When you are working hard to pay off debt, it can seem like you’ll never be debt free. But after talking with our guest Melanie in this week’s podcast episode, we learned that it is possible to pay off massive amounts of debt and live your dreams.
If you are still in debt, there are things you can do to help pay off debt faster. All three of us have had experience with paying off debt and we’ve learned some strategies and ways to help pay off debt faster through our own trial and error.
If you still have debt to pay off, try these 3 strategies to help pay off debt faster.
Make Extra Money Anyway You Can
One of the ways I’ve been able to pay off debt faster is by finding ways to make extra money. I’ve worked part-time at a retail store, cleaned an office building, written for a college newspaper, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and picked up freelance writing and VA work to help increase my income at different times in my life. These side hustles haven’t all worked out, but many of them have and they’ve helped me improve my financial situation significantly even though I’m still working my way out of debt.
The one mistake I have made is using my extra money for things other than just debt. Looking back, I wish I had been more diligent about putting all of the extra money I was making toward debt or savings so I could pay off debt faster.
Cut Your Expenses
Earning extra money is a great way to pay off debt but it isn’t always easy since other factors may prevent you from earning extra money or earning money quickly through a side hustle. However, you can always downsize by cutting expenses to free up more of your income so you can put it toward debt. When I got serious about paying off my debt I cut expenses like cable, clothes shopping, fast food, my high cell phone bill, and even my monthly rent (by moving to a cheaper apartment) so I could throw more money on my debt.
Some people I know even move back in with family to cut their living expenses or sell their car and use public transit. You can also negotiate lower premiums with your insurance companies to lower your rates. They key idea, to to add up all your savings and prioritize the money by putting it toward debt payoff as soon as you can.
If you try holding onto your extra money to make an extra debt payment toward the end of the month, you run the risk of spending it on something else. Instead, set us automatic transfers and make as many payments as you can each month as long as your lender doesn’t penalize you. This will help your balance do down a lot quicker.
Pay a Little Extra a Little Bit at a Time
Earning more and cutting back can help you with this strategy, and it’s a favorite of mine.
Maybe you get paid irregularly, or maybe you can’t afford to throw $1,000+ at your debt each month. That’s fine!
Instead, try paying a little bit every week, or making 3-4 payments per month, when you can.
This is a good strategy to use when you have cash flow concerns, or if you’re just overwhelmed with making a huge payment.
I know many people who simply throw their work bonuses toward their debt without blinking, but that’s not the case for everyone. If you’re wary of parting with that much money at once, you can break it down.
Let’s say your goal is to pay an extra $400 per month toward your debt, and you get paid once every week. Pay $100 per week!
If you get paid bi-weekly, or on the 15th and 30th of the month, then pay $250 on the days after you get paid.
Honestly, sometimes I just throw an extra $20 – $50 at my student loan debt whenever I receive extra money (from birthdays or holidays), or whenever I spend less than I thought I would on something.
Getting into the habit of paying extra and setting aside those extra funds is what’s important here. If you’re ending the month with nothing extra left, then focus on earning more and cutting back first so you can implement paying more throughout the month.
Have you made extra payments on your debt, or are you paying the minimum? Do you have a debt free date in mind? What strategies are you using to help pay off your debt faster?