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

James Cooper sitting in a classroom desk.
Matt Odom for The Penny Hoarder
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You’re ready to be out of debt. Sounds like the understatement of the century, right? You can’t wait to be debt-free. But you feel like you’ve tried everything. And everywhere you turn, your debt is still there — impacting just about every area of your life. 

But we’ve got nine strategies you probably didn’t realize you could use to help you pay it off.

1. Ask This Company 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.

While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a company called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 3.84% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

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.

All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.

2. Know What You Owe and Track Your Payoff Progress

One of the toughest parts about paying down your debts is simply knowing where to begin.

Which of your credit cards are carrying a balance? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?

That’s where a free website like Credit Sesame can help. It takes about two minutes to sign up and access your free credit score. From there, Credit Sesame will outline your debt — exactly what you owe and to whom — and offer personalized recommendations. It’ll even break down the interest rates and minimum monthly payments attached to your bills.

Armed with this intel, you’ll be able to more easily devise your payoff plan. Do you want to use the debt avalanche method, where you’ll pay off your highest interest rates first? Or maybe you prefer the debt snowball method, where you start with the smallest balances first.

You can continue to use Credit Sesame to keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable. And, hey, it might be kind of fun watching your credit score react to all your hard work!

It takes two minutes to get started with Credit Sesame.

3. This Research Company Could Pay You $225 This Month

What if we told you a research company would pay you to watch cooking videos on your computer?

It’s too good to be true, right? 

But we’re serious. InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. 

No, InboxDollars won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s something easy you can do while you’re already on the couch tonight wasting time on your phone. Plus, it’s extra money you can put toward paying down your debt. Everything helps.

InboxDollars won’t completely pay off your credit cards, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos.

It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a $5 bonus to get you started.

4. Use Your House to Pay Off Your Debt

California couple Wilmer and Kimberly Swerdfeger had accumulated $20,000 in credit card debt — a result of unexpected home repairs and an emergency eye surgery.

Between paying high interest rates and juggling multiple bills, Wilmer needed a way out. That’s when he considered tapping into his home’s equity — the money he’d paid toward his mortgage — with Figure, an online lender. 

Home equity lines of credit can you help you get out of debt faster by offering better rates than credit cards and personal loans, because your home backs the loan.

Figure approved the couple for a five-year line of credit with an APR of 5.75% — that was way better than the 21.99% credit card interest he faced. Oh, and his funds were in his account the next day — so he could immediately pay off his credit cards.

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

Figure is available in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, WA, WI, WY. Terms and conditions apply. Visit figure.com for further information.

5. Stop Giving Your Car Insurance Company Extra Money

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When you’re trying to pay off debt, you might feel like you have to cut every enjoyable thing out of your budget. But the truth is, one of the simplest — and most impactful — expenses you can cut is car insurance.

If you really want to get the best price on car insurance, experts say you should be shopping twice a year. OK, we can hear you laughing from here. Who has time to do all that?

But seriously, insurance companies take a lot of factors into consideration, and they change all the time. Ipso facto — you’re paying too much.

Thankfully, a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes. 

All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.

The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.

If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.

Who’s laughing now?

6. Try Starving and Stacking

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.

7. Make an Extra $600/Week to Throw at Your Debt

The one thing you can’t always change when you’re trying to pay off your debt: Your income. But have you thought about getting a side gig? Even just for a few months? 

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver food while you’re already out and about — things like lattes from Starbucks or food from Chipotle, Chik-fil-A or Five Guys. 

With Doordash, you set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make to put toward your debt is up to you. 

You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners.

The best part? No passengers.

If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week.

8. Find Out if Your Cell Phone Company Owes You $80

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

Just connect your cell phone account to the free app TrueBill, and it will immediately try to lower your bill.

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

If TrueBill recovers you any money, it will take a cut before paying you. (That’s how it makes money.) But if it’s not successful, there’s no charge. So far, TrueBill has returned its users more than $14 million.

Download the app to see how big of a discount you can get — that extra money in your budget each month can go toward your credit card debt.

9. Automatically Save up For Your Monthly Payments

Trying to stay on top of your credit card payments can be a full-time job. The best way to do this is to make a plan and stick to it.

That’s why we like an app called Digit. It lets you set goals for anything you want — including your monthly credit card payments — then helps you reach them.

Just tell the app how much money you’d like to have by a certain time, and it will automatically start setting the money aside for you in your linked bank account.

For example, if you know you need to make a $300 credit card payment by the end of the month, set a goal within Digit to have the cash on hand by the 25th. 

Digit looks at your spending patterns and tells you exactly how much you can spare. It knows when to save and when to slow down so your funds don’t get too low. Have rent due soon? It’ll go easy on you. Just got paid? Sweet, let’s tuck some of that away for your credit card.

To start, download Digit and connect your checking account. From there, it’ll get to work. Your first 30 days are free, then it’s $5 a month. Not bad, considering it could help you avoid those insane late fees.