7 Side Hustles That Can Help You Pay Off Debt

Quick Answer

You can pay off debt faster with a side hustle that’s flexible and lucrative, such as freelancing, tutoring, babysitting, pet sitting, selling things online, finding gig work or driving for a ride-hailing app.

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Credit card or loan debt that just won't go away can be a source of great stress and make it difficult to achieve your financial goals. One way to get out of debt faster is by finding a side hustle that brings in extra income and directing the funds toward your debt.

Here are seven side hustles to explore if you want to pay off debt, plus tips for picking the best side hustle for you and paying down debt fast.

1. Freelancing

Many companies rely on freelancers to write, code, design and manage their online presence, products and services. On top of being a lucrative side hustle, freelancing offers flexible hours, the chance to work from home and lots of opportunity for professional development and networking.

Look for gigs in areas where you already have skills, such as writing, editing, social media or web design. You can tap into your network and offer your services to people you're already connected with. Freelance marketplaces such as Guru, Upwork and Fiverr can simplify marketing your services and connecting with clients, but you'll pay small fees to pitch clients and typically also give up a percentage of what you earn in transaction fees. Job boards like FlexJobs and LinkedIn can help you find and work with clients directly.

2. Tutoring

Do you have a penchant for explaining math concepts, teaching languages, breaking down science lessons or aiding in test prep? If so, you could make money tutoring in-demand subjects in your spare time. Tutoring can be profitable, especially if you have subject-matter expertise in areas such as calculus, chemistry or languages. It can also be personally gratifying to help students reach their learning goals.

You might also consider reaching out to your local community college to inquire about offering your services on campus. You can also apply to tutor through online companies such as Tutor.com, Yup and Varsity Tutors, which allow you to teach students online on your own schedule and from your own home.

3. Babysitting

If you love kids, babysitting can be a fun way to make money while helping parents in your community. Many parents will want a babysitter to have first-aid and CPR training before they begin caring for their children. Listing credentials, such as completion of the Red Cross CPR course, as well as any other certifications or experience with children, can help you justify premium rates. You can also often charge more for late night and on-demand babysitting.

You can find new clients through your neighborhood's Facebook or Nextdoor page, if it has one, or on sites such as Care.com and Sittercity.

4. Walking Dogs and Pet Sitting

Getting paid to walk dogs may sound like a dream if you're an animal lover, but it's also a profitable service. Apps such as Rover and Wag can help you connect with dog owners looking to hire a professional dog walker, dog sitter or dog boarding service (where you host dogs in your own home). Any of these services can be a source of decent income, and the work is flexible.

5. Selling Stuff Online

Turn household items you no longer use, furniture you no longer need and clothes you no longer wear into spare funds to direct toward paying off debt. You can sell almost anything online, and your unwanted possessions—an old Bluetooth speaker or a sweater that's been gathering dust in your closet—may attract online buyers.

You can sell items you no longer use, such as home goods sitting in your attic or old electronics, on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You can also list clothing you no longer wear on Depop and Poshmark. Or, niche down with an Etsy shop to sell handmade crafts, vintage decor or art supplies.

6. Completing Gigs and Tasks

You might use platforms like TaskRabbit and Handy to connect with those who need someone to complete odd jobs, gigs and brief tasks. These task platforms connect gig workers with a variety of odd jobs, such as cleaning, hanging up shelves, grocery shopping or doing laundry. For example, a client might hire you to assemble a piece of furniture or set up a venue for an event. Other tasks can be completed at home for quick cash, such as logging on to a livestream before an event to run a sound check or transcribe audio.

7. Driving for a Ride-Hailing Service

Driving for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft can be a reliable and flexible way to bring in funds without interfering with your regular job. Depending on the demand for drivers in your area, finding enough riders to make driving profitable can be a breeze. You'll need a valid license, a vehicle that fits the app's requirement and a completed background check, plus any other safety protocols the app requires.

On top of picking up riders, you can supplement your income through delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub and Amazon Flex.

How to Choose a Side Hustle

There's no shortage of gig and freelance work available on the internet, but not every side hustle will be right for you. Pick a side hustle with the following in mind:

  • Make sure it's profitable. Pick a side hustle that can bring in enough cash to pay off your debt faster.
  • Pick a gig that's flexible. Your side hustle will need to be flexible enough to fit around your current work schedule, routine and any other non-negotiables, like essential self-care or family obligations. Taking on too much side work can be a recipe for quick burnout.
  • Explore your interests. The best side hustles won't just help you pay down debt but also develop your passions and connections, possibly leading to new career opportunities. Whatever your interests, look for a side hustle that excites you: Tutoring might ignite a desire to pursue a new career in teaching, freelance design may lead to a full-time agency position or completing odd landscaping jobs may inspire you to pursue horticulture full time, for example. Even if it's just a temporary gig, since you'll be giving up some of your spare time to your side hustle, it's ideal if you find the work enjoyable.

Best Practices for Paying Off Debt

Earning more income can help you pay down debt faster, but it won't get you to zero debt on its own. Use a side hustle in conjunction with these best practices for paying down your debt to be as strategic and effective in your debt payoff efforts as possible:

Add Up All Your Debt

Take inventory of your debt to prepare to attack it head-on. List all your debts, including any credit card, personal loan, auto loan, student loan and mortgage balances. Note the balance of each debt, as well as the interest rate, payment due date and minimum payment due. Having all this information in front of you will help you better understand the task at hand.

Choose a Debt Repayment Strategy

Selecting a debt repayment strategy will help you set achievable goals and focus on one debt at a time. Here are two methods to consider:

  • Debt snowball method: Using this approach, you'll pay as much as you can toward your smallest balance while still paying the minimum on all your other debts. Once that balance is paid off, you'll move on to your next-smallest balance, and so on. This method is ideal if quickly slashing balances off your debt sheet motivates you.
  • Debt avalanche method: With this method, you'll focus your efforts on paying off your debt with the highest interest rate first while still making the minimum payment on your other debts. You'll save more money on interest long term with this method, so it's the best choice if boosting your savings is your top priority.

Set a Budget

On top of picking up a side hustle and funneling extra funds toward debt repayment, creating a budget and sticking to it can help you live within your means and cut costs, which can, in turn, free up funds to pay off debt faster and help you avoid more debt in the future. If you don't already have a budget, start one now.

Consider Debt Consolidation

If you have good credit but are shouldering substantial debt, consolidating your debt using a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer card can make paying off your debt more manageable. You'll only need to make one fixed payment per month, and you can save money on interest with a lower APR loan or a balance transfer card with an introductory 0% APR period.

The Bottom Line

Shouldering high-interest debt can be stressful, but leveraging your spare time to take advantage of your unique and marketable talents can help you bring in extra income to pay off debt faster. Be sure to combine your side hustle with other strategies for improving your finances, such as sticking to a budget and saving for retirement.

In addition to padding your debt payoff funds, you may be able to increase your credit score using Experian Boost®ø. Experian Boost is a free Experian feature that links to your bank account to give you credit for the bills you already pay, such as your phone and utility bills.