5 Simple Steps to Start a Budget


5 Simple Steps to Start a BudgetAfter years of wondering why I was broke every couple of months, I realized that I needed to organize my finances and start a budget especially as my student loan statements and other bills started to pile up. It took me several months to set up a budget after trying different ways to set up a budget. I also changed my payment deadlines to align with my budget. After my husband and I married in 2015, it took us over a year to consolidate our finances. Creating a budget helped us to gain a better picture of our finances. It also helped us figure out a five year plan to pay down our debt. Starting a budget is not fun but it is a necessary tool to help you and your family keep track of expenses, save money, and plan for the future. Here are five simple steps to help you start a budget: Read more

10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

10 ways to save money on groceriesThe cost of living in Hawaii is high especially in housing and groceries. To save money, my husband and I try to cook at home as much as possible. We go to the grocery store once every 1-2 weeks to cover most of our meals for the week. Over the years, we’ve figured out how to spend less than $5 per serving of food. Read more

How to Save Money on Health Care

how to save money on health careWhen I got my first full-time job after college, I was given a bunch of forms to fill out and I had to make decisions on beneficiaries, taxes, and health care. After taxes, figuring out my health plan was difficult because there were so many choices, scenarios, and prices to consider. I finally chose the most expensive plan since it was the most comprehensive, thinking I would be fully covered if something happened to me (mistake #1). My plan also gave me a choice to pick a primary care physician but I decided to stay with the urgent care facility that I used while I was a broke college student (mistake #2). Read more

De-stress Your Closet and Shop for Less

how to De-stress Your 
Closet shop 
Shop for LessA couple of months ago, I read article from Business Insider about Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg wearing practically the same clothes everyday because they have bigger things to worry about than making decisions about clothes (like saving the world or fixing facebook notifications!). There was also another article about Matilda Kahl, an art director, who wears the exact same shirt and pants to work. She says it saves her time and energy that she could put towards making creative decisions. Wearing the same clothes everyday resonated with me because, even though I don’t wear the same thing everyday, I’ve been sticking to the same set of outfits to work, church, and home. I’m not a morning person and I’m usually rushing to work so I hate stressing over what top matches what skirt or pants in the morning. By having the same set of outfits to choose from, I don’t spend more than 5 minutes figuring out what to wear for the day. Read more

Book: “Go Green, Live Rich”

A few days ago, I borrowed the book “Go Green, Live Rich” by David Bach. I borrowed the book because I was inspired by one of my high school classmate’s post on eco-friendly fashion to find ways to live a greener life. I’ve tried to incorporate better habits over the years like recycling, saving water, turning off unused lights, etc. However, I’ve chosen not to buy into a green lifestyle because I’ve found that green products were usually out of my price range. After reading his book, however, I’ve realized that it is possible for us to afford an eco-friendly life. Read more

Never Pay for Books Again! (How to Get Books for Free)

never pay for books again: how to get books for freeWhen I was younger, I wanted to build my own personal library as big as the one in Beauty and the Beast. I love reading and collecting books. I practically grew up in our public and school libraries from elementary to high school. At home, I was building up my a collection of over 100 books (including complete paperback AND hardcover of the Harry Potter series!) which I left when I moved here for college. Then I discovered the astronomical cost of textbooks (especially for my science courses) so the only books I could really afford to add to my bookshelf were textbooks. I could borrow books from our university’s library, but it was mainly academic books rather that the non-fiction I loved to read. I also didn’t use the public library too much during this time since I had other things on my mind: school, church, my job, and this was the time that social media began so I had other things to occupy my time (I remember when facebook was only for college students!). Some time after graduating college, I discovered the Overdrive app for the Hawaii State Public Library System. Read more

Book: “The Debt-Free Spending Plan”

“The Debt-Free Spending Plan” by Joanneh Nagler provides a step-by-step guide to figure out your budget, have enough money for your needs, pay down your debt, and save for your wants. It is a different way of looking at personal finances. Instead of just mindlessly tracking your expenses (which make budgeting so depressing), you learn how to create financial goals to achieve your dreams and gain a life of financial security. Read more

Book: “The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living”

“The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living” by Anna Newell, creator of the blog AndThenWeSaved.com, was one of the first personal finance ebooks I borrowed from our public library. Even though my husband and I are not big spenders (anymore!), the book caught my eye with the words “debt-free living”. Her book provided an honest look into the life of a spender and revealed her struggles and accomplishments in paying back close to $24,000 of debt in 15 months with little to no help from her husband, friends, and family. Anna talked practical methods of adopting a needs-only spending habit, finding new ways to earn money, paying down debt, understanding our own spending habits, and how to navigate family and social life through a spending fast. As I read the book, I realized how much of her story mirrors my own and I learned what tools I could use in my own life. Read more


Hi Everyone,

My name is Cherry Lacsina. I am 28 years old and I live in Honolulu, HI. I graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BA in Philippine Language and Literature and an MEd in Educational Administration in Higher Education. I work in higher education while my husband does signs and banners for a local print shop. We just got married this time last year.

As our first year wedding anniversary is coming up, I began this blog to chronicle our financial journey to debt free living. We owe thousands of dollars in student loans, credit card debt, and personal loans from moving here for college, car accidents, the wedding, helping our family, etc and just poor financial management. For the past 10 years, we’ve made a lot of financial mistakes and have been juggling multiple jobs to fix it but it keeps growing. After a long hard look at our debt and our life, we are done with it all. Done with living paycheck to pay check. Done with debt. Done with letting money dictate our lives. We’ve decided to finally face our monstrous debt and pay it down more aggressively so that we can finally have control of our lives. We know it won’t be easy. There will be lot of mistakes. We have a lot of sacrifices and behaviors and attitudes to change but we have a goal to eliminate at least 80% of our debt in five years.

<img src="lacsina-wedding.jpg" alt="wedding" />
My husband, Alvin, and I got married on our 10th anniversary last year.

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