If you’re knee-deep in credit card debt, it’s easy to get caught in the minimum payment trap. But putting extra cash toward your credit card bill every month is your ticket to saving money on interest and improving your financial flexibility. Here are a few ways to find more money to pay off your credit card debt now and in the future.
1. Don’t go grocery shopping
We’re not suggesting you starve yourself to get out of debt. But instead of heading to the grocery store the next time you’re running low on food, take a second look at your pantry. You may find enough food to make a few decent meals if you’re creative. You can then take whatever money you would have spent on unnecessary groceries and put it toward your debt.
2. Enlist a trusted friend to cut your hair
The average price of a woman’s hair cut in the United States is $44, according to data from mobile payment company Square, while a man’s haircut averages $28 (and that’s not including a tip). Let’s say a woman spends the average $44 for a haircut every six weeks — or eight times a year — that’s an average savings of $352. That’s a nice chunk of change to throw at debt! However, because you’re the one that has to live with your decisions, be sure to find a friend who has a steady hand.
3. Go out for ice cream instead of dinner
The thought of telling your friends you can’t go out on the weekends because you’re trying to pay off debt might be terrifying. But on an average night, dinner and drinks could easily cost you $50. So instead of going out for dinner or drinks every weekend, try ice cream or frozen yogurt. You’ll still get to socialize, but you can set aside what you’re saving to add to your credit card bill.
4. Cut back on giving
According to the National Philanthropic Trust, 95.4% of American households give an average of $2,974 to charity annually. In a 2014 NerdWallet study, the Nerds found that U.S. households that carry debt have more than five times that amount in credit card debt. Even if you cut the average giving in half to pay off debt, that’s almost $1,500 a year.
Repurposing charitable giving for debt repayment may seem selfish. But as airlines suggest when covering plane safety procedures, you can put yourself in danger if you don’t put on your own oxygen mask before helping your neighbor with theirs. The sooner you pay off your debt, the more flexibility you have to give to charity.
5. Automate savings specifically to pay off debt
One of the most effective ways to save money is to treat your savings like a bill, so why not set up a savings account meant for debt reduction? Most banks allow you to set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Another option is to use an automated savings tool like Digit. Automating your debt payoff amount every month may give you less flexibility to spend your money how you want during the month. But once your credit cards are paid off, you’ll have more flexibility in the long run.
» MORE: How to pay off debt
6. Sell your stuff
Chances are you have stuff lying around the house that you no longer use. Instead of letting it collect dust, try selling it on Craigslist or eBay. Another option is to set up a yard sale. You may not get a lot of money for your things, but every last dollar counts when you’re tackling your debt.
7. Rent out a room
If you have some extra space, considering renting out one of your rooms for a few hundred dollars a month. Because you’ll be sharing common living space, you’ll need to exercise caution with this option. The best choice is to rent to someone you know. You can also list your extra room on vacation rental site Airbnb. The process is simple, and Airbnb offers certain protections for hosts.
The bottom line
Instead of using a debt snowball, try the debt snowflake method: Find little chunks of extra cash in your everyday spending to use to pay off your credit card debt. It may not have a big impact immediately, but small efforts like these can help you save money on interest and pay off your credit card debt sooner.
Image via iStock.