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49 Ideas to Help You Get Out of Debt

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When it comes to trying to get out of debt, I’ve seen and heard it all, from the person who got three jobs to the guy who sold his dream car. But it got me thinking, what are some of the craziest ideas out there to help you find your way out of debt?

I decided to make a fun post about things people have tried, and some of them work. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make changes too.

Sell Things

Things are that — just things. They don’t define us, and they don’t always make us happy. My husband and I sold so many things when we were trying to get out of debt that we were able to raise more than $1,000. I can’t even remember what we sold (which proves we obviously did not need it). Here are some unconventional ideas for things you can sell.

1. Hair

This may sound bizarre, but people will pay for long hair. Crafters often use it for making dolls. You will generally need at least 10″ or more to sell, and prices vary greatly.

2. Toilet Paper & Paper Towels

Ever been on sites like Pinterest and seen the number of craft projects that require paper towels or toilet paper tubes? They are all over the place. You can go onto local sites to sell these products.

3. Gift Cards

If you get a gift card for any reason, you can turn around and sell the card. You won’t get quite the face value, but at least you’ll get paid in cold, hard cash.

4. Daily Deals

Did you buy a deal on coupon or discount sites that you haven’t redeemed? Try selling it.

5. Sell Things You Don’t Need

Use online marketplaces or classifieds sites to sell things you don’t need anymore.

Keep It Simple

The following ideas are common sense, but perhaps you haven’t thought of them yet.

6. Budget

This should go without saying, but it is not always obvious. If you don’t have a budget, you really have no control of your money. (You can learn how to create a budget here.)

7. Use Coupons

Start using coupons to save as much as you possibly can at the grocery store. Then put the amount you save toward your debt. (You can learn more about using coupons here.)

8. Shop Different Stores

Skip the clothing store and find consignment stores to purchase gently used clothes.

9. Eat at Home

This is a tough one, but it works. Best of all, it’s not something you’ll have to do forever. Just think, if you spend $100 or more a month on dining out, that is more than $1,000 to put toward your debt in one year. If you do have dinner out, skip the soft drinks and go for water instead, which is free. Make sure you also pass on appetizers, and consider splitting a larger entree.

10. Set Aside Hobbies

If you are an avid golfer, you might give that up for some time and use the monthly dues to pay off debt.

11. Plan Your Meals

By planning your meals, you not only know what you’re having for dinner but what you need to buy.

12. Request Rate Reductions

Contact your creditors to see if they would lower your interest rate. This is not always something that works, but it is definitely worth a few calls.

13. Avoid Monthly Fees

If your bank charges monthly fees, ask to waive them. If they won’t, consider switching to an institution that offers free banking. Even $5 a month is $60 a year.

14. Keep the Change

I always use cash; I don’t even pay with change. If the total is $6.42, I hand over $7, and keep the change. I roll all of this once a year, and usually have quite a nice amount saved up. Best of all — I never miss it!

15. Overbudget

This is a fun way to get extra money. We may budget $300 for groceries every two weeks, but I will do what I can to keep my shopping way under this amount. Then I take anything left over at the end of that two weeks, and save it (you could put it toward debt). This is a fun way to challenge yourself to see how little you can spend.

16. Change Your Insurance

Make some calls to find out if you can get a better rate on your auto and/or home or renter’s insurance. You can sometimes find a better deal by bundling or even increasing your deductibles a bit.

17. Skip Evening Movies

If you love the movies, hit the matinee. You can usually pay less by catching the afternoon show. Make sure you pass on the snacks, too, as those can add up quickly.

18. Hit the Library

Instead of buying books, visit the library or download free ebooks.

Going to Extremes

These ideas don’t work for everyone but have helped others get out of debt quickly.

19. Stop Retirement Contributions

If you are in serious debt, you might want to consider taking that 15% you were saving for retirement and put it all toward your debt. As soon as you are debt free, you can start that contribution again (and maybe even save more).

20. Cut the Cord

Cable can run more than $100 (or even more than $150) per month. If you can cut out cable completely, you might quickly free up $100 or more every month.

21. Sell Your Car

If you have an expensive vehicle, you can sell that, and then purchase an older car, which will reduce your monthly overhead (and possibly taxes and insurance).

22. Move

If you are renting, or even if you own your home, consider downsizing to pay less each month. I know many people have opted to sell their home and use any income to put toward debt and then rent until they are debt-free. Then they save to get the house of their dreams, which they can purchase with cash.

23. Turn off Your Home Phone

This can run $30 or more a month. Consider just using your cell phone, and canceling your home service.

24. Downgrade Your Cell Phone

Try to reduce the data you use to see if you can’t lower your monthly payment on your cell phone. Stick with your home internet for most of your data usage, and you can use your phone less and less and really rack up the savings.

25. Swap Services

Instead of paying for babysitting, exchange time with another couple. You watch their kids for free, and they can do the same for you. You might be able to swap tutoring for haircuts or lawn mowing for repairs.

26.  Make Gifts

Instead of buying people gifts for birthdays and holidays, consider making them yourself. You could even offer a “service” gift where you will babysit once a month for a year, etc. Find a way to give from the heart instead.

27. Budget Your Utilities

If you can, arrange for budget billing with your utilities. This can make it easier to meet your budget and will avoid those swings in the summer or the winter when certain utilities may be more expensive.

28. Drop the Gym

If you have a membership of any sort, consider cancelingl it. If you work out at the gym, try to find free videos you can follow at home or create your own plan. If you like to golf, budget to go once a month or go as a friend’s guest.

29. Ditch Your Morning Lattes

Make your coffee at home each morning, and consider cancelling that run through the drive-thru.

30. Pack Your Lunch

Pack your lunch, and you’ll save a nice chunk of money each and every month.

31.  Carpool

Take turns driving to work and save money on fuel and wear-and-tear on your car.

32. Set Up No-Spend Months

This is a tough one, but see if you can go a few weeks without spending anything more than you need to in order to survive. That means no dining out. No entertainment. No clothes. Just food and fuel, and that’s it.

Money-Making Ideas

These ideas can help you make a bit more money just by doing what you already do.

33. Sell crafts online. 

Consider selling homemade wares online.

34. Rent a Room

If you have a walk-out basement, consider renting out the space to make more money. Just make sure it’s legal.

35. Sell Stocks

If you have investments, considering selling them and using the proceeds to pay off your debt.

36. Give Music Lessons

If you know an instrument or can sing, consider using your time to teach others.

37. Tutor

Find your expertise and teach others.

38. Start a Blog

You may not get rich, but it can turn into a nice stream of income.

39. Visit Garage Sales 

Find items inexpensive items at yard or garage sales, put in some elbow grease and turn them into something you can sell for a profit.

40. Find Holiday Work

When the holidays roll around, many stores hire employees for a short 6 to 8 week period.

41. Become a Mystery Shopper

This is not a way to get rich, but could be a nice way to get some of the things you need for free.

42. Become an Auction Site Master

Purchase items on clearance or at deep discounts, and then sell them for profit on online auction sites.

43. Ask for a Raise 

If you have taken on more responsibilities at work or it’s been a while since you received a raise, it might be time to ask.

44. Sell an eBook

If you are an expert in any field or love to write, create a book you can sell online.

45. Visualize Your Goal

If you want to get out of debt to afford a vacation, tape a photo of the destination where you can see it each day. It could be on your office wall, bathroom mirror or the refrigerator.

46. Be Happy With Less

Sure, a new TV might be fun to own. It could be enjoyable to go out to dinner. However, do you need those things? Probably not. Find ways to be happy spending no money at all, and you may realize how much those things don’t matter.

47. Learn to Say No

You may need to tell friends you can’t go out to dinner. You may need to tell the kids that they can’t get that treat. You may even need to tell yourself that you don’t need that afternoon latte. Learning to say no can help you keep more cash in your pocket.

48. Give More  

This may sound crazy, but it actually works. When you give more of yourself to others, you feel better. Best of all, giving doesn’t just mean money; it can also mean your time.

49. Hang With the Right People 

If your friends encourage you to spend money, then you might want to distance yourself from them (at least until you can get better control of your finances). Find other people who think like you so they can encourage and build you up.

There you have it: 49 ways to actually help you get out of debt. Which ones are you going to try? Let us know in the comments.

[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your own financial goals, like building good credit, for free each month on Credit.com.]

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