"InCharge" Your Credit Card Debt To Travel the World

3:04:00 PM

Credit card debt sucks.  It is the best way to get in THE worst financial situation if you do not know how to use them responsibly.  Back in my early 20's I was young, dumb, with really good credit.  It finally caught up to me and I gained a ton of credit card debt.  I fell behind in payments, a few accounts went into collections, and my credit score plummeted.  I couldn't travel anywhere.

Now my finances are back on track, and I'm able to finally travel the world!  One of the companies who contributed to my turnaround was InCharge Debt Solutions.

InCharge Debt Solutions is a nonprofit debt relief organization based out of Orlando, FL.  They negotiate the interest and payment with credit card companines, then combine payments into one easy lump some.

I remember seeing an InCharge commercial and called them right away.  They explained how the program worked and was very intrigued.  So I signed up.  But I ended up cancelling because I didn't agree with their fees.  At some point after shopping around, I figured InCharge was the best solution.  So I called them up again and negotiated a smaller fee (since it is a nonprofit organization and all), and they did.   It was nice to get notifications when a credit line was finally paid off!

So why did I choose InCharge over other debt consolidation companies?

1.  Fee (obviously).  As I mentioned before in my previous article How I Got Out of $18,000 Worth of Debt by Age 30, you can negotiate just about anything!  Right now their website shows "an average set-up fee of $40, and an average $25 monthly fee, not to exceed $75 and $55".  It says average for a reason.  Negotiate!

2.  Flexibility.  There were a couple of months I had an issue with a payment coming up.  So they adjusted my payment schedule making it easier to pay off my credit cards.

3.  Simplicity.  They did all the negotiating with creditors, and I just made the payments.  They also have on online client portal to view your progress and to make changes to your payment methods and creditors.  They now have an app for Android and iPhone users.

4. Counseling.  This course was extremely helpful.  Before then, I never calculated my expenses versus income.  The counselling course alone helped me make big adjustments to my spending habits.  Also, there were no additional sign up fees.

Please note: Not all credit card compaines participate with debt consolidation companies.  There was one that flat out said NO.  Also, they cannot negotiate with accounts that are in collections and written off.  Visit How I Got Out of $18,000 Worth of Debt by Age 30 for more information how I was able to negotiate with collections companies.

So if you were like me, drowning in debt, go ahead and give them a try.  They have since added more helpful tools to their website such as budgeting tips, credit score education, and bankruptcy information.  Give them a try!

~Jo Jo

Top 7 Things You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines

2:00:00 AM
My first experience on Spirit Airlines was a round-trip flight/hotel combo I booked for my Myrtle Beach vacation.  It was for two people in which we split costs in half.  My half of the pie was $386.30 total for a 3 night ocean front hotel stay, and round-trip flight. Just perfect.  That is why I chose Spirit Airlines!

Although, there are quite a few people who are hesitant to fly with Spirit Airlines.  Mostly due to the certain reviews about "hidden fees" and because the airline is not well known.  So I decided to find out for myself.  Here is what I can tell you about Spirit Airlines from experience and from research.

1.  Crash rate

This is by far the most important thing I am worried about.  Will I make it there and back home alive?  I am happy to report since operation in 1992, Spirit Airlines as a ZERO crash rate.  No one have died.  Yay!

2.  Pricing

After hours of searching, there was no other airline cheaper than Spirit for my trip.  They are indeed one of the cheapest (if not cheapest) you are going to find under the parameters of where they fly.  Click here for the map of where they fly.

Please note when you are searching for flights, Spirit list the price for their $9 Fare Club as well as the standard price.  If you are not interested in joining, make sure you select the flight option that is not for the fare club. Unless you want to take advantage of the membership.

Currently, the club is $59.95 for the year when you initially sign up, then after a year $69.95 per year.  BUT, you can do a two month trial when you initially book a flight for $19.95.  That is especially beneficial if you are booking more than one flight.  Click here for more details on the $9 Fare Club.

3.  Boarding Pass

Currently it is free to print your boarding pass online from home.  This is what I did.  They will charge you $2 to print at the airport kiosk and $10 to print by an airport agent.  I printed my boarding pass, but on the way back I had no printer.  To my surprise the Myrtle Beach airport kiosk did not charge to print.  Moral of the story, if you can, print at home.  Otherwise don't sweat it.  The most extra you would pay is $2 extra.

4.  Baggage

This is where Spirit makes up for their low cost flights.  If you are not prepared ahead of time in regards to baggage, you will end up paying extra for sure.

Personal item.  You're allowed one free personal item such as a purse or a small backpack that does not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches.  For shorter trips, you can probably fit everything in a small back pack and end up paying nothing extra.

Carry on bag.  You pay.  At online booking, it costs $35 for a carry on bag that does not exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches.  During online check-in $45, and at the airport $55.

Checked bag.  You pay.  At online booking, it cost $30 for a checked bag that does not exceed 62 linear inches and 40 lbs.  During online check-in is $40, and at the airport $55.  In addition if your bag exceeds 40 lbs, it is $30 extra.  If it exceeds 50 lbs, it is $55 extra and so on.  You can find out more about their baggage policy here.

5.  Food

Another way Spirit makes up for the discounted prices.  Spirit does not offer complimentary food or beverage.  You pay.  They only accept credit cards on board, so make sure you have one with you.  You can take a look at their menu here.  The prices are decent.  I'd say bring some cash with you as backup because you never know what will happen to their payment system.

6.  Seats

The seats were leather and cozy.  It has about the same leg room as Southwest or Jet Blue.  I fell asleep on my flight back.  No problems with seat comfort or leg room.

You can opt to assign your own seating starting at $5.  If not, Spirit will randomly assign your seat.  Of course, I chose to not pay extra and they "randomly" assigned our seats right next to each other.

7.  Staff

The staff was very professional.  They gave the normal presentation of the safety procedures.  Came by and took our orders.  Discount fare does not mean discount employees with Spirit Airlines.


So how did I manage?  We combined our belongings into one suitcase having to check in one bag ($35 split between two).  Also, I weighed it with my Camry 110 Lbs Luggage Scale to make sure it did not exceed 40 lbs.  I also took a small backpack as my personal item and filled it with extra stuff. We checked in early, and printed my boarding pass for my outbound flight.

There you have it.  The "hidden fees" are no longer hidden anymore.  So go ahead and book Spirit Airlines if it makes sense for your travel plans.  You may also find a good deal for an hotel as I did.  Safe travels!

~Jo Jo

My Top Five Things You Can Stop Spending On to Travel the World

4:00:00 PM

Traveling is expensive you say?  Yes it can be expensive.  But what if I told you, anyone can afford traveling?  Anyone that has some kind of stream of income.  You do not even need to join a vacation club if you do not want.  You may not be able to go on that nice trip within a year, but you can at least every 2-5 years.  It takes planning, saving consistently, and smart spending.

What I do if I necessarily cannot afford something, I see where I can cut cost in what I am already spending on.  Then I put money aside every month until I can afford it.  This same method I use for traveling!  First things first, cut down on spending!

Here is the top 5 things you can stop spending on to save up some money to travel the world:

1.  Netflix

It is $8 a month.  Not expensive you say?  Here is the breakdown per year:

Per month: $8
One year: $96
Two years: $192
Three years: $288
Four years: $384
Five years: $480

See how your small $8 per month can turn into a cost of a cruise?  It is also the cost of your hotel stay for at least 3-4 nights.  But hey, can't get rid of your Netflix?

2.  Cable

Oh no not your cable!  According to BRG.com, the average cable bill is now $100.  You gotta see the breakdown:

Per month: $100
One year: $1200
Two years: $2400
Three years: $3600
Four years: $4800
Five years: $6000

Not having cable for one year can pay for a roundtrip ticket to Europe!  In five years you can country hop for months!  You can keep your Netflix to have some kind of entertainment and cancel your cable bill.  You can also shut off Internet and use public wifi.  If that is a bit too extreme, fine, keep your Internet.  Either way, it is well worth cutting down on your cable bill to afford traveling!

3.  Cell Phone

The most recent J.D Power report shows the average cell phone bill is $73 per month.  But Verizon Wireless customers average $148 per month, while Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile customers average of $144, $141, and $120.  Let's break down AT&T's average of $141 which holds the majority of you iPhone users:

One month: $141
One year: $1692
Two years: $3384
Three year: $5076

Do I need to go any further?  We all cannot survive without our cell phones now in days.  I am not saying you should get rid of it.  But you can change your plan or change your cell phone company.  I am a long time Cricket Wireless customer paying $35 per month for unlimited everything.  They've joined forces with AT&T and my services has been holding up quite well.  I get a $5 discount for having autopay, where my plan would normally be $40 per month.  You end up saving $1272 per year!  That is a price for a nice trip to Spain or Ireland!

4.  Coffee

Some people need their Starbucks in the morning.  They can't function without it.  According to Consumerist.com, the average American spends $1000 per year on coffee!

Per year: $1000
Per month: $83
Per day: $2.70

Wowzers!  Here's a tip.  Buy Vitamin B.  They have plenty of different varieties at your nearest drug store.  For me, I take Nature Made Super B Energy Complex.  It gets me going in the morning.  The price ranges between $8-$11 and you get 60 soft gels.  It will take nearly three cups of coffee for one bottle of Vitamin B that last you two months!

5.  Take Out

According to AOL Finance, the average American spends about $1100 on takeout each year!

Per year: $1100
Per month: $91
Per week: $22

But if you are my beguiling coworkers, then it would turn out to be much more (side eye).  How to cut down?  Be a smart shopper.  When grocery shopping, try sacrificing a name brand for something else.  Also try checking ads in the paper and snip coupons.  Instead of eating out during the week, do it once a week.  Or even try ordering from the appetizer menu which is a lot cheaper than entrees.  Last but not least, use the freezer to freeze fruit and veggies instead of throwing them away.  I freeze my onions, broccoli, kale, strawberries, blue berries, and even bananas.  You can make smoothies with most of these later, which is also a great substitute for your coffee in the morning!  You can look online how to properly freeze certain fruits and veggies.

A lot of people cannot afford to travel because they are in a lot of debt.  That was my issue as well.  Cutting down on these five things can save you tons of money to get you out of debt as well.  Let's say you have a $1200 credit card bill.  By cutting your cable bill, you can pay it off in a year!  Take control of your debt, take control of your spending, then start saving to achieve your travel dreams!

~Jo Jo

How to Save Up for Your DREAM Vacation

7:15:00 PM

The best way to save is by first cutting down expenses.  If you haven't already, check out My Top Five Things You Can Stop Spending On To Travel the World.

Go ahead an open a new savings account.  I recommend you look for an account with a high annual percentage yield (APY), which is what the bank pays you!  You want to make this a rewarding process after cutting down on your spending right?  Let them pay you!

In addition, online banks such as Ally Bank typically have high APY rates.  Click here to learn more about banks with high APY rates.

The Breakdown

So the key is to put aside the difference of what you cut down into your savings account.  Let's say your cable bill was $100 per month and you were able to cut it down to $50 per month.  Put the leftover $50 in your travel savings account every month.  In one year you would pay for your cruise!

1 month $50
3 months $150
6 months $300
12 months $600

Let's say you were able to cut your $141 cell phone bill by switching to Cricket Wireless, paying $35 per month with the $5 autopay discount (I should get paid for this).  Go ahead and put leftover $106 into your travel savings account.  In one year, you can afford a nice trip to Europe!

1 month $106
3 months $318
6 months $636
12 months $1272

Let's combine the cable savings and cell phone bill savings, $50+$106= $156. Your savings account would look like this:

1 month $156
3 months $468
6 months $936
12 months $1872

Play the music!  You're going on a family vacation!

My Do's and Do Not's

Do not combine your travel savings with another you already have for a different purpose.  Yes that means your checking, or your Christmas savings etc.  It'll be hard to track.  And you'd definitely will be tempted to over withdraw.

Do not open your travel savings account in the same bank institution you currently use.  You'd want to make it inconvenient to withdraw just in case you feel the urge to splurge!  Seeing all that money build up will make you ponder on ways you can spend it.  That cute purse, or that nice dress you seen at the store.  Yeah, don't do it!

DO set up an auto bank transfer and forget it is there until you are ready to plan your next vacation!

DO practice self control.  They only reason to reach into your travels savings accounts other than for your next vacation, is for emergencies.  The real emergencies that can affect the livelihood of yourself or family.  By restraining yourself from reaching into your savings account, you'll find other unique ways to cut down.  Don't go to Tim Horton's for two weeks.  Pass up on going out for a couple of nights.  Drink water other than a soft drink at a restaurant.  Or order from the appetizer menu.  Or eat cereal at home (I practice this alternative quite often haha).  Be strong!  Have self control!

Please read, Like A Money Machine, to find out how I also used credit card reward points to fund my Houston, Texas trip!

~Jo Jo

Sunset in Indonesia

9:16:00 PM
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