Fine print, Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Unconventional ways to pay debt

Emily Crone

You probably know the conventional ways to break free from debt — cutting cable, canceling the gym membership, cooking at home and focusing on spending less than you earn so you can use what’s left to make payments. What if you didn’t have to do any of that? Some people have found alternative ways to retire their debt. While I have some ethical issues with these methods, in the end, they worked.

Unconventional ways to pay debt

Karyn Bosnak was a shopaholic in over her head with $20,000 in credit card debt. While she did cut back and sell items on eBay, she lost her job and her ability to pay her credit card bills. In 2002, she was gutsy enough to start a website,, and ask the public to help her pay down her debt. Somehow, 20 weeks later, she garnered enough sympathy to get her bills paid by strangers. She has also written about her experience in a book. This initially gave me the creeps — how reprehensible to ask money from strangers to pay off irresponsible debt and then make money writing a book about it. I love sites such as Kickstarter that help people raise money for a project, especially because the givers get something in return, like the finished album they helped a band fund. But I felt better about Karyn’s story once I read that she donated the same amount that she initially received to charity.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “After Porn Ends” out of curiosity. Asia Carerra was a porn superstar who eventually left the industry to start a family. In the documentary, she discusses her rise to fame and talks about how popular and wealthy she became from movies, appearances, products and more. When she was about to have her second baby, her husband tragically died in a car accident. She put this message up on her website: “If anyone wants to make a charitable donation to a pregnant widow who doesn’t know how she’s going to raise these two babies on her own, there’s a spot on my sales page where you can donate up to $100.” In the movie, she discusses this act of desperation and says her fans gave her lots of money, but she never addresses how she went from making hundreds of thousands of dollars for years to all of a sudden having no savings.

One of my colleagues pointed me to a funny site,, as another unique way to make money and pay off debt. Get jilted at the altar? Break up with a loser? No need to return the goods he adorned you with — simply resell them and fill your pockets with cash. If it’s a broken engagement, I personally think you should always return the ring, even if he says not to. But if you have debt to pay, it’s an option. Where do you draw the line on how to retire debt?


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  • Thanks so much for the mention!

  • Intersting idea with the I wonder though how many people have tried that.

  • I read about Karyn’s story and her blog states that she thought that it was brilliant idea to ask strangers for help to pay off her debt since she had no job at that time. Hhhmm I could never think of doing that either but I guess that’s how a tv producer thinks because she used to be one. I did like that had a humorous twist to being in debt and getting out of it. Thanks for sharing. Love your post!

  • Another very alternative method to getting out of debt is to work in another country for a while. Yep! As crazy as it may seem, it actually works. I have some friends(married couple) that sold their home and moved to Saudi Arabia for 2 years to work. At the end of those 2 years, they not only paid off their $30k debt, BUT made enough to sock away a nice hefty savings, and buy 3 homes as real estate investments. In some cases the quick but sometimes tough route can really pay off.