What kind of tools do you use to help you get out of debt? If you’re looking to go beyond your trusty spreadsheet or the envelope method, here are a few recommendations for how free software can help you get out of debt and get you closer to achieving all your personal finance goals.
Making a Plan to Get Out of Debt
Planning is something that becomes a lot easier with software. Instead of the hazy picture you have when all of your account statements are scattered around your house and you can’t remember which one has the highest interest rate and which one has the lowest interest rate – not to mention which one has a payment due tomorrow – you need a software programs can put all of that information into one place. You need to make your life easier and have a clear plan in front of you.
That’s where online software like ReadyForZero can really help. It’s free, and it allows you to see all your accounts in one place so that you have a clear picture of how much you owe and how long it will take you to get out of debt. Free get out of debt software like ReadyForZero also helps because it gives you a chance to make your plan and then track your progress.
If you prefer to try a more simple tool at first, you can use this calculator to get a better look at your big picture in terms of your debt. Of course you need to pay off your debt, but it’s helpful to know what the overall amount is and how you can break it into chunks that are more manageable.
Tracking Your Daily Expenses to Help You Get Out of Debt
I track my daily expenses, but I hate doing it manually. By syncing up my credit card and bank accounts with Mint, I can see my expenses being tracked automatically. The software also keeps track of what my trends are, how I’m doing with my financial goals, and has very rudimentary budgeting. You can also set up alerts for when you go over your preset budget or when your expenses suddenly increase, which has been very handy for fraudulent charges as well.
However, if you want to track your daily expenses manually, you can get a daily email from The Birdy to enter your expenses. You can enter your expenses by email or by text, and it also tells you what your trends are and how your spending breaks down. When you create a streak, you also get a humorous video to keep you motivated.
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For budgeting, Mint also provides handy widgets for my Android phone so that I can see how much cash I have on hand, credit card balance, and my most recent transactions at a glance. And ReadyForZero has similar alerts and notifications centered around your debt (credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc.) – so you can get alerts when payments are due and find ways to pay off debt faster. When I’m out and about and just about to make an impulse purchase, looking at my credit card balance (and then wincing) often has me putting my credit card away.
On the flip side, I love watching my salary come in and my retirement balances go up, which is possible when using these apps. It can actually be very addicting to see your net worth increase and your debt go down!
We often talk a lot about goal-setting here at ReadyForZero, and as you can imagine, there are apps for that too.
Let’s say you want to make lunch every day for work so you can save money and pay off your debt. This is very doable, right? But how often are you actually making lunch? And it’s so easy to go out to lunch.
Track your progress with a goal app. I like Lift, because it also brings in a social aspect where your goals have a community around them to help support and encourage each other’s progress.
If you just want to track your progress with Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” method, try apps like Hab It! You can create streaks where you are checking off every day you accomplish your goal and build your habits.
No matter what apps or free software you use, we are here to help you get out of debt and reach your financial goals. Are you using specific tools not mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Robert S. Donovan