Menu

How to Pay Down Debt in 2017

When I look back at my twenties, one of the goals I'm most proud of accomplishing is paying off my student loans. Paying off debt is kind of a classic PowerSheets goal: it takes planning, little-by-little progress, perseverance when it seems like you're not getting anywhere, and a strong connection to your "why." That last one is especially important because it's easy to lose heart when you're slogging through the often long and tedious process.

For me, in addition to reducing the amount I'd spend in interest over my lifetime, the real WHY of paying off my debt was to move one step closer to financial freedom—because when you're financially free, you have more independence, more security, and more options in almost every part of your life.

If you're facing down debt, whether student loans, credit card, a car payment, or a mortgage, what's your WHY to get rid of it forever?

Got your why? Good! I also wanted to share a few of the tips and techniques we used as we paid off student loans, car payments, and our mortgage (ongoing!)

MakeBudget

1. Stick to a budget. Without a doubt, following a budget is the number one reason we were able to make progress on our goals. Without giving every dollar a name, we easily would have frittered away money we could have been putting toward our payments.

2. Schedule payments in advance. Sign up online for a monthly auto-debit for each of your accounts so that you’re never late with or forget a payment. Make it automatic – you won’t miss it as much as you think.

3. Feel the pinch. Every time our budget expanded, we chose to allocate the extra dollars toward debt reduction. Raise at work? Going toward debt. Bonus? Going toward debt. Sometimes in the last few years we looked at each other and were like, why do we feel poor?? But then we reminded ourselves that we were living at a lower standard of living by CHOICE. If you’re paying off debt and are not feeling the pinch in your lifestyle, you almost certainly have room to cut back and increase your payments.

4. Get a little crazy. My sister is working with "gazelle intensity" to pay off student loans from her physical therapy degree, and to help reach her goal faster, she started picking up PT shifts at a local hospital on the weekends in addition to her full-time job during the week. Does she love giving up that free time? No way! But for a season, she's willing to trade freedom now for much greater freedom in the future. Consider working extra hours, starting a side hustle, downsizing to one car, or something else "extreme" in the name of moving the needle a little faster.

How_To_Track_Spending

5. Pay more than the minimum amount. If you’re feeling the pinch you are likely already doing this, but it’s worth stating again: pay more than the regular monthly amount. At times, we were paying more than twelve times the required monthly payment on certain debts using the debt snowball. Which leads us to...

6. Roll the snowball. The debt snowball is simple, but it is by far the most important technique we used to pay off our debt early. The basic idea is to pay the minimum amount on all of your debts except one and then throw all of your other available resources at that one. Once that debt is paid, immediately move the payment for that debt toward another and so on until all of the debts are paid. Dave Ramsey suggests starting with the debt with the smallest dollar amount and moving toward the largest dollar amount; other experts recommend starting with the debt with the highest interest rate and moving toward the lowest interest rate or considering the taxability. We used a combination of these strategies. As long as you’re working aggressively toward your goal, I don’t think you can go wrong.

7. Track your progress. I kept a Google Doc spreadsheet that listed our debts, the current amount we paid per month on each, the outstanding total of each, and the month the last full payment was scheduled. Every time a payment processed, I’d go in and update the spreadsheet. It was extremely motivating to see everything shrink over time!

I would love to hear: Is paying off debt one of your PowerSheets goals? Where are you in the process? Are you using the debt snowball?

Show Comments (8)

Why You Don’t Need PowerSheets To Set Goals

Today can be your January 1st. I know what you're going to say because I've heard it a lot since we sold out of our 2017 PowerSheets a few weeks ago: "Jess, I need #PowerSheets and you're sold out! I can't start fresh without PowerSheets!"

What I'm about to say probably goes against every marketing tactic out there, but I'm going to say it anyway:

You don't actually need our PowerSheets to start cultivating an intentional life.

Are PowerSheets a tool that helps you organize your thoughts and dreams and break those down into action steps? I wholeheartedly believe so.

Is it helpful to have a beautiful spiral-bound workbook to keep everything together? Yes.

Are you more motivated to stay on track when you've spent money on and invested in a tool? Maybe.

But here's the thing: You can start right where you are. It's not the product that matters; it's the work you put into it. You don't have to have a PowerSheets Workbook to start setting intentional goals. In fact, if you wait until 2018 PowerSheets come out this fall, you are doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of the momentum and excitement you feel right now.

So what do you do while you wait? Here are some great places to start (some are even free!):

  • In her 2017 Goal-Setting Series, Lara walks through her personal PowerSheets prep and goals for the year. It's a great place to follow along, with a notebook and pen in hand. There are five parts, and here is a direct link to Part One.
  • The Cultivate blog is full of great tips and tricks that are applicable even if you don't have PowerSheets in hand! Equal parts encouragement, behind the scenes of what's happening in the office, and practical to-dos, it's a great place to find resources for some of your action steps.
  • Lara's first book, Make It Happen, incorporates some of the same prompts from the PowerSheets process. Work through this by yourself or with a buddy.
  • Our Couples and Parents Companion Guides are a great resource to help you set goals with your significant other or for your family. If youre looking to cultivate friendships, our Fruitful Friendships Workbook is for you! We created these guides to use in conjunction with your PowerSheets, but they're full of great conversation starters and resources!
  • The Making Things Happen Conference is coming back in March 2018! Tickets officially went on sale yesterday, and you can save your seat and secure the early bird price today! I know you'll have PowerSheets in hand by then, but trust me, this intensive was created to give you a solid foundation and action plan. It was created to help you simplify your life and gain clear direction.

For those of you reading this that don't have PowerSheets in hand, I'm going to challenge you to something today. Make a decision to spend the rest of the year intentionally cultivating what matters. Write it down, and start making little by little progress on it.

The Cultivate team is always ready to answer your questions, remind you to focus on your why, and be your biggest cheerleaders. We are on this journey with you!

Show Comments (2)

Making Things Happen is Happening in 2018

We're thrilled to be releasing tickets for our 2018 Spring Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC on March 19-20, 2018!

The Making Things Happen Conference is unlike any other conference. MTH is the work you do before investing in other conferences. Before you take action on what’s important to you, you have to know where you’re going. This intensive was created to give you a solid foundation and action plan. It was created to help you simplify and gain direction. One of the most tangible ways I can describe MTH to you is simply this: MTH is like PowerSheets in person.

I know there are many of you out there who weren't able to get a set of 2017 PowerSheets. While they're not exactly the same (obviously, the price point is quite different!), we truly believe that the experience of attending the Making Things Happen Intensive is similar to walking into a set of PowerSheets–but far, far better! We often describe PowerSheets as a guided coaching tool, but at MTH, you actually DO have a guide and a coach: Lara Casey herself and a group of accountability partners.

MakingThingsHappenMarch2017-37

Photo by Amy Nicole Photography

I know what you're thinking. "That sounds great and all, Jess, but March 2018 is months away and I can't afford to think that far ahead."

Allow me to politely respond with this: You simply can't afford NOT to think that far ahead.

MTH is about digging deep, establishing priorities, uncovering a purposeful vision for your life and business, and discovering how to make what matters most happen. Making Things Happen was founded on the idea that you have the choice to change your life. This time is an investment in you and your future. We prioritize what is important to us. Register for your seat today, add it to your calendar, and plan to be there with us!

mth-oct-2016-1052

Our Encouragement Crew gives the best welcome hugs! Photo by Carrie Joy Photography

You can read much more about Making Things Happen, as well as testimonials from our most recent class of attendees, here. If you'd like to learn more, we'd also encourage you to watch the replay of a previous webinar with Lara and a few MTH alums from all different backgrounds to see if the experience might be right for you.

If you're on the fence, now is the time. We intentionally chose not to host a Fall 2017 MTH, which means we have friends who have been waiting upwards of a year to register for Spring 2018. I have a feeling this might be the quickest sell-out, so don't delay in registering. Payment plans are available.

Questions? Leave a comment below and we'll happily answer them!

P.S. We're giving away a scholarship seat in memory of one of our dear long-time friends, Yvette Price, who embodied all that we teach at MTH. She was courageous in her battle with cancer and made what matters happen despite great challenges. She grew what would last longer than her: a whole lot of love and joy in the lives of others. In her honor, we're excited to give away one seat to either an alum or new attendee. This scholarship is for the full ticket price not including travel or accommodations. Enter to win the Yvette Price Scholarship over on Lara's blog by July 31st!

Show Comments (7)

Join our Team! We’re Hiring a Senior Designer

Our in-office life is changing and growing! On the heels of announcing our newest Cultivate team member, Kaylee, I'm thrilled to say that we are hiring again! We are looking for a skilled, joyful, and dynamic senior designer to add to our team this fall. Our company houses two brands: Cultivate What Matters and Southern Weddings. For each member on our team, the work we do for these brands comes from a place of personal passion and a love for our readers and customers. We can't wait to a seasoned designer to our team who can help us kick our marketing efforts, new projects, and everyday communication a notch.

We love to see our team members take on flexible job roles that both play up their skill strengths, but also fire them up on a personal level. With that being said, we do anticipate our new designer will work very closely with our Art Director and our Marketing Director to produce products and assets that help us better serve our audience.

Are you interested in working with us? Read on to find more details and qualifications.

Tasks and responsibilities may include:

  • Creating graphics for our blogs, shops, social feeds, and video content
  • Styling and shooting product imagery
  • Editing product photography
  • Basic videography
  • Digital product design (e-books, opt-ins, and guides)
  • Physical product design (namely the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets and Write the Word journals, and Southern Weddings Magazine and Joyful Wedding Planner)
  • Creating internal marketing assets like media kits and one-sheets
  • Creating web assets and managing web development projects
  • Managing production and import of overseas product
  • Ad design and client interfacing
  • Editing CSS and HTML for basic webpages and newsletters

The person most fit for this position:

  • Is a creative problem-solver, and self-motivated to learn
  • Has basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and Wordpress
  • Is a great communicator, and can tactfully and efficiently express ideas
  • Has a love for great branding, and can build out appropriate interpretations of our brand assets for visual diversity and interest
  • Has a strong knowledge of our brand and heart for our mission
  • Has a joyful spirit and thrives on “situation solving”
  • Approaches product creation with user-focused design, keeping in mind marketing tactics and print production techniques
  • Has a positive attitude and is a team player
  • Is well-spoken and has a great grasp of grammar and punctuation in written communication
  • Is energetic and enthusiastic
  • Has experience with digital marketing/marketing strategy
  • Enjoys goal-setting and encouraging others
  • Thrives on relationship building and exceeding expectations with charm

Job Requirements

  • Has 3+ years of experience in graphic design, product design, or editorial design
  • Fluent in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop
  • Experienced in print production
  • Must be able to lift at least 50 pounds
  • Must be able to begin working full time by September 1, or earlier
  • Must be able to work in our Chapel Hill office
  • Must be able to commit to 4-5 interviews (including at least one in-person interview)

To apply, fill out our application, and have these items ready to upload:

  • Your PDF resume
  • Your portfolio, if it's not online
  • A one-sheet PDF you have designed about yourself. Feel free to include anything you think is relevant, but be sure to include answers to the following questions. Get creative!
    • Your name and any nicknames you have
    • What fires you up?
    • What is your greatest strength?
    • Tell us a fun fact about yourself (or a few!)
    • What are your professional goals?

We’d suggest giving yourself 30-45 minutes to complete the application. Applications will close August 1st.

Apply here. Be sure to read Lara's 10 Essential Tips on How to Get Hired first :)

One of the greatest joys of my life is that I get to spend 40 hours a week working with women who are smart, talented, sweet, and hilarious. I think everyone on this team can agree that our personal and professional relationships with each other make up a good portion of the reason why we are able to do our jobs well. This makes us particularly excited to announce our search for a new designer, and someone who we are sure will turn into a wonderful friend, too. We can't wait to get to know you through your application! If you know someone who might be a good fit for our team, please share it with them!

Show Comments (0)

Join us at our 2018 PowerSheets Photo Shoot

We say this often but it bears repeating: we created the PowerSheets to help women in all seasons of life uncover purpose-filled goals and plan action steps to cultivate what matters, right where they are. They are not exclusively for mothers or business owners; they can be used by anyone who needs a grace-filled system that works!

As we prep for our 2018 PowerSheets Launch this fall, we want to incorporate more of our PowerSheets users into our product imagery. That means we need your help!

We're looking for a diverse group of women–all ages and all seasons of life–who aren't afraid of being in front of the camera to join us for our 2018 PowerSheets photo shoot on Monday, August 21st, 2017 in Raleigh, NC.

If you’re interested, please send an email to email (at) laracaseymedia.com with the subject line: PowerSheets Photo Shoot. Due to the high volume of emails, we might not be able to respond individually, but we are so grateful for your replies! If you are having issues, email Jess at CultivateWhatMatters.com.

In your email, please include the following:

  • Your name and location
  • A few recent photos (no need for professional photos–we just want to see your smile!)
  • Your height
  • Answer the following questions:
    • How long have you been using PowerSheets?
    • What are some of your 2017 goals?
    • How have PowerSheets changed goal-setting for you?

You might get some bonus points if you add a selfie of you with your PowerSheets :) We promise it’s going to be a blast, and we can't wait to hear from you!

Please note that you must be 18 or older to apply, and we are not able to compensate for travel/participation.

Show Comments (0)

Login

Sorry it seems that your password/login is incorrect.
Forgot Password?
Sorry it seems that this email doesn't exist.
An email was sent with your new password, to your associated email address.

Make Your Goals Happen!

no perfection required
  • Connect With Other Goal-Getters
  • Live Goal Coaching Webinars
  • Post Your Goals And Stay Accountable
  • Goal Coaching And Encouragement
  • All Free-Hooray!
Unfortunately this email is allready used by someone.
Please use another email.
You have registered succesfully. Check your email for more details.