10 Strategies to Boost Your Income and Get Out of Debt Fast

What’s your biggest frustration when it comes to paying down debt?

That’s the question I asked on my Facebook fan page and I received a lot of great answers. One of the first commenters mentioned speed as her biggest frustration. Or more specifically, how long it takes to pay down debt.

That was my main frustration too when I started my journey towards being debt free. I only had $14,000 to pay down, but it felt like a huge mountain of debt that seems to take forever to make progress.

No matter how much I cut back on spending or tweaked my budget I never seemed to make headway fast enough. I felt like I was going in circles, endlessly working, achieving minimal results.

Do you feel like you’re barely making headway with paying down debt? Do you want to really accelerate your progress?

To get out of debt there are only two options: spend less or earn more.

And let’s face it, there’s only so much you can cut back on spending until you’ve got to increase your income. That’s the solution I came to. The more money I made, the more payments I could throw at my debt, then I’d be debt free a lot quicker.

Here are a 10 strategies to help you speed up your progress and get out of debt faster.

1. Start a side hustle

For me, starting a freelance business on the side of my full-time job was the quickest way to see the results I wanted. The more I worked the more money I could make, which meant more money to throw at my debt.

Not all my side hustles worked, and some of them I had to quit because the pay wasn’t worth my time. However, an awesome benefit to starting another income stream was that it kept my mind preoccupied with things related to work and making more money.

Instead of obsessing over my debt and lack of progress, I had other things to worry about – like finding new clients or solving other people’s tax issues. After a few months, I looked up and realized I made a huge amount of progress.

2. Find a part-time job

If you’re a bit gun shy of starting your own freelance business or side hustle, another option is to apply for a regular part-time job. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, and if you’re lucky you might be able to work at some place that relates to a hobby you enjoy.

For instance, Starbucks could be great part-time job if you’re trying to cut back on the costs of a daily cup of coffee. Or a bookstore like Barnes and Nobles if you’re a book geek like I am. As an additional bonus, both of these places are well-known for offering part-time employees excellent health benefits.

3. Take on overtime at work

If you don’t have the option to get a part-time job or start a side hustle, then you can ask your boss to give you extra overtime at work.

Take on extra projects, show up early and leave late, be available from home on the weekends. Whatever it takes!

Maybe another department could use some extra help or there might be some projects that are on the back burner you can pick up. Whatever your boss will let you do, volunteer to do it. Because remember, the more you work the faster you can pay down your debt.

4. Sell anything and everything

If you want to jump-start your journey towards debt freedom, one of the best things you can do is start selling stuff you already own.

Whether it’s furniture, clothes, kitchen items or even your TV (trust me you won’t have much time to watch it anyway) there’s a lot of money to be made from stuff in your own home.

You might be thinking that you don’t know how to sell anything, and I used this excuse too. But thankfully, Craigslist makes it extremely easy to sell.

All you have to do is snap a photo, write a short description and respond to any offers. There’s no need to sign up or create an account. Plus, there’s no fee to sell and the buyers pay with cash (unless they try to write a check).

5. Use bonuses and refunds

It’s hard to perfectly calculate how much you’ll end up receiving or owing from the IRS each year, so if you get some money back use that extra bonus towards debt.

Anytime you receive an unexpected bonus or refund, like from cash back rewards, rebates or overpayments on premiums, use it to pay off your debts.

This is also a smart strategy to use when getting a raise at work or a small windfall from a family member. Its money you weren’t expecting so you’ll never miss it.

6. Turn your knowledge or skills into cash

A lot of people don’t think they have the skills, knowledge or time to make extra money. But you’re wrong! Every day things like going grocery shopping, cleaning the house and paying the bills are skills that can be used to make money.

For example:

  • Do you enjoy writing and editing? Make money on the side as a copywriter or editor
  • Are you an organized person? Make money scheduling meetings, events and travel plans as an assistant
  • Are you creative and enjoy doing crafts and DIY projects? Make money hosting a scrapbooking class or jewelry party
  • Do you enjoy fashion and clothes? Make money as a fashion consultant by selling designer jeans with Vault denim

Another great example is the travel hacking course from Chris Guillebeau. Before he started making money from his travel skills, he was just a regular person that traveled a lot. He learned lots of tips and tricks, which he now passes on to other travel hackers (and makes good money doing it).

7. Consider crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is not only a great way to for small businesses to pay for startup costs, it’s also good for anyone looking to raise money for a good cause or idea.

Projects can be created by children, teenagers or regular people like you and me, who want to raise money – there are no limits. If you want to write an ebook, help your daughter save for college, or design a line of watches, you can use crowdfunding to raise capital.

And if you’re lucky (or if people really like your idea) your projects could go viral, and you might end up raising millions of dollars.

8. Leverage balance transfers

If used properly, credit card balance transfers are a smart way to jump start paying down debt while saving a load of interest in the process.

Right now, some credit card companies will offer 0% interest for 12 – 18 months, if you qualify. And depending on the offer, there’s little to no balance transfer fee. Essentially, the process is quick and painless!

However, all you’re doing is transferring your debts from one place to another, so be sure you don’t rack up more debt and that you’re only using this as a means to an end.

9. Use your assets

No, not those kinds of assets! The assets I’m referring to are your home, your car and even your yard. If you have an extra room in your house, there’s an abundance of overnight travelers always looking for a comfortable bed and place to stay.

Thanks to AirBnB you can list your space for frequent travelers who are weary of hotels and motels. On top of renting a space in your home, you can consider renting your car for extra cash too.

RelayRides lets you list your car for other people to use for an hour or two, or a whole day, depending on your needs. Some people even earn up to $600 per month!

If you enjoy growing your own home-grown produce, consider selling at a local farmer’s markets or to friends, family and neighbors. Who doesn’t love the taste of fresh picked veggies to store bought ones? It’s a great way to make your yard work for you.

10. Perform small tasks

Some of the things I’ve listed here might be time consuming, and if you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of time to waste.

Instead of doing big tasks and projects consider doing little ones for a little bit of money. With Fiverr and Taskrabbit you can start making money immediately.

From running small errands like picking up groceries or tasks like signing a personal message, there’s all kinds of ways to make an easy $5 0r $10 bucks. And we all know how powerful a small amount of money can be once they add up.

These are just a few of the way I brought in extra money while I was paying down debt. And although the process is often slow and tiresome, you can speed up (and have a little fun) with these ideas.

Pick one today and see how much faster you reach your goal!

What’s your biggest frustration with paying down debt? Can you think of one way to rev up your speed even more?

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About the author: Carrie Smith is the financial artist and owner of Careful Cents, a site that helps creative freelancers discover the art of making a living. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. Since then she’s been featured in sites like The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, and Kiplinger Finance. In her spare time she enjoys painting, sketching, and making food with her chef husband. You can connect with her in real time on Twitter or Instagram: @carefulcents.

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  • Mrs PoP September 4, 2012, 6:22 pm

    You left out “ask for a raise”! I think women especially don’t do this nearly often enough.