The first major step toward reaching financial freedom is to regain control of your spending and pay off debt. However, this is often harder to do than it sounds.
Thankfully, technology is making it a lot easier to set and reach your financial goals and stay on top of your debt.
Here are some of the best debt repayment tools and apps to help you pay down debt quickly and stay motivated to reach the long-term goal of building wealth.
First, let’s take a look at some of the best websites and other services available to help you plan and stick to your debt repayment strategy.
The feeling of being buried in debt, with no way out and no idea where to start, is a horrible one. Thankfully, Unbury.Me has created a simple and straightforward calculator tool to help you regain your financial footing. We all approach debt in a different way, and respond to different motivators, so it stands to reason that different people benefit from different debt payoff methods.
This online tool offers payment choices based on these two options:
Once you enter all of your debt information, you can quickly compare which debt reduction method will work best for your situation and finances. Tweak your monthly payment amount, and the chart will update to show your remaining principal balance, how much interest you’ll pay, and a debt freedom date.
You can then compare multiple types of debt side-by-side, and prioritize a payment plan based on either a the highest interest rate or lowest beginning balance.
The Debt Eliminator is a customized plan created by financial guru Suze Orman. Unlike some of the other tools out there, any information you input into this calculator isn’t stored or saved.
Simply type in your name, the number of credit cards and other loans you have, and how much additional money (if any) can be put toward your debts.
A separate row will be generated for each debt, giving you an overview of your balances. After you’ve entered all of your debts, click the “Next” button. You’ll be asked if you have any extra money to put toward your monthly amount, in addition to the minimum payment balance. Then click “Find Your Plan” to receive the details of a full debt payoff plan.
Usually the Debt Eliminator will suggest the debt snowball method to repay your debts. This is a strategy where you pay the minimum balances on all your debts except one, and put all the extra funds toward that single payment. Once that account is paid off, you take all the money you were paying on the previous payment and put it toward the next loan, and continue until you’re completely debt free.
When will I be debt free? The answer to this question is something we all want to know. Find out and get a quick overall glance of your debts with this simple debt calculator from CNN. Just list out your credit cards and other other loans, and based on your debt repayment choice, the outcome of your plan will be determined by these variables:
- Minimum payments
- Fixed monthly payments
- The debt-free deadline
If you choose to be debt-free by a certain deadline, your monthly payments will be calculated based on that date. Alternately, if you choose a fixed monthly payment option, your debt payoff date will depend on the monthly payment you choose.
Mint.com Financial Goals
Cost: Free (with a Mint.com account)
In the event you don’t already use Mint.com to manage your household budget, they offer a financial goals feature that can easily integrate with your monthly finances. Create and track goals for just about anything, whether it’s saving money for college, planning for retirement, or paying off debts and other loans.
After linking the appropriate credit card or loan account related to a particular goal, you’ll be able to review a plan, estimate monthly payment amounts, or even transfer the balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.
The tool will suggest additional options that encourage you to pay down debts with any savings you have, or set up a budgeting plan to control spending. Based on your actions, monthly payments, and desired timeline, the goals feature will calculate when you can expect to be debt-free.
LearnVest Financial Planning Program
Cost: $19 per month
Depending on your level of expertise and courage, you may need a more custom debt payoff plan with the support of a financial planner. This is something LearnVest offers, through their financial planning program, for a monthly fee.
You’ll start off by meeting with one of their skilled CFPs to discuss and choose the best repayment plan based on your personal situation and goals, and then set a target for when you want to be out of debt.
While an additional monthly payment might be the last thing you need, having someone on your side for emotional and financial support, who knows your personal situation, may give you a better chance of ultimately reaching your debt-free goal. This is especially helpful if you’ve tried to get out of debt before and failed. The accountability aspect will help keep you focused and on track.
Debt Snowball Calculator
Cost: $7.49 a month
Whether or not you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, his Debt Snowball Calculator is a popular tool, because of its ease of use and overall effectiveness. This tool is part of a larger program and is set up to work with the rest of the financial baby steps strategy to live a debt-free life.
In order to test out the Snowball Calculator, simply fill in all the information from your loans, credit cards, and other debts. Once all of your card balances, payments, and interest rates are put into the system, it will display an approximate debt-free date.
Click the “Overview” button to see how using this method will decrease your debt balances over time.
Now that we’ve covered some of the best online tools and websites for tracking debts, let’s look at some of the best mobile apps for debt repayment on the go.
Cost: Free to download (more details below)
A new app called Tally takes mobile debt management a step further, acting as an automated line of credit for your credit card debt. If you carry high-interest balances on multiple cards and can’t qualify for one of the best balance transfer cards, Tally can help by managing your cards.
Here’s how it works: You scan your credit cards with the app, and if you qualify, Tally opens a line of credit from which it pays down your cards in the optimal order (paying more toward higher-interest balances, but making all minimum payments on your behalf so you don’t need to worry about managing cards on your own). This leaves you with just one bill to keep track of — you’ll pay Tally monthly, and there are no fees. However, Tally will charge interest for transactions made on the line of credit. Depending on your credit history, your APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.9 – 19.9% per year. Similar to credit card APRs, it will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. (This information is accurate as of August 2018). Unlike other debt consolidation services, you are still free to use your cards if you’d like.
While Tally’s rates are certainly higher than the promotional 0% APR you can score with a balance transfer card, there’s no balance transfer fee or vanishing introductory period, and it can still help save you some interest charges, simplify your payments, and even improve your credit score as Tally makes sure you never miss a payment. You do need a credit score above 660 to qualify, however, and Tally is currently only available in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
One of my favorite mobile debt apps is the ReadyForZero app. I’ve personally used this tool to keep track of my consumer debt and it helped me become debt-free in May 2012, which is why it tops the list.
The mobile version seamlessly integrates with their full Web platform, and offers all of the same features. Once you link your credit cards, bank accounts, and loan information, you’ll get a total picture of your debts, in a nifty chart form, and be able to determine a debt payoff date.
The app also allows you to check your credit score, make payments, and receive email alerts each time you reach a milestone. I personally enjoyed seeing my daily and monthly progress with their innovative chart tracker, which let me know how much I saved in interest payments over time.
Debt Payoff Assistant
The Debt Payoff Assistant app is pretty self-explanatory. Using the popular debt snowball method, it assists you in your debt payoff pursuits. Simply enter all your debt information, including loan balances, interest rates, monthly payment amounts, and due dates, to start the process. Using this information, it displays an amortization table and pie chart that shows your progress along the way.
As you make regular payments on the due date, your payment turns green and records the money as paid. If you have any extra cash to put toward your regular payment amount, you can just add this to the principal.
It allows you to track an unlimited number of debts, design multiple payoff strategies, and use the app’s built-in calculators to stay motivated on your debt journey.
Debt Control Free
Getting out of debt is hard enough, so any service aimed at helping you should be easy — and that’s what the Debt Control Free app is. Although you can only add one debt at a time, this allows you to streamline your focus, stay organized, and pay off your debt quickly.
It also calculates your debt-free date automatically, using the debt snowball method, based on your personal payment schedule. It offers great features such as recording payments, tracking expenses, and viewing your payment reports — even if it’s limited to only one account.
This could be a nice app to use if you have a mortgage, student loan, or other debt with a larger balance, and need a more long-term strategy. It also syncs with iCloud to other devices, and within iTunes, so you always have access to your debt repayment plan.
The Debt Manager app‘s goal is to help you get out of debt fast, thanks to its clean interface. It allows you to organize, effectively track, and pay off all your debts using the cheapest and fastest way possible.
It does this by suggesting the debt snowball method, so you can input and view your total debt summary, record monthly payments, track and analyze each debt, and view interactive reports. You can enter bills and payments manually, and even try out “what if” scenarios.
The summary section includes a progress bar, your debt-free date, and the total interest savings.
DebtTracker Pro is another app I used personally while getting out of debt, because it allowed me to stay on top of my accounts from anywhere. The simplicity of the user interface, with your accounts, numbers, and balances, makes it easy to see the entire picture, and allows you to focus directly on paying off debt.
A really nice feature is that you can also choose any type of repayment method, or even customize your own — although it defaults to the debt snowball strategy.
After inputting your financial information, and finalizing a payment strategy, the app automatically shows a recommended payment amount for each debt account. It will also show the total interest paid, or that you’re expected to pay, based on your figures. Additionally, payment reminder pop-ups can be enabled to ensure you make debt payments on time.
Pay Off Debt
The founder of Pay Off Debt originally created the app because she was tired of stressing out about how to pay her bills and stay on track with financial goals. Since 2009, when the app was first launched, it’s become quite popular, and helps users create financial goals, like making a debt payment plan or taking a debt-free vacation.
The nice thing is that you can even track personal loans to friends or family members, and create a custom plan to pay off all debts by prioritizing them in the order you choose.
You can also record payments manually, and receive payment reminders to avoid late fees. The goal of this app is to create long-term financial habits that stick.
As you can see, there are a lot of different repayment methods, strategies, and apps that can be used to track your debts. But hopefully this list will give you a good starting point, so you can begin your journey toward debt freedom.
Just for fun: Check out the total U.S. debt load, as well as the debt from over 180 countries, with the National Debt of the United States app.