You can banish your debt this year

Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 4:05 PM

Most people I work with can be debt-free in 12 to 18 months. When my wife and I took control of our money, we paid off $165,000 in debt and saved $20,000 in 15 months.

If we did it, you can, too.

This column is the midpoint of a 12-part series about taking control of your money. If you are jumping in now or need to catch up, you can read the previous columns online at

Your total debt, not including your mortgage, is probably equal to about 25 percent of one to two years of your income. Reducing spending will allow you to pay off your debt, but if you want to get out of debt faster, here’s how.

Sell stuff you no longer useYou have possessions that you no longer use: bikes, skies, clothing, firearms, paintings, books and more. Walk around your home to make a list of all of the things you haven’t used in the past six months. If you aren’t going to use it, sell it to pay off debt!

For inspiration, go to the library to borrow a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

File your taxes earlyThe IRS has your money. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to getting it back. Tax refunds are a perfect example of what I call “found money.” As you begin to take control of your money, you will notice that money comes into your life periodically. Use it to attack the smallest debt on your list.

Pick up a part-time jobYou don’t have anything to sell and your taxes will be filed as soon as you get your W-2. Good. Now, go out and get a part-time job. At $10 per hour, you could earn enough this year to erase $12,000 in debt. No, it’s not easy and, yes, you’ll be tired. But the feeling of taking control of your money is worth it – and energizing.

Join the sharing economyWe live in a sharing economy, with Uber and Airbnb leading the way. There are many opportunities to use your assets to generate income. Have a look at You can use these tools to earn money or reduce your costs. Between a bike, walking and Uber, could you eliminate a car?

Start a side hustleCreate a new source of income without quitting your day job. That’s the promise of best-selling author Chris Guillebeau in his book Side Hustle. He also created the Side Hustle School,, which is filled with ideas, examples and inspiration to help you get started earning money to pay off your debt.

Reduce your spending and use any one, or a combination of, these ideas to get free of debt this year.

Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance.