- Babysitting I used SitterCity to find jobs. You “work” for two hours, and then the kids go to bed, so you have downtime. I now have several families who use me all of the time—and they pay well.
- Focus Groups These sessions, where you talk about consumer products, pay anywhere from $100 to $250 for a couple hours. You can research groups that pay on Findfocusgroups.com.
- Odd Jobs I check the temporary gigs section of Craigslist for everything from back-end data entry to serving drinks at a party. There are also apps for finding quick, easy jobs, like Field Agent and Gigwalk.
- Mock Jury Jobs They are a ton of fun! I did one so that defense lawyers on a high-profile trial could practice trial strategies. It paid $200 for a day of work. Check Craigslist or google “mock jury” in your area.
- Mystery Shopping You pretend to be a customer at a hotel, restaurant or entertainment venue, and then report back to the company on your experience. (To try it for yourself, check out the Mystery Shopper Providers Association.) You don’t earn money—the company pays for the meal or hotel stay—but this enabled me to still have nights out with friends and my boyfriend.
During this process, people at my company noticed what a hard worker I was, and I got five promotions, increasing my salary by $20,000.
With my cost cutting and extra income, I was able to reach my goal of putting $2,000 extra toward my debt each month. After paying the minimum on my student loans, I put all of my extra money toward my credit card, paying it off in about five months. Next I focused on paying off the private loan with the 9% interest rate. I ultimately worked my way through all of my loans in this manner.
Embracing My New, No-Debt Lifestyle
Before I decided to tackle my debt, it wasn’t something that I ever discussed with anyone. Now co-workers, bosses, friends, people I sort of know and even my boyfriend’s mother ask: “How are you doing with your debt?”
It keeps me accountable.
Sure, I have to make sacrifices. Since I normally work an extra 15 to 20 hours per week in addition to my day job, I sometimes have to say no to making Friday night plans with friends. But I know that this financial burden will soon be lifted, and I can always hang out the next night that I’m not working.
And having Rob right there with me has made all the difference. Whenever I got a debt-paid-in-full letter, I’d put it on the fridge like an A+ paper, and we’d get a bottle of wine to celebrate.
I’m proud to report that I’m down to just $4,000 on my last loan. By February, with help from my tax refund and some of my bonus, it will be paid off—and I won’t owe anyone a dollar.
Rob and I have talked about it for over a year, and I think we’re even ready to buy a house! He stayed true to to his word and saved $75,000 for a down payment, and once I finish paying my last loan, I’ll have extra money to put toward a mortgage.
Paying down my debt has changed the way that I see my money. As we start looking for a house, I now know there’s a difference between what you can afford–and what you can comfortably afford.
I’ll take the latter.
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