Do you ever look at your mounting debt, and simply not know where to start? Are you waiting for some kind of epiphany or kick in the butt to get started? Do you simply feel paralyzed in even taking the first step because you feel like you've made too many mistakes already getting to this point?
Instead of waiting any longer, it’s always a good idea to jumpstart your debt payoff goal as soon as possible. Once you build up some momentum, you’ll be pretty hard to stop! For a lot of you that means paying down a significant portion of your student loan debt interest, or maybe even tackling your credit card debt.
Here are ten ideas for getting your debt payoff goal off the ground. Some of these are small actions, some are bigger. The important thing is that you just start.
1. Sell The Stuff You Don’t Need Anymore
Never underestimate the power of selling the stuff that you no longer need. Just because you think you might be holding onto a pile of junk doesn’t mean everyone else will. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Go through your belongings and sell everything you don’t want, need, or use. I personally love selling on Facebook Yardsales. Stuff sells so quickly and for a lot more than you would think!
If you don't know where to start, look at my story of selling on eBay and Amazon on the side.
2. Cash In Your Change
If you’ve been collecting change in a jar all year use it for something amazing – paying off debt!
Take it to the bank, cash it in, and apply it to your debts.
Important note here: take it directly to the bank. Don't use one of those machines in the grocery store to count it for you because they take a cut of your money. The bank won't do that. They will accept the full amount you bring in to deposit.
If you're worried about your bank, consider one of these banks that offer free checking accounts.
3. Ignore Raises And Overtime
Do you get paid overtime a lot? Do you have a raise coming up in the near future? If so, don’t spend that extra cash.
You’re already used to living on your current salary so don’t give in to lifestyle inflation. Put all of your overtime pay and raises straight to your debt’s principal.
The same is true for any raises you get. Simply put the additional amount you get in your paycheck each month into your debt.
Pro Tip: How To Negotiate Your Salary
4. Start A Side Hustle
What can you do for a little extra cash? Clean houses? Babysit? Walk dogs? I was riding in an Uber the other day and my driver was a teacher. She simply drove everyday after school got out, for about 4-5 hours each day (from about 3pm to 8pm). She told me that she earns about $3,000 per month, and uses that money to pay down her student loan debt.
Even if you only set a goal to earn an extra $20 per week that will accumulate to $1,000 per year. Those small amounts count.
I'm a big believer that anyone can earn an extra $100 per month if they really try. In fact, I've yet to meet someone whose failed at that challenge when I really dug in and broke down their time, money, income, etc.
5. Increase Your Debt Payments By A Percentage Every Month
How much do you pay on your debt now? Is it possible for you to increase that payment by 1-5% every month?
By slowly increasing the amount you pay you’ll be less likely to notice that you’re living on less money. And once again, all these small amounts can add up to something amazing.
That sounds scary, but let's take a small example of just 1% additional each month. If you're paying $100 towards your debt, increasing that amount by 1% means your payment will only go up to $101 the next month. Don't tell me you can't afford $1 more?!?!
It might not seem like it makes a difference (what's $1 really going to do?), but doing this every month will start to make a big difference over time.
6. Lower One Big Payment
Are you paying an insane amount of money for a car or house? What if you sacrificed for a year and downgraded your current situation.
All the extra money could then be funneled toward paying down debt and once you’ve gotten your goal accomplished you could go back to living the lifestyle you want. (It will feel so much better when you’re debt free!)
One of the ways that we did this was by selling our car and going to a one car family. Now, we only have one car and I take Uber anywhere I need to go beyond that. It saves us over $200 per month in expenses.
7. Lower All of Your Recurring Expenses
There’s always a way to lower recurring expenses like internet, cell phone, TV, and insurance. Take one day and try and lower these expenses. Negotiate with your current carriers or switch companies altogether.
Then put your savings straight to debt.
If you don't know where you could cut some of your recurring expenses, look at a free tool called Ask Trim. It's a great way to look at your recurring expenses and see where you can cut.
8. Have A No Spend Month
If you want to accumulate a bunch of money to throw at your debt by the end of the year then have a no-spend month, starting today.
A No-Spend month is when you try not to spend any money other than regular bills like rent and utilities. You’re forced to get creative and depending on your monthly spending level the savings can be HUGE.
If you don't think it's possible, check out these great tips for having a no-spend month.
9. Cancel Something
There’s most likely something that you’re subscribed to that you don’t really need or use. Cancel it!
Take the money you were paying and instead put it toward your debt. Even an extra $10 a month matters.
Some of the things we've cancelled over the last several years include:
- Cable TV (we just use Apple TV and other ways to cut cable)
- Home Phone Service
- Gym Memberships (work out at home)
10. Challenge Yourself To Execute Your Debt Pay-Off Plan
A great way to stay on top of your goal and make amazing progress while still feeling good about it is to challenge yourself.
Make it a game. Set monthly and quarterly goals for yourself and try to beat them. This will keep paying off debt fun instead of daunting. If you change your mindset you’ll be able to move mountains.
Here are some great ideas to make paying down your debt a game.
Every one of us is different, and we'll each have our own debt pay-off plan. Hopefully some of these ideas stick with you and you can use them to achieve your own goals.
One thing we didn't mention above, but it's important to note, is accountability. Find someone to hold you accountable to your goals. It can be as simple as posting a comment below and sharing with us what you're doing. We'd love to know!
What ideas do you have for someone looking to kick off their debt pay-off plan?
Alexa Mason is a freelance writer and wanna be internet entrepreneur. She is also a newly single mom to two beautiful little girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mom trying to make it big at www.singlemomsincome.com.
Editor: Robert Farrington