If you’re looking to pay down your debt as quickly as possible, you’re probably trying to figure out ways you can trim your expenses. Do you really need to pay for cable? Is there a cheaper cell phone plan available? Should you consider some extreme couponing?
While all of these options can help you reduce your monthly expenses, you may see only small, incremental reductions to your debt.
To see rapid results, you may want to consider Lauren Bowling’s approach, which helped her get rid of more than $8,000 in credit card debt in just 90 days.
Increase Your Income
“The only real way to pay off debt quickly,” she wrote on her blog, FinancialBestLife.com, is to bring in more money. “Sure, saving money is good sense, but spending hours and hours of your precious time to bargain hunt to only slightly lower your bottom line? Ridiculous.” She realized she could make more money working than she’d ever save bargain hunting or coupon clipping.
Bowling, an Atlanta-based blogger and former content marketing strategist, trimmed her budget as much as possible, and then focused on ways she could start earning more. She started freelancing, did voice-over work, sold things on Ebay, and rented out her home to generate extra income.
She even opened two new checking accounts so she could get the sign-up bonuses, she wrote on her blog. “Basically, anything I could do to bring in extra dollars, I did,” she wrote.
Within just three months, Bowling was able to pay off all of her credit cards, and she parlayed her freelance blogging into a full-time job that allows her to now work for herself.
If you’re serious about getting out of debt and doing it as quickly as possible, you may want to take a page from Bowling’s playbook and use your skills to earn extra income. Of course, you’ll also need to trim your budget.
Reduce Your Expenses
Sure, you can cancel your Netflix and Hulu accounts, cut the cord on your cable or even stop eating out as you try to reduce your expenses, but not everything you do has to be a major life change. You can save as much as $50 a week depending on your personal habits by making your own coffee at home, packing your lunch, carpooling with a neighbor, riding your bike or taking the bus to work. You can choose cheaper cuts of meat or no meat at all at the grocery store. The trick is to set a specific savings goal each week, figure out what changes you can make to save that money, then use those savings to pay off some of your debt.
Create a Plan of Attack
Perhaps most importantly, though, you’ll need an action plan for paying down your debt in the most efficient way possible. If you have credit card debt, for example, and you have more than one credit card, which should you pay down first? You may want to start with the one with the highest annual percentage rate so you can reduce the amount of interest you pay. Or you could start with the one with the lowest balance if you’re the type of person who needs to see quick progress. You can also consider getting a new credit card with a low or 0% interest rate and transfer your existing balances.
Learn more about reducing your expenses, increasing income and different debt-payoff strategies in our post, How to Pay Off Debt.
[Editorial Disclosure: PayDownMyDebt.com is a service that provides people with tools to pay down their debts through automatic payments. The purpose of this article, however, is not to encourage users to purchase that service. This article is educational and journalistic in nature and aims to help people learn how to pay down their debt, whether they use our site, another, or go it alone.]