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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 five 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 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 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.

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.

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Find one bill you can kill or reduce and let it build momentum towards your other bills. Take the savings from each and throw it at your debt.

Trim is a great way to do this. Trim is a free to use app that cancels subscriptions you don’t use and negotiates bills on your behalf. Take the savings and throw it at your debt.

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 paying off debt fast. You can slash that interest rate with a personal loan to consolidate the debt.

Best Egg is a great option and can help you slash your rates by half, or more.

Payoff is another good option, if you have average to bad credit (a score of at least 640).

You can also compare lenders to find the best rate/fit possible. Even Financial lets you compare up to 17 lenders to find the best personal loan for your needs. It takes less than a minute to fill out the application, and within a few minutes they provide possible matches.

Another option is to 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 Credible. Credible provides your refinancing options within two minutes and the average person using Credible saves nearly $19,000 on their student loans!

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
  • Drive for Lyft in your spare time and get a $250 bonus when you start
  • Take online surveys, like Survey Junkie. It’s not much, but even an extra $100-$200 per month can help kill your debt
  • Ask for a raise
  • Deliver meals with Uber Eats

There are many ways to make money on the side. Just find one that works for you and run with it.

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 the debt. I was able to throw the cash at the debt to help speed up repayment.

If you’re paying anywhere near the average of $100 per month, there are many options to slash that in half, or more. Here are some of the top options:

  • Hulu Live – Plans start at $39.99 per month after a free 7-day trial
  • Sling TV – Plans start at $20 per month after a free 7-day trial

Find a plan that works for you and throw the extra at your debt.

Stop Spending

 

If you want to pay off debt quicker 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. Ultimately, the less you spend the more you have to pay towards debt. The most important part to this is to track your spending.

We recommend Tiller if you’re looking for a way to track your spending. Tiller 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 that helps you categorize your spending and find opportunities to save.

Tiller is free to use for the first month, then $5 per month thereafter.

Make Your Own Food

 

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. Every meal you buy out is likely going to be more than what it would cost to make something similar at home.

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.

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.

Key to making your plan succeed is having savings to fall back on in case of emergency. You don’t need to save a lot, but you need to save something.

If you can start with at least $100, CIT Bank will pay 1.85 percent on your savings and has no monthly fees.

Don’t Be Minimum

 

When I was mired in debt, I thought making minimum payments did something to the debt. When you make 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.

If you can’t make more than the minimum payment, lowering your interest rate is the best way to make it possible.

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

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.

 

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. 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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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.

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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