In 2015, financial blogger and author Lauren Bowling found herself deep in credit card debt for the second time.
She had already climbed out of $10,000 worth of debt that she racked up in college, which took her 14 months to pay off. This time, she owed $8,432 after a big home remodel.
At the time, "my blog was taking off and I wanted to work for myself," says Bowling, who was working as a content marketing strategist. "I realized I couldn't make that leap with all this debt, so I thought, 'How can I knock this out as fast as possible?'"
The Atlanta-based millennial set the goal of being debt free in 90 days. She did just that and made her final payment in March 2015.
While Bowling cut back where she could, "the only real way to pay off debt quickly," she writes on FinancialBestLife.com, is to earn more. "Sure, saving money is good sense, but spending hours and hours of your precious time to bargain hunt to only slightly lower your bottom line? Ridiculous. I make more hourly than I could ever save by bargain hunting."
After trimming as much of her budget as she could, Bowling focused on earning. In addition to her full-time job, she generated income as a freelance writer, by blogging and by renting out her house.
She also sold things on Ebay, did voice-over work and even "opened up two new checking accounts just so I could get $300 in bonuses, which went to credit repayment and helped out a lot," she writes. "Basically, anything I could do to bring in extra dollars, I did."
Up since 5:30 a.m. doing final edits on my e-book the #millennialhomeowner . This thoroughly flattering, no-make up selfie was captured while I was working on the book before a matinee show this weekend and really communicates my "is this book/launch really going to come together ?" Vibe. Behind the scenes I live a glamorous life, I tell ya.
Thanks to these extra revenue streams, Bowling not only climbed out of more than $8,000 worth of debt in three months, but she ended up turning her side hustle as a blogger into a full-time gig. She quit her marketing job in April 2015 and has been working for herself ever since.
Ultimately, if you want to pay off debt quickly, you have to do more than trim your budget, Bowling tells CNBC. But even smaller part-time jobs, such as driving for Uber or looking for jobs on TaskRabbit, can go a long way: "It doesn't necessarily have to be as involved as a side hustle or side business. In terms of momentum and progress, small ways of making cash really go a long way when paying off debt."
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