3 Strategies to Help Pay Off Debt Faster

When you are working hard to pay off debt, it can seem like you’ll never be debt free. But after talking with our guest Melanie in this week’s podcast episode, we learned that it is possible to pay off massive amounts of debt and live your dreams.

If you are still in debt, there are things you can do to help pay off debt faster. All three of us have had experience with paying off debt and we’ve learned some strategies and ways to help pay off debt faster through our own trial and error.

If you still have debt to pay off, try these 3 strategies to help pay off debt faster.

If you are in debt, there are things you can do to pay off debt faster. Here are some ways to pay off debt faster that we've found through trial and error.

Make Extra Money Anyway You Can

One of the ways I’ve been able to pay off debt faster is by finding ways to make extra money. I’ve worked part-time at a retail store, cleaned an office building, written for a college newspaper, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and picked up freelance writing and VA work to help increase my income at different times in my life. These side hustles haven’t all worked out, but many of them have and they’ve helped me improve my financial situation significantly even though I’m still working my way out of debt.

The one mistake I have made is using my extra money for things other than just debt. Looking back, I wish I had been more diligent about putting all of the extra money I was making toward debt or savings so I could pay off debt faster.


Cut Your Expenses

Earning extra money is a great way to pay off debt but it isn’t always easy since other factors may prevent you from earning extra money or earning money quickly through a side hustle. However, you can always downsize by cutting expenses to free up more of your income so you can put it toward debt. When I got serious about paying off my debt I cut expenses like cable, clothes shopping, fast food, my high cell phone bill, and even my monthly rent (by moving to a cheaper apartment) so I could throw more money on my debt.

Some people I know even move back in with family to cut their living expenses or sell their car and use public transit. You can also negotiate lower premiums with your insurance companies to lower your rates. They key idea, to to add up all your savings and prioritize the money by putting it toward debt payoff as soon as you can.

If you try holding onto your extra money to make an extra debt payment toward the end of the month, you run the risk of spending it on something else. Instead, set us automatic transfers and make as many payments as you can each month as long as your lender doesn’t penalize you. This will help your balance do down a lot quicker.


Pay a Little Extra a Little Bit at a Time

Earning more and cutting back can help you with this strategy, and it’s a favorite of mine.

Maybe you get paid irregularly, or maybe you can’t afford to throw $1,000+ at your debt each month. That’s fine!

Instead, try paying a little bit every week, or making 3-4 payments per month, when you can.

This is a good strategy to use when you have cash flow concerns, or if you’re just overwhelmed with making a huge payment.

I know many people who simply throw their work bonuses toward their debt without blinking, but that’s not the case for everyone. If you’re wary of parting with that much money at once, you can break it down.

Let’s say your goal is to pay an extra $400 per month toward your debt, and you get paid once every week. Pay $100 per week!

If you get paid bi-weekly, or on the 15th and 30th of the month, then pay $250 on the days after you get paid.

Honestly, sometimes I just throw an extra $20 – $50 at my student loan debt whenever I receive extra money (from birthdays or holidays), or whenever I spend less than I thought I would on something.

Getting into the habit of paying extra and setting aside those extra funds is what’s important here. If you’re ending the month with nothing extra left, then focus on earning more and cutting back first so you can implement paying more throughout the month.


Have you made extra payments on your debt, or are you paying the minimum? Do you have a debt free date in mind? What strategies are you using to help pay off your debt faster?

FCP039 – How to Pay Off Massive Amounts of Debt and Live Your Dreams

Welcome back to the Financial Conversation Podcast!

In this episode, we are going to be talking about a topic we are all passionate about. Debt. And how to most efficiently pay it off.

Our guest in this episode, Melanie Lockert from the award winning blog Dear Debt, is an expert at paying off debt. She successfully paid off $81,000 of student loans while living on a low income.

We’re talking graduating from NYU with little to no job prospects, moving to Portland for better non-profit opportunities that didn’t surface, living on food stamps, and taking control of her career and finances by side hustling and eventually becoming self-employed (while making a heck of a lot more!).

Melanie shares some of her biggest struggles, tips for paying off debt, and more in this inspiring episode.

It may seem impossible to pay off debt and live your dreams, but our guest Melanie Lockert did exactly that. Listen to her inspiring story in this episode.

In this episode we discuss:

  • 1:20 – Melanie’s story
  • 9:50 – Why “Dear Debt” letters?
  • 18:30 – What being debt free feels like
  • 27:40 – Entrepreneurship and things you might miss from a “traditional” job
  • 35:40 –  The emotional toll of debt and reaching out for help

Related links to check out:

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3 Money-Saving Fall Recipes to Try At Home

We all know that eating at home is one of the best ways to save money on your food budget and eat healthy, too. But it can get old after a while if you are always making the same meals every couple of weeks.

If you’re anything like us, it can be a struggle to decide what you want to make in your meal plan.

Don’t fall for the “What should we have for dinner?” fight with your significant other or family. Instead, try out these 3 money saving recipes that are perfect for fall.

Don’t worry – we’ve tested them ourselves and if we can make them, you can too!

Looking for new fall recipes to try that are frugal and filling? Here are three to add to your collection.

Whole30 Friendly Vegetable Beef Soup

Using a crockpot to make delicious soups and stews is one of my favorite things about fall. I got this recipe from a friend a few years ago when I was doing a Whole30/Paleo eating challenge, but it’s stayed in my rotation ever since because it’s delicious even if you aren’t eating a Whole30 or Paleo diet. It’s also pretty easy to prepare.


1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

1 1/2 carrots, sliced

1/2 onion, diced

1 celery stalk, sliced

1 1/2 cups sliced cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)

2 cups beef broth

3 cloves minced garlic

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can tomato sauce

3/4 tsp thyme

2 tbs parsley

1 bay leaf


Put all in crockpot on low for 6 hours. Remove bay leaf. Serve.

Sometimes I’ll use other vegetables that I have on hand in my refrigerator. This is a good recipe to use up those last bits of vegetables before they pass their prime. I also love the tomato-y flavor of the broth from the tomato sauce mixed with the beef broth. This makes it better than using beef broth alone to make the liquid base for the soup.


Spaghetti Squash “Pie”

I have to give credit where credit is due, because I’m definitely not a chef (I pretty much fail at any kitchen endeavor). However, I tried this Pizza Spaghetti Pie recipe from PaleOMG a few years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been craving some fall-like food and decided to make it again last week.

I’m an extremely picky eater, and pasta has always been a staple in my diet. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, it’s not the best for you. So when I heard about spaghetti squash, I was intrigued.

Turns out, it’s just a crunchier version of spaghetti, and it’s super versatile because it takes on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking with. So why not make a sort-of pizza with it?

When spaghetti squash is in season, I’ve seen it go as low as 99 cents a pound, and it’s very filling, so the cost per serving isn’t bad. It also heats up amazingly well, so if you’re not the biggest fan of leftovers, don’t worry.

You can easily follow the instructions on the page I linked to – the “hardest” part is slicing the spaghetti squash open, cleaning out the seeds, baking it, and then scooping all of the strands out. But it’s worth it for a healthier meal!

Instead of making it with sausage, I substitute a pound of ground beef with no problem. Other ideas for this recipe include adding some cheese (especially ricotta if you want to go for a lasagna pie), or putting the mixture in a cupcake pan for mini-pies.

I’m sure you could use ground turkey or chicken if you wanted as well, and if you have your own marinara sauce or red sauce, you can use that instead of pizza sauce. There are so many ways to experiment with this recipe, you won’t be bored of it anytime soon.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I mentioned during this week’s episode that one of my favorite meals to make is chicken tortilla soup. It’s delicious, filling, and perfect for anyone who loves food with Mexican flavors. I use this recipe as the foundation for hearty chicken tortilla soup but I made a few adjustments to make it into my own (just looking at the images used in this post will get your mouth watering).

Basically, here are a few ingredients you’ll need right off the bat:

Chicken Breasts

Black Beans

Chicken Broth



Red and Green Bell Pepper

Diced Tomatoes


Mexican Seasoning Blend (I use a combination of salt, cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, garlic powder)

Tortillas (garnish)

Avocado (garnish)

It takes about a good 30-40 minutes to prep everything for chicken tortilla soup but on the bright side, you can prepare it in a crock pot or cook it on the stove top for an hour. I usually cook a big batch so we can warm it up and have leftovers for two or three days.


Do you have any fall recipes that you love? Share them in the comments below.

FCP038 – Why Fall is the Most Frugal Season

Welcome back to the Financial Conversation Podcast!

In this episode, we’re excited to be talking about one of our favorite seasons of the year – fall!

While there are many reasons to celebrate fall, like beautiful foliage, and pumpkin flavored and scented everything, the biggest reason we love fall from a financial stand point is that it tends to be a pretty frugal season.

Now that fall is finally here, we are excited to talk about how we save money and make fall the most frugal season of the year.

Now that fall is finally here, we are excited to talk about how we save money and make fall the most frugal season of the year.

In this episode we discuss:

  • 1:00 – Why We Love Fall
  • 4:10 – Fall: The Season of Frugality
  • 6:00 – Frugal Fall Meals
  • 11:20 – Saving on Utilities
  • 17:10 – How to Save Money on Entertainment During Fall

Related links to check out:

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We want to hear from you! Do you have suggestions or questions? Comment below, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

3 Money-Saving Non-Traditional Wedding Ideas

This week on the podcast, we discussed the cost of weddings and how to save on your big day. Considering the fact that the average cost of traditional wedding typically ranges from $20,000-$30,000+, it’s understandable some couples don’t want to or might not be able to spend that much on one day.

Traditional weddings tend to include a lot of different expenses which can add up quickly.

Luckily, there is more than one way to celebrate your marriage and you can go the non-traditional route to save a little money. Plus, having a non-traditional wedding is perfect for couples who like to think outside the box and do things differently.

If the idea of having a traditional wedding sounds cliche and not as exciting, there are plenty of other options to explore. Here are 3 non-traditional wedding ideas that will help you save money on your big day.

Having a non-traditional wedding is perfect for couples who like to think outside the box and do things differently. Plus, it can save you a lot of money! Here are 3 alternatives to traditional weddings.

1. Elope and Enjoy an Extended Honeymoon

While I chose to go the traditional wedding route and commit to some strict frugal habits, my sister and her husband choose to elope and get married on the beach. They then visited a ton of islands in the Caribbean for over a week to celebrate their marriage.

Yes, it sounds like an awesome idea to get married in paradise. If you can do it affordably and it’s what you both want, why not? I guess they didn’t technically ‘elope’ because close family members knew about their plan to get married in the Caribbean but a lot of people didn’t.

When they sat down to figure out how they were going to plan their wedding, they got overwhelmed and realized a big traditional wedding would probably be out of their budget. Plus, they realized they just wanted to be with each other and could do without most other aspects of a traditional wedding.

Even though my sister eloped with her husband and they traveled and lived like royalty for their wedding, they still kept if within their budget and didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars.

My sister got her wedding dress at the mall and there were no bouquets, bridesmaid dresses, or dinner plates to pay for. Plus it cut out other pricey expenses like the rehearsal dinner, the venue, and the DJ. When you elope and have a simple ceremony no matter where it is, you only need to pay for expenses like your attire, the officiant, and maybe a small fee to rent the location for the ceremony if applicable.

Given how low the expenses are, you will usually have plenty of money leftover to travel so booking a flight to Puerto Rico and staying down there for a week no longer seems so expensive. You can also choose more affordable destinations for your honeymoon where you can get more value for your dollar.

Europe is beautiful, but given their current exchange rates, you could lose money by traveling there so it’s best to plan out where you want to visit and save up accordingly.


2. Keep it Small

A few years ago when I got married, I did have a somewhat traditional wedding. But in order to keep some of the costs down, my then-husband and I decided to keep it very small. Instead of having a big “princess fairy tale” wedding, we kept it only immediate family and very, very close friends, most of whom were in the wedding party anyway.

We only had about 50 people at our wedding and we had a small reception afterward.

Later on, we had a bigger party with a dinner and dance for a larger group of people, but if we hadn’t, our wedding would have been even more budget friendly.

Looking back, I wish we had foregone the party on a different date to save money. The most important people were at our ceremony anyway – our family and close friends. Everything else was just for show, which is a silly reason to spend money.

Instead of keeping up with the Jones’, have a small wedding with those who matter most to you.


3. Have a Party Instead

While most girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day, I didn’t. I never really gave it a second thought until I was a bridesmaid for my cousin, who had a beautiful wedding that made me consider the traditional ceremony for around 5 seconds.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m huge on spending on values, and I don’t see how a traditional wedding fits into my values. I’m not one for spending tons of money in one go and I think I would just regret it.

So instead, if I were to get married in the future, I would just turn it into a party. The main purpose would be to gather close family and friends (which is one of my values) and just have a good time, celebrating each other’s company.

It’s not often that all of my family gets together since many have moved, and since I know they wouldn’t be okay with me eloping, I would simply turn the focus on them. Not me.

My ideal “wedding party” would be throwing a backyard BBQ/pizza party. Seriously. It’s cheap, and we could buy and cook our own food. Finding a place to cater it would likely be inexpensive, too. Throw some appetizers in there and make it BYOB and you’re done!

Being fancy isn’t my style, and I think this makes for a better reflection of my values than a traditional wedding. It’s also a lot less stressful, and I think it’s something everyone can still enjoy. Think about what your style and values are, and plan your wedding around that!


Would you consider any of these non-traditional wedding ideas if they helped you save money?