The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to track financial progress

When you have a big goal (like finishing school, improving your finances, or being healthy), it’s good to find more than one way to measure progress. When I was trying to lose weight, the scale eventually reached a plateau and it seemed like I was not making progress. However, my stomach continued to look flatter and flatter and I was able to fit into my old clothes better and better.  Those were other ways of seeing progress.

When paying down debt, it can seem to take forever. Here are different ways to track financial progress. 

1. Amount of money in savings – Track how much money you have in savings each month. Even though my focus is on paying off debt, I send $100 a month to a long-term savings account. Even if the debt doesn't seem to budge, I can look at the slowly growing savings account for comfort.

2. Amount of debt paid – Track how much debt you have paid off total. I keep a list made in Microsoft Word that lists this information. I also have the thermometer and the little bug thingy at the bottom of this screen.

3. Bills paid off/accounts closed – When you start paying off debts, you should list all of your debts from smallest to largest. Then begin paying them off in that order. I paid off 7 small debts in the first 2 months. I got several pieces of mail that said, "Account closed," "Balance $0," or "Paid in full." I could have wallpapered my wall with those letters - but I didn't have a wall since I lived in my car. The point is, crossing those accounts off my written list was a way to track progress. 1/2 of my debts were eliminated in 2 months.

4. Things you can do now that you couldn’t do before - I use to frequently look at calendars to see how many days till the next payday. Now I don't look at calendars as regularly for that information. I used to drive to my hometown for visits because it was cheaper than flying. Now I have a choice. 

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