Not only does being in debt cost you extra money in interest payments, it can cause emotional stress and sleepless nights. With a clear plan, determination and motivation, you can be debt-free sooner than you think. Here are 16 tips you can use to help pay off that looming debt as quickly as possible.
1. Be Devoted
You must be committed to getting out of debt. This means taking an honest, critical look at your finances and making the decision to become debt-free.
You must create a realistic, workable budget. You need to assign a place for every dollar of your income to scale back any overspending. List all of your debts, set up a payment schedule, and develop a system that will allow you to track your progress.
3. Check your Fixed Monthly Expenses
Monthly fixed expenses may include rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance, child care, etc.
While it can be difficult to decrease many fixed expenses, there are a couple of areas where you can try to make adjustments. Cancel your cable service or pare down to just the basics. You can also attempt to reduce your auto insurance costs by checking out quotes from competitors.
4. Rethink Your Living Situation
For many of us, our largest expense is housing. If you’re a renter, consider moving back home or with a friend or relative. If you own your home, consider taking in a tenant and putting that guest room to work for you.
5. Check your Variable Expenses
Some variable expenses may feel fixed. However, this is an area where you can easily make adjustments to free up extra cash. Variable expenses include groceries, gas, entertainment, clothing, etc.
You’ll need to temporarily scale back on dining out and other forms of entertainment. Pack your lunch daily, combine your errands to cut back on fuel use, and mend your clothing instead of buying new; apply any savings towards your debt.
6. Get a Part-Time Job
Check the newspapers and the internet job boards for part-time work. You can find extra work in an office building where you can file papers. You might be able to be a server at a restaurant and make money in tips. If you have the extra time in your schedule, a simple part-time job that requires three to four nights a week can make a dent in your debt payment.
7. Rent Out an Unused Space
If you have a room you don’t ever use in your home, convert it into a small living space for a renter. This is an excellent way to get a stream of passive income. All you’d need to do is find a good tenant who will respect the rules and pay their rent on time. If you have a basement, turn it into a basement apartment. In this case, you can still maintain your privacy and make a nice chunk of money each month.
8. Cook at Home
You need to do your best to hold on to the money you have. Instead of dining out at restaurants all time, look for copycat recipes of your favorite meals and make the meals at home. Avoid visiting fast food restaurants each night after work. That money adds up and you don’t want to wind up wasting the money on food that will only satisfy for a few hours.
9. DIY Certain Services
There are certain services that cost an arm and a leg. If you can learn to do them on your own, you’ll in much better shape. Instead of paying $40 for a mechanic to replace your car headlight bulbs, learn to do it yourself and put the money toward your debt. Mow your own lawn. The same concept applies to fixing the hem of your jacket or sewing on a missing button. These are easy fixes you don’t need to pay someone else to do.
10. Get Rid of Cable
While you might love the luxury of having 800 channels that you don’t watch, you’re probably wasting at least $40 each month on cable expenses. Instead of paying tons of money for cable, purchase internet subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu. These services offer tons of television and movie options for less than $10. Even if you purchase a few of these services, they still don’t add up to the cost of cable.
11. Use Coupons
Instead of tossing the coupons out as junk mail, take a few minutes to go through the pamphlets and find out what you can get a discount on. Challenge yourself to become a better cook by shaping your menus around what’s available in grocery coupons. Clip out the coupons that offer discounted prices on oil changes and other routine car maintenance services you’ll eventually need.
12. Stick to a Budget
Look at your money as soldiers who work for you. There should be an assignment for every dollar that comes in. When each dollar has marching orders, you’ll be able to experience more financial discipline. Remember that this is your budget so you can decide what you’d like to spend money on after the necessities get taken care of.
13. Less is More
Minimalism isn’t just a trend. It’s a long-term way of living a life of freedom. By simplifying everything in your life from the stuff you have in your home, what you purchase, the size of your home, how many cars you own, how many pair of shoes you have, and so on, you will realize how much happier you are by having less. Live by the motto, “Quality over Quantity” and you will find how much money you will save as well.
14. Keep Money Set Aside for Treats
While this doesn’t necessarily create income for you to pay off your debt, it’s important to include some sort of financial margin in your budget. All work and no play will leave you feeling hopeless and ready to give up. Whether you save $10 a week and go out to dinner and a movie at the end of the month, find ways to enjoy special indulgences to keep you motivated and on track with your debt payment goals.
15. Sell Unnecessary Items
Garage sales and flea markets are perfect opportunities to sell items you no longer use. Make sure to clean them and ensure that they’re in working condition. Additionally, you can post items online to Craistlist.org and eBay.com. There are also a lot of great online discount programs that allow you to sell clothes and other apparel to earn some extra cash. It’s time to clean out your garage and your closets and make some money.
16. Negotiate Bills
Sometimes, you can call the companies and work out a deal for a lower payment, especially for cable, phone and other similar services. Many companies want to keep your business so they will lower your bill.
17. Downsize and Downgrade Temporarily
While it may seem like a drastic fix, financial freedom is priceless. Downgrade and downsize your belongings for a period of time. Instead of leasing that nice luxury car, save a few thousand and purchase an older, used car. The money that previously went to car payments can now go to other debt payments and you’ll be able to have transportation until you get out of debt.
18. Get a Better Paying Job
Sometimes, there’s only so much you can do to save money. You might need a job that just pays better. Start looking for ways to earn more within your field. If you need to get a certification, work toward that so you can earn more on a regular basis.
19. Sell a Product
If you’ve always loved to make candles, create a candle line and sell it to family and friends. If you’re really savvy with lotions and cosmetics, produce your own homemade cosmetic line and set up a stand at local farmer’s markets. Put it at a price point that’s lucrative enough and make some extra money as a creative entrepreneur. Get creative and the there are many different products you can sell this way or on Etsy.com.
20. Freelance Your Services
Freelancing is ideal for people in fields such as graphic design, photography and writing. Wake up a few hours earlier and work on advertising your services, building a clientele and producing excellent services.
Even though the price of gas fluctuates between affordable and expensive, it’s still an expense you have. If you have the type of job that allows you to work from home, take advantage of this option and place that extra cash toward your debt.
These 16 ways are simple to understand and execute with determination and intention. As long as you consistently follow through, you’ll definitely be able to pay off your debt very quickly.
22. Raid your Savings
There are a couple schools of thought on saving while you’re in debt. Some suggest saving a small emergency fund of $1,000 while other financial professionals advise becoming debt free first.
If you have a large emergency fund it may be worth it to use a portion of your savings to pay off debt.
23. Earn More
This can seem easier said than done. But there are options aside from a part-time job. Here is a list of creative ways to earn additional income:
26 Ideas for Earning Extra Money
24. Sell Your Stuff
Start sorting through your things to determine if you have valuables that you are willing to part with. Old unworn jewelry, sports memorabilia, unused furniture – these are all items that can be easily put up for sale. Try joining a Facebook group in your city, or listing items on Craigslist, eBay, or OfferUp.
25. Check in With the Bank
Banks often have sign-up bonuses for opening new accounts. You can earn up to $300 for setting up a new checking account. There are often rules around minimum balances and requirements to set up direct deposit.
26. Renegotiate Terms with Creditors
Many people don’t realize this is an option. Your debt can be reorganized in a couple of ways. You can attempt to negotiate a lower payment than what is owed. Be aware though that with credit card accounts, for example, this often requires the card be closed. The accounts will also show on your credit reports as “settled for less than what was owed”.
If that feels too severe, you can also attempt to have your APR lowered. If your credit score is still satisfactory, you can sign up for a new card that offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers. This allows you to pay down the principal and cut out the interest payments.
27. Consolidate With a Personal Loan
Similar to the balance transfer option, assuming your credit is still in good standing, you can take out a loan to consolidate your debts. This works best if the interest rate on the personal loan is equal to or less than the rate you are paying on your debt.
This option will allow you to make just one payment each month. As with any borrowed money, pay more than the minimum when you can to get out of debt faster.
28. Put Your Pay Raises Towards Debt
Instead of counting increased earnings towards your monthly spend, put the extra towards your debt pay-off. Once your debt is paid off, you can put this extra money towards your savings.
29. Temporarily Cease 401(k) Contributions
This is a tough decision to make. Saving for retirement is often difficult enough and every dollar helps. But when you’re deep in debt you may need to take drastic measures. This should be a temporary fix for bringing in more money for debt pay-off. Another option is to drop your contribution down just enough to continue getting your employer match while using the rest for your debts.
30. Snowball Method
As for options for actually climbing out of debt, there are a couple schools of thought.
Once you’ve allocated the total amount you can put towards debt, you start paying off the smallest balance, paying the minimum towards all other debts. Once the smallest debt is paid in full, you “snowball” that amount into the next smallest debt. This method gives you the psychological reward of small victories as each debt is eliminated, saving your sanity.
31. Debt Avalanche Method
The debt avalanche method is popular because it makes the most financial sense. With this method, you focus on paying debt with the highest APRs first, saving yourself as much interest as possible.
32. Remain Optimistic
Surely you didn’t get into debt overnight so try to stay positive and about your debt pay-off strategy. As long as you persevere, you will reach your goal of being debt-free.