9 Ways to Pay off Debt Faster This Year
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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.
Even Financial is a terrific option to compare multiple lenders. Even Financial 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.
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
- Drive for Lyft in your spare time, and earn $1,000 in your first 30 days after completing 125 rides
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.
Truebill is a suitable alternative to Trim that operates much in the same way. Truebill even monitors your electricity and monitors for downtime to secure you additional savings.
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 $25 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 Hulu channels list post 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 $5 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.
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. 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.
Tally is a service to make that plan. Tally is an app available on both Android and iOS platforms. They issue a line of credit (with a lower rate) and pay your credit cards for you.
*Related: Need to rebuild your credit? Check out our guide on credit builder loans to see if they’re a viable alternative.*
Tally ensures your payments hit your cards on time, going towards the highest interest rate card. This helps you avoid fees and pay off the debt quicker. The only thing you pay to Tally is the rate on the line of credit, which is typically significantly lower than the rate on your cards,
You need to have a credit score of at least 660 to use Tally. If you don’t have access to a balance transfer card, Tally is a good option to create a plan to eliminate 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.
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.
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?
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.
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