Happy Thanksgiving! On this day of gratitude, I’m thankful for so many things. Health, family, faith, and freedom, among others. Today I want to focus on financial freedom.
I am thankful to be free from debt. I am thankful to have an emergency fund, which allows us to be free from fear of living on the street. I am thankful to be able to do work I love, instead of being a “wage slave”.
This freedom came with a price. Natalya and I have made sacrifices and taken many small steps to get to where we are now. There have been many tools that helped us (and still do) along the way.
This Thanksgiving, I want to share some of the free tools we’ve used to get out of debt, get control of our money, and achieve financial freedom.
I recently explained the debt snowball to a relative of mine, and thought a spreadsheet would help her out. So, I set to work creating a debt snowball spreadsheet in excel.
After half an hour of writing formulas, I decided to see if there were any available online for free. And I came across this awesome debt reduction calculator. Download it for free, enter your debts, and prepare to be flooded with information.
It will estimate your payoff date for each debt, the best order in which to pay them off, and the total interest you’ll pay for each debt. This spreadsheet will motivate you to pay off your debts and release yourself from bondage.
Dave Ramsey is the man when it comes to paying off debt and taking control of your money. Concerning budgets, he says:
A budget is you telling your money where to go at the beginning of the month instead of getting to the end of the month and wondering where it’s gone.
The Gazelle Budget Lite software is a free, quick, and easy way to create a first-draft budget. My favorite part is that he gives recommendations on what percentage of your income should be spent on each category.
This is a tool I use practically every day to track the health of our finances. In one place we track all of our financial accounts: checking, savings, credit (don’t have any), loans (none either), and investments.
Perkstreet offers an innovative way to bank: They give you cash back on debit-card purchases! Since we don’t use credit cards, this is the best way for us to earn cash back on our spending.
Back in the good old days of high interest, we had a rewards checking account that earned 5% per year on the balance. We were living high!
Then came the economic crash. Interest rates on our checking account to date have dropped to 0.5%! Ouch.
So, in the current climate, 2% back on purchases is a much better way to earn money with our checking account.
We love perkstreet, but it’s not for everyone. Banking with perkstreet is best for people who prefer banking online and use debit cards for most of their purchases.
So there you have it: four awesome, free tools that have helped on our journey to financial freedom.