Biography & Net Worth: Millennial Money: Use Visual Assistance to Monitor Debt

With $82,000 in debt, buying a home seemed a long way off to Aren Cicson and his wife. Florida residents who started debt-free travel in 2016.

They first chose the debt snowball method, a loan repayment strategy that propels them by attacking their smallest balances early. The couple also used a variety of visual aids to track all the milestones when paying off car loans, student loans and credit card debt.

“We wanted to be able to track progress and stay motivated,” says Sixson, a 32-year-old systems engineer and part-time YouTuber.

There are many debt tracking templates on the Internet that can help you record milestones toward debt-free goals. From coloring books to spreadsheets, here’s how to use visual aids to eliminate debt.

visual aids induced

If you have a long way to go, a roadmap that records your progress will provide support and encouragement.

“Checking out these little milestones and little elements along the way creates a lot of dopamine hits that keep us motivated,” says She Minds owner Katherine Eiseev. Penny Financial Medical Services based in Massachusetts

Iesiev likes to make solid things that can be printed and displayed frequently at home.

Track your progress in multiple ways

Sixsons turned to the Internet to research debt tracking solutions. When considering options, consider what is most motivating.

– Spreadsheet: Sixen started with a spreadsheet to track all lenders, balances and repaid loans. Spreadsheets can be as simple or as complex as required. You can use it to record all payments to each lender or to update your balance after payment. The main advantage is the ability to keep debt and information organized. It also works well with other tracking systems.

– Printed Case for Daily Viewing: Sixons also offers online templates to make it easier to view loan goals. He chose a thermometer for the fridge and then took the fridge to the front door as a daily reminder to stay true to his goals. At monthly check-in, they measure progress and color with a thermometer as they each pay off 10% of their loan.

“With spreadsheets, we sometimes end up stuck in an unpaid balance instead of celebrating the amount paid,” says Sixon. “I had no idea how fun and exciting it was to color some of that debt thermometer, but it made our debt-free journey even more enjoyable.”

Also, consider coloring pages that feature images such as a house representing a mortgage or a car representing a loan. You can enter an increment at the time of payment.

For another creative approach, progress maps can be made using unlabeled increments to provide attractive, personalized artistic designs that are uniformly colored. For the Sixens, their bold, red thermometer started a conversation and urged some friends to pay off their debts.

“They thanked them for seeing how we put it in our house, and they were able to do that,” he says.

– Bullet Journal: Bullet journals are less noticeable than printable pages, but can provide financial involvement more often. Keep it simple or creative as needed. In 2018, Cala Penner, co-owner of the blog Frugal Twins, created a simple bar chart in a bullet journal to track the final balance payments of $24,000 from one car loan and two student loans. .. He painted each bar with pink, green or blue ink after completing each $1,000 increment.

You can break up the increment into smaller pieces and specify different pages for different types of loans. Therefore, instead of a bar chart, you can choose to have a graduation cap, dollar bill, or anything else that can be colored to represent the loan that has been repaid.

Like Sixson, Penner used a spreadsheet throughout the trip, but it wasn’t as persuasive as a bullet journal. “It was far more satisfying for me to fill it out every month,” says an Iowa resident.

She also added a thermometer to the refrigerator door for daily visibility. With all three trackers, he recorded his progress on crushing debt.

Relying on visual aids for a long time after debt

Sixons paid off its debt faster than expected in 2018 by allocating cash to Envelopes and reducing categories like dining out and streaming subscription services. They are currently using a thermometer to track the savings. In anticipation of the baby girl’s arrival, Sixons recently colored thermometers to show savings on family-friendly cars.

“To exit in 2021, buy a car without a car loan, pay off in full and prepare for kids, we don’t think it will be at this point in our financial journey. I did,” Sixson says. “I can’t believe it.”

They are currently using multiple thermometers that remind them to focus on priorities like home payments and saving for home remodeling and travel.


This article was contributed to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Melissa Lamberena is the author of Nerd Wallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @lisalambarena.

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