Debt is a painful subject. Luckily, you have 40 amazing tips laid out before you that hopefully inspire you to do something meaningful about your debt situation.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is socially and institutionally accepted that you will go into debt. Whether it is for school, medical reasons, or plain ol’ spending, we all find a way to go into debt.
I wanted to compile all of the ways that you can combat that mentality and create a new life, debt-free.
I may sound a little preachy and straightforward at times, but if you aren’t serious about getting your debt under control, then it never will be. Not every tip will apply to you, but the vast majority can be applied to anyone’s situation.
Let’s crush your debt once and for all.
1.Make debt your priority.
Too many times we get trapped in debt, not just because of spending, but due to procrastination. We aren’t willing to put off some pleasures to pay down or pay off past pleasures.
We make the wants of today the priority. I’ve been there more times than I like to admit. I’ve used the remaining balance available on a credit card to have a pizza delivered.
Don’t freaking do that. Don’t be like past me.
2.Pay off highest interest lines first.
While some gurus will tell you to start with the smallest balance, I’ll take the highest interest credit line and pay that first.
There are two ways to look at this; by starting with the higher interest lines of credit, you are saving yourself more money in the long run. However, there is an unbridled joy to paying debt off. That means you may want to start with the smallest balance and work up to the largest.
The choice is yours.
3.Don’t treat credit as a “pay it later plan”.
Credit cards are best used as a tool to buy something you don’t have the cash for right then. Credit cards are best suited to being paid off in full each month. Just because we can carry balances, doesn’t mean we should.
The credit card companies are salivating at your large purchases just as much as you are. The longer they can keep you on the hook, and paying interest, the more they can siphon from your wallet.
4.Don’t try to keep up with the “Joneses”.
The way to enlightenment and freedom is to limit the amount of influence keeping up with your friends has on your psyche.
The sheer amount of gadgetry-goodness that is coming out everyday would keep you in debt for a lifetime. The fact that your friends have the newest phones, or a new Tesla, doesn’t mean should follow them over that bridge.
Even if that bridge is super sexy, fast, and emission free.
5.Use the Snowball Method.
This method popularized by Dave Ramsey, means paying off a card or line of credit and then using that same payment amount and rolling it into the next credit card. Essentially building your payment larger until you crush the final bill with the full weight of all the payments before it.
Snowballing your payments only works if you set the budget of paying off your debt at a predetermined amount and stick to it.
You and I know we’ve all had those months where we revert back to minimum payments so we have the extra cash. That’s naughty.
Make your budget mostly inflexible and keep rolling those payments towards the promiseland.
6.Save more of your money.
A major reason some of us go into debt, is a major unexpected expense decimates our cash or it goes directly onto a credit card. Even worse,with a home expense, they may even take out a second mortgage. The more savings you have, the the more power you have in an emergency.
Think of all the things that can go horribly wrong, weep a little bit, and then set aside enough cash to get you through the trials of life.
More cushion for the pushin’ as they say.
7.Create a budget.
Thankfully though, budgets (Link to some great budgeting tools) are a mechanism that can keep your spending in line.
After years of just doing it in my head, I broke down and started a budget. I was shocked how much money “leaked” out into the atmosphere.
You can stop your leaks too. It’s found couch cushion money when you eliminate those extraneous expenses and apply that money to the bills that need it. Like credit card payments.
8.Stop applying for new credit.
If you keep digging, you won’t make it to China. Interest can compound in your favor, like an investment account, or make the debt hole deeper. No digging necessary.
New credit lines are band aids on top of gaping wounds. Unless you have an option to consolidate everything into a super low interest loan, ignore those new offers.
Pay off what you have now.
9.Find new ways to have fun.
I’m willing to wager that some of your debt has come from eating out, drinking, or more general tomfoolery than you’d like to admit.
All of this fun stops as soon as your new credit card bill rolls in.
Let’s be more productive with our time and find new ways have fun without spending oodles of cold hard cash. Enrich your life with hobbies, family, and adventures.
Your wallet will thank you.
10.Learn to cook.
We are spending too much on others making our food for us. Eating filet mignon at your favorite steakhouse is an experience you’ll never forget.
That means you don’t have to go weekly. Learn to make spectacular meals at home, preferably with a cheaper cut of steak.
Imagine how much you’ll save(and apply to your debt) if you learn some staple dishes (Wikipedia article on staple foods) and make them regularly.
Just wanted to take a moment and tell you that debt isn’t a fun subject. It’s more of a necessary subject that we all need a little guidance on from time to time.
I’m throwing a lot of tips at you all at once, but hang in there, you’ll find plenty that you can apply to your situation.
There is never a time that we don’t wish for a redo button on our debt, but I have faith in you. You CAN crush your debt.
Take all the tips you need or come back and reference these anytime you need, I’ll be here.
11.Holidays are not an excuse to spend.
Traditions are wonderful and we all have families that we want to treat with lavish gifts for every occasion.
This may sound harsh, but until your debt is gone, these traditions are going to keep you deep in debt. Make an effort to create gifts for loved ones instead of just putting presents on a card.
I don’t want you to come off as cheap, but you can do more for them when you’re debt free.
12.Watch your everyday expenses.
We must be getting soft as a species. We sit in air conditioned homes, cars, and offices and when the temperature spikes even a little bit we cry foul to the heavens.
Not calling you a pansy, but let’s be real here. Your comfort is a money vampire.
We live extremely comfortable lives and cutting back on some comforts, like AC or heat (Article on cutting cooling costs) , will put more money in your pocket.
13.Cut the cable.
There are a myriad of ways you can enjoy that huge TV(that you bought on credit), but cable is not the most efficient or cost effective way.
Find one streaming service and cut the rest from your life.
You can always switch to a different streaming service to catch up something you feel you may have missed.
I don’t know if you know this, but TV rots your brain. It can also rot your teeth when you devour that pint of creamy delicious Rocky Road ice cream.
Now I want ice cream. Dammit.
14.Earn more money.
The side hustle (Our side hustle Playbook article!)is the new en vogue thing to do!
Use your time to create a profitable business that not only earns extra cash, but teaches you how to be a business owner. Those extra funds will decimate your debt much faster than your normal paychecks could.
That extra sweat equity will give you more than just credit card payment money.
Creating new income sources is the path to financial independence and a sure fire way to avoid going into debt ever again.
Sorry to be preachy here, but how much is this habit costing you?
I bet you’ve even bought a few packs on credit, I know I did.
Give up smoking and you’ll have less stops at gas stations and picking up powdered donuts and soda with the cigarettes.
I don’t want you to leave this Earth early.
16.Snuff out subscriptions you don’t use.
You may have noticed that a everyone from Microsoft to Amazon is going with subscription models for the goods and services they offer.
They want you on the hook for life.
Once they have you on that hook, they will milk you for an eternity. Scour your finances till you find the vestigial subscriptions on your bank statement and snuff them out one by one.
Most subscription services won’t charge you any fees to cancel or restart, leaving you an excellent exit strategy.
My Granny clipped coupons religously and retired a millionaire.
I once thought that using coupons (Article on getting into the coupon game)at the grocery store made me look cheap. In reality, the people who save the most money end up with the most money.
Get over your pride and put those savings in your wallet or towards the skeletons of debt in your closet.
You and I want to retire as millionaires, too.
Your lifeline may be a new loan.
If you are swimming in a sea of high interest rate cards, you may want to look at consolidating them all into one payment. While I told you not to open new cards, this may help you to get over the hump if you can get a really low rate.
- Make a concerted effort to not use your old cards again until this balance is paid off.
- Don’t close your old accounts as that could effect your credit score.
Debt consolidation is a viable option as long as you stick to the two points above.
19.Be a cheap date.
Potential life mate material wants you to be a rock star with financial stuff, so wow them with your wit instead of your spending.
Instead of dinner and movie, go to dinner and a side of stargazing.
Learn about your potential mate’s hobbies and career instead of watching another Marvel movie.
$40 for a movie and popcorn could really put a damper on your plans of debt domination.
20.Sell your old stuff.
Remember all that junk you put on credit and then promptly replaced or never used again? Sell it. Today.
Get as much value out of them as humanly possible before they become relics of a bygone era. That money can go right back into the “Get out of Debt” fund.
Electronics especially have become a commodity. Just because your phone is two years old doesn’t mean it has lost it’s purpose in life.
Sell that bad boy as soon as possible and recoup those funds.
Take this little intermission to go refill your coffee and keep those eyelids open.
The back half of these tips will knock your socks off! Or at the very least they will help you to gain some perspective on your debt situation.
Take the first steps and apply a couple tips now. Cancel your cable and stop using your lines of credit, for example.
Don’t try to implement major sweeping changes all at once, give your budget a chance to adapt to the new restrictions.
You’re probably going to need to pick your socks up later, just sayin’.
21.Ask for help.
This may not be available to everyone, but in some cases it could get you where you need to be.
If you are at the point of financial ruin, you may need more help than is immediately available. Spending can be addictive, and the accumulation of debt (Our article on the emotional response to debt) is dangerous, so please ask for help if it is going too far.
The accumulation of debt didn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect your mind to adapt to a different way of spending overnight.
If you need help, ask for it. Dave Ramsey has a great post about this.
You know what makes me happy? Helping others. Helping YOU.
It also helps me get perspective on the things going on in my life. Compiling this list means that I have not only helped you, Dear Reader, I have found a lot of aspects that I can apply to my own life.
If these tips don’t apply to you directly, they may apply to someone you know. It’s difficult to get folks to talk about debt in general, but helping others to overcome their hardships may be just what the doctor ordered.
23.Go generic and save.
Think about all of the groceries you buy throughout the month. Are you buying name brand goods?
I would be flabbergasted if you could come up with a good excuse on why you’re spending 20% or more on something just for a brand name. This goes for prescription drugs too. Don’t @ me.
As a society we get caught up in marketing and brands are telling us they are “better”. Generally, they just cost more.
24.Luxury is an illusion.
Those Gucci, Nike, Calvin Klein, and other expensive names are marketing ploys to separate you from your money.
All of the high paid athletes and models may be able to afford them, but you and I are on a mission to eliminate our debt.
Stay away from so-called luxury and stick to the basics until your head is above water. Question the need for such luxury and seperate the want out of the equation.
You may call me boring, but I love a plain black Tee Shirt.
25.Ask for a raise.
Hey you’ve been doing a great job and work and we can see your potential. It’s time you got paid for that potential.
While most companies just do yearly reviews, you can always apply for the next step up and advance your career. And earnings. And pay off your debt.
Think about what it would take for your employer to replace you. How much would they have to spend to duplicate your productivity?
By knowing how much you are worth, and asking for it, you can make sweeping changes in your life.
I want you to apply this tactic to every piece of debt you have. Your debt holders are latched on to your wallet and milking it as hard as they can.
Call them up and tell them to lower your rate (Article on negotiating with credit holders). If they resist, threaten to consolidate and close the card.
Capital One, Bank of America, Chase Bank, and more have loyalty departments that will try and keep you. So let them keep you with a lower rate.
27.Don’t let excuses set you back.
Paying off all of your debt is a life change, not just a short term fix to financial woes.
I’ve been there, you see that available balance and it is a tantalizing morsel of spending that you plan to use.
In our minds we see an available balance as free money that we have paid for with our previous payments.
This mentality gives you an excuse to use it, just this once, and push your credit card back to the limit.
28.Cut the cards up.
Do not close your accounts once the balances are paid off.
Just ceremoniously cut the cards into tiny little pieces and sing a song of joy. Once the balance of one card is fully paid, you don’t want that temptation slipping into the corners of your mind.
Celebrate the victory and move forward with creating wealth and prosperity.
29.Debt relief is not the answer.
Debt relief (Article on debt relief scams)companies are in the business of making huge profits off of your indebtedness.
While they may consolidate all of your bills into one payment, they also take a huge cut of that payment.
Most charge 25% for the privilege of helping you negotiate to pay off your own bills. Fight the urge to go this route and use all of our other tips to destroy your debt.
It’s ok to feel ashamed and embarrassed by the seemingly impossibly large amount of debt you’ve built.
That feeling will serve you well if you can recall it next time you want to go on a spending spree.
Look at your life from outside in, and make changes that you won’t feel ashamed of.
Marketers use our emotions to entice you into spending. You can use the negative emotions to fight that urge.
Take a moment and think about the good things in life. Life is about great experiences, not the newest toys you can buy.
One of my favorite things to do is frisbee golf(Nerd!). Its extremely inexpensive to get started, usually just one disc, and playing is completely free at local parks.
If you can fill your time with adventures and fun activities, you’ll be less likely to spend.
Your success means the world to me, so don’t forget to comment later on and let me know how you are implementing our life changing debt strategies.
31.Exercise your butt off.
Fitness (Our take on fitness and finance)can lead to a lot of good things in life, and not just 6 pack abs and a massive biceps.
Exercise helps with clear thinking, less stress, and an effective way to fight depression(Harvard study on exercise and depression). Exercise keeps you out of the mall.
Unless you are a mall walker, then it’s ok.
32.Eat healthier and less.
Not only should you focus on getting your butt moving, you should focus on eating better too.
You want to extend your life past the payoff date of your debt, and if you are wallowing in a tub of Rocky Road(dammit) ice cream, you may not get there.
While you should be ashamed of your position, don’t use food to comfort you. Eating healthier and less will lead to a smaller grocery bill as well. Bonus!
33.Create passive income streams.
Just like the side hustles above, passive income (Article on passive income ideas)can change your life and financial outlook.
Start a blog, write a book, make videos(less passive), and start an online business(way less passive) are all very good ways to make money on autopilot.
The more effort you put in up front, the more return you could see on the back end.
The great thing about online entrepreneurship is the low cost barrier to entry. You will be investing time, but to get started takes very little actual dollar bills.
34.Sell your bodily fluids.
It may seem extreme, but we’re in crisis mode here!
Here is an article on the bodily fluids you can sell.
The longer you wait to get out of debt, the more interest charges we rack up.
If you truly do not have the extra money to pay down your debt, then this is an option that will pay you real money.
Yes, I’m serious. Don’t look at me like that.
35.Move somewhere less expensive.
I know you love your 3rd floor condo overlooking the golf course, but what is this costing you?
Could you live with a smaller place so that you can prepare for a better financial future?
Renting may seem like throwing money away, but being eyeball deep in debt because you wanted to buy a McMansion doesn’t make sense either.
You can also move closer to your job to lessen the costs of commuting.
36.Rideshare or ride a bike.
Cars are freaking expensive.
Think of all the different expenses that go into owning a car, from insurance and gas, to the air freshener you bought to keep the new car smell.
If you can live without one, do it. If you must have one, buy the cheapest, most reliable ride you can. Otherwise, find a way to get where you need to go on the cheap.
37.Get a second job.
While we have talked about side hustles and creating passive income, we haven’t addressed the fact that there are plenty of places that will pay you for your time.
By the hour.
Not the most fun you’ve ever had I’m sure, but it will give you a steady stream of income to pay down your debt.
A part time job at Walgreen’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Starbuck’s is not a lavish way to spend your time off from your 9-5. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
It will also keep you from shopping on Amazon(link to Amazon, only use in case of emergency).
While my list is fairly comprehensive, there is a ton of literature out there that can help you to shed your debt(Link to Amazon books).
One great thing Amazon offers is Prime Reading. If you have a prime membership you can read select titles for free.
Read up on creating wealth, not just crushing your debt.
Get a library card and find a few books that give you a system of eliminating debt.
The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be for this life change.
39.Change your habits.
It has been so easy to whip out your credit card, that you forgot what cash felt like.
Why don’t you try pulling enough cash out for this week’s expenses and then once it’s gone, it’s gone.
This will teach new habits and let you wean yourself off of credit card spending.
Creating a budget will let you know exactly how much cash you can have on hand for the week.
40.This is an emergency.
Bad Debt will cripple your ability to live a happy, healthy life.
Please don’t put off making positive changes now. Start small and create a financial life you can be proud of.
Imagine not paying interest on spending you may have done years ago.
Your new life starts now, and the best way to start it is by paying off the crushing weight of past expenditures.
I know it isn’t easy to pay off debt, but we’ve given you 40 ways to get started today.
You don’t have to live with the constant pressure of bill after bill.
If these tips have helped you even a little bit, give me a “Hell Yeah!” in the comments below. If they didn’t help, tell me what we can talk about to help you even more.
I have faith that you can put these tips to work and I want to hear about your journey.
The coming months are an exciting time around here. I am going to focus on giving you all of the tools necessary to create wealth with an online business!