Debt Progress Template Comprehensive Guide

Using Tiller to Achieve Debt Freedom

These are the four steps you’ll want to take to get prepared to start your debt freedom journey with the Tiller Debt Progress sheet.

The Debt Progress spreadsheet is meant to track debt payoff progress for debts like student loans, medical bills, high credit card balances, and personal loans from friends or family. If it doesn’t have a monthly interest rate or a minimum monthly payment it’s not a debt that you can track with this spreadsheet.

1. Look up your minimum monthly payments and interest rates

For the debts you want to pay off, organize your paper or online statements so you can easily reference the minimum payment due and the interest rates.

2. Confirm your debt accounts are connected to Tiller

Add the debt accounts, and the account you use to make payments (usually a checking account), to your Tiller Console under the Account Summary. You can easily track accounts you can’t link to Tiller (like a loan from a friend, or ones we can’t support) as well, and the steps for adding those are included below in this training.

If you have any issues connecting an account review this help article to troubleshoot and get help or reach out to support@tillerhq.com.

3. Decide on account nicknames (optional)

Edit the account nicknames for the accounts in the Account Summary. It’s an optional step, but it’s best to go ahead and pick an account nickname at the beginning and stick with it.

4. Create a sheet and connect it to Tiller Money Feeds

Now that you’ve done the preparation work, you can create a Google Sheet, feed data to it and then install the Debt Progress sheet. You can add the Debt Progress sheet to the Tiller Foundation template, a blank Google Sheet or any other Google Sheet’s template. See the compatibility notes below if you’re using a sheet created before August 26, 2019.

What is the Debt Progress sheet?

The Debt Progress sheet is where your debt freedom journey begins. It’s where you’ll choose which debt accounts you want to track, set your monthly payment goal, choose the month you’re starting your debt freedom journey, configure the specifics for each debt account, choose a payoff method, and get a customized analysis of your debt payoff journey.

Installing the Debt Progress sheet

You can install the Debt Progress sheet using the Tiller Labs add-on into your Tiller Foundation template or other Tiller-powered Google Sheets that are using the Tiller Bank Feeds add-on as the data feed source.

1.Click here to install the Tiller Labs add-on from the Gsuite store (hint: click the “free” button in the upper right).
2. Authorize the add-on to run with the gmail account you use for Tiller.
3. Open the Google Sheet where you want to add the Net Worth Tracker.
4. Open the Add-ons menu and choose Tiller Labs > View Solutions
5. Accept the Tiller Labs and Privacy disclaimers to continue.
6. Click the Debt option from the list of Solutions.
7. Click Add to Sheet
8. The Debt Progress sheet will be added along with any dependencies.

Debt Progress Dependencies & Compatibility

Dependencies

  • Balance History Sheet
  • Accounts sheet v2

Compatibility Notes

The Debt Progress sheet can only be installed via the Tiller Labs add-on in spreadsheets that have the latest version (v2) of the Accounts sheet.

The Tiller Labs team reworked the Accounts sheet as an improvement to templates for the Bank Feeds add-on, and removed the reliance on the Index Number column in the Balance History sheet. Accounts sheet v1 relies on the Index number, but v2 does not. This Net Worth Tracker requires the v2 Accounts sheet.

About the v2 Accounts Sheet

The new Accounts sheet is intended for overriding or customizing accounts only (i.e. correcting the class, asset or liability, and using Groups to organize your accounts). It does not include the ability to manually track balances as did the right side area of the v1 Accounts sheet.

How to get the v2 Accounts sheet

Follow these steps.

Customize your Debt Progress sheet

Configuring Accounts to Track

Use the Accounts to Track table to choose and configure the accounts for which you’d like to track debt payoff progress.

  1. Use the dropdown to select an account. You will only see liability accounts here. If you don’t see a manual account you added listed here, make sure you saved your manually added accounts to Balance History on the Accounts sheet.
  2. Enter the interest rate for the account (column C).
  3. Enter the Minimum Monthly Payment for the account (Column D).
  4. (optional) Set a rank for the account (Column E). This is necessary if you want to use the Lowest Ranked First payoff method.

Once you have the above three required details entered into the Accounts to Track table you should see the rest of the table populate with the starting and current balance for the account. You’ll also see progress so far (it’s okay if there isn’t any!), monthly interest cost for the debt, remaining interest cost for the lifetime of the debt, your estimated payoff date, and the recommended amount you should pay each month.

From here you’ll further customize the details in this table by choosing a starting month, monthly payment goal, and payoff method.

Choosing a Start Month

The Start Month is used only to track your progress. It’s recommended that you set this to the current month.

To set a start month type in the abbreviation or full name for the month and the year.

Choosing a Monthly Payment Goal

Choose a monthly payment goal toward debt based on what’s realistic for your financial situation.

I’m not sure how much to put toward debt payoff

The Debt Progress sheet will give you a suggested Monthly Payment Goal based on your minimum monthly payments and adds an extra 20% to the sum of those payments so that you’ll actually be making progress toward debt payoff. Use this suggestion for now and you can update it later in the setup process.

I already know how much I can put toward debt payoff

If you already know exactly how much extra you have in your budget to put toward paying off debt you can enter that value into the Monthly Payment Goal and overwrite the suggested amount.

Choosing a Debt Payoff Method

The Tiller Debt Snowball Spreadsheet allows you to customize your debt payoff plan. The Progress sheet in this template offers three methods for paying off your debt. This section is meant to give you a quick overview on each of the three, how each one works, and the pros and cons, but ultimately the choice is yours and should be based on your unique financial situation. Each of these methods works by allocating extra money (beyond the minimum payment) toward a debt. Which debt gets the extra money is based on the chosen payoff method.

Smallest Balance First (Snowball) - Recommended

Choosing this method allows you to quickly see progress with your debt payoff. It works by allocating the extra money to the debt with the smallest starting balance. After this debt is paid off, the next smallest starting balance debt gets the leftovers and so on and so forth. It’s highly motivating and more people see more success with this method than any other. The downside is that you will end up paying a little more in interest over the entire period of your debt payoff plan.

Avalanche (Highest Interest First)

Choosing this method allows you to save money you would pay toward interest over the long run as you’re paying off debt. It works by allocating the extra money to the debt with the highest interest rate. The downside is that it may take longer to pay off your first loan with this method and appears to delay progress.

Lowest Ranked First

Choosing this method allows you to fully customize your debt payoff plan. It works by allocating the extra money to the debt that has the lowest rank number in the Rank column of the Accounts to Track table. It’s great because it allows you to make progress on paying off the debt that’s most important (or most annoying) to you, but the downside is that it may take a while to see real progress, and it could cost you more in interest over the lifetime of the debt payoff period.

Now you’ve configured your Debt Progress sheet and can review your customized debt payoff plan analysis.

Video Training

Understanding Your Debt Progress plan

The Debt Progress sheet gives you a custom analysis for your debt payoff journey. The plan information is intended to be a guide as you start this debt freedom journey. The Accounts to Track table gives you information about recommended monthly payments. The Summary Info areas on the right give you a timeline, nudges about how much your interest is costing you, charts your payment progress, and offers comparison information between the snowball and avalanche payoff methods.

Recommended Payments

The recommended payments for each debt account in the Accounts to Track table are estimations calculated based on the minimum monthly payment, the monthly interest cost for the debt, and the chosen payoff method. The recommended payment amounts are only intended to reflect what’s necessary to pay off the starting balance of the debt.

Note: These recommended payments do not factor in extra money that might need to be paid in order to cover new purchases made in the current statement period so that new debt is not accumulated.

Debt Freedom Date

This summary box tells you the estimated payoff date for all your tracked debts, how much your debt is costing you in interest each month, and how much interest you’ll pay over the lifetime of your debts with the current plan. The intent of this info is to motivate you to allocate more toward your monthly payment goal so that you end up paying less in interest over the course of your debt payoff period.

Rolling Payment History

The Rolling Payment History chart plots out the sum of estimated payments for all tracked accounts since your Start Month. It’s based on the balance history data for all your tracked accounts. It overlays the payment history on top of your current monthly payment goal so you can see where you met, exceeded, or fell short of your goal for a given month. If you’re just starting out with the Debt Progress sheet you won’t see any data in this chart until you’ve made payments (so you’ve been using it about a month).

Note: if you change your Monthly Payment Goal at the top of the Debt Progress sheet, the baseline for the current monthly goal in this chart will change to reflect this revised goal. The chart does not display previously set monthly goal data. It only reflects the currently set goal.

Scenario Comparisons

The scenario comparisons provide a guide for how a revised monthly payment goal or using a different payoff method would affect the total interest paid and/or accelerate debt payoff.

Success at Debt Payoff

Now that you understand how the Debt Snowball spreadsheet works it’s just a matter of customizing your plan and staying engaged with your day to day spending.

Customizing Your Plan

From here you can further customize the Debt Progress sheet to create a plan that meets your financial needs and dreams. Review the scenario comparisons to model different debt payoff options.

Modify the Monthly Payment Goal

Overwrite the suggested monthly payment goal to see how it affects your Debt Progress Plan. You might find that it accelerates your debt freedom date and lowers your total cost of interest.

If you’re hoping to have your debts paid off by a certain date play around with this number until you’ve got a Monthly Payment Goal that reflects that date in the Debt Freedom Date summary box.

Try a Different Payoff Method

Change the payoff method to see how it affects your Debt Freedom Date, total interest paid, and monthly payments for each debt. Read more about how each payoff method works here.

Budgeting for Debt Payoff

Note: these videos are slightly out of date from the template portrayed in the video. The same basic principals and workflows are applicable no matter what budget template you’re using.

Step 1: Set up Categories and Groups

Budgeting workflows with the Debt Progress sheet recommend using two predefined categories that are in a “Debts” group.

Group: Debts
Expense Category: “Debt Payoff”
Income category: “Debt Payoff Received” - marked as “Hide” in the hide from reports column.

If you’re working to pay off credit card debt, but are still using the credit card(s) you’ll also want to keep the “Transfer” category. You can rename the predefined categories if you want, but some variation of them (including the assigned “types” and one “hidden” income category) needs to be included on the Categories sheet.

“Debt Payoff” represents the money leaving your checking account (an expense) that’s going toward debt payments.

“Debt Payoff Received” represents money coming into your debt account (income), and should remain hidden on this Categories sheet. More information about applying these categories to transactions is detailed below.

Defining Other Budget Categories

The rest of the categories are up to you. Edit the existing ones and delete any that you don’t need. Try to keep it simple and think about the groups and categories in terms of what’s required spending (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, gas, etc) vs what’s discretionary (dining out, clothing, entertainment, subscription services). If you need some guidance look at your Transactions sheet. Where are you spending your money? Can you lump it into a few main buckets?

Step 2: Categorizing Transactions

We recommend this step next so you can set a realistic budget plan for each of your categories.

  1. Open your Transactions sheet.
  2. Categorize all your transactions from the previous month up to today to populate the prior period data for each category for your real life spending. ( hint: use our AutoCat add-on to help with category automation. )
  3. Skip any transactions related to debt payment you’ve already made for now as we’ll cover the steps for how to categorize those transactions in another article.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Budget

Now that you have groups and categories set up and you’ve categorized your most recent spending and earnings transactions you can start setting your budget plans for each category. The written steps are based on the Tiller Foundation template. The videos demonstrate the workflows from an older version of a budgeting template.

If you’re using the Tiller Budget (with rollovers) we recommend a monthly budget interval.

1. Budget for Debt Payoff First

Start with your Debt Payoff category under the Debts group in the Categories sheet. Enter the monthly payment goal you set on the Debt Progress sheet into the first month cell for the Debt Payoff category.

2. Budget for required spending

Set a budget plan for each of the categories for required spending like groceries, mortgage, and utilities.

3. Budget for discretionary spending

Check the Monthly and Yearly Budget sheets to review your cashflow for each month. If there’s extra planned cashflow you can use this to set a budget plan for discretionary spending categories. If your budgeted cashflow is negative budgeted where can you adjust your budget amounts for other categories?

Learn more about budgeting in the Tiller Foundation Template.

Step 3: Fine tune

If you’re serious about paying off debt it means sacrificing spending in some discretionary areas, committing to not using the credit cards that have a high balance for purchases, and even taking action to reduce some required expenses. The Monthly Budget sheet helps you understand your planned cash flow and your actual spending so you can make decisions around how to adjust your spending and free up extra cash to use toward paying off debt.

Review your planned cash flow

Check the planned cash flow value on your Monthly Budget sheet to see how much money you’re planning to have left over at the end of your budget period based on your expected income and expenses.

Yes, I have extra planned cash flow

Increase the planned budget for your Debt Payoff category and then update the Monthly Payment Goal amount on your Debt Progress sheet.

No, I don’t have extra planned cash flow

Adjust the planned budget amounts for discretionary categories to free up some cash flow and move it to the Debt Payoff category so you can adjust your Monthly Payment Goal.

Review your planned cash flow each budget period

Each time you transition to a new budget period repeat this process. The more money you can free up from discretionary spending items the more money you can put toward accelerating your debt freedom journey.

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first few steps toward a debt free future.

Weekly Workflows

Here are some tips:

  1. Check in on and categorize your latest transactions every few days.
  2. Look out for our weekly debt freedom program emails.
  3. Give yourself a pat on the back for checking in and staying engaged!

Period End Workflows

1. Review your Monthly Budget sheet

Review your “This Month’s Cash Flow to Date” figure to see how you did for the period. Review the remaining amounts for your budget categories. Where can you cut spending?

2. Update the Budget period start date.

Update your planned budgets for each category. Use the actuals from the current month to help you set realistic goals. Can you allocate more toward debt payoff this month?

3. Update your Monthly Payment Goal

If you change your debt payoff budget plan for this period be sure to update your Debt Progress sheet with the new Monthly Payment Goal.

Categorizing Debt Payments

Part of the debt freedom journey means actually making a payment to your credit card or loan account. Here’s where we’ll coach you through the process of making sure you stay organized around all the moving parts of using the Tiller Debt Snowball Spreadsheet template to conquer your debt.

Check out the training video at the bottom for more information on this topic.

Workflows for Managing Non-Credit Card Debt Payments

The Debt Progress sheet recommends a monthly payment that covers the minimum payments and some extra for one of the accounts based on the payoff method chosen. It’s pretty straightforward if you’re paying off a student loan, mortgage, or medical bill where the current balance is not likely to increase. Let’s dive into those cases first.

Loan and Primary Payment Accounts That Are Automated by Tiller

If the loan accounts is connected to Tiller via the Tiller Console and you’re getting balance and transaction updates automatically AND the account you use to make payments (we’ll say it’s a checking account in these examples) is also automated by Tiller follow this workflow after you make your monthly payment:

  1. Categorize each debit (negative amount) transaction associated with money leaving your checking account as “Debt Payoff”
  2. Categorize each credit (positive amount) transaction associated with money entering the debt account as “Debt Payoff Received”

Example:

I have a car loan for $14,200 and I want to pay this off first. A $400 payment comes out of my checking account on the 5th of the month. On my Transactions sheet I’ll see two transactions for this payment, one for the money leaving my checking account and one for the money going into the car loan account.

I categorize the -$400 transaction (money leaving checking) as “Debt Payoff” and the $400 transaction (money entering loan account) as “Debt Payoff Received.”

I see the Debt Payoff category actuals update on the Budget sheet and see the Debt Progress sheet update with my debt payoff progress for the month for that account.

Non-Credit Card Debt Account that is NOT Automated by Tiller

If you’re paying off a loan from a family member or Tiller cannot connect to your loan account you can manually record and track transactions and balances for the account. These steps also assume that your payment account (checking account) is automated by Tiller.

  1. Categorize each debit (negative amount) transaction associated with money leaving your checking account as “Debt Payoff”
  2. Add a transaction for the money “entering” the loan account. You can do this by inserting a row above or below the row for the debit transaction. Make sure you enter the amount value as a positive here. Use the same details like account number and account name that you used on the Accounts sheet when manually adding the account.
  3. Categorize this manually added credit (positive amount) transaction associated with money entering the debt account as “Debt Payoff Received.”
  4. Update the current balance for the manual account to reflect the payment. It’s best practice to look at your statement or online balance for the loan to ensure that the balance data you manually add to account for the payment is correct since some money will be going to the principal and some to the interest.

Example:

Uncle Vinny loaned me $5000 last winter. I can finally start paying him back. The Debt Progress sheet recommends I pay $300 a month to pay off this debt. I write a check to Uncle Vinny, mail it to him, and he cashes it.

I see the checking account debit transaction for -$300 in my Transactions sheet after the check clears. I modify the description to “December payment to Uncle Vinny” and categorize this as “Debt Payoff.” I insert a row above this transaction and use the same date, a similar description, and use $300 (positive) for the amount. I categorize this as “Debt Payoff Received.”

I open the Accounts sheet and update the balance for the Loan from Uncle Vinny account to reflect the $300 payment. The balance is now $4700. I save the manual accounts.

I see the Debt Payoff budget actuals update on the Budget sheet and see the Debt Progress sheet update with my debt payoff progress for the month for that account.

As easy as it is to spend money on a credit card with a tap, swipe, or click, it’s just as easy to quickly rack up debt on credit cards. Regardless of how you got there, here’s how we recommend you get in control of your credit card debt.

High Balance Credit Card Debts

As easy as it is to spend money on a credit card with a tap, swipe, or click, it’s just as easy to quickly rack up debt on credit cards. Regardless of how you got there, here’s how we recommend you get in control of your credit card debt.

Say Goodbye to the Credit Card

If you can, stop using credit cards with high balances to make new purchases. Remove it from your online shopping profiles, cut the card in half and throw it in the trash. This is the single most powerful step you can take toward paying off high credit card balances without accumulating new debt.

Payment Transaction Category Workflows

  1. Categorize each debit (negative amount) transaction associated with money leaving your checking account for the recommend debt payoff amount as “Debt Payoff.”
  2. Categorize each credit (positive amount) transaction associated with money entering the credit card account for the recommend debt payoff amount as “Debt Payoff Received”

Example if you’re no longer using the card:

I have an Amazon Prime Visa credit card with a balance of $4000. I want to pay off this debt. The Tiller Debt Progress sheet recommends I pay $400 a month on this card.

I am no longer using this credit card.

I schedule one for $400 to pay down the $4000 balance that will clear before the end of the month.

I see two transactions associated with this payments in my Transactions sheet. I categorize the -$400 for the money leaving my checking account toward my high balance payoff as “Debt Payoff” and the $400 entering the credit card account toward my high balance payoff as “Debt Payoff Received.”

I see the Debt Progress sheet update with my debt payoff progress for the month for that account.

Still Using the Credit Card

If you can’t commit to not using the credit card here are our recommendations and suggested workflows for paying down high credit card balances.

Recommendations:

  1. Pay the new balance for recent purchases in full before the end of your current budget period. We recommend paying before the end of your current budget period because it makes accounting for the spent money easier and results in a more straightforward category workflow. At the very least, pay the new balance by the due date to prevent accumulating new debt.
  2. Categorize new purchases on the credit card using normal budgeted expense categories as they appear on the Transactions sheet when spending happens like groceries, gas, etc.
  3. Make two separate payments. One for the new balance for recent purchases made in the current statement period and a second one that’s the recommended payment amount for paying down the debt.

Payment Transaction Category Workflows

  1. Categorize each debit (negative amount) transaction associated with money leaving your checking account to cover recent purchases as “Transfer.”
  2. Categorize each credit (positive amount) transaction associated with money entering the credit card account to cover recent purchases as “Transfer.”
  3. Categorize each debit (negative amount) transaction associated with money leaving your checking account for the recommend debt payoff amount as “Debt Payoff.”
  4. Categorize each credit (positive amount) transaction associated with money entering the credit card account for the recommend debt payoff amount as “Debt Payoff Received"

Here’s an example where I’m still using my credit card:

I have an Amazon Prime Visa credit card with a balance of $4000. I want to pay off this debt. The Tiller Debt Progress sheet recommends I pay $400 a month on this card.

I’m still using the card for gas and groceries because I want the rewards points. I spend $200 on the card in this budget period. $150 is categorized as groceries and $50 is categorized as gas.

I schedule two payments that will clear before the end of the month. One payment is for $400 to pay down the existing high balance. The second payment is for $200 to pay off the recent groceries and gas purchases.

I see four transactions associated with these payments in my Transactions sheet. I categorize the -$200 for the money leaving my checking account to cover recent charges as “Transfer.” I categorize the $200 for the money entering the credit card account to cover recent charges as “Transfer.” I categorize the -$400 for the money leaving my checking account toward my high balance payoff as “Debt Payoff” and the $400 entering the credit card account toward my high balance payoff as “Debt Payoff Received.”

My transfers balance out and I see the Debt Payoff budget actuals update on the Budget sheet and see the Debt Progress sheet update with my debt payoff progress for the month for that account.

Tracking Debt Payoff on Manually Added Credit Card Accounts

If you’re using the Debt Progress sheet to track your debt payoff progress for credit cards you weren’t able to connect to the Tiller Console to get an automated data feed you’ll want to update the account balance manually and enter any transactions associated with payments manually.

1 Like

Does this still require updating the Categories sheet with “Debt Payoff” and “Debt Payoff Received” categories for the progress to be tracked in the Debt Progress sheet?

Hi @Nakeva,

If you want to use the budgeting workflows that help you budget for debt payoff, then yes those categories are important to those workflows.

If you just want to see your debt payoff plan in this one Debt Progress sheet they are not necessary.

I just wanted to add that most credit card companies calculate the minimum payment using some variation of 1-3% of new balance + monthly interest. With that in mind, if you want to automatically calculate the minimum payment due, the formula is =(G8*percent of balance)+I8 then just copy that down the column and it will change the row automatically.
@heather, if it were possible to add the percent of balance used in the credit card company’s calculation somewhere (e.g., in the accounts sheet), then this could be automated. Also, it might be nice if there was a way to adjust the percent over-payment used in the payment goal without adjusting the formula that would be useful as well. Of course, if you have some basic understanding of excel/google sheets formula it’s easy enough to change but it may not be for those less formula inclined.

1 Like

Thanks for this feedback, @mgodwin! Definitely easier to tweak if you’re comfortable in sheets and using formulas. We don’t have any plans to implement it in this suggested way, but if you were to wire it up to work that way you could share here in the community :wink:

Some federal loans, when consolidated, show up as separate loans, but their payments are joint. That being said, I have loans that look separate and it suggests I pay one off before the other, but when you make a payment, it goes to both loans, you can’t separate them. Is there a way to adjust my sheet so those two loans show up together?

Hi @ginachcarter,

This is a challenging one. You’d need to stop the automated flow of data from those loan accounts by removing the check marks next to them (either on the Tiller Console under the sheet name or via the Tiller Money Feeds add-on sidebar) and then just manually track the total loan amount using these manual workflows.

We’re working on adding the manual balance tracking features into the Feeds add-on, but we don’t have an ETA on when that will be available yet.

You can remove then just remove those separate loan line items from your Debt Progress sheet and track the one total loan amount.

Hopefully that makes sense, but let me know if you need clarification.

Heather

Hello - I’m having issues with my Manually Entered Accounts. They are not saving even though I click the arrow and select the “save” option. Because of this (I think), I can’t access the manually entered liability accounts in my Debt Progress Tracker. Any ideas why it’s not saving?

Thanks

:wave:, @cherylkeck15!

I think this is likely due to a known bug with the version of the sheet you’re using and the way the manual save works there. Can you open the Balance History sheet and let me know if you’re seeing any blank rows in that sheet?

You can find the Balance History sheet by clicking the four horizontal lines in the lower left corner of the sheet next to the plus sign. Unhide it from that menu and then check for blank empty rows at the top.

Try deleting those rows and then run the save again. If that doesn’t work reach out to us at support@tillerhq.com.

Thanks!
Heather