Monday Motivation: Ways to give yourself a quick boost when paying off debt

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motivationmondaysm Paying off debt can be a long process. If you’ve just got one big debt, like a mortgage, you might not think about it very much. But if you’ve been paying off credit cards, student loans, and a car loan for some time, it’s easy to get discouraged when your monthly payment doesn’t make much of a dent in your overall amount owed.

One way to re-energize yourself and give yourself a good kick in the butt is to find some extra money that you can apply towards your debt. Here are a few simple ways to make that happen:

Sell your stuff. If you look around your home, there are probably many items that you don’t want or use that someone else would gladly pay a few bucks for. There are many ways to sell your possessions, such as garage sales, on consignment (which is great for designer duds), or on eBay. My personal favorite is to sell on Amazon – I think of it as holding my garage sale online instead of in my front yard. And in less than two years of selling there – when I was in full debt-payoff mode – I made over $1,000, which I applied toward my student loans.

Barter to save money. If you have a skill that other people can use, you can do some old-fashioned bartering to save money, which you can then apply toward your debt. For example, if you’re a graphic artist or copywriter, you can offer to create a banner or brochure for your child’s dance or karate instructor in exchange for a few months of free classes.

Look for money in long-forgotten accounts. According to, millions of Americans don’t know that they have money held by banks, governments, and other entities. It’s hard to believe that anyone could lose money that way, but accounts can be forgotten during a move, left behind by someone who dies, checks can be returned to sender, deposits can be left behind, and so on. A good place to start is If you suspect you might have money in a state that doesn’t participate in, they have a list of contact information for all states and provinces.

Do a pantry/stockpile challenge. If you follow frugal living blogs, you might already be familiar with a pantry or stockpile challenge. In essence, the idea is to stop buying items for a certain period of time, and use only those things that you already have at home. For instance, with a pantry challenge, you would buy just a few perishable items like milk and fresh produce during a month, and otherwise create meals using those things you find in your freezer and pantry. Good Cheap Eats regularly conducts a pantry challenge, and has some guidelines and suggestions.

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Cathy is the founder of Chief Family Officer, where you can get daily updates on the hottest deals, and tips to achieve financial freedom and family bliss.