Learn how I went from mindless spender to conscious consumer and paid off $78,000 in two years.

Are you trying to pay off debt but not having the success you thought you would? Have you tried side hustling but your schedule or physical capacity limits how much extra you can bring in?

5 Weeks to $500 is a 5 week challenge to change the way you think about spending and find ways to free up more of the income you already have so you can pay off debt faster.

This course and the bonuses that accompany it make achieving a balanced frugal lifestyle achievable. It explains the ins and out so you’re never left wondering where to go next to look for money. You’ll see your disposable income rise from week one and go up every week for five weeks.
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If you’re not continuously looking for ways to cut your expenses then you’re leaving money on the table.

In October 2015 my husband and I had just started our debt-free journey. I didn’t think spending was my issue so I thought I could side hustle my way out of debt. Fast forward to the weekend before Christmas and I found myself curled up in a ball, writhing in pain at my weekend job because the stress of overworking caused me to contract shingles.

My body literally would not allow me to outearn my spending. It was then that I had to rethink my approach to paying off debt. I needed to change my lifestyle and focus on lowering my expenses to optimize the income I already had.

In the last 4 years I’ve dedicated my life to finding frugal alternatives that don’t require me to live off-the-grid using old jeans as bath towels. I’ve found ways to shift my thinking that have made me content with less, grateful for what I have, and saving way more money than couponing ever could.

Whether you’re just starting to get your finances together or you want to accelerate your debt payoff this year, this course will help you elevate your success without increasing your effort.
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Jen's compassionate and caring approach to personal finance has been so helpful to me during my debt payoff journey. She's always there with motivation, not in the form of surface-level platitudes but rather with a deep understanding of what it takes to make big changes for your finances. Jen's advice never makes me feel bad when my money habits have stumbled—it only makes me want to strive to get better and better.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Welcome!

    • Smarter Goal Setting

    • Goal Setting Worksheet

    • 1/5 Coaching Call Transcript

    • 1/5 Coaching Call Video

  • 2

    Week 1: How to Define & Succeed With No-Spend Challenges

    • Succeed With Your No- Spend Challenge

    • Transaction Tracking Worksheet

    • Week 1 Chat Room

    • 1/12 Coaching Call Video

    • 1/12 Coaching Call Transcript

    • Impulse Spending Worksheets

  • 3

    Week 2: How to Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Experiences & Find the Ones That Matter

    • Roadblocks

    • Marketing Techniques Cheat Sheet

    • Week 2 Chat Room

    • 1/19 Coaching Call Video

    • 1/19 Coaching Call Transcript

    • Values Discovery Worksheet

    • No-Spend Challenge Social Media Fun!

  • 4

    Week 3: Get Your Food Spending Under Control By Reducing Decision Fatigue

    • Decision Fatigue & Your Groceries

    • Recipe Book

    • Week 3 Chat Room

    • Mid Course Check In!

    • 1/26 Coaching Call Video

    • 1/26 Coaching Call Transcript

    • Habit Building Worksheet

    • Knife Skills Video

  • 5

    Week 4: Simplifying Your Surroundings to Optimize Your Life

    • Simplify to Support Your Spending

    • Simplify Your Life Planner

    • Week 4 Chat Room

    • This Week's Coaching Call

    • 2/2 Coaching Call Video

    • 2/2 Coaching Call Transcript

    • Values Alignment Worksheets

  • 6

    Week 5: Be the Boss of Your Cart

    • Living With Intention Long-Term

    • Daily Rituals Worksheet

    • Week 5 Chat Room

    • 2/9 Coaching Call Video

    • 2/9 Coaching Call Transcript

    • Testimonials


You can stop buying Starbucks and avoid Target but you’ll only get so far. This course will teach exactly what you need to do to make sustainable changes that will make a big impact on your debt payoff and spending for the rest of your life.

If you're paying off debt you NEED this course!

Side hustling and entrepreneurship are the sexy things to talk about when trying to pay off debt faster. While I’m all for increasing your income it takes time to see the fruits of your labor. And the truth is, not everyone is able to get a second job or participate in the gig economy.

So then you make a budget and plan to cut your spending but halfway through the month the budget’s blown and you’re right back to where you started.

People skip over many of the steps to changing their spending mindset and opt to “will their way” to sticking to a budget. That’s why so many budgets end up busted on the cutting room floor.

I know this because that person was me! Those were my budgets thrown away by the 14ths of the month and the only progress I’d made was feeling more guilty about my financial situation.

Now I’ve created a simpler budgeting system that I stick to (almost) every month without tracking every single transaction I make. I’m debt free, investing 20% of my income to retirement, and I buy things knowing I can afford them.

And that’s on the variable incomes of a freelance writer and a mechanic!
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In the past I felt stuck, like my debt was just too big of a monster to tackle. Hearing Jen’s story, and how she started off feeling the same way, has encouraged me to begin taking baby (or big girl) steps towards that goal. She’s a prime example of what you can accomplish with hard work and dedication. Her passion for budgeting and saving money has definitely rubbed off on me. This woman has heart. Know how I know? She says, "You're not hopeless. You're a normal human being." She's a real person I want to take advice from.

What’s Included?

6 Modules
Over 12 Lessons
Course-Specific Printables
In-Course Chatroom
Weekly Live Coaching

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This course will be completed in 5 weeks with a bonus Foundations module to make sure you’re set for success for the duration of the course. You’ll get over 15 lessons, written and video, and have access to topic-based chat rooms to interact with other students. Topics include:

  • Actionable strategies for cutting expenses

  • Building good spending habits & breaking bad ones

  • Overcoming financial guilt and shame

  • How to get and stay motivated

  • Goal setting for debt-payoff success

  • How to accomplish your goals faster

  • Simplifying your surrounding to make room for more money

  • Self-care tips to maintain this lifestyle

  • Relational dynamics when changing your lifestyle

  • Breaking bad spending habits

Your Instructor

Jen Smith

My name is Jen Smith. I’m a full-time personal finance writer and cohost of the Frugal Friends Podcast. I became passionate about frugality when my husband and I paid off $78,000 of debt in less than two years without making six-figures.

My writing and advice has been featured on major websites including Money Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, US News, Business Insider, and more.

When I’m not writing or podcasting you’ll find me running around with my husband Travis and our newborn son Kai!

Bonus material

Include additional content to your course curriculum to provide further value to your students.

  • Premium Printables

    You'll get access to Jen's premium printables to help you plan and organize relevant subjects.

  • Accountability & Encouragement Texts

    When you add your email to your order you'll get daily text messages throughout the challenge to keep you focused.

  • Weekly Coaching and Q&A Calls

    You'll have the opportunity to hear a live lesson from Jen and ask questions on each week's topic.

This course is for normal people with average incomes who want to make changes to their consumer habits that will last. You’ll learn how to build a solid foundation for making intentional spending decisions so you can pay off debt faster.


Jen Smith is able to recommend practical ways to save money while addressing the emotional and difficult aspects of the process. She makes me feel like I can be successful!

Do you want to pay off debt fast and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

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This course is anything and everything about forming better spending habits.

5 Weeks to $500 is worth much more than $39 and this is the lowest price you’ll ever see it listed for.


  • Are you going to tell me to make coffee at home?

    No. But I will suggest it. Over 5 weeks you're going to strip away all the expenses you think you need to reveal only the ones you truly want to keep. If coffee is one of those, so be it.

  • Are you going to tell me to move or bike to work?

    There's no practical way for you to move in the next 5 weeks so that advice is not in here. This course is full of actionable strategies you can do with very little planning. For some, that may include trying out biking to work. For others, definitely not. I personally hated biking to work.

  • How much time will I have to commit to this every week?

    Great question! You'll be able to complete each week's assignment in one hour per week. The content is designed for you to be able to reference throughout the week but if you're short on time (which I assume you are) you won't need much of it to complete the course on time.

  • Who is this course not for?

    This course is not for people who want to maintain the same lifestyle that's keeping them in debt. It's also not for people who want information on side hustles or increasing their income.

  • How long do I have access to the course?

    While the course lasts for 5 weeks, you have lifetime access to all the material within it.

  • How is the course content delivered?

    Most of it is written. I never have time to watch videos and when I do my child always interrupts them. So any videos will be short and sweet. The weekly live coaching will be under an hour and I'll provide a written summary so you don't feel like you've missed anything by not watching.

  • Does this course work for those outside the United States?


  • Do you offer refunds?

    I offer a 14-day 100% money-back guarantee. No questions asked. No hoops to jump through.

  • My question isn’t listed.

    If you don’t see your question here, please send me an email at jen@modernfrugality.com and I will do my best to get you the information you need!


Jen makes frugality fun and has shown me ways to incorporate money saving strategies in to my life without feeling cheap and alienating my friends. Her tips on getting free museum passes from my local local library has saved me sooo much money!

Not sure if this course is for you?

5 Weeks to $500 is perfect for you if:

  • You can’t or don’t want to do a side hustle

  • You want to optimize your income

  • You want to improve and be confident in your spending decision

  • You want new ideas for ways to lower your spending

  • You’re looking for free alternatives to things you spend money on

  • You want to spend more time with your loved ones and have a better work-life balance

  • You’ve tried to stick to a budget but keep failing