The Key to Debt Reduction May Be a Simple Picture

If you do a quick Google search for "debt art," you'll be either confused or underwhelmed. It's likely you'll find articles on artists accumulating or dealing with debt. But, there is another type of debt art that you need to know about. Not only can it help you pay off debt more quickly, or reach a financial goal, but it can brighten up your environment with something that represents a real personal success story.

First Thing's First — What Is Debt Art?

Quite simply, debt art is a piece of art that helps you reach a financial goal in a creative way. Whatever the goal is, be it eliminating credit card debt, a student loan, saving for a vacation, or paying back taxes, debt art removes the hard-edged numbers and spreadsheets and instead lets you visualize, and track, your progress.

How to Create Debt Art

It may sound corny, but the only limit to debt art is your imagination. Of course, people with more artistic flair can really go to town on it, but all you really need to do is find a fun way to track your progress. It's also good to have the debt art in a prime location in your home or office, so that you are reminded daily of your development.

The simplest solution is a series of squares that you color in. Each square can represent a set amount that you are putting towards your goal — say, $50 per square. You want to save $1,000 for a vacation, so you create 20 squares that need to be colored in. As you save each $50, you color in a square. When every square is filled in, congratulations! Debt art has helped you reach your goal.

Of course, that's not very interesting. Some people have taken debt art to much more creative extremes. Take, for example, Amy Jones. On her blog, Map Your Progress, she outlines a truly wonderful piece of art that helped her reduce her debts by $26,000!

The art was not difficult to create. As you can see, it's a series of swirls, arranged in a kind of floral pattern. At first, the lack of color on the poster looks overwhelming. The goal, to have every $100 swirl filled in, looks like an impossible task.

However, slowly but surely, Amy colored in those swirls. The sense of achievement, and the visual indication of reaching a goal, was powerful enough to keep her going. "Coloring in those swirls month after month helped me feel like I was doing something, "she said. "It helped me see that I was making progress toward my goal of zeroing out my credit cards."

Why Debt Art Works So Well

It's all about breaking down something insurmountable into something very achievable. If you look at a debt like $5,000, it can seem incredibly overwhelming. So much so, that it's easier to forget it, ignore it, or hope it goes away.

But, when you split up that $5,000 into more manageable chunks, it suddenly doesn't feel as tough. Instead of $5,000, you're looking at a picture of 200 circles, each one representing $25. How easy is it to color in one of those $25 circles? One leads to two, and three, and before you know it, you've made a $200 dent in that debt.

The ability to track progress based on these much more achievable goals means that it's easy to see and make progress quickly. The great thing is, you can customize it to something you believe will work for you. If $25 chunks are too big, try $10, or even $5. You might like the feeling of coloring in several $5 chunks in one day, or week, over one $50 chunk. But as you see the black and white canvas become a rainbow of colors, you are spurred on to achieve your financial goal.

Ideas for Your Own Debt Art

You don't have to have artistic abilities or flair to create something that will be both fun to look at, and easy to track. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Bricks in a Wall — You can print out a simple brick pattern from a Google search, and then use it to create a building or tower. Each brick can represent a specific sum of money.
  • Legos — Here, you don't need to draw anything. And you can approach this piece of debt art in two ways. Either build something up, or knock it down. Each Lego brick can represent a sum of money, and you can either add to a tower, or remove a brick (perhaps revealing something behind it…an image of something you're saving for is one fun example).
  • Circles — Draw a series of circles until you have covered the page. You could have different sized circles for different amounts (big circles = $50, small circles = $20). When all the circles are filled in, you have reached your goal.
  • Coloring Books — If you really feel put off by the idea of creating your own art, why not find a coloring page from a book and have it enlarged? These adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Find a pattern that easily translates to something that can be used to track finances, and print it out poster-sized.
  • Ask the Kids — Kids of all ages love creating and coloring. If you want something that you can have as a keepsake after, ask the kids to draw something that you can fill in every week. Maybe they will draw a bunch of happy faces, cats, trucks, or fruit. They can help you color it in, too, giving you something that has meaning beyond the monetary success story.
  • Use Amy's Debt Art Maps — Amy has some available for purchase at her site. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Have you used art to motivate you to reach a goal?

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The Key to Debt Reduction May Be a Simple Picture

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