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Paying off debt can be frustrating and confusing if you don’t have the right plan. For more than 25 years, Dave Ramsey has taught people a step-by-step approach to slashing their debt called the 7 Baby Steps.
On Baby Step 1, you save $1,000 in an emergency fund, and on Baby Step 2, you pay off all your debt using a method called the debt snowball.
How to Pay Off Debt: The Debt Snowball Method
List your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate.
Attack the smallest debt with a vengeance, while making minimum payments on the rest of your debts.
Repeat this method as you plow your way through debt.
Look, Baby Step 2 takes a few months to finish for some people and a few years for others. So if you’re on this step and laser-focused on paying off that last debt, it’s possible the grind is starting to become . . . well, a grind. Maybe you’re exhausted, and feel like it’s going to take forever to become debt-free.
Hold that thought, because we’re here to give you ideas on how to become debt-free sooner. Here are 25 ways to get out of debt.
How to Get Out of Debt With Frugal Living and Smart Shopping
1. Start couponing.
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times—but are you doing it? You can save a ton of money just by showing a coupon to the cashier. Just be sure you’re using coupons for products you already buy, otherwise you could end up overspending on items you’ll never use. That’s how you end up with 10 bottles of spicy mustard sitting in your pantry.
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2. Try consignment shopping.
Let’s be real: Kids grow out of clothes at the speed of light. It’s not worth it to go into debt for your two-year-old’s wardrobe. Check out consignment stores that sell pre-loved outfits in good condition. If you’d rather shop online, no problem. Sites like thredUP and Swap.com are great resources to get adult and children’s clothing at a fraction of the cost.
3. Cut the cable.
Welcome to this millennium, where you can watch most of your favorite shows online. If you haven’t bitten the bullet yet, do it! Put that $100 cable bill toward your debt each month and watch how quickly your debt snowball starts rolling.
4. Stop going out to eat.
We get it. Going to a restaurant or hitting up the drive-thru is so much easier than cooking at home. But while you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to cook, your purse is in a pinch. For a creative way to socialize and share a meal, have friends over for taco night instead of meeting up at a restaurant.
5. Break up with your barista.
If you don’t know where all your money is going each month, we’re pretty sure your favorite coffee shop can locate it for you. Brewing your own coffee at home is a simple way to save money fast.
6. Visit the library.
Remember libraries? They have plenty of books and movies you can check out for free! Your wallet has never loved movie night more than it does now.
7. Plan your grocery trips.
Make a list and stick to it! Use the calculator app on your phone while you browse the aisles to make sure you’re sticking to your budget. Do impulse items always end up in your cart? Try ordering your groceries online and then picking them up curbside at the store. Oh, and don’t ever shop on an empty stomach!
8. Avoid expensive hobbies.
Do you really have $200 a month to spend on golf? Are you serious? But it’s not just the golfers out there who need to re-think their club dues. Do you spend a ton at craft stores but never get around to starting your project? Home improvement stores can also cost you several Benjamins in one visit.
9. Ditch the gym membership.
You can still go for a run outside—for free. Gather some friends and start a running club.
10. Find free entertainment.
Put a spending freeze on your entertainment costs for a little while. This means no going out to the movies, concerts, mini-golf, bowling or whatever you do for fun that costs money. Instead, challenge yourself to find free ways to stay entertained. Take the kids to the park, go for a walk or a hike, enjoy a free concert, or look for a free event in your community.
Dave Ramsey’s Basic Tips for Getting Out of Debt
11. Start a side gig.
Starting your own business has never been easier! Do you have a knack for making things? Sell your products online! Are you an animal lover? Take up dog walking or pet sitting. Do you have a good eye and a nice camera? Start taking on clients for photo sessions. Christy Wright’s Business Boutique is a great resource to walk you through the process!
12. Get a part-time job.
Not into starting your own business? Then consider becoming a driver for Lyft or Uber. A pizza delivery job at night could also bring in extra money. You can even deliver other types of food in your spare time by working for places like uberEATS or Grubhub. Sure, you’ll have to put aside your pride and give up some nights and weekends of downtime. But that’s a small sacrifice for extra cash in your pocket.
13. Sell the car!
The average monthly payment for a new car is $523.(1) That’s just outrageous! How much faster could your debt snowball move if you applied that $500 to it each month?
14. Cut up your credit cards.
Shred ‘em. Burn ‘em. Shoot ‘em. You’ll never get out of debt until you stop making debt a way of life.
15. Use the envelope system.
When you pay with cash, you actually feel your money leaving your hands. Ouch! Nobody likes that. People tend to spend less when paying in cold, hard cash. With the envelope system, you'll see that cash going down so you can keep track of how much you're spending.
16. Stop investing.
Yep, you read that right. And yes, we even mean stop contributing to your 401(k). Right now, you want all your income to go toward getting out of debt. Once you’re debt-free and have saved three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund, then you can resume your contributions. By then you’ll be on Baby Step 4 and can start putting 15% of your income toward retirement.
17. Ignore your broke friends.
Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses! Remember, you’re living like no one else now so that later you can live like no one else! In 20 years, you won’t have a financial worry in the world while everyone else will still have car loans, mortgages and credit card bills.
18. Make a budget!
Budgeting should be easy and—dare we say it—fun! Use our free budgeting app EveryDollar and focus your money on what matters: day-to-day spending, those pesky debts and wealth-building.
19. Tell the kids you’re on a budget.
When it comes to money, the kids can be a worse guide than your stomach. Be open with them about what you do and don’t have room for in the budget. And remember: Never be afraid to use that magic word, “no.”
20. Listen to The Dave Ramsey Show.
Listening to the show will encourage you when you feel like you aren’t making progress. Every day, Dave helps millions of people across the country find hope and make a plan for their money. Their successes will inspire you to keep moving forward.
Other Creative Ideas to Get Out of Debt
21. Ask for a raise.
What do you have to lose? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
22. Learn to say “no.”
Make it a new part of your vocabulary. Love it. Embrace it. Because when it comes to spending money, you’ll be saying it quite often.
23. Sell items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Dig through your kids’ rooms and the abyss of your closet to find things you can part with to make some quick cash.
24. Give more.
Wait a minute—give? Yes! Giving changes your spirit. Make giving a priority in your budget, and you’ll see a difference.
25. Join over five million people who’ve experienced Financial Peace University.
Financial Peace University is the class that starts you on your journey to never worry about money again. Sure, you can pay off your bills on your own, but FPU adds rocket fuel to your debt-free goals. Nine video lessons will explain in detail all 7 Baby Steps so you’ll be prepared for any money issue that comes your way.
If you’ve already taken Financial Peace University, consider leading a group. It’s one of the best ways you can stay gazelle intense and keep yourself accountable! Not to mention, you’ll be helping change someone’s life. Watch what happens when you become an FPU coordinator and help others win with money.
There you have it—25 ways to get out of debt and breathe fresh air into your debt-free journey. Try a few of these tips and see if they work for you. When you hit a wall and feel like you’ll never figure out how to get out of debt, just keep working the plan! Over time, your dedication will pay off!
Learn more about Financial Peace University.