Like many people with debt, you might not know how much money you actually owe or how long it will take to pay off. A debt tracker can help you learn exactly what you’re dealing with and create a plan that works.
What is a debt tracker?
A debt tracker is a system for monitoring debt. It can be a basic notebook or sophisticated tool, such as an app, spreadsheet or calculator. Using a debt tracker can be key to paying off debt.
The debt tracker you choose should include several key pieces of information:
Account names. These are the lenders to whom you owe money. You might pay your credit card bill to Capital One, for example. Listing account names ensures you have all your debt accounted for and know who to contact about any issues.
Account types. The specific types of debt you have might include student loans and credit card or medical debt. You might need to handle different types in different ways. For example, forgiveness could be the best option for your student loans, while consolidation might be better for your credit card balances.
Balances. For each account, make note of your remaining balance. This tells you how much you currently owe.
Interest rates. The interest rate is the percentage a lender charges you for the debt. Carrying a larger balance will cost you more in interest. Seeing your interest rates can help you find your debt payoff path, especially if you want to use debt avalanche, a method that targets the highest interest rates first.
Minimum payments. This is the lowest amount you’re required to pay each month, usually based on a percentage of your balance or the terms of your loan. You’ll pay down debt faster if you can manage to make more than the minimum payment.
Payment due dates. Late or missed payments can lead to extra charges and drag down your credit score. (Not sure where your credit stands? Get your free credit score from NerdWallet.)
Put your information to work
Gathering info about your debt — including the different accounts, their balances and interest rates — can help you figure out how to manage it and keep you on track.
If you want to try out the debt snowball method, for example, where you pay off your smallest debts first, sorting your debts by their size will show you where to start. And getting your payment due dates in order will help you make sure you don’t miss one.
Paying off debt is likely a long-term process, and it can feel overwhelming. Whenever you’re not sure how to manage your debt, look over your tracker for reference.
Why tracking debt matters
It’s easy to feel consumed by debt — especially if you have multiple sources. Using a tracker can help you regain control and estimate when you’ll be debt-free.
Sorting out what’s due when is a smart step toward prioritizing debt, finding the right strategy to handle it and making payments on time. A tracker will also let you watch your hard work pay off.