My online side hustle helped me pay off over $38,000 in 3 years — and now it’s my full-time job

“My primary goal with my budget was to bring as much consistency to my financial life as possible,” writes Save, Live, Thrive founder Charlotte Darr.

“By trying different side hustles, I was able to use the extra money towards my debt repayment goals.”

My “personal finance Instagram account has grown into a financial literacy business that I now run full-time.”

In April 2018, I sat staring at my computer screen in panic.

I had calculated my net worth for the first time and realized that I was $78,511 in debt. I was also about to graduate with degrees in music education and vocal performance, a career path that is not typically known for its high earning potential.

My debt consisted of credit cards, private student loans with an 11% interest rate, an auto loan for a vehicle that was way out of my price range, and federal student loans . I knew I had bitten off more debt than I could chew, and I was determined to figure out a way to get my financial life under control.

That moment got me started on the road to increasing my financial literacy and ultimately boosting confidence. By 2021, thanks in large part to my social media side hustle, which is now my full-time job, I had paid off $38,109 of my debt.

Here’s how I did it, and my best advice. I listened to my gut about my career

After I graduated from college, I accepted a full time teaching position as a K-8 music teacher . But as much as I liked my students, between the long and underpaid hours and having to navigate administrative bureaucracy, I quickly learned that a traditional classroom setting wasn’t for me.

I knew there had to be a better career fit out there. So I quit my public school position, started working part time as an early childhood music teacher, taught private voice lessons, and performed.

On average, I made around $3,000 per month, before taxes, and quickly learned the importance of being extremely organized and mindful of where every dollar I earned was going. These became key elements that allowed me to reach my financial goals while working with a smaller income. I became more intentional about my spending

Once I started bringing in a more variable income, it became important to understand the major areas where I was spending money. I broke my spending down into three broad categories: necessities, financial goals, and wants. From there I got more specific to my situation.

I started by looking through my transactions over the last few months to see what I was spending money on. Once I understood how I was spending in these categories, I started asking myself questions like, “What do I actually want out of life right now? What is important to me? How do I want to feel about my finances?”

With these questions in mind, I started brainstorming how I could make the most out of my income in order to spend in a way that was aligned with my values, goals and current situation. I realized that I valued the feelings of security, freedom, and independence way more than a lot of the random stuff I bought every month.

I also learned that I was spending more money on housing than I needed to in my area. When the lease to my apartment was up, I spent more time researching different housing options, moved to a less central part of town, and continued living with a roommate.

It wasn’t the sexiest decision, and I didn’t want to live with roommates forever, but finding ways to lower my housing costs opened up $400 in my budget that I could put towards my larger financial goals. I started a budget and financial routine

My primary goal with my budget was to bring as much consistency to my financial life as possible. Using the data I found from tracking my spending, I identified what I call my baseline numbers, the money that I needed to cover my necessities, minimum debt payments, and a small amount of recreational spending.

Knowing my baseline helped me understand how to make adjustments in the event of a low income month, and helped me set a clearer income target for my freelancing jobs. Then I created a realistic budget that prioritized necessities, followed by financial goals, and then wants.

This way, I feel more secure, my goals remain a top priority, and I’m able to spend on things I want without feeling any […]

source My online side hustle helped me pay off over $38,000 in 3 years — and now it’s my full-time job

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