How to Pay Off Debt and Take Control of Your Money

How to Pay Off Debt and Take Control of Your Money

The average American has more than $38,000 in personal debt. That includes credit cards, personal loans, student loans, etc. (Oof.) So it’s not particularly surprising that when you ask people what their biggest money goals are, many of them say paying off debt.

Easier wished than actually done … so how do you make a plan that works? Two popular options: the “avalanche method” and the “snowball method.” (Kind of randomly snow-related names, but bear with us.)

The debt avalanche method

Also called “debt stacking,” this is the debt-paydown method we typically recommend because it’s designed to help you pay as little as possible in interest. Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a list of all your debts. That means each individual student loan, each credit card, each car loan, etc. Write them down along with their interest rates and balances.
  2. Put them in order from highest interest rate to lowest. If two debts have a pretty similar interest rate, put the one with the smaller outstanding balance higher up on the list.
  3. Keep paying all the minimum payments on each debt (otherwise, you’ll get hit with late fees and maybe even a hit to your credit score). And then …
  4. Put any extra money you can find in your budget toward the debt at the top of the list. The debt at the top is the one with the highest interest rate. (Side hustles can really come in clutch here.)
  5. Keep going until that #1 debt is paid off completely. Then take the total payment you’ve been putting toward that debt (including its minimum) and start putting it toward #2. That means the total amount of money you’re putting toward all your debt every month won’t change.
  6. Keep going! We typically recommend that you focus on paying off the debts that have an interest rate greater than 5%. But for the debts with interest rates under 5%, just keep paying the minimums. Once you get to that point, it’s historically been worth putting your extra money toward investing instead. Here’s why.

This saves you money because, all other things being equal, knocking out the higher interest rates first will mean you’ll pay less in interest. And paying less means you’ll pay it all off more quickly.

The downside of the debt avalanche: Getting rid of debt usually takes a while, especially if your balances are high. You might have a long-ish wait between each “I paid one off!” celebration. So you’ll be putting in a lot of effort over a long period of time with few milestones, and that can be … less than motivating. If you find yourself having trouble sticking with the debt avalanche method, the debt snowball might be a better option for you.

The debt snowball method

The debt snowball method works exactly the same as the debt avalanche method, with one difference: Instead of putting your debts in order from highest interest rate to lowest, you order them from smallest outstanding balance to largest. Then follow the rest of the steps the same way.

With the snowball approach, your first “self-five” celebration moment will come a lot sooner because you’re paying the smallest balance first. And then, because your payments “snowball” (in a good way — they get bigger and bigger with every debt you pay off), you get to the next self-five sooner too. And then the next one. And then the next one. The idea here is that our brains like self-fives, so you’ll be more likely to keep going with your plan for the long haul.

The downside of the debt snowball: This method doesn’t reduce your interest payments as quickly as the debt avalanche method, so you’ll likely end up paying more overall. But it could help you get out of debt faster if it does a better job of motivating you to consistently pay more than the minimums.

So … which one’s better for paying off that debt?

Ultimately, that’s going to be a you thing. You could “snowball” your payments to keep motivation high, or you could move down the debt mountain faster, like an avalanche, obliterating those interest payments along the way.

Ellevest has a strong aversion to having to pay more interest than absolutely necessary, so we usually recommend the debt avalanche method. But if the debt snowball is more motivating for you, that’s cool too. The important thing is that you’re knocking out those debts, one at a time, and taking charge of that financial future.

What are you waiting for? GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

I DO NOT work with products or services that I don’t honestly believe in.

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Your Life Upgraded: You Matter

Close your eyes. Picture where you want to be a year from now. Five years from now. Forty years from now. What do you need to make that happen?

We want to help you make your money dreams a reality. That’s why Ellevest’s online investing platform is goal-based — you tell us what your financial goals are and when you want to hit them, and then we’ll suggest an investment plan designed to help you slay.

Of course, investing comes with risk, so nothing’s guaranteed. But investing has historically been more powerful than saving alone, and Ellevest’s projections show you the amount we estimate you’ll end up within 70% (or more) of market scenarios going forward.

So let’s do some dreaming.

Upgrade Your Life

Your rainy-day fund

What your savings is now: Intentions? Good. Reality? Let’s go with “working on it.”

Maybe you have some savings in an account that you started one day when you were feeling inspired. And maybe you usually resist the urge to “borrow” from that savings when things get tight, but some moments have been more tempting than others. (Hi, tapas night.) After all, you can always pay yourself back later.

But maybe you read something recently about how a financial emergency can swoop in and cause utter chaos. And you’re determined to save more … tomorrow.

Enter: Ellevest’s Emergency Fund goal, which helps you to gradually save up three to six months’ worth of take-home pay in cash.

What your savings could be like in one year: You’ve got several months’ worth of your take-home pay stashed away in a designated emergency fund, waiting to back you up if (when) something goes wrong. It feels really good knowing that you have a security blanket — and you’re ready for whatever.

Financial freedom to buy a home

 

Your living situation

What your home is now: Maybe you have two roommates who are mostly great, but who also occasionally don’t clean up after themselves and/or invite unexpected overnight visitors. It’s annoying enough that you’ve started thinking you want to move when the lease is up — but coming up with the cash for a security deposit would not be fun.

Or maybe you and your partner are dreaming of owning your own place together someday. Or maybe you’re starting to plan for kids, and you’re definitely going to need more space. Or maybe it would just be nice to have a shorter commute … and a functional garbage disposal … or even just like ten more square feet of living space.

Enter: Ellevest’s A Place to Call Home goal, which helps you invest toward a home down payment with a default timeline of six years (although you can always change our plans’ timelines to fit your goals).

What your home could be like in six years: You walk through the front door of your home (which you own) and hang your stuff in the coat closet (which you own).

Hear that? That’s the sound of ~not having roommates.~ Or maybe it’s the sound of your fur baby running to greet you as you come in the door. Or maybe it’s your custom sound system playing that song you love so much. Or a kiddo. Whatever it is, it’s home.

Financial freedom to do what you want in your life.

Your kiddo’s future

Your family sitch now: Maybe you just welcomed a tiny human into your home (congrats!), or maybe you’re planning to someday. Kids are unbelievably cute, but you know that they’re probably also going to cost you a lot of money when they get old enough to start doing things that … you know … cost money.

You want to afford whatever they’ll need. But also, you’re now ridiculously busy (and tired), so you’ll figure out how you’ll pay for them … someday.

Enter: Ellevest’s Kids Are Awesome goal, which helps you invest to build a fund for

things like summer camp, extracurriculars, etc., with a default timeline of six years.

What your family sitch could be like in six years: That munchkin is very cute, especially when you’re taking copious videos of them on the soccer field. Or the ballet stage. Or the dojo. Or all of the above — you may have a prodigy on your hands, tbh.

Financial freedom to do what you want when you want.

Your career

Your job now: It’s … fine. You guess. It pays the bills. But you aren’t exactly passionate about what you’re doing, and you don’t wake up excited to go to work every day. You’ve got this itch that says you were always meant to work for yourself.

But you’re probably not quite ready to make the move yet. That genius business idea still needs some testing. Plus, if you quit your job now, you’d be quite broke.

Enter: Ellevest’s Start a Business goal, which helps you invest to pay yourself two years’ worth of salary so you can take that leap. It has a default timeline of five years.

What your job could be like in five years: HEY ENTREPRENEUR. You left that blah job and set off on your own. Your new company has a name and a prospective audience, and your fundraising process is underway. You’re on top of the world. You’re unstoppable. You’re the boss.

Invest with Ellevest to provide for your own dream lifestyle.

That one thing you’ve been dreaming of

Your birthday this year: Four words: “drinks with the girls.” (Another two: “frozen margaritas.” No use denying it.) You’re surrounded by people who love you and who you love back, and life is good.

But that upcoming milestone birthday? That one, you want it to be big. You and the girls will go all out … if you can swing it financially, that is.

Enter: Ellevest’s Big Splurge goal, which lets you invest toward … whatever it is you want. No default timeline; it’s however long you have left until you’ll need the money.

What your birthday could be like on your next milestone: The sound you hear? It’s the voices of your absolute favorite people as you chat away the afternoon sipping wine and eating cheese in a villa in the south of France. (Or trail hiking in Patagonia. Or on a private island anywhere.) You’ve been here for four days, and you have three more ahead of you. Life is goooooood.

Your future grandma self

Your retirement account now: It’s there. It has some money in it. Maybe you’re contributing enough to get your employer match, but you aren’t sure if that’s enough. You’re guessing that you should probably be doing more, but … it’s not exactly the most urgent thing you have to think about, moneywise. And how are you even supposed to know how much you’ll need?

Enter: Ellevest’s Retirement on My Terms goal, which helps you plan and invest for retirement using a super special algorithm that takes your real-life info like your age, income, earning power, and gender into account.

What your actual retirement could look like: You are doing whatever your heart desires. Maybe that means you moved somewhere where you can read by the beach every day. Maybe you’re traveling the world. Maybe you’re pursuing lifelong passions and learning something new each day. Maybe you never retired at all — because you seriously love your job — but you’re doing it differently these days. Maybe you have lots of grandkids you spoil rotten. Maybe you’re on a couple of boards of directors. Maybe you’re doing some other really freaking cool stuff like this or like this. (Or maybe, in fact likely, more than one of the above.)

Enjoy the confidence of financial security

Your financial confidence

How you feel about money now: Maybe you have a love-hate relationship with your money. On the one hand, you’re already doing some good things for yourself. (Truly — why else would you be reading this?)

But maybe thinking and talking about money makes you feel a little squirmy. Because you’re sure that you could be doing more for your future self, but you just haven’t figured out what that is yet. And it’s easy to put it off. (Guess what: You’re not alone.)

Enter: Ellevest’s Build Wealth goal, which helps you invest to just bump up that net worth. It has a default timeline of 20 years. According to our research, the act of saving and investing is the #1 driver of women’s confidence in their future. Meaning just getting started can help you feel good about where you’re going.

How you could feel about money after you start investing: You started with just a few dollars a month, and then you gradually worked your way up (like a boss). Now, you’re doing Future You a favor by investing a good chunk of your paycheck every month. You feel great about your money choices, because you know that you’re making smart moves.

Spoiler alert: These life upgrades don’t have to be just dreams. You can get started right now. In fact, it just takes minutes.

So what are you waiting for? GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

I DO NOT work with products or services that I don’t honestly believe in. 

 

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Have A Say In Your Own Financial Security

Have A Say In Your Own Financial Security

Desktop juggling business & baby things.

It wasn’t that long ago that women had no say in what was done with the finances. Men made, spent it, saved it, and doled it out. Some even had the nerve to call it an allowance to buy groceries for the family.

Over the years while much has changed some things haven’t. Women may make their own money, they may even pay their own way, but we still act as if money is a four-letter word. That needs to change if we’re ever going to consider ourselves equal to men.

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest has this to say about money:

Talking money is hardly romantic, but it’s totally necessary for any serious relationship. Whether you’ve got a ring on it, are domestically partnered, or sure you’re in it for the long haul —regular money talks are a must.

As we grew up we were taught that it was not polite to talk about money. It was hidden behind a shroud of secrecy that didn’t do any of us any good. Even some of the smartest women make huge mistakes when it comes to money. It’s an ongoing process where you have to be flexible and able to pivot quickly.

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest, who spent years in the finance industry had this to say about her very own finances:

“After my divorce, I had to deal with the painful and embarrassing realization that while I made my living working in finance, I had no clue what my ex had done with our money during our marriage. (Believe me, I still shake my head when I think about it.)”

 

I’m partnering up with Ellevest.com to not only broaden my own horizons and become money-wise but to share with you important facts that you may need to know to make smart financial decisions as women & as entrepreneurs. Whatever our career choices we need the facts to live our best lives.

Ellevest is a company co-founded by Sallie Krawcheck. It’s an investment company geared especially toward women like us. Women that want to make smart, informed decisions about the life we want to live.

After years in the financial industry, she had her “a-ha” moment when she realized that investing has always been for men and by men. She has made it her mission to change that. Ellevest is comprised of a diverse group such as Financial specialist, engineers, entrepreneurs, and many, many more.

69% of Ellevest team members are women
73% of our leadership team are women
37% of the Ellevest team are people of color

According to the NY Times, women were 80% more likely than men to be impoverished by 65 & older, while women 75-79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level. I want to change this future. I want to change my future and now is the time to do it.

Ellevest allows you to create your own financial investment plan absolutely free. If you dream of that restaurant of your very own, or maybe you want to go back to school, or visit Istanbul you need to make a plan and set financial goals the right way.

Ellevest can teach you how and did I mention that it’s FREE? I mentioned earlier that I’m partnering with Ellevest to bring this information to you. If you create your own free financial plan I will earn a small commission from the company. If you decide to check it out and create your own plan please use this unique link so that I may get credit. I really appreciate it. As always, I’m very opinionated and brutally honest. If I thought it was a waste of time I wouldn’t be involved.

I think it’s time we took control of our own financial destiny and not leave it to the men any longer. What do you think? Do you have a financial long term plan? Do you have a dream that you want to fulfill? Let me know in the comments below.

GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

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Step-by-Step Sales Funnel Planning

Step-by-Step Sales Funnel Planning

 

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of setting up your sales funnel? You’re not alone. Many online business owners fail to properly plan out their funnel, and it shows.

They have an opt-in incentive that doesn’t appeal to their audience.

Their follow-up emails don’t flow naturally from the opt-in.

Messages are unbalanced—either too many sales pitches or not enough. Even worse, the offers don’t match the market.

Making these mistakes is common, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There’s an easy fix.

Step 1: Survey your market

All too often we think we know what our readers and potential buyers want, but in reality, we’re simply guessing. We make the mistake of believing that we are our market, but that usually is not the case.

The only way to know for sure what your market truly wants and needs is to ask them. Set up a simple survey (even a Google form will work) and ask your blog readers, social media followers, and email list to give their opinion.

Do this right, and you’ll know exactly what you should be offering your audience, plus, you’ll know that language to use on your opt-in page.

Step 2: Create your opt-in

Now that you know what your market needs, it’s time to create your opt-in incentive. Keep in mind that readers today seem to prefer simple, easy-to-digest offers rather than 200-page eBooks or 7-part video series. This makes your job a bit easier, too.

Some popular choices for opt-in incentives include:

  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Resource guides
  • Video training
  • Webinars
  • Audio downloads

 

Step 3: Map out your autoresponder

Every good opt-in incentive should be followed up with a series of emails that build on the material. If you’ve offered a resource guide, for example, then your follow-up emails might include usage tips for each of the resources, or case studies that show how others have benefited from using the tools.

Step 4: Make an offer

Arguably the most important part of your funnel, your offer must be the logical next step for readers to take. They’ve worked through your opt-in incentive, read and acted on your emails, and they’re hungry for more. Time to make your offer.

Just like the other pieces of your funnel, your coaching offer needs to be the answer to your readers’ most burning questions. If you consider your opt-in and follow-up series to be the “lite” version, then your coaching offer is the premium package. Bigger, beefier, and the perfect next step.

Before you post your first opt-in code, take some time to map out your funnel according to these steps, and you’ll not only fill your funnel faster, but you’ll close more sales along the way.

 

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Top Tools For Building Your Sales Funnel

Top Tools For Building Your Sales Funnel

Ready to start building out your sales funnels? There are just a few things you need before you can get started. Here are some of the most popular options when it comes to putting together both free and paid funnels: 

Lead Pages—when it comes to building opt-in pages, LeadPages.net is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. They’ve tracked and tested a variety of page styles to determine which ones convert best, and they make it easy for you to build similar pages for your funnel.

It does come with a monthly fee, though, so before investing, you’ll want to be sure you can recoup your investment.

Instabuilder—similar to LeadPages, but without the monthly investment. Instabuilder is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create your own funnels. It includes several funnel templates and a drag-and-drop page builder that makes it easy to get just the look you want.

AWeber—Probably the easiest email manager on the market today, AWeber is the choice for many small business owners, not only because it’s simple to use, but because it’s also economical. Starting at less than $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers, AWeber offers both autoresponders and broadcast emails, list automation, and segmenting, so you can send emails exactly when—and to whom—you want.

AW Pro Tools—an add-on to AWeber, AW Pro Tools gives you added control over your list management by automatically removing unsubscribes, moving subscribers from one list to another based on the link they click, and other useful automations. 

PayPal—The simplest of all payment processors, PayPal allows you to take payments online for a very reasonable fee. It will also act as a simple shopping cart.

Ontraport—Another email manager, Ontraport offers shopping cart functionality as well, so you can create powerful funnels that are fully integrated with your sales process. The benefit here is that you don’t have to try to synch your cart with your email system, since it’s completely self-contained. 

Infusionsoft—Probably the top tool for any business model, Infusionsoft is an all-in-one solution for customer management, funnel setup, mailing list, and even membership sites. It’s priced at the high end, but if you can (and will) use all its power, then Infusionsoft is well worth the investment.

You can see that you have a lot of options when it comes to building out your sales funnels, but what are the must-have items? At the most basic level, you must have:

A way to create web pages. A simple WordPress website will fill this need, with a little bit of work. LeadPages or Instabuilder are nice to have, but not essential, especially if you’re just getting started.

A way to capture email addresses. AWeber is definitely the top choice here, but others include MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact.

A shopping cart. PayPal is as easy as it gets when it comes to shopping carts, but other options include 1 Shopping Cart, Woo Commerce, Infusionsoft, and aMember.

 

I recommend you start small. Build the funnel framework as simply as you can, using tools that don’t cost a fortune. Once you have a few funnels up and running, you will be able to see where they can use improvement, and how the tools available to you can help make your funnels convert better and work more efficiently.

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What The Heck Is A Sales Funnel Anyway?

What The Heck Is A Sales Funnel Anyway?

For an online business owner, a sales funnel is probably the most important marketing tool you have. And yet many entrepreneurs – both new and established – have no clear understanding of what a funnel is or how it works.

As you can imagine, failing to fully understand this critical part of your business means fewer sales, lower profits, and ultimately, an unstable business.

A Simple Sales Funnel

At its most basic, a sales funnel consists of free content, which typically requires nothing of your readers. Many sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. This is the “top” of your funnel.

Next, you’ll have an attractive offer that requires a very small “payment” of sorts – typically an email address. You’ve seen this type of offer on websites all over the internet, and probably even signed up for some. This is the free ebook or guide, video series, checklist, workbook, or other valuable content that is available in exchange for “opting in” to an email list.

Once on your mailing list, you’ll then present your readers with a series of low-cost offers. Perhaps you have a low-priced ebook or a trial membership.

Customers who purchase your low-priced product move further down the funnel, and are presented with more, higher priced products. As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.

How Your Funnel Works

If you imagine your funnel as looking like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content—at the top—is consumed by the largest number of readers. Below that, your extreme low-cost item (available only for the cost of an email address) attracts a smaller subset of the true freebie seekers. Next, your low-priced products bring in yet a smaller group.

Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the most loyal of fans and customers will purchase your highest priced offers.

Your job, as the business owner, is to ensure that your funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will make.

Most new—and even established—business owners can easily envision the top of the funnel, but if you truly want your business to grow, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel really is and how it works.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering sales funnel in depth. Want to keep up? Sign up for my email list and you’ll get it first!

Do you use a sales funnel? Do you recognize one when you see it?

 

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