9 Unconventional Ways to Pay Down Your Debt Faster

Unconventional Ways to Pay Off Debt Faster

Have you seen those AT&T commercials where the self-important, straight-faced man sits around a group of children and asks them questions until one of the kids goes off into a hilarious tangent about how they want “more, more, and more”?

While I chuckled along with these commercials the first six times that I saw them, I didn’t really buy into their theme that “more is better.” Sometimes more is, well… just more. Sometimes “more” means less of something else that is really great, such as your time and energy. And sometimes more can wreak havoc in other areas of your life.

However, that is not the case with finding more cash to pay down your debt. Getting as much extra cash to throw towards servicing last year’s purchases and last decade’s college bill is about the best thing that can happen to your debt payoff plan. Since my husband and I paid off $59,000 of our own debt, we have a lot of experience in uncovering extra cash to contribute towards our debt payoff.

Here are some tried and tested ideas to get you started:

1. Mystery Shopping

When you first sign up for mystery shopping, you will typically only get access to low-hanging fruit opportunities. These include fast food places, oil change places, and other opportunities that do not pay very well (you can count on making between $6 and $15 per assignment). This can still add to your debt payoff strategy because you are getting a service or food in the form of a reimbursable expense, you are spending time outside of the house without spending any of your money, and you are making a few bucks on the side.

As you progress in mystery shopping, you will find more highly paid shops. An example of one I just completed this year was for the opening night at a local racetrack. Not only did this shop include the general admission, valet parking, and three bets, but it also included a buffet dinner for two and two alcoholic beverages. I was also paid $60 for my time! The company I used was called Intellishop.

Another type of mystery shop opportunity that I am really interested in trying out is the Beer ID mystery shop. If you are 30 years of age or younger, then you can become an undercover auditor. Your job is to attempt to purchase beer and cigarettes and record whether or not the cashier asked for your ID. Assignments pay between $5 and $30, plus you are reimbursed for any purchases. Kyle from The Penny Hoarder was able to earn $5,000 in one month doing this!

2. Cash Out of Reward Points

Credit cards (which you may have cut up by now), products, even search engines such as Swagbucks all offer reward point programs. I am currently a member of the following: Swagbucks, ThankYou Rewards, My Coke rewards, Nuride, and Recyclebank. After checking with the rewards for each of these programs, I found that I could cash out of my points from my ThankYou rewards and Swagbucks. Check with your own reward programs and see which will allow you to cash out of points in order to boost your debt payoff.

3. Upromise Account Opening for Student Loan Debt

Do you have student loan debt through Sallie Mae that you are attempting to pay off? Have you ever heard of Upromise? It turns out that you can open a free account with Upromise at any age and designate anyone as the beneficiary, including you. As you spend money on products and services that you would normally buy anyway (through linked credit/debit/loyalty store card information), you automatically receive a percentage back from the company into your account.

Each time your account reaches $10, your linked loan account will be credited through the Upromise Loan Link Program. Even better news is that you can link your family’s credit/debit/loyalty store cards to this account so that when they purchase products and services, your account is credited at no charge to them.

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4. Institute a Month of Free Entertainment

There are so many free entertainment options available in this world. What you could do is institute a month of free entertainment, and then use your “savings” on debt repayment instead.

5. Sign up for a Bank Offer

One way that Paul and I jumpstarted our honeymoon savings was by opening up a bank account with a $121 new customer bonus. Just last week, I was offered two account opening bonuses for $125 each.

Be sure to read the fine print and understand what requirements you need to meet in order to receive the bonus. For example, in some accounts you have to do a direct deposit or a certain number of debit card transactions. You might need to bring a certain threshold of new savings to open the account, and keep it in the account for six months. While this method may not yield you money to pay down your debt right away, it will give you a boost down the road once you can withdraw the bonus and/or close the account.

6. Eat Through Your Cupboards/Freezer Challenge

Have you ever heard of a cupboard challenge? Chances are, you have a lot of food in the bottom of your freezer and upper racks of your cupboards that you need to eat or throw away. By eating through this food and only purchasing a few perishables from the grocery store, you can successfully displace some of your grocery budget for the month and put it towards your debt. This has the added bonus of making you less wasteful!

7. Carpool

While my husband and I were in debt payoff mode, I found an opportunity to carpool with a co-worker. We used my car, and so I was paid $40 towards gas for commuting the same amount to work and purchasing the same amount of gas that I would anyway (the co-worker literally lived two streets over from me, a fortuitous find for both of us!).

8. Scrap Metal (No, Seriously!)

Do you have a truck, or could you borrow one? You would be surprised at how much free scrap metal is available on places such as Craigslist and the curb. This is because when people move, or get new appliances and they don’t have a truck or don’t wish to haul away the old scrap, they are eager to have someone pick it up for them. Find your local scrap metal facility, bring your ID, and you will be paid on the spot.

9. Sell Your Unused Gift Cards

Do you have unused gift cards that were given to you for a holiday or birthday? Instead of buying more items you probably do not need, sell these gift cards on sites such as PlasticJungle.com. You will not receive the full price of the gift card, but most of the value will come back to you in the form of cash.

BONUS: Get Your Interest Rate Reduced

This is not a way to generate extra cash; however, if you have credit card debt, then having the credit card issuer lower your interest rate will yield the same result as throwing extra money towards the debt. This is because a lower interest rate being charged on the debt means that more of the money that you do normally pay will go towards paying down the principle.

I hope you can see that there are many ways to earn and find extra cash to put towards your debt repayment. And if you want more ideas, check out these tips on how to make extra money from home. Plus, if you have your own ideas for us, please share them in the comments below – we could all learn a thing or two!

Image credit: swanksalot

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  • These are all interesting ways! I used to mystery shop and it is a great way to make some extra cash.