Household Swaps That Are Good for Your Pockets & the Environment

This post contains affiliate links.

Lately, I’ve been concerned (and frankly disappointed) with the amount of waste I’ve been generating. Specifically, my paper towel use during this time of increased hand washing and sanitizing pretty much everything. I use paper towels to dry my hands and sanitize surfaces in the house, but I also use them when eating, to wipe up spills, to rest things on instead of the bare counter, etc. One day I thought, well if I was using that many paper towels and subsequently generating that much waste, how much waste was actually being disposed of in my neighborhood, or the country.

So I started to look for ways to minimize my overall waste and took inventory of some of the swaps I had already. You know what I realized? Not only was I saving money by purchasing things I could reuse but I was also, in my own small but impactful way, helping the environment.

Here are a few household swaps I’ve made that have saved money and happen to be better for the environment:

Reusable Coffee Filter

We all know that eliminating Starbucks completely won’t make us rich, but making coffee at home does have its benefits. Actually, I’ve found brewing my own coffee to be a pleasant part of my morning routine. But while I was saving some money by cutting back on my trips to Starbucks, I would be inconvenienced when I would forget to grab coffee filters at the store and would run out. Not to mention I was throwing away coffee filters after each pot. So I looked for a reusable option and found this reusable coffee filter and I haven’t looked back since! Just fill it with your favorite ground coffee to brew and dump the leftover grounds when you’re done or save them for a DIY body scrub!

Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure-Castile Soap

Where do I even begin with this magical liquid? Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap is hands down the most versatile soap and now I know why they call it an 18-in-1 soap. With just a few drops and a dilution of water, this soap can be used as an all-body cleanser, dish and laundry detergent, an multi-purpose cleaner, shave cream, floor cleaner, fruit and vegetable washer, and bug deterrent for houseplants or the garden, and so much more! My favorite scent is lavender, but it also comes in almond, peppermint, unscented, citrus, eucalyptus, rose, and tea tree! Plus one 32 ounce bottle goes a loooooong way!

Cloth Napkins

Switching to these cloth napkins was the inspiration for this post and really lit the fire in me to be more conscious and want to do better when it comes to reducing my waste. I started small with the paper towels I use to clean my hands and wipe my mouth when eating. I found these cloth napkins on Amazon and so far I’ve enjoyed using them and the pop of color! I’m already noticing a difference and how long it’s taking for my trash can to get full with paper towels.

Washable Sponges

I don’t know how late I am to this party but sponges that you can use around the house, for various things, that you can just throw in the laundry then reuse?! OMG! I love not having to add sponges to my shopping list, worrying about properly disposing of them or the plastic they come in. These washable sponges are made of terry cloth, have a rough side for tough spots, and come in super cute and fun colors/patterns. When they get too dirty, just throw them in the wash with the rest of your stuff. I even bought some for my boyfriend and he’s hooked!

Reusable Grocery Bags

Seriously everything on this list is a game changer, but these grocery bags change the grocery bag game for sure! They are sturdy and are basically a box with handles. So I can place them in the car without having to worry about the bags rolling around and items falling out. They also easily fit inside of shopping carts to keep your items organized and visible, AND they collapse for easy storage. Boom!

Glass Meal Prep/Food Containers

If you’ve browsed my Meal Prep highlight on Instagram for me, you’ve seen these before. I’ve been using these glass containers by Prep Naturals to portion out my meals for a few years now. Although more expensive than plastic, these glass containers are more environmentally-friendly, eliminate plastic leaching into your food and body, and maybe it’s just me but they make food look and taste better!

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list. These are just some of my favorites but there are so many swaps you can make to lower your household costs and have a better impact on the environment.

What are some household swaps you’ve made that have really paid off for you and made the environment a little better?

My Grocery Shopping Budget Hack

This post contains affiliate links.

Whether you’re a household of 1 or 5, one can easily get carried away when shopping in the grocery store, which can make sticking to your grocery budget a challenge.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we spend an average of $7,700 on groceries every year, and an average of 41 minutes in the grocery store each visit.

There are many ways to save time and money when it comes to grocery shopping, like shopping your pantry first, being on a cash budget, and ultimately sticking to a list of things you actually need. However, we’re human and it can take grabbing just one extra thing to put you over your grocery budget.

Allow me to introduce you to the gadget that changed the game for my grocery shopping budget:

It’s a tally counter!

A tally counter is a handheld device used to count things like people and animals, or to keep track of things that are coming and going like people at an event.

Here’s how I use a tally counter to stay within my grocery budget while shopping:

How It Works

  • To begin, turn the dial to set the tracker to “OOOO”. Then, for every dollar an item costs that I add to my basket/cart, I add one click to the tally counter by pressing the lever.

For example, this cashew yogurt costs $1.69.

  • So I add 2 clicks to tally counter.

There’s no tax on this item so 2 clicks sufficed but if there was applicable tax, I’d add one more click.

I continue to add clicks to the tally counter as I move through the store, grabbing the items on my grocery list.

At the end of my shopping, the tally counter read “85” which meant my grocery bill would come to an estimated $85 at the register, so I was still under my $100 budget.

Are you dying to know what my actual today at the register was?

That’s right…$79.54!

I told you…GAME CHANGER!

Why It Works

Each click added to the counter represents a whole dollar so it’s rounding up for you. So as long as you remember to add the right number of clicks as you shop, your actual total when you get to the register will always be less than your tally counter total…helping to keep you well within your grocery budget.

You can also keep an eye on your total as you move throughout the grocery store, without the risk of accidentally erasing it like many of us have done when using the calculator app on our phones.

Which means there’s also no toggling back and forth a grocery list and app on your phone shaving time off the average grocery store visit

My tally counter along with my Becta Design Cash Envelopes, help to keep me under my grocery budget EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Try it out! You can grab your tally counter here! I promise, it’ll be a game changer for you too!

Related: My Review of Becta Design Cash Envelopes

Mercari vs Facebook Marketplace

Updated July 18, 2020

Selling items you no longer need can be a great way to make extra money to help you reach your financial goals. Last year, I started selling some of my unwanted items on Facebook Marketplace for extra money to throw towards my debt. However, when COVID-19 became a global pandemic and caused us to shelter-in-place in order to avoid unnecessary human contact, my online selling behavior changed.

I remembered someone on Instagram recommending the Mercari selling app and with more time at home and a pile of unwanted items growing, I decided to give it a try!

Mercari and Facebook Marketplace have some similarities and some key differences, and here I compare them head-to-head!

Listing Your Items

Mercari: Listing your items on Mercari is easy. Mercari provides prompts for entering details about your item such as the item category, brand, condition, and color. These prompts are predictive and can auto-populate information based on the photos uploaded and what you begin to type. There is also a free text box to provide additional information that can help buyers understand exactly what the are getting. You can add up to 12 photos per listing and 3 hashtags.

Facebook Marketplace: Listing items on Marketplace is also easy, but without the bells and whistles. Prompts are provided to tell buyers what you’re selling, the price, category, and location. There’s also a free text box to describe your item and you can add up to 10 photos.

Listing and Seller Fees

Mercari: There is no fee to list items. However, Mecari charges a 10% selling fee which includes the cost of processing the payment from the buyer. So your net earnings would be the listing prices minus the selling and any shipping fees (see below). This fee is charged when the sale has been completed. Additionally, if you cannot fulfill the order, a cancellation fee of 5% of the item price (maximum of $25) may be imposed when an order is cancelled to cover the cost of the transaction fees and/or shipping labels.

Facebook Marketplace: There is no fee to list items. However, for each item sold and shipped using Facebook Shipping (see below), Facebook charges a 5% selling fee to cover the cost of payment processing, customer support, and purchase protection.

Pricing Your Items

Mercari: On Mercari, you set your own price but you cannot sell items for less than $5 and for no more than $2000. The app also has a cool pricing feature that can help take the guesswork out of setting a price. This feature uses the information provided in the listing to compare the price of similar items that have recently sold. It also has a Smart Pricing feature, which boosts or promotes your item. All you have to do is choose the listing price and floor (lowest) price, then Mercari adjusts the price within that range based on demand, but never lower than the floor price. Mercari will even promote the price drop to people who have shown interest in your item.

Facebook Marketplace: There doesn’t appear to be a limit to pricing your items on Marketplace. You are responsible for setting your own price and you can even list items for free.

Promotions/Negotiations

Mercari: Interested buyers can make offers on your items. Offers expire after 24 hours. You can either decline, accept, or counter the offer. You can also promote your listings to those that have liked your item or to the public on Mercari. When you promote to those who have liked your item, the price is reduced by 10% or more for 24 hours. When you promote to the public, the price is reduced by 5%. Price drops can occur every 24 hours when promoting to the public, but only every 3 days when promoting to likers of your item.

Facebook Marketplace: Marketplace isn’t as structured when it comes to negotiating prices, so it could feel a bit like haggling. At this time, Facebook doesn’t offer a boost in listings unless you are operating a business page, but you pay for this like you would an ad.

Completing the Sale

Mercari: All transactions take place in the app. Unless a buyer makes an offer, the sale is immediately completed when the buyer presses the ‘Buy Now’ button.

Facebook Marketplace: Facebook encourages the buyer to contact the seller to purchase items. Buyers and sellers have to agree on the price, then coordinate when and how the buyer will get the item.

Delivering the Goods

Mercari: Shipping is the only way to deliver items on Mercari and at this time, you can only ship within the U.S. Mercari offers multiple shipping options and ways to pay for shipping. As the seller, you can choose to have the buyer pay for shipping or you can offer free shipping, which will certainly entice potential buyers. If you do decide to offer free shipping, I recommend getting an estimated cost for shipping and supplies first, so you know how that factors into your profit. Mercari offers shipping via: FedEx, USPS, and UPS. Items should ship within 3 business days using a valid tracking number from the date of the sale.

Facebook Marketplace: Marketplace sales are typically local and require coordination between the buyer and seller for when and where to pick up the item. When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, this was one of the reasons I switched to Mercari. However, Facebook now has a local delivery service through one of its partners, but it’s only available in certain cities and for select items. Facebook also implemented a direct-to-buyer shipping option. Like Mercari, discounted prepaid shipping labels can be purchased but in this case, the cost is passed onto the buyer. You’re encouraged to ship your items within 3 business days from the date of the sale. Customers can cancel orders within 30 minutes of purchase if the order isn’t marked as shipped yet. Facebook will also cancel any orders that fail to ship within 30 days.

Seller Protections and Refunds

Mercari: Mercari offers sellers payment guarantee and shipping protection up to $200, when using its prepaid shipping labels. Buyers can cancel a sale if the item doesn’t ship on time. Buyers can request a refund within 3 days of confirmed delivery if the item received isn’t as described, potentially counterfeit, damaged, defective, or the wrong item was received.

Facebook: Facebook doesn’t offer seller protections and all sales are typically final. Under Purchase Protection, buyers can request refunds on certain orders, if they didn’t receive the item, the item arrived damaged, defective, or wasn’t as described. Purchases must be made using Facebook Buy to be eligible.

Getting Paid

Mercari: Your payment is guaranteed when the item gets delivered (unless the buyer requests a refund). Once the buyer rates you as the seller, you then rate the buyer and then funds are added to your Mercari balance. You can use those funds to purchase items on Mercari or transfer them to your bank account. Direct deposit into your bank account is free and usually takes 2-5 business days. You can also get paid in 30 minutes or less with Instant Pay however, there is a $2 charge for this.

Facebook: Since most people shopping on Marketplace are interested in local pickup/drop off, you can determine how you want to get paid. Most people use person-to-person payment methods like PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and even cash to get paid. If you decide to use Facebook Buy, your money will be deposited into your bank account within 15-30 days of marking the item shipped and entering a valid tracking number.

Goal Tracking

Mercari: Mercari has a new feature! You can now set and track your selling goal within the app! It’s super easy to create too! All you do is set the type of goal it is (i.e., declutter, vacation, gift, treat yourself) then set how much you want to earn. This feature will provide selling tips and will keep track of your progress and tell you how much more you have to earn to reach your goal…right on your dashboard!

Facebook: …I’ll wait.

And the Winner is…

Mercari! Even with its slightly higher selling fee and shipping requirements, Mercari offers more functionality and choices than Facebook Marketplace. Not to mention, listing on Mercari puts your items in front of more people, which increases the likelihood of actually selling your items. Mercari wins when it comes to safety as well, eliminating the need to meet up with complete strangers, since all transactions are done in the app.

If you’d like to give Mercari a try, you’re welcome to use my referral link to sign up! You’ll get $10 off your first order and another $20 when you make your first $100 selling on Mercari! Plus, when you refer your friends, you’ll get $10 when they make their first purchase and another $40 when they make their first $100!

Well there it is folks! I’ve laid out some important features for both Mercari and Facebook Marketplace. But no matter which platform you choose, here are a few tips and resources that can help you be a successful seller:

  • Communication is the key to great customer service. Be proactive and upfront when communicating with buyers, especially if you may experience a delay in shipping and delivery.
  • The US Postal Service provides free shipping boxes. Just stop by your local post office or go online at USPS.com to order the boxes you need.
  • Check out the Mercari Help Center for additional information on how to sell on Mercari.
  • Check out the Facebook Marketplace Help Center for additional information on how to sell on Facebook.
  • For more pro tips for selling on Facebook Marketplace check out my 5 Tips for Selling on Facebook Marketplace!

If you have additional selling tips, comments, or questions…drop them below!

My Biggest Money Regret: Student Loans

As my mother’s oldest child and my grandparent’s oldest granddaughter, I was going to be a first to go to college.

Before me, my grandmother had been the only formally educated one and she was my motivation. She grew up during the times of segregation and was the only one of her siblings to finish high school and went on to become a nurse. She had such a huge impact on her community and I knew I wanted to to do the same.

I went back and forth between wanting to become a doctor, dentist, and even a marine biologist (science is my jam) and I knew college was the way to get there.

No one in my family really applied the pressure for me to go to college, it’s just what I thought I had to do so I assumed the responsibility. But from early as my sophomore year in high school, everyone had an interest.

Everyone had an interest but no one could truly afford to pay for college so student loans were thought to be my only ticket at the time. You know, that “good debt”.

I remember going to speak with my guidance counselor about my college picks. I was eyeing a few in-state schools but I had my heart set on Hampton University, a private historically black school in Hampton, VA. I applied for and earned a few local scholarships but only enough to pay for a couple of books. I really had no way of paying for college but I got accepted and knowing my family had no way of helping me pay for the tuition, I took out student loans…the maximum amount.

That was the beginning of the financial damage I would do to my future self.

My first semester at Hampton was everything I had seen on a show called A Different World and more! I was making new friends, learning from professors that looked like me, getting good grades, and embracing my newfound independence and that included getting my first credit card. Although student loans had covered most of my living expenses, my mom would deposit money into my bank account every time she got paid for miscellaneous stuff.

But after one semester my 18 year old life changed abruptly. My step father left and my family’s structure and financial landscape changed dramatically. So I went back home to Annapolis to live with my mom and little brother to help my mom pick up the pieces.

Being back home when I felt like I should be in college like my friends was a tough pill to swallow. I felt cheated. But I needed to get a job to help out and carry my own weight.

I got a job at The Home Depot and financed my first car, with the help of my grandmother who co-signed on the loan. Now that I was out of school student loan payments came due but didn’t fit in the budget I didn’t have. So I would apply for forbearance to avoid making monthly payments and kept doing it. To be honest I’d get the outstanding interest statements but would only focus in on the part that said “THIS IS NOT A BILL”.

I worked for about 2 years before I had enough. By this time I was working full time as a receptionist at dental office. I worked for the best dentist who understood my desire to go back to school, taught me most of what I know about dentistry, and supported my decision to apply to Bowie State University and drop to working part time at the office.

I was accepted and determined to finish my degree. My financial situation hadn’t changed so I took out loans…again…and maxed them out again. Using the refund check from the “surplus” on unnecessary shit.

I took out student loans semester after semester, taking the max out each time.

I graduated from Bowie State with a BS in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry. I was proud of myself but still I felt like I needed to play catch up to my friends who graduated a few years before. So I immediately applied to grad school at Johns Hopkins and took out the max amount allowed to receive another refund check.

I moved into my own apartment, financed another car, and spent money on a guy I shouldn’t have been dating with money that didn’t belong to me. It gets worse. While in grad school, my grandparents passed away, I ended up losing my job, my car almost got repossessed, and there was one month I actually faced eviction!

Despite all of that, I cash-flowed my last semester at Hopkins (only because I wasn’t taking enough credits to quality for student loans) and graduated with a MS in Biotechnology.

After a few more piss poor money decisions after that, I started my #debtfreejourney.

Today I owe $134.1k in student loans, those loans accrue $25.15 in interest EVERYDAY, I’ve completely exhausted the option for forbearance, and I’m currently enrolled in the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program without any guarantee that the program will continue to be around or that my loans will actually be forgiven.

I look at my degrees and it brings me to tears sometimes knowing that I’m still paying for them…long past the celebrations. I don’t regret my education but I do regret borrowing my future to achieve them. I graduated years ago. The debt lingers and the feeling of achievement is long gone.

This is why student loans are my biggest money regret and I will continue to share my journey to deter others from going down the same path.

5 Time and Money Saving Meal Prep Tips

“A Sunday well spend, brings a week of content.” – Unknown

Every Sunday I take a few hours to meal prep enough meals to last me until Friday. This helps to save both money and my waistline. However, when I first started meal prepping, it would take me FOREVER. The day would go by so fast and I’d be so tired by the end of the day from being in the kitchen all day.

Over time and with practices, I’ve found that a little planning ahead goes a long way. Here are 5 tips to help you save time and money on meal prep:

#1 Plan Ahead

Whether it’s a month or a week ahead, start getting ideas together for what kind of meals you and/or your family would want. Thinking of favorite foods, flavors, and recipes is always a good place to start. Don’t forget to keep in mind allergies or your nutritional goals too!

#2 Take Inventory

Take inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Sometimes you can create a meal using what you already have. Either way, knowing what you already have on hand reduces the likelihood that you’ll buy something you already have. And who hasn’t done that before?!

#3 Make a List

Now that you know what you have, make a list of what you need. A list gives you a plan of attack at the grocery store, reducing your time there and the chance of buying on impulse, and will hopefully help you stay within budget.

#4 Keep It Simple

To save money on your groceries and time in the kitchen,  keep recipes and ingredients as simple as possible. Prep, cook time, and costs usually increase with the complexity of the recipe.

#5 Multi-Task

One-pot, one-skillet, and one-pan meals are great when it comes to saving time. When using your oven, consider foods that can be cooked at the same temperature and/or at staggered times. Also, don’t forget your microwave! It’s a great way to steam vegetables while you’re busy cooking other things.

Bonus Tips:

  • Glass containers, like the ones I use from PrepNaturals, makes everything look and taste better! Although more expensive than plastic, glass containers are more environmentally-friendly and eliminate plastic leaching into your food and body!
  • Don’t think you can eat the same thing all week long? Try meal prep every 2-3 days or use a base and create multiple meals around it. For example: chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken pad thai, or chicken, rice, and veggies.
  • If you’re still struggling with time, consider using short cuts like pre-chopped vegetables, salad mixes, or pre-cooked meats. Although more expensive, these short cuts can save you time in the kitchen.

My Review of the Becta Design Cash Envelopes

This post contains affiliate links.

For some people, spending cash is harder to do than using a debit/credit card. I’m definitely one of those people so I budget cash to use for categories that I tend to overspend in or want to control such as eating out, gas, groceries, and clothes.

Usually, I would just keep my cash organized with gold paper clips (because I’m fancy) and post its because then the cash could still fit in my everyday wallet. I needed something that didn’t require a special kind of wallet or binder. However, when I was contacted about trying the Becta Design Cash Envelopes and after looking into them a little more, my interest was piqued and I thought maybe it was time to give cash envelopes a chance.

They arrived pretty quickly and I was first surprised at receiving TWELVE adorable cash envelopes with fun designs like mountains, pineapples, clouds, hearts, and even llamas. Most of the cash envelopes I’ve seen for sale are sold in sets of 5 or 6.

The envelopes are made from a plastic that’s pretty durable, resistant to tear, are waterproof…oh and they SNAP closed! Plus, because they are made from plastic, they can be hole punched to fit any cash envelope wallet or organizer, without apart or your cash falling out.

Each cash envelope came with a double-sided budget sheet to keep track of your transactions and running balances for each category and a label to stick on the outside of the envelope to identify the budget category.

They were easy to use and are the perfect size (6.5 inches x 3.3 inches) to store cash and receipts. I was very pleased when I realized I could actually fit a few in my wallet at one time without it being hard to close or becoming bulky.

But what I really liked about these cash envelopes, and what I think makes them even more unique, was that inside each cash envelope was a coordinating coin pouch…a COIN POUCH! A coin pouch that also snapped closed to keep all the coins safe!

Before I would just place all of the change I received in the zippered part of my wallet, but the coin pouch made it easy to keep the coins for each category together so I have exactly what my budget sheet for the envelope says.

I love them and recommend them if you’ve been wanting to try cash envelopes or are looking for a more heavy duty option.

Because I loved them so much Becta Design is offering a 20% off discount to my friends in the Debt Free Community! So if you want to give the Becta Cash Envelopes a try, just use promo code DFCGET20 to save 20%!

This is not an ad or a sponsored post. This review reflects my personal experience and genuine opinion of the Becta Design Cash Envelopes.

Why No Spend Days Should Be A Part Of Your Financial Goals + a Freebie!

It’s a new year and that means we have the opportunity to set the vision for how we want the year to go and make the plan to bring that vision to fruition. If you’ve made the decision to take control of your finances, then you’ve certainly set some financial goals for the year. Whether your goal is to save money, pay off debt, or purchase something you’ve been wanting without going into debt for it, no spend days are a great tool to help you achieve those goals!

Here’s why no spend days should be a part of your financial goals and some tips on how to have no spend day success!

What are No Spend Days?

Simply put, no spend days are days in which you don’t spend money but particularly money on things that aren’t necessary or urgent. No spend days challenge you to be more conscious of why you spend money, what you spend your money on, and to evaluate whether spending money on that particular thing is actually necessary. As a result of this awareness, you’re less likely to spend money, keeping more of it in your pocket!

However, there should be exceptions to no spend days such as the paying of bills, emergencies, gas and other transportation-related expenses, child care and healthcare costs…you know the things that when they come up, you have no choice but to spend money.

What are the benefits of having No Spend Days?

If saving money isn’t a big enough deal, here are a few other benefits to no spend days:

  • No spend days can help to identify your spending triggers. Are you more likely to spend money on unnecessary things after having a bad day at work or when that one friend calls and invites you to happy hour or even from an encounter with your mother? Okay maybe that last one is all about me but you get the idea.
  • No spend days can help you identify your spending habits too! Do you know whether you’re less inclined to spend during the work week but get the urge to spend money on the weekends when there’s less structure to your day?
  • No spend days also promote an increased awareness of needs versus wants. No spend day challenges make you ask yourself whether the thing you want to purchase is needed at that very moment or whether you can get the same or a better result if you delay or abandon the purchase all together.

How can I be successful at No Spend Days?

  • Set a SMART goal. The first step to ensuring your success, like with anything else, is to set a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time related. So using this criteria, your no spend goal would be something like “I will complete 15 no spend days during the month of February.” But before you set your no-spend goal be sure to look at the month ahead and be practical about what you can actually do given the obligations you already have or can anticipate having.
  • Be proactive. If you have the tendency to stop for take out on the way home, try to meal prep ahead of time or have what you need on hand to whip up something in 30 minutes or less once you get home.
  • Keep it real. We can spend money on something unnecessary that we’ve budgeted for and then justify the spending because it’s “in the budget.” But ultimately no spend days can only work if you’re honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable to achieving your goal.

If you’re ready to give No Spend Days a try download my free No Spend Tracker!

Dear Debt Free Me | I Had a Moment

December 30, 2019

Dear Debt Free Me,

Well it’s been exactly a month since I last wrote you. Things are going well. Okay…well there was this little incident on Friday.

I had a total moment. This shit is SO hard. I have so much that I need and want to do and I can’t find the time to do it. I seem to be out of the house more and more these days and when I do get some down time, I’m trying to cram all this stuff into it. I don’t know exactly what triggered the moment but my anxiety was so high that I cried…at the bank. At that moment, everything and everyone annoyed me. I felt like I was going to burst like Michael Douglas did in that one movie he was stuck in traffic. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t shut down and shut out the world though…trust me, I wanted to. But instead I turned to our friends in the Debt Free Community on Instagram about how I was feeling. It was probably one of my rawest moments on social media but what I was feeling was real. Also, I probably looked as bad as I felt but that doesn’t matter. The amount of love and encouragement I received was overwhelming. More than likely I’m burnt out. I ended up taking a lot of the advice I received from the community and took some time out for myself that weekend. I haven’t scheduled a spa day or getaway yet, but I did spend some time relaxing, catching up on a few things, thinking about what I need to do in order to take care of myself moving forward, and looking for freelance work to do from home. Adjustments are coming in 2020.

-Nika

5 Tips for Selling on Facebook Marketplace

My first experience with Facebook Marketplace came in September when, after much of my urging to purge, the boyfriend allowed me to list a few of his FunkoPOPs he was going to trash. Out of the 3 I listed, I received some inquires that never lead anywhere for one of the items and was able to sell another for $15 within just a few days of listing. It was so exhilarating so I knew I would eventually go back to list more items…and I did!

As part of a challenge to increase my income in November, I went around the house looking for items to sell. I set a small goal of listing just 5 items to start and made a total of $140 by selling my Series 3 Apple Watch and a tote bag from Target that I NEVER used.

Just recently, I made $21 from selling a pair of boots (that I listed in November), another tote bag, and a jewelry display. These sales won’t pay the mortgage but it does feel good letting go of things that I no longer need and getting some extra cash to throw towards my debt in the process.

However, like anything where humans are involved, patience is essential and success on platforms like Facebook Marketplace can be hit are miss.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that can help to close the sale and turn your clutter into coins:

Provide As Many Details About the Item You Can

You ever bought something based on the description only to receive it and it’s nothing like what was described?! While Facebook Marketplace is great for both new and used items, it’s important to include as much detail about the item listed as possible. Information such as when and where the item was purchased, the price paid for or the value of the item, the manufacturer or brand name, and the dimensions where necessary can be helpful to the buyer. For new items, include whether the items still has tags or was never been opened, and for old/used items, be sure to mention whether there are any blemishes or areas of wear.

Post a Variety of Quality Photos

Every picture tells a story and you want the photos you take of your items to tell the best story. The light in which you take your photos matters. When possible, photograph your items in natural light. However, if you find yourself taking pictures at night, use the flash and/or filters on your phone’s camera. Also, shoot your item(s) at various angles, including the soles of shoes and even inside of bags or purses. Much like with the description, being transparent and photographing the packaging, tags, blemishes and any areas of wear on your item, can go a long way with potential buyers.

Set Guidelines That Work for You

As much as you may want to sell an item, someone wants to buy it so use that to your benefit. Set and maintain guidelines regarding communication, bargaining, whether the item is available for shipping, the method of payment you prefer, and even how far you’re willing to drive to sell the item. If you are willing to meet the buyer in person, try to arrange selling in an area you plan to be or that you’ll pass as you run errands, to save time and gas.

Do Some Digging

Unless you’re friends with the potential buyer, you’re not likely to see very many details about them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain enough information to where you feel comfortable to proceed with the transaction. When possible, search through their profile, paying particular attention to profile photos, any information regarding a location, place of work, and even family ties. I’ve also conducted a Google search to cross reference the name/photos found on Facebook because, I’d be a liar if I said I never worried whether it was real person on the other end of the chat.

Put Your Safety First

This should go without saying but your safety comes first. After you’ve done your best to confirm that the profile is legit, arrange to meet only in public places you’re most familiar with and at a time of day you’re most comfortable with. You can also bring a friend along if you’d feel safer not being alone. No matter what, trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it.

Lastly, do your best to be patient. There are thousands of listings on Facebook Marketplace so it may take some time for your listing to come across the right buyer.

Do you have any tips for selling on Facebook Marketplace? If so, share them in the comments!

Happy Selling! 🤑

Dear Debt Free Me

November 30, 2019

Dear Debt Free Me,

I started a blog and officially launched it today! It’s called The Debt Free Gonnabe Blog! 

I’ve been wanting to start one for a while but of course I was in my head and my nerves got the best of me. But here I am! It’ll serve as a place to continue conversations from the DebtFreeGonnaBe Instagram page I started to document my journey to becoming you. It’s part of a community called the Debt Free Community or affectionately known as the DFC. You’d love it! It’s full of people like myself on journeys to change their family tree by becoming debt free and some to even retire early! Crazy right?! I’ve gained a lot of friends along the way who are rooting for…well…US! They celebrate with me when I accomplish a goal or come into some good news and they encourage me to keep going when I experience a set back. And trust me, I’ve had my share of setbacks since I finally got serious about wanting the best for you. But I haven’t given up. I won’t give up! Because I know you’re counting on me. Wait…is someone chopping onions?! My eyes are tearing up.

It’s been a lot of hard work! I’m now on my second side hustle, working at a boutique cycling studio. This sometimes means days of waking up suuuuuuper early to be in at 5:30a for a few hours before going to the full-time job (which I hate a little less now but still want to quit every day) or going in the late afternoon until the studio closes, after putting in a full day in the office. I’m tired but I will finish this fight. 

I hope I make you proud!

Nika