The number one secret to getting out of debt is effortless – ask someone who has been there. Someone like me.
Today, the average family devotes 25% of its spendable income to outstanding debts. And we need to get more and more to keep up.
While measuring ourselves to our friends and neighbors before, we now compare ourselves with social media personalities and cover models. Or that’s the way it seems on platforms like Instagram.
Contentment is the key to living a debt-free life. After paying off my debt for almost four years, I want to share some adjustments that helped me. They were powerful tools for me to get out of debt fast, and many people overlook them.
These approaches might not work for everybody, depending on where you live and your circumstances, but I believe some will help you reach your debt-freedom goals. You can adjust any of these to your current lifestyle with a little creativity.
1. Live With Less
When you want to pay off your debt, you need to be able to live with less. Many people have a house full of things they don’t use more than once a year.
If we look at the 80/20 rule, it shows that you use 20% of the things for 80% of the time. The other 80% of your stuff takes up space and is rarely used.
So, why not try to sell the items you have? You can use the money to pay off debt and keep items you love.
When you have items you want to sell, you can even step up your game and advertise them in your local newspaper to get a higher price. You can also list your items online on Craigslist or Craigslist alternatives like Decluttr, LetGo, or OfferUp.
2. Always Negotiate
One of the fastest ways to get out of debt is to negotiate. There are plenty of things you can negotiate, including:
- Your phone plan – you can disconnect your home phone if you rarely use it, and you can call your provider to see what they can do for your mobile phone plan.
- Always negotiate your salary.
- When you’re on vacation abroad, it’s perfectly normal to negotiate in many countries. If you travel for weeks, this can save you some serious money toward your debt.
- If you opt to buy more things second-hand, that’s also a perfect opportunity to slightly negotiate the price.
- When you’re paying interest on your credit cards, negotiate your rate down to pay off your debt quicker.
3. Explore Gardening
Gardening is an excellent idea when you have a yard or balcony. You can create a small vegetable garden and raise animals like chicken, turkey, rabbits, or quail for your consumption. If you decide to have animals, consult local laws first. If you just want plants, you can start today!
I don’t have a garden, but I have tomato and paprika plants on my balcony. It’s fun to see the tomatoes grow and eventually eat them yourself. Plus, it will save money as well, win-win!
4. Alternatives to Entertainment
If you want to get out of debt fast, one quick way is to cut back on entertainment. I have friends spending over $500 a month on things like going out, festivals, etc. Going to the movies can cost a lot of money and add up quickly, especially if you’re a larger family.
I don’t have cable TV, and we don’t need that, given that we have online subscription services that provide more than enough series and movies to watch. Of course, if you get value from your TV subscription and enjoy it, you can always opt to keep it. In that case, downgrading your current subscription could be an option.
5. Ask if it’s a Want or Need
You need to analyze whether your spending focuses on your wants or your needs. Wants can include:
- Magazine subscriptions
- Manicures or pedicures
- The newest clothing items
- Eating out multiple times per week
Shifting your spending from wants to needs will make a big difference in the overall picture. That is largely connected to lifestyle inflation, don’t increase your standard of living too much, or it’ll be hard to go back.
6. Meal Plan
When you’re looking to cut back on grocery expenses, buy in bulk and meal plan. When you’re buying items in bulk, especially when there is a good sale, you’ll be saving a lot of money in the long term.
Make a weekly meal plan to know what you’ll be eating and what you need from the supermarket. Going to the grocery store once per week will significantly reduce your grocery bill, as will buying in bulk. On top of that, you’ll be less tempted to go out to eat or get lunch at work. I’d say that’s a win-win.
7. Boost Your Income
When you want to boost your income, getting temporary or seasonal work may be able to help you with that. For example, you can:
- Participate in high-paying clinical trials
- Do photography
- Go babysitting
- Go pet sitting
- Help people out as a handyman
- Donate your blood or plasma
- Sell your skills online on sites like Upwork or Fiverr, or use apps that pay you real money.
8. Get Creative With Your Spending
When you’re getting creative with your spending, there is plenty of room to spend on the things you value and pay off debt. You can get creative by doing most of the household yourself. Sticking with water when you go out to eat. Or split the main course.
Another frugal living tip is packing your lunch regularly and making your coffee at home instead of buying it each day. You can invite your friends over instead of going out.
You’ll save a little money each day when getting that low-hanging fruit first. Over time, that money will add up to a significant amount. When you get creative with your spending, you’ll notice even more things where you can save and accelerate your debt payoff.
9. Return Things You Don’t Need
You may sometimes buy something you don’t need when you’re getting out of debt. Working on spending less means that you’ll buy things that you don’t need at times.
Of course, you can keep it, but you can also return it to the store. You are not obligated to keep it, and it’s a little bit of extra effort to return it, but it’s worth it.
10. Give Even More
What, give? Yeah, you read that right. When you want to pay off your debt, give!
It changes your mindset around money and gives you joy. When you’re doing something for somebody else, you’ll feel good about yourself.
Even when you’re in debt, perhaps especially when you’re in debt, you should make giving a priority in your budget. No matter your income or where you are in your debt payoff journey, giving to others will make you feel better.
When you feel better about yourself, you’ll be able to get into the debt payoff groove better. So why not start now?
Conclusion – Get Out Of Debt Fast
Many people are struggling with getting out of debt, as it is hard to balance your needs and wants while paying off debt. All your focus can go to your debt, and with these tips, you’ll be sure to pay them off quicker.
Where you can, avoid debt. For many of us, it’s not a choice. Once you’re in debt, it’s possible to get out. Put in the work, and soon you’ll come out on the other side without debt.