How to Get Out Of Debt Fast When You Don’t Have Much Money

The post How to Get Out Of Debt Fast When You Don’t Have Much Money appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

How do you get out of debt when you are broke? After all, if you had the money,  you would not be in debt in the first place.  Right?

I hear this from people, just like you.  It is often not how much money you make, but the debt payoff plan you are using that is not working.  It is possible to get out of debt with no money; you just need to learn how.

get out of debt

There are plenty of inspiring stories of people sharing how they got out of debt, despite not making much money. In fact, you may feel you relate.  But yet, you don’t think you can do it. For whatever reason, you think you can’t get out of debt as they did.  It is impossible.

Or is it?

My husband and I were living on one income when we decided it was time to get out of debt.  It took us nearly 2 1/2 years but were able to pay off more than $37,000 in debt.  There are countless other stories of our readers who have paid off similar amounts in even less time.

I am here to tell you that you CAN (and should) get out of debt – no matter how little money you may make!!



I am going to share the steps anyone can follow to learn how to get out of debt – no matter your income level.  If you struggle to make ends meet, you already know how to make the most of a dollar, and I’ll give you additional tips so that you can pay down that debt.

I have asked this on Facebook all of the time, and some of the comments include:

“There is no way I can do this. Not with my medical bills.”

“Sure, that only works or some people – not me.”

Many of you may be thinking similar things, and I completely understand that way of thinking. I was there myself and know that it seems like an unattainable goal.  That is why you are reading this right now – to find out how to make this dream a reality.

Debt is NOT a Good Thing.

If you are in debt, it could be because of your own decisions or even those you can’t control (such as health, job loss, etc.).  No matter how it happened, you need to get rid of it. Period.

The reason you need to eliminate your debt is that it genuinely is holding you back. How can you move forward financially with this obstacle standing in your way?  If you found that you needed to buy a new car, you would find a way, correct?  For most, that would probably mean an additional monthly payment – but you would do it because you needed to.  You need to look at debt the same way:

“Getting out of debt is not a desire – it is a need.”


I remember in 2009 when my husband and I thought there was no way we could get ever get out from under our debt.  It was an impossible dream. At that time, I was not working at that time, and so we had one income and two young children to feed.  I initially thought that there was no way at all that we could do this.  It was just not possible.

We started by looking at our finances (oh – they were awful).  Our goal was to live a great life.  We could have kept on and kept just getting by, but that was not how we wanted to live. Just “getting by” was no longer an option.

Knowing our kids would be watching us, we knew the importance of being a good role model for them.  We wanted them to learn how to handle money by following our example.

We both agreed that not having debt was pivotal in having a positive financial future. We wanted this not only for ourselves but also for our children as well. It was also essential for our marriage.  We needed to remove anything that could potentially cause stress – money, and finances being a big one.  Our relationship was good, but we knew we could even make it better.

To begin our journey, we read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. We followed much of his advice but figured out some things that worked for us as well. Being debt free is a fantastic feeling that no one can describe.  You have to live it.



The very first step to getting out of debt is to decide you want to do it.  That was the change both my husband, and I made.  Once we were ready and committed to getting out of debt, we began our journey.

You might be saying that you can’t do that though.  I’m here to say that you can – when you really, truly want to make it happen.

Getting out of debt doesn’t require you to be rich. Anyone can do it.  Even if you have a low income or don’t have much money. Like I said above, knowing that you want to make the changes and pay off your debt is only one small part.  The more significant issue is how in the world you actually can do this.


1. Face YOUR Reality

According to CNN Money, the average American family made around $59,000 in 2017. While that is the average, it is also true that many Americans make much less than this.

With a lower income, it is even more critical that you have no debt at all. After all, you are already stretching every dollar to cover your bills. You don’t need additional payments causing more financial stress.

Unless you win the lottery, a wealthy relative leaves you a small fortune, or you find a better job, you know your income won’t change.  That is the truth. You can’t change that.

However, what you can and must do is take the steps you can to work yourself out from under the mountain of debt you may be facing. You need to first create a budget, determine how much debt you have and then the steps to pay it off, no matter how much money you make.


2. Fully Commit

If you are not 100% ready to make changes, then you are destined for failure. It may be blunt, but it is true. If you can’t “go all in” and fully commit to making whatever difficult changes necessary (trust me, it will be challenging), then you need to stop reading right now.

If you are ready to make this lifestyle change, then read on. You’ve already made huge strides to make changes in your life.


3. Create (and use) a Budget and Debt Snowball Form

Knowing where your money goes is paramount to getting out of debt, no matter how much you make. Without your budget, you can’t even consider getting out of debt.

If you have never created a budget, it can be overwhelming.  But, it will also be eye-opening.  In addition to your budget, you should create a debt snowball, start using the envelope system and take better control of your money.  By doing this, you will get a better picture of your debts and how you can tackle them.

Look at paying off debt like a football team.  Each part of your finances is involved in the game:

Home Team – This is you and your family
Visiting Team – These are your debts and expenses
Your End Zone – This is where you will be debt free
PlayBook – Budget and debt snowball forms
Football – Your money
Refs and Penalties – Unexpected instances which set you back in reaching your goals

You would never expect a team to run onto the field and play the game without having the proper plays in mind. The same is true for you;  If every one of the members of your family has a different idea as to how to get your money down the field to pay off your debts, you will never make it there.

Instead, you design smart plays and work together to get there.  You work to get your money past all of the expenses you need to dodge.  There may be setbacks, and you may have to move back before you can get forward.  However, with hard work, you will get there.  You will get onto the scoreboard – and end up claiming victory!


4. Find extra money

Before you jump in to try to pay off your debts, you need to have savings.  The reason is that if an emergency comes up, you need to pay for it – in cash.  You do not want to run to your credit card to cover the expense.  It is best to have at least $1,000 in the bank before you get started.

So, before you jump in to pay off those debts, you listed above, make sure you’ve got money in the bank to cover your unforeseen expenses by creating an emergency fund.

Once you have that done, then you are going to have to find a way to squeeze everything you can out of every cent.  For some, it may mean no longer dining out.  For others, it could be shutting off cable television.  Where there is a will, there will always be a way to make this happen.  You just have to do what you can!

I share this true story in our budget post, but I’m putting it here again for you!  My husband and I gave up dining out. No joke. We ate dinner out very infrequently.

While I look back and think it might have been once every couple of weeks, I asked my husband recently, and he said that we were lucky to eat out once a month! It was painful, but now that we’ve cut down out all of our debts, we have income freed up so we can have dinner out more frequently (if we so desire).

For even more inspiration and ideas, you may have to find some radical ways you can get cash to help you get out of debt.  Do whatever it takes (legally and within reason, of course), to help you get out of debt.

Read More:  60 Creative Ways to Save or Make Money


5. Find ways to get more money (i.e. side hustle and selling items)

To be honest, if you are struggling to make ends meet on a low income, you won’t be able to just cut enough out of your budget to pay off your debt.  Like my mom use to say – “You can’t get blood out of a turnip” – which means if it isn’t there-there is nothing you can do about it.

That is the truth, and I’m not trying to lie to you. I am realistic and know that if you are making barely enough to cover your expenses, you won’t have any extra money for your debt.  I get that.

You can’t save enough money on your budget to eliminate your debt.  Well, I guess you could, but that is going to take a very, very, VERY long time.  So, what do you do when you’ve saved all you can and still can’t pay off your debts?  Well, you just have to get creative.

For some this may mean finding items you no longer need, which you can sell to raise money.  When we did this step, we had the same issue.  We could not cut anything more from our budget.

For us, this meant selling items we no longer needed. We did a large cleanout and got rid of furniture and other things we were holding onto, just in case we needed them. By doing this, we were able to come up with several thousand dollars — 100% of which went immediately towards our debt.

If that isn’t an option, you might want to consider getting a second job or side business to bring in income to indeed help you get out of debt.  We also did this. I started my website.  Now, let me be Frank in saying that this is not a great way to make money.  Most blogs make little to nothing in the first couple of years.  I was lucky, and we did pretty well, and I was able to bring a bit more each year – all of which helped us to pay off our debts.

It may not be a blog, but perhaps babysitting, or cleaning houses, raking leaves, shoveling snow — there are all sorts of ways that you can make money.

Read More:  Unique Ways to Make Money From Home

It is not the income that is holding most people back, it is the understanding and knowing even where to start.  You might have to scale back on various spending aspects of your life, but when you get to scream from the rooftops — WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!! — it will be worth it all.  I promise you!!!


get out of debt

The post How to Get Out Of Debt Fast When You Don’t Have Much Money appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.


How to stack cards to get the most on your everyday spending

Running an errand to fill up your gas tank or restock your pantry may not be the most glamorous part of your day, but, with the right cash back card, you can make those everyday tasks much more rewarding.

Best credit card combinations for everyday spending

  • For maximizing points
  • For maximizing cash back
  • For Amex loyalists

There are many cash back credit cards that offer bonus rewards on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries. One of our favorites is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gives you a whopping 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases and (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 1% thereafter), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.

The card does charge an ongoing $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year), but we think that fee is well worth it if you want to earn the most cash back on your everyday spending. We figure that the average shopper who spends $15,900 on the card would earn around $323 in cash back each year.

Combination one: Maximizing points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another great card to pair with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. Just like the Cash Magnet card, it offers at least 1.5% cash back on every purchase. However, the rewards that you earn with the Freedom Unlimited card are a little more versatile than the Cash Magnet card and it comes with additional cash back categories: 5% on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel, plus 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. You can transfer them to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which awards a 25% bonus on those points when you redeem them for travel for the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you prefer to earn points rather than cash back on purchases that fall outside the Blue Cash Preferred card’s bonus categories, Ultimate Rewards cards are a great way to go:

Estimated yearly rewards: Amex Blue Cash Preferred + Chase Freedom Unlimited

Combined Rewards Average Rewards Rate Estimate cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 5% Chase Ultimate Rewards travel with the Freedom Unlimited card
  • 3% dining and drugstore purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card
  • 3% transit & U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card
3.49% $459.91

Combination two: Maximizing cash back

If you prefer cash back rewards and want to earn the most cash back possible, the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Blue Cash Preferred cards is one of the ultimate card pairings. The Citi Double Cash card offers up to 2% back on every purchase – 1% when you make the purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill on time.

Combined with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the Citi Double Cash card pushes the rewards rate to 3.19% cash back for the average cardholder. We figure that a cardholder who spends around $15,900 per year on these two cards can earn nearly $412 in cash back per year.

Estimated yearly rewards: Amex Blue Cash Preferred + Citi Double Cash

Combined rewards Average rewards rate Estimated cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% transit & U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 2% other purchases with the Citi Double Cash card (1% when you buy, 1% as you pay)
3.19% $412

Combination three: Amex all the way

If you love American Express cards, or you just want to keep things as simple as possible for yourself by sticking to a single issuer – the American Express Cash Magnet® Card* that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase makes a great partner to the Blue Cash Preferred card.

By swapping in the Cash Magnet card to earn 1.5% cash back on purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the average cardholder can push their cash back rate to 2.91%, amounting to $368 in cash back with $15,900 yearly credit card spend.

Estimated yearly rewards: Blue Cash Preferred + Amex Cash Magnet

Combined rewards Average rewards rate Estimated cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% transit and U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Cash Magnet card
2.91% $368

Other tips for stacking cards

Make it a trio of cards

You can further increase your earning rate by adding in an additional card that offers a bonus on other categories of purchases. For instance, you can earn 3 points per dollar on dining purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Use the right card for each category of spend

Stick to using your Blue Cash Preferred card for U.S. supermarket, select streaming, transit and gas station purchases. The card’s rewards rate on the rest of your purchases is low – only 1% cash back – so try to rotate in a card with a higher rewards rate for the rest of your purchases.

Max out the 6% bonus category

To get the most out of the Blue Cash Preferred card, you need to use up every dollar of spend for the 6% bonus category. The card cuts you off at $6,000 in purchases per year for the 6% bonus rate – that’s only $500 in grocery spend per month, which we think is a pretty manageable amount for the average family. However, if that’s outside your food budget, you might think outside the box and look for other items that you can purchase at the supermarket, which brings us to our next suggestion:

Buy gift cards

If you’re full up on groceries, many supermarkets will allow you to purchase gift cards with your credit card. You can stock up on restaurant, Best Buy or Amazon gift cards with your Blue Cash Preferred card to earn 6% cash back.

Switch to another card once you’ve hit the $6,000 spending cap

Keep close tabs on your supermarket purchases with the Blue Cash Preferred card. Once you hit the $6,000 spending cap, switch over to another credit card for your grocery purchases (such as the Cash Magnet card or the Citi Double Cash card) to earn a better rate than 1% cash back.

Bottom line

With the right credit combination, you can earn hundreds of dollars in rewards on your everyday purchases. While the average cash back card earns a mere 1.5% cash back, you can easily double that amount by pairing the right cards – not a bad incentive for running errands!

*All information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


How I learned to stop worrying and love DIY

“Oh good,” Kim said when I rolled out of bed yesterday morning. “I’m glad you’re up.” She gets up at 5:30 for work most days, but I tend to sleep in. Especially during allergy season.

“Huh?” I grunted. It was 6:10 and I was very groggy. My evening allergy meds kick my butt. Plus, I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

“Something’s wrong with the bathroom sink,” she said. “Look. It’s leaking. The floor is soaked.” She wasn’t kidding. The bathmat was drenched. When I looked under the vanity, I was greeted by a small lake.

“Ugh,” I grunted. This wasn’t how I wanted to start my day.

Kim kissed me goodbye and hurried off to work. I pulled on a pair of pants, poured some coffee, pulled out the vanity drawers, and got to work.

I was worried that I might have caused the leak when I replaced the sink’s pop-up assembly last month, but no. The problem was obvious: The hot water line to the bidet (which I installed in October) had worked itself loose. (By the way, I love my bidet. Too much information, perhaps, but it’s some of the best sixty bucks I’ve ever spent.)

The water line to the bidet

Fortunately, the fix was simple. I reattached everything, then added a light layer of tape to prevent similar problems in the future.

Note: As a safety measure — to make sure I wasn’t missing anything — I took photos of the issue and made a trip to the hardware store to ask their advice. They told me everything should be fine.

This might seem like a small thing to some folks but it’s a big deal in my world. You see, I’ve never really been a DIY type of guy. I used to get overwhelmed by home improvement. I felt unprepared, incompetent.

More and more, though, I’m learning that I can do it myself. It just takes patience and perseverance. And the more projects I complete, the more confidence I gain.

Learning to Love DIY

When I was younger, I avoided do-it-yourself projects whenever possible. As a boy, I never learned how to be handy around the house. I could program (or build) a computer. I could write. I could do accounting or analyze literature. But I couldn’t replace a broken window or repair a leak.

My ex-wife and I bought our first house in 1993. Fortunately, it was in great shape. During our ten years in the place, there weren’t a lot of things that needed to be repaired.

And when things did need work, they were obviously beyond our abilities. The water heater exploded on Christmas morning. The electric wall heater caught fire. We discovered an infestation of carpenter ants. These were problems I was never going to fix myself. We hired experts to solve them for us.

In 2004, we moved to a hundred-year-old farmhouse. The previous owner had lived there for fifty years and had done a lot of lazy repairs himself.

Because buying the place tapped nearly all of our financial resources, we were forced to handle some of the repairs and remodeling ourselves. We hired somebody to hang drywall for us, but we tore down the old walls ourselves. To fix the faulty wiring, we asked an electrician friend to help us find problems and make repairs. And so on.

Still, I didn’t feel completely comfortable with DIY projects around the house. I did them when I had to, but mostly I tried to put them off — or to pay somebody else to solve the problem.

After our divorce, I deliberately sought a place where I did not have to deal with home improvement. I bought a condo. All exterior work was handled by somebody else. Sure, I was on the hook for problems inside my unit, but those were easy to foist on contractors. For five years, I completely avoided home repairs and home improvement.

When Kim and I bought our current country cottage, we had a chat. “You know you’re going to have to do lots of DIY projects,” she said. “There’s a ton wrong with the house — and that’s just the stuff we know about.”

“I know,” I said. “But I’m older now, and I’m actually looking forward to developing my DIY skills. I have a better attitude. I think I’ll be fine.”

You know what? I have been fine. After paying a small fortune to get the major things handled — roof, siding, floors — we’ve deliberately been taking on the day-to-day stuff ourselves. It’s much slower this way, but it’s also cheaper. Plus, it’s more satisfying.

In the past eighteen months, we’ve:

  • Painted several rooms in the house, and have plans to paint the others.
  • Installed new molding and trim in several rooms.
  • Painted the kitchen cabinets and installed new hardware.
  • Replaced the kitchen faucet (on Super Bowl Sunday).
  • Repaired the bathroom sink pop-up assembly.
  • Replaced our only toilet.
  • Installed a bidet attachment on the toilet.
  • Built out the inside of a Tuff Shed to make it my writing studio.
  • Built a porch for the writing studio.
  • Stained our new back deck (which we did not build ourselves).
  • Begun work on a fire pit for summer gatherings.
  • Installed raised beds for vegetable gardening.
  • Removed a cedar tree and planted a small orchard.
  • Hung lighting in the laundry room.
  • Installed a car stereo.

Some of these projects (the writing studio, for instance) were major. Some (like the laundry-room lighting) were minor. All of them have helped me gain confidence that yes, I can do things myself.

It’s still no fun when I wake up to find that a leak has flooded the bathroom. But at least now I don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m able to pause, think about what needs done, and then tackle the job. It’s a totally different feeling than I had even three years ago. Three years ago, stuff like this would overwhelm me. Now, I almost love these DIY projects. (For real!) Maybe it’s because I’m old.

Nine Steps to DIY Success

Yesterday as I was crawling under the bathroom sink, I thought about how I’ve learned to love DIY, how I’ve shifted from viewing these tasks as chores to viewing them as opportunities to learn.

As I fixed the leak, I made a mental list of the things I’ve learned over the past couple of years, the guidelines I follow to make sure my home-improvement projects are productive and fun instead of something I dread.

I believe these nine “rules” have helped me embrace the do-it-yourself mindset:

  • Read the instructions. This point is obvious enough for some folks that it ought not even be listed. But for others, this is a vital first step. I know too many people who rush into DIY projects without bothering to read the directions that come with the parts, tools, or kits that they’re using. Instruction sheets and manuals are tedious, yes, and they don’t always make sense when you read them without context, but they also provide a vital framework for the project you’re about to undertake. Don’t skip this step!
  • Tap your social network. While you may have never tackled a particular project, you probably have family or friends who’ve done something similar in the past. Draw on their experience and expertise. Ask questions. Seek advice. While replacing our kitchen faucet, I texted Mr. Money Mustache for help. When installing my car stereo, I asked my brother lots of questions. (He’s an audio nerd.) When Kim and I work in the yard, I often ask my ex-wife for advice. And, of course, I’m not shy about posting to Facebook to draw on the power of the hivemind.
  • Practice patience. DIY projects can be long and tedious. They can be frustrating. When I replaced our kitchen faucet, I was stymied from the start. The space was small. Tools didn’t work or didn’t fit. We had plans with the neighbors that put a time limit on the project. The old me would have been angry and irritable. The new me stayed calm. I forced myself to practice patience, to pause and think about the situation from a variety of angles. I had to make three trips to the hardware store. Ultimately, my patience paid off. I replaced the faucet and made it next door in time to watch the big game.
  • Be methodical. Another reason DIY projects used to frustrate me stemmed from my lack of organization. As I disassembled things, I put them in a common pile. When it came time to put things back together, I was lost. Nowadays, I’m smarter. I put small parts in ziploc bags and label the bags so I know what they are and where they go. If it’s not obvious what large parts are for, I label them too. At each stage of the project, I take photos with my phone so that I have a reference when I put things back together. I take notes in the manual to provide clarity in the future. Then I store the manuals in a drawer. Being methodical makes the process so much easier.

Replacing the toilet

  • Think outside the box. Sometimes you’ll encounter situations where the instructions don’t apply. Normal solutions don’t work. When this happens, you’ll have to be creative. You’ll need to think outside the box. Using the kitchen faucet as an example again, none of the recommended methods would work to remove the old faucet. It was stuck, and there was no space to work with typical tools. In the end, I had to purchase a Dremel and cut into the collar, then hammer at it for five minutes before it came loose. It took a long time (and was frustrating), but it worked.
  • Decide on rules for buying tools. The unfortunate reality of DIY projects is that they often require specialized tools. When I replaced the kitchen faucet, I needed a basin wrench. Then I needed a Dremel. When Kim and I re-seeded our lawn, we needed an aerator. Sometimes it makes sense to simply buy the tool(s) you need. (I know I’ll use the Dremel again in the future.) Other times, it makes much more sense to borrow or rent. (I’m never going to need a $1500 aerator again, so I rented.)
  • Do things right. It’s tempting to cut corners when you do projects yourself. It’s tempting to skip steps, to not work to code, to do the minimum required to get things working right now. Please, do your future self a favor: Do things right the first time. Yes, it takes longer and costs more, but it also means you shouldn’t have to repeat the project. Plus, it’s nicer for whoever inherits your work. The folks who owned our house before us seemed to live by the motto, “Why do something right when you can do it half-ass?” Kim and I inherited a stack of shitty fixes that have made life miserable for the past two years.
  • When you’re stuck, take a break. One reason I’ve avoided DIY projects in the past is that I inevitably get stuck. I reach a tricky and/or confusing step and become frustrated. This used to be a disheartening deal-breaker. Now, though, I accept this as part of the process. When I do get stuck, I take it as a sign to slow down — or stop. I go do something else for a while. I do more research on the interwebs. I re-read the instructions. I contact somebody I know who has done a similar project. I give time for the frustration to fade, then return to the project with fresh eyes.
  • Have fun. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Accept it for what it is. Yes, you’ll have moments of frustration. Yes, it sucks to make repeated trips to the hardware store. Yes, most jobs take two or three times longer than anticipated. Once you agree that this is part of what DIY is all about, you’ll have a better attitude and be better able to enjoy the work instead of resent it. Plus, remind yourself that each time you tackle a task yourself, you’re building a library of knowledge that can be applied to future jobs.

Here’s another guideline: Keep the end in mind.

Home repair and home improvement can be annoying because there are other things you’d rather be doing. You could be hanging out with friends. You could be reading a book. You could be playing a game. The last thing you want to do is replace a broken window.

I’ve learned to consider the reason I’m doing the work. I know that when I replace the kitchen faucet, we’ll no longer have to worry about leaks. Plus, we’ll have a better, more attractive fixture. After we’ve spent six hours staining the deck, we’ll get years of enjoyment from the space. Once I build out the writing studio, I’ll have an ideal space to work in.

Don’t focus on the drudgery of the moment. Remind yourself of the ultimate payoff.

Text conversation about sink repair

Choosing DIY Just for Fun

Last weekend, I tackled a DIY project for fun (gasp). I installed a car stereo.

Three months ago, I bought a 1993 Toyota pickup for projects around our little acre. Fittingly for the era, the truck came with a tape deck. Unfortunately, I don’t own any tapes. I purged the last of them over a decade ago.

Still, I couldn’t resist an indulgence. “I wonder if you can get Taylor Swift on cassette,” I thought to myself. I checked Amazon. Sure enough, if you’re dumb and determined like I am, you can order Reputation on cassette for 30 bucks. So I did.

When the tape came, I was disappointed to discover that while the radio worked fine, the tape player was busted. What to do? What to do? Should I write off the T Swift tape as a $30 loss? Or should I go all in, take the risk of buying a new tape deck?

I think you all know the (irrational) course of action I chose.

I found a $70 tape deck on Amazon and ordered it. Last weekend, as a birthday present to myself, I spent an entire day installing the thing — despite having no clue what I was doing.

The project was fun! (Frustrating but fun.)

I got to take apart the truck’s front console, puzzle out the messed up wiring (a previous owner had spliced new speakers incorrectly), connect the new tape deck, then put everything back together. On my drive to work at the box factory Monday morning, I cranked up the Taylor Swift. The dog was unimpressed but I had fun.

The old tape deck in my Toyota truck


For Those Who Want Life To Speed Up – Are You Dreaming Too Much About Tomorrow?

Are you dying for time to pass? Many people are. The future is important, but being happy in the present is as well. It's all about a healthy balance.

“First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now I am dying, and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.” – Sustainable Human

I recently saw this quote and it really made me think.

Pretty much everyone, myself included, is guilty of wanting to rush through life instead of trying to live in the present while also preparing for the future.

When I was younger, I wanted to be older so I could have more money, a bigger house, etc. I wanted to rush through high school, college and so on.

I dreamt of the future and spent much of my time dwelling on that.

It’s easy to focus on what you hope your life will be like, but for me, I am living a better life now because I’m no longer trying to rush towards the next stage thinking that it will be better than the present.

When you are only living in the future, you are stealing your present from yourself. It can be hard, but learning to live in the present means you can see how amazing your life already is.

We all look at the years ahead of us, and perhaps it’s things like wanting your life to speed up so that you can graduate from college, regain your freedom once your children are out of the house, and so on.

However, when was the last time you:

  • Spent time thinking or relaxing by yourself, with no distractions?
  • Went on a walk or hike without any electronics?
  • Stopped to enjoy the day – such as the smells, the sun, or the weather?
  • Spent meaningful time with your family, including grandparents and other extended family members?
  • Felt truly happy in a particular moment?

While thinking about the future is important, being able to be happy in the present is truly a gift!

Related reading on how to live in the present:

  • 8 Things To Stop Being Afraid Of So You Can Be Rich, Happy, And Successful
  • 10 Daily Challenges To Improve Your Life
  • Are Your Excuses Making You Broke And Unsuccessful?
  • Be More Confident And Get What You Want In Life
  • Are You Making Your Life Difficult? 18 Ideas To Simplify Your Life
  • How To Reach Your 2018 Goals

Now, trying to live in the present doesn’t mean that you should give up on your future and not save for retirement, or something else along those lines. However, it does mean that you should have a healthy balance – living now and planning for your future.

If you ask anyone older than you about what they regret the most, it’s probably not enjoying life as much as they could.

Instead of rushing through your life to the next phase, you should think about what you can do today to enjoy your life now. And no, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy life – you can do so on a budget.

Life goes by quickly, so finding happiness now is important.

After all, you only have this one chance.


Here are my tips on how to better live in the present and enjoy life:

  1. Think positively. Being positive can help you in many ways. Negative thoughts are something that plague many of us each and every day; however, they can wreck any happiness that you may be feeling. When learning to live in the present, negativity will definitely hold you back.
  2. Get rid of the “extra” in your life. The average person has a lot of extra stuff. In fact, the average house has over 300,000 items in it. That is a lot of stuff that could be messing with your mind and making you unhappy. If you are feeling bogged down by the clutter, try donating or selling some items from your home.
  3. Smile more. Just a simple smile can completely change your day. Thinking about happy things can easily change your outlook on life.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others. You may find that you are comparing yourself to others and coming up with reasons for why something is impossible for you. By comparing yourself to others and minimizing their accomplishments, you are just holding yourself back. Sure, you may not be able to reach a goal as quickly as someone else, or it may require that you work even harder. But, that doesn’t mean that everything is impossible for you. Everyone is on a different path, and there are people who are better off than you and people who are worse off. Instead of comparing your path to those around you, you should focus on what you can do to make your dream a reality.
  5. Keep a journal. While I don’t currently have a journal, I do have this blog, which acts as a journal in a way. I am about to begin journaling in the form of paper and pen because keeping a journal can help you reflect on your past while making it easy to see how you are progressing towards your goals. Plus, spilling your heart out every so often is great for the mind and for the soul.
  6. Sit silently. When was the last time you just sat down in complete silence with no distractions? For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence. Sitting silently can help you reflect on your life and what’s going on in the world around you. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind.
  7. Appreciate the small things in life. When we take the time to see them, we all have small accomplishments and moments of bliss that happen every single day. Take the time to appreciate these small things. Whether it be enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the food you are eating, and so on, these small things can add up to a great deal of happiness.
  8. You can still dream. Remember, you can still dream. Today’s article is not saying that dreaming about the future is bad. Dreaming and setting goals for yourself is extremely important. The key here, though, is to have a healthy balance. Plan for the future, but enjoy the present as well.

Are you guilty of wanting to rush life? Are you currently happy and finding ways to live in the present? Why or why not?

The post For Those Who Want Life To Speed Up – Are You Dreaming Too Much About Tomorrow? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.