By Kristin Wong of WisePiggy.com
So you want to be debt-free, but it’s taking a while to get there. Yep, the road to financial freedom can be a long and overwhelming one. We spend quite a bit of time on our devices, so incorporating them into our financial goals can serve as a regular reminder to stay on track.
Here are a handful of mobile apps and sites that can help you stay motivated and on track as you work on paying down debt and improving your credit score.
You Need A Budget
You might like this app if: You appreciate a healthy dose of financial advice and a like-minded community.
Popular money management site You Need a Budget (YNAB) offers not only a way to track your finances, they also give solid financial advice, focused on getting out of debt. The software itself is $60, but if you’re a paid member of their very active community, you can take advantage of their free mobile app.
YNAB is structured on a personal finance method that focuses around four basic rules:
- Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
- Rule 2: Save for a rainy day
- Rule 3: Roll with the punches
- Rule 4: Live on last month’s income
The app lets you set goals — pay off debt, for instance — and it helps you find areas in which you can cut back and fund those goals.
You might like this app if: You need help coming up with a realistic plan that’s suited to your spending habits.
Thomas Frank, founder of College Info Geek, paid off a nearly $15,000 student loan debt before he graduated.
‘Visualizing your progress is important. I used an Excel spreadsheet myself, but a great tool that can do it for you is ReadyForZero,’ he said. ‘When you’ve got high-level planning and visualization taken care of, the last step is simply consistent action.’
The ReadyForZero (RFZ) app is free, and it offers quite a few interesting features that let you customize and track your get-out-of-debt plan. After you add your financial info, RFZ analyzes your finances and suggests a debt-payoff plan that’s optimized for your needs and spending.
‘Your plan can be based on what you are able to pay each month, and the tool will help you focus on the highest-interest accounts first, in order to get out of debt as fast as possible,’ said Benjamin Feldman, ReadyForZero head of content. ‘You’ll also get a graph of your progress so you can see your debt dwindling as the weeks go by.’
That progress graph helps you visualize your goals, giving you a solid idea of when you’ll be debt-free, based on how much you decide to put toward your debt.
The app also keeps you motivated by sending payment reminders, suggestions to pay off debt when you make a large deposit to your checking account, and even celebratory emails when you reach a milestone, Feldman said.
Debt Payoff Assistant
You might like this app if: You have multiple debts and you want a simple way to see them all in one place.
Also free, the Debt Payoff Assistant app lets you track multiple goals, and it comes with calculators to help you figure out your payoff amounts.
Like most of these tools, it recommends the debt snowball method for paying off debt, and you can see your progress as time goes on, via their progress bar. The app tells you the total debt you have remaining, and offers an expected ‘debt free date,’ too.
Pay Off Debt
You might like this app if: You have multiple debts and prefer an interface that’s simple, user-friendly and will help organize the details of those debts for you.
Personal finance writer Jackie Beck actually designed her own debt app, Pay Off Debt.
‘The app is strictly focused on helping folks actually pay off their debts (not rearrange them),’ Beck said. ‘Users are hit with a dose of motivation every time they glance at their phone or tablet and see that ‘PAID!’ icon. Of course, users can also organize their debts in the order that works best for them, and experiment with different payment amounts to see how their planned debt free date changes.’
The app is $4.99, but users praise it for being highly organized and easy to use. It also includes an amortization schedule for each debt, so you how much you’re paying in principal and interest with each payment.
You might like this app if: You’re a visual person who enjoys planning and organizing your goals.
Budget Boss is the top choice in its category on AppCrwlr. It’s a highly visual app that uses graphs and charts to track your budget and goals. One unique feature: it estimates your future account balances, depending on your current spending habits. Seeing a positive net worth can be a huge motivator.
You might like this app if: You’re intimidated by the thoroughness of a standard bearer like Mint.
Level Money keeps track of your spending and gives you a sense of how you’re doing. If you’re looking for a free app to take your financial temperature all the time, this is it. It will probably work best for those who have relatively simple and linear financial lives.