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 love debt. The average household credit card debt is north of $15,000.

The average student loan debt is over $30,000 per recent graduate and car payments average over $500 per month. Numbers like that make it seem like it’s impossible to pay off debt, especially if you live 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 five years to pay off $50,000 in debt. I wasn’t making much money during most of that time, which made it a challenge at times. However, I was able to find ways to maximize my efforts and pay off debt faster.

Not every method worked, but I found some 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.

1. Consolidate Your Debt


What’s the interest rate you’re paying on your debt? If it’s credit card debt, you may be paying way too much in interest. That holds you back from paying off debt fast.

You can often cut your interest rate by half, or more, with a personal loan to consolidate the debt. The best way to do this is by comparing multiple lenders at once.

Fiona by Even Financial is a terrific option to compare multiple lenders. Fiona lets you compare 17 lenders in under two minutes. After completing a brief application, they provide you with quotes for the best matched lenders.

Another option is to transfer the balance of your debt to a 0% balance transfer card to accomplish the same thing.

Click here to explore balance transfer options.

If you have student loans, there are similar refinance or consolidation options such as Credible.

Credible provides refinancing options within two minutes, and the average person using Credible saves nearly $19,000 on their student loans!

Check your rate to see how much you can save. You can also read our Credible review to learn more about how the platform works.

Consolidating debt is often the fastest way to pay off debt. It literally pays to take a few minutes to look at your options.

2. Find A Way to Make Extra Money


One of the best ways to pay off debt quickly 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 to earn extra cash:

  • Ask for overtime work at your day job
  • Deliver meals with Postmates
  • Ask for a raise

Monetize your downtime by filling out surveys. You won’t get rich, but they’re a great way to make several hundred dollars per month while watching TV.

Below are a few of the best paid survey sites to make extra money:

  • Survey Junkie: One of the best survey sites in the space and they pay cash directly to your PayPal account.
  • Pinecone Research: They pay $3 per survey and they pay cash directly to your PayPal account, or you can select from a variety of gift cards.

There are many ways to make money on the side. Find one (or more!) that works for you and run with it.

3. Kill a Bill


So often we think there’s no way to get extra money to pay off debt. We don’t realize that we have “found” money right under our noses – our monthly bills.

Kill (or reduce) one bill and build momentum towards your other bills. Take the savings from each and throw it at your debt.

Trim is an excellent way to do this. A free-to-use app, Trim cancels subscriptions you don’t use and negotiates bills on your behalf. Take the savings and throw it at your debt.

4. Cut the Cord…Finally


Paying for cable is a huge waste of money, especially if you’re paying off debt. My pricey cable plan was one of the first things that went when I was paying off debt. I was able put the extra cash towards the debt to help speed up repayment.

If you’re paying anywhere near the average of $110+ per month, there are multiple options to slash that in half, or more. Here are a few top choices:

  • Hulu Live – Plans start at $54.99 per month, for 60+ channels, after a free 7-day trial
  • Sling TV – Plans start at $30 per month, for 30 channels, after a free 7-day trial

Find a plan that works for you and use the extra savings for your debt. Our favorite streaming provider is Hulu as it’s so robust.

Read our review of the available Hulu packages to see everything you receive with the service.


5. Stop Spending


If you want to pay off debt quickly 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.

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.

The less you spend, the more you have to pay towards debt. However, the most important part is to track your spending.

We recommend tracking your spending with Tiller. It lets you view all your financial transactions in one location.

Tiller is a Google Sheets-based service that automatically pulls all your banking and other financial transactions to help you categorize your spending and find opportunities to save.

This app is free to use for the first month, then $7 per month.

6. Don’t Be Minimum


When I was mired in debt, I thought making minimum payments did something. Little did I know that nearly the entire amount was going towards interest; little went to the principal, and the debt cycle continued.

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Take credit card debt, for example. If you have $2,5000 in debt, with a 15 percent APR, it will take you over 15 years to pay off the debt making only minimum payments. This is why you should never stop at the minimum if you can help it.

If you can’t make more than the minimum payment, lowering your interest rate is another option to make quickly paying down your credit card debt possible.

Check rates at Lightstream to see how much you can lower your rate and accelerate payments.

Throwing extra money each month at the debt knocks down the principal, saving you money on interest and helping you pay off debt faster.

7. Sell Old Devices


Do you need a one-time influx of cash to apply towards your debt? A terrific way to raise several hundred dollars to apply to debt is to sell old devices you no longer use.

BuyBackWorld is our favorite choice to sell used electronics for cash. The platform buys back old cell phones, plus other devices, including:

  • Cameras
  • Gadgets such as Apple watches and iPods
  • Game consoles
  • Laptops
  • Tablets

When you go to the BuyBackWorld site you tell them the items you want to sell and they provide a quote. If you’re happy with the quote BuyBackWorld gives you a free shipping label to send them the items.

Once BuyBackWorld receives your package they pay you via PayPal or paper check. You can expect payment within a week if you choose PayPal.

If you want to add a little extra to your debt payment this month, this is an excellent way to use your clutter to knock down your debt.

8. Make Your Own Food


If you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt, the last thing you should do is eat out on a regular basis. Every meal you buy out is likely going to cost more than it would to make something similar at home.

*Related: Need to rebuild your credit? Check out our guide on credit builder loans to see if they’re a viable alternative.*

Coming up with your own meals doesn’t have to be challenging, especially with meal planning.

$5 Meal Plan is a great way to help you start. They provide meal plans, including ingredients, to help you to save money and make great meals – and starts with a 14-day free trial.

9. Get Rid of That Habit


We all have habits or things we enjoy. 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 it isn’t.

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.How to Pay Off Debt Quickly: Bottom Line


A plan makes it possible to pay off debt faster. While every option here may not work for you, several certainly will. Find what works and run with it.

It may feel impossible to kill debt, but with some work, 2019 can be the year you become debt-free for good!


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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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor says:

    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!

  • Rachel @ The Latte Budget says:

    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.

  • Jeff | VTX Capital says:

    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!

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich says:

    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!!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Brad! Yep, it can be shocking to see where your money is going…paying off debt or not, it’s a valuable exercise.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    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.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I think it is too. It’s crazy to see how much low- hanging fruit, not to mention side hustles, that can be out there to help pay off debt quicker.

  • 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.

  • Sharon says:

    Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University has a great plan for getting rid of debt, saving for emergencies, and planning for retirement. I liked the “snowball”. List your debts, smallest to largest. Pay off your smallest debt, no matter the interest rate. Then take the money you were paying on that debt and add it to what you’re paying on the next one! It takes time and patience but each paid-off debt is motivation to keep going!

    • John Schmoll says:

      We’d agree with the first two, but not the last one. His views on saving for retirement are more than a bit off. That said, he has certainly helped a lot of people pay off debt.

  • Bo says:

    Great post! I agree that the trick to paying down debt is to lower living expenses, budget effectively, and attempt to make more money (side hustles/etc). Even throwing $20 more per month to a credit card balance can knock off years of payments.

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