Debt continues to be a constant burden on the average American family. From student loans to credit cards and car payments, too much debt can make it harder to achieve your financial goals.
As of April 2021, consumer debt reached $4.2 trillion which includes revolving debt like credit cards and non-revolving debt such as student loans. This debt burden often forces people to make tough choices that can result in much worse financial outcomes.
For example, those with high student loan debt often ask whether or not they should pay aggressively toward their loans or invest and contribute to their retirement accounts.
Another common debate on the topic of debt is how would you prioritize and pay it down? Snowball or Avalance? The snowball method suggests that you prioritize paying your debt starting with the smallest amount first. While the avalanche method, which suggests prioritizing and paying your debt according to the highest interest rate.
Thankfully there are several tools to help you pay down your debt, below are a few debt repayment tools suggested by personal finance experts.
Founded in 2003, Vertex42 was created to, “Help people manage their time, their finances, their education, and their careers.” The company achieved this by creating a collection of more than 400 unique spreadsheets and templates.
The site has a great debt reduction calculator that allows you to key in the debt that you have, the interest rate, and the date that you wish to be debt-free. From there, the calculator will spit out the exact amount you need to pay each month.
You’re also able to compare the popular debt snowball method and debt avalanche method.
Akeiva Ellis, a certified financial planner and co-owner of The Bemused likes Vertex42 because “It helps you map out debt repayment under various methods and lets you know exactly when each of your debts will be repaid,” she said.
Grab this free spreadsheet here.
Undebt.It describes itself as a “debt payment manager” that uses rollover plans which means that extra payments are rolled into the next debt until each of them are paid in full. Undebt.It also features seven different debt repayment options to compare from as well as a custom option. “I like Undebt.It because they offer an easy-to-use interface that accounts for different methods to see what will best suit you,” says Carmen Perez of Make Real Cents.
While both Vertex42 and Undebt.It are powerful debt repayment tools, when comparing the two side by side, Undebt.It has a more modern, professional feel to the site at first glance.
Student Loan Forgiveness
While it might not be the most typical tool, the public student loan forgiveness program or PSLF is still one that can yield extraordinary results for those with federal student loan debt. Getting to those results though is not easy, as it requires 120 total qualifying payments and for the applicant to work in public service during that time in addition to other requirements.
In 2020, more than 147,000 people were rejected from the program, 58% of those were rejected for non-qualifying payments according to Forbes. Non-qualifying payments are usually a result of not being in the correct repayment plan.
While the process is quite tedious there have been some who have had success. Klye Landis-Marinello, personal finance author and attorney said via Twitter, ”In March of this year, I got over $230K forgiven from being a public service lawyer. Despite what you read, Public Service Loan Forgiveness really does work!”
Learn more about student loan forgiveness here.
A balance transfer can be an effective tool at paying down debt if used correctly and if you read the fine print.
A balance transfer works by allowing you to move debt from one account to another. This is most commonly used to move the balance from a high-interest credit card to a new credit card.
“Balance transfers can be a quick and easy way to get what is essentially a personal loan for as little as 0% and the equivalent of just an origination fee with no credit checks or income verification needed,” said Sandy Smith, founder of the Elevate Influencer Conference.
Before considering this type of move there are a few things that you should be aware of.
Balance transfers are not usually free, you could pay anywhere between 3% to 5% of the total balance being moved. You also need to make sure that the balance can be paid in full before the 0% interest promotion expires.
Your credit score could also take a hit for a period of time as well, this is because you would need to open a new line of credit which may ding your score for a new credit inquiry and by reducing your average length of credit. These two factors make up 25% of the current credit scoring formula.
Lastly, you will need to keep an eye on how much of the balance can be transferred, as some cards place a limit on the overall transfer amount.
Paying down your debt will require organization and consistency. At times it will feel difficult but with the help of these tools, you will be able to see light at the end of the tunnel and find ways to reach your goals with quickness and clarity.