If you're in debt and struggling, you have probably considered the most popular ways to pay down debt. The debt snowball and debt avalanche methods are longstanding options – each asking you to prioritize certain debts in order to get out of debt faster. Of course, you can also consider a balance transfer credit card to secure 0 percent interest for anywhere from 12 – 21 months.
But, what if you don't like these options? What if you want to forge your own path to debt freedom? At the end of the day, how you pay down debt doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that you do.
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few stories that highlight some alternative ways to get out of debt:
Start a Blog...and Monetize It
If you're searching for a side hustle with flexible hours, a blog or website might be what you need. Jim Wang of WalletHacks.com started a blog in 2005 as a way to earn extra cash to pay down student loans. While it took a while to become profitable, his website helped him pay off $30,000 in debt over time.
"In the beginning, when it made just a few dollars a month, I'd just put all that extra into the loan and was able to pay down the debt in about four years," says Wang.
Pick Up a Quirky Side Hustle
When you need to pay down debt, almost any type of paid work will do. And if it involves dressing up as a farm animal, so be it.
Crystal Stemberger of Budgeting In the Fun Stuff accepted this philosophy when she picked up a gig as the Chick-fil-A mascot cow in 2012.
"I'm 5'2" so I fit into the Kid Cow mascot suit and was used as a backup cow whenever the teenagers were busy," she said. "It only brought in $10 an hour, but it was part of the block of our income that we used to pay off our first house."
Pick Up Seasonal Work
When Alaya Linton of HopeandCents.com needed to pay down debt, she turned to the government for part-time work – partly because it was available, but also because of higher-than-average pay.
"I became a census-taker during the 2010 US census to help pay down my debt," she says. "It was a bit humbling knocking on doors of people I potentially knew, but it was a much higher-paying gig than some of the other side jobs I was considering, and I was able to put the entire summer's earnings towards the debt."
Move Away from the Big City
When Andrew Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero, was paying down debt, he realized his New York City lifestyle might be too expensive. To save money – and to free up more cash to throw towards his $100,000+ in student loans – Josuweit moved from New York City to inexpensive Austin, Texas.
With that one move, he says, he saved $8,000 in personal income taxes alone. Better yet, he lowered his cost of living substantially and paid down debt even faster.
Sell Your Stuff
When Deacon Hayes of Well Kept Wallet married his wife, they discovered they had around $52,000 in consumer debt between the two of them. Around $17,000 of that debt was a brand new car that was upside down by around $1,000, he says.
"In order to sell the car we had to come up with the difference," notes Deacon. "We ended up selling a bunch of her clothes as well as odds and ends on Ebay to make this happen. We were able to sell the car quickly which allowed us to pay off all $52,000 in debt in only 18 months!"
Accept an Overseas Job with Free Room and Board
Vanessa Page of VanessasMoney.com took a huge chance to become debt-free – she accepted a job overseas and moved to the opposite side of the world.
"I moved to South Korea to teach English," she says. "The pay was about $2,700 plus overtime and included my flights and accommodation.
After 10 months, she had paid off her student loans entirely and was able to move back to Alberta, Canada, where she lives now.
Take Advantage of a Free Place to Live
While not everyone is offered a free place to live during their lifetime, it definitely happens. And when Aja McClanahan of Principles of Increase, got her offer, she jumped at the opportunity.
"I actually moved to the inner-city, where a relative offered us a home with no mortgage," says McClanahan. "We were suburbanites and were a little jolted moving into a home with bullet holes in the back door."
In the end, it worked out rather well, she says. Not only has her family been safe, but they have been able to remain debt-free due to the fact they have no mortgage. Better yet, they have become active members in their community where many helping hands are needed.
Getting out of debt isn't easy, but it does require some creative thinking. Either you have to dedicate yourself to paying your debts off over time, or you have to think of an alternative way to ditch your bills.
Fortunately, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to get started. And if your own path out of debt is a little unusual, that's perfectly okay. The most important thing you can do is hatch a plan to become debt-free, then see it through to the end.