Online Tools to Help You Pay off Debt
by James S.
It’s hard for some of us to imagine a world where we are completely debt-free, but not only is it possible... it’s liberating. Paying off your debts is more than just setting aside money every month—it’s about knowing how much you need to pay back and how long you have to do so. It’s important to make a plan before more interest accrues and you find yourself in a seemingly impossible place to get above water again. There is specific mathematics to paying off loans and earning that financial liberation, so we've compiled the following tools to help do most of the math for you.
The Debt Coach is a product of Bills.com and while it is not as much a budgeting app as it is a learning tool, it can still be very useful. You will be subject to an automated online interview and as you progress, you will see your debt assessment become increasingly filled with accurate information. Once you complete the interview, you not only learn what the best first steps toward becoming debt-free are, but you also gain some insight into why you may have fallen into debt in the first place.
You will be offered several potential solutions that you can compare and choose from based on:
- Your preference for how much time you have to pay off certain debts
- How much you’re willing to affect your credit score, and
- How much money you're willing to spend per month.
If worse comes to worst, the Debt Coach also helps with debt-consolidation and even declaring bankruptcy. It’s a free tool that is worth looking into, even if you’re not completely drowning in debt.
Cost: Free or $8.25 per month
Dave Ramsey is a money guru and a big supporter of the “debt snowball method.” A lot of people seem to think that paying off their largest loan with the highest interest rate first will help them save enough money to pay off smaller loans and debts, but the snowball method actually dictates the opposite. Using this method, you:
- Pay off your smallest loan first
- Track your progress, and
- Work your way up from there
The morale boost that comes from seeing your progress evolve early and often can help mentally motivate you to keep going, instead of getting demoralized while looking up at your largest debt and knowing there are even more that will be following it.
The tool itself offers you a “consultation” of sorts for free. You enter all your information, and the app will give you a big picture layout of where and how to begin. From there, you can choose to keep it free and just take your own notes or pay the membership fee to join the EveryDollar Plus program. Joining the program will allow you to visualize all your debts and it will generate graphs that will track your progress.
If you opt for the membership, you can also use its algorithm to generate a countdown to being totally debt-free, and it will even create a payment schedule for you. You can add or postpone extra payments as you see fit, and even have the schedule fully automate itself.
Mint is an all-encompassing money app and website that offers financial help with anything from budgeting, credit score management, bill tracking, and even investment advice. There is also a built-in “Goals” function that allows you to set money-saving objectives and then use that leftover money to repay your debts in larger payments.
Similar to the Dave Ramsey tool, it can also help you set a hard deadline to have a certain amount of money saved up, and it will adjust your daily budget accordingly all by itself. Mint can tell you exactly how long it would take for you to get yourself out of debt based on all your minimum payments (usually way too long) and then simulate how long it would take based on making slightly higher payments. You’d be surprised at how many months or even years that an extra $15-$20 per month could shave off.
Over 44 million Americans are in some sort of student loan debt, so you’re certainly not alone in this boat. It takes an average college graduate over 20 years to pay off their debt and for some, that number is even larger.
The Student Loan Hero Dashboard is a very clean, minimalistic tool that you can access for free. It’s built specifically for student loans, so it’s very easy to navigate and sync all your student loans across all the different institutions that have financed you. Student loans frequently get sold to collection agencies and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with who you are actually supposed to be paying, how much, etc. Luckily, the SLH Dashboard keeps accurate records regarding who owns your debt and how much your minimum payments are.
Like some of the other apps, you can also forecast a future of student loan freedom based on how you want to tweak your payment amounts and frequency, and it also allows you to get signed up for federal payment plans. If you feel like you need to take a break for a few months, instead of calling a loan office or collections agency and being placed on hold for hours, you can use the SLH Dashboard to place your loans in forbearance or deferment.
If you need more money-saving tips and ways you can live on a budget while pulling yourself out of debt, check out some of our other blog posts!
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