Debt free living really is possible, and my family is proof. When my husband made it our goal to pay off all debt including our mortgage by the time we were 40, we really had no idea what that would entail. We had no idea that we would also be raising a family of 9 kids at the time of this writing. We had no idea of the pay cutbacks, the job setbacks, the job loss, the medical bills, and so much more. If we had, I don’t think we would have ever been as bold with our goal. But, I’m so glad we didn’t know those things at that time. And it’s a huge bonus for you, too, since I have so much wisdom to pass on to you about how we accomplished a debt free lifestyle – and paid off two different mortgages on two different homes. How old were we? Well, we just missed the mark. We were 41 when we paid off the mortgage on our second home and became debt free for the second time. And most of those years, we lived with a low income. Like, below the poverty line kind of income. I hope this inspires you to keep reading because it truly is possible.
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Maybe you are wondering how to get out of debt. Perhaps you are looking for some simple debt free living tips. Maybe you’re asking, “How can I become debt free on a low income?”
As I sat back and looked over our 20 plus journey to becoming debt free, I’ve narrowed it down. Not only do I have 12 creative things you should be doing, they are also powerful.
Before we get started, I should also make one more thing clear. These things are simple for the most part. But, that doesn’t make them easy. Is anything we do that ends up being powerful easy?
I would bet like me, you would say, no way.
So, if you’re looking for some special formula or some sort of magic wand way to get yourself out of debt or on the road to debt free living, then this wouldn’t be the post for you to continue reading.
As I share these 12 debt free living tips with you, the assumption is that you are ready to turn away from the past and start doing things differently.
In return, you’ll be trading in stress, overwhelm, despair, and uncertainty among so many other emotions that debt brings about in our lives.
Sounds pretty great, right?
So, here are 12 creative things you need to be doing to get on the road to debt free living!
Work more to increase your income
This sounds simple, right? And for most people, this also sounds impossible. But, it really isn’t. There are all kinds of things you can do to work more. Maybe you can’t work more in the current job you’re in. I’ll share more ideas with you on what this could look like as we go along. But, for now know that at times my husband and I worked three jobs each. And, we were still home to be with our kids much of the time (at least I was). It can be done. Just know that if you want to get out of debt, generating more income is a very simple (not necessarily easy) part of the equation.
Make and sell things for extra income to pay off debt
First off, I am NOT creative. All of those genes went to my sister. But, I was able to find different things that I could make over the years, and I sold them to generate a little extra money.
This was even before the days of being able to open an online storefront like you can on Etsy. With platforms like this available, you have ever more opportunity to make and sell things, reaching a much larger audience than I ever could.
Get a side job to earn extra money
This is especially easy to do with seasonal work. No matter the season, there are almost always businesses that are going to need extra help for a time.
Drive for Uber Eats, become a shopper for something like Shipt, or start your own delivery service business. While I can’t personally recommend any of these businesses, we live in a day and age where getting a side job is pretty easy if you’re willing to work hard.
Learn how to start a blog
Yep, I just couldn’t leave this one out because it was a side job for me that ended up supporting our large family for nearly 18 months while my husband finished school.
It’s not as hard as you might think, and I promise every single person has something to share with others. If you’re not a writer, you can learn or you can even hire one.
Swap for things and services you need
This can really add up, and the sky is the limit with this. Someone might be willing to part with something you need and could give to them on trade. It could also be services like haircuts, tutoring, yard work, house cleaning, and more.
Swapping for things you need even could include swapping babysitting with a friend. You watch her kids while she cleans your house. Or, you watch her kids while she and her husband go out on a date and next week you swap.
Spend some time really thinking on all the ways you could apply this money saving, debt reducing tip.
Pay extra on your mortgage every single month
The only way you are going to pay off your mortgage or any other kind of debt is to actually pay it off a little at a time. We did this even when we were making under $20,000 a year. It was only a few dollars, but it was more about the habit, the discipline, and the commitment to doing so.
The truth is that when it comes to becoming debt free, every little thing counts. And for most of us, the only way it’s going to happen is one little payment at a time.
Have a fully funded emergency fund
Most experts recommend 3-6 months worth of expenses in an emergency fund, and this is what we did.
Without an emergency fund, how are you going to pay for all those emergences or any other unexpected expense that pops up?
If your answer is a credit card (more debt), I think you can see the problem this would create if you’re trying to accomplish a debt free lifestyle.
You must stop digging the debt hole deeper, which means you must have a way to pay for unexpected things.
Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope these things won’t happen to you.
We all know they happen to you and they happen to me. And every other single person on the planet.
Barter on price for the things you buy
Does this sound scary?
It really doesn’t have to be, and it can actually be fun. It’s always fun to get a better price, and as long as you’re being respectful, it’s kind of surprising how often you can get a better price when you’re not afraid to ask for it.
It often helps your case if you can pay with cash, which is always a good idea anyways.
Buy things used to save money
Sometimes, things aren’t even used when you’re buying them “used.” It is fairly easy to end up buying new things at a used price. It could be that someone received something as a gift they didn’t like. Or, someone never ended up using something they thought they would. Or a million other reasons, really.
Even things that are hardly used are an amazing bargain.
Before you head out to buy something new, investigate whether you can buy it for a fraction of the price by buying it used.
Learn to do simple repair and DIY
My husband and I have gotten very good at many repairs, and this is NOT something we are naturally good at.
We’ve repaired several appliances several times, replaced toilets, fixed countless toys, installed our own deck, sinks, and all kinds of other things. Many of these things aren’t difficult with the beauty of YouTube tutorials.
Over the years, we have saved ourselves literally tens of thousands of dollars by fixing our old things rather than paying someone else to fix them or replacing them.
We live in a throw away society, and it’s costing people tens of thousands of dollars.
Get creative with date nights in to save money
Date nights are important, and so is having fun. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, or even any money at all.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to spend some quality time with the one you love.
Find free fun to have with your kids
This was huge for us over the years as it costs a small fortune to do just about anything with a family of our size.
This doesn’t mean we don’t ever pay to have fun, but there are plenty of ways to have just as much fun for free.
When it comes to living a debt free life, you have to get creative in all the different ways to have fun with your family.
Don’t eat out at events or on vacation
Does this mean all the time? Not necessarily, but often the food at events, venues, and while on vacation is SO expensive.
For us, we would rather spend our money taking more vacations than we would spending money on food while on vacation. That way, we can take more vacations.
Buying a simple toaster or Instant Pot like this one HERE can save you a ton of money while allowing you to cook right in your room while on vacation.
When at an event either eat beforehand and just buy something super inexpensive or nothing at all. You can also bring your own fun and special food to certain events and save a ton of money throughout the year.
When it comes to debt free living, you simply have to find all kinds of ways to save money. The more money you can save on the things you do means the more money you’ll have to put towards your debt.
Every little penny counts, and learning to save money or do without things isn’t easy. But, it is essential in learning how to become debt free – even on a low income.