6 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt and Achieve Financial Freedom

Debt is part of life, but you should never let it drain you to the point where you start to relate your own worth and happiness to financial obligations like debt. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to face your debts head-on and relieve yourself from that burden in order to achieve financial freedom.

Financial freedom is something most people crave to achieve, but debt can serve as a major roadblock to achieving that. In order to save more, invest, and become more financially independent, you need to free up the cash from your budget in the first place. I don’t know anyone who’s financially independent but still saddled with car loans, credit card debt and student loan debt. Thus, it’s safe to say that getting rid of debt is an important step that can help you reach financial freedom.

So how do you get started and stay on track to actually see results? Here are 6 ways to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom.

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

If you’re in debt, this is no doubt heavily affecting your financial situation. So many people believe that debt is normal or numb themselves to the fact that they owe a creditor a lot of money. This type of mindset won’t do you any good because it’s not helping you solve the problem.

Start peeling back the rug and carefully assessing your financial situation and the debt you have. You can start by reviewing your credit. How much credit are you utilizing and is anything in collections? There are tons of free sites that will allow you to check your credit score like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

Next, layout all your bills and list out your total debt balances, the minimum payments, and the interest rate. Doing this will give you a clear and accurate picture of how much debt you have so you can start to prioritize accounts and create a strategy.

Here are six ways to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom. Click To Tweet

2. Negotiate with Your Creditors

As much as it is hard to negotiate with creditors, it can help you get out of debt quickly. You can start with prioritizing your bills from the most important ones like rent, mortgage, utilities as well as insurance and transport.

Make the payments or give the card issuer a call if you cannot make the minimum payment on a credit card. This way they will not have to do the tedious work of sending your account to collections or worse, tracking you down.

So depending on your credit history, you can be in a position to negotiate for a lower interest rate with your creditors or ask for a lower minimum payment. If you’ve been making on-time payments but your situation has changed (perhaps you endured a job loss or furlough), you may be able to negotiate payments, lower your interest rate, or defer payments.

Keep in mind that while payment relief options can be helpful, it should also be a small part of your strategy. You will still have to manage the debt so long as you don’t file for bankruptcy. Prioritize your debts by determining which ones you want to pay off first and which ones you can negotiate or defer. During the relief period, continue to work on paying down the other debt you’re prioritizing. Use it as an opportunity to get ahead and knock out a burdensome balance.

RELATED: 5 Steps to Negotiate Lower Credit Card Interest Rates

3. Lock Your Credit Cards

To avoid plunging into too much debt, you can try to minimize your use of your credit cards by either locking them up somewhere you cannot always reach, freezing them in a bowl of water, or cutting them up. If you are serious about getting out of credit card debt and know you have a problem with overspending, it’s wise to just stop using credit cards for the time being.

Eliminating the temptation to spend with credit cards can also free up more mental space and energy for you to focus on developing better money management habits.

Also, consider opting out of your relationship with certain creditors. You can opt-out of receiving pre-screened credit card offers by clicking here.

RELATED: Is It Better To Shop With Credit Cards or Cash?

4. Create an Emergency Fund

This is very important when you are trying to get yourself out of debt. It can help in times of need especially during emergencies and when your debt is high up on your neck. You don’t want to pay off debt only to get back into debt when an unexpected expense comes up. This is why it’s important to create a baby emergency fund to help you stay afloat so you don’t continue to borrow more money and dig your way deeper into debt.

Saving anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 is ideal. Life is full of surprises so this money would definitely come in handy when life happens. Creating a baby emergency fund may slow your debt repayment process down a bit, but it will be worth it for the added protection.

Just be sure not to spend the money on non-necessities or expenses that are truly emergencies.

RELATED: 4 Reasons to Have a Large Emergency Fund

5. Spend on What Really Matters

You should start cutting back on what you do not need and start spending money on the essentials only. This way you get to save loads of money that would have been wasted on frivolous items and services.

As much as it seems frugal, it can be the best road to take and also give you some important habits that contribute to financial freedom. You can start by making payments of your most important bills like utility bills, rent, and gas. You can also swap eating out for some home-cooked meals.

Likewise, do some research on discounts, coupons, and other affordable deals before making any purchase. Such small cutbacks can help you save loads of money that you can save or use to pay your debts.

6. Budget

A proper budget be it monthly or weekly can go a long way when it comes to helping you become and stay debt-free. Nonetheless, you should try to stick to it and avoid spontaneous purchases.

Nowadays there are modern apps, software, and services that can help you make a proper budget and stick to it. They can even remind you of upcoming bills and make some financial suggestions to help you along the way.

You can also use your budget tool to spot some areas where you need to cut expenses. This way you save some money to either fund your emergency account or pay off some debts.

RELATED: 5 Things That Could Be Holding You Back From Your Financial Goals


You can become debt-free if you are disciplined enough to follow the steps needed in order to do so. These 6 steps are not the easiest, but they work and help you develop much better financial habits for the future. Remember, paying off debt is just one part of your financial journey and doesn’t have to represent your entire future.

Are you ready to take steps to achieve financial freedom this year? 

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

Cheap Ways to Keep Kids Entertained During Holiday Break

During the winter, it can be difficult to keep our kids entertained. Depending upon where you live, it can be really hard to entice them to stay outside for any length of time. And during the holiday break, it seems to be even worse because they don’t have school work to keep them distracted. So, we have found some cheap ways to keep kids entertained during the holiday break and the winter. Some of these ideas won’t cost you a penny, while others may cost a tiny bit of money if you don’t already have items to work with.

Volcano Fun!

If you ever went to a school science fair, I am sure you have seen a homemade volcano at least once in your life. While there are plenty of different ways to make a volcano, there is one that I ran across on accident that I prefer.

One of my favorite ways to keep my drains clear is with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. The two of them create a chemical reaction that burns away all of the gunk that may be stopping up your drains. And when my kids were younger, they loved to watch me do it because it created a really cool effect.

Which gave me the idea to start using just those two ingredients (and sometimes food coloring when I want to get really crazy) to create homemade volcanoes for them. If you have some playdoh lying around, then that and a plate will do the trick for a volcano vessel.

Just have your kids create a volcano out of the playdoh on the plate, or even on an old piece of wood from the yard. Put a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda into the volcano. Add food coloring for effect, if desired. Then take the volcano outside and add baking soda until you start to see a reaction.

We have done this with snow also, and it was pretty cool to watch the eruption change the shape and color of the snow volcano. However you choose to create the volcano, the kids will love it and it shouldn’t cost you anything to create.

Lego Contest

If you are anything like us, then you probably have some Legos lying around somewhere. In fact, we have two huge bins of them, so there is no shortage of Leg’s around here. During the holidays, one of our favorite things to do with the surplus of Legos is to create a Lego contest.

If you have a ton of them, then the contest can get fairly creative and elaborate. And, depending upon the ages of your children, the contest will vary also. However, some of our favorite Lego contests have been:

  • Best Lego house
  • Most elaborate Lego swimming pool
  • Most creative Lego car
  • Craziest Lego family
  • Biggest Lego city
  • Best Lego luxury boat

These are just a few ideas to get you started, so get creative and have fun!

Treasure Hunt

Having a treasure hunt is always a crowd pleaser and is sure to keep kids entertained. Creating a treasure hunt is similar to the Lego contest, in that it can easily be varied based on the ages of your kids and the environment. If it is too cold outside, then you can keep the treasure hunt inside.

I like to create our treasure hunts so that they are both inside and outside, so the kids can get some fresh air. The easiest way to do this is to create a simple map and create clues to where you have hidden the treasure. The treasure can be anything, really. Hiding candy for pretend gold doubloons are always a favorite of our kids. But, you could also hide a deck of cards, a pair of warm fuzzy socks, or a small set of Legos.

I like to try and find things that we have lying around that the kids have forgotten about to hide as treasure. Sometimes I’ll throw a lollipop or piece of candy in the treasure also, for added excitement.

The treasure can be hidden in an old bag or something more elaborate like a plastic pirate treasure chest with a lock. If you use something like this, then they will have to find the key along the way before they get to the treasure. This is a ton of fun!

Make Your Own Games

Making your own games can also be a lot of fun. Especially if you put the kids in charge of making them. We happen to have a couple of artists in our house who love creating and drawing, so this is a great plan for them.

Just give them some blank paper, scissors, and crayons, markers or colored pencils to get started. Then have them create their own Snakes and Ladders, Candy Land or Pin the Tail on the Donkey game. And it doesn’t even have to be a donkey, but any animal they’d like to pin the tail on.

Let them get creative and really work hard to create their own versions of the games. Once they are done, then comes the real fun for everyone. Making and playing these homemade games can keep kids entertained for hours. Which I am a huge fan of!

Obstacle Course

And last, but definitely not least, creating an obstacle course is always a ton of fun. We like to use things such as:

  • Old boards
  • Chairs
  • Buckets
  • Planters
  • Hammock
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic bins
  • Rakes
  • Shovels

Creating an obstacle course is something that we usually prefer to create outside, just so there’s less chance of slamming into walls or furniture. But, it could be created indoors also, if the weather outside simply won’t comply.

Have your kids work on finding the raw materials around the house or yard to create the obstacle course with. Then have them create the obstacle course, which needs to be realistically doable. Then, you can time each kid running the obstacle course to see who the winner is.

After the course has been run a few times, then have the kids rearrange to create a completely different course. This is an activity that can not only keep them busy for hours but help burn out some energy and get them some fresh air. Bonus!

These are some fantastic, cheap ways to keep kids entertained! Click To Tweet

Keep Kids Entertained Summary

When it comes to the holidays and too much free time, there are many ways to keep kids entertained. And they don’t have to cost you very much if any, money. Use what you have at your disposal first, so you don’t have to buy anything extra. So, creating a volcano or an obstacle course might be great first choices. After you’ve tried those, I would suggest having your kids make their own games and a Lego contest, followed up by a massive treasure hunt. No matter which options you choose, your kids are sure to be entertained, which makes everyone’s life much easier.

What ideas do you have to help keep kids entertained during the holidays this year?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

How to Get the Most Bang For Your Buck When Buying a Car

Need a new car? Car shopping can provide the perfect mix of excitement and stress. On one end, you’re getting a new car. On the other, you probably know it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. 

With the average cost of a new car being $37,000 and $15,000 to $20,000 for a used car, there is plenty of opportunities to save money on this large expense. In this guide, you’ll learn some basic car shopping tips along with how to save money and get more bang for your buck. 

Determine How Much You Can Afford

It’s best to determine a budget before you start looking for cars. Be honest about how much you can afford to spend or finance. If you can’t see yourself paying a car note for a $35,000 vehicle, don’t put yourself in that situation. 

Tap your savings and use other windfalls like work bonuses or a tax refund to add to your car budget. Look at your other current expenses and see how much you can afford if you’re going to finance along with how long your ideal term would be. 

For example, some car dealers can make the monthly payment seem smaller by stretching out the term for 5-7 years. Do you really want to be paying on your car that long?

Check Your Credit

If you’re going to be financing a car, check your credit early on to see where you stand. It doesn’t affect your credit when you check your score online and it usually won’t cost you anything. 

See if you can use a site like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame to check your credit for free. Realize that these sites provide a Vantage score which is different from the Fico score that most car dealers use. Just keep in mind that your score may show up higher on a site like Credit Sesame but it does give you a range to consider. 

You can also try to sign up for MyFico to check your actual Fico score or Discover Scorecard which is free to use. The better your score, the better rate you can get on a car loan.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Your Credit Score Can Decrease

Compare Your Shopping Options

There are so many places to consider when you’re looking to buy a car. There are car dealerships, private lots, and even rental car companies that sell cars like Enterprise. 

You can start by visiting a few websites or calling car lots to see what type of inventory they have. There Car dealerships do a good job of regularly updating their website. 

Schedule a day and time to come in and look at cars and do a few test drives. 

RELATED: 5 Things to Lookout For When Purchasing a New Car

New or Used?

A common question car buyers have is whether they should get a brand new vehicle or go the used route. This really depends on your budget and preferences. For most people, buying used will be the best decision because it saves you money. 

Used cars can be in great condition and some may even have low mileage. Buying used doesn’t have to mean your car was manufactured in 1992. You can still buy a fairly newer car that has all the features you like without the brand new price tag. You may even be able to get a warranty on the used car as well for a few years.

When considering a used car, make sure you ask to see all the details regarding the full history of the car like maintenance, repairs, accident history, etc. CarFax is a site that provides detailed reports on all used cars that you can access. If you’re purchasing a car from a private owner, you can always have a mechanic come with you to assess the vehicle. 

Remember, it’s important to do your due diligence in this area because if you catch potential issues early, you can save a ton of money.

RELATED: Buying a New Car? 5 Areas Your Mechanic Should Check Beforehand

Where To Finance

If you’re going to finance your car, you want to get the best rates and terms possible. Car dealerships tend to offer in-house financing but it’s not the best. It also takes a while as your salesperson may spend time shopping around with their dozens of lenders to find you an ideal interest rate. 

Other car lots may offer a ‘buy here pay here’ option where you don’t have to finance through another company. While this may sound convenient on the surface, you won’t have any other rates or offers to compare and the car lot may not have the most competitive offer. This means you could end up overpaying extra for financing. 

One of the better options to get affordable financing is to use your bank or credit union. Don’t forget, you can also get financing online from trusted lenders. 

See if you can get a loan with better terms and interest then pay the car owner or dealership with the cash. From there, all you’d need to do is pay the loan off with your 3rd party lender. 

Need a new car? Car shopping can provide the perfect mix of excitement and stress. Click To Tweet 

Saving More on Your Purchase

Buying a car can be expensive no matter how you dice it. However, there are quite a few things you can do to save while car shopping. 

Trade-in your current car. Some car lots and dealerships will pay you cash if you trade in your current car in exchange for the new one. Depending on the car you have and its condition, this could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Have excellent credit. There are so many benefits to having great credit. With a high credit score, you may even be able to get a 0% APR on your car loan for several months or years. 

Negotiate. Many people forget that they can negotiate the price of their new car. Dealerships may not be so willing to work with you, but if you’re buying from a smaller car lot or private owner, they may be more willing to negotiate on the price of the car.

Shop around for insurance. Auto insurance is a requirement. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and leg for it. Shop around and compare quotes to find the best option for your needs and preferences. 

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

7 Top Items Required for Delicious Homemade Coffee and Lattes

Getting coffee out can be extremely expensive. So here are 7 of our top items required for you to make delicious homemade coffee and lattes.If you’re like me, you love a good cup of coffee. And during these winter months, I love coffee even more. But, I really detest getting coffee while I am out because it is so expensive. Plus, the lattes I find out also tend to have an enormous amount of extra sugar and junk that I wouldn’t normally put in my coffee. So, I found some great ways to homemade coffee just as delicious, but for less than a quarter of the cost. If you don’t call that a win, I don’t know what is!

1. French Press

I used to be an old fashioned coffee maker kind of gal. But, then about 6 years ago I heard about the french press. I never got to see one in action until I was working at a hotel while finishing my Master’s degree. These were used for a lot of the room service coffee’s that were served. And since that day, my coffee life has never been the same.

Originally, I purchased a Bodum French Press. This one was great for me and I loved it. Until it broke about a year and a half ago. Since the Bodum is glass, if you drop it just the wrong way, it can break. And since I happen to be accident-prone, that eventually happened. But, since it was a lower cost French Press, it was a really good one for me to start with. Plus, it lasted a few years, which was worth the money. While the french press is the most expensive part of making homemade coffee, it is well worth it.

After that one broke, I decided to splurge and purchase the higher end Frieling Double-walled Stainless Steel French Press. This one has a lifetime warranty and it won’t break if you drop it. So far, so good and the coffee is out of this world!

French Press Directions

The reason a french press makes the coffee taste so much better is because you have complete control over how hot the water is before you pour it into the french press. You also have better control over steeping time, which can affect the strength and acidity.

When you are making french press, you should make sure to take the kettle off the stove right before it begins to boil. Once you pour the water into the french press, stir the coffee grounds and water together. Then put the lid on and let it steep for approximately 3-4 minutes, depending upon how strong and acidic you want it. Then push down the plunger to stop the steeping process and you are good to go.

2. Tea Kettle

If you don’t already have a tea kettle, you will need one for delicious homemade coffee. Tea kettles can range pretty widely in price. But, if you aren’t planning to use yours for anything other than your homemade coffee, then you should be able to pick one up for pretty cheap.

I have been able to find some tea kettles for under $20, but I usually pick one up for a bit closer to $30. Of course, you could easily spend a lot more money on a tea kettle that has a more aesthetic look for you. No matter what you choose to do, just make sure it will hold enough water for your french press.

The other option is an electric tea kettle. I happen to have one of these in my office, just in case I want to make coffee or tea while I am working. That way I don’t have to go up to the kitchen to boil water. Multitasking at it’s finest!

3. Mini Strainer

After having the french press for so many years, we realized that it could still use a bit more straining. Everything is great with the coffee until the last sip or two usually. And then things can get a bit gritty. Some of that could have to do with the grind of the beans, but not usually. So, we have found that getting a mini tea strainer does the trick nicely.

You can easily pick one of these up for well under $10. And it can be used for tea, coffee, and cocktails. So, this is a great tool to keep on hand, whether you are making homemade coffee or not.

4. Mini Whisk

When it comes to making good homemade coffee and lattes, a mini whisk is a must. Luckily, we happen to have a plethora of kitchen tools lying around, so we had one on hand. The one we found that works best is a 5″ mini whisk because it fits nicely in a standard coffee mug.

How I have used the mini whisk to benefit my coffee and latte experience is simple. Just add your sweetener, creamer, and/or flavor additions to the cup first while the water is getting warmed up. Use the whisk to whisk everything together prior to pouring in the coffee. This helps create a creamier and frothier coffee drink, more like the ones you would get out.

5. Good Coffee Beans

Since we all have slightly different flavor profile preferences, your beans are going to be indicative of that. I really like espresso beans for a more full-bodied flavor. However, I always suggest going with whole beans instead of ground.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, is that coffee beans for a french press need to be an espresso grind. This means the beans are ground into larger bits than what is used in a traditional drip coffee maker.

When you buy already ground beans at the store, they are almost always only ground for drip coffee makers. By using this grind, you are going to get more sediment at the bottom of your cup. Plus, if you are using already ground beans, the oils start to oxidize faster. This means you are losing flavor in your coffee, as well as potentially getting a more acidic roast.

Therefore, I suggest either getting a small coffee grinder to grind the beans each day. Or, if you don’t have the time for that, like me, grind them at the store with the espresso grind. Then store the ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer to slow and/or stop the oxidation process.

6. Creamer

One of the big perks about homemade coffee and lattes is that you can put whatever kind of creamer you want in there. Since there are so many choices these days, it can be more difficult when you go out to get coffee to get exactly what you want. But, at home, you can make it exactly the way you want for the perfect latte.

Some of the great options to choose from for creamer additions are:

  • Almond Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Coconut Creamer
  • Coconut Milk
  • Dairy Creamer
  • Golden Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Soy Milk

I, personally, use coconut creamer because the dairy creamer’s don’t usually sit well with me. I have found the coconut creamer to be the closest to the dairy creamer taste and texture, which is why I go with that one.

7. Flavor Additions

Lastly, flavor additions might be something you prefer with your homemade coffee. Sometimes I add in either hot chocolate or peppermint chocolate to my latte’s to create a mocha latte. The kids saw me do this a couple of times and now it’s all they want to have whenever we do movie night. I have created some monsters!

Even if you don’t want to add in the aforementioned, you could always add in some essential oils (as long as they are rated for ingestion). These can add flavor and have potential health benefits. The other option is to add in some vanilla, honey, chai or even bitters. No matter what you choose to add in, get creative with your latte.

If you want a delicious, budget-friendly homemade coffee, then you have got to get these tools! Click To Tweet

Homemade Coffee and Lattes Summary

Overall, there are so many things you can do to create a delicious, yet budget-friendly homemade coffee or latte. While, most of these things you should already have on hand if you are a coffee drinker, a few you may want to consider purchasing. If you have all of the following tools, you are bound to have one great cup of coffee or craft latte:

  1. French Press
  2. Tea Kettle
  3. Mini Strainer
  4. Mini Whisk
  5. Good Coffee Beans
  6. Creamer
  7. Flavor Additions

Once you are armed with the right tools, you are ready to get brewing and create your own homemade coffee at a fraction of the cost.

What are some of your favorite tools for creating delicious, budget-friendly homemade coffee and lattes?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

5 Best Side Hustles to Make Extra Money During COVID-19

This year has certainly been one for the books! In fact, no matter how we look at it, 2020 has changed our entire world. Not just how we interact socially, but also how we make and spend money. And with the massive amount of job loss that has occurred this year, it’s important to learn how to diversify your income. I’ve found side hustles to be the best way to do that. So, without further ado, here are 5 of the best side hustles to make extra money during COVID-19.

Amazon Flex Delivery

Amazon has been taking over the world lately! And it was happening prior to COVID-19. But since the pandemic hit and retail stores were closed, Amazon became the king. And it doesn’t stop there because they have been hiring like crazy. So they are one of the big companies actually helping a lot of us out in this time of financial need.

While you could try to become an actual Amazon employee, it makes more sense for most of us to become a contractor instead. They have a great program called Amazon Flex for those of us looking for more flexible side hustles that also pay pretty well.

With Amazon Flex, you will choose the block of time that you are available to work and only work during those hours. You can choose your blocks days ahead of time or the day of once you know your availability.

Once you choose your blocks then you will be delivering Amazon packages using your own car during that period of time. The pay is anywhere from $18 – $25 per hour. Which is pretty awesome because that is more than a lot of full time jobs pay.

You should account for gas, mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle though. Which will reduce your real hourly rate. But, depending upon how you do your taxes, you can write off the mileage, which helps. So this could potentially be a pretty sweet side hustle!

Grocery Delivery

I wasn’t a huge fan of grocery shopping to begin with. But when COVID-19 hit, grocery shopping became an even bigger chore for me. Not only do I now have to make sure I have a mask with me but I also have to get even better with my timing to make sure I don’t have to stand in line outside the store forever. This is not my idea of a good time. Especially because we have to hit 3 different grocery stores whenever we go on the big shopping trips.

And for a lot of larger families like us, the explosion of grocery delivery has been an awesome thing. Which makes it a phenomenal side hustle for anyone who doesn’t mind the lines, the masks and the time it takes to get all of this done.

So if you are one of those people that is organized, fast and has patience at the grocery store, then this may be a great way to make extra money during COVID-19.

If you aren’t sure where to start, there are a few services that seem to be everywhere. Services offered by Postmates,  UberEats, Instacart and Shipt should be easy to find near you. But a lot of stores are offering other grocery delivery options also. So you may want to check out your local grocery store chains to see if they are offering something similar that you could get involved with. Either way, the average wages are anywhere from $5 – $10 per delivery, which depends on a lot of factors.

So, if you have the time and a vehicle that can fit a ton of groceries, this may be a great side hustle idea for you.

Food Delivery

Similarly to the explosion of grocery delivery is the food delivery genre. Most restaurants had to close for awhile and then some were only able to open for delivery or curbside pickup. And not everybody is great in the kitchen, or likes to cook. So, they want their regular fare, which comes from various restaurants. And this is where food delivery comes in.

If the grocery delivery option sounded viable to you, then delivering food from restaurants may just be up your alley also. Postmates and UberEats offer this service as well as the grocery delivery options. And this makes it easy to do both under the same platform. But, don’t discount GrubHub and DoorDash as food delivery services because you can make some decent money working for them also.

The average pay with GrubHub is $12 – $15 per hour. This will vary widely depending upon the mileage driven and the waiting time. With DoorDash the hourly rate is closer to $12 -$13 per hour. This is based on base pay, peak hours pay, time and distance. What makes the most sense is to work for both of these and have both apps running on your phone at the same time. That way you can pick and choose the highest potential paying gigs each time to maximize your side hustle earnings.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitting may not be the best side hustle for everyone. First of all, you have to like dogs and/or cats. If you don’t, I would suggest choosing something else. However, if you are a huge animal lover, then pet sitting is a great way to make extra money during COVID-19!

We have been pet sitting for a little over 2 years now and it has become another full-time job for us. Which is crazy since it was just supposed to be a side hustle to let the kids have dogs around. Funny how life works sometimes!

When you pet sit with Rover or Wag, you can pick and choose which options you offer. And the options you choose should be based on what works best for your lifestyle. The most common options are:

  • Boarding – when you board an animal overnight at your own residence
  • House Sitting – when you stay overnight with an animal in their own home
  • Drop-In Visits – when you drop-in on an animal to let them do their business, clean litter boxes, feed and water them and sometimes take them on short walks
  • Dog Walking – when you go to a dog’s house to take them out for a walk and to do their business
  • Doggy Daycare – when animals get dropped off at your residence for daycare (you can choose the hours available)

Since we have a large house with a huge fenced in back yard, 5 kids and I work from home, we are an ideal location to board animals. We also offer doggy daycare, drop-in visits and dog walking. Since we offer all of the services except for house sitting, we maximize the amount we can earn during COVID-19 with pets. And we absolutely love being surrounded by so many furry friends!

Making Masks

Because COVID-19 has been such a contagious pandemic, masks have become a requirement for protection. And in doing so, most people want something a little fancier than the typical blue hospital masks. And I don’t blame them!

So, if you are handy with a needle and thread, then making masks may just be a good option for you. Depending on which fabrics you choose and the designs,  you can potentially ask a pretty penny for your mask skills. A lot of people have begun to open up shops on Etsy to sell their unique designs. And I know a lot of other people who have been selling their masks locally to friends and family for a decent profit.

These are some awesome tips to make extra money during COVID-19! Click To Tweet

Make Extra Money During COVID-19 Summary

Ultimately, this year has been a complete toss-up when it comes to finances and income. But, if you are ready to think outside of the box to help make extra money during COVID-19, then side hustles may just be the key. Some of our favorite side hustle options are:

  • Delivering with Amazon Flex
  • Grocery delivery
  • Restaurant food delivery
  • Pet sitting
  • Making masks

And if you really want to rack in the side hustle dough, diversifying your services is the way to go. This is one of the ways we have been not only staying afloat, but thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is that you can find the niches that work best for you and achieve the same end result.

What are some of the best ways you have found to make extra money during COVID-19?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

How to Feed a Family of 5 For $350 Per Month

A new year often brings a lot of change, and my once family of 3 is now a family of 5. We have two boys staying with us for a while and even though we’re making adjustments as they get settled, I don’t imagine my food budget to increase by much.

In fact, I’m expecting to only spend around $350 per month for our new family size of 5. No, we will not be eating rice and brand or canned meat every night. Yes, we will be eating healthy, balanced, and filling meals. We may even dine out once or twice as well.

If you’re interested in learning how I plan to feed a family of 5 for $350 per month, keep reading.

Traditional Warm Breakfast Foods

All three of the kids love pancakes for breakfast and warm breakfast is more filling. Plus, cereal is full of a ton of added sugar and not as healthy as people think. We have a waffle maker too so plan to switch it up between the two. A box of pancake mix is around $2.59 at Target and it makes around 12 to 18 pancakes. We usually get around 20 medium-sized pancakes which is enough to feed the kids for the entire week. We may add a banana or mandarin orange to this breakfast but it’s easy to prep for the entire week.

I also like to prepare my own homemade pancake mix. I use a combination of flour, flaxseed, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon, and stevia or honey and the kids love these healthier pancakes as well. On weeks where I’ll switch it up, I may prepare scrambled eggs and brown rice – a simple breakfast but one of my favorite growing up. Sometimes we add turkey bacon or sausage as to the breakfast meal as well without stretching the budget.

Practical and Creative Lunches

It’s interesting that we all eat slightly different things for lunch but what works is the fact that we keep it practical but creative. Yes, sandwiches are fine but deli meat can get expensive. Since we’re all at home for now, sometimes we do soups, beef hot dogs for the kids, or I’ll meal prep something like chicken burrito bowls or turkey burgers.

We try to make lunches quick and easy and pair them with an in-season fruit or vegetable if possible.

RELATED: 5+ Best Meal Planning Ideas to Save More Money

Batch Cooking Homemade Meals

We live on leftovers in my home and I love batch cooking. Cooking takes time and I don’t always have that time every day so I like to use my Crockpot and pressure cooker to prepare homemade meals that will last us 2-3 days. I keep a Pinterest board of meal ideas so I usually recycle a few of our favorite meals with new ones from my board.

One meal that my family really likes is one that truly tastes like Thanksgiving. Basically, we take about a pound of ground turkey, cut up some onion, green apple, and celery, and simmer everything in some vegetable or chicken broth. When everything is almost cooked, I mix in some stove top stuffing and it literally tastes like a warm and hearty Thanksgiving dish.

 Here’s how to feed a family of 5 on just $350 a month. Click To Tweet

Get Snacks From Discount Grocery Stores

My favorite discount grocery store is Aldi and each year they step their game up in terms of the brands they sell and the foods they have. I can always find good deals on snacks at Aldi so I often take $30 and load up on everything from popcorn and granola bars to yogurt, apple sauce, pudding, and fruit snacks. The kids love snacking and I like to keep the snack cabinet and fruit bowl stocked.

Another cheap way that I stretch snacks is by baking a few sweets. Sometimes I’ll make blueberry muffins or a box cake and serves as a nice cheap dessert or snack.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill

Other Ways to Feed a Family of 5 For $350 Per Month

Shop Twice a Month

I’ve been shopping twice a month for a few years now and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. By shopping less, you save more money and get to work with what you have. By naturally giving yourself fewer opportunities to go to the store, you won’t have to worry about going off your list as much.

RELATED: 6 Costly Grocery Shopping Habits

Learn to Meal Plan and Prep Well

Every two weeks, I sit down and plan out dinners for the next 14 days and some breakfast and lunch options for the family. I start by looking at what we already have in our cabinets, fridge, and freezer to use up. Then, I go from there. Meal planning is not as strenuous as you’d think once you get the hang of it. I figure if I can plan 4 batch meals, that gives me 8-9 dinners so I’m halfway there.

When I have time on Sunday, I may prep some meals or food items and this helps us avoid the impulse to order takeout during the week. Other times, I intentionally budget for restaurant meals and include them in our meal plan.

Build a Grocery List Based on What We Have

Never start a grocery list or go to the store without taking a full inventory of what you already have on hand. Even if it’s just frozen vegetables and some sauces, you can likely use these ingredients for an upcoming meal. There have been too many times when I bought food from the store and realized I already had it at home.


To feed a family of 5 for $350 per month requires a lot of planning and creativity, but it’s so worth it. I love how we can eat well and still keep our food budget under control. That way, we can spend money on other goals not have such a tight budget overall. It may take some time and tweaking, but you can also cut your family’s food budget without making too many big sacrifices are well.

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

How to Save Money on Food This Year

With the winter months comes less fresh fruits and veggies to choose from. And with that, food costs usually go up. But just because we don’t have as many great fresh options available to us, doesn’t mean that feeding our family has to be expensive. In fact, I have found a few great ways to help save money on food this winter. The foods are not only budget-friendly but delicious and nutritious too!

Use Everything You Have

The first trick when it comes to trying to save money on food costs is to use everything you have. What I mean is to make sure you reduce food waste by getting creative with leftover items. This doesn’t have to mean eating leftovers for multiple nights in a row. Because we all know that the kids will riot when that happens!

But, you can get creative with the leftovers and create a completely different dish. A good example of this is when I made a huge pot of coconut rice in my Multi Use Express Crock-pot. I freaking love this thing because it makes my life so much simpler! I used the rice originally to go with a pumpkin curry that I made. But I usually make a lot of rice at once, so we had a lot of leftovers. I knew the kids didn’t want the same meal again the next night. Instead, I made a casserole out of the rice with black beans, pinto beans, spices, salsa, cheese, and sour cream. It was a huge hit!

Another Example

Another great way I regularly do this is with pasta sauce. The kids love pasta night, but not all of us eat pasta sauce on our noodles. So, we don’t use a full jar of pasta. Instead of letting it stay in the fridge and go bad if we don’t use it fast enough, I use it as a sauce base for my cassava pizza crusts. That way I can use up the entire jar within the standard 7-day time frame and I don’t have to spend the extra money on pizza sauce.

No matter how you look at it, just get creative with your leftover items and it will definitely help feed your family for less this winter. And save you a ton of time also!

Great Staple Foods

One of the best ways to help save money on food costs, not only in the winter but all year round is to keep staple foods on hand. Staple foods may not be the same items for everybody, depending on the foods you prefer to eat or grew up with. But, overall, these foods have a very little cost associated with them and can be stretched pretty far. Plus they fill you and your family up, so you won’t be as inclined to eat other foods on top of your meal.

Staples I Keep On Hand

Some of the best staple foods I have found, that I continually keep on hand are:

  • Rice – various types, but preferably whole grain since the fiber helps fill you up and slow down insulin uptake.
  • Beans – dried are the cheapest and go the furthest, but sometimes you can find a great deal on the canned no sodium added versions also.
  • Potatoes – Russet potatoes are great for baked potato night, and the smaller versions work great for oven potatoes or mashed potatoes.
  • Pasta – this is one of the cheapest foods for the amount you get and can be used so many different ways.
  • Vegetable broth – this works great in soups, making rice, flavoring casseroles, etc.
  • Canned tomatoes – fire-roasted tomatoes usually have the most flavor, if you can find them.
  • Coconut water – this is a regular go-to for making rice because it adds so much flavor and keeps the rice tender.
  • Oats – we use Gluten-Free oats to make overnight oats or oat balls for breakfasts for the kids and they stay full for a long time!

If you can keep even a few of these on hand, it will help make your winter budget stretch a lot further.

Soups and Chili

Winter is the best time for warm, hearty soups and chili. And I love making them almost as much as I love eating them. Most of the time the rest of the family feels the same way. But it’s hard to please everyone all the time, so I try to keep a few options in the freezer.

Ultimately, one of the easiest, and sometimes the most flavorful option is a vegetable soup. I call mine the Kitchen Sink Vegetable Soup because it has everything in it but the kitchen sink. This soup is very simple to make in that you can throw whatever vegetables you have at your disposal in it. I usually add one of my cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and a quart box of low sodium vegetable broth. Don’t forget to add whatever spices strike your fancy to top it off. Then just heat it on a slow simmer so the flavors mix. Since the vegetables always differ and so do the spices, the soup is never the same. Which my family likes because it is always a fun surprise!


My other favorite is a vegetarian chili. Which happens to be the only chili my daughter will eat, for some reason. This is almost as simple as the aforementioned soup. I throw a bag of Beyond Meat Feisty Grounds in the multi-use Crock-pot. Add in a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and 4 cups of beans. I usually use a mix of black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.

Add a couple of bay leaves (we have a tree in our yard so I just make the kids go and pick some leaves for me). Then add in some chili spices, a pinch of salt and some pepper. To top everything off, add in a quart box of low sodium vegetable broth. Put the lid on and use the “Beans/Chili” option so that it will simmer slowly. It usually takes about 25 minutes and then we have hot, delicious, and nutritious chili. Yum!

These are some awesome hacks to help feed your family for less this winter! Click To Tweet

Help Feed Your Family For Less This Winter Summary

Feeding your family for less this winter can certainly be done. And without too much complaining also! Just remember to use everything you have first to offset waste. This will reduce your overall grocery bill since you won’t have to spend as much buying excess food. Next, make sure you have a few staple foods on hand that can be stretched very far and fills up your family.

Lastly, try making a myriad of different soups and chili. Freeze whatever you don’t eat so that you can thaw them and use them at another time. Your family and your budget will thank you!

What are some of the best hacks you have found to help feed your family for less in the winter?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

Medicare made simple

It is important to have a thorough understanding of Medicare when heading into retirement. Medicare is not an income producing piece of your retirement plan so unfortunately it gets overlooked by financial advisors. We believe at J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management that understanding our expenses is a vital step in retirement planning. Since healthcare is a substantial piece of our expenses in retirement, it is important to do your due diligence on this subject.

Medicare is a federal insurance program for the elderly. All our adult working lives we have been paying into the Medicare system via the FICA tax. The FICA tax is broken into two parts. The first part is known as OASDI (Old age survivor, disability, and insurance). OASDI is often referred to as social security. This portion of the FICA tax represents about 80% of the total FICA tax. The Hospital insurance (HI) makes up the remaining 20%. The HI portion is also referred to as Medicare part A.

There are four parts of Medicare everyone needs to be knowledgeable about. Parts A, B, C, and D. Each part is vitally important and needs to be included in your health insurance strategy.

PART A: Also known as Hospital Insurance or HI. This part simply gets you in the building and in a bed. This does not pay for the physician treating you. This part of Medicare is paid for via the FICA tax. Generally, everyone qualifies for Medicare at age 65 and above. At the very least you must sign up for this portion of Medicare. People have been paying into this their entire adult lives and its time to reap some benefit.

PART B: This part pays for the physician service. Things like blood tests, equipment costs, home health care, and outpatient care are just some of the services Part B covers. The proper way to look at it is Part A gets you in the door and Part B pays for the services inside the building. Part B is not paid for by FICA. This on average costs $135 per month. If adjusted income is higher than $170,000 year when married Part B becomes more expensive. In my opinion part B is just as vital as part A.

Medicare parts A&B, also known as original Medicare, consist of 80% of Medicare. Part C and D make up the other 20%.

PART C: Also known as Medicare supplement. This part allows you to see doctors/specialists for non-emergencies. There are two options for this part Medigap and Medicare advantage.

MEDIGAP: Medigap is between $100-200 per month. Any doctor that accepts part A/B also accepts Medigap. It is very important to know that you are always within issue for Medigap when signing up parts A and B. In layman’s terms, everyone qualifies for Medigap if they sign up when enrolling in parts A and B. However, if you decline Medigap and elect for Medicare Advantage, we’ll talk about that in a moment, than you have to be underwritten down the road. Please know that Medigap will be sold through insurance companies. The plans are listed as such: Plan N, Plan F, etc. No matter the insurance company, each “plan N” will be identical in coverage to another insurance companies “Plan N”. Therefor if one insurance company is charging more for their “Plan N” then always choose the least expensive option. They are identical Medigap plans.

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: Medicare advantage is also operated by insurance companies. However, it is operated like what we are used to in private health care system. Medicare Advantage is operated on a network base. If the network is strong in your geographical area, this is a potentially good option because Medicare advantage is typically less expensive then Medigap. This becomes important especially in the case of travelling throughout the US. For instance, there is no Medicare Advantage network available in Alaska, therefor Medicare advantage patients cannot use their Medicare Advantage coverage there. Because Medicare Advantage is similar to health insurance before turning 65- there are a lot of changes year to year. These can be difficult to keep up with-especially in retirement as we age. Medigap is a much more stable network with less changes than Medicare Advantage.

PART D: This part covers prescription drugs. Some Medicare advantage policies will include part D. Medigap does not have part D. Part D on average can cost $35/month. If you are going the Medicare advantage route you need to go through a broker and not a captive agent. There is just a lot to it and its constantly changing. Do not do it on your own. Just like home/auto insurance brokers, these health brokers will shop for you through various companies and sell you the optimum policy. Captive agents can only sell you the company they work for. Obviously, you want to be sold the policy that benefits you the most and not just the insurance company.

Do yourself a favor and understand the true cost in regard to Medicare. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to John Lawrence with J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management.

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com