I get it. There are a ton of stories out there of young people magically becoming debt free in a matter of months after college. A lot of times, there's just oooooone little catch. They moved back in with their parents.
I'm one of those people. When I graduated college with my music education degree, I had about $40,000 in student loan debt. I landed a job in the same city as my now wife (we dated throughout college), and we decided to move in her parents to save money and so I could pay off my student loans.
Our living situation wasn't the only reason I paid off my loans in the following 18 months, but it was a BIG freaking part of it.
After starting this site, I usually wrote about cutting down on living expenses, paying off debt quickly, and basically all the things I had done to get ahead financially after college.
Then I realized that a ton of young people have absolutely ZERO desire to move in with their parents or just straight-up can't do it. Moving back in with parents can suck, so there's nothing wrong with not wanting to.
Here are some other ways you can pay off debt quickly instead:
I tell this to my readers all the time. Cutting back on living expenses is one of the most important strategies to paying off debt quickly. Unfortunately, we grew up thinking that we needed to buy the big house or “go out on our own” right after college. Screw that.
Find roommates, or if you already own a home, rent out your spare rooms. You can drastically cut down the expenses if you rent a room from someone, and if you are bringing in renters it's a great additional income source to add to your monthly budget.
2. Start a side hustle
There is so much opportunity out there right now. For people that are my age (28), we were fortunate to grow up in the internet age. We're masters of the online world just by being alive right now. It's really incredible honestly.
Start a blog, make a Youtube channel, an Etsy shop, or even hustle stuff from garage sales and sell it on eBay. There are literally countless ways that you can use your existing knowledge of the internet to make extra money. It doesn't have to be some complicated business structure, and it can be done in your spare time on the weekends or after work.
3. Refinance your debt
This is a huge one for people with student loan debt like I had. Many of you probably have interest rates at 6% or above (especially if your loans are private).
If you have a stable job and don't need federal government loan benefits like Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)…start shopping around for new rates while they are low.
The average student loan refi can save you $13,000 over the life of your loans. It's almost a no-brainer if you are in a steady place right now.
4. Change jobs
One of the most effective ways to get a raise is to move to a different company, and the numbers back that up. According to Forbes, the average raise you can receive by changing companies can be anywhere from 10%-20%, which would be a big boost to your budget.
However, that doesn't mean you should peace out and quit tomorrow. Over the next year or so, keep an eye on jobs and what the market can bear as far as potential raises in your industry. Be smart and calculated about any changes you may want to make in the near future.
5. Stop caring what your peers think
This is the big one. Many of the purchases we make like new cars or bigger houses are fueled by competing with peers. From the time that we were in elementary school, we have been compared through grades and sports to see who can be the best. It makes sense really.
Fortunately, your money doesn't give a $hit about any of that. Being good with debt and personal finance is just a math game. Don't try to keep up with your friends. Let THEM pass you up, while you save your money and pay off debt.
You'd be shocked by how quickly you'll blow past them when you're debt free, and you didn't have to step foot back into your parents house to do it.
Live differently. Your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M
A shorter version of this post originally appeared on Salt.org.