As of 2016, the average American household had $16,061 in debt, and total debt including big ticket items like cars and homes averaged $132,529, according to media giant CNBC. Student debt accounts for a huge amount of this too, with an average individual debt of $37,000, as of the most recent data.
All those numbers mean that most Americans are swimming in debt, with student loans being the fastest growing category of debt. If you’re burdened by debt from student loans, a mortgage, or credit cards, you can take control and turn it around.
There are a ton of free tools to help you pay down your debt, too. Let’s look at the best of them.
Debt Paydown Calculator
Bankrate is a great website with all sorts of free useful financial information related to debt and investing. You can compare rates on auto loans, for example, or even get help on filing your taxes.
The site also has a whole lot of useful calculators to help you figure out what to pay on different kinds of debts. If you’re looking to pay down your debts in the fastest and cheapest way, you need their Debt Pay Down Calculator.
Pick the number of debts you have and then input type of loan, the interest rate, the minimum monthly payment, and the current balance for each one. The Calculator will then tell you how much extra you should pay on what debt to get it paid off as fast as possible.
Use Your Spare Change on Student Loans with ChangEd
If you’re looking to pay down student debt specifically, there’s an app for both Android and Apple phones that’s meant just for paying off student debt faster.
You link a bank account to the app, and then add a student loan account you want paid. ChangEd then rounds up your purchases on your selected account up to the nearest $5 and collects the extra.
Once that extra change adds up to $100, it applies that to the loan account you connected. That way you can literally use your spare change to slowly pay down your student loans.
Balance Your Budget with Mint
The financial software giant behind QuickBooks and TurboTax has created a personal finance mobile app called Mint that is perfect for budgeting, saving, investing, and managing your money in general.
You add all your accounts, and Mint shows you all your financial information in one place. You can see all your money in your banking accounts like checking, savings, bank loans, and investments.
By adding your bills, you can also see your essential expenses every month, and, depending on the company, Mint can even access your due dates to give you timely reminders when it’s time to pay a bill. This app can help you find those extra dollars in your budget to put towards major debts like student loans.
You may be the DIY type that likes to take your financial health into your own hands, and that’s fine too. There are a ton of free financial spreadsheets out there to load into your existing database software and do your own accounting and financial planning.
Whether you use Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or OpenOffice Calc, you can load these spreadsheet templates onto your computer or mobile device. Google Sheets is great for tablets and phones, by the way, because it’s stored on the cloud and accessible anywhere you can get service.
These free financial spreadsheet templates can help you plan a household budget, pay down all your debts, or focus on paying down an individual debt.
This is a free resource with a ton of different methods for paying down your debt. You put in your debts, including interest rates and balances, and it gives you different options for making yourself debt free.
With Undebt.it, you can choose from six pre-set plans or create a custom debt pay-down plan. Their premade plans are geared toward paying different types of debts down first. For example, the Debt Snowball Plan pays off the debt with the lowest balance first, while the Debt Avalanche Plan focuses on the debt with the highest interest rate.
This free tool can also help you budget so you can identify how much you have to put toward your debts, and let you know if it’s time to refinance debts.
While the whole country may be taking on more debt than ever, you don’t have to follow the trends. There’s also no reason to spend money in order to save money, so you can choose from all these free debt reduction resources and take charge of your finances.
Thanks Jacob! Follow Jacob @DollarDiligence on Twitter for more articles about personal finance and corny dad jokes.
Authors - Jennifer and Tony Edwards
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