Being in debt is the worst! Back when we began our journey to get out of credit card debt, I couldn’t have imagined what it would look like. We’ve paid off half of our credit card debt now, but we’ve still got a long road ahead of us.
We have changed everything about the way we view spending. In fact, we don’t really like to spend too much unless we decide that it’s totally worth our money. That’s given way to some crazy ideas to get out of debt.
Now the word “crazy” is rather subjective. Some of you will read this list and say, “Nope. Too crazy for me. I’d never do these things.”
Others will read it and say, “Psssh. She didn’t once mention rinsing out generic Ziploc bags and reusing them. This list is dumb.”
Which side do you fall on? Only one way to find out!
Over 30 Crazy Things We’ve Done to Escape Being in Debt
1. Lived Via Hashtags
Probably our number once crazy idea that changed everything.
Last year, our motto was #yearofno. For us, that meant we came at spending from an automatic “no” and had to convince ourselves that it was well worth a yes before we’d buy.
This year, the motto is #PressOn. A little reminder that the work isn’t done yet, but we totally got this.
2. No Painting
Our 1950s style home has some problems. Luckily, most of them are aesthetic. While I hate seeing them every single day, they aren’t causing damage to the house.
Nearly every wall in this place needs a fresh coat of paint. Paint is cheap, and it’s been tempting to grab some and “just do this one room”. But that’s not going to get us out of debt.
3. Ugly Kitchen
The previous owners remodeled the kitchen using the cheapest materials available. Some day I’ll have a pretty kitchen! But not while we’re in debt.
4. Said No to Kids
Gasp! People tend to ask me how our kids are dealing with our #yearofno. Well, they aren’t huge fans. But the word no is good for all of us. Better to deal with their first disappointments in small matters now than big ones later in life.
5. Took a Cooler Everywhere
If you have a small cooler full of water bottles all the time, you only need to add ice and go. More convenient than waiting in a drive thru. (Cheaper, too!)
6. Brought Our Own Snacks
Better than drive thru and concession stand prices!
7. Replaced the Rug With Christmas Money
The ugly rug in our living room was getting to me! So I pooled the gift cards I was given for Christmas and bought a new one.
8. Asked At the Cash Register
You’d be surprised how many discounts on things from prescriptionsto clothing you’ll find if you just ask!
9. Asked Friends and Family
The phrase “Does anyone have a <blank> they aren’t using anymore?” will save you tons!
10. Bought Used
Including clothes, instruments, ball equipment, and other things we couldn’t put off until we are free from debt. Get my best tips on buying used here.
11. Stopped Buying Expensive Yogurt
Instead, I buy big tubs of yogurt and portioning them out myself. You can add your own toppings like cereal or fruit if you like.
12. Bought 25 Bags of Cheese At Once
…because it was on a fantastic sale and my new method of grocery shopping meant I had room in the budget. It got some snide comments from the cashier and bagger (funny, since they don’t pay my bills but I sure help pay theirs!). Don’t worry, this lasted us a few months!
13. Used a Cracked Phone for a Year
Poor Hubby is a technology kind of guy (it’s even part of his job). But he dealt with an annoying cracked phone anyway.
14. Bought a New One with Christmas Money
Like me, Hubby chose to put the gift cards he’d gotten for Christmas together to get a new phone (and cure the annoyance).
15. Skipped Happy Hours
…and meals with coworkers. He’ll catch them later.
16. Had a Dollar Store Birthday Party at Home
The 3 year old was just happy to have his friends over to play!
17. No 58 cent IHOP Pancakes
I love deals like that, but this year I’ll send that 58 cents to the credit card.
18. Blogged for Christmas Gifts
19. Entered Giveaways
Laugh at me if you want to, but we won a quarter of freezer beef, $100, and more.
20. Saved Envelopes
When I get junk mail, I keep the return envelope and toss the rest. I use them for sending money to school and whatever else we need. One less dollar store purchase!
21. Reused a Trifold Poster
…for school projects at least 3 times.
22. Avoided Yard Sales
That probably seems counter intuitive when you’re paying off debt. But like a store, I often bring home more than I actually needed from a yard sale. Unless I’m looking for something specific, I avoid them now.
23. Shopped Without a Cart
If I only need 1-3 things from a store, I won’t grab a cart or basket. That keeps me from picking up extra deals.
24. Time With Friends
I begged off shopping parties when I could. And I tried to encourage my friends to meet someplace cheap or free when we got together. (Luckily they like to save money, too!)
25. No Team Mom Shirt
We can support our young athletes without wearing their number on our back.
26. Didn’t Chaperone
I’d love to chaperone a field trip, but some of them cost quite a bit of money to attend. My kids are in good hands even if I can’t go along.
27. Wore Ratty Gym Shoes
Luckily I also own boots and flip flops!
28. Avoided Clearance Racks
…especially after the holidays! I don’t need those $1 trinkets, but I do need one less dollar of debt.
29. No Animals
I miss having chickens and wanted to start a new flock. Have you ever heard of chicken math? It’s the tendency to keep adding “just one more” to your flock. Eek!
We also typically buy a couple of lambs to show as 4-H projects. Neither of those things are happening this year.
30. Sent in Found Money
You know, it’s that unexpected check that shows up in the mail. The refund you got on your debit card. The $5 you found on the ground. I’ve even sent checks for $4.31 in to the credit card. Every little bit helps!
31. Cheap or Free Entertainment
Hiking in parks replaced our zoo pass. Our vacation last year was a camping trip in a local state park. I don’t even grab a movie at the Redbox.
32. Broke Up our Paycheck
To make things as simple for my brain as possible, we opened a checking account at a different bank. We deposit a chunk of money there straight from every check. That money is only for credit card payments. This helps it to not be “accidentally” spent elsewhere. I explain the whole process here.
33. Didn’t Move Our Credit Card Balance
One thing about being in debt is that you get credit card offers in the mail every day. They scream about 0% rates on balance transfers. But you have to pay a 2-4% balance transfer fee on all the money you move. You’re usually better off paying it down quickly than paying that fee. (Unless you have a terrible rate over 20%!)
34. Paid the Scary Monster First
Dave Ramsey fans, avert your eyes! We didn’t pay the card with the lowest balance or the highest interest rate first. Instead, we tackled the card that scared us the most. It’s got the highest balance and we’ve had it forever. I knew that if we didn’t pay it first, it would be a scary monster lingering in the background. I didn’t want to quit paying debt due to intimidation, so I tackled it first.
35. Emergency Funds and Sinking Funds First
Many people tell you to save up at least a small emergency fund before you pay off debt. We did that, but only recently did we realize the importance of it. With that and proper sinking funds in place, we’ve learned to stop reaching for the credit card when something goes wrong. You MUST learn this lesson, or being in debt will become your permanent way of living.
36. Haircuts at Home
I pull out my clippers and give my boys a buzz cut whenever they need one.
Some of these crazy tips are big and some are small. But all of them are better than being in debt!
You’ll find that if you stack enough small savings together, they make a huge impact!
Want more motivation for getting out of debt? I’ve got 14 different ideas for you to try!
Let’s make this list even longer! I’d love to hear a crazy thing you’ve done to get out of debt.