A fun, visual way to help you pay off your loans

Y’all, I’m not going to lie to you: money has been tight this year!

Between an unexpected job loss, a couple scary months of unemployment, finding a great new job (HALLELUJAH!), moving to a new city, and preparing for the birth of our second baby, it feels like we’ve been playing the catch-up game for MONTHS when it comes to our budget.

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The really cool thing is, God has stepped in and caught us in SO many mysterious ways, when our bank account was nearly $0. A few times it was through friends or family offering support when they didn’t even know it was needed, a couple times it was a paycheck that arrived a few days early right when a bill needed to be paid – all I know is, He’s provided through a really tough few months and for that I am insanely grateful and amazed!

Now that we’re finally getting back on top of our finances, we’re creating some long-term goals to set us up for financial success in the future.

A huge thing this entails is PAYING. OFF. LOANS.

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Our goal is to spend the next 1-2 years paying off as many of our debts as we possibly can, to allow us to then spend the next 1-2 years simply putting away money to buy a house.

And because I’m a super visual person, I decided to create some visual loan trackers to help!

(Not going to lie, it’s SCARY to share personal money information like this. Some people might shudder that I’m sharing real, actual dollar amounts from my real, actual life. BUT: I believe in honesty and transparency. The devil wants us to hold our secrets tight to our chest where they can turn into shame, regret, and anxiety. Well not today, Satan. If sharing my financial reality can encourage just ONE other person to take a step in a positive direction, then I’m here for it 100%). Okay, disclaimer over!

Here are the original designs, created using a free website called Canva:

CreditCard
This is kind-of a cool story: Earlier this spring we applied for a Southwest credit card to use for car expenses. THEN came the unexpected job loss, unemployment, and new job/new city. Some people might see this as a curse (UGH I HAVE SO MUCH CREDIT CARD DEBT) but without this credit card, my husband wouldn’t have been able to pay for the hotel rooms in our new city, which allowed him to accept the new job immediately while we were still searching for a new apartment. Another way I feel like God was looking out for us!

 

MomandDad
Yes, I owe my parents money. LAY OFF ME OKAY

 

StLukesSurgeryCenter
This is a hefty one: the bill from my miscarriage D&C from last summer. Had I known the bill would be so high (or that I had a choice at all), I would have opted to wait and let my body do its thing. But that’s a WHOLE different story for a WHOLE different blog post.

 

StudentLoanKelsie
Remember that one semester I went to Musical Theater school in Chicago and hated every second of it?! Me too! Especially when I get my student loan bill every month! YAY!!!

Long story short, each of these visuals is designed in a way that I can simply color in a letter (or half a letter) depending on how much of the loan I pay off that month.

We’ll start with our smallest loans, pay as much as we possibly can each month (while paying the minimum balances on the larger loans) – this way, we can start to gain momentum and confidence as we pay off loan after loan.

I decided to include the FULL amounts (even for loans that I had already paid partly), so that I could go ahead and color some letters in and feel better about myself (are you really surprised, coming from the same girl who retroactively adds things to her to-do list just so she can cross them off?).

Here are some pictures of the final product, attached to my office wall right by my desk:

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I used the website CanvaΒ to create my visual loan trackers. Simply:

  1. Add text in the name of your loan (go for a bold font)
  2. Toggle the text’s transparency to make it gray (so you can color it in, but still see what it says)
  3. Assign a dollar amount to each letter, corresponding to your total loan amount (want the fancy math? Total loan amount divided by the # of letters. That’s about how much $$$ each letter should be worth. Don’t worry too much about being a perfectionist – the whole point here is just to have a visual and show yourself you’re making progress!)
  4. Add fun art like arrows. Be sure to BOLD the total amount, so you know exactly what you’re working toward!
  5. aaaaand print. πŸ™‚

Keep in mind, there are a million ways to get creative with this! You could hand-draw something, make it simple like a thermometer you fill in $50 at a time, or even just squares representing different dollar amounts.

I, of course, had to get crazy with it. #noshameinmygame

Fellow indebted visual-types: let’s pay off our loans and take over the world!

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If you make something similar to this, I’d love to see the result. πŸ™‚ Scroll up and click “contact me,” or just comment below – I’d love to know if this method helps you!

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