We’ve borrowed a lot. Collectively, we Americans owe more than $13.95 trillion, says the Fed.
Our mortgage balances make up the lion’s share — $9.44 trillion — but we also owe trillions in student loans, auto loans and credit card debt and other revolving credit accounts.
Are you among the millions of folks feeling the weight of that debt?
We’ve written tons of articles that can help you destroy debt, like “How to Pay Off $10,000 in Debt Without Breaking a Sweat” and “10 Ways to Lose Weight and Pay Off Debt at the Same Time.” (Do a search for “Debt” at the top of this page, and you’ll find lots more.) But there’s also help in the form of free or cheap apps and websites. Here are seven of our favorites:
Credit card debt can be hard to shake. That’s where Tally comes in. This app automates debt management and makes it easy to save money, manage your credit cards and pay down balances faster.
Download the free app and scan in your credit cards. If you qualify — you’ll need a credit score of 660 or above — the app will tally up the smartest way to pay down your debt. To get the benefits of Tally, you will need to quality for and accept a line of credit. The interest rate would be lower than your cards (which typically range from 7.9% to 19.9% per year depending on your credit history). As with credit cards, the interest will vary with the Prime Rate.
“We are effectively buying [money to lend you] in bulk on behalf of our users and passing the majority of those savings to them,” says Jason Brown, company co-founder.
Tally then takes over the task of paying your cards with the line of credit. You just pay Tally.
“We minimize interest costs and fees by making the right payment to the right card at the right time,” Tally says. “Keep using your credit cards to get all the perks and rewards. We’ll take care of the hard work for you.”
If you pay the Tally minimum, you could pay off your debts in about 12 years, which is 10 years faster than you could without the service, Brown says. However, he adds, the average user usually pays 2.5 times the minimum, so they can typically pay off their debts in about five years.
Build credit while you save with Self (formerly called Self Lender).
Technically, you take out a loan, but you don’t get the money until you pay it off. No credit score is needed, and Self says it won’t do a “hard pull” credit check.
Here’s how Self works: You choose the free app’s plan that meets your budget, starting at $25 a month, with either a 12- or 24-month term. Your payment goes toward money held in your name as a certificate of deposit.
Each monthly payment is reported to all three credit bureaus. At the end, you’ve paid your loan and get the money from the CD and have built a better credit score. You can use that money to pay down debt.
“I wanted a simple way so that I could help my future self build credit and save money,” James Garvey, CEO and co-founder of the company, told American Banker.
If you think you could save a little more money each month if you just had help to squirrel it away, then Digit may be your answer. The app takes the guesswork out of how much to save each month.
Digit analyzes your income and spending habits and moves bits of money you might not realize were unspent to your Digit account. The money earns 1% interest, and you can use it for goals you specify, such as debt payments or your Cabo San Lucas vacation fund.
There are no fees to withdraw money, which Digit stashes away in FDIC-insured bank accounts, and no minimum balances are required. However, after a 30-day free trial, there is a $2.99 monthly fee.
Qoins rounds up your credit card spending to the nearest dollar and applies the money from the difference toward your outstanding debt, earning you financial freedom faster, the app’s maker claims.
You can choose to apply it to debts such as student loans, credit cards and mortgages.
It’s similar in concept to Acorns, which invests your rounded-up payments on purchases in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Qoins users will pay off debt two to five years early and save thousands of dollars on interest payments, its developers say.
Your cost is $1.99 a month, which is deducted from payments it sends you.
5. Debt Free
You can manage your debt with Debt Free, an app that helps you to organize, monitor and pay off your debts using what’s called a snowball plan, in which you aggressively eliminate one debt at a time.
You can choose to first go after debts with the lowest balances, highest interest rates or just in whatever order you choose.
Debt Free also will calculate your overall debt-free date and payoff date for each debt as well as calculate interest and time savings with extra payments.
It will also send you notifications for payment due dates.
The 99-cent app (iOS only) includes three built-in calculators:
- Payoff date calculator
- Loan calculator
- Mortgage calculator
Unbury.Me is a free online tool that allows you to create an account, list all of your debts and map out a payment plan to suit your needs.
You can choose from two methods:
- Avalanche: Attack your debt with the highest interest rate first, then move to the second-highest and so on. This may save you the most money in the long run.
- Snowball: Focus on your lowest balance first, then the second-lowest and so on. This is the right choice if short-term victories motivate you better to direct more money to your payment goal.
The tool also shows you how much faster you’ll pay off a debt by paying more than the minimum each month instead of just sticking to the minimum. For example, a $5,000 balance with a $100 minimum monthly payment at 15.9% interest, it showed, would take seven years to pay off and you’d pay about $3,250 in interest; at $200 a month, you’d be debt-free in just three years and pay only around $1,120 in interest.
Last but not least, if you are struggling with debt and you need help, go to our Solutions Center, where our partner Debt.com can match you with the services you need — to kill off tax or student loan debts, restore your credit, deal with debt collectors and more.
It looks for ways to get you out of high-interest debt and save money. You can request a free evaluation from a certified credit counselor to identify the best credit card debt solution for your situation. Solutions may include credit card balance transfers, debt consolidation loans, debt management programs, settlement programs or consolidated credit programs. If you’d prefer, you can also give Debt.com a call at 888-739-9616.
The site also offers free calculators, free expert advice and other free tools.
What tools help you manage your debt and finances? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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