21 Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt That Actually Work

Has debt gotten the better of your time and energy for way too long? Maybe it seems like you’re barely keeping up with what you owe.

There’s a way to eliminate debt from your life for good. In fact, there are many ways to become debt-free. Here are 21 creative ways to pay off debt that actually work.

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excited woman smiling and holding fanned hundreds of dollars to pay off debt

1. Use Your Cash Back Rewards 

Cashback from your credit card can be used for debt payoff. While it may seem like it isn’t helping much, it can add up. 

Even if your cashback is just a few dollars, apply that to your credit card to pay it off faster. While I wouldn’t recommend using your credit cards just for cashback, you can apply what you’ve already gained towards debt relief.

2. Use Coupons and Apply Savings to Debt

If you’ve never gotten into the wonderful world of coupons, now is the time. The key is to use coupons for things you already need to buy, not just because it’s a good deal.

Related: Get Coupons Sent Right To Your Home

Depending on the store, you may even be able to use your coupon online.

You can start using coupons by checking out apps. There are some programs like Rakuten that will find coupons for you whenever you shop online.

You can also get apps for certain stores and use them while shopping to save money. Ibotta is one of my favorite apps for this.

Related: Best Apps for Earning Free Money

3. Make Money Doing Surveys

Surveys can make you some extra cash. You’ll need to meet the requirements and answer questions to do this. Then, you’ll be paid for your work.

Though you aren’t likely to make a lot from this, you can make something, and all of it can go straight towards debt payoff.

Here are some of my favorite survey sites:

For even more ideas, check out my entire list of the highest-paying survey sites.

4. Look for a Side Hustle

A super-fast way to pay off debt is to work more hours. This is best accomplished through some sort of side hustle. You can work hours convenient for you and apply everything you earn to getting out of debt. 

  • Dogwalk

Dog walking can be a lot of fun if you’re an animal lover. It’s easy, and you can probably do a few jobs in a day.

This is how I paid the bills after becoming a stay-at-home mom. I share all my Rover secrets here.

Since many people need dogs walked during the day while they’re at work, see if you can find a few jobs close to where your office is. You may be able to fit in a dog walk on your lunch break. You can also opt for clients that need a dog walker during your off-work hours.

  • Babysit

If you are good with kids and have some extra free time, babysitting can pay pretty well. Many people need sitters on weekends or evenings, which can work well even with a day job. Ask if anyone you know needs a babysitter a few days a week. 

  • Do A Gig Job

There are many different gig jobs, and they’re usually easy to get started with and don’t take a ton of time. You might try freelancing by creating a website or writing, or maybe running errands for someone. Take on as many gig jobs as you can manage.

  • Bike Delivery 

If you’ve got a bike and live in a city, try working with local businesses and restaurants to do delivery services. People in your neighborhood may need things like groceries, food, or other items delivered. Think outside the box and ask places like bookstores or flower markets if they need a bike delivery service.

  • Sell Something

If you have the skills to make anything – whether it’s socks, jewelry boxes, or artwork, you can try selling it. There are online sites, but you can also sell products to family and friends and use word of mouth to expand your business.

  • Repairs

Maybe you’re good at fixing cars, shoes, or computers. Whatever it is, find a way to use these skills to make some extra cash. 

Related: Jobs that are Perfect for Working in Your Spare Time

5. Ask Creditors to Lower Interest Rates

If you want a lower interest rate, why not ask? Locking in a lower interest rate for a credit card can be helpful in many cases, especially if you’re trying to pay off a significant amount of debt.

You can talk to your creditor and see what the options are for lowering your interest rate. But you should be prepared.

There’s a technique to lowering your credit card interest rate. You can explain that you’re looking into other credit card options, tell them you may close your account, or even try to call back at a different time to speak with a different person.

6. Use Any Windfalls for Debt

If you happen upon any extra cash, consider applying it straight to your debt balance. There are many ways you might find yourself with a significant amount of money, and it’s one of the creative ways to pay off debt.

Obviously, there are no guarantees this will happen to you, but if you at some point come into some money, don’t waste it. Pay off your debts, and you’ll have much more financial freedom in the future.

Don’t use a large sum of money to buy more things that will keep you in debt longer. Instead, do the smart thing and get rid of those debts permanently.

7. Shop at Thrift Stores for Clothes

Did you know you can buy high-quality, sometimes name-brand clothing for much less than the original cost? If you find that you need some new clothes, don’t run to a department store. 

Do your shopping at thrift stores for the time being. Examine clothing for quality, making sure to only purchase items with good material that will last a long time.

And you may be able to get an even lower price if you find a minor defect with the item, like a tear or a stain that you can fix later.

Shopping at thrift stores will give you the chance to put the excess money you would have spent on clothing towards your debt. Every little bit helps you get out of debt faster.

8. Hire Yourself Instead of Paying for Jobs

If you want to really save money, never hire someone else to do something that you could do yourself. Check out these suggestions.

  • Lawn mowing

If you own a lawnmower, it should be simple to do your own yard maintenance. If you don’t, try borrowing one from a friend or family member on occasion to keep up with the grass.

  • Car Wash 

Rather than paying for an expensive drive-through car wash, simply gather some buckets, rags, and a hose to wash the car yourself. It’s easy and not even much of a hassle on a summer day.

  • Housecleaning

Maybe you usually hire a cleaning service. If you’re paying off debt, now is the time to put that on hold. All you’ll need are a few supplies.

  • Sewing or mending clothes

If your socks or jeans start to tear, learn how to mend them yourself rather than taking them to a professional. You can purchase a basic sewing kit and handle simple sewing and mending from your own home without spending extra money.

  • Grocery and food delivery

If you tend to order takeout a lot or hire a grocery delivery service, now is a good time to do it yourself. Pick up your groceries directly from the store, and cut back on eating out. But if you do choose take-out, pick it up yourself.

9. Sell Things You Aren’t Using

If you have big-ticket items just taking up space in your garage or basement, sell them and use the money as one of your creative ways to pay off debt. Things like somewhat new televisions, stereos, and speakers, or gym equipment can all get you some extra cash fast.

If you don’t have any more expensive items, but you have many small things like clothes, shoes, books, or board games, you can also make a good profit if you sell many of them. People usually have a few old cell phones laying around as well that can be sold.

10. Ask for Cash Gifts to Apply to Debt

Do you have a birthday coming up? Or maybe there’s a holiday shortly that you would typically receive presents for. In that case, you can make a wise financial choice by asking for cash gifts instead of new clothes or electronics. 

Even if it feels strange to not get presents for a while, know that every time there’s a holiday, you can pay off some more debt, and soon, it will be gone forever.

Related: Sell your old gift cards for cash

11. Get a Roommate

If you live on your own, why not get a roommate? This can help you save more money on your mortgage or rental costs.

12. Rent Out Your Car

If you don’t use your car for a significant portion of the day or are out of town often while your vehicle sits at home, consider renting it out.

You can use companies to help you rent your car, or maybe you feel more comfortable renting to a friend or family member. Whatever the case, it’s time to shine up your vehicle and set to work making some money.

13. Rent Out a Room in Your House

If you have a second room or some extra space, rent it out. Even one extra room will make a significant difference and can likely bring you hundreds of extra per month.

You can then turn around and apply that money directly to the debts you owe. Just make sure you do a thorough vetting process since the person will be living in your house with you.

14. Participate in a Medical Study

This is not for everyone. But yes, you can make some money from being part of a medical study.

It’s best to consider how comfortable you feel doing something like this and spend some time talking to medical professionals about it first. 

15. Don’t Watch TV

This is one of the creative ways to pay off debt that is more preventative. If you aren’t watching TV, you can be more proactive with your time, learn more, and spend more time working and earning money.

If you like television and it’s hard to give up, remember that it’s only for a time until you pay off your debt and have a bit more freedom.

16. Eat at Home

Think about how much one meal out costs – somewhere between $5-$20? What if you could make a meal at home by sticking to a grocery budget and using what you have in your house?

The good news is you can. This is one of the creative ways to pay off debt that you can quickly make a habit of.

In fact, after a short time, you may no longer even notice or miss eating out. You can save hundreds a month, adding up to thousands a year, which helps you escape debt fast.

Here are some helpful articles to get you started with eating at home:

17. Sell Your Car

Sound extreme? That depends. For example, could you bike, walk, or take the bus if you live close to work?

You’d eliminate the need for a car and consequently save on gas, car maintenance, payments, and insurance. That can really add up.

18. Dumpster Dive for Things to Recycle

I would not suggest getting too extreme with this, and always be careful and wear gloves. But sometimes, you can find a quality item for free by dumpster diving.

For example, a piece of furniture. Then you can fix it up and recycle it into something new. 

19. Thrift for Items to Flip

Check out your local thrift stores for items you can buy, fix and clean up, and then resell. Good examples are chairs, tables, some glassware, and home decor items. Check back often to find new things.

20. Live with Your Parents or Other Family

To eliminate debt fast, get rid of one of your most significant expenses – a mortgage or high rent. Ask family if you can live with them for a short time while you pay off debt.

While they may still ask you for rent, it likely won’t be as high as it would be somewhere else, which helps you save and is another of the creative ways to pay off debt.

21. Cut Your Own Hair

Hair cut costs can really add up, especially if you have your hair done often. Eliminate this cost by practicing cutting your own hair.

All you need to buy are some scissors and maybe a few other hair supplies, but you can save hundreds by not paying a stylist.

Look for Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt In Your Life

These 21 ideas are to help you get started, but they are definitely not the only ways to pay off debt fast. Look for new and creative ways to pay off debt, and you’re sure to find some good solutions and quickly become debt-free.

Related Articles:

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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