If you're reading this, I'm earning money. Thanks for helping to feed my family. Please see our disclosure for more information. Also, any advice provided is for informational purposes only. I'm not a CPA, lawyer, or doctor, although my parents wanted me to be all three. So, talk to a professional before acting on anything you read below.
People that pay off debt do two things very well:
First, they create a budget to understand where their money is going.
Second, they find ways to make money or increase their income to pay off debt faster.
If you need to learn how to make money and pay off debt this year, you've come to the right place.
Let's face it:
Things are hard once you reach adulthood.
You're trying to build a life for yourself and family. It's not as easy as we think.
Lay offs happen. Incomes don't always rise. Expenses just keep piling up.
And, for many, those darn student loan bills never go away.
If you keep wondering how you're going to pay off debt with no money or with a low income, you're in luck. Today, we're going to show you not only how to get rid of the debt, but budget your money for the long-term.
Then, we're going to also help you realize your ability to make more money to pay off debt, save, and live the life you want for your family. Sound like a plan?
Let's start paying off debt and making some more money then. Shall we?
When I say:
What's your first reaction?
For many people, it's like this:
It's that dirty word that nobody dare even whisper. It's so dirty it might even be considered a four-letter word (even though it has six letters).
The word strikes fear into all those immune to accountability and responsibility. I can hear the audible gasps and sighs coming through the screen.
But, have no fear.
We're going to walk you through this and give you some excellent budget tips so you can save money as you learn how to make money and pay off debt.
Now, it's time to learn about budget tips that actually work. You can begin fixing your financial situation and pay off debt right away. Ready? Here we go!
We all must learn to walk before were can run. The same goes for this. You need a budget before you can hope to squash debt or achieve financial freedom. You need to be able to run 3.1 miles before you can run 6, 13.1 or 26.2 miles.
Your "walking" from a financial sense is budgeting. And "walking" for budgeting purposes is getting all your expenses accounted for. Begin by using every single one of these budget tips.
What it comes down to is:
"You need to know what you owe."
Write that down. Tweet it. Facebook messenger it. Tell your mom. Tattoo it on your forehead.
If you don't know what's going out every month in terms of your mortgage or rent, utilities, student loans, car payments, and, yes, even your morning latte, you might as well click out of this.
In fact, don't read any further. Get out a pen and paper. Open up a Google or Excel spreadsheet. Whatever you use, write down all your expenses. Look up your accounts if you have to.
Go do it now. I'll wait ...
You will get nowhere in preparing and sticking to your budget (let alone life) if you have a poor mindset.
What's a poor mindset? Well, do you find yourself saying any of the following?
I can't ...
I won't ...
I'm afraid that ...
People might think ...
People might say ...
It's not possible for me to ...
I'll never be able to pay off debt because ...
Well, do you say those things or any version of them? Come on. We all do. I do, you do, the guy or girl on the street does, your parents do, and your colleagues do. They're called limiting beliefs and they come as a result of a poor mindset.
But, look, you can change course. You can create unlimiting beliefs that push you forward instead of hold you back. What do those sound like? Well, I'm so glad you asked. Unlimiting beliefs sound more like this:
I can ...
I will ...
If I fail at ____, it will be a great learning opportunity.
Who cares what they think ...
Who cares what he or she says ...
I'm committed to accomplishing ...
I'm able to pay off debt because ...
Now, what about your significant other? Or if you have children? Great and great.
With your significant other or spouse, you both need to be in this together. No questions asked. If he or she is hesitant, it's crucial that you talk and work it out. If you're both not committed and on the same page, your budgeting endeavor will fail.
Secondly, your children need to understand what your family is doing too. If they're old enough, make your budgeting sessions a family event. Teach them about money. Help them grasp why budgeting is important. As best you can, explain to them your decision-making process and how you choose what to save and spend.
Now is a great time to instill the concept of delayed gratification. So key, especially in this day and age.
If some of you are like my wife, you are dying a little inside. No, not because of the fact that you have to make these budget tips a part of your daily life. But, because you are wondering why the heck we haven’t made the budget already!
Listen up – I get it. I understand your excitement and urgency.
That said, I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing ALL your expenses first, getting into the right frame of mind, and having everyone on board the budget train.
The first thing I want you to consider is, if you’re a salaried employee and you’re paid biweekly, you likely receive two “extra” checks. Find out the two months you receive the third check and earmark those checks. What will you budget those checks for? Debt repayment? Savings? Emergencies? Whatever it is, make that line item in your budget.
Now, fill in everything else. What should you consider? Well, I mentioned some of them above. Have a line item for:
Those are the main categories. You can use general categories and subcategories in your budget. At this point, it doesn’t matter. You just want to do a data dump onto a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet on your computer or tablet.
Then, compare all of your budgetary expenses to your actual expenses.
How did what you budgeted match up to what you actually spend?
This is especially useful in terms of credit card payments. Actually seeing where your money is going is incredibly eye opening and will help ignite a fire in you to pay off debt.
Anna and I struggled with increasing credit card payments, but it all we came to light when we finally did a budget. We found that the majority of our expenses on the credit card went to eating out.
Needless to say, we made some heavy budgetary cuts in our mission to pay off debt. But, we will get into that fun stuff in the next step.
We all hear about the federal, state, and local governments making budget cuts. This program gets shut down or that initiative doesn’t make the cut.
Some of those cuts cause a lot of uproar and vigorous debate. However, and I don’t want to get political here at all, but somebody decided to make a difficult – but necessary decision (at least in their eyes).
The same is true in your life. You will need to make cuts. Hard, but necessary cuts.
You may not be popular in your house for quite some time – even if you live alone! Your significant other will be angry. Your kids will want the new Xbox or iGadget. You will want to treat yourself to that exciting new cruise.
You deserve it, right?!?
I’m sorry. But, no. Tough love time.
You don’t deserve it and you don’t need it. Convince yourself and your family of that right now. It’s hard, but delayed gratification is a tough lesson to learn.
You need to decide what expenses are changeable and what expenses are unchangeable. What does that mean? Well, your mortgage or rent is fixed (at least for the year). Sure, you could refinance your home for a lower payment or your landlord could raise your rent. But, at least for the time being, it is a fixed and unchangeable expense. You need to live somewhere.
What about your trips to the spa? And, no, I’m not singling out the ladies here, so don’t go there. I like a massage just as much as the next guy or gal. But, I can live without it. Although chasing around a toddler and running … you feel like it’s a need.
Nope, it’s a want.
Don’t make the stupid mistake my wife and I did, either. We created a fixed, unchangeable expense by joining a spa club. We paid something like $100 or $200 per month to have a massage or 2 each month. It was fun and felt great, but it was so wasteful and extravagant. Just don’t do it. When we did our budget, that was one of the first things to go.
Anyway, I digress. So, no, spa trips are a changeable expense. Sorry. They get eliminated immediately. And, yes, I do understand! See above.
I like lists. Want a list of typical changeable and unchangeable expenses? Consider those below:
Finally, as you are doing all this budgeting and expense cutting, you need to remember HOW you're paid. Is it hourly or salaried? Are you paid weekly or bi-weekly? Make note of these things as you do your budget. That way, you will know what money is available and when. It helps a lot when planning on how and when to write that check.
What I love about writing this blog is that it captures two key areas of a person's life: money and health. A primary way I talk about staying healthy here is running. I love to run and I enjoy talking about running. I like helping people become a better version of themselves.
So, how are you doing with incorporating these budget tips into your financial plan? Do you need help? Are you losing motivation? If so, stop reading this. Email me at [email protected] Seriously. Let's talk.
If you're good to go, still you can drop me a line and tell me about it. I love hearing about people's success stories.
You might be at a point in your budget-making career that you need to make some adjustments. That's OK. It's like in running. You may find an obstacle ahead that you can't get around, so you take a different path. Or, when you're driving, you may need to take a back road to avoid the traffic on the major highway. You get the analogy.
Correct course with by implementing these budget tips. Create an action plan that addresses certain issues, like outstanding credit card debt or student loan debt.
Maybe you have some of those changeable expenses you can afford to get rid of. Get rid of the gym membership, the deluxe cable package, the salon trips, happy hours, coffee runs, and the like.
Budgeting is not a one-off event.
It needs to become your lifestyle.
Don’t think of it as a negative like you’re denying yourself something. You work hard for a living. You deserve to enjoy your life.
In fact, you also deserve a life that doesn’t make you a slave to money. Living in debt with credit cards makes you a financial slave.
It’s a similar mindset to an overweight person who eats whatever they want and doesn’t exercise. They become a slave to slothfulness and gluttony.
This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you have debt or are overweight. Not by any means.
It does mean that you need to correct course, shake things up and pay off the debt though. Doing the same thing you do every day is not working. Deep down, you know I’m right.
If you want to really learn how to make money and pay off debt, you know you need to change. Just look at your bank statement and look in the mirror. We know when we have a financial or health problem. The real issue lies in not wanting to face it. How long are you going to wait? I say it ends now.
For the purposes of this post, you need to live that budget you created. You made the effort to track your expenses and cut those changeable items from your budget. Even more, you did the hard work to understand these budget tips and set yourself up with the proper financial foundation. Now, make it a staple in your life.
After studying, reviewing, and using these budget tips in your life, you are now (hopefully) a person that lives on a budget. This is a positive thing.
Don’t succumb to the thoughts of small-minded individuals who will tease you like you’re back in high school. Who needs that crap? Truthfully, if you have people who offer their unsolicited opinion about your newfound budget, be thrilled about it. If you have some critics, you’re doing something right!
Don’t listen to “them.” Pay “them” no mind. Who cares if it’s family or close friends? Who the hell cares? You’re not doing this for them and you damn sure don’t need their approval.
You’re doing this for you and for your family. Trust me, you will be glad you did and that you’re continuing to do so.
Congratulations to you for having the courage to change your life. You are now one step closer to learning how to make money and pay off debt.
Think about it:
Do you really have any clue how much you need to retire?
In our Saving For Retirement Guide, we highlight how much you need to save in your 20s, 30s, and 40s to reach your goals.
Now, think about this:
Can you afford not to read it?
You may be asking yourself:
"Is it better use savings to pay off debt?"
The honest answer is:
If you have money saved that isn't making much in the bank, by all means pay off the high interest debt.
Additionally, I firmly believe findings ways to make more money to pay off debt faster is a much wiser choice.
And when can we find the time to do it?
Between our full-time jobs, our spouses, our children, and countless other responsibilities and obligations there just never is enough time.
Before you come to that conclusion, read these over 230 creative ways to pay off debt by making extra money this year. Then, see if you can find a way to fit these into your schedule and get your finances back on track.
Jeff and Ben share their best advice for making extra money this year. In doing so, they really put together an epic list you have to check out for yourself!
Ben over at VTX Capital shares his top 10 ways to earn extra money this year from home. Number 10 (on page 2) sounds pretty interesting to me.
If up to this point you're thinking some of these ideas don't fit your personality as an introvert, consider this one from Rose at An Exercise in Frugality. Somebody has to type out the closed captioning for television and YouTube videos. Why not you?
Mckinzie over at Moms Make Cents helps us learn how to make money on Pinterest with affiliate links. Great ideas for bloggers and anyone looking to make some extra coin.
Allan from The Practical Saver shares his top survey sites to bring in an extra $600 per month. We've mentioned making money with surveys a few times in this post. Guess you should check it out!
There's a reason we like to mention Michelle from Making Sense of Cents here on Run The Money. The woman is a personal finance rock star. She's flat out killing it and we'd be crazy not to learn from her! Check out 65 ways she recommends earning some extra money.
If you're a college student looking to pay for tuition, books or "going out" money, here are some excellent money making options from Bob at Seed Time. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Number 8.
Ashleigh over at Smart Cents Mom makes some extra dough working as a search engine evaluator. In this post, she shares the experiences of a fellow search engine evaluator and blogger. Definitely worth the read!
If you're looking for more ways to pay off debt by making money this year, check out:
You'll learn things like:
Plus, you'll earn learn how to make money posting selfies like Kim Kardashian. I'm dead serious.
Check out the Guide To Making Money. You won't be disappointed.
Sireesha from Crowd Work News has an interesting idea for us. Have you ever considered mystery shopping as a way to bring in more income? She's received free breakfasts, lunches, clothes, and play trip with her daughter where she received a free kids' meal. I think I need to look into this!
The Dude has some epic ideas for you to make extra money this year. I'd say listen to what he says about Numbers 7 and 9 in the image above!
Remember when you just graduated college? The very last thing you ever thought about was student loan debt.
After all, you were so excited to take on the world. You thought you had a plan for your life and, if you were lucky, you had a job lined up before graduation.
No, you didn't worry about budgets. You probably didn't even know what debt was. Wasn't a bill something your parents paid?
Then, you get your first paycheck and it's not as big as you would hoped. Taxes and all other fun stuff rob you of that juicy gross income. Further, you get smacked with a student loan bill that you may have not even realized existed.
When Anna and I were just starting out, we neglected to keep a budget. We paid for the big television package that had all the interesting business channels that we enjoyed watching. Yes, we are news and financial nerds.
One Saturday night, in particular, we sat down to watch some TV before bed and on came Dave Ramsey on the Fox Business Network. His opening line was (which is all too familiar to us now) was about living like no one else, so that someday you can live like no one else.
That line really stuck with us. And it lead to a big mindset shift for us.
We looked around our apartment and saw a world that looked like everyone else. With it, we saw a future like everyone else. We decided we wanted to change. My wife was blessed to have zero student loan debt because her parents refused to allow her to have student loans.
However, I was drowning in $20,000 of student loan debt. And I was one of those guys who had the student loan bill show up in the mail and I said, "What the hell is this?" I had NO idea.
Yes, I even heard the lines that having debt will teach me "responsibility" and that it was the average amount of student loans graduates had. I had the same as everyone else.
We talked over the next few days and decided we were going to be different. Sitting down and looking over all the student loan information (and there was a ton) felt overwhelming. We had no idea how to pay it all off!
Debt no matter what size it is causes stress. Some people talk about debt like it is part of life, but the reality is there are very few people comfortable with owing more than they make each month.
We have all come to accept debt as normal for buying a home, but this is because the home is "supposed" to increase in value. Car loans, student loans, and personal loans don’t increase in value. Each value decreases with time, while the interest on the debt grows (along with the pit in our stomachs).
In order to change our future and to become the couple that lives like no one else, we had to make some radical changes. We stopped going out and we stopped buying new clothes, electronics and furniture. We socked away each penny that we made and stretched it to see how far it would go.
Still, the balance never seemed to change.
The thing with paying off debt is that you have to feel like you are making progress. Hence, Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball. I don’t really know if he invented this term, but since he is the one who taught it to us, we give him the credit.
So, how did we pay off my student loans? And how does the debt snowball work?
The idea behind the debt snowball is to take your smallest debt and pay it off first. Then, move up to the next smallest debt and continue up the line.
We took my student loan information and realized that there were actually three different loans. The total amount we paid was divided up between all three. This is why we never saw a difference -- $100 extra spread three ways doesn’t really show up.
So, we looked at all three loans, we ranked them from smallest to largest and then looked at the interest rates. The two smallest loans were carrying a 6.5% interest rate, while the largest was carrying a 2.5% interest rate.
We chose to start with the smallest loan for two reasons: (1) we would see progress quickly and (2) we were paying more in interest than we would make in the bank. Because the bank is paying so little and loans still cost more than savings brings in, the old adage "it pays to save" just doesn’t apply. We chose to stop saving and just keep paying.
For 15 months, we paid $1,000 a month on one loan at a time until each one was gone. By paying so much, the progress was quicker.
Also, when they were gone, saving $1,000 a month became easy. We just started paying ourselves instead.
When you are thinking of paying off your student loan debt (or any debt for that matter), you will likely be overwhelmed. Trust me, I understand. Debt makes people nervous. Many of us don't start out understanding money very early in life. We struggle with it and then (hopefully) come to our senses.
Consider the following questions and suggestions below as you navigate debt's murky waters.
There are two types of debt: good debt and bad debt. A house usually increases in value and, if you stay long enough and keep it nice, you will make a nice return. Rental properties can pay off their own debt. These debts can be okay to carry for the life of the loan in many circumstances.
Other debt like student loans, car loans, and personal loans have no value or even lose value. A school loan got you an education, but after you get your first job, it becomes less valuable each year. Cars lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot. Identifying whether the type of debt you have is good or bad will go a long in way in determining whether or not you need to commit to paying it off right away.
This is what I learned from Dave Ramsey. Pay off the smallest first. You will feel a sense of progress. This is the debt snowball in action. It's like training for a 5K or studying for a class. Every little action culminates in helping you reach your goal. During your daily grind, it may not seem like much. But, in the long-term, there is a huge impact. That same mindset is true with your debt repayment. Just keep going.
If you are paying 5% on a $2,000 loan and 20% on a 10,000 loan, pay off the higher interest rate first. There is no point in continuing to pay more and more on high-interest debt. Continue to make the minimum payment on the low-interest debt, while throwing all of your extra money at the higher interest debt. Work another job if possible. Sell things on eBay, Craig's List or Amazon. Start a side hustle. Do what needs to be done to rid yourself of the debt.
Depending on the markets, saving while having debt doesn’t always make sense. If the money in the bank is making 1% a year and having debt is costing me 5%, is it worth it to save $500 a month? Absolutely not! By saving you are losing a net 4%. When the debt is gone, you will have a gain of 1%.
Don't think for one second that being debt free is for other people and not yourself. Get rid of that BS mindset right now. You can get rid our your student loans or whatever other debt you have. Why not even pay off your mortgage if you want to?
You just need a debt repayment plan and the ability to be hyper-focused. That means cutting back on eating out. That means giving up luxuries like gym memberships and magazine subscriptions. It means living that nobody else for a time, so you live like nobody else later on (hat tip to Dave Ramsey again).
Do yourself a favor. Do the hard work. Make the commitment. And pay off those student loans once and for all.
American Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc. asked people, "What's more important, paying down credit card debt or saving?"
Over 80% think it's more important to pay off debt.
Check out the infographic below and think about your answer to the question.
I am so glad you made it to the end of this post! I hope you found some helpful and exciting ways to make extra money this year for your family and finally pay off debt.
Once you pay off your debt and create a budget, you can still have the extra money you make as an additional income stream (which is never a bad idea). In this 21st century economic structure, we all need to have other ways to bring in money.
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