We’re not sure what hell really looks like in the biblical sense but we do know one thing. If you’re laboring under a mountain of debt, it can feel as if you’ve fallen into debt hell. Fortunately, there are tools available that could help you get out and here are some of the better ones.
- CNN Money Debt Reduction Tracker – can help you determine how long it will take you to get out of debt, and how much interest charges will cost you if you continue to make only the minimum monthly payments
- Suze Orman’s Debt Eliminator – fill in the appropriate blanks and this program says it will help you take control of your credit card debts
- You Can Deal With It Debt Repayment Calculator – shows you how much time and money you would save if you increase the amount of the monthly payment on your mortgage, credit card debt, loans, etc.
- The Nest Debt Reduction Calculator – just enter your balance and interest rate to see how long it would take you to clear your debt when you’re paying a certain amount each month
Online tools to help with debt
There are also a number of online tools available that can help you deal with your debts and leave debt hell. One of the best of these is Mint.com. It’s a very popular free program that’s available for use on PCs, Macs, and just about every type of smart phone. Mint will help you track your spending then automatically categorize it so you’ll see where your money’s going. In addition, Mint can automatically import data from your checking and savings accounts, credit cards and even your investments. It will help you develop a budget and any time you exceed spending in any of your categories, it will send you an email alert. These tools together can help you cut costs and then use that money to pay down debt.
Go to boot camp
Learnvest.com is a very powerful online tool that can help you get out of debt. It actually offers 10-day “boot camps” that include information on topics such as debt elimination. It will even send you a daily email with instructions on three action items. Plus, you can pay Learnvest from $69-$399 and get a free financial plan and additional advice.
Snowball your debt
The website Whatsthecost.com has a snowballing calculator that will show you when you can become debt free if you use the snowball method of paying off your credit card debts. The way the snowball method works is that you first order your credit card debts from the one that has the lowest balance up to the one with the highest. You then do everything you can to pay off the card with the lowest balance, while still making the minimum payments on your other cards. Once you have paid off the card with the lowest balance, you will have “new money” available to use to begin paying off the card with the second lowest debt and so on. This website will not only show you when you will become debt free following the snowball strategy, it will even recommend which of your creditors you should pay first.
Are you ready for zero?
Www.ReadyForZero.com will help you keep on track by reminding you of upcoming bill payments. It will calculate how much you could save if you accelerate your debt payments and even recommend how you could reduce your debt by taking actions such as refinancing your mortgage.
Win a gift card (or maybe $2 million)
SaveUp.com awards you credits when you view educational videos or reduce your credit card and loan balances. You can then use these credits in daily contests where you might win a prize ranging from a $2 million jackpot to gift cards.
This one may fall under the category of tough love but the website StickK.com has social networking tools that would allow you to broadcast a goal such as reducing your debts to family members and friends. The site has more than 150,000 users, one-third of whom have chosen to pay a financial penalty to some worthwhile charity if they fall short of their goals.
It all starts with a budget
Regardless of which of these online tools you choose to help you become debt free, everything starts with pinpointing your spending. The basic fact is that you just can’t reduce your spending to pay off your debts until you know where your money’s going and where you could make cuts. This is where budgeting comes in. Whether you choose an online product like Mint.com or use a spreadsheet program, you need to categorize your spending and then create a budget. You also need to compare your spending with your total income. If you find yourself falling further and further into debt each month it’s because you’re spending more than you earn. This means your first goal should be to reduce your spending to the point where it’s less than your monthly income. Following this, you should set a goal such as reducing your overall spending by 20% so you will have money to pay down those debts. This is really not rocket science. You simply need to spend less than you earn so you can use the difference to pay off your debts – and climb out of debt hell.
Finally, here’s a video that explains more about how you could pay off debt using the snowball method and just $200 a month …