Rapid Debt Payoff / Snowball Calculator Spreadsheet
|Date/Version:||January, 2009 (Version 4.0)|
|System Requirements:||Windows (NT, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, Win7),|
or Mac OS X
|Software Requirements:||Excel 2003 or later (Windows);|
Excel 2004 or 2011 (Mac)
|Other Requirements:||Macros Enabled in Excel [What's this?]|
[NOTE: This spreadsheet will NOT work with OpenOffice.]
[Mac Users: Yes! It will work on Macs; OS X and Excel 2004 OR Excel 2011 for Mac required. 2011 for Mac preferred. (NOTE: Excel 2008 for Mac will NOT work, nor will versions before Excel 2004 for Mac.)]
Looking for a spreadsheet that will create your debt-paydown plan?
Heard about the "Debt Snowball," but now you want to see exactly what it could do for your family?
Want a clean, efficient way to print and monitor your plan as you make monthly progress?
Well, ExcelGeek (creator of his widely-popular Freedom Account spreadsheet) has stepped up to the plate. He's now released his "Rapid Payoff Calculator."
It takes care of all the issues above, and then some. Here's a quick batch of screenshots:
...and that's just the first worksheet! Here's more:
If you're thinking to yourself, Wow, that's some serious spreadsheet action right there! ... well, you're absolutely right. It is!
Spreadsheet Requires Excel 2003 or Later
Before we go much further, it's important to understand what this spreadsheet requires. ExcelGeek's Rapid Payoff Calculator isn't a stand-alone program. It's an Excel spreadsheet, which means it requires that you have Microsoft Excel (at least Excel 2003) installed on your PC for it to operate.
As far as operating system requirements, it should work on Windows 2000 and all later versions.
Mac Users: Yes, the RPC will work on Macs! Requirements are Mac OS X and Excel 2004 for Mac (versions earlier or later will not work).
- At least Windows 2000, and
- At least Excel 2003, and
- Macros enabled in Excel. (See below!)
Microsoft Works Uers: No, the Rapid Payoff Calculator will not operate with Works.
OpenOffice Users: No, the Rapid Payoff Calculator will not work with OpenOffice.
Mac Users: Yes! It will work on Macs (OS X and Excel 2004 or Excel 2011 for Mac required). (NOTE: Excel 2008 for Mac will not run the RPC, nor will versions before Excel 2004 for Mac.)
* Spreadsheet Utilizes Macros *
ExcelGeek's Rapid Payoff Calculator cannot function without macros being enabled in Excel. By default, macros are disabled in Excel, but enabling them isn't difficult. You can find my step-by-step instructions for doing this at my How to Enable Macros in Excel page.
In the case of the Rapid Payoff Calculator, macros are absolutely vital. They're used to build and rebuild the spreadsheet's formulas each time the spreadsheet opens, as well as to compress the file's size when it closes. Macros also automatically sort your data as you enter it.
IYM Article: How to Enable Macros in Excel
Rapid Payoff Calculator Features
Here's a quick rundown of the Rapid Payoff Calculator's features:
For lots more details, just keep reading!
What's the Price?
Following your electronic payment via Paypal, you'll be able to download the spreadsheet instantly. (Note: This does not apply to Paypal "eCheck" payments, as they may take up to five business days to clear.)
Carries a Full 30-Day Guarantee
Like all of my for-pay spreadsheets, ExcelGeek's Rapid Payoff Calculator is guaranteed.
If you're not happy with it for some reason, just contact me within 30 days of purchase, and I'll refund your money.
Plan a Paydown for Up to 15 Debts
ExcelGeek's Rapid Payoff Calculator can build a paydown plan for up to fifteen debts!
In its default setting, the spreadsheet uses a payoff method similar to that suggested by Mary Hunt's Rapid Debt Reduction Plan. Here your Rapid Payoff plan will be structured with debts being paid in order from shortest to longest payoff.
You can now change the sorting method, though! (More on that below.) And no matter what sorting method you choose, the spreadsheet creates a Rapid Payoff Schedule (printable!) which shows you exactly what amounts to send to which creditors on a monthly basis.
This latter plan has gained ground in recent years, thanks to personal-finance personalities like Dave Ramsey and Mary Hunt. Getting rid of high-interest debts first may save more money compared to other plans, but Ramsey and Hunt firmly believe (and I agree) that your chances of becoming DEBT FREE increase dramatically when you can see yourself making progress — when you can quickly mark debts off of your list. Paying your debts in order of shortest to longest payoff (or smallest to largest balance) accomplishes this.
"The Debt Snowball is designed the way it is," Ramsey writes in Total Money Makeover, "because we are more concerned with modifying behavior than correct mathematics. Sometimes motivation is more important than math. This is one of those times."
Thus, for Ramsey and Hunt, it's all about motivation — getting entire debts crossed off your list quickly and then rolling each paid debt's payment into the next one. The Rapid Payoff Calculator was initially set up to mimic this: Your debts' balances are generally more important than their interest rates.
NEW! Four Different Sorting Options
With Version 4 of the RPC, how you sort your debts is entirely up to you!
Whether you're a follower of Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball plan and want to pay off your debts from lowest to highest balance, or you're adhering to Mary Hunt's Rapid Debt Repayment Plan and attacking debts with lowest payoff times first ... or whether you want to go the old-fashioned route and pay your highest-rate debts first, the Rapid Payoff Calculator has you covered.
And how's this for control: You can now also pay off your debts in your own preferred order! Just select the RPC's "Disable Sorting" option and you're all set!
(I wholeheartedly understand why you'd want to pay off Uncle Mort before any of your other creditors. That guy's a nutcase.)
ExcelGeeks Talks About the Rationale
Behind His RPC
I asked ExcelGeek to talk a little bit about all the fancy number-crunching that his Rapid Payoff Calculator does. Here's what he had to say:
1) the amount of debt;
2) the interest rate; and
3) the monthly payment.
To me, this strategy always seemed very logical, since it always pays off debts in the shortest-calculated order.
Periodically I would get an email from a customer asking me why I prefer this strategy over “lowest-to-highest balance” or “highest-to-lowest interest.” They would share their debt scenarios with me, and I would work up comparisons for them. Here’s the bottom line: Regardless of what sorting strategy we used, the date they would eventually become debt-free was almost always the same, and any difference in interest was minimal.
How is it possible? Because the Rapid Payoff Plan’s “snowball” (rolling paid-off debt payments into the next debt’s payment) is the engine that will get you to debt freedom — with or without a calculator — and regardless of how you sort your debts for payoff.
Working through the math, I have always known this to be true – but now I’ve built the RPC to allow for different sorting methods. So my customers can easily compare and prove this for themselves with a simple click of the mouse.
Also, with any of the payoff strategies, users can accelerate payoff on selected debts (including debts with higher interest rates, if desired) simply by increasing the monthly payment they enter in the Creditor list. In addition, a double-whammy, faster-payoff effect occurs when they add a Monthly Booster amount!
So which strategy do I recommend?
In general, I still prefer the shortest-payoff method, followed by the “lowest-to-highest balance” method. In my opinion, both of these strategies offer the best balance between math and motivation. Each provides small victories (paid-off debts) much earlier in the Plan, which builds confidence and momentum on your road to debt freedom!
Interest isn’t cheap, of course ... but what price do we put on momentum and motivation? That’s the question RPC users can now answer for themselves!
And there you have it — straight from the guy who's forgotten more about Excel than I'll probably ever know.
View Time and Interest Savings Easily
Want to see how changing your debt paydown order affects the time it'll take to achieve debt freedom? Want to see how much you'll save in interest by paying debts with high interest rates first?
The RPC makes it simple.
Once you've input all your debts, simply change the sort order, give Excel a few moments to crunch the numbers (it ain't always easy!), and then view the figures beneath the accompanying chart. Voila — the answers are there:
Many times, regardless of the sort order of your debt paydown plan, what you'll find is that there simply isn't much difference in the total dollars saved by paying debts in different orders.
If interest savings are the most important factor to you, then paying your highest-rate debts first is almost always the method to choose. However, as Dave Ramsey makes clear in his Baby Steps plan, there are really good reasons for not paying your debts off in this manner! (The motivation you get from marking debts off your list quickly is a huge deal, you know!)
Create Two Kinds of Printable Progress Charts
Here's what I believe to be the single best feature of the Rapid Payoff Calculator: Once you've input your debts and your Monthly Booster payment (if any), the spreadsheet creates printable payoff progress charts.
Obviously, the larger the Booster you can add, the faster your paydown progresses!
Here's a look at the printable RAPID PAYOFF SCHEDULE worksheet, which shows your plan broken down by each month's payment:
Print that out and tape it to your refrigerator ... your desk ... your dresser mirror ... whatever! Whenever you make a payment, cross it off the schedule. Watch yourself get closer and closer to your ultimate DEBT FREEDOM!
The second printable worksheet — the RAPID PAYOFF BALANCE — lets you see an estimate of your remaining balances by month:
Stop taking on new debt, make those Rapid Payoff payments, and watch those balances drop!
See Comparisons of 3 Paydown Plans
The Rapid Payoff Calculator shows you the results of following three different paydown plans: Falling, Fixed, and the (turbocharged!) Rapid Payment Plan.
A "Falling" payment plan is what the suits at the credit-card companies would love to see you undertake. In a Falling Plan, your payments are based on a percentage of your outstanding balance; therefore, your minimum payment decreases as your balance decreases.
Kids, this is financial death. And the RPC makes it easy to see why.
In case you're wondering, the goal of a Falling Plan like this is to keep you in debt — and paying sweet, sweet interest — for as long as possible.
Here (with some sample data) is what the spreadsheet shows you regarding the Falling Payment Plan (which, of course, you're never going to use, right?):
NOTE: Since most of us also have debts (like auto loans, personal loans, and such) whose payments don't decrease as the balance decreases, the data generated in the Falling Payment Plan won't be exact. But even so, the RPC paints a vivid picture of the financial damage so often caused by creditors and their "easy and affordable" terms.
The "Fixed Payment Plan" shows what happens when you keep your payments at a fixed level — that is, you keep making the same payments that you're making now, regardless of what your creditors request.
Now this is why you bought tickets to the show! Compare what happens with your total interest paid (and payoff time) when you simply utilize the Rapid Payoff Calculator's "snowball" plan. The difference will be ... well, enriching:
To close out the comparisons, you get a summary section, like this:
Questions? Comments? Contact Us!
Ready to Purchase?
I hope you're convinced that ExcelGeek's Rapid Payoff Calculator is just the tool to help you with your quest for financial freedom. Just click one of the payment buttons below to purchase your copy!
Downloading the Rapid Payoff Calculator couldn't be easier! Simply pay with either PayPal or Google Checkout, and then download the Rapid Payoff Calculator instantly! (Credit/debit cards work great; no sign-up required.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure can! The RPC will handle variable-rate debts just fine, so long as you re-enter your current balances and rates at least every couple of months or so (or anytime you simply feel like doing it). I recommend doing this anyway, actually, since I'm one of those dorky guys who REALLY likes my spreadsheets to be as accurate as possible at any given time.
Whenever you see a rate change in one of your debts, all you need to do is open up your RPC spreadsheet, enter the new rate (as well as its current balance — you're in Super Debt Payoff mode, so you're a stickler for details, right? — and reprint your plan. I haven't yet run into a card that changes its rate every month ... but I have no doubt that they're out there.
And even if they are, the RPC will happily crush them, too.
Fantastic! Send that money to the next (first) debt on your list. Then update all your balances in the Rapid Payoff Calculator, and reprint your plan!
Yes, but not in the way you might think.
Make whatever extra payment(s) you wish, then update your debt balances (at the top of the spreadsheet) to reflect the new balances after your extra payment. Then reprint your plan.
If you wish to see the effect the extra payment had on your debt paydown, simply compare the new printout to your old one.
Both of these things constitute a change in your Rapid Payoff plan. And that's fine — change happens. Of course we would all prefer to experience positive change, but that's just not how Life works. In any case, when things like this happen, it's a good idea to look up all your debts' current balances and re-enter them into the spreadsheet. Then adjust your Booster payment, and reprint the plan as necessary.
You just need to enable macros in Excel. Once that's done, the spreadsheet's calculations will adjust and will be correct!
Your message probably looks like this:
Just verify that you've entered the correct figures. The RPC's calculated scenarios max out at 100 years or 1,200 months. If you've entered the correct figures for your debts, it's most likely that the card companies have you EXACTLY where they want you: If you stick to their "Falling" payment plan, where payments decline as your balance declines, you'll be paying them for a hundred years or more.
If nothing else, this should emphasize the need for you to dramatically restructure your debt payoff plan — but that's precisely why you purchased the RPC, isn't it?