Really, the easiest way is to give yourself a raise by saving instead of spending. Again, you knew this, but you might not be taking advantage of it. I’ll get to actual ways to increase earnings shortly, but look at how much you could gain by reading the posts on Your Cell Phone, Shaving, Your Cable/Satellite Service, and if you do the simple math, it’s potentially hundreds per month on your basic human needs spending. That’s one way to give yourself a raise.
The other is to actually make more money. You can try asking for more from your employer, but that’s only worked for me once, and it was like 15 years ago. You could always get another job that pays more too, but that’s not the focus here. Something that I guarantee will make you extra money right now is to take a look around at your junk and sell what you don’t need. You’re going to have to go back and read about Your Needs to help you determine what you really need to have. The Minimalists have a fantastic movie and podcast that addresses this topic perfectly. They even have games you can play to help you get rid of your clutter. This is a win-win because you clean house and make money.
Craiglist is free and is where I put most items. I don’t try to get top dollar on my sales since I don’t want to wait long to get rid of it. I’ll price it lower than most others for that quick sale and move on to the next one. If you have a smart phone, the app lets you take pictures and post the ad right from your phone.
eBay does the same thing but has a larger audience. I’m not going to get into the details of how to sell your crap; the take away here is that you are sitting on a gold mine, you just have to start listing things to start earning.
Do not underestimate the power of this technique. It is crippling to debt. Debt is defenseless against it! Throw that extra cash right down on the principle of your payments.
Consider downgrading on bigger ticket items too. Maybe you made a large purchase a few years ago and it turns out you don’t really use that thing as much as you thought. Either sell it and don’t replace it, or replace it with a cheaper model and pocket the difference. I did this when I was into photography, a few times actually. I went from having a few thousand dollars worth of gear down to a couple hundred and I don’t regret it at all. I did the same thing with some guitars I had. I had four of them, but why did I need four?
Parting with your belongings can be tough. Just remember that they aren’t what makes you happy and they are replaceable. One thing The Minimalists say, that I love, is if you can replace it for less than $20, in less than 20 minutes, and you haven’t used it in a while, get rid of it. They call it the 20/20 rule. Don’t hang on to things because you might use it someday. This is how you become a packrat and waste your hard earned money. “Oh, this would be nice to have when we have a party.” That is the WRONG mentality if you are trying to escape the grips of consumerism. Wait until you have the party, then decide if you need it. I’m sure the party would have been just as fun without that gizmo anyway.
Remind yourself that you care about your freedom more than your things and you’d rather have the luxury of doing whatever the hell you want in life than the luxury items.