debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


Debt Debs Super Duper Advice


debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.


ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?


So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice ;-) ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules -Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde -Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money -Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long :-) on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  ;-)   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood /

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /


Author: debster

I am a fifty-something wife, mother and new grandmother, who admits to having their “head in the sand” about their financial situation until amassing $247,500 worth of consumer debt for a total debt of $393,500. We've paid $121K in 2 years with four more years to go. Join my journey at sharing ideas and motivation to all those coping with poor money management and bad debt decisions.

53 thoughts on “Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

  1. Wow, thanks for this post Debs! Great advice on personal finance and you’ve covered blog carnival info really well too! It took me a while to get the hang of blog carnivals. I used to only submit to a couple now and then usually aiming for just the ‘debt’ categories. Then I realised that many other bloggers submit to all of them just in case, so that’s what I do now. Like you I have a spreadsheet for tracking all that stuff otherwise I would have no hope of remembering who to link back to etc!

  2. All great tips. I enjoyed Money Saving Dude’s article, too. We have this dream that we are working toward so it’s extra important for us to re-focus our finances at this point. We’ll be ramping up our mortgage payments when we are done with this whole wedding thing, and we’ve always tracked our spending.

    • Hi Daisy, I certainly understand if you’ve got a wedding to pay for that you would want to focus on this and not incur any debt. Great that you already tracked your spending. #superdupercommendable

  3. This is some good information. I have never heard of blog Carnivals. I know…I live under a rock, don’t judge me.

  4. Hey Debs, I would say #6 is on the 50+ tips post if I had to guess. I was on that post too, I wrote about groceries!

  5. I love your FIFA acronym! I will have to borrow that!

  6. Love this! I really need to stop buying stuff. I need to go on a spending freeze and/or sell a ton of stuff in my house.

    • Cold turkey pretty much worked for me, Michelle! I still have a long way to go to become a minimalist, but I think I’m at least pointed in the right direction.

  7. These are fresh reminders of things we should be doing! I’m sure it’s helpful to everyone in their own way. As a natural spender, my favorite is “stop buying stuff”!

  8. Wow! What a whopper of a post :) I did learn a few things and will be emailing you soon with some questions. :)

  9. Debs,

    Start tracking your spending and stop spending on useless crap. Classic advice. :)

    Best wishes!

  10. Great tips Deb!! For me, a big factor for success was tracking spending just as tracking my points on Weight Watchers helped me lose weight. Every time you have to write something down, you start to wonder if it is really “worth” it not for the spending money party, but it is just annoying to keep track of everything.

    • Tracking everything manually would drive me nuts and I think I might want to abandon my tracking then. There are some applications for smart phones that you can use for your cash and daily spending. I basically go cashless and charge everything so I can track it online through MINT. It’s more convenient and works for me. On the other hand, some people may find credit too convenient to go overboard, and for you, going minimalist was your motivation. Every one is different and there is no one size fits all so you just need to find what works for you and do it!

  11. I like your FIFA acronym! There is so much to learn with blogging but the great thing with the PF community is that they are really willing to help out one another. I am sold on the stop buying crap point! I have less things, but what I do have are items that I really enjoy now and I feel so much better. I like energy to be able to flow throughout our space. Less is truly more in some instances.

  12. I like the part about just not spending money. So simple. So perfect.

  13. All great, classic advice. I’m a really big fan of tracking your spending, as it can be pretty eye-opening to see where your money is going! I have been pretty good at not buying useless stuff in the last year and a half, and I’ve been happier that way. I also love the FIFA acronym.

    • Having to move a long distance really helped you clean out stuff and encourages you to not accumulate more in your new place, I bet! In some ways I dread moving out of our current home because I know it will be a big job. But if I start now, I should be ready in about 5 years. hee hee

  14. Thanks for mentioning the link ups I rounded up, Debs! And I love your tips! I’ll keep the one about the mortgage in mind for someday.

  15. Great advice Debtdebs. I wish I’d done most of the things on your list. That way I’d be free from debt. Darn it!

  16. Thanks for the link love, Deb! I recently started looking into blog carnival submissions, too. I sent a few in, but I don’t think they got picked up. Either that, or they haven’t gone up yet. It’s a little confusing to me, trying to figure out where each one is hosted when it’s a different blog each week… someday I’ll have it figured out, haha.

    • Let me know how it turns out or if you have any other questions. I’m still learning and thought I would give the info I learned so far while it is fresh in my mind. We can figure out the rest together. :-)

  17. There is so much great information here. #1 and #2 really go hand in hand – if I’m on the fence about buying something I think “Do I really want this to show up when I review my expenses this month?” The answer is usually no.

  18. I forwarded your article to a friend who is in debt and he found it very helpful. Thanks debs!

    • Thanks Asset Grinder ~ that’s great to hear!! I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. That is my goal on this blog – to reach others who may be in the same situation and offer support. You are an awesome friend! :-D

  19. Great pieces of advice! I am a debt free person but I love your lists, it really makes sense. It can help me to become debt free not just now but also tomorrow (tomorrow never ends). Make sense. :) Thank you so much for sharing this!

  20. I personally also learned a lot about finances and became more aware of my own personal finance after I became a blogger and read a lot of finance posts. I definitely agree with your advice!

  21. You certainly have a knack for writing lengthy post Deb, always informative. Nicely done.

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  23. This is all great advice, Debt Debs!

  24. Awesome advice! I love reading / hearing about people who pay off their entire mortgage at such a young age!

  25. Thank you for the mention! Regarding the excel file, it takes a lot of time to keep up, what I would suggest instead is you pick a day for submitting, once a week, so you know you only submit once a week to all the ones you choose.

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  27. I love your advice here. I think managing your personal finances including spending is only as interesting as you make it. The more you put it, the more you get out. I also am big on trying to stay away from buying stuff that just adds clutter to my life. Instead I would rather funnel that money towards experiences like trips and vacations.

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  30. These are the nice tips for money management. Apart from this one should give the priority to debts over other expense. Life without debt is so much fun. I had over $15,000 debt which I paid by working on weekends and changing a lifestyle. Now I am debt and stress free which feels incredible.

    • That is quite a turn around, John. Hopefully you can leverage your new found frugality to save and invest. There are so many people out there going for Financial Independence at age 45, 40 and even 35. It’s too late for me but not too late for those motivated to do so! Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment! :-D