A friend of mine is over $30 thousand in debt and we are working together (actually she is doing the hard part) on getting things paid off so she doesn’t have to go through what I went through with collectors calling and a bankruptcy.

Every couple of months we sit down and go over what she has paid and how much she has left to pay. Basically, she's just keeping track of where she stands so it doesn’t become to overwhelming for her.

With her approval I will share a few simple things we are doing that is helping her out mentally and bringing a smile to her face.

One hot day in August after we were discussing bills for the umpteenth time, we scheduled a get together to go over what bills/debts she had. She brought over her bills and I broke out the milk and Oreo cookies and went at it. We wrote down on a simple piece of paper who her creditors were, how much she had left to pay, what the minimum payment was and what the APR was for the bill. Then we plugged it all in a spreadsheet on her laptop. What information we couldn’t find, we are able to look up online at the company website by signing up or by calling the customer service number on the bill.

Each website is now bookmarked in a folder on her browser so she can keep up with checking them for due dates, late fees, transactions and to make sure payments have posted.

With all the information on the spread sheet, she set about writing out her bills and we jotted it down on the spreadsheet for that month. The minimum payments will go down as she pays on them, so that is the discrepancy on the total paid. Trying to get her to pay the same amount each month, even if they want less so that she can get it paid off sooner.

Once a month, after making her payments, she would total up what she paid for the month and also total up what she had left to pay. This allows her to see the debt go down and how much money is going to debts – It is both exciting and frustrating.

She found that getting all her bills automated was the best way to make sure she paid at-least the minimum on them. And any extra money she receives from bonuses at work or items she sells goes to the debt with the highest interest. Frankly, I don’t care how she pays it, as long as she has one bill as her target and works feverishly on getting it paid off.

Obviously her plan isn’t anything spectacular, but it allows her to see it broken down in a simple way. It also helps that she can see her card balances as they go up and down each month depending on what she buys or doesn't buy and, that she also is able to see her student loan and car loan payments are going down each month.

I wanted to lend a hand to help her out so that she won't feel like she is alone in this. There just isn’t anything like receiving positive feedback from people who care. Ask any of the bloggers that have posted their debts online for all to see, I think they will agree.


  1. Jill // Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2:11:00 PM  

    Thanks for posting this! People forget how to pay down debt. We just had a girl here at work thinking of joining the military to deal with her debt! Cripes. Just pay it.

  2. Shawanda // Wednesday, November 11, 2009 7:28:00 PM  

    I did something similar when paying off my debt. I would meticulously keep track of every dollar that came in and every dollar that went out. Every month when I got paid, I'd take a look at my remaining debts and put as much money towards one of them that I could stomach. I never felt frustrated because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew debt freedom was just a matter of time.

    Your friend is fortunate to have someone looking out for her.

  3. FindSavings // Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:28:00 PM  

    Thanks for posting, it is both motivating and educational. It also makes me feel better that someone else is in the same boat, but at least doing something about it.

  4. Sheila // Friday, November 13, 2009 12:32:00 AM  

    Automation is the way to go! so much hassle of late payments, postage, and getting letters to the post office are eliminated.

    Thanks for a great post!

  5. Dawn // Friday, November 13, 2009 2:06:00 PM  

    I would think that the military pay would only worsen the situation as she is taking her habits with her to a situation where pay may be less.

    Good for you to think of keeping track of your expenses.

    I agree, it always helps knowing you are not alone and others are learning the ropes right along with you.

    No kidding! Autopay is a great resource and who ever thought it up should be patted on the back.

  6. Lawrence @ CRB // Monday, November 16, 2009 7:10:00 AM  

    Web bill pay is the best. It keeps things extremely simple and allows you to save on envelopes and postage. I'm a big fan of automation!

  7. Hollis // Monday, November 23, 2009 4:39:00 PM  

    It's great that you are helping your friend get out of debt. There are so many ads online, on TV and radio touting the virtues of "debt relief programs" when in fact most are very damaging. They destroy your credit, sometimes you're worse off than when you started and you have to pay income tax on whatever debt is "forgiven" through a settlement. HollisC

  8. InDebtAndHatingIt // Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:03:00 PM  

    Great post. Seeing the numbers in front of you can be sobering and motivational. I just started blogging about my families plan to get out of debt, and we also have an 8 foot "debt thermometer" representing more than 50k in debt (not including our house mortgage) that we're going to pay off in the next 2 years.

  9. Hollis // Thursday, December 31, 2009 8:23:00 AM  

    Having a plan is the best financial solution and having the thermometer is a great way to inspire everyone in your family. Good for you!