7 Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt

September 26, 2012

Debt: it happens to the best of us. However, the way that you deal with paying it off is what determines how far into debt you’ll sink. This topic is something that has been coming up a lot recently. I think the more you’re around personal finance writers, the topic is more apparent. I’m happy to see that. The fact that I can talk about debt with friends now makes me feel better about where we’re headed. It also makes everyone else feel that being in debt, particularly student debt. One of the most important parts of climbing back out of the hole is realizing that it’s going to take some serious life style changes to make it happen. That being said, there’s more to getting rid of overdue bills than just cutting out fast food and movie night – you don’t have to get rid of everything that you enjoy. If you’re stuck trying to come up with a plan to save money, then consider combining a few of the following creative ways to pay off debt.

  1. Watch television shows and movies on the Internet. Online movie sites, like Netflix and Hulu, cost significantly less per month than a cable package. Although the choices will be more limited, there are still more than enough television shows, movies, documentaries and cartoons to keep the entire family busy. For the record, Netflix sucks in Canada.
  2. Take advantage of consignment shops. Almost everyone has unneeded clothing and other items cluttering up their house. So, instead of donating these items, consider taking them to a consignment shop where you’ll earn some money back. The money earned can be added to the regular amount that you would use to pay down your bills, or it can be used to buy this year’s school clothes; both options will help shave down debt.
  3. Keep an eye out for grocery store sales. Try watching the sale items for the week and plan out your meals accordingly. This alone can save a lot of money, and you never know, you might end up trying dishes that you wouldn’t eat ordinarily.
  4. Plant an edible garden in the back yard. If you don’t have enough space to make a raised bed garden, then you can always learn how to container garden on the patio. Raising your own cooking herbs and vegetables is an easy way to save money on your grocery bill, thus allowing you to pay off debt faster.
  5. Use your hobbies and skills to make extra money. For example, if you can sculpt clay, make jewelry, paint greeting cards, or design websites, consider making your hobby into a side business. You would be surprised with what people need help with, so never discount any skill that you have.
  6. Sell your car and carpool to work. If selling the car doesn’t sound like an appealing option, or isn’t feasible, then at least consider walking or biking around town instead of driving. Even doing this part of the time can significantly cut back on the amount of gas money used, which can in turn be used to pay off debt faster.
  7. Use natural cleaning and hygiene alternatives. Chemicals, cleaners, soaps and shampoos can get really expensive. However, most of them can be replaced with natural alternatives that are not only cheaper, but better for the body, too. For example, shampoo can easily be replaced with baking soda and organic apple cider vinegar. The end result? Hair not only looks shiner and has more body, but your wallet isn’t nearly as empty, either.

There are a lot of ways to pay off debt faster; it’s just a matter of finding the ones that you can commit to. In the end, it all boils down to living with the necessities, and not getting trapped into spending money based on wants. The best thing that you can do is to just get started – stop thinking about how hard it’s going to be to pay down all of the debt you have, and just start working on money saving strategies that you can implement. On a final note, even the most frugal saver needs a debt payoff plan, so make sure you take the time to sit down and lay out a detailed, step-by-step strategy. Keep it close and look at your plan every time you start to feel overwhelmed to keep yourself on track to becoming debt free and in control of your finances once again.

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  • Michelle September 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    These are all great ways to pay off your debt quicker! We want to have a garden, hopefully next year.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:13 am

      Gardens are amazing. I saw a community garden a few days ago.

  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive September 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    These are some great tips! We’ve personally tried to grow a garden but it was a big failure. lol. I’d say that we’ve also used our hobbies a bit as I started up the blog and now it’s providing for a decent side hustle income.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:13 am

      Blogs can provide a decent side hustle provided that you put in the work.

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More September 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    My girlfriend has been picking up some extra shifts at work to help pay her debt down quicker. It does really help out in the long run I think.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:14 am

      I used to do that. I’m thinking about it for the holidays.

  • Rod J. Rogers September 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Turned off the TV in 1995. Saved thousands over the years and kept my mind garbage free.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:14 am


  • Credit Donkey September 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    There are so many ways to save and earn a few bucks. The trick is not too look at it as a tedious chore that you don’t want to do but must. Make it a fun and creative activity that you’ll enjoy doing on a daily basis until it becomes a habit.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:14 am

      I think looking at something as a way to lower your debt helps make the task less tedious.

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses September 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I am so all about the side gig or second job. Sure it’s important to save money, but if you have a second job as well to make more money, I really do believe that’s the best way to pay off debt the fastest.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:15 am


  • The College Investor September 27, 2012 at 12:29 am

    I’m a big fan of making more money rather than selling my stuff or spending less. You just need to be responsible.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:16 am

      Yes, me too, BUT I think a combination works really well.

  • Michelle @ See Debt Run September 27, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I’ve been thinking recently about ways I could make money by doing something I already do. Great tips! Wheels are turning.

    • Marissa September 28, 2012 at 2:16 am

      I’m sure your blog is helping.

  • Parvinder September 28, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Hi Marissa, great points.
    Yes, turn off the Tv is the one of the most compelling options for many persons. But it’s worth turning it off.
    I always buy in stock and on sale. I search for coupons to save money on my grocery and other household products. I think it’s an easy way to save a lot of money in a year.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Those are great points. I tend to shy away from stocking as I have a fear of become hoarder. (irrational, i know)

  • Andy Hough September 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Every little bit you can save or extra money you can make helps.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Sure does. How are you doing these days?

  • Todd @ Fearless Men September 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    To add to your thoughts on how to save money doing everyday things, I think finding other entertaining alternatives, such as Netflix or Hulu, is a great idea. Find free outdoor stuff to do. Exercise. I hang out with friends that like to eat out and buy drinks a lot. I don’t want to drop $25 every meal. So I try to suggest stuff that I know won’t break me at the bank.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Netflix and Hulu suck in Canada, so finding proxy servers is the next best thing. I run outside since I play soccer.

  • Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals September 30, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Even better on #4 – ask a friend or neighbor garden with you! my dad and his next door neighbor both have gardens, and they diversity, each planting different things. They end up with amazing variety, and because they’re splitting the yield between two households, they never have too many tomatoes to eat!

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Thats a great idea! I hadn’t even thought of that!

  • Money Mouse September 30, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Great tips, we have almost the same routines. I always find ways to get things done with less spent on it. Movies? i cut off the cable subscription coz i got the internet. I also do freelance job to have an extra income.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      What type of freelance jobs?

  • MakintheBacon$ September 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I didn’t know that baking soda and organic apple cider vinegar could be used as a shampoo replacement. I have very thick hair and go through shampoo and conditioner like crazy. I usually buy them and bulk and stock up when there’s a sale. (And steal the little ones from the hotel..hahaha).

    I don’t have my own house yet, but I could probably look into having a small container garden on my balcony.

    • Marissa October 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Essentially all shampoo does is strip the oils away, so as long as you condition it properly, your hair should be fine.

    • David@SkepticFinance October 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Don’t you end up smelling like vinegar though? I go through about 1 bottle every 4-6 months so it’s not a huge cost for me, but I wonder if it would work on the dog where even a vinegar smell would be an improvement over the normal odor.