Do you feel completely buried in debt? I know I do! We are paying off more than $600k in student loan debt and honestly, it’s hard! But, we have successfully paid off more than $150k of student loan debt so far and I’ve learned some strategies that make it SO much easier. Here are 6 easy ways to pay off debt.

(1) Keep your day job.

We’ve seen lots of folks quitting their day jobs to pursue their passions full time. It seems that a lot of of millennials are looking for ways to beat the 9 – 5. I can DEFINITELY respect and aspire to that journey, but in the mean time, we are keeping the jobs we have gone to school for, for so long. Danny will make a good salary as a dentist. He will be pursuing one thing he loves and helping people. He’ll have great hours. You really can’t beat that. I will continue to be a lawyer. I might not have the great hours Danny will have, but we will be able to chip away at our debt with our dual income.

We need a steady flow of income coming in so we can pay off debt fast. We have business ideas and ventures that will take some time money to pursue. Instead of foregoing our 9-5’s to pursue those ventures, we are pursuing them while keeping our 9-5’s. I know what you are thinking– on every single episode of Shark Tank the investors ask the start up’s if they are working on their product/service full time. If they aren’t, Mark Cuban and his buddies almost never invest with them. But ask yourself this, is Mark Cuban only working on one thing? Absolutely not. And he’s way more filthy rich than the people coming to him asking him for money. So do you want to be like Mark Cuban, or do you want to be like some poor guy coming in asking for money? Cuban. Every time.

So, for now, we are keeping our day jobs. And we are adding more jobs too, which leads us to #2.

(2) Master the art of the side hustle. 

If you are going to pay off big debt (for us, well over six figures of debt) you are going to have to increase your income. One way to do so is by mastering the art of the side hustle. In addition to working your day job, you should be doing something else on the side to earn extra cash that can go into your student loans. This can range from starting up some business venture, to doing smaller things, like participating in focus groups.

We do photography on the side. We sell stock photos. We have this blog. We shop sales and use coupons for groceries, using free apps like Ibotta. We are mystery shoppers. We’ve also been known to mow yards, paint houses/businesses, babysit, sell plasma, pick PENNIES up off the ground, do online surveys, the list goes on. We are constantly searching for side hustling opportunities.

(3) Make your student loan payments your top priority.

We pay tithing to our church, put a teeny tiny amount in savings, allocate a small amount to our monthly budget, and dump the REMAINDER in student loans. Student loans are our highest monthly payment, by a long shot. In fact, we pay more to our student loans than the rest of our monthly budget combined. We were pretty unlucky when it comes to interest on our student loans. Many of our loans have between 7% – 8% interest. That adds up fast when you have six figures of debt. It might make sense for other people who have a much lower rate to invest their money otherwise and not be in such a rush to pay them off. For us, everything extra goes to student loans, every time. We refinanced Amber’s student loans and paid hers off in 18 months and we will refinance Danny’s once his balance is under $500k to get a better interest rate. Refinancing to get us a lower interest rate will save us literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the end.

When we think “Ohhhh I am craving sushi!” our second thought is “hmmm. $40 of sushi at 8% interest over the next 5-10 years.” All of the sudden, that expensive sushi just got really expensive ($56 over five years, $72 over 10, if you were wondering). That is a surefire way to help yourself stay committed to your student loan repayment.

(4) Live where the cost of living is low.

We are moving to TULSA Oklahoma next month. When people around us find out that is where we are headed, we generally get scrunched up faces and lots of follow up questions. They don’t understand two things that were huge for us that Tulsa has: 1) the nicest people in the U.S. and 2) a crazy cheap cost of living. In fact, AREA VIBES gives it an A+ for cost of living and SPERLING’S BEST PLACES rates Tulsa as one of the best places to live because the cost of living is well below the national average. So, we might die in tornadoes and earth quakes, but we will live cheaply and the people around us will be nice.

So many of us focus on saving money in little ways like eating out less, couponing, or otherwise living frugally. But if you have any control over where you live, you can save THOUSANDS of dollars just by living somewhere cheap. Its an easy way to save BIG.

(5) Live frugally.

Drive a used car and take public transit.

I feel like this is one of the easiest ways to save thousands of dollars. You don’t need a fancy car. You don’t need a new car.

But, you also don’t have to drive a total clunker, finances permitting. Don’t be afraid to drive a used, modest car. Also, don’t be afraid of public transportation. Ehhh.. Depending on where you live. Some places, I guess you should be afraid. In Tulsa, public transportation is just not well designed and is almost impossible to get everywhere you need to go. We LOVED living in China and taking public transportation everywhere we went. No car maintenance, no paying for gas, no monthly payment. Just shell out a few bucks and get going. Obviously this is not feasible everywhere.

After we totaled our car in December, we bought an old 2006 Toyota that cost $5000. It runs great and our payment is about $100 a month. It is actually pretty fun to drive and has a cute little sun roof. We had people ask us what we were going to buy a car from when we started shopping around and we couldn’t believe how many people suggested new cars for us, knowing how much debt we have. Frankly, we don’t have $30-50k just lying around to pay for a new car with– and if we did, it would go straight into student loans. It just has become the norm to buy a new car and it is not necessary. Now, if you can afford a new car, more power to ya. Go for it. We can’t, so we didn’t. And we are perfectly happy with what we have.

(6) Invest in small things that will give you immediate cash flow.

We’ll be posting more about this in the future. We have started investing in rental income properties as a strategy to help pay off our student loans. This is obviously more controversial, but when we have as much debt as we have, we are going to have to be creative to pay it off. I do not recommend this strategy for everyone. For us, it makes sense because where we are moving the cost of rent is high but the cost of a mortgage is cheap. We also qualify for “physicians loans” where we don’t need a big down payment (or actually any down payment at all). We are hoping to pull in a little bit of cash flow to help pay off our debt faster. We are willing to be landlords, but we can definitely appreciate that is not something everyone is willing to or even should do.

What are YOU doing to pay off debt?

Stay in the loop! Gain access to all of my money saving hacks I’m using to help pay off more than $600k of student loan debt!

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6 easy ways to pay off debt

12 thoughts on “6 EASY WAYS TO PAY OFF DEBT

  1. Good on you for deciding to live in a low cost of living area despite the tornadoes 🙂 Especially one where rent is high but mortgages are low. We live in a similar area and that has been really helpful in increasing our cash flow.

  2. I love your ambitious goal! My husband and I are on a journey to pay off our debt as well, but I’m very eager to leave my job and I feel like I’ve been holding on for some time now. The stable pay is great and truly what’s best for our aggressive debt payoff, but I’m hoping to build my online income to support my portion of our monthly expenses and extra money to put toward debt payments.

  3. This is awesome! I am also so on board with the whole “moving to where cost of living is low” plan. My fiance and I moved to a small town for a year, and although it wasn’t ultimately the place for us, there was a greater opportunity to save money. If you can make it work with your lifestyle, it can become a large reason for your financial success. Sounds like you have it figured out and I cannot wait to follow your journey.

    1. Thanks Alyssa! I am actually looking at your blog now and cracking up! Yeah– living in a low cost area is all fine and good until you realize there is nothing you can do there and you would rather die. Its great in theory but I totally get that its not for everyone! We’re hoping to only be there temporarily 🙂

  4. Another great thing about a low COL area is how hard it is to have lifestyle inflation. If fancy restaurants and cocktails are not the norm, they won’t really tempt you.

    I’ve never heard about physician loans. Sounds like a great option.

  5. 600k in debt but are willing to take on the risk of being a landlord? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen to me! I hope you are talking about an owner occupied duplex or quadplex and not straight up buying places to rent. Yes, you CAN get a 0% down loan but as a young family do you really want to be living on zero safety net for the immediate future? If you can’t get money for a downpayment in a LCOL area how are you going to have money to replace a roof or pick up the slack from vacancies?

  6. I’m so excited I found your blog via Student Loan Hero! My husband and I have a combined 100k in dual grad school loans. I teach remotely online for two universities (even with a “useless” art history degree), and he is a travel Speech Pathologist. By choosing the traveling lifestyle, he makes significantly higher pay while also reducing our living costs. We live in a travel trailer with our 3 little kids (crazy, yes) and his per diem pays our campground fees and then some. We hope to have ALL of our debt (close to $130k) paid off in 3 years. I’ll definitely be reading through your archives for tips!

    Also, Tulsa is the best! We lived in OKC for 8 years, and we still talk about moving back when we’re done traveling.


    1. Kate!! I love your story. I think that is AWESOME that you are living in a travel trailer while you are paying off debt! Good for you guys. And isn’t Oklahoma so nice?? We’ve been here about two years and we can’t get over how nice people are here haha. Good luck on your journey, keep in touch! I’d love to hear about your progress.

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