Racing downwards to zero is not as sexy as racing upwards to a much bigger number. I find it very enjoyable to see an account balance go up. The opposite, an account balance going down, is much less exciting. Over the years, the one shining light maintaining my motivation to pay off debt has been the actual tracking of the debt payoff. Otherwise, it seems like an endless process with no milestones along the way.
Tracking Debt Payoff Can Provide Great Motivation
When you are getting started paying off a large debt like a home mortgage, it can seem insurmountable. For many people that stops them from taking that first step towards paying the debt down, i.e. getting to zero.
In the meantime, isn’t it amazing how fast time goes by? With every year the pace of life seems to pick up. The power of simply just “getting started” and “time going by” sets things in motion towards success.
Whether you are tracking a car loan, home mortgage, or student loan payoff, having a place to keep track of your progress can provide the needed focus for something that is not very exciting. Plugging payments, including extra payments, into a tool such as a spreadsheet or an app that shows your regularly-scheduled payments will keep you on track.
Extra Payments Are Your Friend
Better yet, if you are making extra payments, you will begin to see how quickly the debt goes away. The other day I was amazed when I looked at one of my spreadsheets. What specificlly amazed me was realizing that over 4 years had passed since tracking a debt payoff. “Didn’t I just start doing this?” Amazing how time flies.
The benefit of starting the process of paying off debt is seeing the passage of time and the progress that has been made. When I scroll to the current month, I can almost see the bottom of the payoff. And this isn’t some small car loan I’m tracking.
Using a tracking tool helps you to get organized. The endless abyss feels less, well, endless. It also provides a good perspective of how far you have come and how far you need to keep going. For multi-year efforts, I like to attach my age to certain milestones. It makes it more personal.
Make It Personal
If you have children, placing your child’s age alongside your own age will also provide a unique perspective, including perspective on the progress you are making and what life will look like once you get there. It’s easy to lay out on a spreadsheet a bunch of numbers. When you add in your age and the age of a child it brings those numbers to life.
“By the time my child reaches high school the house will be paid for.” Statements like that can be powerful motivations to stay on track.
There Is An App For That
Another great tracking tool besides a spreadsheet is an app called Mortgage Payoff Track. It’s geared towards mortgage pay down but can be used for any loan you want. This is not a paid endorsement. It is an application that I have used for years and I am simply recommending it.
You enter your basic loan information and it will generate a loan payment schedule. You then are able to go into each monthly payment and add an additional amount if you have paid any extra. Example entry below.
After editing a monthly payment with the additional amount applied to the principle, a message is shown telling you the impact of the additional payment, specifically how many months your additional payment has reduced the loan as well as the total interest payments avoided.
The nice thing about this application is the pictures of the overall progress. (Anything to help keep you motivated.)
Below is a nice shot that shows an example of a loan being paid off and the interest being saved.
By using a few tools, you can stay more focused on hitting your goals – even if along the way you don’t necessarily find it very exciting but you know the end results will be worth it. The tools will also keep you focused when times get tougher and life’s distractions try to get in your way. Setting payoff goals each year helps keep the motivation high and holds you accountable. Trying to beat the previous year’s amount is a really good way to increase your total payoff amount as well as speed up the results.
What are your tools for tracking debt payoff?