Oh My Goodness I Hate Tipping, It Ruins My Budget and Anxiety

Let me preface that I used to be a waiter so I understand the value of tipping, but as a customer, tipping is the worst! It’s psychological warfare at the end of every meal that results in either anxiety that you haven’t paid enough or havoc on your wallet for paying too much.

Then exactly how much too much and too little for a tip? Common restaurant adequate says a tip should be 15%-20% pretax, but then why does every restaurant leave the anxiety for the customer to decide how much to tip?

Let’s face it, an extra 20% of a $60 check is still a lot on your budget. That’s $12 the menu doesn’t mention.

This history of tipping is murky

From what I found in the Business Insider and Washington Post (and it’s a murky origin story) tipping originated around 17t century England where the word T.I.P. meant “To Insure Promptitude”. The upper class provided extra “allowance” to servers (lower class) to be given faster service.

This practice made its way to America after the Civil War when wealthy Americans started traveling back and forth to Europe. So we can blame them, and I do.

Tipping Today just allows Restaurants to pay it’s servers poorly

Because waiters (I’m referring to both men and women) receive tips, the federal tipped minimum wage for tipped workers is as little as $2.13 an hour because they receive tips to supplement the difference (source).

That’s kind of ridiculous, right! Restaurants are allowed to only pay their servers $2.13 an hour and expect servers to get the rest of their income from tips. So when you pay your bill, your essentially paying for the food/environment with your bill and your tip pays the waiter’s salary.

If you’re a waiter, the customer is actually your boss since they’re the ones that pay you. So every day, every hour, you have a different boss. Yikes.

How much do you pay your server then?

According to Google, yes I googled “How Much Should I Tip”, you should be paying your server 15%-20% of your pre-tax bill.

This is where the Anxiety starts

What the frack is it? Do I tip 15% or 20%?

What if the server was bad?

If my bill is $100, does the server get an extra $20 just because they played telephone with my order from the table to kitchen and walked the food back? What if they were awful? We’ve all had bad servers who ignored us. They chatted in the back or brought us the wrong items with a rude attitude. Is that when you tip them 15% instead of 20% or even less?

What about if the food was awesome but the service was terrible? ugh

Should I feel both angry at my server for bad service but feel guilty since they’re paid so poorly? How should I feel?

I recall a study conducted found that bad servers still received 15%-20% regardless of how good the service was because people felt it was the socially acceptable thing to do. No one wants to be a bad tipper, but should I tip poorly to save a bit of money and prove a point to the server?

What if the server was awesome?

You plan to spend a certain amount of money eating out and even account for a 20% tip. Do you exceed your budget further if your server was fantastic? Should your server’s awesomeness impact your planned budget? Should they be worthy of more than a 20% tip of that you’re still paying off student loans?

Damn it Janet, you were so great that now my tip for you exceeds my alotted food budget.

Are you a bad person if you don’t acknowledge their above and beyond service or will they quit trying harder if people don’t tip more for the great service?

What about tipping during group meals?

Now imagine eating out with a group of friends, each pays their own bills and it always ends with laying your bills on the table in sight of everyone. If you only tipped 10% or 15%, does that make you a jerk if everyone else tipped 20% – 25%?

On the other hand, are you a jerk for tipping more than everyone? Are you just flaunting money because you can spend more than everyone else or does it make you more generous or charitable?

This is why I hate Tipping!

Why does a nice meal out with friends have to end with awkward silences while everyone calculates percentages in their heads while they secretly judge the performance of the server? Ending in silent comparison of who tipped more, being more generous and charitable than the rest of the group.

I now tip 20% regardless of service

Tipping makes me so anxious that I’m just starting to tip 20% regardless of service (paying with my credit card). The server can refill my drink at the perfect time, every time or completely forget I exist. Tipping a regular 20% fits the socially acceptable tip amount to overcome the unnecessary anxiety at the cost of a few extra dollars on my budget. Sorry budget.

Except Subway “Sandwich Artists”, screw them. They literally walk 10 feet putting the ingredients I say onto bread. Why do they have a tip jar at the cash register? You’re a fast food restaurant.

If you also tip 20% regularly, here is a chart to help you decide what 20% would be when you’re looking over a menu because they don’t list the extra tipping cost on the menu.

20% Tip per Cost of your meal 

Check 20% Tip
$20 $4
$40 $8
$50 $10
$60 $12
$70 $14
$80 $16
$90 $18
$100 $20

If this seems like a lot, you can always stay in and eat a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

What do you tip your servers? There is obviously no right answer otherwise they wouldn’t leave the tip field on every check blank. I REALLY want to know. Do you judge your waiter everytime or give them a flat fee regardless like me?

The PBJ Theory, Please Quit Complaining About Food Budgets

Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

I’m about to save you thousands of dollars.

All the money you spend in your life, or even an average month. Chances are one of your largest expenses is food. It happens, literally to everyone.

Eating Out Is The Worst For Your Wallet

So when people start to track their budgets, they always come to the same conclusion. “I need to quit eating out more”. Get this, the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average according to a 2016 survey conducted by Zagat.

“the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average”

That means the average person spends $54.63 eating out a week or $218.52 a month on just eating out. Unless you earn lots of money, is the obvious answer to eat in?

What About Eating In?

Most people think they can quit going out to start having nice and relaxing meals in. Here’s the thing with eating in, the movies get it wrong.

It’s not always a romantic and soothing experience.

Often times it’s a “Crap, I need to eat. What should I cook?” experience that you pray to the food gods you have the right ingredients in your fridge and dishes are clean.

Let’s face it, we are busy in our lives and don’t have the time to visit the store every day buying new ingredients for a new recipe we found on the internet.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, researcher Eddie Yoon over two decades collected data as consultants for consumer packaged goods companies. He found that:

  • 15% of people say they LOVE to cook
  • 50% of people say they HATE to cook
  • 35% of people say they are ambivalent about cooking (mixed feelings)

If you’re one of the people that hate cooking, you should create a meal plan to make it as easy as possible. Plan a week in advance what you’re going to eat for each meal and know how to cook it. This way you’ll have the ingredients and can plan accordingly for time.

However, not all plans work out.

Introduce The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

When meal plans fail, let me introduce Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, otherwise known as a PBJ.

Let me first admit that I have an addiction to commenting on Finance forums, Facebook Groups, and Blogs. The mechanics of building wealth are simple and I’m always happy to remind people that things are often more simple than they appear. Like how I responded this comment and created “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory”.

I get it, you want to start saving money on food and you’re looking for suggestions from the personal finance community to help.

Answers ranged from getting a crockpot to make meals simple, cooking large meals on Sunday and eating leftovers throughout the week, to buying frozen meals that may not be great for you, but easy to prepare.

All of the responses skirted around the idea that a solid weekly meal plan is the best option to help you save money on food. However, sometimes these meals don’t work out for a number of reasons and one fall off the wagon can end up at the local McDonalds.

So I introduced the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory. The cost-effective, quickest meal ever to keep your budget on track.

This is easily the most actionable thing you can do to start immediately saving on your food budget. In many cases when people eat out, it’s due to convenience because they don’t have anything at home that sounds appealing. That’s when the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory comes in handy.

Stash emergency PB&J supplies in your kitchen. When hungry but have nothing else, eat a PB&J. If you’re not hungry for a PB&J, wait 2 hours until you’re hungry enough to eat a PB&J.

Sometimes a PBJ isn’t exactly what you’re craving and your favorite restaurant sounds better, or your “husband would not be happy about that” (see comment). Well suck it up, you’ll soon be out of debt and you can buy your husband a jet ski. Everyone loves a jet ski.

Try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

If you want to save THOUSANDS on food budgets, you should try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory! Meals cost less than $1 to make, you’ll save time and money. Most importantly, you’ll have a secret stash of PBJs to make when you get those cravings to go out and spend money.

You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Wallet Squirrel did not invent the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, just an advocate of saving money. Wallet Squirrel was not sponsored by big PBJ corporations to promote their superior and delicious product.

How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – How I paid off $7K in 3 Months

How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – How I paid off $7K in 3 Months

Today it is your turn to learn how to pay off your car loan faster.  Over the last three months (May to August), my wife and I have worked really hard to pay off our car loan.

I can now say, as of the end of August we finally did it! What an amazing feeling it is to free up $405 a month to tackle other debt we have. Ugh….student loans…

We took a multi-faceted approach to tackling this debt so we could start focusing on our combined $90,000 student loan debt.

Where to Start

To start off with how to pay off your car loan faster, you need to create a roadmap. Do not just jump into the process without a plan on how you will tackle debt so aggressively.

This roadmap should look to answer three questions. When? How? What? You should look at when do you want to pay it off by. Then look at how and what you can do that will help pay that car loan off faster.

You will want to make sure that you choose items that are feasible for you to achieve. I want you to be successful to paying off your car loan faster!

It is a good thing I have a list of easy ideas for you to use. Let’s get started!

Refine that Budget

One of the first things we did was take a serious look at our budget to find where we could cut down costs. We decided to cut our weekly grocery bill by 25%. We also cut our entertainment budget along with our utilities.

Take a look at your budget to determine what categories can be trimmed down in costs. Some easy categories to start looking at first are entertainment, eating out, groceries, or utilities. I use Mint to help organize our budget and see where we are actually spending.

One sneaky way we adjusted our budget was during the summer. We were able to temporarily remove our son’s daycare expense. As a teacher, my wife has the summer off so we were able to pull him out of daycare for 10 weeks. This ended up saving us $3,000!

mint can be a great tool to help refine your budget so you can pay off your car loan faster

Cutting Excess Spending

Cutting excess spending goes along the same lines with refining our budget. I look at refining your budget as a high overview and cutting excess spending as working on the nitty-gritty details.

So how did we cut out our excess spending? Easy. Start by looking at each expense you have and ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?” If it is a need, then keep it. If it is a want, then it needs to be cut out. Do you really need to pick up a pop every day on your way to work (Personal example)? Probably not.

We made the cut with our cable bill. We didn’t need it anymore so I canceled it, just leaving us with our internet. This saved us 50% a month on our cable/internet bill.

Couponing on Necessary Spending

Of course, there are plenty of items that are necessary. These include groceries, cell phone, gas, and so on.

In today’s digital world it is so easy to find coupons to help us save money. I recommend grabbing the Honey extension for your internet browser to help you with necessary online shopping (see review here). Then for in-store shopping, I would download the Ibotta app on your cell phone (see review here).

These apps help my wife and I save money each and every week which in turn can be used to pay off our car loan faster.

use the Ibotta app to pay of your car loan faster

Selling Unnecessary Items

If you read my How to Get Rid of Distractions article, you know I was trying to sell items around the house that I did not need in my life anymore. Well, I did sell most of the items on my list. This money helped us shave off nearly $1,000 from the car loan. Pretty awesome right!?!?

Your assignment is to look at the items you barely use around your house. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Does it help me towards my goals or does it distract me from them?” If you do not need the item or it is a distraction, it is time to sell it. You can either sell the item on Craig’s list or eBay to help you earn some extra cash to pay off your car loan faster.

Side Hustling

I could write a whole book about side hustling, in fact, some people have. So this will be a 30,000-foot level overview about earning extra money so you can pay off your car loan faster.

Side hustling consists of extra gigs you do to earn extra money on top of your full-time job. These gigs could be selling photography, driving for Uber, delivering for Amazon, freelance writing, and so on.

I have used any income that has come from Wallet Squirrel or my photography sales to help my wife and I widdle down our car loan.

For more ideas, check out our list of side hustles that Andrew and I have actually tried out.

Remove Temptation

Advertisements are everywhere to tempt us with the latest coolest gadgets for purchase. Giving in to these temptations is a weakness of mine because I am such a materialistic person. So I had to find a way to minimize these temptations so I did not want to go out and buy things I did not need.

For me, the biggest culprit was all of those emails from retailers that I love such as REI. To help reduce these, I started using Unroll.Me to unsubscribe me from all of those pesky emails.

Whatever might be tempting you, try to find a way to remove that trigger to spend excessively.

Staying Focused

The last item on this list is the centerpiece that brings all of this together. You need to stay focused on your final goal.

I like to have my overarching goal written down with every subgoal that is going to get me to the final goal underneath it. Then I look at these goals on a weekly basis deciding on which subgoal I am going to accomplish. It feels so good to check those subgoals off knowing that I am one notch closer to completing that overarching goal.

Now Go Save!

Now it is your turn to go out and save to pay off your car loan faster.

How do you plan on tackling this debt?

10 Ways to switch to a minimalist lifestyle to make the most of money

Today’s post is contributed by Amy Nickson, a passionate writer on finance. Amy is a professional blogger whom has started her own blog and also works as a contributor for the Oak View Law Group. Please share your opinions by commenting below.

10 Ways to switch to a minimalist lifestyle to make the most of money

Living a minimalist lifestyle has many benefits; it offers more free time, more money in the bank account, and a meaningful way to live the life. Once you adopt a minimalist lifestyle, it will change the way you live your life. Such a lifestyle can change the idea of spending a day, finding happiness, and fulfilling a dream.

However, adopting a minimalist lifestyle is not easy; it is a total transformation of lifestyle.

Most of us have materialistic mindset; therefore, living a minimalist lifestyle can be difficult at the beginning.

However, nothing is impossible; you can try to adopt the simple living mantra to understand the differences between living life with a lot of stuff and living with less.

Keeping in mind that most of you are a beginner when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle, I am sharing some easy ways to help you to adopt it.

Minimalism is simplifying everything in your life

“Simplifying everything in life” – What does it mean? Well, it means you need to simplify your entire lifestyle including the diet, stuff, debt, health, home, and time.

Sounds scary! Here are 8 easy tips, which can simplify your lifestyle without taking a lot of stress.

1. Write down your minimalism goals

Since living as a minimalist is not easy; you have to be focused on it consistently. Thus, it is important to write down the motive of living a simple life. If debt problem is the main reason you want to simplify your lifestyle, then note it down. Similarly, you can write down other problems that are the reasons behind adopting the minimalist lifestyle, it can be getting no free time for family, feeling stressed out after work, failing to save money, wasting food, and craving for stuff.

If you think it is too difficult to keep going with the minimalist lifestyle, write down the goals. It will motivate you to follow your changed lifestyle.

2. Donate the extra things

Living with unnecessary things often overwhelm us, especially things that are extra. You should find out the extra things and keep them out of your sight. If you don’t need them for at least a month, then you should donate them to people who need them more than you. Once you start living with less stuff, your life will become blissful and less burdened.

Related: Sell stuff on Craigslist or eBay.

3. Carry less things while traveling

Travelling is for refreshment, not for becoming a fashionista. People often take stress regarding the packing for their trip. If they are going for a 4-day trip, they usually pack for 8 days, which is wrong. Pack for 2 day for a 4-day trip. Wash clothes, dry them and wear the same clothes while on a trip. Instead of concentrating on dress up, enjoy the trip wholeheartedly. Carrying less baggage can allow you to move more freely and feel relaxed.

4. Declutter your home

A clean home is blissful. A home full of clutter makes you stressed, irritated, and busy all the time. Thus, you should try to make your home clutter-free, as much as possible. Though the task is not easy, yet you can give it a try. Make your home clutter-free, step by step. Start with your living room, kitchen counter top, bed room, dining space, etc. One day, you will find a neat and clean home with stuff that is necessary.

5. Simplify your style

If you are not a fashion blogger, who needs a lot of stuff to come with fashion tips, then you must try to simplify your everyday style. Don’t go mad with watches, shoes, dresses, bags, jewelry, accessories, etc. Honestly, you know how much is too much. So, show your commitment to other more challenging things in your life instead of wasting money and time on getting dressed up.

6. Go back to the basic

We all are now tech savvy and think all the gadgets are making our life simple. Yes, some are useful, but some are just making your life complicated. How?

The phone is not a necessity; you need to call someone in an emergency. But, now you have a smartphone with sufficient data. You are doing nothing but surfing the phone all the day. A basic phone is enough to contact someone. I agree that smartphone makes our life easier like easy banking, paying money by offering easy banking digital wallet, easy booking, etc. But, it also makes us engaged all the day and you don’t have time to talk to the person who is sitting just beside you.

It is way better to use such gadgets when in need. Enjoy some time with your dear ones to feel alive.

7. Cut down the cable cord

Now cable operators charge about $100 a month for 500 different channels. Out of all the channels, you watch only 7-10. I don’t know why do people pay so much money for things they don’t need at all. Simply pay for channels that you watch mostly and cut down the expenses for those unseen channels.

8. Simplify your meals

Having food is necessary, but thinking what you should eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day is not necessary. Set the meals for the whole week and rotate it. You will able to eat all the meals that are necessary to intake without wasting time at the grocery store.

9. Build an emergency fund

Financial problem is no doubt one of the biggest stress givers. If you don’t be good with money, it will always create problems. Most of the times, an emergency makes people financially stressful. To fight back with the emergency, people use some easy solutions like using a credit card, taking out a loan, borrowing money from 401(k) fund, etc. All these are financial blunders.

Why commit these painful financial blunders when you have an easy solution to combat with uncertain emergencies. What is the solution? The answer is keeping an emergency fund. Yes, by building an emergency fund, you can cope up with every unforeseen financial challenges without incurring additional debts. You just need to set aside a certain amount into an emergency fund. After a certain time, you will have enough money for any unforeseen emergencies. It will reduce your financial stress to a great extent.

10. Practice frugal living

Frugal living and minimalist living go hand in hand. Frugal living is all about living life in a meaningful way. Frugal living encourages to live within your means. By doing so, you can afford to live a life that you always wanted to live. Living frugally unlocks the world of financial prospects. It will help you save money, pay off debt, fund your children’s education, build a retirement fund (see Andrew’s Investments), plan for a trip, and so on.

Novice minimalists should avoid living an extreme minimalist lifestyle

Living a minimalist lifestyle has many benefits, but you shouldn’t live it in an extreme way. By living an extreme minimalist lifestyle, you will lose the focus and feel demotivated soon. So, you can read books on minimalist living to adopt a minimalist lifestyle in a proper way. The proper guide to minimalist living is important to live with less stuff while feeling delighted. Take small steps to adopt the new lifestyle with less stuff, less debt, and less worry.

DIY Backyard Games – Know How You Can Save Money on Fun!

DIY Backyard Games – Know How You Can Save Money on Fun!

Recently, I had the experience to try to purchase some backyard games for an upcoming party in celebration of our new backyard.

You are probably asking yourself, “Why a party for your backyard?”

Well, a few months ago my wife and I (with the help of friends) redid our back yard. The remodel consisted of us completely clearing out the backyard to a blank slate then putting in a sprinkler system, garden, planter beds, and seeding. Yay!

Read about our home remodel savings here.

Now that the seed has sprouted to create a fairly lush lawn, we wanted to host a party in celebration. Kinda, like a house warming party. I know, I am weird.

Anyways, we decided that we needed some backyard games for the party. My wife wanted bags (or cornhole, I hate that name). I wanted Spikeball.

Why is everything so expensive!?!?

When looking to purchase, I couldn’t believe how expensive these game sets are. For bags, the finished product was $200 or more! Spikeball was $60 itself.

I even looked at other backyard games to see if something was cheaper. Nope. All were super expensive!

I thought to myself, there has to be a better way!

Buying off Brand

So, my journey started off by looking for a cheaper version of Spikeball. I knew I could not make this game on more own based on the custom net and the balls that you needed to play the game.

My thought was to maybe look for a knockoff brand. Usually, I am very skeptical and picky buying an off brand because I have been burned way too many times. Most of the time you save $10 bucks but the item only lasts a fraction of the time.

I decided to see what I could find. As always, I started off on Amazon. I like to start there because most items have so many helpful reviews. You can easily check if the item is going to last or not by the user reviews.

 

Luckily for me, it did not take long to find Slammo.

Its reviews were awesome. But just to be sure. I went to Google and looked up Slammo reviews. Sure enough, all came back with positive ratings! So I ordered Slammo instead.

What was the damage? Well, remember that Spikeball was $60 for the net, frame, 3 balls, and carrying case. Slammo is $40 for the net, frame, carrying case, 2 regulation balls, and a training ball. Plus, I saved an extra $3 using the Honey app on Amazon.

So far we have been very happy with the purchase. It just shows you that a little research and trust in a different brand can really save you some money.

DIY – Making your own

The next item to tackle was finding a bags set on the cheap. Like before, I checked out Amazon first. I was able to find cheaper sets but they looked like they were made for Oompa Loompas. The materials and the sizing were all off!

So, I thought to myself that I could make my own DIY backyard game bags set. I started by looking at the ACA website (yes, there is a professional cornhole association) for the regulation specs on how the boards should be made. From here, I put together a shopping list which was actually fairly short.

  1. 4 – 8 foot long 2×4’s
  2. 2 – pre-cut 2′ x 4′ plywood or any other piece of sheet wood (I used birch)
  3. 4 – 3 1/2 inch carriage bolts
  4. 4 – carriage bolt wing nuts
  5. Wood Screws
  6. Other items include paint or vinyl stickers

Next, I went to the nearest hardware store to buy all of the supplies for our new backyard game. Once home, I started measuring, sawing, cutting, and putting together the two boards (for the full instructions check here).

Oh! I forgot to mention that I did not make the bean bags myself. That would be a horrible idea! Instead, I went on Etsy and found these amazingly made Broncos bags for $30.

When everything was complete we took them out into the backyard and started playing. It was actually really easy to make the boards, only taking two hours.

All that is left to-do is to paint the set. My wife and I are trying to decide what general design we are going to use. We do know it will be Broncos colors with a vinyl logo.

Check out this Pinterest Board. Let me know what you think is your favorite is in the comments below!

Other DIY backyard games you could build

There are so many different DIY backyard games you could build for yourself. Below you will find a list of what comes to my mind.

Do you have any other backyard game ideas?

Conclusion

All in all, I feel very proud of the money we saved. It is also scary though. Why? Well, because I want to keep building more games! I think next on the to-build list will either be ladders or giant Jenga.

Between buying an off brand and building my own DIY backyard game, I will save about $120 after I get the bag boards painted. I still cannot believe how expensive they are to purchase.

What would you build first?

Cheers!
-Adam

My Honest Ibotta App Review – Is it worth the time?

ibotta-app-review

My Honest Ibotta App Review – Is it worth the time?

Today I want to give you my honest ibotta app review. We will look at the application together to see if it is worth the time spent for the cash they give you back.

Today’s ibotta app review is fairly short. This is because ibotta’s process is just that simple. As I write this review, I keep scrolling through the ibotta app to try to find more to talk about. This is why I was thoroughly impressed with the overall process of getting the rebate deposited into my account.

The question is, “Was it worth my time?”

Spoiler Alert! Yes, it is very much worth the time. Here is why…

Who is ibotta (I bought a…)?

First, let us start off with a quick review who ibotta is.

Ibotta is a start up based in Denver, Colorado that specializes in giving you cash back for purchases you make at particular stores. In fact, they have over 300 stores to select from including Amazon, Uber, Target, Kroger, and so on.

Ibotta makes their money off of affiliate income from the stores they partner with. A consumer goes to a store to purchase an item and redeems the rebate within the ibotta app. That store then credits ibotta for pointing the consumer to them. Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

Here is how that works. A consumer goes to a store to purchase an item and redeems the rebate within the ibotta app. That store then credits ibotta for pointing the consumer to them. Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

How does the app work?

Within the ibotta app, you will want to add rebates from your favorite stores. This is done in the ‘Find Rebates’ section and clicking on the plus symbol on items that interest you.

Every time you do add a rebate, you must complete a very short task. So far all I have seen are one question surveys. I am not sure if there are other tasks or not though I have heard there are videos they have you watch. So far these tasks have been really simple.

There are three different ways to get money back through the ibotta app. The first is by sending a receipt back to ibotta. Secondly, you can link a loyalty card from your favorite stores. Lastly, you can make mobile in-app purchases.

My favorites are the last two methods because they require essentially no work. We will walk through all three methods for this ibotta app review though.

ibotta-app-review

By Receipt

The process was fairly simple as it only consists of four major steps:

1. Find Rebates
Here you will want to hop into ibotta app to search for rebates. I like to go into the ‘Find Rebates’ section which allows me to see my favorite stores that I bookmarked. Once I selected a
store, I start searching for any rebate that applied to what I needed.
2. Go Shopping
After you get the rebates locked and loaded, it is time to go shopping! Don’t forget to head to the store before the rebate expires.
3. Redeem
Once you get back from the store it is time to hop back into the ibotta application. Here you will want to select the ‘Redeem’ button to take a picture of the receipt as well as the bar code of the
product you bought.
4. Get Cash
They promise you will get your rebate within 48 hours. Mine was dropped to me within an hour. I was really impressed at the speed!

Link a Loyalty Card

This is my favorite method to gain rebates through the ibotta app. Here you only have to link up a loyalty card to your favorite stores, for me, King Soopers.

Here is what you need to do to get it set up:

1. Link Loyalty Card
Link up your loyalty card from your favorite stores (that are in the ibotta network) to your ibotta account. You can either use your loyalty card number or phone number. How cool is that?!?!
2. Find Rebates
Just like in the ‘By Receipt’ method head over to the ibotta app to search for rebates. Add the rebates you want.
3. Go Shopping
Head to the store you linked up to, using your loyalty card or phone number during check out. Because ibotta can see that transaction through your loyalty card they will take care of the rest.
4. Get Cash
Within 48 hours you should see the rebate deposited into your account.

Mobile In-App Purchases

1. Find Rebates
Before heading to any of the shopping mobile apps that ibotta has partnered with, find the right rebate for what you need.
2. Launch App
Within the ibotta app, open up the shopping mobile app such as Amazon.
3. Go Shopping
Find the product you are looking for. Make sure it qualifies for the rebate!
4. Get Cash
Ibotta will confirm that the rebate is pending. Within 48 hours you should see the rebate deposited into your account.

Getting Your Cashback

When I first set out to start researching for this ibotta app review I thought to myself, “There is no way it is going to be this easy to get the rebate back.” I found from past experiences that most companies make you go through so many loop holes just to get paid.

To my surprise, receiving the rebate back was super-efficient. It was not 60 minutes later when I received my cash into my ibotta account.

There are many options to withdraw this cash to be able to use. They give you the option to deposit to your PayPal or Venmo account. There are also options to buy gift cards as well!

Sadly, there is one loop hole you have to jump through. There is a $20 minimum before you can withdraw your rebate cash.

But, Hey! This ibotta app review could not be all positive news!

I guess that is better compared to the $100 minimum the Stock Photography sites that I participate with have.

ibotta-app-review

Other Helpful Tips

When I first launched the ibotta app for this review, it prompts me to find favorite stores. Do not skip this step as I enjoy having my favorite stores easy to find at the top of the ‘Find Rebates’ section. On the ‘Featured’ page, this will also automatically pull to the top any featured item from your favorite stores making it easier to find more awesome stuff.

Secondly, there is a teamwork feature that allows you to link with friends through Facebook. This program allows you to earn cash quicker. I have not tried this feature yet but ibotta claims, “The bigger your team, the faster and easier it is to earn Teamwork Bonuses.”

Finally, check out the ‘Bonuses’ page under your ‘Account’ page. Here there are some more direct rebates from companies. You might find something special for you.

ibotta-app-review

My Final Thoughts

So, now that we have looked over all of the major elements, let’s take a final glance for this ibotta app review.

I really like the app and the concept it has brought to the shopping front. They really have nailed the process down to a science which provides a smooth experience. Because everything runs like a well-oiled machine, I do not see this company slowing down at all.

I am not totally sure that my shopping methods work well for ibotta or any couponing. My personal belief is that I do not need to go shopping just because I have a coupon. My wife and I make a menu for the up and coming week based on recipes we enjoy a lot. Then we see if there are any coupons for those recipes. Typically, there are not many.

Maybe we need to change our menu’s to revolve around the coupons instead.

How do you handle coupons? Have you tried Honey yet?

Ready to Sign Up?

Does this review have you excited to get signed up for ibotta? That’s awesome news!

Head over there now and sign up using our Affiliate Link. This helps us fund Wallet Squirrel so we can continue to bring more awesome reviews like this one.

More Ways to Make Money

Looking for more ways to make money for you and your family? Well, the search is over!

Head over to our Ways to Make Money page.

Here Andrew and I research, test out and review over the different way to make money. Check it out yourself!

How to Travel Cheap – 5 Tips From This Pro

How to Travel Cheap – 5 Tips From This Pro

How to travel cheap can be a challenge for a lot of people (including me). We all want to stay in the fancy hotels, eat the best foods that the city has to provide, and conquer all of those expensive activities around. I do not blame you if you are one of those people, there is a lot of temptation out there! Unfortunately, going out on a spending frenzy during vacation can really affect our budgets and financial goals. Once home we might hate our past selves because those goals have been pushed farther and farther away. Plus, we will all want to go on another trip someday. So how do we stay in line to travel cheap so we can have awesome vacations now and for the future?

Here is a little background on my travels. Growing up I was so fortunate to be able to travel a lot because of my parents. These travels took us all over the United States, hitting up 40 out of the 50 states, as well around the world. Now that I am all grown up, married, and with a kid, it is tougher to travel with our limited funds. So we have become a lot more creative to afford our travels.

Plan Ahead

Before we get into all of my tips on how to travel cheap, I wanted to start with off with this piece of advice. This is something that I have personally been bad at but my wife and I are getting better at. Since most of us do not have big pools of money laying around to spontaniously buy plane tickets with (and if you do and want to share, contact me here :P), we all need to plan out ahead with our travels.

Personally, my wife and I have started to plan out our trips a year or two (depending on costs) ahead of time. This allows us to set up a savings plan to make the vacation happen.

How do you plan ahead for your vacations?

1. Don’t travel during the holiday’s

We just recently made this massive mistake so hopefully, you can learn from us. Traveling to Maine should have been fairly cheap on a normal week but we decided to travel over the Fourth of July week. This raised our plane tickets by $350 compared to when our friend traveled from Maine to Colorado to see us this past May. This is not how to travel cheap!

If you are looking to travel cheap, be sure to check for holidays around you. It is also better to travel during odd times in the week. These days include Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

We traveled over the holiday because we had a day off from our work, but if you factor all the increased traveling fees, it could have actually been better just using a bit extra of our vacation time.

Pro Tip: When searching for cheap tickets remember to take into account all of the taxes and fees. Upfront it might look like one airline has the lowest ticket prices but they might have the highest fees for baggage, seating, and so on.

How to travel cheap: Avoid traveling over the holidays!

How to travel cheap: Avoid traveling over the holidays!

 

2. Don’t eat out for every meal

My second tip on how to travel cheap involves my favorite part of any vacation, food! When my wife and I did our honeymoon we found a hotel that had a little kitchenette. After we dropped our stuff off we headed to the grocery store to gather some breakfast and lunch supplies. We would eat breakfast and some lunches in the room saving us tons of money! We were able to save enough to splurge a couple times on dinner while still saving money overall. I personally like to use Kayak or Southwest Airlines for finding plane tickets.

Pro Tip: Splurging on a couple meals during the trip is okay but remember do not let the foodie inside of you get in the way of your budget. Stay focused to keep within your budget, your future self will thank you for your discipline! For me at least, food can easily unravel my travel cheap plans!

3. Stay at accommodations that are off the beaten path

There are three major expenses while traveling: transportation, food, and a place to stay. Being able to cut costs on all three of these expenses is really how anyone can learn how to travel cheap. It is always tempting to stay in the hotel right on the beach or in the middle of downtown or has its front doors on the Vegas strip. In most cases, we can save tons of money while traveling if we get a hotel or Airbnb just a few blocks away from these main attractions.

This is a challenge for me because I want to be in the heart of the action our destination has to offer. So what I do is find accommodations that are off the beaten path but are close to a cheap mode of transportation that can get us there easily. Sometimes we are able to find something so close that we can walk there with ease.

How to travel cheap: Find a nice spot to stay off the main trail, like this guy did!

How to travel cheap: Find a nice spot to stay off the main trail, like this guy did!

4. Travel with friends or extended family (if you dare)

Now you cannot do this for every trip because it would just get tiring. Plus, it is just nice to enjoy time just with your own immediate family. But when you are looking to have a good time with some friends or family while saving money you can do just that!

Here’s how to travel cheap with your friends or family. First off, everyone can rent a home or condo splitting the overall costs. This usually turns out being cheaper than every party getting their own hotel room. Plus, a home or condo will come with a kitchen which I mentioned before is a huge cost saver.

Everyone can also share costs on that breakfast and lunch food I mentioned above. I remember growing up and going to family reunions where each family would take turns cooking a meal on a particular day. This was always an awesome experience because you got to enjoy different family recipes!

Pro Tip: Choose who you travel with very carefully. You want to enjoy your vacation! Plus, you do not all want to come back hating each other.

5. Don’t always go to the touristy spots

This how to travel cheap tip is one of my favorites. I cannot tell you how many awesome and amazing adventures I have had when I did not follow the crowd. One of my best friends, Tristan, is the person I should be thanking for pushing me out of my comfort zone while we traveled through Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany together.

I am not saying don’t to touristy spots. All I am saying is do not hang out at those spots all of the time during your trip. This is because most items, food, and services have had their prices increased significantly. When you go away from those places you will find that things will drop in price because there is less supply of tourists. Plus, you never know what awesome unknown place you might find.

Pro Tip: Use common sense when you venture off from the touristy areas. Cities and other countries can have very dangerous areas outside of those walled off tourist attractions. Be sure you know where you are going and be safe!

How to travel cheap: Find attractions off the beaten path.

How to travel cheap: Find attractions off the beaten path.

Now go have some fun!

Planning a vacation can be a daunting task in itself let alone adding on how to travel cheap on top of that. This is why I wanted to put together a list of tips just on how to travel cheap for you and your family.

Have any more tips you use to travel cheap that I might have missed? Let us know below in the comment section!

Want to earn some extra income so you can travel more? You can! Check out our Ways to Make Money for ideas on how to make some extra income. We personally try out as many as possible so you know which method to make more money is right for you or not.

How to Sell Stuff on Ebay – Tips and Tricks to Selling on Ebay

How to Sell Stuff on Ebay – Tips and Tricks to Selling on Ebay

Over the last couple of months I have been trying to get rid of items the pose as distractions from my goals. You might have read about it in my Self Improvement – Get Rid of Your Distractions Right Now series. Here I talk about selling items that distract me from my ultimate goals. These items include an extra TV my wife and I do not need, a Xbox One, couple extra laptops, some games, and my old Nikon camera. As you might recall in my latest article on getting rid of distractions I had sold only one item for $100. Well, over the last couple of weeks I have been able to sell a two more items to warrant an article to be written on how to sell stuff on Ebay. Overall, I have made just over $500 from these items which will go directly to help pay our car loan off.

Let’s Get Started

Let’s get the basics out of the way so we can learn how to sell stuff on Ebay. To get started you will want to make sure you have an Ebay account. If you do not, sign up for a new account. If you do, head over there now to sign in.

You will also want to hunt around your home to find some items to sell on Ebay. This can be anything from a football to a fancy golf club set. I recommend only selling items on Ebay that will be easy to ship. For example, I will not be selling that extra 42 inch TV on Ebay. That would be too difficult to package and get to the buyer in one piece. Unless I saved the original box, but who does that? Instead I will sell the TV locally on Craigslist. For any help on selling your stuff on Craigslist check out Andrew’s How to Sell Something on Craigslist and Make Money article.

Price Comparison

Before I decide to post I like to explore Ebay, searching for similar items to see what they are selling for. As you are posting, Ebay will help out with pricing but I like to do the beforehand research for my data points. The more you know about your competition the better you can price or add incentives to make the sale happen.

I search for similiar keywords for what I am selling. Not only do I try to compare apples to apples. I also try to compare similar products that are different such as brand new, older/newer models, and so on. I usually make some mental notes on what the trends are but write down some notes if it helps you. During this search I am looking for several different items.

  1. What is the trending price?
  2. What are people offering for shipping?
  3. Where is there a gap for me to make my item more marketable?

When I am selling something on Ebay, I am not looking to make the most money by squeezing every dollar out of the buyer. I am looking to selling my item quick and get some extra money. This might cost me $10 to $20 on either the products cost or in shipping but it is worth it to me to sell quicker.

Taking Photos

I am pretty picky with this tip on how to sell stuff on Ebay, but you know I love taking photos. Taking good photos of your product is crucial to know “how to sell stuff on Ebay”. Photos of the items you’re selling helps the buyer gain trust in you. If they do not trust you, they will not buy from you.

Here is what I do. Grab the item I am selling and put it in a well lit room, I want the buyer to be able to see everything about the product. I hate the Ebay images taken of a black item in a dark room. I cannot inspect any details to see if it has any dents or scratches. Okay, rant over.

When putting my item in the bright room I do not just place it anywhere. I put it on a large, flat area that is clean and clutter free. Potential buyers do not need to be focusing on my dirty underwear in the corner of the photo. From here, I grab my phone. That is right, you do not need a big fancy camera to take these photos. Camera phones can work really well. I then snap some shots of every angle of my product. If it has any dents or marks, I make sure to be upfront of those in the photos. This also helps gain more trust from the buyer. If you’re upfront about the dents, they’ll believe you’re upfront with them about everything about the item.

Overall, taking photos is not that tough and they do not have to be super fancy, as you can see in my example below. Worry about composition, lighting, and allowing the photo to inform your potential buyer because a photograph really does speak a million words. This is why you should be thorough with them.

Even though these photos are rough they still tell the story of the condition for the Xbox One.

Even though these photos are rough they still tell the story of the condition for the Xbox One.

Writing Your Description

Not only should you be thorough with your photos but you should also write an excellent description. This allows you to explain the product, what comes with it, and what is wrong with it. Do not skimp on the details. Just like with the photos, the more you share the more the potential buyer will trust you.

Personally, I like to make the descriptions as personal as possible. This makes it sound like the buyer is dealing with a real person rather than someone just trying to make an extra buck off of them. In the description, I like to tell a story about an experience with the product that gives more details about it. With my camera, I was able to share where it has been and provide some images it has captured at those destinations.

Shipping

Shipping is the most annoying part of how to sell stuff on Ebay for me. I really do not like it at all but Ebay has made it a lot easier over the years. You can select whether the buyer pays for the shipping or if you will include it within the selling price. I have done both. If I feel like the product is in a competitive market then I will throw in the shipping to be more appealing to a potential buyer.

Lately, based on my price comparison research, I decided to have the buyer pay for shipping. With Ebay’s interface, it’ll walk me through how to properly price the shipping costs. I usually just go with the recommended pricing which has worked out well for me.

Shipping made easy so you can sell your stuff on Ebay.

Shipping made easy so you can sell your stuff on Ebay.

After the Sale

Here is when I want to communicate promptly with the buyer. This does not have to be much, but a quick thank you and status update on when I will get the item shipped out. I have noticed that I get higher reviews when I communicate with the buyer quickly. Of course, with higher reviews the more trust you gain from other potential buyers.

I also make sure that I ship the item very quickly. Ebay gives us three business days but I try to get it shipped the next day. The buyer will be more satisfied with their experience. You can either go through Ebay to print the shipping label or go to a shipping center yourself. I recommend using Ebay’s service if you have a printer. This will save you money and time by not waiting in line at your local post office.

Now Go Sell Your Stuff on Ebay!

Ebay is the classic eCommerce site for anyone to sell a product. Because it has become so big over the years it can be a little intimidating to post an item on the site. That is why it is best to take these tips to learn how to sell stuff on Ebay. Hopefully, these tips make your experience a bit easier and less intimidating.

For other side hustle ideas check out our list of different Ways to Earn More Money. Andrew and I are always looking for new ways to earn extra income. This list consists of many different side hustles that we have tried ourselves.

5 Simple Ways – How to Sell Photos Online

5 Simple Ways – How to Sell Photos Online

Alright, before we get started. Let me say I’m excited about this article! I really enjoy bringing a personal touch and felt this article “How To Sell Photos Online” allowed me to bring in some personal experiences on what really works for selling photos. I’ve done most of these.

As many of you already know from other posts, I love photography. This hobby is one of my true passions in life though, sadly, I do not get to play with my camera much anymore. Thankfully, before this downturn in production, I was able to gather a lot of different experiences that taught me how to sell photos online for extra income.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to shoot my photos all over the U.S. and the world. It took a lot of honesty with myself, patience, and persistence to build my skills to create some decent photographs. Many of my photos have sold to people around the world using several different platforms of selling. It is a very fun and addicting experience to have someone purchase a photograph that you created from scratch.

Here are some of the different ways you can sell photos online.

1. Stock Photography

Okay, everyone knows about this method on how to sell photos online already so let’s get it out of the way. Using Shutterstock or iStock Photo is probably the easiest way to earn extra money online selling your photos. All you have to do is head over to one of these sites, sign up, upload, get accepted, then sit and wait to get paid.

I have used stock photography to make true passive income for the past four years.

About five years ago I was in St. Louis. While there we visited a high vantage point in a hotel that over looked the St Louis Arch. I snapped a quick shot (this article’s featured image) through the glass window not thinking anything about it. Later on I decided to add it to Shutterstock and iStock Photo. To be honest, compared to the other photos I was uploading, I was not too excited about the one of the arch. To my surprise though, it has been a best seller for me. Between the two hosting services I have made over $1,000 off of the photograph.

Why did this photo do so well? My theory is because it is from a different angle than your typical St. Louis Arch photograph. Go ahead and take a look at the top St Louis Arch photos on ShutterStock and compare to mine above. Notice how it is completely different from the other top sellers. This is what you should do for your stock photography. Find a topic on one of the stock photography sites that is selling well. Then analyze the competition figure out how you can do your photo better bringing fresh content to the topic.

For some more great advice on stock photography check out Andrew’s experience on Selling Stock Photography.

2. Direct Sells

A few years back I was very active at marketing my photographs. I was blogging every day, creating conversations on Twitter, and gaining visitors like crazy. This is when I had a few people directly contact me to use my photos. One client was a hospital in Iowa looking for photos to use on their website. The second client was a marketing company out of Sweden looking to use my Portland Headlight photo for one of their clients.

Overall, I only made $75 off of these two deals but I was still very excited. One thing I learned was to only work with clients who have a budget. The hospital did not so I gave them a one year license for free as long as they gave me credit for my work on the site. I thought this would give me exposure. It did not.

I learned from this mistake when the Swedish deal came up. Here I made sure that I was going to get some money out of them. We came up with a deal for $75, they signed the license, then I sent them a digital copy of the image. It was essentially a direct stock photography deal.

3. Etsy

If you read my 8 Extremely Flexible Part Time Jobs for Us Grown Ups article, you know I once started an Etsy shop a while back. I did not spend much time on my shop to get it going but did sell a couple of photographs there. I have heard that if you work fairly consistently on your own shop for about a year that it can become pretty lucrative.

Like I said, I did not really work very hard on my shop so nothing huge ever materialized with Etsy. Out of the photographs I did sell, I made around $100.

Hopefully in the near future I can get back into my Etsy shop. I think this could be a really nice way to make some extra income.

Etsy allows you to sell your own crafts as a part time gig.

4. Magazines

One time, I had the editor of a digital magazine contact me to take some photographs around the Denver area. They were doing a spotlight on the city and wanted me to take photos of local landmarks, things to-do, and my favorite, food! I went around taking these photos, signed a contract with them, and then got paid a couple hundred bucks. Later on, the article was published which was an incredible feeling!

To start your own freelance journey on how to sell your photos online, I recommend you to contact editors of any magazine around the country. This will let them know you exist and that you are hungry for some work. Do not get discouraged if they say no right away. If they turn you away, remember to follow up ever couple months or so.

Also, I am sure there are freelance websites around the internet to help you find new gigs. I do not have any personal experiences with these websites though. Oh! Article idea!

5. Consignment Shops

Alright, this idea is not about how to sell photos online but rather at a physical store. It is very similar to Etsy and Direct Sells so I wanted to include it for you. Here you can find locally owned gift stores that sell items from local artists. Most of these stores sell items like a consignment shop would. They give your item space in the store for a certain amount of time. Once it sells then they take a cut of the income and you get the rest. Pretty sweet!

Selling at a local store is also one method I do not have personal experience with yet. I have been wrestling with the idea for a while now but have not pulled the trigger yet. Once I do, I will let you know how it goes.

Wrapping it All Up

Here are five fantastic and very probable ways on how to sell photos online. Most of which I have done myself. Some of these methods take more time than others. Some are truly passive while others require you to reach out and find work. If you are ambitious it is possible to do all five of these methods to sell photos online. I would recommend starting with only one at a time instead of trying to start with all five at the same time.

It takes time, patience, and persistence to sell your photos online. Do not give up if you have not sold anything in the first week. Keep pushing forward analyzing your work to make sure that it actually looks good compared to others. If not, learn how you can make your work better. Remember that failure is okay and if you learn from your mistakes you will come out ahead.

Are You Considering an MBA? Answer these 2 Questions First!

At the end of last year, I was in a career funk. So I considered going back to school to get my Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). With an MBA, you can advance in your current field or make a switch to a new field, everyone values an MBA.

I was stoked! I considered the possibility of getting an MBA in the past and it was a great time in my life to do night classes. So I began picturing myself adding the letters “MBA” behind my name on business cards and looking up schools.

However, I quickly hit the brakes!

Ask These 2 Questions before You pursue an MBA

Many of my friends are going back to school or currently in school, and I ALWAYS ask them these 2 simple questions that BLOW THEIR MIND. So I decided to test myself to see if I passed my own “Should You Get An MBA” test.

1. What is the EXACT dream Company and Job Title you want after graduation?

You should know this. Most people will get an MBA because they want to do something in business. They think they need MBA to for future promotions and career growth.

However, you should FIRST figure out what your dream job is. You can’t just say “something in business”. If you are going to spend $80,000+ on an MBA and years of your life. You should identify the exact company and job title you want before you even start school. Come on, it’s your DREAM job.

This is a role you will potentially be doing for the rest of your life. You should have a clear idea of what it should be. This will guide every future decision you make while in your MBA program, affect the electives you take and the networking events you attend.

What’s the point of getting an MBA if you don’t know what you’ll do with it? Seriously? So write down your dream job title and company.

2. Have you reached out to your dream company yet?

Once you can identify the exact company and job title you want, you should reach out to that company and ask what they look for. This should be less intimidating than looking at a future $80,000+ student debt bill.

Usually a company’s Human Resources department would be willing to meet with you if you share with them that you’re considering going back to school to gain the skills necessary to work at their company.

When you meet with your dream company’s Human Resources Department, you should ask them some of these questions.

My dream job at your company is a Marketing Manager (or whatever it is), what is the salary range they get paid?

You should ABSOLUTELY know how much your future job pays because that’ll tell you how long it’ll take you to pay off your newly acquired student debt. Plus it’ll give you an idea of what lifestyle you can expect once you graduate with an MBA.

It’s not all about money, but you should be aware if all your hard work in school will result in nightly ramen noodles once you graduate. Are you OK with that?

What degrees or education do your current Marketing Managers have? (or whatever your dream job is)

This will give you an idea of the education level of their current employees. Some of their employees may have MBAs and some may not. You should probe deeper to what the HR team looks for in your dream position. Perhaps you don’t need an MBA and you have the necessary experience to apply today.

If you need to get an MBA for that position, ask if they have a preferred school or partner with any specific schools. If your dream job regularly partners with a local university and hires pretty exclusively from there, that university may need to be on your radar for potential schools.

Does your dream company offer internships?

Yes, you’re getting an MBA but knowing if your dream company has an internship program is huge. Many companies will hire interns who are working towards their degree and help them grow into the position. There is no reason to wait till after you get your MBA to apply to your dream company. You should use every opportunity you can to start making connections.

What does career growth look like at that company?

If your dream job is to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), they won’t just hire you out of school. What entry level roles will you need to start off with and how does one become a CEO? How did the current CEO get his role and what did they do before that? Some jobs aren’t attainable right out of school, even with an MBA. You need to understand what your career path would look like moving up to your dream position. You should understand what this looks like.

When I considered an MBA, I failed this checklist

Last year when I considered getting my MBA, I went full-throttle and visited 3 different universities. I dropped in classes and met with professors. I received all the brochures, met with all their “advisors” and compared costs ($39,000 – $80,000). I did soft applications and confirmed I would be accepted to each of them. So I was freaking close to full out applying.

I knew I wanted do something in finance because I LOVED writing about finance. So I figured I’d get an MBA with a focus in finance (hence why I write for Wallet Squirrel). This is how most people start the MBA journey. They love the idea of a degree, get an education THEN figure out where they want to work.

I did that when I choose my college degree. I went into Landscape Architecture without actually knowing if it was my dream job. I just thought it would be fun to draw and select plants. I didn’t learn till after internships and after graduation that they spend most of their time looking at a computer, drawing parking lots. UGH, so NEVER again.

So I asked myself these two questions and I failed.

There were some finance positions like Financial Planner, Mutual Fund Manager, Financial Analyst that sounded interesting but I wasn’t drawn to them with such vigor that I could stomach another $80,000 in student loan debt.

One position DID sound fun, but they earned even less than I was making now. So I had to ask myself if I would be willing to gain more debt for lower paying, nicer job? I didn’t like it that much.

Do the Math on your Future Tuition

According to Investatopia, the average MBA program costs $140,000, with higher ranking school costing more. They’re factoring in tuition, living arrangements, books (use ebates to save) and peripheral expenditures. That’s more than the evening only MBA programs I was looking at.

Now factor that $140,000 student debt at 6.8% interest which is the average Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan according to Federal Student Aid. Having that kind of student loan debt is similar to buying a house.

However the common response to seeing these numbers is that you’ll be paid more after your MBA. That is likely true. The average salary of MBA graduates in a full-time program was $126,919. This was taken from US News when they interviewed companies mainly on the east/west coasts which usually provide a higher salary than the Mountain States and Midwest.

Conclusion

Most people like me had to make an insane decision in High school to pick a college major before entering college. So at the same time I was focused on rehearsing for the school musical and wondering if the homecoming queen, Val liked me (she didn’t). I had to choose a degree that would affect the rest of my life. I was not ready.

Going back to school for your MBA doesn’t have to be like that. There isn’t any timetable, no matter what the college recruiters tell you about the deadline for an upcoming semester. You have all the time in the world to choose if an MBA is right for you.

So if you’re considering going back to school for an MBA to improve your future, you should have an idea of what your future will look like by identifying your dream job at your dream company. This is your opportunity to do WHATEVER you want in the world, have a plan that extends after graduation.