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.
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
- Balance History Sheet
- Accounts sheet v2
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
Debt Progress Video Training Guide
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.
Video 1: Setting up the Debt Progress sheet
Video 2: Budgeting for Debt Payoff
Video 3: Workflow for Using the Debt Snowball Spreadsheet
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.
- 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.
- Enter the interest rate for the account (column C).
- Enter the Minimum Monthly Payment for the account (Column D).
- (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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some tips:
- Check in on and categorize your latest transactions every few days.
- Look out for our weekly debt freedom program emails.
- Give yourself a pat on the back for checking in and staying engaged!