In this post, I’m going to teach you how to create your own debt repayment advent calendar.
I had $98,500 in debt, which I had accumulated from law school student loans and a luxury vehicle that I decided I really wanted before I had paid off my student loans. It took me 3.5 years to pay off all that debt. Read how I paid of $98,500 of debt in 3.5 years: read post 1 and post 2.
Shortly after buying that luxury vehicle, I was at a time in my life where there were a number of upcoming trips that year. I wanted to say “Yes” to all of them, but then I realized that I was NEVER spending MY OWN money to go on those trips because I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A DOLLAR TO MY NAME. That’s when I consciously decided to change course. I became determined to have $1 TO MY NAME, and so, 3.5 years later I became debt free and had more than $1 to my name on pay day!
The debt repayment journey can be a long one, and often times takes years. For me, 3.5 years was a LONG time to be so focused and to stay motivated paying off debt. There were times when I wanted to rip up the budget, not check my bank accounts and just do whatever I wanted. But, I resisted those temptations and persevered.
The debt repayment journey had been so long that when I could see the end near, I wanted to do something in the remaining days to celebrate and savour the days before my debt repayment journey would be over. So, what did I do? I created my own Debt Repayment Advent Calendar. I’ve included a photo of it below. Had I known that one day I would actually be writing this post, I would have made it prettier and taken more photos, but c’est la vie and this is what real life looks like (e.g. no filters, no pretty background).
Here’s what I did – Step by Step to Make the Advent Calendar
1. Decide how you want to display your advent calendar.
I had a white board sitting around the house that I had used in school and decided to make use of it by taping coloured paper that I had folded to it.
If you don’t have a white board, obviously I don’t encourage going out and buying one (as this is a debt repayment post), so instead see if you have a large poster board or a cork board lying around. If not, the dollar store has large poster boards for $1.25.
2. Decide how many days your advent calendar will have.
I chose 20 days because, if I remember correctly, I came up with the idea about 20 days before I was going to be debt free. So, there was no magic to that number other than that’s all the days I had left.
So, you can pick as many or as few days as you want, but I think that anything more than 30 days, might be a little much. But, hey, it’s your advent calendar, so you do you.
3. Cut out coloured rectangles, that are more or less the same size, for the number of days that will be on your advent calendar.
Depending on how small or large your display board for your advent calendar is, make the rectangles big enough that you can write in them and write the date on the outside of them.
Feel free to get fancier than coloured paper. Again, this is your board – so you do you! Be resourceful and use what you have around the house.
4. Decorate your advent calendar as you want.
5. Make your list of something you can do (or that someone is willing to do for you) to celebrate.
When you make your list, try and make sure that the things on the list cost no money or a minimal amount. Or, if you’re lucky, that someone else is willing to buy for you, so it doesn’t cost you any money.
I created my list in 2 parts:
1. I started by making a list of ALL THE THINGS I LOVE or THAT MAKE ME HAPPY, because that’s how I was going to celebrate each day.
I chose a spending limit – mine was $10, so everything that I would be adding to the advent calendar would have to add up to or be less than $10 in total. I didn’t count, though, if someone else was doing or buying me something.
I then used the LIST OF THINGS I LOVE and THAT MAKE ME HAPPY to fill in 15 of the advent calendar days. So, I wrote 1 thing in each of the 15 coloured paper rectangles.
The parameters I used when I wrote in each of the advent calendar days:
So what about the other 5 days? What happened to them?
Well, my debt repayment journey wasn’t exactly a solo journey. Although Mr. OYP (“Owning Your Profession”) did not pay down any of my debt, he did “live it” with me for 3.5 years and was involved all along the way. So, I asked Mr. OYP if he would fill out 5 of the days for the advent calendar, and he agreed.
The parameters I gave to Mr. OYP:
2. I made the list for my advent calendar.
Here’s what ended up in my advent calendar (to give you some ideas and get you started with yours):
Day 1 – Sip on a steeped tea from Tim Horton’s today. (Cost $1.75)
I hadn’t been buying steeped teas regularly, so it was a treat to have one more than once a week.
Day 2 – You get to watch any romantic comedy of your choice!
I LOVE romantic comedies, especially well-done Hallmark Channel movies. If you do too, check out my Pinterest Board of my favourite romantic comedy movies that I’ve watched a 2nd time because they’re so good!
Day 3 – Use those Christmas gifts – open up that face mask tonight.
Day 4 – Be in nature – go for a walk outside.
Day 5 – Indulge in your favourite (mini) Dairy Queen Blizzard. (Cost $4.00)
Day 6 – Splurge on your favourite chocolate bar. (Cost $1.50)
A Crunchie bar, obviously. I don’t think this chocolate bar is available in the U.S., but it’s essentially a toffee bar covered in milk chocolate.
Day 7 – Mr. OYP to pack Ms. OYP’s lunch for the next work day.
Day 8 – Unwind tonight and take a bubble bath.
Day 9 – It’s a library day. Go take out some new books, gossip magazine and your favourite romantic comedy movies.
I don’t know why, but I find going to a public library relaxing and therapeutic. I love going, but sometimes I find it hard to bring myself to actually go. That’s why this one made the list.
Day 10 – Block out some time to read one of the new books you borrowed.
Day 11 – Relax while Mr. OYP gives you a massage.
Day 12 – Sit down and read that gossip magazine you borrowed from the library.
Day 13 – Go to Chapters (a book store) and browse.
This one might seem odd because you might ask why I would put myself in a store that I love but make a rule that I can’t buy anything while I’m there. I LOVE the Chapters experience, just touching all the things in the store and opening the books and planners, so what I did was browse and then after I had $1 to my name, I could go back if there was something I really wanted and couldn’t stop thinking about.
Day 14 – Mr. OYP will make you dinner today.
Day 15 – Appreciate those who have helped you in the debt repayment journey.
Call, text or email friends and family who have helped you along in the debt repayment journey. Whether they have been understanding, supported you or encouraged you, reach out and send them a personalized thank you.
Day 16 – You get to eat French Fries from McDonalds. (Cost: $2.50)
Day 17 – Go outside a pick as many wildflowers or flowers that you can and make a bouquet!
Day 18 – Mr. OYP will buy you a chai tea today.
Day 19 – You get to watch any romantic comedy of your choice!
Day 20 – Mr. OYP will buy you a bottle of wine.
Total cost: $8.25
6. Assemble your advent calendar
Now that you have your list of items for the advent calendar, it’s time to write them into each of the coloured rectangles (or whatever you decided to use).
To write on and in each of the coloured rectangles, I used my favourite Sharpie markers. The 12 pack is the best pack option because the colours are all useable and it has the best colour selection (whereas the 24 pack has some ugly colours and not all of them are visible). This 12 pack is fine point, so the markers don’t smudge when you’re using them and they don’t smear on the page when you write. I’ve had my set for years, and they still work well, but it might be time to order another set. They’re just so pretty, you can’t NOT have a set at home. Click here to get your own set.
Once I had written in all of them, I folded them up so the writing was covered and the countdown day could be seen.
Once you have done that, it’s time to tape them or find a way to organize them nicely on your advent calendar.
7. Hang it up or put it in a spot where you will see it every day and be able to open it every morning.
I encourage you to create your own debt repayment advent calendar to celebrate your journey. It’s a super fun way to celebrate the end of the debt repayment journey, and for anyone who was part of it along the way, to celebrate with you. It’s a great way to savour the final moments of the journey. It’s also a way to be intentional by taking a moment each day to reflect back on the journey and to thank those who helped you along the way.
Every morning, it was so fun to open up the advent calendar and see what was written. It was exciting!
- Decide how you want to display your advent calendar.
- Decide how many days your advent calendar will have.
- Cut out coloured rectangles, that are more or less the same size, for the number of days that will be on your advent calendar.
- Decorate your advent calendar as you want.
- Make your list of something you can do (or that someone is willing to do for you) to celebrate.
- Assemble your advent calendar
- Hang it up or put it in a spot where you will see it every day and be able to open it every morning.