Originally published April 17, 2016
If you owe a mountain of student loan debt, paying it off can feel insurmountable. But some borrowers go to extremes to tackle their debt head-on. From selling stuff to pay off debt to consuming a daily diet of instant ramen noodles, here are some of the most extreme ways to pay off debt from seven student loan borrowers.
1. Work in another state
2. Hunt for scrap metal to recycle
3. Become a human billboard
4. Side hustle, save and move to a new neighborhood
5. Flip electronics for a profit
6. Sell all your furniture
7. Eat ramen noodles every single day
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,” said Louie. “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 end up selling stuff to pay off debt or working for 45 days straight. But you might consider working in a different state until you reach your debt-free goal if it offers better opportunities. If you’re open to moving, a few states even offer student loan repayment assistance to new residents.
Lane Fournerat and his wife Krista paid off $70,000 of student loan debt in just one year. They did everything from selling stuff to pay off debt 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,” Fournerat explained. “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,” he said.
How much can you earn from digging through people’s trash to find scrap metal? According to Fournerat, he’s made over $110 from a week’s worth of scrap metal finds.
Jesse Harrison had student loans and a small auto loan he was attempting to pay off. One of the most extreme ways to pay off debt he employed was using his body as a walking advertisement for local businesses to earn extra income: “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 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 Harrison pay off all his debt in about four years.
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.”
McClanahan 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 a new neighborhood “to get a home with no mortgage payment,” she said.
Still, according to McClanahan, “every sacrifice was worth it,” noting that “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.”
During his college days, Todd Tresidder worked at HP. To make money to pay down his debt, 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. “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. (Others have tried similar methods, as you can see in this other post.)
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.
Tristan Desinor and her husband started off with about $40,000 in debt, 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,” said Desinor. They expect to have all their debts completely paid off within the next eight months.
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 instant 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,” Saleem 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 instant 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. Besides reducing your grocery expenses, here are 101 other ways you can save money.
How can you pay off your student debt faster?
Sometimes changing your financial habits takes some drastic and outrageous thinking. So don’t be afraid to try out some of these extreme ways to pay off debt to pay off your student loans ahead of schedule. If you’re committed to ditching your debt, check out this guide for effective ways to pay off your student loans faster.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.64%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
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|2.15% – 4.42%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.00% – 5.63%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
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2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application..
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
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3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
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This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.15%-4.42% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for Nelnet.
Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.
Request for the cosigner to be released can be made by the borrower after 24 consecutive, on-time payments (not later than 15 days after the due date) of principal and interest have been made. Borrowers in deferment or forbearance must make 24 consecutive, on-time payments after re-entering repayment to qualify for the release. The borrower must be current on their payments at the time of the cosigner release request and show the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) by meeting certain credit criteria on their own at the time of the request, including, but not limited to, being a U.S. citizen or having permanent residency in the United States, being the age of majority in their permanent state of residency, providing sufficient proof of income, and having no student loans in default.
Hardship forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend payments on your loan(s) while you are experiencing financial hardship. It is offered in increments of two or three months, with a maximum of 12 months available, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. If your loan(s) are in good standing at the time of your request, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of two monthly payments. If, at the time of your initial request, your loan(s) are considered past-due, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of three monthly payments. Future increments of forbearance, up to a life-time maximum of 12 months, may be requested upon the completion of making a certain number of principal and interest payments. During the two- or three-month forbearance period, you will not be required to make payments; however, any unpaid interest will continue to accrue and will be capitalized (added) onto your principal balance at the end of the forbearance period. You may continue making payments in any amount without penalty during the forbearance period. Your loan repayment term will be extended by the number of months in the forbearance period.
Refinance Loan Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number, and be the legal age to enter into binding contracts in your permanent state/territory of residency, or be at least 17 years of age and apply with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority in their state/territory. Non-residents can apply with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number. The student loans you refinance must be in their grace or repayment period, and you can no longer be enrolled in school on a half-time or more basis. You must have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You, or your eligible cosigner, must have an annual income of at least $36,000. Approval subject to credit review. Other credit criteria may apply.
Refinance Loan Limits:
Loan Refinancing Risks: Federal student loans include benefits that may not be offered with private student loans. Carefully review any potential benefits that may be lost by refinancing federal and private education loans, such as the loss of any remaining grace periods. To learn more about what to take into consideration when refinancing federal student loans with private education loans, click here
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Fixed interest rates range from 2.99% APR (with auto debit discount) to 6.25% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable interest rates range from 2.00% APR (with auto debit discount) to 5.63% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. The variable interest rate is equal to the One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“One-Month LIBOR”) plus a margin. The One-Month LIBOR in effect for each monthly period (from the first day of the month through and including the last day of the same month) will be the highest One-Month LIBOR published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding such calendar month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable interest rate loan will change monthly on the first day of each month if the One-Month LIBOR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month LIBOR index is 0.15% as of 5/4/2021.
The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments, a five-year repayment term, and the borrower making immediate principal and interest payments. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate. The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, (3) the loan type selected, and (4) the highest level of education attained. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.
*Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. **Your actual savings may vary based on interest rates, outstanding balances, remaining repayment terms, and other factors.