Everyone knows saving money can help you pay down your debt, but if you’ve already canceled your cable, turned off your phone’s data and stopped getting haircuts, you know how painful it is to sacrifice things you enjoy.
And when you’re out of things to sacrifice, you still may not feel closer to paying off your credit cards.
As the founder of The Penny Hoarder, I’ve tried a ton of different ways to make extra money, and I keep learning about new ones all the time. From picking up a part-time job to jumping on a one-time opportunity, there are plenty of ways to earn a little extra cash to put toward your debt payments.
Here are a few creative ways to pay down your debt. Which ones will work best for you?
1. Make a Pledge
After many years in severe debt, Catherine Fitzgerald wanted to make changes that would last. She wrote a contract with herself, spelling out her financial, career and personal expectations. She wasn’t just listing her goals — she was locking herself into a plan to get out of debt.
“Writing that pledge made it real,” she told LearnVest. “…I didn’t want to break it.”
Whether you keep your pledge in a notebook or tape it to your bathroom mirror, refer to it often. Recalling your plans to get out of debt will help motivate you when that number feels too big to pay off.
2. Let Banks Pay You
Banks sometimes offer cash rewards for opening a new account. If you’re good at managing multiple accounts and their bonus requirements, you can use those extras toward your debt. Some call this “churning.”
“The first time I ever churned a bank account was when a local bank was giving out iPods to people who signed up for an account and left it open for six months,” Ben Luthi said. “Easy peasy. I did it again last year for Capital One 360’s Black Friday deal for $150, and right now I’m doing one at Chase for $200. I just added two more for a total of $300, all of which we’ll be putting toward our debt. Once those are done, I’ll move on to the next one.”
3. Sell Your Junk Mail
We all get too much junk mail, but this tip will help you get paid for it! The Small Business Knowledge Center will reward you for sending in your mail by sending you $20 prepaid debit cards. You don’t even have to pay for the stamps to send it all away.
Use the reward cards toward groceries or other small purchases — but don’t forget to move $20 into a debt payment each time you do!
4. Dumpster Dive
You don’t have to get dirty to find ways to bring in extra cash, but Matt Malone’s story of dumpster diving for big bucks in Texas can surely inspire you.
Walk around your block the night before garbage day to scope out discarded items you might be able to clean up or sell. If you live near a college town, drive through campus at the end of each semester to find everything from lamps to kitchen tools to furniture. Then it’s up to you to decide how to sell those renewed items.
5. Host a Garage Sale — Online
If the anonymity of Craigslist makes you nervous, try Facebook to earn a bit of cash. One contributor to The Penny Hoarder made $600 in her first two months of selling extra household items in Facebook garage sale groups. She recommends posting items for sale at 40 to 50 percent of the original price.
6. Participate in Clinical Trials
Clinical trials for medication or other treatment can be time consuming, but they can offer big rewards to put toward paying down your debt. While some trials seek participants with particular conditions such as high cholesterol, some are simply looking for healthy people.
Shorter trials may pay you $100 or so, but longer trials can offer several thousand dollars. ClinicalTrials.gov is a great place to find trials near you.
7. Sell Plasma
If you’re in good health, you may be able to donate plasma from your blood twice each week for $20 to $40 per visit. Donation takes about two hours per session, but it’s a great gig for students or those who can complete quiet tasks like paperwork or reading for work.
Don’t think about the needles — just visualize paying a small bit of debt with each visit!
8. Share Your Home
Giving up your spare bedroom or the kids’ basement game room can be tough, but renting out a portion of your home can help bring in big bucks that you can apply to your debt.
If you can rent a room by the month, check out Money Crashers’ six-step guide to get started. Only willing to take on short-term guests? If you have as little as a fold-out couch, you can make at least $20 per night and let Airbnb vet your potential guests ahead of time.
You’ll be losing space, but meeting new people — and most importantly, paying down your debt.
9. Use the Weather
You might not be ready to start a side business selling snow, but you can use your local weather to your advantage.
In colder climates, you can earn $20 shoveling someone’s sidewalk or by providing a ride in your snow-worthy vehicle. In the summer, you can mow lawns or weed gardens. Seasonal gigs are great because you can pick up work from time to time, rather than wearing yourself out at a low-paying, ongoing gig at the mall.
10. Check Your Phone
Not ready to pick up extra work? Then use your time wisely. The Instant Rewards app will pay you to complete short tasks on your phone, like watching a video or completing a survey.
If you spend any part of your day waiting — for the bus, in line or for appointments — you can take advantage of that time by earning. You might only earn a dollar each day, but those small amounts can add up quickly.
Photo credits: childrenswishingwell.org, thegoodhuman.com