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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.