9 Things You Didn’t Realize You Could Do to Pay off Debt

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Matt Odom for The Penny Hoarder
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When the phrase “It’s fun to” comes up in conversation, it’s probably not followed by “pay off credit card debt.”

Paying off debt is associated with living under a rock, eating ramen noodles and cutting the bottom off your toothpaste tube to get the last bit — none of which are very “fun.”

But here’s the thing: Paying off debt doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t even mean reverting to listening to concerts from outside the venue and eating your friend’s leftovers from your favorite restaurant.

Here’s How to Pay off Credit Card Debt and Still Have a Life

Achieving freedom from debt just means getting creative with the resources available to you. And we love getting creative. Here are some clever ways to pay off your credit card debt without giving up fun.

1. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

A woman lays on the grass with credit cards surrounding her.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) could be paid by the end of this month.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called Fiona knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow. 

Here’s how it works: Fiona will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month. 

Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.

2. Stop Giving Your Car Insurance Company an Extra $865

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Have you been paying your car insurance bill to the same old insurance company for years? You’re probably paying too much.

Over the years, your life has probably changed — and so has the value of your car. Plus, insurance companies you might have looked at years ago are constantly changing their pricing. One easy way to save on car insurance is by shopping and comparing rates twice a year. But that sounds like a pain.

Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and it’ll go to work.

Gabi says it finds an average savings of $865 per year for its customers.

It offers a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have, and instantly compares rates from up to 20 providers to find you the best deal. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.

3. Search for Unclaimed Money

A crisp dollar bill being held out over a pair of blurred out sneakers.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

State treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

In 2017, one South Carolina man hit the jackpot. He got a phone call from his state treasurer letting him know he was entitled to $763,000 in unclaimed money. That’s, like, 63 years of rent.

We advise you to be careful of calls like this; they could be scams. But you can take matters into your own hands and see if you have any unclaimed money floating around.

Check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Click your state on the map, and it’ll redirect you to your state’s appropriate search site. (Beware: There are several look-a-like sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)

Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search, and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name.

“As I was scrolling through, I saw his name and his middle initial,” she says. She asked him to confirm his old Florida address; he grew up in Tampa. Sure enough, Mark Howell was entitled to $56 from a “matured insurance policy.”

Kelli immediately searched her other family members’ names. Her husband was the only who had any money to claim. And, sure, it’s $56, but that’s not bad for an unexpected check, right? We’ll take it!

4. See If Your Cell Phone Company Owes You $80

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Is your cell phone company overcharging you?

Probably. In fact, there are secret discounts it doesn’t want you to know about. 

You can find out how much you’re overpaying by signing up for TrueBill. Just connect your cell phone account and TrueBill will immediately try to get it lowered.

That’s what happened when William Ellis, a savvy saver from Indiana, used a similar bill negotiation service. He was able to get $80 a year back in his pocket when they convinced Sprint to lower his bill — for the same plan. He didn’t even have to pick up the phone.

TrueBill takes an upfront commission on any money it recovers for you, but there’s no charge if it’s not successful. So far, TrueBill has saved its users more than $14 million.

5. Earn up to $22/Hour Picking up Milk For Your Neighbors

You’ve probably heard you can make money picking up other people’s groceries. But doing your own shopping is stressful enough. You just learned where everything is — now you’re supposed to learn the aisles of a different store?

But an app called Shipt will pay you up to $22 an hour to pick up a few extra groceries while you’re already picking up your own. 

We talked to one shopper, Destiny Frith, from Nashville, who says the flexibility and high hourly pay makes this a great way to make extra money.

She takes home close to $600 a week — working completely on her own schedule. 

Just sign up online (the application is pretty simple). Once you’re approved, pick which jobs you want to take, and Shipt will send you a prepaid card to buy the groceries and deliver them to customers. 

Suddenly grocery shopping isn’t so bad, is it?

 

7. Withdraw Cash From the ATM on Monday

A woman talks on the phone while pulling money out of an ATM
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

There are always those weeks — the ones where you promise you’ll pack a lunch for work then end up eating out each day.

Now, we’re not saying only eat soggy leftovers all week. But if you have trouble staying on track — whether it’s coffee, lunch, dinner or all the snacks — set yourself a spending limit and take exactly that amount from the ATM on Monday. Then, only spend that throughout the week. Once the cash is gone, it’s back to leftovers.

7. Get Paid for Your Screen Time

We’ve all been there. Netflix drones in the background as you scroll Instagram. What are you even doing? 

But there’s a company that will pay you for all that screen time. 

Yep. Mypoints is a reader favorite, because it pays you in free gift cards for taking surveys and other activities right on your phone. You’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and take your first five surveys.

8. Use Your House to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Homeowners: Did you know your home, even if it’s not paid off yet, could help you escape credit card debt?

You might consider tapping into your home’s equity — that’s the money you’ve paid toward your mortgage — through a lender like Figure. The idea is to borrow money from your home’s equity to pay your credit bard balance in full.

This might feel like you’re simply transferring your debt, but you’ll wipe out those high interest rates (the average these days is 17.14%, according to the Federal Reserve), which will get you on a faster track to that debt-free life.

First, decide if a home-equity line of credit is right for you. You’ll be using your home as collateral, but your new interest rate will be much lower than that of your credit card.

Then, get a free quote from Figure. You can borrow up to $150,000, with rates starting at 4.99%.

And, unlike some other lenders, Figure doesn’t slap you with sneaky fees. You’ll pay an origination fee (typical), but you won’t be charged application fees or even early repayment fees.

It takes five minutes to check your rate. If you like what you see and your application is approved, Figure will fund you within five days.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit figure.com for further information.

9. Try Starving and Stacking

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Don’t worry. You can still eat. The starve and stack budgeting method is geared toward couples, especially newlyweds. Couples combine their finances and live exclusively off one income for 18 to 24 months.

Use the additional income to invest, establish a rainy day fund and pay off debt. That’s what Penny Hoarder Jen Smith did. She and her husband practiced the starve and stack method for two years and were able to pay off $78,000 in debt.