9 unconventional ways to get out of credit card debt
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If you’re swimming in credit card debt, it’s easy to figure out conventional ways to get rid of it. You might take out a debt consolidation loan, for instance, or transfer the balance from a high-interest credit card to a card offering a special no-interest period.
However, you might not have thought about some unconventional ways to get out of credit card debt. Well, we’re here to help with that.
What follows are nine strategies — most of them designed to make more money or cut costs — that can put on you on the path toward a debt-free future.
Here are nine unconventional ways to get out of credit card debt:
1. Consider side gigs
Finding a part-time job that will put extra cash in your pocket can help you chip away at credit card debt (as long as you don’t keep putting purchases on your credit cards).
Among the gigs you might want to look into are tutoring students online, becoming a virtual assistant or participating in focus groups organized by marketing research firms, says Natasha Rachel Smith, personal finance expert at TopCashback.com.
Another possibility: Driving for a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft.
2. Sell some stuff
We bet you’ve got some jeans in your closet or a chair in your living room that you really don’t want anymore but that somebody else might want to buy.
Smith recommends selling clothes on eBay or Poshmark, electronics on BuyBackWorld.com and unwanted gift cards on Raise.com. As for furniture, one of the best places to find buyers is Craigslist.
Be sure you don’t waste this newfound money, though. Put it toward reducing your credit card debt.
3. Profit from your hobbies
Do you love making jewelry or knitting sweaters? You can turn these and other hobbies into moneymakers, Smith says.
One of the most popular places for selling your creations online is Etsy.com.
4. Negotiate with your credit card company
Yes, it’s possible to work with your credit card company to pay off debt, especially if you’re in over your head. The company might be willing to decrease the APR (annual percentage rate) for your card or to make different payment arrangements. It can’t hurt to ask.
This is a good strategy if you don’t mind losing a card,” says Jeff White, a financial analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, a resource for small businesses. “While many card companies will negotiate with you, some of them won’t want to keep your account open after you’ve come to an agreement because their willingness to negotiate with you is them presuming they’re taking a risk that you won’t pay them back.”
“If you’re just trying to avoid bankruptcy and get out of debt,” White adds, “then this could be a nice option for you.”
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5. Clip coupons.
These days, most coupons are electronic ones, not the kind that you have to cut out of a newspaper or magazine. Regardless of what form they’re in, coupons (particularly ones you can use at the grocery store) save money that you can set aside to pay off your credit cards.
Parker Daniels, a personal finance specialist with auto insurance company The General, says couponing can deliver $30 to $50 per week in savings — or at least $120 per month that can go toward your credit card bills.
6. Drop your gym membership.
Think for a second: When was the last time your stepped foot in your gym? The average gym membership costs roughly $60 a month, yet about three-fourths of us never lift a single weight at the gym.
By canceling your gym membership, you could save an average of about $700 a year and exercise sound financial judgment by applying that money to your credit card debt.
Daniels recommends looking for free online workouts or exercising outdoors in place of that pricey gym membership.
7. Cut back on restaurant meals.
In 2016, the average American household forked over $7,203 for food, with 56% of that going toward at-home meals and 44% going toward restaurant meals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If the average household shifted all restaurant meals to at-home meals, that would result in annual savings of about $3,100 — a wad of cash that could put a serious dent in credit card debt.
8. Use your tax refund.
The average American receives a federal tax refund of about $3,000. Instead of blowing that money on a trip to Cancun or a fancy big-screen TV, why not earmark all of it for reduction of credit card debt?
“Most likely your tax refund is not money that you budget into your monthly income. Think of it as bonus money that you can use to better your overall financial health,” says Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate at consumer website Finder.com.
9. Create a “debt meter.”
To remind you how much credit card debt you’ve got — and how much you want to get rid of it all — McDermott recommends making a “debt meter” that tallies the debt.
This could be as simple as a piece of paper that indicates the amount of your debt and that’s placed someplace where you’ll see it every day. Of course, you’ll want to update the debt meter whenever you’ve reduced the amount you owe; this way, you’ll be more motivated to achieve your debt-busting goal.
“Debt haunts most of us on a daily basis, but it can be easy to shrug off when our wants take over our needs,” McDermott says. “You’re less likely to make unnecessary purchases if you’re constantly reminding yourself that you have other financial obligations that are of higher priority.”