In today’s world, we are encouraged to use debt to run our day-to-day lives, but that can get us into deep trouble. Here are 20 actions that I took to clear my debts and get my life back. These are simple ideas that will work for you, too.
How I Cleared All My Credit Card Debt…Fast!
It’s so hard to avoid the debt spiral nowadays. Most of us leave college drowning in student loans, then we get into a relationship and take on a hefty mortgage. Then the kids come along, and you are so stretched that you have to rely on credit cards just to pay for the weekly groceries.
Of course, it’s when that credit card debt starts mounting up that you are really in trouble. I know, because I have been there. A while back, I found myself with no less than $27,482.69 in debt piled up across a range of credit cards. I was barely able to make the minimum payments each month, and the high rates of interest were making it impossible for me to get ahead.
That’s when I decided to take action. I knew that if I didn’t get things under control fast, I would end up going bankrupt. I was determined that would never happen.
#1: Assessing the Situation
The first thing I did was to sit down and do the math. I needed to know exactly how much I owed on each card. When I added it all up, the numbers were worse than I expected. But at least I now knew exactly where I stood.
Having done that, I drew up a plan of action to knock a hole in this debt. Taking care of this problem became my principle goal in life. With each dollar I paid off, I felt better and better. These are the simple strategies I employed to clear my credit cards in less than two years:
#2: I Consulted a Debt Management Company
This was perhaps the smartest thing I did. After all, we all tend to think we know everything, yet most of us end up managing money badly. So I took my pride in hands and went to talk to the experts.
I was surprised that they were able to give me really solid advice on how I could cut my debts and then pay them off faster. This set me on the right track to getting my finances under control, and was definitely the right first move to make.
#3: I Negotiated with My Creditors
The most important piece of advice I was given was to negotiate with my creditors. I actually had no idea this was possible, and I certainly didn’t realize how much difference it could make.
But the credit card companies would rather get some money than none at all, so they will forgive some debt if you make firm commitments to pay the rest. I was able to negotiate some substantial discounts, just by picking up the phone and discussing the problem. Great start!
#4: I Found Work as a Social Media Manager
I knew that if I was to clear my debts, I would need to increase my income as well as decrease my expenditure. So I looked for work that I could do in my spare time. I was able to get a couple of part-time gigs as a social media manager, and this made a real difference.
The work was fun and enjoyable, and I was able to do it all from home in the evenings. If you want to know more about this idea, check out my article here.
#5: I Paid Off My Most Expensive Credit Card First
This was another good piece of advice I received. The amount I owed on my cards was piling up fast, but one card in particular had a very high rate of interest attached. I focused my attention on this card first, getting rid of the most expensive debt as quickly as possible.
#6: I Went Mystery Shopping
I found another great way to make some extra cash – and get free stuff – was to do mystery shopping. My kids helped with this, too. We would pile into the car and fit in several mystery shopping trips in one evening. We had some good family time together, got free meals and made some extra cash. Find out more about mystery shopping here.
#7: I Rented out a Spare Room
We had a spare room in the house that was used as a general storage area, filled with old toys, spare mattresses and all kinds of stuff. So I cleared all of that out, gave the room a fresh coat of paint and then rented it out.
I soon had a lodger in the form of a student who needed cheap but friendly digs near her college. She soon became part of the family, and a best friend of mine, too. More importantly, the money she paid for rent went straight to the expensive credit card company to make a dent in that big balance.
#8: I Got Paid to Write at Home
I have always loved writing, so doing freelance writing work was a natural fit for me. I loved doing this because it was very flexible work, and I always found it interesting. I worked on writing copy for everything from articles and brochures, to video scripts and podcasts. You can get more information on how to do this here.
#9: I Looked for Free Entertainment
Our family used to go out to watch a movie every Saturday afternoon, and then go have a family meal in one of the nearby restaurants. A lot of fun, but expensive, too. So we had a family meeting, and we all agreed we cut out these weekly trips until our finances were back in order.
The kids were just great about it. On Saturdays, we stayed home and all watched a movie together in the TV room, with popcorn and cola included – but at supermarket prices, not cinema prices. Then everybody helped to cook a meal which we all ate together in the evening. We had so much fun that we carried on doing this, even when our credit card debt was down to zero.
#10: I Did Surveys from Home
I must admit, I was skeptical about doing paid survey work. I wasn’t sure if it was legit or not. But I discovered that there are genuine companies out there, if you know where to look. This idea produced another useful revenue stream that helped to get things sorted. You can get the full story on doing paid surveys here.
#11: I Switched from Brand-Name to Generic Products
I was never much of a snob about food and fashion, but there were some products were I had always bought the more expensive brand-name variation. So I swallowed my pride and switched to the cheap supermarket brands.
In most cases, I was surprised to find they were almost as good – sometimes even better – than the expensive brand name. This is an easy way to save a few dollars on your weekly shopping. And don’t forget…a penny saved is a penny earned.
#12: I Got Paid to Take Photos
One of my friends put me onto this idea. She was submitting simple photos to a whole range of photos to stock image sites, and making good money in royalties. So I tried it, too. I never made as much as my friend, because I had too many other things on the go. But I could see that this had real potential. More on how to get paid to take photos here.
#13: I Held a Garage Sale
Like most families, we had accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and a lot of it was things we didn’t need anymore. So we organized a garage sale, and got rid of everything from outgrown clothes and forgotten toys to unwanted gifts and unused exercise machines. Overall, we raised several hundred dollars, which was enough to clear the last of the balance on that expensive credit card. Woohoo!
#14: I Got Paid to Review Cellphone Apps
Did you know you can get paid for playing with your mobile phone? Sounds weird, I know, but it works. There are lots of app developers who are desperate for reviews of their new apps, and you can make money as a result. You won’t get rich doing this, but if you can spend time playing games on your phone and get paid for it, that’s got to be good, right? Here’s how you do it…
#15: I Always Paid More than the Minimum Balance
If you only pay the minimum balance owing on a credit card, you are always going to be piling up more and more debt. So I made it a priority to try and pay more than the minimum balance each month, no matter how much of a stretch that was. It was hard going some months, for sure, but it was well worth it in the long run.
#16: I Published eBooks
This was one of my most profitable ideas ever! I stumbled across the idea of publishing my own ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle platform, and within weeks I was making decent money. This business really grew fast, and made a huge difference to my life. You can read more about how I did it here. This is definitely a great strategy for making money, with serious long-term potential.
#17: I Switched from Credit to Debit cards
This was a tough one. I thought I needed to have credit cards as an emergency backup, just in case a big bill came up. But while I had credit cards in my possession, I was always tempted to use them. I was clearing credit card debt with one hand, and then piling it back on with the other hand.
So I made a painful decision and cut up all my credit cards. I got debit cards instead, so that I had to live on the money that was available, no matter what. It was scary for the first few weeks, but once I had weaned myself off my credit card addiction, I never looked back.
It is such a wonderful feeling to know that I am no longer piling up more debts at 25% per annum or more.
#18: I Started a Blog
This was my best decision of all! I had been interested in using blogging as a way of promoting my ebooks. So I took the plunge and started my own blog. This is now the foundation of my business, and my favorite way to make money from home. If you want to know how you can make a full-time living blogging, you can get the inside story by clicking here.
#19: I Published my Debt Payoffs on Facebook
To be honest, I had a few false starts with my debt-cutting program. So I decided to make myself accountable by telling my friends and family about my goals on Facebook. I told everyone how much debt I was in, and what I planned to do to fix the problem. Then every week, I posted an update on Facebook with my numbers for that week – good or bad.
My friends and family were incredibly supportive. They cheered me on when I had a good week, and they were there to encourage me when I had a difficult week. Honestly, this made a huge difference to my determination to succeed.
#20: I Started Affiliate Marketing
This is related to starting my blog. In the early days, I found that affiliate marketing was the quickest and easiest way to make decent money from blogging. More profitable than running ads from networks like Google AdSense, and much easier than creating products, it was how I turned my blog into a profitable revenue stream in the first instance. If you are new to affiliate marketing, you can find out more about it here.
Bonus Tip: I Refinanced My Mortgage
I’ve left this one until last, because it was the most difficult to do. However, it was also the decision that brought about the biggest savings. A friend advised me to look into refinancing my mortgage. To be honest, I was skeptical because I doubted we could get a much better deal that we had already.
I was wrong about that! We got a deal that gave us much better terms, and enabled us to cut our monthly mortgage payments. The money we saved when straight towards paying off the last of our credit card debts…and so we cleared them much sooner than we expected. If you want to save money on your mortgage, you can check out your options here.
Now it’s Your Turn!
The reason for publishing this article is to show you that you really can clear your credit card debts if you put your mind to it. Sure, it can be difficult and frustrating. Nobody wants to give up on the little luxuries of life, or to do extra jobs in the evenings and at weekends. But believe me, it’s worth it. You will feel so much better when you no longer have that debt hanging over your head.
So what are you waiting for? Start your credit-card debt reduction plan right now!