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Tired of living from paycheck to paycheck, and with the fact that your loans take up a majority of your income? It may be unfathomable to you, especially if you have been living with debt your whole life – from your student loans to your car loans, and then a mortgage on your house – but an alternative way of living is actually possible. Being able to live debt-free is a reality for a lot of people.

How do they do this? There are a few smart ways you can veer away from debt and even be free of it forever. Here are some of them:

1. Try to be creative and earn a bit more on the side.

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Being able to earn extra income in your free time is a good way to lessen the burden of your debts by using that income to pay down debt. You can start your own business, pursue an artistic hobby that you can monetize in some way, or sell off old items around the home that you don’t need or are not using anymore.

You can also do something from home and get a special skill outsourced to people who simply need to access you online.

If you have an extra room in the house that nobody occupies, you can try leasing or renting it out for extra cash.

These are things that you can start off with in order to boost your income stream. Just make the best out of what you have, and who knows? You may be able to earn a significant amount of revenue from any one or from all of them.

2. Try consolidating your loans.

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You want to get out of debt, but there are loans you have probably acquired early on in life when you didn’t know any better. These personal loans may have all added up, becoming a financial nightmare – you may be paying different interest rates on them, staggered payments or installments may be due on different dates, and it’s just becoming a hassle to keep track of every single one. You may be better off trying loan consolidation in order to combine your small loans into one big loan. You will be able to manage your finances better and even be able to get a lower interest rate overall for them. You can check out for more information on this.

3. Start a budget plan and stick to it.

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A lot of people are actually earning more than enough to finance their lifestyles, and then some. The problem lies not in how much money is coming in, but in how they manage this money. You may very well be earning enough, but are knee-deep in debt just because you haven’t been diligent in writing all your expenses down and organizing how you should be living your life.

From now on, you should write down your financial goals and map out how you are to get to that destination. All your decisions from here on in will be dictated by the destination you have drawn out. This will help you streamline your expenses, and make it easier for you to say no to what won’t help you achieve your ultimate dream.

4. Buy a used vehicle instead of a brand new one.

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Buying a brand new car, they say, is more of acquiring a liability than an asset – with depreciation affecting the minute you drive it out of the showroom, to the hefty insurance fees you have to pay, to all the anxiety that could arise from any possible collision or accident that could happen on the road – all of these are factors that will be part of your purchase. If all you really need is a way to get from point A to B, it may be more economical to buy a second-hand vehicle instead. First off, the acquisition value will be much cheaper; second, insurance expenditures will be much less as well; and third, you will be able to sleep better at night, knowing that any possibility of a hiccup happening on the road will cost you much less as well.

5. Refrain from using credit cards.

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As much as you can, refrain from using credit cards, or better yet, cut them out altogether. It is the mindset of buying something with money you don’t have yet, and having the false security of being able to pay them all off later that may have gotten you into debt in the first place.

When you are used to paying everything with cash, you will be able to practice living within your means, and only buying things with money that you already have. This habit can do a lot for maintaining your debt-free lifestyle later on. Plus, you get to do away with the possibility of any late fees and other charges that you pay using a card – fees you don’t incur when you just use cash.

6. Get rid of unnecessary extravagance.

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Do you really have to grab lunch out with your colleagues every day? Do you have to spend expensively on drinks every Friday night, or feel celebratory every payday? Does every birthday or any other occasion have to have a lavish party thrown for it? When the impetus for these moments occur, you may rationalize that they only come once in a while, but put all of them together and you get overindulgence and an empty wallet. You don’t have to get rid of the merriment altogether – just be wise with the spending and evaluate how often you really splurge on those so-called occasional treats for yourself.

Often, it’s the little things adding up that make all the difference. These suggestions may be simple and strike as common sense – and that is all the reason you need to try them out. You may be surprised at how much the small changes can impact your life on quite a sizable scale.