growing baby sweetcorn

Growing baby sweetcorn is so simple to do (and takes so little time) that anyone can do it.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the process of growing baby sweet corn in your garden and why everyone with a little space in their yard or garden should consider growing these fantastic plants.

The Benefits Of Baby Sweet Corn

Whether you add them to stirfries, have them as a side-dish with your main meal or simply dip them into houmous and eat them raw, few people could deny that baby sweet corn are both delicious and nutritious.

But they’re also expensive to buy – even when in season. So learning to grow baby sweet corn yourself can not only be tremendously satisfying but can also save you money on your grocery bill.

And to top it off, the quicker you eat fresh corn, the sweeter it is so your home-grown sweet corn will likely be even tastier than those you buy in your local supermarket.

What’s not to love?!

Germinating Baby Sweet Corn

Baby sweet corn aren’t just normal corn that are picked early; they’re a specific variety of corn. Personally I’ve had the best luck with the “Minipop” variety with consistent growth and cropping for the last few years.

The easiest way to start your baby sweet corn growing is in modules. These are like standard seed trays, but instead of one large tray the planting area is split up into numerous smaller “pots” attached to one another. I like to use trays where the modules are roughly 1-1.5″ in diameter.

The reason to use modules for growing baby sweet corn is quite simply that it makes planting your corn out later much easier. Simply fill the trays with good quality, peat-free compost and plant two seeds into each module.

Sometimes a seed won’t germinate, in which can you have a “backup” seed. And in those cases where both seeds germinate, consider transplanting the second seedling into a new module.

As with all seeds, warmth and moisture are essential for growth so when you’re planting in the early spring (March-April works well) try placing your modules onto a south facing windowsill, inside your greenhouse or in an airing cupboard.

Sweet corn seeds are quick to germinate and grow so you should start to see seedlings poking their heads through the soil in a matter of days. Within a few weeks your seed trays will look beautiful as they’re filled with fresh green sweet corn shoots.

Growing Baby Sweet Corn Seedlings

It’s important to remember when growing baby sweet corn that corn plants like it hot and sunny – and baby sweet corn is no exception. So once germinated, place the trays in the warmest, sunniest spot you can offer them. They’ll grow rapidly under such conditions and by the time the frosts have passed and the seedlings are 4+” in height they’ll be ready to plant.

Planting Baby Sweet Corn Outside

Here’s one reason why growing baby sweet corn is actually easier than standard sweet corn… Full-sized sweet corn are typically wind-fertilized which means you have to plant them in “blocks” of plant. In this way, when the wind blows the pollen there’s a good chance the other plants will be pollinated, without which no ears of corn will grow.

However baby sweet corn don’t need to be pollinated in order to produce their juicy little heads, and as a result there are no restrictions on where you can grow them – save that they like as much direct sunlight as possible.

For this reason when growing baby sweet corn I often plant them in rows – to form a small “hedge” that not only looks neat but can provide some additional privacy in your garden. It also means you can fit the plants into virtually any available space.

Planting is easy if you’ve grown your baby sweet corn in modules. Simply dig a small hole, gently push up the bottom of one of the modules and you should find that out pops one of your sweet corn seedlings with an attractive, healthy root system. Simply pop it in the hole, fill the hole back in and water heavily.

Baby sweet corn can be grown as close as 8-12″ apart and will grow anything up to five feet or so in height eventually, though far shorter plants will still produce corn at the right time of year (August-September typically).

Overall, once they’re planted out, growing baby sweet corn requires very little ongoing effort. I don’t feed mine or support them. The baby seedlings can be prone to attack by snails and slugs initially as the leaves are so juicy, but as the plants grow the leaves toughen and garden pests seem to lose interest in them. I simply weed around them when necessary and water regularly in hot, dry weather.

Harvesting Baby Corn

growing baby sweet cornThe only difficult thing about growing baby sweet corn is quite simply the harvesting because you need to get your timing right. If you leave baby sweet corn on the plant too long they won’t turn into standard sweetcorn but will just grow into large, tough and rather unpleasant baby sweet corn. In other words timing is of the essence when picking baby sweet corn and it’s important you get it right if you’re going to enjoy your harvest.

As summer moves on, your rapidly growing baby sweet corn plants will start to produce tiny baby sweet corn heads growing at the leaf-bases of your plants. Keep a regular eye on these and aim to pick them when they’re around 6″ in length – certainly no more than 8″.

When your sweetcorn heads reach this size, gently pull the heads downwards where they should snap cleanly off your plant – though you may lose a few leaves off your plant as you do this. This is normal and nothing to worry about. As you peel away the outer leaves you’ll be surprised by just how compact the corns inside really are.

That’s it really! And as you find yourself picking your own fresh, organic, home-grown baby sweet corn on an almost daily basis you’ll realize that the tiny investment of time you put in earlier in the year has paid itself back over and over again.

Do you like growing baby sweet corn? Have you been inspired to start? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

the best way to pay off debt

What’s the best way to pay off debt?

That’s clearly a pretty open-ended question…

But if you’re looking to get out of debt it makes sense to try and find the techniques that are proven to work – and that will get you to debt-free as quickly and easily as possible.

One of the reasons why paying off debt is so difficult is because it’s tempting to feel like you’re “missing out” on life when you devote your disposable income to debt repayment rather than enjoying life.

All around you people seem to be going on vacation, buying a new car or upgrading their home.

All this while you seem to be “free-wheeling” – and piling your money into something far less visible.

In other words, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in your struggle.

Except of course you’re not. There are plenty of people who’ve paid off vast amounts of debt. They’ve been through the same difficult times you’re facing now. And they’ve come out the other side smelling of roses.

Today then I thought it would be useful to look at some inspiring examples other financially-savvy individuals getting out of debt.

Hopefully the stories below will not only provide you with inspiration that is it possible to become debt-free, but additionally provide some guidance and tips on the best way to pay off debt based on the experiences of others.

In total these 17 people have paid off over a million dollars in debt so they certainly know a thing or two about debt repayments.

Here are their stories…

How We Paid Off $54,500 Of Non-Mortgage Debt In 3 1/2 years

“Each day without payments is a day that adds to our savings and investments and, ultimately, enhances our family’s financial freedom.”

Bethany and Dustin Riechmann always had debt – but debt that was under control. It was when they bought a new house and got serious about decking it out that the debt started to mount up.

Starting a family was the primary motivator for paying off their debt – a process they achieved by following Dave Ramsay‘s debt reduction steps.

Less than four years later they were debt free.

Click here to read the full story.

How We Paid Off $36,000 Of Debt In 2013

“I think that focusing all our enthusiasm and money on one big goal is the main reason we had so much success in our first year of debt repayment. “

The ever-awesome Stephanie over at Six Figures Under managed to pay off an impressive $36,000 of debt in a single year. Their biggest tips for success were to reduce their food and housing costs, and then make their debt repayments the major priority.

Click here to read the full story.

How Does It Feel to Pay Off $100,000 Of Debt?

“It takes discipline and self motivation, and a lot of it. We tried many, many times to do it ourselves, but just couldn’t do it. I like to think of my debt relief provider as my “financial personal trainer.”

Travis Pizel had some serious debt no so long ago – six figures of it. Worse – this was credit card debt – not a low-interest debt like a mortgage.

That’s enough to cause most people sleepless nights – after all doesn’t such a massive amount of debt just look unsurmountable? How would you ever expect to that that amount of debt under control?

While it’s not for everyone, Travis’ secret weapon was the use of a Debt Management Program. These services essentially negotiate with your creditors to try and agree better terms for you in exchange for guaranteed regular payments. Be aware though that this is likely to negatively affect your credit.

Click here to read the full story.

How One Family Paid Off $118,000 in Debt

“There will be times you feel depressed over it, but remember the end result is going to outshine all that”

Amy Kroezen suffered from the classic problem of sizable student debts (plus a car on finance) but an economy lacking in jobs for someone with her skills. The thought of spending the rest of her life working for a low wage while paying down her debts didn’t appeal so she buckled down and made some changes.

They decided that the best way to pay off debt was going super-frugal. By downsizing their lifestyle they managed to live (just) on one income while using the other to pay down debt.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $34,579 In Student Loans In Under 4 Years

“Whether it’s a raise at work, a higher starting salary or even getting a fee waived on my credit card, I always ask for more.”

Stephanie Halligan used five key strategies for getting rid of her student debt as quickly as possible. Firstly she “hustled” to earn extra income. She budgeted her funds to pay off her debt quickly and made this a priority. She also did everything possible to stay motivated during the journey.

However in Stephanie’s own words, it was being willing to go out on a limb and negotiate that really had the greatest effect on your debt repayment plan.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $12,000 Of Credit Card Debt In 9 Months

“Whichever method you choose, make sure you have a plan”

Do you ever think that getting out of debt would be easier if only you earned more? Have you ever struggled with debt but decided to put off your payments until your income increases? If so, this story is for you.

You see, the wonderful part about this story is that the $12,000 of debt repayments were made by someone in the lower income bracket. In other words, here’s proof (if you needed it) that even low to moderate earners can still do some serious damage to their debt.

The success strategies Wendy used included refinancing her debts to a lower interest rate, use of the Debt Snowball concept for motivation and using side-hustles to earn extra cash where possible. While she admits that her rules may not work for everyone, the key is to at least have a plan to follow.

Click here to read the full story.

$157,000 To Zero In Three Years Flat: We Are Debt Free!

“No payment is too small to have an effect on your debt”

Maria Nedeva achieved what looked like an impossible task – paying off six figures of debt in just over three years. In order to manage such as impressive feat Maria used some seriously smart tactics…

She consolidated her debts to simplify her finances and reduce the interest she was paying, she dug deep into her budget to find painless savings (like changing utility companies to get a better tariff) and she set aside a small “treat” fund to avoid any feelings of being deprived.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $30,000 of Debt in Two Years

“Savings just stopped being as important as becoming debt-free”

If you think that other people make paying off debt far too easy then Cait may come as a breath of fresh air to you. Even she admits that her journey to a debt-free life was plagued by mistakes and problems. And yet rather than using these as excuses to give up on her plans, they only strengthened her resolve further.

Cait says her big wins involved finding low-cost accommodation (moving in with family or housemates) and using the Debt Snowball principle to keep her motivated. However a key realization was that if your debt problems are serious – and you’re truly focused on paying off your debt as soon as possible – then this really needs to be your financial priority over almost anything else.

Click here to read the full story.

How We Paid Off $150,000 Of Debt In 5 years

“You cannot pay off your debt while you are continuing to go into debt.”

With six figures of debt from an unfortunate business failure, Myquillyn quickly found ways to save money and maintain motivation in order to get her debt under control.

In contrast to many of the debt repayment stories highlighted here, couponing became an important strategy to save money, thus freeing up extra funds to spend on debt repayments.

Finding other “side hustles” as a way to boost her income helped, as did carefully tracking and recording her progress to stay motivated.

However arguably one of the most important lessons that Myquillyn learned early on is that you need to completely distance yourself from debt when you’re trying to pay it off. Quite simply cut up the credit cards to avoid any kind of temptation.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $100,000 In Debt (And How You Can Too)

“Go at your debt with reckless abandon. You are going to throw every cent you can at it, as often as you can.”

What I love most about Tony’y story is just how much energy he threw at getting out of debt. There were no half measures here – he literally seems to have focused every penny and every ounce of energy on paying off his debt as quickly and as ruthlessly as possible.

How? His strategies include seriously downsizing your spending, selling your unwanted belongings to make an instant impact on your debts, educating yourself financially and setting up an “emergency fund” for when (not if!) something goes wrong.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $14,431 In Student Loans In 6 Months – BEFORE Graduating

“Take the temporary hit to your social life and find a second source of income that you can dedicate 100% to your debt.”

Depending on your point of view, Thomas Frank is either very lucky or has shown the potential of educating yourself when it comes to personal finance.

Whatever your thoughts when you read his story there’s one undeniable fact – he’s clearly a very smart guy who was willing to work hard to pay off his student loans before he even graduated.

How did he do it? He freelanced to earn extra income and then built a successful online business. That said, even he admits that the chances of business success online are slim so he recommends a far more conservative strategy – reduce your expenses and consider taking on an extra job to fund your debt repayments.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $38,000 Of Debt In 24 Months

“I had a sort of maniacal enthusiasm about paying off my debt, I was crazy positive even though I owed so freaking much. “

When most people receive some kind of windfall it’s tempting to see it as “free money” to spend on whatever your heart desires. It’s perfectly normal to start thinking about trying out that new restaurant in town, finally landing that outfit you’ve had your eye on or treating yourself to a new gadget. Normal, that is, unless you’re Jordann Brown.

While Jordann followed many of the “ground rules” of debt repayment such as increasing your income and limiting expenses to maximize the funds available for debt repayments there are two elements that stand out in her story.

Firstly, she encountered considerable tax returns and insurance money that the average person would consider a “bonus”. Instead she used these funds to make an immediate impact in her debts.

Secondly, she managed to stay upbeat through the whole process which kept her sending those checks like clockwork. Time and again it seems that one of the biggest factors for success when paying off debt is self discipline and Jordann had it in spades!

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off Over $50,000 Of Credit Card Debt

“Debt likes to keep you down, so you have to make sure you figure out ways to keep your head up.”

If you read personal finance blogs then Grayson Bell is probably a name you recognize. If not, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Debt Roundup – it’s a regular dose of motivation and actionable tips.

That said, Grayson’s story stands out for his willingness to make some difficult sacrifices in order to achieve his goal of a debt-free life. He didn’t just stop buying luxuries – he even cut out things that many people consider basic needs like cable TV. Heck, he even closed down a business to reduce his expenses.

What makes Grayson’s story so unique is that he used what he calls “celebration steps” to keep him motivated while paying off his credit card debt. He set “targets” for his debt repayments and whenever he hit the next level, he’d treat himself without guilt. By constantly having “treats” just over the horizon, Grayson was able to stay the course and eliminate $50,000 of debt.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $14,000 Of Debt In Just 14 Months

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress”

Carrie Smith had managed to clock up $14,000 in debt from credit card balances and a car loan when she decided to get serious about becoming debt free.

To be successful she became what she calls “gazelle intense” – making paying off debt her number one priority. However even with this level of intensity, Carrie admits it wasn’t always plain sailing and there were periods where she thought she’d never succeed.

But succeed she did. She decided that the best way to pay off debt included setting deadlines to keep your motivated, cutting unnecessary expenses like cable TV and her gym membership and generating extra revenue from freelance writing. It worked – and she actually paid off her debt five months earlier than her projections.

Remember: paying off debt isn’t easy but it sure as hell is rewarding when you come out the other side.

Click here to read the full story.

How We Paid Off $45,000 In Debt In 45 Months

“It IS possible to pay off debt even when you’re not making very much. It just requires a lot of hard work and dedication.”

It was only a few weeks after they got married that Eric and Erika, together with Bentley the terrier, realized just how much debt they had together – a nausea-inducing $45,000 from student loans, car loans and credit cards.

But the last thing they wanted to do was to start off what should have been the happiest period of their lives while drowning in debt. So they postponed the honeymoon, took on extra work as freelance writers, built websites and used Dave Ramsay’s debt snowball technique to make ever-larger dents in their debt.

Click here to read the full story.

How We Paid Off $30,000 In Credit Card Debt

“Anyone can get into debt. It’s much harder to look at the behaviors that caused the problem and make positive changes”

The scary thing about getting into debt is that rather like putting on weight it can happen so slowly and gently that you barely notice it happening. Then one day you meet an old friend who comments on how you’ve “filled out” and you realize just how much weight you’ve put on over the last few years.

So it was with well-known and highly-respected personal finance blogger Kim Parr who admits that the route of her $30,000 of debt was simple lifestyle inflation. But once Kim and her husband had accepted the unpleasant truth they set to work.

They both took on extra work where it was available in order to pay as much as possible off their debts and they even made the unusual decision to sell their business and then invest the capital in a rental property that started to produce positive cash-flow almost instantly.

Click here to read the full story.

How I Paid Off $17,000 Of Student Debt In Six Months

“I saved myself from the “buying crap” mentality and directed my earnings into my debt. It worked!”

Kerry Taylor’s debt came in the form of student loans. What makes student loan debt hard to swallow of course is that when you leave college you’ve just spent the last few years living on such a tight budget that it’s tempting to go on a binge, spending your first few paychecks on all the things you’ve missed out on lately.

Not so for Kerry who decided that the best way to pay off debt was to continue living like a student even after graduation to keep her costs down and roll the extra money into getting out of debt. She had had the confidence – and good sense – to be willing to negotiate a higher salary than was initially offered, further adding to the money she had available for debt repayments.

However possibly the most impressive tactic she used in getting out of debt was simply avoiding consumer goods that she knew would only bring her short term pleasure. Instead she avoided the mall and set herself up for a lifetime of financial stability – something that’w worth far more than any gadget or home furnishing.

Click here to read the full story.

Conclusions (And The Best Way To Pay Off Debt)

If you’re currently paying off debt there are a couple of things to take away from the above stories.

Firstly, what you’re doing is unusual – but that’s a good thing. Too many people live with debt their whole lives – but what you’re doing is so much better.

Secondly, while you’re certainly in the minority of people, you’re by no means alone. Plenty more people just like you are getting serious about paying off debt.

It takes time. It takes effort. And it takes a lot of self-discipline – but oh boy is it worth it.

Each of the stories discussed above used a wide range of strategies from debt snowballs to moving back in with parents.

However the common themes running through most of these stories – which provides some guidance about the best way to pay off debt – are that people who are success at paying off debt manage to significantly reduce their expenses, increase their incomes in a variety of ways and keep themselves motivated by monitoring their debt and rewarding themselves from time to time.

Are you debt free? What were your biggest secrets to success?

Are you still paying off debt? What are you finding most challenging?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

frugal living tips april 2014

I don’t want to tempt fate but here in the UK it finally looks like spring might be on it’s way.

The clocks have just changed – making it lighter in the evening so it certainly has that spring-like feeling.

With Easter just round the corner and my vegetable seeds going in it’s an exciting time of year.

Just like last month I’ve been keeping tabs on the frugal living and personal finance articles that really “floated my boat” in order to share them with you dear readers.

And I haven’t been disappointed. Some of the blogs that I read regularly have published some real gems that I’m thrilled to be able to share with you. Hopefully you’ll find some articles of interest below that will both entertain and inform – I know they won me over in a big way!

So without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff – my favorite frugality-related articles from the last month. Enjoy!

Why Job Interviews Don’t Need To Be Scary

If you ever needed proof that I’m a little “odd” then it’s this: I’ve actually always enjoyed job interviews. Something about the challenge I think. However I know I’m in the minority and most people dread the process. If so, this smashing little article will help to calm your nerves and clear your mind.

Beating the Broke Mindset

Laurie discusses how your mindset can affect your abilities to pay off debt. I’ve been saying for a long time that becoming debt free is as much about psychology as it is about money so it’s refreshing to see another blogger discussing a subject I’m so passionate about.

The Only Secret to Paying off Your Debts is Really to Make More Money

This is something of a controversial article; after all many personal finance bloggers claim that you need to be reducing your costs and becoming more frugal to pay off debt rather than earning more money. But this is a convincing argument, and from my own experiences I can confirm that increasing my income had a far larger effect on becoming debt free than reducing my expenses.

How to Survive On Minimum Wage

Minimum wage sucks. But is it realistic? Can one really live on such a small income or not? This article aims to answer that question by creating a sample budget to see just how far you can stretch your money and what you’ll have to give up to survive.

How to Save BIG on Household Goods (Without Leaving Home)

From toilet rolls to cleaning products we all buy a wide assortment of household goods each month. If you want to be more frugal there’s a surprisingly simple way to save money – without giving up the products you love. I won’t spoil the surprise but if you’re trying to spend less money then this is one article you should check out.

Preparing To Lose a Job

Losing your job sucks – and not just from a financial perspective. But with enough warning there are things you can do to insulate yourself from the worst. This article is worth checking out even if you’re comfortably employed right now because if a situation like this does ever occur, it’s nice to have some “insider tips”.

Early Retirement: Its All in the Numbers

The gentlemen over at Three Thrifty Guys once again published a real shiner in which the math of early retirement is teased apart. Wondering if you’ll ever be able to retire early? Confused on how much money you’ll need? Your answers are all here.

The Mental Prison Of Being Poor

I struggle to describe this personal finance article. I suppose in essence it relates to the psychology of debt, financial servitude and freedom from financial worry. It’s not just entertaining – personally I found this the most inspiring and thought-provoking article on early retirement and financial freedom I read all month.

Do You Value Items In Terms Of Hours Worked?

Here’s a simple way to save money; before you spend anything think less about it’s price and more about how many hours you have to work to pay for it. It’s a trick I’ve been using for some years and found it to have a suprisingly positive impact on my budgeting.

Seven Tactics to Avoid Wasting Food

I hate waste full stop, but wasting food seems like a ridiculous way of spending more money than you need to. Fortunately the team at The Simple Dollar are here with some commonsense tips to use more of the food you buy.

What personal finance lessons did you learn last month? What articles really stood out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…


I may have a degree in biology but what nobody told me before I graduated was that:

  • Jobs involving biology degrees are few and far between
  • If you want one, you’ll probably need a further degree and will therefore have even more student debt as a result
  • Even the people who do land those jobs don’t get paid very much

So I left university, fresh-faced and eager to land my dream job, only to discover I’d been heading down the wrong path for the last few years. Oh sure, I’d had a blast. I’d grown up a lot. I’d met loads of new people and had plenty of fantastic experiences.

But career-wise I was clean out of luck. What to do?

As it was, I’d met a girl at university and we were keen to move in together. She wanted to stay near her family while I was rather more adventurous so I moved away from my family and we started looking for work.

To make ends meet I found a job in a pet store, though at the time I only really expected it to be a stop-gap.

Sadly, I hadn’t realized that you can very quickly get typecast when it comes to careers. After a couple of years there, recruiters saw me more as a store manager than a scientist.

So, over the years I moved from one company to another, taking on ever bigger stores and greater responsibilities, but on the whole enjoying myself even if I wasn’t feeling intellectually stimulated.

But working in retail doesn’t pay too well on the whole. My student debt was still looming. My credit card bills were growing. And my overdraft was reaching it’s limit. Over time, as my debt grew – and with them my monthly repayments – I started to feel the squeeze.

Something had to change.

Which is when a certain job – the one mentioned in the title of this article – reared it’s head.

The question was really how I could use my existing skills and experiences to try and land the most highly-paid job around in order to get out of debt once and for all.

After all, once I was debt-free I could always bow out of the highly-paid yet high pressure job and go back to an easier, more relaxed way of life in a role I enjoyed. All I needed, really, was to earn some serious coin for a few years to get myself back on an even keel.

So I bit the bullet and applied for the most highly paid retail job I could realistically land – as a manager for a supermarket. In doing so I increased my income by about 40% overnight, but all this money came at a price.

Several times during the recruitment and induction phase I nearly gave up. As time went on and I found out more and more about the job I was taking on I was less and less enthused.

We’re talking long hours (50+ per week) and a very physical role which meant I’d pretty much be tired all the time. Crazy shifts starting as early as 4 am and finishing as late as midnight meaning even less sleep and even more disruption to my lifestyle.

We’re talking working every weekend, every back holiday and the only guaranteed day off each year being Christmas day. The rest had to be requested, earned, negotiated and prayed for.

So that’s where I was. No time or energy for socializing. Five days a week totally blocked off with 12 hour shifts. Even having the time and energy to check my emails is a struggle some evenings. Constant stress and unreasonable expectations from the company. It’s not pretty and I wouldn’t recommend it.

But it does pay well – and that’s what I wanted it for. Over the last few years I’ve landed several pay rises without any noticeable increase in my responsibilities or workload and I’ve worked hard to put as much of my salary into debt repayments as possible.

Now, thanks to this job, I’m now debt free.

It hasn’t been a pleasant journey but I’ve achieved the goal I was aiming for – even if I feel I’ve missed out personally from all the work.

So I could, in all honesty, quit the job I hate so much tomorrow and go back to an easier and more pleasant life. I could boost my energy levels, I could restart my social life and I could wrestle a few weekends off again.

Yet oddly, bearing in mind how much I claim to hate my job, I’m not doing that.

But why?

The answer is the wonderful world of financial independence. During the process of paying off my debts and sticking with a job that I find so distasteful, I have read a lot of books, subscribed to a lot of forums and discovered the concept of financial independence or early retirement or financial freedom – whichever title floats your boat.

The thing is that the concept of financial independence so thrilling (yet believable) to me that I find myself in something of a quandry. You see, if I quit my job and go back to my easier way of life, my earnings will also drop considerably. Yes I’ll be more relaxed, probably enjoy life far more and have more time to focus on my passions.

But the dream of FI, at least in the near term, vanishes.

What I need is essentially a nest egg that I can invest. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to build up right now. So I’m sucking it up and planning for one more year of the job I hate so much. Too much longer and I think I’ll go mad. But one more year – I should be able to cope with that.

Then, with some decent savings under my belt, I’m ready to take the next step towards FI. What will that be? What’s the plan? Well that’s a story for another day. So if you’re interested in following the journey, make sure you subscribe so you can see my plan unfold in real time.

Have you ever had a job you hated? What kept you there? What sacrifices have you made to achieve a stronger financial life? Please leave your experiences in the comments below…

how to pay less rent

Did you know that the average American spends 27.8% of their monthly income on housing?.

Whilst this is an average, individual cases can be far worse.

For example according to MSN Money, over a quarter of those living in rented properties in the USA spend over half of their income on housing.

In the UK the figure is even worse – with Brits spending on average 43% of their income on rent.

In other words, renting a property is expensive.

For many of us living in rented accommodation, our rent makes up a sizable proportion of our monthly outgoings. By effectively reducing the amount of rent you pay you’ll have plenty of money left over each month for other purposes – such as getting out of debt or starting to build up your savings.

Fortunately there are a whole raft of ways to save money on your rent – if only you’re willing to put in some effort and be a little creative.

The extent to which you can actually reduce your rent will depend on both you as an individual (how far you’re willing to go to save money) and on your existing rental agreement (what you are and are not legally allowed to do).

In other words not all solutions will be suitable for all situations. You’ll need to carefully consider each available option to see which one(s) are likely to be the best bets for you.

However with that warning out of the way imagine what halving your rent – or eliminating it altogether – could do for your monthly budget.


Read on to uncover our fourteen proven tips for reducing your rent…

How To Save Money On Rent By Moving

The easiest way of all to sve money on rent is to actually move out of your current home and into a cheaper option. Of course this will depend on how long you have left on your lease agreement, on how much hassle you’re willing to deal with and how cheaply you can move home. But it’s a fact that this is where the greatest savings can be made.

Move To A Cheaper Location

Some areas of the country are simply cheaper than others – typically based on supply and demand. And this doesn’t necessarily have to mean moving half way across the country. Even within a small area you’ll often find that rents vary considerably.

So try using one of the various online property search tools and investigate nearby towns, cities and neighborhoods, looking for those that offer better value.

And remember that in many areas, there can be a significant price differential between living in the countryside and living in the city so this is a further point worth considering.

Downgrade To A Smaller Property

Don’t want to move too far from where you are now? How about finding a smaller property in your current area instead then. Typically smaller properties are cheaper to rent – but they also offer a range of other budget-friendly benefits.

For example a smaller property may have lower property taxes, may be cheaper to insure and will require less spending on utilities to heat. Moving to a smaller property can therefore create additional opportunities to save money on your housing costs.

Move Closer To Your Work

Moving to a new home closer to where you work may not save you any money on your rent per se. You might spend just as much or even more. But where you will save on money is in the cost of commuting to your place of work.

Try doing the calculations, figuring out how much you spend on driving to work or using public transport and see if moving to a similar property close enough to walk or cycle to work could save you significant money each month.

Move Into A House Share

Years ago I split up with my former girlfriend – with whom I was living. And while I loved our house I really couldn’t validate spending so much money on renting a house that was far bigger than I needed – and more expensive than I could afford on my own.

The simplest option at the time was moving into a houseshare – a home in which I lived with two other professionals, sharing all the costs. In doing so I saved almost 60% off the money I was paying in rent. Just 12 months there quickly got me back on my feet, allowing me to regain control of my finances and build up some impressive savings with minimal effort.

Clearly living with others isn’t everyone’s idea of fun and probably isn’t very well suited to those with partners and/or children. That said, if you’re in a situation where you can consider this option, it can be far cheaper than renting a property by yourself – and also a great way to meet new people along the way.

Move Back In With Your Family

To some people, living with their family again as an adult is a horrific thought. For others, it just makes sense. You may well have to give up some of your freedom but in exchange you’ll likely pay far lower rent than you would on the open market – or if you’re lucky no rent at all in exchange for helping out around the house.

House Sit

House sitting is gaining in popularity all the time. People work away from home for extended periods of time, go travelling for months or even years etc and need someone to ensure their house is safe and secure. Sometimes they even need their pets looking after too.

Thanks to sites like Trusted Housesitters it’s easier than ever to find house sitting gigs where you’ll typically live rent-free in exchange for some basic maintenance duties.

The only downsides here are that these opportunities may only exist for weeks or months at a time so they’re only a short term solution. You’ll need to be willing to move frequently, and there’s always a risk that the next house sitting job you find isn’t close enough to your work to be practical.


There are people all round the world with more space than they need but not enough time. In exchange for some light work each week you can receive free rent and often even food as well.

This work can involve all manner of things – from feeding and cleaning out farm animals to helping a business owner with their admin to looking after children and cooking meals. And the time requirements can also vary widly from a few hours a day to virtually full-time help.

But if you have some free time each day to exchange for free rent – or a job that you can do from anywhere – this can be a great way to completely eliminate the money you currently spend on rent. For opportunities around the world check out Help Exchange.

Become A Property Manager

Matthew Peters is a guy who has figured out how to live rent-free by acting as the maintenance agent for apartment buildings.

In exchange for rent-free living he ensures that the other properties in his block are rented out, maintained properly and any minor repairs are made in a timely manner meaning that maintaining the property is virtually hands-off for the landlord or property owner.

You can learn all about how he does it in his popular book entitled Don’t Own, Don’t Rent, Live Well.

Find A Job That Offers Free/Discounted Accommodation

There are a surprising number of jobs around that offer either subsidised or even free accommodation. From vet nurses to security roles, from pub employees to heritage property managers, all sorts of employers want the benefits of having staff on site at all times.

Whether that’s so they can pay lower wages, provide security for their properties or offer unusual shift patterns the fact remains that if you’re flexible there is every chance you could land a job with free rent. So even if the wages are lower you could still be a lot better off than staying at your high-paying job and paying through the nose for your rent.

Get A Mortgage

Surprisingly with interest rates low it can sometimes be cheaper to actually take out a mortgage than to actually rent a property. Now certainly you’ll likely need some capital to get started in the form of a deposit, solicitors fees and so on but too many renters dismiss the possibility of becoming a property owner.

If you have decent credit and regular employment it’s well worth at least asking some questions to see if you can reduce your monthly expenses by actually getting a mortgage – and building up equity in your home alongside.

How To Save Money On Rent Without Moving

But what if you really don’t want to move from your current home? Maybe you love the property you’re in. Maybe the location is perfect. Maybe you’ve just signed a lease and have a year or more left – what now?

Fortunately there are still some options available to you – depending on the fine print of your rental agreement. That said, there are far fewer of them. So if you’re truly stuck as present they may well be worth considering, though we’d strongly advise you to consider moving to a cheaper property as soon as you get a chance in the future.

Sublet Your Property

Does your lease agreement let you take on room mates? Comb over it in detail – or ask your landlord for clarification. It may well be that you can actually rent out a room in your home, instantly offsetting the rent you pay thanks to the additional source of income you’re experiencing.

Negotiate On Rent

It seems odd that a landlord may be willing to accept less rent than they initially asked for. But finding tenants, interviewing them, arranging deposits and so on can be a challenge – not to mention finding reliable tenants who pay on time every time and cause minimal fuss. If you’re one of those people then you’re in a strong position.

On more than one occasion I’ve spoken to a landlord or letting agent and mentioned that the rent is higher than I’d like to pay, and that as a result I’m seriously considering moving out.

And while you won’t always get what you want, you’d be surprised by the discounts you can sometimes get on your rent if only you’ve got the confidence to ask.

Rent Out Your Storage

Have you got a garage you’re not using? Or how about a spare room, attic or shed? Commercial storage units are expensive so there’s a growing community of “peer-to-peer” lenders who are renting storage space privately from other property owners and/or tenants.

Rent Out Your Parking

If you live in a town or city with minimal or very expensive parking, it should come as no surprise that your parking space has value. Value, infact, that other people are willing to pay for.

Sites like Park At My House make it easy to advertise your parking space so that others working near your home can save money and effort by using the allocated parking outside your home.

Question: what tips have you used to save money on rent? Which strategies have worked the best for you? Please leave a comment below with your experiences…

frugal living tips february 2014

Since I’ve started to dive head-first into the wonderful world of personal finance blogs I’ve found myself subscribing to more and more.

Not only does this give me a constant source of inspiration on my own financial journey but it also keeps me learning, thinking and meeting other people with similar desires for a more frugal, financially independent lifestyle.

I read a lot - I now subscribe to over 200 blogs (believe it!) – and so I thought it would be handy to collect together the articles I read during February that had the biggest impact on me – essentially the best frugal living tips and personal finance articles I found in the last month.

If it’s well received, I’m hoping to make these roundup posts a regular monthly feature so please let me know your thoughts – and any possible improvements in the format!

With that brief introduction out of the way, allow me to provide some links to some truly exceptional blog posts I found last month…

What articles fueled your fire in February? Feel free to let me know!


how to make your best resume ever

I’ve been recruiting employees for over a decade and in that time I’ve seen literally thousands of resumes.

Some were great.

Most sucked.

But the odd one stood out and made me (and my colleages) go “Wow!”. During that time I’ve slowly consolidated these strategies into a formula for creating the best resume ever.

In many ways I consider this formula my “secret sauce” – something that I’ve applied to my own resume and those of friends and family members that gets incredible results every time. Infact, I almost feel guilty using it now I’ve seen the results because it can be such an unfair advantage when competing against other people for a job you really want.

The process for creating the best resume ever is relatively simple and I’ll show you the battle-hardened formula shortly but first let me explain the rationale behind my resume formula, why it’s so unusual and yet how it works so well…

Creating The Best Resume Ever: An Employers Perspective

When you’re sifting through dozens or even hundreds of resumes in order to shortlist a few candidates for interview there are a number of things that help the best resumes to stand out (for good reasons or bad). In my experience the three most important elements to make your resume stand out and increase your chances of an interview are:


The problem with hiring new staff is that they’re largely an unknown entity. There’s significant risk involved for the employer. They’re trying to whittle down the pile of applications they’ve got to try and make an educated guess as to who might be the most appropriate for the vacancy they’re attempting to fill.

Does the candidate have any/much experience of the role that needs to be filled? Can they demonstrate the particular strengths required? Will they need much training? Are they used to this particular working environment? Will they start performing rapidly or need months of training and coaching before they really start contributing to the business?

The best resumes ever therefore answer this question accurately – but without sounding too artificial. The best resumes aren’t just a list of your previous jobs. They may feature that, but they also relate back specifically to the role in question. They demonstrate not just what your experience is but also why this is such a close match to the new role.

In short, the best resumes ever provide a direct written link matching you, as a candidate, to the role on offer. They make a recruiter want to sit up with a jolt and scream “perfect!”.


Let’s be honest here – most resumes are flat-out boring to read. They use similar fonts on similar paper with a similar layout. There’s just no thought, no imagination, no impact. They all blend into one another. And sitting for hours on end looking through them it’s all too easy for your eyes to glaze over and a potentially strong candidate to get missed purely because of a weak “me too” resume.

Some of the best resumes I’ve seen turned this on it’s head to create some kind of impact. Something to stand out among the crowd.

For example they were interesting to read, had attention-grabbing formatting or were even printed on posh writing paper. For example the few resumes I’ve had submitted to me over the years that were printed on 100gsm laid vellum paper instantly stood out. They screamed “READ ME!”.

A well-presented resume suggests the person in question has put extra effort in (always flattering) and likely has a great attention for detail. In essence they’re going the extra mile and people like that get noticed.


If you’re going to apply for a job, please make it easy to contact you. I’ve seen too many people who only provided a cell phone number, then had their phone turned off when I called. Worse, they had no voicemail set up. Other times I’ve wanted to email people but they provided no email address.

So firstly, the best resume ever will have a number of points of contact available. And secondly, emails and voicemails will be checked regularly to ensure a timely and professional response.

Creating The Best Resume Ever: A Writers Perspective

Take a look at any popular newspaper or magazine and what do you notice? Most likely they’ll be using the “inverted pyramid” form of writing. Essentially it starts with a catchy, attention-grabbing headline that catches your eye. Then they hit you with the most important and intriguing parts of the story. Lastly the lesser details come towards the end.

And why is this formula used, all around the world, by journalists and marketers alike? Simply because IT WORKS! It grabs the attention, pulls the reader in and virtually forces them to read the article.

Strange, then, that resumes typically get it all the wrong way around. For example, how relevant is your name to your job application?

Are they more likely to hire you because your name is “Helen” or because you have years of experience in a similar role?

Are you more likely to get called to interview because you own two cats or because you’ve been working for their biggest competitor for the last decade?

In essence then, my formula to create your best resume ever uses this exact strategy; not only do we create a compelling “lead in” to your resume but we structure the information so that the biggest and most important points come earlier on, while ancillary information like your name, contact number and hobbies come later on.

Formula For The Best Resume Ever

The formula I’ve tested and tweaked over the years is designed specifically to “hit the bulls-eye” when you take into account all the points mentioned above. It’s a format that grabs the attention, helps you stand out, illustrates how perfect you are for the job in question and then encourages contact from the recruiter.

Here it is in a nutshell…


Too many resumes have no “headline” or title at the top. Typically the first words on a resume are either your name or the word “resume”. Both suck as they lack impact for the reasons already discussed.

Instead, the best resume ever has an attention-grabbing headline like a newspaper article designed specifically to pique the interest of the recruiter you’re trying to attract.

Some examples of possible headlines might include:

  • “Experienced, detail-oriented business manager that increased profit last year by 184%”
  • “Winner of the Best Young Designer Award”
  • “#1 Amazon Best Selling Author Seeks New Writing Assignments”

The focus here is to consider carefully the role you’re applying for and aim to target their needs. Focus carefully on the job description and spend some time considering what your greatest achievement in this field is. Then design a catchy slogan that (a) speaks to their need and (b) proves you know what you’re doing.

Yes, it takes a little effort. Yes, you’re going to have to think. And yes, you may need to modify your resume for different job roles. But the results are well worth the small additional effort required.


Most job vacancies publish a detailed description of exactly what skills and experience they’re looking for. The introduction is your way of ticking as many boxes as possible, as quickly as possible. Carefully examine the job role you’re applying for, tease out what seem like the essential points and in just a paragraph or two give an overview of exactly how you can demonstrate experience/strength in each one.

Depending on the role and your personal opinion this can either be in the form of a few neat, fact-based paragraphs or a short list of 5-10 bullet points illustrating the most important elements of your application.

For example if you were applying for a a web design job that specified experience in Dreamweaver was essential you might want to mention the 5 years of experience you have using the software or the diploma you earned in it’s use.

If you’re applying for a job as a chef and they’re looking for experience in butchery you could discuss the 2 years you spent as a butchers apprentice or the award you won for your seasoned steak recipe.

This section should take up a third to a half of a page and lay out specifically how you’re ideally qualified for the job in question. By the end of this the recruiter should already be prepared to put you in the “yes” pile.

Detailed, Relevant Job Experience

By this point you’ve already made your most convincing points. This section aims to just reinforce the message using specific, relevant work-related experience. List your last few jobs giving as much detail as possible (employer, job title, dates of employment etc.) and give further details on your responsibilities and experiences related specifically to the job you’re applying for.

Omit anything that will “water down” the message and doesn’t seem to apply directly to the role in question. This section will likely run to almost a page, taking you half way down the second page of your resume.

Detailed, Relevant Educational Experience

Do you have anything else to add? Any other relevant awards you’ve won, qualifications you hold or courses you’ve been on? Add them in here to further reinforce the message. This section is normally the shortest of all but can be useful for putting even more emphasis on you as a candidate.

Contact Details

We leave the contact details till last simply because they’re least important from most employers perspective. Additionally, if you’ve followed these steps to create the best resume ever when the recruiter gets to this final part of your resume they should be ready to call you in for an interview as soon as possible.

Having your contact details at the end means that after finishing reading your resume the next, logical step for the recruiter is to simply pick up the phone or fire up their email to drop you a line about coming in for an interview.

Remember that a resume really shouldn’t go over two sides of paper so edit it as necessary to keep it to this ideal length.


Is it harder to create a resume with this formula than the way most people write one? Frankly the answer is “yes”. It may take a day or two of work to brainstorm all the examples, gather all the information and present it in a clear, crisp, snappy fashion.

But, as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve personally seen the results that this formula can produce time and again so I know it’s well worth the small additional effort.

Depending on the job advert in question, once you’re done either email it off or print it on top-quality paper and post it off as soon as possible; the sooner the recruiter sees your killer resume, the sooner you should start getting phone calls.

Good luck – and please let me know how you get on :-)

What are your favorite tips for landing new jobs? What has worked best for you in the past? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

downsizing tips

A few years ago I launched a small business (“side hustle”) that quickly took on a life of it’s own. Within weeks my business was generating twice the income of my full-time job – and struggling to find enough time in the day to do both.

After some careful thought – and with an emergency fund in place – I opted to quit the secure yet hellish job I was working and instead focus on my business.

All went well for a while as I focused on doing something I loved and watched as the money kept rolling in. But as they say, all good things must come to an end and while I won’t bore you with the details the business eventually went up in smoke. And with it, my income.

To say I was concerned about my immediate financial future was an understatement. More than a few nights sleep were lost over the problem.

You know the old classics about “living within your means” and not letting lifestyle inflation swallow any salary increases but here’s another question for you to consider…

What if your income dropped significantly – or even stopped altogether – tomorrow and without any warning. How would you cope? What downsizing tips can you employ to rapidly reduce your expenses?

Hopefully if you’ve been squirreling money away you’d have some kind of “emergency fund” saved up that you could call upon to relieve some of the short-term pressure, but what if the problem was likely to be longer term?

What if you got sick, or had to take care of an elderly relative, or your business went bust or you were made redundant?

Certainly there’s a good chance you could recover (eventually) but most personal finance experts seem to recommend an emergency fund that covers 3-6 months of living expenses. What happens after that in these extreme circumstances?

You see, even if you’re living within your means, and intelligently managing to increase your savings every month, one of the most important downsizing tips that few of us consider is how quickly we could reduce our living expenses if we had to.

Consider for a moment all the financial obligations that many of us take on. A mortgage or rental agreement, minimum payments on credit cards, utility bills, cell phone contracts, gym memberships and so on.

Certainly in lean times you could eat out less, buy cheaper foods, drive less and so on – but what about all these financial obligations that you just have to meet for contractual reasons every month no matter what? These obligations are what can really burn you if you’re not careful.

For example, just imagine that you’re half way through a 12 month cell phone contract that costs you $50 a month. If a financial emergency arose, could you downsize or eliminate this cost with immediate effect? Probably not. You’re stuck with it, like it or not. And this same principle may apply to all manner of monthly costs that you’ve been inadvertently stacking up, one on-top of another, for years on end.

The simple fact is that to retain control of your finances in these “extreme” events it’s important to have a ready-made plan in place so that you can downsize your finances as quickly as possible.

After all, if you can halve your outgoings at any moment then if necessary your six month emergency fund instantly covers you for a year. Alternatively even flipping burgers at McDonalds will go a decent way towards covering all your radically-reduced new living expenses.

Downsizing Tips: How To Rapidly Cut Your Expenses

With that rather worrying (but none-the-less important) realization in mind, here are some simple steps you can consider. Think of them as “insurance” against a sudden and potentially-prolonged drop in income. And while I hope you’ll never need them, if and when the time comes, you’ll be glad you’d prepared yourself for just such an occasion…

Cut Your Expenses Before The Emergency Occurs

Ensure at least a portion of your savings are freely available to you at a moments notice rather than being tied up for the long term. This way, if you need to dip into your savings you won’t have to wait weeks to access the funds that’ll keep your head above water.

Don’t Upgrade Your Cell Phone

Any form of contract that requires monthly payments limits your ability to rapidly downsize your spending. Whilst contract phones generally offer far better value for money than prepay phones, they can put you at a disadvantage if you need to cut costs quickly.

There are a number of ways you can mitigate this risk though. Firstly, you can look at monthly rolling contracts that don’t tie you in for a long term. Or you can take the option I’ve chosen which is essentially not to upgrade my phone when my contract reached it’s end.

This has two real benefits. Firstly, as I’m out of “commitment” I can end the contract at any time without penalties only needing to give 30 days notice. Secondly, if and when I ever damage/break my phone (which is a very rare occurrence for me) I can always then opt to upgrade and hence get a “free” phone.

Of course the only real downside to not upgrading is that you’ll need to stick with your current handset for a while, but given the potential upsides I think it’s a compromise worth making.

Prepay Whenever Possible

There are a range of bills that can either be paid one one lump sum or spread out into monthly installments. Two perfect examples are computer backup services and car insurance.

Generally, by prepaying for a set period of time you’ll not only get a discount but you also won’t have to worry about making that payment every month in the future if your financial circumstances change considerably.

Look For Shorter Or Rolling Contracts

I’ve been considering joining my local gym, but I hate being tied into lengthy contracts. This is especially so for gyms, where so many people flake out after a few weeks and end up paying for the rest of the year even if they never step foot in the gym.

However I was interested to note recently that one of my local gyms has addressed this and now offers contracts of only 3 months in length rather than the standard 12. The cost may be slightly higher but my financial obligations – and hence risk – will be far less.

So whenever a contract is involved that requires regular monthly payments like clockwork, try finding out whether they, or any of their competitors, offer shorter or rolling contracts that puts you at far less risk.

Investigate Income Protection Insurance

Income protection insurance is another way to reduce the risk of a sudden drop in your income. While you’ll pay for the privilege, this form of insurance can help to ease any worries you may experience and make it far easier to get back on your feet afterwards.

Pay Off Your Debts

Most debts require regular payments, no matter how small they might be. Whether that’s a loan, credit card, mortgage or car payment, the more of your debt you can pay off the less your monthly financial obligations will be.

So cut your spending and instead invest your extra capital into finally paying off those debts that have been hanging over your head for so long. Best of all, making that final payment on any sizable debt is simply the best feeling in the world!

Update Your Resume

There’s nothing worse than losing your job and having to start your job search from scratch. From creating a resume to printing it out, locating possible jobs to apply for, getting your suit ready for interview and more there can be a lot of steps between needing a new job and actually landing one.

I think it’s smart therefore to constantly update your resume so it’s ready for action whenever you need it. No messing around trying to find an old copy or remembering what your exam grades were from a decade ago. No, keep a copy of your resume on your computer and update it every six months or so.

That way, if you ever do need to apply for a new/additional job with very little notice, you won’t have the waste hours or even days trying to create a resume to send out.

Start A Side Hustle

Starting your own small business – whether you clean windows on the weekend or start a blog in your evenings – can be another handy way to mitigate any sudden drops in income.

By slowly attracting customers and figuring out how the business works best you’ll have not only an additional side income to enjoy/save but you may well be able to ramp up this income opportunity rapidly if ever it’s needed.

Ask For Credit Before You Need It

Lastly while I hope the previous points, when combined with your emergency fund, will ease the pain of any sudden drop in income, remember that lenders are far less willing to offer credit to those with low incomes or no income at all.

Therefore, assuming you’re going to use the credit smartly and save it for a rainy day, for some people – especially those without a sizable emergency fund – it might make sense to apply for an overdraft or credit card now while the going is good. Then, should the worst happen, at least you’ll have a little extra leeway to help get yourself out of any short term shortfalls.

How have you insulated yourself from possible sudden drops in income? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts… 

how to become debtfree

In many ways becoming debt free is rather like getting in shape. It requires a little bit of discomfort initially until you get used to your new lifestyle but the results at the end can be spectacular.

Yet ask yourself how many people you know (yourself included?) who talk about how they’d love to get in shape, lose weight and fit into that favorite old outfit? Yet they’ve still to get started. Furthermore, consider how many people that have started off a new fitness regime have given up after a matter of weeks – even if they were making real progress.

When it comes to the question of how to become debt free, the basic principles of spending less than you earn, reducing your living expenses and using the surplus cash to rapidly pay off your debts is simple enough. Just like losing weight really – eat fewer calories and exercise more and you’ll get there with enough patience.

That’s not the problem – the real problem is how to get – and stay – motivated long enough that you achieve your goals.

How To Become Debt Free: 5 Proven Motivational Tips

That’s right folks – when it comes to the question of how to become debt free, I believe that motivation is one of the biggest keys to success. But if it’s so important, what can we do to motivate ourselves over the long term?

Set Goals

It’s been said that the difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline. That’s why so many more people succeed with a diet just before they fly off on vacation or get married: because they have a definite end date to aim for.

So it is for becoming debt free. Spend some time working out a reasonable budget so you know how much you can afford to spend on debt repayment (the more the better, obviously). Then, with a good understanding of what debt you have, you can use one of the various free debt repayment calculators to figure out when you’ll be debt free.

But there’s more. Don’t just figure out the final month you should be free of debt; additionally look at smaller goals. For example if you have two credit cards and a student loan to repay, make note of when each of these individual debts will be paid off.

In my experience of getting out of debt, every time you make the last payment on a debt fires up your motivation to get the next one cleared as soon as possible. That’s why Dave Ramsey recommends the “debt snowball” and paying off debts from the smallest to the largest so you can see the progress you’re making.

Make A Plan

The risk with big goals is that they can seem so insurmountable that it’s easy to get demotivated and believe you’ll never reach them.

Imagine if you needed to lose 4 stone to achieve your target weight, or pay off $70,000 in non-mortgage debt. That’s a hell of a lot and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and that even your best efforts are never going to get you to your goal.

But you’d be wrong. An essential key for long-term motivation is breaking down a huge problem into smaller chunks that are far easier to achieve. And assuming you do this right, all you need to do is to target these smaller goals and eventually you’ll wake up one morning to find yourself debt free.

Fortunately the process is pretty simple. You know how much debt you have and what you’ll be paying off each month. You know the interest rates of these debts and you know, taking interest rates into account, when each of these debts will be paid off.

So now break down your giant goal of how to become debt free into smaller baby steps. Personally when paying down my debt, I found it tremendously useful to create a spreadsheet showing how the balances of my debts would reduce every month.

By having a plan – and then entering in the real figures – you’ll be able to watch as that debt drops away and your goal gets ever closer. Every month when you make the next payment you can enter it in your spreadsheet or notebook and know that you’re moving in the right direction.

And every month you make your planned payments is another step closer to the end.

Track Your Progress

Having a plan is all well and good but to really use it to your advantage you need to religiously track your results. Personally, I would sit down at the end of every month, whenever I got paid, send off the latest debt repayments and update the balances on my spreadsheet.

The whole process took a matter of minutes but provided a “running total” of not only my outstanding debt but also how close I was getting to my goal of being debt free.

When I started treating the process of paying off debt as a game, the process of how to become debt free started to actually become fun. Every month when I sent the next payments and updated my spreadsheet, I tried to beat my target. To pay off just a little more than last month. To watch those balances drop just a little more than my plan.

Believe it or not, all of a sudden receiving credit card bills and car payment statements actually started to become enjoyable! Rather than leaving them festering on the coffee table for days before I dared opening them, I’d rip the little beauties open the moment they came through the door! Getting that constant feedback, seeing those balances shrinking away and watching my minimum payments dropping was a fantastic feeling!

Infact, one of my credit card providers even offered to text you your balance from time to time so I even signed up for this! Every text from them brought a smile to my face as the numbers became more and more insignificant!

Visualize The Results

Becoming debt free is an amazing goal – and one that few people really experience. Even supposedly “wealthy” people with their big houses and expensive cars will hold some kind of debt – maybe lots of it.

I know of someone who I thought was very wealthy – until they admitted their lifestyle cost so much and they had so much debt that they were three months behind with their mortgage and considering declaring bankruptcy.

One motivational technique that many professional athletes use is to visualize what it will be like to succeed. How they’d feel as they crossed the finish line in first place. The pride in their results. The satisfaction of knowing they’d done a good job.

And the same can be said for the quest to become debt free. Try to imagine what it’ll feel like not to have to send so much of your wage check off to a faceless financial institution. Imagine the freedom you’ll have to make decisions about your finances – and your life – without being obligated to anyone else.

Try re-working your budget, eliminating all those debt repayments, and see just how little money you’ll be able to live on in the future. Imagine all the amazing things you can do with that surplus of cash. Go on – what will you do with it?

Then keep those mental images in mind. Revisit them and revitalize them on a regular basis so you can feel in the very core of your being exactly what you’re working towards and why this short-term sacrifice is so worthwhile.

Reward Yourself

Lastly, consider rewarding yourself from time to time. This is one reason why so many diets offer a “free day” each week – simply because if you can stuff yourself with pizza and ice cream once a week it’s easier to stay on the “straight and narrow” the rest of the week. And by eating clean the rest of the time you can still achieve amazing things.

Initially, when you’re trying to become debt free, part of the challenge can be sending off money to your creditors that you’d rather spend on other things. It’s a painful process that can require considerable self discipline. Rather like living on nothing but salad for the foreseeable future.

But if you set yourself specific goals then why not offer yourself a little treat when you hit these? Examples might be a reward every time you totally clear a debt, or every time your combined debt goes down by another $2,000 or whatever.

Personally speaking, as my journey to become debt free took so long (4+ years) I decided I would keep on paying as much as possible, every month except December. Then, each Christmas I’d pay just the minimums on my debts and spend the rest of the money that month on creating the best, most luxurious and enjoyable Christmas possible.

Two weeks of non-stop food, fun, family and parties was an incredible reward – and by New Year I was ready to renew my dedication to becoming debt free and get those balances moving again in the right direction.

The exact process isn’t important. The specific goal doesn’t matter. The secret is to consider your circumstances and your personality and decide on what the goal should be and when you should indulge in it guilt-free.

Why are you working so hard to become debt free? What are your goals once you finally get there? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts… 

how and where to buy books cheap

If you’re an obsessive reader like me, yet hate to spend unnecessary money, it makes perfect sense to try and buy books cheap. Oh sure, hardcore frugal fanatics may balk at buying anything – instead relying on the public library system.

But my more “niche” tastes are never satisfied by the relatively limited selection of titles in my local library – forcing me to look for alternative solutions to my addiction.

Fortunately – as you’re about to see – there is a simple yet effective way to buy books cheaply online and save a surprising amount of money on what you would have spent shopping elsewhere.


Like many men of my age, I have a fascination with technology. Fortunately as a naturally frugal individual I normally manage to control my spending in this department. However over the last year or so I must admit a growing desire to purchase a Kindle – most specifically a Kindle Fire.

However in order to make my purchasing decision with my head rather than my heart, I thought it would be a useful exercise to work out how cost-effective owning a Kindle really is. Is owning a Kindle really an effective way to buy books cheap or are we all being fooled by Amazon’s marketing department?

After all, we all know that Kindle books are cheaper than physical books (don’t we?!). But what are the actual savings likely, and how does this compare to the cost of actually buying a Kindle in the first place?

And just as importantly, how long will it take for your Kindle to pay for itself (if at all)?

In order to make a fair assessment of the situation, I decided to comb through my Amazon purchase history and pick out the last 15 books that I actually bought from them.

I then selected another 15 books at random from the “top 100″ best-selling books at the time of writing and examined whether you can really buy books cheaper in Kindle format rather than their physical counter-parts.

What follows then my list of sample books, showing the book title, the Kindle price and the price for a physical copy of each title. For a fair comparison, I have recorded only the paperback price (as opposed to hard back prices), as these tend to be cheaper (far more tempting for frugal-minded individuals) and have omitted any publication available only in hard-back format.

Also appreciate that I am taking these figures from and that book prices change regularly so the figures listed below may not represent current prices. Having said that, all were correct at the time of writing and recorded on a single day for fairness.

Sample Prices For Kindle Ebooks Vs Paperback Books

Book Title
Paperback Price (£)
Kindle Price (£)
Saving (£)
Saving (%)
Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills9.597.641.9520
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life18.697.7910.9058
Forgotten Fruits: The Stories Behind Britain's Traditional Fruit And Vegetables6.746.170.578
House Share Hero8.996.042.9533
The Corn Snake Manual10.917.193.7234
The Butterfly Isles: A Summer In Search Of Our Emperors And Admirals6.395.151.2419
The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked9.656.772.8830
Dublin (Lonely Planet Encounter Guide)5.99---
Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition10.879.781.0910
Collins Gem - Carbon Counter4.832.991.8438
The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul6.896.550.345
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence13.178.514.6635
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us5.895.150.7413
Don't Own Don't Rent Live Well17.8913.384.5125
The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy6.746.400.345
The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting4.492.362.1347
A Street Cat Named Bob3.853.490.369
Gone Girl3.853.490.369
The Fast Diet Recipe Book6.995.591.4020
The Fault in Our Stars3.494.99-1.50-43
Entwined With You3.853.99-0.14-4
The Great Gatsby1.990.381.6181
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry3.852.691.1630
A Song of Ice and Fire3.993.490.5013
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War3.853.460.3910
The Official Highway Code1.991.400.5930
Philosophy for Life6.746.170.578
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared6.743.083.6654
The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight7.006.490.517
A Storm of Swords, Part 2: Blood and Gold3.853.490.369

Conclusions: Does Kindle = Cheap Books?

Now we’ve gathered some data, let’s do some basic “number crunching” to get a better idea of whether owning a Kindle is an effective way to buy books cheap, and if so, what are the real-world savings you can expect?

Some of the most intriguing findings are:

  1. Some Kindle books are actually more expensive than buying a paperback copy.
  2. Newer “top seller” titles (titles 16-30) generally offer fewer savings than older titles (titles 1-15).
  3. The average Kindle ebook is 24% cheaper than the paperback equivalent though these savings vary considerably between titles.
  4. The average saving per title in our chart was £1.68.

The next obvious question is that if we save an average of £1.68 per book when buying it in Kindle format versus paperback, how many books would we need to buy in order for a Kindle to pay for itself?

The following table shows exactly that…

Kindle Model
Price (£)
Number Of Books Purchased Before Break-even Point
Kindle Paperwhite10965
Kindle Fire12977
Kindle Fire HD15995

So while saving 24% on the average book purchase, I’d need to buy at least 77 books in order to break even with my beloved Kindle Fire. Not only is that far, far more than I buy in a year (I love using the library whenever possible) but it would cost an awful lot of money to get to that break-even point (£408.87 based on the average Kindle book price calculated earlier).

So Kindles do offer a way to buy books cheap – but the initial hardware costs are prohibitive.

So are Kindle’s Bad Value?

In terms of buying books alone with your Kindle, the facts seem to suggest that while Kindle books are on average far cheaper than buying physical books it’s going to be a long time before you actually make back your initial investment.

Purchasing a Kindle solely with the aim of buying books cheap therefore seems like a pretty fool-hardy venture.

That said, there are a few additional points worth bearing in mind which may, or may not, help to sway your decision one way or another when it comes to whether a Kindle is right for your situation…

Second Hand Paperbacks

Whenever I buy a book from Amazon, I aim to look at the other buying options, to see if anyone is selling a decent-quality second hand copy for considerably less.

By doing this I consistently save a surprising amount of money, making my paperback purchases equal to – or less than – buying a Kindle edition. As a result, I would likely see no savings whatsoever in buying a Kindle purely in terms of book purchases.

Resale Value

While one cannot resell a Kindle ebook, I do regularly resell unwanted books of mine on Amazon and bring in a steady stream of income doing so. I’ve had most luck with hardback books rather than paperbacks (they seem to hold their value far better) but this too means that the savings I would get from owning a Kindle would likely be cancelled out.


The figures stated above for physical books exclude postage or shipping charges. While many people like myself are happy to wait for our package to arrive – so use the free delivery option on Amazon – if you’re impatient and regularly pay for shipping then you may find your Kindle purchases offer larger savings than the table above suggests.

Kindle Loan Library

As a Kindle owner, it’s possible to “borrow” books to read for a limited time-period. Depending on your circumstances and mindset, these “loans” may satisfy many of your reading needs, reducing the total number of books that you end up actually buying. In this respect, some considerable savings as a Kindle owner may be experienced.

Free Kindle Ebooks

There is an ever-changing list of books which Kindle owners can download free of charge. Granted, if you’re looking for a specific title you may be disappointed, but if you’re a more general reader, simply looking to learn more about a specific topic, then it’s entirely possible that you’ll find yourself the proud owner of an ever-growing digital library that has cost you nothing (but the cost of your Kindle) to build. Once again, viewed from this perspective, a Kindle may prove excellent value for money.

The Perfect Solution: How To Really Buy Books Cheap And Save 24% On Every Purchase

As we’ve seen, overall buying Kindle books are far cheaper than buying physical books. We’ve also discussed the additional savings of owning a Kindle with regards to no shipping charges and the wealth of free Kindle ebooks available.

But we’ve also seen that actually buying a Kindle in order to receive these benefits isn’t a very tempting idea from a purely financial perspective.

However there is a way to get those juicy savings and buy books cheap without having to fork out for a Kindle. How? Quite simply there are Kindle apps available for virtually every device out there – for Windows, for Macs, for iPhones and for tablets. In essence the device you’re using to read this article right now can be used as a Kindle with the right software.

So how do you save 24% on all your book purchases from now on? Simply download the Kindle app for your computer, set up a Kindle account, and start enjoying all those savings without the cost of buying a dedicated Kindle.

Simply click here now to download your free Kindle app and start saving!


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