Debt and art – these are two words that tend to have radically different connotations. Debt, particularly student loan debt, is a term riddled with dread, worry, and even regret. Art, on the other hand, is light, fun, and uplifting. It’s no wonder so many people are turning to art to help lighten the process of paying off their student loan debt.
With so many graduates defaulting or struggling to pay off heaps of loans, a new and creative strategy is needed to help them bridge the financial gap. Color mapping is a new trend that many people are using to take back control of their finances.
What is Color Mapping?
Essentially, color mapping is the process of creating a visual representation of your debt. While this may sound like even more of a bummer, the images used are not tedious charts or graphs. Instead, the images you can use to create your color map are beautifully intricate – like these. Being able to visualize and track your progress through imagery is not only motivating, but empowering, as you observe how much of an impact you can actually make.
How to Use a Color Map
Once you’ve decided on an image, you have to determine what each little unit or “swirl” of your map means. For example, a swirl might equal $100, 1 week, or 1 payment – whatever medium of measurement makes the most sense for your particular goals and amounts of debt. The process is similar to a paint by number, except you are deciding the colors. Once you complete an action associated with paying off the debt, such as making a payment, simply color in one unit. (You’ll want to have a vivid variety of colored pencils or markers on hand.) So your goal might be to make a $50 payment every single week. For each week you make a payment, color in one unit. It may seem too easy, but people are already touting the effectiveness of this method for tracking student loan debt, credit card debt, and other goals like weight loss.
Why Color Maps Work
While there is no research that specifically examines why color mapping works as a motivational tool to pay off student loans, it’s not hard to decipher some possible reasons. First off, having a visual representation of your debt on display gives a sense of unfinished business – you can see what work still needs to be done. And if you’re a Type A personality, the simple fact of having an unfinished color map may snap you into action even quicker. Unlike your actual debt, which is a distant and abstract concept, a color map sits in your home or office, giving you an immediate understanding of how far you have to go.
Studies have shown that the use of “visualized information” has increased astoundingly over the years, making our brains wired for it. Visuals are processed in our brain much faster than words (you know, that awful stuff that’s written all over your student loan statements). They also require 50% of the brain and 70% of your sensory receptors, so it would be tough to ignore your vivid color map each day.
Another reason why color maps may work is due to information overload – the constant influx of data to and from our brains every day. Imagery eliminates the need for complex thinking and provides relief from all of this interpretation. Thus a color map makes your once-massive and confusing debt problem seem much easier to tackle. Make a payment, color a unit, make progress toward financial freedom.
For those who frequently forget to make payments, color maps will provide you with a much more memorable reminder. According to research, humans recall a whopping 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and just 10% of what they hear. So if better reminders are what you need to pay off debt faster, color mapping may be worth a shot.
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