This past week, I was so excited to announce that my husband and I are officially debt free! If you haven't seen the video, check it out here. I have been on a debt free journey since December 2013, and after 2 years and 10 months we have finally rid ourselves of over $77.8K in student loan debt. By no means was this an easy feat. It was nearly three years of sacrifice and financial discipline, but a journey that was well worth the prize.
Since my announcement, many people have reached out to me with the desire to start paying off their own loans. This is the response that I was hoping for-- more people who become sick of being a slave to the lender and who have decided to rid themselves of the bondage. As a follow up, I thought that I would share some of the things that I did and other ideas to help expedite debt pay off and free up cash to put toward debt. So, here are 5 Ways to Make/Save Money while Becoming Debt Free.
1. Pick up a 2nd job. The most obvious way to expedite loan pay off is by increasing your income. Picking up a part time job is one way that you can do that. Though I did not use this method, I could have afforded to pick up a part time job to bring in additional income. Not only do you have the benefit of extra income, but you may also gain the advantage of a store discount for items that your purchase regularly. Picking up a part time job doesn't have to be outside of the home. There are tons of opportunities that allow you to work from home or online in those spare hours that you have. Because you are trying to get out of debt, I do not recommend starting or participating in a business that requires you to purchase products upfront in hopes of selling them. The mission is to save money, not spend it.
2. Sell stuff. If you're like I was, then you have several items of clothing in your closet that you haven't touched. You may even have new shoes or even handbags that haven't gotten use. Those are the items that will be great to sell. As a way to bring in extra cash, I decided to sell clothes and gently used handbags via Instagram. I posted pictures, along with my asking price and allowed my followers to participate in a "first to pay" sale. They made a payment on Paypal and I shipped the items out. Easy cash! Take some time to peruse your home for items that you can stand to get rid of and put it up for sale. Not tech savvy? Have a yard sale. There's no investment needed and all the money can go toward your debt. If you don't want to go through the hassle, there are also stores that will purchase your gently used clothing. I do not recommend these stores, as you don't get the money that you would selling them on your own. Unfortunately, that is the price of convenience.
3. Monetize your hobbies. Next to picking up a second job and selling stuff, the next easiest way to make money is by monetizing things that you already do. If you're great at doing hair, makeup, making craft items, baking, or even writing, this is the perfect time to monetize it. Social media will enable you to display your work, while attracting potential clients for FREE! This is almost like a second job, except you can do it on your own time at your own pace. Here's a blog post about someone who did just that. This is something that I employ, even now with my writing. Keep in mind that having multiple streams of income should be something that continues after you are debt free.
4. Learn to do it yourself (DIY). If you're trying to find wiggle room in your budget, one of the best ways to free up cash is learning to do things on your own that you would normally pay for. For me, it was learning to do my own hair (#teamnatural) and deciding to cook all of my meals. You'd be amazed at the amount of money that one can spend on beautification and food! Think of things that you can do on your own and do them. The Internet is the cornerstone for free knowledge, so use it to your advantage. I am a true advocate of YouTube and the millions of people who, like me, provide free tutorials on various topics.
5. Downsize. Nobody wants to hear this one, but if you're serious about freeing up cash, then downsizing is another option. I'm not telling you to move your family of 5 into a one bedroom apartment; however, I am saying, if you can afford to reduce your lifestyle for a short period, you can make great gains financially. For me it was downsizing my living space. For you, it may be trading in the $700/mo luxury car payment for a used domestic brand. Or, it may mean getting a roommate to help defray your living costs. Whatever it is, if your decision to downsize is based on what others will think, you have much deeper rooted issues than just debt. Put your pride aside and "live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else."