably expenses you will have to pay for (that’s how they make their money).
  • The student loan or credit card debt phone scams. I get these phone calls ALL THE TIME, and I know they are a scam because I do not have any student loans or credit card debt. These calls are usually trying to get information out of you, such as your Social Security number.
  • The “You won money!” phone scam. Oh, the lottery scam… Rarely a week goes by where I don’t “win” $100,000,000. The lottery scam is when a scammer calls stating that you have won the lottery. They only need you to pay some money upfront before you can claim your lottery winnings. They also may say that they are required to get your personal information. Trust me, no one is going to call you or send you an email when you win a million or a billion dollars. Often, these are for foriegn lotteries, so you will know it’s fake because you most likely never even entered to win a foreign lottery in the first place. Lotteries also never ask for you to pay fees, so that is another clue.
  • The “Yes” phone scam. This is a scam where the caller simply tries to get you to say yes, such as by asking “Is your name ____?” They are trying to record you saying yes, so that they have “proof” that you said yes to buying their item over the phone.


To avoid phone scams, block unwanted calls.

The Do Not Call registry can help stop sales calls, which may include some scammers. But, like most people who have signed up for the Do Not Call list, it’s still very possible to receive scam calls.

So, what you’ll want to do next is to block calls.

According to the FTC’s article How To Block Unwanted Calls:

  • They say the best way to stop phone scam calls is through call blocking.
  • This can be done through a feature on your phone, a service that your phone carrier offers, or even through an app.
  • With apps, phone calls can be blocked based on location/area code, a blacklist of numbers to block, and so on.

For me, I try not to answer any calls that I’m not familiar with. I then look up their number to make sure it’s someone I know before I call back. You can do this simply by just searching the phone number on Google.


Don’t fall for local numbers.

Scammers go to great lengths to trick people into thinking that scam phone calls are real. One of the newer methods they use is something called neighbor spoofing. This is when scammers modify their phone number so it looks like the call is local.

I know many people who think that if a call is local then it must be okay, but that’s not true anymore. 

If you do answer the phone when someone is using neighbor spoofing, the scammers put you on an active call list because they know someone will answer. You will likely get even more scam calls after you answer the first one.

Remember, if someone really wants to get in touch with you, they can leave a message or text. 


Don’t give out information unless you’re sure it’s needed and going to the right place.

This is the most important thing in this article, and scammers are out there just hoping to find someone who will fall for one of their tricks and get your personal information.

Asking for personal information is very common with IRS scam calls or Social Security scam calls. But, scammers might also claim they are from your bank or credit card company. Even the common student loan scam is just phishing for your Social Security number.

Because people fear that they are going to be penalized, many people fall for these scam calls and hand out their information.

To protect yourself and your information, you should do a little research before giving anything out. Start by hanging up and calling the company back on a number you know. For example, if they claim they are from your credit card company, call the number on the back of your card to verify.

You should be 100% sure that the person you’re giving personal information to is who they say the are. Unfortunately, in many cases, it turns out that the original person you talked to was actually a scammer.

If it turns out the call was a scam, you can put a block on that number.


More tips to avoid becoming a victim of phone scams.

Even though many fall victim to phone and online scams every day, there are many ways to avoid being the next victim.

If you’re not sure about who is calling, then you should hang up. If you have any doubts, then you should follow your intuition.

Below are more tips to stay safe:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Don’t call numbers back that you’re unfamiliar with. This could be a scam in which you are paying per minute fees.
  • Keep your personal information safe and do not give it away unless you are 100% sure that it is needed.
  • Occasionally, phone scammers will try to get you through email as well. Don’t always trust the sender’s email address. If it seems fishy at all, the email may be cloaked in order to trick you.
  • Always be sure that it’s not a phone scam before you send anyone money.
  • Ask questions. If you do end up talking to someone on the phone, you should ask them who they are, their name, why they need the information, and their badge or employee number. For me, I always call back (as stated above) before I give out any personal information or pay anything.


What to do if you are a victim of a phone scam.

Hopefully you never have to worry about this, but becoming a victim of a scammer can be damaging to your financial and emotional health. You may lose money, feel stressed or distrustful, and more. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to report the scam and protect yourself from further damage.

  • Contact your state attorney general’s office to report scams related to goods or services (even if they are nonexistent ones like “free vacations”)
  • Using the website, search for your state’s consumer protection office and contact them.
  • For scams that violate federal law, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Regularly check your credit report so you can quickly identify any new activity if it happens.
  • Keep track of your bank and credit card statements so you can report charges that you haven’t authorized.

Have you been a victim of a phone scam? What phone scams have you heard of?

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How To Start As A New Freelance Writer

How To Start As A New Freelance Writer

Today, I want to introduce you to Laura Pennington Briggs. She is a former teacher turned freelance writer and author.

She has delivered two TEDx talks on the freelance economy and is the author of “How to Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business” with Entrepreneur Press.

How To Start As A New Freelance Writer #freelancewriter #howtobecomeafreelancewriter #makeextramoneyIn our interview, she talks about how she started freelance writing in 2012 and just a year later she had gone full-time and was making a great income from it. She also shares how this is a great way to make extra money or even as a full-time career.

Check out the interview below for more information and be sure to check out Laura’s book on how to become a freelance writer – Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch.

Related content:


Question: Can you tell my readers a bit about your story and why you’re an expert on this topic?

I started freelancing in 2012, largely by accident. My husband had been put on leave without pay by the military and I knew that we needed extra income.

I had just left my job as an inner city middle school teacher and had accepted a low paying office job to help make ends meet. I started evaluating every skill I had and launched a side hustle as a freelance writer.

A year later I had gone full time with my freelance business, which scaled to the multi six figure point, earned me two TEDx talks, and a book deal from Entrepreneur Press to help others launch their own freelance writing business.


Question: What do you like about being a freelance writer? What does it help to accomplish?

I enjoy the variety of working as a freelance writer, because no two days are the same. I often felt bored at my day job because we were dealing with the same situations day in and day out.

Although I do a lot of the same activities every day such as pitching, creating client work, sending emails and editing content, I learn something different because I’m writing and creating new material every single day.

I’ve also been able to branch out into other side hustles, such as working as a coach for intermediate and advanced freelancers, having a podcast and now publishing books. It has helped open a lot of doors for me, including working with clients like Microsoft, TrueCar and lots of other great clients. It has really been fun to challenge myself.

Related: How Alyssa is making $200 a DAY in book sales passively


Question: Can you explain what exactly a freelancer writer is, who they work for, what they do?

A freelance writer is a copywriter or content writer on contract creating all different types of content such as sales copy, landing pages, blogs and articles, website pages, brochures, product descriptions, email newsletters, and more.

A freelance writer will typically work for a variety of companies, all the way from solopreneurs and all the way up to Fortune 500s by adapting the company’s brand, tone and voice into content that will connect with their readers and even possibly help them rank on search engines.


Question: How much can a beginner freelance writer expect to make?

Most freelance writers start off with an hourly range of $25 to $50, and grow from there based on their experience, additional skills learned or certifications obtained, and as they learn more about how long it takes them to do a particular project.

Freelance writers in highly specialized niches such as technical writing or medical wiring can expect to make more.

For most freelance writers, their initial income goal will be $1,000 per month, then $5,000 and $10,000.


Question: How does a person find their first freelance writing job?

I often recommend that new freelance writers start off by looking for someone they already know. Their first freelance writing project doesn’t have to be the type of project you intend to work on forever.

For example, you might be able to find someone in your network who needs a revised cover letter or help restructuring their resume. This gives you experience and a possible testimonial from someone who already knows you from which you can grow and start pitching to other places.

Freelance writers can also use job boards such as ProBlogger,, Upwork and more.


Question: What steps does a person need to take to make money as a freelance writer?

The two most important things that go along with starting a freelance writing business are developing a niche and at least one writing sample. I recommend that freelance writers have at least three writing samples. These do not have to be professionally published or anything that someone pays you to create.

Without a solid pitch offering your services and a writing sample that showcases your style, it will be unlikely that someone will present a hiring opportunity to you.

Furthermore, it’s important to not give up. I hear from many freelance writers who pitch 30 times and are frustrated that they haven’t yet landed a client.

It can take some people 50, 60 or even more pitches to refine their unique value proposition and start to land clients. Being a freelancer is not for the faint of heart; it involves hearing the word no hundreds or even thousands of times. I’ve completely lost count of how many times I’ve been rejected by clients, but I have never let that stop me.


Question: Are there any tips you have for someone who wants to become a freelance writer?

Educate yourself about a type of copy that seems interesting to you. I mentioned above examples such as email newsletter writing.

As a consumer of these materials, you can also find free YouTube videos or online courses at a minimal cost to learn more about writing for that particular format.


Question: Why should a person read a book on this subject? Is it hard?

It is so easy to become discouraged when launching a freelance writing business, especially when getting overwhelmed about all of the aspects of finding and keeping clients.

Reading a book from someone who has been there before lays out the steps of what it really takes to succeed as a freelance writer, explains a common schedule or way of structuring your day while working as a freelancer, and can help you navigate some of the most common obstacles that most freelance writers experience early on.


Question: What can a person learn from your book? Can you tell us about some of the people who have learned from you?

The book is a nuts and bolts approach to starting a freelance writing business. This means you will learn about setting your rates, how to write a pitch and create writing samples, where to find clients, the mindset necessary to succeed as a freelance writer, and various marketing methods available to you.

I have worked with numerous freelancers and freelance writers who have been able to start and scale their online businesses, to provide them with consistent, side hustle income. There are also plenty of people, including me, who have transitioned from working a traditional job to working as a freelance writer.

Copywriters are in extremely high demand, whether you seek this as a remote in-house position or as a freelancer working with a variety of different clients at once.

Many of my one-on-one coaching clients have been able to scale their business by adding thousands of dollars to their monthly revenue and streamlining operations by hiring a virtual assistant and learning to capitalize on their strengths.    

More info about Laura:

Are you interested in becoming a freelance writer? What other questions do you have for Laura?

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The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions

The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions

Van dwelling, or the lifestyle of living in a van, is becoming more and more popular as a way to travel full-time. Since we bought a van a few months ago to live in, I have received a lot of questions about van dwelling.

The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions #vandwelling #livinginavan #rvlifeWhile they seem funny to us now, I know that we had some of these same questions before we started RVing. 

Some of the questions we are asked are from those who think we are crazy for living in a van. Whereas, others are from people who are interested in van dwelling but are unsure about certain things. Either way, I hope to clear up a lot of the common questions we receive about living in a van.

You never know, maybe I’ll convert some of you. 🙂

Below are questions that I’ve been asked by friends, family, readers, and even strangers. It’s always interesting trying to explain RVing/van dwelling to strangers who stop me at the store after they’ve seen me get out of our van.

It’s a lot of fun, though. I love answering questions about what it’s like living in a van full-time and getting others hooked on this lifestyle!

Some of the questions I answer in today’s post include:

  • Are you done sailing?
  • Why not just keep your last RV?
  • Biggest pros/cons of van dwelling compared to boat life?
  • Do you shower everyday?
  • What do you do when you have to use the bathroom?
  • How much does living in a van cost?
  • Is van dwelling safe?
  • How do you receive mail?
  • Why would you want to explore the U.S.?
  • What do you do for health insurance?
  • How do you have internet while traveling full-time?

If you want to follow our travel adventures, please click here to follow me on Instagram.

Related articles on van dwelling:

Here are the van dwelling questions you’ve asked me:


Are you done sailing?

If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question.

I know some of you are thinking, “You quit sailing to live in van?!”

No, we did not quit sailing! We are splitting our time between van dwelling and boat life. We still have lots and lots of plans with the boat, and we enjoy having it. We are getting back to the boat in just a few weeks and cannot wait!

So then, why did we get a van?

Last hurricane season, we mainly stayed in the marina on our boat. We did several short sails, but we wanted to do something different this hurricane season.

We talked to so many sailors and quickly realized that many take a few months away from their boat each year during hurricane season, and we completely get it.

To have the best of both worlds (in our minds), mountains and beaches, we quickly realized that having a 4×4 van along with the boat is how we achieve our dream living situation.

We’ll mainly be living/cruising on the boat, but we will also be occasionally living in our van so that we can still do all the hiking, biking, and rock climbing that we’ve been wanting to do. We’ve been feeling like something has been missing from our lives, and now we feel refreshed and ready again for sailing! ⁣⁣

We have done a lot of traveling off the boat this summer, for family reasons, a wedding, and events, and van dwelling made traveling everywhere much more comfortable for us and our two dogs.

Also, another positive of van dwelling is that the systems are pretty simple, and there isn’t a whole lot that goes into it. So, it’s less likely that we’ll have large repairs that take up a lot of time and money.

We really wanted it to be as simple as possible. Since we already have a sailboat that is quite complex (compared to a van or RV), we wanted our time away from the boat to be as carefree as possible.

Related: Welcome To Paradise – We’re Living On A Sailboat!


Was getting a van planned?

I know some people think we’re nuts for our non-traditional living situation, and I hesitated talking about getting the van until we drove it off the lot because I was afraid of being judged. 

When we sold our motorhome in 2018, we had already planned on living in a van when we’re off the boat. So, yes, this was all in the original plan. And, the van makes us even more excited for our future sailing plans!

For us, we think it will be the best of both worlds – sailing and van dwelling.

We have a lot of outdoor goals that we want to achieve, and a van makes all of them much more realistic. We don’t have to wait until we’re finished boating to do those things, and who knows if and when we’ll ever be finished sailing. Now, we can do both of the things we love!


What kind of van did you get?

We’ve been looking at vans for quite some time, and decided to get a Winnebago Revel. This is a four-wheel drive van that also has:

  • Solar panels on the roof
  • A small rooftop AC
  • A very small bathroom (you shower over the toilet)
  • A bed that can be easily brought up and down, which gives lots of space for the dogs
  • A kitchen (again, very small, haha) with a stove, fridge, and sink

It sleeps the two of us and our two dogs just fine. Honestly, we were a little surprised with the space (the layout is PERFECT!), and we have really loved being in it this summer.

No, we did not pay full price or anywhere near it. We’re master negotiators when it comes to vans and RVs, haha. We got the van at a little over 30% off MSRP, which is a normal percentage when it comes to new vans.

Sadly, I do know of many people who paid full price for this same van! In fact, I know of people who have bought this same van used for a higher price than what we bought it for new. We got such a good deal on it that we are still scratching our heads on why and how it happened.


Do you actually like van dwelling?


We are willingly living the Sprinter van life, haha!

Our van is 19 feet long, which surprisingly isn’t much longer than your average vehicle at around 15-18 feet (yes, we measured other vehicles because our family became curious as a joke).

Many people even make jokes about living in a home with wheels, like it’s something you shouldn’t aspire to.

“Living in a van down by the river” – I have heard that so many times now, haha.

But, it’s my life, and I really, really love it!

Here are some of the things that I love about van dwelling:

  • I love the freedom. Whether you’re living in a van, an overland vehicle, a big motorhome, or anything else, living in a vehicle gives you a lot of freedom. You can choose where you want to live, and you can mix it up and change it all the time. You can also decide how long you will stay somewhere and travel however you want. Perhaps the city is for you? Or, maybe you just want to hike all the time! Whatever you decide, it’s about living your life the way you want.
  • I love having all of my stuff with me. I really enjoy traveling in a van because I can travel to tons of amazing places and bring everything I have with me. While that may sound like I’m a hoarder and may have suitcase packing problems – it’s really just that I like to be able to bring my husband, dogs, my work, my clothes, food, outdoor gear, and so on with me. Van dwelling just makes sense for me because I can easily bring everything wherever I go. And, it’s more than just going on a vacation, which is nice too, but I love being able to bring my entire home with me. This way, I’m not forgetting anything, and because my home is always with me, I still get to live comfortably.
  • I can spend more time outside. I’m much more active than when I lived in a “normal” house, and I believe that’s because living in a vehicle takes me to all of these amazing places that I am just dying to explore. We love being able to do things outdoors, and we usually pick places that make that even easier. So, we like to park next to hiking trails, bike trails, rock climbing routes, and more. This is great because we can usually just walk or ride our bikes to wherever we want to go, which allows us to spend a ton of time enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
  • I can easily travel with my dogs. A major reason for why we chose to live in a van was because we, of course, had to bring our dogs with us. They are a part of our family. By traveling via van, our dogs can go everywhere with us. While it would be possible to travel full-time with them and not live in a van, I think it just makes it easier on everyone to have a place to call home. 


What do you not like about van dwelling?

Living in a van isn’t perfect. If it was, then everyone would do it!

  1. We can only carry so much water (21 gallons). So, long showers aren’t really possible.
  2. We have a very small fridge. In a van, you can’t have a residential fridge.
  3. We don’t have a washer/dryer. Since we’re really active outdoors when we’re in our van, that means we have lots of dirty clothes!

Those things aren’t really negatives, though, as there are ways around all of them. You simply fill up water more often, go to the grocery store more, and have to visit a laundromat.



How’s van life compared to the big RV you used to have?

Before we started boating, we lived in an RV for several years. Our previous RV was a Tiffin Allegro Bus, which is a big diesel pusher. It had heated floors, a fireplace, a residential fridge, a bathroom bigger than the one in the house we used to own, 4 TVs, and more.

When you think RV, you probably don’t think of the one we used to have (although, it’s actually quite common in real life!).

Our van is much, much smaller. For example, our WHOLE fridge is smaller than the freezer in the RV we owned.

But, the van is great because we are able to get in to some amazing places due to its smaller size and it being 4-wheel drive.

One of my favorite things about living in a smaller vehicle is that we can pull the van in to places that most vehicles can’t get to, and then comfortably sleep and eat there!


Why not just keep your last RV?

Right before we bought the boat, we sold the RV. Some of you are probably wondering why we didn’t just keep the last RV we had, especially if we knew that we were planning on living in a vehicle when we weren’t on the boat.

We didn’t want both a big boat and a big RV – we didn’t want all of the maintenance that goes along with a big RV, we didn’t want a big RV just to be sitting there for months without being used, and the cost difference is fairly large. We also sold our last RV for nearly what we bought it for, so it made sense to get something that better fit our new situation.

We also wanted to be able to pull up to all the amazing trails that we are used to exploring, and since we are only doing it for a few months each year, we don’t need anything massive. The boat is still our “main” home, so living in a van is simply something we do during the boating off season.


Biggest pros/cons of camper van life compared to boat life?

I know that everyone wants me to tell them which one is better, but they are so very different that it would be impossible to answer it that way.

Both van dwelling and boat life are both great. They are both very similar, but also drastically different with certain things.

The biggest pro to van dwelling/RVing is that it is a much easier way of living and traveling than being on a boat. The degree of ease/difficulty isn’t even comparable between the two.

RVing/van life is also great because you can drive straight to the best hikes, bikes, climbs, and sleep right there. While it’s possible on a boat, it’s not nearly as easy to access all of the wonderful land adventures that the world has to offer.

Boat life is great, though, because you’re on the water, it’s more eco-friendly since you can make your own water, tend to have more solar, can use the wind, and sailing is a ton of fun. Boats can also bring you to amazing islands and allow you to access more water-based activities. Sailing is very rewarding because it pushes you to learn really fun and new skills.

I think we will always do both for as long as we can as they allow us to do different things.


How long will you stay in the van for?

We will be back on our boat in just a few weeks. We will be heading to the Annapolis Boat Show in October and then going to the boat right after that.


What will you do with your van when you’re on the boat?

Our plan for now is to store our van when we’re not using it. So, in about a month, we will be tucking her in until we want to use her again.

Here’s an option if you have an RV that you’re not using full-time – How To Make Extra Money By Renting Out Your RV.


Do you shower in your van?

Yes, we shower. We have a shower in our van dwelling. I use soap, shampoo, and everything else. I shower pretty much the same way I would at home.

See, our water tank only holds 21 gallons, and since we do a lot of off grid camping, I have to take a lot of short showers.

We even get hot water because we have a water heater. Now, it’s not always the most relaxing shower, but I am still able to shower.


Do you shower everyday?


Yep, I’m super gross.

I shower pretty much after each outdoor activity I do. But, if it’s an uneventful day and there’s not much water, I’m probably not showering.

And, when I do shower in the van, I have become the master of the one gallon of water shower.

I do brush my teeth like normal, wash my face everyday, and so on. That hasn’t changed at all.


What do you do when you have to use the bathroom?

We use it.

Haha! For real, we have a toilet in our van, so we use the bathroom, just like if we were in a “real” home.

It’s only different in that you have to dump it.

This is often one of the first questions people have about van life 101.


How/what do you eat?

We make food in our kitchen. We have a very small table, fridge, stove, and a slow cooker. We are able to cook just as if we were at home.

Yes, our kitchen is tinier, but it works well for us.

We try to keep our meals to something more simple, as cleaning a lot of dishes just means that we’ll quickly go through our water tank. We also only have one stove burner, so we try to only use the stove top or the Instant Pot.


How much does living in a van cost?

As I answered in How Much Does It Cost To RV?, RVing can be extremely cheap or it can be very expensive. It’s the same for van dwelling.

We paid for our van in cash, so we don’t plan on having many other costs that go along with it, except fuel and insurance (we did go ahead and prepay for a year of insurance). Of course, we’ll still be paying for food, cell phones, and other normal expenses.

One of the big reasons for why we chose the van is because it is small and can get almost anywhere. That also means that we can park for free in more places, such as family and friend’s driveways, boondock wherever, and more.

You can read more about this here – How To Camp For Free, Even In Beautiful and Desirable Places.


Is living in a van safe?

Yes, I believe that living in a van dwelling is safe. We’ve never really felt unsafe while traveling in our van.

We hardly ever park in cities and are almost always either in the backcountry or in someone’s driveway (it’s our favorite way to visit family and friends!).


Can you live in a van with a family?

I recommend reading this van life guide to living in a van with kids – How This Couple Does Van Life with A Baby (and a dog!).

Also, this one – Becoming an RV Family – How We Travel Full-Time With 4 Kids and 2 Dogs.


How do you do laundry in a van?

Interestingly, this is one of the top questions I get about living in a camper. I could probably write an entire van life guide just about laundry because of how interested people are in how we wash our clothes.

Yes, we do laundry!

We either use a campground laundromat or find a public one.

It usually takes us less than an hour to do our laundry and less than $10. We do our laundry around once per week.


How do your dogs do in the van?

We chose the Winnebago Revel because we thought it would be perfect for our dogs, and it is!

Our bed retracts up, so it is completely out of the way when we’re not sleeping in it. We use the area below the bed as a sleeping space for our bigger dog. Our smaller dog has his own area as well.

They also get to go on lots of hikes and walks and explore lots of amazing places.

The van easily stays climate controlled, so that is great for our dogs. We have an AC for when it’s really hot, and we also have a great van fan (if you don’t have an RV, then you probably don’t know what this is, but it’s simply a really, really good fan). We try to follow good weather as much as we can, so that the temperature is nice for our dogs.


Do you hate each other yet after living in such a small space?

One of the most common things about full-time van dwelling that we hear from others in relationships is that they think they couldn’t do it because they might end up hating their spouse.

We live in less than 100 square feet, and we’re still doing great!

We are just fine with the small space and it’s never really gotten to us. Sure, there are times when it rains all day and you can’t go outside, but there are always other things to do, such as read, work on the business, and just relax.


What do you do for a living, so that you can travel full-time?

This isn’t a common camper van life question that I receive from readers as you all know what I do! However, I hear this all the time when I’m on the road or when I bump into someone in person.

This is a question that is always funny to answer, because many don’t think you can make money while traveling. However, you can!

I make my living entirely online through my blogging business. Here are helpful articles to read:


How do you receive mail?

We belong to a mail forwarding company called St. Brendan’s Isle. All of our mail gets sent there, and then they forward our mail to wherever we are.

For example, the other day I knew I would be at my sister’s, so I had all of my mail shipped to her house. St. Brendan’s Isle puts it all in one tidy package and ships it to where I’m staying.

This is one of the top things that stops people from traveling full-time, and I just find it funny. It’s so easy to get your mail so please don’t let this stop you!


Where do you like to sleep in the van?

I’ll be honest and say that we are not usually huge fans of RV parks. There are some nice ones out there, but we don’t like to be packed in the middle of a bunch of RVs, which is how most RV parks are.

If we do stay at an RV park, we like to make sure that we have a view, where at least one side of our vehicle backs up to something awesome, such as the ocean, desert, mountain, etc.

This is why we prefer campgrounds at state parks, national parks, and so on, because you get a much better view and a little more space.

For the most part, though, we are camping for free in the backcountry. This is our favorite way to sleep while living in a van full-time as you can get a ton of space all to yourself, you can see the beautiful night sky without any light pollution, and it’s great for exploring.

You can read more about this here – How To Camp For Free, Even In Beautiful and Desirable Places.


Can you just park anywhere you want?

Hardly a week goes by without someone saying that we should visit them and that we can park in their driveway, some random lot next to their house, inside their garage, and so on and so on.

I always laugh – you can’t really just park anywhere in your RV or van. RV and camper van life isn’t that easy!

There may be rules and laws against RV parking in some cities on public streets, there may not be enough space, the space might not be level, there can be low hanging trees, or there may be a 9 foot bridge to drive under.

There are plenty of places to stay, though, so for the most part you won’t have a problem. We have stayed in people’s driveways (Google Satellite and Street View are your friend in these cases), free public land, RV parks, state parks, national parks, and everything in between.

However, we always make sure to research where we are going so that there are no difficulties.


Why would you want to explore the U.S.?

This is my least favorite question and it honestly makes me want to scream.


The U.S. is full of awesome landscapes and there are so many beautiful and fun things to see here. Just take a look at some of my Instagram photos for proof.


What do you do for health insurance?

Learning about health insurance options is part of van life 101 – and unfortunately, there are no realistic options. I didn’t want to pay the penalty for not having health insurance, and I also didn’t want to go uninsured.

For full-time travelers, it is difficult to find health insurance companies that will cover you.

Some health insurance companies won’t cover you once you travel out of your state. If they do offer out-of-state coverage, they usually require that you at least live full time in your home state. While we do have a home state and address, it isn’t technically where we live full time. So, it was important to find a health insurance provider that wouldn’t possibly void a medical expense if they found out that we were trying to get around this loophole.

Plus, the only policy that we qualified for (in our state) had an astonishingly high deductible of $39,000 for out-of-state medical expenses. And, as full-time travelers, we are excluded from the majority of policies anyways due to the loophole described above, so that just didn’t work for us.

Paying a high monthly health insurance premium that comes with a $39,000 annual deductible, and the fact that many of our claims would probably be voided, made this decision a no-brainer.

So, in January of 2016, we started a membership with Liberty HealthShare. For the both of us, we pay just $249 each month.

With this monthly fee, 100% of our eligible medical bills – up to $1,000,000 per incident – are covered after the $1,000 per couple annual unshared amount (think of this as your annual deductible).

Now, belonging to a health sharing ministry is not perfect. Liberty HealthShare is not traditional health insurance, which means:

  • They are under no requirement to cover your medical expenses.
  • You cannot deduct Liberty’s monthly costs from your business taxes.
  • You cannot contribute to a Health Savings Account.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered until years later.

Health care sharing ministries all have some sort of ethical rules that you must abide by, such as no smoking, no drinking, and so on. If you incur a medical expense due to something that is against their policies, there is a chance that they will not cover it.

You can read more about Liberty HealthShare at We No Longer Have Traditional Health Insurance – Liberty HealthShare Review.


The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions

How do you get internet while traveling full-time?

I hear this question all the time, and it’s one of the top things that stops people from traveling more.

And, I completely understand the hesitation!

When we first thought about traveling full-time, I had no idea what would happen to my business. I didn’t know how I would connect to the internet, if it would be super expensive, or anything else. I didn’t even really know if it was possible.

I still remember telling Wes (my husband) that I would not be able to travel full-time unless we had internet.

But, now I know it’s actually not too bad. There is usually some form of internet, and I almost always use my own source. It’s not terribly expensive either. Yes, sometimes there is absolutely no internet. However, I usually try to prepare for that by working ahead as much as I can.

We currently have AT&T for our phones and internet. We used to have both Verizon and AT&T (many full-time travelers have multiple sources because you travel to different areas), but we switched to just AT&T and have been happy with it.

Even with that being said, sometimes our internet connection is not that great. Working ahead as much as possible alleviates any work stress that would come from having a lack of internet or a bad connection.

I did just get a WeBoost and put it on the van so that I can improve my signal and work in more places. Since Sprinter van life means we are off the grid a little more often, this is a must for us so that I can still work! 

So far, it has been amazing, and I have been able to have internet almost everywhere that we’ve been due to the WeBoost. About half of the places that we have stayed so far in the van have had no internet, and the WeBoost has boosted our signal to a point that I can actually work! I don’t know how I’ve gone the previous four years of full-time travel without it!

Surprisingly, I’ve found that our internet connection is better in the Bahamas than anything we ever had in the U.S. while traveling full-time. We used a new company called MyIslandWifi. It is truly unlimited internet for just $75 a month (and there’s no contract!). I can make phone calls, text, and hop online whenever I want, and it’s always a fast speed. For people in normal homes, this may seem expensive, but keep in mind that when traveling full-time you don’t have access to the kind of affordable (and FAST) wifi that is usually found in a home.

When we start traveling further outside of the U.S. and Bahamas, I know that finding internet will become more difficult. I’ll update you as I go!

If you’re wanting to know more about the various options (and there are a lot of options!), I highly recommend RV Mobile Internet.

Everyone’s situation is a little different and different options exist due to that.

What other questions do you have for me about van dwelling? Are you interested in living in a van?

The post The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money

16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money

Around five years ago, we decided to cut the cord. We have never watched a lot of TV, but we researched some alternatives to cable TV anyway. With cable alternatives, we knew we could still watch our favorite shows if we wanted to while saving money.

16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money #alternativestocable #moneysavingtipsLike many people who are looking for alternatives to cable TV, we decided to go with Netflix. Now that we travel full-time, we often cancel and restart our subscription depending on whether or not we’ll have reliable internet.

Also because we travel full-time, we have met many, many people over the years who go to great lengths to keep their cable/satellite channels. Luckily, in today’s world, there are so many great alternatives to cable TV. 

There are options for people who love sports, people who want lots of movies, people who want to watch current seasons of shows, and more.

We cut the cord and got rid of cable, and we haven’t missed it one bit. Seriously, we haven’t even thought about it!

Out of all of the ways you can watch TV shows and movies, cable is definitely the most expensive option out there. And, according to USA Today, the average monthly cable bill in 2017 was $100.98. 

If you have cable right now, then you are likely spending around $1,200 a year on cable alone. 

I know of many people who spend even more on cable TV, many over $150 a month, and I even had someone tell me that they spend over $300 a MONTH on their cable bill. While that may seem crazy to you, I know there are many people who spend that much on cable TV.

If you are paying for cable TV, just think of what else you could do with that money if you found one of the many great alternatives to cable TV!

By learning how to cut the cord and get rid of cable, you can learn how to save money (a lot, in fact!) over your lifetime. That money could be better spent on retirement, traveling, family, and more.

Even though getting rid of cable seems like an obvious way to save some money, it can still be hard for many people.

But today, I’m going to help you cut the cord and finally get rid of cable so you can start saving money immediatley.

Here are 16 alternatives to cable TV.


1. Cutting cable is easy with a digital antenna.

When you think about antennas, you probably think about the classic rabbit ears that are big and ugly. You probably also think about how the picture is never perfect and how channels can get blurry and almost completely fade away.

These days, antennas are all digital, and that means they are sleek and allow you to watch your favorite TV shows with crystal clear reception. 

This is one of the least expensive alternatives to cable TV because there is no monthly cost – just a small upfront cost to buy the antenna. You pay for the antenna once and then watch local channels as much as you want.

Before we sold our house and started traveling full-time, we bought a digital antenna, like this one. It’s an indoor one that sat behind our TV, it wasn’t ugly, and we sometimes forgot that it was there. Now, that is an affiliate link, but I didn’t even find out that I could be an affiliate until after we had bought and started using the antenna.  

For around $20 (just a one-time fee!), you can get all of the local channels plus some extras you didn’t know existed, and they all come in with great picture quality. 

We no longer have the antenna, as we now have a smart TV that has an antenna built in and finds local channels for us – at picture perfect quality, for no additional cost.


2. Netflix

Netflix is what we’ve been using to watch TV mostly, and it’s one of my favorite alternatives to cable TV on this list. That’s because Netflix has some of our favorite TV shows that we could watch over and over again

Netflix has been putting a lot of money into creating their own content, including popular favorites like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Arrested Development, and more.

They constantly adds more titles too, which keeps this alternative feeling fresh. It’s also very good at learning the types of shows you watch and making recommendations.

There are three different Netflix plans:

  • Basic $8.99/month- You can watch unlimited movies and shows on one device only.
  • Standard $12.99/month- Same as Basic, with HD level picture quality, and you can watch on up to two screens at a time.
  • Premium $15.99/month- This has HD and Ultra HD and you can watch unlimited Netflix on up to four devices at a time.

Netflix also offers your first month free.


3. Hulu

If you want to watch the current season of your favorite network shows, Hulu is one of the best alternatives to cable TV for you. Plus, Hulu has been releasing their own content with Hulu Original series like The Path, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Casual. They also has a growing movie library that they change pretty regularly.

And, while some streaming services are starting to increase their monthly costs, Hulu has actually lowered the cost of their lowest level of service from $7.99/month to $5.99/month.

Here are Hulu’s plan options and pricing:

  • Hulu $5.99/month- You can stream over 85,000 episode of your favorite shows, movies, and Hulu Originals.
  • Hulu (No Ads) $11.99/month- Same as the above, but you get a completely ad-free experience.
  • Hulu + Live TV $44.99/month- You get access to everything in Hulu’s library and streaming live TV.
  • Hulu Premium Networks $8.99-$14.99/month- You can pay for premium cable channels when you want them, including HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.

Hulu also lets you customize your plan even more with add-ons like unlimited screens, enhanced cloud DVR, Espanol add-on, and more.

Hulu gives new users a 30-day free trial.


4. Sling TV

The way Sling works is by giving you access to shows on some of the most popular networks, including live TV. On Sling, you can watch Disney, AMC, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, and more.

And, I have been hearing more and more people talking about Sling TV as one of the best alternatives to cable TV for sports lovers because Sling has ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, NFL Network, and add-ons like SEC Network, NHL Network, and NBA TV.

Sling also regularly runs promotions for free streaming devices when you sign up and pay for a couple of months of service. 

Sling has three plan levels:

  • Sling Orange $25/month (first month is $15) comes with channels like Disney, Food Network, Comedy Central, and more.
  • Sling Blue $25/month (first month is $15) comes with channels like Bravo, E!, TLC, and more.
  • Sling Blue and Orange $40/month (first month is $25) comes with all the channels in Blue and Orange.

If you have Sling and are looking for Sling TV alternatives, below is a good, low cost option.


5. Philo

Philo offers simple pricing and gives you access to over 50 channels for live and on-demand TV, unlimited recording, and there is a Philo app to watch it on any of your devices. And, it has some of the most popular channels, like AMC, TLC, Nickelodeon, Food Network, and more.

Philo is only $20 a month. There is a 7-day free trial, and you don’t have to enter any billing information for the first 48 hours of your free trial.


6. Amazon Prime Video

If you currently have an Amazon Prime subscription, then you already have access to Amazon Prime Video. This makes watching through Amazon Prime Video a good way to reduce your number of monthly subscriptions.

Amazon Prime Video has new releases and classics of your favorite movies and shows, and they continue building their own collection of Amazon Original Series.

Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime Subscription, which is $119 per year or $8.99 per month. There are also premium channel add-ons like HBO, Showtime, and more.


7. HBO Now

HBO Now is available through many other streaming services, like Hulu and Amazon Prime, but HBO Now is available on its own if you only want to pay for HBO shows and movies. The cost is the same whether you purchase it as an add-on or on it’s own, and there is a student discount available:

  • HBO Now is $14.99 per month.
  • Comes with a 7-day free trial.
  • You can cancel and restart whenever you want.
  • HBO Now can be streamed on multiple devices.


8. YouTube 

One of the ways Wes and I watch TV is by going to YouTube and watching sailing or traveling videos. We always end up watching funny, random ones too. And even though you may have to watch ads now and then, those ads keep YouTube free.

YouTube has a wide variety of content, and you can find things from your favorite YouTubers, web only content from your favorite TV channels, and clips from comedy series (like SNL) and interviews.


9. YouTube TV

YouTube now has their own live TV service, and you can watch shows from 70+ different networks – including ESPN, Bravo, Animal Planet, TLC, National Geographic, FX, and more. 

YouTube TV costs $49.99 a month, and there are some add-ons available, like:

  • Showtime $7 month
  • Fox Soccer Plus $15 month
  • AMC $5 a month
  • Starz $9 a month
  • NBA League Pass $40 a month

While YouTube TV alone is nearly half the cost of the average cable bill, adding too many extras on can easily make this alternative cost almost the same as cable.


10. The library

The library is my favorite on this list of alternatives to cable TV because it’s completely free! Libraries have a huge selection of movies (even new releases), complete series of TV shows, and more. Many libraries have partnerships with other libraries in the area, so if you can’t find what you want to watch at one library, it’s probably available at another.

Many libraries now give you digital access with your library card to TV and movies through free services like:

  • Kanopy
  • Hoopla

There may be some restrictions on how many shows and movies you can watch a month, but free is a great thing if you’re cutting the cord to save money.


11. ESPN+

Here is another alternative for sports lovers – ESPN+ is one of the lowest cost alternatives to cable TV. It’s $4.99 per month and you can watch live sporting events and ESPN+ Originals.

There is also a 7-day free trial so you can try it out.


12. fuboTV

fuboTV looks very similar to traditional cable with a heavy focus on sports. You get access to live sports and top TV channels, cloud DVR, and can share your account across multiple devices. 

fuboTV has four different plans:

  • fubo Standard $54.99/month. 90+ channels, 30 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on two devices.
  • fubo Family $59.99/month. 90+ channels, 500 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on three devices.
  • fubo Family Deluxe $64.99/month. 132 channels, 35 more entertainment channels, 500 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on three devices.
  • fubo Ultra $79.99/month. 165 channels, fubo Extra, Showtime, Sports Plus, 500 hours of cloud DVR, and sharing on three devices.


13. Playstation VUE

Playstation VUE is very similar to fuboTV, and surprisingly, you don’t need a Playstation to watch Playstation VUE. Like all of the alternatives to cable TV, you can access it through your smart TV, streaming device, or on your laptop, through an app, and more.

Playstation VUE offers the following plans:

  • Access $49.99/month. Live TV on some of the most popular channels.
  • Core $54.99/month. Live TV and a sports package.
  • Elite $64.99/month. Live TV, sports package, and top movie channels.
  • Ultra $84.99/month. Live TV, sports package, top movie channels, and premium channels. 


14. Disney+

Disney+ is a brand new streaming service – it is actually set to launch in November 2019. It will offer classic Disney movies, original series, short-form content, and documentaries. Because Disney owns a number of franchises and networks, you’ll be able to watch the following things on Disney Plus:

  • Pixar
  • Marvel
  • Star Wars
  • National Geographic
  • Fox classics like the Sound of Music and 30 seasons of the Simpsons

This will be a great option for families and the cost is relatively low – Disney+ will be $6.99 a month and includes unlimited downloads, access across devices, and more. 

Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN, and it was recently released that there will be a discounted bundle package including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ that runs $12.99 per month. You can expect that when Disney+ launches in November 2019.


15. Go straight to the source.

For some cable and network channels, you can go straight to their website online and watch their TV shows right there for free. So, all you need is internet in order to do this! Depending on the channel, you might only be able to watch the most recent episodes or ones that are a little older. 


16. Do anything else!

This might be the best alternative to cable TV, but that’s just my opinion.

And here’s why, the average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week. If you used just half of those hours finding things to do instead of watching TV, you could probably accomplish something great!

Now, I’m not completely hating on TV.

I have my favorite TV shows and can sit in front of a TV for hours on end.

However, for the most part, the average person probably spends way too much time just flipping through channels or watching something that they probably don’t even like.

If you feel like you aren’t accomplishing your goals in life or that you are always pressed for time, then you should first analyze how much time you’re wasting each day, especially when it comes to how much TV you watch.

You may not even realize how much time you spend in front of the TV!

Once you realize how much time you are probably wasting in front of the TV, I want you to start taking back some of that time, stop watching as much TV, and put your time to better use by finding things to do instead of watching TV!

Other things you could do with your time that are alternatives to cable TV include:

  • Read a book, blog, etc.
  • Get a book from the library.
  • Go to a museum.
  • Do yoga.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Play with your pet.
  • Go for a swim.
  • Look at the stars.
  • Go fishing.
  • Go camping.
  • Find free attractions in your city.
  • Train for a marathon.
  • Start a garden. Fresh food is the best!
  • Find a way to make extra money.

Read further at 59 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV So That You Can Take Your Life Back.


How much money are we saving by cutting cable TV?

Like many people, when we had cable, we weren’t watching enough TV enough to get our money’s worth. So, that money was just being wasted. It was actually rare for us to watch something that wasn’t on a local channel or Netflix. This was the main reason for why we decided to cut the cord, and I can’t imagine that we will ever pay for cable again.

The other thing about paying for cable is that our cable company seemed to have a $10 to $20 increase multiple times throughout the year – that’s just insane! I used to have to talk to our cable company once every six months so that I could negotiate our cable bill down. If we would have never negotiated, I’m sure our monthly cable bill would have been well over $100 and near the $200 range.

Now that we have cut the cord and only have Netflix, we are saving over $1,200 per year.

All we pay for now is $12.99 to Netflix each month, and we often turn that off when we feel like there’s nothing good to watch (which is often, haha!).

I can’t believe we ever paid that much for TV!


Why getting rid of cable will change your life.

As you can see, there are tons of tv options other than cable! There are options like going to the library and watching series straight from the source that are completely free. You can also find less expensive options like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+ and still have on-demand access to the shows you want.

That means that if you want to get rid of cable to save money, it’s very easy to do. No more excuses! There are dozens of channels and hundreds of movies you can save money on.

Paying for one year of cable can easily cost $1,200 or more – this is so much money!

You can find an alternative and use your savings to put towards debt, invest it for retirement, or it can be used to pursue your passions. Putting your money towards these things can cause less stress, and that’s something we all need to reduce.

Or, if you really want to change your life, what if you got rid of TV altogether?

You can spend more time outside, visit more with friends and family, get more sleep at night, and live healthier both mind and body.

Now, you can still rent a movie or pay for a month of Hulu here and there, but living without TV for longer periods is something you can try if you want to find a way to change your life.

Are you thinking about getting rid of cable? What alternatives to cable TV do you have?

The post 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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Want To Make Money From Home? Here Are 17 Of The Best Online Jobs

Want To Make Money From Home? Here Are 17 Of The Best Online Jobs

Are you looking to find one of the best online jobs out there?

Are you looking to find one of the best online jobs that pay well out there? Luckily for you, in today's world, there are actually quite a lot of online jobs from home. #bestonlinejobs #onlinejobs #workfromhomeLuckily for you, in today’s world, there are actually quite a lot of online jobs that pay well.

Some of the best online jobs are work from home jobs that involve you working for someone else, or you may be able to even start your own business.

And, yes, many people earn a full-time income while working online jobs from home.

So, if you are looking to start making extra money or if you want a new career path that lets you earn money from home, this list of best online jobs is especially for you.

My hope is that what you read in this article will spark your interest and possibly inspire you to learn how to earn money from home.

Online jobs are great for many reasons such as:

  • You can work from home
  • You may be able to have a more flexible schedule
  • You may be able to travel more or even full-time

Being a blogger is pretty non-traditional, but it’s an online job that allows me to travel full-time, create my own schedule, and be my own boss.

I know many people who work online for the same reasons I do, and they love it.

Here are a few different types of people and situations that can really benefit by finding one of the best online jobs on this list –

Parents can work online and have the flexibility to stay at home with their young children. Online jobs are also great for parents of school-aged kids who want to be around during the day if something happens while their child is at school. 

People who want to increase their income can benefit by finding online part time jobs that allow them to work outside of their “normal” 9-5 work schedule. 

Anyone who wants to start a new career can find part time jobs from home that they can start on the side and one day grow into a full-time business. This allows you to try something new while not immediately giving up your current job and income. 

Anyone with wanderlust can work online and travel while they earn money. This is what I do, and I love being able to see so many new places while earning a great living online.

And, I’m always looking to add to this list of best work from home jobs and online options, so if you know of anything else, please leave a comment or send me an email.

All of the best online jobs on this list are legitimate jobs, career paths, or business ideas, so you don’t have to worry about work from home job scams. As always, they will require your time and effort – as all careers do.

Related content on the best online jobs:

Here are 17 of the best online jobs.


1. Create a blog.

My favorite online job is, of course, blogging!

It allows me to travel full-time, work from home, have a flexible schedule, earn somewhat passive income, and more.

Blogging changed my life for the better, and it allows me to earn thousands of dollars a month, all by doing something that I love.

I created Making Sense of Cents in 2011 and since then, I have earned over $4,000,000 with my blog and over $1,500,000 just in 2018.

My blog was created on a whim as a way to track my own personal finance progress. And when I first started my blog, I honestly didn’t even know that people could make money blogging or how to start a successful blog!

I did not create Making Sense of Cents to earn money from home, but after only six months, I began to make money.

Blogging is quite affordable to start too!

Related content:

You can easily learn how to start a blog with my free How To Start a Blog Course.

Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:

  • Day 1: Reasons you should start a blog
  • Day 2: How to determine what to blog about
  • Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress – my tutorial makes it very easy to start a blog)
  • Day 4: How to make money blogging
  • Day 5: My tips for making passive income from blogging
  • Day 6: How to grow your traffic and followers
  • Day 7: Miscellaneous blogging tips that will help you be successful


2. Help local businesses on Facebook.

Did you know that you can make a living from Facebook? With Facebook advertising, you can help businesses expand their reach.

And, yes, this is a skill that you can learn!

I recently had the chance to interview Bobby Hoyt about this subject. Bobby is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance blog Millennial Money Man full-time, as well as a digital marketing agency for local businesses that he started in 2015.

Last year, business owners spent over $88,000,000 per day on Facebook ads. The market is wide open for digital marketers on Facebook, and this is definitely a skill you can learn!

If you are looking for a new business idea or even just a side hustle, learning how to make money running Facebook ads for local businesses may be something that you want to look into.

I recently did an interview with Bobby about running Facebook ads, and in this interview, you will learn:

  • How Bobby started making money through running Facebook ads
  • Why small businesses want Facebook ads
  • How a person can find their first Facebook ads client
  • How much you can make doing this type of work – the average is around $1,000 extra a month per client

One last thing before we head to the interview on how to make money running Facebook ads for local businesses. Bobby has a course called Facebook Side Hustle Course that teaches you how to successfully make money running Facebook ads for local businesses.


3. Sell items on Amazon.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer has many, many people who sell items and earn money from home. Jessica Larrew, of The Selling Family, explains how selling on Amazon may be a possibility for you. She is a friend of mine, and I am blown away by her success!

In the first year that Jessica’s family ran their Amazon FBA business together, working less than 20 hours a week total, they made over $100,000 profit!

Jessica also has a FREE 7 day course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to start selling on Amazon. I recommend signing up for it now!

This is one of the best online jobs to work as a side hustle, and if you want more information, click on the interview link below.

In my interview with Jessica, How To Work From Home Selling On Amazon FBA, we talk about:

  • How Jessica started selling on Amazon FBA
  • What exactly Amazon FBA is
  • How to choose what to buy and sell
  • How much a person can expect to earn
  • The positives of selling on Amazon, and more


4. Teach English online to earn money from home.

Online teaching jobs are growing every single day.

Learning how to teach English online has become extremely popular, making it one of the best online jobs for many good reasons – it’s flexible, there’s a high need, and it pays pretty well.

Surprisingly, you don’t need to be a teacher to learn how to teach English online. You also don’t need to speak more than one language – you only need to speak English.

Those things make teaching English online a really great side hustle or online job for almost anyone.

The amount of money you can earn teaching English online will vary, but it’s typically around $14 to $22 per hour.

Because this side hustle is becoming popular, there are several great companies that allow you to teach English online. My top three picks are ones my readers have recommended and ones I have personally looked into:

  2. Qkids
  3. Education First

Learn more at Make Extra Money By Learning How To Teach English Online.


5. Find online tutoring jobs.

Are you looking for a flexible side hustle as an online tutor?

Course Hero is a website that helps high school and college students with course-specific questions.

Using the website, students connect with Course Hero tutors on a wide range of subjects and classes, which makes this a great side hustle for people with different educational backgrounds and experience.

Tutors earn an average of $3 for each question they answer on Course Hero. Earning between $12-$20 per hour, Course Hero tutors earn an average of $300/week.

Learn more at How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero.


6. Become a virtual assistant to earn money online.

Not only does the internet allow us to complete more daily tasks online, more and more people are working from home in fields such as blogging, social media, etc. This means there are more and more virtual assistant jobs, making it one of the best online jobs today.

Virtual assistant tasks may include social media management, formatting and editing content, scheduling appointments or travel, email management, and more. Basically, you can get paid to do any task that needs to be done in someone’s business, but doesn’t need to be done by them.

My friend Kayla is a full-time blogger, virtual assistant (VA), and project manager who earns over $10,000 per month while working from home. She is also the founder of $10K VA, her course where she teaches exactly how you can make a consistent $10,000 per month as a virtual assistant too!

Kayla used to work a full-time job as a credit analyst, earning about $2,000 per month. She was struggling to make ends meet while paying off debt, so she started a side hustle as a virtual assistant.

I interviewed her at How Kayla Earns $10K/Month From Home as a Virtual Assistant, and we talk about:

  • How much can a beginner VA expect to make
  • How a person can find their first virtual assistant job
  • The steps to become a VA
  • Her best tips for being a VA

And more!


7. Make money on Pinterest.

To continue with the above, I do want to talk about how you can become a Pinterest virtual assistant as well.

This is where you help businesses improve their reach on Pinterest. This could be:

  • Designing Pinterest images for their website
  • Helping business owners set up their Pinterest account
  • Scheduling pins so that they are consistent
  • Creating a marketing plan, and more

Learn more at How I Started Earning $3,600 a Month As A Pinterest Assistant After Just 6 Months.


8. Write your own eBook.

Writing your own eBook is a great way to make money online, and there is probably something super helpful that you could write about (even if you think otherwise!).

In fact, my friend Alyssa self-published her first book and has sold more than 13,000 copies.

She is now earning a great passive income of over $200 a day from her book ($6,500 in one month alone!).

She is also the creator of From Blog To Book, a course that will help you write, launch, and market your first book. I’ve already signed up for the course, and the expertise she shares is absolutely amazing. Some of the modules in her course include:

  • Mapping Out Your Book Content
  • Strategies for Writing Your Next 30,000 Words
  • Where to Publish Your Book
  • Tutorial: Getting Your Book on Amazon
  • Design Your Book Cover
  • Set Pricing for Your Book
  • Create Your Marketing Plan

You can check out her super informative course by clicking here.

Learn more at How Alyssa is making $200 a DAY in book sales passively.


9. Write romance novels.

My friend Yuwanda Black has found one of the best online jobs that is also super interesting. She writes romance novels and in one month, she was able to make over $3,000!

I was able to have her write on Making Sense of Cents about her creative way to make extra money. In the article linked below, you can learn:

  • How she got started writing romance novels
  • How much money she has made
  • Her top tips to start writing successful romance novels
  • Why your novels do not need to be long (her most successful books are under 10,000 words)
  • How to promote your romance novels
  • How to sell on Amazon

And much more!

Learn more at How to Make Money Self-Publishing Short Romance Novels on Amazon.


10. Build an online store.

Yes, you can start your own online store, and you don’t need to have tons of experience or a lot of money to do so. Many people start with no background – which means that if this is one of the best online jobs that you are interested in, then you should definitely read on.

I’ve also heard of a number of students who have successfully started ecommerce stores because there aren’t any degree requirements for this option. It’s also one of the best online jobs for students because you can work it in just 5-10 hours a week like Jen did, and you don’t have to store the items you’re selling.

I had the chance to interview Jenn Leach of E-commerce and Prosper, who explains exactly how to start an online store.

Jenn is a corporate mom turned e-commerce store owner and blogger.

She started her online business a little over three years ago, and since then, she has developed and grown three successful online e-commerce stores earning an average of $19,000 per month.

She is super successful despite only spending around 5-10 hours per week on her e-commerce business.

E-commerce and Prosper, Jenn Leach’s course, teaches you how to start an online store. She reveals her successful rinse and repeat formula to students in her course. It’s the same formula she uses to earn an average of $19,000 per month. This course will teach you:

  • How to start an online store
  • Winning e-commerce success tools
  • How to turbocharge your e-commerce success
  • How to start making money in THREE days

Learn more about this at How Jenn Makes Over $10,000 A Month With Her Online Store In Less Than 10 Hours Per Week.


11. Start a bookkeeping business.

Ben, founder of Bookkeeper Business Academy, explains how becoming a bookkeeper may be a possibility for you.

Ben helps people start and grow their own bookkeeping business with his online bookkeeping course.

And, guess what?

This is one of the best online jobs because you don’t have to be an accountant or have any previous experience!

In this interview, we talk about:

  • What a bookkeeper is
  • The typical clients a bookkeeper has
  • How much new bookkeepers earn
  • How to become a bookkeeper
  • The positives and negatives of bookkeeping, and more

Learn more at Make Money At Home By Becoming A Bookkeeper.


12. Find items to resell online.

Have you ever found something that you thought you may be able to resell and actually make some money?

Melissa’s family earned $42,875 in 2015 through buy and sell flipping, and they were working only 10-20 hours per week.

Yes, just 10-20 hours a week!

And in 2016, she hit $133,000!

Some of the best flipped items that they’ve done include:

  • An item that they bought for $10 and flipped for $200 just 6 minutes later
  • A security tower they bought for $6,200 and flipped for $25,000 just one month later
  • A prosthetic leg that they bought for $30 at a flea market and sold for $1,000 on eBay the next day

She also has a great book called 5 Ways to Get FREE Items To Resell for Profit, which teaches you how you can earn money from home by flipping items. 

You can learn more at How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items.


13. Begin a freelance writing career.

Working as a freelance writer is one of the best online jobs these days because there is a growing number of jobs out there for freelance writers.

A freelance writer is someone who writes for a number of different clients, such as websites, blogs, magazines, and more. They don’t work for one specific company, rather they work for themselves and contract out their writing.

My friend Holly from (as well as the popular personal finance blog Club Thrifty) is a very successful freelance writer and has earned over $200,000 writing online!

Her freelance writing course includes nine video modules, several printable worksheets, and awesome add-ons, too. Here are some of the things you can expect to learn if you take her freelance writing course:

  • Discover the #1 most important thing you can do to get paid writing jobs
  • Learn how to find beginner level jobs and move up over time
  • Learn how price affects the amount of work you get
  • Learn which types of jobs help Holly earn the most pay, and where you can find them
  • Find out which online platforms work best for finding paid work, and how to use them
  • Learn how to structure your work day to earn six figures or more

Learn more at How I Earn $200,000+ Writing Online Content.


14. Become a transcriptionist.

Transcription work is a growing field.

In 2007, Janet started working from home as a medical transcriptionist. Shortly after that, she started a successful general and legal transcription business.

While running her business, she noticed a need for more skilled transcriptionists, so the idea of creating a course and introducing one of the best online jobs to more people popped up. Janet now teaches others in her online course how to transcribe online.

In this my interview, Make Money At Home By Becoming A Transcriptionist, we talk about:

  • What a transcriptionist is
  • How you can get started as a transcriptionist
  • What kind of money you can expect to make
  • The type of training you need, and more



15. Proofread for a living.

Do you find yourself correcting grammar and/or cringing at common writing errors?

Maybe you even enjoy finding errors?!

In 2014, Caitlin made slightly over $43,000 by being a freelance proofreader, while also going on several fun vacations.

If you are looking for a new job, or even just a side hustle, this may be one of the best online jobs to look into. In my interview with Caitlin, Make Money Proofreading By Becoming A Freelance Proofreader, you can find more information on how to earn money from home as a proofreader, court transcript proofreader, or a freelance proofreader.

In this interview, we talk about:

  • How to get started as a proofreader
  • Who the typical clients are
  • What kind of income can be made
  • Whether anyone can be a proofreader or not
  • What kind of training you need, and more
  • Online jobs info

Caitlin also has a great FREE 7 day course just for people who want to stop wasting time and start making more money with their proofreading skills. I definitely recommend that you check it out.


16. Work as a freelancer.

Freelancers are people who work for others by doing part-time jobs. A business may hire you on for one-time gigs or you may get a long-term job with a company as a freelancer.

In addition to some of the freelance jobs I’ve already mentioned (writing, proofreading, transcribing, and bookkeeping) there are even more freelance jobs out there for people who have experience in a variety of fields, including:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design and development
  • Video editing
  • Sound design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Programming
  • Photography

This is one of the best online jobs because you can use a skill you already have and start finding work on job platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.


17. Work in customer service.

Many large companies are starting to outsource their customer service departments to people who are working at home. 

Customer service representatives may be responsible for a number of things, like:

  • Working at an online call center
  • Working as a chat agent
  • Offering technical support
  • Virtual assistant tasks
  • Working as a travel agent

This is becoming one of the best online jobs because the number of large companies who need online customer service reps is growing. Companies like Apple, American Express, UHAUL, and more are now offering these types of jobs. 


More resources if you’re looking for one of the best online jobs to earn more money from home. 

If you are new to Making Sense of Cents, I am all about finding ways to make money from home and save more money as well. Here are some of my favorite sites and products that may help you out:

  • Back when I had student loans, one of the things I did was learn how to become a mystery shopper so that I could make extra money. No, it did not make me rich, but it gave me a little bit of extra income, and it also allowed me to go out to eat and get free things that I probably would have bought anyway. Read more at Want To Make An Extra $100 A Month? Learn How To Become A Mystery Shopper.
  • Are you thinking about starting your own business? The Small Business Roadmap will show you what steps to take to start your own business.
  • If you are starting one of the best online jobs on this list and want to pad your income, answering surveys can bring in a few extra dollars. Survey companies I recommend include Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, Prize Rebel, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • Reducing your debt can help make the transition to working for yourself even easier because you can reduce some of your financial stress. If you have student debt, then I highly recommend Credible for student loan refinancing. You can lower the interest rate on your student loans significantly by using Credible which may help you shave thousands off your student loan bill over time.
  • Knowing your credit score is a valuable thing for anyone, especially new online business owners. Check your credit score with Credit Sesame for free!
  • InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend where you can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free just for signing up! This is just extra money in your pocket while you start your new career. InboxDollars and taking surveys are probably the most easy work from home jobs, but a warning: they don’t pay as well as some of the others on this list.

What do you think are the best online jobs?

The post Want To Make Money From Home? Here Are 17 Of The Best Online Jobs appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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