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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?

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.

Couponing at Its Best Using the Honey App

Couponing at Its Best Using the Honey App

Just a few months ago I stumbled upon an amazing extension for Google Chrome. This extension is called the Honey App. The Honey App sits in the background while you shop online to help you find coupons automatically. Essentially it is your own personal couponing assistant.

I must disclose right away, you will not be doing any extreme couponing with the Honey App. So you will not end up getting 728 tubes of toothpaste delivered to your front door that you only paid $1.94 for. Rather this application allows you to save some dollars that you would not know about otherwise.

Couponing with the Honey app is so simple. Video courtesy of Honey.

Setting Up the Honey App

As mentioned earlier, the Honey app helps online shoppers find coupons automatically. Honey only takes five minutes to sign up for and install.

To get started, head over to the Honey website.

In the top right hand corner of the page click on “Join Now”. Enter your email and a password. They also allow you to sign up using your Facebook account if you prefer that method.

Next, click on the giant orange “Get Honey For Free” button. This will install the Honey App extension for the browser you are using.

After that, you are done and ready to do the best couponing ever! Now you can head over to Amazon to get the best deal ever on that JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank that you have always wanted.

Using the Honey App

Really there is not much to say here. Once installed Honey does all of the work from there.

If I am on Amazon, you can see potential savings within each product page. Honey will tell you either you are getting the best deal or if you need to go to another Amazon seller for the best deal.

Bose

Showing how you could easily save $21.34 on some Bose Headphones on Amazon.

 

Bonus Points: The Honey app will also give you information about the price history of the product. This will allow you to see if you really are getting a good deal or not. Maybe the price of the product jumped up in the last month so you know to wait for it to drop again.

When shopping outside of Amazon, the Honey App will pop up during checkout in the right hand corner of the browser telling you that it has found some coupons. Click the “Apply Coupons” button to watch the magic start. Honey starts scanning through all of the coupons it found and tries to apply them. Once complete, Honey notifies you if any of them were a success or not.

Results

The results have varied for me. I really have not had much success outside of Amazon. Since the Honey app is fully integrated with Amazon, it works really well there. The application tells you what other sellers are offering better deals. This allows you to easily hop over to their product page to check out the deal. Just be careful, if you are a Prime member, make sure this other offer is eligible for that service or else you might end up spending more in shipping.

Honey found 9 coupons to save some money on these sweet Nike shoes.

Honey found 9 coupons to save some money on these sweet Nike shoes.

Outside of Amazon my success has been minimal. After scanning through the coupons that pop up, I find more often most of the coupons fail. This is because Honey scans through all of the couponing websites such as Retail Me Not. Most of the coupons are out of date from these site. I have mostly received free shipping but hey that is five or ten bucks in savings right there.

My Thoughts

I absolutely love Honey! It is truly passive. Typically I forget it is even running in the background until it pops up saying that I could save some money during check out. I personally only have experience with the Honey App within Chrome. According to their website it does work on most major browsers.

Browsers

The Honey App works on most major internet browsers.

 

For anyone that likes couponing, the Honey app is a must for your online shopping. For anyone who loves saving money this application is still a must for your online shopping.

Looking to make more money? Check out our list of Ways to Earn More Money. We continue to explore new ways to earn money. This list has ideas and links to other articles to the ideas we have tried.