3 Ways to Diminish Debt


Debt comes in many forms, but it generally leaves the same feeling to those in debt. And it's not a good one.

Car payments, mortgage payments and even the cost of a cup of coffee may be stretching you beyond your budget, but you can get yourself back on track financially. The road to getting out of debt requires a little organization, some patience and a lot of creativity.

1. Do some group therapy. Chances are you’re not the only person who’s trying to pay down debt. So, instead of going it alone, get your friends and family involved. You can run your group like a book club and assign reading such as Suze Orman’s Young, Fabulous and Broke or Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. If you are feeling ambitious, set it up as a seminar and invite financial pros to come talk to you. Although you can always rely on friends and associates to set you up with their financial guru, you may want to contact a professional organization such as the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors at 847-483-5400 or go to the Financial Planning Association to find one in your area.

A money group may sound a little like a 12-step program, but if you have a support network in place, you can trust your friends to keep you from backsliding.

2. Budget smarter. It may be convenient for you to buy a 50 ounce bottle of Tide (Stock Quote: PG) for $21.49 each month or a 20 oz. bottle of Palmolive (Stock Quote: CL) at $4. 98 every two weeks, but you can save $365.68 a year by making these products at home.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has detailed instructions for how to make your own cleansers from scratch. (We also have our own tips for DIY cleaners.) Instead of throwing money away at the grocery store, you can put that $365.68 to good use by paying down your credit card.

3. Work a second job from home.
Financial experts such as Braun Mincher, the Fort Collins, Colo.-based author of The Secrets of Money: A Guide for Everyone on Practical Financial Literacy, say that taking a second job is a good strategy for getting out of debt. It’s especially convenient if you can make money from home by working as a tutor or as a freelance writer in your off hours.

According to a recent report from AOL (Stock Quote: TWX), tutors can expect to make as much as $22 per hour, and freelance writers can make as much as $45.62 per hour. So, if you work five hours a week as a tutor at $22 an hour, that’s $110 a week. If you do that for the entire academic year, nine months, you’d make about $3,960. You’ll have to report those earnings and pay taxes, but not bad for an hour a day. (For more ideas, see MainStreet's take on jobs you can do in your pajamas.)

These and other part-time jobs are easy to find on websites such as Careerbuilder.com, SimplyHired.com and Mediabistro.com. However, you could also let people find you by posting a free ad on Craigslist.org.

Good luck!

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