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How to Calculate Your Real Debt and the Quickest-Least Expensive Way to Pay It Off

How to Calculate Your Real Debt and the Quickest-Least Expensive Way to Pay It Off

It is often a good thing to take a look at a debt calculator to find the total Real Debt (debt+ interest) that you will pay and when you will have it paid off. If you use a tool like this  you can determine the least expensive way (least amount of interest) you will pay by paying off loans in a certain order. You will also see total how much money it will cost you to get out of debt. Further, a calculator/excel chart like this allows you to plug in a different ‘snowball’  or additional money to your loan payments to see how you can save considerably. Thus, I highly recommend using a chart like this at least a few times a year.

I love using a free debt calculator Excel or OpenOffice files like these:

Click here to download a Debt Calculator in an Excel File for 10 or less

Click here to download a Debt Calculator in Open Office/Excel for up to 20 debts or less.

I appreciate the company that put it together you can find them here.

Here are 10 easy steps to using the debt calculator:

1- Input the current date.

2- Update your chart with the current loan names (Creditors), Balance, Interest, Rate, and Payments

3- For the custom column enter in the order you would like to pay off the debts in.

4- To make this much chart easier and fool proof, I enter the debts in the order I would like to pay them off in. Then select under the Strategy drop down menu: Order Entered in the Table.

How to Calculate Your Real Debt and the Quickest-Least Expensive Way to Pay It Off

5- Tally up the amount you have each month towards a debt payment. Subtract that from the minimum you must pay (in the Payment Total column) and you have your snowball payment. 5 = $minimum you have to pay + $extra money you can pay (i.e. snowball payment)

6- Enter your snowball payment which is the additional funds you can add to the minimum you must pay each month into the correct area.

7-  Next, experiment with different pay off strategies on the payment Strategy drop down menu. Select different strategies to see what the interest on your debt will be.

How to Calculate Your Real Debt and the Quickest-Least Expensive Way to Pay It Off

8- Which ever strategy gives you the lowest figure, that is in most cases the best way to pay off your loans in.

9- Shows you a curvature in the chart in the order the debt will be paid off. It also shows you in which year and close to the month in which the debt will be paid off.

10- Once you pick a pay off structure you can calculate your Real Debt by adding your Debt+Interest=Real Debt. This would be done with a calculator as I do not see a place on the chart that shows this. So pull out a calculator and add the debt figure from the first chart and the interest figure from the second chart and this will show you your Real Debt figure.

Knowing your Real Debt is important because it gives you or full financial picture instead of just how much you owe, it shows you based on certain criteria how much you will end up PAYING. So it is a huge and important factor in your financial life.

Using this chart you can find the best payoff order/structure in which to pay off your debts. I do have one thing to add to this chart. Although, mathematically correct and math is great because it is never wrong, I find that psychologically if you have a very small loan and you can get rid of it right away, paying that one off first is the best because it makes you feel good about getting out of debt (at least for me). One less loan to worry about etc. Overall, which ever order you feel best about paying your debts off in, is of course up to you, this chart just helps you see which order will save you the most in interest. This chart also helps you see your real debt number (debt you have + interest= Real Debt).

Please comment below if you have any questions about this chart. although I did not create it, I am very familiar with its functions. Also, there are a lot of helpful suggestions, notes, and explanations to the side of the chart on the actual excel file that you download.

Other articles that may be of interest to you:

Take my 31 Day Financial Fitness Boot Camp Course (click here)

Boot Campthmb

How to Avoid Debt

Your Seven step plan to avoid debt

5 Step Plan to Get Out of Debt


The difference between good and bad debt

difference between good and bad debt


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66 Responses to How to Calculate Your Real Debt and the Quickest-Least Expensive Way to Pay It Off

  1. This is so great, Anita. Thanks for sharing! We don’t have a ton of debt, but we want to get out of all of it asap, especially before we buy a house. Definitely going to share this!

  2. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I don’t have enough debt to make this chart useful(I only have two) and like you said(which I totally agree with), if my debt amount is small enough to pay off quickly, I’m going to pay that one off first just for the sake of having one less loan to worry about. But it’s definitely something worth sharing and to keep in mind for future times,if needed.

  3. PSA: Life-Changing Tool For Anyone Juggling Debt!! | Close Enough! says:

    […] Here is where I found it. You can also copy and paste the link below: […]

  4. Brittany says:

    Genuis! This is so so useful. Thank you so much for this!! I can’t say enough about how perfect this is!

  5. Alex says:

    Hi Anita,

    I am super excited to try these, however when I click the links provided, it does nothing. I have tried to do the control and click and reopen the webpage and any little trick that I know how to open a file that wont.

    Do you have any other ways to open these links?


  6. Liz says:

    This looks like such a great tool Anita! When I click on the link to download, nothing happens. Is there another way to download the Excel file?

  7. Kristi says:

    I’m unable to download the form. The landing page it’s going to won’t allow me to download from there.

  8. toni sedillo says:

    The drop down box for “strategy” does not show up on my excel spreadsheet, can you assist?

  9. Andrea says:

    Hi, this info is great, trying it out now. However, I am not getting a drop down box to change the ‘Strategy.’ Did I do something wrong? I am using a Mac (Numbers) and it’s new to me, so not too familiar with this program. Thanks for the help!

  10. Roxie says:

    I downloaded the Excel file, but it won’t let me change any of the cells, dates, interest rates, etc. What am I doing wrong?

  11. Sara Arocha says:

    Hello, I just read this and I would really love to be able to use this tool, but I too am having nothing pop up when I click on the link to download them. I would greatly appreciate an email with the link or the file. Thank you so much for sharing this information.


    I can not down load the excel file. Can you email the file to me .



  13. Nina says:

    Hello – The smaller one worked for me, but unfortunately with all my student loans I have more than 10 lines of debt. The larger file doesn’t work properly when I open it though. Could you please email it to me? This is such a useful tool and the best I’ve found yet!

  14. Felicia says:

    I would love to be able to download these and use them in numbers (Mac), any way for me to do that?

  15. Cami says:

    I am having the same problem as the others. Could you email this to me please? 🙂

  16. Teresa says:

    HI there. Thank you for this! I have a question about how I then go about paying them off. If I use the avalanche method (because it was the lowest amount of interest) do I use the snowball amount in full towards what I should be paying off first? I’m a little lost on that part.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Yes, you line them up in the order you want to pay the debt off and then you use the snowball amount (all payment money you were paying towards the previous debts) and apply them to pay off the next debts until they are all paid off. I hope this was helpful.

  17. Lindley says:

    Can I have the Mac version as well? Thank you.

  18. […] Cut interest payments – moving credit card balances to 0% interest cards can at least cut interest payments while you tackle the main debt (beware of balance transfer fees). Similarly, moving some debts to other lenders by checking other loans online, and similar options may be worth investigating. There is a free download for how to calculate your interest and how to slash that interest payment …. […]

  19. Nicole Howe says:

    Good morning! I am attempting to use the sheet, however nothing is updating. Do you know if the link has a problem? Could you maybe email me the file? Thank you!

  20. Meredith says:

    Hello! Would you mind emailing the excel spreadsheet link? Thank you and happy new year!

  21. Jondelyn Catlette says:

    Would you mind emailing me the file? I have excel on mac, but the formulas are not there.

  22. Kat Kirkman says:

    Can you email me the files as well? Thank you soo much!

  23. Kylie Booth says:

    I am trying to open this file using google apps since I have a Chromebook. But when it converts the file from excel to google spreadsheets, it comes in completely blank. Any thoughts on this?

  24. Patti Haines says:

    Can you email me the files please? I am really excited about this tool!

  25. […] out how this free calculator tool from Anita at Live Like You Are Rich!  You can use it to calculate your own real debt and find the best way to pay it […]

  26. Tina Stewart says:

    How can I get it to work in Libre Office?

  27. Melodie Thomas says:

    I am unable to download the Excel spreadsheet onto Numbers for Mac.
    Is it possible your wonderful table is available via Numbers for Mac as well?
    Or if not, could you share the math functions/calculations used for the totals on each table (comparing to your samples above is fine).

  28. stacie richmond-owens says:

    Hi there. I am excited to try this but I can’t seem to get the links to work. Could you email them to me?

  29. Jason White says:

    Anita I too am using a Mac. I’m able to download it into excel but it doesn’t give me a strategy drop down menu. Would you mind emailing me the file?
    Thanks and great tool

  30. Chad D says:

    I used this exact sheet but I got it a while ago from a different site but I started with 4 credit cards, my vehicle and house. I think I had about $15,000 in credit cards, maybe $13k-$14k on the truck and the house was $197K. I have since paid off all of my cards, my truck is down to $8,200 and the house is at $183k. I’m putting $1,800 a month to my truck and it will be paid off by November. After that the wife and I are going to put an extra $2,500 a month to our house and pay it off in 5 years. That is the plan and we know life happens but having a plan and a budget make all the difference in the world. I would also suggest using, it’s free and you can build a budget and see exactly where your money goes.

  31. Stephanie Sofka says:

    I can’t seem to get my spreadsheet to work in Numbers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

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