Debt Repayment Plan Worksheet: Step-by-Step Guide
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
A debt repayment plan may sound like a product you buy from a financial advisor, but that isn’t the case. This type of plan is nothing more than a strategy that you can create so you can methodically pay off your debts.
It’s far too easy to make minimum payments on your debts without making a lot of progress. But a debt repayment plan forces you to figure out how much you owe, the interest rates you’re paying and how long you’ll need.
But how do you get started? Enter the debt repayment plan worksheet.
- Filling in your debt repayment plan worksheet
- How to start repaying your debt
- Don’t sweat the missteps
Filling in your debt repayment plan worksheet
This worksheet is an important tool in your debt repayment journey since it will help you list all the important components of your plan in one place. You can save this worksheet on your computer — or phone — and use it to formulate your debt repayment plan and track your progress along the way.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to use this debt repayment plan worksheet in conjunction with a debt payoff calculator. A debt payoff calculator can help you figure out how much you’ll need to pay over the minimum payments on your credit cards, car loans, personal loans and other debts to pay them off in a reasonable amount of time.
Type of debt
The first column on the debt repayment plan worksheet is “type of debt.” This is where you will list each debt you have, including individual:
- Credit card balances
- Car loans
- Personal loans
- Other debts
Make sure you list each of your debts as a separate entry, since you’ll focus on repaying each one individually. For example, don’t lump all your credit card debt into a single line. Instead, take the time to separate each credit card balance so you can prioritize them in your debt repayment plan.
You’ll list the APRs for each of your debts in the spreadsheet. While fixed interest rates you might be paying on a personal loan or an auto loan won’t change, interest rates you’re paying on credit cards and other debts could be variable.
With that in mind, you might want to mark any variable interest rates you have with asterisks.
Each of your debts has its own balance, or the remaining amount of money you owe. You’ll want to list the initial balance on each of your debts on your spreadsheet so you know where you’re starting your debt repayment journey.
You can also add up all your debts so you know exactly how much debt you have in total.
You’ll also list the required minimum monthly payment on each of your debts, which you can find on every bill you receive. Your minimum payment on fixed-rate loans, such as a home loan or an auto loan, may never change, but the minimum payments on credit cards and other lines of credit with variable rates could go up or down based on market trends and how much you spend.
Begin your spreadsheet with the minimum payments you’re required to pay on each of your debts on day one.
Extra monthly payment
The next column on your spreadsheet is where you’ll put extra payments you plan to make. You may not want to fill out this part right away since there are a few steps you should take to determine how much extra money you’ll have to use toward debt repayment each month.
Your final column is where you’ll set a realistic payoff date for each of your debts. You’ll reach this date by figuring out how much “extra” you can pay toward your debts each month and using a debt payoff calculator to determine when each debt will be paid off.
How to start repaying your debt
- Track your spending from the previous 2 months
- Create a written monthly budget
- Set realistic expectations
- Stop adding to your debts
- Consider the debt snowball or the debt avalanche
- Stay on top of your debt repayment plan worksheet
Track your spending from the previous 2 months
Before you can get serious about debt repayment, you have to know where your money has been going so far. The best way to do this is to get out your bank statements, credit card bills and ATM receipts to figure out how much you have been spending each month in categories such as:
- Dining out
Once you’ve taken a closer look at past spending, tally up the amounts in each category you spend the most in and write them down. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to figure out exact totals for the categories in which you spend the most. Your goal here is coming up with estimates so you have a general idea of where you’re starting.
Create a written monthly budget
Next, take the time to write out a written monthly budget that includes your fixed monthly bills (rent or mortgage, car payments, etc.) and how much you hope to spend in discretionary categories. You’ll also want to include the minimum monthly payments on personal loans, credit card bills and other debts you hope to pay off.
Here is also where you’ll figure out how much “extra” money you’ll have to throw toward your debts each month. Once you have a written list of your expenses, you can subtract that amount from your monthly income and see what is left.
Here’s an example of how this information might look:
Set realistic expectations
As you create a written budget similar to the example above, make sure to be realistic about how much you’ll likely spend in discretionary categories that change each month. It might not be too difficult to cut a few hundred dollars of your food budget if you have been spending $1,000 a month or more, but cutting your food budget down to the bare bones may not be realistic.
The same is true if you dine out at restaurants five times a week. It would be considerably easier to limit dining out to once or twice a week versus going cold turkey overnight.
You should also make sure to account for variable or “surprise” expenses that inevitably pop up. You may want to budget a few hundred dollars a month for birthday presents, doctor’s visits and other expenses that come into play intermittently throughout our lives.
Stop adding to your debts
Another crucial step in this process is making sure you’re not still adding to your debts. This means halting the use of credit cards if you have them and switching to cash or debit instead.
You’ll never pay off your debts if you keep adding to your balances each month, so you need to stop using credit until this process is over.
Consider the debt snowball or the debt avalanche
As you fill out the information on your debt repayment plan worksheet and decide which debts to tackle first, keep these strategies in mind:
- Debt snowball: This debt repayment method asks you to pay off your smallest debts first and pay only the minimum payments on the rest of your debts. This process lets you eliminate small debts right off the bat, giving you the psychological benefit of reducing the number of debts you have right away. As each of your smallest debts are paid off, you’ll “snowball” your extra payments into your next smallest debt and continue making the minimum payments on the rest.
- Debt avalanche: You’ll pay off your debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying only the minimum payments on the rest. This process lets you save more money on interest since you’re eliminating balances with the highest rates first and saving the debts with the lowest rates for last. As each debt with the highest interest rate is paid off, you’ll begin throwing your “extra” money toward the next debt in line while continuing to make minimum payments on the rest.
Stay on top of your debt repayment plan worksheet
Keep in mind that the debt repayment worksheet is customizable and made to be altered so it fits your budgeting needs and style. You can create extra columns if you want, and you could even go in and update your debt balances each month as you make payments and pay down your balances.
At the very least, you should check in with your spreadsheet each month to update debts as they are paid off and figure out how to allocate those new funds.
Let’s say that you use the debt snowball method to pay off credit card debt and eliminate your first credit card balance. At that point, you would go into your spreadsheet and mark that first debt as paid off. From there, you would figure out where to allocate the money you were paying toward that debt until now.
Don’t sweat the missteps
The debt repayment plan template you’ll find on this page can help you get organized when it comes to paying off debt. However, it’s far from foolproof and you’re bound to make a few mistakes along the way. If you do happen to overspend one month or fail to pay as much as you wanted toward your debts, all you can do is dust yourself off and try again.
Think of it this way: Every month is a new chance to start over with a fresh perspective. One bad month can’t ruin your debt payoff plan if you don’t let it.