Would you live in a camper for eleven months to pay off debt? This couple did.

When Zack and Jen McCullock first got married they decided to begin their marriage in an unconventional way. They lived in a camper. The couple had around 50k in school and car loan debt and after having an honest talk shortly after their honeymoon about their financial future, they decided to tackle the debt. They discussed taking a drastic step to becoming financially free.

They first cut expenses in as many areas as possible, but they knew that in order to experience the complete freedom they desired, as well as be able to pursue their dream of owning their own business, they would need to make a big sacrifice. That sacrifice came in the form of a 30-foot camper.

After making the announcement to friends and family, whom they say were completely supportive, they purchased a camper for around $3,000. They set the camper on a piece of land owned by Zack’s family, got rid of most of their possessions, keeping only a small storage unit with a few of their seasonal clothes and other small items. One of their few expenses included a monthly electric bill and they reduced evening activities to listening to podcasts, reading, and watching one of three available television channels.

Zack and Jen will admit that it wasn’t the easiest season of their life, but it was life-changing. Although they considered quitting at different times, they hung in there and succeeded in their goal. They paid off all of their debt in a little less than a year.

In this article, the couple share a bit about their journey, talk about the importance of financial freedom, and give a few tips on saving money.

Where did the idea of living in a camper come from?

The idea evolved from our original plan of living in a tiny house. We were going to live in a camper while our home was being built. However, after considering the cost of building a home (even a tiny one) we knew that we were putting more of a financial strain on ourselves. We decided to stick with the camper idea and use the money we saved to pay off debt.

Did both of you work full-time jobs during this time?

Yes, we both worked for nonprofits full time. We used the money we saved to pay off our debt.

What was one of the hardest challenges that you encountered?

Downgrading. We kept only the essentials in the camper. Like, we had only two coffee cups there and kept a week’s worth of clothing in the camper. We put all of our clothes in our storage shed and would rotate items week to week.

How has being debt free impacted your life?

The biggest takeaway for us was that short-term sacrifices are always worth long-term gains. Making a sacrifice to pay off our debt by living in a camper was tough but it has ultimately fueled us starting our own blog and business where we get to talk about money with other millennials and give back to the community that gave so much inspiration to us. Not only that, I am now completing my graduate school degree and we are able to pay for it out of pocket. None of these things would have been possible if we were still in debt!

What is one thing you wish more people understood about money?

Ultimately, being good with money is all about self-control! Also, it’s okay for others to have different goals than you. If your friend wants to buy a brand new BMW and have a $40k car note, fine! I think we often get caught up in the idea that we need to keep pace with our friends when it comes to material things. Life isn’t linear like that and everyone has their own reasons for doing things. Take your own path. Set your own money goals and don’t worry if your friends are going on nice vacations, buying outrageous houses, just do what you know is right for you!

What are 5 ways we could save money without moving into a camper?

  1. Cut out cable – cable is the worst!
  2. Commit to only eating out once per week
  3. When you do eat out, skip the drinks and pick up a bottle of wine on the way home instead
  4. Visit your local library and pick up books for free instead of buying them on Amazon
  5. Buy home goods (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, soap, etc) at the dollar store instead of Target or Wal-Mart

What is one actionable step our readers could implement today that would drastically impact their finances?

Reduce the amount you spend each month and actually make a budget! If you don’t have a budget app you use, find a good budgeting app or use just download our free budget spreadsheet to start tracking your money each month. If you have student loan debt, we also highly recommend looking into refinancing — we wish we would have done that during our debt free journey which is why we support it so much on our blog.

Zack and Jen have been featured in both Forbes and Yahoo Finance. They hope to one day take their business on the road and continue their work helping others make more financially responsible decisions. You can gain more financial tips and free useful resources by visiting Zack and Jen’s website yourmoneyyourfreedom.com

The holidays are over and the year is finally in full swing again (sigh of relief). But for many of us, after the dinner parties, holiday shopping, travel and family-get-togethers subside, we have a not-so-friendly holiday reminder when our credit card statement shows up… and is rolled over to the next month, then the next. The holidays can certainly add up to additional spending and often that spending is done on credit.

Regardless of your current financial situation, no matter how much debt you have incurred, you don’t have to get that sick feeling when you look at your money. There is a way to get out of debt and create the finances you desire – with joy and ease.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting out of debt and staying there:

You are the one who can change it

This is a really important first step and one that is often over-looked. A new financial reality is up to YOU. You are the source for creating it. If you are waiting on some event to take place to change things for you, you could be waiting a very long time.

Winning the lotto, gaining an inheritance, marrying a rich person or getting an amazing promotion with a significant increase in pay could happen, but do you really wish to hope for some event to come and change things for you? Or would you like to start changing things now?

When you recognize that you are the source for creating your life, you are empowered to change it. Commit to your life. Commit to taking action. Ask, “What’s it going to take to have the financial situation I desire?” Now choose.

Take an honest look at your finances

How were you with money, growing up? Were you educated about money? Was money talked about? Or was it hidden? Ignored? A topic that was avoided?

If you came from a family that avoided the topic of money, you may find that you have carried that over into adulthood. The problem with this is that ignoring your finances does nothing to change them. If you would like something different, you have to be willing to take a look at where you are today. Not from a place of judging you. Rather from the place of, “Here’s where I am. What’s it going to take to change this?”

Once you are clear on how much debt you have, work out how much extra you would need to pay each month towards your credit card debt to be out of debt in 12 – 24 months. If you have more than one credit card to pay off, what are the possibilities of consolidating your debt?

Change your perspective on money

How many points of view do you have about money? Your point of view creates your reality. If you desire to have a different reality, be willing to change your points of view. If you have decided that you have to work hard for money, guess what? You will work hard for every dollar that comes in.

What if money could come to you easily? What if you were able to receive money from many places? What points of view about money would you have to lose in order to create that with ease?

To change your points of view about money, use this tool. For every point of view that you notice, say, “Interesting point of view, I have that point of view.” As you say this, you will notice that all of those points of view that you have made, real, true and significant become simply interesting. And when they are simply interesting, you are free to let them go and choose another perspective.

Carry around the amount of cash you think a rich person would carry

How different would you feel about your life if you saw a big wad of cash every time you opened your wallet or purse instead of a lot of blank space and some half-crunched up receipts?

Practice. Carry around the amount of cash that you think a wealthy person would carry. Because I travel a lot, it’s fun for me to have my cash is in different currencies. I also have gold coin worth about $2000 in my purse. It makes me happy to have it there. It makes me feel abundant. What would be fun for you?

Acknowledge You

Are you waiting for others to acknowledge you so that you finally know what you have to offer is valuable? What if you were the one who recognizes you are valuable, no matter what anyone else thinks?

If you are going to change your money situation, you have to be willing to acknowledge you. When you do not acknowledge you, you diminish you. When you diminish you, you limit your creative abilities. A much easier way to go forward in life is to acknowledge what you have accomplished, to open your eyes to your greatness and not dismiss the things that you have created and changed.

There are three ways you can begin acknowledging you more effectively:

  • Acknowledge the value of you
  • Acknowledge what is easy for you to do
  • Acknowledging what you create

It might be difficult for you to see your value at first. Commit that you will do it anyway; no matter what. Get a notebook and write down what you are grateful for about you – add at least three different things every day.

Don’t let holiday debt or any debt for that matter stop you from creating a change now. Remember, you can change it. Have an honest look at your current situation, be willing to change your perspective on money, start to carry cash around and acknowledge the gift of you. Daily choose these things and a different financial reality is possible.

Simone Milasas is the Founder and Creator of Joy of Business as well as the Worldwide Coordinator of Access Consciousness® which operates in over 170 countries. Simone is the author of the internationally acclaimed book Joy of Business (currently available in 11 languages) and her brand new book, Getting Out of Debt – Joyfully. You can find out more about Simone by visiting her website at gettingoutofdebtjoyfully.com.

With so many financial products on the market available to consumers, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re financially literate and in control of your finances. Effie Zahos, Editor of Money Magazine and financial extraordinaire, shares six ways you can get back in control:

Manage your money week to week

You should be actively deciding where you want your money to go. Whether you receive weekly, fortnightly or monthly pay; divvy up your pay into four separate accounts.

Create an account for your weekly bills, another for mandatory costs like car registration and servicing, a miscellaneous account (because you never know when things just ‘pop’ up), and your long term savings account. Once you’ve worked out your weekly bills and ideal savings, organise for that money to be automatically transferred into their designated accounts. Whatever money left, is your ‘play money’ to last you until your next pay cycle.

Think about what is important to you! Don’t ever look back and wonder where your money went.

Plan for the future

Have a goal for the future and a plan to reach it. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. But without a plan, it won’t happen.

Start by writing down all the goals want to achieve and the financial input involved reaching it. Develop a realistic timeline and see how your plans abide with your weekly money management. Ensure your financial goals are realistic and account for mishaps like car breakdowns and celebrations.

Make your finances as easy as possible

We all have good intentions, but don’t necessarily get around to it. Make things automatic instead. Have money go automatically into your savings account or investment account every payday. This way, you don’t get overwhelmed seeing your entire paycheck in your bank account and you don’t (un)intentionally hoard the funds.

Set up a direct debit to pay your regular bills for mental and financial clarity.

Talk to your partner

Nothing kills a relationship like financial tension. Talk to your partner about where you stand financially and where you want to go. Whether you’re in a short or long term relationship, opening a joint bank account is a big decision to make. Ensure you’re both willing to commit to an agreed upon contribution on a frequent basis. Be sure to outline the instances when your joint account can be dipped into and that you’re both working towards a common goal.

If your partner wants a house and you want a 12-month round-the-world holiday, learn the value of compromise. Realistically, you may not be able to do both as extravagantly or as soon as you initially imagined, but perhaps sacrificing your 12-month trip for 6 months and allowing more time to save for a house would see both parties satisfied.

Investing is not gambling

You will gain financial success by steady, sensible decisions over many years, not by gambling on spectacular returns or picking a winner. The key concepts are:

  • Diversification (spreading your investment)
  • Buy things you understand (or use an unbiased professional who understands)
  • Invest within your risk comfort zone (where you can afford the likely ups and downs)

Before investing, do your research. Enlist the assistance of a financial advisor or seek advise from a trusted friend who is a confident investor. When it comes to investing, you can never know too much.

Increase your borrowing power

A $10,000 limit on your credit card reduces your home loan borrowing power by about $40,000.

If you’re interested in entering the housing market or need a loan, you can increase your borrowing power with a few quick and easy steps:

  • Improve your credit rating
  • Cancel credit cards or reduce your credit limit
  • Reduce your other debts

Avoid credit debt

If you need to borrow, avoid getting a short-term loan or pay day loan. They’re faster to process but harder to afford. In most cases you’ll be up for an establishment fee of 20% of the loan amount and an account-keeping fee of 4%. Take time to do the math: You could borrow $1000 for a month and find a cash advance from your credit card which would be about $220 cheaper.

Seek help and advice

Don’t be scared to seek advice. Whether you’re building your wealth, or things have gone horribly wrong, seek help from a financial advisor who is able to help you continue on, or get back on, the right path.


These tips were brought to you by Effie Zahos, Editor of Money Magazine, to celebrate the Australian DVD release of Money Monster.

There’s no such thing as one size fits all, especially when it comes to managing your money. Though gender roles have shifted over the last forty years, an inevitable fact remains – women still do the majority of child raising and domestic work. Women are also more likely than men to take extended leave from work to do just that. That means less income over time, up to 20% less than men on average. Here are 4 ways to manage your money that are geared toward working women.

1. Set yourself a budget and save

Women aiming for future financial security need to set a budget and stick to it. Tammy May, CEO and founder of successful budgeting company MyBudget said in Samara Magazine this year, “No two budgets will be exactly the same — your financial plan needs to be based on your specific situation and goals — but there are three important money management principles that all women should adopt and carry through every phase of their lives.” If you’re planning for a baby or need a new car, you’ll need money in the bank. Likewise, we can find ourselves in and out of relationships, lose our jobs, and fall ill unexpectedly. There’s no avoiding it – if you want to savings you need to save!

2. Avoid bad debt

Debt is debt, right? Wrong! There are kinds of debt that you should want to avoid racking up. Those debts are usually found in consumer goods like clothes, shoes, holidays and putting small items on your credit card. If you have to finance it to afford it, don’t. Good debt like investing in houses or shares increase in value and eventually offset the debt.

You have to live not only within your means, but on half to three-quarters of your income.

3. Live below your means

We all learned hard lessons in the last half-decade. You can’t take your job for granted. It’s quite possible the industry you’re in won’t even exist in the next ten years. You have to live not only within your means, but on half to three-quarters of your income. This gives you a buffer in case there are changes in your income, and you can easily adjust. It’s just another variation on “short term pain, long term gain.”

4. Change to a more flexible or higher-return super fund

Did you know one-third of the female workforce works part-time or casually? This means women are putting less away into superannuation compared to men. If you’ve had lots of part-time or even full-time jobs, you may have superannuation spread about different accounts. There’s $18 million worth of unclaimed lost super out there, but you have to find it. AUSFund has an unclaimed super tool that can help you. When you’ve got all your super together, you should roll it over into to a low-fee, higher-return super fund. If you have a mortgage, set up a redraw or interest offset facility and redirect the funds into your super.

photo credit: wajakemek | rashdanothman


bill-autorship-150x150Bill Tsouvalas

Bill Tsouvalas is founder and managing director at www.badcreditcarloans.com.au. He has been working in the vehicle & asset finance business for over 8 years. He also writes car reviews and articles on car finance, chattel mortgage, insurance, consumer protection and insurance related topics.

The new financial year can be a pivotal turning point for those aiming to better their finances in the not-too-distant future. It’s a good opportunity for you to flip the page on your finance books, reevaluate your previous year’s spending and take stock of your debt situation. A key part of this is making small changes across various areas of your life to ensure that in another 365 days you’re in the exact position you want to be.

Here are our top 10 financial tips for the new financial year:

1. Think before you apply

Make sure you do your research before taking out any financial product in the new year. Ask questions, understand and know what you are getting into before you sign any contracts. Don’t start out your new year with unwise debt or insurance that doesn’t meet your needs.

2. Don’t shop around for the best rate by applying for credit

Applying for credit online can inadvertently damage your credit rating. Lenders will most likely request a credit history review through which they’ll be able to see the number of times you’ve applied for credit and when. If your record shows multiple applications within a short time frame it may influence a lender’s willingness to approve your application.

3. Make extra repayments off your loans where possible

To give you more equity and allow some financial freedom, make extra payments on your loans before the repayment date. Create a plan to save a little extra each week to put towards bonus loan repayments. Keeping ahead of your repayments will also help as supporting documentation for any future loans you wish to apply for.

Create a plan to save a little extra each week to put towards bonus loan repayments.

4. Guard your wealth and health

Ensure that you and your family are covered for worst-case scenarios by taking out income and loan protection, and health insurance. If the unexpected should happen loan protection may grant you relief from making loan repayments. Cover for things such as illness, accidental injury, unemployment and death will give your loved ones peace of mind.

5. Reduce the number of balances of any high interest loans

Consolidate your high interest rate debts such as credit cards into one lower interest loan where possible. This minimises interest paid and your actual monthly expenditure. You should also lower credit card limits as you pay them off to avoid ‘round about’ debt.

6. Borrow what you are comfortable with

Spend a considerable amount of time prior to borrowing to decide how much money you need on your personal loan. Do not borrow the maximum capacity allowed if you don’t need it. Borrowing within your limits is important for both you and the lender, so work with your creditor to figure out what is best for your personal situation.

The more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it becomes. Ask yourself if every purchase is a want or a need …

7. Save and teach, teach to save

Set an example for your children and teach them how to save. Open a children’s savings account and educate them on the importance of saving vs. spending. A few great tricks are to match them dollar for dollar that they save from their allowance, create a savings chart with goals and reward them for small milestones.

8. Learn (financial) self-control

The more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it becomes. Ask yourself if every purchase is a want or a need and don’t forget to reward yourself every now and then, but don’t go overboard. Set realistic goals if it helps you to cut back on your material spending and keep yourself accountable.

9. Know where your money goes

Keep track of which areas of life you spend the most money. Account for invariables such as monthly repayments, bills and subscriptions, but also note your average spend on things such as entertainment, dining and shopping. Input this information into a pie chart alongside your savings and prioritise which slices you can afford to cut back and how you can make that savings slice bigger.

10. Start an emergency fund

Alongside your income protection and health insurance, aim to save at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses as an emergency fund. This money can be relied upon to be a last resort in the event of an unexpected change in circumstances, death or natural disaster. Importantly, once saved, it should exist outside of your other finances. If your mortgage can be used as an offset account, it may be a good place to park this money and also reduce your interest payments.

This article was written in collaboration with PCCU

Featured photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc