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FREE Debt Elimination Quick Start Guide

If you want a free printable PDF version of these instructions and all its forms, you can get them here: FREE Debt Elimination Quick Start Guide. 

Overwhelm Is The Enemy

I know that, for most of our new students even the thought of starting the process of getting out of debt is overwhelming.
You have to:
  1. Figure out what you owe (both monthly expenses as well as overall debt).
  2. Organize it into a monthly budget.
  3. Figure out which debts to pay off first.
  4. Make sure you’re able to pay all of your bills (on time).
Overwhelm is one of the most pervasive obstacles to this whole process. Once you’ve gotten to the “enough is enough” point of being sick and tired, you then have to figure out exactly what you need to do.
Then, comes Pinterest, YouTube and Google research for “tips and tricks”.
Trying to cobble it all together can just lead to more confusion and overwhelm as all the “gurus” seem to have a different opinion about what to do and when to do it. “Dave Ramsey said to do it this way, Suze Orman (boo!) said to do it that way. Random blogger dude has a completely different way of doing it.”
So, what’s an overwhelmed budding debt-eliminator to do?
The only remedy is to break the debt elimination process down into bite-sized pieces. To reduce the overwhelm, you need a “do-this-then-do-that” system that allows you to turn off the overwhelm and panic in your brain so that you can actually focus on the task at hand.
This is quick-start foundation is exactly that.
Follow these 5 steps with their included forms and you’re off to the races…. without the crazy overwhelm! 

How To use This Quick Start Guide

Also, if you're more into video learning, check out my totally free 30-day YouTube video course that goes along with this material:

Ready? Let's do this! Just think about how much better your life will be in a year!


If you use this simple, 5-step guide as prescribed, your life is about to change for the better!

My intent in creating this resource is to very rapidly (in 6-8 hours max) get you past the most difficult, most overwhelming part of debt-elimination, and that is getting started.


Here’s how we’re going to do that: 

  • We’ll start with your “why” and what lead you to this point.
  • We’ll arm you with all the forms you’ll need to successfully complete this sequence


Then, we’ll jump right into the 5 steps. 

  1. (Temporarily) Stop all retirement contributions.
  2. Organize (make a list of) all of your expenses and debts.
  3. Build a budget.
  4. Build a $1000 emergency fund.
  5. Map out your debt snowball (a list  of all your debts smallest to largest).


We’ll then look at the larger context of the “8 Steps To Erase Debt” framework that I personally used to eliminate over $43k worth of debt in 2.5 years. And we’ll build on the momentum you’ve gotten just by getting started.

Are you ready? Let’s go ahead and jump in!


4 Questions To Ask Before You Start 

Let's pause for some brief reflection. Your "why" is going to be your fuel to deliver you through this exercise.


Before we jump into the actual steps, you’ll want to solidify the answers to some very important questions. 

This kind of “gut check” exercise will test how solid your reasons for engaging in this process.

“Why a gut check”, you ask? Because, even this “bite-sized” part of the debt-elimination process is hard, so I want you to arm yourself with the emotional ammunition you need to recharge your motivation when you hit a roadblock.

Put differently, I want you to come back to the answers to these questions when you’re tempted to walk away (and you will be).


  1. Why? What is your why? Why do you want to get out of debt?
  2. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired and ready to do just about anything to get free of your debt?
  3. Have you decided that you HATE debt almost more than anything in this life?
  4. How far are you willing to go, how hard are you willing to work and for how long, to get this debt out of your life?


All The Forms You’ll Need For This Exercise

Again, my goal here is to help you have a solid roadmap plotted out as to how you’re going to accomplish this quick-start exercise within the first 6-8 hours of starting. 

Here is a short list of the ALL the forms and their download links we’ll be using for this process:  

  1. Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet - We’ll use this form to record all of  your monthly expenses, bills, debt, etc. so they’re all in one place. This will make the budgeting exercise MUCH less complicated and frustrating.
  2. Budget PDF Form - I highly recommend you do this “on paper” for the first 90 days. I explain more in the “8 Steps” guide.
  3. Expense Tracking PDF Form - You’ve got to start tracking every dollar you spend. This form is great for that.
  4. Debt Snowball PDF Form - This is where we list your debts from smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate). More on that later.
  5. 8 Steps To Erase Debt Guide (for larger debt-elimination context).


The Quick Start Guide 

Time to find "true north".

Remember, I want for you to try and accomplish this (without being overwhelmed, of course) within the first 6-8 hours of starting. 

So keep that in mind, pace yourself and reach out for help when you need it ([email protected]). 

You can also book a free 30 minute call with me here when you’re feeling totally lost or overwhelmed:: https://calendly.com/zerodebtcoach/30min


Step 1: Stop all retirement contributions (30 Minutes)

Time to pause contributions, so we can use every extra dollar as a little soldier to exterminate your debt.


Go ahead and visit your 401k, 403b or other retirement online portal (probably Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.), or call your HR department and halt (temporarily) all of your retirement savings contributions. 

I go into much more detail about they “why” behind this in my free 8 Steps To Erase Debt guide. 

Suffice it to say for now, we want to free up ALL extra dollars to throw toward debt asap.


Step 2: Organize your bills and debts by using this “Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet" form. (1-2 hours) 

This step will pay huge dividends in helping you to move more easily through the next couple.


Download The “Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet" Form and print it out. 

This entails making a list of every bill, invoice, debt, expense you can think of. It might take a few “sittings” to remember everything. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be perfect. Just push through it for now and correct course as you go. 

We’ll use this to populate your first budget in the next step. 

The amount of time this will take really depends on your level of organization/disorganization, so have patience with yourself and take more time if you need it. 

Remember, overwhelm will cause you to procrastinate or give up and we don’t want that . Employ the 25-minute time block strategy and try to stay on track.


Step 3: Build A Budget (1-2 Hours)


It's just a written plan to tell your money what to do, so you don't have to wonder "where it went"...


Download The Budget PDF Form and the Expense Tracking PDF Form Forms and print them out.

Armed with the data that you’ve populated “Everything I Owe” form, you’ve made a giant leap toward getting your first budget under your belt. 

Now that you don’t have to go searching for each and every expense, you will hopefully be able to easily populate the budgeting by pulling info from the “Everything I Owe” document.

All the instructions as to how to fill the Budget PDF Form are detailed on the form itself.

Being that this is normally most of my students’ most difficult task, feel free to book a free 30 minute call with me if you want/need a little bit of guidance 

populating the form. 

I also wanted for you to print out the Expense Tracking PDF Form so that you can go ahead and begin the habit of recording EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR that you spend. This will also make your budgeting efforts much easier and more fruitful.

You can book a free 30 minute call with me here: https://calendly.com/zerodebtcoach/30min


IMPORTANT: What to do when you can’t pay all your bills. (If you CAN pay all of your bills, you can skip this section and move to the next step.)

If you get through the budgeting exercise and you find that you can’t pay all your bills, you’ll likely need to stop this process and reference the following 3 resources: 

If you’re in a situation where you can’t pay your bills, you will need to tap the brakes on this process and get to a place of solvency before you can continue. 

Having coached hundreds of students through this type of scenario, I’ve seen first hand that it can be VERY complex and VERY challenging. 

Again, if you need help and/or are overwhelmed, you can book a free 30 minute call with me here: https://calendly.com/zerodebtcoach/30min


Step 4: Build a $1000 Emergency Fund (planning should take 30 minutes to 1 hour for “planning”)  


Let's face it, emergencies happen. I want for you to be prepared with cash, so you're not pigeon holed into using "plastic".


Keep in mind, the actual execution (getting your hands on the $1000) could take upwards of a month or more, depending on the factors I outline next.

The “planning” will be brainstorming ideas for:

  • How much stuff you can sell.
    • Check the garage
    • Check the basement
    • Check the attic
    • Check the closets
    • And it might just be time to liquidate the paid storage unit and everything in it?
  • What you can cut, reduce or substitute out of the budget.
    • Cut the cable
    • Find a different cell phone carrier. Might I suggest Mint Mobile as a low cost alternative. :)
    • This is a great time to go through the budget with a fine tooth comb and do some things like:
      • Get on a Weekly Meal Plan to get control of those food costs and stop eating out in restaurants for a while.


This planning could take upwards of 30 minutes to an hour. Like I said before, the actually execution will likely take longer. 


Step 5: Map Out Your Debt Snowball (30 minutes- 1 hour) 

Download The Debt Snowball Form and print it out.

With your “Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet” form filled out and your budget written, you can take the debts form these two forms and roll that into this form, listing your debt from smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate).

Now it’s time to return to the 3 strategies we used to get your $1000 emergency fund in place:

  1. Sell some stuff.
  2. Cut some things out of the budget, reduce the expense and/or find substitutions.
  3. Get some extra work, overtime and/or side-hustles.


When You’ve Gotten This Far, Congratulations!

This is no small feat. Pat yourself on the back!

And now, you may be asking yourself… “great Brad, but what’s next?”

Let’s talk about that...


The Larger “8 Steps To Erase Debt” Context 

Now that you’ve gotten through these very critical first 5 “quick start” steps, it’s important to keep the momentum going. 

In order to have a “big picture” roadmap for where we’re going, I find it pivotal to introduce my students the 8 Steps To Erase Debt framework. 

We use the “8 Steps” as  a blueprint to lead them the rest of the way through the debt-elimination process and then on to more aspirational goals like “Financial Independence” (FI).

Once you’ve completed this “quick start” guide, I highly recommend that you download the free 8 Steps To Erase Debt guide to give you some more detail around each of the steps, especially after you’ve completed steps 0-3 and are ready to move on to steps 4-8.

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s super-critical that you build on the momentum you’ve established in this quick start exercise. 

In a way, you’ve kind of “tricked” your mind into plowing through these first few steps. Brilliant!

Now, let’s keep your amazing accomplishment and momentum moving forward!


Do you Pinterest? Saving this image to one of your favorite boards could help someone "jump start" their own debt-elimination process...


The “8 Steps To Erase Debt” - Cheat Sheet

As you’ll see, our “quick start” exercise was hyper-focused on steps 0-3 (below, in bold) of the 8 Steps To Erase Debt. (Don’t worry, we’ll address Steps 4-8 more in depth when we dive into the full “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide a little later on, but here they are for context.)


Step 0: Stop All Retirement Contribution

Step 1: Build A Budget

Step 2: $1000 Emergency Fund

Step 3: Debt Elimination Marathon (a.k.a. “The Debt Snowball”)


Step 4: 3-6+ Month Emergency Fund 

Step 5: How To Invest 15%+ Into Retirement Accounts

Step 6: All about College Funding

Step 7: Pay Off The Home Mortgage

Step 8: Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous AND Prepare For Financial Independence


So, now that we’ve got the first few steps “mapped out”, it’s all about follow-through/execution. Given your past history with debt and budgeting, you may need some accountability and perhaps even some coaching and teaching.

I personally believe that, if your “why” is big enough, you’ll be motivated to DIY (Do It Yourself) most of this.


Next: The 8 Steps To Obliterate Your Debt

This is the blog post that outlines the 8 steps I followed to eliminated $43,000 in debt in 2.5 years.
And whether this is your first or thousandth time on the blog, I want to make sure you have this “8 Steps” framework that ALL of our content is centered around. 
These are the steps I personally followed to obliterate $43,000+ of debt in 2.5 years
Maybe your number is bigger, maybe it’s smaller. Either way the principles are the same and I want you to have them.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)
2. Starter Emergency Fund of $1000
3. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)
4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses
5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)
6. College Funding (if applicable)
7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage
8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!
I’ve created a simple, easy to follow guide that you can use as your foundation as you navigate the absolute annihilation of your debt forever.

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When You Need More Help

And again, if you’re looking for some resources to get started, you can download our free budgeting forms. Also, if you’re in a place where you’re ready to kick your debt in the teeth, here's the link to our free “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide for you to use as your foundation.
To your freedom,
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click & make a purchase, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps keep Zero Debt Coach up and running. Read my full disclosure policy.

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