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Are you struggling to pay off your debt?
There is a better way to do it. Enjoy financial freedom, stop being chained to your bills and destroy your debt with these mind blowing strategies.
Are you debt-ridden?
Think about it:
Does debt keep you up at night?
Are you constantly wondering if you’ll be able to make rent?
Having trouble paying bills on time?
Getting services (like cell phone or utilities) shut off for non-payment?
It might be a very difficult time for you but there are ways to help. Destroying debt is within reach with the right plan.
Keep reading to learn how to ditch your debt: 23 ways to pay off your debt!
Is All Debt Bad?
The short answer is no. Not all debt is bad and a healthy amount of debt helps you build and maintain your credit standing, get lower interest rates and other benefits.
There is good debt and bad debt.
Good debt pushes you forward and bad debt holds you back. Let me explain.
Like the saying goes, “it takes money to make money.”
Here are some examples of good debt:
- College education
- Business startup
- Real estate investing, homeownership
Here are examples of bad debt:
- Credit card debt
- Personal loans
- Car loans
Debt becomes bad when it starts to be overbearing. You feel swallowed up by it and you might even be living paycheck to paycheck because your debt load has grown out of control. These debt-busting strategies are going to help you get your life back:
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
- Get your debtload under control
- Manage your payments with ease
- Pay off your burdensome debt
Here we go!
1. Live Like a College Student
This might be kind of extreme but it’s effective and it will help you pay off your debt fast.
Do you remember your college days?
Struggling as a broke college student, living off ramen noodles and oatmeal. You don’t have to quite go back to that but you will be making changes to live more frugally, freeing up more of your disposable income to throw towards your debt.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Ditch your car
- Ditch your house
- Let go of extras
Ditching Your Car
Getting rid of your car in lieu of more affordable transportation can help you save heaps every single month. You can either downsize to a more affordable car or you can go carless in total, taking up bicycling, walking, or taking public transporation.
Ditching Your House
Move out of your place. Downsize to a smaller or cheaper home, think about taking on roommates or move back in with your parents. This will be a big lifestyle change but don’t worry, you don’t have to live this way forever. Think about if you could cut your housing expense in half or eliminate it all together, looking at some of these living options.
Letting Go of Extras
No more subscriptions. No more weekends out with friends. No more cable. Don’t worry, there are alternatives. Take a look:
No Subscriptions: Monthly subscriptions for entertainment, movies and other goods can be expensive. Eliminate these and try free or cheap entertainment like free mobile games on your cell phone or free outdoor activities like hiking or camping.
No Weekends Out: You can still enjoy weekend entertainment but opt for the free or cheap version like hosting game nights at your home, BYOB movie marathons, and more.
No Cable: You can still watch television. There are so many affordable movie and film options nowadays. Check out this roundup:
- Amazon streaming (free with your Amazon Prime membership)
Make some drastic changes here and cut out all but the necessary to save and contribute toward your debts to pay them off faster.
2. Ask for Overtime
A great way to pay off debt faster is to increase your earnings. An easy way to accomplish this is to ask for more hours at work. Working overtime can double your paycheck, literally.
You will be working longer and harder, you might feel more tired but keep the end goal in mind and watch your debt shrink twice as fast!
3. Get a Second Job
Aside from overtime, you can get a second job.
When I was in college, I worked with a ton of military G.I.’s at a popular chain restaurant in town. They’d work their 9 to 5, then work as delivery drivers in the evening a few nights a week. They loved it because it was an extra paycheck and they got tips so cash was always in their pocket.
We are living in a gig economy and there are many second job options for the busy 9 to 5 worker:
- Food delivery like UberEATS or Postmates
- Grocery delivery like Instacart
- Driving jobs like Lyft or Uber
What you will love about these gig jobs above is that they are so flexible. Many of them pay weekly with flexible schedules and they all let you work from the comfort of your car.
Not a bad idea for a second job, after a long day at your 9 to 5.
Other than gig jobs, you may consider starting a business.
Today, starting a business is more affordable than previous years, depending on the industry and type of business you decide to launch.
Here are some examples of free or low-startup businesses you can start for extra money to help you pay off your debt faster:
- Pet sitting
- Pet washing
- House sitting
- Closet organization
- House cleaning
- Car washing or detailing
- Logo design
- Business card and branding design
- Web design and web development
- Video editing
These businesses all have one thing in common. They are home-based businesses. This is what contributes to no or low startup capital. You eliminate the overhead of a commercial space, factory or office when you can work at home.
These businesses are also all service-based.
This means you eliminate costs like:
- Shipping and packing supplies
- Postage costs
- Warehouse space
You can start these businesses from the comfort of home, right from your personal computer, in an afternoon. With a business, there are so many perks:
- Unlimited income potential
- Be your own boss
- Flexible schedule
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
More ideas? Here are 16 businesses you can start for less than $200.
4. Get a Side Hustle
Want to earn more without having to work overtime at work or start a business? Get a side hustle. A side hustle can be a flexible way for you to make money and you might even enjoy it and have fun.
Take a look at these ideas:
- Take surveys
- Start an ecommerce store
- Start blogging
You will get paid to share your opinion, earning between $.50 to $500 per survey. A huge range, isn’t it? That’s because there are many kinds of surveys.
A quick survey that will take a few minutes of your time will be on the lower end of the spectrum while a more involved panel that might take an hour or longer to do, might pay you up to three figures.
I’ve done both. This company sends me money every month for taking surveys. I’ve also done panels earning $400 for just 45 minutes of my time.
Interested? Take a look at this roundup of surveys that pay up to $600 with survey taking.
Go with E-commerce
This is a business but it’s easy to start and you can begin earning from day one. Starting an online e-commerce store is a great way to start making money fast. You will be selling goods to the general public.
First, you pick a niche. So, you will decide what kind of products you’ll sell:
- Artificial plants
- Hunting equipment
Next, you will set up your online storefront. There are many storefront options but I recommend Shopify. They have a user-friendly interface and a ton of tools at your fingertips, to help you run your store effectively like their theme shop, apps, access to experts, and more.
Then, source products. Figure out where you will get your products from:
- Buy wholesale online
- Visit markets and expos to buy in person
- Visit manufacturers
Lastly, launch and sell your goods!
Blogging goes undetected, under the radar often. A lot of people don’t know you can make a very lucrative living blogging and it can be a great side hustle.
You will pick a niche to blog about, like:
- Vegan cooking
- Stamp collecting
- Military life
Then, you will write content. Over time you will build and cultivate an audience. You can make money through ads on the blog, sponsors that pay you to write about them, your own products, and affiliate marketing.
Learn more about starting a blog with our free guide here.
Get paid to write what you hear in audio files. Transcriptionists earn up to $25/hour transcribing audio files. It’s a real work from home career that many don’t know about.
It’s flexible and you can work full-time or part-time, making it a nice side hustle for extra money.
Some places to learn more about transcription:
Learn more about how to work from home and earn $25/hour as a transcriptionist.
Monetizing your skills side hustling as a freelancer. Find jobs on freelance banks like Upwork or Guru. You can also look to social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Some freelance jobs you might do:
- Graphic design
- Web development
- Proofreading and editing
- Social media management
Take a look at the 9 best online side hustles to earn money quickly.
5. Stop Using Your Credit Cards
You’re going backwards if you’re still utilizing credit cards while you are trying to pay them off. Stop it!
The more you swipe, the higher your balance goes, even if you intend on paying off what you charged, things can always come up, preventing you from paying down your credit card.
Having a tough time with it?
Cut your cards or put them way out of reach to prevent any temptation.
6. Pay More Than Your Minimums
Instead of paying your minimum balance required, try paying as much as you can afford. This is a good way to tackle those balances and pay off your debt fast.
Make sure you don’t push yourself into a corner with this. You should still be able to comfortably afford your bills and save for your emergency fund but, you’ll be taking the extra and putting toward your debt.
7. Spend Your Windfalls on Debt
You know those windfalls you get during the year:
- Tax refund
- Bonus at work
- Winning at a casino
Make sure you take that money and throw it toward your debt instead of spending it on a splurge.
8. Pay Off Smallest Balances First
Pay off your debt in order of smallest to largest balances. This way when you succeed paying off a bill, you can celebrate the win and use that motivation to continue in your journey of destroying your debt. It’s called the Debt Snowball method.
9. Stop Spending on Leisure
This is another lifestyle change and your social life doesn’t have to be eliminated either. There are plenty of free and/or cheap activities to do to keep you busy:
- Potlucks at home with friends (everyone brings a dish)
- Music in the park
- Move night in
- Move night at a friend’s house
- Cook at home
- Free or cheap local festivals and events
- Free or $1 movie theater nights
These changes aren’t permanent either. Keep in mind that your goal is to pay off your debt and once you accomplish that, you can return to the occasional indulgent leisure activity.
10. Sell Your Stuff
Go through your home and make a pile of extra stuff you don’t need and can sell. Call it a Spring or Winter cleaning. Some items you’d sell might include:
- Used or new apparel
- Small appliances
- Kids gear/apparel/footwear
- Flatware or dishes
11. Take Advantage of Balance-Busting Tools/Resources
Like a balance transfer offer, if you get a deal on your credit card, to transfer a balance at 0%, you can take advantage, moving over a high interest debt to your credit card to save a ton on interest. Talk to your bank to see what options are available.
12. Create and/or Review Your Budget
Hopefully you have a budget in place. A budget is super helpful at helping you schedule and pay your bills on time, identify spending patterns and more. If you aren’t on one, get on a budget now.
These budget apps are an easy way to help get you on track:
The idea is to confront your finances head on so you can understand better and see the big picture, while making smart money moves to put you closer to your goal of paying off debt.
13. Spend Less on Food
Not asking you to go hungry here but you can spend less on food costs and use that extra money to help you ditch your debt.
Tips to Lower Your Food Cost:
- Ditch junk food
- Drink only water
- Meal plan
- Eat healthier
- Go vegan
- Shop once or twice per month (no more than this)
- Use coupons
- Shop sales
- Shop in season
- Shop farmer’s markets
These money saving strategies can help you reduce your grocery bill by 20% or more!
Couple these tactics with these apps to whittle your grocery budget down even further:
Here are the top 10 free apps that pay you money for scanning grocery receipts.
14. If You Can’t Afford It, Skip It
Is there something upcoming that you want? Can you afford it? If you can’t, just suck it up. Keep your eye on the prize. It’s all about living within your means.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re living beyond your means:
- Are you living paycheck to paycheck?
- Can you pay your bills on time?
- Do you run out of food?
- Are bill collectors calling you?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might be living beyond your means. Our best advice again, if you can’t afford it, just skip it!
15. Embrace a Frugal Mindset
Start living more frugally to contribute to your debt ditching lifestyle. This means you will be thinking about money and your purchases more but after time, it will feel like second nature.
Here are some frugal lifestyle tips to get you started:
- Buy essentials only
- Buy in bulk
- Try thinking more minimalist
- Shop sales
You can follow this advice without even feeling it:
- Reuse what you can
- Trade your skills
- Pick the most affordable option
- DIY it
16. Pay Your Bills On Time
When moving toward a debt-free life, nothing is worse than getting set back by late fees from not paying your bills on time.
Get organized and try these tools to pay before or by your due date:
- Google Calendar
- Mint app
It can be easy to forget about due date. A lot of us living busy lives. Try these tools to ensure you pay your bills on time.
17. Try an Extreme Savings Strategy
How important is paying off debt to you? How important is it to pay off your debt fast?
If it is important, with an open mind look at these extreme savings strategies that real people have actually done.
- Ignoring social norms like holidays
- Ditching the toilet paper in place of washable cloths
- Yellow, let it mellow, brown, flush it down
- No takeout food, ever
- Joined the military
- Dumpster diving
- Flipping stuff, everything
Extreme ideas, aren’t they? Want to read more. Check out these 37 crazy and creative strategies to pay off debt from real people.
18. Live Non-Traditionally
Embracing a non-traditional lifestyle means you’re living a different way than most of the general public, and you’d be doing this for the purpose of saving money to pay your debts faster.
This non-traditional way of living is a lifestyle. It impacts your entire life including,
- Work/school life
This could mean that you rent a room in a house, as opposed to having your own place. You might eat only the food you grow or prepare yourself or you could walk or bicycle where you need to go to save on transportation.
If you decide to go this route, much kudos to you keeping your eye on the prize. Remember this doesn’t have to be a permanent change but is a fast way to cutting costs and paying off your debt load.
19. Embrace Cheap Meals
Cook cheaply to save money. Before I started mindful budgeting, it wasn’t unusual for our family to cough up $40 for a home-cooked meal. $40!
It was pretty insane.
I mean, at this point it’s cheaper to eat out, really.
Now, I cook with my budget in mind and still get to prepare delicious, home-cooked frugal meals for my family. Check out these cooking hacks to help you save on food:
- Local ingredients
- Minimize or eliminate meat in dishes
- Freezer cook
- Batch cook
- Meal prep
- Buy ingredients in bulk that you can use for multiple meals
Here are 100 frugal meal ideas to get you started.
20. Check Your Statements
This is something everyone should do because banks make mistakes too.
You want to check bank statements to hunt for errors. These can be double charges, bank fees, and more. Last year I got a handful of checks from my credit card company for fees they charged in error. Over $100 that I never caught! It pays to check your statements, literally.
Check out Cushion. They review your bank account to get you money back from bank fees.
I had a friend who did this and got over $800 in fees!
It’s free to you. Cushion gets paid from the fees they get back to you so no out of pocket cost to you.
Take that extra money and put it all toward your debt!
Learn more about Cushion here.
21. Be Clean
What? You might wonder where this one came from. If you’re cleaner, you have less waste. Less waste and a cleaner way of living means you get sick less often and you don’t have to repair of replace things because they got so dirty they broke.
When we bought our first house, we were clueless.
Do you know how often you’re supposed to change your air filters?
We made a bunch of mistakes that ended up costing us big. Some simple home maintenance monthly or a few times a year, along with cleaning home things like filters, vents, etc. would have saved us hundreds.
Not to mention, that leaky pipe under the sink that ended up rotting 3 of our cabinets could have been saved and put a few thousand dollars back into our pocket.
Take that savings on doctor’s bills, medication, cleaning supplies and repair bills and put it on your debt.
The moral of the story is be clean!
22. Credit Counseling
Credit counseling might be a good outlet to help you craft a debt management plan. Sometimes you need the help of an advisor and credit counselors can provide assistance.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help you find a reputable credit counseling service in your area.
Like credit counseling, there are services that can negotiate your debt for you. If your debt is truly out of control and you can’t get above water, this is a good option to make your payments more affordable and help you pay off your debt.
Better than bankruptcy, in a negotiation, you will hire a firm or company to negotiate your debts on behalf of you. This doesn’t come without a cost and I don’t mean the price you’ll pay the firm. Any time you pay less than what’s owed, it may negatively impact your credit. Your creditors can note on your credit report that you settled for less than owed.
This can not only lower your credit score but impact your ability to acquire new debt at the best interest rate, in the future.
Is it worth it?
It might be. If you are truly struggling, this might be a route you take.
Let’s recap, shall we? We talked about 23 ways to ditch your debt through a variety of things you can do like:
- Increase your earnings
- Change your lifestyle
- Using tools and apps to help
- Being more frugal
- Living with your means
- Asking for help
We hope you found this helpful and inspires you to work toward your goal of paying off debt. Do you have some debt ditching practices to share? Comment below. We would love to hear from you!