15 Ways to Get Out of Debt Even If You Can’t Afford Extra Payments

Debt doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. In fact, carrying a small amount of debt is better than not having any credit history at all. They key to success is keeping your debt to income ratio under control.

If you have a lot of debt and you don’t have enough income to cover the payments, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. But there are some ways you can work on reducing your total amount of debt without making a payment.

Ahead, check out a few ways you can reduce your debt even if you don’t have extra money.

1. Work on your credit score

credit score
Credit score | scyther5/iStock/Getty Images

The better your credit score, the better rates and promotions you’ll qualify for, which will help you spend less overall during your debt payoff strategy.

Even if you don’t put a penny toward your debt, you can start by looking into everything that’s on your credit report and ensuring all the information is accurate. Also, paying the minimum payments on time will help your credit score stay solid until you have the extra funds to start paying off your debt.

Next: This will save you hundreds if not thousands.

2. Get lower interest rates

Figuring out finances
Figuring out finances | Natnan Srisuwan/iStock/Getty Images

The single biggest factor to paying off debt in a timely fashion is what interest rate percentage you’re paying. Even if your interest rates went up because promotional periods ended or you made a few late payments, it is possible to call credit card companies and negotiate your current rates. Hey, the worst they can say is, “No.”

Next: This can free up money in your budget.

3. Reduce your monthly bills

Money | Sarinyapinngam/iStock/Getty Images

If you don’t have any money right now for paying down debt and no means to make more income, then you should work on reducing your monthly recurring bills to get some wiggle room in your budget.

Cancel any unused subscriptions or automatic deductions, stop paying for gym memberships you never use, install energy-efficient lighting, and make other efforts to stop wasting money where you can.

Next: You can save big on this one thing.

4. Shop for new insurance

Piggy bank with umbrella concept
Piggy bank | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Sure, you’ve heard by now that you can save 15% or more on auto insurance by switching. But have you actually tried shopping around and checking out rates lately? Getting a lower home or car insurance rate will free up more money in your budget, which you can eventually put toward debt payoff.

Next: These professionals might be able to help.

5. Work with a credit repair company

Financial advisor
Financial advice | Szepy/iStock/Getty Images

There are times when it’s best to call in the professionals. As long as the agency is reputable, credit repair professionals can help you negotiate down the total amount you owe, get lower rates, and stop debt collection phone calls. These agencies are trained in dealing with credit card companies and may be able to get better deals than you can on your own.

Next: Experts recommend making this one move.

6. Transfer credit card balances

Credit cards and money
Credit cards | Alexialex/iStock/Getty Images

Want to save the most money on your debt? See if you qualify for a 0% interest credit card and if you’re able to transfer your debt. If not, taking out a personal loan or even a lower interest credit card to pay off your existing debt will save you tons of money on interest in the long run. Just be sure to use it responsibly and don’t add more debt on top of what you already have.

Next: You may not have to pay as much as you owe.

7. Negotiate your bills

On the phone
On the phone | MangoStar_Studio/iStock/Getty Images

If you want to reduce your overall debt, sometimes all you need to do is ask.

You may be able to settle your bills for less than you owe, especially if they’re from years ago or if you haven’t been paying on them. This almost always applies to medical bills.

Call the credit card or debt collection company and ask for a one-time settlement. Often these totals are up for negotiation.

Next: Here’s one bill you’re most likely paying too much for.

8. Try to reduce your cell phone bill

iPhone 4s screen with app store and settings
iPhone | bedo/iStock/Getty Images

One of the easiest monthly bills you can tackle? Your cell phone bill. So many people pay way too much for cell phone service thinking it’s the only way. Instead, ditch the big cell service companies and try some alternative providers. You can cut your bill in half – or more.

Next: Your situation may require a different solution than everyone else’s.

9. Talk to a debt counselor

Financial planning
Financial planning | wutwhanfoto/iStock/Getty Images

There’s a reason why there are so many articles discussing debt reduction – it’s no small feat. Instead of trying to figure everything out by yourself, schedule an appointment with a debt counselor who can help you meet debt reduction goals no matter what your circumstances. Instead of following everyone else on the internet, this plan will be catered to your unique situation.

Next: If you don’t plan, you can’t win.

10. Make a plan for reducing your debt

Debt | zimmytws/ iStock/Getty Images

There is no way to get rid of your debt if you don’t know exactly how much you have. Before you begin throwing money at the problem, sit down and calculate exactly how much you owe and who you owe it to. Even if you can’t start paying on it today, knowing where you stand and how you intend to pay it off is the first step to getting out of debt.

Next: Come up with specific goals.

11. Get motivated

make money financial chart
Make money | eternalcreative/iStock/Getty Images

Are you trying to achieve financial freedom so you can retire? Take a dream vacation? Stop worrying about money? No matter what your motivation for paying off debt, you’ll want to commit to the cause if it’s ever going to work.

Whether you use financial calculators to figure out that amazing debt-free day (assuming you stick to the plan) or you give yourself rewards along the way, figuring out a way to stay motivated is the only way to succeed at your goal.

Next: Make a little money on the side.

12. Start a side hustle

cash register drawer
Money | Ozgur Coskun/iStock/Getty Images

Living paycheck to paycheck means you don’t have the funds to put toward paying down debt. The best way to combat this? Make more money.

Think outside the box of ways to earn a little extra income. If you’re great at baking, consider selling your goodies at a local farmer’s market. Good at teaching? Try tutoring. Love kids? Offer babysitting for neighborhood families. There are tons of ways to generate extra money and every dollar helps the bottom line.

Next: This common mistake will only make things worse.

13. Stop adding to your debt

cutting credit card
Cutting your credit card | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

This seems like a no-brainer, but it must be said: the only way to get out of debt is to stop adding to it. Before you tackle your debt, cut up all your credit cards and vow to stop using them immediately. The faster you get used to only spending the money you have, the better.

Next: Cut out luxuries for now.

14. Reduce expenses

Piggy bank with calculator
Piggy bank | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

Take a deep dive into your bank account and figure out where your money is going. Then figure out exactly where you can cut unnecessary expenses. Take that $20 per week you save when you make coffee at home instead of buying it and put it toward paying down debt instead.

Next: But mostly, give yourself a break.

15. Go easy on yourself

banking and people concept
Wallet | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

The most important thing to remember is this: excessive debt is nothing to be ashamed of. With the right plan in place and the proper tools, anyone can overcome their debt and start living a more carefree, financially stable life. Give yourself time and eventually, you’ll be debt-free, too.