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6 Ways to Pay Off Debt When You Have No Money

Clearing your debt is an important step on your journey to financial independence. The problem is, there are so many people who are struggling to make a dent in their debt because of their limited incomes. Not having much disposable income doesn’t have to mean abandoning your dream of financial independence though!


If you find yourself in a situation where you simply don’t have the income to pay off your debt, read on for six creative ideas on how to generate additional income without needing any money in the bank.

Turn Free Things Into Profit

One way to generate income is to repurpose and reuse other people’s garbage. We’ve all heard the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, in today's consumeristic world, this has never been truer!

People throw away so many things that can still be useful. For instance, Amon loves woodworking. So he repurposed the wood from old pallets people no longer wanted, to create new pieces of furniture. He would make different pieces of furniture with the pallets, like bookcases and wine racks, and then resell them for a profit. You could do the same! Depending on the resources you have available, you may be able to cut your expenses for this down significantly. Amon, for instance, was able to rent out the tools that he needed for free from the local library!

That said, I get that “dumpster diving” may not be for everyone. But that doesn’t mean this tip can’t apply to you. There are so many platforms, such as Facebook groups, Craigslist, or even Freecycle.org, where you can acquire free things and then turn around and sell them for a profit! So keep an eye out for things you can get for free and see if you can use them to turn a profit!


Trade Skills for Expenses

Most people have some kind of skill that others might find useful, such as graphic design, maintenance jobs, website development, etc. So next time you need something from a local vendor, try asking if there is anything that you can do for them in exchange for goods. A lot of smaller mom-and-pop businesses may be open to this kind of barter system because it saves them money as well. And once you’re able to acquire the goods that you need for free, you can then put the money that would otherwise have gone towards that expense towards paying off your debt!

Managing Assets for Someone Else

Property management is a great way to bring in some extra cash. This could mean being a co-host for someone else’s Airbnb property, being a property manager for a condo or apartment building, or even being a resident advisor like Amon and I were at one point.

If you’re not entirely comfortable managing an entire property or portfolio, then consider another spin on this where you live with someone who needs assistance around the house, like someone who is elderly or has mobility issues, and offer them help in exchange for living rent free in one of their rooms. This might involve things like cooking, cleaning, or serving as a handyman.

Now because this is a bit unorthodox, it may require a bit of networking on your end in order to find some of these opportunities. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know you're looking for these kinds of live-in situations and you might end up surprised at the opportunities that present themselves! If you’re able to find an opportunity to live rent free in exchange for property management services, perhaps by serving as a building superintendent or a live-in helper for example, you’ll be able to save that rent money and put it towards paying off your debt!


Return the Debt

This one’s pretty straight forward. If you made a purchase in the last 1-3 months that you realize may not be the most financially responsible: Take it back! Take the cash from the return and pay off some of your debt. The idea behind this is to try and minimize your consumption. This can apply to big-ticket items like furniture or electronics, or things like your cell phone plan where, for instance, returning the phone now, accepting the fees associated with contract termination, and opting for a cheaper plan might end up being cheaper in the long run than continuing to pay for that phone and plan. Really, anything that you can do to reduce your expenses will end up saving you money that you can then reallocate to debt repayment.

Negotiate Your Debt

Something that many people don't realize is that you can negotiate with debt collection agencies. Collections agencies make their money by buying your debt from the original person or institution you incurred it from at a much cheaper rate. This means that they will likely still be able to make money if you pay them less than what you owe. For example, if they bought your $10,000 debt for, let's say, $5,000 then they would likely be willing to negotiate down because they would still be able to make a profit as long as you pay more than $5,000. The only catch with this is that in order to negotiate your debt, you’ll need to have the negotiated amount readily available. But the bottom line is: When talking to these agencies, whatever you do, ALWAYS NEGOTIATE, because by purchasing the debt for cents on the dollar, debt collectors can afford to collect less from you.


Minimize and Sell Your Belongings

Sell anything that you own that you can live without. Take a hard look at your belongings, from furniture and electronics, to clothes and appliances, and determine whether or not you really need these things. If not, go ahead and sell them off on platforms like Facebook, Craigslist, Poshmark, Ebay, Amazon, Declutter.com, etc. to bring in some extra cash. In our case, we sold so many things in our home that we didn’t need or use, like end-tables, mirrors, and extra TVs, that we were able to make a lot of extra money while also minimizing clutter in our house! Any amount you make by selling your unnecessary belongings can be put towards your debt repayment.

Having a limited income doesn’t have to mean financial independence is unattainable. Try out these six ideas to generate additional income to pay down your debt and once you have this extra money, you can start attacking your debt, reducing that huge financial burden, and working towards financial independence!


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Hello, We’re Amon & Christina

We’re former federal government employees that focused on saving, making, and investing money so that we could grow enough wealth in our investments to never have to work again.

And, guess what? We did it! At the age of 39, we reached financial independence, quit our jobs, and . . . we retired!

So, if you’re interested in learning how to save, make and invest money on the road to financial independence and retiring early (i.e., F.I.R.E.) - this site is for you!

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