5 Ways to Get Out of Debt

In today’s economic climate, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t tangled up in some form of debt. Be it student loans, a housing mortgage, or credit card debt, the majority of us are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of our financial liabilities. Well thankfully, through the beauty of sharing economy and peer-to-peer networks, you could contribute and grow closer to the people in your community, while getting, and more importantly staying, out of debt.


1. Accommodation

Most of us have a spare room or two that doesn’t see much usage, aside from it being a storage space for our least-used knick-knacks. If the spring cleaning fever hits you and you (finally) clear it out, you can consider renting the space out through airbnb. On average a private room in a major city is rented out on airbnb for US $300/week. It’s not too shabby earning a bit of rent while providing a traveler lodging, saving them from hefty hotel costs. I wager you’ll probably even make a friend or two.

The reverse can be applied to cut down on your personal expenditure too. A good majority of us can probably recall that once or twice we went on a holiday that was just above our budget, ending up pretty broke for the rest of the month. And for the most part, if you’ve stayed at one hotel, you’ve stayed at them all, as the difference in services and amenities provided is pretty minimal. To that effect, you could get a much more intimate, homely experience through airbnb or even couchsurfing, and the latter is completely free. In my personal experience, couchsurfing helps you make the most of your time in a foreign state or country, as your host would usually give dependable advice on the best places to visit and the most efficient way to get there.

2. Services

Labour platforms, such as Uber, TaskRabbit, and Zaarly, provide a source of income with low to zero commitment, giving you the opportunity to serve someone in your community while putting a dent in your own overheads. These platforms allow you to pick up odd jobs at your leisure, in exchange for money or even services.

Own a car and have some spare time every morning? Someone in your neighbourhood may need a ride to work for a month or two. Love dogs and you’re working from home for the time being? You could consider dog-sitting for someone going on a holiday soon. Even more opportunities open up if you have particular skill sets. Peer-to-peer marketplaces like Zaarly allow you to market your skills and services through your very own online store. From repairing smartphones to baking birthday cakes, anyone who has a little time on their hands can definitely offer to share their skills with the community.

And aside from offering, receiving is another great way to cut down on expenses and debt. By utilising peer-to-peer services and marketplaces, you’re supporting and nurturing a self-reliant community, which will greatly reduce your own spending, and wastage of precious resources.

3. Transportation

Did you know that the average car is unused 92% of the time? Imagine if we worked out an efficient system to share that car amongst a dozen families, the auto-industry wouldn’t be filling up acres and acres of scrapyards then. Thanks to platforms like RelayRides and GetAround, the possibility of that is inching a little closer. You can consider renting out your car through these platforms during periods of disuse, instead of leaving it parked in a driveway, waiting for a layer of dust to settle on it. Many such services offer insurance as well, so you’re well protected. The reverse applies as well, instead of purchasing a brand new car just to go to work every morning, you could use these platforms to find a car for rent at a suitable daily timing. That’ll greatly cut down on your auto-insurance, car mortgage, and car maintenance costs, an effective and efficient way of avoiding unnecessary debt.

4. Stuff

How many lawnmowers do you and your neighbours actually need? Just one, with the power of sharing that is. Chances are if you need something, your neighbour already has it, or vice versa. It’s a little silly for every household to own a ladder or power drill, appliances that most of us use rarely. It’d make a lot more sense to ask your friends or neighbour and borrow such stuff, instead of buying one just in case we’ll ever need it again (in the next decade). Hence it’d certainly be a worthy endeavour to spend some time to get to know your neighbors, and build a communal sharing mindset within your community. You can set an example by being the first one to offer your own appliances for borrowing if the topic ever comes up, it’d be a wonderful step in the right direction. Being in a communal sharing neighborhoods is simply a smart financial move that keeps expenditure lower for everyone in the community, and of course who doesn’t love that warm fuzzy feeling of helping out a neighbour or friend?
Start Sharing instead of Buying today.

5. Food

Despite the growing availability of junk food, we’re certainly much better informed in terms of what’s healthy and what’s not. And while GMOs and organic produce are still matters of dispute, fresher produce being better is a global consensus. Finding fresh produce that hasn’t been on the shelf for days is a real challenge these days, unless you live next to a local farm or own one yourself. The next best thing would be to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a sort of community garden that shares its produce monthly with its members. Members pay for their produce with labour instead of cash, thus reducing expenses on food and avoiding potential debt burden. You can volunteer to harvest the crops, water them, and/or other odd jobs to help out on the gardens. So anyone with a little spare time can feed themselves, as well as their community through the volunteer initiative. When the time comes to reap what you sow, you get to do it as a community, and quite literally share the fruits of your labour.

How to Become a Socially Responsible Consumer

We are all consumers and customers. However, there is a larger difference between what we consume and how we consume, and how it can have an effect on people in the production and supply chain of these goods we consume.

responsibleconsumerWe mainly see socially responsible products pushed to the forefront of our consciousness these days due to slick marketing campaigns and ads, pushed by both corporations as well as celebrities on how their product gives back to the communities which they gain their raw resources from.

The real question here is, does it really do that? Who’s benefiting here? Behind a slick marketing campaign is the need for us to feel good about what we are buying, especially after many journalists and undercover whistleblowers shed light on how the luxuries of modern consumerism are produced – in the sweatshops of china, with slave labour in Africa, and sometimes, child slave labour too.

Sometimes, the product of such methods also cause massive environmental devastation, not pollution, devastation. We may or may not see it, but who knew your bar of soap causes forest fires every year in Indonesia started by farmers for their crop of oil palm? What’s oil palm you ask? Well, nothing much, except that it’s a major component in making many kinds of soap, dye, and luxury and everyday bathroom products for both genders.

Here’s how you can do your part to combat worldwide exploitative labour and consumerism destroying communities and livelihoods.

1. Check The Source

A product needs to be made from raw materials that have to be refined, processed, and shipped to your point of sale (POS). Now, in between the mining and processing of such raw material, many things happen.

We first need to look at where the raw materials come from. Generally speaking, it is neither practical nor feasible to trace back every raw ingredient in your shampoo to its source, however, a quick Google search will give you the locations and operational areas of the main ingredients of your product’s manufacturer. Sometimes, the manufacturer deals with its supplier who operates independently, however, you can still do a little research and find out.

A quick example is knowing where your paper comes from – is it from a sustainable timber and wood pulp source? or is it illegally mined? Some countries as a whole have very bad reputations in regulating their own resource extraction industries, it is best to steer clear of companies who operate in such countries.

2. Corporate Accountability

This is quite straightforward. Some corporations are very bad at telling the truth, resorting to bribery, lies, and intimidation as well as hushed deals to get as much wealth as possible from both consumer and communities that thy exploit.

Such businesses should be shunned, and their products avoided at all cost.

These businesses sometimes, in a bid to hide their bad rep, undergo a rebranding exercise and sell their products under different subsidiary brands, making it easy to hide their bad reputation from consumers like yourself.

This is especially prevalent these days, and can also be countered with a quick google search.

An exception however – should apply. Sometimes, said companies with a bad reputation get bought over, or taken over by a more reputable corporation and overhauled. In that case, it should be prudent to do your research on whether the company has adopted sustainable and responsible practices before buying their products again.

3. Check Production Partners

Modern day manufacturers very, rarely act alone. Such is the case that a company needs to harvest, say, oil palm in Indonesia for its soap for example; it works with a business partner in Indonesia to supply the local labour, machinery as well as raw material, while it provides the financing.

However, the local labour may be exploitative, and the harvest and planting methods may be damaging as well as polluting to the environment and neighbouring countries. In extreme cases, the manufacturer is unaware of such unsustainable practices being used by its partners as well, and is only notified upon a case being brought to court by watchdog agencies or whistleblowers leaking news.

4. Consider Materials Used

Before you actually buy the product, have you considered the impact it will have during and after its use?

Is it a one off product? Do you need it? Is the packaging/container re-usable, recyclable, or is it hard to decompose and recycle? These factors should come into play when you are considering buying or even getting the item for free.

For this reason, plastic bottles, styrofoam and other non-biodegradable materials should be sparsely purchased, or never, if possible.

5. Consider Impact of Product

Consider the product from a consumer standpoint, and the attitude it generates in society. is the product actually needed? Or is it just another whim that the market demands, but we don’t actually need?

Going by the saying, “if you don’t need it, don’t get it” is a good way to go. Needing and wanting are two different things altogether. A consumerist lifestyle not only pollutes, but also contributes to your general decline in a standard of living, as one-use items tend to be lower in quality.

Buying more and more of these one-time use items with short product life cycles only drains your finances as well as encouraging manufacturers to supply more of them, in a vicious cycle. Be aware of what you buy!

With all these points in mind, we hope you can become a more responsible consumer!

Household Happiness Factor

Household debt is defined as the amount of money that all adults in the household owe financial institutions. It includes consumer debt and mortgage loans. With consumers constantly buying items on credit, it seems as though the world is starting to get into a huge consumer debt.



In Australia, Australian households have more debt compared to the size of the country’s economy than in any other world. As of the third quarter of 2015, it is now the world’s most indebted household sector relative to GDP. It has around $2 trillion in unconsolidated household debt relative to $1.6 trillion in GDP.

In Canada, reports showed that Canadians are ending 2015 with record-high debt and mid-2016, household debt is still growing. The Bank of Canada has expressed concerns about the elevated levels of household debt, which pose a potential risk to Canada’s financial stability in the event of a sharp economic downturn.

In Asia, China’s total debt is more than double of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, and industry experts have expressed concerns that the debt linkages between the state and industry could be fatal. The country’s debt has increased to almost 250% of its GDP due to use of cheap credit to stimulate slowing growth, and releasing a massive debt-fuelled spending binge by consumers.

In Japan, it looks like the country is heading for a full-blown solvency crisis as the country runs out of local investors and may be forced to inflate away its debt in a desperate end-game. The Japanese economy is trapped in a vicious cycle of deflation and stagnation where escaping from this requires bold attempts on both monetary and fiscal fronts.

“We buy things to make us happy. And we succeed for only a short period of time. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Consumerism is good to a certain extent as it helps in stimulating growth in the country. However, consumerism becomes excessive when it extends beyond what is needed. When we start consuming excessively beyond our income level, boundaries are removed.


Although cheap and easy credit allows us to obtain money to purchase more items. Does possessing more material goods result in increase in happiness?

A study shown by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for two decades, says that it might not necessarily be so. According to him, “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a short period of time. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

“Buying more might cause unhappiness”

This refutes the basic assumption that we’ve been holding for ages. For example – when we spend money on a physical item – as opposed to an experience, the same physical item lasts longer and supposedly makes us happier for a longer period of time as compared to a one-off experience like a concert or vacation.

In fact, buying more items might be the cause of our unhappiness. Gilovich suggests that instead of buying the latest iPhone or the latest BMW, you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling.

One study conducted by Gilovich showed that if people have an experience they say negatively impacted their happiness, once they have the chance to talk about it, their assessment of that experience goes up.

He attributes this to the fact that something that might have been stressful or scary in the past can become a funny story to tell at a party or be looked back on as an invaluable character-building experience.

Sharing experiences can also help us connect with others more than sharing our thoughts about our material belongings. For instance, you’re more likely to feel a connection with someone who has also taken a trip to Bali than someone who also just bought a 4K TV.

Furthermore, when we buy material goods and items, new items are exciting to us at the beginning. But over time we start to adapt to them and a vicious cycle of buying goods and items in a bid to maintain that feeling of happiness occurs.

Gilovich’s research has huge implications for individuals who want to maximize their happiness return on their financial ‘investments’, for employers who want to have a happier workforce, and policy-makers who want to have happy citizens.

If we are to take this research to heart, it means that we should not only have a shift in how individuals spend their discretionary income, but also place an emphasis on employers giving paid vacation and governments taking care of recreational spaces.

In other words, before you start spending credit on those shoes or gadget, think to yourself, do I really need this? If the answer is yes, then think of ways where you won’t need to spend money or borrow credit to get that item. Because ultimately, with the technology that’s available to us and how connected we are, we can find access to what we need before having to spend money we don’t have and create debt we may not be able to pay off.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt