19 SUPER SMART WAYS TO GET OUT OF DEBT FAST
Regardless of the success I had with paying off my debt, there were some mistakes that I made along the way.
Those mistakes I made are the ones I want you to avoid. So I have put together 19 super smart things that you should do that I have learnt on my debt free journey.
I hope that by sharing these with you, it will help you become more successful on your debt free journey, and also to know that you are not alone!
Find people who are paying off debt
I would definitely recommend that you find some like-minded people to support you on your debt free journey. Ask around – ask your friends, family, co-workers – if they are going through anything similar or if they know of anyone who is.
If your spending is the reason why you are in debt, then stopping that habit is something to be proud of – not ashamed.
Another great thing that you can do and I will always recommend is to find some debt free blogs. Following along with someone else’s progress is encouraging, and you should be able to pick up some handy tips as well.
Make sure that you’re following me on Instagram as well of course!
We are visual creatures, so it can help to create something for you to look at and see your progress on in black and white, to keep you motivated. There are few things as satisfying as watching your debt balance go down!
There are plenty of things that you can do visually to keep you motivated on this journey, such as:
- Create a vision board. Fill it with whatever you want – but some good things could be inspirational quotes (who doesn’t love a good quote?!), photos of things that you want to do once you are debt free e.g. a holiday
- Use a debt tracker. I have a tracker in the Freebies Library on this site
- Use a bullet journal
- Use apps
- Write it on a blackboard wall
- Use paper – you could either create a paper chain and take off a link every time
- Make it fun – download my pretty budget planner, it’s so nice to have something pretty to use!
Find inexpensive hobbies
Once you have decided to pay off debt, you will (hopefully!) cut down on all of your expenses, and that means stopping doing all of the things that you have been doing regularly, such as dining out with friends, going shopping etc.
It can be difficult to adjust to a dramatic lifestyle change, which is why I would recommend finding other things to occupy your time. There are a lot of things that you can do for fun that are free or cheap. Here are some fun inexpensive hobbies you can do whilst on your debt free journey.
Start a Journal
If you haven’t heard of bullet journaling, it’s something that is very popular at the moment – it’s a way of being organised, where you can keep all of your to-do lists, goals, trackers etc, and customise it however you wish.
Get the most popular bullet journal out there, here!*
Not just helpful for paying off debt, but in everyday life as well. There are various journals out there, with some options being bullet journaling*, writing one line per day, or just keeping a diary of your thoughts on each day with your goals included
It may not sound that important in achieving your goals, but writing down what has happened each day will be useful for you to look back on and see what happened and if there are any bad patterns.
Create smaller goals
If you look at your debt as one huge number, it can be quite overwhelming and scary!
It’s up to you how you break it down, but break down your debt amount into much smaller, easier chunks. Depending on the amount, you could break it down like £100, or £1000, etc. Look at how often you want to reach your goals, maybe every month? Every few months?
When I was paying off my debt, I personally did it in terms of tackling each debt individually. The debts weren’t massive separately, and I used the debt snowball method where I paid the minimum amounts on the debts with the smallest % of interest and tackled the one with the biggest amount of interest first.
This is also when something like bullet journals can come in handy because you can create your own visual processes for your debt, and also debt trackers where you can cross off or colour in various stages of debt as you go along.
Get an accountability partner
This can be done by reaching out to those close to you or reach out to someone on social media, such as the debt-free community over on Instagram.
Getting an accountability partner will help you in so many ways. When you are on your debt payment journey, it can feel isolating and lonely, especially if you have no-one close to you going through the same thing.
Having an accountability partner will be great for keeping you motivated and encouraged on your journey – it’ll be like having your own personal cheerleader! You can do the same for them as well, it’s a two way street of mutual support and understanding.
If you are going through a rough patch or something has come up that will derail your budget (unfortunately, this is likely! Boooo) moaning to your close friends won’t have the same effect if they just look at you with a puzzled look on your face and say things like “just put it on the credit card”!
It can be easy to slip back into old habits, but if you have someone to keep you on track, you are much more likely to be successful on your journey.
Celebrate your wins along the way
Ok, I have to admit this is something that I was bad at, but it’s something I recommend you do, as I should have done it! I’m not suggesting that you go crazy and spend a ton of money, but do something small that will mean something to you. We work best when we have things to look forward to, and this instance is no exception.
Some ideas could be: having a bottle of prosecco, going out for a meal, buying something small that you’ve had your eye on, enjoying a day out with the kids, a cinema trip, etc. You decide what works best for you – but make sure that you have an idea in mind of what you want to do!
Know EXACTLY How Much Debt You Have
I know, I know, this is scary bananas.
The best way to start with this is to look at your direct debits and standing orders that are coming out – on your internet banking is the easiest way of checking this, or you can look at your paper bank statements.
This won’t show you the grand total of your debt – but it will show you the companies that you are paying money out to each month.
Once you have found these, write a list of the companies that you are paying out to, how much is going out each month, and which dates the money is leaving your account.
Now that you know how much is going out each month, to who, and when, you will now need to find out how much you owe them in total, and the amount of interest that you are paying on each one.
Go through all of your paperwork, where it will tell you how much you owe and the interest rates – or ring them up/email them and ask. You need to know this information!
Switch To A 0% Interest Rate
If you have debt, chances are that you are probably paying large amounts of interest on it, which is not going to help reduce it quickly for you.
Moneysavingexpert has a great tool where you are able to see if you can do a 0% balance transfer, and it will not affect your credit (just doing the checking part). If you can do a balance transfer, it is so worth it because of all of the money that you will be saving on interest.
However, please note that the 0% interest rate will run out at some point e.g. 6 months, a year or similar – so be aware of what the interest rate will change to and when.
Also doing a balance transfer is basically taking out a new line of credit so this is something to be aware of as well.
When I was in debt, it took me a while but I finally changed my credit card to a 0% one and it made a huge difference and enabled me to pay it off that much faster.
Create A Budget
Budgeting may sound boring and restrictive, but it’s personal to you – you’re the one who gets to decide where your money goes and how much you spend in certain areas.
There will be things that are more important to you than they are perhaps to someone else – it’s all up to you.
My favourite kind of budget is a zero-sum budget (I was doing this before realising it was already a thing!).
I’ve got a post describing exactly how to do your zero sum budget, but essentially it’s where you allocate all of your money to something specific.
Download my budget planner to get started here!
That may sound like a no-brainer, but what most people who don’t budget tend to do is pay the bills, then spend whatever money is left over on themselves (treats, entertainment etc) and then wonder why there is no money to save. I definitely did this when I was younger!
Reduce Your Expenditure
This is where the savvy saving and frugal lifestyle will begin to kick in – and you may find yourself up against some resistance from your family – or yourself!
I wrote a post all about how to get your reluctant family on board with your new frugal life.
I’m not suggesting that you sell your house and live in the shed at the bottom of the garden eating only berries and other peoples leftovers – but rather to ensure that your money isn’t being spent where it doesn’t need to be spent.
- Reduce Insurance
If you have a car insurance policy for £100 a month, and after spending a bit of time doing comparison quotes you could get it down to £50 a month, that sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Yet so, so many people don’t do it. I get it, it’s effort.
We are all busy people, who has time to sit down and do that?! Well – you do. You have debt that you want to get rid of, you’re paying one company twice as much as you could pay another company for the same service – so it’s time to sit down and find some quotes.
- Reduce Food Shopping
I’ve noticed that food shopping is something that many struggle to reduce the cost of – and I think a lot of it is because when we go food shopping, we use our stomachs rather than our brains!
That’s why its best to never go food shopping on an empty stomach…you will end up buying a lot of stuff, and a lot of random stuff at that (for me it’s Vimto flavoured sweets).
Groceries is a variable expense – it’s generally different from month to month, even if it’s only by a little bit, but what we want is to get it as low as possible, but not to the point where we have a meltdown and end up running to Tesco and buying the entire contents of Aisle 5.
There are a variety of ways that you can keep your food shopping down, such as meal planning, using some frugal recipes and using all of the tips on this post.
If you are at a really low point with your money/debt and are struggling, please use a food bank. That’s what they are there for – I know that I would use one now if I couldn’t afford to feed my family! If you aren’t sure where your local one is head on over to the Trussell Trust site.
- Try Frugal Living
You should look at cutting down your biggest expenses, not just your small ones.When we first start budgeting, the small things start to go – for example, the daily coffee. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t cut down/get rid of this – on the contrary, I think you should do – but my point is that we can focus on the small savings and ignore the potential big savings.
The biggest areas of expense are generally housing and transport. These are also areas of massive resistance, because they can involve sacrifices.
However, at the very least what you should do is see if you can re-mortgage to a lower rate, or use a cheaper method of transportation.
In a more drastic fashion, you could sell your house and get somewhere much cheaper, or rent somewhere cheaper if you are renting.
Sell Your Car
You could sell your car/s and walk/cycle/bus it around, or get a cheaper car. As I said, these are more drastic – but they only need to be temporary. Could you go without a car for a year or two if it will save you thousands?
Share Your Home
If you have a spare room in your house, could you rent it out? Sharing your home with a stranger may sound a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be a stranger – ask around your family and friends first, or people in work.
It doesn’t have to be every day either – could be weekday only for example (good for a commuter). It’s completely down to you who you allow to live with you, you can be as fussy as you like.
- Have No Spend Days
This is something that I just do everyday without thinking about it, but it’s all too easy when you aren’t on top of your budget to pop to the shops for something everyday, and end up spending quite a lot of money.
I have a post all about a No Spend challenge which should help you with this – the best thing to do is to be fully prepared, and also to understand how much money and psychology go hand in hand.
You can start off with a no spend day, and then increase it to a week/month etc – there are some people who have done a no spend year challenge successfully, and managed to save a ton of money in the process – as well as becoming a lot more chilled out (just from the ones that I have read).
- Meal Plan
Meal planning will come in handy for preventing you from popping to the shops for extra food and coming out with a lot more than you went in for (I shop every 2 weeks and don’t need to do a top up shop in between) – it’s better to resist the temptation by avoiding the shops all together if you can.
- See What People Are Giving Away
If you are tempted to buy something, have a look on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, Freegle or Gumtree to see if anyone is giving it away first (you’d be surprised what people give away for free).
Make Extra Money
Once your expenses are as low as you can possibly get them, it’s time to get that extra money rolling on in! There are a ton of things that you can do to earn extra money, even if you are already crazy busy, such as:
- Answering surveys
- Mystery shopping*
- Matched betting*
- Dog boarding/walking etc*
- Overtime at work
- Weekend/evening job (look on Indeed, Gumtree etc)
I have a big list of 100 side hustles that you can do – there will hopefully be at least one on there that you can do!
What super smart things are you doing to pay off debt fast? Do you do any that I have listed above?