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The Best Minimalist Gift for Family Members and Loved Ones

For birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or the holidays, do people really need more stuff for their gifts?

In the 21st century, there’s been a huge change of perspective on stuff and experiences.

Whereas in the 20th century, having a nice TV, a cool stereo system, and a bunch of “toys” displayed status, many younger people are approaching life in a simpler and more fulfilling way.

For many people, stuff is out, and travel and experiences are in.

Where you’ve been, who you know, and what you do with your time signifies social status more than the cool car or big screen TV.

Maybe it’s the world we live in where gratification can be instant with seemingly instant everything and anything, and people are realizing this might not be best.

Last holiday season, I was having some trouble with coming up with gifts for my family.

Suddenly, a great idea popped into my head: what if I gave out experience coupons for different events later on in the year?

My grandparents don’t need any more stuff in their life, and can buy whatever they want. What they can’t do is conjure up a 26 year old and put him to work in the backyard for free!

I put my idea to work, and it was a great success!

In this post, you’ll learn about intentional gift giving, and spark some new thoughts for minimalist gift ideas for your loved ones for a birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or the holidays.

Experience Gifts for Family Members and Loved Ones

Last year, I was brainstorming gifts for my family and came up with my experience coupon idea.

I thought to myself, “What do my family members really want and need that isn’t material? What could I do, or what could I create for them that would be beneficial for their lives?”

For my grandparents, this was pretty easy to come up with.

As I mentioned above, they saved their money, live a modest lifestyle, have little to no expenses, and are trying to give away things as the years go on.

What they struggle with instead is achy joints, stiff backs, and a need to take more breaks when doing physical labor.

I love working outside, and I also love working with my hands and learning more about how the real world works.

A day of lawn care and house work? That sounded like a great gift – and it was!

experience coupon frugal

This was one of my most memorable gifts that I think I’ve ever given.

Later that year, I fulfilled my gift and traveled for a 2 night stay stay to my grandparents house.

What was supposed to be a full day of work turned into 4 hours of yard work and mid-afternoon beers with grandpa 🙂

We both had a good time with this gift!

Money wise, this didn’t cost me much at all.

I spent about $25 on gas for my car driving to their house, and since I stayed in my grandparent’s basement, my food and lodging was taken care of for the weekend.

Best yet, it was great bonding time and I got to learn more about edging and gardening. For not a lot of money (and no additional clutter), this gift was such a treat for both my grandparents and myself.

Minimalist Experience Gift Ideas for Family Members

Above, I talked about one example of a frugal gift idea you could do for a family member.

For my other family members, I had fun with my experience coupons and came up with a number of other good minimalist gift ideas.

My dad and I love playing golf together during the summer time, and for him, it was an easy choice: buy a round of golf at any golf course.

He ended up taking advantage of this coupon in August. We went to a local course and the total cost was $49 a person.

For an afternoon of fun and again, some solid quality time with a loved one, this experience coupon worked out in a great way 🙂

For my sisters, over the last few years, I’ve given them experience coupons to

  • go rock climbing
  • go to a trampoline park
  • eat lunch or dinner somewhere fancy
  • mini golfing
  • going for ice cream

There are so many difference experiences and activities which you could do. Figuring out what would be fun and new for your family just will take a little brainstorming and action taking!

Give the Gift of Experience to Your Loved Ones

When giving a gift and making someone else feel special, there shouldn’t be the outcome of additional clutter and waste.

By giving the gift of experience, you can create memories which will last a life time.

I hope that this post challenges your thoughts on the norm of consumerism and brings you to think about alternative gifts for your loved ones this year.

I’m always up for thinking differently, living intentionally, challenging my own thoughts and the thoughts of others, and growing over time to create a great life for myself and those around me.

Maybe for your loved ones it’s a trip to their favorite restaurant, a live show or game, or taking a vacation. There are so many ideas out there for activities to do with your friends and family.

Readers: what do you think about this idea? Would you rather get physical gifts, or do something special with your loved ones? Will you give the gift of experiences this year to your family members and loved ones?

The Best Minimalist Gift for Family Members and Loved Ones

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How to Network and Perform Informational Interviews

Making connections and networking is one of the best actions you can take if you want to further your career.

Make no mistake, networking and meeting strangers can be intimidating. However, you can become an networking expert through learning different networking and communication tips.

By understanding what networking is, how you can apply networking, and questions to ask during an informational interview, you will be on your way to furthering your career.

In this post, you will learn the following:

Let’s get into the career networking tips!

What is Networking?

Networking for a job is going out in the world and meeting people in your industry. Networking involves sparking a conversation with someone in your industry, and through this conversation, you can learn more about their work and company.

People love to talk about themselves, and I believe, people genuinely want to help others.

Networking is about building relationships, and should be viewed as a learning opportunity. When networking, you don’t want to be pushy or try too hard to impress.

Instead, going in with an open mind and looking to make a friend and ally is the goal.

People want to work with their friends, and if the fit makes sense, through networking, you could land an interview with the company you are interested in.

Why is Networking Important?

“Your network is your net worth.”

“Your network is your net worth” is common phrase which is thrown around when you are in the workplace. What does this statement even mean?

Let me answer that question by asking another: has there ever been a time when you needed a favor done for you, and you knew exactly the person who could provide guidance and help?

If so, you likely told them that you needed help and they supplied the solution. They were happy to help because they were your friend and people like to helpful.

Even if this person wasn’t necessarily a friend of yours, more experienced people tend to enjoy the process of mentoring up-and-coming professionals in their field as a way to “pay it forward” for the mentorship they received early in their career.

How many times have you heard this story: “I interned at company XYZ and after the internship, I was hired.”?

During the internship period, those people gained the trust of the people at the company and showed their work ethic. They became an asset that the company could not afford to let go.

In both examples, having a strong network proved to be extremely beneficial because of the opportunities to leverage those connections into greater income.

Who should I be networking with?

Figuring out who you should be networking with is a tough question. The possibilities are endless with networking, and you could look to invite the whole world into your social circle.

However, with limited time and money, maybe it would be good to focus on your goals and network with people who could be valuable in getting to those goals.

Who are all the people who have influenced your life? Maybe some of these influential people include:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Previous relationships that you have moved on from
  • Teachers and bosses
  • Peers
  • People in the industry you want to work in

Everyone has experiences and perspectives that are different from your own, and odds are they’d be willing to share their knowledge with you.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and asking questions can be the quickest way to identify gaps in your own awareness.

A best practice I’ve found is to figure out what goals you want to hit, skills you want to learn, or achievements you want to replicate, and seek out people who have already done those specific things.

As they say, the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line.

After all, who better to guide you than someone who has found success in doing exactly what you’re looking to do yourself?

3 Reasons Why Networking is Important for Your Career

Networking is one of the most important things you can do to improve the trajectory of your career.

The main three reasons why networking is critical for your career success are the following:

  • The power of connection during interviews
  • A better understanding of the industry and goals of different companies
  • A better understanding of the industry jargon

How Networking Can Lead to a Great Interview

Networking can lead to great interviews if you’ve made connections with the right people.

Imagine yourself in an interview.

Let’s say the interviewer was a coworker with one of the people you have networked with. This commonality you can ask and talk about with the interviewer – it will show you likable, active and could be a good hire.

For example, Linkedin is an immensely powerful tool for young adults.

The ability to see the job history of employers is hugely beneficial! Use it, it is free!

In addition, this readily-available information can be used to form a personal connection with  interviewers or potential mentors at any point in your career.

For me, networking has been incredibly beneficial for my career. What is crazy, is through networking, I have received in-person interviews by just emailing the correct person.

By being proactive and taking initiative, I have skipped over the online applications and jumped to the front of the line by knowing the right people.

I didn’t always get an offer, but if your goal is to get interviews, spreading a wide net can only increase your chances!

Another tactic is to find a point person in your department who has an extensive network of contacts, and constantly ask for emails and phone numbers of professionals to converse with to gain the trust of workers in the industry.

How Networking Can Help You Understand Your Industry

Another reason why networking is so important for your career is how it can help you understand your industry.

Networking increases your understanding of what your industry has to offer.

During my job hunt, I spoke with people from all over my area in all different financial positions.

I talked to analysts, bankers, managers, traders, and looked to get insight into what each of these roles would entail.

By doing so, I could get an understanding of what I would like to do.

Reach out to people in the industry who you think would be interesting to speak with to get an understanding of what goes on day to day at various companies in your prospective field.

How Networking Can Help you Learn Industry Jargon

Similar to the last point, networking can help you understand the industry jargon used in the jobs you are looking to get.

Through networking, you can get a feel for the common lingo in your profession.

Have you ever walked up to other individuals talking about what they do and have no idea what they are saying? How do you begin to understand?

When you talk to experts in a field, they will know when you are spewing nonsense, and when you are knowledgeable in your studies.

By understanding what language the people in the industry use, the more knowledgeable you can make yourself sound when you go for an interview.

Now that you understand these reasons why networking is so important, we can move on to some strategies for networking.

Networking is a numbers game, the more contacts you have, the more your knowledge will grow and the more confident you will be. With increased awareness and confidence, going to the interview will be a piece of cake because of networking.

How many people do you think know and have a relationship with the President of the United States? Do you think that the President could have achieved election without having an extremely strong and extensive network?

This is our networking goal: to grow and obtain meaningful relationships to have a successful future.

How to Successfully Network to Make New Connections

Networking is incredibly important, but make no mistake, can also be very intimidating.

It’s scary to put yourself out there, and it’s possible you won’t always know the best ways to connect with others.

In this post, we’ve talked about why networking is very important, but haven’t touched on how to network.

If you goal is to grow your network and meet like-minded individuals who are on a similar path as you, there are a few different ways you can network:

  • Look for Opportunities to Branch Out in Your Existing Network
  • Find Groups of People Who Share Your Interest
  • Find a Mentor

Let’s go into detail on each of these successful networking strategies.

Look For Opportunities to Branch Out in Your Existing Network

Sometimes the best networking opportunities can exist in your existing network.

When you are just starting out on your networking journey, it can be tough. However, asking around for the contact information of people who could help can be a decent first step to meeting more people.

By asking people close to you if they know of anyone in the industry or area you are interested in, you can have a better chance at connecting for coffee or a phone call, vs. a cold email.

Network With Groups of People Who Share Your Interest

A way to meet a many people at once who share a common interest is to join a group or going to meet-ups.

Joining a group of like-minded individuals and professionals will increase your exposure to new ideas, and lead to meeting more people.

When meeting people who share a similar interest, you’ll have an instant commonality which should help conversation.

ace business planYou can find these groups through searching Google or Facebook. 

Finding A Mentor to Improve Your Network

Another way to improve your network is to find a mentor, or someone who can help you one-on-one get to the next step.

When networking, it’s incredibly important to look to provide value and be a servant in your interactions.

A mentor could be a great help to you and career, but it will take work from your side, as people have limited time.

An example of a mentor could be someone who is doing research, and needs help with data preparation and analysis. You will get exposure to real world experience and develop a great connection, while your mentor will be reaching their goals.

When networking and growing your network, the biggest thing is putting yourself out into the world and looking to provide value to others.

After getting in touch with people who you want to talk to, the next step is performing informational interviews.

How to Use Informational Interviews to Grow Your Network

Are you looking to learn more about a company or a position in your industry? Are you looking to learn more about someone’s job or figure out if a profession is right for you?

Performing an informational interview is a terrific way to gain insight and knowledge into the inner workings of your field.

Informational interviews are just conversations to improve your knowledge on a subject.

Successfully performing an information interview might seem intimidating, but it’s really not hard with the right strategy.

How to Successfully Perform an Informational Interview

Success originates from the relationships you form in the world. Surrounding yourself with amazing people is critical for getting to where you want to go.

Informational interviews are just conversations. If you can ask questions and listen, you can perform an informational interview.

The first step in performing an informational interview is finding out who you want to talk to.

This is accomplished by talking with professors, mentors, and advisers (as we discussed above).  These people have connections within their field and can give meaningful input into helping you find interesting people to have conversations with.

After identifying who it would be beneficial to talk to, you must get the contact information of that person. Email is often the easiest way to establish contact with someone for the first time.

After reaching out to the person, give them some time to respond.

If they don’t respond soon, they might be busy, so that’s a good reason to contact several people at once.  That way, you’re not stuck spinning your wheels waiting for one person to reply.

People want to share their experiences with others and love to talk about themselves, so most of the time they will be happy to meet up.

How to Script an Email for an Informational Interview

Make no mistake, without the right script or template, it can be hard to take the first step in contacting someone you don’t know. If you don’t know how to email potential informational interviewers, below is an example of an email I’ve sent out to professionals I wanted to talk to:

Subject Line: From Erik, (Friend/Adviser/Mentor/Professor’s Name) suggested I reach out to you

Dear Mrs./Mr. (Last Name),

My name is Erik and I am a (insert major/position/friend)  at (insert school/company/website). I am interested in your work in the field of (insert field) and was hoping to gain information on what you do and other opportunities.

(Friend/Adviser/Mentor/Professor’s Name) told me that you had an interesting career path and (he/she) said that it would be beneficial for me to meet you to learn more.

I am flexible and can meet you at your convenience. Attached is an example of some of my work for some more information about myself.

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

(Attach resume, website URL, or LinkedIn Address)

Sincerely, Erik

After sending out this email and waiting for a response, you can then work on setting up your informational interview.

How to Set Up an Informational Interview

After sending your email to your new connection, you should wait for their response before going forward.

The main thing that I want to stress is meeting them at their convenience.

Choose a meeting place that’s as close as possible to where they work, and ask for only as much time as you need to get your questions answered.

Your mentor is taking time out of their busy day and life to meet with you. They don’t need to do this, but many will because they want to give back to the community.

After setting up the informational interview, research the person and figure out the questions that you want to ask. When the day of the interview comes, just go to the scheduled location, and learn about the other person! It is as easy as that!

Finally, don’t forget to offer them something in return for their time, even if all you can offer is a coffee or lunch. There must be some sort of mutual benefit!

Many people love to talk about themselves. Use this to your advantage during an informational interview.

By performing an informational interview, you will gain valuable information and have a better command of what the happenings are on a day to day basis in your prospective industry.

Common Questions to Ask When Performing an Informational Interview

Below is a list of questions that will enable you to perform an informational interview successfully. By asking these questions, you will be able to gain greater insight into your prospective field.

These common informational interview questions are categorized in the following way:

  • Informational interview questions about a person’s job
  • Informational interview questions to understand skills necessary for success

Let’s get into these informational interview question lists.

Common Informational Interview Questions about a Person’s Job

Below is a list of common informational interview questions you can ask someone about their job.

  • Tell me about your path to your current position?
    • What specifically interested you about this field?
    • What is do you enjoy most about working in this field?
  • Tell me about your current job.
    • What does a typical workday look like at (insert company)?
    • What do you enjoy most about the company that you work at?
    • How is the workplace structured?
    • What challenges do you face daily as a (insert position of the interviewee)?
    • Are there any other challenges do you face?
    • Are there any negatives of your job?

You should use these job related informational interview questions if you are looking to learn more about a specific job or function in a company.

Common Informational Interview Questions about Necessary Skills for Success

Below is a list of common informational interview questions you can ask someone about the skills they believe are necessary for success.

  • What innovations and technologies do you use on the job?
    • What skills do you use at work? (This could be programming languages, software packages, social skills, communication skills, critical writing skills, etc.)
    • Which of these skills would be valuable for me to research and practice to help me in the future?
      • What skills are employers in this field looking for their candidate to bring to the table?
        • (Which skills are considered the most cutting-edge and in-demand?)
    • What am I am not currently doing that could attract employers, or grow my understanding of the way that companies in my field do business?
  • How do you stay current in this field, i.e. do you read papers, learn new techniques, build new models, read professional publications?
    • Do you suggest any of these that I could start looking into so I can familiarize myself with the market and various companies?
  • Are you aware of any opportunities at your company?
  • Are there any other people you would recommend that I get in touch with to speak about their experiences?
  • Anything else I should know?

These skills related questions are important when looking to learn more about an industry or company. After getting answers to these questions, you’ll have a better understanding of what you are looking to learn.

The Importance of Questions for Informational Interviewing

Questions are incredibly important for having good conversations, and asking good and thoughtful questions will be very beneficial for a successful informational interview.

By using the questions above in your informational interview, your informational interview will be a piece of cake, and you will be much more knowledgeable as a result.

Your network will grow and the professionals you meet will not dismiss you as someone less knowledgeable.

The people you meet will see a motivated professional, hungry for knowledge. The professionals in your industry are full of insight and willingness to give back. They will be open to answering these questions and giving you information so that you can make an informed decision into what business and field you want to find a career in!

By performing informational interviews, you will be seen as a motivated individual who is hungry for knowledge. Employers love self-starters want to learn about their industry and don’t just to want to show up and receive a paycheck.

How to Follow-up After an Informational Interview

After performing your informational interview, you can be courteous and follow up with a thank you email.

If you need to follow-up on anything, or ask any additional questions, you can do this in the thank you email.

By being respectful and courteous throughout the entire informational interview and networking process, you’ll create a lasting impression and connection for the future.

4 Networking Myths

When you start networking, you’ll hear some common misconceptions and myths. These networking myths are important to be aware of so you don’t fall into any mental traps:

  • Introverts can network just as effectively as extroverts
    • While many people think extroverts are experts at networking, introverts can be just as good.
    • By asking thoughtful questions and focusing on one-on-one interactions, introverts can build a strong network.
  • Quality is better than quantity when networking
    • Getting a meeting with the CEO of a company might sound amazing for your career, but the odds of making a meaningful connection probably will be low.
    • Likewise, meeting hundreds of people and only talking for a short time will not be great for growing your network.
    • Instead, look to make quality and strong connections. Quality is more important than quantity in most areas of life.
  • Networking is not all about politics, and can result in meaningful relationships
    • If you think networking is for people who are obsessed with power, think again. Anyone can find value from networking, and if you think it’s all about you, then think again.
    • Successful networking comes from being a SERVANT and providing VALUE to the person you are looking to meet and learn from.
  • Diving into the details and being authentic is the key to networking
    • Small talk rarely leads to anything of substance in any conversation. Go deep with your questions and discussions!

By avoiding these networking myths and understanding how to successfully network, you’ll be on your way to improving as a person and growing your network.

Grow Your Network with Successful Networking and Informational Interviews

In this post, we discussed everything you need to know about networking and informational interviews. We touched on what is networking, networking myths, how to perform an informational interview and common informational interview questions.

With this information, you should have everything you need to know about networking.

By applying these networking techniques and strategies, you’ll be on your way to growing your network, becoming more valuable and also hopefully making more money.

Hopefully this post has been beneficial for you during your networking.

Readers: do you have any tips on networking I missed? What questions do you have about networking? Do you have some informational interview success stories to tell? I’d love to hear about these successful interviews!

Networking tips to help you network like a pro.

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Can I Create Cash Flow Online with Digital Real Estate?

I’m incredibly bullish when it comes to digital real estate.

While I love physical real estate, I ended up being very successful the last 3 years house hacking, and I fantasize about the idea of someday owning a commercial building, there is something about creating and owning online assets which makes me super excited.

It’s never been easier to learn new technologies, create content, and publish your ideas and build a brand.

In this post, I will be sharing with you why I believe digital real estate is an asset class worth looking at for investment purposes, examples of how people are making money online, and what my digital real estate plans are as a part of my plan to build wealth.

What is Digital Real Estate?

real estate First, what is digital real estate?

Digital real estate is digital property – a domain and anything built on that domain. It is similar to real estate, where real estate is land and anything built on top of that land.

I love real estate for a number of reasons. Real estate is:

Digital real estate and online assets share many of these same great properties as physical real estate.

What bothers me about traditional real estate though is the cost of entry. While there are many ways to get into real estate with little to no cash (I bought my house for only about $5,000 down), right now, the competition is fierce and the price of real estate continues to rise. For a beginner looking to invest in real estate today, the cost of entry is in the tens of thousands of dollars.

This is where digital real estate shines: I can buy a domain for $12 and host it for less than $5 a month!

4 Reasons to Pursue the Creation of Income Streams Online

There are a number of reasons to be bullish on digital real estate. Below I’ve listed 4 reasons why I believe you should consider getting online and creating, instead of consuming:

  1. You build a brand for yourself, on your terms
  2. You own an appreciating asset
    • Over time, when you add content to your site or web application, value is created.
    • Many websites and applications have 5 and 6-figure valuations. Even something as simple as a picture and video messaging application can be worth billions (I’m talking about Snapchat.)
  3. Low Overhead and Start-up Costs
    • Many people don’t have thousands of dollars to put into a business or education. Wouldn’t it be great to get started in business for a few hundred bucks?
    • As I mentioned earlier, I can buy a domain for $12 and get server space for less than $5 a month. For a whole year, you could theoretically spend less than $100 and build a brand.
  4. Access to Millions of Users
    • With traditional real estate, or even a traditional day job, you restrict your reach to those only in your city or county.
    • With digital real estate, you have the opportunity to interact with people all over the world. Thousands of people are coming online each and every day. There are still 3 billion people who aren’t on the internet, and this number isn’t getting any bigger with constant advances in technology.

The reasons listed above are just the tip of the iceberg.

What are some ways of making this whole online cash flow thing work? How are people actually making money online?

Examples of How to Make Money Online

Personally, I’m still trying to figure this out, but generally speaking there are 4 ways people have generated income online. This list is certainly not comprehensive, but gives you a decent idea of what’s possible out there:

At this point, I’m sure you are wondering, all of this theory is great, but can you provide me some examples?

Who are Some Examples of Successful Bloggers and Digital Marketers in 2018?

There are a number of bloggers who come to mind who are successfully making money online in the personal finance niche, I’ll feature 4 and you can check them out for yourself.

There are so many amazing bloggers, entrepreneurs, and marketers who I could list here… I’m lucky to have met a number of these people, and am inspired each and every month reading their content.

Why I Believe Digital Real Estate is Worth Owning

digital real estate creationLet’s rewind a few years.

I’m not naturally a good writer or artist. Growing up, English and Language Arts were two subjects I didn’t really like and it showed in my grades. I don’t have a big vocabulary, and still don’t really understand or care about how to properly structure a sentence. In addition, as a natural introvert, I had to focus on becoming an effective communicator.

Coming out of college, I was okay in terms of technology. With 2 math degrees, no formal education with computers and how the internet works, and no experience with marketing, there weren’t too many reasons why I should have been interested in starting a blog or online business.

I didn’t care – you could say that these were all reasons I needed to get online and work on these skills.

At the end of 2016, I started The Mastermind Within, and 14 months later, there are 200 people coming to this site daily. By January 2018, I made $86 through this site – $86 where there was nothing before.

In the course of this website’s life, I’ve learned and improved upon a number of the following skills:

Humans naturally overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a year.

This foray into digital real estate with The Mastermind Within has me incredibly excited for the next few years.

My Plans in the Digital Real Estate Space

I have a ton of ideas for which I want to try and implement to create cash flow online through digital real estate.

For one, I will be continuing to post regularly on The Mastermind Within, with a podcast posted on Tuesdays.

A number of other ideas involve full stack development and the creation of web applications.

I’ve been working through 2 Javascript books in preparation for this venture:

node express web development book react js web development book

I’m looking to learn everything from the creation of an HTTP server, how to serve static and dynamic content, manipulate and save data from forms online, build sites from scratch, and everything in between.

With this knowledge, I want to build many different applications. A few off the top of my head right now are:

As I learn more and more, the possibilities are endless. I wish I had discovered this 5-10 years ago – web development is what I now believe is my true calling.

The Ultimate Goal for My Digital Real Estate Endeavors

My ultimate goal would be to create a number of applications, communities, and websites where I could be cash flowing a few thousand dollars a month across my portfolio.

Getting 10 applications to each spit out at least $100 a month? Is this doable? I don’t see why not!

Interested in starting a blog or website? Check out this guide on how to get started online.

Conclusion

With housing prices skyrocketing all around the United States and Canada, traditional real estate investing is becoming harder and harder.

Starting a business online, building a digital brand and product, or creating content has never been easier. For the most part, all it takes is a computer, an internet connection, determination, and a few hundred dollars to get started.

There are so many ways to make money online and build wealth with digital real estate.

I’m bullish on digital real estate – and as more people come online in the world, what we create now in 2018 will only be more valuable over time.

2018 is a year for building, growth, and creation. Will you be getting online and creating?

Readers: do you invest in traditional real estate? What do you think about investing in digital real estate? Are you a creator or a consumer?

Erik

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5 Credit Card Debt Pay Off Tips to Get Out of Debt

Credit card debt is the worst kind of debt have. In this post, you’ll learn about 5 ways you can get out of credit card debt.

Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is the worst debt to be in. Getting out of credit card debt is possible, but will require some discipline. With 20%+ interest rates, credit card debt can have a negative impact on your personal finances if not handled appropriately.

Debt of any kind can be dangerous if misused.  Credit card debt, however, is particularly sinister because of its extremely high interest rates, which can cripple your ability to build wealth.

The average household in the United States has nearly $7,000 in revolving credit card debt.  That might not sound like much, but make no mistake, $7,000 at with a 20% interest rate costs over $1,000 in interest a year!

In this post, you’ll learn 5 credit card debt payoff hacks to help you manage your credit card debt.

5 Credit Card Payoff Tips to Get Out of Debt

Make no mistake, getting out of debt is tough. However, with the right strategy, you can crush your debt using the following strategy and get on the path to financial success.

The 5 steps to getting out of credit card debt and paying off your credit cards are:

  1. Track Your Money and Live Within Your Means
  2. Stop Using Your Credit Cards
  3. Pick a Payment Strategy
  4. Pay More Than the Minimum Payment
  5. Automate Your Personal Finances

After going through these 5 steps in more detail, you’ll also learn some bonus credit card payoff tips (0% APR Balance Transfer Cards, debt consolidation, etc.)

credit card debt

Credit Card Payoff Tip #1: Live Within Your Means

Living within your means is the bedrock of any debt reduction plan, as well as financial freedom in general.

The reason most people end up with excessive credit card debt is because they adapt to a lifestyle of spending more than they earn.  If you ever want to kill your credit card debt, the first step must be to address the conditions that created it.

The first step is to examine your finances and ensure you have a complete picture of your situation.  Knowing the full details of your income, your expenses, and any debts is critical to make informed financial decisions.

This includes the start and end dates of the billing periods for each account, and when each one is due.

Once you’ve gathered all of your financial information, the second step is to prioritize your spending.

What things are truly important to you?

Once the necessities are taken care of you need to decide where you want your money to go.  In this case we want to devote a chunk of our budget to killing our credit card debt as quickly as possible, while still leaving some wiggle room for lifestyle spending.

How to Cut Your Expenses Fast to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

The quickest way to slash your spending and free up room in your budget to supercharge your debt payoff is by cutting your largest expenses.

Typically, the three biggest expenses people have are their housing, food, and transportation.

Have an expensive mortgage? Try moving to a smaller or less fancy home, or house hack and let your roommates subsidize your housing costs.

Eating out several times a week? Try meal prepping on the weekends so you can have meals ready to go instead of spending that extra money.

By reducing your expenses, you can prevent yourself from needing to take on any additional credit card debt.

Credit Card Payoff Tip #2: Stop Using Your Cards

This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: if you’re trying to kill your credit card debt, STOP USING YOUR CARDS!

If you’ve built up significant credit card debt, you likely have a habit of using them mindlessly.

That statement isn’t meant to be an insult, rather to call out an extremely common issue that many credit card users struggle with.

When people stick to a cash-only strategy they’re confronted with the physical reality of having to hand over their hard-earned money to someone else every time they make a purchase.

Credit card users, however, don’t get this same reinforcement, as the act of swiping a card requires much less thought.

Another reason to stop using your cards is because your debt repayment will take significantly longer if you continue adding to your balance.

Imagine trying to push a boulder uphill; the larger the boulder and the steeper the hill, the more difficult the job of pushing it will be and the longer it will take.

Every time you swipe your credit card while trying to pay down your debt, your boulder gets bigger and the hill gets steeper!

Credit Card Payoff Tip #3: Pick a Debt Payoff Strategy

There are two main strategies to become debt free fast. The two methods for becoming debt free are the debt avalanche method, and debt snowball method.

These methods are pretty straightforward. First, compile a list of your debts and their interest rates. After compiling this list, you will then pay a little extra towards a certain debt as determined by whichever method you pick.

By paying a little extra each month, you will be able to take advantage of some huge interest savings (as we will see a little bit later in this post).

Using the Debt Avalanche Method, you pay off your debts by paying extra toward your debt with the highest interest rate first. .

Once you have paid off the highest interest rate debt, you put the entire paid off debt’s payment plus the same extra amount towards the next highest until all debt is paid off.

For example, let’s say you have two debts: one at 20% interest rate, with a minimum payment of $200, and balance of $2,000, and the other debt with a 10% interest rate, a minimum payment of $150, and balance of $1,000. You decide you can put an extra $50 towards your debt a month.

Using the Debt Avalanche Method, you would put $250 towards the first debt and $150 to the second debt.

Over time, the first debt will be paid off faster than it would if you just paid the minimum payment. If the first debt is paid off before the second, then you put all $250 towards the second debt, for a total of $400 a month, until the second debt is paid off.

The Debt Avalanche Method is the mathematically optimal debt pay down strategy.

The Debt Snowball Method

Using the Debt Snowball Method, you pay off your debts by paying extra toward your smallest balance debt first. Once you have paid off the smallest balance debt, you put that payment towards the next smallest until all debt is paid off.

Many people like the Debt Snowball Method because psychologically, you can generally see your debt accounts disappear faster. If you have a $1,000 loan and a $5,000 loan, it feels good to have the $1,000 loan gone.

Going back to our example with two debts: one at 20% interest rate, with a minimum payment of $200, and balance of $2,000, and the other debt with a 10% interest rate, a minimum payment of $150, and balance of $1,000. Again, you will put an extra $50 towards your debt a month.

Using the Debt Snowball Method, you would put $200 towards the first debt and $200 to the second debt, because the second debt is smaller in balance.

The Debt Snowball Method is not mathematically optimal, but is still better than applying no strategy at all.

The Debt Blizzard Method

If you want, you can combine these two debt payoff strategies and use a relatively new method called the Debt Blizzard.

The Debt Blizzard is a newer strategy which is a hybrid of the snowball and avalanche approaches.

When using the Debt Blizzard method you score a “quick win” by paying off the card with the lowest balance first, then prioritizing any other cards based on their interest rate.

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Photo from Lewis Thompson at Webaroo

This may seem overly complex, but the debt blizzard method strikes a good balance between the pros and cons of the other two methods.

Credit Card Payoff Tip #4: Pay More Than the Minimum

How do you get out of debt fast?

PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM PAYMENTS!

I can’t overstate the importance of this step!

Creditors make money when you carry a balance through the interest you pay.

The minimum payments listed on your credit card statement is usually around 2-3% of your total balance. This minimum payment is typically barely enough to cover the monthly interest on most consumer credit cards.  If you only make the minimum payments, it will take you years longer to kill your credit card debt!

Earning more money is another great way to beef up your credit card payments.  While there is value in cutting unnecessary spending to free up money in your budget, you can only cut so far before it becomes unsustainable.

Your income has no limits!

There are also virtually unlimited ways you can earn more money. You could ask for a raise at your job, pick up a side hustle, or house hack.

Credit Card Payoff Tip #5: Automate Your Finances

Humans are imperfect; sometimes you’ll forget to pay their credit card bills, or pay late, which causes a host of problems on your credit report.

The solution?

Automate your bills so you never suffer a late or missed payment. These result in late payment fees that go up the more delinquent the payment becomes, and often result in absolutely crushing penalty APR increases.

For example, most consumer credit cards come with an average APR of 14-16%; miss as little as one payment and banks like Citi and Chase will slap you with a penalty APR of 29.99% that will haunt your account for months

Credit cards generally have the ability to set up automatic payments directly from your bank account, and many banks who provide online banking services also include some integrated bill payment solution.

Since we already know how much each of our credit card bills are, and when they’re due from step one, setting up recurring payments is as easy as visiting a few websites and linking our banking information.

Once your credit card bills are automated, another helpful step is to automate all of your other bills as well such as your utilities, phone bill, insurance, etc.

By automating your personal finances, you don’t have to worry about when things are due and you know they’re set up to fit within your budget. This frees up mental energy to devote toward other things like staying focused on your debt repayment, or increasing income to further beef up your payments.

credit card pay off

Bonus Tips for Paying Off Your Credit Cards

While you will be able to pay off your credit cards using the 5 steps above just fine, there are a few other strategies you can use to destroy your credit card debt.

These bonus credit card payoff tips are not for everyone, and please make sure you do your due diligence before diving in.

Balance Transfer to 0% APR Credit Cards

Many credit card companies offer cards with introductory offers of 0% APR for a certain period of time, often as a promotional tool to entice you to sign up.

Once the promo period ends, the APR will increase to predetermined rate according to the terms of the credit agreement. The limited time offer means that unless you can completely eliminate your balance within the promo period you’ll get smacked with interest charges.

I’d recommend this strategy only if you know you can fully pay off your balance in time.

At 0% interest, the credit card companies are practically giving you money for free, but make no mistake, you’ll have to stay disciplined to make sure you pay these cards down.

Also, there may be a balance transfer fee, but at least you won’t be stuck paying 20%+ if you decide to go this route.

Debt Consolidation to Decrease Your Interest Rate

Another way to reduce your credit card bill payments is to consolidate your debt.

Debt consolidation works by a provider issuing a loan that covers the full balance of your various credit cards rather than you paying your cards individually.

Debt consolidation can be advantageous for a couple of reasons:

A problem with this strategy is it can significantly increase the amount of time it takes to completely payoff your credit card debt.

While you’re saving on interest and typically paying less per month, the amount you owe is unchanged; smaller payments make a much smaller impact on your total balance.

I’d recommend this strategy only if you’re carrying a large number of different credit cards, have cards with extremely high interest rates, and/or can accept the extended repayment timeline.

The Mastermind Within is partnered with various financial institutions who specialize in debt consolidation. To see if debt consolidation would make sense for you, you can click here to get connected with these partners.

Get Out of Debt with These Credit Card Payoff Hacks

Credit card debt is a huge problem for millions of people.

Just like other forms of debt it drags down your financial progress and creates significant stress unless managed properly.

With the tips listed above, hopefully you can get out of debt and get on to living your dream life!

Have you tried any other strategies to destroy your credit card debt?  How well did they or didn’t they work?

Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Pay Off Credit Card Debt
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