After several days and a lot of work, the debt payoff spreadsheet is finally updated. So far, this tool has been surprisingly popular. The updates should allow even more people to use it. We are grateful that people are using it and finding the help they need to start the journey of getting out of debt!
Plays nice with older versions of Excel
When I made the first version of this spreadsheet, I used all of the fancy new formulas available in Excel. It made the sheet a lot easier to create. I could use less helper columns. XLOOKUP especially, is everything VLOOKUP wanted to be for so many years.
But I soon saw a problem with this. It wasn’t backward compatible with any Excel version that was even just a few years old. It also wasn’t compatible with Google Sheets or Numbers. A lot of people use those.
I wrote a blog post about how you can get the latest and greatest from Excel for free here, but that wasn’t a great solution for everyone. What I ended up doing was making a version in google sheets that had guts that worked, but none of the formatting and looks to make it nice to use.
I got a lot of emails with errors like this happening in Excel:
That’s not what I want to happen! People weren’t doing anything wrong. I just built the spreadsheet in a way that it wasn’t usable by a lot of people.
So I went through and found every new fangled formula I had used. Every filter, every let, every xlookup. I replaced them with helper columns, sumproduct formulas, vlookups, and even painful index match formulas in some instances!
Ability to handle more debts
I have also had requests to be able to handle more debts. The oldest version could handle 15. I moved that up to 20 pretty quickly. But that isn’t enough for some people who are in a really difficult situation. So I upgraded the new one to handle 40 debts!
That worked fine on my own desktop computer running Excel. It did not work very well when I tried it out in Google Sheets. It took up to 10 seconds for a single change to show up. There was a lot of calculating going on.
On the backend, in one of the tabs that handles all of the calculations. Each debt I add the ability to handle requires 2,800 formulas. (So 20 more required 56,000!) Most of those have an if statement telling it not to run if it isn’t needed. But even that didn’t help speed up the spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
So if you need a version of this spreadsheet that can handle up to 40 debts, please email us. We have one that works, but it may be slow on your computer, especially if you are using Google Sheets.
The main version that is available on our site here can handle up to 20 debts. That was the best balance between performance and what will work for the majority of people.
Other small improvements
The day after I had finished updating all the formulas I got an email from someone who was using an older version of Excel. They needed the exact thing I just finished making! I also sent it out to a few people who had issues in the past. I am very grateful for their help in testing the new version out.
Some formulas only worked 90% of the time in Google Sheets. Some rows were frozen so you couldn’t scroll. Freezing the rows was a great idea on my desktop. It wasn’t helpful at all on a laptop or a smaller screen. We also found an issue with filtering and organizing the debts. I was able to fix all of those things.
So if you have had an issue with the debt payoff tracker and planner in the past, hopefully these updates will help. This version (which should have a name that ends in “2023-5-20” or later) has been tested much better and should finally work for the majority of people. Email us if you need the version that can handle more debts.
We are excited that people are using this as a tool to help get out of debt! It really is the best one out there to help you figure out how to get started and then track your progress throughout your journey. We created this because we couldn’t find one that did everything we wanted and simplified it so that a non Excel nerd would want to use it.
We are grateful that we can help people who are likely at a difficult time in their life. Being in debt (especially if you have more than 20 different debts you are juggling) is a constant weight and worry. We hope this helps lift some of that burden by showing that there is a way out. It probably won’t be a quick way out, but there is a way. Thank you for including us on your journey!