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Four Part Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt and Saving More

This is part one of a four part series. For the first part, I’m going to go over general ways to save or be efficient with your money. The following sequels will detail specific topics briefly covered in this general post.

The purpose of the Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt is to help you meet crazy financial goals, like paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt within a year. Some of these suggestions might not be able to be sustained for more than a year or two, but after a year of practice, you may find you really benefit from the financial lifestyle change. These tactics have been accumulated from friends who have either paid off thousands of dollars of debt or who live on next to nothing. One family of four that I know personally survived on these tactics to live on around $20,000 for a year in Fort Worth, Texas in 2013. They were able to pay off about $12,000 in debt even though they had a modest income around $32,000.

First, there are the basics. Don’t overspend. Budget. Stick to that budget even if the temptation to cheat kills you. Challenge yourself in your budget, but don’t live in a fantasy world. Cut out excesses but not to the detriment of time that could be spent earning money or relationships that are advantageous.


Pursue a healthy lifestyle

You’re already cooking at home and avoiding eating out, great. Now you need to cut down on processed foods and start eating more vegetables and fruits bought from a farmer’s market, especially if you don’t have the time or desire to grow your own produce in a garden. Processed foods cost more when comparing the price per nutrient to whole foods, not to mention that poor health costs you big money. If you have to buy medicine to cover symptoms of poor health, you’d be better off to invest money in a healthier lifestyle that will eventually heal those bad health symptoms. There will be more on this in part two of the Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt.

Stop spending money on bad habits and entertainment

This should be a no brainer, but stop smoking, drinking alcohol and drinking Starbucks coffee. Stop buying books, movies, movie tickets, video games and computer games. Use internet alternatives and the library to get access to these at a later date. Hollywood wants you to give in to your movie lust. If you’re really radical, give up time-sucking entertainment altogether. No one pays you to watch a movie or play a game. What do you have to show for that time since time is money? Nothing except a few movie quotes. It’s okay to invest in playing sports to pursue a healthy lifestyle, but make sure to buy equipment used and meet-up to play for free. Don’t pay fees.


Hire a maid

Before you scoff at this idea, how much is your time worth? If you work at home, spending an hour on a new proposal or an almost completed job will turn out to pay more than spending that same hour on laundry. And anyone can complete laundry, but no one can do your work for you. Obviously you don’t have to commit to hiring a maid full time for every week of the year, just remember to keep this option open during times of work stress. You could pay a maid anywhere from $10 to $45 per hour depending on which company you choose. Don’t forget about neighborhood teenagers or local university students who might be interested in making some extra cash for a job well done. If you make more than double or triple of what you’ll pay your maid, it’s worth it.

Shop smarter

There are things you won’t want to buy used, but you need to price check and wait for deals. Never impulse buy; there are very few things that are true emergencies. Sign up for newsletters to companies that sell items you’ll probably need to buy within the next year and wait for their coupons, or subscribe to blogs that pay attention to deals. When you’re buying used, always bargain. Negotiating can be awkward in American culture, but don’t worry. I’m going to help you learn how to shop smarter and bargain in part three of the Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt.

Make memorable gifts instead of buying them.

Gifting culture can be a drain on your budget. If you’re cheap with your gift, you could rub the wrong person the wrong way and destroy advantageous relationships. But making a gift doesn’t have to be tacky. For example, your boss loves wine. Depending upon the circumstance, instead of buying a wine, make a wine yourself and include instructions on how you made that wine. Don’t give him crappy homemade wine; take the time to perfect the art for the purpose of giving wines as gifts to others. As a rule, memorable gifts that can be given to anyone require forethought, education and practice.

Recruit help from a friend

Did you know most mechanic chains and dealer shops charge an average of $98 or more per hour? If you have a friend with the tools and the know-how, you need to be utilizing that connection. If you don’t want to be a free-loafer, ask your friend if you can pay him for part of what you would have paid the mechanic.


When you can’t spend money to get something you think you need, you’ll probably figure out an ingenious way to still get what you want. It’ll be free or at a fraction of the cost. This will be covered more in part four of the Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt.

Move Overseas

The chances are good that you can work in the same field you’re currently working in, but overseas. If you can’t work in the same field, you could easily get a job teaching English if you’re a native or fluent English speaker. Many English teachers have paid off thousands of debt by living in a culture with a cheaper minimum daily cost. If you already own a home, just rent it out. If the rent market is good, you might be able to make a profit. Obviously, break even on your mortgage or you might need to renegotiate your mortgage terms before making a step to move overseas. Ready for more detail?

Check out the whole series

Part One – The General Overview

Part Two – Cheap and Healthy Eating and Living

Part Three – Shop Smarter

Part Four – My 18 Favorite Life Hacks

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