(Free Template!) + How to Use a Debt Tracker to Accelerate Pay Off

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It seems like everyone is in need of a good debt tracker – the ultimate tool to corral what you owe. After all, the average household in 2018 had 135,678 in debt. (P.S. Did you know you could buy five Ford Mustangs with that much money?)


But before we can get you set up with your debt tracker (keep scrolling to get your hands on the template…), you'll need to decide how you want to tackle your debt as this will inform how you fill it out. 


The debt tracking sheet below is just for you to track your payments and play around with your final debt pay off date. Actually paying it off? Well, that's up to you.



Debt Reduction Techniques



Below is a quick crash course in different debt paydown strategies. 

There are many different debt reduction techniques available. Some of the most common include:


#1 – Snowball

debt snowball: Made popular by Dave Ramsey, (tutorial here) this is where you list your debts smallest to largest and pay off the smallest first – then move along to the next. Once you pay off a card, you still use money for that card’s minimum payment to add onto your payment for the next one (and so on and so on). You’ll save more money in interest by using the Avalanche method (below), but most have great success with the snowball because those small wins keep you motivated for the long term.


#2 – Avalanche


debt avalanche: this works well when you have multiple credit card balances. Unlike the snowball method, you won't be targeting smaller accounts first. Make all of the minimum payments on each account, and then put the remaining money you have to pay off debt with towards the account with the highest interest. This will help you reduce the amount you pay on interest over time.


#3 – Consolidation


debt consolidation: this consolidates all of your debt into one account so you are only paying off one interest rate each month. In theory, this approach can be helpful, but in practice, it can get dangerous. It makes it easy for you to rack up even more on your credit cards and get yourself even more in debt.


No matter what method you choose, a debt tracker can help you get a handle on your debt, because it provides an opportunity to put all of your financial information in one place.



Using the Financial Best Life Debt Tracker



You can absolutely do this with just pen and paper!

For those working with the deluxe spreadsheet in the Financial Best Life Blueprint, you can list your debts either by balance (smallest to largest) or by the interest rate (largest to smallest) depending upon your debt pay off plan.



Then, in the section underneath, track your payments as you make them.


The second sheet in the PDF is for brainstorming two things:


  1. How you’ll come up with extra income to accelerate your debt payoff.
  2. What you’ll reward yourself with each time you pay off a balance.


Sounds pretty fun, right?



If you feel mathematically challenged, spreadsheets are a great solution to making sure you don't make any glaring errors when tackling your debt. Instead of crunching the numbers by hand, you'll be able to just put the numbers in each cell, and watch the magic happen.

Want the deluxe spreadsheet? The premium debt spreadsheet excel file is in The Financial Best Life Blueprint


Why Should I Use a Debt Tracking Template?


Because there are sound benefits related to getting your debts down “on paper.”


1. It's A “Screenshot” of Your Financial Life


  • If you are utilizing credit from many different institutions, it can be hard to know all of your balances, rates, and monthly payments off of the top of your head.
  • A good debt tracker will let you input the details of all your loans or credit lines, letting you view your repayment information in one place.
  • No more bouncing from app to app or looking through old documents every month.


2. You'll Be Able to Set More Realistic Goals


  • Seeing the numbers on paper allows you to set realistic goals. You might be tempted to aim high in your debt repayment goals – that’s great! – but it is just as important to set goals that you can reasonably reach.
  • Since you’ll have all your debt info in one place, it’ll be even easier for you to prioritize what you want to pay off first.


3. You'll Stay on Top of Due Dates

  • Late payment is a big financial no-no. Not only does late payment affect your credit score, but you could also be paying more because of late charges. It’s amazing the difference just having your dates in one place can be.
  • Your debt tracker will help you stay on top of what is due and when.


4. And Keep Motivated



  • Debt repayment burnout is real and dangerous. It can start with “Well, I’ve repaid a lot lately. I should treat myself,” and end with “How did I max out my card again?” The trick to avoiding burnout is in not denying yourself rewards – but rewarding yourself responsibly.
  • Think of little treats for yourself when you reach a milestone of repayment or other financial goals. Aim to spend no more than 5% of the total balance you just paid off.
  • Use cash, obviously.
  • Write these rewards down on your debt tracker so that you don’t lose sight of your goals!



How can I use a debt tracker to pay off debt faster?


A debt tracker can help you pay off debt faster because it is a visual reminder of what you’re working for. It will help keep you motivated, but it won’t pull in extra money. Below are some of my favorite ways to make extra money so you can log more (or better still – even bigger) payments into your debt tracker.


#1 – Try a No Spend Challenge

Remember after the holiday season when everyone shuts themselves inside the first few weeks of January in an attempt to salvage their finances after a decadent holiday season? Yeah, that can work for any season. Anytime you want to save a little cash is the perfect time to attempt a no spend challenge.

Click here to read how to properly put one together. The key is in the preparation.


#2 – Sell Your Unwanted Items

Kondo mania is sweeping the nation thanks to Marie Kondo’s newest show on Netflix. Declutter your own home and profit by putting no longer used item up for sale on places like Craigslist or eBay. My rule is that if I haven't used it or touched it in a year — get rid of it.

You'd be surprised how much you can make just from selling your old items.


#3 – Start a Small Side Hustle

I’m the queen of side hustles. Or, at least writing about them. See below:


#4- Leverage Technology to Save ..Automatically


One of the best ways to save money is to automate your savings into a separate account. Then, when you hit a certain amount, you can make an additional payment toward your debt. Doing this is as simple as logging into your online banking portal and scheduling an automatic transfer from your checking to savings on the 1st of every month. Be aggressive – think of how much you can save, and then add an additional 1%. 


Take the first step by opening up a high-yield savings account so you have a place to stash your savings that earns as much as it possibly can. I like to recommend CIT Bank (this is where I keep my savings, too!)  thanks to its higher-than-average interest rate (25x the national average) and no-fee structure. All it takes is $100 to open. Click here to learn more.



47 more ways to pay off debt


Ready to get super aggressive with your debt pay off? Having a debt tracking template will help you to really visualize your progress. When you can see your hard work, then you'll be more motivated to keep going. I like to recommend the following ways to pay off debt for anyone who wants to go “Above and beyond” with their debt payments each month.


  1. 6 ways to get a handle on any shopping problems. 
  2. Evaluate 0% Balance Transfer Card offers to lower interest. 
  3. 10 steps to shop your closet (so you don't buy new clothes on a credit card!)
  4. If you've got a lot of debt, consolidating it to a lower interest rate and smaller payment may be the best option for you. (Admittedly, it isn't right for everyone.) Here's the difference between debt consolidation and refinancing, btw.
  5. Evaluate one of these 13 gig economy jobs for $1,000+ per month.
  6. Cut one of these five items from your budget first.
  7. Try starting your own small business as a side hustle. (Here's my guide on how to do that!)
  8. Have a blog? Here's how to make it profitable so you can use the extra for debt payoff.
  9. 11 Ways to Save Money (for savings or debt payoff!)
  10. Try a no spend challenge!
  11. Purge your closets and sell what you can for extra cash. 
  12.  Scour craigslist for the legit side jobs you can do to earn extra money. 
  13. Take online surveys for an extra $100.
  14. Take a free debt payoff course!
  15. Work with a debt management company.
  16. Save the change from your checking using our favorite debt app, Qoins. Every little bit you save then automatically gets paid toward your credit cards. 




The TL: DR

Debt is one of the great financial white whales – almost everyone has some sort of debt, but repayment seems to be increasingly out of reach for many. Student loans are crippling young adults’ financial wellbeing, while mortgage rates climb and a wider variety of credit options become available. I know that if you're reading this, you're well aware that debt can be a vicious cycle of overuse and slow repayment.

Just remember, you’re doing GREAT work – more than most individuals will do – by downloading the debt tracker and debt trackings sheet, you'll get ahead of your debt situation now. Once you’re debt-free, you’ll have some amazing options and be in a better position to live out your best life.


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(Free Template!) + How to Use a Debt Tracker to Accelerate Pay Off
    • DNN
    • January 30, 2019

    That’s a valuable tool for people looking to have a better understanding of their personal finances and stay on track with “getting financially organized.” It’s so easy to splurge and fall of the “financial accountability” bandwagon. I should know because I was off track for quite a long time. Paying off debt can be a headache but it has hidden lessons in it and profit for understanding how to survive personal debt next time around. Personal debt can also be paid off when anyone starts an online side hustle and commits themselves to using the awesome power of the internet to earn a 100% living, pay off debt, and become a side hustle millionaire in the making.

    • Giulia Lombardo
    • January 11, 2017


    • Bailey
    • January 9, 2017

    I am *obsessed* with my debt tracker spreadsheet! Maybe I’m a nerd, but it’s fun to me to play around with “If I put X amount of money towards debt payoff each month, I can pay it off by X date.” It definitely motivates me!!

  1. Reply

    A few years ago when I first discovered PF blogs and started taking my money seriously, I set up a Debt Repayment tracker. It helped me SO MUCH! I’m a visual person, so I needed to see the numbers in a spreadsheet (and cooresponding graph) in order to really “get it”. I stopped tracking my debt and my spending when I was laid off. It was just a depressing reminder of how quickly I was moving backwards and undoing all the hard work I had done. But now that I’m employed full time again, I have no excuses! Time to dust off that document and get back on track.

    1. Reply

      I also could not have done my $8k in 90 day challenge without a debt tracker – I looked at it every, single day. They really are a game changer!

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