September 2016 Debt Update

September DebtWhat’s going on everyone? Today’s post is the September debt update.

My total debt went from $67,806.55 to $67,683.30. That was a decrease of $123.25. That was better than last months. I will take a leap and say that October’s debt update will be MUCH better. I will explain that to you in a minute, but first let’s go over numbers.

The Numbers

Loan 2 – Down from $5820 to $5810

BOA Credit Card – The Same!! $800.11

Chase Card – Down from $1835 to $1795

Navient – Down from $24,483.29 to $24,414.04

Nelnet – Down from $34,868.15 to $34,864.15

I figured that BOA card would be the same. I had to use it to book my hotel for Fincon. The good thing is that I didn’t get into any more debt. Fincon was my last trip of the summer. I went out of town once a month since June. The good thing is that I didn’t get into any more debt because of it. The bad thing is I wasn’t able to add much extra money to my debts. I know October will be huge for me. I’m not going out of town, so I will be able to throw a decent amount of money to the debt. I also have a couple of new clients that I will be working with. So that means more money.

Previous Debt Updates

January 2015 (The Beginning)

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

How is your debt repayment coming along so far? Is there anything that you are struggling with?

Debt, Life , ,

My Costa Rica Trip

costa ricaLast month I left the country for the first time. I’ve had my passport for over five years. I had been patiently waiting to use it. My best friend decided to have a destination wedding in Costa Rica. I was happy to be the best man for such a wonderful occasion and also to get my first passport stamp. I have to say Costa Rica is a beautiful country. I was there for a relatively short time, from Thursday – Monday, but I enjoyed myself. In today’s post, I want to discuss my experience in Costa Rica.

Thursday

I arrived in San Jose on a Thursday afternoon. The culture shock set in immediately. As soon I stepped outside the airport, I was bombarded by taxi drivers looking for customers. It was least 5o of them yelling and asking people if they needed a ride. My friend and I found a cab and made it to the hotel. I booked a room at Hotel Autentico for the night. Hotel Autentico was a decent hotel. They the old school air conditioner unit hanging out the window in the room. They also had a real hotel “key.” I haven’t seen one of those in years. I ended up walking around the city and visiting a bar that was near the hotel.

Friday

The wedding was held in a town named Monteverde which is about three hours from San Jose. Since the wedding was scheduled for Saturday, the groom had set up a shuttle to take us from San Jose to bring us to Monteverde. Monteverde was located in the mountains. For the first two hours, the shuttle ride was fine. After a while, I noticed that the street went from pavement to rocks and gravel. The last 40 minutes of the ride was not fun. The ride started to get more bumpy. We also were getting higher and higher up the mountain. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this on the site, but I hate heights. My ears popped two times as we made our way up the mountain. Also, there were no guard rails on the road. I looked to the right, and all I saw was a straight drop. That ride was horrible.  I was happy as hell when we finally made it to the hotel. Everyone in the wedding party stayed at the El Establo Mountain Hotel. The property was nice. There were several buildings there. It was very relaxing. However, three things may bother you depending on the type of traveler you are.

The first thing is that they don’t have any air conditioning in the rooms. Thankfully, we didn’t need it because the temperature was in the low 70’s while we were there. The second thing is that there are only three areas where the hotel has Wi-Fi. They have it in the lobby and the two restaurants that are on the property.  The third thing is that the hotel lobby shuts down at 10 pm. They do have a security gate at the front, but depending on your level of Spanish, it could be a struggle trying to understand the security guard.



Saturday

Saturday was the day we were waiting for. The wedding was scheduled to start at 4 pm, so we had some time to kill. Some of the wedding party decided to go on a coffee tour, while others chose to relax. Two of my friends and I decided yo walk outside the property and see what else is out there. There were a few small shops nearby. I grabbed a few shot glasses and magnets for souvenirs. After that, we made our way back to the hotel to get prepared for the wedding.

The wedding was a beautiful ceremony. The bride and the groom both looked great. We ended up partying at the reception for a little while, and then everyone headed back to their rooms. Some people ended up go to a bar a short taxi cab away, but I was too tired to go.

Sunday

We left to go back to San Jose at 6 am. The ride down the mountain was not as bad as the ride up was. It still sucked, though. Back in San Jose, the shuttle dropped some people off at the airport. Then the shuttle driver took the rest of us back to our hotel.  This time around everyone stayed at the Tryp Sabana Hotel by Wyndham. Out of all the hotels I stayed in during my time in Costa Rica, this one was the best. The rooms were big, and the hotel had fast Wi-Fi.

Sunday was the day that I did the most walking. We walked all over downtown San Jose. There were shops everywhere. They even had a Nike store. The area was full of people. Later that evening we ate at Restaurante Nuestra Tierra. The food was as authentic as you can get.

Monday

My time in Costa Rica was great. I came, I saw, and I conquered. I would visit San Jose again in a heartbeat. It was such a cool city. There was so much that I didn’t get to do. While Monteverde was fun as well, I’d probably never visit that town again unless I could get a helicopter to take me straight there.  That trip has me ready for another international destination. I already know where I want to go too.

Below are a few pictures from the trip.

imag0823 imag0818 imag0813 imag0806 imag0766

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? How was your experience?

This post contains affiliate links. Feel free to view my disclosure here.
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10 People to Meet at FinCon

10-people-to-meet-at-finconHello, everyone. FinCon is only a couple of days away. This will be my second time attending the conference. I’m really excited to link up with my fellow bloggers and see what they’ve been up to. There are a 1200 people registered for the conference this year. If you’re going this year, here are ten people that you should meet.

Philip Taylor: PT is the founder of FinCon. He is a CPA and the owner of the site PTMoney. His website helps you learn how to fix your finances.

Sandy Smith: Sandy is the founder of the site Yes I Am Cheap. She paid off $50,000 worth of the debt in 2 years. She is the queen of selling things on Amazon.

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner: Michelle blogs at Making Sense of Cents. She paid off $40,000 worth of student loan debt within seven months. I’ve been reading her website for nearly four years. She’s one of the reasons started blogging. Last month she made over $90,000 in blog income.

Jason Vitug: Jason is the founder of Phroogal which is a website that helps individuals make better decisions about their finances. For the last two years, he’s traveled around the United States promoting financial wellness. The final stop will be this Wednesday in San Diego.

Tai & Talaat McNeely: Tai & Talaat are America’s number 1 money couple. Their site is called His & Her Money. In my opinion, they have one of the best financial podcasts out there. They talk to people that are either currently or have paid off a significant amount of debt. For someone that’s currently doing that, the podcasts keep me motivated.

J. Money: J. Money is the owner of Budgets are Sexy which is a blog that focuses on personal finance and freedom. He’s done quite a few hustles over the year to make extra money such as selling things on Craigslist.

Pat Flynn: Pat Flynn runs Smart Passive Income which is a site that teaches you how to run online businesses and make passive income. He also hosts a podcast that I’ve been listening to for a few years.

Latisha Styles: Latisha is the owner of Young Finances. The site goes over the basics of investing, budgeting, and credit tips for young professionals.

Melanie Lockert: Melanie is a freelance writer and the owner of the site Dear Debt. There is a section on her site called the Dear Debt Letter Project, which features people writing letters where they are breaking up to debt. Those letters are POWERFUL. Check some of them out when you can.

Tonya Rapley: Tonya is the owner of My Fab Finance. Her site is geared to help women break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.

Bonus: Michelle Jackson: Michelle runs The Shop My Closet Project which is a site that helps people pay off debt and reach their goals. This is one of my favorite sites to visit. Michelle keeps it real. She shares her ups and downs with her readers. I respect that because I still struggle with things at times.

Are you going to FinCon this year?

Blogging , , ,

My Spirit Airlines Review

my-spirit-airlines-review-1Some of you may know that I attended a wedding in Costa Rica last month. You may be wondering which airline I flew with to get there. I tend to book my trips early to save the most money. I started looking for flights in March. The two lowest prices that I saw were $298 and $550 roundtrip. Delta Airlines was charging $550 and Spirit was charging $298. I’ve flown Delta a few times, and I’ve never had a problem with them, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pay $550 for the flight.  Then there was Spirit. I’ve flown with them twice. My first flight ever was with them. In late 2006, I flew to Las Vegas with Spirit. The planes were nice and clean. The second time I flew with them to Fort Lauderdale. The planes were small and dirty. The flight even had a delay that caused me to get back home an hour later than originally scheduled.

I had to make a decision. Should I go with budget friendly Spirit Airlines or should I book my flight with Delta? After reading a few reviews and talking to a few people who travel a lot, I decided to go with Spirit Airlines. I wanted to save as much money as I could. I just hoped that I didn’t make a mistake and purchase the flight from hell. Luckily, I didn’t. I didn’t have any problems with Spirit at all.

Before I completely booked my flight, I read everything! Everything you need to know is about fees and whatnot is located on their website. I honestly believe that 90% of the people that have problems with Spirit don’t read the fine print on their website. It tells you the following things.

Carry-on Bag

You have to pay for your carry-on bag. It’s cheaper to pay for it in advance. If you pay for the carry-on bag, online you will pay $35 each way. If you purchase during the online checking, you pay $45. If you have to pay at the gate, you are dishing out $100. I know for a fact that people don’t read this info. I heard some passengers discussing the pricing with a representative at the airport.

Check Baggage

You have the option to pay for checked baggage online before your trip. It’s $30 before your online check-in, $40 during the check-in and $100 at the gate. I made sure that I purchased my bags before the trip. My bags came up to $70. So with bags, the total of my flight was $368. That was still almost $200 cheaper than Delta.

Personal Item

Spirit does allow you to bring one personal item on the flight for free.  The item can’t be bigger 16″x 14″ x 12″. I measured my personal bag, and it fit those dimensions…..barely. At the airport, Spirit has a thing where you can check to see if your bag is the correct size. Mine fit in the bin with no problem. If you are worried about the size of your personal item, my suggestion would be to go to the airport before your trip and put your bag in the bin.

Seat Arrangements

As with most airlines, these days Spirits charges you if you want to pick your own seat. That will cost you between $1 – $199. It’s not that serious to me. I never pay for my seat. I’m fine with airlines assigning me seat once I check in. If you’re traveling with family, you may want to pay for your seats so that y’all can sit together.

Baggage Weight

When checking in baggage, most airlines have a limit of 50 pounds. Anything over that amount, you are charged a fee. The weight limit for Spirit is 40 lbs. Make sure that you pay attention to that. The more pounds that you bag is over, the more that you will pay. You risk paying an extra $30 -$100 depending on how many pounds over your suitcase is.  When packing for Costa Rica, I made the decision to leave a couple of pair of shoes at home. I’m glad I did that because my bag weighed 36 pounds at the airport.

The Planes

My itinerary went like this. I flew from ATL to FLL and then from FLL to CR. The first plan was a little small compared to other airlines, but the seats were comfortable even though they didn’t recline. None of the seats on Spirit flights recline. The flight from FLL to CR was great. The plane was pretty big. It had more room than I expected. I can’t lie; I was caught off guard. My return flights were just as nice.

Food

If you’re flying Spirit for the first time, don’t expect any free food or drinks during the flight. They have food and drinks, but you have to pay for it.

All in all, my flight with Spirit Airlines was a success. There were no delays. Every flight was on time. The planes were clean. I have no complaints at all. I’d probably fly with them again, especially if I were trying to save a lot of money.

Have you ever flown with Spirit Airlines? If so, how was your experience?

Travel , , ,

How My Life Changed After FinCon

how-my-lif-echangedIt’s almost time for FinCon 2016. I’m really looking forward to it. Last year I attended FinCon for the first time. It was located in the wonderful city of Charlotte, NC. It was a life-changing event for me. I’m glad I attended. So many things have happened since that time. I want to share with you some of the ways my life changed after FinCon.

I started freelancing

Last year at this time, the only way I was making side hustle money was through eBay or working my part-time job. After FinCon, I started freelance writing, I had thought about doing it briefly in the past, but I wasn’t really serious. After FinCon, that changed. I met some people that were looking for writers. I emailed one of them and was referred to the other. My freelance writing hustle started a few weeks later. If you go back a year ago and tell me that I’d be freelancing, I’d laugh at you. Fast forward a year later. I have a few clients, and I’m looking for more.

Met some of my favorite bloggers

I had a chance to meet some of my favorite bloggers. They are regular people just like you and me. During this past year, I’ve been able to learn from some of them and communicate with different ideas. I would have never been able to do this without attending FinCon.

Side Hustle Income Grew

The next thing that happened after FinCon was excellent. Since I started freelancing, my side hustle income started growing. It is amazing watching the growth. Last year at this time I was making about $100 – $200 in side hustle money. Last month I made over $1000. This money has allowed me to pay off two debts, get my emergency fund right and pay for my summer trips without getting into more debt. As I become a better freelancer, I expect the side hustle income to continue to grow.

Opportunities

I’ve been exposed to so many opportunities since FinCon. Besides the obvious freelance opportunities, I’ve been able to help several bloggers promote contests and books, participate in some pretty fun interviews, and also attend some blogger events in Atlanta.

Facebook Groups

Before FinCon, I thought FB groups were pretty much dead. Most of the groups that I was in before FinCon were basically full of spam. After FinCon that changed. I was added to a few groups that have helped me out tremendously. I’ve been able to find freelance opportunities in these groups. Also, I’ve been able to learn from a lot of people in these groups. It’s great learning from other bloggers who have been in situations similar to yours. I also started a small mastermind group with a few of the bloggers in those groups.

As you can see, FinCon has changed my life for the better. I plan on attending the conference for the foreseeable future. Whatever your blogging niche is, you should find out if there are any conferences. If there are, you have to attend one.

Have you ever been to a blog conference that has changed your life?

Blogging, Life , , ,

How I Made Over $1000 in Side Hustle Income Last Month

side-hustle-1I typically don’t write much detail about my side hustle income, but I felt that this post was needed. Last month, I made $1026.67 in side hustle income. In January, I set a goal to do this every month. During the past eight months, I got close a couple of times but ended up coming short. I didn’t come up short in August. I finally made over $1000 in side hustle income.

It took me longer than expected for a few reasons. I started freelancing in November of last year. I was still working on my writing and figuring out my angles. With that being the case, I didn’t look for as many freelance opportunities that I should have at the beginning of the year.

Never in a million years did I think I’d become a freelance writer. For the most part, it’s been pretty good. When I started last year, one of my first jobs was for this company that will remain nameless. The first article went live, and I figured that I’d get more opportunities to write for them. I sent four pitches to them hoping that they’d like one. A week went by, and I didn’t receive a reply. I e-mailed the contact person and still didn’t get a reply. I even tweeted them, nothing. That was a slight blow to my confidence. I was worried if other freelance opportunities would be like that one. I was nervous for about a month until I got my confidence back and found more work.

I’m at the point where I’m confident in my work and know that I’m more than capable of writing good sh!t. I have several clients that I write for and plan on adding some more.  Now to the good part:

How did I make over $1000 in side hustle income last month?

I worked my ass off!! Below is the breakdown.

Freelance Writing: $829.30

eBay: $143.29

Affiliates: $54.08

The total was $1026.67! It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year at this time eBay was the number one way that I was making side hustle money. Now it’s second and could be possibly third by years in.

I would not have started freelance writing if I didn’t start my blog. The Butler Journal has been great for me. I have grown so much since I started it in 2013. It has pretty much become a portfolio to me. I’ve been able to show it to potential clients whenever they asked for writing samples. I know everyone doesn’t want to be a blogger, and I understand that. If you do, you have to start a self-hosted blog sooner than later. I’ve been using Bluehost for the last three years. I haven’t had any problems with them. Bluehost currently has a deal. It’s usually $6.99 per month, but you can get your hosting for only $3.95. You can get this deal by clicking my link here. I also have a step by step guide that will help you set up your website.

Blogging is becoming life changing for me. As my side income continues to grow, I will be able to pay off this debt much faster.

How was your August? Did you make any side hustle income last month?

Disease Called Debt
Money, Side Hustles

Steps to Take When Facing Bankruptcy

bankruptcy-1No one plans on being in debt so much that bankruptcy becomes the best option. But it’s one of those things that can happen if you don’t become proactive and handle your debt before it piles too high. However, it’s not always possible to pay down existing debt without taking on more debt.

It’s easy to end up in a vicious cycle of borrowing, spending and borrowing some more in the modern economy. Most of the things we have, like our houses, cars, and even degrees, are possible only because of borrowed money. It takes decades to pay down debts this big. Sometimes, the debt becomes so bad that you end up looking up personal bankruptcy attorneys. If you are on the verge of bankruptcy, there’s one important thing you should keep in mind. It’s not too late. There are still steps you can take to mitigate the situation. For example, consider the following suggestions:

Consult a Professional Debt Counselor

If you have no idea how to handle your sky-high debt, it’s best to consult a professional regarding the situation. You can get the soundest advice from a credit or debt counselor in your area. The counselor will be able to provide you with realistic and workable solutions. When you are nose-deep in debt, it can be difficult to think clearly. That’s why a professional will be the best to help you. Make sure the professional counselor is associated with a non-profit debt counseling service. For-profit businesses charge exorbitant service fees and do not provide unbiased advice.

Try to Negotiate with Your Creditors

Your best option on the verge of bankruptcy is debt settlement before bankruptcy becomes the only solution. When you file for bankruptcy, you are defaulting on your loans. That means the lenders don’t get anything without legal proceedings. It’s not the ideal scenario for either party. So, if you are truly incapable of repaying your loans in full, the creditor will be open to negotiation. The creditor might settle smaller debts or write off a portion of debt. It might be possible to adjust the interest rate and agree to a new payment plan. Debt settlement is one of the best options to avoid bankruptcy.

Take Out a Second Mortgage

Line of credit loans, also known as second mortgages, may help you pay off other loans. However, you will need good credit to obtain one. Also, such a loan will have to be repaid in full without deviancy, because your house will be on the line. If you have pressing credit card debt or similar unsecured debt, you can take out a second mortgage and use the funds to pay down high-interest incurring loans.

Debt Consolidation

If you owe money to multiple creditors, it might be possible to consolidate all these loans into one package. You will be able to pay it all back at once, and at a single interest rate. This is the best option if you have numerous small but high-interest incurring loans.

Additionally, you can borrow money from friends and family to pay down overall debt. Take steps today to start repaying your loans. Doing so would improve your credit and your chances of avoiding bankruptcy.

Debt , ,