When it comes to managing your debt, it’s easy to feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. But as more and more individuals find their way out of debt, their advice appears to be resoundingly the same: keep track of your money.
In a world of automatic payments and credit cards, tracking your expenses feels tricky––especially if numbers aren’t your thing. Luckily, technology is your friend here. A debt payoff spreadsheet automatically calculates your cash inflow and payments, so you can stay on top of things. While a free debt snowball worksheet can help you quickly tackle and pay down debt.
How to Use Debt Tracker Worksheets to Pay Off Debt
Using a free template is an easy way to get control of your debt. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Find a Budgeting Spreadsheet
The first order of business to paying off any debt is working out a budget. Track your expenses, list it all in a spreadsheet, and compare the final tallies to your monthly cash inflow.
From there, you’ll want to track your necessary expenses first. That means essentials like groceries, utilities, insurance, rent, and car payments. Mint’s monthly budget template is great for this, with defined boxes like “cable” and “pet supplies” for expenses, and “salary” and “reimbursements” for income.
Different people may prefer different levels of detail for their budgeting spreadsheets. For instance, the personal monthly budget template by Vertex42 breaks down the “entertainment” expense category into sub-categories like “sports” or “concerts and plays.” The point is to pick one that works for you and determine how much you earn, how much you need to spend, and how much you have left (the difference between the two).
Step 2: Determine a Payment Strategy
Once you’ve used a budgeting spreadsheet to find out how much money you have left after expenses, you can start paying down your debts.
The primary techniques used for debt reduction are “snowballing,” in which you are paying off the accounts with the smallest remaining balances first, and “avalanching,” where you pay down your highest interest debt first. In both cases, you are still making minimum payments to avoid penalties on all your other accounts. Snowballing debt can feel more motivational as you quickly zero out smaller debts.
Step 3: Pick a Debt Payoff Spreadsheet
Now that you’ve used a budget spreadsheet to determine how much debt payment you can afford every month, and you’ve picked a debt repayment strategy that makes sense for you, it’s time to pick a debt payoff spreadsheet.
Essentially, all debt payoff spreadsheets are the same. Some are labeled as “credit card payoff spreadsheets,” or “student loan spreadsheets,” but they all keep track of your outstanding balances and interest rates across accounts to calculate your remaining payments.
What differs between spreadsheets is the organization and level of sophistication. For instance, some will calculate a payment schedule by payment strategy, and some will break down the remaining time to pay off balances by account.
The Top Debt Payoff Spreadsheets
Seeing your debt repayment in progress can help motivate you and keep you on track. You can download all these spreadsheets for free online and input your own debt numbers with programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
Whether you’re a pro with Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, or you are still a newbie, here’s the best debt tracker spreadsheets available online:
With the debt snowball method, you pay your smallest balance off first, working toward your biggest. With this worksheet from Vertex42, you’ll feel motivated to keep the momentum going as you see the smaller debts drop to zero.
This debt tracker spreadsheet does require you to use macros in Excel, but it comes with an excellent tutorial to set it all up. Once you’re rolling, you can sort your debts by several options including minimum payment due and type.
Are you someone who sees data better visually? If so, the newest version of the Debt Tracker Spreadsheet from Squawkfox might be the one for you. While you can load, sort, and track your debt the traditional way, this sheet also populates graphs so you can visualize your debt repayment plan.
This worksheet shows you your debts from the biggest to the smallest, making the snowball method as easy as possible. You can also view your progress on a chart, sort, and feature the debt you are working on first.
This multiple credit card payoff calculator spreadsheet automatically calculates the interest you’ll pay over time on your credit cards. You’ll also be able to keep track of your minimum payments, see your debt repayment progress, and your percentage paid off for each card at a glance.
Looking for simplicity? This minimalist Google Sheet has everything you need to track, manage, and pay down your debt without the frills and complicated math.
This debt tracker spreadsheet is unique. While you can use it for the debt snowball method, you can also use it for the “debt volcano” method, a repayment plan invented by the author that allows you to sort your debt by what is causing you the most urgency or frustration.
If you’re struggling with debt reduction and you’re looking for more resources on how to regain your financial foothold, check out our resources, such as how to build a budget, how to rebuild credit quickly, and how to build good spending habits.