When you’re drowning in debt, it often feels like the world is caving in around you. Your thoughts are swirling and just won’t stop. You’re not sleeping, and you’re worried if your next paycheck will be enough to provide for your family. And then the questions fueled by endless worry begin: How will I make ends meet? How in the world will I cover my mortgage/rent this month? Will these debt collectors call my boss (how embarrassing)?
You’re not alone. In fact, 78% of Americans today are living paycheck to paycheck.1That means you’re not the only person who’s ever been in debt. In fact, Dave knows what drowning in debt feels like all too well. But he decided enough was enough. And so can you. Choose—right this moment—to start changing the way you interact with money.
Did you know that personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge? That means with a plan—and a lot of hard work—you can be standing on solid ground in no time. And who knows? You could even become an everyday millionaire. We believe in you!
What to Do When You’re Drowning in Debt
1. Get on a budget.
Doing a budget is one of the most important steps you can take when you’re drowning in debt. A budget is the very thing that will show you where your money is going and why you feel like you’re drowning. But you don’t have feel that way any longer—and a budget will help!
When you’re making your zero-based budget, you might be tempted to account for all of your extra expenses first.
But first, you need to make sure your basic needs are met. We call these the Four Walls, and they are:
Now, after you’ve budgeted for groceries, water, electricity, your rent or mortgage, and gas to get you to work (in that order), you can start assigning any leftover dollars to other pressing needs. Do you have student loans or a car payment? Are those hospital bills piling up? Or maybe your dad’s birthday is coming up and you at least need to send a card. Whether it’s $50 or $500, all expenses must go in the budget. Need to go to the doctor this month? Yup—make sure to put that in there too. Remember: Income minus expenses should equal zero!
2. Cut back on the “extras.”
Now that every dollar has been accounted for, it’s time to see where you can cut back.
Take an inventory of any automatic payments that routinely come out of your bank account. Maybe you have a $7 subscription to the clean beard club. We’re not knocking beards—especially clean beards—but these kinds of expenses add up quickly. Plus, that free gift they offered you when you signed up is probably long gone, leaving you with a subscribtion you keep forgetting to cancel every single month—and more beard oil than you know what to do with.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good mail day just like the next person. But whether you’re drowning in student loan debt or drowning in credit card debt (or just plain debt), you’ve got to make some pretty big changes. You guessed it: We’re talking about cutting back on these nonessential items and getting your “want-itis” under control. Here are some tips:
- Make coffee at home (skip the $5 lattes until you’re no longer drowning in debt).
- Cut back on your grocery bill by cutting coupons and going without the kids so you’re not tempted to overspend on Oreos. Psst: Leftovers are your friend.
- Don’t even step foot in a restaurant unless you’re working there.
- Sell everything that’s not nailed down.
3. Pause all investing.
Really? Yep. Saving for your future when you’re living paycheck to paycheck (or worse) isn’t the best idea. At least not yet. If you’re still trying to pay off credit cards, an upside-down car loan, or a huge pile of student loan debt, it’s time to press pause on your future investments . . . temporarily. This temporary pause frees up extra cash you can use to pay down your debt.
Don’t worry, you’ll come back to this once you’re debt-free.
4. Don’t take on any new debt.
None. We know it’s hard (and maybe not what you’ve been used to), but trust us—taking on debt robs you and your family of a secure financial future. Your choices right now can and will impact future generations of your family tree. So don’t take on even another penny of debt.
Get out your favorite scissors and do some plastic surgery (or as Dave calls it, a plasectomy). The best part? No medical experience required. Yup—we’re talking about cutting up those credit cards.
You may feel your heart start to race and your hands begin to sweat. But let us remind you: Having a credit card for emergencies seems like a good idea until your next “emergency” looks like your next afternoon coffee run. When you cut up those cards, you’re choosing to put an end to the merciless cycle of debt for good.
5. Increase your income.
Now that you’re on a budget and you’ve decided to stop taking on any new debt altogether, it’s time to figure out how you can increase your income. Take a second job or pursue a side hustle that will give you the extra income you need (as quickly as possible) to throw at your debt. Whether that’s working at your local coffee shop, mowing lawns, or driving for a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, you’ve got to bring in more cash.
We get it. No one wants to work around the clock. But in order to see that mountain of debt turn into a valley, you’ve got to start doing something different. Remember: This isn’t forever. You won’t be skipping out on time with family and friends for the long haul. But in order to get on the right track, you’ve got to start making sacrifices now.
6. Start working the debt snowball.
Now that you’ve got some extra money coming in each month, it’s time to start paying off your debt with something we call the debt snowball method:
- List your debts from smallest to largest—no matter the interest rate.
- Attack the smallest debt with everything you have. Did you sell the couch? Great—throw your earnings on this debt. Keep putting anything extra you make toward this debt until it’s gone.
- Once that debt has been paid, take the minimum payment (plus that money from your second job) and throw it at the next largest debt while paying minimum payments on the rest.
- Keep this snowball rolling until you’re debt-free!
Want more debt snowball tips? Sign up for this free, three-day email series that will send helpful tips and encouragement straight to your inbox.
7. Stop the comparison trap.
Comparison is one of the worst things you could do while you’re getting out of debt, and social media is one of the biggest culprits. If you’re scolling through your news feed and see your friend (whom you haven’t talked to in years) on a European vacation with her mom, that doesn’t give you permission to plan a fancy vacation too. Nope. Europe will still be there when you’re completely debt-free.
When you’re in debt and going after your debt with gazelle intensity,* it’s hard not to compare your financial situation with other people’s situations. But here’s the truth: You don’t actually know their financial situation. We don’t know if your friend put her fancy vacation on a credit card. But we do know that once you’re out of debt, you’ll be able to plan these trips of your own. Listen: The Joneses are broke. If you’re falling into the comparison trap, it might be time to take a much-needed break from social media.
8. Start (or keep) working the Baby Steps.
Have you heard of the Baby Steps? These seven steps are the proven (and practical) way to help you change your life. And now that you’re standing on more stable ground, you’ll want to follow these steps all the way to building wealth and giving.
Baby Step 1: Save $1,000 for your starter emergency fund.
Baby Step 2: Pay off all debt (except the house) using the debt snowball.
Baby Step 3: Save 3–6 months of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund.
Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income in retirement.
Baby Step 5: Save for your children’s college fund.
Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early.
Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give.
It may feel like you’re drowning in debt right now. But like we said earlier, it doesn’t have to be this way. Once you’ve had it with debt (and we hope you have), you can climb your way out of it. And remember: You’re not alone in this.
Take our free, three-minute assessment to find out where you stand with debt. We’ll give you a curated list of next steps and resources to help you get started on your journey to financial peace.
No matter where or how we shop, the temptation to overspend on random stuff follows us everywhere we go. Yup, we’re talking about the aisles right next to the store’s checkout lane. Mini hand sanitizers, gum and that magazine with the latest news on the royal family?! It seems they’ve thought of everything—or that’s what they want you to think.
With so many ways to shop (online, on our phones and in-store), how can we avoid making mistakes that bust the budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop on how to stop spending money so you can start actually winning with money.
Reasons Why You’re Overspending
People spend money for so many reasons, and if we’re just a little honest with ourselves, most of those reasons can be chalked up to emotions. Many times, we can blame our overspending on five things:
1. Social Media
Need we say more? Picture it: It’s Saturday morning, and before you realize it, you’re scrolling through your social media feed to catch up on what your friends are up to. And before your feet even hit the floor, you’ve spent $30 on that new, life-changing thing you thought you needed.
If you’re honest, you didn’t have to work too hard to picture it (because you lived it last weekend). Let’s face it: We all want what we don’t have. And we want it because we think it will make life that much better.
But social media makes the comparison game even stronger these days. With Pinterest, your friend’s post about their brand-new couch with those perfect pillows and that popular blogger’s sponsored posts about that incredible, all-inclusive resort . . . where does it end?
Newsflash: It won’t. All of these things just drain your budget, steal from those future financial goals you have . . . and steal your joy.
2. Not Tracking Your Spending
It doesn’t matter how large (or small) your income is—if you’re not tracking your spending, you’ll never be in control of your money. In fact, you’ll always feel like your money owns you.
Listen: Living paycheck to paycheck is the pits. If you’re wondering where all your hard-earned money went each month, it’s time to start tracking it! Stick with us, and we’ll show you how.
3. Shopping to Feel Better
Some people like to joke about being a shopaholic, but compulsive spending, otherwise known as retail therapy, is a thing. For most of us, spending on impulse just because we want it now is the problem. We see something and buy it beforewe think about what’s in the checking account (or about our financial goals, for that matter).
4. Paying With Plastic
If you haven’t noticed, you spend more when paying with plastic. Whether that’s a credit card (everyone loves shopping with someone else’s money) or a debit card, the research is the same.1 When you spend with cash, you feel it. You feel those crisp (or wadded up) green bills leave your hand, and it hurts. Something inside of you cringes. Just moments before, you had money, and now, you don’t.
Think about it, when you’re shopping with plastic, it’s easy to spend more, because you don’t physically see the money right in front of you. So, the next time you make a purchase, pay in cash, and you’ll see exactly what we mean. Plus, there’s no overspending—you can only spend what you have with you.
Here’s the good news: You can overcome these overspending habits with a little planning, self-discipline and long-term thinking. Here’s how we suggest you stop spending money.
8 Ways to Stop Spending Money
1. Know What You’re Spending Money On
Making and sticking to a budget every single month is what is going to help you get out of debt and stay out of debt.
If this is your first time budgeting, you might be surprised by how much money you’re spending each week or even each month on little things, like coffee, lunches or that snack shop at work that your spouse doesn’t know about.
When you make your first budget, you need to make sure your basic needs (or your Four Walls) are covered. These are:
While these are the necessities, they can also offer an opportunity to cut back on the extras. You really don’t need to go out to dinner every night or buy new clothes every week. And if you are, it’s time to invite Marie Kondo into your life.
2. Make Your Budget Work for You
Now, you’re ready to create a monthly spending plan for everything from gas to going out to eat. This is also called a zero-based budget. This means your income minus your expenses needs to equal zero and you’ve told every single hard-earned dollar where to go. Just remember, it’s a working budget. You have to keep coming back to it in order to stay on track.
If this is your first budget, you’ll want to give yourself grace. It takes a few months to make your budget work for you. But if you’re an expert, take another look through your monthly expenses for other ways to trim your spending.
Do you really need to spend money on clothes every single week? Probably not. What about that gym membership you haven’t used in eight months? It’s time to get really honest with yourself and start trimming the fat out of your budget. Answering these questions can help put you on the path to spending your money with intentionality.
Use a free budgeting app, like EveryDollar, to create your first budget in 10 minutes. You’ll be able to plan your budget, track your spending, and monitor your debt and savings progress each month.
3. Shop With a Goal in Mind
We’ve all been there. You’re out of shampoo and toothpaste. So, with those two items in mind, you make a quick run to Target. But as soon as you walk through the door, you feel the gravitational pull toward the dollar spot and fill your basket with a bunch of those colorful cell phone chargers and water toys for the kids that you swear will get used all the time.
After a few impulse buys, a quick trip to the store for a few essentials just got . . . expensive, thanks to a few seemingly harmless purchases.
But does anyone really plan on getting sidetracked while they’re out shopping for essentials? Probably not. But if you often get caught in this scenario, you might want to make a point to avoid the stores that trigger overspending.
4. Stop Spending Money at Restaurants
Changing how you spend money on food is one of the easiest ways to save money. And we all know that going out to eat gets expensive fast. If you’re spending $15 on lunch four times a week, that’s $60 a week—and $240 a month! Imagine how quickly you could pay off debt with that kind of money!
Consider this: Instead of heading into the grocery store and wandering up and down the aisles, create your meal plan for the week, make a list before you go, and then stick to it. If you need to leave the kids (or your spouse) at home to save even more, don’t think twice about it. Planning your meals in advance means lowering your overall food costs.
Speaking of lunch, bring your lunch to work every day. We promise—it doesn’t have to be complicated! Set aside some time on Sunday afternoons to meal prep, or take 15 minutes each night to make a sandwich or pack up some leftovers for the next day.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t ever treat yourself to a nice dinner on a special occasion or Sunday morning brunch—just make sure it’s in the budget.
5. Resist Sales
Who doesn’t love a good deal? Retailers know their customers, and they also know the irresistible pull of a flashy (and perfectly placed) sales rack. But how much is all this saving really costing you?
If you buy a sweater you never intended to buy just because it’s 25% off, you’re paying 75% more than you would have. Sorry, shoppers, that’s still called spending, not saving.
Avoid these shopping traps by making a list before you go! Then, practice some self-discipline once you’re there. If you see an item on sale that isn’t on your list, it wasn’t meant to be.
6. Swear Off Debt
If you’re serious about getting your overspending under control, you have to swear off debt—for good. After all, debt steals from your income. Not only that, you’re stuck paying on the loan or credit card (plus interest) until it’s gone for good. It’s true: Your debt owns you until you pay it off once and for all.
We live in a world where just about anything can be financed or borrowed, which can give you a sense of financial security. But that financial security isn’t real. It makes you think if you can afford the payment, you can afford the new car, house, or big purchase. But in reality, if you don’t have the cash to pay for something right now, you can’t really afford it.
So, go ahead. Make the decision to cancel your credit cards, and commit to living debt-free from this moment forward. And just as a refresher: Credit is an enabler. It enables you to overspend. But without it, overspending isn’t an option.
7. Delay Gratification
If you’re having trouble sticking to your new budget and shopping list, imagine how you’ll be using that must-have item a month from now.
Will that sweater still look good after a few washes? Will your kids still be playing with that overpriced toy set? Will those cheap shoes last through the season?
The majority of the time, the answer is: Put it back. But what if you still want it? Then, you wait. Work it into next month’s budget and revisit your feelings in 30 days. If you still love it, you’ll be able to buy it without the guilt, because it’s already in the budget.
8. Challenge Yourself to Reach Your New Goals
Put your willpower to the test by buying just the bare necessities for one month. You’ll be amazed by how little you actually need.
You’ll also be able to identify the things you don’t necessarily need, but simply like to have. Do you like using your gym membership because it helps you stay active? Keep it. Does your weekly visit to the chiropractor keep your back in tip-top shape? Keep going. If it fits into your budget (and doesn’t cause you to go into debt), you can spend money on it.
The key to stop your overspending is creating better money habits and being intentional with what you spend your money on. Don’t step into a store again without a budget and a plan! That plan can be right at your fingertips with EveryDollar. This free app makes it easy to create (and stick to) your budget.
It’s easy to live life on autopilot. Do you ever feel like you’re going through the motions during the workweek, just trying to make it to Friday? Then, when Friday rolls around, you can hardly remember what happened that week—it’s all one big blur.
Listen, folks. The typical schedule of get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, and do it over again the next day is not going to get you where you want to be. I don’t want you to be full of regret in 30 years when you look back and realize you didn’t do anything you were truly passionate about!
In order to avoid living on autopilot and advance in your career, you have to be intentional with your time every day. That sounds like a big undertaking, but there are a few simple actions you can take on a daily basis to set yourself up for success—not just in your career, but in other areas of your life too.
The Top 5 Daily Habits for Personal and Professional Growth
Note: These aren’t shortcuts and will require some discipline, but I promise they will pay off! Whether you want to pursue a new career direction, take your current position to the next level, or simply grow as a person, practice these five things daily and you’ll see real results and opportunities coming your way.
Habit #1: Learn.
This can look different on a day-to-day basis, but the key is to learn something every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s small. Just carve out at least a few minutes to learn more about your craft, yourself and the industry you currently work in (or the one you want to work in).
Here are a few effective ways to learn:
- Readnews articles, books, essays. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as what you’re reading helps you learn more about who you are and what you want to do.
- Listento podcasts, radio and other people who know more than you do.
- WatchTED talks, documentaries and speeches given by people who inspire you or are influential in your field.
- Research the field you’re interested in, especially if you’re looking at making a career change. Find out what kinds of education or training you would need in order to make that transition and what kinds of jobs and salaries are available in your area. Or look for volunteer and internship opportunities with an organization you’re passionate about.
Just think—you could spend 10 minutes scrolling through Instagram on your phone, or you could spend that 10 minutes reading an article that teaches you about the job you want or the field you’re passionate about! You’ll be surprised by how much knowledge you can absorb by making a small, intentional effort every day.
Habit #2: Do.
Find ways to practice what you’ve been learning and hone your craft. Again, this will look different depending on the given day and your career of choice.
Maybe it means writing 200 words every day, even if you absolutely hate what you write (you’ll get better). Maybe it means volunteering with a company that can help build your skills. Maybe it’s as simple as trying a new recipe, working on a website, or redecorating a friend’s living room so you can build your interior design portfolio. Just find small ways to practice.
Habit #3: Connect.
Look for ways to connect with people who are doing what you want to do, or who are already excelling in an area where you want to improve. I’m not talking about speed networking or making superficial connections just so you can reap the benefits. But it’s always important to be mindful about the relationships you’re building and maintaining on a daily basis.
Whether it’s reaching out to an old friend via email, grabbing coffee with someone you want to learn from, talking with an acquaintance who works at a company you’d love to work for, asking a trusted coworker for feedback on a project, or even just spending a few minutes bonding with your current team—real relationships are crucial, no matter what industry you’re in.
Habit #4: Serve.
There’s a great quote from one of my heroes, Zig Ziglar, that says: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” If you serve other people, it eventually comes back to you.
Now, you might be thinking: Ken, that’s shallow! Is it really serving if I’m hoping to get something in return?
Hang on—I’m not saying you should manipulate people into giving you what you want. I’m suggesting that you make serving others a daily practice. In fact, the world’s best leaders are the ones who lead by serving. The way to become successful is not to push and claw your way to the top, but to have an attitude of humility and put others before yourself. Trust me—people will remember that in the future.
Here’s another question to ask yourself: How can I serve the people around me today? Not just your boss and your coworkers, but also your friends, your family, the disgruntled employees at the grocery store—you name it.
This might look like picking up someone’s lunch order, offering to do something outside of your regular job responsibilities, genuinely listening to someone who needs to vent, or putting your phone away when you get home so you can play with your kids. The list of possibilities really is endless.
Habit #5: Reflect.
When you’re making progress in your career, it’s encouraging to record that progress. Take some time at the end of the day to reflect on what you did, even if it feels like you only took one small step forward. Those small steps lead to big victories!
Journaling can be a fun, no-pressure way to reflect on your day and get all of your thoughts and ideas down on paper. Many studies have found that journaling boosts your mental health by helping you cope with anxiety, stress and depression.
Not a journaler? Try writing down just one sentence about your day, keeping track of goals you accomplished, or storing all of your completed to-do lists in one place. And don’t forget about the art of gratitude: Jotting down at least three things you’re grateful for each day can really help you stay motivated and keep everything in perspective.
Are you interested in learning more about the habits and strategies of successful people? Tune into the “How They Got There” series on The Ken Coleman Showpodcast, where I talk with high achievers from all over the country about the steps they took to start living the dream!
15 Cheap Vacation Ideas
Here are 15 cheap vacation ideas that will let you get away without breaking the bank! So, put on The Beach Boys, bust out the shades, and start making your vacation list now.
1. Tour your own city
And this doesn’t mean you “tour” your house projects and work on your yard. We’re talking about getting out there and being a tourist in your own town.
Explore local art galleries, historical sites, that new restaurant you’ve been meaning to check out, or even half-price museum days. You can truly be as thrifty as you want with this one.
2. Go camping
Okay, so you can go the traditional “let’s sleep outside” route, or you can rent a cabin. Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!
If you want the whole RV/camper experience but don’t actually want to drive the thing, Airbnb has you covered for as little as $39 a night.(1) Their hosts offer decked-out campers that stay put while you’re cozy and indoors. The youths call this “glamping”—you know, experiencing the great outdoors without dealing with that whole outdoors part.
3. Go to the less popular beach
Certain beaches are going to be more popular and pricier than others (looking at you, Key West and Laguna Beach). But if you know where to look, you can save a pretty penny and still watch the tide roll in.
Coastline beaches are going to be more expensive than beaches along the Gulf. Sure, the water might look a little different, but when you’re coming from a landlocked area, a beach is a beach. Staying in a two-bedroom beach condo in Miami could cost you upwards of $100 more per night in comparison to the same type of lodging in Galveston, Texas. Plus, the Gulf beaches will have less expensive hotels, food and activities too.
4. Book travel packages using warehouse stores
We promise this isn’t as weird as it sounds. Club stores, like Costco, actually offer pretty good deals on vacation packages. If you’re planning a more elaborate vacation, you might want to consider what they have to offer.
For example, one Costco deal we found includes five days of accommodations for two adults at the Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Walt Disney World tickets, and car rental for about $1,900.(2) But if you paid for your hotel stay, Disney passes, and car rental separately, it would set you back about $2,200. That’s a savings of over $300 just by being smart about who you book with.
We know travel packages like this change pretty quickly, so you might not find this exact deal. The point is: If you’re on the lookout for a bargain, you should be able to find one if you know where to look!
5. Stay with friends or family
It’s not glamorous—and some people might not even consider it a true vacation—but staying with friends or family is an easy cheap vacation idea. Plus, you’ll get to spend time with the people you love!
More than likely, you won’t have to pay for lodging or some meals. That means you’ll only have to foot the bill to get to your destination. This should drastically cut back on your travel costs.
But make sure you’re a great guest while you’re staying there. Don’t be a mooch! Pay for groceries or cook some meals to show your gratitude. Maybe even treat your loved ones to dinner or dessert while you’re in town! You want to score an invite back, don’t you?
6. Travel during the off-season
Everyone loves taking a vacation in the summer, but pushing it out just a few more months could save you a bundle. Traveling during fall break (or any time after Labor Day weekend) can be a great cheap vacation idea.
Remember, though: Peak-season and off-season will change depending on where you’re planning to go. A good rule of thumb is to avoid traveling during the summer months, winter break, and holidays. Do your research before you book!
7. Go away on a weekend trip
If you need to get away, leaving town for the weekend can be just what the doctor ordered. Is it as restful as a 10-day trip? Well, no. But it’s not nearly as expensive. Budget for a quick weekend getaway, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how affordable it can be.
8. Take a vacation on a weekday
All right, this is the exact opposite of the last idea, but hear us out. Most of the time, booking a hotel or Airbnb for the weekend is pricier than staying there during the week. So, if you can afford to use some vacation time at work, try booking a quick, midweek vacation.
9. Visit a national park
The greatest thing about nature is that it’s usually pretty much free to enjoy. Oh, and it’s beautiful—added bonus! Don’t sweat it if you don’t live anywhere near Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Did you know there are actually 61 national parks across the United States? Find one near you and go explore! Just know the parks might have a small entrance fee to pay per vehicle or person.
10. Stay at a bed-and-breakfast nearby
Sure, some B&Bs are known for being over the top and out of a budgeter’s price range. But many bed-and-breakfasts can actually be budget friendly if they roll meals and activities into the price of a nightly stay.
A bed-and-breakfast in Nashville generally runs around $100 to $275 per night.(3)But considering you’ll get homemade breakfast at the very least (hence the name) and other meals throughout your stay, it’s really not a bad deal.
A lot of B&Bs even throw in extras, like coffee and cookies or wine and cheese, in the lobby area. Depending on your location, some bed-and-breakfasts offer kayaks, bikes or canoes for you to take for a spin for free.
11. Get insider tips
Okay, let’s say you already know you’re going to go big and plan a vacation to Disney World, but you still want to be smart and do Disney on a budget. You need to make collecting all the insider tips your part-time job. Scour the internet, ask friends and family, and do your research across the board to learn all the things you need to know before booking the trip.
Just because it’s “the most magical place on Earth” doesn’t mean you can’t do it on the cheap!
12. Explore your own region
On the flip side, taking a vacation doesn’t mean you have to go to Disneyland . . . or Paris . . . or take a Caribbean cruise. If you want cheap vacation ideas, look no further than your own region.
Decide to go somewhere that’s maybe just one or two hours away from home. You’ll be out of town while (hopefully) avoiding the sticker shock of busy vacation areas. And you’ll save money by not dealing with flights or long drives!
13. Book in advance
One of the best cheap vacation ideas is booking your trip far in advance. We’re not saying you have to plan it years out, but your chances of getting good prices are a lot higher when you don’t wait until the month before you want to go.
Online travel hubs, like Groupon and Expedia, pride themselves in offering great, last-minute vacation deals. And if you’re just trying to find a last-minute hotel in a pinch, look into Hotel Tonight.
14. Book a rental car with your debit card
Trying to book a rental car with your debit card used to be a huge pain. Sure, some places would let you do it, but they basically wanted you to submit to a background check, leave your first-born child as collateral, and pat your head while rubbing your belly. In other words, there were a lot of hoops to jump through.
Now, Dollar Car Rental makes renting a car with a debit card super easy. No hoops, no making you feel like a second-class citizen—just pick up your car and hit the road. And how does it save you money? Simple. It’s not being charged to a credit card and collecting interest months after your vacation ended—that’s how.
15. Take a staycation
Take those vacation days and get ready to stay at home! There are plenty of ways to be creative (and thrifty) without losing the fun factor. Plan out which nights of the week you want to take your family out to eat or explore downtown. And don’t forget to meal plan for the nights you’ll eat at home too. Try sprucing up your backyard and tossing some burgers on the grill!
How to Save for Your Cheap Vacation
We hate to break it to you, but the money for your cheap vacation isn’t just going to magically appear in your bank account. This is why having a budget is such a big deal!
Once you figure out when you want to go on vacation, budget out what looks like a reasonable amount of money to save for your family. The amount you’re able to put aside will impact where you go and how long you can stay. You may need to sell things and make temporary lifestyle sacrifices. But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways you can save up cash quickly.
We’re all for you having a dream vacation, but don’t go into debt for it! When you save up, pay in cash, and try these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without having to worry about bills following you home.
So, don’t go on a vacation without a budget—you’ll feel the burn long after summer ends if you do. Instead, create your budget with our free budgeting app, EveryDollar! Then, get out there and enjoy your paid for vacation!
People in the real estate business absolutely love their jargon. If you’re new to the home-buying process, you’re going to hear a bunch of stuff that will make you wonder if English is your native language. There’s stuff like bump and bumpable and estoppel certificate. And what in the world is earnest money?
Well, that one is kinda easy, so let’s get into it.
So what exactly is earnest money?
Earnest money is just money you put down as a good-faith gesture that you’re serious about buying a house. Typically, it’s 1-5% of the purchase price. While you wait to close on your house, the money is deposited into an escrow account with the seller’s broker, title company or escrow company.
Do you know that old cliché about storytelling? It’s better to show than tell. Earnest money is you showing the seller you mean business when it comes to buying their house. It gives them peace of mind to go forward into the next steps of the transaction. It proves you’re sincere—or earnest—about this purchase.
How much earnest money do I need?
The short answer is that you need 1–5% of the price that you and the seller agreed upon. The longer answer begins with: “It depends.”
Because it really does depend on a number of factors—mostly related to where you are. In some markets, you’ll need a fixed amount—like $1,000 or $5,000. In other communities, the focus is on the percentage. In really hot real estate markets like Silicon Valley, it’s not uncommon to see six-figure earnest money deposits.
That’s a lot of money! It’s important to have a real estate pro like one of our real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) in your corner to help you play by the rules in your area.
Do I get it back?
So what happens to your earnest money?
Just to be clear, earnest money is not your down payment. Your down payment is completely separate and should be 10–20% of the purchase price with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.
However, if everything goes the way it’s supposed to, the earnest money will get folded into your closing costs. But you’ll need to be careful and read your contract because there are several ways you could lose your earnest money deposit. Make sure your agent builds these contingencies into your contract so you can get back your earnest money.
- The home doesn’t get appraised at the offer amount. Maybe you make a $200,000 offer on a home that turns out to be worth only $150,000.
- The home doesn’t pass inspection. The home could have significant structural damage or need a new roof and you may not be able to come to an agreement with the seller to make the repairs.
- You can’t get financing. Things happen. Your lender could change ownership or you might encounter another hiccup in the finance process.
Sidenote: If you’ve been working the Baby Steps and have no debt (and therefore no credit score), a traditional lender may tell you to take a hike. In that case, talk to our friends at Churchill Mortgage. They’re experts at navigating the mortgage lending process and will truly put your first.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the deadlines in the contract. There will usually be a hard date for closing, and your real estate agent can really help you here. If it looks like it may take longer to arrange your financing than you originally thought, you may be able to renegotiate the date to keep things moving smoothly and save that earnest money deposit.
But keep in mind that there may come a time when you just want to walk away. Something unexpected —like an accident, a divorce or a dream that causes you to rethink your entire life—could happen. In these cases, you need to be prepared to walk away without the money.
Work With a Real Estate Agent
Get your ducks in a row! The best way to navigate the home-buying process is with the guidance of a trusted professional.