There are numerous articles online that have advice on ways to pay off debt including how to cut back on spending and a multitude of side hustle ideas to make more money while on your journey. You definitely won’t run out of ideas and tips to get you to the mighty goal of being debt free. However, I want to add a helpful aid during your journey which is helping me and has helped others. That one thing that has motivated me during my debt free journey is a visual aid. Visual aids have been used for as long as I can remember especially in classrooms to help with learning.
A visual aid is used to supplement words with pictures, charts, graphs or other graphics to convey a specific message.
In this blog post, I will discuss the visual aid that I am currently using to track my progress out of student loan debt and also my discussion with Amanda from DebtfreeinSunnyCA who also believes that using a visual aid while getting out of debt keeps you motivated. Let me add, a visual isn’t restricted to paying off debt, it can also be used to save money.
I have used a few different visual aids before settling on my current one. Past visual aids include a thermometer that I colored in as I paid off each debt and an excel spreadsheet where I listed all my debts and then highlighted each one as they were paid off. Both are still viable visual aid options. Lastly, I settled with framing a poster sized graphic complete with stenciled in graduation caps where each cap represents $1000 in student loan debt. I created the graphic with a poster board from a local Dollar General Store, a frame from Hobby Lobby, a few Happy Planner stickers from Michael’s stores and a stencil purchased here. My goal was to create something that was very visible but also fun to color in. Once the graphic is fully completed, I will have paid off $64,000 in student loan debt. Here is the final product:
I discovered Amanda from DebtfreeinSunnyCA on Instagram and noticed that she also used a visual aid during her journey out of debt. Amanda made a visual in a bullet journal to track her progress out of $133,763 of debt. Her and her husband paid off this amount of debt in 3 years and 7 months. (Wow!)
Here is our interview:
Sugar and Money: Amanda, thank you so much for agreeing to share your visual and some of your debt free story with me today. So, let’s dive right in with a few questions. First, tell me a little about yourself and your journey:
Amanda: I’m Amanda Williams and I’m the owner of Debt Free in Sunny CA! I started sharing my debt free journey on Instagram 3 years ago. My goal was to stay motivated and find other like-minded people. Since there weren’t a lot of people sharing their journey back then, I created #debtfreecommunity to make it easier to find people who are getting out of debt. My mission is to show people that living a debt free life is possible by sharing tips and providing motivation.
Sugar and Money: You knew your goal of debt freedom so what prompted you to create a visual aid while paying off debt:
Amanda: Ya know when you get really into something to where you’re borderline obsessed? That’s how I was at the beginning of my debt free journey. I had a coloring chart that came with the Financial Peace University (FPU) kit, but I didn’t get to color in it often. A small payment was a speck compared to the amount of debt I had. I wanted a way to celebrate each payment, so I looked to Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration on creating my own debt free tracker.
Takeaway: A visual aid can help you in celebrating those small wins to keep you motivated.
Sugar and Money: How did your visual aid motivate you? How did it feel to see the progress?
Amanda: The visual I created was a bullet journal page with lines drawn to create boxes. Each box was worth $240, so every time I made a payment in that amount, I would get to color in a box. Every payday I would get so excited to color in more boxes and see the page fill up. I used a different color of the rainbow for each debt. My favorite part was taking pictures of my tracker and looking back months later to see how far I had come. It’s an amazing feeling to go from being terrified and thinking how you’re going to pay your debt off to putting in the work and seeing your progress.
Takeaway: Take pictures of your progress of your visual aid so you can reflect on the progression of reaching your goal. Also, you have to put in the work to pay off debt.
Sugar and Money: Tell me again, how much debt did you and your husband pay off?
Amanda: My husband and I paid off $133,763 in 3 years and 7 months. We also cash flowed our wedding during that time.
Takeaway: That’s a lot of debt to tackle but they did it and so can you!
Sugar and Money: Would you recommend that other people use a visual aid and why?
Amanda: Yes! Getting out of debt is not an easy task. You need something to look forward to, track your progress, and keep it in your face as a reminder of the goal you set for yourself. Visual aids do exactly that and they are fun! There are so many different ways to track your progress. Coloring, paper chains, and moving coins/marbles over from one jar to another are a few ideas. Plus, you’ll want the memories later on.
Takeaway: Create a visual and don’t be afraid to get creative. Feel free to look to pinterest for ideas also. There are numerous ways to create a visual aid to track your progress.
Sugar and Money: We are wrapping up, anything else that you would like to add about using a visual aid or where you are currently on your financial journey?
Amanda: Once you’ve completed your debt free or savings tracker, laminate it and keep it as a memory. It brings me so much joy looking at mine and all my paid off notices. (Amanda printed out and laminated every paid off letter from her student loan company) I think you’ll feel the same way. Here’s the debt free tracker I made and used during our debt free journey. I counted up how many boxes were on the page and then did the math to figure out how much each square was worth. I left a row empty for boxes for interest, but it ended up not being enough. Word of advice: only color in principal balance. It makes it a lot easier unless your interest rate is low.
I created a debt free tracker printable that will be available when my online store opens on February 6th, my three year Instagram anniversary. You can sign up for my email list to get a discount and early access here: Debtfreeinsunnyca.com/subscribe. Thank you for the opportunity to be featured!
Sugar and Money: And Thank you for chatting with me! I really appreciate it.
Takeaway: Get on Amanda’s mailing list at www.debtfreeinsunnyca.com/subscribe if you would like to get a discount on the debt tracker pictured above and you can find Amanda via her blog at www.debtfreeinsunnyca.com and she is very active on Instagram @debtfreeinsunnyca so follow her for inspiration.
In conclusion, I recommend that you use a visual aid to track your progress while paying off debt or even saving up for specific goals. Goals outside of paying off debt can include: 3-6 month emergency fund, vacation fund, house down payment or maybe even buying a house in full. The options are endless but a great visual aid will keep you motivated as you make progress on your journey. You will enjoy seeing the visual progression towards reaching your goal. As you create your visual aid or download one off the internet here are a few tips in closing: Clearly define your goal and how progress will be tracked, make it colorful and make it fun!
Let me know any thoughts in the comments…Did you like the interview with Amanda? Would you like to see more interviews? Do you plan to create a visual aid to track whatever financial goal you are striving toward? Do you already use a visual? Let me know below and also please share this blog with anyone that it may inspire. Can’t wait to hear from you!