Family · Remodels and Repairs

The Debt Battle

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It might just be me, but I feel like debt has been a great focus of my attention lately. I want to do improvements on our home and we need to get a new vehicle soon and eventually I want to travel around being a travel nurse. But I feel like we are currently stuck behind a pile of debt.  Henry and I tried to do Dave Ramsey’s program when we were first married and we actually did a great job with it for about the first year of our marriage.

Then we ran into some trouble. We were very naive in thinking that we would be able to find jobs easily anywhere since it had been fairly easy in Kansas, so we packed up and moved to Colorado without jobs. My grandparents were gracious enough to let us live in their basement for an indefinite amount of time (which turned into 16 months) while we found jobs and Henry started seminary. We began a downhill slide when we couldn’t find jobs (any job…even retail) for months due to a hiring freeze in Denver and all of our savings quickly disappeared. Dave didn’t have a great plan for what to do when you really just can’t get hired. The fact that we both seemed undesirable to ANY company really affected my faith and identity. I was raised in a home where both of my parents ran their own businesses at one time or another and I have seen the hard work and dedication it takes to be successful. Their diligent work ethics instilled a similar work ethic in me and I am very grateful for this. But no one in Denver knew what kind of employee they would be getting if they hired me and it really upset me.

But back to the story…so there we were, unemployed, living in my grandparents’ basement, going broke and having to find some loans…oddly enough in the exact amount that we had paid off in our first year of marriage using Dave’s plan. It was rough. I was mad…at everything. God. My grandparents. Myself. Colorado. Henry (especially when he was hired first and I was the one who found him the job…PS, that’s a completely normal feeling I found out later).

It took a few years, some counseling and finding some good jobs before we actually started to get back on track, but I still don’t look at Dave Ramsey’s plan the same. I even tried things like selling stuff on eBay. For years my grandfather had collected small army models that you build yourself but his eyesight is failing him so he can no longer put them together. Instead I sold them on eBay and he let me keep 2% of the profits! It was great. I had a whole Excel spreadsheet worked out to calculate the price to include the price he paid, my commission, fees, and free shipping. This didn’t make me a whole lot of money, but it allowed us to buy toiletries…after we used up the stockpile that my grandmother had. You’ll have to ask Henry about the time he used shampoo that was as old as he is and smelled like hotdogs.

So…here we are, real adults now with a house and kids and we still have debt. I have found some great motivating blogs and have taken their advice to help us move along on this journey of debt repayment.

  1. Check out Making Sense of Cents for some good advice on personal finance. She also gives some great references for making extra income in her Recommendations section.
  2. I tried to sell stuff at a garage sale, but it was a bit of a bust. We made $20, which I was very glad about. So instead I have been taking advantage of eBay to sell our garage sale items. We’ll see how much I can make there. I have used eBay before to sell my grandfather’s models and I remember it was a lot of work. However, I now have the app on my phone and it is SO easy to use to sell stuff. They suggest prices for things and shipping costs right on the app!  Then I signed in on the computer and they gave me even more pointers to help me sell my items. I’m excited and hopeful that this will help get rid of some of the extra clutter in our house right now.
  3. I have been a member of Mypoints for years (started it roughly around the time I was trying to make any extra income in Colorado) and have redeemed my points for a few different gift cards over the years. Now they are offering deposits into Paypal which is straight cash for me! Check out my Facebook page if you want to sign up through my link.
  4. I singed up for InboxDollars, Swagbucks, Ebates, and American Consumer Opinion.  Swagbucks has been my biggest money maker so far, but Ebates has already sent me a check and I am close to cashing out for InboxDollars. I found this post by Stacy at Six Dollar Family to be really helpful in learning how to use many of the apps I have listed.IMG_0778
  5. My friend also turned me on to a few apps on my phone that can earn a little bit of money as well. They are Receipt Hog (use code snect105 if you sign up for it), Shopkick, SavingStar, and ibotta. Right now ibotta is becoming one of my favorite money making phone apps.  It can be a little confusing to use when you first start, but once you get the hang of it, the cash starts rolling in!  If you buy a product at a store, you simply open the app select the store and item that match, do the activities (either take a poll or watch a video or read a small excerpt about the item), then scan the barcode on the product. Once you do that you tap the green camera button that says redeem and then scan the receipt. And you’ve made yourself some money!  Since they are fairly new they still need to add products to their inventory. For example, they advertised that you could get a $0.20 rebate for a half gallon of flavored milk (any brand). In my house with all the food allergies we buy Chocolate Almond milk regularly, so I tried to scan that product code. It wouldn’t take the product but the app eventually asked me if the item should work for the rebate. I said yes and it allowed me to take a photo of the front of the item and send it to them for approval. They approved it because it fit their criteria and I got my $0.20!  Right now they are offering a $4 rebate for any restaurant where you order an appetizer and an entree and the bill comes to at least $10. I have redeemed that one TWICE so far. And to top it all off, it was created in Denver, CO!
  6. If you shop at Wal-Mart, you can download the app and use the Savings Catcher to scan receipts. Then Wal-Mart looks at the prices of the items you purchased and refunds you the difference if they find a better price at a competitor. You can then redeem that for Wal-Mart gift cards.

Just as with anything, the more you use these apps the easier it becomes to see how you can save and earn more money. I have also found how to use coupons to save money when I purchase an item and then still get a rebate through ibotta and ReceiptHog. This month I was able to cash out with a few of these and am excited to see the products of my many efforts!  And I’m soon going to see if I can sell the 300+ ounces of breastmilk sitting in my freezer…

How have you tried to make extra money? Do you have tips on how to use these apps?

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