Related: How To Pay Off Debt Quickly
50 Powerful Ways To Help You Get Out Of Debt And Live Free
1. Get on a budget.
I know you’ve probably heard this a zillion times. It may sound like way too much work to even keep reading this bullet point. Stick with me. Writing out a budget does take some time and you’re not alone if it feels super intimidating. Just remember this: yes, you will unearth all the financial things in the closet but when you do, you will know EXACTLY where you are at. Only then will you know how to move forward. This is one of the best and most efficient ways to pave the way towards your financial freedom. Check out Budget + FREE Printable, For Beginners. Print off that beautiful budget sheet and get going!
2. Jump on Mint.com (it’s free!) and plug in your debt.
Use the debt calculator to see EXACTLY how much interest you are paying total, compared to how much you could save by experimenting with different payoff dates. We saved thousands doing this.
3. Make sure to check out Ebates.com.
Basically, if you are going to do some shopping already, just go through Ebates and get cash back. It’s simple and easy. I love it. If you want to save a little money here and there on stuff you already buy now, then seriously check this out.
4. Stop eating out.
I once had a coworker that bought breakfast and lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY. Holy cow! Imagine what you could do with all that extra money! That alone would be around $450 a month and $5600 a year (not including eating out for dinner!). Want to really see how much you are spending eating out? Print out your bank statement last month, take a highlighter and quickly mark every time you spent money at a restaurant or fast food joint. You might be shocked. We were! Set a goal for how much you’d like to spend eating out. Maybe it’s just once a week instead of a few times a week.
5. Reduce your phone bill and buy your phone off of Amazon instead of the store.
I did some research and actually broke down our phone bill. We were basically financing our phones with the “special deal” promoted to us in the store! I recommend buying an older edition off of Amazon instead of buying a brand new phone in the store. This would have saved us over a thousand dollars! I couldn’t believe it. I paid off the phones and called in to ask for the cheapest option they had. This saved us $75 a month.
6. Slash your guilty pleasure spending.
How much do you spend on tobacco, alcohol, and/or marijuana? The average person spends over $750 a year in this category! We love some wine with dinner but when I realized we were spending hundreds per month on alcohol, we decided to make a HUGE change. Making an alcohol budget and testing out cheaper bottles was a lifesaver. As a matter of fact, we found a $2.99 brand of wine at our local Kroger store that we loved. One bottle of wine a week for us was $12 a MONTH. That equals less than ONE bottle of wine we used to buy a couple times a week! This saved us well over $100 each month.
7. Pop some tags.
Thrift store shopping can seem…grimy to some but it can be so worth it! There’s a little thrift store I’ve found that sells brand new (tags still on) name brand clothes for less than any other thrift store I’ve seen. They even have 50% off weekends. No brainer. Imagine how much you could save if you hopped around thrift stores every few months first before you did your other shopping. Would it be worth it to become debt-free and financially independent?
8. Transfer your smaller debt onto a zero interest credit card.
We transferred a couple thousand dollars of debt (from an extremely high interest- like 25%) to a zero interest credit card. There was a fee but it was smaller than the interest we were paying each month previously. We made a pay off schedule after doing our budget, paid it off within the zero interest time period and then canceled it once we were done. Now, if you are not good with credit cards, please skip this! But if you can handle the tracking and payment, then it could possibly save you hundreds or more. Do a little research online and choose a zero interest card that fits your needs most.
5. Check out some survey-reward companies like Swagbucks.
I was always a little iffy about those survey taking reward companies but the more I followed other bloggers who sang praises, the more I was open to the idea. I finally caved and looked into it. Swagbucks is great. You basically earn points for doing things you already do or by taking surveys. You can get some pretty great gift cards through it as well. Check it out here.
6. Cloth diaper (if you have babies or plan to).
You will save HUNDREDS, if not thousands. Trust me on this one. I know cloth diapering may sound WAY out of the question but what if I told you they are basically the exact same as disposables except you wash them? Cleanup? Not a problem either. We use flushable liners. Modern cloth diapers aren’t grandma’s giant white folded sheet with clothespins anymore. Check out some cloth diaper posts that have topped Pinterest in their category:
Cloth Diapers 101, The Complete Guide For Beginners
10 Things I Wish I Knew About Cloth Diapers
7. Make baby food at home (if you have babies or plan to).
Baby food is expensive. The cheapest is usually about $1 per pouch (but then they’ll get tired of that and you’ll probably have to gradually go up in cost!). That’s around $100 a month on baby food. You can literally save hundreds by quickly making your own. We froze ours in ice cube trays which is conveniently 1oz per ice cube and it was super-duper easy to make custom mixes like peas+pears+apple or something like that. Just toss the ice cubes together. I recommend using a Baby Bullet because when you are mass making food, it’s easy and super convenient. Also, the absolutely genius Infantino Squeeze Station is a lifesaver for those toddler stage food packets. You can even get reusable food pouches with zippers!
8. Sell things online.
Do a purge and sell things online you don’t need anymore. You can even get into flipping items from estate sales, garage sales and more. Try Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Craigslist and some other options. Some people make a lot of money doing this!!!
9. Coupon, coupon, coupon.
You can find some amazing deals on things you already buy from couponing. Honey is my absolute favorite way to do this. During checkout online, you click the Honey button and it searches hundreds of coupons online to see if it can give you a code. It’s AH-mazing.
10. Buy food at the cheaper grocery store.
If you have an Aldi close to you then you are lucky! We don’t and I’ve read some mind blowing meal prep savings from Aldi. If you already shop at Walmart for your groceries (if you don’t have an Aldi), try making a point to buy the brand that is less expensive per ounce. If the price tag doesn’t say, just divide the price by the number of ounces in the product. This may surprise you! Buy the off brand.
11. Take a break from your hobbies.
Buy a library card instead of ordering books off of Amazon. Take a break from replacing your fishing lures. Pass (for now) on the new DIY project you’ve been eyeballing on Pinterest. Opt-out of that $20 park pass for a little while. If you’re a gamer, stick with what you’ve got for now and skip the latest and greatest. It’s well worth delaying the gratification till you are debt-free!
12. Skip the movie out.
Do dinner, movies, popcorn and dollar store box candy at home. Instead of going out (and spending $20-$30 or more), rent a movie on Amazon (right now a lot of rentals are just under $2 for Prime Members), buy movie theatre popcorn and candy from the store. You will save so much!
13. Meal prep and plan out your dinners.
Okay, so meal prepping and planning out dinners does take some time but the savings are so worth it. During the week, try some low cost dinners like spaghetti, chicken and veggies or soup. These are low cost, easy, healthy and quick dinners. Some other low cost savings could be: swapping the hamburger meat out for turkey, buying tomato paste (instead of spaghetti sauce and adding zest with spices from home) and buying chicken in bulk, especially when it’s on sale.
14. Avoid (monthly) fees.
ATM withdrawals, overdraft, interest rates from credit cards, or monthly account fees are all avoidable. We had a bank charge us $10 every month if the checking account had below $1500 in it. That’s $120 a year! It may seem small now but all those fees can add up year after year and you don’t have to pay them.
15. Be okay with saying no.
It can be so hard when friends want to go out to the movies, buy cute new clothes and eat out at that fancy restaurant they’ve heard about. And they’d love to do those things with you! Don’t give into the pressure. You don’t have to live a financed life like so many other people. Unlike others, you have a big goal! Suggest doing something alternative that doesn’t cost money or let them know your big goal. Be confident. Ask for their support for this period of time where you are working to get debt-free. It may not be the easiest thing in the world, but if you’ve got good friends and associations they will completely understand. You could even be an example for them.
16. Ask for a raise or look into getting a higher paying job.
This is a biggy. Many jobs stick you in a pay rut. Forbes.com reports that employees who stay at a company for more than two years, get paid considerably less and over a lifetime that amount equals 50% less! If you are looking to change jobs, you can expect up to a 4.5% raise and be sure to negotiate for it. My husband absolutely didn’t want to switch jobs. It takes a lot of stress and he loves the company he works for. So, he negotiated and got a $20,000 raise. You can do it!
17. Look into becoming a reviewer.
Review social media ads, products, books, websites, Amazon items etc. Just Google or Pinterest what you’d like to review and I bet you will find it! I have a friend who reviews Facebook and Instagram ads in her phone in some of her spare time and said her last paycheck was $250.
18. Consider starting a blog.
If anyone wants to be a part of a fun side hustle, I recommend starting a blog. I make a full time income on blogging and it’s a super fun way to make a decent amount. Check out how to start a blog here with super easy step-by-step basics. You can even check out my FREE 7 day email course on how to start a successful blog for profit. Taking the right steps, you could earn money right away but it will take a little bit of time to earn a living. Blogging income seems to compound as you go.
19. Rent out a room in your living space.
Rent out a room in your apartment or home. You could also try Airbnb. Just make sure you’re covered under homeowner’s insurance, your local laws allow this and or your apartment complex.
20. Sell things on Etsy.
If you have a creative flair, try making a few things and putting them up for sale on Etsy. You could even turn that into a full time business. Check out Etsy’s article on how to set up shop.
21. Become a virtual assistant.
Swap out some of your Netflix time for a little virtual assistant work. Virtual assistants tackle tasks that online entrepreneurs can’t get to, which may include answering emails, social media management, or editing blog posts. Michelle from Making Cents of Sense has a fabulous post interview on how Caitlin makes over $4,000 a month writing and being a virtual assistant.
22. Have a no spend weekend. Heck, you could do a no spend month!
This may sound tough but imagine how much money you could save. A no spend time frame means no purchases towards entertainment, clothes and things other than the basics which is food and gas. Make it a game and post your goal on your bathroom mirror or somewhere you will see it everyday. At the end of that time frame, reward yourself with something that doesn’t cost a lot of money.
23. Bike to work.
Have you ever thought of how much you spend in gas? When my husband and I were both commuting to work, we calculated it was about $140 a month. That’s a decent amount! If you work within a few miles of where you live (or have the ability to bike to other transportation), try a bike ride on a day where you aren’t crazy busy or have something major going on, like a Friday. Make sure you leave early, give yourself plenty of time your for first ride (like 10-15 minutes per mile), take it slow, and use Google maps (for biking) to find trail shortcuts. If you live in a decent sized city, you probably will get to work much quicker on a bike than being stuck in rush hour traffic!
24. Drop the membership.
Do you have a membership where you’re ‘going to go tomorrow’ but haven’t? We’ve all been there. Instead of charging yourself the monthly fees, save money and watch work out videos online. There are a ton! You may even get a better workout than going to the gym solo and sitting on the elliptical. (Again, been there done that! Haha)
25. Take a look at your utilities and cut costs.
Shaving dollars off of your utility bill can be more deceptively simple. Make sure your vents and filter are clean, open windows and use a fan to direct airflow through your living space in the summer. Use less heat when doing laundry and do this in the evening if possible with smaller loads. Skip the heated-dry cycle on your dishwasher and use a quality dishwashing soap (this actually really does matter). Place electronics on a power strip and turn the power strip off when not in use.
26. Make gifts instead of buying them.
Make cookies or other baked goods and wrap them up beautifully with a nice card (you could print one off or make one at home) instead of buying something expensive.
27. Lower your internet bill.
Your internet provider probably runs specials fairly often. Did you know that more than likely, you can call in and get one of those deals even though you aren’t a new member? I didn’t know this, but we were desperate. Our bills needed to go down as much as possible after we had our baby. The internet provider was offering specials that were $40+, lower than what we paid. We called in and they told me that anytime there is a special running (after my yearly plan is up) that I can always call in to receive the lower deal. I didn’t know!
28. Cut out Netflix, HBO and other subscriptions.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt and have Netflix, HBO, cable and more: cut the cords. And by that I mean, ditch those companies now. Make up that time by playing a fun board game with the people you live with (I recommend Ticket To Ride – it’s super simple and fun, Pandemic, Munchkin, and Hanabi), check out a book from the library or try #21 above and use this time to make extra money.
29. Make Starbucks at home.
ABC news reports Americans spend on average, $1,100 on coffee per year(not including at home). Save $1000 and make it at home. Use an awesome travel mug that’s just pretty enough to choose over the paper Starbucks siren and use good quality coffee. If you buy the super cheap stuff you may opt for Starbucks any day over the cheap cigarette butt taste.
30. Utilize your public library.
Even if you are not a reader, try picking up a book or two for your spare time. Read and cut out those TV subscription bills. Try out Harry Potter (there’s a reason it’s so popular-they are amazing books!), Name of The Wind, Game of Thrones, Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings and others that may not be fantasy centric because that’s all I know!
31. Sell or trade in your car if you make payments.
If you are making payments on a car and have a decent chunk of debt, I would suggest you stop throwing your money in the garbage. I know that may sound like a major truth bomb! Let Dave Ramsey be your guide: sell that car and buy a cheaper vehicle with cash. Make it a rule of thumb not to finance when you have debt! And when you are out of debt, you will probably be able to pay cash anyways.
32. Use Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.
It takes effort and planning but you will be AH-mazed at how you become in control of your every penny and no longer wonder where it went. Be the boss of your own money and tell it where to go so that you can achieve your financial goals.Check out Budget + FREE Printable, For Beginners and start on the cash envelope system when you get your next paycheck.
33. Plan on using your upcoming tax refund to pay off your debt.
It can be SO tempting to throw your refund back into the economy in a fabulous way like going on vacation, buying those new clothes or cashing in for that upgraded flat screen. Instead, make a dent in your debt for your financial future. That way, when you are debt-free you don’t have to wait around for the tax refund in order to buy those things.
34. Check out driving for Lyft or Uber.
Try out becoming your own little taxi service for a little while in order to pay off your debts. I had a friend make good money driving for Uber and he highly suggested it! Make sure you have a decent car with good gas mileage and check out how to get started. It’s worth a look!
35. Opt-in for tradeoff service.
If you know another family who also needs babysitting, offer to do swaps and save tons of money on babysitters. The same goes for other service based jobs like a mechanic, handy man, IT and electronic labor jobs. If you have your own business, offer your services or products in exchange for the service.
Find a place to live that costs you less. This can be a hard one. Especially in America, we have the social expectation to go to college, get married, get a beautiful house with the white picket fence and have kids. We may feel like downsizing is a huge step backwards for our future. In actuality, downsizing, reducing our monthly expenses in a huge way and getting our debt paid off is a much larger step than many people do.
37. Stop saving.
I know this sounds counterintuitive but Dave Ramsey recommends stopping your 401K and retirement contributions to pay off your debt, then resume and contribute 15%. That means, until you are debt-free, stop saving and put it all towards your debt now.
38. Change out your insurance.
Allow yourself a good chunk of time to analyze the details of your car insurance, homeowners insurance and/or renters insurance. Don’t be afraid to call in and ask if these companies have any deals. Most insurance companies want to keep you or earn your business, so it is very likely that they will give you better offers than you can find online! We saved close to $100 by looking into what we really needed and comparing car insurance companies!
39. Save your change.
You may be surprised at how much change can accumulate by the end of the year if you save. Use the cash envelope system and save the change. At the end of the year, put all of this change towards your debt.
40. Make debt-free goal rewards and incentives.
It’s challenging to be gung-ho about getting debt-free every second of the day. Much of the time, it may feel like you are stifling your quality of life even though in reality, you are being financially smart, delaying your gratification and making your dreams a priority. To help incentivize yourself, set debt-free milestones. Choose something that’s really fun and motivating but doesn’t cost more than $20 if you are a couple or $10 if you are single. When you reach your goal (or maybe it’s 30 days of working towards being debt-free), reward yourself and review your goals.
41. Stop using credit cards completely.
Get out of the credit mindset! I know a gal who thought about getting debt-free but loved credit cards. She never understood that to get debt-free, she had to stop charging those cards. That American credit mindset can be SO strong! If you want to become debt-free, stop using those credit cards. Bottom line. Use the cash envelope system, pay for what you can afford and take control of your financial situation and future.
42. Save money on airfare or drive instead.
Driving to a destination is usually a fraction of the cost of flying but if you need to fly, try to buy tickets around the magical “56 days” before your first trip date. This timeframe has been proven to be the lowest you will pay for airfare. I had a friend tell me about Farecompare. I couldn’t believe how cheap she traveled, so I asked her secret. When she’s going to travel, she adds the date to Farecompare and it sends her emails when the rate goes down.
43. When you travel: prep food, pack meal bars and don’t eat out.
Traveling and eating out can go hand in hand. We had always eaten out when traveling, bought snacks at the gas station when driving distances and relied on restaurants or fast food when away from home. We decided to become debt-free and had a big business trip on the calendar. Our eating out budget was small so we put a giant (24+) pack of meal bars in our bag, brought water bottles and set off. When we got to our destination, we immediately went to the closest dollar store and grocery store, bought salad and sandwich stuff. We allowed one eating out meal. In the end we had spent less than $10 on most of our food and less than $25 eating out for the entire Friday through Monday trip. We became debt-free that year.
44. Refurbish old furniture instead of buying new.
New furniture can cost a pretty penny. Instead of buying new, why not use chalk paint (so you don’t have to sand anything) and purchase new handles? We wanted new bedroom furnature but even Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace was expensive. So, I looked up some DIY chalk paint tips and we went to town. I LOVE our updated furniture. Try using a good primer like Rust-Oleum if you are going dark to light, a quality chalk paint like Rust-Oleum’s Chalk Paint, and a solid finish to seal the paint like Minwax.
45. Do clothing swaps.
Your friends or relatives would probably be up for a fun clothing swap if you asked! My sister and I do clothing swaps year round. It’s a fantastic way to get fun “new” clothes. When we have our next little one (maybe sometime soon?), she even mentioned if we have a boy, tons of clothes will be sent our way. On the other hand, if she has a girl next time, I can send a giant box her way. You can save hundreds doing this.
46. Make your food last.
Make low-cost, healthy dinners that last. Spaghetti is cheap and can be used for several dinners. Minestrone is also cents per serving and will last you. The same goes for burritos, oven baked enchiladas and other soups. Try to meal prep in bulk and freeze what you can. Eat leftovers and freeze after a day or so to use again. Do not be adverse to eating leftovers if you are trying to get debt-free!
48. Utilize the dollar store.
I had never been a dollar store fan until recently. Dollar Tree is an actual dollar store and has everything for under a dollar. Other “dollar” stores price item for a few dollars and under. Some fantastic dollar store items are: baskets (for organization), Tupperware, dinnerware, gift wrapping, cleaning supplies and basic snacks. Give your local dollar store a try and you might be super surprised!
49. Be okay with less in order to reach your goal.
Becoming debt-free can be a challenge. In fact some people try it and give up! Don’t be one of the quitters. Try to tell yourself on a daily basis why you are doing this. When things are tough, review what being debt-free means to you. Does this mean you will be able to travel to Europe next year, live on one income to raise your baby, work less, have far less stress, build wealth or work at a better job? Focus on the end-game not the current moment. Delayed gratification. You can do it.
50. Visualize your goal.
A Harvard study showed that only 3% of graduating students had written goals and those same students were earning, on average, ten times more than their fellow class mates. Write out your goals and review them. Print out pictures of that trip you are going to take when you are debt-free, the job you wont have to have any more, the baby that you can finally afford, the new car or whatever imagery motivates you. Review those goals and dreams daily and put them in a place you will see like your refrigerator.
In the end, becoming debt-free is not cupcakes and rainbows. It requires hard work, determination and persistence. Yet, when you begin to evaluate your debt and make sure you take daily debt-free action, you will begin to notice an immediate and dramatic shift in your life that reaps resonating results. Most importantly, being debt-free is one of the most freeing, satisfying and amazing experiences – which will ultimately lead to the ability to build wealth and the option to live on your own terms.