Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

Why You Should Budget

Starting a full time job after college is a radical change of life. When I started working full time in June 2013 the realization hit me; for the last seventeen years of my life I have been a student. All of a sudden I am supposed to shift gears entirely, and spend the next forty years or so being a working man!

This change, while daunting, brings many positive things. Foremost is money! Instead of scraping by on minimum wage jobs and spending money on tuition now you are raking in the dough! But along with this newfound income comes new expenses; student loans, car payments, perhaps insurance and phone bills for people moving off their parents’ plans, and maybe even a mortgage someday.

How can we balance this new influx of money with our new expenses? How can we make sure we don’t blow all our new funds right away and set ourselves up for financial success down the line?

The answer, as you might guess from the title, is simple: budgeting!

If you were hoping for some shiny new trick, sorry to disappoint you. Budgeting is the tried and true method for taking control of your finances. There is already a ton of info about budgeting out there on the web (click here) so I won’t get into the minutiae. Rather, I’m going to spend a little more time convincing you why you should budget and then give some overall tips in another post.

You would be surprised how many people don’t have a budget. So if you don’t have one don’t feel bad – you are not alone. The reasons people don’t budget vary; some people don’t know how, some find it too boring, some think it’s too much work, some don’t think they need to budget, and some people frankly are just plain scared to sit down and look at their finances.

If you don’t know how to budget, you are in the right place! Good on you for taking the time to learn how. You can read through the rest of this article for some tips and check out the link above for more resources.

If you think budgeting is boring… well you’re probably right. It would take a sick individual to get pleasure out of numbers and spreadsheets. Yet life is full of boring things that you have to do. How many people find some aspect of their job boring but still do it? And why do they do it? Because they get paid to do so! So why not spend a little time doing something boring that will pay you (in money saved)?

Fortunately, budgeting doesn’t have to take a lot of work. It can take a bit of time and research at first, but once you get things rolling there is minimal time required. I spend maybe ten minutes per week on my budget. That’s not a lot of time.

If you don’t think you need to budget… well, maybe you are right. There are some people out there that naturally have their expenses figured out, don’t spend much, and save a lot. But those people are few and far between. Let your bank account do the talking. If you are living paycheck to paycheck or struggling to pay bills then you’re the person that needs to budget.

Finally, there are some people who are scared to budget since that means taking an honest look at their finances. And than can bring some scary results (“I spent that much on coffee!” or “I owe how much on my credit cards?!”). While it can be scary, and even shameful to admit where you are at financially, budgeting is the first step to taking hold of your finances and making them not scary.

I hope that this post has convinced you of the importance of making a budget. As mentioned, you can check out the google search resources above or my budgeting tips here.

Budgeting Tips

Hello! If you are reading this hopefully it means you decided to make a budget. So let’s jump right in and go over some tips to making a budget.

A budget is simply a list of your income and expenses. It is easiest to make the budget on a monthly basis. The goal is to spend less than you make, with the excess going to savings.

To start your budget you will need to do some research. First you will need your net income (your pay after taxes and deductions aka the money that hits your bank account).

Next you will need an estimate on your expenses for the month. Some expenses, like rent, are a fixed amount each month, so finding that number is easy. For others the amount fluctuates. I suggest pulling your last three months of expenses and using that data to calculate a monthly average. Fortunately banks and credit card companies keep track of that spending activity and it can be easily accessed online.

While this might take a little while, this step is extremely helpful because it gives you an accurate amount of how much you spend. If you budget only $50 to eating out each month but are actually spending $150 your budget is going to get blown up in the first month. The better your data, the better your results.

List out all your monthly expenses and compare it to your income. You might find that you are spending more than you are making. In this case you need to examine your expenses and determine where you can make cuts.

If your income and expenses are equal, you still need to make cuts. That is because you want to have some money that is being saved each month.

Eventually you should come to a point where you have the finalized list of your income and estimated expenses and savings. Now you get to see how well you stick to your budget. By tracking your expenses you can see how accurate your estimated expenses are. A budget should be fluid. If there is a category you are constantly spending more you can make cuts in other categories to even things out.

Tracking your expenses might sound like a lot of work, but as mentioned in another post this only takes me about ten minutes a work. Also, there are free tools out there like Mint that will track things for you.

I would suggest using either Excel or Google Sheets for your budget. I personally use Google Sheets.

As mentioned earlier, a budget should be fluid. I would suggest revisiting your budget and making revisions when needed. You could make changes annually or when major changes to your income (new job/promotion) or expenses (house/new car) occur.

Here are some more resources that give more in-depth information on budgeting:

https://www.daveramsey.com/get-started/budget

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587

Hoopla will save you money

Many people who see me regularly may laugh at me for writing this little blog post. I already tell people about the library, and Hoopla especially, way too much. When I taught a Bible study last weekend, people in my home church’s group chat were posting about how I was probably going to make a Hoopla reference while teaching (I didn’t…). Still, with so much talk about how amazing the library and apps like Hoopla are, it amazes me how many people don’t take advantage of these awesome resources. I’ve recommended Hoopla to people over and over again and they still come back with excuses like “I have fines at the library” (get a different library card… (or pay the fines)), “I like physical books” (libraries have those too!), or “I don’t like to read” (you’re an adult now! Try again!). Anyway, I really like the library and think more people should give it a shot. Check out this blog post about it as well. 

If you want to read more and prefer to not waste money, grab your library card and download the apps Hoopla and Libby. Don’t have a library card? You can get one for free. Most cities let you sign up even if you don’t live there (I have five different library cards). If you live anywhere in the state of Ohio, you can sign up for a Columbus Metropolitan Library card online and they’ll mail it to you (again- this is all free!). I always recommend this step to people since 1) you don’t have to leave your house, 2) the Columbus library has a great selection and 3) it’s, like all things library, free! 

Like I said above, once you have your library card, download the apps Hoopla and Libby. It’s a bit annoying there are multiple library apps for reading and audio books, but it’s not too big of a deal. Hoopla is my favorite since there are no holds, meaning there is no limit to how many people can download a specific ebook or audiobook at once. Libby is the opposite, so you have to be first in line to get the book. 

If anyone would like help with any of these steps, feel free to reach out. I love helping people get into reading in new ways. That being said, I think you can figure it out. The steps are pretty easy once you give it a few minutes. Now I’d like to give a few book recommendations for both of the apps. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but I’d like to show you an example of some of the great titles you can read or listen to for free. 

Hoopla

  • The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald 
  • The Lost Art of Disciple Making – Leroy Eims 
  • Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter – Charles Swindoll (most of the New Testament is on here, too)
  • How Dare the Sun Rise – Sandra Uwiringiyimana 
  • The God Who is There – Francis A. Schaeffer
  • Tactics – Gregory Koukl
  • Speaking to Teenagers – Doug Fields
  • Heaven – Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero 
  • Generation Me -Jean M. Twenge 
  • The Truth About Us – Brant Hansen 
  • Unoffendable – Brant Hansen
  • Blessed are the Misfits– Brant Hansen
  • Wild at Heart – John Eldredge

Libby:

  • Martin Luther – Eric Metaxas
  • How to Really Love Your Child – D. Ross Campbell (starting this one now)
  • Escape from Camp 14 – Blaine Harden
  • The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  • Audacity – Melanie Crowder
  • Hillbilly Elegy- J.D. Vance 
  • Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus– Nabeel Qureshi 

There are many, many more great books out there for free on Hoopla and Libby (and, of course, at the physical library). Happy reading everyone. What other good books on these apps did I miss? I’d love to hear any recommendations. Also, check out my wife Elli’s post from last month on books she recommends!

2020 Books

At the beginning of the year I found out I was pregnant. This news sparked in me a whole lot of “there’s so much to do!” One of the things I’m glad my freak out lead to was to learn to read again. I set a goal to read a book a month. At first I think I went too fast… But overall, I’m so glad I’ve gotten into this habit of reading. It’s so crazy what one chapter a day can do for your mind (or one a week!!) And it’s INSANE how much time you can save by plugging your phone in the other room, walking away, and choosing to focus in on a book. I’ve chosen to document the good reads here so I can honestly brag about my accomplishment… But also to let y’all know what I think is worth it! (Spoiler alert: every book I’ve ready is 10/10!) 

Praying with Paul by DA Carson

I started this one January 1st because my beloved Darlene gave it to me for Christmas! So, you know it’s gonna be good. It was. It was definitely the first Carson book I could finish and get something from it. I struggle with prayer the older I get. I get busier. I forget. I grow MORE selfish!! How is that possible?! Yet, this book – instead of lessons on prayer and teaching you how and all the nifty ways to spice up your sex life — ER I MEAN PRAYER LIFE! (But aren’t a lot of prayer books like that?! lol.) Instead of that, Carson really wonderfully outlines Paul’s prayers! And lemme tell you, a spiritual book that begins with a chunk of scripture each chapter is something I can get behind! Use the Word, please! Thank you, Carson. (Beware: he’s Calvinist for sure. Also, very dense! But the theology is one of my favorites. It reminded me it’s all about God and when we look at who he is first, our prayer life changes tons.) 


Unleashed by Samuel Stephens 

Of COURSE I have to plug this! It’s by Rev. Samuel Stephens – only the most awesome church planter this century has seen! (OK, I’m biased. I work for India Gospel League – which he began.) But, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book. It’s sings in perfect harmony with Acts/the first century church and is really a guide on how churches today can be more like the church in Acts! It’s refreshing, challenging and makes me excited to do ministry in all out dependence on following the adventure the Holy Spirit has set! I think all Freedom Fellowship folks will enjoy it and will be rejuvenated to hear that other people in the world like to “do church” our way! (Which is really relationally!) 

Can Science Explain Everything? by John Lennox

Lennox has a special place in my heart since that one time he spoke at XSI and used the last part of his teaching to speak directly to the young people in the room. I can’t tell you how much, as a young person struggling with my faith, that meant. Everything he says is somehow revolutionary and soaking in humility. You can’t help but love the guy! He’s got a great sense of humor, too. The book really reads like one of his talks – a conversation. I picked this one because it was short and I suck at apologetics. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t so much an apologetics books, but an argument for why science & the Bible can work. He walked you through the WHY – why it’s possible there is a God and science, why scientists words aren’t truth, why you should think through big questions in life. It’s good. So good, I got it for one of my high school buddies. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to start discussing with my younger friends. I wish I did more pondering like this earlier on. Definitely worth the read in light of the cultural pressures around us! 

So the Next Generation Will Know by J Warner Wallace & Sean McDowell 

I feel like everyone is talking about this one lately… But with good reason! It’s a great resource for anyone working with youth or is a youth themselves or have birthed youths. For one thing I strongly respect in this book is their prioritization of how important it is we win the youth. Too many christian churches don’t do that. It’s sad. I think it’s because it’s frustrating – the new generations are really a whole new breed. And it DOES take WORK, but a labor of love. I wish everyone to read it and to get their hearts set on fire for this next generation. I honestly feel so badly for them with everything they’re up against. The future seems bleak, but these guys did a lot of great work with how to fight for them! (Spoiler: DISCIPLESHIP is everywhere in the solutions chapters!!) 

Blessed are the Misfits by Brant Hansen 

ANOTHER great one everyone seems to be reading. Which is fantastic. Everyone should read this book. It’s such a beautiful perspective on how every person’s walk with Jesus is unique. It was encouraging for myself as a reminder not to compare my walk with others, and a great encouragement for many people in my life who are very much not me and very much don’t fit the Freedom Fellowship “mold” of how you walk. Overall, it’s a great book that expands on the truth that God “meets us where we’re at.” Hansen lays out grace so well and critiques christian culture so entertainingly. I hope we can make this a staple and that I can learn to see people through Jesus’ eyes and help them learn grace as much as he’s shown it to me. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

OPE not a spiritual book! Nope, this was one fun one and the one I read in 3 days. LOL. It was just good. The drama, the mystery, the romance… I would recommend this to anyone! But I get that it’s not for everyone. 🙂 

Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

ANOTHA ONE! Yup, he kinda won me with that first one. And this one was ALSO very good. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but lemme tell you – I felt REBUKED. It was a lot to think about. The premise is that we’re selfish and get angry at others for selfish reasons. But, we don’t have the right to get angry/annoyed/offended when we’re such sinners ourselves! Overall, it was really humbling. I was really thankful to read it when I did- about to go into a hard situation with hard to love people. And choosing not to be offended or angry beforehand changed the outcome of those events. I think I’ll need to read this one every couple of years given my self-righteous anger tendencies… (It would pair really nicely with an old classic, “Humility” by Andrew Murray.) 

What’s next? Currently reading: 

  • The Truth About Us by Brant Hansen
  • The Man in White by Johnny Cash

After that:

  • Christian Parenting by Dennis McCallum
  • & open for recommendations!!

Learning from Philip

It is now month three (I think?) of all this quarantine business, and I have to say that it feels like it just won’t ever stop. Will life ever get back to normal? When can I go to a coffee shop again? Will my wife, in September, be able to celebrate and visit with her friends after the delivery of our son? There are many questions.

The stay-at-home order has especially impacted ministry, among other things. We just can’t meet in the large groups that we used to. We can’t even meet in home churches right now, which is so strange. If you’re like me and wanting ministry to “pick up” again soon, you might be wondering why God is allowing such a pause to take place on an important thing like His work. For me, I’ve watched the high school groups I’m part of slow down considerably. I’m sure if you’re involved in some sort of ministry things are definitely not how they used to be. What’s going on?

Well, I’m not sure I can give a complete answer to that question. However, I think it is 100% reasonable to suggest that God has something in store for this season that could blow our minds later on when we can see the big picture. For an example of this, let’s look at the story of Philip in the New Testament book of Acts.

Philip was one of the first leaders in the early church. He was actually one of the first seven deacons appointed (Acts 6:1-7), back when Paul (who was Saul then) was still persecuting the church. He was leading and evangelizing so much that he later became known as Philip the Evangelist.

In Acts 7, a co-leader of Philip’s, Stephen, was stoned to death for preaching the Word. In the beginning of Acts 8, the church was being persecuted and Saul was “going from house to house” (v. 3) and sending Christians to prison. Many of the leaders had to flee because of this and ended up in different areas. Philip ended up in Samaria. Think about how he must’ve felt! One of his close friends was dead, the church was on its heels, and now here he was in a completely different city. Sounds like an easy time to give up to me. However, he did quite the opposite. Acts 8: 4-7 says,

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

Wow! Philip boldly went out there, told people about Jesus, and received an incredible response to the gospel. Instead of being afraid, he stepped out in faith and was rewarded with a ton of fruit. End of the story, right? Nope. Just a few verses later, Philip is asked to go to another city. Acts 8: 26,

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Okay, so let me get this straight. Philip had already been run out of one town but then faithfully recovered in a tremendous fashion. People were coming to the Lord left and right. Success! Then God says to leave? And to go- where exactly? Up some desert road? In the preceding verse, Peter and John get to go back to Jerusalem. But now Philip is stuck in some small town ministry. Here’s how Howard Hendricks puts it:

“It would be as if I were preaching in Houston with the Billy Graham team, and folks are coming to Christ and the Spirit is at work and we’re turning the city upside down with the gospel. Then one evening, the Lord says to me, “Hendricks, get on a bus, and head to West Texas. I’ll tell you when to get off.” You know, I’d sort of feel demoted. Here’s all this exciting stuff going on in the big city, and I get sent to the minors. But not Philip. He obeyed, and the Spirit brought him to an official from Ethiopia. He led the man to Christ, and the gospel spread to Africa” (Living by the Book, 166).

That’s right. Even though Philip had absolutely no idea where God was sending him or why He was sending him there, he listened. And then he ended up leading an important Ethiopian man to Christ who then took the message back to his country. The passage is wonderful and totally worth including here:

Acts 8:26-38-

 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official… This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37]38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 

Long story short, Philip ended up leading this man to Christ all because God sent him away from the busy, booming ministry in Samaria and instead up to some dirt road. As Hendricks said, it would’ve been incredibly easy for Philip to feel demoted and not really give whatever God had in mind a real shot. Instead, since he did, some truly astonishing things happened.

Similarly, the question for us becomes, “What does God have in store for us in this season?” Is it possible that He has something bigger in mind if we just open up our eyes enough to see it? Of course this would involve a willingness to get on God’s page and listen, like Philip.

I know for myself it has been easy to feel like this is an “off” time and I can kind of just pick ministry back up once this season is over. I have to wonder, though, if I do that what all I’ll miss. Philip could’ve seen his time on the old desert road as an “off time” where he was demoted to doing the mundane. He didn’t, thankfully, and hopefully we don’t either.

The College Graduate or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Pay Back My Student Loans

numbers-money-calculating-calculation

Congratulations. You’ve finally done it. You celebrate with your family and friends, showing off your degree. With college now behind you, you are excited to take your first step into the working world. Things get off to a slow start, as it take you a couple of months to find a job. It’s not a job doing exactly what you wanted, and it pays a little less than what you had hoped for, but it’s a job so you take it.

A few months later, the first bill for your student loans pops up in your inbox. Your minimum payment is $300 a month. Between loan payments, car payments, rent, utilities, food and gas you’re stuck living paycheck to paycheck, each month falling a little bit further behind. You start racking up credit card debt, as you can’t afford to pay off the full amount each month. Eventually you miss a loan payment, then a car payment, then rent. Your loans go into default, your car is repossessed, and you are evicted from your apartment.

Homeless, you wander the streets with nothing more than the clothes on your back and a deflated football that in your hallucinations you believe to be a dog named Snappy, scrounging for loose change so that you can buy some alcohol to forget the pain if for only a few moments. On a cold windy day, you sit on a bench with your dirt encrusted coat wrapped tightly around you. A gust of wind picks up Snappy, and blows him into the road. There, before your eyes, Snappy is crushed instantaneously by the tires of a passing car. You howl in pain as your only friend is now gone, leaving you alone. “Oh,” you weep, “oh, if only I had better managed my student loans!”

Now, that was a bit of an extreme example, but I wanted to test out my creative writing skills. So yeah, nothing like that is going to happen to you, but perhaps you might find yourself in a situation like the following:

A recent college graduate living paycheck to paycheck lies awake at night stressing over whether or not he will be able to pay his bills for the month.

A young married couple can’t go on a vacation with many of their close friends as they can’t afford the trip due to their loan payments.

An employee has to work at a soul-sucking company with an abusive boss, and is too afraid to leave because even being out of work for a couple of weeks might mean they will run out of money.

These are all much more realistic situations a person could face in their lives. Many people out there are really enslaved by their student loan debt. At the very least, student loan repayment is a major source of stress for people. This report put out by the Boston Fed showed that 57% of people with student loans are concerned about being unable to repay them. Why be enslaved to your debt? Why stress out about it?

That’s why I’m writing this blog. Hopefully, to help you learn about student loans, learn how to manage them, and ultimately how to be free from them. In the last 2 posts, I have covered the topic of student loans for someone just starting college, and for someone who is in the middle of college. In this post, I will be writing about the college graduate. A person who is working full-time, and making payments on their student loans. In other words, a person who has hit reality. It can be easy to forget about our loans when we don’t have to pay them back, but when we start getting those bills in the mail it is a whole different picture.

So, you need to start paying back your loans. How should you do this, and how can you do this the most effectively? And how can you pay back your loans so you’ll be debt-free the fastest? Well, it’s pretty simple

Step 1: Make the minimum payment on your loans each month. This one should be a no-brainer. In order to avoid having your loans go into default, you need to pay the minimum amount specified by your loan servicer each month. In this post, I discussed all of the bad stuff that happens if you default on your loans. So, in order to avoid default and everything that comes with it, the first step is to pay the minimum balance on each loan every month.

Step 2: Pay off your loans early. Paying off your loans early will save you money in the long-term, since there will be less time for interest to compound, and less principle for that interest to compound on. Not only will you save money by paying off your loans early, but it will also help you to be debt free faster.

The best way to pay off your loans as quickly as possible is take any money left over after your minimum pat on one loan, instead of spreading that extra across all of your loans.

There are two common methods used to determine which loan to prioritize payments on, which I will call the Snowball Method and the Highest Rate Method.

In the Snowball Method, any extra money above your minimum payments is put towards the loan with the lowest balance. For example, say you have three loans:

  • Loan 1 has a balance of $2,000 and an interest rate of 4.66% with a minimum monthly payment of $50.
  • Loan 2 has a balance of $8,000 and an interest rate of 7.53% with a minimum monthly payment of $100.
  • Loan 3 has a balance of $5,000 and an interest rate of 4.29% with a minimum monthly payment of $75.
  • After making a combined minimum monthly payment of $225, you have an extra $100 to put towards your loan payments. Since this is the Snowball Method, you would put that $100 towards Loan 1, which has the smallest balance. Once Loan 1 is paid off, any extra money would then go to Loan 3 (which would then have the smallest balance). Once Loan 3 is paid off, you can then put all extra money into the last remaining loan, Loan 2.

    This method is often preferred because it gives you a psychological advantage. In this method, you knock out the smallest loan quickly, then move up to the next largest loan, and so on. By focusing on the smaller loans first, you get the satisfaction of paying off a loan completely. It doesn’t matter that it may have only been a small loan, that feeling of accomplishment from wiping one whole loan off the list can keep you going in what seems like a neverending stream of loan repayments.

    I think you can better understand the appeal of the Snowball Method when you look at the other suggested method, which is the Highest Rate Method. As the name suggests, in this method you put any extra money towards the loan with the highest interest rate first. When that loan is completely paid back, you put the extra payments towards the loan with the next highest interest rate and so on.

    The advantage to this method is that you will end up saving the most money in the long run. Because you are focusing on the loans with the higher interest rates, you are giving that interest rate less principal to compound on, and less time to compound as well.

    So, if the Highest Rate Method will save you the most money, why would anyone choose the Snowball Method instead? Well, as I mentioned before, the Snowball Method will give you tangible results sooner, as it quickly knocks off your smaller loans. Applying the Highest Rate Method to our example, the first loan to be focused on would be Loan 2, which has a balance of $8,000. While putting your extra money towards that loan first will save you more money in the long run, it’s going to take a lot longer to pay off that loan.

    This is where we see the advantage to the Snowball Method. Instead of slugging through a huge loan first, you quickly knock off some smaller loans to get the ball rolling. Like making a snowman, you start small and keep on rolling until you’re debt free.

    Personally, I prefer the Highest Rate Method to the Snowball Method. But each person is different, so what is important is finding the method that will help you the most in paying off your loans. Are you the type who wants to start with the small milestones and work your way up to the big ones? Maybe the Snowball Method is better for you. Are you someone who doesn’t need any milestones along the way, and instead will be content knowing that they are saving a little extra money? Then perhaps you would fit into the Highest Rate Method.

    Whichever method you pick, the important thing is to stick with it. And this brings us to our final step.

    Step 3: Stick with it! So much of paying back your loans has to do with discipline, the discipline to keep your head down and send out those checks each month, no matter how hard it can seem. Your student loans aren’t going to go away magically on their own, and while it may seem daunting, you just need to keep on plugging away at your loans. Maybe you can make a chart of your loans, and watch the balance decrease very month to keep you going. Or maybe, you’re the type who just needs to set up the automatic payments and not think about your loans until they’re paid off. But you need to stick with your repayment plan; many people fall off the wagon and find themselves right back where they were at the start. Don’t let this be you!

    So, in conclusion, it’s pretty simple. There are 3 steps to paying back your loans and being free from that debt. In case you forgot already, those steps are:

    Step 1: Make all the minimum payments on your loans.
    Step 2: Choose either the Snowball or Highest Rate Method for your extra payments.
    Step 3: Stick with it!

    Follow these steps, and you will find yourself on the way to debt freedom!

    P.S. I wrote out the whole blog and realized I forgot to add one part in. I didn’t really want to go back and edit it in, so I threw it down here. When making extra payments to a loan, be sure to specify that you want that extra money to go towards the principal of the loan. Some loan companies will try to screw you by applying it to the interest, so make sure you instruct them to put that towards the principle. It’ll save you money that way.