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How a T-Shirt Can Help You Pay Off Debt Faster

Four ideas to visualize your debt payoff goals

I was at a friend’s house for dinner the other day, and I noticed a printout on their refrigerator. It looked like one of those thermometers used in fundraising—with the bubble at the bottom and tick marks running up the side. The thermometer was partially colored in, but there was a magazine article half blocking the progress. 

Being my nosy self, I asked what it was. It was a tracker—they were trying to pay off their debt faster so they were using the printout to keep track of their progress.

They said it all started after a long car ride listening to debt payoff stories. In that moment, they decided to start cranking down on living debt-free (a conversation made all the more real with their second child on the way). The chart was hanging on their refrigerator, but they told me they weren’t sure if it was going to stay there (probably for aforementioned nosy self reasons).

I thought it was the coolest thing! In fact, my husband and I have a similar chart hanging in our closet for our mortgage balance and we had no idea both of us were lining up to cross off this goal.

Make debt payoff easier

Paying off debt is a lot like running a race. As you're running (sweaty and tired), it’s so much easier when you’re running alongside a friend, and when you can see your progress. Make it easy on yourself—pay off your debt faster by listing out your goals and tracking your progress.

It doesn’t actually have to be a t-shirt—but there’s power in making it visible and tracking it in whatever form you want. We’re now cheering on our friends to pay off their debt faster, and they inspired us to crank down on our own progress. 

Want to put your finish line in sight? Here are some ideas:

Four ideas to stay focused on paying off your debt faster

1. Print off your own debt payoff tracker. 

Etsy has some great designs: my personal favorite is this Up-inspired mortgage tracker by FrugasaurusVault. We also love what Amy Jones from Map My Progress is doing in making your debt payoff a piece of art.

2. Put it on a t-shirt. 

We weren’t kidding. Etsy once again has a fine selection or you can print your own custom design.

3. Start a Wish Farm.

What’s a wish farm? Oh, we’re so glad you asked. Once you budget for your obligations and true expenses, you might add a few small, specific, named things to your budget that you can save and look forward to (like a new winter jacket, that new travel mug, a staycation). This will keep the life in your eyes as you hunker down and pay off your debt.

4. Plan a debt payoff celebration.

It’s going to be a sweet, sweet relief once that final balance is paid off. What’s your prize at the finish line? A beachy vacation to kick back? A big ol’ party with friends? Maybe you just want to eat out at your favorite place, because it’s been so long. Be sure to celebrate—you deserve it.

There’s relief in making your financial goals public, at least in your circle of support. You’ll appreciate cheerleaders along the way. Plus, you might just turn into a cheerleader yourself as you inspire others with your path to financial freedom.

Check out YNAB's comprehensive guide about how to get out of debt.

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How a T-Shirt Can Help You Pay Off Debt Faster