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Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

3 Unique Ways to Chip Away at Debt

Some student loans can be lessened by volunteer work

Pay Down Your Debt Challenge Icon

If you're one of the tens of millions of Americans carrying credit card debt, you may be seeking specific and realistic strategies to get rid of your bills.

While taking on a part-time job to generate more income can help, not everyone over 50 is working — or can easily get a job. Also, cutting down on extra expenses to free up cash can help you pay off and eliminate debt, but what can you do when you've already cut expenses to the bone?

See also: Pay off debt vs. Save for rainy days

Fortunately, there are also some other effective ways to get out of debt and get ahead financially. Here are three unique ways you might not have thought of for eliminating debt:

1.    Volunteer Work

A surprising number of people over 50 are still paying off their student loans from undergraduate and graduate school. Also, many in the 50-plus club co-signed for their children's student loans, which puts them on the hook for those debts.

If student loans account for a good amount of your debt load, you don't have to settle for just paying that minimum amount month after month. Student loan forgiveness programs can eliminate thousands of dollars in student loan debt but only a relatively few people take advantage of this opportunity. These programs are backed by the federal government and can be applied to both Stafford and Perkins loans.

If you're retired or are able and willing to volunteer with groups like the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) or Peace Corps programs, the government can literally erase your college debt as a benefit for volunteering your time. Obviously, there are both pros and cons of pursuing this strategy but this is a debt payoff option worth considering.

In addition to federal programs, is one private program that will help pay off part of your student loans in exchange for your volunteer service. The financial aid website contains great information and further tips about volunteering as a debt-reduction strategy.

FinAid's site explores a range of loan forgiveness options, including volunteering, teaching and public service. It's worth noting that no volunteer programs that pay off your college debt require any money from you; but they do require your commitment of time, sometimes for a year or more.

Next: Find out what a peer-to-peer loan can do for you. >>

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