A ‘Dream Sheet’ Helped a Mom of 2 Pay Off $50,000 in Debt

  • When Ja’Net Adams started her $50,000 debt payoff journey, the first thing she did was make a dream sheet.
  • A dream sheet is a focused list of short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals.
  • It may feel scary to share your dreams and debt payoff journey with friends and family, but it can make the process easier.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

After getting laid off from a job she held for eight years, Ja’Net Adams (pronounced juh-nay) struggled to make ends meet while still paying off $50,000 in debt.

The first thing she did was write the words “dream sheet” on a piece of paper. She then wrote a list of short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals that she wanted to achieve after paying off the debt. Adams tells Insider, “The dream sheet actually kept me focused every time something came up with the car, or anytime there was an emergency.”

Adams’ original dream sheet, which she still displays on her fridge, includes short-term goals like opening a savings account for her son, JR, and saving up for both of her children’s school tuition and fees. Her intermediate goals included a two-week trip to Europe for the entire family.

Since starting her financial freedom journey, Adams has achieved all of those things and more. “We actually went to Costa Rica instead of Europe because it was $1,000 for seven days for six people!” she adds. “Since then, my family has gone to London, Paris, and Barcelona.”

Ja'Net Adams' original dream sheet from when she started her debt payoff journey in 2008.

Ja’Net Adams’ original dream sheet, which she still displays on her fridge.

Courtesy of Ja’Net Adams

A dream sheet helps you focus on the future

Adams was laid off for a total of four months in 2008, but she used that time to build a blueprint for her debt payoff journey. Once she got a new full-time job, she was prepared with new money habits and a spending plan that helped her family pay off debt while building savings.

Soon, Adams took steps to quit her full-time job to start a financial coaching business called Debt Sucks University. When coaching her clients, the first step is to make a dream sheet. Adams even encourages everyone in the client’s family to hop in on the fun.

She says, “When you get finished with the dream sheet, it needs to be laminated and posted on the refrigerator so that everyone in the household can see it. If it’s just one person in the house, put it in the bathroom so that you can see it each and every day.”

Ask yourself, where would you be if money didn’t matter?

While the process of writing down your dreams sounds really simple, Adams says it’s not as easy as it seems. Some people genuinely have a hard time focusing on what they really want and where they see themselves in the future.

She recommends asking yourself the following questions to get started:

  • What would you do if money didn’t matter?
  • Where would you go if money didn’t matter?
  • Who would you help if money didn’t matter?

Writing down the specifics of your dreams is the key to staying focused when saving or paying down debt feels endless.

Don’t be afraid to share your journey

Adams also encourages people to share their dreams with their supportive friends and family. Finding a community to keep you accountable for your future goals is really important when paying down debt.

Adams adds, “For some reason, my clients don’t think that other people are in debt, and they’re ashamed. I tell them, ‘No, the majority of Americans are in debt.'” It may feel daunting to reveal your financial plans and debt payoff journey with friends and family, but sharing your goals with others actually makes it easier to achieve them. 

If you’re afraid of opening up to loved ones, Adams says, “It’s important to get over the fear of letting people know your dreams and that you’re paying down debt.”

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