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9 Ways to Pay off Debt Faster This Year

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Want to pay off debt faster, but don’t believe it’s possible? Here are 9 foolproof ways to get out of debt faster and become financially free.

We’re surrounded by debt in our society. Whether it’s some form of consumer debt, student loans or car payments, we may not want to admit it, but we’re a society that loves debt. The average household carrying credit card debt has north of $15,000. The average student loan debt is over $30,000 per recent graduate and car payments average roughly $500 per month. Numbers like that make it seem like it’s impossible to pay off debt, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Thankfully, that’s not the case. You can pay off debt even relatively fast, but it takes a plan.

How to Pay off Debt Faster

 

It took me close to six years to pay off a combined $50,000 in debt. I wasn’t making much during most of that time, which made it a challenge at first. However, I was able to find ways to maximize my efforts and pay off debt faster. Not every method worked, but I found some efforts that put my debt payoff on hyper speed. If you want to get out of debt faster, try using one or more of the following methods.

Stop Spending

 

If you want to pay off debt faster you must first stop the cycle of spending. I know it may be painful. I know it may feel impossible. That doesn’t matter. You must stop spending if you want to get out of debt. Otherwise, you’ll just spiral down the unending drain of debt.

This will require some work on your part, but you want to identify your triggers and remove them. If shopping makes you feel better, get an accountability partner to help you stay on track when you’re tempted to spend. If receiving emails from your favorite store makes you want to spend, take yourself off their list. The point is this; the less money you spend, the less you’ll ultimately have to pay off, which will help you become debt-free quicker.

Kill a Bill

 

So often we think there’s no way to get extra money to pay off debt that we don’t realize we have found money right under our noses – our monthly bills. Take cable, for example. I know we all have our shows we like to watch. But, is it worth it to stay in debt longer so you can spend that $100 for cable to get your show?

I think you already know the answer; it’s a firm no. Instead, cancel the cable and throw the extra savings at your credit card bill. You’ll be amazed at how that extra $100 per month can help tackle your debt.

Find one bill you can kill or reduce and let it build momentum towards your other bills. You can do the same with a cheaper cell phone plan, negotiating your bills and more. Take the savings from each and throw it at your debt. Just remember to start with one to make it a simpler transition for you. There are many ways to save money each month; find one and use that as motivation to find more.

Make A Plan

 

I’m a planner by nature. I like to map out what I want to do and then formulate the best strategy to tackle that plan. Paying off debt is no different. When I started paying off debt, I created a plan to follow. When I was tempted to give up or didn’t know what to do next, the plan helped me visualize my goal and motivated me to continue.

You may notice terms like debt snowball, debt avalanche or something else. It really doesn’t matter which method or plan you use, in my opinion, what matters is that you start paying off debt and have a plan to help you along the way.

Consolidate Your Debt

 

What’s the interest rate you’re paying on your debt? If it’s credit card debt, you could be paying way too much in interest. That holds you back from getting out of debt. You can slash that interest rate with a personal loan to consolidate the debt.

LightStream is one great option, as are Payoff and Avant all of which can slash your rates by half, or more. You can also transfer the balance to a 0% balance transfer card to accomplish the same thing.

If you have student loans, there are similar refinance or consolidation options, such as SoFi or Credible you can consider to knock down your rates and save money.

Find A Way to Make Extra Money

 

One of the best ways to pay off debt faster is to make extra money. That’s because you can only cut so much and at some point, you have to question if the cut is worth it. What I like about earning extra money to pay off debt is that it provides an instant motivator as I know the money will go directly towards the debt.

Don’t think you can make extra money? Here are just a few ways you can earn extra cash:

  • Ask for overtime work at your day job
  • Start a side hustle
  • Take online surveys. It’s not much, but even an extra $100-$200 per month can help kill your debt
  • Get a part-time job
  • Ask for a raise

There are so many ways to make extra money; don’t limit yourself but rather use it as motivation to pay off your debt quicker.

Sell Your Crap

 

One of my favorite ways to make a little extra money is selling items around our house we no longer use. When we moved last year, we went through things we didn’t need and made almost $500 from our efforts.

No, this won’t make you a ton of money, but it’s a great way to give you a short burst that can provide a shot in the arm of your debt repayment efforts. Just go through items in your house and ask yourself if you’ve used the item, or plan to use them within the next 12 months. If the answer is no, sell it and throw the money at your debt.

Don’t Be Minimum

 

When I was mired in debt, I thought making minimum payments did something to the debt. If wishful thinking only made it so. When you’re only making the minimum payment, nearly the entire amount is going towards interest and little to the principal of the debt, and on the cycle it continues.

Take credit card debt, for example. If you have $2,5000 in debt, with a 15% APR, it’s going to take you over 15 years to pay off the debt. This is why you should never stop at the minimum if you can help it. When you throw extra money each month at the debt, it knocks down the principal, saves you money on interest and helps you pay off debt faster.

Make Your Own Food

 

I’ll say it…if you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt the last thing you should be doing is eating out on a regular basis. Think of it this way, every meal you buy out is likely going to be more than what it would cost to make something similar at home.

I like to eat out as much as the next person, but is it worth it to stay in debt longer? I’d say no. Instead, find ways to make your own meals and throw the savings at your debt.

Want to pay off debt faster, but don’t believe it’s possible? Here are 9 foolproof ways to get out of debt faster and become financially free.

Get Rid of That Habit

 

We all have habits or things we enjoy. I, for instance, have football season tickets to where I went for college. We can afford the expense and going to the games is something I enjoy, but you better believe it that if we were in debt, I wouldn’t be buying the season tickets as it’d free up $500+ per year that I could throw at debt.

Take a look at what habits you have, even ones you may want to give up, and think about how that money could be better applied towards your debt. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy life but it does require looking at whether or not the expense is worth staying in debt longer. I’d argue in most cases that it isn’t.

 

What are some other ways you can think of to pay off debt faster? If you’ve paid off debt, what was the one painful thing you gave up to kill your debt? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to pay off debt?

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.

13 Comments

  • Great tips! I agree that making your own food can save you more than you’d think. It’s easy to spend hundreds each month on restaurants, coffees, and convenience foods. I think this is one of the easiest, most immediate ways to cut spending. All great tips, though!

  • These are great! For me, the second I started to freelance/blog to make extra money is the moment my finances really started to improve. My business has grown, but even making an extra $200-300 a month is completely doable and can seriously help to pay off debt. Plus, now I eat out less because I am busier and because working on building my own business has taught me even more about the value of money.

  • These are all excellent ways to knock out debt, John. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Often pride is the number one obstacle to debt freedom. If we can part with some of those habits, we’d be better off because of it!

  • Great, great tips here! When we were paying off auto and student loans, we were living on a single, moderate income, so we had to do all of the above. And every little bit helped. We saved a ton of money by cooking all of our own meals and shopping smarter. We still went out to eat on occasion, but we planned ahead and made it a special treat.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Amanda! It was the same for me and we’ve carried many of the same habits forward after paying off debt as you see that spending just to spend holds little value any longer.

  • Brad says:

    Great info here John! I’ve taken most of the steps you outline here. Even got rid of satellite TV, and just use the computer for news and weather. Always been a gardener, but learning more about catching sales, and canning it up! It true though, if you write it down on paper – you’ll shock yourself at what you could be saving!
    Great stuff bro!!

  • My book is essentially entirely about paying off debt faster through side hustles! Definitely think it’s the way to go, though you pointed out some good things to give a try prior to starting a side hustle. There may be some low-hanging fruit out there that free up hundreds of dollars a month that can be put towards debt payments.

  • crazyliblady says:

    Hi, John. I have seriously scaled back my spending, but due to where I live, I find I have to buy some things online. I recommend using a rebates site to get money back when you make online purchases from companies like amazon, alibris, and many others.

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