I understand that it can feel absolutely impossible to pay down debt sometimes. I really, really do. There are times it is hard to get to the end of the month before you get to the end of your money. I have personally paid off ~$26,000 in the last 20 months though, so I promise you it IS possible! These are a few tricks I use to find extra money to pay off debt and balance my finances.
As I have previously talked about, I work casually in healthcare. This means that there can be large changes in how much I earn monthly as my hours vary.
Some months I felt like I have tons of money; other months I’d worry if I could even cover my budget.
I have figured out a way to budget that works for me, and I will write an entire separate post on that! I now let my extra money (from implementing the tips in this article!) accumulate in my bank account to smooth out my finances on slower months. My monthly debt payment goal is $1150 which gets me out of debt in 5 more years, so I love knowing I will have the money available to achieve that!
Ways to find extra money to pay off debt:
1) Try A Debt Burst
Debt bursts are short challenges you give yourself, and the money you save goes towards debt. These aren’t long-term budget or habit changes! Consider them the financial equivalent of a Tinder date rather than a marriage. For example, maybe you usually spend $150 a week on groceries. This week, challenge yourself to only spend $75. If you succeed, you have freed up $75 for debt! After the week, you can resume your regular budget guilt free.
You can also try a debt burst where you instead focus on earning more money. If you had to earn an extra $100 this week, how would you do it? Work an extra shift? Sell something? Challenge yourself to try it!
Debt bursts can be a fun way to make financial changes because they have immediate gratification and results. If you want suggestions for some debt bursts you can try, read this.
2) Use Your Tuition Credits
Canadian university students: use your tuition credits! So many people are not capitalizing on these after graduation, and I do not understand why. When you pay school fees, the government gives you tuition credits. You can apply these to your taxes, and decrease the amount of tax you owe (hellllllo beautiful tax refund)! Even better, talk to your HR/manager and get them applied directly to your paycheck. You will get more money deposited into your account each pay day because your company won’t deduct as much. University costs a lot of money- get some of that money back!
3) Earn More Money
I know this can be an annoying tip to read, but it’s important. At some point, you can only decrease your spending so much. If you’re still struggling, you likely need to earn more money. If you have been at your company for awhile (and/or deserve it), ask for a raise! You can also consider getting a second job on your days off. My personal favourite suggestion is to make your hobby earn you money. I started this blog with every intention of having it earn enough to make my debt payments for me. Read why I think you should start a blog and how to make money blogging.
4) Save Your Surprise Money
Occasionally, there are times extra money comes in that is not from a paycheck. Maybe you get a tax refund, HST credit, birthday gift from grandma, or find $20 on the sidewalk (I wish). Regardless of what it is, make sure you remember it is real money! There is a strong trend to think this money is “fun money” since it was unexpected, and then it is spent frivolously. I know I sound like the fun police, but try not to do that. These windfalls can make a massive difference in your long term goals, so use them to your advantage.
5) Lower “Fixed” Costs
When people talk about budgeting, they often divide bills into fixed or unfixed costs. Items such as groceries, gas, household products, etc aren’t considered fixed because they change monthly. Most finance experts will tell you to focus on saving money in those areas since you can control them (which is smart advice). But fixed costs like rent, utilities, internet, cell phones, etc are then neglected because people consider them set in stone. They aren’t! In the past 6 months I have asked for decreases on my monthly rent, internet, cell phone service, vehicle insurance, and interest rate. In all cases, the answer was yes. Without changing anything about my life, I now pay $110 less monthly. That’s almost 10% of my debt payment right there! I understand it can be nerve-racking to make those calls, but if you could save that much a month isn’t it worth asking?
In summary, getting out of debt is not easy. You will have to watch your spending and make changes. However, it is highly possible and VERY worth it.
Imagine your life without debt payments…. actually let that thought sink in…. What are you willing to do to get there? If you try my ways to find extra money to pay off debt, or have suggestions for other readers, please let us know in the comments below!
For a list of all posts I’ve written, click here