No Spend Challenge 2017

It’s time once again to try another No Spend Challenge. As we come to the end of the year, my wife and I are looking at how we have done with our finances for 2016. We have had our ups and our downs, we have worked hard at times, and slacked off at times. Who here can say they haven’t done the same?

As we get prepare for 2017, we have decided that it’s time to do another No Spend Challenge to start the year off right. We know how much it changed our lives last year and we are excited for even bigger changes now!

no spend challenge

No Spend Challenge 2016

Some of you may remember that we did a No Spend Challenge for January of 2016 as well. If you weren’t around, here’s a link to that information: http://diyjahn.com/no-spend-challenge/

Otherwise, here’s a quick recap of how it went (to read the longer version, click HERE).

Over the course of the month of January, my wife and I spent a total of $68.32. By removing money for groceries, cancelling some programs such as Advocare and Hulu, and searching for lower cost for car insurance, we saved over $500 for the month of January!

To top it off, we ended up putting a total of $2,918.58 toward our debt in January alone!

No Spend Challenge 2017

So, now it is time to try again – to jump-start our year of savings by completing a second No Spend Challenge. We know that we have plenty of food in our freezer and pantry to get us by – so why do we keep going to the store to get more? We know we have enough of everything, but we continue to spend. Not this month! This month, we will focus on not spending, saving, and getting money into our emergency fund!

Rules:

Please note that you can follow as many or as few of these rules as you would like – you can also make some of your own!)

  • No spending money on groceries, fast food, restaurants, clothes, books, fun money, etc. Basically, we are trying to get down the bare bones to help us break the habits of spending. We are going to eat what’s in the cupboards and freezer, we are going to live off what we have, and w e are going to have fun for FREE without spending money! (Please note that if we do run out of food that we can prepare in a healthy manner, we will be buying food, but we don’t expect that to happen. We also aren’t willing to go without toilet paper or feminine products, so that will be something we may need to purchase.)
  • Bills will still be paid on time. We will not cut out our bills for the month, but we will instead utilize this month to work toward paying all of our bills early and putting our extra money into our savings account.
  • Any healthcare and medical costs will be paid as needed – these are a necessity and not an optional cost. If you need medicine, medical care, or the like, make sure you don’t cut these out. Just ensure that when you go to pick up your meds, you don’t end up buying more things you don’t need (a soda, Subway, a new toy, etc.)

Join us for the No Spend Challenge 2017!

The hardest thing about budgeting, frugal living, and saving money is doing it alone. That’s why we have created a challenge group for this very purpose! Filled with exclusive tips and tricks to survive frugal living during your No Spend Challenge as well as a community to back you up, we know that you can succeed!

Follow this link to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nospendmonth

Follow our rules or make your own! We know that not everyone is in the same situation that we are in. Stick with as much or as little of the challenge as you are able in your situation. Don’t be afraid to sign up and come along for the ride!

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you. I will update the blog weekly with posts and update the group even more often than that! Click HERE to join the group!

Help us to Create a Community

Finally, please feel free to share this with any friends or family members who you think could benefit from this. Guide them to us! We would love to be in contact with them, and you.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!

Thanks for reading!

10 Lessons We Learned by Spending NOTHING

10 Lessons We Learned by Spending NOTHING

To start of the new year, my wife and I made the decision to spend absolutely NOTHING. Now, I know that sounds crazy, but we ended up saving well over $2,000 to put toward debt – definitely a winning situation. I wouldn’t say that it was easy, but I would definitely say that we learned many valuable life lessons from our experience. We gave you a recap of the No Spend Challenge about a month ago, but I wanted to tell you a little bit more about all the things we learned. Here are the 10 lessons we learned during our No Spend Challenge. Enjoy!

10 lessons we learned - www.diyjahn.com (1)

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). The goal of the challenge was to help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

If you would like to do your own No Spend Challenge, sign up for our e-newsletter below! We’ll send you tips and tricks to complete the challenge. Don’t forget to visit our No Spend Challenge page (CLICK HERE) to see what we did each day of the challenge!

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on at any point (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

This will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



10 Lessons We Learned by Spending NOTHING

When we started paying off our debt back in October, we thought it would be impossible. Our debt is almost three times our combined income – it’s definitely not going anywhere fast.

But then we started experimenting…

We found new ways to live our lives, we budgeted tighter and tighter each month, and soon the debt didn’t seem quite so daunting.

After less than four months we had paid off over $20,000.

That’s when we decided to take it a step further. Instead of budgeting tighter, we would stop spending entirely for 30 days.

So we did.

The results were amazing, but the lessons we learned topped those by far. Here are 10 lessons we learned by spending NOTHING.

Lesson #1: You don’t need money to be happy.

For the longest time, I have equated food with love. I know this is a problem that many people have and that I am not alone, but I struggle to find love elsewhere. I see food as the ultimate sign of happiness, love, security, comfort. So giving up eating the foods I want to eat for an entire month seems like somebody is legitimately removing love from life – it hardly seems worth it.

But the thing is: food isn’t love. And money isn’t either.

My wife and I spend many nights cuddled on the couch watching television or sitting at the table playing board games. We focused on painting. We spent time reading. We went on walks. Did these cost money? Well, you could say that they all did to some extent – while we don’t have cable, we do pay for Netflix and phone service to watch it. We may not be paying for it now, but at one point or another we bought the board games, the painting materials, the books.

The point is: we didn’t need to go out of our way and spend money to be happy. We were happy enough to do our own thing – there were plenty of free things to do in our community. And above all: making the choice to be happy is not a financial one.

Click HERE to read my post on Making the Choice to Have a Good Day.

Lesson #2: Getting out of the house is essential.

Of the 10 lessons we learned during our NSC, this one came the hardest. We did our best during the month of January to use as little gas as possible when going about our days. Other than my wife’s drive to work and our Tuesday dinner every other week with friends, we did not use any gas.

As someone who works near home (or lives at their work), this meant that I never actually left the grounds for my work / home. I never knew that this was an issue before – that it could be an issue – but I am saying this clearly now:

Leaving your home is an essential part of your life: whether you need to go somewhere or not, find time to get out of your house.

Lesson #3: Tell your friends, they’ll surprise you.

At first, it was scary to tell people that we were on our journey to pay back debt. Unfortunately, many people equate the accumulation of debt with an inability to understand finances. What I mean by this is that many people will say “well, it sucks that you’re in debt, but you did it to yourself so deal with it.”

I’ll admit that that’s true, I did take the debt on by myself. At the same time, it can really be frustrating when people invalidate you for making these choices. Which is why my wife and I didn’t tell our friends about our journey for quite some time (even though I tell you all on here).

But when we did tell our friends, we were surprised by their response. Most of them were supportive and excited to help us along. We had friends who bought us meals a few times during the month just to help us get through. One friend was amazing and bought us soda when we ran out (we have a horrible addiction). Most importantly, they asked how we were doing, they offered to help, and they cared to talk about the situation with us and make us feel like we were important.

So, as part of these 10 lessons we learned, I encourage you to tell your friends your struggles with debt, they may surprise you.

Lesson #4: You have more food than you think.

I used to look into my cupboards and see the food we kept and not realize how much it was. In fact, when we started the NSC, we stocked up on some foods that we considered to be essentials thinking “there’s no way we’ll have enough food to last us the entire month.”

Boy, were we wrong.

We got through to the end of the NSC and opened our fridge, our freezer, our cupboard: do you want to know what we found? MORE FOOD!

Even after an entire month without buying groceries we STILL had plenty of food to last weeks. In fact, it’s March 2nd and we are just now finishing up the food that we had. Finally.

I’ll write more about this on another day, but the point is: one of the most significant of the 10 lessons we learned was that we had far more food than we needed.

Lesson #5: Necessities and luxuries are different.

There are so many things in life that we consider necessities that truly are not, but we didn’t really realize this until we were about halfway through the challenge. Right about then we started running out of shampoo and conditioner. We didn’t know what to do.

We had always been the people to buy the more expensive versions of these things believing them to be necessities. We thought “if we want to work in the professional world, we need to look nice each day and that means that we need shampoo and conditioner.”

The problem is that that just isn’t true. There are many things we believe to be necessities that are actually simply luxuries. In fact, most things can be made on your own.

Lesson #6: Try making before buying.

Which leads me into the next segment: if you run out of something that you truly believe to be a necessity, try making it before you buy it.

Most importantly, do some research online before shopping. You would be surprised what kind of information is available for those who simply look. For example: I learned how to make my own ricotta cheese, evaporated milk, sweetened and condensed milk, and coffee creamer just by some simple research and experimentation.

Here are a few things we learned during our NSC that can be made easily at home (don’t worry, there are plenty more).

  1. Buying Bread at the Store VS. Making it at Home
  2. Buying Pasta at the Store VS. Making it at Home
  3. Using Store-bought Cleaning Products VS. These All-Natural Recipes
  4. Shampoo & Conditioner VS. the No Poo Challenge

Lesson #7: First world problems are for real.

Do you ever get home from work late? I know I do. The first thing that comes to mind is that horrible feeling of “Oh crap, now I have to find and make dinner.”

I open my fridge, my freezer, my pantry and see a ton of food staring back at me, but for some reason my mind registers all of it as “bad” or “inedible” or even “too much work.”

So, instead, I complain about having to eat fast food, pay for it, and drive out to get it.

That, my friends, is a first world problem in real life. If you have food and complain that it’s “not what you want” then it may be time to reconnect with your thinking and remind yourself: you are lucky. You have so much in your life. You are well fed, clothed, and loved.

So, for the 10 lessons we learned, here’s an important one: Feel blessed. And don’t complain about problems that aren’t really problems.

Lesson #8: Helping others comes first.

No matter what, my wife and I truly believe in the importance of helping others before ourselves. If someone were to come to us and ask us if they could eat at our house – we would accept them graciously and offer them the last of our food.

In fact, we had to do this a few times. Perhaps it was not because the person did not have the money, but they instead needed to feel wanted or loved. One of my college-aged friends came over and asked if they could use have some of our food. We watched a movie and served dinner. They ate all the food they were given, went back for seconds, ate a ton of dessert, stayed later, at more of our food, and by the end of the day they had eaten more food than we do on a normal basis.

Now, I know that that may seem frustrating and to be honest, we were pretty peeved about the situation, but at the same time, we note that food gives them a sense of belonging. They felt safe enough and welcome enough to make themselves at home.

We are always here to help those in need, even if it means less to go around.

Lesson #9: Some things are worth the money.

Let’s just say that there are things in life that should never be given up (or luxuries that are simply worth the money). The most important one that comes to mind is toothbrushes. It seems simple enough, but buying a cheap toothbrush can do more harm than good sometimes.

You need a good quality toothbrush to keep your oral hygiene good and keep you from expensive dentist visits later in life. Being proactive about healthcare is never something that should be skimped on.

Also, tampons, but I know that I have some male readers so I won’t get into that.

Lesson #10: Saving $$ doesn’t need to be hard.

There were days that we were beyond frustrated, sad, and tired that we simply wanted to go out and buy something. We knew we technically had the money so why couldn’t we go spend it? Well, the unfortunate truth is that we are so far in the hole we simply can’t waste our money right now.

Basically, that means that this is being forced upon us. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Saving money – it absolutely doesn’t.

Saving money can be as simple as using different, less expensive items. It can mean giving in to your needs and avoiding your wants, but it can also be freeing.

Letting the control of money leave your life means grabbing hold of your non-financial life and letting it soar in the wind.

Of the 10 lessons we learned, I hope that you remember to do your best to save money. Remember, it doesn’t have to be hard.

10 lessons we learned - www.diyjahn.com

10 Lessons We Learned by Spending NOTHING

Ultimately, the No Spend Challenge taught us the important of living life to the fullest on our frugal, skimpy, and crazy low budget. These 10 lessons we learned will help us to continue our journey to debt-freedom.

What do we plan to do with that in the future?

Well, it’ll be awhile before we have enough food in our home to do a NSC again (and that’s probably okay). So, for now we are doing the following:

  • Limiting our budget to only $300 a month
  • Finding new and weird ways to save money each and every day
  • Working and side hustling for most of our free time to earn extra money
  • Paying off our debt as quickly as possible
  • STARTING A NEW CHALLENGE – the 30 Day Minimalist Decluttering Challenge – on April 1 (read more about this during our post on March 7th!)

That’s all for now, folks, but I sincerely hope that you will stay tuned, follow along, comment, and share our journey with your friends and family. Thank you for reading our 10 lessons we learned by spending nothing.

Follow the Frugal Friday Linkup HERE!

What’s the most important financial lesson you have learned?

Leave your response in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

No Spend Challenge Recap – NSC Series

No Spend Challenge Recap

This past month (January) my wife and I, along with many of our blog followers / readers completed an awesome challenge known as the No Spend Challenge (NSC). Now that it’s all said and done, it’s time for us to give you a full No Spend Challenge Recap to let you know how it went!

No Spend Challenge Recap - www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). The goal of the challenge was to help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

If you would like to do your own No Spend Challenge, sign up for our e-newsletter below! We’ll send you tips and tricks to complete the challenge. Don’t forget to visit our No Spend Challenge page (CLICK HERE) to see what we did each day of the challenge!

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on at any point (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

This will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



No Spend Challenge Recap

As the end of January approached, my wife and I started thinking about how the month went. There were hard days – days that all we wanted was a sub sandwich or some fast food – and other days we barely noticed that the challenge was happening. Let’s start by delving into a brief overview of each week before we do a full-on No Spend Challenge Recap – here goes!

No Spend Challenge Recap - www.diyjahn.com (1)

Week 1 – No Spend Challenge Recap

During week one we had to spend around $5 for a bottle of medication. If you all remember, I was suffering quite the migraine that week and it was HORRIBLE. We also spent $30.12 on gas which we had decided from the start didn’t count toward our NSC. Overall, week one went very well and we were surprised at how well we were able to eat.

Most eye-opening piece of week one? The food thing. There were a couple of nights where we came home and were hungry, tired, etc. from work. We didn’t want to cook, we didn’t want to pick food, and nothing at all sounded good. Normally we would have eaten out on those nights, but since we can’t, we realized how we have tons of food and we’re lucky to have this problem. So, we will definitely be more conscious of this going forward after the challenge.

To read the full Week 1 Update click HERE.

Week 2 – No Spend Challenge Recap

Week two went super well. I remember feeling on top of the world as I finished week two – thinking we could do this forever. It was easy. Cake! We had extra money being thrown at our debt, our food was getting used up, and we were on our way to paying off our credit card debt! It was a great week. My favorite food of this week was the homemade soft pretzels. YUM.

Most eye-opening piece of week two? I think it has to be the fact that we still have so much food leftover and we are no where near emptying our cupboards, pantry, freezer, or fridge. In fact, we have so much food that we are trying to figure out how to store it soon so that it doesn’t go bad. Go figure, right?

To read the full Week 2 Update click HERE.

Week 3 – No Spend Challenge Recap

By this point we had just paid off our credit card debt and were on top of the world as far as debt repayment goes! However, this week was also a struggle. There were a few days where all we wanted was to buy some food that wasn’t leftover. We were struggling. We were tired. But we held our own and for that I am proud of us. My favorite food from this week was the homemade minestrone-like soup – definitely going to be using this recipe more often!

Most eye-opening piece of week three? I think the thing that has surprised me most is how much money we allotted for ourselves in our budget unnecessarily. Even with another gas purchase this week, we will probably only use $60 for gas for the month (rather than the allotted $120), groceries we normally allot around $250 and we clearly don’t need that much – as can be told by the fact that we haven’t bought any all month, and as for fun money? I will say that fun money is a necessity. We need to be able to leave home and get a dinner out once in a while. That being said, we normally allot around $100 for this each month (or more sometimes!). We are going to cut that down to $20 every two weeks while we are living frugally and paying off our debt.

To read the full Week 3 Update click HERE.

Week 4 – No Spend Challenge Recap

This week we ended up spending again, but not on anything that went against our spending goals / rules for the challenge. We spent $27.68 on gas and another $5.52 on medication. Again, both acceptable so I would say that we did pretty damn well. This week was hard again in that by the end of the challenge we were so ready to be done. All we wanted was to go out and buy some food that wasn’t what was in our freezer. My favorite food from this week was homemade Chinese lo mein and beef teriyaki! So Good!

Most eye-opening piece of week three? How surprisingly hard it can be at times. We are caught between two mindsets – one of wanting to be happy, living a life where we aren’t so “stuck” and aren’t so unbelievably stressed so often. The other of wanting to be debt free. I guess for us it can be hard to choose priorities at times because we like to dream so freely, but we are learning to live a quieter life.

To read the full Week 4 Update click HERE.

No Spend Challenge Recap- www.diyjahn.com

Funds – No Spend Challenge Recap

So, what was our total spending for the month of January?

$68.32

WOW! Can you believe that we ONLY spent a little under $70 for the entire month of January? Since 2015 we have spent $68.32.

How is this different from what we normally spend? Well, let’s see. Normally, we budget around $400 per month for “needs” and use other money for payments on things that we pay every month. Now, we also don’t always stick to that $400 budget, but even if we did, that saves us a total of over $330 in one month that we got to put toward debt!

There’s more though! In December our budget included money for Hulu, Progressive (car insurance), and Advocare (Spark energy drink). For January, we took these services out. No, we didn’t get rid of car insurance, but we did switch to Geiko and lower our monthly payment by over $40 (plus we have better coverage now!). So with these payments included we saved about $500 – which isn’t even including the extras we would have spent beyond our budgeting!

I would say that saving $500 is well worth the hassle of a No Spend Challenge!

Debt Repayment – No Spend Challenge Recap

We paid off a TON of debt in January and are super excited that we no longer have credit card debt!!!! Thanks to a lump sum check put entirely toward debt, we no longer have to ever worry about credit card debt again. Now, we did not close our accounts because we didn’t want to jeopardize our credit score, but we definitely we only be using them to pay them off entirely in the future!

Other than the lump sum check, which I won’t count in this because it was not directly caused by the NSC, we were able to put a total of $2,918.58 toward our debt! I don’t know what you think, but that’s a lot of money! $$

I had many questions about how much of this was minimum payments and how much was “extra” so here’s a little breakdown of how our debt budget works: At the beginning of January we had a minimum payment due:

  • $66 Credit Card
  • $130 Credit Card
  • $40 Student Loan
  • $467.92 Student Loan
  • $139.04 Car

We also have other debts that are in deferment.

That being said, our minimum payments for January were a total of $842.96. Therefore, we were able to put a total of $2075.62 toward our debt! While the NSC saved us about $500, we were able to scrounge up EVEN MORE extra funds than we thought possible due to the challenge.

Would you stop spending for an entire month to save $2075.62?!

To read our full Debt Repayment Update and see how much we ACTUALLY put toward debt, click HERE.

Food – No Spend Challenge Recap

We still have a LOT of food in our cupboards and we desperately want to use it all up. That’s all I want. Empty cupboards, fridge, pantry. Why? Because then we can restock it with foods we will truly enjoy and actually eat – and by doing so, save money in the long-run.

We had a lot of yummy food in January. We learned how to bake a ton of different types of bread, make a millions kinds of pasta, and learned so much about canning and growing foods. We tested new recipes, we used up milk to make ricotta cheese, and we got super domestic and frugal in our attempts to have people over and feed them despite not being able to spend any money.

It was such a great lesson for us to learn, but it also means that since we still have food in our house we can’t stop going. We have made the decision to continue the NSC on through some of February (until all our food is GONE!). We are getting closer, but we are still thinking that we have until the 15th before we use up our food. That being said, we are allowing ourselves to buy things such as milk, eggs, and butter since those are staples and we are basically out.

I’ll update you guys around the middle of the month as to how it’s going! Wish us luck!

Lessons Learned – No Spend Challenge Recap

We learned SO much during our No Spend Challenge – it’s hard to think of what all I can put here (and perhaps I’ll need to write a separate post devoted to sharing these lessons in more detail). Regardless, here is a little bit about what we learned during our month of no spending:

  1. You don’t need money to be happy. 
  2. Getting out of the house once and awhile, even if you don’t HAVE to go somewhere, is an essential part of life.
  3. If you tell your friends you aren’t able to spend money, they’re more than likely going to support you.
  4. You probably have more food than you think you do.
  5. There are so many items that I thought were necessities when it turns out they were only luxuries.
  6. Before you buy anything, do some research and see what you can make yourself: you would be surprised what you find.
  7. First World Problems are for real. I complain about so many things, but in reality, I’m so lucky.
  8. Helping others comes first. When people are around and they need food, that’s priority. All else can wait.
  9. There are some things I don’t think are worth skimping on (case in point: toothbrushes)
  10. Saving money doesn’t have to be hard, but in either case, it’s worth it in the long run.

Facebook Group – No Spend Challenge Recap

During our NSC, we had a group of challengers helping us along (and doing it themselves)! They were ROCKSTARS and I hope that they enjoyed it (though I’d love to hear some testimonials to the fact).

We started a Facebook group, but it wasn’t a huge success. That being said, I’d love to MAKE it a huge success. So, if any of you are interested in joining our No Spend Challenge Facebook group – head on over by clicking HERE. You’ll get tips on saving money, living frugally, paying off debt, and a built-in community to help you along the way.

Share it with your friends! Let’s build this community up!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fiscalfast/

No Spend Challenge Recap

Would we do it again? Yes, yes we would. The funds alone speak for themselves. My wife and I are considering implementing a “No Spend Week” every month until our debt is paid off entirely. We are even considering a big scary goal of $50,000 of debt gone this year! We’ll see if we can make that happen.

In any case, this challenge was exactly what we needed to build up our mindset of paying off debt, to get us started, and to push us past our comfort zones. We paid off a ton of debt, saved a lot of money, and learned SO much more than we ever expected.

I’m ready to do it all again. Are you with me?

What have you done so far this year to push you out of your comfort zone?

Leave your responses in the comments below!

No Spend Challenge Recap - www.diyjahn.com


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, clickhere.

February Debt Repayment Update

February Debt Repayment Update

I have FANTASTIC news for you all! We have officially completed our very first No Spend Challenge – which you can find out more about by clicking HERE. We couldn’t have done it without the support from all of you, your kindness and comments, and of course, our challengers who took the challenge right along beside us. Before we get all interested in how the challenge went (we’ll post a recap later this week), let’s look at how the No Spend Challenge affects our February Debt Repayment Update!

 

February Debt Repayment Update- www.diyjahn.com

For those who know our journey, feel free to skip ahead. For those who are new, here’s a little introduction.

So, here’s what’s going on. We plan to give these updates on a monthly basis (at the beginning of each month). This is our third one, but you can find the other two by clicking on our “Paying Off Debt & Saving Money” tab – or by clicking HERE.

I’m sure you’re wondering how we got to where we are. Well, we began our journey around the middle of September when my wife and I got married and decided to calculate our combined debt. That being said, we had been making payments for almost a year by this point, so we must have been much higher beforehand. Regardless, when we began religiously calculating our numbers in September, we came to the conclusion that we have $196,021.8 in debt: which is terrifying.

If you want to read more about how we racked up so much debt, you can read about it in our post here (click here).

But here’s a little infographic to help you see where our debt comes from:

Where our debt comes from

February Debt Repayment Update

 At the end of last month, we had $185,603.54 left in debt. Of course, due to interest accruing and the like, it has gone up some since our last update (and will do this each month). Thankfully, we were able to put a total of $1,009.67 toward our debt in December which is more than the accruing interest (though not by a ton). In either case, we still went in the right direction!

As you may remember, we had just built our emergency funds back up only to have them depleted once more for the car issues (and then brought back up again). In our New Family Fund, we had a total of $332.03 and not too much in our checking account (which is the goal). So all-in-all, December was a great month for us financially – you can read about it HERE.

 

Where is our debt for January?

Now, as you guys may remember, we were completing our first No Spend Challenge for the month of January and while we haven’t done a full recap yet (later this week), you can read all about our progress during the challenge by clicking HERE.

Why is this important to note?

Well, you’re going to see some BIG numbers headed toward our debt and some big accomplishments. Now, I’m not saying that we CAN’T do these numbers every month, but I want to let you all know that that’s where it is coming from. We also received a lump sum check that we put straight toward debt and that was a huge portion of this month’s payoff.

So, anyway, let’s get down to business.

First of all, I am super excited to announce that my wife and I are no longer in credit card debt! We have officially paid off our credit cards in their entirety and don’t plan to ever rack up that debt again.

How much did we pay this month?

Let’s take a look at where our debt repayment is now. During the month of December, we were able to put $1,009.67 toward debt, which is great considering the car repairs, Christmas, and travelling. However, we way more than topped that in January by putting the crazy amount of $12,918.58 toward debt!

Yes, you read that right, we put $12,918.58 toward debt this month.

This brings us up to our first $20,000 of debt repaid since starting to aggressively pay off our debt. Remember, we had made quite a few payments before this decision, but we have not counted those in. Our total debt repayment since October is: $23,259.44!

February

As you may remember, we reached our first goal of paying 5% of our debt way back in November. We didn’t move much from there in December, but this month we have skyrocketed to 11%! Woohoo! This leaves us with $174,814.7 (not including the accrued interest which will bring us back up a little bit).

A couple of notes about this:

  1. Our credit cards were at $3,470.59 and $3,763.07 at the beginning of the month and are now at 0! Yay!
  2. We have decided to keep the car payment and pay off my private student loan next because it’s interest rate is a whopping and horrible 9%. We started the month with it at $31,170.6 and it is now down to $26,132.64.
  3. We always make our minimum payments on the debts that are out of deferment including: my wife’s federal student loans, my wife’s college student loan, and our car payment. When the other loans are out of deferment (in roughly 16 months) we’ll make minimum payments on those as well (but maybe if we work hard we’ll have some that we pay off before then!).

Where does your income come from?

I decided to add this segment in November after reading a few income reports from other bloggers. I don’t want this to sound like bragging, but rather to help you to see that it is possible to pay back your debt on a low income (we’re doing it). You can also see that it’s possible to make money on the side (we’re doing that too). I hope that this helps you on your journey to debt freedom.

My wife and I’s pay has both risen a small amount due to annual raises. My wife makes around $1,800 per month and I make roughly $1,600 a month (both post-tax, post-health insurance, post-retirement contribution). We have taken a vow to use only my income to support us – pay our bills, our groceries, our gas, minimum payments, everything and use the entirety of hers to pay extra on debt. However, as you know, sometimes her paychecks must be used for other purposes (such as fixing the car, etc.)

This month, thankfully, all of our extra funds could go toward our debt repayment (and most of my checks, too, since we were on our No Spend Challenge). We did make an extra $200 catering which was all put toward debt and DIY Jahn made some extra fund-age for us as well, though not a ton. We are hoping with the release of our new course we will bump up our income a little bit.

Here’s what our income breaks down to for the month of January:

 

February Income

My wife and I work as a team and while we know that she earns more than I do, we never hold that against one another. Our money is just that, our money. For a long time I supported her on just my income, when she got a job, she supported us both. Now we are pretty close to even. While I don’t make, in cash, anywhere near what she makes, my job also pays for the house and all bills associated (repairs, utilities, etc.) – so we are fairly equal.

The thing to remember though is that even if we weren’t: we are married. If she was making nothing, my checks would still be just as much her money as her paychecks are now. We are equals in this relationship. It matters, ya know?

Don’t forget our assets!

This is one of our first full months in which we didn’t have to utilize our emergency fund at all! I’m so excited to report that not only did our emergency fund stay the same, but we were able to see our first interest gain on our savings. Okay, so it may have been only $.19 but that’s better than nothing, right?

Each month we also contribute $100 toward our New Family Fund. Because of the way our relationship works, we know that when we want to have children, we will need a large fund for this. Since we want to have kids in a few years, we’ve started saving for this now.

I know what you are thinking: why don’t you have a “new house fund” as well. Well, we have thought about it, honestly. We have looked at and fell in love with houses. We have wanted to buy houses. There’s a lot that we have tried, but it always ends the same: we need to stay where we are until our debt is paid off because right now, we can put a lot extra toward debt each month.

The difference between saving for housing and saving for kids? Well, housing could happen at any point in life. If we need to wait 10 years to buy a house, then that’s what we will do. However, there’s sort of a timeline with kids, we want to still be young enough to truly enjoy them when we have them. So, the fund starts now and the housing fund will start next year (in theory). I hope that makes sense.

February Money

Looking Ahead

 Where do we hope to be, looking forward?

First: We have learned a ton during our No Spend Challenge. It was truly eye-opening and we will be writing about that later this week during a recap. However, this has changed the way we look at finances. We have lowered our monthly budget by $100 leaving us with $200 for groceries, $40 for fun money, and $60 for gas. We have also decided to continue our No Spend Challenge for as long as we are able – which we think will get us a few weeks into February and save us some more extra funds for debt!

Second: We have recalculated where our money goes and, barring there are no giant repairs to make on our car, we should be able to put an extra $1,700 per month toward debt ever month. Woohoo! We also hope to keep earning on the side and maybe even bump that up a little bit!

Third: We have made a really big, huge, scary goal of paying off $50,000 in debt in 2016! I know this sounds crazy, but if we reach it we will be in such a better place to reach our goals super fast. I hope we can make it! It scares me to death, but man it would be nice.

So, stay tuned for more – big things are coming our way (and yours)! Thank you for joining us on this journey, supporting us, and keeping us going. We truly appreciate it.

Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

Week 4 Update – NSC Series

Week 4 Update

It’s time for our FINAL update: the week 4 update! Now, this won’t be the recap of the entirety of the NSC, but instead we will focus on this week’s update like a normal week and do our recap later this week – so stay tuned. Onto today’s update!

Week 4 Update - www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



Funds: Week 4 Update

 

So, this week may have been a little bit more spend-y than last week because we did have a couple of necessities to purchase. To be honest, I’m not surprised since we haven’t spent money on purchases in 31 days (WOW). So, here’s what we spent:

Gas: $27.68
Medication: $5.52
Again, these are totally understandable purchases and don’t go against any of the rules that we set for ourselves, so we feel pretty good about them. I can’t wait to show you guys the full challenge update later this week (and our debt repayment update tomorrow).

Food: Week 4 Update

 

We STILL have a lot of food leftover in our cupboard. I can’t believe how much food we must have had at the beginning of the challenge that we STILL cannot get rid of it all. In any case, we will be extending our challenge for as long as we are able to feed ourselves. Stay tuned! 🙂

Onto our meal plan:

Here’s what we ate this week:

Sunday, January 24

Breakfast: slept past breakfast
Lunch: Leftover Minestrone
Dinner: Minestrone again (we are getting a little tired of it, but still like it lol!)

Any Snacks: 

Monday, January 18

Breakfast: Shakeology
Lunch: Leftover & Frozen Hamburgers (from this summer)
Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner

Any Snacks: German Chocolate Cake (it was a staff member’s birthday)

Tuesday, January 19

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Veggies, Leftovers
Dinner: Homemade Egg Noodles with Two Types of Sauces

Any Snacks: Storebought Cookies (brought by a friend)

Wednesday, January 20

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Leftovers Hamburgers from the Freezer
Dinner: Homemade Chinese Lo Mein & Beef Teriyaki

Any Snacks: Fresh Veggies & Dip

Thursday, January 21

Breakfast: Panera Bread & Cream Cheese (Work Meal)
Lunch: Mexican Restaurant (Work Meal)
Dinner: Leftover Chinese Lo Mein & Beef Teriyaki

Any Snacks:

Friday, January 22

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Spaghetti
Dinner: Pizza Ranch Pizza (brought by a friend)

Any Snacks: 

Saturday, January 23

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Frozen Hamburgers on Bagels
Dinner: New Pot of Minestrone & Homemade Bread

Any Snacks: 

Overall: Week 4 Update

Overall, this challenge has been enthralling, exciting, and also extremely hard as we close the finish line. There are times where there is nothing we want more than to go shopping for absolutely anything. However, we are so excited to be almost done and know that we have learned SO much. I will expand on all of this in the full challenge recap later this week.

The most eye-opening thing for our week 4 update? How surprisingly hard it can be at times. We are caught between two mindsets – one of wanting to be happy, living a life where we aren’t so “stuck” and aren’t so unbelievably stressed so often. The other of wanting to be debt free. I guess for us it can be hard to choose priorities at times because we like to dream so freely, but we are learning to live a quieter life.

Looking past our week 4 update – forward: I’m mostly just really excited to share our debt repayment update with you tomorrow and our full challenge recap later this week! I can’t wait!


 

Have questions you would like to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading our week 4 update! If you didn’t already share, I’d love to hear your week 4 update for the final point of the challenge!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

Your Turn: Week Four – NSC Series

Your Turn: Week Four

Alright readers and challengers, it’s your turn: Week Four! Let us know how the challenge is going for you by leaving a comment below.

In your comment you can do one, a few, or all of the following list (or anything else you can think of) – it’s your turn, you choose!

Here are some examples of what to include:

  • Ask a question (all questions will be answered on Sundays, so if you ask a question it will either show up in tomorrow or next Sunday’s post – and we’ll reply to your comment as well)
  • Tell us your goals for the challenge
  • Let us know how your first week went
  • Give us examples of what food you’re eating
  • Tell us your successes
  • Tell us your failures
  • Let us know what your favorite blog post was
  • Explain which topics you WISH we would talk about
  • Ask us to write a specific post
  • OR ANYTHING ELSE – it’s your turn: week four!

Today’s quote is by Les Brown. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Your Turn

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



Posts from Week Four:

This week we gave you some great tips to get out from under the weight of debt! That being said, it’s easy to forget what all you have learned as the week goes on. That’s why each Saturday we post a recap of the weeks posts! Here are the posts from week Four!

Week 3 Update

We told you all about how week two of the No Spend Challenge went for us, what we did, and what we ate. This is also where we answer any questions you may have!

Week 3 Update - www.diyjahn.com

Debt Snowball Method VS. the Debt Avalanche Method

Are you concerned about the quickest way to pay off your debt? In this post, I’ll tell you what each of these methods entail and which one I use to pay off my debt at lightning speed!

Debt Snowball Method VS. Debt Avalanche Method- www.diyjahn.com

Need Help Paying Off Student Loans?

Use this simple step-by-step guide to help you get out of debt FAST! This infographic will show you exactly what you need to do.

Need Help Paying Off Student Debt- www.diyjahn.com

Side Hustle Ideas You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

Since we have been working our tails off to earn extra cash and pay off our debts FAST, we tell you our secret tips to earning some cash on the side.

Side Hustle Ideas- www.diyjahn.com

Your Turn: week four

Alright readers and challengers, it’s your turn! Let us know how the challenge is going for you by leaving a comment below.

In your comment you can do one, a few, or all of the following list (or anything else you can think of) – it’s your turn, you choose!

Here are some examples of what to include:

  • Ask a question (all questions will be answered on Sundays, so if you ask a question it will either show up in tomorrow or next Sunday’s post – and we’ll reply to your comment as well)
  • Tell us your goals for the challenge
  • Let us know how your first week went
  • Give us examples of what food you’re eating
  • Tell us your successes
  • Tell us your failures
  • Let us know what your favorite blog post was
  • Explain which topics you WISH we would talk about
  • Ask us to write a specific post
  • OR ANYTHING ELSE – it’s your turn!

Your Turn

Side Hustle Ideas You Haven’t Thought of Yet – NSC Series

Side Hustle Ideas You Haven’t Thought of Yet

Everyone knows that in order to pay down debt, you need to use the simple system: spend less than you make. However, at what point is that not enough? If you cut your spending as far as it will go, it’s time to branch out and find ways to make some extra cash. Need some side hustle ideas to spring you along? You’ve come to the right place!

Side Hustle Ideas - www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.


Side Hustle Ideas You Haven’t Thought of Yet

As my wife and I are working to pay down our debt, we’re realizing just how many ideas we have to make some extra funds. Today, we’re sharing our side hustle ideas with you in hopes that it will help you reach the ultimate goal: debt freedom. Enjoy!

Look Around Your Town!

The best place to start when it comes to side hustle ideas is to look in your own backyard. There are always people in need of some extra help and willing to pay. Here are some of our favorite ideas, but remember there are a ton more in your area. Check the local newspapers, classified websites, craigslist, and even your town’s Facebook group.

Helping a Local Caterer

My wife and I help a local caterer for bigger events. Since she is self-run, she can’t afford to hire a full-time staff. When she needs a few extra hands for serving, cooking, preparing, etc. she calls us up! Usually this is a 5-7 hour job and pays $100 per event (for each of us, so $200 for our family). We live in a smaller area so we only get called about once per month for events, but in bigger cities there is probably a higher need!

Applying for a Part-Time Job

There are plenty of businesses in need of an extra hand here and there. Small town businesses may need someone to shovel the snow or open the shop once per week, but don’t discount franchises. Working 10 hours per week at McDonald’s or Subway may seem like the worst thing that could happen, but when you get an extra couple hundred bucks at the end of the month and get to taste the sweet taste of debt freedom sooner, you’ll be glad you did it! Remember, you aren’t “too good” for anything. Just because you have a fancy degree or have been in the workforce for 20-30 years does not mean you can’t lower yourself to work a minimum wage job. If you have debt, you need the money. And if you need the money, you’ll need to do the work.

Smaller Tasks

Many people are looking for help with one day tasks such as moving, mowing the lawn, fixing a radio, a ride to work, etc. Watch for these side hustle ideas to be posted on local webpages and pick them up. It’s a great way to get a few extra bucks here and there to throw at your debt!

“.-.sitting”

Baby sitting, house sitting, pet sitting: they all have an important thing in common – they’re a great way to make some extra cash! Love kids? Play with them for a few hours a week! Love pets and nature? Take pets on walks, feed them, and get some good cuddle time in!

Make Money Online

We created an entire section of our blog for this exact purpose: making money online. Whether you need it to pay down debt, start up your savings, or for that vacation you are looking to take, here are a ton of side hustle ideas to get you started!

Buying Things Online

Yes, you read that right. One of our side hustle ideas is buying things online. By using programs such as Ebates and Ibotta, you can get cash back on any purchases. Plus, you make money when you refer people to use the site – it’s a win-win!

Playing With Your Phone

Okay, now we’re just getting crazy, right? No, really! YOU can earn money easily by playing with your phone. Swipe it on and earn points. Check out Fronto! It’s not a super fast way to make money, but I earned over $10 in one money – and it didn’t take any extra time at all. It’s like FREE money!

Selling Your Skills

Do you have any skills you can market? Perhaps you’re great at drawing caricatures, designing logos, or being a voice-over. Maybe you’re an amazing knitter, can take photos like a pro, or even write stories. In any case, you should check out Fiverr – a great place to sell your skills to the world!

If you don’t know about that, perhaps you prefer writing or administrative duties. Are you an awesome writer? Freelance Writing may be the perfect job for you! Prefer the administrative job? How about becoming a Virtual Assistant? These are awesome side hustle ideas that can earn a significant extra income!

Become a Direct Sales Rep

Before you get all high-and-mighty, remember that people DO actually earn extra money by becoming direct sales representatives and YOU CAN, TOO! Try starting out with awesome places such as: Advocare, Beachbody, It Works, and Younique.

Start a Blog

My absolute favorite of the side hustle ideas is to start a blog. Why? Because it’s something I’m passionate about. If you’re interested in starting a blog (about anything), check out our super easy-to-follow tutorial to setting up a blog and beginning to monetize it. You can make money blogging, if you put in the time and commit to doing it right.

Here’s the tutorial: CLICK HERE

Here’s how to monetize: CLICK HERE

Side Hustle Ideas- www.diyjahn.com

Side Hustle Ideas

Here’s a quick little overview of the side hustle ideas we talked about in this post. For more ideas, visit our Make Money Online page today – click HERE!

  • Make money in your local area by finding a part-time job, pet/house/baby sitting, helping with simple tasks, or finding a local business-owner in need of assistance
  • Make money online through direct sales, buying items online, playing with your phone, and more!
  • Start a blog and replace your full-time job with your passion!

We only have a few days left of our No Spend Challenge, so here goes our quote for Day 29 by Nelson Mandela.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

What is your biggest accomplishment for the month of January?

Leave your response in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. Also, please not that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here

Need Help Paying Off Student Loans? – NSC Series

Need Help Paying Off Student Loans?

If you’re anything like my family, you know what it’s like to be in debt. In fact, you probably know it all too well. I’m guessing you have tried to get out, too. That you have worked your butt off and that you have paid on it for years to no avail. Well, today we created an infographic just for you to give you some much needed help paying off student loans!

I’ll show you and walk you through it below!

Need Help Paying Off Student Debt- www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



Help Paying Off Student Loans

Today we are sharing an infographic that we think will be helpful as you strive toward that goal of debt freedom. It’s a long journey, but I promise that it’s worth it. Here are some tips to help you out! Of course, if you want more tips, want to share your story, or have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, let us know!

Don’t forget to look below the infographic for even more helpful information!

Help Paying Off Student Loans Infographic - www.diyjahn.com

  1. Tips to build a better budget for you and your family can be found by clicking HERE.
  2. Tips on determining which debt repayment method is right for you can be found by clicking HERE.
  3. Tips to help you Make Money Online right away can be found by clicking HERE.
  4. Tips for saving money and living frugally can be found by clicking HERE!
  5. Tips for creating goals for debt repayment (including ways to celebrate) can be found by clicking HERE!

Today is day 26 of our No Spend Challenge and we are only FIVE DAYS away from the finish line! If you need help paying off student loans, I definitely recommend trying out our No Spend Challenge in February.

Our quote today is by Shauna Neiquist, who is one of my favorite authors.

“It is not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What is hard is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

What are you doing today that will help you live the life you want to live?

Leave your responses in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. Also, please not that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here

Debt Snowball Method VS. the Debt Avalanche – NSC Series

Debt Snowball Method VS. the Debt Avalanche

I’m sure you’ve heard the terms before, especially if you are fighting tooth and nail to get rid of that debt. The debt snowball method and the debt avalanche have been around for as long as I can remember. The big question is – which one is better?

My wife and I have been aggressively fighting our debt for a few months now, though we have had debt for much, much longer than that. We worked toward paying them off, but we didn’t have a system and our efforts kind of… fell flat.

I’m sure all you readers can relate. You work and work and work to pay off these debts, living paycheck to paycheck and sacrificing as much as you can, but you still aren’t reaching your goals. Your debts are threatening to crush you, they’re emotionally killing you, they’re holding you back, but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get ahead.

What’s the problem? Why can’t you make a dent in those debts?

Well, there could be a lot of reason – like not building a budget that’s right for your situation, not implementing a cash budget system, or even not stocking up enough in your emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. I’m betting there’s a bigger reason than that though:

If you aren’t making progress on your debt repayment, you probably don’t have a good debt repayment method in place.

Once my wife and I started utilizing our debt repayment method, we made huge strides in our debt repayment leading to paying over $20,000 off in a few short months! You could be debt-free by now if your debts were $20,000 or less, but even if they’re not, you could be well on your way to debt freedom.

As I said before, the biggest question to consider in this scenario is which debt repayment system is better?

Let’s take a look at the debt snowball method VS. the debt avalanche.

Debt Snowball Method VS. Debt Avalanche Method - www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



Debt Snowball Method VS. the Debt Avalanche

The debt snowball method was designed by Dave Ramsey (from what I can tell) who, by the way, is an awesome financial advocate if you are looking for more ways to save money. I truly recommend reading his books, listening to his podcasts, and overall just learning from him. I will admit, though, that there are certain areas in which I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Ramsey, and other areas where I disagree, just as wholeheartedly. I digress.

On the other hand, there’s the debt avalanche system which was designed by who-knows-who, but is sometimes referred to as the “debt stacking method.”

Now, I’ll admit right up front that both of these methods have some pros and cons. As with all of your financial situations, remember that any opinions are up to you. It’s personal finance, after all. You have to make a personal choice as to how you handle your finances and one system may work better than another given your financial situation.

Let’s take a look at both of these systems more in depth before we compare and contrast the two.

Debt Snowball Method Overview

The debt snowball method is designed to help you overcome your debt by playing into psychology. Therefore, you begin by paying minimum payments toward all of your debts.

Let’s look at George as an example. He owes debts to:

  • School loan: $45,000
  • Car loan: $5,500
  • Credit Card: $12,000

His minimum payments are $450, $212, and $326 respectively. If he were to simply put the minimum payments toward debt each month, it would take him a total of 139 months to pay off his debt and would cost him over $24,000 in interest.

But George is smart and knows that he can pay them off way earlier than that. He decides to start paying extra toward them each month.  He has budgeted a total of $1,200 to use toward debt.

His total minimum payments come to $988 which means he has an extra $212 to utilize toward paying off his debts. Now, in all debt repayment methods you should always ensure you can make the minimum payments before adding extra to any other debt.

In the debt snowball method, the goal is to choose the smallest debt first and begin throwing all of your extra funds at that debt. In this case, George would pay minimum payments for both the credit card and the student loan, but starting putting his extra $212 toward the car, making his monthly payments toward the car $424.

Once the car is paid off, he would begin putting the entirety of the $424 toward the credit card loan (the second smallest debt) and once that’s paid off, the whole $1,200 would go toward the student loan.

Now, what’s the point of paying off debt this way? Well, it saves both time and money! By using the debt snowball method, George’s debts would take roughly 64 months to pay off (saving over 75 months!) and would only cost him around $13,000 in interest (saving him over $10,000 in interest!).

Here are the basics of the debt snowball method:

  • Continue paying minimum payments on all debts
  • Focus your attention on the smallest debt
  • When one debt is paid off, add all of the payments from that debt to the next smallest debt and continue paying

The goal is to pay off the smallest debts first in order to give you wins right away. Once you are excited because you have paid off a smaller debt, you’ll be more capable and motivated to pay off the next debt, and so on and so forth.

Debt Avalanche Method Overview

Similar to the debt snowball method, the debt avalanche asks you to continue paying minimum payments on all of your debts and to focus your attention on a singular debt. When that debt is paid, you snowball your payments to the next. The big difference between the two is that the debts are paid according to interest rate rather than debt amount.

Let’s look at George as an example again:

  • School loan: $45,000
  • Car loan: $5,500
  • Credit Card: $12,000

The minimum payments for these are the same as the last example. Again, George wants to pay them off quickly so he allots a total of $1,200 to put toward his debts each month. In this scenario, though, we also need the interest rates which are 6, 5, and 19 respectively.

In order for George to utilize the debt avalanche method, he will start paying minimum payments toward all debts. However, he will also add his extra $212 toward his credit card debt because of its high, 19% interest rate meaning his payments toward this debt will be $538. After that is paid off, his payments will snowball into his student loan (so that he will be paying the minimum payment of $450 + his extra debt payment of $538) which has an interest rate of 6% and finally to his car (so that he will be paying the minimum payment of $212 + $538 + 450) which has an interest rate of only 5%.

Again, similar to the debt snowball, this method saves you time and money. Let’s look at how much of each George saves with the debt avalanche method. If George uses this system, his debt will be paid off in 63 months (saving him 76 months) and he will only pay around $12,000 in interest (saving him over $11,000!).

Here are the basics of the Debt Avalanche Method

  • Continue paying minimum payments on all debts
  • Focus your attention on the debt with the highest interest rate
  • When one debt is paid off, add all of the payments from that debt to the next smallest debt and continue paying

The goal is to pay off your debts in order of interest to save you time and money in the long run.

Debt Snowball Method VS. Debt Avalanche Method- www.diyjahn.com

So, which is better?

Well, I have to be honest, they can come pretty close. As I’ve always said, personal finance is something that is just that: personal. Which means that you need to make personal decisions for yourself as to what will work best for you in your situation. And remember, I’m not an expert.

However, if you were to ask me which one I personally thought was better, I would go with the debt avalanche method, hands down. Why?

Well, the debt snowball method was created to help maintain motivation throughout debt repayment which, I’ll admit, can be difficult to do. Motivation is hard to keep hold of when you are living on next to nothing, so if you struggle with maintaining motivation, I encourage you to utilize this form of debt repayment.

From a strictly financial point, though, the debt avalanche method is clearly the winner. You see, no matter what, if you are paying on the highest interest first you will save money and time in your debt repayment.

Now, perhaps you only have a couple of loans and they all have low interest rates and are low amounts… In that scenario, it probably doesn’t matter which debt repayment plan you pick.

But if you are like the average American, you’re probably not that lucky. You most likely have over $30,000 in varying interest rates worth of debt growing each and every day. As Dave Ramsey says, “Debt is normal, be weird.”

Yes, it is weird to pay off your debt, but if you do it right you could be out of debt soon and experience the beauty of debt freedom. Okay, I’ve never experienced it myself, but I imagine that it’s the greatest sort of peace that there is.

Anyway, in my mind, debt freedom is the ultimate goal and I want to get there as soon as possible. Sure, I’m not always 100% gung-ho about spending all of my money on debt, but I know that if I work hard now, I can pay it off and live a better life in the future.

So, you ask which repayment method is better and I am certainly going to say the debt avalanche method over the debt snowball method. I mean, let’s look at George again. Sure the debt snowball method saved him thousands of dollars and only took him 64 months to pay off. But the debt avalanche method saved him even more money and only took him 63 months.

What’s the difference between the two? Well, for George it was a month and $1,200. Are you willing to give up $1,200 and a month of your life in order to have a happier experience paying off debt? Well, it’s really up to you guys. For me, that month could be a month of debt freedom. For some, the motivation to get started is enough to keep them going.

Like I said, it’s personal finance so the decision may vary for your personal situation.

Debt Snowball Method VS. Debt Avalanche

So, let’s look at what we found out today:

  • the Debt Snowball Method focuses on paying off the smallest debts first.
  • the Debt Avalanche Method focuses on paying off the highest interest debts first.
  • Overall: the debt snowball method helps you to stay motivated while the debt avalanche method saves you time and money.
  • Both are great, but only you can decide which method is right for your situation.

And now onto some information about our No Spend Challenge: It’s day 25 and we are looking forward to only SIX DAYS LEFT! Today’s quote is by an unknown source is:

Quote - Day 25 (1)

“The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” – Unknown

Okay, I don’t need to explain that one, right? Let’s get out of debt and get those creditors off our backs!

Which method are you using to pay back your debt?

Leave your answers or a story in the comments below!

Week 3 Update & FAQ – NSC Series

Week 3 Update

Hello, my favorite readers! Today we are giving our update and I can’t BELIEVE that we are already only a week away before we hit our finish line. We have spent 24 days spending NOTHING. How crazy is that? Anyway, as I have said before, each Sunday I’ll be giving you all an update on any funds we have spent, what we have eaten, and how we are doing. So, here we go with our week 3 update!

Week 3 Update - www.diyjahn.com

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



Funds: Week 3 Update

It’s official! We have paid off our credit cards entirely and will never rack those up again. For those of you who don’t have credit card debt – please stay away from it. It’s ugly and horrid. For those who are still struggling with it, we are with you! We feel your pain!

This week went super well as far as not spending money goes! We spent nothing (even when we drove to Des Moines for work and all we wanted to do was stop for a soda at the gas station). We will be getting gas this coming week, but we’ll let you know about the cost in our next update.

I can’t wait to share with you guys what our finances look like during our February Debt Repayment Update on Feb. 1st!

Food: Week 3 Update

 

Food! Last week I mentioned that my wife and I were considering extending our challenge beyond February 1. I have to be honest, it’s a hard challenge. There were days this week that I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was go buy Subway, but you know what? We couldn’t! We don’t have the money.

Instead, we had to work through it and it’s been hard, but possible. As for extending it? As long as we have food in our pantry we will be extending the challenge! For right now, that looks like it will be another week or two into February, but don’t worry – we are still going to celebrate with you at the end of this month! Can you believe we are already almost there?

Anyway, onto our meal plan for the week.

Here’s what we ate this week:

Sunday, January 17

Breakfast: Doughnuts @ Church
Lunch: Subway (work meal)
Dinner: Pasta Roni (the last box of boxed pasta that we own! We won’t be buying this anymore)

Any Snacks: 

Monday, January 18

Breakfast: Shakeology
Lunch: Leftover & Frozen Grilled Chicken (from this summer)
Dinner: Hamburgers (frozen from this summer), Green Beans (canned)

Any Snacks: 

Tuesday, January 19

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Sandwiches (with homemade bread, the last of our sliced turkey and cheese, and some lettuce!)
Dinner: Pork Chops, Lentils, Stir Fry (we had frozen pork chops that we had grilled this past summer, a bag of lentil blend from Hy-Vee, and some veggies that we desperately needed to use up)

Any Snacks: 

Wednesday, January 20

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Sandwiches again and the last of our potato chips
Dinner: Mac-n-Cheese & Leftover Frozen Hamburgers (again, grilled from this summer – and the last box of mac-n-cheese that my parents had given us over Christmas)

Any Snacks: Fresh Veggies & Dip

Thursday, January 21

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Egg Sandwich Grilled Cheese (YUM)
Dinner: Homemade Minestrone-like Soup (we needed a garbage soup for some of our leftovers and some tomato juice we had lying around. This soup is DELICIOUS)

Any Snacks:

Friday, January 22

Breakfast: Shakeo
Lunch: Leftover Minestrone
Dinner: I had Pork Loin and Mashed Potatoes (work dinner) and my wife had leftover soup & bread

Any Snacks: Wine & Cheese @ work

Saturday, January 23

Breakfast: Peaches & Cream Stuffed French Toast & Sausage @ work
Lunch: Chili, Salad Bar, & Bread @ work
Dinner: Leftover Minestrone & Bread

Any Snacks: 

Overall: Week 3 Update

Overall, this challenge is going quite well I would say! I am surprised at how it’s not as hard as I expected, even now that we are over three weeks in! It’s definitely saved us money, made us think differently about money, and is helping us to use up the food that we have in our cupboards, freezer, and fridge!

We STILL have only spent $35 for the entirety of the new year (with our gas and medication purchase from week one). I honestly expected to fail at it. I know that’s horrible, but I expected we would have spent way more – fallen off the wagon or something, but we are doing SO well. Other than the gas purchase this week (which is allowed), I think we will make it without ANY excess spending. We are going to do this!

The most eye-opening thing for our week 3 update? I think the thing that has surprised me most is how much money we allotted for ourselves in our budget unnecessarily. Even with another gas purchase this week, we will probably only use $60 for gas for the month (rather than the allotted $120), groceries we normally allot around $250 and we clearly don’t need that much – as can be told by the fact that we haven’t bought any all month, and as for fun money? I will say that fun money is a necessity. We need to be able to leave home and get a dinner out once in a while. That being said, we normally allot around $100 for this each month (or more sometimes!). We are going to cut that down to $20 every two weeks while we are living frugally and paying off our debt.

Looking past our week 3 update – forward: I’m still in shock that there is only one week left officially. This week we only expect the gas expense to occur. When our paychecks come in, the majority will go toward debt repayment (barring the needed amount for our budget for February). We will continue the NSC through some of February for as long as we possibly can, but will add the rule (starting Feb. 1) that we can make some necessary purchases (such as eggs, milk, etc.) only as NEEDED. So that will be an addition.

Questions: Week 3 Update

This week we received a couple of questions for you all! Although we have already answered them by replying to your comments, I want to share two of them here so that everyone can learn from the responses. Feel free to leave any more questions you may have in the comments!

What did we do about the No Shampoo Issue?

 

This is a great question! We were nervous about it, to be quite honest. We ran out of shampoo and attempted to shower without it (only water and conditioner), but this did not work. Okay, we didn’t expect it to, but we wanted to be lazy. Anyway, we did some research and have decided that we will be a shampoo-less home.

Instead, we made our own hair-cleaner from baking soda, water, and essential oils. It’s fairly easy (1 Tbsp baking soda, 1 cup water, a few drops of lemon oil). The lemon oil helps to control natural oils.

After researching, we are finding out that chemicals in hair products are bad for you, too. Go figure! It seems like everywhere we look there are chemicals! Others who have completed the “no-poo challenge” have said that their hair was greasier for the first few showers, but after a week or two became more soft and flowing than ever! Not only that, but all dandruff and dry scalp issues became non-existent. Using this homemade concoction is a more natural approach to hair hygiene and can help you to keep your vibrant and soft hair.

That being said, my wife and I were certainly nervous at first (and still are, a little bit). We have tried it a few times now and it definitely makes our hair look different, but not bad. We are hoping that by the end of next week we’ll start seeing some of these great results!

How do you make homemade ricotta cheese?

 

Oh! Excellent question! Here’s the recipe we use for delicious homemade ricotta cheese – a great way to save milk that’s about to go bad!

Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Milk (half gallon)
  • Vinegar (1/3 Cup)

Recipe:

  1. Slowly warm the milk over a burner (on Medium) to a temperature of 200′ – If you don’t have a thermometer, this means it should be steaming and foamy, but should not be boiling. If it boils, take it off right away.
  2. When warmed, remove from heat and gently stir in vinegar.
  3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. If the milk has not curdled at this point, add another tablespoon of vinegar and allow to sit.
  4. When the milk has curdled, pour ingredients into a cheese cloth (can also use a thinly slotted strainer if you don’t have a cheese cloth).
  5. Allow to drain for 10-60 minutes depending on how dry you would like the ricotta cheese. Don’t forget to save the whey (the stuff that drains from the cheese) to be used in recipes!

Have questions you would like to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading our week 3 update! If you didn’t already share, I’d love to hear your week 3 update for the mid-way point of the challenge!

Quote for today is by Joel Osteen: “Start believing TODAY that things are going to change for the better. Your best days are still out in front of you..”


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.