Laura Harris is a fascinating person with an even more fascinating story – debt free by 25, a stay-at-home mom on a super low income, and a self-made success in the freelance writing industry… When she came to me with the idea of writing this post, there was absolutely no way I was going to pass her up. Practical ways to pay off debt faster? Uhhhh, yes please. This is a topic that we’re all craving, and given the quality of the content below, I wouldn’t be at all shocked if this post is soon read by thousands (maybe even hundreds-of thousands) of people.
In 2012, my husband and I became debt-free. What we thought would take seven years only took two. We were shocked. It wasn’t because we made more than the average family. We learned if we wanted more freedom, we had to find as many ways as we could to pay off debt faster.
The journey lit a fire within me. As a result, I became a financial coach in 2015, equipping other families with the same tools that helped my family achieve what felt impossible.
Now I’d like to share this master list with you.
50+ Practical Ways to Pay Off Debt Faster
According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, money is the #1 stressor in America today. I’m going to walk you through three simple, yet powerful, categories for reducing that stress in your home, starting this week. Each of the practical debt-payoff methods will fit into one of these categories:
- Shifting your mindset
- Reducing your expenses
- Increasing your income
Many people jump to the final category and skip the rest, but don’t! Making more money always takes time. That’s crucial time away from your family and other responsibilities. Let’s first take a look at your mindset and optimize your current income before we dip into such a precious resource like time.
WAYS TO SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
1) Test It
Let’s set the foundation for a debt-free future. The best way to make this a long-term change is to look inside. Before you make your next purchase, ask yourself a few questions. Do you spend your money based on what feels good at the time? Do you live on less than you make and save the extra for a rainy day? Are you okay with having a car loan for the rest of your life?
Getting Started: Take the Rich Mindset Vs. Poor Mindset Quiz.
2) Snip Those Credit Cards
One of the first steps to take if you truly want to get out of debt faster is to eliminate the prospect of all future debt. This is a huge shift in your mindset because that plastic rectangle in your wallet may have felt like a security blanket.
That means its time for a new security blanket. Head to the bank and open a savings account. Get $500 in there ASAP ($1,000 is better). That savings account may not seem fancy, but it wont charge you 18 to 24 percent interest, nor is it linked to a card burning a hole in your wallet.
Note: Cutting up your card DOES NOT close your account. Make sure you call, write in, or cancel your account online to make it official on your credit report.
Getting Started: Closing a Credit Card the Right Way
3) Tell Your Money Where to Go
The most powerful tool you’ll ever use to pay off debt faster is your budget. Don’t think of it as a straight-jacket. Think of it as your ticket to freedom. Imagine payday without car payments, student loans, credit cards, or a mortgage. You work hard for that paycheck. Now it’s time to tighten the reins and make it work for you.
Getting Started: Free Budgeting Tool
4) Take a Financial Snapshot
You may have a rough idea of your total debts, but lets get a birds eye view. Its time to pull up statements and balances. It may not feel pleasant, but when you pay off debt faster and get used to saving ahead and managing your budget, your future will never be the same. Freedom is on the other side of the struggle.
Getting Started: Pull up your most recent statements for all outstanding debts like student loans, car loans, credit cards, personal loans, and medical debt. Calculate your total to get a clear idea of how much debt you owe.
5) Pay Debt First
It’s tempting to say, “I’ll just wait and see how much money is left over to pay off extra debt this month.” Instead, list it first on your budget, along with giving and saving. Make those three items the top priority and fit your expenses in around them. That ensures your debt payoff plan stays on track.
Getting Started: How to Make a Zero-Based Budget
It might make sense on your calculator to pay off your debts with the highest interest first. Numbers can be a powerful tool, but this is one time when I want you to focus on something else.
The Debt Snowball Method will generate momentum as you pay off your debts from smallest to largest. This study from Kellogg Northwestern proves consumers who pay off smaller balances first are more likely to succeed in becoming debt-free. And you know what? You’ll likely pay off your debt faster as well.
Getting Started: How the Debt Snowball Really Works
7) Use the Debt Avalanche Method
If you feel uncomfortable turning your back on those higher interest rates, check out the Debt Avalanche Method. It’s very similar to the Debt Snowball and can still help you pay off debt faster (which is ultimately what we’re after here, right?).
Getting Started: How to Use the Debt Avalanche Method
8) Weigh the opportunity cost
A powerful incentive to stop going into debt is to calculate what an opportunity will cost you. For example, if you purchase a brand new car, how much retirement are you wasting? In this example, a 35-year-old man who earns $60,000 a year purchases a new car for $20,000. That one decision cost him $484,000 in retirement!
Using a budget was so helpful when my husband and I started attacking debt. The only thing that led to ultimate success, however, was regular communication. Setting a time each month to go over our finances helped us stay accountable and unified. Even when we disagreed, we talked about it. That led to so much growth.
Getting Started: 10 Tips for Starting a Discussion About Money with Your Spouse
10) Set a Payoff Date
Want to take your momentum to the next level? Set a date. The date youll pay off your last debt. Not sure where to begin? Try the Pay Off Debt app where you can enter your totals and see progress bars that estimate your payoff date for each debt.
Getting Started: Pay Off Debt App
11) Stop Viewing Debt as a Tool
This mind shift is huge. So many people view debt as a tool to grow their credit score. They see it as a gateway to freedom. I know, because I was that person too. However, all debt ever did was take my income and threaten my future.
Once you stop using debt as a tool, you start using other things in its place like cash, savings, restraint, patience, and healthy spending habits.
Getting Started: 7 Characteristics of Debt-Free Living
12) Celebrate Milestones
Getting out of debt involves a lot of compromises, but it doesnt all have to be that way. My husband and I celebrated debt freedom by purchasing Nintendo Wii. You may have a different goal in mind. A budget should always include a little fun money for you both to help you stay sane and enjoy life through this process.
Getting Started: How to Enjoy the Weekend While Battling Debt
Did you know 86 percent of purchase applicants select the 30-year mortgage option? Why is that? Is it because mortgage companies want you to pay as much interest as possible? Is it because consumers buy houses that stretch their income too thin? It could be either. One great way to resolve this issue is to crunch the numbers, yourself.
For example, if you paid $500 on top of your $716 monthly payment at four percent, you’d pay your 30-year mortgage off in just 13 years! That’s over 17 years more quickly and tens of thousands saved!
Getting Started: Crunch the numbers with this free Mortgage Payoff Calculator.
14) Take a Financial Class
When my husband and I really saw a significant change in our financial habits, it was due to the class we’d just taken. Financial Peace University laid the foundation on so many things like how to pay off debt faster, how to communicate better with your spouse, and planning for the future. The group setting kept us accountable and each class member learned from one another and supported each other.
Getting Started: Dave Ramsey’s Classes and Training
15) Join an Online Community
You don’t have to wait for the next financial class to start. Head over to Facebook and join one of the many debt support groups. They share resources, encouragement, motivation, advice, and accountability – all for free. You don’t have to do this alone.
Getting Started: Find your first supportive group here.
WAYS TO SAVE MONEY
16) Dial Back Your Style of Living
- How much money you should send toward your mortgage?
- How nice your wardrobe should be?
- Whether you can afford that vacation to Disney this year?
The world of commerce has blurred those lines more than ever now that credit is available to most anyone. Now it’s time to sit down and evaluate whether you’re outspending yourself or not.
Trimming back, delaying, or simply saying “No” to these debt-triggers may just skyrocket you closer to your debt-free goal.
Getting Started: How Much Should You Spend On That?
If you apply the tips in this article to help you live on less, budget wisely, and even earn a side income, you can accumulate a powerful tool to pay off debt faster.
A lump sum.
For example, let’s say you owe $1,200 on XYZ credit card. You’ve hustled and saved $1,000. What might happen if you call XYZ creditors and inform them you’re prepared to pay off the entire balance immediately if they accept your $1,000? They might say no. But they might say yes and save you $200.
Side Note: If a creditor does accept your reduced payoff amount, GET IT IN WRITING! You don’t want them calling one year later denying the discount and demanding the rest of their money.
Getting Started: 13 Awesome Tricks for Negotiating Credit Card Debt
18) Chop the Food Budget
A practical way to save money and pay off debt faster is to target food expenses.
I like to implement a “grocery strike” when our kitchen is beginning to thin out but the month isn’t over yet. It helps me get creative and dig through the items at the back of my pantry rather than make a trip to the grocery store. Inevitably, if I step foot in there, a $50 bill flies out of my pocket. This helps me stay within our budget. You can also clip coupons, set price points, and watch for deals.
Getting Started: How to Extreme Coupon & and Save 84% on Groceries
19) Try a No-Spend Challenge
Could you go without shopping for clothing for 30 days? Try it. A no-spend challenge help you tighten your budget with intentionality.
Now let’s take things one step farther. Calculate how much you would have spent on clothing this month, and apply that amount toward debt.
Getting Started: 4 Steps for a Successful No-Spend Challenge
20) Use Cash Envelopes
The idea behind using cash envelopes is to help you stick with your allotted spending limits. Youre not as tempted to splurge when the physical cash simply isnt in your wallet. Some areas for using cash might be groceries, restaurants, clothing, etc.
Getting Started: The Ultimate Guide to the Cash Envelope System
21) Use a Savings or Budgeting App
A great way to track your progress is to use an app like Mint.com or EveryDollar. Remember, apps dont take the place of a solid budget where you meet with your significant other and review the numbers. But they can be great for helping you stay motivated along the way.
Getting Started: 7 Top Apps to Help You Save and Invest in 2018
22) Swap a Vacation for a Staycation
The average vacation costs between $1,100 and $4,500 for a family of four, according to Forbes. Want to pay off debt faster? Stop being average.
A quality adventure doesnt have to involve costly travel, lodging, or dining out. What can your family do thats within a two-hour radius of your home? Can you create a vacation in your own backyard with a tent and a campfire? Memories like that with your family are just as priceless.
Getting Started: Staycation Ideas for Families
23) Get Creative with a Free Date Night
Ill admit it. My husband and I love the stereotypical dinner and a movie. However, it almost always sets us back $50 to $80 when the babysitter is factored in. Does that mean we quit dating? Nope. Instead, we get creative with our time together. Sometimes we do a movie night at home or go hiking on a trail or walk around an outdoor mall.
Getting Started: 68 Totally Free Date Ideas Youll Actually Want to Try
24) Enjoy Free Family Fun
Weve already covered the staycation idea, but what about some fun and free activities when youre going about the day-to-day? For example, if youre trying to eat out less, how about a picnic in the park? Or head to the local ballpark and watch a game together.
Getting Started: 103 Things to Do on a Money-Free Weekend
25) Head to the Library
The library is one of my favorite places on Earth. Not only can we check out movies for much longer than Redbox and its 100 percent free, but theres so much more. There are scheduled activities for infants, children, teens, college students, and adults.
Also, when you use the free app Hoopla in conjunction with your library account, youll have access to a massive digital library. I love instantly checking out ebooks, audiobooks, and soundtracks from Hoopla. In fact, Im listening to music from The Greatest Showman on Hoopla as we speak!
Getting Started: Free Stuff at the Library That You Never Knew Existed
26) Dump Cable
According to data published by the Leichtman Research group, 82 percent of families purchase some type of Pay-TV subscription. Most of them pay more than $100 per month for this service. Thankfully, with streaming services like Netflix or HuluPlus, you can slash that expense to a tenth of its size and still enjoy quality programs in your home.
Getting Started: 5 Steps to Help You Cut Your Cable Bill
One meal may seem like a tiny expense, but small wins lead to bigger successes over time. By packing your lunch, you could save $1,000+ this year to pay off debt faster.
28) Swap Childcare
If youre a parent, then you know how expensive sitters can be. Try finding another parent who is willing to swap with you. This solution may not eliminate all your childcare expenses, but it can certainly help.
Getting Started: Reach out to your network of friends to see who might be interested in swapping a few hours of babysitting with you each week.
Childcare isnt the only area where you can barter to save money. Evaluate your skills. What can you offer someone in exchange for their product or services?
For example, one of my family members heard about a great deal on a television wed just purchased. They, too, wanted a new television but didnt have the funds available and didnt want to go into debt. We decided to use the barter system. We bought the second television and traded it in exchange for help with our lawn care. My husband was in a very busy season of his job, so it was nice to outsource the yard work for a time.
Getting Started: How to Barter Successfully
In the way my husband and I benefited from placing our debt payments and savings at the top of our budget, we also became more disciplined when we automated several things. For example, let’s say your monthly mortgage payment is $925. After crunching the numbers, you know you can afford to pay $1,200. If you simply automate that new total, then you’ll never feel tempted to let extra money slip through the cracks somewhere else.
Getting Started: Is Automating Your Savings Worth It?
31) Trim the Miscellaneous Column
So many miscellaneous expenses get overlooked. To free up more cash each month for debt, go through your statement and receipts to see what might need a trim.
Getting Started: 6 Ways to Trim Your Budget Without Cutting Anything You Love
WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR INCOME
Im sure youve heard about this phenomenon of making money with a blog. But how does it work, exactly? The possibilities are numerous, but Derek uses this blog as a great example from which to learn. You can read about the various income streams he has built in this tutorial here.
Getting Started: How to Start a WordPress Blog on iPage
33) Get Paid to Write
There is an incredible need today for quality writers who know how to convey a message that will reach and inspire an audience. This is a passion Ive had for three years, and I love that its something I can do at home while raising a family.
Earn an average of $20-$30 an hour, or if youre really good and have a long history of writing, you could earn $100 or more!
Getting Started: How to Make Extra Money as a Freelance Writer
34) Become a Social Media Manager
Do you seriously want to pay off debt faster? This is a great option to make that a reality.
There is a huge need in the marketplace for someone who knows how to manage social media accounts. Bloggers and business owners dont have time to cultivate a daily conversation with their followers on Facebook or to create eye-popping Instagram posts with just the right hashtags.
A social media manager can. Business Insider reports you could earn a salary of $34,000 to $56,000 a year.
Getting Started: How to Become a Social Media Manager In 6 Simple Steps
35) Launch a Graphic Design Business
With so many people making money online today, there is a huge need for solid graphic designers. If you have the background and want to earn thousands of dollars more each year, throw your hat in the ring at the following sites:
Getting Started: 8 Ways to Make Extra Money From Your Graphic Design Skills
36) Become a Transcriber
If you’re decent with a keyboard, you could be earning $10 to $20 per hour from home as a transcriber. Transcription services are for any person or business who wants an audio file written down. For example, when you listen to a podcast, there is often a transcribed version typed out on their website. Someone had to punch those keys. Why not you?
37) Become a Virtual Assistant
There are tons of blogs out there that are making $1,000, $5,000, even $10,000+ a month and they need your help to grow even bigger.
- Respond to advertiser emails
- Track income and expenses
- Set up PR meetings and interviews
- Market their product
Become a VA and earn an average of $16 an hour. Prove your worth and you could earn far more than that.
38) Host a Garage Sale
Many people throw all kinds of effort into a garage sale and come out with very little profits. However, when I applied these 20 tips, I made so much more money. You can too. Make sure you ask any friends and family if they’d like to join you. A multi-family garage sale will definitely help you attract more customers.
Getting Started: How to Host a Successful Garage Sale
39) Join a Consignment Sale
We have two local consignment sales for gently used children’s and maternity items in our city. They’re great for two reasons:
- I can register as a seller and make +$200 on items our family no longer uses. Plus, I don’t have to stick around to sell the items; I just drop them off.
- I can shop for quality clothing, shoes, toys, etc. at a majorly slashed price.
Getting Started: How to Make Big Bucks at Consignment Sales
40) Start Babysitting
Depending on your circumstances and availability, you could open your home as a caretaker. As a new mom, I watched two little boys twice a week to help pay for our new health insurance (which increased greatly when we had a child). According to SitterCity.com, the average babysitter earns $12.50 an hour. Your earnings may be different than that, but it’s still worth considering.
Getting Started: The Ultimate Guide to Babysitting
Did you know pet sitters earn between $25-$50 a day? Depending on how busy you become, this could seriously add up.
Getting Started: Simple Side Hustle Ideas Pet Sitting
42) Downsize Something Big
This might be the most drastic option on the list, but imagine how much debt you could slash if you downsized your living arrangements. Or sold one of your vehicles. Or traded a newer model in for something more seasoned. A simple act could absolutely help you pay off debt faster – sometimes years faster!
Dont believe the myth that cars under $3,000 or older than 10 years are death traps. In my 15 years on the road, thats all Ive ever driven. I dont have a single accident on my record. Not saying that to boast. I just want you to remember your end goal (life without a car payment!).
The world values luxury and convenience above financial freedom. The more you pay off debt faster and faster, the more luxury and convenience youll be able to afford later.
Getting Started: Used Cars Priced Below $3,000 In Your Area
43) Review Products on Youtube
When was the last time you left a review for a product you enjoyed? Wouldnt it be awesome to get paid for that? One great way is to start a Youtube channel and upload video reviews. Various sources of potential revenue include:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate income
- Sponsored content
Getting Started: How to Make Good Product Review Videos on Youtube
44) Become an Affiliate Marketer
Along with reviewing products on Youtube, you can review them anywhere online and earn income as an affiliate marketer. You can talk about products on Facebook, your blog, your email newsletter (as long as your subscription carrier permits you), and of course, Youtube. Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income earns six figures every month using affiliate links as a primary strategy.
Getting Started: Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way – Free Guidebook
45) Rent Out Your Truck
A truck is the prized jewel of every heavy-lifting project. If you’re the guy or gal always getting asked about borrowing your truck, rent it out. Turn it into a formal business by making a Facebook page, Twitter account, or simple app. Who knows where it could lead?
Getting Started: Make Money With Your Car Rent it Out On Turo
Got any empty rooms in your house? You may want to rent them out. A steady income of $65 to $80 dollars per week for a room helped this man earn $11,700 per year. If it works for him, I bet it could help you pay off debt faster as well.
Getting Started: Want to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster? Rent Out Rooms In Your House
47) Sell Your Plasma
Plasma is an important medical resource that saves lives. Not to mention you get paid to donate it. They may pay you as much as $50 a week. This option does take a significant amount of time, but if it helps you pay off debt faster while doing the world some good, it might just be worth it.
Getting Started: How to Make Money Selling Plasma
48) Start an eCommerce Store
Do you have a product youd like to sell online? There are numerous outlets from which you can choose. Places like Shopify, WooCommerce, and SquareSpace make it easier and more convenient for both you and the consumer to do business.
Getting Started: 5 Cost-Effective Tips for Starting an Ecommerce Store
49) Perform General Labor on Craigslist
Even if you dont have a ton of skills in general labor, you might still find paid gigs you can do via your local Craigslist. It could be a simple request for digging a hole with a shovel, mowing a yard, or helping someone move.
Getting Started: Head to Craigslist and search labor. See what opportunities present themselves in your region.
50) Teach Lessons
If you know an instrument, like piano, you could teach out of your own home for $15 per half hour. However, you can also create instructional videos and post them on YouTube or Udemy.
Getting Started: 3 Easy Methods to Create eLearning Videos
51) Sell Used Goods Online
Whatever didnt sell at your garage sale may do well online. Not only are there sites like eBay, Facebook garage sale groups, and Craigslist, but now there are apps that make it even easier. One de-cluttering project may just help you pay off debt faster.
Getting Started: 7 Free Apps for Selling Household Items Online
Pay Off Debt Faster – Bonus Resource
Now that you know how to begin your debt-free journey, save more money, and boost your income, here is one last resource to help you keep at it:
Got any tips that helped you pay off debt faster? Let’s hear ’em in the comments below!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.