How to Pay Bills and Debt at the Same Damn Time

Tiana Soto
August 8th, 2019 | 3 minutes
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Trying to tackle your debt can feel like an impossible feat (believe us, we know). Take it from one formerly broke college student to another, getting on track to pay down your debt is much easier if you first figure out where your money is going and then start setting small goals on how you’ll start making that number look less like a zip code.

1. Analyze your situation

Don’t try doing it all at once. Start by looking into some of the smaller ways to cut back such as making coffee at home rather than sending $50 per week on Starbucks. For example, if you’re paying more than 30% of your income towards rent, consider looking into more affordable housing options or if you can save $50 on one of your bills, use that extra cash to put towards your monthly debt payment.

2. Set small goals

Set small/achievable goals that you can hold yourself accountable to. Having those quick wins will motivate you to set bigger goals. For example, set a target goal to pay $50 extra towards debt each month and try doing so by cutting back on eating out. It’s easier than you think to make quick wins happen!

Ideally, when your saved total starts to build, you’ll put that towards your debt. Although, it isn’t the worst idea to reward yourself for achieving some of those goals. Instead of putting that money into the blackhole we call “student loans”, try starting a vacation category in your budget. These little things you do to reward yourself make for excellent motivators to not only stick to your budget, but thrive within its guidelines!

3. Start an emergency fund

Start an emergency fund - ie. a safety net you can tap into if something goes wrong or you need money in a crunch. Start with something that is doable - for example, if you can only contribute $50/paycheck, then start there and save until you have a nice little cushion. What starts as an emergency fund will eventually be pretty sizable.

This fund should generally be allocated towards any major surprise costs that come with adulting. I mean, who REALLY wants to spend $600 getting your car repaired? But, if you start saving money for your future car trouble, that $600 bill won’t sting as much as if you had to pull money from other sectors of your budget.

4. Try a side hustle

Most Millennials claim they have a side hustle to help them pay bills or get some fun money. Here are some examples from one of my favorite bloggers. There are plenty of options; if you like to bake, try decorating cakes for birthdays.

While the average amount of time invested into a side hustle tends to float around 11 hours per week, annually, side hustles can bring in thousands of dollars and if you can use your main source of income to cover your other bills (i.e rent, utilities, food and, of course, coffee) you’ll be paying off your debt in no time. Having a side hustle will give you that little edge of comfort you need to start putting extra payments towards your debt.

5. Ask and get help

Whether you are seeking to set a budget or stick to one, there are plenty of options to help you whip your spending habits into shape. Zeta, for example, can help you set goals and track your payments and bills. It is okay to acknowledge that you just aren’t good at managing your money, that’s why there’s an entire profession built around just that. But personal finance doesn’t need to be a complete headache; there are thousands of resources online to help you. We strongly recommend reading some of the helpful tips on Nerdwallet and the personal finance sub-reddit.

These are just some jumping off points for getting on track while paying both loans/debt and bills at the same time. A good starting place for all of this is to build a budget and do your best to stick to it. Check out one of the many budgeting apps out there and see which one works best for you. If you are looking for an app geared towards couples and families, check out Zeta!

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