25 Ways to Start Paying off Debt NOW

Paying off debt can be difficult to do, especially when you don't know where to start. Here are 25 ways to take that first step toward being debt-free.

Sometimes when a person considers paying off debt, the journey they’re facing seems too overwhelming to embark upon. However, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, so today we’re going to share 25 things you can do right now to start paying off debt.

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. 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 add up to much, 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. 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 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. Transfer your credit cards to a 0% interest card. The less money you pay in interest each month, the more money you’ll be putting toward debt balances each month. If this is not an option, you could also consider a good unsecured personal loan to achieve significantly lower rates and have only one bill to dal with each month. Some loan providers, like Lending Club or Prosper, allow you to cut rates to as low as an 5.99% APR 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.

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 Amazon Prime. 

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 systemThere’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 and save money each month.

Paying off debt can be difficult to do, especially when you don't know where to start. Here are 25 ways to take that first step toward being debt-free.


13. Sell your car and get a cheaper, reliable one. Get rid of the 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.

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 $10 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. Cut discretionary spending. It’s good to have some discretionary spending each month, but see if you can’t cut yours down a bit and put the extra money toward debt.

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 your debt quicker. Use the tips above to catapult your debt payoff plan and start paying off debt 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. 

Open a free Personal Capital account today!


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?


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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • This is perfect advice, Laurie! And I think it works for anyone who wants to pay down debt or ramp up their savings. I think it’s really telling that so many of these tips are about reducing food expenses–and I totally agree. Food costs will eat you alive if you’re not careful!

    We do many of these things, but you’re reminding me that I should get on the ball about selling off stuff we don’t need… Craigslist to the rescue!

  • All great tips Laurie! It’s all about changing your behavior and sticking with it. If you can accept change you can be successful in any of the ideas you presented.

  • You’ve created a great list here, Laurie. All of your ideas can be turned into new habits. Once these new habits are established, the old ways of doing things are no longer missed (and you have created a positive new wealth-creating habit at the same time). This is one important aspect of the frugal mindset. Thanks for your hard work.

  • Jodi says:

    I have been making my own pizza at home instead of ordering takeout for a while. I have found a way for even homemade pizza to be convenient–simply freeze it pre-baked! I plan to make several of these to keep on hand. I made my dough, rolled it out onto my pizza pan and prepared as usual with sauce and cheese. I then froze it RIGHT ON THE PAN. When it was frozen, I wrapped it in foil and labeled it. When I want to serve it, I unwrap, put it back on a pizza pan and bake as usual. It only takes a few more minutes to bake than fresh, and it is simple enough for my teens to do it themselves.

    I have been planning to do some of your other tips you listed, and have already done some (such as an interest free balance transfer for 15 months, saving me about $150 per month–yikes.) Great list!

    • Laurie says:

      Love this, Jodi! We make our own pizzas too. Not only are they cheaper, they’re healthier! It’s a great way to save money but still have a great pizza on occasion.

  • Ben Luthi says:

    Great tips, Laurie! It’s funny how hard it is to find ways to cut back on other things to pay down debt..but it’s always right in front of our faces.

  • Jason B says:

    I sell things to help me pay off my debt. I really don’t know what I’m going to do once I debt free. I might shed tears of joy.

    • Laurie says:

      I’ll bet you will, Jason, and we’ll be right there celebrating with you. Becoming debt free is a HUGE accomplishment that is well worth some happy tears. 🙂

  • Make sure you actually save any savings. For example, we pay $92 less a month by using Hulu. I put that into an account each month to be sure it doesn’t vanish into the ether of everyday spending.

    I actually have a whole Saved Savings account. When I use a coupon or hit a sale, I try to put the difference in the account. I also put aside any money I save by using gift cards from rewards programs.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a smart technique, Abigail. With us, whenever we come across extra money, it goes straight to a debt payment before, as you mentioned, it gets lost in the abyss of daily spending.

  • We have done a number of these things. Our biggest money savers/makers last year were controlling our food budget, working side hustles and canceling cable. The great thing is that we have kept up with all of these this year so our benefits continue to increase with time.

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it funny how easy it is to keep going once you’ve formed the habits? We hardly miss pay TV and going out to eat, but we do enjoy the extra money in our pockets. 🙂

  • Great tips Laurie! Using more than one of them is the best way to make quick progress toward getting out of debt. Entertainment/eating out budget is still my weakest point.

  • Minnie says:

    I have it set up through my bank that every time I use my debit card $2 goes into my savings. You don’t notice…then when it gets to a certain amount I put it on my credit card. They (TD) will set up any amount.

  • Mrs Lewis says:

    Never underestimate the power of a change jar! My change jar is in fact a paint can and Lewis and I have been saving change in our “bank” since he started law school and we vowed not the take from it until out big anniversary/graduation trip this year. Just 7.5 more months to go! I can’t wait to see what we’ve added up over the years! TIP: Also, the key to a good self-manicure isn’t exactly a steady hand. You should also have a very think polish and wide brush. I haven’t had a manicure since my wedding (2011) because I discovered Sally Hansens quick dry polish.

  • I find myself spending too much money on food and dining out. Occasionally we have no dining out months and we need to do them a lot more during this summer. Summer is when I’m able to get my food budget relatively low because I stick with simple easy prep foods like salads because most veggies are in season and cheaper. We’re also able to grill cheaper foods like chicken etc. We could definitely start a change jar and I’m going to look into the energy information with our power company. Our energy bill has been ridiculous this winter.

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