When I first told people my plan is to be debt free by age 30, I always get a few different reactions. People are either really impressed with my drive or they give a sarcastic smile and blatantly tell me I’m crazy because debt is just a part of life we need to accept. Though my decision seemed crazy and limiting to some, I knew that its much better than being normal. Frankly, other than deciding on my career and marrying my husband it was one of the easiest decisions I could ever make. And I’m guessing it wouldn’t be hard for you either, if you had to deal with things that I do.
I was sick of my heart dropping every time SallieMae called and coming up with excuses to avoid them.
I was sick of seeing a majority of my paychecks being spent on debt for a school that made me miserable.
I was sick of having to take student loan payments into consideration before every financial decision I made.
I was sick of feeling like I was dealt a life sentence for getting an education.
I was sick of putting my lofty travel plans on the back burner to hundred of dollars of student loan payments each month.
I was sick of feeling ashamed that I didn’t do my research before college and therefore found myself in a hole of debt on top of debt that far exceeds my income.
I was sick of the realization that I’m unlikely to be able to ever afford a house because I my student loan balance is already almost identical to a mortgage.
I was sick of watching my credit score drop because of difficulty making payments and a burdening debt to income ratio.
Of course, when I explained all this to people who questioned my decision I usually got the same answer. “Oh, that’s normal. You shouldn’t feel that way. Almost everyone deals with that now.”
I still can’t wrap my head around that logic. Drowning in student loan debt should never be seen as normal, yet it is. If suffering with debt is normal, I’d much rather be crazy and bust my butt to get rid of in quickly.
So I did every crazy thing I could think of to climb out of the hole I found myself in. But of course, the things I did weren’t really that crazy. They just aren’t the norm. Yet, those “crazy” things I did are exactly what helped me pay off two loans in three months. It was only a matter of time before my crazy started to catch on and people became amazed with how I did it. Now I have people asking me all the time what I did make such progress. Lucky for you, it’s a bit easier to step into the wild side than you think.
- Shop only using gift cards
The normal thing to do is to shop using cash, credit and checks. The crazy thing to do is visit a cash back site and buy the gift card you plan on shopping at online to earn points. This helps earn more money that can be applied to your student loan plus helps you stay within your budget.
2. Have over 6 different bank accounts
The normal thing to do is to have one or two bank accounts – usually checking and saving. However, having several different counts makes it easier for you to see how much money you have, save for goals and budget. When you have all your money in the same account your finances get blurred and you spend money you don’t really have which means you have less to put towards your student loans. Separate accounts into different categories such as spending, groceries, travel, emergency, etc.
3. Ditch the movie channels
The normal thing to do is have all the movie channels cable providers offer. But that normal thing is also a big money suck. Do the crazy thing by ditching all the movie channels and getting your movies from the library instead. The money you save can easily be applied to those pesky loans.
4. Do grocery shopping during the week
Normal people go grocery shopping on the weekend when it’s crowded. But the crazy folks like me go shopping during the week. Not only do I avoid the crowds that way, but I get better deals. Grocery stores tend to put meats and produce at lower prices during the week. – especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
5. Watch videos daily to earn points
Normal people just don’t do this at all or they only watch videos on Youtube. Crazy people like me watch videos on Swagbucks and Mypoints to earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards. of course, that means less money coming out of pocket for shopping and more money being put towards loans.
6. Take pictures of receipts
If you’re normal you probably refuse receipts at the store, let them collect at the bottom of your purse or just throw them out. Crazy people earn by taking pictures of their receipts and submit them to places like Ibotta, Receipt Pal and Receipt Hog.
7. Sell items on Facebook
Everyone’s got completely useable items just collecting dust in their homes. The normal thing to do is keep them. However, the crazies get to work taking photos to place on Facebook yardsale groups to rack in some extra dough that can be put toward debt. To find these sale groups, do a search on Facebook for “yard sale + plus a town near you”. You’ll most likely see lots of groups in your area for people looking to sell things.
8. Shop only on Facebook
Don’t just sell on Facebook. Shop on Facebook too. Check for items you need on Facebook yard sale groups to pay a fraction of the price.
9. Sign up for every store newsletter possible
Normal people ignore store newsletters. Those who are on a mission to go debt free sign up for store newsletters so they don’t miss out on any of those coupons and discounts. Just make sure you create free email account to send all those newsletters to so they don’t inundate your regular inbox.
10. Check bank accounts everyday
The reason why people never seem to have enough money to pay off debt is because they never know how much money they have. Normal people blindly swipe their debit cards without taking a glance at the account and hope the machine says your card was approved. Crazy people check their bank accounts every day to see how much money they have and spend accordingly so they cay pay off that debt and live comfortably. Plus, you never know what recurring charges you may be blindly paying.
11. Meal plan weekly
The normal thing to do is to play it by ear when it comes to eating by throwing together anything you can find or either buying something on the road. But that’s also the more expensive way. Crazy people take some time each week to plan their meals to avoid spending money unnecessarily.
12. Shop out of season
The normal thing to do is to buy everything you need in season. However, I like to shop out of season when everything is on deep discount. I buy winter coats in the summer and sandals in the winter. It saves me a bundle which allows me to put extra towards debt.
13. Write to companies
If you’re normal you probably buy products you love without saying anything to the company. I, on the other hand, like to write emails to them letting the company know how much I love their product/service and why. Not always, but sometimes they show their appreciation for my letter by sending me coupons and discounts for future purchases.
14. Ask for discounts
Normal people accept the first price that’s given to them. People like me ask for discounts at every chance I get. The worst thing they could do is say no. So go ahead and ask the company if they accept student discounts or if you can get that hotel room at the weekday rate. You never know what they might say.
15. Drink only water
The normal, costly and unhealthy thing to do is drink juice, soda and alcohol whenever you get the chance. But us crazy folks have dedicated their lives to water. Not only does it allow us to save money by helping us get out of debt faster, but it’s healthier.
16. Get a water filter
Why spend money on water bottles you throw out when you can get a water filter and fill up your own reusable bottle when necessary.
17. Catch the DIY bug
I’m not so crazy with this one yet, but I’d like to be. Save money by making the things you’d normally buy. For example you can make your own bread, face washes and lotion.
18. Freeze everything
I hate letting things go bad. It’s like wasting money. I like freezing anything I could possibly think of to preserve it’s shelf life.
19. Skip the salon
Going to the salon can be expensive. Learn to do your hair and nails at home for yourself. Nothing wrong with a little self pampering.
20. Stock up on gifts
Rather than buy gifts last minute right before birthdays, weddings, or the holidays keep a little stash of gifts handy. When I find something gift worthy at a great price, I buy it right away and keep it in the closet. That way when an unexpected wedding or birthday comes up, I’m prepared and won’t be found scrabbling for a gift last minute that could end up costing me more money.
21. Eat at home
Nothing seems to rack up more than money spent on fast food and dining out. Do yourself a favor. Be crazy and refuse to eat anywhere other than home. Raid the pantry and eat to save some money.
22. Frequent the library
People think I’m crazy because the librarians all know me by name. They can’t keep me away. Free books, movies, music and interesting classes? Only “normal” people don’t take advantage of that.
23. Network when possible
Normal people often ask me how I manage to get so many discounts, take advantage of so many opportunities and win so many contests. The answer is simple. I network. Let your circle know about what discount items you need, how much extra cash you are looking for and how you are paying debt. You’re bound to be inundated with lots of information that will bring you closer to being debt free.
24. Skip shopping just because of sales
Normal people shop every time they get a coupon or see an ad for a sale. Crazy people only shop sales when it’s something they need. After all, you’re not really saving money that can be applied towards debt if you’re buying things you don’t really need just because of a good deal.
25. Only use cash at the pump
I don’t know about other states, but in NJ you pay more to get gas when you use a debit or credit card than you do if you pay cash. I used to be one of the crazy people and constantly used my debit card at the pump. But now I’m crazy and make sure I withdraw some cash when buying gas. It’s worth the extra savings.
26. Ditch the gym membership
Coming from a Zumba instructor at multiple gyms, this sounds crazy. But you can save hundreds of dollars by canceling your gym membership and working out at home or with a group of friends for free. Pocket that extra cash and put it towards that debt payoff.
27. Take advantage of referral links
Recommending companies and products without providing your referral link is the normal and dumb thing to do. Instead, be crazy and share your referral links to your favorite companies when recommending products to earn big.
28. Exchange gifts after Christmas
Black Friday is great, but all the crazy people out there know the best deals are always after the holiday season. Don’t exchange gifts during the holidays. Instead wait till after to take advantage of all those markdowns.
29. Post needs on Facebook
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. So ask for what you need and don’t be afraid to head to Facebook to do it. So if you need more ideas on paying off debt faster, just ask on Facebook. You might get some great tips.
30. Be open about your goal to pay off debt
Normal people keep their financial goals to themselves. Crazy people let everyone they know to help hold themselves accountable. Letting people know helps build a support system and makes it easier to stick to your goals of paying off debt.
31. Avoid credit cards
Normal people keep credit cards because they believe it’s the American way. But in reality it’s just keeping them in debt. Crazy people avoid credit cards and only spend what they have to avoid debt.
32. Use cash as much as possible
Credit may be king but cash rules the universe. Atleast, that’s what us crazy folks believe. Constantly swiping cards desensitizes you. You start to disassociate it with money which you end up spending more of. Of course, that means less is applied to paying off debt. Use cash as much as possible as it’s harder to part with so you’ll be more inclined to spend wisely and keep more of that money to yourself.
33. Leave items in your shopping cart
Normal people do all their online shopping at the same time. Crazy people plan in advance by selecting the items they’d like to buy, put it in their online shopping cart and then leave it there. If you leave it there long enough, you’ll begin getting reminder emails alerting you to the things in your cart as well as a coupon to use.
34. Pay more than the minimum
The normal thing to do is pay the minimum payment on debt. The smart thing is to pay more than the minimum to pay it off faster and lessen the amount of interest paid on the balance.
35. Make registries for yourself
You don’t need to have a baby shower or wedding shower to create a registry. Crazy folks know this and make registries whenever they can. Why? Because of the perks. Many stores allow you to earn coupons, rewards and cash back for items purchased off your registry. All those rewards can you help you pay off that debt.
36. Sign up for free samples
Why pay when you can get it for free. Websites such as pinchme.com allow you to use free samples in exchange for product reviews.
37. Create and sell your own tshirts
36. Stay organized
When you are messy, you don’t know what you have so you end buying things you don’t need. Staying organized allows you to keep track of possessions which means less spending and more to apply towards debt.
37. Check retailmeknot.com
Normal people shop online without doing any research. Crazy people never shop online without checking retailmeknot.com for coupon codes first.
38. Put your vacation photos to use
If you are normal you probably take photos of your vacations and then just allow them to take up space on your phone or computer. However, us forward thinking crazy people put those photos to use and sell them to stock photography sites or create products to sell with them like these postcards I created with photos from my honeymoon.
39. Take vitamins
The healthier you are the less you need to spend on medication, diet supplements, doctor visits, etc. Taking vitamins help.
40. Entertain at home
Normal people go out to eat whenever they want to hang out with friends. Crazy people bring the party to their home to save money. Make some cookies, get a bottle of wine, and play some board games instead to save some money.
41. Make the happy hour menu your best friend
If you do happen to go out instead, make sure you become acquainted with the happy hour menu. The happy hour menu is like gold. That’s where all the savings are.
42. Buy produce in season
Normal people buy their favorite produce all year round. Crazy people buy it when in season. I know apples may be your favorite fruit of all time, but try to reserve your purchase for the fall when they are in season and cheaper.
43. Follow meatless Monday
Meat is expensive. Save by cutting out meat one day a week. You’ll be surprised with how much you cut down.
44. Avoid auto renewing insurance
If you are auto renewing your insurance you are doing it all wrong. Don’t be afraid to shop around to see what other discounts and savings you may be eligible for else where.
45. Live on one salary
Normal people in a two income household live according to two paychecks. Crazy people like myself do what they can to live on one. Live in a way that allows one salary to go towards living expenses while the other salary can go towards to debt repayment.
46. Always get the receipt
You are throwing away money if you refusing to get your receipts when shopping. Yes, I know you are all about saving trees but doing so wastes your money. Getting receipts allow you to double check you were charged the correct amount for items. I have caught several mistakes before.
47. Apply the change
Normal people usually reserve the change from purchases to buy something else. I on the other hand round up to the nearest dollar and put that towards my student loans. Sure it may only be 24 cents here and there, but that small change certainly adds up.
48. Keep coupons in the car
I learned this one from my crazy mother. Normal people keep their coupons in a stash at home, crazy people like my mother keep coupons in their car. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in the store needing to buy something and remembering that 20 percent off coupon is left at home. Keep all coupons in the car so you’ll be able to take advantage of them during impromptu shopping trips
So there you have it. Several ways anyway can be crazy and pay off that debt at warp speed. I know it’s a lot, but doing even just one of these things can make a big difference in speeding up your debt repayment plan.
What crazy steps have you taken to pay off debt? Have you done any of the things listed above?
TERRIfic Quip: If it’s not crazy, delusional and wild beyond dreams, it’s not wort the time.