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25 Simple Ways to Start Paying off Debt Now

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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 becoming debt free.

Sometimes when you look for ways to start paying off debt, the journey seems too overwhelming to start. However, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. By taking one simple step you begin to build confidence to continue, and before you know it you have serious momentum.

It’s easy to delay attacking debt because you feel like you will not experience victory. Worse yet, you don’t know where to start. Like any other significant hurdle, the most important step is to start. It may feel impossible to kill burdensome debt.

That’s not the case. With the right attitude and commitment it’s possible to pay off debt for good and achieve financial freedom.

Simple Ways to Start Paying off Debt Right Now

 

Paying off debt often requires a combination of efforts to accomplish, especially if you have a considerable amount of debt. Don’t let that stop you. Work to find what provides the largest impact to the debt to ensure success.

Each of the below opportunities may not work for you, or provide a smaller return. Find five or six of the below ways to pay off debt to increase probability of success. Before you know it you will have the momentum you need to kill your debt for good.

1. Consolidate your debt. The less money you pay in interest each month, the more money you can put toward debt each month. You can do this by taking out an unsecured personal loan to slash your rates and have only one bill to deal with each month.

Some providers, like Lightstream allow you to cut rates by half, or more, allowing you to save money on interest payments.

Avant is another good option, if you have average to bad credit (a score of at least 580) and allows you to receive funds within one business day.

You can also compare lenders to find the best rate and fit possible. Fiona by 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 potential matches.

2. Start a side hustle. Making extra money is often the best way to start paying off debt. If you’re on a tight income, or need additional funds to kill debt, a side hustle is an excellent choice. There are many ways to make extra money to pay off debt so it’s important to find an opportunity that works for you.

One terrific choice is to deliver meals with Postmates. The app lets you deliver meals, and requires no specialized experience. You can deliver meals with a car or bike, and can start as young as 18. Postmates pays you to deliver food, plus you have the opportunity to earn tips.

Postmates allows you to create your own schedule, so you can work when it’s best for your schedule. You can read our guide on best delivery app gigs to learn more about additional requirements and opportunities.

3. Transfer your credit card balance to a 0% APR card. Like #1 above, using a balance transfer credit card is an excellent way to start killing your debt. Most balance transfer cards offer a period of 0% interest for 12 – 18 months.

Find one that works for you and keep your payments the same to slash your debt. Click here to find the top cards to help you pay off debt faster.

4. Finally cut the cord. Are you still paying for cable? If so, cutting the cord is one of the easiest ways to claw back money to throw towards debt. You can drop your contract and pick one of the best TV streaming services to slash your bill. Or trade it in altogether for Netflix or an Amazon Fire TV Stick. 

Check out the Amazon Fire TV channels list to see what kind of content you can expect with the device.

5. Reduce housing costs by downsizing, or getting a roommate or 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 a cheaper apartment.

You can use the savings to pay off debt quicker. Yes, this requires a lifestyle change, but debt freedom is better! If you own, compare rates at LendingTree to find the lowest rate possible.

6. Get a cheaper cell phone plan. How much are you spending on your monthly cell phone service? There are countless cheap cell phone plans available in the space that offer awesome savings.

Our favorite option is Tello. You can receive service for under $20 per month. The provider operates on the Sprint network, so there’s little difference in quality versus a legacy carrier.

7. Make money in your free time. Do you like the idea of making money on the side to pay off debt but don’t have time to start a side hustle? One option is to take paid surveys during your free time.

*Related: Looking for ways to make money for a delivery service? Read our Postmates driver review to learn how you can make $20+ per hour delivering meals.*

You won’t become wealthy with surveys, but they’re easy to take and provide extra cash to throw at your debt. Here are some of the best paid survey sites to make money in your spare time:

Survey Junkie: This is our favorite survey site since they pay you cash straight to PayPal, and you can redeem once you hit $10.

Pinecone Research: This site pays $3 per survey and you can choose between PayPal, Amazon or restaurant gift cards for your payment. They also pay to do product testing.

InboxDollars: Earn money for taking surveys, watching TV, or making purchases online. Get $5 just for signing up.

8. Cancel unused subscriptions. There’s no sense to have a lot of memberships or subscriptions when paying off debt. It’s best to cancel them and use the savings to pay off debt.

You can use Trim, a free tool that analyzes all subscriptions and memberships to find ones you don’t use. Once the service locates services you don’t use, they ask if you want to continue to pay for it.

Assuming you don’t want to, Trim cancels the memberships and you bank the savings. Trim can even negotiate bills for you to save more money.

The Trim app is free to use and they keep 33 percent of any savings you realize. Check out our Trim review to learn more about the app.

9. 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. Use a discerning eye and look through your stuff to determine what you can sell. Take the earnings and throw it at your debt.

You can use a Facebook local group, or sell the items online through BuyBackWorld. The service buys a variety of things, including:

  • Old cell phones
  • Gaming systems
  • GPS systems
  • Cameras
  • Mobile devices

Selling unused items won’t create a constant influx of cash, but it’s a terrific way to raise cash to make a good one-time payment towards your debt.

10. Shop around for lower insurance rates. Do some comparison shopping on car and homeowners insurance rates. You may be surprised at how much you can save and put towards debt.

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

Studies show nearly 40 percent of drivers, for example, have not compared rates in over three years. If you’re a part of that group you could be overlooking savings.

Esurance is one excellent option. The average driver saves over $350 per year when they switch. That’s money you can use to pay towards your debt each month.

11. Learn how to grocery shop wisely. How much do you spend on groceries each month? It’s likely you can cut some spending to create funds to apply towards your debt. A menu plan is the best place to start and find ways to 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.

12. Check into an off-peak energy usage plan. Many energy companies offer significant discounts for people who 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.

If that’s not an option, or even if it is, you can buy a programmable thermostat, here are the best ones on Amazon, to help regulate your energy usage. This is one of the best ways to save money each month as it requires little from you. You make the change and apply the savings to your debt.

13. Start a change jar. Set a jar in your kitchen to collect all of your loose coins at the end of the day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll have accumulated a decent amount of money to pay off debt.

To give your goal extra “oomph”, put $1 or $5 bills in the jar to accelerate your efforts.

14. 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.

It’s not as difficult as it may seem to live on a budget. If you’re need to start paying off debt, it’s one of the first tasks to tackle. Read our guide on how to make a budget to learn where to start.

15. 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.

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Use this to your advantage to help you cut spending. The envelope system does require some work if you don’t typically pay with cash, but it’s well worth the effort if you need to pay off debt.

16. Sell your car and get a cheaper one. How much is your car payment each month? The average car payment is over $500 per month.

If you’re anywhere near that amount, you need to find a way to slash that payment and apply the savings at your debt. You may not look like you’re driving in style, but being debt free is considerably better.

17. 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.

18. Bring a bag lunch to work. The $10 lunch everyday may be fun, but is it worth staying in debt to enjoy? Find some great recipes online and start bringing your lunch to work.

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 becoming debt free.

19. 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.

20. 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. Read our guide on the best places to get a cheap haircuts near me to discover where you can go to save money.

21. Stop eating out. 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.

22. 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.

If you plan to use a tax refund, read our guide on where’s my tax refund to learn when you should expect your funds.

23. Trade in costly entertainment choices for free ones. Skip the movie theater and have a movie night with air-popped popcorn at home. You can even use the best places to watch free movies online and not pay a dime.

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.

24. 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.

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.

You Can Pay off Debt for Good!

 

Many want to pay off debt, but believe it’s impossible. Please don’t give into that lie! With a little sacrifice and work it is possible to pay off debt for good.

Look for savings opportunities and earn extra income to make progress. You may be tempted to give up along the way. That’s a natural feeling. It’s also common to feel like you can’t live life while paying off debt. Yes, sacrifice is typically necessary, but you have to ask yourself if the nice things are worth enslavement to debt.

It never is worth it. As you pursue debt freedom, you learn what you want in life to have real joy in life. Make having those items a motivation to kill debt for good. It’ll make financial freedom that much more rewarding.

 

What tools do you use to pay off debt faster? What would be the first thing you’ll do when you’re debt free? How are you going to achieve debt freedom this year?

 

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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.

27 Comments

  • 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.

  • Centsai says:

    Debt is a serious problem in today’s society! All of your ideas were great ways to jump start paying off your debt! Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Erika says:

    Hi Laurie,
    I have looked into some of the consolidation companies but I am concerned that they want me to not pay the credit cards for 60-180 days so they can negotiate on my behalf but in the mean time I pay them a set amount. I feel this will damage my credit more severely. What do you think?

    • Hi Erika, I’d be concerned going that route as I’d be afraid it’d damage my credit. Have you looked at possibly taking out a personal loan to consolidate them into one by chance? If not, it may be an option and would cut down the time to 1-2 weeks if you get approved.

  • LaNita Young says:

    I like all these ideas. However, my husband complains all the time about the cost of my wifi, however, he will not even think about doing without his Dish and he gets the highest plan they have. This is not the only thing we disagree on. It makes things difficult to save money. Being very different makes it hard to save money. I really need to put some of these idea and more into place and save money so I can get out of debt.

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