25 Ways to Start Paying off Debt NOW
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Sometimes when a person considers paying off debt, the journey they’re facing seems too overwhelming to even start. However, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one single step. By taking that one step you begin to build confidence to continue, and before you know it you have some serious momentum.
So often, it’s easy to delay attacking debt because you feel like you have so much to do that you don’t know what to do first – much less have confidence that you’ll be successful. Well, here are 25 simple things you can do first as you take the initial step paying off debt.
Each of these small steps may seem like they won’t make much of a difference, but in the long run, the extra money you’ll have to put toward debt will indeed make a BIG difference.
Simple Ways to Start Paying off Debt NOW
1. Sell something. Most of us have houses, garages and storage areas filled with things we were sure we’d love forever, but haven’t looked at in months or years. Using a discerning eye, look through your stuff and see what you can sell that would gain you some cash to put toward debt. Use a Facebook club, send email to family and friends, post on Craigslist or have a garage sale to get rid of the
crap goods you’ve collected.
2. Start a change jar. Set a jar on your dresser to collect all of your loose coins at the end of the day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll have accumulated a decent amount of money to put toward debt. To give your goal extra “oomph”, put $1 bills in the jar to accelerate your paying off debt efforts.
3. Consolidate your debt. The less money you pay in interest each month, the more money you’ll be putting toward debt balances each month. You can do this by taking out an unsecured personal loan to achieve significantly lower rates and have only one bill to deal with each month. Some loan providers, like LightStream or Avant, allow you to cut rates by half, or more, allowing you to save significant money on interest payments.
4. Get a side hustle. Pick up a second job delivering pizzas or doing something else that works with your schedule. Or start your own side hustle. You may think you don’t have the talent to start a side hustle. Don’t give into that lie! There are many opportunities available, you just have to be willing to try them.
5. Re-work your budget. Or get a budget if you don’t already have one. Look at your budget line-by-line and consider dropping anything that isn’t a necessity. If you don’t know how to make a budget, it’s not as difficult as it seems.
6. Lower or eliminate your TV bill. Drop the spendy satellite package and go for a cheaper one. Or trade it in altogether for Netflix or an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
7. Shop around for lower insurance rates. Do some comparison shopping on car and homeowners insurance rates. We did this last year and saved over $750! If that doesn’t work then call your provider to see what they can do for you. I do this regularly with USAA and we often get something knocked off the bill.
8. Start using the envelope system. There’s something about paying in cash that makes the reality of how hard you worked for your money set in. Use this to your advantage to help you cut spending.
9. Learn how to grocery shop wisely. Make a menu plan and shop in a way that will help you save money on groceries. If you don’t know where to start with menu planning, check out $5 Meal Plan. They provide you with sample meal plans with tasty recipes that will help you save at the grocery store.
10. Reduce transportation costs. See if there’s a way you can bike or walk to work, carpool or use public transportation in order to save on auto expenses.
11. Bring a bag lunch to work. Find some great recipes online and start bringing your lunch to work.
12. Check into an off-peak energy usage plan. Many energy companies offer big discounts for those who choose to use the majority of their energy during set off-peak hours. Contact your energy company and see if their off-peak plan fits your lifestyle. Buy a programmable thermostat to help regulate your energy usage as it’s one of the best ways to save money each month.
13. Sell your car and get a cheaper, reliable one. Do you have an average car payment – like $500 average? Get rid of that big car payment and buy an older, reliable car.
14. Reduce housing costs by downsizing, or getting a roommate/renter. Consider selling your house for a less expensive one, refinancing your mortgage if the rate is high or getting a roommate or renter. If you currently rent, look for cheaper housing. If you own, compare rates at LendingTree to find the lowest rate possible.
15. Reduce food costs by cutting out the junk food purchases. Stop buying the chips and other processed food that can take a huge chunk out of your grocery budget. Start researching healthier, more frugal snack and meal options.
16. Save money on produce by only buying what’s on sale. Plan your produce purchases around what’s on sale for the week, or buy the “near expiration” produce if you can chop it and freeze it for later use.
17. Get a cheaper cell phone plan. Look into Plans at Republic Wireless start as low as $15 per month, and plans at Straight Talk start as low as $35 per month. Find a plan that works for you and throw the savings at your debt.
18. Learn to do appearance maintenance stuff like manicures, pedicures and haircuts at home. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by skipping the salon and learning to do appearance maintenance at home. If that’s not an option, cut down on the number of times you go to the salon or find a cheaper salon. (Editor’s note: Mrs. Frugal Rules has cut my hair at home for years and is a great way to save money on haircuts.)
19. Stop eating out and picking up takeout. Have a great menu plan in place so you’re not tempted to stop and eat out. If time is a factor, spend Sundays making and freezing meals to use throughout the week.
20. Commit to putting all extra/unexpected money toward debt. Any tax refunds, overtime pay, bonuses or other money that you didn’t expect to have goes directly toward debt.
21. Trade in costly entertainment choices for free ones. Skip the movie theater and have a movie night with air-popped popcorn at home. Trade in the professional sports games for a nice hike in the woods. Make a list of free entertainment to keep yourself busy at little or no cost.
22. Learn to do home repair/maintenance items yourself. Use online resources to avoid having to pay a repair or maintenance company when possible and fix things yourself instead. These are skills that, once learned, you can use to make money too.
23. Transfer your credit card balance to a 0% APR card. Like #3 above, using a balance transfer credit card can be a great way to start killing your debt. Most balance transfer cards offer a period of 0% interest. Find one that works for you and keep your payments the same to slash your debt. Click here to find such cards to help you pay off debt faster.
24. Lower alcohol/soda expenses by drinking water instead. Alcohol and soda purchases drain a budget fast. Work to cut down on consumption of these expensive items and drink more water.
25. Stop buying coffee shop coffee and make it at home. My husband drinks at least two cups of coffee a day, nearly ever day, but it only costs us about $20 a month. How? We save money on coffee by purchasing bulk coffee beans, grinding them at home, and adding in a store-bought creamer for that sweet touch.
By making little changes to the way you manage money, you can find a lot of extra money that can be used to pay off debt faster. Use the tips above to catapult your debt payoff plan and begin your journey to financial freedom today.
Additional resource: If you’re looking for a simple way to track your spending to identify extra money to pay off debt, then check out my favorite tool – Personal Capital. Completely free, it allows you to track your spending, monitor your bank and investment accounts and watch your net worth grow plus many other tools.
What tools do you use to pay off debt faster? What would be the first thing you’ll do when you’re debt-free? What do you find yourself spending more money on than you should?