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Our Debt Free Journey

The short story:

We were "normal" and had lots of debt.

Then my husband lost his job and we got even more debt.

Then he got a good job again and we decided to get out of all that debt.

But it was hard to stay motivated. So I made some charts, and they really helped!

I shared the charts to help others stay motivated too.

From December 2017 to December 2020 I gave away over 600,000 free debt payoff charts to over 150,000 people in 143 countries!

And you can help by sharing Debt Free Charts with your friends, Facebook groups and FPU classes.


The longer story:

We were the typical American couple, no budget, consuming all of our income each month, and using credit cards to buy and pay for the things we didn't save up for.

We weren't frivolous, didn't finance new cars, didn't buy fancy electronics, didn't spend a lot on clothes or go on European vacations.

What we did do was charge small things, going out to nice dinners because 'we deserved it', gifts at Christmas and birthdays, and the inevitable yearly expenses that somehow managed to sneak up on us every year, like property taxes and car repairs.

We also added two children to our family, which upped our expenses even more. 

I started a small jewelry business so I could work from home, and ended up charging lots of supplies. Whenever I made some sales, the income would dissappear into the hole we had dug, instead of paying off the debts.

We limped along like this, never completely falling, never making any progress for over 10 years.

Things began falling apart in 2006, when my husband lost the job we thought would be forever stable.

Thankfully he was able to get quick work from my brother for a few months, while he looked for a full time job. He found one, but the pay was dependent on how many 'billable hours' he could cram in. According to his new boss, they were so swamped with work that it would be easy to meet his previous income. Well, that just wasn't true, they didn't have enough work to keep him busy with 'billable hours', and his pay ended up being about half his previous salary. 

When my husband's income plummetted, we fell back on the HELOC we had opened years before for home improvements, and were still charging. We never were late on paying bills because we would just write ourselves a check from the HELOC to cover the shortage, and our debt climbed monthly.

That year I found the Dave Ramsey book The Total Money Makeover and managed to get a copy from our local library. I devoured it, and finally had a clear picture of how stupid we had been with our money.

On the forum http://www.llnoe.com/ (a group following the Dave Ramsey program) I found lots of people liking a new budgeting program called YNAB, You Need A Budget, and found it fit my needs exactly, we finally made a budget, committed to never carrying credit card balances again, and began saving for our Starter Emergency Fund.

About this time, my husband found a much better job, bringing his salary back up to just above what he was making before, we were in $28,000 of credit card debt and had an additional $8,000 on our HELOCUgh. 

In the following three years, with much scrimping and cutting back, couponing and selling stuff, we paid down the credit cards by just over half. We have not had a very big snowball, and it has taken a long time to get this far, but I am proud to say we know where our money goes, we save up for those large expenses that come around regularly, and we do finally have Financial Peace.

(Since I originally wrote this in 2010, we are now debt free except for our house, have sinking funds for Property Taxes, car repairs, car replacement, vacations, and a hefty emergency fund. We still carry no credit card balances, and there is no better feeling than knowing that your finances are secure.)

I began making these charts for myself because it was hard to stay motivated, and a thermometer just wasn't my cup of tea.

I shared a few charts on LLNOE and found myself making charts for others there, according to their needs. I decided that I needed to share the charts with more than just the crowd at LLNOE, and put them up on a Blogger blog.

On the old Blogger website, all the charts were free, there were about 20 charts then. With this new website I've added dozens of new charts, but there are still 20 FREE charts for those starting out in Baby Steps 0, 1 and 2

I know many are starting out like we did, with a tiny shovel, and I didn't want anyone who needed the charts to feel they could not afford to spend even a few dollars of their snowball on them. 

The charts for Baby Steps 3 and on are only $1, and the little income this provides supports this new, much better website, and adds a little to our snowball.

Please use the charts as often as you need, and feel free to print extras of the FREE charts and share them with your friends or in your Financial Peace University class (but please don't share the PDF files). There are also a sharing buttons at the bottom of each post if you would like to share the charts via social media.

I'm thrilled you are here and wish you godspeed with your debt free journey.


Let customers speak for us

3818 reviews
Great resource to make finance visual and fun

I purchased and downloaded many of the money/debt tracking charts. I like that you can color them how you want or purchased color print versions. When I look at our finance board in our room it looks less daunting and more achievable just from these charts. Thank you for these wonderful resources to help us little people stay on track and keep our money strait!

6 Month Emergency Fund Tracking Chart

Visa Tracking Chart
Dana Anderson
Visa Debt

Super cute and specific to my goal to pay off my visa card

really great

I work in the finance industry - helping people who are struggling to pay their bills- these really help in breaking down the payments and giving people the visual sense of accomplishment

Debt Freedom Starter Pack
Sharon Windvogel
Debt Free Starter

I want to say thank you Heidi for these amazing charts. I love them and use it for everything. I have forms on my bathroom wall where i can see my progress. I currently have the Christmas chart and I'm saving for Christmas. I am almost halfway from my desired goal. Our currency in South Africa is in Rands and my current savings is R10 000. I have my daily challenges in order to save small amounts of money and it really adds up. Even saving R5 a day makes a huge difference . Coloring in those charts are fhe fun part because you can see the progress. Saving for a car as well. Have been driving my one for almost 14 years but I want to buy a car cash. Thank you for giving me the ability to do that. Then I have the 2 that I'm paying of debt. Progressing very well. I have shared these charts with my sister and friends and are super excited. Wish I could sent a photo of my charts. I'm super excited. Thank you Heidi. You have taken me to a place where I will be debt free one day. You have given me the tools to do that and I am ever grateful to you. May you be blessed in abundance for what you are doing for us..you are awesome