Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How did I track my getting out of debt progress?

How did I track my getting out of debt progress? I tracked my progress by drawing a picture of a thermometer and erasing the amount that I paid back each month from my thermometer picture. For instance, the Alumni Association at the college I attended uses a thermometer to show progress of growing contributions to the alumni funds. Basically, I have taken this concept and reversed it because I wanted to get rid of the debt that I accumulated. To me the thermometer was a symbol of how bloated my debt had gotten and how it made me feel- both hot and uncomfortable. So, by subtracting from the thermometer I was decreasing the heat and cooling myself off. I know this is probably a crazy visualization but it worked for me. I would encourage you to find a picture or diagram or something to track your getting out of debt progress. Believe me, it works and you feel motivated to keep going with your debt repayments. Here is my thermometer picture:

In the above image, you can see that the red is above the $20,000 mark because I had over $20,000 in debt. Each month that I made a payment of $500 or whatever I could afford for that month would be erased from my thermometer picture.

How did I know when my credit card statements were coming due? I knew they were coming due because I constantly checked my online credit card statements. But this wasn't working out so well because I was becoming obsessed. To tame the obsession, I marked all of the credit card due dates on my calendar. I used an online calendar and a physical calendar at my desk to track these bills and the due dates. In the beginning, I was paying my bills by check but then I switched to online banking. In a future post, I will discuss my online banking strategy that I used to pay back my debt. But for now here is an image of my online calendar to illustrate how I organize my bills that are coming due:


I have decided to put some structure to my questions in the Action Items section at the end of each post. To do this I have created "Janie's Getting Out of Debt Action Steps." These steps will group the questions into main categories. This way it will give you a road map that you can refer to. I realized that you may not understand why I am asking certain questions in my Action Items section. Therefore, I thought that by making my very own "Janie's Debt Road Map" would be helpful to you. This road map will be coming soon! I am in the process of putting it together right now. Stay tuned and it will be here shortly.


Action Items:

1. How do you feel about budgeting?

2. Do you write all of your expenses down?


Best wishes,
Janie

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