25 Ways to Pay Off $30,000 in Student Loans

Woman in red blouse with her forehead to her laptop in despair
Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

Besides mortgages (something else to “look forward” to), student loans are the next largest consumer debt in the U.S.

And even though you may feel alone in your burden, there are about 43 million Americans that are dealing with the same type of debt. And with the average student loan debt of $30,000, it can take almost 20 years to pay it all off!

And the term “debt” is misleading too. It’s associated with those that may not have been financially responsible but student loans trap you from the very beginning. We can’t just say that all 43 million Americans that have student loans are “irresponsible.” Far from it. They’re wanting higher education and are paying the long-term price.

So until that system can be fixed (if ever), we’re suggesting some things you can do to earn some side cash as well as manage your money more efficiently to help out with some payments. Even better when you can get paid for doing stuff you already do!

1. Satisfyingly Pop Bubbles to Make Cash

We love our classic bubble games here and even better when they’re shortened down to 3-minute games to pop as many as you can. Bonus points for clearing the whole board!

Check out Bubble Cash where you play in groups of 5 or more and the top 3 for each game wins.

Drop a bunch of bubbles at once and get those high-scoring combos. Play for free, and then switch over to cash games whenever you want. Seriously though, cash game winners can win thousands of dollars…by popping bubbles.

Just note that cash tournaments aren’t available in AZ, AR, IA, LA, MD & SC but everywhere else is fair game to win actual money!

2. Get $5* to Invest in Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and More

Office Manager Sarah investing with $5 / Danny Guinta /*Photo for illustrative purposes only

You might think that investing is complicated. Or that you’ll never get a share of these well-known brands like Apple, Facebook, Spotify, etc., but you can. And you don’t have to be rich either.

That’s because Stash, an investment app, lets you start investing1 with just $1. You can choose where to put your money in and they provide guidance and tools to help you along the way. You can invest in major companies that you use or buy from regularly to make the investing process custom to you. Plus, it’s affordable.

As a bonus, Stash is giving new members $5 for any first investment so create an account to get started.*

3. Not Your Grandma’s Bingo - Play Anywhere for Cash

Classic bingo is a game based on both luck and skill since it takes strategy to beat the odds of the house and the players around you.

However, you can ditch the paper sheets and giant stamps in favor of Blackout Bingo, a fast-paced and competitive bingo game that you can play anywhere on your phone. And even against your friends virtually.

2 minutes. That’s all you need per game where you play against another person around the world. Everyone sees the same card and balls so by daubing (tapping the number) fast and correctly, you’ll get bonus boosts for more points! Tap the incorrect number and points will get docked so don’t get sloppy!

This easy-to-learn game is awesome for killing time and earning cash all at once, anywhere which is perfect for home.

You can play for free against real people for prizes or switch over to cash games to win…cash! Cash game winners can win up to $1,000 or more in mini-tournaments.

Cash tournaments not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, and TN.

4. Get a Personal Loan Fast Even if You Have Bad Credit

Your credit score is important but sometimes, unfortunate circumstances happen to good people. It’s not always a fair representation of your financial history to be judged by 3 digits.

Even if you have a poor credit score and have been turned down by credit card companies, you could still qualify for a personal loan for your short-term financial needs.

OppLoans can help. They work to rescue and rebuild middle-income credit-challenged members for a brighter financial future.

Submitting an application won’t impact your FICO credit score^ and you’ll be able to get the best personal loan that you may need for car repairs, medical, family, rent, major purchase, etc.

Here’s who can qualify:

  1. Residents of FL, AL, AR, AZ, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, KS, LA, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NM, OH, OK, OR, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, SC, WA, WI, WY, or VA
  2. Have a minimum monthly income of $1,500 for the states listed above except AL is $3,500, and GA & ID is $3,000
  3. 18+ years old (19 if from AL or NE) and cannot be an active duty service member
  4. At least 90 days at current employer
  5. Have direct deposit

Qualified borrowers can borrow up to $5,000 depending on creditworthiness and state of residence.* “Payback is on a set term so no surprises and they are cheaper than those payday loans. I was able to get approved in just a few short hours. They really came through and helped me out!” Mike from Clover, SC.

And when monthly payments are made back on the loan, OppLoans will notify the 3 credit bureaus to build up your payment history!+

5. Play Solitaire to Win Cash. No Longer a Single Player Game.

Less than a few minutes. That’s all you need to win real cash when you play  Solitaire Cash, a fun Solitaire game with a modern twist.

It’s like regular Solitaire but you compete against other players at the same skill-level of yours to see who can solve the deck the fastest, and for cash! Play in groups of 5 or more and the top 3 for each game wins.

Players have already won thousands of dollars! Solitaire Cash is free to download and play but cash tournaments are specifically not available in AZ, AR, IN, IA, LA, ME, MD, SC, MT & SD.

If you like playing quick games for chances to win cash with no ads, check it out.

6. Affordable Car Insurance Exists - Here’s How You Could Save $610

You’re sharing the same roads with a lot of different people. Distracted people, oblivious people, road-rage people, etc. It’s best to cover yourself with insurance when everyone is operating a giant motor vehicle.

That’s why car insurance exists and is mandatory. You might be overpaying on your current insurance premium since it can be a hassle finding another provider.

However, you can search for quotes easily on EverQuote. They help match you among dozens of regional agencies and insurance carriers to filter the best matches to save on your car insurance.

It takes less than 4 minutes to fill out the form and you’ll see a list of matches that show online quotes, email, and potential phone quotes.

EverQuote can save drivers $610 a year on average* compared to their current insurance premiums. Once you see your list of potential matches, choose the online ones you want or wait for more information via email or phone.

It’s a pretty simple process, so try it out to see how much you could be saving on the road!

7. School Competitors in Solitaire and Ca$h In

When you’re looking for something to do at home, check out Solitaire Cube, which is like regular Solitaire, except you get to play for real cash.

The game matches you with players of the same skill level, so all is fair. If you’re a good Solitaire player, you could win some serious cash, like Katie N. who took home $380,984 as one of the Top 10 Solitaire Cube players! Even casual players like Amanda, a stay-at-home mom from IL, won a 55″ TV, $6,000, and more!

So if you think you can handle playing some Solitaire Cube to win legit cash, definitely download this game for free. 

Cash tournaments aren’t available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, ME, MT, SC, SD, TN, IN.

8. Budgeting Made Easy With This App, Even if You Don’t Know How

First things first, if you have trouble budgeting, you’re not alone as most people actually don’t know how to. When you understand how much money comes in and how much goes out, it’ll all start making sense.

Truebill easily helps you budget, even if you’re clueless. Their simple to follow budgeting pulls your historical spending, organizes it, and allows you to clearly see your spending so you can set a target budget with context. (Aka you can see where you’re wasting money on).

Truebill’s five-star reviews come from people formerly bad at budgeting. Nicole M. said Truebill “tracks spending and makes you accountable for every place your dollar is going. Shows you how a ‘few bucks’ here and there can really add up over time. It also gives you clues on how to save based on your spending. It’s like having a personal accountant tracking my money.”

Truebill will also alert you if you’re getting a little too spend-happy in your budgeted categories so you know when to curb it. Another user, Krystyna D. said, “This app is a lifesaver for budgeting. It lists your transactions in a minimalist and customizable way, has a spending graph that compares your current spending based on last month, and has a really great budgeting feature. I’ve been using the app for just about 7 months and they’ve done nothing but make a really great improvement to the service. I’ve tried some of the other services and they’re all cluttered and give you too much info without making what you want to see accessible.”

It’s simple but actionable budgeting that anyone can follow and it’s free to use! Join the many users today and control your spending with Truebill!

9. Get Paid for Playing Free Lotto Tickets

When you’re stuck at home, you have to keep yourself occupied. Make killing time fun and productive when you play free digital scratchers on Lucktastic. It’s just like getting the ones from the gas station, but…free.

There are a ton of different scratchers you can play, and you can earn both cash and tokens.

Scratched all of them for the day? Don’t worry, there are specific night-time scratchers that are available every night too!

When you want to redeem your earnings, you can choose from:

  • Amazon gift cards
  • CVS gift cards
  • Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards
  • Check mailed to you
  • Visa gift cards

Lucktastic keeps things free by showing a few ads here and there plus it’s easy to play and multi-task at the same time. Get a chance of up to $1M in cash prizes!

10. Pop More Colorful Bubbles. Make Even More Cash.

We love our classic bubble games here (if you can’t tell) and even better when they’re shortened down to 3-minute games to pop as many as you can. Bonus points for clearing the whole board!

Check out Bubble Shooter League, where you can go on a popping frenzy against real players online.

Drop a bunch of bubbles at once and get those high-scoring combos. Play for free, and then switch over to cash games whenever you want. Seriously though, cash game winners can win up to $10,000 (no joke).

Just note that cash tournaments aren’t available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, and TN but everywhere else is fair game to win actual money!

11. Fetch All Your Receipts (Even Virtual/Halloween) & Get Free Money Back

Alice Ly / The Smart Wallet

Check your pockets; check your purse.

Grab all the recent receipts you have and scan them into Fetch Rewards to earn points towards free money. Even better? Connect your email inbox and it’ll count your email receipts too from Amazon, Instacart, Shipt, and more!

Basically, shop at any store (grocery, drugstore, warehouse, everywhere), snap a pic with the app, and boom, you’ve got points for money. Upload your restaurant and drive-thru receipts too.

And since Halloween is coming up, get money back for candy, costume(s), and spooky decor!

There’s no minimum spend, no need to manually select items, just scan in any receipt from any store and it’ll automatically reward you.

Be sure to grab a $2 welcome bonus on us (2,000 points) when you use promo code REWARD before scanning your first receipt!

12. Play 3 Minute Games & Win Cash Over $1,000 Every Day

When you’re looking for more games to play that could actually be productive to your wallet, check out Pocket7Games which despite the name, actually has 9 different classic games to choose from.

Bingo Clash is the most popular, followed by Solitaire!, Bubble Shot, 21 Gold, Block Blitz, 2048 Blitz, Dunk Shot, Bubble Gold, and Cube Blast. Easily switch between games to play for fun or for cash against real players 1v1 or in a group.

Every day over $1,000 free cash is awarded to players who join the free entry events. You can also win Amazon gift cards, and tech prizes like Xbox, AirPods, iPads, and more. Never be bored with plenty of surprise events and activities that give free cash plus earn up to $40 per friend you invite to play Pocket7Games!

More than $70M in prizes have already been rewarded so get in on your share of the fun. Note that cash games are not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, TN, VT.

13. Never Overpay for Car Insurance - Save $826 a Year

Let’s talk about the not-so-sexy topic of car insurance. You need it, you have it, but you’re probably overpaying for it. By how much though? It can depend on your car, location, age, and more, but on average you’re probably spending $826/year more than you need to.

You’ll know how much if you use Savvy to check for fast and easy savings. There are no forms to fill out since it uses your existing insurance info, and the system will instantly check for a better deal. It literally takes 30 seconds and they protect your phone number and email from spam.

Once Savvy finds you a better deal and you choose to switch, they’ll help you cancel your old policy, enroll you in the better one, and get a full refund on the unused portion of your prior payments. It’s the simplest and easiest way to get a refund on your overpriced car insurance policy.

14. Play Classic TV Game Shows (and More) for Cash at Home

Play classic TV game shows like Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right: Super Plinko, and more, easily from home to win cash prizes from your phone.

The WorldWinner app hosted by Game Show Network prizes out $200,000 daily! The app has plenty of games to choose from like the TV game shows as well as:

  • Solitaire Rush
  • Angry Birds Champions
  • TRIVIAL PURSUIT
  • SCRABBLE Cubes
  • Catch 21
  • and more!

Play for free or compete in cash tournaments with entry fees that start at 88 cents. Easily switch between games depending on your mood. The app matches you with real players of similar skill and everyone gets the same game board, time, and limits for fair play.

WorldWinner has been around for more than 20 years and is trusted by top players around the world. So make game time even more productive by playing for cash prizes!

15. Fun Times in 3 Minute Increments – A Classic Game for $

3 minutes.

Make as many 21s as you can within that time or until you run out of moves.

That’s the basic gist of 21 Blitz, a modern take on a classic game where you’re no longer just playing against the dealer but with actual people around the world.

It’s fast-paced and it basically does all of the math for you. This game is great for killing time and earning cash all at once which is perfect for home!

You can play for free against real people for prizes or switch over to cash games to win…well, cash! Cash game winners can win up to $7,000 or more in the mini-tournament.

Cash tournaments not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, ME, MT, SC, SD, TN, IN.

16. Scan the Stuff You Buy & Get Free Rewards

The exclusive National Consumer Panel (NCP) program is opening up again for more participants! This is your opportunity to make your consumer voice heard! (And get paid for it)

When you become a panelist, just use the app to scan the barcodes of items you purchase, provide a few additional transaction details, and you’ll earn points for:

  • Gift Cards
  • Tablets
  • Electronic Equipment
  • Flat Screen TVs
  • and much more from their gift catalog!

Plus, all panelists are automatically entered into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual drawings to win extra points and gift cards – even a quarterly sweepstakes to win $5,000!

The more you share your shopping habits (scan barcodes), the more rewards you can get. You can also answer surveys and share information about your overall shopping trip.

“Scanning my purchases is fun! I also enjoy taking the surveys. Earning points is fast and easy and they have a great selection of rewards.” – Jennifer B.

It’s a fun way to earn more rewards on items you’ve already purchased and at no extra cost to you.

Register now to see if you’re eligible to be a National Consumer Panelist. Eligibility will be based on your location. If you don’t get accepted this time, don’t worry! They’re always expanding locations, so check back again.

17. Merge Matching Blocks to Win Cash Prizes

Alice Ly | The Smart Wallet

When you want simple gameplay but with strategy baked in, check out  Tap n Merge Tournament, where you literally tap and merge number blocks to earn points.

Merge at least 3 of the same numbers to create a higher number block, and see how high of a number you can get within the 2 minute time frame. Our highest (so far) is 7! Combos and speed will also boost your overall score.

Play for free, and when you’re ready, switch over to cash games to earn faster. Cash game winners can win up to hundreds of dollars!

The relaxing background music, the gameplay, and the strategy involved will keep you entertained for a while.

Cash tournaments not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, and TN.

18. Never Pay Overdraft Fees Again - Banking That Has Your Back (And Your Community’s!)

Overdraft fees. They’re avoidable yet people still get hit with them costing them an average of $250/year. That’s a lot of wasted money!

Instead of punishing you for silly fees, Chime, has your back. It’s an award-winning (and free to use) mobile banking app that lets you overdraft up to $100 with no fees1 via their SpotMe benefit. This means that $8 you were short on at the grocery store gets spotted and your account won’t overdraft, saving you money. Plus, you get a sleek-looking debit card!

They also care about empowering the community to take control of their finances too. That’s why they’ve teamed up with Grammy award-winning hip hop artist 21Savage as well as the Dallas Mavericks to provide free financial lesson plans to the youth community as well as guiding students to become entrepreneurs. #Values

Combined with no hidden fees, the ability to get paid 2 days earlier,2 and auto-savings starting at 1.00% APY makes Chime a stellar online banking option that doesn’t focus on profiting off of you like traditional banks. Since it’s free to use, give it a shot!

19. Get Extra Cash Back on Grocery Pickup & Delivery Plus More

Who wouldn’t want cash back?

Use Ibotta, an app that pays you real money on your everyday purchases, from groceries (both online and in-store), essentials, personal care items, to meal delivery to online shopping.

It’s simple:

  1. Just check Ibotta first to find offers, and when you purchase your items, scan the receipt to get cash back. Popular stores and services include Target, Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, Uber Eats, and more.
  2. NEW: Online grocery purchase for pickup & delivery – Just open Ibotta, and see a list of supported grocery retailers and delivery services including Walmart Grocery, Instacart, Shipt, and more. Link accounts & get cash back on eligible products within 24 hours after your order is picked up or delivered!
  3. Online shopping – purchase from 100+ online retailers that include Sephora, Under Armour, Gap, and more to get money back.

Ibotta has also teamed up with 50 leading brand partners like Flipz®, Macy’s, TOMS, Jell-O, and more to be committed to giving $10 million in extra cash back for the new school year. This means you get more cash back than normal!

Ibotta is free to download and you’ll also get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses when you sign up so use it before buying anything!

20. This Paid Survey Panel Gives Out 7,000 Gift Cards Daily

There are a lot of survey programs out there, but none as popular as Swagbucks, a free rewards program where you can earn cash for your time and opinion. Members can earn an average of $50 a month!

You get rewarded for doing surveys, searching the web, reading articles, watching videos, and playing fun games but the one activity that earns you the most points is completing surveys. (Don’t skip out on those!)

Points can then be redeemed for free gift cards, cash, and sweepstakes entries. All just by completing fun activities and giving your opinions.

New members can get a free $5 just for signing up, so join the other 10 million members already part of Swagbucks and start earning free rewards!

21. Like Tetris But With No Gravity - Play Anywhere for Cash

3 minutes.

Explode as many rows and columns of colored cubes as you can. And when you win against opponents, you get bragging rights and most importantly, the chance to win cash.

Jewel Blitz is the fun puzzle block game that’s great for making downtime productive. Play for free against real players from around the world for prizes or switch over to cash games to win…you guessed it…money! Cash game winners can score up to $2,000 or more in mini-tournaments.

Cash tournaments not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, and TN.

22. Don’t Get Gouged at 29% APR on Your Credit Card. You Could Get a Low 4.99% APR Instead

If you don’t want to go into your next decade of life with debt looming over you, consider debt consolidation. In the long run, you’ll save money from not having to continuously pay high-interest.

Debt consolidation just means you’re borrowing money at a low-interest rate and using that money to pay off the outstanding balances from your high-interest credit cards.

If it sounds foreign to you, don’t stress. You can keep your research simple with Fiona, the fastest, easiest, most comprehensive way to search for loans from the top providers.

It’s free to use and the application takes less than 60 seconds to complete. Fiona will search all the top online lenders to get you the best personal loan anywhere between $1,000 and $100,0000. You’ll find rates as low as 4.99% APR and loan terms from 24-84 months depending on the lender.

Not only will they help with debt consolidation, but they can also help with any big moment in your life that you may need a personal loan for like Home Improvement, Wedding, Medical bills, and more.

23. Renters: Protect Your Important Stuff Starting at $5 a Month

You have a lot more valuables than you think. Imagine if your laptop, phone, camera, bike, jewelry, etc. got swiped or accidentally destroyed in a kitchen fire, water damage, or natural disasters?

It would hurt to pay and replace everything lost. However, by having renters insurance, your policy can cover all your household items, furniture, electronics, jewelry, and clothing. It doesn’t matter if your landlord has property insurance because that won’t cover your items.

Affordable renters insurance starts at just $5 a month and you can easily get a custom price from Toggle, a Farmers Insurance® company.

“By switching to Toggle, I actually saved $2/month and doubled my coverage from my previous insurance, plus my deductible is $400 less,” said Jeff from MO. Other members also say that it’s extremely easy to set up, approve of the fantastic rates, and love having the Pet Parent coverage option.

Your items are also covered by your policy limits wherever you go, so if a thief targets you at a cafe, or something gets stolen out of your car, etc, you have peace of mind!

Toggle serves the following 25 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin

24. How Does Your Money Compare to Peers? Get $5 To Anonymously Check

If you’ve ever scrolled through your social media feed and thought “How do they have so much money?” keep reading.

People rarely talk about money openly, but we all wonder if our peers have more savings. Do they have more debt too? Are they really making a killing in the stock market? Everyone’s financial situations are different and it can be awkward to probe friends for answers.

Status Money is here to help. It connects you with a community of financially savvy peers so you can share financial tips and insights, compare financial stats, and find ways to save money. As a bonus, you’ll earn cash rewards when you act on personalized recommendations!

By seeing how others make their financial decisions, you’ll learn to make smarter money choices on your own without an expensive financial advisor. Join Status Money for free and stop wondering how your financial situation stacks up to other people!

25. Automate Your Current Savings and Save an Average $2,500 a Year

59% of Americans are constantly stressed about money.* And this was before the pandemic! That stress can cost you hours of sleep and take a toll on your health too.

A tool we really love is called Digit, a smart money app that can be your sidekick for keeping you financially healthy. Every day it’ll analyze your spending and income, then set aside the right amount of money into your custom savings goals.

Since Digit’s algorithm is constantly monitoring your money, each day will be a different amount as their technology will save based on what it knows you can afford, so it’s completely personalized to you! Not so big that you’d miss it, but enough to add up to a good chunk of change. Digit members save an average of $2,500 a year, and the savings are FDIC-insured and available to transfer at any time. Plus savers also get a 0.5% annual savings bonus, a.k.a. free money!

In addition to helping you save, you can use Digit to automate payments on your credit cards, student loan, or phone bills.

Digit will keep on saving for you while you sleep, while you work, basically anytime so you don’t have to think about it. Try it free for the first 30 days to see how you like it and after it’s just $5 a month.

BONUS: Get Paid to Take Popular Surveys, Watch Videos, and Even Read Emails With This Site

Priscilla Du Preez

If you’re looking for an easy way to snag a little extra cash by being online, look no further. Inbox Dollars has a wide array of ways to make some money on the side.

Founded in 2000, Inbox Dollars has been around and paying customers for their opinions for over 19 years and counting! They are one of the most trusted survey sites with fun, multiple ways to earn extra cash that sets them apart from the others.

You can stick to sharing your opinion and take surveys, but you can also watch videos, play games, and even read email for some extra cash. Who wouldn’t want to watch movie trailers for money?

They also offer cash back for online shopping and coupon cash rewards to use at the grocery store too!

So if you’re looking for some extra cash and enjoy a wide array of options to earn, Inbox Dollars is a great platform to make a little side money. It’s free to sign up, so give it a try today!


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