Coming up with a plan for paying off debt may sound difficult, especially if you don’t have a financial background. But spreadsheets simplify the task, making it easy for anyone who can use a spreadsheet to make a plan to pay off debt.
The snowball method is a popular strategy, and downloading one of these debt-snowball spreadsheets can help you reduce your debt. One option on this list even walks you through how to choose a debt-payoff method by comparing the snowball method to the avalanche method and other strategies.
Technically, these are spreadsheet templates that you can use with Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, or Google Sheets. With a template, you get a ready-made spreadsheet with the right formulas to do all of the calculating for you. All you need to do is download the template and plug in a few numbers—the spreadsheet will do all the math. Some of the options listed also present schemes for dealing with your loans, a multiple credit card payoff calculator, and recommendations for paying down other debt.
Vertex 42 Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator and Credit-Repair Spreadsheet
You can learn something from the Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator spreadsheet from Vertex 42 when you choose from different debt-reduction strategies after you enter all of your debts.
This spreadsheet includes additional information about those strategies with more resources for reducing debt. After you enter your information, select the different methods to see how each would work for paying off your debt. This spreadsheet includes a printable payment schedule for easy reference.
Need help repairing your credit? Download the Credit Repair Edition of the debt-reduction spreadsheet to first pay down each credit card to specific levels determined by your FICO score. Once you reach that that goal, the spreadsheet shows you how to start paying off all credit card balances.
Squawkfox Debt-Reduction Spreadsheet
The author of the spreadsheet and the Squawkfox blog, Kerry Taylor, paid off $17,000 in student loans over six months using this downloadable Debt Reduction Spreadsheet.
Start by entering your creditors, current balance, interest rates, and monthly payments to see your current total debt, average interest rate, and average monthly interest paid. The spreadsheet will also show you the total number of monthly payments on your debt accounts.
You will need to have an idea of how much money you will set aside each month toward paying off credit cards and other debt to activate the debt snowball features of the spreadsheet.
Simply enter the amount you have planned for paying down the debt, and the spreadsheet will tell you what portion of that amount should be applied to the bill with the highest interest rate.
It's Your Money Excel DebtTracker Spreadsheet
DebtTracker is not quite as elegant as the other spreadsheets on this list, but it has great features to sort and view your debt that are definitely useful.
The worksheets come populated with some data so you can see how they work, and the download page includes a tutorial. You will need to enable macros in Excel to use the DebtTracker spreadsheet, which is also explained in the tutorial.
Enter all of your debts, including multiple credit cards, mortgage, and various types of loans, into the spreadsheet to start. Then you can change the view by sorting debts by type, interest rate, minimum payment, and other options.
The advanced sorting is helpful if you're using a particular debt-payoff plan, such as the debt snowball. The DebtTracker includes seven worksheets, including a Paydown worksheet with a graph for tracking the results of paying off a debt over time.
Debt Prioritization Worksheet From Wise Woman Wallet
If you're struggling to choose a debt-payoff method, this bare-bones free with email signup spreadsheet from Wise Woman Wallet can help you get a big-picture view of your options. Simply enter basic information about each of your debts, including the starting balance, current balance, interest rate, and minimum payment. Then use the filters to sort by your current balances (for the snowball method) or the interest rate (for the avalanche method).
Wise Woman Wallet's spreadsheet also lets you consider two additional strategies. In the debt volcano method, you prioritize the debt that makes you most frustrated or angry, such as a high-interest credit card balance or a "buy now, pay later" charge for a gift you bought your ex. In the hybrid method, you combine several strategies, such as starting off with a snowball but switching to avalanche when two debts have similar balances, but one has a higher interest rate.
If experimenting with these spreadsheets makes you realize that you need more help managing your debt, you could look into debt-relief companies. However, it's not a step to take lightly: Debt settlement can take years and can result in a hit to your credit score as well as other potential ramifications.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the debt snowball method?
The debt snowball strategy prioritizes your debts from the smallest to the largest. You'll start by paying the minimum payment on all debts, then putting any extra you have available toward the smallest debt each month. Once that is paid off, you'll take the amount you were paying on the smallest debt and add it to your minimum payment for the next-smallest debt. With each debt you pay off, it creates a "snowball" effect and speeds up the pace of repayment.
What is the debt avalanche method?
With the debt avalanche method, you prioritize your debts from highest to lowest interest rate. You'll pay the minimum payment on all balances every month, then put any available extra cash toward the debt with the highest interest rate. When you finish paying that debt off, you'll apply that payment toward the next-highest interest rate and repeat.
How do I decide on a debt-repayment plan?
The debt snowball and debt avalanche are just two of the strategies you can use to repay your debts. You might choose to prioritize other debts first, based on the type of debt, the risks involved if you fail to repay, or the emotional stress that some debts create. If you need help deciding on a strategy, consider talking to a debt or credit counselor.