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What are some effective strategies to raise and save money to start a business while paying off debt?


Brian Quinones Austell, GA

I am currently homeless and living in a transitional house. I earn about 1500 a month with my disabilities. I also have a current debt of 24,000 in credit cards and family loans. I am in the process of leasing a car true uber in order to make more money and use it as a base to gain better employment. I am also getting my own apt thru the SSVF program soon. What can I be doing now to better my chances of success down the road?

17 November 2015 14 replies Small Business



Anthony A Clifton Philadelphia, PA

Hi Brian. Check out the web site: try and take advantage of 'crowd funding your idea.

Also, contact the Small Business Administration office closest to you.

Third, see of your nearest chamber of commerce has a program or an event where you can speak about your idea in front of folks like 'angel' investors, accountants, lawyers and venture capital providers who can give you good feedback on how to get your idea airborne.

Hope this helps!



Justin Nichols Longview, TX

Brian, I've put together a free webinar (for veterans) starting tomorrow night that shows you how to raise $50K for your startup in as little as 30 days.

Here's the link:


Julia Scott Spring, TX

Hello Brian, And I'm late to the table (and following a lot of good advice preceding mine) so I will add just a few things. First, if you are willing to move to a bigger market with broader job opportunities it might be worth taking a look.. I'm in the Houston area and the job market here is very good except in the O&G and their associated partner companies as a result of the current oil glut situation. There are many other places in the US with a strong job market- just something to consider as I have no knowledge of your area.

I agree with those who state focusing on getting rid of that debt is # 1, preceded by finding job(s) that will enable you to get there as quickly as you can. If possible you can get job(s) in the field in which you want to develop your business, but do be creative. Any job in the manufacturing sector will give you both a short and long view of how logistics works (or doesn't) with other groups in a company, and will make you a better logistics professional as a result.

If you want any help with a resume, I'm a crack writer and have rewritten resumes for many of my professional and personal contacts. I'm be happy to do so with you,

Spending is something that can always be reduced- seriously. As those before me have stated, do bargain shop- my version is buying good food in season as that is when it is for sale. Don't eat junk processed or fast foods as an investment in good nourishment is much better than paying more for healthcare down the road. I do hope that you are receiving your healthcare through the VA as you certainly have earned that!

It's really easy to take you cell phone bill down to $15.00 a month as I have by refusing to get a smart phone and having my NET TEN cell phone as an emergency phone first and a convenience last.

Wishing you the best as you move forward. I'm glad to see you are taking advantage of all available resources since you have earned that- in abundance- with your service, for which I'm most grateful.

My best to you, Julie.


Judy Tomlinson Richardson, TX

First, I would consolidate your debt through Money Management International. They will get your interest rates lowered and you make only one monthly payment to them. That way you know exactly what you have left each month. Every month you need to pay yourself.....I mean set up a separate checking account and put money into that account that you will not use for anything but savings. If you do not use it, you can get a Money Market account that actually earns interest. It won't be much but it is something. If there is an emergency, you can withdraw funds but you are limited to how many withdrawals per month.

Financial problems are huge stress factors so you need to focus on getting out of debt before you do anything else. There are programs that will help you....listed in other responses but getting our from under the huge weight of debt will really improve your life.

I wish you success in your struggles. The fact that you know you need to do something is the best first step. I know it will be hard...but I believe you can do this.


Donald Marshall Hingham, MA

The VA offers grant programs where you can get funds to start a business. The Small Business Administration also offers loan programs to add to grant funds to start a business. What business are you interested in starting.


Jerry Smales Ansted, WV

I am a Founder and CEO of a not-for-profit organization for homeless veterans in West Virginia.

The advise you are given here on this site is almost all great advise. I would like to point out, there are several programs available for homeless veterans through Veteran Affairs, HUD, state, and local municipalities.

Each state is different, so you will have to do some more homework to find a program for your specific needs.

If you "qualify" for the homeless veteran programs and are not screened-out, you can find additional money for a job, food, and shelter, or whatever you need to get off the street and back on your feet.

I found, it is always better to start my own business and provide a living for myself instead of depending on someone or anything for my needs. Every time someone helped me, it made me more dependent instead independent. The goal is to become independent.

I was homeless before I started my businesses (businesses because some of my businesses failed miserably).

Find a problem people are having, figure out the solution to the problem, and offer the people your solution to the problem at a reasonable price. Nothing is better than earning a living for yourself and the people you love.

I like the sound suggestion you got from Ron Yu because it is from a traditional perspective proven correct time and again.

Keep your plasma, your body will love you for it. Do read the Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason and any other book you can get your hands on. This knowledge gathering will make an immediate impact on your assent to where you want to be in life.

Remember life is a journey, and you must enjoy your journey to be happy.

To be really happy, you must help others. At my organization (, we are currently looking for advisors and board directors to expand our operation into other states, so check us out if you are interested in helping veterans or donating.

Jerry Smales, currently operates an outreach program for homeless veterans in West Virginia. He has a post-graduate degree in Strategic Leadership and under-graduate degree in Organizational Leadership. You are welcome to connect with Jerry Smales (


Charles Woodard Tacoma, WA

Hi Brian, everyone has provided some really good advice and options above, but one thing that I did not see network marketing. There are network marketing companies out there that you can get into with a relatively low start up. This is not a get rich quick scheme and it takes hard work, but it is possible if you have the right motivation. Check out Go Pro with Eric Worre to learn more about what network marketing brings to the table. Good luck moving forward.


Alexander Hildenbrandt Jacksonville, FL

Hi Brian,
Maybe I could introduce you to one of my contacts. He is prior Army and previously in your situation. He is currently the founder of Soldier Fit, a growing franchise brand in the northeast. I am not the best guy to ask but maybe he can give you some words of wisdom considering he was in your shoes and now is where you want to be. This is an interview we did:( ) It was one of my first so I appologize in advance but it may help give you some goals and hope. That is something that I needed and many others do as well.

Message me direct at and Good luck bud!


Steve Camkin Boise, ID


When I was in a jam financially one of the things I did was locate a plasma donation center. I was able to make about $280-$300 per month which I used to build up my emergency savings fund. They do have a "qualification" process which is a bit of a pain but you would find out if you qualify on the first visit. They "might" tell you some of the dis-qualifiers over the phone but it is likely you would have to invest a couple of hours to find out.

I used the time that I was in the chair donating plasma to do job searching online.

Plasma is better than blood because you can come back for repeat visits more frequently and make more money.

Good luck, it looks like there's a bunch of other good advice others have already listed.

I assume you have contacted your local county and local churches to see what other kinds of programs offer assistance? I found a lot of programs I did not know about when doing some research for a friend.


Cheyhene Miller Charlotte, NC

Hello Devil Dog,

Think of doing the following in this order.
1. Read and Study "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason
2.Talk to and build a relationship with a banker. (can be done very quickly)
3. Start asking yourself who around you can you help. (nothing better to take your mind off your current circumstances than to help others)
4. Remember that you are a Devil Dog and we do not fail! We course correct! Semper Fi!


Sam Lerner

It is not possible to save and get out of debt at the same time.
I see everyone's advice and it is all good.
When I was in a similar situation as you I maintained two jobs.
Sometimes 3 when I could wash dishes at my uncles place.
Continue to educate yourself when you have time.
This will be more valuable in whatever you do.
Good luck and thanks for your service


Ron Yu Cupertino, CA

Hi Brian

1) stop whatever got you into debt and control spending and bargain shop on everything not just eating. Even at the low transaction level - for example, you should not be buying coffee at a coffee shop, even saving $2-$5 a day on simple things you think don't cost a lot add up. Shop efficiently - meaning buying at good pricing - for example buying a small bag of chips at a convenience store will always cost you more than buying larger bags at a grocery story or Costco for example. Any time you spend, ask yourself, do I need to be spending that money and if so, am I paying the best price/cost? That includes recurring cost items like cell phones, cable/satellite TV - things most people take for granted but most overspend on. Take inventory on everything you purchase - is it a must have or nice to have?

2) Pay off debt first (prioritized by interest rate - highest first) as fast as you can. You will not be able to borrow money on bad credit (including leasing a car). I would recommend that you use all available sources of income today to pay off debt as fast as you can and consolidate debt if you can find a lender that will offer a better rate for all the debt or if not, negotiate with the ones you have.

Specific to business, you should always analyze every aspect first - for example you mentioned Uber driving and leasing a car. Many people do try that and run it as a business and leasing could be an option as a true business and it would be a write off. The big however though is deeper analysis is needed - it looks as if you live in NH - you would need to first understand what does an average driver make in your area (riders / day, earnings / day) and then calculate your costs to operate (lease, insurance, fuel, maintenance, etc). Then, you make a decision on a go or no go. I have heard that drivers of larger SUVs for example make more money because of the size car they have but that comes with more operating cost. That model would make sense say in large metro markets like San Francisco or New York City but not a suburb. So I would not blanket say no to leasing but certainly someone in your life situation and location, it may not make sense. Remember all the risk is on you, not Uber so if you don't get the rides you expect, you still have to pay the bills so it's not a slam dunk.

My suggestion, you should try to seek out income opportunities in the near term that allow you to earn a "regular" income first and not outlay cash. That would then accelerate paying off your debt and repair your credit. You could then save money on the side for a business. For example, if your disabilities don't prevent you from lifting heavy weight, you could be a driver for FedEx or UPS for example that pays well and may help you learn more about the delivery and logistics business (they hire more during holidays). Or, you could apply for work at a larger freight company to be a truck driver and get a commercial license. Where I live, there are plenty of jobs to be a driver for Google Shopping Service for example too. As you can see, there are plenty of job opportunities in that space that will allow you to learn more about the business while earning a paycheck. You don't want to be learning the hard way while spending and risking your own money.

You first want to get your feet back under you financially. Then set your sites on running a business. You're still young so you need to be patient and clear one hurdle at a time. Running a business in general is a big undertaking and should not be pursued until you've done all your homework and save funds for a rainy day cushion - I'm happy to be a sounding board if you want to message me further on ideas you're considering for business

Thank you for your service and best of luck!


Danyielle Reister Conyers, GA

Brian -- That is the best advice !
Call your creditors ask for lower interest rates, tell them your situation.
Snowball them, Once you pay off one, take that payment and add to the next one, Once you pay off that one, again take those 2 payment amounts add them to the next one and so on until they are gone !
NO eating out -- as Dave Ramsey says, Do not step foot in a restaurant unless you own it or are working in it...
On the car, do not lease it ! Buy the junker -- you can still do Uber or Lyft (depending on where you are).
Best of Luck to you and THANK YOU for your service !!! I appreciate it, truly !!!!


John Green Cary, NC

Hi Brian - oooh-Rah!

1. Save three to five months of living expenses as your emergency fund.
2. List your debts smallest to largest.
3. Make minimum payments on all debts except for the first debt on the above list.
4. Do not eat out in any restaurant until all your debts are paid. Fix rice & beans and eat your meals at home (MREs are good too.)

Better choices = stay out of debt. No reason to carry credit card debt. Pay off in full all your cards every month.

Don't lease a vehicle. Leasing a vehicle is **the most** expensive way to pay for transportation. Buy a junker instead for $500, as long as it runs good. Even if you Uber'd a dozen rides a night, you're still upside-down on the lease+insurance+time.

Best of luck.

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