Becoming debt-free can sometimes feel like an insurmountable goal, but it’s one that many families and individuals are tackling head-on. In fact, some people are willing to do just about anything to pay off their debt.
Here are the most outrageous things these seven individuals did to become debt-free.
Work in another state
Monica Louie and her husband paid off $120,000 in debt in just two years on a single, middle-class income. They started their debt-free journey in August 2013 and continued for two years until they moved into their new house in August 2015.
“Our strategy for paying off the first $90,000 was to sell whatever we could around the house and have my husband work as much overtime as possible,” Monica said. “He worked in another state for 45 days when our son was two years old and our daughter was four months old because there was more opportunity for overtime there. During that time, he worked 16-hour days and didn’t take a day off until he returned home.”
If you’re looking for more overtime or a better-paying job, you might not want to work for 45 days straight. But you can consider working in a different state until you reach your debt-free goal if it offers better opportunities.
Hunt for scrap metal to recycle
Lane and his wife Krista paid off $70,000 of student loan debt in just one year. They did everything from selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist to finding metal scraps in people’s trash and bringing them to the scrap yard in exchange for cash.
“I’ve gotten really good at finding a way to find and sell almost anything to make some quick cash,” explained Lane. “During this time we also had two kids, a few medical bills, and to top it off, I had just lost my job literally days before our oldest daughter was born.”
“We knew it was time to get out of debt. Last spring, almost a year to the day, we drove to Nashville, Tennessee and did our debt-free scream on the Dave Ramsey show, which was a big inspiration for us,” Lane said.
How much can you earn from digging through people’s trash to find scrap metal? Lane actually videos a trip to the scrap yard where he turns in his large haul. And the result is just over $110 for a week’s worth.
Become a human billboard
Jesse Harrison had student loans and a small auto loan he was attempting to pay off. One of the most drastic things he did to earn extra income was use his body as a walking advertisement for local businesses.
“I put the name of a business on my forehead and walked around the town with it for a month,” he said.
Oddly enough, there are companies out there who are looking for young adults to wear shirts, hats, and other pieces of clothing to promote their brands. In fact, some people are even willing to get a brand’s logo tattooed on their bodies for a lifetime of discounts and free stuff.
He might not have gone to the extreme of a forehead tattoo, but this out-of-the-box strategy helped Jesse pay off all his debt in about four years.
Move to the “hood”
When I asked Aja McClanahan about the most outrageous things she did to pay off debt, she answered with, “The question is what didn’t I do?” Aja and her husband had over $120,000 in debt, about half of which was student loan debt.
“We first got serious about paying down debt when we wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom,” she explained. “I went on to provide Spanish tutoring, then graduated onto database consulting. But that was only half the battle,” Aja said.
So she and her husband started doing more radical things to pay off debt, such as placing a moratorium on buying paper towels and refusing to get their air conditioning unit fixed during a record-breaking hot summer. However, the most drastic thing they did, “was move to the ‘hood’ to get a home with no mortgage payment,” she said.
“Every sacrifice was worth it,” Aja admitted. “In 2013, we paid off ALL our debt.” She encourages anyone else who’s in debt to keep going, “because one day you’ll be financially free.”
Flip electronics for a profit
During his college days, Todd Tresidder worked at HP; to help pay down large amounts of debt at a time, he would buy computers using the steep employee discount and then resell them at retail price.
“The markup paid off a big chunk of the debt,” he said, adding, “and then I used the interest-free loans from the company to pay back the cost of the computer over time.” He used this method to pay off his student loans in about a year.
This is actually something I used to do while I was paying off my credit card and auto loan debt. Every year, my cell phone company would offer me the chance to upgrade my cell phone, so I would take advantage of the free upgrade and choose the one that had the highest resale value.
I had no intention of using the cell phone myself since the one I was using was already in great shape. Instead, I would resell these brand new cell phones, sometimes limited edition, for several hundred dollars on eBay. I also sold older or broken cell phones for parts, and since I obtained them for free, it was all profit.
Sell all your furniture
Tristan Desinor and her husband started off with about $40,000 in debt, which was primarily made up of personal loans, credit cards, and a car loan. As they began to buckle down and really make headway with paying it off, they did one particularly outrageous thing for some extra cash: they sold all of the furniture in their house.
Some furniture can be worth a lot of money, especially if it’s vintage or antique. If you can sell your furniture and purchase cheaper stuff while turning a profit, this could be a great strategy for making extra money to put toward debt.
“So far we’ve paid off one loan, two credit cards, and half our car note,” said Tristan. They expect to have all their debts completely paid off within the next eight months.
Eat Ramen every. single. day.
When you’ve exhausted all these crazy ideas, you can always take the traditional route of reducing your grocery bill down to almost nothing by eating Ramen noodles every day. That’s exactly what recent college grad, AJ Saleem, founder of a small startup, did to repay his loans.
“After missing one payment on my student loans and getting charged outrageously high fees, I knew I needed to get rid of my loan as soon as possible,” AJ explained. “So I actually did the stereotypical poor college student budget: I stopped going out to restaurants and purely bought Ramen noodles to save money. It was extremely cheap, around 50 cents a box, and it would last me one per meal.”
He admitted that eating Ramen noodles every day can be quite disgusting after a while, but he actually managed to pay off all his debt in three years rather than spreading it across several decades.
What would you do?
Sometimes changing your financial habits takes some drastic and outrageous thinking. So don’t be afraid to try out some of these strategies and test the limits of how far you’re willing to go to pay off your debt.
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Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
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