Creative Ways To Fight Debt: A Debtor’s Advice

by Stacey Doyle on 2011-04-012

Desperate times call for desperate measures sometimes. Despite our best attempts, everything has gone wrong for me financially. My computer and car needed emergency repairs and I did not qualify for heating assistance by mere dollars. Instead of paying off debt, I found myself covering repair bills and paying an astronomical oil bill. With my debt load mounting, I wondered where I could find money to prevent a pending foreclosure and to pay down my loans.

Creative Ways To Fight Debt: Advice From A Debtor

Would you beg or borrow to fight debt? What do you do if you’re staring down the barrel of crippling debt? There’s always no shortage of suggestions to try. So which of these approaches would you try if you find yourself in a tight financial spot?

Option #1: Turn unwanted things into cash.

As a child, I remember my widowed neighbor who always had a few sharp words of wisdom. One day she told me, “Times get tough. Beg, borrow or steal but make it happen!” Today, I recalled her words as I tried to wrack my brain for ways to meet my expenses.

While stealing is not an option for obvious reasons, many people supplement their income by “bin diving,” also known as “thrifting”. Whoever invented the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” sure got it right. This may seem radical, but given how hard times are, more and more people are turning to this new way of life. A lot of folks look at this as some form of treasure hunting.

From creative recycling and trolling to using Craigslist and eBay, there are many different ways to discover valuable items that could be turned into cash. Visiting garage sales and estate sales are a great source of cheaper items which you can use for your own needs or which you can work on as part of a “buy and sell” business. There are creative people who buy cheaper items which they embellish for the purpose of selling later on. You can certainly get items of value and turn them in.

Also have you heard of the sport called “lottery ticket fishing”? I’ve heard about people who dig out scratch-off lottery tickets which have been thrown in the trash. Resourceful ticket fishers might find discarded $1, $5 or $20 lottery tickets at local markets.

Tip: Here is how some people borrow, barter and buy used as part of their frugal lifestyle. These methods can be thought-provoking for some of you who are willing to take some creative approaches to frugality.

Option #2: Be wary of how you borrow.

If you’re struggling financially, you are likely to have bad credit. Do you wonder what to do if you’re stuck with poor credit? Can you still borrow money with bad credit? Furthermore, do you wonder about borrowing money to help yourself get out of debt?

From my experience, borrowing with bad credit is mainly possible through steep loans such as payday loans, whose interest rates can be downright usurious. They’re only useful for true emergencies and if you can manage to pay them off right away. If you already have debt though, then I wouldn’t advise touching payday loans with a ten foot pole. They’ll simply make your financial situation much worse. It’s important to note that the cheaper loans are available only to those with good to excellent credit — a great interest rate is your reward for maintaining a great credit history. So it’s pretty tough to get good deals with loans if you are already suffering from a pockmarked credit history.

I wouldn’t borrow money to get out of debt unless it’s an absolute emergency and if borrowing money actually helps you to improve your predicament. Debt consolidation loans, refinancing or balance transfer cards can potentially help you rework existing debt, but again, the best deals may only exist for those with the best credit.

I’ve also looked into peer-to-peer lending sites such as Lending Club and Prosper, but while it might be easier to get a loan, your credit rating will still be considered. You may not qualify for many loans and if you do, the interest rate could be high. The loan may not be affordable or a wise choice under the circumstances. After all, you are trying to get out of debt and not dig yourself in deeper.

But these lending networks may possibly be used to establish formal loans with family members. For those who have family members who might be reluctant to lend cash informally, this is a reassurance that they will be repaid and have a formal record of the transactions. In certain situations, it could make the difference between whether or not a family member will extend a loan to help you get out of a tough financial situation.

Option #3: Try creative begging, but it can be a long shot.

Not wanting to owe more money, I also considered the option of begging. It brought unappealing thoughts to mind — of me standing on a corner holding an empty hat.

Modern begging means looking for cash out in cyberspace. On this note, ABC News 20/20 featured a site called which offers people in need a way to look for funds. Referred to as “cyberbegging,” you get a website where you can ask for the funds to be donated to your personal cause. I discovered that there was a $34.95 setup fee and the service cost $9.95 per month — but this seems a little much for those who are legitimately in need!

There are also free sites that encourage cyberbegging such as and But honestly, I doubt these approaches would work too well at all, unless you’re brave enough to encourage your own family and friends to donate to you this way. If you’re still willing to spend the time to do this, you should at least go for those sites which don’t charge you a fee. The other way I’ve seen this done? With bloggers setting up sites and blogs with a Donate button. I think it may be wiser to simply do something for people so they offer you something in return. Playing the sympathy card may have a much lower success rate.

Now instead of going this route, it is probably better to “beg” in a more productive fashion. Why not seek a better paying job in a creative fashion? Or forget begging altogether: offer a service that allows you to get paid for it! This last point is the perfect segue to the next and final option.

Option #4: Use your skills to earn more.

Once again, I find that the best way to get out of debt is to earn more money and increase one’s income by making use of one’s skills, talents and smarts. Once my computer and car are repaired, I will be ready to get back to actual work. Thankfully, I did not have to take out a payday loan to cover these unanticipated expenses.

With hard work comes the reward of paid bills and financial security. I did it once before and I know I can do it again. Nothing replaces the pride of knowing you did it yourself.

Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Henry Chiu April 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I think freelance writing is also a good opportunity to earn money on the side. Blogging of course is a long shot for most people, and requires lots of advanced knowledge. You’re better off focusing on your strengths. If you’re good at photography, maybe try doing some wedding photography work. If you’re good at remixing music, perhaps try being a DJ for parties.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I actually think that a lot of people wait too long to act on their debt. Seems like there is this period of denial and then by the time a debtor finally faces the music, it’s too late. The problem with growing debt is that it continues to loom and does not go away on its own. You need to do something about it and it demands action — whether it means that you have to be much more conscious about your spending or you need to draft a budget or you need to find additional sources of income. Or if you have a lot of things that are weighing you down and costing you money, you may need to seriously cut back — in some cases, you can get by with doing so, temporarily.

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