Visualise your way out of debt
Here at finder.com.au we understand that it can be inevitable to get into some form of debt whether it be with credit cards, store cards, home loans and personal loans. These all add up and sometimes it can be hard to see how you will pay this all off.
One way do demonstrate how far you have come when paying off your debts is a free debt thermometer. Each time you knock off a portion of your debt, you colour in a piece of the thermometer.
Use the links below
Printing your debt thermometer
To get the most out of your debt thermometer, we suggest downloading the PDF version. Follow the instructions below on printing it out.
How to use the debt thermometer
- Download the Debt Thermometer
- Print off the Debt Thermometer
- Fill in your details with a texta
- Colour in how much you have paid
- Visualise your way to a debt free life!
If you have any questions on how to use the debt thermometer, please leave a comment below.
One of the primary reasons many people give up on their debt reduction plans is that they can't really see any of the progress they've made. Others lose motivation when their debts seem far too big to ever pay off with the small amounts they're contributing towards them.
Yet, with the right tools it can be very possible to visualise your way out of debt. The key is to set realistic goals and then find ways to create visual prompts that keep your motivation levels high at the same time.
Creating your goals
Your own financial goals will be completely unique to you, so it's important you work on your own figures and your own desires for your financial future. Think about what debt or debts you want to repay and how you plan to achieve this.
For the majority of people, debt reduction takes time and patience. If you can be realistic about your balances and how much you can afford to repay, you'll find it much easier to stay on track. You'll also find it easier to stay motivated if you're already aware of the estimated time it's going to take you to reach your destination.
For example: you may have a $4,000 credit card and a $2,500 store card you want to pay off. You might find it more motivating to work on clearing one debt at a time, so work out which one is charging you the higher interest rate. In most cases, your store card interest will be more expensive than you credit card interest, so it might pay to work on this one first.
Your payment plan
If you've been paying only the minimum payments due on your debts so far, it's no wonder you're struggling to get those debt balances down. You need to work out how you can tighten your budget a little and find a few extra dollars to put towards your debt reduction plans.
Even a few extra dollars a month on top of the minimum payment all helps. Be honest about how much you can realistically afford.
Changing payment frequency
Did you know the interest on your credit cards and store cards is charged at the end of every day on your outstanding balance? That total interest figure you see on your statement is added up from all those daily tallies.
If you only ever make a payment off your credit card once a month, you're only reducing your balance once. Yet if you make your payments weekly or fortnightly, you actively reduce how much you owe, which means the bank charges you less interest as a result.
When you reduce your interest, the amount you pay on your monthly payment goes towards reducing your debt balance instead. Obviously, it makes sense to find ways to make more frequent payments off your debts.
Take your normal monthly payment amount and divide this by 4. Let's say you normally pay $100 per month. Try to find a way to make payments of $25 on the same day each week instead. You'll end up paying far less interest overall and you'll find it much easier to budget as well.
Calculate your time frame
Take the amount of debt you're focusing on and divide this by the monthly payment amount you can realistically afford to pay.
For example: $2,500 divided by $100 per month payment is 25 months – or 1 year and 1 month until that debt is cleared, not including any interest charges on top of that amount.
Seeing this time frame written down in front of you is usually enough to make some people believe they simply can't get out of debt on their own. This is where it's important to go back to step two and re-work your budget again. Even adding an extra $5 per fortnight to your regular payments can speed up your debt reduction plans.
Adding $5 per fortnight won't send you broke, but it will increase your monthly payments to $110. At that rate, you'll be debt free in 22 ½ months, so that's almost three months' worth of interest you won't have to pay.