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This Easy Product Gives You a Customized Plan to Help Achieve Your Credit Score Goals

This Easy Product Gives You a Customized Plan to Help Achieve Your Credit Score Goals

Image Source: Ivory Mix

Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by TransUnion and contains affiliate links to their products. I received a [free demo and free trial] of the product to use and am being provided compensation for my review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own. My experience is my own, and your experience may differ. 

Are you trying to improve your financial situation, and reach your credit score goals, but don’t know how to begin? Do you want personalized recommendations on how to reach your credit goals so that you know exactly what steps to take next?

I have seen a lot of generic information out there about credit scores, and this can lead to frustrations about the lack of information and the prevalence of “one-size-fits-all” information. As you may know, this can lead to a person not caring about or monitoring their credit score because it seems so unattainable! Well, today is your day for that to change, because there is a new product that I think you should check out.

TransUnion recently created a product called CreditCompass™. It can help you reach the credit score that you want, by giving you personalized and actionable recommendations and tips.

CreditCompass analyzes your personal credit situation against millions of data points of people who improved their credit score in similar situations over a two-year period, so you can see what you could do in order to reach your goal credit score. This product is available online and via mobile browser.

This is an amazing new product, as it helps puts YOU in control of your credit score.

I have seen a lot of bad or generic advice floating around out there about how to improve your credit. This new product will help you get rid of all the noise out there that may be confusing you, because CreditCompass is customized to your current financial situation. It generates tangible steps you can take to help reach your desired credit score.

Your credit can impact your life in many different ways, including the interest rate you get on a mortgage, whether or not you’ll get chosen from a sea of applicants for a home rental, your car insurance  rate, and so on.

Even though poor credit health could have a negative impact on your life, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to change. When you begin to transform your credit health, you may start to have a more positive self-perception as financial wellness plays an important part in your overall wellbeing!

Over the years, I’ve been careful about my financial habits, so my credit score has remained high. By keeping a strong financial standing, I’ve eliminated the need to worry about my credit score and instead, used my good credit to my advantage and remained motivated to continue incorporating strong financial behaviors into my everyday life.

My strong credit has also allowed me to use credit card rewards to my advantage. And, when you get your finances in a good spot, you’ll see there are great benefits too!

 

How can CreditCompass help you?

This easy-to-use product gives you actionable recommendations so that you know what you should do in order to reach your credit score goal.

CreditCompass is powered by VantageScore 3.0*. According to the VantageScore website, this credit scoring model provides credit scores to those who are often excluded by traditional credit scoring models, including consumers who are new to credit. This means around 30-35 million more individuals can be scored than traditional scoring models. This is great because this means that CreditCompass has the ability to help so many more consumers, no matter where the consumer is on their credit path.

This product only works if you do the work, though. So, if you truly want to improve your credit health, then you need to take the required steps in order to do so.

CreditCompass helps takes the guesswork out of trying to reach your credit score goals, so that you can take steps to build your credit health without making the many common mistakes that I’ve seen over the years!

 

How CreditCompass works

As you all know, I am a big fan of TransUnion and the products that they provide. I received a free demo of CreditCompass so I could see exactly how it works and how it could help my readers.

CreditCompass is very easy to use.

When you log in you will see:

  • Your credit goal – When you first log in, you will create your credit score goal with the interactive product. 
  • Your credit status – The product then aggregates info based on your personal credit report to show you where you stand. Info shown includes your payment activity (have you missed any payments?), credit utilization, debt and balances, and recent credit activity.
  • Your recommendation – The product will also show you clear, personalized recommendations of steps you can take based on your current credit score/history and credit score goals, so that you know what to do.

As you’ll see in the image below, the product will give you great pointers on what you should work on.

Image provided by TransUnion.

Here’s how you can use CreditCompass:

  1. Sign up for TransUnion Credit Monitoring & get your score
  2. Set your goal score & see steps you can take to reach it
  3. Track your progress at a glance – anytime, anywhere!

Please click here to check out CreditCompass.

Do you know what impacts your credit score? What are you doing to improve your credit health?

*There are various types of credit scores, and lenders use a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions. The credit score you receive and the one used for CreditCompass is based on the VantageScore 3.0 model and may not be the credit score model used by your lender.

Related content:

The post This Easy Product Gives You a Customized Plan to Help Achieve Your Credit Score Goals appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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The content for this post was sourced from www.makingsenseofcents.com

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Money And Relationships: Are You On The Verge Of Calling It Quits?

Money And Relationships: Are You On The Verge Of Calling It Quits?

What To Do When Your Partner Is A Financial Disaster #moneymanagement #manageyourmoney

Is love enough for a healthy and happy relationship, especially when it comes to financial troubles? What if your partner was hiding a secret account or was lying about their spending? Are those issues you could work past?

Unfortunately, negative issues with money and relationships are incredibly common. I actually receive lots and lots of emails from readers who are struggling with some of these exact issues. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get a question or comment from a reader who has concerns about the bad spending or savings habits of their partner.

Here are a few of the situations I’ve been asked about:

  • My partner earns $50,000 a year and wants to buy a $900,000 house, and we have NO savings. How do I explain why this won’t work?
  • My partner has the mistaken idea that if he has a coupon for Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc. that he must absolutely buy something because he’s “losing money if I don’t use the coupon.” He is a hoarder and spends all of his money on stuff that he will never use. How do I help him work past his issues before it’s too late for us?
  • My partner spends over $1,000 a month on entertainment but we have a lot of debt. How should I approach them about it?
  • My partner is hiding her spending from me and I know it’s happening. How do we work through this?
  • My partner isn’t trying to find a job but we desperately need the money. What should we do?

If these situations sound familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, 35% of Americans named money as the number one thing causing friction in their marriage. CNBC reported on a money and relationships study done by SunTrust Bank, and here are a few more findings:

  • In 2 out of every 5 couples, someone lies about money.
  • 31% said that they have a secret credit card or bank account.
  • 75% said that financial deception has hurt their marriage.

It’s no surprise that money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce.

And, according to a recent story on NPR, even couples who managed their money well together in the beginning can still struggle with financial infidelity. This is especially true if one partner earns significantly more than the other, if one spouse is laid off, etc.

Related content to money and relationships:

Now, if you’re in a relationship with someone whose financial beliefs and practices oppose your own, does that mean you’re doomed and should end it all?

Not necessarily.

There are ways you can work towards resolving your financial differences and improving the behaviors that affect your money and relationships. Before calling it quits due to financial stress, you should:

  • Be honest and stop keeping money secrets from your partner.
  • Stop ignoring the problem.
  • Make a budget and start following it.
  • Make money conversations a priority, even if they have been difficult in the past.

Me and my husband have been together for over 12 years, and we are always trying to work at our financial situation as a team. We’ve had a lot of major changes in the past few years, like selling our house and moving onto an RV and now sailboat, and because each of these changes had a lot to do with money, we’ve had to share a lot of our feelings with one another.

And, every couple is going to handle money and relationships a little differently. We all have different spending habits, and in a marriage it’s important to come together to see how your behaviors affect your shared life.

Working together is key for a happy relationship, especially when you want to meet your financial goals.

If your relationship is struggling because of financial differences, here are some steps that you may want to take.

Here is my advice for handling money and relationships

 

Have regular money check ins.

A relationship that has regular money talks and budget meetings is more likely to be financially successful and happier than a relationship that doesn’t. That’s because regularly communicating about money is an important step for healthy relationships.

Being open about your money situation can help prevent any surprises, it will ensure that both people in the relationship are aware of what’s going on, and so on.

Here are some of the ways for these check ins to help you with your marriage and finances:

  • You can work together and succeed. If you are both putting effort towards your financial goals, you can tackle them as a team and are much more likely to have a positive outcome. You can motivate one another, troubleshoot together, and brainstorm for ways to work towards your goals.
  • Knowing your financial situation will help you keep a budget. Understanding your financial situation means you can create and keep a budget that works for the both of you. You will know more about the amount of money you are spending, whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, and more.
  • Being aware may prevent everything from falling on one person. Both you and your partner  should be aware of your financial situation. It’s not fair for one person to manage it all, and you would be in for a rude awakening if something were to happen to that person. You both should know how much money you make, how much debt you have, when bills need to be paid, etc.
  • Being involved can help you with your family’s goals. It would be quite difficult for a person to work towards their family’s financial goals if they weren’t aware of their financial situation. Being involved will keep everyone motivated and working in the same direction.
  • Regular money talks can lead to less fighting. When you are open about money in your relationship, you are less likely to have financial surprises and money fights. This is because conducting regular money talks and budget meetings means you will both be aware of what’s going on.

Recommended reading: Family Budget Meetings – Yes, You Need To Have Them

 

Be open about money.

Talking about money is seen as taboo, even among married couples. But, according to money and relationship studies reported by Policy Genius, nearly 30% of couples don’t know each other’s salaries.

I have personally met spouses who had no idea what their monthly mortgage payment was, how much student loan debt they had, and so on and so on. For some reason, it is the “norm” for one spouse to be completely clueless about their financial situation, while the other spouse handles the finances. However, this is definitely something that should change.

To become better with this money and relationships issues, you and your partner should sit down on a regular basis, like once and week or once a month, and be honest about where you are currently at. You could even use this time to pay your bills together, discuss future purchases, and more.

But, to make the most out of these money meetings you will have to go in with an open mind and be willing to share where you are at. You money meetings should include:

  • Your financial goals, money values, and more.
  • How the two of you are doing financially.
  • What changes may need to be made.
  • Any financial problems, and so on.

The key here is that both of you are up-to-date on what is going on with your marriage and finances so that everyone can work together on your family’s financial goals.

 

Always be honest about money in relationships.

In a money and relationships article on CNBC, it was reported that only 52% of people in relationships believe their partner is being completely honest about money. And, only 61% of people say that they are totally honest with their partner about money.

What I see there is that in many, many relationships, there are some serious trust issues when it comes to talking about money.

The problem with financial infidelity is that it can lead to even bigger financial problems (like debt piling up beyond what’s imaginable), stress, unhappiness, it may start impacting other areas of a your life (such as work), and it may even lead to divorce.

Unfortunately, it’s possible that you may already be a victim of financial infidelity without even knowing it. Here’s how to recognize the signs of financial infidelity:

  • You haven’t noticed any bills in the mail. This could be a sign that someone is hiding the bills.
  • You are getting calls from debt collectors. These may actually be legitimate calls!
  • Your credit cards are being declined. This could be a sign that someone is overspending without your knowledge.
  • Your partner no longer wants to talk about money. This could be a sign that your partner is too afraid to talk about money with you because they fear that you will uncover the truth.

Lying about money and relationships is very serious, but it’s important to realize that it’s an issue that both partners should work towards improving. While being honest with your partner is important, you should also make sure that your partner feels comfortable telling you when they are struggling.

 

Set spending limits for each other.

Spending limits shouldn’t be looked as limitations or rules – think about them as guidelines that help you work towards larger goals. That’s because spending limits are really just there to help you stay on track with your budget.

You can set limits however you would like, and some couples tell each other about every single purchase they make, whether they buy something for $1 or if they buy something for $1,000.

Others only tell their spouse if they reach a certain amount, such as $100.

Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to sit down with your spouse and determine what kind of limits you should set for your specific situation.

Doing this can help keep the communication lines open with your marriage and finances so there are fewer arguments about money.

 

Learn how to improve your financial situation.

For anyone needing help with money and relationships, one of the best things you can do is learn how to improve your financial situation. It can be an empowering thing for you to work towards with your partner and it can bring you both closer together.

If you want to improve your financial situation, here are some of the things you may want to do:

  • Read financial blogs. Reading financial blogs can help you see what other people like yourself may be doing to improve their financial habits. While it may not always be perfect and/or applicable, it can be helpful to see real life examples.
  • Listen to financial podcasts. You can learn a lot about money and relationships by listening to others talk about their own situations and topics relevant to your life. And, there are so many amazing financial podcasts out there ‒ take your pick!
  • Read financial books. 17 Personal Finance Books That Will Change Your Life is a great read if you are looking for financial books to help you with money and relationships. That list shows books that will help you to pay off debt, find side hustles, manage your money better, figure out retirement, and more.
  • Attend money workshops. There are in-person workshops on the topic of personal finance, huge conferences, money meet-ups, and more.
  • Join money-related Facebook groups. I have a free Facebook community that you can find here, and another favorite of mine is ChooseFI.

The key here with this and any other money and relationships advice is to do it together. I think learning more about money can usually help get a person more motivated about improving their financial situation, so if your spouse is having a hard time managing money, this can be a good way to get them more involved.

 

Reevaluate your situation.

Should money break a relationship?

Some will say no, and others will say yes.

For me, I do believe that money can break a relationship. However, that doesn’t mean that divorce or separation should be the first place you go when you are struggling with financial infidelity or other issues affecting money and relationships. You will need to work on your issues together before deciding that it’s time to call it quits.

Being on the same page is so very important, and if your partner is the complete opposite of you, you may be fighting constantly, you may both be unhappy, and more. If that’s where you are at, then reevaluating your relationship may be an important next step.

Only you can determine what goes on in this step, as it’s a very personal decision and no one knows the exact issues you’ve been through and how they’ve affected your relationship.

What money and relationships advice do you have to share? What would you do with a partner who was bad with money?

The post Money And Relationships: Are You On The Verge Of Calling It Quits? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside

15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside

Looking for a list of outdoor jobs? These outdoors careers, adventure jobs, and nature occupations may change your life, and have fun at the same time! #listofoutdoorjobs #outdoorjobs #travelLooking for a list of outdoor jobs? These outdoors careers, adventure jobs, and nature occupations may change your life. Whether you are looking to make extra money or if you are looking for a full-time career, this list of top outdoors jobs is a fun one.

Recently, I was helping someone I know come up with a list of outdoor jobs for them to look into after high school, and it was fun to think about all of the exciting paths a person could take for work instead of the more traditional route of an office job.

There are actually quite a few career paths that will allow you to spend time outdoors, doing something that you love.

Now, of course, things won’t always be absolutely amazing because you still have to WORK, but you can be doing something that you love, helping a cause that you believe in, getting people more interested in the outdoors, and so on.

As someone who loves the outdoors, I would personally do a number of these outdoor jobs!

It was difficult to find exact stats on outdoor career paths as they can vary so much, but according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation contributed over $370 billion to the U.S. in 2016, which is higher than utilities, mining, and more… (source: The Statesman Journal)

That same year, the industry saw growth of 3.8%, compared to the overall economy’s growth of 2.8%.

You’ve probably seen outdoor careers growing without even realizing it was happening, like seeing busier outdoor spaces and parks. There is just a need for even more people to work in these spaces.

According to the U.S. National Park Service, around 330,000,000 visitors go to the parks each year, and people are enjoying them more than ever. In fact, parks are setting record visitation numbers because so many people are spending more time outdoors.

More people are RVing, traveling, hiking, and more.

And, this is where a lot of these amazing jobs come into play! As more people are doing these activities, outdoor and nature careers in those areas are just going to increase.

For some of these outdoor career paths, you may need a college degree, and others you may need some kind of experience or certification before you can be hired on. But, there are others that you can start and learn as you go. Some of these outdoor jobs are part-time and some are full-time. In the end, there is a wide variety of choices that may be more exciting options than “normal” office jobs.

Related content:

Here’s my top list of outdoor jobs for you to check out.

 

Work as a park ranger.

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a park ranger, this website is a great place to start – ParkRangerEdu.Org. According to this site, earning a college degree in a relevant major is helpful to becoming a park ranger, and may include majors related to conservation, biology, botany, ecology, forestry, earth science, and anthropology.

If you’re interested in an outdoor job, then I’m sure you know what a park ranger is. But, you may not know everything that they do.

Park rangers help protect the land’s parks, wildlife, visitors, and more. The responsibilities and tasks that a park ranger can have will depend on where the position is and the needs of that park. You may be working in a visitor’s center, be law enforcement within the park, protecting wildlife, conducting tours/programs for visitors, and more.

 

Become an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers develop plans to address recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water or air pollution. This is definitely an outdoor job that you would need at least a bachelor’s degree to apply for, but I imagine it could be very rewarding.

And, environmental engineers spend a lot of time outside collecting soil or water samples, inspecting facilities and the grounds surrounding them, and more. This is also a great job if you feel strongly about environmental work.

 

Walk dogs with Rover.

This would be a great side hustle for anyone who loves being outdoors and who loves dogs. And, who doesn’t love dogs!?

Rover is a company who helps pet owners find dog walkers, pet sitters, and more. It can be a great job that lets you get in plenty of exercise outside in the fresh air. You can also find dog walking clients by listing your services on Facebook, Craigslist, your online community forum, and more.

 

Work on a cruise ship.

When we went on a cruise several years ago, we met a man who was sitting in the hot tub waiting for his wife to get off work. She was a balloon artist on the cruise ship, and he got to tag along for the ride. She didn’t work a ton of hours, and they both seemed extremely happy with the gig that she had landed.

They were able to cruise around the world, for free, and earned a good salary.

And, there are lots of opportunities out there to land a job on a cruise ship.

Cruise ship jobs can include working in the ship’s entertainment area, salon, fitness center, onboard store, excursion planning department, restaurant, photography team, boat crew, cleaning, and the list goes on and on.

And, there are lots of cruise ships to work on too, from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Disney, and more.

With a job on a cruise ship, you would live on the cruise ship and many of your expenses, such as room and board, would be included. You would also earn a salary and may tips too on top of that.

 

Work at a nursery or garden center.

If you love plants and being outdoors, working in a garden center or nursery could be a great option. Your tasks might include helping customers, watering plants, doing some landscape work, and more. Working in a garden center doesn’t necessarily require a lot of training, and this is a great option for both teens and adults.

 

Be part of a yacht crew.

I’ve only been around boats for around one year, but one thing I have learned is that people are always looking for help on their boats. In fact, just last week I was asked if I wanted to join a mega yacht and sail all over the world. And, that wasn’t the first time – Wes has delivered two sailing catamarans for a total of around 4,000 miles (that doesn’t even include our boat), and we’ve been offered crew jobs on several other occasions.

Being a part of a yacht crew can include many different jobs, but if you like boats and/or are interested in learning about them, then this could be a fun career path to get into.

Working on a yacht may mean that you are a captain, a mechanic, a server, a cleaning person, a chef, etc., or you may even be all of those things if you are working on a smaller boat.

Working on a yacht or large sailing vessel is usually hard work, but you will be able to travel around the world with most expenses paid, plus you are often paid a salary too. The terms vary depending on the boat and what type of work is available.

Networking is extremely important in this line of work, and who you know goes a long way when it comes to getting one of these jobs. Now, it isn’t only about knowing the right people. Just hang out around the docks and/or other boaters long enough and jobs just seem to be floating around. There are also websites that you can join which connect potential crew to boats, and there are even agencies that can find yacht jobs for you.

 

Become an outdoor photographer.

We have met so many amazing photographers in the years that we’ve been traveling full-time.

We’ve met National Geographic photographers, people who are traveling around the world photographing crazy races, people publishing amazing photos on Instagram, and more.

As far as outdoor jobs go, this could be a really exciting one that allows you travel to all sorts of places that you never imagined you could go.

Related content: How I Made Over $1,000,000 in Photography Without Being a Pro

 

Work at a campground.

Work camping (or workamping) is when you work at an RV park or campground.

Many, many campgrounds (including ones on the beach, at national parks, national forests, and more) are looking for workampers, and this can be a good way to get your stay for free.

I’ve met many very happy workampers. People who work at campgrounds get to stay for free in some the most beautiful places. What’s not to like about that?!

The outdoor jobs available for workampers may include:

  • Working in a campground office office
  • Helping clean up RV sites and the RV park
  • Cleaning bathrooms
  • Guiding RVers to their sites
  • Making food

As a workamper, the way you are paid can vary. Workampers can be paid with an RV site to stay in, at an hourly rate, or a mixture of the two.

Related content: How To Make Money While RVing

 

Become an outdoor guide and/or instructor.

There are so many outdoor jobs that involve being a guide or instructor, and it really just depends on your skill level and/or what you may be able to learn (such as if someone is looking for an apprentice).

Ideas for these kinds of outside jobs may include:

  • Hiking guide
  • Rock climbing guide
  • Diving guide
  • Kayaking/canoeing guide
  • Fishing guide
  • Skiing guide
  • Surfing instructor
  • Caving guide
  • and so on

You may work for a private company, be self-employed (with your own company), a park (such as a national park), a summer camp, and so on. In fact, I know someone who has one of the many hiking guide jobs that works for the military giving tours to visiting families. He also manages the equipment and does mountain biking tours as well.

As far as room for new workers, The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that outdoor jobs in this area are expected to grow by 14% between 2012 and 2022.

 

Study to become an agronomist.

Agronomists are scientists who study plants and soil to find ways to help plants grow better. You might be helping plants grow for food, fuel, or land reclamation. You will need a degree in agricultural science, biology, chemistry, or physics for to become an agronomist.

You will spend a lot of time outdoors collecting samples, conducting experiments, and checking on the plants that you are working with. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this job to continue growing at an average rate of 5% until at least 2022. And, because of climate change and food insecurity, jobs in this field will likely continue to grow even more in the future.

 

Become a marine biologist.

When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a marine biologist. Not sure what happened with that, haha – probably because I’ve never been very good at science.

A marine biologist is one of the outdoor jobs that may have you working for a university, the federal or state government, a tour company (such as a whale watching charter), a nonprofit organization protecting wildlife and the water, and so on. You may be working as a guide, naturalist, researcher, a teacher, a consultant, and so on.

Marine biology is so very important, and this could be an amazing and impactful career path to get into.

 

Find a job as a landscape designer.

Landscape designers are people who are knowledgeable about plants, the climate they live in, and have a good eye for designing home and/or commercial gardens. Not only do landscape designers develop the plans for gardens, they may do some of the planting and care depending on the job you find.

You can work for yourself, a nursery, or a large landscaping company. This is one of the outdoor jobs that doesn’t always require professional training, but it can be helpful.

 

Work as a commercial fisherman.

Commercial fishing reality TV shows are more popular than ever. These jobs are pretty much what you think – fishing and bringing in hundreds of pounds of fish, crab, etc. If these jobs are anything like what TV shows make them look like, they could be incredibly dangerous but exciting too.

 

Work in the sports industry.

Outdoor jobs in sports are more than just being a professional athlete. There are trainers, coaches, referees, groundskeepers, and more. I was recently talking to someone who’s teenage daughter was being $35 an hour to ref club soccer games. She gets to be outdoors, spend time doing what she loves, and gets paid a really good hourly wage for a part-time job.

The type of training you need will depend on the field you are going into, but this could be a very fun job if you love sports.

 

Outdoors travel blogger.

Blogging is what I do to make money while sailing and RVing. Like I always say, I never realized I would be earning as much income online as I do now. While this job may feel unattainable because making money simply for traveling seems like an unbelievable opportunity, but just know that everyone has to start somewhere.

Also, blogging is not a way to get rich quickly, but it can be a way to make side money or even a full-time income if you put enough hard work and time towards it.

You can make money through advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, reviews, partnerships, e-courses, ebooks, and more. You can read all about how I earn a living online in my monthly online business income reports, where I describe how I make over $100,000 online each month.

You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $2.95 per month, plus you get a free domain name when signing up through my tutorial.

I know that many of you are interested in starting a blog, so I wanted to tell you about the discount I just got for all of you. Today, May 6, 2019 and tomorrow, May 7th, until 11:59 pm MT, you can start a blog for as low as $2.95 per month for 12 months. This means you can start a blog for just $35.40. This deal is only for today and tomorrow. Plus, you get a free domain name as well with this deal. You don’t want to miss this. This is their lowest pricing! You can find my free tutorial on how to start a blog here – How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost.

Related articles:

Are you interested in working outside and having an adventurous career? What do you think of this list of outdoor jobs?

The post 15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered

How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered

How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered #howtoearnmoneyblogging #blogBlogging completely changed my life, and it’s funny to think that I literally had no idea what blogs were until right before I started one in 2011.

Back then, I also never realized that you could earn money blogging. I don’t think I even looked into it because that was never my goal when I first learned how to start a blog. I certainly never thought blogging would drastically change my future, but I’m so glad I gave it a shot.

I had so many questions when I started my blog, and I learned 99% of what I know that hard way – by making mistakes.

I know that many new bloggers probably have some of the same questions I had because I receive around 100 emails a day from readers wanting to know how to start a blog, how to earn money blogging, and more.  So, I’m hoping today’s post will help you solve your blogging questions.

I know that blogging can seem scary in the beginning, but remember that most other bloggers were in the exact same place you were when they started.

Blogging isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside, but it is something that you can do. You can earn money blogging so that you can work towards living the life you want.

Blogging has allowed my husband and me to leave our day jobs, travel full-time, see family and friends more often, meet great people, and live one heck of a great life.

Because of the great experience I’ve had, I love helping others learn how to start a blog.

I never thought it would be possible, but here I am. Plus, I know many, many other bloggers in all sorts of niches who are making a great living online.

While there is no 100% guarantee that you will be able to earn a full-time living by blogging, I know many bloggers who are full-time and are very happy with it.

Due to that, today’s post is all about answering the questions I commonly receive about about how to start a blog and how to earn money blogging.

Related content:

Here are my reader’s top questions about how to earn money blogging:

 

Is 2019 too late to start a website/blog?

No, it’s not too late, and you haven’t missed out.

2019 is a great time to start a blog.

Trust me, people were saying the same thing when I first started Making Sense of Cents – that people who started in 2011 were starting too late and that no one would earn money blogging if they started when I did.

However, that wasn’t the case then or now.

The online world is still so new, and each year there are new ways to monetize and grow your blog.

For example, it wasn’t until the past couple of years that companies and advertisers started realizing the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, and that means even more opportunities to earn money blogging.

Before that, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

The online world is a huge place and it is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living in slightly different ways, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to earn money blogging, and I expect that the options will continue to grow.

Of course, because the blogging world keeps changing, there will constantly be new things for you to learn, but that will probably always be the case for managing any kind of business.

So, if you are thinking about starting a blog, today is the day. Don’t let your fears hold you back any further! You can find my free How To Start a Blog Course here.

 

How do I come up with a blog name and URL?

Deciding on a name for your blog is probably one of the hardest parts of blogging.

Even if you know exactly what you want your topic to be and have some articles written, deciding on your blog’s name may be stopping you from actually creating your website and launching it.

I don’t remember how I came up with Making Sense of Cents, but I’m glad I did. It is still catchy, and I receive compliments on it to this day.

Coming up with a blog name shouldn’t lead to stress, so here are my tips for deciding on a blog name:

  • Make it easy. My blog name isn’t the easiest for people to spell, and even I sometimes jumble it when I’m spelling it. So, my top tip would be to make sure that your blog name is easy for people to type or spell out loud. I’ve seen blog names that are extremely long, contain words that are difficult to spell, and so on. Instead, you should make it as easy as possible for your readers to find you.
  • Think about what you’ll be writing about. Think about the topics you want to write about, who your target audience is, and more, and then jot down descriptive words that are related to each. Brainstorming like this is a good way to come up with a blog name!
  • Use a thesaurus to find similar words. If your first or second choices are taken or if you want to see if there are some catchier sounding blog names, using a thesaurus can help you with some new ideas.
  • Make it catchy. You may want to think of something funny, use alliteration, or something else to make your blog name catchy and memorable.
  • Use your name. If you don’t want something catchy and/or if you think you’re not creative enough, then just use your name. It’s super easy that way, and more and more people are starting to do this.

See, creating a name for your blog can be easy!

 

What topics should I write about so that I can earn money blogging?

I know a lot of people think that you have to write about blogging to earn money blogging.

But, this is not true. The reason you may think that is because the bloggers who have income reports are the ones who talk about blogging, but that’s only because it fits in with their niche of trying to help other people start a blog. It’s meant to encourage others and to show them that it’s possible to earn money blogging.

It wouldn’t make as much sense for someone who writes about fashion or DIY stuff to have income reports. And, many people don’t like to openly share their income – money is a taboo subject still!

The truth is that people in all different niches make money blogging.

I know bloggers who are successful and write about health, clothing, home renovations, DIY, finance, travel, homesteading, business, self-help, relationships, food, and more. I even know plenty of people who just write about their lives and earn a full-time income from doing that!

So, how do you determine what to write about?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I always recommend creating a blog around a topic that you are passionate about, that you are an expert in, that you like, or something else along those lines.

This can make blogging feel fun instead of like a chore.

You can blog about several topics or you can blog about one specific thing, such as personal finance. For me, I cover a ton of different topics here on Making Sense of Cents. I talk about personal finance, life, travel, RVing, sailing, self-help, and more.

Some things that you may want to think about when choosing your blog topic include:

  • What are you passionate about? I always recommend that you start by thinking about what you are passionate about. Perhaps it’s a sport that you really love, crafts, cooking, managing money, travel, or something else. Whatever it is, blogging about your passion is great because that will show in your writing, and your readers will enjoy that.
  • What blogs do you enjoy reading? If you are thinking about starting a blog, I’m assuming it’s because you probably enjoy reading blogs yourself. If that’s the case, then you may want to think about which blogs you really enjoy spending your time on, and possibly blogging about something similar.
  • What are you an expert in? Now, you don’t need to be an expert in your blog’s topic to earn money blogging (more on that below in the next section), but if you are an expert at something, then this could be a topic that you blog about. There are many successful “How To” websites because people love to learn new things through blogs. And, there is probably something you could teach (everyone is an expert at something, even if you don’t realize that yet!). Think about the questions your friends and family are always asking you about, topics that you enjoy helping others with, and so on.
  • What things do you like learning about? Like I said above, you don’t need to be an expert in a topic to blog about it. People LOVE reading blogs from people who are learning or trying new things. This is because everyone has to start somewhere, and people love following the journey and seeing how something is actually done. So, if you are learning how to earn money blogging, for example, that could be where you start your blog. You can write about all of your mistakes, talk about what you’ve learned, show how you have tried and reviewed different options, and so on.

To earn money blogging, your blog can be about anything and/or everything. It’s entirely up to you.

Here are some possible blog topic ideas. The list doesn’t end here either. Choose one, all, or some. It’s all up to you.

  • Lifestyle
  • Home
  • Family
  • Finance
  • Crafts
  • DIY
  • Small business
  • Outdoor activities
  • Fitness and health
  • Food
  • Inspiration and advice
  • Animals
  • Travel
  • Games
  • Relationships
  • School
  • Electronics, and more!

That’s the beauty of having a blog – it can be about anything and you can still earn money from it.

But, the only thing I would avoid when starting your blog is that if it is about legal things or tax issues, then you should be an expert before giving people advice. You could get someone in a lot of trouble if you gave them the wrong information.

 

Should my blog be self-hosted? What does that even mean?

First, yes! Your blog should be self-hosted if you want to earn money blogging. It’s actually one of the first things you should do.

I recommend you start on self-hosted WordPress (this tutorial will help you start your blog the correct way). I cannot say this enough, but I do not recommend Blogger or WordPress.com (you want the self-hosted version, which is WordPress.org – confusing, I know). Buying that $10 domain name from Blogger or GoDaddy does not mean you own it either.

Unless you self-host your blog, advertisers, companies, and readers will still know you are on Blogger or free WordPress, and that can look unprofessional. Plus, your blog can be deleted at anytime and for no reason if you are using a free version, which actually happened to me. Even though you may save some money in the beginning, not being self-hosted can hurt your chances of earning money through your blog.

Seriously, just trust me. Go with self-hosted WordPress, and it will significantly increase your chances of monetizing your blog.

If you want further proof, take a look at my past income reports. You can tell that my blogging income didn’t take off until I switched to WordPress. That right there is a lot of proof that being self-hosted on WordPress is the way to go!

So, to recap, the positives of being self-hosted on WordPress through Bluehost include:

  • Your blog will look more professional meaning you will increase your chances of making money online.
  • You will have complete control over your blog.
  • You own your blog, and it can’t be deleted for any reason.

 

How much do I have to spend before I can earn money blogging?

When I first started my blog, I spent almost NOTHING on blogging expenses. In fact, I probably went a few years when I was only spending about 1%-2% of my revenues on blogging expenses.

Now, some of my expenses include:

  • My computer
  • The actual blog (design, hosting, etc.)
  • Courses, guides, and ebooks
  • My email (newsletter) list
  • Virtual assistant and editor
  • Technical management
  • Transaction fees

But, you do not need to spend money on all of these things to earn money blogging – I spent less than $100 total for the whole first year of Making Sense of Cents!

Learn more about my expenses at My Complete List of Monthly Expenses for a Multi Million Dollar Blog.

 

Do I need a lot of readers to start making money from a blog?

You do not need millions of pageviews per month to earn money blogging, but if you want to increase your income, it will be important to increase your page views.

Every blog is different, and it isn’t always the blogs with the largest number of readers that make the most money. That’s because once you understand what your readers want, understand how to effectively reach out to companies for partnerships, and know how to charge the correct rate, you can make a good income online in many cases, regardless of the amount of pageviews you receive.

But, if you want to increase your pageviews, here are my tips:

  1. Publish high-quality blog posts.Readers come back to blogs with high-quality and helpful posts. I recommend that your blog posts be at least 500 words, but more wouldn’t hurt either. The majority of my blog posts are around 1,500 to 3,000 words (this one is clocking in at over 8,000 words!).
  2. Be active on Pinterest. Pinterest is one of my top traffic sources. To increase your pageviews with Pinterest, I recommend creating great images, making sure the description and title of your images are catchy, pinning regularly, and only pinning long images. I use Picmonkey to edit all of my images and Tailwind to schedule them.
  3. Be active on other social media sites. Social media lets you interact with your audience more and can help you reach a larger audience. Besides Pinterest, you may want to check out Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and others.
  4. Post regularly. If you want to earn money blogging, you should publish something at least once a week. Going for weeks or months at a time without a blog post can lead to readers forgetting about you.
  5. Network with other bloggers. You should look at other bloggers as friends and colleagues, not competition. This means you may want to interact with them on social media, reach out to them via email, attend conferences, and more. Of course, be genuine and give more than you take.
  6. Guest post. Guest posting is a great way to reach a new audience and helps build partnerships with other bloggers.
  7. Make sure it’s easy to share your content. I love sharing posts on social media, but it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it’s easy for readers to share your content. This could mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn’t in CAPS (I’ve seen this too many times). No one wants to share a blog post when it sounds like you’re screaming at them.
  8. Create catchy headlines. The title of your post is a major factor influencing whether readers click over or not. I like to use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to help me with my headlines.
  9. Learn SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) is not something I could teach in such a small section, but I recommend doing your research and learning more about what it is and how it can help you.
  10. Make it easy for readers to browse. If you want more pageviews, you should make it as easy as possible for readers to read your other blog posts. Readers should be able to easily find your blog homepage, categories, tags, search bar, and so on. Also, I recommend including links for related posts in every single one of your blog posts.

 

How does a blogger network with other bloggers?

As you learned above, networking is so important!

Bloggers should be open to making blogging friends, attending blog conferences, sharing other blogger’s content with their readers, and more.

However, I believe that many bloggers skip this area, which can hold you back if you want to earn money blogging. Many bloggers see other bloggers as competition, and this is a bad thought for a blogger to have.

Networking can help you enjoy blogging more, learn new things about blogging, learn how to make money blogging, make great connections, and more. If you want to make money blogging like I have done, then you will want to network with others! After all, networking is how I learned how to earn money blogging!

Here are my tips to build relationships as a blogger:

  • Attend blog conferences and meetups. Attending networking events in person is great because that’s usually where you can build blogging connections with others. I attend Fincon every single year. Even though it’s mainly for financial bloggers, it’s a great conference for bloggers in pretty much any niche because the conference topics can be applied to many different types of blogs. For example, there are experts from all types of online industries to teach you how to improve your blog in so many different ways.
  • Comment on blogs. A super easy way to network with another blogger is to comment on their blog posts, talk to them on social media, reply to their newsletter emails, and so on. This is so easy to do!
  • Share articles. I share other blogger’s articles all the time. I do this because there’s so much great content out there that I want my readers to see, and by promoting other’s posts you’re helping them as well. This can be a great way to network with other bloggers as it’s something that other bloggers will notice.
  • Be active in Facebook groups. There are Facebook groups for pretty much everything these days. You can join groups for bloggers, digital nomads, those who just want Pinterest tips, and so on. By joining Facebook groups, you can connect with others who are interested in the same things as you are.

As you can see, there are so many ways to network and to build relationships, but make sure you treat it like building a “normal” friendship. You can start off really simply by commenting on a person’s blog and sharing their articles. Then, you eventually may want to interact with them on social media, attend blogging conferences, and so on. You can build relationships with those in your niche, somewhat related niches, or people who are blogging about things you’re interested in.

The key is to be genuine and to give more than you take, which are the two main things I always tell people when it comes to networking. I receive so many emails every day from people who clearly aren’t genuine and it’s very easy to see.

You shouldn’t be emailing other bloggers and people in the industry demanding that they do something for you – that just isn’t how networking works. Instead, you should find ways that you can genuinely help other people.

 

Do you mind sharing a detailed list of what processes you have with new blog posts?

This may sound like a pretty long process for each article that I write, but it has become quite routine over time. And, other than me brainstorming and writing the actual blog post (besides guest posts, I have always written my own content myself because I enjoy it), almost everything else is now outsourced to virtual assistants.

Here is a list of what goes along with each new article that you see on Making Sense of Cents:

  1. Think of new article topic ideas. I have a list of over 100 possible article topics that I keep on my laptop and my phone. The topics you read about here on Making Sense of Cents come from life experiences, reader questions, research, articles that I’ve come across (like if I see a crazy statistic that I find interesting, I’ll then turn it into a long article), and so on.
  2. Create a schedule. I have a schedule of topics for at least one full month, including the dates articles will be published. And, I like to make sure I cover a good variety of topics each week. For example, I don’t usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
  3. Write content. I like to sit down and write an article from beginning to end without any breaks. It may take me an hour to write an article or I may be at it all day. Sometimes, content does span a few days, but for the most part, I like to finish a piece of content in one sitting. I then hand over the content to my editor to fix anything from grammar and punctuation to the general flow of the article. The only thing she doesn’t edit are my monthly income reports.
  4. Add images and formatting. Once I get the content back from my editor, I add images (one for Pinterest and one for Facebook), format the post the way I want it to look, and add links to related content on my website.
  5. Publish the article and share. Once the article is published on Making Sense of Cents, I share it to Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon, Flipboard, and Twitter. I also schedule it to share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for future dates as well.
  6. Email my subscribers. The last thing I do is send an email to my subscribers about a new blog post being published.

I also do this for all of the articles I write for other blogs too. If I’m guest posting on a blog, I usually share it a little more than I do my own content. If you guest post on a person’s website, you should do the same – the more you share it, the more traffic that person will get, and the more likely they are to re-share it too.

Everyone wins!

 

Where does blogging income come from? Who pays bloggers?

This is a question I receive more and more often about how to earn money blogging. Many of you are interested in blogging, but you aren’t sure where the income actually comes from.

You receive blogging income from whoever is paying you.

  • If it is affiliate marketing you are providing, then you get paid by the company that makes the product or service whenever someone buys or signs up for something through your link.
  • If someone is paying you to place an advertisement on your website, then you get paid by the company who you are advertising for.
  • If you are publishing a sponsored post, then you are paid by the company who is sponsoring that post.
  • If you have display ads on your website, such as with Google Adsense, then you are paid by Google or by any number of other companies.

There are many companies and blogging networks out there that you can use to earn money blogging, and they usually pay you through PayPal or with a check in the mail.

 

How long does it take to earn money blogging?

There is no one answer to this question.

As you can tell from my past income reports, it took me nearly a year of blogging to start earning a few hundred dollars a month from my blog. After two years of blogging, I was earning several thousands of dollars a month, which was all on the side of my day job.

I know some bloggers who were making thousands of dollars a month after just a few months of blogging. There are bloggers out there who began a year or two after me and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. There are also other bloggers who aren’t making any money at all.

As you can see, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme and there isn’t a timeline for when you will start to earn money blogging. However, if you are serious about it, you never know what it may turn into.

It all depends on you, the effort you put into your blog, whether you have the time to learn how to monetize your blog, and more.

 

In what ways can I start making money from a blog?

There are several ways to earn money blogging, including:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Blog sponsorships
  • Display advertising
  • Product sales
  • Staff writing

I will explain each of these in detail below.

 

 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method in which you place a link to a product or company on your website or  social media platform. You earn money when a follower purchases the product through your link (this is called an affiliate link). Affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn money online because if there is a product or company that you enjoy, all you have to do is review the product and hopefully others will be interested in buying it as well.

Affiliate marketing is my absolute favorite way to earn money blogging. I love it because it can feel quite passive. With just one blog or social media post, you can potentially earn money years down the line. Now, you will have to maintain the post and keep generating traffic to it. Also, most bloggers who do well with affiliate income will share their affiliate links in more than just one post.

Affiliate marketing allows me to relax a little and enjoy life more, all while knowing that I am earning a great living by promoting products that I use and enjoy.

I regularly earn around $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing. For the most part, all the work is done and the traffic that is generated to my email list and blog posts passively converts people into buyers with minimal work required from me.

If you want to learn how to make money blogging with affiliate marketing, read the tips below:

  • Use the Pretty Link plugin to clean up long affiliate links. I use this for all of my affiliate links because something like “makingsenseofcents.com/bluehost” looks much better than the long links that affiliate programs usually give you.
  • Provide real reviews. You should always be honest with your reviews. If there is something you don’t like about a product, either don’t review the product or do mention the negatives in your review. Either be honest or don’t work with companies that have products you don’t like using.
  • Ask for raises. If you are doing well with a particular affiliate program, then ask for a raise. The worst thing that can happen is that your affiliate manager says no. The best is that they say yes!
  • Form a good relationship with your affiliate manager. Your affiliate manager can supply your readers with valuable coupons, affiliate raises, and more. These things help you earn money blogging.
  • Publish tutorials. Readers want to know how they can use a product. Showing them how to use it, how it can benefit their life, and more are all very helpful.
  • Have a recommendations page. I always like checking out a blog’s recommendations page because it helps me learn about new products and services. For the blogger, your recommendations page is a great way to list affiliate links and valuable resources that readers may need or want. Here’s mine as an example.
  • Don’t go overboard. There is no need to include an affiliate link 1,000 times in a blog post. Include them at the beginning, middle, and end, and readers will notice it.

You can learn more about affiliate marketing strategies in my course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

 

Here's how to make money blogging and how I've built a $1,000,000 blog. I have earned over $1,500,000 with my blog and around $979,000 in just 2016 alone.

 

What are sponsored posts?

Having a company advertise on your blog is one of the first ways the average blogger begins to earn money blogging. In fact, sponsored posts are exactly how I started!

This form of blogging income is when you partner with a company and advertise their brand on your blog or social media accounts.

I earn around $15,000 to $20,000 a month with sponsored posts. And, this is all from companies finding me and approaching me directly.

Whether you are a brand new blogger or have been blogging for years, you can start with sponsored posts right now.

Yes, that means that even if you are on Day 1 of your blog, you may be able to find a successful sponsored partnership.

I personally know several people who have found high paying sponsored partnerships in the very beginning of their blog. They started with an easy pitch email and knowing how to approach the company – I teach both of these topics in my  sponsored posts for bloggers course.

Many brands are moving toward working with bloggers and social media influencers due to the kind of traffic and customers a sponsored post can bring to a brand. Brands can reach their desired audience with sponsored posts, then gaining authentic customers.

This is why we are seeing ads and sponsorships moving toward bloggers and Instagrammers.

Brands have only recently started to understand the power of blogs and social media accounts, and the results have been great. Before working with bloggers and online influencers, brands would often rely on celebrities to promote their products. But in today’s world, people are more likely to be influenced by a blog, Facebook, Youtube, or Instagram account run by their favorite online influencers. This is because online influencers are real people who have been able to build a loyal following using an authentic and unique voice.

There is a ton of room for new bloggers to break into the sponsored post market, with plenty of room for growth well into the future. The fact that companies and advertisers are only starting to realize the value in online influencers, such as bloggers, means that the blogging world will keep expanding and offer more opportunities for sponsored partnerships.

And, the data supporting the continued success and growth of influencer marketing is out there. According to a study published on Social Media Today:

  • 94% of marketers using influencer marketing found it to be effective.
  • 48% of companies in the U.S. plan on increasing their online influencer campaign budgets in the future.
  • 71% of marketers think that ongoing ambassadorships (such as with sponsored partnerships!) are the most effective form of influencer marketing.

This just proves that sponsored partnerships are here to stay, and your ability to earn money blogging with sponsored posts will definitely continue to grow in the future.

As the online world continues to expand, so will the opportunities to earn money blogging. There are many different types of bloggers out there, and we all make money in a slightly different way. With a variety of stories and niches, the sponsored partnership opportunities are endless!

If you want to learn how to increase your advertising income, I recommend taking my Making Sense of Sponsored Posts course. Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000-$20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships!

 

Here's how to make money blogging and how I've built a $1,000,000 blog. I have earned over $1,500,000 with my blog and around $979,000 in just 2016 alone.

 

What is display advertising?

Display advertising is another popular way of making money from a blog.

Display advertising is a passive form of blog income because all you need to do is place advertisements (usually through an advertising network) on your blog’s sidebar, below a blog post, or somewhere else. Your display advertising income will increase or decrease based on your page views, and once you place the advertisement, there’s no other direct work to be done.

If you want to learn how to make money blogging through display advertising, then some popular networks include Adsense, Media.net, MediaVine and AdThrive.

Personally, I use AdThrive for my display advertising network. I don’t have many display advertisements on my blog, but I regularly earn around $1,500 to $3,000 a month from them.

 

Here's how to make money blogging and how I've built a $1,000,000 blog. I have earned over $1,500,000 with my blog and around $979,000 in just 2016 alone.

 

Can I create my own product to sell on my blog?

To really be in control of how you earn money blogging, you’ll eventually want to create a product to sell to your audience. There are many products you can create and sell on your website, such as an ebook, course, etc.

I launched my first product to sell over a year ago, which is a blogging course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I am making around $20,000 to $50,000 a month from this course, and because I have already created and finished the course, it’s a nice form of somewhat passive income.

Plus, I have helped many, many people improve their affiliate marketing income as well, which is such a great feeling!

Related: How I’ve Made Over $1,000,000 From My First Course Without a Big Launch

 

Do you have to pay taxes on blogging income?

Yes, blogging income is just like any other type of full-time or side income that you may bring in. That means you will have to pay taxes on your blogging income.

To understand taxes for bloggers, I recommend reading:

In the second article I linked, which is from a blogging friend of mine who is also an attorney, you will learn about:

  • Blogging and self-employment
  • What self-employment tax is
  • Filing taxes as a blogger
  • Tax deductions for bloggers
  • And, what if your blog is just a hobby?

It’s a very informative read, and it will help clear up many of the common blogging and tax questions that you may have.

 

Where do you get your photos from?

Putting pictures in your blog posts is important. They can help explain your story, break up text to make a blog post easier to read, and you need them for social media too (such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram).

Now, you can’t just do a Google image search and use the pictures you find, and the same goes for images and pictures you find on Pinterest. Doing those things may get you in trouble with the person who owns the photos. Similar to how you wouldn’t want someone to copy and paste a blog post of yours, you shouldn’t take photos without permission.

Currently, I source the pictures I use from two main areas:

  1. My own photos. These are usually found in my travel-related content and Instagram. I use both my iPhone 6 and my super old DSLR for pictures. Photography is an area that I’m still looking to improve, so I mainly use the following option for the majority of the pictures I publish directly on Making Sense of Cents.
  2. Ivory Mix. I absolutely love IvoryMix. They have great stock photos that fit perfectly with the vibe of Making Sense of Cents. They add over 100 photos monthly, and you can use them on your blog, social media, and more. Plus, Ivory Mix comes with unlimited download access.

 

Why do I need an email list for my blog?

Not having an email list is a huge mistake when you want to earn money blogging. I didn’t start my email list until years after I started blogging, and that is probably the biggest blogging mistake I’ve made. It took me even longer to take my list seriously, which I did after switching to Convertkit in 2016.

I can’t believe I waited that long!

I didn’t really use my email list until 2016 because I didn’t really understand newsletters, and I also didn’t realize how having an email list could help me engage with my readers and earn money blogging.

I really wish I would have spent more time on my newsletter in those early years, but I’m glad that I’ve learned from my mistake.

This is why I recommend that all bloggers spend time growing their email list. Actually, starting an email list is important for anyone who wants to make money online.

Here is why having an email list is important for bloggers:

  1. Your newsletter is all yours. Unlike Pinterest and Facebook (and other social media sites too), your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have your readers’ undivided attention. You don’t have to worry about some social media algorithm not showing your content to your readers, as they are your email subscribers so you aren’t fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.
  2. The money is in your list. I believe that an email/newsletter is the best way to promote products, from affiliate products to ones you create. Your email subscribers signed up specifically to hear what YOU have to say, so you definitely have their attention. Your email list, over any other strategy, will almost always lead to more sales.
  3. Your email subscribers are loyal followers. If someone is allowing you to show up in their email inbox whenever you want, then they probably trust what you have to say and enjoy hearing from you. This is a great way to grow an audience and to grow a loyal audience at that.
  4. Email is a great way to deliver other forms of content. With Convertkit, I am also able to create free email courses that can automatically be sent out to my subscribers. This makes life easy because all a reader has to do is sign up, and then Convertkit drips out the content daily, weekly, or in whatever other timeframe I choose.

 

What blogging ebooks and courses do you recommend?

It takes a lot of work to grow and build a successful blogging business!

If you want to earn money blogging, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you about the topics that will help you become a better blogger from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can’t find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn the exact steps to take to help you succeed.

I’m almost always taking new blogging-related courses because I know that there is always something new to learn.

Here are the ebooks and courses that I recommend for bloggers:

  • Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. I started 2016 with around 6,500 Facebook followers and I now have over 95,000. I owe a lot of that to the ebook Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. Growing my Facebook page has allowed me to reach new readers, improve my blogging income, grow my email list, and more.
  • Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I earn over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing, and I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you’re a blogger, then you NEED this course. I show you exactly how to make passive income from blogging, even while you’re sleeping.
  • 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight. By signing up through this link, you’ll receive a free copy of the informative ebook 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight. Ruth also regularly sends out many other great blogging tips. Her course, Elite Blog Academy, launches one time each year (the next launch will most likely be March of 2020), and it’s probably the most popular, well-rounded blogging course out there.
  • 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months. Lena Gott’s guide is full of great information on how to increase your blog’s page views. If you are feeling stuck or if you are a new blogger, check out this resource! Lena went from 17,000 monthly page views to 400,000 and shares all of her best tips in this guide.
  • Making Sense of Sponsored Posts. I launched this course with my sister, Alexis of Fitnancials, in 2018 to help bloggers earn money through sponsored posts. Between the two of us, we earn around $20,000-$30,000 a month from sponsored posts. We teach finding sponsorship deals, maintaining partnerships, and how to always make sure that you are helping your readers.

The blogging ebooks and courses above will help you to create a successful blog. They will show you how to master Facebook, get crazy traffic from Pinterest, grow your blogging income, and more.

 

How can I learn how to use social media for my blog?

Social media is very important for bloggers. It can help you to engage with your readers on a closer level so that they can get to know you better, improve your traffic levels, grow your audience, and more.

There are just so many different ways that social media can help you earn money blogging. However, I also understand that it can be time-consuming to master just one social media platform, let alone trying to master them all!

Learning how to use social media for your blog gets easier once you’ve been doing it for a little while. Plus, you can automate a lot of it, including scheduling posts in advance.

Below are my favorite social media resources that have helped me earn money blogging. To stay updated, I check these resources often for new articles, I read their emails, listen to their podcast episodes, and more.

  • My favorite Pinterest course is Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. This course shows you how to get free traffic from Pinterest to your blog. You’ll learn about Pinterest SEO, how to set up Rich Pins, how to create viral content, how to make Pinterest images, all about group boards, and many other valuable Pinterest strategies.
  • If you’re looking for great free Pinterest advice, that would definitely be Simple Pin Media. This website publishes high-quality articles on the topic of Pinterest as well as highly informative podcast episodes. They also have several great Pinterest courses.
  • My favorite overall business-related podcast would have to be Amy Porterfield’s podcast. Some of my favorite episodes are How to Engage Your Small Facebook Group When You’re Just Starting Out, All About Instagram Ads, and How to Create a 5-Day Social Media Video Series for Rapid List Growth.
  • My favorite Facebook page resource is Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing – Like I said earlier, I started with just around 6,500 Facebook followers when I first read this resource, and I currently have over 95,000. I owe a lot of that growth to the ebook Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. Growing my Facebook page has allowed me to reach new readers, improve my blogging income, grow my email list, and more.
  • If you want to learn about Facebook ads, I recommend reading How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
  • If you want to learn about SEO, I recommend reading The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year.
  • My favorite overall guide that covers many different social media strategies is 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months – Lena Gott’s guide is full of great information on how to increase your blog’s page views. If you are feeling stuck or if you are a new blogger, check out this resource! Lena went from 17,000 monthly page views to 400,000 and shares all of her best tips in this resource.
  • My favorite overall free resource would be Social Media Examiner. This website shares tons of great updates for nearly every social media site. If there’s some rumor going around about social media, I usually check this website first to see what they have to say about it.

As you can see, there are a TON of great resources for any social media help that you may need. There are plenty of other websites I regularly read and listen to as well.

 

How do you think of ideas for new blog posts?

I have published around 2,000 articles on Making Sense of Cents. And, I’m not running out of ideas any time soon.

I currently have a few hundred blog posts ideas that are just waiting to be written and published. Plus, nearly every single day, I add at least one more to the list.

This makes me laugh, because if you would have told me just seven years ago that I would really, really enjoy writing and that I would write millions of words for a living in the near future, I would have called you a liar!

I just didn’t enjoy writing when I was in school at all.

But, it’s pretty much one of my most favorite activities today.

Two questions that I receive quite often from readers include: 1) How do you come up with ideas for new blog posts and 2) How are you constantly coming up with new blog posts after several years of blogging?

One of the most difficult parts of blogging is creating new content, and sometimes you may feel that you have hit a brick wall and can’t find any inspiration.

For me, though, I have a system that has worked quite well, and due to that, I don’t think I will EVER run out of ideas for content.

So, how do I still have things to write about after several years of blogging?

I find topics to write about through:

  • Life experiences. Here on Making Sense of Cents, I generally only like to write about topics that I have experience with. I think this is what helps set me apart from others. I also receive the best motivation and inspiration from taking financial topics that I personally come across in day-to-day life and turning them into fun and engaging content.
  • Reader questions. I receive a ton of emails and comments each day from readers, and most of them are questions, like the topic of today’s post – is it possible to earn money blogging? If I feel like I have something valuable to share, then I like to turn questions into blog posts. This way, I can share my knowledge and expertise on a subject, and I also help a reader by diving further into a subject than what I could say in a simple email. Plus, if one person has a question, I know that many other people probably do as well! Turning questions into posts is also great because the next time I receive the question, I can easily send the link over to the reader.
  • Research that I’ve done and articles that I’ve read. I read a lot of articles every day simply for fun, and sometimes I come across something that I feel should be expanded upon, a topic that I think the average person doesn’t understand, things that boggle my mind, and so on. For example, if I see a crazy statistic that I find interesting, I may turn it into an article.
  • Brainstorming. Occasionally, I will simply sit down and have a little brainstorming session. While I do have a long list of possible content ideas, I like to keep my list fresh and update it often. Some of the things I do in my brainstorming sessions is that I may read older content of mine and see how I could possibly expand further on a subject to make it better, think of new blog posts that I could write about on a subject that is popular on my site (I may look at Google Analytics or Pinterest Analytics to determine this), and more.
  • Survey readers. Sometimes I ask my readers what they want to read more about. This always leads to a ton of ideas for blog posts and can be a very quick and easy way to add to your content list.

As you can see, there are many ways to come up with new blogging content.

Also, if you’re looking for even more ideas, I recommend checking out this freebie: 120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas from a blogging friend of mine, Ruth Soukup. This is a free resource that will help you come up with new blog content!

 

If blogging is so great, then why doesn’t everyone do it?

I hear questions like that pretty often. I also get a lot of people asking me: “If it’s so easy, why don’t you just start multiple blogs and make even more money?”

Blogging is not printing money.

It’s not a scam and it’s not a get rich quick scheme.

Learning how to earn money blogging is work, and just like with all jobs – not everyone wants what you want.

And, for every successful blog out there, there are probably hundreds of bloggers who will never earn money blogging. While you can earn money blogging, not all bloggers will.

It would be like saying that 100% of people who start a business will see success. That is just never going to happen – businesses fail, business owners have a change of heart, and others just don’t find it enjoyable.

I know I am always talking about the positives of blogging, but I also like to mention how it’s not the easiest.

After all, if blogging was easy, then everyone would do it and everyone would make thousands of dollars a month.

But as you know, that’s not the case.

Not everyone is going to earn money blogging because it is WORK! Most new bloggers quit just a few months in. A few months is not enough time to see if your blog will be successful. It took me six months before I started to earn money blogging, and I only earned $100. Now, I make over $100,000 a month.

It’s funny/weird to think about what life would be like if I would have quit back then.

I’m constantly learning something new when it comes to blogging and that is why I enjoy it so much.

Once you realize that blogging is hard, you will be ahead of 99% of everyone else in the game. Don’t assume, like most people do, that blogging is easy or a get rich quick scheme.

Starting a blog can be difficult. But, all bloggers start at the same point.

I remember being so lost when I first started my blog. I had to learn everything the hard way – it sure was difficult at times.

But, I have always really enjoyed blogging. I think that is so important when it comes to this type of business – you either need to have passion in your blog and/or passion in what your blog allows you to do in your free time (such as travel or spending more time with your family).

What other questions do you have about how to earn money blogging?

The post How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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How Amanda Paid Off $133,763 In Debt in 43 Months

How Amanda Paid Off $133,763 In Debt in 43 Months

How Amanda Paid Off $133,763 In Debt in 43 months #debtpayoff #payoffdebt

My monthly Extraordinary Lives series has been a lot of fun, and I’m back with another inspiring interview. First up was JP Livingston, who retired with a net worth over $2,000,000 at the age of 28. Today’s interview is with Amanda, who is now living debt free after paying off $133,000 in three years and seven months.

I’ve been following Amanda – @debtfreeinsunnyca – on Instagram for quite some time, and I’m so happy that I was finally able to interview her!

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How Amanda got into debt.
  • Why she decided to get out of debt fast.
  • The expenses she cut so that she could pay off her debt quickly.
  • What she thinks about the cash envelope method.
  • The sacrifices she made to reach her goal.
  • What she did to stay motivated.

And more! This interview is packed full of valuable information!

I asked you, my readers, what questions I should ask her, so below are your questions (and some of mine) about Amanda’s story and how she has accomplished so much. Make sure you’re following me on Facebook so you have the opportunity to submit your own questions for the next interview.

Related content:

Tell me your story.

Hey Michelle! Thank you for the opportunity. Here is my story.

I was 22 years old and working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship when I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and cubital (elbow) tunnel. The career that I had trained for was no longer an option. I had to start over and pick a new career. Tired of working commission jobs where your paycheck depends on how good of a salesperson you are, I sought out an in demand, well-paying career in cyber security.

Like any normal person would do, I took out student loans to cover my tuition. I didn’t pay any attention to how much I was borrowing or the interest rate. I figured I would be making the big bucks when I graduated and could afford the payments. To make that happen, I worked hard to get into my field and landed an internship during my first year in school. By the time I graduated, I had already been in the IT field for several years.

So, was I making the big bucks now? Nope, not even close. There was no big, fat pay raise when I graduated. Reality slapped me hard in the face when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to afford my student loan and car payments with my small salary in California.

I knew I had to do something to clean up my mess. Years before I had tried to get out of debt by following Dave Ramsey’s plan, but reverted to my old ways after going through some personal things. Wanting to give it another try, I enrolled in Financial Peace University. I also went back to school for my master’s degree. This allowed me to defer my loans while cleaning up my mess. The best part was the company I now worked for reimbursed tuition for degrees that are related to your field.

My debt was over $80,000 and consisted of student loans, a car, and a small credit card. Once I committed to doing a zero-based budget, I started to see some great progress. I was sharing all my progress with my then boyfriend, now husband. I tried to get him on board, but he wasn’t interested at the time. After a few months of hitting it hard, I started to get mad that my balance wasn’t going down as fast as I wanted it to. It was going to take me forever to get out of debt!

That’s when I had my second “I’ve had it” moment where I was now ready to take action. The Prius I was upside down on had to go. It was a drastic, but necessary move. I quickly saved up $5,000 for a used Honda Civic and sold my car. With one transaction I got rid of $17,000 worth of debt. It felt like I was getting somewhere now! Because of my past, dumb mistakes, I had to take out a $7,000 loan to cover the difference I was upside down on. Owing $7,000 is WAY better than owing $24,000. I consider this to be the best financial decision I’ve ever made. It catapulted my debt snowball and provided the motivation I needed to continue.

After seeing my progress and going through FPU, Josh got on board and started paying off his debt. He cash flowed my engagement ring and proposed several months later! We paused our debt free journey and cash flowed $14,000 in six months for our wedding and honeymoon.

With the wedding behind us, it was time to get to business. Together we had a total $133,763 in debt. Josh added a truck and multiple credit cards to the pile of debt. We combined our accounts, started doing a zero-based budget, and utilized cash envelopes to stay on track. We both worked to increase our income while keeping the same lifestyle. After three years and seven months of hard work, we became debt free on July 5th, 2018!

 

How much debt did you have and what was your debt from?

Our debt totaled $133,763 and consisted of 16 student loans, 8 credit cards, 2 vehicles, and 1 personal loan. Nearly half of our debt was my student loans from my associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.

 

Why did you want to get out of debt fast?

It’s an awful feeling not having enough money to pay your bills or having to tell your friends/family you can’t go out because you’re broke. I wanted to get out of debt fast so I could afford my bill and have money to do the things I enjoy.

My why evolved over time when Josh and I started talking about our future together. He almost bought a sailboat when he got out of the Army years ago. Josh ended up moving back to San Diego instead, and then we met. He shared his dream with me, and I was immediately on board. I had been obsessed with tiny house living, and having worked on cruise ships, I loved the water. Getting a sailboat and one day quitting our jobs to travel became our new why.

 

How long did it take you to pay off your debt and reach debt freedom?

We spent three years and seven months working on paying off all our debt. The first year I was on my own. We weren’t married yet, and it took some time to convince Josh to get on board. After getting engaged, we paused our debt payments for six months to cash flow our wedding. We finished up the remainder of our debt a year and a half after we were married.

 

How did you manage to get out of debt so fast?

Getting out of debt can be broken down into two areas: increasing your income and cutting your expenses. We did both during our journey.

Our income increased by $75,000 during our debt free journey. This was from raises, overtime, and on-call pay. How did we do this? I attribute a lot of my success to working while I was going to school. I landed a part-time internship when I was in my first year of school. It allowed me to work my way up the ladder faster and increase my income. While in my master’s program, I managed to get into the IT Security department at my company. It came with a significant pay increase and each yearly raise has been a generous amount.

Josh also works in IT. He doesn’t have a degree, but his eight years of experience in the Army and his drive more than make up for it. Josh manages critical applications and is one of the go-to people in the IT department. He’s on-call and often working overtime. His skills and work ethic have earned him well deserved pay increases over the years.

Cutting expenses also helped us reach debt freedom faster:

Housing

For most of our journey, we lived in a small 550 sq. ft house to keep rent low. This saved around $400 a month for the 2.5 years we lived there. That’s $12,000 saved!

Vacations

Other than a honeymoon, we didn’t go on a vacation during our whole debt free journey. We had a few small trips: graduation, a wedding, Christmas in Tennessee with my family, which my mom paid for because she wanted to see us while supporting our journey.

Instead of traveling, we found free things to do in San Diego. Going hiking with the dogs was one of our favorite things to do. We also hung out with friends at their house instead of going out. We would cook dinner and watch a movie or TV series.

Hobbies and fun

Josh has a lot of expensive hobbies that he put on hold during our debt free journey: spear fishing, fishing, tech stuff, etc. I didn’t have any hobbies since my life was consumed by work and school. We cut out restaurants, date nights, movies, and excessive clothing. If we wanted to go out to eat or buy booze, it would come out of our budgeted spending money. There were a lot of Netflix and chill nights! Our date nights consisted of grilling out in our yard and sitting by the fire pit. We did budget for date nights whenever we hit a big milestone.

Work perks

Josh and I work at the same company, which allowed us to carpool to save money. Additionally, our company has amazing benefits. Our health and dental insurance are extremely affordable, both of our cell phones are paid for because we’re on call, and we’re able to make up missed hours instead of taking PTO if we need to leave work for some reason.

 

Can you tell me about cash envelopes? How does it work and why do they help?

Cash envelopes are a budgeting method where you take out cash for specific categories instead of using your debit/credit card for purchases. Each payday we take out money for groceries, gas, spending money, and any sinking funds we’re saving for. For that two-week period, all groceries come out of the grocery envelope. Same with gas and spending money. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! There’s no money left in our accounts because it’s all been paid to debt, so you better spend the money wisely! We had our emergency fund in case anything happened, but spending too much on groceries is not an emergency.

This method really helps curb your spending because you feel it more when you use cash. It’s also easy to look in your wallet and see how much money you have for each category to stay on track. Josh is a spender and he’s had great success with cash envelopes. I had a wallet with several dividers made for him to make it easy.

A lot of people are scared to carry around cash. I think the benefits of using cash outweigh the risk of losing it or it being stolen. I suggest only carrying around the amount that you need and leaving the rest at home in a safe until you need it. If anything were to happen, you always have your emergency fund to fall back on.

 

What is your response to people that say, “You should invest that money instead of paying off the debt, you’ll earn more in the long run…” etc.?

Ahhh the age-old argument! My response is do what works best for YOU! Everyone’s situation and priorities are different.

When I started, I didn’t have a choice because I wasn’t going to be able to afford the minimum payments on my debt! As we got further into our journey, sure we could have invested, but paying off debt was more important to us. Becoming debt free is a sure thing and will force you to change your spending habits for the better. I never want to get in a bind and have to pull out investments early because of debt or bad spending habits.

 

What sacrifices did you have to make in order to become debt free?

The biggest sacrifice I made to become debt free was selling my beloved Prius for a 2005 Honda Civic. At first, I didn’t want to sell it. I was going to try and get out of debt while keeping the car. After eight months of paying down my car loan and not making a lot of progress, I realized I had to make some bigger sacrifices, otherwise I would fall back into my old spending habits and go further into debt. I still miss the ability to get into my car without taking the keys out of my purse and the convenience of Bluetooth! My used Honda is old and janky, but it’s paid off!

 

Often people paying off loads of debt feel they have to choose between “living life” and making payments. Were there any times during the journey that you chose to “splurge”?

There were a few times we splurged! We got sick and tired of living in a small house, so we moved into a bigger rental with office space and a yard for the dogs. Before moving we did a cost analysis on the expenses to determine if it was worth it to us to push back our debt free date by a few months or stick it out and continue living the same way.

Our new place was so empty when we moved in. Imagine going from 550 sq. ft to over 1,300! We didn’t even have a table. We spent a few weeks buying furniture and things that we needed for the house before getting back into the swing of things.

Another big splurge was a complete surprise to me! I had been eyeballing this nice Canon DSLR camera and planned on getting it as a debt free gift to myself. Right before I graduated with my master’s degree, my mom was in California on a travel nursing assignment. She knew we were on a strict budget and would say no to most things that cost money. My mom told me she won $150 gift card and wanted to use it to take us out to eat.

I agreed because who passes up free!? During dinner, I kept making comments about us going all out because we have to use up the gift card. Avocado eggrolls, pizza, and several beers later, Josh said he forgot his wallet out in the truck and went to grab it. He came in the door behind me and set a big present on my lap! I immediately knew it was the camera!

So, how did Josh get this big purchase by me? He’s a veteran and was in school at the time. Veterans get a housing allowance each month while in school per the Post-911 GI Bill. The money was deposited into his personal checking account, and then he moved it to our joint checking every month. He told me that the allowance was delayed that month because of paperwork! I completely bought it. Josh used the money to go in on my graduation gift with my mom.

And the gift card? There was no gift card! They knew the only way to get me to a restaurant during our debt free journey was to lie to me and say she had a gift card. The total with tip came out to just over $150.

 

What did you do to stay motivated?

It’s so important to find ways to stay motivated when you have years of work ahead of yourself. Because I had fallen off track once before, I knew I had to find better ways to stay motivated and focused.

Visuals were by far my favorite way to stay motivated. I had multiple charts, spreadsheets, and countdowns going at home and work. Every time we made a payment towards debt, I would get to color in charts, change Excel spreadsheets, and update the whiteboard at work. Having reminders where you’ll see them every day is extremely motivating.

I also sought to find other people on the same journey. Back in 2014, there weren’t a lot of people on Instagram sharing their progress and journey. I found a small group of people from searching #debtfree and #daveramsey, and started following them. The hashtags started to get polluted by people selling those skinny teas and weight loss wraps. I put out a call to the small community, and we decided to vote on our own hashtag. That’s how the #debtfreecommunity was born!

It’s so motivating to talk to people who are going through the same thing. In real life, none of my friends or coworkers were trying to get out of debt. Their eyes would gloss over when talking about budgets or paying off a debt. Every time I opened Instagram, I would immediately be motivated by another person’s journey or the lovely comments left on my posts.

 

If you were starting back at ground zero, what would you do differently?

There are so many things I would do differently! First off, instead of getting a $12,000 car when I was 16, I would save up a few thousand and buy a used, reliable car. That one decision would set my life on a much better path! I’d be able to save up money and pay for school upfront, which is my next point. I would spend more time figuring out what I want to do in life and researching schools. I’d make sure to pick a career that is not commission based and makes a great salary. I would start investing early in life, even if it was only $100 a month. I would continue to pay cash for purchases, save money, and invest.

 

What is your very best tip (or two) that you have for someone who wants to reach the same success as you?

Hands down the best tip I can give is to create a zero-based budget and stick to it. A budget doesn’t sound sexy or fun, but it gives you freedom to spend money on the things that matter to you. Budgeting doesn’t mean you have to cut out all your fun! Put it in the budget. The point is to know where your money is going and to spend it intentionally. Don’t resist the budget!

The second tip I can give is to find your people! It’s hard to stay motivated to pay off debt or save when all your friends are spending money left and right. Having a supportive group of people that get you is priceless.

 

What’s your next financial goal?

Our next financial goal is to save $25,000 for our 6-month emergency fund. We want to be prepared for anything that comes at us!

We keep $2,000 in a local savings account and the rest will be in a high interest savings account. Transferring money from our large emergency fund to our checking account takes a few days, which is great because it helps prevent us from dipping into it for non-emergencies.

The emergency fund will cover all of our expenses for six months with minimal cuts to the budget. It’s going to be a huge relief to have money set aside just in case. No more money fights when something unexpected happens!

 

Where can my readers go to learn more about you?

You can learn more about us by following along on Instagram, heading to our website, and checking out our debt free swag.

Do you have any other questions for Amanda? Are you trying to pay off debt?

The post How Amanda Paid Off $133,763 In Debt in 43 Months appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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Is Full-Time Traveling As Good As It Sounds?

Is Full-Time Traveling As Good As It Sounds?

Do you want to travel long-term? In this article, I talk about the downsides of full-time traveling, and whether full-time travel is for you. #fulltimetravel #travelI know that traveling full-time sounds fascinating – you get to explore new places, bring your home everywhere you go, try new foods, meet new people, and more.

But, it’s not always beaches, mountains, and other beautiful landscapes.

I’m definitely not complaining and I am very thankful for the life I get to live. However, while I once believed that full-time travel was the greatest thing ever, lately I have been feeling oh so tired!

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

Over the last few months, I have seen countless friends and travelers that I know stop traveling full-time, all for various reasons. And, each time someone quits, I have stopped and thought about my own life and full-time traveling journey.

I want to bring this up because I know that so many people who travel full-time feel that they are the only ones having a hard time – struggling with loneliness, dealing with broken RV or boat parts, feeling tired, and so on.

I think that if more people realized that these feelings are normal, then they could push past the hard parts and enjoy the fun parts even more.

Traveling full-time is amazing but it’s not for everyone. And over the years, I’ve had plenty of people tell me that they could never travel full-time, and I always thought those people were absolutely crazy.

“WHAT?! Why wouldn’t you want to travel full-time?”

But, after so many years of being location independent (since 2013), I’m finally starting to understand why some of the RVers and sailors I’ve met start to slow down or stop traveling all together.

And until recently, I had a hard time answering a question I often receive, “What do you NOT like about full-time travel?”

While the first couple of months of full-time travel were a difficult transition, the following years have been glorious and amazing. But like I said, I’m starting to understand some of the downsides.

Still, traveling full-time has many, many positives. I wouldn’t be doing it unless I thought it was amazing! You can read about all of the reasons why I love full-time travel below:

Today, I’m going to talk about the downsides of full-time travel. And while I don’t see us stopping full-time travel anytime soon, these are all things that you may want to think about before you decide it’s the lifestyle for you.

 

Being away from friends and family.

I don’t think I’ve been back “home” to Missouri in over a year, and even then, it was only for a few days during a stopover before getting our boat. I can’t even remember the last time I saw my friends from home. It’s also been forever since I’ve seen our family!

While we have visitors occasionally, it’s very different from regular get togethers with friends and family at home.

I still remember the day that we sold our house in Missouri – I cried and I was so sad to move away! Even though I looked forward to our new adventure, it was hard to leave everything that I was familiar with.

That being said, we have made great friends both on the road and in the boating community.

But, since most these people also travel, we eventually have to say our goodbyes and will probably never see those people again, no matter how great the friendship is. I still fondly remember saying goodbye to an RV neighbor we once had. We didn’t speak to each other a ton, but we loved sharing our past experiences with one another. I really loved hearing about the amazing life our RV neighbors lived. When it was time to separate, this 87-year-old man, who barely knew us, had tears in his eyes.

And, this happens all the time! It’s difficult making friends when you know that it’s going to be over soon.

 

Dealing with a literal broken home.

When something is broken in a “normal” home, you can typically still use your home, sleep in it, and have no other worries.

Yes, you may still have the stress of money and trying to fix it, but dealing with a broken moving home, such as an RV or boat, can lead to a lot more things, such as:

  • Getting into an accident because something is broken (such as a flat tire, blown engine, etc.).
  • Not being able to sleep in your home because it’s in the shop, which can lead to even more expenses, scrambling to find somewhere to sleep, and more.
  • Putting your life at risk in order to repair the issue (this is more-so true on a boat than an RV, because with an RV you can just pull over, but it’s more difficult to do that on a boat).

Then there’s the whole boats and RVs just aren’t made the way that homes are, so they are literally just broken all the time. This is true whether your RV/boat is brand new or if it’s 50 years old – there’s just always a long list of things to maintain and items to replace and/or add.

 

Get used to being uncomfortable.

Many people have a very specific routine that they go through every day, whether they want to admit it or not.

After all, humans are creatures of habit.

When traveling full-time, it can be very difficult to establish anything that even remotely resembles a routine. This is because most days are different, life can be dependent on the weather, things break, and so on.

Here are some instances in which you may have to change the way you live while traveling full-time:

  • Using less water. In a normal house, the average person uses around 100 gallons of water a day. If you are a full-time traveler (in an RV or boat for example), you will need to learn how to live with less water, unless you’re at a campground or marina.
  • Dealing with dirty clothes. If you don’t have laundry aboard, then you will have to find laundromats. Yes, I realize that many people use public laundromats, but when you’re traveling it can be hard to find laundromats at each place you visit.
  • Learning new cultures, laws, rules, etc. so that you don’t do something stupid.
  • Not speaking the language of wherever you are.
  • Feeling sick? You’ll most likely not be around a doctor you know, and you may have to go to a doctor in another country who speaks a language that you don’t understand.
  • Have pets or kids? There’s a whole lot more planning that goes into full-time travel once you add either (or both) into the mix.

And more! While those reasons may seem petty, those things can really test your comfort level and are why many people stop traveling full-time.

 

Not having a home base.

Okay, so our sailboat is our home, as was our RV.

But, there is something to be said about having a home base – as in one that doesn’t move.

For me, I do dream of one day having a home with a beautiful mountain and/or valley view, a garden, and a place to stop and refresh after a fun trip.

I don’t see myself quitting traveling forever, but being able to relax at home without having to move it sounds nice in the future.

I’m seeing more and more RVers purchase homes/property that have full hookups, so that they can stay in one spot and rest for a few months in a row. I’ve also met quite a few sailors who do the same for hurricane season each year.

 

Not having room for all of your stuff.

Another positive of having a home base is having room for all of your things!

The reality is that even a minimalist will have stuff.

When we downsized our house and belongings to move into our RV, we rented a storage unit for a few months to help us deal with some things that we still had but couldn’t fit into the RV. While it was helpful at the time, we are now really happy that we got rid of our storage unit.

I won’t lie, though, just a few months ago, we were talking about whether or not we should get a small storage unit again for some of the gear we have (bikes, bikes, and more bikes, and other outdoor gear) and things that we have collected over the past few years while traveling.

But, we’ve decided not to.

Related content: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned From Living With Less Stuff

 

The amount of trash in the world will make you sad.

I’m not perfect, and I realize that I’m contributing to the worldwide trash crisis. But, traveling full-time in beautiful places and seeing so much trash everywhere is a real eye-opener.

I hate seeing all the trash, and traveling full-time makes it a little more difficult to live sustainably. Sure, a sailboat can be powered by the wind and solar panels, but other forms of travel aren’t as eco-friendly. And, when you’re traveling in certain countries, they may not be as eco-friendly as you’d hope (you may get plastic plates with your food and items in the grocery store may come with a crazy amount of plastic packaging).

Sometimes I dream of having a sustainable home, one that runs on solar and has a bountiful garden.

Related content: Save Your Money And Avoid A Storage Unit

 

There are so many decisions.

When living on a boat, so much of your life is controlled by the weather. Once you arrive to a new anchorage or marina, you’re pretty much already thinking about your next spot, which can even happen the following day (depending on the weather).

There are so many decisions that you have to make as a full-time traveler, whether you are by suitcase, vehicle, or boat, such as where you’ll be living the following week, where you’ll be able to walk the dogs (or, if you’re even allowed to bring them), how you’ll school your children, how you’ll get food/groceries, dealing with checking in and out of countries, route planning, figuring out when/where to get fuel, water, where to dump, and more.

Full-time travel means that you have to plan everything full-time!

 

Is Full-Time Traveling As Good As It Sounds?

How much longer will I travel full-time?

After reading all of the above, I’m sure some of you think that I might be about to quit this lifestyle.

Well, don’t hold your breath – I have no plans of quitting this life of travel any time soon.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and there are positives and negatives to each.

I absolutely love full-time travel for many reasons, such as:

  • Getting to travel – DUH! I love being able to go to new places, find new hikes, try new food, meet locals, see beautiful landscapes, and more. This world is a beautiful place and I want to see it all!
  • You can explore off the beaten path places because you have a lot more time to see everything. This is probably my most favorite part of full-time traveling! I love just stopping for a break, realizing that we found something amazing, and staying for as long as we want.
  • You can bring your home to places that people can’t get to by plane, which leads to more travel options and you can stay in these places even longer. And, you never have to pack! Okay, well you kind of have to pack your home up but at least you know that you’ll never forget anything at home, haha.
  • You can live by the beach, mountains, desert, and anywhere else.
  • You can spend more time outside.

And so much more.

While it does take some effort to make this lifestyle work, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The thought of no longer traveling is something that scares me since we’ve been doing it for so long. Would we really enjoy being “home” most of the time? Would sitting still for long periods of time drive us crazy? Would we regret the change and go back to full-time travel life?

While it seems like a dumb thing to be afraid of, I know of many people who stopped traveling and felt lost, experienced culture shock, and were not happy. Full-time travel and house life are two lifestyles that are so very different.

Now, I know that some of you may take this as one big complaint of a blog post, but I am definitely not complaining about the life that I live! I know that many people live much more difficult lives, and I am very grateful for mine. In this blog post, though, I am hoping to help others make the transition smoothly and be aware of the possible downsides.

If you’re interested in long-term travel, please read Want To Be A Full-Time Traveler? 13 Ways To Make It Happen.

Are you interested in full-time travel?

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Why All Bloggers Need An Email List

Why All Bloggers Need An Email List

Why All Bloggers Need An Email ListMy biggest blogging mistake is that I waited years to start an email list, and then even longer to take it seriously. I finally started taking my email list seriously around 2016.

I was about to launch my course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and realized that I really needed an email list. I was collecting the occasional email address about a year before then, but I was doing absolutely nothing with it, and I don’t think I even had any email optins on Making Sense of Cents – there was no way for people to subscribe!

So, when I was creating my first course, I realized that I really needed to learn anything and everything about building an email list.

I had no clue how anything worked. I didn’t know how to send a newsletter, I didn’t know how to get people to join my email list, and so on and so on.

I really wish I would have started my email list back when I first started my blog so many years ago! In just the past 3 years since I started taking building an email list seriously, I already have over 100,000 email subscribers. I think that if I would have started from the very beginning, I could possibly be at double or even triple that!

But, I don’t like to live in the past 🙂

So, today, I am here to tell you to start an email list for your blog RIGHT NOW.

Don’t wait until tomorrow, and definitely don’t wait until next year.

I really wish I would have spent more time on my newsletter, but I’m glad I’ve learned from my mistake.

Due to this, I recommend that all bloggers spend time growing their email list.

Here is why all bloggers should have an email list:

 

It’s easy to start email marketing for your blog.

Okay, so I know what a lot of you are probably thinking “But, it’s so hard to start an email list!” Or, “I don’t even know what the first step to start an email list for my blog is!”

That is completely fine, and I understand.

I was completely confused when it came to email lists and I had no idea what I was doing. And, that is why I waited so many years to finally start my email list.

Creating an email list in actually much easier than you think.

For example, to make it easy for bloggers, Constant Contact provides:

  • Video tutorials that show you how to get started, grow your list, send an email, automate your list, and more. They have tons of helpful videos that will get you from A to Z.
  • Easy to customer email templates so that your emails always look great
  • Real-time tracking tools so that you can see who is opening, clicking, and sharing your emails

And so much more.

 

Your newsletter is all yours. 

Unlike with social media websites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have their undivided attention.

You don’t have to worry about some social media algorithm not showing your content to your readers, as they are your email subscribers so you aren’t fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.

You also don’t have to worry about a social media website deleting your account. I have seen this happen far too many times – websites such as Pinterest or Instagram delete a social media account of a person who makes their living on that social media account, and then they are left with nothing.

That doesn’t have to be you, though – you can protect yourself!

By having your own email list, you are in control.

This can help you to improve your page views, increase your income, and be in control of your own business.

 

The money is in your list.

According to Business Insider, 98.4% of consumers check their email every day.

I believe that email/newsletter is the best way to promote an affiliate product and to sell your own product as well.

Your email subscribers signed up specifically to hear what YOU have to say, so you definitely have their attention. Your email list, over any other strategy, will almost always lead to more sales.

 

Your email subscribers are loyal followers.

If someone is allowing you to show up in their email inbox whenever you want, then they probably trust what you have to say and enjoy listening to you.

This is a great way to grow an audience and to grow a loyal audience at that.

 

Email is a great way to deliver other forms of content. 

With my email list, I am able to also create free email courses that can automatically be sent out to my subscribers.

This makes life easy because all a reader has to do is sign up, and then the email marketing company sends out all the information that they need and drips out the content day by day (or whatever timeframe I choose).

 

So, how do you create an email list for a blog?

First, you’ll want to find an email marketing service. There are many out there, but one that I recommend checking out is Constant Contact.

And, yes, you need an actual provider to do this the correct way.

A great email marketing company to check out is Constant Contact. They have great customer service and a free 60 day trial (no credit card required)​. Constant Contact will allow you to:

  • Send new subscribers a welcome email automatically
  • Trigger email series based on where contacts click
  • Segment your email subscribers based on their interests (this is a feature that I highly recommend using!)
  • Automatically resend emails to non-opens
  • Grow your email list with powerful list-building tools that they offer

One other reason why I really like Constant Contact is because they are very affordable. They have a risk free trial, where no credit card is even required. So, you can test it out and see if you like it first.

Please click here to try out Constant Contact.

Do you have an email list? Why or why not?

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The Most Important Money Lessons I Learned From My Dad

The Most Important Money Lessons I Learned From My Dad

On April 18, 2008, my father passed away from cancer. It’s always a sad day to remember, but as each year passes, I strive to honor him by making each day better than the last. I know that’s what he would have wanted, and I would like to dedicate today’s post to him. I wrote this blog post years ago, but I have updated it for this year, and it still makes me very happy when I read it and think about him. Enjoy!

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of my dad. The littlest thing will remind me of him, and I am both sad and grateful when that happens.

My dad was a huge part of my life, and it only makes sense to talk about him today. This is especially true because he taught me so many important financial lessons that have helped me become the person I am today.

If it weren’t for my dad, I would probably be, at least, a little worse with money. I think I’d probably be a little worse at a lot of things if it weren’t for him.

I didn’t really think about the financial lessons he taught me when I was younger, but I’m so glad that I was able to learn so many valuable things from him. To this day, I still remember little things he shared and taught me, and they help me to keep learning more from him. It’s a crazy feeling to keep remembering things even though it’s been years since he’s passed.

Due to this, I believe that teaching your children valuable financial lessons is key. My dad did tell me things about money, but the best lessons came from watching the way he managed his money while living the life he wanted. Teaching your children about money will help them grow up and be better able to manage a budget, understand investing, know how to save money, and more. I know this from personal experience.

Below are some of the many great financial lessons my father taught me.

 

My Dad taught me that I could afford to travel.

One of the biggest financial lessons my father taught me was that I can afford to travel.

Besides his family, the other things my dad loved in life were traveling and airplanes (he had his pilot’s license and worked for the airlines nearly his whole life – so my recent April Fools joke, We’re Moving Onto A Plane!, actually fooled quite a few people because they knew this fact about him). He traveled all over the world and always made sure to fit traveling into his life in any way he could, and I gained many great memories from it.

I still remember him taking me to Disney World ALL THE TIME (I loved it!). He flew us in small planes, and I even had a great time just sitting at the airport. I’m one of those weirdos who genuinely loves being at the airport.

My Dad loved every single part of traveling, and he passed that on to me.

He created hundreds of photo albums from his travels, which I still look at on a regular basis. I also recently found a travel journal he kept that listed all of the amazing places he traveled to.

If you are thinking my dad was rich, he wasn’t. Instead, he worked with his budget and found ways to fit exciting trips in because travel was important to him. This meant that he probably went with less than some people think is possible, when he actually gained much more by budgeting for travel.

We didn’t live in a huge house or have fancy things. In fact, we grew up living in small, cheap apartments because he absolutely hated yard work and maintaining a home, so he liked apartment life because it meant that a landlord took care of all of that.

He bought a new Camaro in 1984 (this was his baby), and he drove it up until a few months before he passed away in 2008. He didn’t care about furniture, electronics, or anything else. He would often work long hours, he never ever called off work, he always had a budget, he always saved money, and more.

He was all about travel, and he managed his money well enough to be able to take trips whenever he could.

 

 

He taught me that you don’t need to spend tons of money on material things.

My dad was extremely frugal. He hardly ever went shopping for himself, other than for things such as new work shoes (that’s literally all I can remember him buying for himself, and they were from Kmart).

My dad always dressed nice, slacks with a nice sweater or shirt. In fact, he had the same exact wardrobe the whole entire time I knew him (I’m not even kidding – it was literally the same clothing). He didn’t own a single pair of jeans, a single T-shirt, or anything else like that.

He spent very little money on clothing and that leads to my next thing –

My dad wasted almost nothing. He probably did not realize it at the time, but my dad was a champion of the eco-friendly movement.

He wore shirts until they disintegrated, he loved finding furniture on the side of the road (it still makes me laugh to think about the way our living room looked – a hodgepodge of random street finds), and he hardly ever wasted anything.

When I was a kid, I was embarrassed by the way our home looked, but now I completely understand.

My dad didn’t value decor or material things, he valued experiences.

 

He taught me not to live paycheck to paycheck.

My dad was all about having a budget. He went over his budget and his checkbook nearly every single day. Working for the airlines meant that he occasionally got laid off and rehired over and over again.

Due to this, he always made sure to budget his money well.

He always had an emergency fund, spent less money than he made, and always made sure to put as much money as he could towards retirement.

My dad did anything and everything to make sure that we didn’t have to worry about money or go without anything that we needed when we were kids. It’s a trait of his that I loved. Even when he would get laid off, he never acted like it was a big deal because he was always prepared.

 

He taught me that credit can be used to my advantage.

The topic of credit cards and credit came up a lot when I was younger.

I remember one day being with my dad and seeing what I thought was a scammy credit card commercial. I was super young and said, “I’m never going to have a credit card!”

My dad told me that if I used them correctly, credit cards could be used to my advantage. Even though I was young, he then explained how to use credit cards, and I now use them on a regular basis to earn awesome rewards and bonuses.

Thanks Dad for another great money lesson!

 

My dad taught me that money doesn’t have to limit you.

Out of all of the money lessons he taught me, this last one is probably the most important.

Even though my dad passed away too young, lived on a budget, and saved for a retirement that he never got to experience, I truly believe that he was still able to live life the way he wanted to. When he was told that he had limited days left to live, he never once dwelled on the past nor did he say that he wished he would have done something different in order to live a better life.

He was able to travel all over the world and visited many, many countries. I’m not sure how many countries he visited but I know it was well over 50.

I think the most important money lesson I learned from my father is that money doesn’t have to control you. Even though you will never know when your last day is, you can still save and spend your money wisely, while also living the life you want.

Too many people believe that they can’t lead a good life on a budget. But, that is not true at all. You can still live a great life while managing your money and living without regret.

What financial lessons did your parents teach you? What financial lessons will you make sure you teach your children?

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How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of Adventure

How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of Adventure

Hello! I had the pleasure of hanging out with Steve and Courtney several times while we were all in Tucson with our RVs. Steve and Courtney retired from full-time work at the ages of 35 and 33 and travel the country for a living in their 30′ Airstream travel trailer, named Charlie. They blog about financial independence and early retirement at ThinkSaveRetire.com and publish travel videos on a growing YouTube channel, A Streamin’ Life.

How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of AdventureListening to the birds and the rush of the creek behind us, we sit beside a morning campfire.

We are watching the sun rise over the mountains in the distance as we sip on our morning coffee. The conversation turns to what hike we are going to attempt this morning and the local brewery we want to try out this afternoon as a reward.

Did I mention this is a typical Tuesday?

My husband and I live and travel full-time in a 30’ ft Airstream travel trailer and try to make mornings like this one more of our norm than the exception.

But three years ago, our life was anything but adventurous.

I had barely stepped inside an RV, had never camped in my life, and if you had asked me where to go for a morning campfire, I would have looked at you blankly!

When we got married in 2014, we had no plans to travel the country full-time – but we did have a lot of decisions to make. After all, marriage was the beginning of a new life for both of us.

A new life that we’d live together.

One of those choices was what to do with two houses (we each had one before marrying) and two salaries. Between both of our tech salaries, we had quite a bit of cash to play with.

Instead of expanding our lifestyle with a vacation home or expensive restaurant visits, nice cars and a big house, we decided to save an entire salary, plus some, in our quest for FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early).

We both wanted out of the rat race, and fast.

We realized pretty quickly that we could live on a lot less than we thought, and at the rate we were saving, we could quit our full-time jobs and have the freedom to do and live where we wanted in just a few years.

But the question was where? What do we do, and where do we go, after quitting?

Neither of us were tied to a particular location, and without the full-time job holding us down, we had the entire world open to us. We could, in theory, live anywhere.

And, that was it. The answer was everywhere!

There is so much to explore in our own country…things that most people never get to see. My in-laws quickly pointed out (after being full-time RVers themselves for 12+ years) that traveling in an RV was the best solution. Not only could we explore and go to new places whenever we wanted, but we could also bring our home with us as we did it!

After this revelation, we started working towards our life of freedom and full-time RVing, but boy did we have a lot to learn!

The first step was figuring out what RV would work for us.

We knew that we wanted something small and easy to tow. Something compact but still enough space for both of us to feel comfortable. We needed a place where – as soon as we set foot inside, we felt like we were home even though our environment would constantly change.

We decided on our Airstream knowing we wanted a travel trailer (so we only have to worry about one engine – our truck), we didn’t want or need slides (space didn’t bother us and slides can break a lot), and something easy to tow was best since we were complete beginners.

As we looked for our new home, we downsized everything in our current 1,600 square foot house. Garage sales were common as we unloaded all the crap we accumulated over the years. And, I bet that we could have furnished an entire Goodwill store by the time we were finally done!

In April of 2016, we officially moved into our Airstream and sold both of our sticks and bricks homes.

But, and this is big, we didn’t start traveling, exploring, or having those morning campfires yet.

Step #1 was done. We downsized our lifestyle…big time. Step #2 was next – quitting our jobs.

In fact, for the next year after buying the RV, we lived in our Airstream stationary in Tucson Arizona while we finished up work, did renovations on our new traveling home, and learned how to live in a 200 sqft trailer.

While we do not recommend living in an RV in Tucson during the summer months (116 degrees outside – yikes!) this plan did allow us to split up our learning process.

We spent the year learning how to live in a tiny space, be happy, cook delicious meals, keep organized in such a small space, and setting the Airstream up right for us. Then it was time to actually start adventuring and the real learning began!

We towed our Airstream out of Tucson to begin our travels on April Fools Days of 2017.

We had no idea of the excitement, terror, heartbreak, and awe awaiting us. We started, as many do, staying mostly in campgrounds with your typical amenities like running water, power, and sewer but we quickly realized that campgrounds were not ideal for us. We wanted to be out in nature and smelling campfires, not our neighbor’s burnt dinner, hearing the wind through the trees, not the news being played outside from 3 rigs over in our row.

And we weren’t the only ones, either! Our dogs wanted to be out wandering in the desert or meandering down paths in the forest. So, it was time to start finding all those epic places to camp and getting out there.

We had some trial and error along the way. There was the day we wanted to camp in the wilderness around Crater Lake in Oregon right after Memorial Day. I had done my research and picked out a spot I thought would work after reading lots of online reviews. Unfortunately when we got there…the road no longer existed! What?

Apparently, the reviews I was reading were from 3-5 years ago. It was a great road for free camping….when it existed.

Oh well, I was prepared and had a backup plan so we drove the 1.5 hours to the north side of the lake. That’s when I learned my second lesson of the day – check the weather/elevation of where you are going.  

When we got there, the road was still covered in snow! I never even thought to check, given it was early June, but that area still had a lot of snow. So we had to sit on the side of the road while I frantically looked online to find something nearby.

Luckily, we found a campground but in my haste, I didn’t check the max length restrictions.

Driving through the campground finding a spot was super stressful, those curves were tight! Turns out 30’ was the max length for any spot and, all hitched up, our rig was so long that it made for some hairy maneuvering. Let’s just say we were happy to settle in for the night.

What a long day!

How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of Adventure

We’ve spent nights next to idling semis in Walmart parking lots, and under the bright lights of casino parking lots. We’ve spent weeks in gorgeous places without being able to see them due to heavy smoke. We’ve had to completely change plans and leave a state due to extreme heat and not planning ahead to find a campground with electricity to run our A/C.

But for all of the bad or hard experiences, we have had so many amazing ones. Waking up to complete silence and epic sunrises over the mountains. Hiking from our Airstream to absolutely amazing waterfalls. Having happy hours in our camping rockers while listening to the waves crash in front of us.

We love our life and even those tough days have given us opportunities for needed lessons learned. They got me pouring over RVing forums to make sure I had all of the best tools (preferably free) to plan our travels.

I learned about weather planning (for temperature, storms, snow, and wind), elevation and driving route planning (this is a huge one especially if you have a larger RV), what to do and have on hand for emergencies, how to find the most epic off-grid camping locations and make sure it would work specifically for us, the importance of backup plans and so much more.

How we manage to plan our adventures is the question that we get asked…all the time. For most travelers, the planning part of all this is stressful.

After explaining everything that went into planning our life of travel to my husband (and anyone who asked!), we realized that we should share all this hard-earned knowledge and our proven planning process with other beginning RVers. Why make someone else go through years of those tough learning experiences when we could save them the time and the stress and set them up right?

How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of Adventure

We launched our course – How to Plan Your Epic RV Adventure, last year to rousing success. Over 150 people have successfully taken the course and are busy planning their epic RV adventures. Our students include other full-timers like ourselves looking to find more epic camp spots and avoid troubles on the road, new RVers trying to plan the perfect weekend camping trips for their family, and dreaming soon-to-be RVers who have not yet bought or rented an RV but want to start traveling and exploring!

We walk you through the whole trip planning process from deciding on your major destinations, finding cool things to do and see along the way and planning a safe driving route, to finding awesome places to camp and putting it all together into a detailed plan.

We use mostly free apps, websites, and services throughout the course and provide in-depth tutorials on how to use them quickly and easily. One large section of the course is completely devoted to Google Maps and everything you can do for free.

Google My Maps is a powerhouse free tool which makes planning any trip so much easier and our tutorial ensures our students are power users by the time they are done!

We also ensure you have good backup plans in place in case something doesn’t go quite according to plan. The worksheets, spreadsheets, and outlines included in the course keep you organized and ensure you have all the facts you need at every step in the process.

But, the real value in this course is being part of the community.

If you do have any questions during the course or need help with your trip planning afterward, we have a dedicated private Facebook group where we are always there to answer questions and give opinions. It has already proven itself to be a great source for our students to help each other plan and even arrange meetups or share travel plans!

If you dream of taking that epic RV adventure but don’t know where to start we encourage you to take a look at our course. If you have never considered RVing, we encourage you to think about it.

How We Made the Switch to Full-Time Travelers and Planning a Life of Adventure

We like to say that RVing is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” activity.

You can RV to get away into nature and hike to epic views as we do, or you can RV to small towns for festivals, try every brewery in your state, learn history by staying near or on historical battlefields, catch delicious fish, or ride some crazy mountain biking trails.

It takes some planning but RVing gives you the freedom to see and go where you want and bring the comforts of home with you!

Our life of travel is continuing onward. This year we are venturing towards the Eastern half of the US which provides its own set of planning challenges and epically awesome places to see and explore.

Remember what Hellen Keller said, “Life is either an adventure or nothing” so get out there and start adventuring!

Please head on over to How to Plan Your Epic RV Adventure to check it out further.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for free Epic RV Tips, a weekly email all about RV trip planning.

Are you interested in RVing?

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Is Paying Off Your Debt Worth It?

Is Paying Off Your Debt Worth It?

Is Paying Off Your Debt Worth It? #payoffyourdebt #debtPaying off debt is hard work. If it weren’t so hard, then it would be no problem for people to do. But, that isn’t the case at all.

Once you decide to pay off your debt, there will challenges along the way. There will be times that you feel tired and even defeated. Paying off debt takes making sacrifices, it takes time, and you may feeling like you are the only one working towards being debt free.

There are many things that may weigh you down as you pay off your debt, and the ones I bring up are all going to feel very negative. But, I want to talk about them because they are all things that I have felt while paying off my nearly $40,000 of student loan debt. By knowing that these feelings are common, my hope is that today’s post can help you overcome difficulties that you may experience along the way.

Instead of letting these feelings or challenges completely stop you from moving forward as you pay off your debt, you should know that many of the obstacles you come across are things that you can push past and move on from.

I hate seeing people stop their debt payoff journey because they feel too overwhelmed, and it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one trying to pay off your debt. Just like anything else you are working towards, keep trying because you won’t get any closer to your goal if you stop now!

Plus, paying off debt is all worth it.

Remember this as you go, choosing to face your finances and pay off your debt is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And, even though it’s hard, you will be so proud of yourself once you realize what all of those struggles and hard work were for.

It may take a long time, but try to remember why you are doing it.

To help you deal with how difficult it may feel to pay off your debt, here are some of the struggles and feelings you may face and what you can do to change your mindset.

 

You may feel tired.

Learning to pay off your debt means you may need to find another job, cut your spending, and even downsize your house. All of those things are stressful and stress can leave you feeling exhausted.

But, you need to remember that you won’t always feel this way. This feeling is a temporary thing and what’s at the end, being debt free, will let you live a better life.

You will eventually be able to cut back on working so much and you will be able to sleep better knowing that you won’t have debt hanging over your life.

I remember how much extra work it took to pay off my debt. I worked so much and was so tired, but I wouldn’t change a thing because paying off my debt has led to living an amazing life.

If you are looking for motivation while you pay off your debt, the articles below may help you stay focused and working towards your goal:

 

You may have to make sacrifices.

Paying off your debt is all about making sacrifices, and we all know how hard that can be. You may have to change your spending behaviors, avoid places like the mall, cut your expenses, and more.

While it may seem tough to adjust to a new lifestyle, especially in the beginning, it will get easier over time. If bad spending habits were what led you into debt, then these sacrifices may feel even harder due to the fact that you may be used to spending more than you have.

But, you can break those bad habits and create new ones that will help you pay off your debt and then stay debt free. Habits like budgeting, family money meetings, and not overspending are all things that will help you for years to come.

If you are struggling with making sacrifices, I recommend bookmarking your favorite debt blogs and podcasts,

going on a no spend challenge, redoing your budget, looking for ways to extra money, and more.

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You may be bored.

When you are trying to pay off your debt, you may have to start saying no to some of the activities and things you were spending money on. This could mean saying no to vacations, happy hours, dinner with friends, going to the movies, and more.

While you may feel bored in the beginning, it’s probably just because you haven’t realized that there are so many ways to have fun while you pay off your debt. When you actually start looking for frugal options to having fun, you will probably be surprised that there are so many possibilities.

You can take part in free events and festivals around your area, go to your local library, use coupons, and more. Plus, the outdoors are always a great place to have fun for cheap. You can go for a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog, or just explore. Find more ideas at How To Have Frugal Fun.

There really is no reason to be bored while paying off your debt. You’ve probably heard the saying that only boring people are bored – so don’t be boring!

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You may feel like you should be keeping up with the Joneses.

One thing that many people find hard about paying off debt is that it feels like everyone else around them is still spending a lot of money. There are social media posts about amazing vacations, your friends might be talking about the new car they just bought, and friends who are wearing trendy new clothes and shoes, etc.

But, none of those things are needs. That negative feeling you might be experiencing when thinking about those things is just the feeling that you need to keep up with others. This is often something we try to do in order to feel better about what’s going on in our own life.

Unfortunately, it can be very tempting to stop your debt payoff journey to try to keep up with others around you, this is because you may feel jealous and wonder why others can spend money when you cannot.

But, looks can be deceiving. You don’t know what kind of financial situation that the other person is in. They may have more debt than you do! They may be maxing out their credit cards to go on vacations and buy expensive new clothes. They may have taken a second mortgage out on their home, and more!

There is no need to spend just to spend. You should only make purchases that you actually want to make and ones you need to make.

The next time you feel like you should spend money on things you don’t really need, you should stop and think about what’s actually bugging you and if you truly believe that spending money will cure whatever problem you are dealing with.

So, if you are wanting to do some emotional spending to deal with your feelings of debt pay off or to keep up with others, try to think about how amazing you will feel if you just keep working on your debt.

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Paying off debt is all worth it.

While all the things listed above were negative feelings, there is one thing to keep in mind:

Paying off your debt can have so many positives.

I paid off my student loan debt quickly, and while it was extremely tiring, I wouldn’t change it for the world. There were many sleepless nights, 100 hour work weeks, and more, but I always reminded myself that this wouldn’t last forever. I knew that I wanted a different life and knew that paying off my debt would be 100% worth it in the end.

And, while you may feel like it’s awful right now, here are some positives that will come along the way:

  • Happiness. No longer having debt means that you’ll have more money in your pocket. You can save for retirement, finally take a vacation, and those things can lead to happiness and security.
  • No longer living paycheck to paycheck. By eliminating your debt, you will hopefully have learned better money management skills which will then allow you to start saving for other things in life, such as retirement.
  • Feeling in control. Debt can make a person feel like they have completely lost control of their life. By getting rid of your debt, you will feel much more in control of your life and your financial situation.

How does, or did, paying off your debt make you feel? What do you do to remain positive? What do you think debt free life will be like?

The post Is Paying Off Your Debt Worth It? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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The content for this post was sourced from www.makingsenseofcents.com

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