Save Money

How to pay off debt without extra income

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It IS possible to pay off debt without getting a second job or launching a side hustle.  It takes a lot of determination and endurance to make it happen, but you CAN do it.  Have you already cut all of these items out?  If so, you might need to look at a job with better income,  government assistance, or a way to make money on the side.

We are on a mission now to pay off all debt except our mortgage, and that includes various credit balances, a car loan, and student loans.  We loosely follow Dave Ramsay’s plan, and use the debt snowball method.  We used this method to pay off thousands in debt earlier in our marriage, but we’ve slacked a little and not focused on it.  Here are the steps we follow:

  1. Review all debt and current remaining balances
  2. List your debts smallest to highest.  We made a large poster and hung it in our closet.  It was so satisfying to cross off our debts when they were paid!  The poster was a daily visual reminder to help us stay on track with our goal
  3. Review your spending and find ways to cut those out (see my list below)
  4. Make a budget and stick to it.  Whether it’s on paper, using an app like EveryDollar, or making a spreadsheet, you need a plan to follow.  On your budget, you need to see exactly what extra funds you have to put towards debt each week.

Save thousands of dollars this year towards retirement, your child's education, or to pay off debt using the snowball method by Dave Ramsey. This list of 25 ways to save money doesn't require a side hustle or extra income. Saving and budgeting tips via The Motherhood Project blog!

25 Ways to cut your spending and save $4500 a year:

  1. Get rid of subscriptions.  You can check out audiobooks from your library, and many libraries also offer ebooks online.
    • Audible $192
    • Netflix $108
    • Amazon Prime (if you’re desperate) $99
    • Kindle Unlimited $120
  2. Shop around for services (insurance, oil changes, tv)
    • Our preferred car servicer offers a text club and occasionally sends $5 coupons so I’ll use those to save.  They have the best deal in town, and charge much less than larger dealerships.  $20
    • Auto Insurance can get pretty costly.  First, talk to an agent about how you can reduce costs.  Often, there are price breaks for good drivers, marital status changes, and even as you hit older age brackets.  If that doesn’t do it, try checking online quotes and finding a more affordable option for equivalent coverage.  A friend of mine recently cut her bill in half by switching her provider!  $240
  3. Cut the cords!  Get rid of cable or satellite TV using one of these alternatives & save $400+ in a year
  4. Negotiate lower prices
    • When it seemed like my bill kept climbing, I called Verizon and asked if there was anything they could do to keep me as a customer.  It just took 15-20 minutes of my time one evening and I saved $25 a month.  $300
    • Not ready to cut the TV?  Call your provider and ask for the intro offer they’re giving to new customers.  If they won’t honor it, switch to another provider to slash your bill. $300
  5. Pay bills on time or auto-pay your bills.  I am the world’s worst for this, and get a $5 charge on a regular basis from Verizon, plus I’ve gotten a couple of late fees for credit charges that I forgot.  I’ve set reminders for myself to pay on time and think it will save me about $75.
  6. Pack your lunch.  This one is huge!  If you’re eating out or grabbing a soda and snacks from the vending machine every day for lunch, you’re probably at LEAST spending $5 a day.  Start packing your lunch at least three days a week and you’ll save around $800 in a year.
  7. Meal prep or meal plan for dinners.  Many of us grab a fast food option or pick up dinner 1-2 nights a week.  Cut yourself down to only one of those a week and you could save over $1000
  8. Use coupons and promo codes
    • Get cash-back for almost ALL of your online shopping with Ebates.  When you sign up through my link, you’ll earn $10 just for joining after your first purchase through it.  Check out more tips for Ebates: Top five money saving apps to make extra cash  $50
    • Two other grocery rebate apps I use are Ibotta and Checkout51.  I’ve earned over $100 through these two apps this year, with pretty minimal effort buying the things I regularly buy.  $100
    • Use an app to help get refunds for price drops like Paribus or Earny.  I’ve just signed up for Paribus, so I can’t vouch for it yet, but they say their users earn $300 on average in a year and you don’t have to do a thing!  Learn more in this ABC News article:  Apps that help find refunds after a purchase 
  9. Have a no-spend month.  We’re only spending on necessary items this month and being extremely strict on our budget.  No eating out, trying to save as much as possible on groceries, and no spontaneous purchases.  We’ll save at least $100 by not eating out but I’m hoping for more like $200
  10. Have a staycation or take day trips.  We usually like to do a trip to the mountains for a weekend in December to get shopping done and take a break in the holidays. This year, we’re going to save about on a vacation rental by doing a day trip instead to do our Christmas shopping.  We’ll probably also do a PTO day to spend time with family or do holiday prep instead of an overnight trip.  $250
  11. Use a “smart card” / savings card.  I’m not sure how widespread this program is, but many schools and organizations sell savings cards here for local attractions.  Free sodas at our favorite Mexican restaurant, $5 off pizza, and discounts at several retailers.  $100
  12. Drink water.  If you eat out once a week, you’re probably spending about $2 for a drink other than iced water.  Over the course of the year, that’s $100+ in drink costs!  $100
  13. Sell some stuff.  Have extra furniture or clothes that your kids have outgrown?  $200
    • Sell on LSN, Craigslist, or the Facebook Marketplace
    • If you have a lot, have a yard sale, or join a neighborhood yard sale
    • Sell kids stuff at a consignment sale


Big changes start with small steps.  Work your way through this list and see how much you can shave off your expenses and put towards debt, or save!