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Where To Get Extra Money To Pay Off Debt

By Keith Rawlinson
Volunteer Budget Counselor    

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The only way to become debt free is to get rid of all of your debt, and the best way to get rid of all of your debt is to pay it off.  If you are having debt problems, you very likely have no extra money left over each month.  If you have no extra money, then how do you pay off debt?  Here's the answer:  If you don't have extra money to pay off debt, then get some extra money.  Easy to say--not so easy to do.  In this article I'm going to discuss ways to get your hands on some extra money which you can then use to begin getting yourself out of debt.  Before I get started, please understand that few, if any, of these ideas are fun.  That's because getting out of debt is no fun.  What you need to always keep in mind, though, is that all of this extra effort for extra money is temporary.  Once you are debt free, you won't need so much extra money so you no longer have to worry about getting it.  On average, it takes two or three years to become completely debt free, not counting your mortgage if you have one.  So, you may have to use some of these methods for two or three years in order to become debt free.  I know--two or three years is a long time; but, if you do all of the things you need to do during that time, you then get to spend the rest of your life living debt free.  Living debt free means very little financial stress and a lot more money that you can afford to spend any way you like.  

Before we talk about what to do to get extra money for debt reduction, lets first talk about what not to do.  Do not borrow money to get out of debt.  If you want to do a consolidation loan, which I don't usually recommend, you better make sure you first get rid of the mistakes and habits that got you into debt in the first place.  Otherwise, all of your original debt eventually grows back and you end up with a consolidation loan on top of it.  Read my article about consolidation loans before even thinking about trying it.  To put it simply, you can't get yourself out of debt by taking on more debt.  It's silly to think you can, so don't try it.  The best way to become debt free and wealthy is to pay off your debt, then start saving and investing what you were paying on the debt.  The best way that I know of to pay off debt is a method I call the debt ladder.  To make the debt ladder work, you need to free up some extra money.  Here are some ways to do just that:

First, make sure you create and follow a spending plan so you'll have control of your money.  There are only three things you can do to deal with debt:

Decrease expenses.
Increase income.
Do nothing.

I certainly don't recommend doing nothing, so let's look at the other two: decreasing expenses and increasing income.  We will be talking about extra income shortly, but let's first address decreasing your expenses.  Creating and following a spending plan, or budget, helps you to control your spending and also shows you where all of your money is currently going.  If you design and follow a well-thought-out budget, it will feel like you got a pay raise.  With luck, your budget will free up some money to use to pay off debt.  If, after cutting expenses via a budget, you still don't have the money you need to do a debt ladder, then we need to go on to the next idea which is to increase income.  As I have already stated, these ideas are not fun.  They take a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of aggravation and a lot of determination.  But remember that it is only for one to three years until you are out of debt and well on the road to becoming wealthy.  So here we go...

Ideas to help you bring in some extra money.

#1 Make sure that any and all extra money you come by is used for debt reduction regardless of how small an amount it might be.  If you get a cash gift for Christmas, your birthday, graduation, wedding, etc.  make sure all of that extra money goes into your debt ladder.  If you find money laying on the street, it also goes into your debt ladder.  So does change found in your car or under the couch cushions.  Get it?  All extra money must go toward debt reduction regardless of how little it may be.

#2 If you get a federal income tax refund each year, that goes into your debt ladder as well.  The average tax refund is one to three thousand dollars.  For most people, that will knock off one or two of your smaller debts.  From now on, until you are debt free, do not make plans about how you will spend your tax refund.  After you become debt free, your tax refund will be all yours to spend as you please.  Your federal income tax refund must go into your debt ladder.

#3 If possible, see if you can pick up some extra hours at work.  Yes it's no fun, you'll hardly ever see your family and you'll have no free time, but it is temporary.  Once you are debt free, you can drop the extra hours.  Until then, take any additional hours you can get and put all of the extra money you earn toward your debt ladder.

#4 Look around your house and see if you have any possessions you can sell.  Do you have vehicles, ATVs, boats, guns, sporting equipment, etc. that you can sell?  Do it and then use the money for your debt ladder.  Selling stuff doesn't mean only big items either.  Gather up all of the junk you can find around the house, then have a garage sale.  Put all of that money into your debt ladder.  If you are computer savvy, you can also sell stuff on Ebay or other places on the Internet.  I have personally seen people make hundreds or even thousands of dollars doing just that.  Look for anything and everything you can sell, sell it, then use the money for debt reduction.  It is even possible to make a small business out of buying things and reselling them on the Internet.  The more places you can think of to find things, the more things you will find and the more money you can make reselling them.  Go to every garage sale, estate sale, block sale, flea market, Goodwill store, Salvation Army store, and resale shop you can. If you do this regularly and consistently, you will start to find the really good stuff! Also, be on the lookout for friends, family or acquaintances who are good at crafts. You might be able to buy some of their work at a really good price and sell at a profit, especially if they are older or not computer savvy and are not already selling online. And don't forget the treasure trove that is your attic, garage or basement. You would be amazed at what some of that "junk" will go for on Ebay. I managed to sell an old, beat up automobile owner's manual for five dollars! It's always worth a try since if it doesn't sell, it only costs you some time and relatively low listing fees. If you are not above it (I'm not) you can often find goodies on the tree lawn on garbage day. And don't overlook all of those "dollar store" type establishments. Since their stock is often made up of overruns and slightly irregulars, you might find something that isn't available at all of the franchises. Furthermore, depending upon where you live, you may find some stuff in those stores that is no big deal to you, but may be quite in demand in other areas far away. And always be on the lookout for the opportunity to buy things cheaply in bulk and resell the items separately, or buy them separately and sell them as a lot or collection. Lastly, take the time to browse Ebay and get familiar with what kinds of things do and don't sell. You'll be surprised what does and what doesn't sell. You can also look to see what kind of competition there is for items similar to yours

#5 Look for sidework you are able to do.  If you have any skills which can be used to earn money on the side, do it.  This could be such things as landscaping, mechanics, painting, accounting, tutoring, etc.  If you don't have any such professional skills, then how about babysitting, pet sitting, cleaning houses, mowing lawns, etc.  Use your imagination--you'll be surprised at the things you can come up with to earn a little extra money.  Even small amounts move you in the right direction.

#6 Don't be afraid to take on a second job.  It doesn't have to be high-paying.  Money you earn delivering pizzas, working in a fast-food restaurant, or sorting packages at some delivery company can add up to quite a bit when it is all put into your debt ladder.  Yes, you will be dead tired each and every day, plus your family and personal life will be pretty much nonexistent--temporarily!  Don't forget this is only to get yourself out of debt.  Trust me, once you are debt free, you will look back and say that is was worth it.  It may not seem like it now, but it will happen.

#7 If you are married, perhaps your spouse could take on an extra job.  Even if one of you needs to be home to raise children, you can always work different shifts.  Yes, it stinks.  You hardly ever see each other.  But it is only for a few years until you are debt free and never have to live like that again.  Remember, you do this for  a few years, and the rest of your life will be very different because you were willing to sacrifice some time and effort now.

#8 If you receive any kind of bonuses from work, or anywhere else for that matter, use the money in your debt ladder.  Any kind of bonuses or incentives you get your hands on should go toward paying off debt.  Not just money from work, it could even be money from incentive plans or even cash-back rebates on purchases.  It doesn't matter how much or how little money it may be, every bit helps and every bit must go into paying off debt.  Don't make the mistake of saying "it's such a small amount, it won't make much difference, I'll just spend it, I deserve a little fun."  Keep in mind that in order to change your financial life, you have to change your habits.  Disciplining yourself to put even small amounts of money into paying off debt forms one such habit--the habit of using any and all additional money to become, and then stay, debt free.

#9 Read the articles you find on the Financial Page and learn from them.  Even the ones that don't seem to apply to you now, might apply to you someday.  Either way, you will learn a lot about your money, and knowledge truly is power.

Final thoughts.

Doing all of this can be very stressful on a marriage, family life and social life; but, so can being crushed by debt.  Working so hard to bring in extra money will be very difficult, but don't forget that it is a temporary step on your way to becoming debt free and free of financial stress.  Expect it to be difficult, prepare for it mentally and emotionally, talk about it with your spouse, family or friends, and stick it out until you are debt free and have more time and money than you ever thought possible to do the things you can't afford to do now.  Don't forget that this list is just a few ideas to get you started.  Using your own imagination and skills might provide even more opportunities to bring in some extra money.  Whatever you do to get extra money, make sure you are actually earning it by working or by selling things.  Don't get involved in any get-rich-quick ideas you see in magazines, on television, on the Internet, or hear about on the radio.  There reallys is no quick easy way to get the money you need to get out of debt.  If you find a way that seems quick and easy, it either won't work for very long (if at all) or is a complete scam that will actually end up costing you money instead.  Be smart, be hard-working and become debt free so that you can start living like others wish they could.  You can do it--but remember--you have to do it.

To learn a lot more about saving, investing, eliminating debt and becoming wealthy, please read the articles on the Financial Page.  There, you will find a veritable treasure of what to do and how to do it.

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Please know that all of the thoughts, information, suggestions and techniques given on this site are nothing more than the author's opinion on the matter being addressed.  Do further research before making any decisions.

This article copyright 2007 by Keith C. Rawlinson (Eclecticsite.com).  All rights reserved.

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