The Payoff Series: Refinancing: Where, When, How?

Welcome to Part Two of a 6-part series I’m doing on personal loans, credit card debt, and refinancing – the Payoff Series. If you’re new here, go back and check out Part One!

payoff series

Refinancing credit card debt means paying off your current debt-load with another loan. Refinancing is different than debt negotiation. In debt negotiation or debt settlement, you work with your lenders to reduce the total principal you owe by offering a fast, lump-sum payment. Refinancing means you will still have monthly payments, but they will be to a different lender. The ultimate goal in refinancing is to secure a better debt situation than the one you are currently in. To gain those benefits, you must enter the process carefully.

Step 1: Figure Out the Details of Your Debt

How much debt do you really have? Do you owe on a car, an appliance, or student loans? Take an inventory of all of your debt, including interest rates and minimum monthly payments. Now, depending on that information, make a list of which debt ought to be refinanced (a.k.a. the high-interest debt). This is likely going to be your credit card(s).

Step 2: Determine What You Can Pay

Budgeting is key to making any credit card debt refinancing work in the long run. Use at least six months of bills to effectively budget all of your income and spending. Determine where you can make cuts in order to pay off the highest possible amount each month. Once you have this number, determine how long it will take you to pay off your existing debt if no interest were applied. Next, consider how long it will take you with a given range of interest rates. For example, use 6%, 10% and 12% interest over 3, 5 and 10 years. What would your monthly payments be? This will help show you what interest rate you should seek.

Step 3: Read the Fine Print

Paying off your current debt in one lump sum may come with penalties. These penalties should be expressed in your initial credit card contract. Speak with your current lender to determine if there are any fees or penalties that apply in your case. These fees will be part of your expense in refinancing your credit card debt. (more…)

We Tried It: Sweepstakes

we tried it- sweepstakes

Us Dames work hard for our money, as I’m sure you do too. So when we come across an opportunity to bring in a little extra cash, we figure why not give it a try? Today’s money making opportunity? Sweepstakes.

I first thought about giving sweepstakes a try when I saw one of those TV specials on TLC called Sweepers or some such. It was pretty much a neighbor of the extreme couponers show. In it they followed three people who made their livings by winning sweepstakes. They each had their own strategies but basically spent about 6-9ish hours a day sweeping. Then they would sell their prizes and live off the earnings.

Now I wasn’t about to spend all night sweeping, but I figured from math that if I spent an hour or so each day working on it, I’d eventually have a little extra something to show for it.

And thus the experiment was born. (more…)

Making a Difference with Canadian Budget Binder

making a difference

Hi friends,

Just wanted to let y’all know that Dames in Debt was recently featured on Canadian Budget Binder! We were part of the 2016 Making A Difference series! You can read our post here, just look for the Making a Difference headline.

Thanks so much for helping us take our personal finance journey way further than we ever thought possible! And check out Canadian Budget Binder while you’re at it!

<3 from the Dames

The Payoff Series: Personal Loans & Refinancing

Last week, I told y’all about a 6-part series I’m doing on personal loans, credit card debt, and refinancing – the Payoff Series. Welcome to Part I!


It’s no secret that America is in a debt crisis – student loan debt is in the trillions, the government itself is battling its own debt, and regular consumers are adding mortgages and credit cards to the mix. The average American household has $15,000 in credit card debt, and the average interest rate on those credit cards remains above 13%.

Debt Stress is No Joke

And how are people handling all that debt? Not well. One in five people consider money a taboo subject, according to a recent Harris poll. It’s also the No. 1 cause of stress, according to the survey, ahead of work, family and health concerns. 23% of Americans — and 36% of Millennials — experience a debilitating degree of stress surrounding their finances.  So unless you’re expecting a windfall from a long-lost relative (which is pretty depressing), it’s up to you to come up with a game plan to manage your finances.

The obvious solution is to hurry up and pay off the debt, but in the meantime, there’s another way to save money, an especially helpful one if you are in the “post-grad plateau,” at the early stage of your career with higher income potential just around the corner. With the average annual percentage rate (APR) for fixed-rate credit cards around 12.5% and variable-rate credit cards closer to 16%, you could save thousands of dollars by refinancing credit card debt with a low interest personal loan. (more…)

$pending Fast: 6 Lessons Learned After 6 Months

spending fast

It’s been six months since I started my spending fast journey. Honestly, it’s become pretty routine now. Not that I ever struggled to not shop, but I’ve realized how little I actually need. I’ve also realized my food budget (& not packing my lunch) is a far more pressing problem. Oh well, I’m a work in progress.

Regardless, I’ve learned a lot in my six months of fasting. Here are six lessons for six months:

  1. Impulsive shopping is the worst kind of shopping. I haven’t broken my spending fast, and I’m pretty proud of that (though I did ask my boyfriend to buy me a pretty mouse pad). Still, sometimes, I just want to buy something. I’ll be sitting on my couch, minding my own business, and just desire going to the mall and buying things. When this happens, I’ve started perusing online stores, adding everything I could possibly want to the cart, and then closing the browser. It tends to work, but I’ve decided that even after the fast, I’m not allowing impulse purchases. There’s no need to buy anything on impulse & that kind of reckless behavior is part of what got me into debt in the first place. Plus, whenever I check the cart later, I decide I don’t even like the thing I was going to buy…or if I do, I add it to my future gifts list.
  2. You don’t need new stuff. Having not bought anything unnecessary in six months, I’m finding more and more things I just never use. I ended up filling four bags’ worth of items to donate about a week ago, and I sold an entire credit card payment’s worth of stuff on Craigslist. And I still have stuff I don’t use. If I learned anything from this, it’s that we don’t need new stuff…we don’t even need half the stuff we already have. I’ve become significantly more conscious of food waste, recycling of products, and picking up “freebies” at events since starting the fast. If I own it, I’m using it, and if I don’t want to keep it forever, I’m not taking it home in the first place.
  3. No one is paying attention. I’ve worn almost the same eight outfits to work for six months now. They are my favorite, they are comfy, and they get the job done. If anyone’s noticed, I haven’t heard about it. I think it’s more likely that no one cares. Why? Because I don’t care what they are wearing either…nor am I paying attention to whether they wore the same thing last Thursday, we’re there to do a job. If you’re buying things because you think other people will care or judge you for because you don’t have them, then skip the purchase. Buy what makes you happy and feel good, and don’t buy it if it’s not in your budget and not for you.
  4. There’s something to this minimalism thing. Going off lesson three, the eight outfits really make getting ready for work a breeze. I’ve essentially created a capsule wardrobe by constantly sifting through what I own without adding to it. Because of this, I now have a much better grasp on everything available to me. Thus, deciding what to wear has become super easy. It helps that I was always more of a classic, basic pieces girl before the shopping ban so I have a lot of options with the same few pieces. That being said, I now know the true value of cardigans. The entire dressing process now takes approximately five minutes each morning – amazing.
  5. Quality, quality, quality. I haven’t bought any new clothes in six months, and I haven’t had anything need to be replaced yet. Why? Because I take very good care of my things, and I buy quality items that will last a long time. Nearly all of the things I donated were cheap, trendy, impulse buys. Some of them I even had to throw out because of their poor condition. If I’ve learned anything, always buy good quality. You should be able to rely on your items to get you through tough times (think cars). Not having to worry about replacing my clothes has made the shopping ban way easier.
  6. Gift giving is way easier. In the past, I’ve struggled to come up with ideas for what I would like for my birthday or Christmas. This year? I have a list. A very specific list of things. And these are things I have wanted for several months. It’s kind of nice to know exactly what will make you happy, object-wise.
This cookbook is at the top of my list. Come to me!

It’s been a quick six months, but I’m excited to keep making progress towards my goals and finishing out the fast. I might even make this a permanent part of my spending philosophy. Now if only I could hold myself to the same concept with food spending. I’m also pretty excited that it’s my birthday month, which means I get to treat myself to $150 of whatever I want.

Happy saving!


How to be a Fancy & Frugal Socialite

frugal socialite

I’ve gone six months without buying a single non-essential item (part of my $pending Fast), and I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s tough. But over these last few months, I’ve realized why. Not spending makes me feel like I’m not participating. I miss hanging out with my friends at happy hours and dinners. I miss going to the movies or to the mall without worrying about my bank account. And sure – while you can always go on a walk with your friend – going to a rockin’ spin class or sauna just feels more fun.

These *frugal* days you’ll find me less likely to suggest heading out for dinner with friends and more likely to suggest cooking dinner with a bottle of wine at home instead, but that doesn’t mean I’m not having fun. Making time for friends when you’re just starting out in your career is tough, but when you add limited funds to the mix? It’s even harder. So, what’s a frugal socialite to do? Get creative.


The Power of Asking (& Why YOU Need to Do It)

the power of asking and why you need to do it too

We talk a lot on Dames in Debt about ways to save money or smart spending, but let’s not also forget another very important piece of the no-debt puzzle: increasing your income. You can scrimp and save all you want, but at some point, you just can’t save any more. It’s unfortunate in this day and age that many of us technically considered “middle class” full-time employees can’t earn enough to live off of our 40 hour a week earnings. The answer?

You need to make more money.

Today’s post is about the quickest, easiest way to increase your earnings: asking your boss for a raise.

There’s a saying that 20% of your efforts result in 80% of the outcome.

My Salary Situation

I work at a non-profit that is notoriously stingy. Nobody here gets paid what they’re worth, but we do it because we believe in the work we do. I can honestly say this job is the closest to a dream job (in terms of job duties) that I’ve been able to swing as of yet. BUT, I’m hired only for a specific project, there’s no upward mobility, I only have a Bachelor’s degree (everyone else has at least a Master’s), and I get paid the least of all of my counterparts who have the same job (due to said Bachelor’s degree limitation). It’s really quite ridiculous when you think about it: why am I not receiving equal pay for equal work? Especially for a job that does not need a higher degree in order to perform well, but that’s another post entirely.

Seems sort of like a barrier to ever getting a pay raise, doesn’t it? The thing I’d really like to emphasize here is YOU WILL NEVER GET A RAISE IF YOU DO NOT ASK.

I once had a coworker who had worked at this business for over 10 years and only once asked for a raise. They believed bosses and managers should reward good work with good pay and help their employees rise and provide mentor-ship. That’s really lovely. And so not the way it works. For their optimistic beliefs they had stagnant wages for years. You need to look our for yourself first. That doesn’t mean you can’t help others, but you have to be in a position to help in the first place.

So back to asking. Just ask.